Sunday, 10 January 2010

Israel Matzav: US consulate being sued by employee fired for Hamas ties

US consulate being sued by employee fired for Hamas ties

This is rich. The US consulate in Jerusalem is being sued by a former employee who was discharged because he had ties to Hamas.

The plaintiff is Azam Qiq, who worked at the diplomatic mission until 2006 as a mechanic. His father was Hassan Qiq, the former head of Hamas in Jerusalem, who died in 2006.

Azam Qiq was hired by the consulate in 2003 and underwent a background check by its security teams. According to court documents obtained by The Jerusalem Post, during his hiring interview, Qiq said he had never been arrested or interrogated by the Israeli police.

For the next three years, Qiq worked in the consulate motor pool and was a good employee. He even received two awards from then counsel-general Jacob Walles for his exemplary service.

That changed in February 2006, when his father, Hassan, passed away. According to the consulate's response to the lawsuit, filed with the Jerusalem Labor Court, senior Hamas officials attended Hassan's funeral, which was lined with Hamas flags.

Six months later, the consulate learned of Qiq's father's identity. Attached to the consulate's response to the lawsuit was a flyer Hamas put out after Hassan's death.

"Believers of God and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas consider as a grand master, teacher and educator Prof. Hassan Suleiman Qiq, member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and a member of the founding of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas," the flyer read.

Hassan Qiq was known by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and was part of the focus of an investigation that brought down Hamas's Jerusalem branch and ended in 2007.

A month later, Azam Qiq was arrested in the middle of the night by the Shin Bet and was accused of hiding a suitcase with documents pertaining to Hamas finances in his house. His brother Ziad, who was an adviser to the Hamas minister in charge of Jerusalem, was also arrested at the time. According to the court documents, Azam Qiq confessed to having stored the suitcase in his home.

The consulate also later discovered that he had been arrested twice previously - once for throwing stones in 1988 and another time for joining an illegal organization in 1989, for which he served a month in administrative detention.

Qiq was fired by the consulate in September 2006.

Those Americans, they're experts on finding terrorists, aren't they? Heh.

Israel Matzav: US consulate being sued by employee fired for Hamas ties

Israel Matzav: Bush administration arms sales eroded Israel's qualitative edge, violated agreements?

Bush administration arms sales eroded Israel's qualitative edge, violated agreements?

Last week, Haaretz ran a story raising alarms about US arms sales to 'moderate' Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Really, this issue was raised with the Bush administration in April 2007, and in July 2007, several members of Congress tried to block the sale. But in the end, the Bush administration agreed to restrict the arms sales to the Saudis, but then-Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert asked Bush to remove the restrictions.

It took me about five minutes of searching my own archives with Google to figure that out. So why can't Haaretz figure it out?

Senior sources in the current U.S. administration, and senior officials at the foreign and defense ministries in Israel, have suggested that during the last year of the Bush administration the U.S. sold advanced military equipment to moderate Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Americans justified the arms sales with the need to bolster these countries against the perceived threat posed by Iran.

In an address before the National Jewish Democratic Council, Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, commented on the matter. "We discovered that the qualitative edge of the IDF has been eroded," Oren said. "We came to the Obama administration and said: 'Listen, we have a problem.'"

According to Oren the response of the Obama administration was positive and immediate. "They said they are going to deal with this matter and ensure that the qualitative edge of the IDF is preserved," he said. "Since then we have embarked on a dialogue [on preserving the IDF's qualitative edge]."

All true. But Ehud Olmert was the one who agreed to the sales. Should Bush have been more pro-Israel than Olmert? (Secret: He was).

Read it all - this is now one heck of a mess, and unfortunately it may cost us to get out of it. I believe Haaretz is running this story the way it is because it is trying to tell us that Obama loves us and thus improve his approval rating in Israel above 4%.

Israel Matzav: Bush administration arms sales eroded Israel's qualitative edge, violated agreements?

Love of the Land: Shragai piece puts Jewish refugees centre stage

Shragai piece puts Jewish refugees centre stage

Point of No Return
08 January '10

Almost a million Jews from Arab countries have suffered persecution and looting of their properties before Israel was established and in its early years. But the State of Israel has never fought for their compensation. Even the US Congress had decided years ago that any compensation to the Palestinians will be conditioned on compensation to Arab Jews. In Israel, only now is a law being debated on a story about suffering and injustice that everyone felt more comfortable ignoring. Nadav Shragai reports for Israel Hayom of 8 January 2010 (Musaf Israel hashavua) :

Levana Vidal-Zamir was ten when the door of her parents' house on Mansur street in Helwan, then a lovely garden city, 25 km from Cairo, was broken down by Egyptian police officers in black uniforms. Even from a distance of 61 years, she vividly remembers the pale faces of her parents Esther and Victor, when they looked helplessly at the uniformed ransackers turning the house upside down, emptying drawers and cupboards and tearing mattresses apart. Levana remembers her uncle Habib was arrested, her brother David attacked, and her family printing business, "Imprimeries Vidal", one of the largest and oldest in Egypt, confiscated. Then their bank accounts were sequestered and their properties auctioned off.

Within days, immediately after the declaration of the State of Israel, the Vidal family lost all its possessions. A similar fate befell thousands of Jewish families in Egypt. During the next few months, the Egyptian authorities arrested approximately 1,300 Jews, only because they were Jews, and threw them into prison. They were never brought before a court, and after a year and a half in prison most of them were deported from Egypt and put directly on to ships.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Shragai piece puts Jewish refugees centre stage

Love of the Land: Blair, Israel, and the Global Struggle

Blair, Israel, and the Global Struggle

Evelyn Gordon
10 January '10

In a weekend interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Haaretz asked why British public opinion is “the most anti-Israel” in Europe. “Look, there’s criticism everywhere,” Blair responded. “But that’s partly because people don’t understand how difficult this situation is when you come under attack, your civilians come under attack, and you’re a democratic government and you’re expected to respond.”

Even by itself, that’s a remarkable statement: the problem, according to Blair, is not Israel’s actions; it’s that other Western countries, not facing the same daily assaults, refuse to recognize that if they did, they might respond similarly.

Even more remarkable, however, is the next sentence: “I mean, we face this [situation] continually. We face it now, actually, in places like Afghanistan.”

In short, Westerners should understand Israel because they’re in the same boat: their own armies are causing civilian casualties “in places like Afghanistan” for the exact same reasons.

So why do many Westerners either refuse to see the parallels or regard their own armies’ behavior with similar incomprehension and outrage? In Blair’s view, the heart of the problem is that too many Westerners fail to understand that they face a determined enemy waging a long-term global struggle, not a series of discrete, unrelated local conflicts.

“People sometimes say to me, no, it’s not really Iraq, it’s Afghanistan,” he said. “Someone else will say, no it’s Pakistan, and someone else will say it’s Iraq, and someone else will say it’s Yemen. But actually it’s all of these because in different ways, they represent different challenges that are unified by one single movement with a single ideology. And this is going to be resolved, in my view, over a long period of time. But what is important is that wherever it is fighting us, we’re prepared to fight back … unfortunately, we can’t say: ‘Look, let’s concentrate it here, but not here, and here, and here,’ because that’s not the way this thing’s working. …

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Blair, Israel, and the Global Struggle

Imagery from Hebron

Imagery from Hebron

Michael Ratner, I've learned from Google, is an important person. He's a law professor, who taught among other places at Columbia; he's the kind of lawyer who argues significant cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. Where Glenn Greenwald blogs endlessly about matters he cares about, Ratner acts. He's a significant figure in the important American discussion about how the country should behave while at war. You can disagree with him, but it seems you can't brush him off as a clown or a sophomoric lightweight.

All the more disturbing, then, his snippet from Hebron, in which he juxtaposes a picture with one from Nazi Germany. Has he thought through what he's implying? Might he wish to spell it out?

I'd call him out on this, if I thought he'd ever respond, but of course he won't. Even though I think I know considerably more both about Hebron and abut Nazism than he does.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Give Egypt credit

Give Egypt credit

Noah Pollak gives the Egyptians a lot of credit for their handling of the Gaza aid convoys over the weekend. But it's important to point out the difference between the world reaction to Egypt's behavior and what the reaction would have been had Israel done the same thing.

Where are the outraged Human Rights Watch press releases? When are the UN Human Rights Council hearings? Where is the collective outrage of the British media? We have banned aid convoys to Gaza — this statement would cause global apoplexy if uttered by the Israeli foreign minister.

Yes, it would have. Why doesn't it when it's uttered by the Egyptians? Well, part of it obviously is because the Egyptians aren't Jews and don't hesitate to treat the Jewish moonbats who support Hamas with an iron fist.

But there's another point here that ought to be taken to heart by the Israeli government.

Egyptian officials speak the terse and confident language of sovereignty. Israelis too frequently employ the defensive language of ethics, unaware that such noble rhetoric, when applied to foreign policy, invites little but skepticism and complaint.

Israel Matzav: Give Egypt credit

Israel Matzav: Do Gazans recognize their predicament?

Do Gazans recognize their predicament?

Rachel Abrams thinks Gazans might decide sometime soon that they have had enough of Hamas and its 'nerve wracking' game with Gilad Shalit.

What are they thinking—especially the women—as each day, engaged in their quotidian to-ing and fro-ing, they pass by a mural depicting Gilad counting the hours until his release from captivity among them? Do they recognize the degradation of celebrating, or accepting, or just ignoring the kidnapping of children for use as bargaining chips in the endless terror war against their neighbor?

Surely there have to be some who have begun to notice the flourishing of their brethren in Judea and Samaria and to ask themselves why they've been sentenced by Khaled Meshaal and his masters in Damascus and Syria to live lives as less than humans, as pawns in Hamas's own very nerve-racking game; and, feeling all the horror of what they've become, begin to contemplate taking a stand against it. The moment they do will be the moment Hamas's power over them—and the Israelis—ends.

Well, maybe. But look how long it's taken the Iranians - who were in a much better position - to understand that the Ahmadinejad - Khameni regime must go (and even now they're not exactly clear on that).

So yes, at some point there may be an uprising against Hamas, but I believe it's a long way away, and that it will be suppressed even more brutally than what is going on in Iran today.

Israel Matzav: Do Gazans recognize their predicament?

Israel Matzav: The real 'Palestinian' beauty queen

The real 'Palestinian' beauty queen

For those who saw the title and expected to see camels or goats, I am sorry to disappoint you. According to Dr. Kifah Al-Ramali on Hamas' al-Aqsa television, the real 'Palestinian' beauty queen is the mother who sends her children out to commit suicide. Doesn't that send the kiddies a nice message? I wonder if it comes from the military wing or the political wing....

Let's go to the videotape.

If you didn't get the 'beauty contest' reference, go here.

Israel Matzav: The real 'Palestinian' beauty queen

Israel Matzav: Video: Jordanian double agent Hamam al-Balawi

Video: Jordanian double agent Hamam al-Balawi

This is from al-Jazeera (Arabic) TV in Qatar. It is a recorded message by Hamam Al-Balawi, the triple (that's what it says in the original - I only knew about double) agent who killed eight intelligence officers (7 CIA, one Jordanian) in an anti-CIA attack in Pakistan last week.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Video: Jordanian double agent Hamam al-Balawi

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: Did you pay their way home?

Your tax dollars at work: Did you pay their way home?

It seems there were some problems at Cairo Airport on Saturday....

A Cairo airport security official says heated arguments have erupted as authorities attempt to send home some 500 international activists who were part of an aid convoy to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The official said Saturday that many activists cannot pay for their plane tickets and the Foreign Ministry is asking their respective embassies to foot the bill.

How the hell did they think they were going to get home?

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: Did you pay their way home?

Israel Matzav: Global warming?

Global warming?

Just thought you might like to know....

Israelis headed for the beach at the weekend to enjoy a winter heatwave, with temperatures rising into the high 20s Celsius (high 70s Fahrenheit) as much of northern Europe shivered in a cold snap.

Tel Aviv's sun-splashed Mediterranean beachfront was thronged with bikini-clad women and bare-torsoed roller-bladers making the most of "July in January" conditions, as pensioners licked ice-cream in the shade.

The daily Maariv said air-conditioners shut down for the winter would be back in action in southern Israel for the weekend, with a forecast high of 29 Celsius (84 F).

Normally chilly in January, Jerusalem and the West Bank bathed in balmy 25-degree weather under a cloudless blue sky, with more of the same expected over the weekend and into early next week.

Meanwhile, Paris, London, Berlin and Vienna were freezing and even Madrid had snow in the forecast, while temperatures dipped to minus 21 C in northern Scotland.

Heh. It broke 80 (Fahrenheit) outside our house on Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy the snow everyone.

Israel Matzav: Global warming?

Israel Matzav: Arab nation may be going nuclear?

Arab nation may be going nuclear?

Washington Post reporter Jim Hoagland told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Tuesday that an Arab nation is about to go nuclear (Hat Tip: Defense Tech).

While some countries claim Tehran is bent on becoming a nuclear-armed power – a claim Iran denies – an Arab country already is taking steps to go nuclear, says Jim Hoagland, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist, who spoke Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"As a senior Arab political official who was in town recently said to a small group of us, [that] it's clear there is already activity underway on the Arab side on the development of nuclear weapons," Hoagland told a packed room at the institute's offices. Hoagland did not identify the Arab official or others in the "small group," and hastened to add that there were "no details to provide."


Hoagland did not respond to's request for additional comment and it is still unclear which Arab nation he was referring to.


John Pike, a national security analyst and director of, said he does not know which country Hoagland might have been talking about. He believes the Syrian facility was a nuclear weapons program, but is no longer operating.

Beyond that, he told in an email today, Egypt "has had the rudiments of a program, but never seriously" pursued one. He said he also believes Saudi Arabia has "some kind of arrangement with Pakistan."

Pike states on his Web site that the Saudis do not have nuclear weapons, but that some countries fear it may attempt to buy warheads rather than try to develop them. He says Saudi officials have discussed buying from Pakistan intermediate-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Hoagland offered his nuclear tidbit in response to a reporter's question about U.S. offers to provide a security "umbrella" to Middle East countries in order to discourage them from starting nuclear weapons programs of their own as a hedge against Iran.

"I think there's some interesting continuity on this point," Hoagland said. "During the Bush administration there was discussion about a nuclear umbrella, a doctrine that would be directed at reassuring Arab states in the Gulf, Arab states at large, that they would be protected against an Iranian nuclear weapon."

The same guarantee was offered Turkey, but that country already operated under the assumption the U.S. was watching its back against a possibly nuclear Iran, and didn't feel the need for a nuclear program, according to Hoagland.

Read the whole thing. I'm guessing Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or one of the Persian Gulf States. If it were Syria or Libya, Israel would take it out. But the government probably feels less comfortable taking out an Egyptian or Jordanian nuke, since we're nominally at 'peace' with them, and has decent relations with some states in the Persian Gulf (Qatar, Bahrain). The Saudis? Taking them on would be a huge risk because they have ultra-modern top of the line American equipment just like we do.


The picture at the top is a computer illustration of Syria's destroyed al-Kibar plant.

Israel Matzav: Arab nation may be going nuclear?

Israel Matzav: Taiwanese company admits supplying Iran with nuclear parts

Taiwanese company admits supplying Iran with nuclear parts

A Taiwanese company has admitted supplying Iran with critical parts for its nuclear weapons program.

Nuclear proliferation expert David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security told the AP that Iran tried hard to procure the transducers in Europe and Canada, but was thwarted by a concerted international effort.

However, he said, the existence of the Taiwanese-Chinese connection shows that Iran still has the ability to get what it needs by tapping alternative sources.

"This equipment is likely for its gas centrifuge program," he said.

Lin did not identify the Chinese company that placed the transducer order, except to say that it was involved in the manufacture of pipeline for the oil industry.

He said that he obtained the transducers from a Swiss company, which he declined to name.

Lin said that when he contacted the Swiss firm he had no idea where the transducers were heading.

"It was only at the last minute that the Chinese told me to send them to Iran," he said.

Lin arranged for their direct transportation from Taiwan to the Middle East, he said, rather than sending them to the Chinese company first.

Lin said that he didn't know what happened to the transducers after they arrived in Iran, though he acknowledged that they have an important role in the nuclear industry.

"I know that the (civilian) nuclear research units in Taiwan use these things," he said. "The equipment has multiple uses from semiconductors to solar energy to nuclear work."

A Taiwanese government official told the AP on Friday that an official probe of the Taiwanese-Iranian transducer connection confirmed that 108 of the transducers had been sent from Taiwan to Iran at a Chinese request, but that the equipment was not precise enough to be placed on the island's export control list.

The official, who was in charge of the probe, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Read the whole thing.

'Crippling sanctions' seem unlikely even if the US and Europe manage to agree upon them. They seem even less likely to be enforced. And even if they are enforced, there is likely not enough time for them to be effective.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Taiwanese company admits supplying Iran with nuclear parts

Israel Matzav: Obama throws his Iran deadline under the bus

Obama throws his Iran deadline under the bus

Remember when Iran had until the end of 2009 to come to an agreement with the West over its nuclear program or 'crippling sanctions' would be imposed? Well, the end of 2009 has come and gone, and President Obumbler would like you to forget that there ever was a deadline.

In other words, the Iranians have called Obama’s bluff and discovered, to no one’s particular surprise, that he won’t back up his tough rhetoric with any real action. We are no closer to the sort of tough sanctions that would bring Iran’s economy to its knees and its leaders to heel than we were a year ago before Obama’s international charm and apology offensive began. And there is no reason to believe that either Obama or Clinton have a clue about how to alter this disturbing situation. Their feckless devotion to diplomacy for its own sake has resulted in a stronger position for Iran’s extremist leaders, who must be now congratulating themselves on their ability to defy America with impunity. The clock continues to tick down to the moment when an Iranian bomb becomes a reality and the only thing the Obama administration seems capable of doing in response to this frightening development is to continue to spin their failures and redefine a new era of Western appeasement.

Israel Matzav: Obama throws his Iran deadline under the bus

Israel Matzav: They would never go after the Left like this

They would never go after the Left like this

Israel has a 'comedy' show called Eretz Nehederet (Beautiful Land), which is on Friday nights (of course, when much of the Right and all of the religious population cannot watch it). The show is a satire and often hits some very touchy subjects. Ten days ago, it hit a very touchy subject. This was called "The Next War."

Let's go to the videotape (Hebrew only followed by an explanation in English for those who don't get the Hebrew).

And here's an explanation of what you've just seen.

The skit shows IDF officers watching a "proof of life" tape of a kidnapped soldier. As the camera scrolls, the audience sees a soldier, buzz cut, clean-shaven, and painfully reminiscent of Gilad Schalit. As in the Schalit tape, the soldier begins by identifying himself and his family, then offering up reassurance that his captors are treating him well and that he's unhurt and well fed - with kosher food, in fact. The soldier then holds up the day's Makor Rishon newspaper - an Orthodox paper, as opposed to a Palestinian paper in the Schalit video.

The camera pans out and the audience begins to understand that the soldier's kidnappers are not Hamas or Hizbullah as one might expect, but rather West Bank settlers. Complete with beards, payot and kippot, the settlers begin to list their demands for the release of the soldier - an end to the settlement freeze, amnesty for attacks against police, the creation of preferential expansion zones for settlements and so on. Upon realizing all their demands have already been met, they change course and demand that a popular Orthodox anchorwoman be featured in the racy men's magazine, Blazer, with her elbows showing.

The two IDF officers watching the tape, who appear to be the ones responsible for negotiating the soldier's release, get distracted by the alarm signaling the end of the work day and head out to yoga class, without a care in the world.

As you might imagine, a lot of people on the right were quite upset about this tape. Here's an Army Radio interview with one of them.

Let's go to the videotape (Hebrew only with explanation to follow).

What you've just heard is an Army Radio story on an Education Committee meeting that took place regarding this show and it's followed by an interview with Ketzeleh (Yaakov Katz, the leader of the National Union party). Here's what he said in the Education Committee (from JPost):

In a televised Knesset Education Committee meeting, MK Ya'akov Katz (National Union) furiously denounced the show's depiction of settlers and the religious as harboring intentions to harm soldiers.

"I, as someone who served as a soldier and officer in the IDF, and lost a leg, was portrayed as someone who harms soldiers, and my children, who all serve in [some of the best IDF units] have to stand by and watch their father be portrayed as someone who shoots soldiers," he said.

Katz further condemned the program by comparing the show's antics to the Nazi tactic of first demonizing, then exterminating Jews. Add the fact that Eretz Nehederet airs on Friday nights, when the members of this particular community wouldn't be able to watch anyway, and Katz seemed to imply that it is part of some elaborate, secular plan to turn the country against the settlers for subsequent expulsion.

In the Army Radio segment, host Razi Bark'ai complains that Ketzeleh made a mistake by accusing the show of anti-Semitism, but Ketzeleh holds his ground, claims that the show has an agenda and that agenda is paving the way to expel all the Jews from Judea and Samaria. Bark'ai claims that the show has also roasted Ehud Barak, but Ketzeleh said it never put a gun in Barak's hand pointed at Jews. Ketzeleh believes that the older man in the video was meant to be him.

The JPost believes that the people who should be offended by the show are Shalit's family and supporters.

WHAT KATZ and some in the religious Right may have failed to recognize is that this particular Eretz Nehederet skit upset a much larger audience beyond those who support the settlement movement. More than anything, it was extremely difficult to watch the mockery of Gilad Schalit's kidnapping, and the painful debate over the conditions for his release that have divided the country. What the Schalit family must have been thinking...

I disagree. There is plenty there to offend the Right.

The Post goes on to compare the segment to the New Yorker cover from 2008 featuring Barack and Michelle Obama.

Is there a limit to satire? In this country, good taste is not a limit. Anything goes - so long as the side being roasted is the Right and not the Left. You won't find them roasting the Left or the Arabs the same way.

Read the whole thing. Be civil in the comments or you won't get through.
Israel Matzav: They would never go after the Left like this

Israel Matzav: Egypt has chemical weapons deployed in Sinai?

Egypt has chemical weapons deployed in Sinai?

The Egyptian government weekly al-Ahram publishes a lengthy diatribe in English by one Abdel-Moneim Said, the director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, who answers critics of Egypt's tough actions against both the 'internationals' attempting to reach Gaza and the Gazans attempting to breach their border with Egypt.

Buried deep in the article is the obligatory lengthy diatribe against Israel. It includes the following:

Egypt knows very well how to distinguish between the threats posed to its national security by the Gaza tunnels and the threat posed by Israel, and it is handling each in an appropriate manner. Nor is Egypt blind to the fact that Israel still occupies Arab land and that this occupation by arms and settlers not only violates the historical rights of the peoples whose land is occupied but also jeopardises the stability of the entire region, Egypt included. Egypt is equally aware that Israel is a nuclear power that refuses to abide by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that, therefore, stimulates the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the region, which is also a threat to Egypt. Nor has it escaped Egypt that Israel, which has some very influential racist and extremist trends, has always opposed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and has constantly sought to undermine it; that it continues to regard Egypt as its foremost enemy in the Middle East precisely because of the powers and resources Egypt has as a real state.

Egypt's strategic calculations take all the foregoing factors into account. In addition, these calculations do not rely solely on international law, international guarantees and even the peace treaty, for history has seen hundreds of peace treaties thrown to the winds. Nor do they rely solely on the presence of international forces to guarantee the faithful implementation of the provisions of agreements. Egypt also relies on its own autonomous power to defend its territory. Some have wondered why Egypt does not build a wall against Israel like the wall it is building along the Egyptian-Gaza border. Walls cannot stand up against tanks, planes and missiles. But Egypt does have another type of wall. It exists in the form of powerful military forces that can move rapidly to support Egyptian forces that are, in fact, stationed in the Sinai, and the capacity to shift the battle to the Israeli interior by means of missiles capable of reaching every corner of that country. Israel is acutely cognizant of the destructive power of Egypt's weapons and of the fact that Egypt has not signed any of the conventions pertaining to chemical weapons. Moreover, Egypt established the credibility of its deterrent power in the 1973 October War that informed Israel that the Egyptians were resolved not to let any of their land remain under occupation and to make occupiers pay a heavy price.

The parts I have highlighted, and particularly what I have marked in red, seem to indicate that Egypt has missiles deployed in Sinai that can reach anywhere in Israel, and may even have chemical weapons deployed there that can do the same. I always understood that the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel required that the Sinai be demilitarized. The Egyptians are apparently saying that is not the case.


The picture at the top is the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt when the 'Palestinians' knocked it down in January 2008.

Israel Matzav: Egypt has chemical weapons deployed in Sinai?

Israel Matzav: Obama realizing he can't force 'peace' to happen?

Obama realizing he can't force 'peace' to happen?

Has President Obama finally realized that he cannot force 'peace' to happen between the Israelis and the 'Palestinians'? That's what former Clinton and Bush adviser Aaron David Miller claims.

This administration has ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which Americans are being killed and wounded, an intelligence/homeland security defense that has been proven profoundly wanting in the wake of the abortive Christmas terror attack against an American passenger airliner bound for Detroit, and a set of domestic priorities that include a still-dangerous jobless recovery and still-unfinished and controversial health- care legislation.

All of this will get worse (or better) in 2010 against the backdrop of midterm congressional elections in which the Democrats, already lacking a secure popular base of support beyond their own party stalwarts (and they're unhappy too), may well suffer significant losses. None of this precludes a major effort on Arab-Israeli peacemaking but it makes the risk or success (ensuring a tough fight with the Israelis and their supporters here) or failure (meaning the administration has stumbled badly) all the more consequential politically.

It's not that Obama doesn't care about the Arab-Israeli issue. But it's not the fulcrum of his foreign-policy agenda. If he succeeds in preventing another attack on the continental United States before 2012, avoids serious American casualties in Afghanistan, reduces unemployment significantly, and Americans begin to see the future with a bit more optimism, he'll likely be reelected. He doesn't need Arab-Israeli peace to be considered a consequential president.

It would be nice if Obama took Miller's advice and left 'Middle East peace' for a second term, as his two predecessors both did. Then we could hope that Obama will be defeated in 2012 (God willing!) and we'd be out from under an administration that is no friend of Israel's. Unfortunately, US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell's statements at the end of last week, indicate (contrary to what Miller argues) that Obama still doesn't get it. Here's what Miller says about Mitchell's statements:

The coming year may well bring a resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Obama administration is working hard to bring this about, and is reportedly working on letters of assurance that might enable both sides to stay at the table once they get there. But if Mitchell's comments Wednesday are any indication -- he told journalist Charlie Rose that he expects negotiations, once begun, to take two years to complete -- Team Obama now understands the difficulties much better than it did a year ago.

The idea that a two-year deadline can be put on these talks is laughable to anyone who knows the issues. Why Miller believes that Mitchell's statement that talks can be completed within two years shows that 'Team Obama now understands the difficulties much better than it did a year ago' is inexplicable. All it shows is that Obama still doesn't get it.

With his suicidal healthcare plan, Obama has already shown that he is willing to be a one-term President to push his agenda through. Just like his idol, Jimmy Carter. The difference is that while the Democratic majority in Congress can legislate Obamacare, it cannot legislate 'Middle East peace.'

And then there's little ticking Iranian bomb....

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama realizing he can't force 'peace' to happen?

Israel Matzav: Hamas to take over Judea and Samaria?

Hamas to take over Judea and Samaria?

Writing on the Hudson New York web site, 'Palestinian' journalist Khaled Abu Toameh argues convincingly that were Israel to allow an independent 'Palestinian state' to be established in Judea and Samaria, the result would be a Hamas takeover.

If Israel wants to pull back from any territory, it needs to make sure who is going to be in control of that area. The last time Israel withdrew from a territory was in the summer of 2005, when it handed the Gaza Strip over to forces loyal to Abbas.

Two years later, Hamas managed to toss Abbas’s people out of the Gaza Strip in less than a week.

If Israel repeats the same mistake and hands over the West Bank to Abbas and Fayyad when they are still weak and do not enjoy much credibility among their own people, there is no doubt that Hamas will end up sitting on hilltops overlooking Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.


Abbas and Fayyad are in power in the West Bank largely thanks to the presence of the Israeli security forces in these territories. Abbas and Fayyad know very well that had it not been for the presence of the Israeli army in the West Bank, it is highly likely that Hamas would have been able to achieve its goal a long time ago.

Many Palestinians are convinced that if a free and democratic election were to be held in the West Bank these days, Hamas would win again for two reasons: first, because the US-led sanctions against Hamas have earned the movement greater sympathy among Palestinians and, second, because of Fatah’s failure to implement major reforms and get rid of icons of financial corruption among its top brass.

Despite ongoing efforts to reconstruct the Fatah-dominated security forces, they are still far from being able to assume full responsibilities in the West Bank.


While Israel has been struggling to eliminate hard-core terror cells in the West Bank, the security forces controlled by Abbas and Fayyad have been focusing their efforts mainly on Hamas’s political activists and supporters.

Yet the same result is likely from another initiative that is being pushed by both the Saudis and the Egyptians. JPost reports on Sunday that the Saudis have ordered 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen to go to Syria to meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal.

Saudi Arabia was putting its weight behind intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and is working to bring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal in Syria, Channel 2 reported Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, Mashaal on Saturday met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and the two agreed about the "tragic" situation of the Palestinians, as well as the urgent need to reconcile Hamas with the Palestinian Authority, dominated by Fatah.

The Egyptian refusal this past week to allow 'international activists' into Gaza is largely seen as an effort to pressure Hamas to reach the same goal, reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The 'quartet' and the West in general have been silent on Hamas - Fatah reconciliation. The Europeans, who have been looking for an excuse to talk to Hamas, would likely favor such a reconciliation. The US, which has been looking for any 'success' in the 'peace process,' would not be likely to object, particularly since 'our friends' the Saudis and the Egyptians both favor 'reconciliation.' The UN certainly would not object, and the Russians are unlikely to be opposed either.

But what would happen if Fatah and Hamas reconcile? Elections would likely result in a Hamas victory, as Abu Toameh points out above. Whether or not that means that Hamas takes over Judea and Samaria civilly, it would certainly do so militarily at the first opportunity. It would likely mean a civil war between Hamas and Fatah (as happened the last time they 'reconciled') with the IDF - assuming it were still to be stationed in Judea and Samaria at the time - stuck in the middle.

One thing a Fatah - Hamas 'reconciliation' will not do is bring 'peace' closer. Israel will not negotiate with Hamas and will resist negotiating (note - I don't say "will not" because I have my doubts about Netanyahu's backbone) with any 'government' that includes Hamas. And if Israel does negotiate, can anyone see Israel handing over territory on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to a 'government' that includes Hamas or that is dominated by it (although the pressure to do so would be enormous)?

Another result of a Fatah - Hamas reconciliation and subsequent Hamas takeover would be to turn Judea and Samaria (or at least the parts of it that are controlled by Hamas) into an Islamic Caliphate run as a police state. In other words, one thing it would do is to hurt ordinary 'Palestinians.'

So why are the West and the 'moderate' Arab states pushing for Hamas and Fatah to reconcile? The West is doing so out of naivete. The 'moderate' Arab states are doing so because they believe it will put an end to the prospect of a 'Palestinian state' for some time to come.

As any of you who have read this blog for even a short while know, I believe that Hamas and Fatah have the same goal - destroying the Jewish state - but only differ on the methods. To the extent that Hamas has been set up by Israeli governments for the last 16 years as the bogeyman that must be avoided, the prospect of a Hamas takeover ought to matter to the West. Apparently, it does not. That says something about how ineffective Israel's hasbara (public relations) with the West have been.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Hamas to take over Judea and Samaria?

Israel Matzav: Credit where it's due

Credit where it's due

Well what do you know?

A big Lefty blog is crediting little old me with being the first to call Barack Hussein Obama the black Jimmy Carter.

Heh. (By the way, that post is a classic).
Israel Matzav: Credit where it's due

Israel Matzav: Is Iran's 'green revolution' seeking regime change?

Is Iran's 'green revolution' seeking regime change?

Is Iran's 'green revolution' seeking regime change or is it seeking to undo the results of a stolen election? According to Pooya Dayanim, an Iranian affairs specialist and a pro-democracy coordinator, the past executive committee member and director of foreign affairs of the Iran Referendum Movement, the movement's aims have gone far beyond what they were in June when this all started.

The political activists initially had hoped to elect a President (Moussavi) and then a Parliament in a free and fair election within the confines of the current system. That new government, in their view, would then vote to remove the position of the Supreme Leader, and the Regime, through an evolution, would become an Iranian Republic. After being robbed of their votes, however, they have come to realize that this very experiment in evolutionary change had failed once before. After all, Iranians voted over-whelmingly for Khatami in 1997, voted overwhelmingly for a reformist parliament and provincial and city councils in the Khatami era, only to have even minor reforms thwarted, the student uprising of 1999 crushed, leaving an Islamic Republic more dictatorial, militaristic and with less political freedom than ever before.

Now, after more than 100 deaths, 3000 arrests and disappearances, countless rapes, they have realized that the regime apparatus, the intelligence agencies, the multi-billion dollar machine known as the Revolutionary Guards and hundreds of thousands of Bassij Militia members on government welfare who are happy with the status quo will not go quietly into the night.

In the utterances of Moussavi about reconciliation, they are having a déjà vu of Khatami again. The political activists and the political elite (not the average man in the streets) have come to realize that Moussavi is not the man that will lead them to democracy and freedom. So do they want regime change? No, they insist. They have made that mistake before. They claim they don’t want much. They just want the removal of the position of the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, the Expediency Council and abolishment of the Revolutionary Guards Corp and the Bassij Militia!

In other words, they want regime change. They are not quite ready to say it. And why is that? They lack the organization, leadership and support to bring about regime change and do not want to get their hopes up.

They lack organization because although the overwhelming majority of the people know what they don’t want (Khamenei and Ahmadinejad), they have not quite figured out what they do want. Although, with each death, with each arrest, I kept hearing a very famous Iranian saying: “You die once and you mourn once, Marg yek bar, shivan ham yek bar” meaning now that they are killing, raping, arresting and torturing us, we might as well go for the overthrow of the Regime even if that was not our intention at the beginning. If the opposition is to become more organized, this decision to overthrow the Islamic Republic must become the rallying cry of the People and not just the political elite and cyber-activists who spend their time on laptops in Iran, UAE, Turkey, Germany, Sweden, Canada and the US.

The problem of leadership is far more complicated. No major leader has yet emerged. Any worthy leader has already been arrested or assassinated over the past 30 years. Those inside who have bravely organized rallies and protests like Heshmat Tabrazadi are more famous and popular in the outside world than inside Iran.

Shockingly, more and more Iranians (after claiming to be worthy of being leaders themselves only if I can arrange a meeting with the CIA or the MI-6!)are looking for direction to the political leaders in exile. Amongst other names, I repeatedly heard the names Reza Pahlavi and Mohsen Sazegara. Pahlavi (who in the spirit of full disclosure is a friend) is clean cut, wears a suit, speaks well and speaks of a secular democracy and has never been part of the current Regime. He is the anti-Ahmadinjead. He is a clean break. When I ask rhetorically, how can he lead them from abroad after all these years? They respond that Khomeni led the revolution from Iraq and France and that there was no satellite TV, internet, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook for Khomeni to use. I must emphasize that those who mention Pahlavi are supportive of citizen Pahlavi, a pro-democracy activist and not the heir to the Peacock Throne.

Sazegara, a former founder of the revolutionary guards, a colleague from the Iran Referendum Movement, a pre-cursor to the Green Movement we see in Iran today, has become affectionately known as “Uncle Sazegara.” Activists believe that as an architect of the revolutionary guards and a close ally of Mohsen Makhmalbaf (unofficial spokesperson of Moussavi) and Moussavi, he is best equipped to teach them how to break the back of the Regime and the revolutionary guards through a blood-less non-violent civil disobedience and is liberated to say things on behalf of Moussavi in the outside that would endanger Moussavi and the other Greens in the inside. Sazegara wants Moussavi to become the head of a transitional government that would hold a referendum on the Islamic Republic and its constitution to end the political impasse that Iran finds itself in.

There are other spokespersons of the pro-democracy movement that are positively mentioned by name and with much affection: Ahmad Batebi (student), Nazanin Afshin-Jam (human rights activist), Shahriar Ahy (opposition leader), Dariush Eghbali (artist/social activist), Simin Behbahani (poet), Ardeshir Zarezade(student), Alireza Nourizadeh(journalist) and Shirin Ebadi (lawyer) but none are deemed to be the leader that the people are looking for nor have they made such claims or have such aspirations.

With or without organization, with or without leadership, with or without funding, the loosely organized Iranian opposition inside and outside are now galvanized for their next show down with the Regime: The Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in February.

Read the whole thing. It sounds like many of the 'activists' really are seeking regime change. But they need leadership, particularly from the West. So far, none has been forthcoming. It would be a pity to lose the moment because the President of the United States is too busy genuflecting to the Islamic regime to seize the moment to topple it.

Israel Matzav: Is Iran's 'green revolution' seeking regime change?

Israel Matzav: Pro-Gaza 'activists' discover that Hamas besieges Gaza

Pro-Gaza 'activists' discover that Hamas besieges Gaza

I hesitate to link to any article by Amira Hess, Haaretz's (Jewish) woman in Gaza (and previously in Ramallah) for many years. This starts out as a long diatribe about how the Egyptians 'besieged' the (mostly-Jewish) 'internationals' who invaded Cairo last week, but it gets especially interesting when she describes what happens when the small group that was allowed in got to Gaza.

At midnight, about 12 hours after leaving Cairo, we arrived at a hotel in Gaza. There the first surprise awaited us: A Hamas security official in civilian dress swooped down on a friend who had come to pick me up for a visit, announcing that guests could not stay in private homes.

The story gradually became clear. The international organizers of the march coordinated it with civil society, various non-governmental organizations, which were also supposed to involve the Popular Committee to Break the Siege, a semi-official organization affiliated with Hamas. Many European activists have long-standing connections with left-wing organizations in the Gaza Strip. Those organizations, especially the relatively large Popular Front, had organized lodging for several hundred guests in private homes. When the Hamas government heard this, it prohibited the move. "For security reasons." What else?

Also "for security reasons," apparently, on Thursday morning, the activists discovered a cordon of stern-faced, tough Hamas security men blocking them from leaving the hotel (which is owned by Hamas). The security officials accompanied the activists as they visited homes and organizations.

During the march itself, when Gazans watching from the sidelines tried to speak with the visitors, the stern-faced security men blocked them. "They didn't want us to speak to ordinary people," one woman concluded.


The march was not what the organizers had dreamed of during the nine months of preparation. The day before the trip to Gaza, they already knew that the non-governmental organizations had backed out. Some people said that Hamas government representatives had found the NGOs did not have a clear, organized plan for the guests and therefore had taken the initiative. One Palestinian activist insisted: "When we heard there would only be 100, we canceled everything."

Another said, "From the outset, Hamas set conditions: No more than 5,000 marchers, no approaching the wall and the fence, how to make speeches, how long the speeches should be, who will make speeches. In short, Hamas hijacked the initiative from us and we gave in."

Hamas, or its Popular Committee, brought 200 or 300 marchers. The march turned into nothing more than a ritual, an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators. Especially photogenic were four Americans from the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta, who joined the trip only at Al Arish. There were no Palestinian women among the marchers - a slap to the many feminist organizers and participants, both women and men.

After the march, the guests voiced protests to some of the official Palestinian organizers. "We came to demonstrate against the siege, and we found that we ourselves were under siege," they said. Their variegation and the transparency of their behavior did not suit the military discipline the official hosts tried to impose. The officials listened, and after the reins were loosened a bit, I set out to visit the homes of friends.


In meetings without the security men, several activists got the impression that non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name. "Now I understand that the call for 'Freedom for Gaza' has another meaning," one young man told me.


I wondered: Were the restrictions an order from above, or an unwise interpretation by lower ranks? Does Hamas think it can entirely prevent the few visitors - clearly pro-Palestinian - from hearing non-official versions? Don't the people giving the orders realize what a bad image they were creating? Or was there really a security concern?

Someone who, to put it mildly, is not a Hamas fan explained to me that young men who quit Iz al-Din al-Qassam for the amorphous Jaljalat militia are a genuine headache. They are a convenient excuse for restricting contact with "just anyone," but the fear that they might try to harm the visitors in order to damage Hamas is real.

These are devout young men who, officially, criticize Hamas for not enforcing Islamic religious law in its entirely. However, as the critic said, "Unwittingly, because of their lost lives, our lost lives, they are angry at the whole world."

They elected them. As my mother of blessed memory would say, "they made their mess, and now they have to lie in it."

Israel Matzav: Pro-Gaza 'activists' discover that Hamas besieges Gaza

Israel Matzav: Pits full of IED's found on Lebanese side of border

Pits full of IED's found on Lebanese side of border

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, sent a letter to the UN Security Council on Thursday night complaining of pits full of IED's that were discovered on the Lebanese side of the border with Israel at the end of December.

1. At 20:00 hours on December 26, 2009, a force belonging to UNIFIL’s Spanish brigade discerned the movement of suspicious individuals in an open area of Mazraat Sarda, south of the Shi’ite village of Al-Khiyam in the eastern sector of south Lebanon (about 1 kilometer, of 6/10 of a mile, from the Israeli border). The UNIFIL spokesperson reported that five men were seen fleeing the scene.

2. Searches conducted by UNIFIL forces and the Lebanese army, which also arrived at the scene, revealed a number of explosive pits containing dozens of IEDs of various types, weighing a total of about 300 kilograms, or 660 lbs. An initial investigation showed that they were not improvised devices but rather advanced, standard, industrially mass-produced bombs (in our assessment, manufactured in Iran or Syria). They were transferred to the Lebanese army by UNIFIL. Other IEDs may still be in place. A comparison of the IEDs found to those used by Hezbollah in the past against the IDF and other indications make it likely that Hezbollah was responsible for placing them near the Israeli border this time.

3. Hezbollah’s digging pits and filling them with explosives as part of its combat concept is familiar from the second Lebanon war. To that end Hezbollah dug a series of such pits in south Lebanon and located hundreds of kilograms of explosives in each. The pits were hidden underground at the sides of the main roads into Lebanon and at central junctions. A document seized during the second Lebanon war in the village of Kafr Killa detailed the explosive pit systems along the various roads, including the region of the region of the Sarda-Al-Khiyam-Burj al-Mlouk junction, where explosive pits were recently uncovered by UNIFIL.1

Read the whole thing.

Hezbullah continues to violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was totally predictable when that resolution was adopted. Hezbullah continues to prepare for another war with Israel. The UN continues to do nothing. As I noted in my post in December, these explosives were turned over to the Lebanese army, which is full of Hezbullah and its sympathizers.

When will the next war in Lebanon happen? Probably in the not-too-distant future.

Israel Matzav: Pits full of IED's found on Lebanese side of border

Dead Militants

Dead Militants

The anti Israeli narrative about the events of 2008 insists that over the summer there was a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, until the Israelis cynically killed six Palestinians in November for no reason except that the Israelis like killing Palestinians, and thereafter Hamas had no choice but to renew shooting kassams at Israeli civilians, the poor dears, and this gave the Israelis a pretext to invade Gaza. The context of the original case - that the dead Palestinians were preparing an attack on Israel- somehow gets lost in the telling.

We don't know if the present uptick in violence from Gaza will peter out tomorrow or escalate into major clashes, but we do know that if the latter, Israel will be damned. Which is why I'm linking to a news item in the BBC, no Zionist apologists they, which cites Palestinian sources as recognizing that the three Palestinians killed earlier today were combatants preparing to fire at Israel.

Y-net, always better informed than the foreign media, tells that one of the three is was Awad abu Nassir (or Nassil), a senior Islamic Jihad commander whom the Israelis have tried to kill in the past.

If past experience has any value, he and his comrades will be counted as dead civilians sooner rather than later.

(Thanks to Bruce for the correction. 2008, not 2009).
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Love of the Land: Gaza News You Might Have Missed

Gaza News You Might Have Missed

Honest Reporting/Backspin
10 January '10

Hamas "hijacked" George Galloway's delegation of international activists. Haaretz's Amira Hass reports from Gaza:

Also "for security reasons," apparently, on Thursday morning, the activists discovered a cordon of stern-faced, tough Hamas security men blocking them from leaving the hotel (which is owned by Hamas). The security officials accompanied the activists as they visited homes and organizations.

During the march itself, when Gazans watching from the sidelines tried to speak with the visitors, the stern-faced security men blocked them. "They didn't want us to speak to ordinary people," one woman concluded . . . .

In meetings without the security men, several activists got the impression that non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name. "Now I understand that the call for 'Freedom for Gaza' has another meaning," one young man told me.

If this is how Palestinian supporters are treated, imagine the lengths Hamas goes to when it comes to keeping tabs on what Gazans tell journalists -- or people like Judge Goldstone.

Love of the Land: Gaza News You Might Have Missed

Love of the Land: George Mitchell: “Fatah Believes in Nonviolence”

George Mitchell: “Fatah Believes in Nonviolence”

Noah Pollaak
10 January '10

One more item from Obama Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s appearance on the Charlie Rose show (transcript here). Mitchell said:

Well, that’s the principal difference between Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinian authority which is basically the Fatah party, believes in nonviolence and negotiation.

This is silly stuff. Fatah, of course, proudly maintains terrorist groups, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades and the Tanzim militia, within the party structure. The gunmen who murdered an Israeli rabbi two weeks ago were not just members of Fatah but also on the Fatah payroll. Just last week, the heroically moderate president and prime minister of the PA could be seen publicly celebrating Fatah terrorists and acts of terrorism.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: George Mitchell: “Fatah Believes in Nonviolence”

Love of the Land: Goldstone vs. Talal abu Rahmah on Hamas’ human shields: Whom to believe

Goldstone vs. Talal abu Rahmah on Hamas’ human shields: Whom to believe

Richard Landes
Augean Stables
04 January '10

As any serious reader of this blog knows, I don’t have a lot of respect for Talal abu Rahmah, the seeing of whose rushes (see below) for September 30, 2000 inspired the term Pallywood. So what to think when he and another favorite unreliable rogue in my gallery disagree?

The Goldstone Report, at paragraph 481, takes up the subject of whether Hamas deliberately hid among civilians.

¶481. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity [emphasis added] of their [Hamas’] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack [emphasis added].

Moshe Halbertal in “The Goldstone Illusion,” not an author known for his sarcasm, remarks on Goldstone’s cautious conclusion:

The reader of such a sentence might well wonder what its author means. Did Hamas militants not wear their uniforms because they were inconveniently at the laundry? What other reasons for wearing civilian clothes could they have had, if not for deliberately sheltering themselves among the civilians?

So imagine my surprise when I ran across the following gem from Talal abu Rahmah in a phone interview with a CNN reporter on January 2, 2009:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Goldstone vs. Talal abu Rahmah on Hamas’ human shields: Whom to believe

Love of the Land: Egypt’s Steel Wall: An Attempt to Placate the U.S.?

Egypt’s Steel Wall: An Attempt to Placate the U.S.?

Allison Kaplan Sommer
10 January '10

A Middle Eastern country is building a massive thick steel wall as a barrier between themselves and a Palestinian regime. The country is being condemned for its actions across the Arab world, denounced by Islamist figures like Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, and facing angry demonstrations at its embassies around the world.

Signs with the president’s face daubed with a Star of David are waved, and furious slogans are chanted. The new construction project, written about critically in the world press as “choking” Gaza, has been dubbed the “iron wall” and the “wall of shame.”

Sound familiar? Nothing new? In fact, the situation is very new. The country that is being berated and condemned is not Israel. The wall is being build by the Egyptian government to separate territory controlled by Egypt and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel is routinely charged with inhumanely and heartlessly fencing off Palestinian Gazans in a “prison,” despite the fact that Egypt’s official crossing to Gaza is also clamped shut, with the exception of a few days each month. But with the construction of this new wall, Egypt is taking some powerful hits from within the Arab world.

The wall being constructed is designed to stop the flow of smuggling between Egypt and Gaza through the border town of Rafah, an underground economy that is not limited to — but certainly includes — major weaponry and ammunition being stockpiled for terrorist attacks and to help Hamas rearm for the next war between Gaza and Israel. Along with the weaponry brought in to replace the stockpiles decimated in Operation Cast Lead, millions of dollars worth of other commerce flows through the tunnels on a daily basis. Everything from food, to gasoline, to machinery, to farm animals. The tunnels are a major source of revenue for Hamas, which charges a premium for the construction and use of the tunnels and puts a tariff on any goods that are brought in.

The planned 10 kilometer-long wall will include steel sheets that will reach 60 meters underground — an attempt to cut off the tunnels and the commerce that flourishes there. In addition to weaponry, the tunnels are also a conduit for terrorists, both reasons that the tunnels themselves were targeted in Operation Cast Lead.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Egypt’s Steel Wall: An Attempt to Placate the U.S.?

Love of the Land: Defending Egypt

Defending Egypt

Those who argue that Egypt should ignore arms smuggling over its border with Gaza could drag the country into an unwanted war

Abdel-Moneim Said
Issue No. 980

(Coming from Al-Aharam, one can take this as an official Egyptian position concerning the security wall being constructed on their border with Gaza, however paragraphs 7-8 are directed towards Israel and require serious reflection in light of recent U.S. arms sales to Egypt. Y.)

No Egyptian should disagree with defending Egypt against all threats, whether from home or abroad. This is why every official charged with safeguarding the country's welfare, from the president and government ministers to representatives in the People's Assembly and the Shura Council take an oath of office in which they pledge not only to promote the interests of the people and uphold the constitution but also to defend the nation and "safeguard the integrity of its territory". Such an oath can only mean that the defence of Egypt is an issue that can brook no dissension, which has not been the attitude of certain newspapers and radio and television stations in recent days regarding security at the Egyptian-Gaza border.

Fundamentalist Islamists -- in their varying shades of radicalism -- have a major problem with the concept of the state and national boundaries. To their way of thinking, as long as Islam transcends borders, then politics, international relations and foreign policy should do the same. When Hamas felt that a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza would be too large and unwieldy for it to control because it would cover too broad and diverse a political spectrum, it decided to seize power in Gaza and found an Islamic emirate in which no other voice would be heard but its own. So now we have a situation in which Israel refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, and Hamas, equally adamantly, refuses to negotiate directly with Israel and -- simultaneously -- to reach a reconciliation agreement with the Palestinian Authority. The upshot is that Hamas has few remaining outlets, and one of its favourites is to abuse the Egyptian border. It has done this peacefully through protest demonstrations and violently, leading to Egyptian civil and military casualties. It has done this above ground through propaganda and slander, and below ground by means of tunnels and smuggling.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Defending Egypt
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