Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Israel Matzav: Bolton slams Obama on nuclear weapons

Bolton slams Obama on nuclear weapons

Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton slams President Obumbler for being nice to the West's enemies.

In fact, reducing our nuclear -arsenal will not somehow persuade Iran and North Korea to alter their behavior or encourage others to apply more pressure on them to do so. Obama’s remarks reflect a complete misreading of strategic realities.

We have no need for further arms control treaties with Russia, especially ones that reduce our nuclear and delivery capabilities to Moscow’s economically forced low levels. We have international obligations, moreover, that Russia does not, requiring our nuclear umbrella to afford protection to friends and allies worldwide. Obama’s policy artificially inflates Russian influence and, depending on the final agreement, will likely reduce our nuclear and strategic delivery capabilities dangerously and unnecessarily. (Securing “loose” nuclear materials internationally has long been a bipartisan goal, properly so. Obama said nothing new on that score.) Meanwhile, Obama is considering treaty restrictions on our missile defense capabilities more damaging than his own previous unilateral reductions.

What warrants close attention is the jarring naïveté of arguing that reducing our capabilities will inhibit nuclear proliferators. That would certainly surprise Tehran and Pyongyang. Obama’s insistence that the evil-doers are “violating international agreements” is also startling, as if this were of equal importance with the proliferation itself.

The premise underlying these assertions may well be found in Obama’s smug earlier comment that we should “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.  .  .  .  Let’s leave behind the fear and division.” By reducing to the level of wayward boys the debates over whether his policies are making us more or less secure, Obama reveals a deep disdain for the decades of strategic thinking that kept America safe during the Cold War and afterwards. Even more pertinent, Obama’s indifference and scorn for real threats are chilling auguries of what the next three years may hold.

Obama has now explicitly rejected the idea that U.S. weakness is provocative, arguing instead that weakness will convince Tehran and Pyongyang to do the opposite of what they have been resolutely doing for decades—vigorously pursuing their nuclear and missile programs. Obama’s first year amply demonstrates that his approach will do nothing even to retard, let alone stop, Iran and North Korea.

Israel Matzav: Bolton slams Obama on nuclear weapons

Israel Matzav: Mitchell to Abu Bluff: No more excuses

Mitchell to Abu Bluff: No more excuses

It sounds like US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell is losing patience with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.

United States special Mideast envoy George Mitchell has urged Europe to step up pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to kick-start stalled peace talks with Israel, the London-based A-Sharq-al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

"The time has come to stop finding excuses for avoiding a return to the negotiating table," the London paper quoted Mitchell as saying, citing French officials.

Mitchell believed the Palestinians were showing little enthusiasm for talks because as inaction was safer than reentering dialogue when the outcome was so uncertain, the paper said.


According to A-Sharq al-Awsat, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner defended Abbas, urging the envoy to recognize the risk to the Palestinian leader of returning to talks without international guarantees.

Kouchner proposed reassuring Abbas with a clear declaration that the aim of any new talks would be the creation of a Palestinian within a set time frame of anything up to two years, the paper said.


But Mitchell rejected out of hand French calls for an international conference and for U.S. guarantees to both Israel and the Palestinians.

Instead, he is said to prefer indirect negotiations accompanied by a series of confidence-building measures on the ground in the West Bank.

Good luck with that.

Israel Matzav: Mitchell to Abu Bluff: No more excuses

Israel Matzav: Israel didn't come into existence because of the Holocaust

Israel didn't come into existence because of the Holocaust

This is from an op-ed by former Defense Minister Moshe Arens in Haaretz.

In the minds of some, the establishment of the State of Israel is linked to the Holocaust, or even seen as a direct result of the Holocaust. U.S. President Barack Obama, probably unaware of the history of the Zionist movement, implied as much in his speech in Cairo last year.

But the truth is almost the exact opposite. The extermination by the Germans of six million Jews during World War II came close to putting an end to the dream of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. The reservoir of Jewish immigrants to Palestine was decimated. Vladimir Jabotinsky, in his testimony before the Peel Commission in London on February 11, 1937, spoke of the aim of Zionism as the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River in which there would be room for "the Arab population and their progeny and many millions of Jews." At that time, the Jewish population of Palestine was no more than 400,000.

By the time the war had ended, millions of Jews had been exterminated in Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor and the killing fields of Russia. To Zionist leaders, it became clear that not only were there not enough Jews to constitute a solid Jewish majority, which was the condition for establishing a Jewish state, on both sides of the Jordan River, but that Jewish immigration would not even suffice to establish such a majority in the entire area west of the Jordan.

It was the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who grasped the full potential of the destruction of European Jewry for ending Zionist aspirations, and therefore allied himself with Hitler. Arab leaders in Egypt and Iraq similarly found good reason to hope for Hitler's victory. Yet after the war, the Yishuv (the Jewish community in pre-Palestine) and the remnants of European Jewry, who overcame British efforts to block their way to Palestine, had enough vitality and strength to bring about the establishment of the State of Israel in part of the territory that the League of Nations had originally mandated to Britain for the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River.


Israel Matzav: Israel didn't come into existence because of the Holocaust

Israel Matzav: Better tell them to stop having those 'obstacles to peace'

Better tell them to stop having those 'obstacles to peace'

The population growth rate for Judea and Samaria was more than double that of the rest of the country according to statistics released on Tuesday by the Civil Administration.

The number of Jews in Judea and Samaria has grown to 313,000 – double the growth rate of the rest of Israel – according to the latest Civil Administration report.

The Civil Administration report, as quoted by Haaretz, shows that the population in Judea and Samaria grew in the past half-year by 2.75%, and by 5.1% in the past year, and now stands at 312,940. A large part of the growth is due to the hareidi-religious cities of Beitar Illit (6.3%) and Modiin Illit (9,8%) - but even without those cities, Yesha’s growth rate of 3.8% more than doubles that of the rest of Israel, which stands at 1.7%.

Two-thirds of the towns in Yesha grew at a higher rate than the rest of Israel (see below).

And unless they're going to turn Judea and Samaria into China, there's not a whole lot the government can do to stop that growth rate. You see, most of the growth there is 'natural growth.'

The government cannot stop the revenants from having more 'obstacles to peace.'


Israel Matzav: Better tell them to stop having those 'obstacles to peace'

Israel Matzav: Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Although Iran is now blaming us, and Hamas has used his death as a pretext for sticking a fork in the 'terrorists for Gilad' negotiations, maybe Israel didn't kill Hamas murderer and weapons smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh after all.

Hamas Representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan insinuated Tuesday that it was possible that the Palestinian Authority had been involved in the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

"Several of the PA's intelligence apparatuses may have been involved in the assassination," he told the al-Manar network.

And then there's this one, also from Hamas.

A preliminary investigation conducted by Hamas suggests that the assassination of one of its officials in Dubai last month was likely carried out by agents of an Arab government, and not by Israel's Mossad spy agency.


But details of a Hamas inquiry passed to Haaretz reveal that Arab states, not Israel, now top the suspect list.

Both Hamas and Dubai police say that Mabhouh had enemies across the Middle East, any of whom may have had a motive for his murder.

A Hamas source told Haaretz on Monday that Mabhouh was wanted by authorities in both Jordan and Egypt, where he previously spent a year in prison.

Hamas also suspects its Palestinian rivals in the West Bank.

"It is quite possible that Palestinian Authority security forces were involved," Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader in Lebanon, told Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar on Monday.

"West Bank forces are persecuting our fighters and have killed dozens since 1994," he said.

Haaretz also presents what it claims to be a chronology of the events surrounding al-Mabhouh's killing.

On Sunday, a Dubai police commander updated the Palestinian consul in the United Arab Emirates on progress in the investigation. Mabhouh was killed by a seven-man team, four whom had been identified, the commander said.

According to Hamas investigators, Mabhouh arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus at 9:00 A.M. on the morning of January 19, where he boarded flight EK912 for the UAE, landing at Dubai at 2:30 P.M.

Local authorities were unaware of the presence of the Hamas leader, who traveled under a false identity. Al-Mabhouh took a taxi to the luxury Al Bustan Rutana Hotel, where he checked into room 130, also under a false name.

As always when traveling, al-Mabhouh had taken the precaution of reserving in advance a room with no balcony and sealed windows. On arrival, he deposited a case of documents in the hotel safe before spending around an hour in his room.

Between 4:30 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. al-Mabhouh left the hotel for a meeting. Hamas claims to know the identity of his Dubai contact - but has so far kept details under wraps.

Hamas assumes that he dined outside the hotel, which has no record of him ordering food or drink, before returning to his room at around 9:00 P.M.

Police say it is likely that Mabhouh answered the door to his assailants - but Hamas believes the attackers awaited him on his return and were warned of his approach by accomplices tailing him.

At 9:30 P.M. Mabhouh's wife called his cellular telephone. There was no answer. Both Hamas and police believe the victim was by then already dead. His body was discovered the following day.

Post mortem examinations revealed signs of electrocution beneath both ears -presumably from a device used to stun Mabhouh, whose nose was bleeding and whose teeth showed signs of abrasion.

Pathologists determined the cause of death as asphyxiation, probably with a pillow found near the body and stained with blood.

Meanwhile, London's Sunday Times reported on Sunday that Mabhouh had been injected with a drug that simulated the effects of a natural heart attack.

Also on Sunday, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi landau denied that Mossad agents had posed as part of his entourage to carry out the hit. Landau, the first Israeli minister to travel officially to the UAE, left the country three days before Mabhouh was killed. [Landau is denying this story (Hat Tip: The Majlis). CiJ]


Whatever the case may be, it sounds like we will know more soon.

The police commander of Dubai announced this week that there are important developments in the investigation into the death of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mabchouch, who was found dead in his hotel room on January 20th. He said details, including photographs of seven people who recently entered the country on European passports, will be publicized in the next few days. He added that the modus operandi indicates a political murder pointing to the involvement of the Mossad Israeli intelligence agency.


Israel Matzav: Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Love of the Land: On Free Speech and Informed Public Debate: An Open Letter to NIF and Affiliated NGOs

On Free Speech and Informed Public Debate: An Open Letter to NIF and Affiliated NGOs

Gerald Steinberg/NGO Monitor Staff
NGO Monitor
02 February '10

To ACRI, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, PCATI, Yesh Din, HaMoked, PHR-I, Rabbis for Human Rights, and New Israel Fund (NIF):

The recent attacks directed against NGO Monitor’s detailed research represent a dangerous attempt to prevent free speech and informed public debate on the political role of some NGOs. In particular, in your February 1, 2010 letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, you tendentiously referred to NGO Monitor as an “extreme group” that “unleashed an unrestrained and inflammatory [attack],” and implied that we are the “rotten fruits” of Israeli democracy; B’Tselem’s US representative, Mitchell Plitnick, labeled us “extremists” and “right wing”; and, a few months ago, an NIF employee posted an indecent graphic on his blog (which was later removed) to illustrate his opinion of NGO Monitor’s publications.

These characterizations are inconsistent with claims to uphold the mantle of human rights and democracy in Israel. Contrary to the implications of your letter, NGO Monitor has never contested the right of civil society organizations to exist or to criticize. And if your rhetoric about upholding free speech in Israel were matched by your policies, you would uphold our right as an independent research organization, and the rights of NGOs that do not share your political views, to do the same.

(Read full letter)

Love of the Land: On Free Speech and Informed Public Debate: An Open Letter to NIF and Affiliated NGOs

Love of the Land: NPR's Self-Examination

NPR's Self-Examination

Honest Reporting
Media Critiques
02 February '10

According to National Public Radio's statement of principles: "Our coverage must be fair, unbiased, accurate, complete and honest. At NPR we are expected to conduct ourselves in a manner that leaves no question about our independence and fairness."

This is not always the case concerning NPR's coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Commendably, however, NPR allows for independent quarterly critiques. Amongst some of the latest observations and criticisms is the issue of reporting Palestinian casualty figures from Operation Cast Lead:

Rob Gifford's piece for ATC on December 15 reported on a threat by British authorities to arrest former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. It failed to attribute Palestinian casualty figures during the Israeli-Gaza war. Gifford said "more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive, 13 Israelis lost their lives." There is no question about the Israeli casualties. But Palestinian and Israeli sources dispute the number of Palestinians who died (as well as how many were civilians).

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: NPR's Self-Examination

Measuring the Pervasity of Antisemitism

Measuring the Pervasity of Antisemitism

Were the Nazis antisemites? Were the Germans of that time? Silly question, you might think: if the Nazis weren't antisemites, who ever was? If a sizable chunk of their society didn't hate Jews, who got rid of them all over Europe and sent them to the East to be killed? Who set up and ran the killing machine?

That's common sense, of course. Yet common sense isn't as common as we'd like. Over the decades there have been popular narratives of the Nazi era which earnestly claimed that the authentic Jew-haters were few and far between, and it was all sorts of other things that motivated people (if they even noticed what they were doing). Indeed, by the 1980s, the mainstream of historians of Nazism were busy downplaying the centrality of Jew hatred and playing up other things. Eventually some of them - most notably, a largish group of young German historians - re-examined the historical record and came back to report that Yes, hatred of the Jews had been pervasive and significant in the story of their persecution and mass murder. Till this very day, however, it's not hard to find well-intentioned folks who will earnestly tell you that No, it was man's inhumanity to man or some such fairy tale.

All of which is a long introduction to this link. Behind it you'll find a report by Julie Birchill about the ambiance of Jew Hatred in today's UK. Anyone can read the Guardian and see the antisemitism in it; what's harder to do is know if the haters there are representative fo anything. That's why reports from the field such as Burchill's are so important. These are not far out loonies, she's telling. Or perhaps they are, but there are lots of them.

(h/t Divest).
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Global warming coming to Jerusalem?

Global warming coming to Jerusalem?


Israel Matzav: Global warming coming to Jerusalem?

Israel Matzav: 'War crimes' investigation unlikely

'War crimes' investigation unlikely

The Scotsman explains why a 'war crimes' investigation of Israel or Hamas by the International Criminal Court is unlikely, notwithstanding the Goldstone Report.

But the chances of the ICC being ordered into action are slight. The UN General Assembly is unable to order a war crimes investigation by the ICC. Only the Security Council can do that, and that is almost certainly not going to happen.

The United States fears that an investigation by the ICC will derail any chances of starting a new Middle East peace process. Certainly, it is hard to see how meaningful negotiations could start among statesmen under threat of war crimes indictment.

The result is that the US will veto any vote on the ICC that comes before the Security Council – and it will not be alone. At least three of the permanent members, Britain, France and Russia, are likely to take the same line, and for the same reasons, blocking any move in the Security Council to bring the ICC into action.

And I'm sure that the fact that the US, Britain, France and Russia could find themselves facing a similar tribunal for similar actions taken in war has nothing at all to do with the fact that all four powers are likely to exercise their vetoes. Not to mention China.

Israel Matzav: 'War crimes' investigation unlikely

Israel Matzav: The Times of London rips Goldstone

The Times of London rips Goldstone

In an editorial on Tuesday, the Times of London ripped Richard Richard Goldstone and the Commission and report that bear his name (Hat Tip: David Hazony via Twitter).

The reprimand relates directly to the shelling of the United Nations headquarters in Gaza, in which more than 700 Palestinians were sheltering. For all those interested in Israel’s relations with the rest of the world, it brings two lessons. The first is that, unlike many of its neighbours, Israel has a strong domestic desire to hold itself to account. The second is that, in this most fraught and nuanced of regions, condemnatory megaphone diplomacy does not work.

For an example of such ineffective megaphone diplomacy, consider Judge Richard Goldstone’s report into the Gaza conflict for the UN, released last September. Both dangerously and unreasonably, Judge Goldstone implied an equivalence between the indiscriminate rocket fire with which Hamas bombarded Israel and the steps that Israel subsequently took to defend itself. While he alleged war crimes on both sides, he reserved his strongest ire for Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force and its “deliberate targeting” of Palestinian civilians.

Faced with such provocative bias, a country might be expected to slam down the shutters and turn away. Instead, the Middle East’s only functioning democracy quietly continued to conduct its own investigation into the conflict, which it has now submitted to the UN. The censure of Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Colonel Ilan Malka, a brigade commander — the first high-ranking officers to be named as having been at fault — is an indication that this is no mere whitewash. True, Israel’s process is far from flawless. The deployment of white phosphorus shells over a heavily populated area is an horrific act. When such shells explode, they shower sticky and flaming pieces that burn and burrow into clothing and flesh. A “slap on the wrist” (to quote one senior Israeli official) is an indefensibly cursory punishment for those responsible. Even so, it should be seen for what it is — a clear acknowledgment by Israel that, during the conflict, it behaved in a manner in which it should not.

For obvious reasons, Israel is a country deeply uncomfortable about criticising its own military. But those who cry “war crime” and seek to paint Israel as a pariah do diplomacy itself a disservice. They make it harder, not easier, for that country to behave as it should. Contrary to the impression some would like to give, Israel is not a rogue state with good PR, content, like Shakespeare’s Claudius, to smile and smile and be a villain. It is an accountable, democratic, transparent nation, and fighting to remain one amid challenges that few other nations ever have to face.

Okay, so they don't focus enough on why the IDF had to fire any shells in a populated area in the first place, but seeing the Goldstone Report referred to as 'megaphone diplomacy' and 'provocative bias,' and Israel called 'accountable, democratic and transparent' by a publication that does not originate in the United States or Israel is a positive development.
Israel Matzav: The Times of London rips Goldstone

Israel Matzav: Haaretz's search for scapegoats

Haaretz's search for scapegoats

As I posted on Monday, Haaretz reported that two IDF officers were disciplined for authorizing the firing of phosphorus shells near the United Nations compound at Tel El Hawa during Operation Cast Lead. Later in the day, the original Haaretz report was flushed down the drain and a new report indicated that the IDF denied disciplining the two officers. I revised my post accordingly.

CAMERA has a lengthy report in which they discover the source of Haaretz's assertion that the two officers (who were first named by Haaretz) were disciplined. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing. It ought to convince you of Haaretz's ideological biases and cause you to take anything they write with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, before Haaretz changed the report, it was picked up by many media outlets worldwide. Among those outlets are the Times of London, the BBC, and the New York Times, although the latter was bit more careful in how it reported the story, referring to a 'reprimand' rather than to the officers' being 'disciplined.'

In a story Tuesday, Haaretz continues to insist that the officers were 'disciplined,' although it now claims that the discipline was for the improper use of artillery shells rather than white phosphorus. If you read the full CAMERA report, you will see that there is no basis for claiming that the officers were disciplined.

Writing in Tuesday's Haaretz, Amos Harel is upset that the IDF didn't tell anyone about the reprimands in April or July 2009.

In April 2009, when the investigations ordered by Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi were completed, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel presented the findings to the media in a briefing. Harel briefly described the attack on the UNRWA compound at Tel al-Hawa, which was investigated by two different groups as part of the examination of the damage to international institutions.

The affair for which Eisenberg and Malka were later reprimanded was not mentioned at the briefing - the matter of the unjustified artillery fire: the use of live ammunition to help rescue a Givati Brigade platoon from a situation in which they were under anti-tank missile fire from Hamas - even though the orders allowed firing only smoke shells. The investigation found that Malka exceeded his authority, but his orders did not cause the death of any innocent civilians. Division commander Eisenberg, who was not directly involved in the decision, requested to be tried too, so as not to abandon his brigade commander.

Harel, who is now on leave before his his retirement from the IDF, said yesterday that the affair was raised in general terms during the investigation, and it was determined that the matter would be investigated more deeply at a later date. Therefore, the artillery fire was not brought up at the April briefing, he said.

Harel said it was a mistake that the results of the disciplinary action were not announced in July, and said he thought the matter "fell between the cracks" between the General Staff and Southern Command, two bodies whose relations are in any case sensitive.

For months, journalists who asked whether additional disciplinary actions had been taken against senior officers as a result of Operation Cast Lead were told "no." Now it turns out that they were misled. Military sources said yesterday that the IDF spokesman's office only heard about the matter for the first time on Sunday evening, when journalists asked for a response.


So did someone intentionally keep the matter from the IDF spokesman, or was it just an innocent mistake? That is a question the IDF must answer. Not providing an answer will only damage the IDF: After all, it was the IDF that investigated and tried. Why not publicize on time and prove that Israel dealt with such matters promptly, as it claims?

Maybe the IDF didn't tell anyone because it didn't want Haaretz running around claiming that the IDF had acknowledged that it committed 'war crimes' (which it did not commit and did not acknowledge committing) until it had completed its report and its review of the Goldstone Report. Maybe the IDF didn't tell anyone because it didn't want to give Goldstone more ammunition (surely, you cannot believe that if Goldstone knew about this, it would have caused him to give credence to the IDF's investigations). What law says that the IDF has to turn over all information it discovers to Haaretz immediately? If anything, the hysteria caused by Haaretz's Anshel Pfeffer over the last couple of days shows that not telling anyone at Haaretz about this in April or July was to the country's benefit.

Israel Matzav: Haaretz's search for scapegoats

Israel Matzav: Video: National Museum of American Jewish History

Video: National Museum of American Jewish History

The new National Museum of American Jewish History (www.nmajh.org), opening in November 2010, is dedicated to telling the still-unfolding story of Jews in America, who embraced freedom with its choices and challenges as they shaped and were shaped by our nation. The Museum envisions its new home as a place that welcomes all people, inviting them to discover what they have in common with the Jewish experience in America, as well as to explore the features that make this history distinctive.

Rising five stories above Independence Mall, in the heart of historic Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History will join Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell and other landmarks at the hallowed site of America's birth. There could not be a more fitting place for a museum that will explore the promise and challenges of liberty through the lends of the American Jewish experience.

Let's go the videotape (Hat Tip: Michael P).

Looks like a place to take the kids the next time we manage to take them to the US (we haven't taken all the kids since 2000, and we haven't taken any of the kids since 2004, although one kid has gone on her own).

Israel Matzav: Video: National Museum of American Jewish History

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian' Groundhog Day

'Palestinian' Groundhog Day

I've already shared this on Twitter but it's too good not to put here as well. It actually comes from the Twitter feed of President Obumbler's good friend Ali Abunimah, the founder of Electronic Intifadeh (Hat Tip: Abu Aardvark via Twitter).

Palestinian Groundhog Day: Saeb Erekat craws out of hole, sees his shadow, predicts 60 more yrs of "negotiations"


Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian' Groundhog Day

Israel Matzav: Israeli technology monitors cell death in cancer treatment

Israeli technology monitors cell death in cancer treatment

An Israeli company called Aposense has developed technology to monitor cell death in cancer treatment (Hat Tip: Instapundit).

When it comes to aggressive cancers, in the brain or lung for example, oncologists know that the sooner they can determine whether a treatment is unsuccessful, the sooner they can reevaluate and, if necessary, prescribe a new course of action. But typically, it takes two months or more to do the before-and-after comparisons that help determine whether a tumor is shrinking. Now an Israeli company called Aposense says it may have found a way to drastically speed up the process: an imaging marker that, when used with PET scans, indicates the presence of dying cells.

Apoptosis, the process by which cells commit suicide, is a vital mechanism in the body that weeds out damaged, infected, or otherwise unhealthy cells. No matter what the disease or the tissue, cells undergoing apoptosis have very distinct characteristics--the electrical profile of their membrane changes, the cells become more acidic, and lipids in the membrane lose their rigid order and become jumbled. Aposense believes it has found a way to target a trace marker to this combination of traits, which would let doctors image cell death and thereby determine whether radiation and chemotherapy are working within just a few days after treatment begins.

Read the whole thing.

As Glenn would say, "faster, faster."

Israel Matzav: Israeli technology monitors cell death in cancer treatment

Israel Matzav: Why would Israel kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Why would Israel kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Marc Lynch questions why Israel would kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (which obviously, no one knows for sure that Israel did; in fact, we may never have an unequivocal admission that Israel killed him).

Why would Israel put this de facto ceasefire at risk by an assassination? First off, it's impossible to say at this point whether they did --- no evidence has yet been presented to back up Hamas's claims. Much of the Arab public immediately believed it, though, as it immediately recalled the botched operation against Khaled Meshaal in Amman a decade ago, as well as the assassinations of leading Hamas figures such as Ahmed Yassin and Abd al-Aziz al-Rentissi in 2004. That doesn't mean that it's true. But since Hamas has already gone public with the accusation and promised revenge, it may spark off a dangerous cycle anyway.

What if it's true? There should be questions about the legitimacy and morality of assassinating one's enemies abroad, one would think. But that seems unlikely in this day and age, when the United States openly brags of its Predator strikes, discusses them primarily in terms of whether or not they "work" as opposed to whether or not they are legal or morally acceptable, and muses about whether or not to target Anwar al-Awlaki (the radical Islamist in Yemen who is also an American citizen). The international norms against such assassinations have been thoroughly degraded by the Global War on Terror, and the Obama administration has escalated rather than reined in such measures.

So the real debate is more likely to be about the logic of the assassination and whether it "works." But it's not obvious what that would even mean in this context -- it makes little strategic sense. If Israelis and the PA both acknowledge that Hamas has been controlling attacks against Israel from Gaza, what is gained by a provocation such as this? Would it have "worked" if Hamas fails to respond, demonstrating its impotence? Would it have "worked" if Hamas does respond, killing innocent Israeli civilians and possibly triggering another round of horrific violence? Would it have "worked" if a Hamas retaliation (or even an unfulfilled threat of retaliation) offers a pretext for maintaining or intensifying the blockade of Gaza? At this point I'm seeing a blizzard of Arab commentary on the subject but no real consensus. But smaller things have sparked disastrous confrontations in the past, and I only hope that this one does not.

There are two issues to be dealt with here: Why would Israel want al-Mabhouh dead and why would it risk the de facto cease fire in Gaza to get the job done?

There are two reasons why Israel would want al-Mabhouh dead, and I'm going to take the second reason first because the main reason segues into the second question. Think Munich. Remember after the Munich Olympic Massacre how Israel sent agents all over the world to kill the murderers of Israel's Olympic team? Why did Israel do that? To show that actions have consequences. Al-Mabhouh kidnapped and murdered two Israeli soldiers. The kidnappings were among the very first terror attacks carried out by Hamas. If Israel killed al-Mabhouh, it has shown that it knows how to settle scores and that terrorists should not expect to ever be able to live in peace (think Sheikh Yassin, who was released from an Israeli prison in the aftermath of the botched Khaled Meshaal assassination, and got his virgins via IDF helicopters a few years later). Al-Mabhouh knew all that - that's why he lived in exile in Syria and it's why he had a security detail.

But the second reason for knocking off al-Mabhouh is far more important. It also provides a military justification for the operation.

Mabhouh helped found Hamas’s armed wing Izzadin Kassam in the 1980s, was behind the kidnapping in the first intifada of two Israeli soldiers and later established strong ties in Sudan, which he used to smuggle weaponry from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

He was reportedly responsible for the weapons convoy that, according to foreign reports, Israel bombed during Operation Cast Lead as it was making its way to Gaza through the Sudanese desert.

In other words, if Israel took out Mabhouh, it also took out Hamas' weapons supplier, lessening the likelihood of any retaliation from Gaza. And indeed, that's why we're already hearing about the possibility of Hamas trying to take revenge from abroad, where its capabilities are low. It will need help from Hezbullah to even try to take revenge - and I wouldn't bet on that help being forthcoming.

Israel Matzav: Why would Israel kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Israel Matzav: Al-Guardian claims to have proof IAF bombed Gaza flour mill

Al-Guardian claims to have proof IAF bombed Gaza flour mill

As you may recall, as part of a blood libel that Israel is trying to starve Gazans, the Goldstone Report claimed that Israel had deliberately targeted the al-Badr flour mill in Northern Gaza.

919. On 9 January, at around 3 or 4 a.m., the flour mill was hit by an air strike, possibly by an F-16. The missile struck the floor that housed one of the machines indispensable to the mill’s functioning, completely destroying it. The guard who was on duty at the time called Mr. Hamada to inform him that the building had been hit and was on fire. He was unhurt. In the next 60 to 90 minutes the mill was hit several times by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter. These missiles hit the upper floors of the factory, destroying key machinery. Adjoining buildings, including the grain store, were not hit. The strikes entirely disabled the factory and it has not been back in operation since.

922. The Mission found the Hamada brothers to be credible and reliable witnesses. It has no reason to doubt the veracity of their testimony.

The report that Israel issued over the weekend contradicts Goldstone on the flour mill.

(3) El-Bader flour mill

163. With respect to the allegation of deliberate targeting of the el-Bader flour mill, the IDF conducted a command investigation, which gathered evidence from numerous sources, including relevant commanders and officers and ground and aerial forces. In addition, the investigator received information from the Israeli CLA, which was in direct contact with the owner of el-Bader flour mill, Mr. Rashad Hamada. The command investigation included several findings, which are delineated below.

164. From the outset of the Gaza Operation, the immediate area in which the flour mill was located was used by enemy armed forces as a defensive zone, due to its proximity to Hamas’s stronghold in the Shati refugee camp. Hamas had fortified this area with tunnels and booby-trapped houses, and deployed its forces to attack IDF troops operating there.

For example, 200 meters south of the flour mill an IDF squad was ambushed by five Hamas operatives in a booby-trapped house; 500 meters east of the flour mill another squad engaged enemy forces in a house that was also used for weapons storage; and adjacent to the flour mill, two booby-trapped houses exploded.

165. The IDF ground operation in this area began on 9 January 2009, during night time. Before the ground operation, the IDF issued early warnings to the residents of the area, included recorded telephone calls, urging them to evacuate. Such telephone calls were made to the flour mill as well.

166. While preparing for the operation, the commanders identified the flour mill as a “strategic high point” in the area, due to its height and clear line of sight. Nevertheless, in the planning stage, it was decided not to pre-emptively attack the flour mill, in order to prevent damage to civilian infrastructure as much as possible.

167. In the course of the operation, IDF troops came under intense fire from different Hamas positions in the vicinity of the flour mill. The IDF forces fired back towards the sources of fire and threatening locations. As the IDF returned fire, the upper floor of the flour mill was hit by tank shells. A phone call warning was not made to the flour mill immediately before the strike, as the mill was not a pre-planned target.

168. Several hours after the incident, and following a report about fire in the flour mill, the IDF coordinated the arrival of several fire engines to fight the fire.

169. The Military Advocate General reviewed the findings and the records of the command investigation and other materials. In addition, the Military Advocate General reviewed the information included in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report, as well as the transcript of the public testimony of Mr. Hamada to the Fact-Finding Mission.

170. Taking into account all available information, the Military Advocate General determined that the flour mill was struck by tank shells during combat. The Military Advocate General did not find any evidence to support the assertion that the mill was attacked from the air using precise munitions, as alleged in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report. The Military Advocate General determined that the allegation was not supported in the Report itself, nor in the testimony to the Fact-Finding Mission by Rashad Hamada, who had left the area prior to the incident in response to the IDF’s early warnings.

Photographs of the mill following the incident do not show structural damage consistent with an air attack.

171. The Military Advocate General found that, in the specific circumstances of combat, and given its location, the flour mill was a legitimate military target in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict. The purpose of the attack was to neutralize immediate threats to IDF forces.

172. The Military Advocate General did not accept the allegation in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report that the purpose of the strike was to deprive the civilian population of Gaza of food. In this regard, he noted the fact that shortly after the incident, the IDF allowed Palestinian fire trucks to reach the area and extinguish the flames, as well as the extensive amount of food and flour that entered Gaza through Israel during the Gaza Operation.

173. Although the Military Advocate General could not conclusively determine that the flour mill was in fact used by Hamas’s military operatives, there was some evidence of such use. The Military Advocate General noted that Mr. Hamada testified before the Fact-Finding Mission that after the operation he found empty bullets on the roof of the flour mill. This could not have been the result of IDF fire, since – as was evident from the findings of the command investigation – the IDF forces which occupied the mill’s compound three days after the incident did not occupy the roof of the mill, where they would have been exposed to enemy fire.

174. Accordingly, the Military Advocate General found no reason to order a criminal investigation regarding the case.

London's Guardian newspaper is claiming that it has photographs of the 'front half' of a bomb that was dropped on the flour mill. It did not publish the photographs (I'll talk about the one at the top of this post below - patience everyone).

The UN mine action team, which handles ordnance disposal in Gaza, has told the Guardian that the remains of a 500-pound Mk82 aircraft-dropped bomb were found in the ruins of the mill last January. Photographs of the front half of the bomb have been obtained by the Guardian.


But the Guardian visited the mill days after the war last year and on the first floor of the building saw what appeared to be the remains of an aircraft-dropped bomb in the burnt-out milling machinery.

The UN mine action team said it identified an aircraft-dropped bomb at the mill on 25 January last year and removed it on 11 February. "Item located was the front half of a Mk82 aircraft bomb with 273M fuse," according to the team. "The remains of the bomb were found on an upper floor in a narrow walkway between burnt-out machinery and an outside wall." The bomb was made safe by a technical field manager and removed.

The team also provided two photographs of what it said were the bomb remains, marked with the date and time it was identified: "25 Jan, 14:38". The team did not do a damage assessment of the building to see what other ordnance hit because that was not its task.

The picture at the top of this post came from a BBC report in June 2009. The caption says that it is the top two floors of the al-Badr flour mill. Here's a larger version of the picture:

I am not a military expert, but the damage would seem to be more consistent with a hit from a helicopter or a tank shell than from an F-16 as Goldstone claims above. If the building had been hit by an F-16, I would think that the roof would be gone. While Goldstone also refers to helicopters, note that the Guardian report, which challenges the Israeli account, refers to a 500-pound bomb. Helicopters don't carry 500-pound bombs. A 500-pound bomb would not have left the roof intact (more evidence that the roof was intact follows below).

Elder of Ziyon publishes a satellite photograph of the mill, which was taken by UNITAR - the United Nations Institute for Training and Research - a week after the damage allegedly occurred on January 9. Here's that photograph (Hat Tip: CAMERA Snapshots). Note that in the satellite image, the roof is still intact.

Elder quotes UNITAR's version of what happened, which is much different than Goldstone's.
The Al-Badr Flour Factory of Sudaniyya appears in the satellite imagery to be composed of multiple building sites situated along the north side of El-Bahar Street. Based on the detailed assessment from the imagery, the only visible damages detected to the factory complex are to the southernmost building which was severely damaged along the southeastern side. The damages appear to have occurred between 16 and 18 January 2009. Within the immediate 500m vicinity of the factory complex there are a total of 43 detected damage sites, including 33 destroyed or severely damaged buildings. The majority of this identified damages occurred between 10 and 18 January 2009. There are clear indications in the imagery of extensive IDF tank movement and related damage to both buildings and vegetation cover in this area during the last three days of the conflict. It is probable, given
the damage signatures, that the majority of damage in this area was caused by intense IDF ground fire. It is important to note that because of the angle of satellite imagery acquisition, it is possible that severe damage to the north and eastern side of the flour factory buildings has not been detected.
Note that the BBC report in June was consistent with UNITAR as to the date, but with Goldstone as to how the flour mill was damaged.
Manager Mahmoud Hamada says it was hit from both sides by F16s and helicopters on 16 January, following telephone warnings that the building would be targeted, but he insists there were no Hamas fighters in the area.
Harris Ad-Hoc has some serious questions regarding Goldstone's account of what happened at the flour mill.
First of all Mr. Hamada is obviously a hearsay witness with regard to the actual events at the flour mill. The only witness was »the guard«, i.e. the only person present at that compound during the incident since the mill owner and the report explicitly speak of the guard as a singular. Obviously the guard is by far the most important witness regarding the incidents at the site. He in fact was the only witness. But the report does not give any hint that this witness has been heard directly. One has to assume that he was not heard at all. Obviously the mission members considered him to be not that important and therefore the events that actually had happened at that site not that important.

But the mission considers Mr. Hamada to be credible and regard his testimony as corroborated. According to these two persons the building was hit by an air strike, »possibly by a F 16«. One wonders how a single person in the middle of the night could possibly determine that some explosion on the area had been the impact of an air strike. But note how careful the mission members put it: »possibly by a F 16«. That is reasonable since neither they nor the guard would have been able to determine with certainty the origin of some air strike: Helicopter, drone, fixed wing etc.

According to the report the hitting was very precise. In fact it is claimed here that the first missile was aimed at a particular floor housing the indispensable machinery.

Then the building was hit several times and for 60 – 90 minutes »by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter«. In contrast they must be very sure about this: It was one single Apache helicopter. And missiles were fired by this helicopter. How can they be so sure, one wonders? They weren´t there. Mr. Hamada wasn´t there. Apaches can fire their missiles from several kilometers away. Usually no one sees them coming. But that single guard person in the middle of the night was able to determine the type of aircraft and the number of aircrafts involved precisely? That is strictly impossible.

What about the precision of the alleged attack? After the first »missile« had hit, the building was hit several times for more than one hour. That is not a surgical targeting of specific machines on specific floors. That is a barrage. One wonders why anyone would occupy valuable military resources like one or more helicopters for such a barrage if a single large free fall bomb could have reached the allegedly desired outcome of the disablement of that mill in seconds.
And of course we know that the flour mill is damaged but still standing.

Writing in October, Harris doesn't get everything right (he says that the IDF used the mill's roof, which the IDF report issued on Friday denies), but he does come up with this quote from Hamada's testimony before the Goldstone Commission:
On the dawn of the tenth of January, we received a call from the guard telling us that the factory was targeted by air with a missile and that it had caught fire. After 15 minutes, he called us again and told us that there are tanks approaching the area and that the factory was targeted with tank fire. We immediately informed the ICRC and the Civil Defense in order to put out the fire in the mill. At 11:00 a.m., we were told by the Civil Defense that the fire had been put out and that the guard had been evacuated from the surface area of the factory.
Was the report of the building being targeted by air a mistake all along? Was it only targeted by tank fire? It sure sounds like it.

In conclusion, the IDF's account of what happened at the al-Badr flour mill is at least as credible as the Goldstone Report account. The claim that the IDF dropped a 500-pound bomb on the flour mill sounds awfully suspicious, and we wait for the Guardian to show us the evidence.

Finally, here's a picture of Mr. Hamada with his milling equipment (also from the BBC). Take a look and tell me: Does this machine look like it was in a building that was hit by a 500-pound bomb?

I don't think so either.
Israel Matzav: Al-Guardian claims to have proof IAF bombed Gaza flour mill

Israel Matzav: Israeli Arab MK: 'If there is no Israel, there will be no churches in the Middle East'

Israeli Arab MK: 'If there is no Israel, there will be no churches in the Middle East'

Ayoub Kara is a rarity in this country. He's an Israeli Arab MK who gets it. In fact, he's an Israeli who just happened to be born Arab and not an 'Israeli Arab' like the ones I usually describe with scarequotes. There are two reasons for this: He's Druze and not Muslim, and he belongs to the Likud and not to one of the 'Israeli Arab' parties. In fact, Kara often gets it better than his Prime Minister.

Kara gets it about Christians in the Middle East enough that he met with the Pope in Rome last week and tried to explain it to the Pope.

Member of Knesset Ayoub Kara said on Monday that he got the feeling from his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican last week that the Catholic Church was behind the pontiff on behalf of the Jewish people. Speaking on Arutz Sheva's Hebrew journal, the deputy minister for development of the Negev and the Galilee said that the pope's speech on International Holocaust Day showed that he knew what happened in the concentration camps.

Kara said that after his meeting with the pope, he had an argument with the Church's representative on the Middle East, who said internationalization of Jerusalem was the optimal solution to the Arab-Israeli struggle over the capital. Kara responded by saying that if there was no Israel, there would be no churches in the Middle East, noting how the Christians of Bethlehem and Nazareth are being treated by their Muslim neighbors. He added that the interest of the Church should be Israeli control, and felt that some of what he said was accepted by the cardinal.

I have my doubts that this Pope gets it about the Holocaust (see canonization of Pope Pius XII and Williamson) but Kara definitely gets it about what would happen to churches in the Middle East if there were no State of Israel. In fact, the number of Christians is increasing in only one country in our region.

You guessed it: Israel.

Israel Matzav: Israeli Arab MK: 'If there is no Israel, there will be no churches in the Middle East'

Israel Matzav: Explosives 'wash up' off Ashdod and Ashkelon

Explosives 'wash up' off Ashdod and Ashkelon

Two barrels of explosives washed up off the coast between Ashdod and Ashkelon on Monday night. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Islamic Jihad, the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades issued a leaflet in Gaza claiming responsibility for sending three explosive devices to Ashkelon and Ashdod.

A large barrel filled with explosives was found on a beach in the Ashkelon area Monday morning. The beach was closed.

Policemen and bomb disposal experts neutralized the explosives, according to police spokesman Miki Rosenfeld.

A second barrel filled with explosives was discovered later in the day on the shore of the city of Ashdod.

Authorities conducted a controlled explosion on the second barrel. Police were combing the beaches, and nearby areas were closed to the public. Authorities have not discussed a third device.

The Israel Defense Forces, in a statement Monday, said several Palestinian groups had claimed responsibility January 29 for a maritime terrorist attack after the detonation of two sea-born explosive devices about two kilometers (1.24 miles) off the coast of Gaza.

Haaretz adds:

Both barrels, containing between 15 and 25 kilograms of explosives each, were neutralized by police sappers.

Sources in the Southern District police said they believed the barrels, which originated in Gaza, were intended to explode next to a ship or near beachgoers.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the barrels.

Police have banned fishing or swimming at the beaches between Ashdod and Zikim today over concerns that there may be additional explosives still in the Mediterranean or on a beach.


Security officials said that terror actions at sea are carried out jointly by Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.

As far as is known, Hamas is not directly involved in these actions.

Security officials said the attempted attack was original, but not especially sophisticated, and that attempts by terror groups to perpetrate attacks by sea would continue and increase in the near future.

Large police contingents are to deploy today to search for any additional explosive charges. The operation was ordered by police head of operations Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sao after he held consultations.

The search began last night along the shore, on foot and by air, and was scheduled to resume at dawn today.

Security personnel at infrastructure facilities along the shore were instructed to heighten their level of alertness and to conduct increased patrols.

Police are asking the public to be particularly aware of any suspicious objects, especially at bathing beaches, and to inform the police immediately if they find anything unusual.

The barrel that washed ashore on Ashkelon's Hofit beach was discovered by a fisherman at 11:30 A.M. After he called police the beach was evacuated. It took several hours for sappers to neutralize the explosives, which were taken to a laboratory for examination.

YNet adds:

A senior official in one of the Palestinian organizations said that the devices discovered in the sea near Ashdod and Ashkelon were intended for a terrorist attack on the Ashdod Port and on oil infrastructures in the Ashkelon area.

The source told Ynet that the planned attack was a joint effort by the al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, Salah a-Din Brigades, the PRC's military wing and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing. The senior official said that the devices were sent to sea last weekend in response to Israel's crimes.

Someone please remind me what the difference is between Fatah and the other terrorists. Why are we 'negotiating' with Fatah?

Israel Matzav: Explosives 'wash up' off Ashdod and Ashkelon

Israel Matzav: Obama's missteps on terrorism

Obama's missteps on terrorism

There's an important article on the Obama administration's approach to terrorism in Sunday's Washington Post by former CIA director Michael Hayden.

Two days after his inauguration, President Obama issued an executive order that limited all interrogations by the U.S. government to the techniques authorized in the Army Field Manual. The CIA had not seen the final draft of the order, let alone been allowed to comment, before it was issued. I thought that odd since the order was less a legal document -- there was no claim that the manual exhausted the universe of lawful techniques -- than a policy one: These particular lawful techniques would be all that the country would need, at least for now.

A similar drama unfolded in April over the release of Justice Department memos that had authorized the CIA interrogation program. CIA Director Leon Panetta and several of his predecessors opposed public release of the memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on the only legitimate grounds for such a stand: that the documents were legitimately still classified and their release would gravely harm national security. On this policy -- not legal -- question, the president sided with his attorney general rather than his CIA chief.

In August, seemingly again in contradiction to the president's policy of not looking backward and over the objections of the CIA, Justice pushed to release the CIA inspector general's report on the interrogation program. Then Justice decided to reopen investigations of CIA officers that had been concluded by career prosecutors years ago, even though Panetta and seven of his predecessors said that doing so would be unfair, unwarranted and harmful to the agency's current mission.

In November, Justice announced that it intended to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several others in civilian courts for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The White House made clear that this was a Justice Department decision, which is odd because the decision was not legally compelled (other detainees are to be tried by military commissions) and the reasons given for making it (military trials could serve as a recruitment tool for al-Qaeda, harm relations with allies, etc.) were not legal but political.


Some may celebrate that the current Justice Department's perspective on the war on terrorism has become markedly more dominant in the past year. We should probably understand the implications of that before we break out the champagne. That apparently no one recommended on Christmas Day that Abdulmutallab be handled, at least for a time, as an enemy combatant should be concerning. That our director of national intelligence, Denny Blair, bravely said as much during congressional testimony this month is cause for hope.

Actually, Blair suggested that the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), announced by the administration in August, should have been called in. A government spokesman later pointed out that the group does not yet exist.

There's a final oddity. In August, the government unveiled the HIG for questioning al-Qaeda and announced that the FBI would begin questioning CIA officers about the alleged abuses in the 2004 inspector general's report. They are apparently still getting organized for the al-Qaeda interrogations. But the interrogations of CIA personnel are well underway.

Read it all. When the next 9/11 happens (God forbid), you'll know why.

Israel Matzav: Obama's missteps on terrorism

Israel Matzav: Video: Protesting George Galloway in Boston

Video: Protesting George Galloway in Boston

Here's video of Monday night's protest in Boston against the arrival of George Galloway, the moonbat who has been expelled from Egypt and barred from Canada.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana). I'll have more after the video.

I don't understand how someone could come to the US and be allowed in when he is coming with the declared intent of raising money for an organization that the United States classifies as a terror organization.

Silly me - this is the Age of Obama. We 'engage' with the terrorists, read them their Miranda rights when 'engagement' fails and then turn the other cheek when they come back and kill us.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Video: Protesting George Galloway in Boston

Israel Matzav: X-band radar not all it's cracked up to be

X-band radar not all it's cracked up to be

Remember the x-band radar President Bush gave us as a parting gift in 2008? We got the land-borne version, so this may or may not apply to us, but the sea-borne version(pictured) may not be all it was cracked up to be.

A target missile was successfully launched at approximately 3:40 p.m. PST from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Approximately six minutes later, a Ground-Based Interceptor was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Both the target missile and Ground-Based Interceptor performed nominally after launch. However, the Sea-Based X-band radar did not perform as expected.

Program officials will conduct an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the failure to intercept.

Israel Matzav: X-band radar not all it's cracked up to be

Israel Matzav: Disgusting: Auschwitz model made from gold from Jews' teeth

Disgusting: Auschwitz model made from gold from Jews' teeth

I was going to ignore this story because I was so disgusted by it, and I am not going to give you the picture of it (which you can find - where else - in Haaretz) for the same reason. But I thought David Hazony's response merited brief mention and a link.

I am speaking, of course, about a monstrosity that has appeared in Copenhagen. A model of the entrance to Auschwitz, complete with a little train car, made out of gold — gold taken from the teeth of Holocaust victims. See for yourself. Maybe someone will say it is a hoax and relieve us of the notion.

I do not know what the artist thinks about Nazism, about Judaism, about anti-Semitism, about violence, or about art. I do not care. According to Haaretz’s captions, he put a Rolex watch in the tower, to hint at Switzerland’s complicity. I just don’t care. To me this is worse than political art, worse than feces-laden art, worse than almost anything called art. If art is meant to be a human thing, what can we say to an artist who does not seem to realize that we still count among the living the victims who passed through those gates? That every gram of gold that he touched may yet belong to someone? That it was extracted not with novocaine in a benevolent dentist’s office, but there, and then, and in that way?

Israel Matzav: Disgusting: Auschwitz model made from gold from Jews' teeth

Israel Matzav: Only 36% of Americans believe US is safer than before 9/11

Only 36% of Americans believe US is safer than before 9/11

A new Rasmussen poll shows that only 36% of Americans believe that the US is safer than it was before 9/11.

Let's go to the videotape.

On second thought, you go to the videotape - the embedded version was starting automatically. But make sure you come back....

I wonder what Israelis would say if we were asked the same question. My guess is that most would say that we are safer. Even though we are facing the Iranian threat, it does not feel as immediate as the threat of a terror attack, God forbid. And when it comes to terror attacks, there is no doubt that since Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002, we have become much better prepared for preventing terror attacks. Bli ayin hara (warding off evil eyes).

Israel Matzav: Only 36% of Americans believe US is safer than before 9/11

RubinReports: Is America A Declining Power? Its Friends Think So and They Are Scared

Is America A Declining Power? Its Friends Think So and They Are Scared

By Barry Rubin

“What do you think,” asked the reporter, about the U.S. pressure on China?”

Puzzled, I responded, “What pressure on China?”

And then I realized what he meant. Like many observers, especially those in the Third World, he thought that U.S. policy was very tightly coordinated. In other words, the United States was about to sell arms to Beijing’s rival, Taiwan, and have the Dalai Lama, who claims to be the rightful ruler of Chinese-occupied Tibet, come to Washington as part of a grand scheme to force China into supporting sanctions against Iran.

This is, partly, where conspiracy theories come from, assuming that every step taken by the United States is carefully planned out and that every event in the world—given American power—is part of a larger scheme. Why believe that the United States itself blew up the World Trade Center? Based on the assumption that the United States is too strong, its intelligence too good, to let a bunch of barely trained terrorists enter country, board planes, and fly them into its tallest building.

It’s sort of a backhanded compliment in a way. But of course, the September 11, 2001, attacks did succeed due partly to a mix of American democratic openness and incompetent naiveté (plus luck, of course).

And increasingly the idea of an omnipotent United States, whose wrath must be feared and protection is worth cultivating, is sharply on the decline in today's world. Which is, after all, what President Barack Obama wants, at least the first part of those two items. But be careful what you wish for, in this case you will get it.

In fact, the United States is not pressuring China to raise sanctions against Iran, though it is politely asking it to do so. Indeed, there are some interesting clues here to anyone curious about whether the United States is a declining power. Like clues in any mystery, they are very small and have to be examined carefully under a magnifying glass.

On her first visit to China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly—publicly, mind you—announced that human rights would not be an issue in U.S.-China relations. It is one thing for a U.S. government to play down the question in direct talks, but to announce publicly it was off the table, getting nothing in return, is quite a concession. If the Chinese government believes her, that is a green light for it to act in a more repressive manner.

Come to think of it, the administration in effect did the same thing to the Iranian regime after the stolen election until Iran’s obvious intransigence and public pressure at home forced President Barack Obama to reverse himself somewhat.

Then on another trip, Clinton made as her main publicized argument for China to back sanctions on Iran that unless it did so Israel might attack Iran. That is, she was avoiding any threat of U.S. action against China (support sanctions or we’ll hurt you) or the idea that China must act or the United States would have to (support sanctions or one day America will have to attack Iran) but only based on the actions of a third party, Israel.

This is the approach taken by an administration that wants to avoid the use of power at almost all costs, and dozens of other examples can be cited to demonstrate that point.

Take the Dalai Lama, for example. When he visited Washington the last time, Obama—reversing the behavior of his three predecessors—refused to meet with him.


What the Obama Administration has repeatedly signaled other countries can be defined as possible:

--To enemies: We are sorry, let’s engage, we’ll make compromises and work out all our problems.

--To key neutrals with whom the United States has ok relations (like Russia, China, and Pakistan): We need you more than you need us.

--To friends outside of Western Europe: We won’t necessarily back you against your enemies. To me the single most shocking example is the refusal to back Iraqi complaints about Syrian sponsorship of terrorism (which also killed Americans) against it, but there are many more.

--To Western Europeans: We won’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do and if we do you can safely ignore us.

Is this above classification 100 percent fair? No, exceptions can be found. But it is not a distorted picture either.

This is a portrait of a president and an administration which wants to be popular above almost all things, which seeks to avoid conflict, which is apologetic about American power. It could be argued that this is a necessary downplaying of international affairs to focus on domestic issues. The problem is that such a posture invites, rather than defuses, problems. At any rate, contrary to the pre-inaugural predictions of Vice President Joe Biden, the administration has not yet faced a single major crisis. But I don’t think that can be attributed to this strategy and how much longer will its luck hold? Long, one hopes.

All this brings us to Lech Walesa, revered leader of Poland’s struggle against both Soviet and Communist tyranny. He has now taken the unprecedented step of going to Illinois to endorse a Republican candidate for governor there. The candidate is a Polish-American but still this is an amazing thing to do.

During his visit, Walesa said:

"The US does not lead morally or politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. That was the hope, that whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today we lost that hope"

Yet why did Walesa say such a thing? Obviously, there is a general worry throughout many countries about the weakness of the Obama administration. But there’s more:

--Poland had gone out on a limb to accept American defensive missiles, nominally against Iran but really as a sign of U.S. commitment to protect Poland from Russia.

--Not only did the Obama administration change its plan (which is justifiable regarding the anti-Iran defenses argument but not the wider and real strategic purpose) but it did so without consulting the Polish government which was only informed at the last minute.


--The decision was announced on September 17, 2009, which everyone in Central Europe knew was the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, followed by the annexation of eastern Poland to the USSR.

It was a triple slap in the face of Poland and every nation which regained independence from Soviet tyranny.

But that’s not all. Everyone but the Central Europeans seems to have forgotten an open letter sent to Obama last July by 22 top Central European figures, including 7 former prime ministers or presidents, and 9 former foreign or defense ministers begging him not to abandon them. Walesa was one of them.

The letter stated:

“We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not. Our region suffered when the United States [accepted Soviet domination over it] And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle.”


Not only is the Obama administration failing to stand up for liberal democratic values—and I mean here not just advocating democracy abroad but even more importantly supporting democratic friends and opposing expansionist dictatorships—but arguably it is not even standing up for U.S. interests.

Even the South American reporter interviewing me, the conversation mentioned at the start of this article, evinced a fear for his own country given the lack of U.S. leadership and failure to oppose dictatorships like Iran and Venezuela.

The good news is that the problem does not arise from America’s people or its military strength or even its economic difficulties. A lack of will, a thirst for empty popularity, and an ideological orientation among its current leaders is to blame.

These factors can be easily remedied if those in power come to understand that they must use power. And I’m not talking here about attacking anybody militarily but combating them by rallying friends and creating a clear, coordinated strategy, toughness, and determined diplomatic efforts.

Many, who support the administration, no doubt find this analysis to be unfair, biased, or even ridiculous. But here’s the problem: a very long list of examples can be provided as evidence of this fact and almost nothing can be added up in the other column.

For people who boast about listening to the rest of the world, they should start listening to the rest of the world that is friendly toward the United States.

RubinReports: Is America A Declining Power? Its Friends Think So and They Are Scared
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