Sunday, 21 February 2010

Elder of Ziyon: Arab op-ed slams PA corruption

Elder of Ziyon: Arab op-ed slams PA corruption

Love of the Land: Did Israel Just Acquire a Strategic Bombing Capability?

Did Israel Just Acquire a Strategic Bombing Capability?


Noah Pollak
Contentions/Commentary
21 February '10

You don’t have to be Carl von Clausewitz to understand this significance of this:

Israel’s air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting rival Iran within its range.

The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel’s military. The planes can fly at least 20 consecutive hours and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying diverse payloads.

At the fleet’s inauguration ceremony at a sprawling air base in central Israel, the drone dwarfed an F-15 fighter jet parked beside it. The unmanned plane resembles its predecessor, the Heron, but can fly higher, reaching an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), and remain in the air longer.


(Read full post)


Love of the Land: Did Israel Just Acquire a Strategic Bombing Capability?

Israel Matzav: Mossad trailed Mabhouh twice before?

Mossad trailed Mabhouh twice before?

Long-time readers know that I always warn you to take anything written by the Times of London's Uzi Mahnaimi with a grain of salt. This is because he tends to be sensationalist and because he has a clear political agenda. If Mahnaimi were correct, Israel would have attacked Iran's nuclear facilities three years ago, and Tzipi Livni was once a death defying Mossad agent.

With that in mind, Mahnaimi reports in Sunday's Times of London that the Mossad trailed Hamas murderer and arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to Dubai on two occasions prior to January's liquidation.

Yesterday Dhahi Khalfan, the Dubai police chief, said investigators had found that some of the passports had been used in Dubai before. About three months ago it appears Mossad agents using the stolen identities followed Mabhouh when he travelled to Dubai and then on to China. About two months ago they followed him on another visit to Dubai.

It goes without saying that Mahnaimi is from the school that claims that the sky is falling at Mossad headquarters over the fallout from Mabhouh's death.

One well-informed Israeli source said: “The operative teams were very much aware of the CCTV in Dubai, but they have been astonished at the ability of the Dubai police to reconstruct and assemble all the images into one account.”

For Israel, the fallout has been considerable and the reverberations continue. The real owners of the stolen or forged passports, several of them Britons living in Israel, have complained that they were innocent victims of a murder plot.

The Mossad agents who used their names have been put on Interpol’s wanted list, and the real individuals are worried that they will now always be associated with the murder of a Hamas official.

Dubai can no longer avoid being embroiled in the Arab- Israeli conflict. It is calling for an international arrest warrant to be issued against Dagan and says it will release more information confirming that this was a Mossad killing.

In Britain there were initial suspicions that the government had been tipped off about the operation, or had even quietly condoned it. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, demanded to know when the Foreign Office had first found out that British passport holders were involved in the affair.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office insisted there was no mystery or cover-up. “Suggestions that the government had prior warning or was in some way complicit in this affair are baseless,” he said.

But Mahnaimi to the contrary, another source in his own newspaper does not believe there will be any adverse fallout to Israel from the incident.

Diplomatic outrage is one thing, but severing ties with Mossad to punish Israel’s secret service for using British passports for an assassination would be to Britain’s detriment.

The intelligence world is dirty and grey, and Britain, despite its attempts to be perceived as a moral force, has to play with the dirtiest to ensure that it can share information that is so crucial to maintaining a handle on enemies and potential enemies.

Co-operation with Mossad or with Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, or the Saudis or Algerians is as vital as it is to share in the intercepted signals and intelligence material acquired by the American National Security Agency.

...

If you work in the intelligence game, you have to be aware of the grey areas. Mossad may have no time for MI6’s more bureaucratic rules, but the Israeli organisation is a unique asset.

This applies not only to the security of its own country but also for the West’s because of its ability to operate secretly in the militant Islamic world. Sharing with Mossad, however, can be a dangerous business.

Similarly, talking to the ISI has the potential for embarrassment. But the arrest of Afghan Taleban commanders in Pakistan has underlined its importance, despite an ambivalent attitude towards the Taleban. Without ISI help, the war in Afghanistan will not be won.

You will recall that on Thursday I reported that Britain had threatened to cut off contacts with the Mossad. I wouldn't bet on that happening.

Israel Matzav: Mossad trailed Mabhouh twice before?

Israel Matzav: Cairo synagogue firebombed

Cairo synagogue firebombed

The synagogue (which I still recognize from my trip there 30 years ago) in downtown Cairo was firebombed on Sunday morning. A 'bomb' was thrown across the street from a synagogue in Cairo. Officials described the bomb as a bag with gasoline canisters containing sulfuric acid and matches.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Sandmonkey via Twitter).



In one of his tweets, Sandmonkey said that the police were trying to cover up what happened.

Hmmm.

More on this story here.


Israel Matzav: Cairo synagogue firebombed

Love of the Land: Learn To Deceive Hezbollah

Learn To Deceive Hezbollah


Tariq Alhomayed
Asharq Al-Awsat
21 February '10

The comments made by Ali Mekdad, a member of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc on the reactions of some of the March 14 Alliance leadership regarding the telephone call between the President of Iran and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah were extremely funny. In this telephone conversation, Ahmadinejad spoke to Nasrallah about the necessity of resistance, being ready against any possible aggression, and stressed that "this readiness must be at a level that they (the Zionists) will be finished off and the region will be rid of them forever if they want to repeat previous mistakes." Of course, Nasrallah's answer to Ahmadinejad was clear and unequivocal, and he said that "the resistance is in good condition and does not fear Israeli threats."

The Hezbollah parliamentary bloc member, MP Ali Mekdad, responding to some of the March 14 Alliance fears, namely that Lebanon will be transformed into an arena for Iranian interests, began be describing those who fear Lebanon being exploited as being "mouthpieces." Mekdad also sarcastically and derisively told them "if you are not proficient in political analysis, then we ask you to enter any school or university and learn!"

The truth is that it is up to the Lebanese people who want to deal with Hezbollah not to go to school or university to learn political analysis but instead to learn deception, as this will allow them to better understand Hezbollah and how to deal with them. The consequences of events does not require that they be shared or analyzed, but that the Lebanese people be extremely aware of everything that Hezbollah says, and of course everything that the Iranians President says, because Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah are moving in the same direction.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Learn To Deceive Hezbollah

To Refute, not to Silence

To Refute, not to Silence

The Andrew Sullivan-Leon Wieseltier spat is not particularly important, for all its going on for an entire week. However, Wieseltier's second installment contains some valuable linguistic distinctions that need to be understood and employed when Israel's enemies do their "offended, threatened and martyred act":

To the best of my recollection, I have never characterized Mearsheimer and Walt, or anybody else, as “the modern equivalent of Der Sturmer.” And of course AIPAC “has massive influence in Congress”--but that is hardly all that Mearsheimer and Walt claim! Anyway, they, and Sullivan, have the right to say any damn thing they want about AIPAC, and Israel, and Jews. And I have the right to respond as strictly and as definitively as I can. I do not wish to silence them, I wish to refute them. I also do not wish to allow them to enjoy the sanctuary of the piously skinless. People who give offense will get offense. I appreciate the delicacy, or rather the indelicacy, of my allegation about Sullivan. I did not propose that he is an anti-Semite. I did propose that the scorn and the fury that characterizes his discussion of Israel and some of its Jewish supporters is wholly unwarranted by the requirements of a critical analysis of the settlements or the Gaza war, and that it may therefore be mistaken for bigotry. (There are conservative opponents of what they virulently call “the gay agenda” who should not be surprised if they have to defend themselves against the charge of homophobia, even if they are not homophobic.) If I should be more careful about the question of anti-Semitism, so should Sullivan. He complacently says that on this score “I did my best.” No, he did not. There is a lot of this prejudice in the world right now, and this is really no time to be sloppy, or South Parky, about it. Sullivan is correct that there is not much difference between our views about the settlements and Israeli brutality in Gaza and the ideological orientation of the Likud--but there is all the difference in the world, because I have labored to provide an example of what Michael Walzer has described as “connected criticism,” of criticism that cannot be mistaken for enmity. (This does not mean that enmity is not allowed. It does mean that enmity cannot pose as friendship.)

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

RubinReports: When It Comes to Analyzing the Middle East, We Live in the Age of Idiocy

When It Comes to Analyzing the Middle East, We Live in the Age of Idiocy

Please subscribe and don't miss a single issue.

By Barry Rubin

After more than 30 years of watching people write dumb things about the Middle East, I believe that in the last month I've seen more nonsense than at any previous time. The problem arises from ignorance, lack of understanding of the region by those presented as experts; plus arrogance, treating the region and the lives of people as a game (Hey, let’s try this and see what happens!), fostered by the failure of such control mechanisms as a balanced debate and editing that rejects simplistic bias or stupidity; as well as a simple lack of logic.

To put it another way, I am reading material that simultaneously has no connection with the real world, is full of internal contradictions, and often seems deliberately tailored to misrepresent events in order to prove a false thesis. Fortunately, this stuff has not done actual damage in the real world--much of it has not been implemented in policy--yet but may in future.

As examples:

--The former director of for Gulf and South Asia affairs at President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council writes that al-Qaida will go away if a Palestinian state is created. (This article is so astonishingly bad in reshaping the facts and leaving out anything that proves the contrary point I kept thinking it was a forgery meant to discredit him. Alas, in these days people actually do write in this intellectually dishonest style all too often.)

--The most famous American columnist writing on the Middle East says the United States is responsible for radicalization in Saudi Arabia and Europe is to blame for Iran’s Islamist revolution;

--The New York Times publishes an op-ed by a U.S. Air Force analyst arguing that Iran getting nuclear weapons will be good for the U.S. position in the Middle East.

--France’s foreign minister in an interview explains that Israel's allegedly killing a Hamas terrorist in Dubai proves there must be a Palestinian state as fast as possible, regardless of whether Israel agrees, a bilateral peace treaty is made, or even that state’s boundaries are defined. Charmingly, he adds that he might be wrong, which suggests that if such a policy resulted in total disaster and a massive number of deaths he’d just give a Gallic shrug of the shoulders and say, “Tant pis.” (Too bad.)

--Numerous people who should know better, ranging from the president’s advisor on terrorism to the former senior director for transnational threats at the National Security Council, say Hizballah is now moderate even though it has not changed in any real way.

--A prestigious foreign policy blog carries an article from a professor at a Washington, DC, university calling for an end to any restrictions on imports by the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip despite its openly declared intention of commiting genocide, repression of its own people, and clear goal of returning to war as soon as possible because this will supposedly strengthen the hand of the Palestinian Authority government which Hamas is trying to overthrow.

What are the main themes being constantly purveyed? Blame America, blame Israel, blame the West, say that radicals are moderates, insist that making concessions and holding dialogues with ideologically-directed extremists will work, blocking serious discussion of the Islamist threat, refusing to recognize the unalterably aggressive intentions of the Iran-Syria bloc, arguing that radical states and movements will act in a "rational" manner by following Western conceptions of what is in their true interest rather than their own world view.

What themes are there no room for in the prestigious foreign affairs journals and newspapers, with rare exceptions?

--The strategic disaster for Western influence that would ensue if Iran got nuclear weapons even if it never fires them.

--The fact that the Palestinian Authority neither desires nor is capable of making a comprehensive peace with Israel no matter what the West does.

--The specific things that Israel wants in a peace agreement and why it needs them.

--That Syria, for very solid interests of its own, will never break its alliance with Iran.

--The situation of Arab governments which want the United States to be tough against Iran, Syria, and the Islamists, and are rapidly losing faith that it will protect them.

--The steering of Turkey toward as much of an Islamist state as possible plus as close an alignment with Iran and Syria as posible by the regime there which pretends to be moderate but clearly is engaged in transforming the country..

Should I link to each of the above-mentioned articles and refute them point by point? I’m not sure. On one hand, that would be intellectually and emotionally satisfying, but would it be worthwhile?

I don’t like spending time and space talking about how someone else is so silly, how we are deluged with far more people speaking stupidity from power than speaking truth to it. I can’t help but feel that it is better to use the chance to explain what's really going on and perhaps develop some accurate or useful ideas. But it is necessary to talk about some of the insanity just to give a sense of its all-encompassing scope.

Only events will teach these people anything, like the completely ignorant New York Times writer who had no experience in the Middle East whatsoever, became an apologist for the Iranian regime, and then was forced by the stolen election and subsequent repression to rethink his position.

Rudyard Kipling wrote (is it still acceptable to quote Kipling?):

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you….
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating….,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Kipling’s son of course was killed in World War One, which shows that no matter how well we perform we aren’t immune for suffering from the mistakes of others.

I rewrote it to suit modern circumstances:

IF you can accurate be when everyone with power
writes nonsense and blames conflicts just on you….
You rarely will be quoted or be published,
For speaking truth’s a foolish thing to do.
What’s most important are the views in fashion,
Repeating them makes certain your career.
Just hope that history justifies your passion,
The sole reward you’ll get, that’s what I fear.

RubinReports: When It Comes to Analyzing the Middle East, We Live in the Age of Idiocy

Detective Comics Covers - 11 (# 147 to 161) - BATMAN





Israel Matzav: What did Obama promise the 'Palestinians'?

What did Obama promise the 'Palestinians'?

Israel and the good terrorists from Fatah are to resume indirect talks next week according to this story in Haaretz.

It seems that the Obama administration has made some commitments to the 'Palestinians' to induce them to sit across the hall, which commitments are being kept secret. Abbas met in Ramallah on Thursday with David Hale, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and deputy to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

Hale gave Abbas American assurances regarding the renewal of talks with Israel, including a timetable for the move from indirect to direct talks and clarifications regarding the issue of the 1967 borders. The nature of these clarifications is unclear.

Renewed negotiations are to use the "proximity" talks format, similar to the model of the Israel-Syria talks that were mediated by Turkey. During the indirect phase of the talks, the Israeli and the Palestinian teams will sit in separate locations, and Mitchell and his staff will convey messages between them.

It is unclear whether the talks will take place in Israel or in Washington.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: What did Obama promise the 'Palestinians'?

Israel Matzav: IAEA finds evidence of nuclear activity at Syrian al-Kibar site

IAEA finds evidence of nuclear activity at Syrian al-Kibar site

What a difference a new director general makes! The IAEA announced on Thursday that uranium particles found at the site of the al-Kibar facility in Syria that was destroyed by Israel in September 2007 indicate that covert nuclear activity was going on at the site.

It was the first time the International Atomic Energy Agency lent public support to Western suspicions that Israel's target was a nascent nuclear reactor that Washington said was North Korean in design and geared to making weapons-grade plutonium.

Previous IAEA reports on its two-year investigation into the affair, impeded by a lack of Syrian cooperation, said only that the uranium particles raised concern because they did not come from Syria's declared inventory.

"The presence of such particles points to the possibility of nuclear-related activities at the site and adds to questions concerning the nature of the destroyed building," said the confidential report by new IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano, obtained by Reuters.

"Syria has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation for the origin and presence of these particles," he wrote, dismissing Damascus's contention that the traces came with munitions used by Israel to wreck the complex.

If only ElBaradei had been replaced four years ago, we'd probably not be as close to a major crisis as we are today.

Read the whole thing.


Israel Matzav: IAEA finds evidence of nuclear activity at Syrian al-Kibar site

Love of the Land: The bottom line on the Dubai hit, Israel, the Mossad etc

The bottom line on the Dubai hit, Israel, the Mossad etc.


Stephanie Gutmann
Telegraph.uk.com
20 February '10

Tom Gross has excellent stuff on reasons other nations may have been involved in the hit and also photographs of children killed by rockets that Israel believes Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the object of the hit, helped smuggle into Gaza.

Then over to Martin Solomon of Solomonia for the bottom line:

Let’s leave that aside for the moment and assume Israel’s responsibility. Apparently some people believe this is a bad thing, in spite of the fact that Mahbhouh was an active operative for a declared enemy. This is a guy who certainly deserved death. Dubai should be embarrassed that this guy was in their country [allegedly] doing arms deals far more than Israel should be embarrassed for bumping him off.

Isn’t this exactly the type of activity people like Goldstone and others are always calling for?


(Read full article)


Love of the Land: The bottom line on the Dubai hit, Israel, the Mossad etc.

Elder of Ziyon: Thin Mint Open Thread

Elder of Ziyon: Thin Mint Open Thread

Israel Matzav: Iran launches its first destroyer

Iran launches its first destroyer

Iranian television reported on Friday that Iran's first home-built destroyer was launched in the Arabian Gulf at a ceremony attended by Ayatollah Ali Khameni.

"The first domestically made destroyer Jamaran was launched this morning and joined Iran's naval forces in the southern waters of the Persian Gulf," state television IRIB reported. It did not give the location of the launch.

The report showed footage of the warship and said it was equipped with torpedoes and electronic radar. The ship is 94 meters long and more than 1,500 tons, it said. Much of Iran's naval equipment dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and is U.S.-made.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Iran launches its first destroyer

Israel Matzav: Video: All-star panel on the IAEA's new report on Iran

Video: All-star panel on the IAEA's new report on Iran

On Friday night, Fox News ran an all-star panel on the IAEA's new report on Iran. The panel includes Fred Barnes (Weekly Standard), Nina Easton (Time/Fortune columnist) and Charles Krauthammer (syndicated columnist).

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Video: All-star panel on the IAEA's new report on Iran

Love of the Land: We're Right, the Whole World's Wrong

We're Right, the Whole World's Wrong


Rav Dov Fisher
rabbidov.com
19 April '02
H/T Meryl Yourish

"The whole world is demanding that Israel withdraw. I don't think the whole world, including the friends of the Israeli people and government, can be wrong."

— Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General, speaking in Madrid, Spain

At this moment in time, many Jews who love and support Israel hear the soft voice within, asking the question to which Kofi Annan recently alluded in Madrid: Can we alone be right, while the whole world around is wrong?

The evidence that we are standing on the other side of the "whole world" is manifest. The Arab League is united in condemnation, and Egyptian students march for an end to their country's diplomatic relations with Israel that were engraved at Camp David. The United Nations Security Council roundly condemns Israel several times in mere weeks, and its human rights commission again takes up the Durban chant against Zionism that was silenced by September 11. The European Union is rife with talk of boycotting the Jewish state. Synagogue attacks in France give vent to the feeling expressed with gentility by the French diplomat who termed Israel "that sh—-y little state." All three major political parties in Germany vie to lead their nation in condemning Israel. England accuses Israel of using British-made tanks illegally. Mobs attack Jews from Ukraine to Belgium to the Netherlands. The pope condemns Israel for its military presence outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, while armed Arab terrorists repose inside, holding monks and nuns as icons for terror.

We Jews are bemused. Are we the only ones who see the unrelenting suicide bombings of women and children at pizza stores, of teenagers at a discotheque, of families at a Seder celebration?

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: We're Right, the Whole World's Wrong

Love of the Land: Buried Facts Around Cemetery Controversy

Buried Facts Around Cemetery Controversy


TS
CAMERA/Snapshots
21 February'10

Saree Makdisi, a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page who calls for the dissolution of the Jewish state of Israel, argued Feb. 12 against the Simon Weisenthal's planned Museum of Tolerance, slated to be built over a parking lot which was formerly a Muslim cemetery. His impassioned plea to prevent the alleged desecration of Muslim graves took a huge hit last week with the revelation of a 1945 Palestine Post article about Muslim plans to build over the very same site. The Jerusalem Post reports:

However, a November 22, 1945 article from The Palestine Post (the pre-state name of The Jerusalem Post), which was forwarded to the Wiesenthal Center on Monday after being posted on a blog, reports Muslim plans to build directly over the cemetery.

The report states, “An area of over 450 dunams in the heart of Jerusalem, now forming the Mamilla Cemetery, is to be converted into a business centre.

“The town-plan is being completed under the supervision of the Supreme Moslem Council in conjunction with the Government Town Planning Adviser,” the article continues.
“A six-storeyed building to house the Supreme Moslem Council and other offices, a four-storeyed hotel, a bank and other buildings suitable for it, a college, a club and a factory are to be the main structures. There will also be a park to be called the Salah ed Din Park, after the Moslem warrior of Crusader times.”

The 1945 article also describes plans by the council to transfer remains buried in the cemetery to a separate, “walled reserve” and cites rulings from prominent Muslim clerics at the time allowing for the building plans to progress.

“In an interview with Al-Wih-da, the Jerusalem weekly,” the Palestine Post article continues, “a member of the Supreme Moslem Council stated that the use of Moslem cemeteries in the public interest had many precedents both in Palestine and elsewhere.

“The member added that the Supreme Moslem Council intended to publish a statement containing dispensations by Egyptian, Hijazi and Demascene clerics sanctioning the building programme. He pointed out that the work would be carried out in stages and by public tender. Several companies had already been formed in anticipation, and funds were plentiful.”


(Read full story)

Love of the Land: Buried Facts Around Cemetery Controversy

Israel Matzav: Obama special envoy admits terror ties

Obama special envoy admits terror ties

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, I reported that the Obama administration's new envoy to the Organization of Islamic Countries, Rashad Hussain, had made statements in support of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad financier Sami al-Arian. Hussain denied making the statements, claiming that al-Arian's daughter had made them. Late Friday, ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper reported that Hussain, confronted with a transcript from the 2004 event in question, admitted to having made the statements.

Politico's Josh Gerstein obtained an audiotape of the remarks, in which Hussain said that Al-Arian’s case was one of many “politically motivated persecutions."

Hussain called the prosecution of Al-Arian "truly a sad commentary on our legal system. It is a travesty of justice, not just from the perspective of the allegations that are made against Dr. Al-Arian. Without passing any comment on those specific allegations or the statements [that] have been made against him, the process that has been used has been atrocious."

On Friday evening, Hussain admitted having made the comments and the White House backed off its insistence that Hussain hadn't made the comments, though both noted that he did so in the context of disagreeing with the way the government pursued the case against Al-Arian, making clear not to address the specific criminal charges.

“As a law student six years ago, I spoke on the topic of civil liberties on a panel during which I responded to comments made about the al-Arian case by Laila al-Arian who was visibly saddened by charges against her father," Hussain said in a statement. "I made clear at the time that I was not commenting on the allegations themselves. The judicial process has now concluded, and I have full faith in its outcome.”

Hussain, currently in the White House counsel's office, said, "I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated.”

It seems that Mr. Hussain also had something to do with his remarks being scrubbed clean from the Washington Post's website.

“When I saw the article that attributed comments to me without context, leaving a misimpression, I contacted the publication to raise concerns about it," he said in his statement. "Eventually, of their own accord, they modified the article.”

Of course, the fact that this story was covered up is nearly as big a problem (some might claim it's bigger) than what Hussain said. After all, Hussain was only a law student in 2004!

Jennifer Rubin gets to the real crux of the matter (doesn't she always?):

But it is revealing of the sort of characters whom Obama thinks fit to conduct “outreach” to the “Muslim World” — those that will confirm the victimization mindset, which is at the root of much of what prevents peace from being processed as well as real economic and political reform from being advanced in many of the member nations of the OIC.

Perhaps we instead should find someone who can deliver this sort of message to the “Muslim World”:

“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace. . . . The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”

No, I don’t think Alan Solow wants the job. But that message, as opposed to the suck-uppery of a dishonest envoy, is precisely what we — and the “Muslim World” – need. And in the meantime, unless the Obami want to once again be on the side of an indefensible appointee, they should dump the candor-challenged Hussain.

Unfortunately, the generally sensible Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has leaped to Hussain's defense.

The other controversy surrounding Rashad is a comment he made about the prosecution of Sami al-Arian on a 2004 MSA panel, that it was a "politically-motivated persecution." Rashad initially said he had "no recollection" of making this statement, and the White House press office attributed it to another panelist; but after being shown a transcript of the event he admitted that those were in fact his words. Politico provides much more context on the quote. Though I strongly disagree with Rashad's 2004 comment (which he now describes as "ill conceived or not well formulated"), it does not justify the overblown attacks on Rashad: in my experiences with him, I know this kind of intemperate remark as the exception rather than the rule. The fact is that Rashad was quite young when he said this, 24 years old. Almost all of us have said and done things that we regret at a similar age; and it is far easier to say something intemperate or unwise when speaking extemporaneously.

The fact that there is controversy about this quote is not unfair, but let's not misunderstand where his views were coming from. Rashad's concerns about the al-Arian prosecution, and other prosecutions that he discussed in that context, stemmed not from an Islamist ideology but rather from a civil-libertarian ideology. It is clear from his 2004 speech that Rashad is a Kerry-supporting Democrat rather than a bin Laden-supporting jihadist. To be clear, I largely disagree with Rashad on the issue of selective prosecutions, which was the main thrust of his panel remarks: I co-authored a monograph in 2007 defending what I dubbed the "Al Capone model" of anti-terror policing. (Al Capone's activities were ultimately shut down through selective enforcement of US income tax law.) But I see our differences on these issues as policy disagreements, and not the kind of thing that should lead one to believe that Rashad has "more in common with our enemies than what we stand for as a nation." As I wrote in the Washington Times in 2007: "Working alongside moderates with whom we may disagree on some issues but who nonetheless genuinely oppose jihadist violence and the forceful imposition of Islamic norms will help bring more valuable, authentic voices into the discussion. Indeed, listening to and respecting differences of opinion are among this nation's strengths." Rashad is not pro-terrorist; he is not a "jihadist in the White House."

In other words, "I know him, you don't. Trust me on this." Max Boot does:

I haven’t taken a close look at the case, but Gartenstein-Ross’s statement seems at first blush to be convincing — not least because it reminds me of a similar controversy in which I was involved. Back in 2008, Samantha Power, then a Kennedy School professor who was advising candidate Obama (now a NSC staffer), was accused of anti-Israel animus. I had known Power for a number of years and defended her against the charge. I, too, was shocked at how a real person had been chopped up in the Cuisinart of politics and reassembled into a caricature. [It was easy Max, did you see the video? CiJ]

I am by no means suggesting that friends of a nominee or staffer should have the final word on their fitness for office. As Gartenstein-Ross notes, “Friendship can be a double-edged sword. It can truly illuminate for us how a person views the world, show us what he cherishes and fears, give us insight into his character. It can also have a distorting effect, causing us to be defensive when we should not be, and to overlook our friend’s flaws.” But as a general rule, I would suggest approaching these debates with some degree of humility and sympathy, and an understanding that a few statements often pulled out of context do not necessarily constitute the totality of a person.

But Jennifer Rubin disagrees with Gartenstein-Ross and Boot on this.

Hussain’s comment was not an isolated one. Josh Gerstein reports on the recording of the event that Hussain has tried to conceal from view:

Hussain refers to some provisions of the Patriot Act as “horrible” and called “dangerous” an aspect of that law that allows intelligence-related surveillance to be used in criminal cases. Most lawmakers, including many Democrats critical of the Patriot Act, have said the provision has proved valuable, because it removed a wall that made it difficult for those pursuing investigations of international terror or spying operations to share information with criminal investigators. Hussain did express support for other aspects of the law, including a provision permitting so-called roving wiretaps.

Hussain’s position seems to be in direct conflict with the current administration, but quite in tune with the grievance-mongering lobby of CAIR and other groups. But that is not all. In his speech, Hussain cited chapter and verse on the supposed persecution of Muslims:

...

This kind of rhetoric may get cheers from the Left and from CAIR but is not, even for this administration, remotely acceptable. The Obami have pointedly refused to stick up for Hussain since Friday’s revelation. At this point, I suspect they would rather have someone else in that role – someone who does not see behind every legitimate effort to defend America from Islamic fascist the specter of anti-Muslim discrimination.

I'm with Jennifer. Read it all.


Israel Matzav: Obama special envoy admits terror ties

Israel Matzav: State Department: Travel to Damascus is AOK

State Department: Travel to Damascus is AOK

Keeping with the Obama administration's goal of bringing the murderous Assad regime in from the cold, the US State Department has now decided that travel to Damascus is AOK.
A US Embassy official and Syria's official news agency said the US State Department has lifted an advisory warning American travelers of security concerns in Syria.

However, Syria remains on a US list of countries supporting terrorism, a designation made in 1979. In a sign of warming ties, President Barack Obama announced this week that he would nominate a career diplomat to become the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since 2005.
Hey - give the State Department a call while you're there if you meet any terrorists on their way to Iraq. Okay?

Shmuel Rosner wonders what Obama hopes to accomplish by broadening 'engagement' with Damascus (after all, it's been so successful until now) and why the Obama administration is choosing now as the time to open the door a bit more to the Syrian regime.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: State Department: Travel to Damascus is AOK

PM Adds Rachel's Tomb, Cave of Machpelah to Heritage Sites - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

PM Adds Rachel's Tomb, Cave of Machpelah to Heritage Sites - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Attempted Bombing at Cairo Synagogue - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Attempted Bombing at Cairo Synagogue - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

20 Ships to Head for Clash in Gaza - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

20 Ships to Head for Clash in Gaza - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Police Destroy Stolen Israeli Cars - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Police Destroy Stolen Israeli Cars - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

'Netanyahu Blessed Al-Mabhouh Hit Squad Before Mission' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

'Netanyahu Blessed Al-Mabhouh Hit Squad Before Mission' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Loses Good Friend: Alexander Haig - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Loses Good Friend: Alexander Haig - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

'Special Anniversary Riot' at Bilin - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

'Special Anniversary Riot' at Bilin - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Oh joy! Obama wants to teach Muslims to shoot rockets

Oh joy! Obama wants to teach Muslims to shoot rockets

What a great idea. The Obama administration has instructed NASA to reach out to Muslim countries (Hat Tip: Instapundit).

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has asked him to “find ways to reach out to dominantly Muslim countries” as the White House pushes the space agency to become a tool of international diplomacy.

“In addition to the nations that most of you usually hear about when you think about the International Space Station, we now have expanded our efforts to reach out to non-traditional partners,” said Bolden, speaking to a lecture hall of young engineering students.

Specifically, he talked about connecting with countries that do not have an established space program and helping them conduct science missions. He mentioned new opportunities with Indonesia, including an educational program that examines global climate change.

“We really like Indonesia because the State Department, the Department of Education [and] other agencies in the U.S. are reaching out to Indonesia as the largest Muslim nation in the world. We would love to establish partners there,” Bolden said.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Oh joy! Obama wants to teach Muslims to shoot rockets

Israel Matzav: The fox guards the henhouse at the Justice Department

The fox guards the henhouse at the Justice Department

It's no great secret in Washington that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have little taste for prosecuting the war on terrorism. Still, you have to wonder how they thought they could be this blatant without anyone noticing.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York reports that Holder has admitted that nine (count 'em) Obama appointees in the Justice Department have represented terrorists in court in the past. Holder didn't name any names beyond two who have already been exposed, but he says that all nine can work on matters relating to terrorist detainees even if they cannot be involved in certain specific cases (as an attorney, you're not allowed to switch from one side of a case to another just because you have switched employers).

Holder’s admission comes in the form of an answer to a question posed last November by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. Noting that one Obama appointee, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, formerly represented Osama bin Laden’s driver, and another appointee, Jennifer Daskal, previously advocated for detainees at Human Rights Watch, Grassley asked Holder to give the Senate Judiciary Committee “the names of political appointees in your department who represent detainees or who work for organizations advocating on their behalf…the cases or projects that these appointees work with respect to detainee prior to joining the Justice Department…and the cases or projects relating to detainees that have worked on since joining the Justice Department.”

In his response, Holder has given Grassley almost nothing. He says nine Obama political appointees at the Justice Department have advocated on behalf of detainees, but did not identify any of the nine other than the two, Katyal and Daskal, whose names Grassley already knew. “To the best of our knowledge,” Holder writes,

during their employment prior to joining the government, only five of the lawyers who serve as political appointees in those components represented detainees, and four others either contributed to amicus briefs in detainee-related cases or were otherwise involved in advocacy on behalf of detainees.

Holder says other Obama appointees, like Holder himself, came from law firms which represented detainees but did no work on behalf of the terrorist prisoners. But other than Katyal and Daskal, Holder does not reveal any names of any Obama appointees, nor does he mention the cases they worked on.

York's full article is here. This line from his report is quite noteworthy:

Finally, it is possible that there are more than nine political appointees who worked for detainees. Holder tells Grassley that he did not survey the Justice Department as a whole but instead canvassed several large offices within the organization.

Well, maybe he ought to survey them.

Paul Mirengoff (who I believe is a trial lawyer himself) adds:

No one familiar with the legal community will be surprised by Holder's disclosure. Among many liberal lawyers, representing terrorist detainees has come to be viewed as a badge of honor. (When a lawyer in the Bush Justice Department demurred, he was widely condemned.) For some liberal lawyers who represent corporations, providing free legal services to terrorist detainees is proof that they became lawyers to help the "oppressed" after all; not just to help corporations squirm out of difficulty.

In my view, it isn't dishonorable, under most circumstances, for non-military lawyers to assist in representing terrorist detainees before a military tribunal. But the urge to do so is evidence of a mindset that, if transported to the Justice Department, would tend to produce bad policy and legal decisions with respect to dealing with terrorism and terrorists.

Like going after CIA agents whose interrogations of terrorists helped protect the country against attack; trying the 9/11 mastermind in New York City; and reading the Miranda warning to a freshly captured terrorist.

Yes, those all fit right in, don't they? America is in good hands. What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: The fox guards the henhouse at the Justice Department

Israel Matzav: German parade features jihad on Danish cartoonist float

German parade features jihad on Danish cartoonist float

A German carnival features a float satirizing an attempt on the life of Kirk Westgaard, the Danish cartoonist who is responsible for the famous Mohamed cartoons.

More details here.



Israel Matzav: German parade features jihad on Danish cartoonist float

Israel Matzav: Congratulations Ed Morrissey!

Congratulations Ed Morrissey!

I just want to join the chorus congratulating Ed Morrissey on being CPAC's blogger of the year. The honor is well-deserved. Incredibly, for a guy whose blog posts are read by thousands of hits per day, I don't think I've ever seen anyone who has a bad word to say about Ed online. I've never met him in person, but he seems like a kind and sensitive if opinionated guy.

Here's Ed's award presentation (with introduction by Rush Limbaugh). Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Power Line).



Ed is one of the good guys - congratulations Ed! (And if you ever come to Israel, PLEASE look me up!).


Israel Matzav: Congratulations Ed Morrissey!

Israel Matzav: What the Mossad was after in Dubai

What the Mossad was after in Dubai

It's hard to keep up with all the reports coming out of the investigation into the liquidation of Hamas terrorist and arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. I'll try to catch you up a bit.

Over the weekend, some new details have come out about the liquidation. Among those are the fact that Mabhouh may have put himself at risk by booking his reservations online and by telephoning his family in Gaza to tell them he was in Dubai. The second claim has been denied by the family (and seems unlikely to have had an effect even if true given that the hit squad was apparently in Dubai before Mabhouh was).

Another report claims that the hit squad's tickets were booked using credit cards bearing the same false names that were on the liquidators' passports - a fact that should not be all that surprising.

A third report claims that the German passport that was used was 'real' and not 'fake' like the others.

According to the findings of German federal investigators, in June 2009 an Israeli man named Michael Bodenheimer - who shares the name of an alleged member of the Dubai hit squad - came to immigration officials in Cologne with the pre-World War II address of his grandparents.

Bodenheimer acquired German citizenship on the basis of this data.

After his name was listed as one of the suspected members of the Dubai assassination squad, Bodenheimer, who lives in Bnei Brak and is of American origin, said that he did not know how his identity was stolen.

...

Bodenheimer, who immigrated to Israel from the United States more than 20 years ago, studies at a kollel, a yeshiva for married men. He said he was astounded to see the UAE list contained his name, supposedly belonging to a German citizen.

"At first we didn't understand what everyone was talking about," Bodenheimer's daughter said. "The picture that was published doesn't look like him at all. He busies himself with Torah study," she said, adding that he holds no citizenship other than Israeli and American.

What's left unsaid here is whether Bodenheimer did have a grandparent who lived in in Cologne and whether someone else impersonating him claimed German citizenship last June. Interesting thought.

For purposes of this post, I will assume, as is commonly assumed throughout the world, that Israel's Mossad was behind the hit. The Mossad had both the motive and the means of carrying out the liquidation, and most of the world believes it did so. Indeed, it is hard to attribute credibility to the notion that either Hamas or Fatah has the capability to pull off such a clean hit. So let's assume the Mossad did it.

If the Mossad did it, the Mabhouh liquidation can only be called a smashing success. Let's look at why the Mossad might have done it.

Mystery writer Roger Simon, who finds himself fascinated with the efficiency with which the hit was pulled off and is looking for clues everywhere. Here's what he's found.

The first notable clue is those “eleven” agents. Why send eleven for an assassination when two or three would do? Why not just knock the Hamas man off with a bombing or cell phone some place? It would be far less risky. And the Israelis clearly had remarkably precise advanced knowledge of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary. The Hamas leader had only left Damascus that morning, supposedly, according to some reports, en route to China via Dubai [China or Sudan? CiJ]. And yet the Mossad had a minimum of eleven people in place, waiting for him. No wonder Hamas was so shocked that, when they learned of his “murder” on January 19, they immediately announced terminal cancer had over taken their leader. Hamas itself must have had something closer to a heart attack. To have this much warning of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary, the Israelis must have permeated them pretty thoroughly. The embarrassment alone, not to mention the internal finger-pointing and suspicion, must have been extreme.

...

Nevertheless, the Israelis still must have had some motive for employing so many agents for a hit. After checking into a blacked out room at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel that day, al-Mabhouh went missing for four hours – and this may provide some clues. A meeting with an Iranian official has been reported and denied, also some Palestinian group. In any case, he was doing something and there was information to be gleaned from this man, most probably key information regarding Hamas and its allies (Iran, Syria, etc.) that certainly accounts in part for the elaborate assassination. In a world rapidly becoming nuclear one can only speculate what that information is, but we can be sure it’s not particularly appetizing. It’s also worth considering what al -Mabhouh wanted to obtain from the Chinese. The Mossad was out for al-Mabhouh’s knowledge even more than the revenge that is commonly reported. (al-Mabhouh was responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers, but that was years ago and the Hamas leader has been in Israeli custody since and released.)

The information grabbing intent also accounts for the multiple agents with varied expertise – from photography to “exotic” drugs. It may also account for the differing initial reports of the cause of death, which range from electrocution to suffocation. The time of death, always difficult to ascertain, is also in question. How long were the agents with al-Mabhouh and did they get what they wanted? Was his death untimely or – and here’s a wild speculation – is he dead at all? Do we have DNA of the body? Nothing so far from the Dubai police. All we know is this, again from Gulf News:

Dubai police has denied that it had intended to bury the body of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, a Hamas leader in Dubai. The police also added in a press release that they held the body of the deceased for one week to finish the investigation procedures, and then handed it over to Al Mabhouh’s son who came to the UAE after the death of his father.

Habeas corpus anyone?

As of Feb 19, no photos of al-Mahbouh’s corpse in any form turn up on Google images. Perhaps there are videos, but none that identify the body in anything near a definitive way. Yes, I know this is strange, but it is remotely possible that al-Mahbouh was kidnapped. Dubai is, after all, a port, providing a means for escape. The Dubai police are promising that we will know all soon, but they have been promising that for a while now.

I don't believe that Mabhouh was kidnapped. But we do know a couple of facts that shed light on why Israel might have gone after Mabhouh and what he might have done during those four hours. Caveat: If Simon classifies himself as an amateur (which he does in the article I just quoted), I'm a pure speculator.

We know, for example, that the last person who saw Mabhouh alive other than his killers was probably Muhammed al-Massoud, a Hamas commander who is reported to have met with Mabhouh in Dubai and who was subsequently arrested. My guess is that the real target of the Mossad was not Mabhouh himself, but documents that Massoud gave him in their meeting. Simon alludes to this, but doesn't follow it through. After all, we know that Israel had Mabhouh in its custody in the past and released him. It seems unlikely that they suddenly wanted so badly to kill him now that they would have taken the risks that they took with this operation just to kill him.

Those documents, which likely related to Iranian weapons being supplied to Hamas, were photographed by part of the assassination team according to reports. That's likely why the team was so big.

So was the operation a success or a failure? Haaretz's Avi Issacharoff says that the hit was a smashing success.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was one of Hamas' key men, a central cog in the weapon's smuggling trail leading from Iran to Gaza, if not in the entire machine itself. The assassination represents a mortal blow to Hamas and its image, a fact which may explain the panic visible within the organization in recent weeks. At a rally in Gaza on Wednesday, organizers showed a videotaped speech by the head of Hamas' political wing, Khaled Meshal, who could become the next target. While Meshal boasted that "the time for talk is over, and the time for action has come," he understands that if the assassins were able to get to al-Mabhouh, they can also get to him.

This panic could provide an answer to Israelis' questions about whether the assassination was a success or a woeful failure. The bottom line is that the hit, regardless of which organization was responsible for it, proved that the Hamas leadership was transparent and could be infiltrated and hurt by international intelligence agencies.

Efforts by the organization and al- Mabhouh himself to keep his identity secret failed. The foremost impetus for the assassination, as far as the country responsible for it is concerned, was to hurt the Gaza arms smuggling ring. When he was killed, Mabhouh was en route to Sudan - where, according to foreign reports, Israel once bombed an arms convoy headed for Gaza.

Now, before Hamas can resume its smuggling, it must find out where and how some intelligence agency penetrated its smuggling network and whether this network can be rehabilitated now that it has been exposed. Moreover, the operation serves as a deterrent which possible effects in the diplomatic arena. Israel (probably) is sending Hamas a clear message that the setback in completing a prisoner exchange deal that would see the release of Gilad Shalit will cost the organization the lives of its top men. In addition, the killing has a deterrent effect - Hamas' boasts of its military prowess will now be taken with a grain of salt by the people in Gaza.

YNet's Ronen Bergman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, disagrees.

The mission was technically successful. The target was eliminated—allegedly smothered by a pillow in his hotel room—and the operatives left the country within hours. But it has turned into a diplomatic nightmare for Israel. The sovereignty of Dubai was violated, and the passports of four European countries were used for the purpose of committing a crime. Several rows Israel can ill-afford are currently brewing with England, Germany and France.

Israel, assuming it was behind the assassination, had good reason to want Mabhouh permanently out of the picture.

...

But even so, did Mabhouh constitute an immediate threat? Was eliminating him worth violating international law and risking the ire of so many states at a time when the international community seems to have finally gotten serious on Iran?

No country that faces the threat of foreign terrorism on the scale that Israel does can afford to entirely renounce the use of targeted assassinations, despite the ethical and legal problems that such executions raise. But such acts need to be extremely rare. In the case of Israel, such operations require the explicit approval of the prime minister, and they are authorized only after the political risks are carefully weighed. In the case of Dubai, it seems that this did not occur. Either the risks were not explained to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, or he made a serious miscalculation.

...

Whoever sent the hit squad to Dubai was not aware that the police and security services had such advanced capabilities at the ready. The investigators managed to put together still and video shots taken in seven different locations and place them on a single timeline together with the cellphone records of the individuals in the footage. Doing this requires sharp analysis and advanced computer skills, and computerized intelligence systems able to cross check information from various sources.

How did the Dubai police manage all this? Did they have help? For now, it remains a mystery. But in any case, misjudging the ability of the Dubai authorities so spectacularly is evidence of a serious intelligence failure on the part of the organization that sent out the squad.

I'm more inclined to Issacharoff's view than to Bergman's. Even Bergman might agree if I am correct that the key here was the photographs and not Mabhouh himself. In any event, so long as no Israeli is directly tied to the murder, I believe this will blow over in time and that those documents will save Israeli lives.

By the way, Issacharoff raises a concern that the two 'Palestinians' under arrest in Dubai may give away the Mossad agent's identities. I doubt they know they were working with Israelis - let alone who those Israelis really are. But here's another curious fact. Hamas has claimed that the two defectors from Hamas to Fatah who were arrested in Dubai were working for a real estate company owned by none other than Mohamed Dahland, Fatah's former Gaza security chief. On January 19, the day Mabhouh was killed, Dahlan decided not to go to Gaza to his mother's funeral. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: What the Mossad was after in Dubai

Israel Matzav: Are boycotts ever right?

Are boycotts ever right?

In the wake of the heckling of Michael Oren at the University of California at Irvine, a dispute has broken out between the Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League over whether a boycott of UC Irvine by the Jewish community is justified. Jonathan Tobin weighs in.

But no matter whether you think further efforts to improve the situation at UC Irvine are warranted or not, the ADL’s belief that boycotts are inherently wrong cannot be sustained. It is true that in our own time anti-Israel and anti-Semitic elements have attempted to create boycotts of Israeli academics and produce and that the Jewish community has rightly decried such despicable campaigns. But these boycotts are wrong not because a desire to isolate any movement or country is inherently evil but rather because it is unjust to apply such measures to a democratic state besieged by terrorists who wish to destroy. In the past, Jews have readily embraced boycotts. Jewish activists once boycotted the Soviet Union and protested any commerce or diplomatic niceties conducted with an anti-Semitic Communist government, which had refused to let Russian Jews immigrate to freedom in Israel or the United States. Jews also boycotted Germany during the 1930s as the Nazis set the stage for the Holocaust. There is also the fact that the vast majority of American Jews were profoundly sympathetic to boycotts of grapes picked by non-union labor as well as those aimed at isolating apartheid-era South Africa. The idea that one cannot boycott evildoers just because leftist extremists wish to wrongly use the same tactic on Israel makes no sense.

Indeed. The only principle that's absolute is that nothing is absolute.


Israel Matzav: Are boycotts ever right?

Israel Matzav: Fahmi's fairy tale

Fahmi's fairy tale

Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted a lot about the investigatory work of Fahmi Shebaneh, the 'Palestinian' whistleblower who has opened a window onto Fatah's corruption for Israeli Jews and anyone else willing to listen. In this week's column, Caroline Glick explains why the world has greeted Shebaneh's revelations with a yawn.

Fahmi Shabaneh is an odd candidate for dissident status. Shabaneh is a Jerusalemite who joined the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service in 1994.

Working for PA head Mahmoud Abbas and GIS commander Tawfik Tirawi, Shabaneh was tasked with investigating Arab Jerusalemites suspected of selling land to Jews. Such sales are a capital offense in the PA. Since 1994 scores of Arabs have been the victims of extrajudicial executions after having been fingered by the likes of Shabaneh.

...

Recently, Shabaneh decided he had had enough. The time had come to expose what he knows. But he ran into an unanticipated difficulty. No one wanted to know. As he put it, Arab and Western journalists wouldn’t touch his story for fear of being “punished” by the PA.

In his words, Western journalists “don’t want to hear negative things about Fatah and Abbas.”

Lacking other options, Shabaneh brought his information to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh.

On January 29, the Post published Abu Toameh’s interview with Shabaneh on our front page. Among other impressive scoops, Shabaneh related that Abbas’s associates purloined $3.2 million in cash that the US gave Abbas ahead of the 2006 elections. He told Abu Toameh how PA officials who were almost penniless in 1994 now have tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in their private accounts. He related how he watched in horror as Abbas promoted the very officials he reported on. And he showed Abu Toameh a video of Abbas’s chief of staff Rafik Husseini naked in the bedroom of a Christian woman who sought employment with the PA.

If Shabaneh’s stories were about Israeli or Western officials, there is no doubt that they would have been picked up by every self-respecting news organization in the world. If he had been talking about Israelis, officials from Washington to Brussels to the UN would be loudly calling for official investigations. But since he was talking about the Palestinians, no one cared.

The State Department had nothing to say. The EU had nothing to say. The New York Times acted as if his revelations were about nothing more than a sex scandal.

As for Abbas and his cronies, they were quick to blame the Jews. They accused Shabaneh – their trusted henchman when it came to land sales to Jews – of being an Israeli agent. And when Channel 10 announced it was broadcasting Husseini’s romp in the sack, Abbas demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bar the broadcast, (apparently forgetting that unlike his PA-controlled media, Israel’s media organs are free).

SHABANEH’S ODYSSEY from PA regime loyalist to dissident is an interesting tale. But what is more noteworthy than his personal journey is the world’s indifference to his revelations.

Just as the mountains of evidence that Fatah officials – including Shabaneh’s boss Tirawi – have been actively involved in terrorist attacks against Israel have been systematically ignored by successive US administrations, Israeli governments and EU foreign policy chiefs, so no one wants to think about the fact that Fatah is a criminal syndicate. The implications are too devastating.

...

Official Israel has nothing to say about Shabaneh’s information. Instead, in the wake of his disclosures, everyone from Netanyahu to Defense Minister Ehud Barak has continued to daily proclaim their dedication to reaching a peace accord with Abbas. This even as Abbas and his cronies accuse Israel of using the “traitorous” Shabaneh to pressure Abbas into negotiating with Israel.

There are two explanations for Israel’s behavior. First, there is the fact the presence of Barak and his Labor Party in the government makes it impossible for Netanyahu and his Likud Party to abandon the failed two-state paradigm of dealing the PA. If Netanyahu and his colleagues were to point out that the PA is a kleptocracy and its senior officials enable terror and escalate incitement to deflect their public’s attention away from their criminality, (as well as because they want to destroy Israel), then Labor may bolt the coalition.

Beyond that, there is no doubt that an Israeli denunciation of Abbas and his mafia would enrage the US and EU. Apparently, Netanyahu – who to please President Barack Obama accepted the two-state paradigm in spite of the fact that he opposes it, and suspended Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria despite the fact that knows doing this is wrong – is loath to pick a fight by pointing out the obvious fact that the PA is a corrupt band of oppressive thieves.

Read it all. I'm hoping that some of the Likud's Right-wing members and MK's from Right-wing parties read it over the weekend and will draw the correct conclusion's regarding Israel's relations with the 'Palestinian Authority.'


Israel Matzav: Fahmi's fairy tale

Israel Matzav: Israel's winter Olympians

Israel's winter Olympians

CNN (of all media outlets) covers Israel's ice dancers, Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky, who actually now spend most of their time in the US training. Our only regulation ice rink is in Metulla (I actually know some guys who drive up there to play hockey on Thursday nights - it's about three hours from Jerusalem), which is on the Lebanese border.

The Zaretskys were born in Minsk, Belarus, under the former Soviet Union. Their family decided to leave the country as soon as it was possible and moved to Israel. They settled in Metula, a city near the Lebanese border, which boasts the country's only regulation size ice rink.

Metula held a number of challenges for the two young skaters. The Zaretskys often found themselves with little time on the ice, because they had to share it with other skaters and hockey players, who would come to the rink to practice.

"The ice time was not enough. We had 45 minutes a day and we need much more than that," Sasha Zaretsky said. "Usually one practice here is an hour and a half, so it's not enough to become an Olympic athlete."

Living and practicing so close to Lebanon's border also meant dealing with warfare and instability. They had to evacuate the area several times, and the ice rink itself was bombed three times while they were living there.

Despite the difficulties, the pair continued training under their mother's tutelage until she had taught them everything she knew.

"Our mom was coaching us until we reached the moment where she said, 'OK, I cannot give you anymore,' " Roman Zaretsky said. " 'You need to go somewhere else if you want to move on.' "

So in 2001, when Roman was 17 and Sasha 13, they left home for the United States, where, for the second time in their lives, they had to adjust to a new culture and learn a new language. They decided to settle in New Jersey, one of several East Coast states renowned for its excellent skating coaches.

Read the whole thing.

The only way they are going to make skating more popular in Israel would be to win a medal and then come back here and open a school with a rink. But the Russians - with whom it's very popular - have been here en masse for twenty years, and that hasn't happened yet. One has to wonder why. I'm all in favor of skating (and ice sports generally) becoming more popular here. It's been years since I skated, but I used to skate a lot as a kid (Boston had plenty of outdoor rinks that were open in the winter).

Israel Matzav: Israel's winter Olympians
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