Friday, 26 March 2010

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Sabbath music video

Here's Dveykus with Hinei Anochi.

The words (which come from the Shabbat morning Haftorah): "Hinei Anochi Sholeach Lachem eth Eliyahu HaNavi Lifnei Bo Yom Hashem HaGadol v'Hanora. v'Heyshiv Lev Avoth al Banim v'Lev Banim al Avotham."

Behold I am sending you the prophet Eliyahu before God's great and awesome day comes. And he will cause fathers to convince their children to repent and children to cause their fathers to repent.

And wow do we need him to come already....

Let's go to the videotape.

The Children of Israel's redemption from Egypt started on the 10th day of the month of Nissan when they took the sheep that the Egyptians worshiped and set it aside as a sacrifice. Yesterday, Thursday, was the 10th of Nissan. May that very difficult day be the beginning of our redemption.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Israel Matzav: Agreement on Jerusalem construction? Color me skeptical

Agreement on Jerusalem construction? Color me skeptical

Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman said on Friday morning that the government had reached an agreement with the Obama administration that would allow Jewish construction in 'east' Jerusalem to proceed as it always has.

Nir Hefez, spokesman to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli radio early this morning that his government had reached an agreement with the Obama administration on housing settlements to be built in East Jerusalem.

As part of the "list of understandings" reached between the Obama administration and Netanyahu, Hefez said that while "The construction policy will not change. . .Israel is prepared to make additional steps in order to advance peace talks" with Palestine.

Color me skeptical. I don't believe Obama is suddenly giving in to us on Jerusalem construction. At a minimum, my guess is that the government is agreeing to suspend (public?) construction in predominantly Arab neighborhoods and maybe even more than that. Whether that 'understanding' will be formalized or whether Netanyahu will be allowed to save face by only implementing a de facto 'freeze' remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with his cabinet on Friday afternoon (this post is being written several hours before you will see it) to review the 'understandings' that were ostensibly reached with the US. Those understandings are being kept in the dark - my guess is that if we are really lucky we will learn something about them in the last newscast before the Sabbath (at 6:00 pm) by which time many Israelis will have turned their radios off already.

The US is pressing for an answer by Saturday so that it can take that answer to the Arab League meeting in Libya.

Netanyahu's spokesman Nir Hafetz on Friday morning said that the prime minister reached understandings with Obama regarding continued construction in east Jerusalem.

In an interview with Army Radio, he added that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Netanyahu agree on these issues and assessed that the inner cabinet will support the understandings reached in Washington.

"There are several steps that the Americans would like to see Israel take in order to restart the peace process. We returned from the US with the understanding that on one hand, the construction policy in Jerusalem will remain unchanged, and on the other hand, Israel is prepared to make gestures in order to resume the peace process," Hefetz said.

The main point of contention between Netanyahu and Obama, Hefetz confirmed, was the US demand that Israel extend the ten-month West Bank building moratorium.

Netanyahu's spokesman rejected reports that Obama demanded that the Palestinian Authority be given control over east Jerusalem's Abu Dis neighborhood.

You just knew that 'freeze' was going to be extended, didn't you?

Israel Matzav: Agreement on Jerusalem construction? Color me skeptical

Israel Matzav: Assume Obama will have a two-term Presidency

Assume Obama will have a two-term Presidency

Dr. Aaron Lerner says that Israel's policy makers must assume that President Obama will have a two-term Presidency. He then goes on to argue that we cannot think we will hold Obama off for that long a time by making a few concessions on Jerusalem. Lerner argues that we should not concede anything at all in Jerusalem - it's all just a steep, slippery slope.

Assuming a two term Obama presidency radically changes the ramifications and consequences of the concessions Israel makes today.

Let's not kid ourselves.

This is a man who genuinely believes that Israel should pull out of the Golan in return for a piece of paper; that turning Jerusalem into a patchwork quilt of sovereignties is workable; that Israel's national heritage claims to sites beyond the Green Line are either irrelevant or should be addressed at the most by paperwork ostensibly assuring some kind of access to those locations and that Israel's security needs can be met by a combination of pieces of paper and gizmos.

And he is surrounded by people who share this view - both inside and outside his administration.

Conceding on Jerusalem construction today will only encourage heightened pressure to implement policies that are in line with President Obama's beliefs.

Pressure that a confused Israeli public will find ever more difficult to support withstanding after a freeze in Jerusalem was justified.

There is a difference between Jerusalem and many of the other issues.

Construction in Jerusalem is an easy consensus issue that most Israelis understand.

Should Mr. Netanyahu opt to concede on Jerusalem construction, he will find himself facing American demands for other policy concessions with the Israeli public split as concession supporters argue that the hard earned benefits of the Jerusalem construction freeze concession will be lost if Israel refuses to make the next concession.

The slippery slope is indeed both steep and slippery.


Israel Matzav: Assume Obama will have a two-term Presidency

Israel Matzav: Congressional candidate walks away from J Street

Congressional candidate walks away from J Street

Doug Pike, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th district (a heavily Jewish district in suburban Philadelphia) has asked J Street, the pro-Obama, pro-Iran lobby, to withdraw its endorsement of his candidacy, and will return some $6,000 in contributions to the organization.

It appears that Pike, who is fighting for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach, has gotten the message from voters and contributors that aligning himself with J Street is not the path to the hearts or the wallets of pro-Israel Democrats.

Pike, the son of Otis Pike, a onetime New York congressman, is a former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer and is locked in a tough fight against Manan Trivedi, a physician and Iraq-war veteran who has got the endorsement of two key Democratic committees in the district, which stretches across three suburban counties in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Schwartzman says that one pro-Israel fundraiser claims “a number of potential contributors walked away from Pike after the J Street endorsement became known, and after Gerlach — considered a strong Israel backer — decided not to run for governor.”

Pike told the Exponent that “when he first sought J Street’s endorsement back in September, he had underestimated his policy differences with the group.” Of special interest, in the context of this past week’s dispute between the Obama administration and Israel, is that Pike was “troubled” by J Street’s recent stance that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem because J Street has backed Obama against Netanyahu on the issue of plans to build Jewish homes in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood. “People simply assumed when they heard that I was endorsed by J Street that I agreed with them on everything,” said Pike. “The endorsement was an impediment to my being able to explain my convictions about Israel’s security.”

The first of many?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin reports that Israel has also become an issue in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, which is also in suburban Philadelphia but has not quite as many Jews as the 6th District.

So what may be a key issue in the district race? [Republican candidate Pat] Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:

Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided. Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.


Israel Matzav: Congressional candidate walks away from J Street

Israel Matzav: Advice for Israel in dealing with Obama

Israel Matzav: Advice for Israel in dealing with Obama

Israel Matzav: The IDF's no fire rules

The IDF's no fire rules

Earlier this week, I reported the story of four IDF soldiers who were trapped in Hebron and nearly lynched. At the time, I noted that the IDF's open fire rules were absurd. Now, we have confirmation that the IDF essentially has no fire rules (Hat Tip: Danny A).

According to the new guidelines, soldiers are not allowed to open fire, even in the air, toward Palestinians who are stoning them. In addition, soldiers driving in an armored jeep are not allowed to shoot at a Palestinian who is about to throw a Molotov cocktail at them.

In the past, soldiers serving in Judea and Samaria were allowed to shoot at Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails. They were also allowed to shoot in the air to disperse Palestinians throwing rocks.

Under the new rules of engagement, they are only allowed to open fire if the Palestinian is throwing a Molotov cocktail at a civilian car. To shoot in the air, soldiers need to first receive permission from high-ranking commanders, something not needed in the past.

The new regulations were instituted several months ago following the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi as commander of the Central Command, and to the dismay of the IDF’s tactical level, which conducts hundreds of daily patrols throughout the Palestinian Authority, often coming under a hail of rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail.

The decision to change the rules of engagement was made in line with IDF policy to avoid violence in the West Bank as part of Israeli efforts to bolster the PA.

“The fear is that violence, shooting and casualties will stymie Israeli and Palestinian efforts to improve the situation on the ground in the West Bank,” one defense official said on Wednesday.

It's long past time to stop worrying about 'bolstering the PA' and to start worrying about protecting Jewish lives.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: The IDF's no fire rules

Israel Matzav: Former Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Yaari on the current crisis

Former Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Yaari on the current crisis

Rick Richman blogs an interview with Ehud Yaari, Israel Radio's former Arab affairs correspondent.

Yaari is spot on.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Former Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Yaari on the current crisis

Israel Matzav: Will the Jews hold Obama accountable?

Will the Jews hold Obama accountable?

Now that President Obama's visceral hatred for Israel is out in the open, the real question is whether American Jewry and Jewish organizations will hold the President liable in 2012 (and even in the midterm elections in 2010). Here are a couple of comments addressing that issue.

Jonathan Tobin:

This White House’s cold shoulder to Netanyahu may be just an act of symbolism but not even the most shameless Obama apologist can pretend that it was anything but an indication of the president’s hostility. When the first president Bush used the occasion of an AIPAC conference in Washington in 1991 to show his contempt for Israel, even Jewish Republicans were aghast. Many deserted him at the next election — the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to a record low in 1992. The question for Jewish Democrats and other liberal friends of Israel is whether they are prepared to hold Barack Obama accountable in the same fashion.

This AP story is headlined “Obama risks alienating Jewish voters?” What’s missing is any evidence that this has yet happened or that Jewish Democrats are prepared to withhold support, financial and otherwise, from Obama. Off-year elections are a poor proxy for foreign-policy sentiments, except in extreme cases. (2006, at the height of the anti-Iraq-war sentiment, was the exception that proves the rule.) But certainly there will be Senate races in which the administration’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian conflict are prominent. However, the definitive answer as to whether American Jews will actually withhold their votes and campaign dollars from Obama will have to await the 2012 election cycle.

In the meantime, the question remains whether the push back we’ve seen over the last two weeks on the Obami’s Jerusalem housing gambit will continue, and how prominent Jewish organizations will react when, as we suspect will be the case, Obama’s effort on sanctions on Iran proves to be far less robust than advertised. This week AIPAC set the bar fairly high — reminding the administration that “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” making it clear that the bully-boy routine needed to stop, and urging those crippling sanctions. If that is not forthcoming, its members and the larger Jewish community will need to make some choices. The credibility and continued relevance of major Jewish organizations depend on holding the administration accountable.

Yours truly:

My guess is that most American Jews will still vote for Obama although the percentage will drop and not be as high as it was in 2008. Recall that despite Jimmy Carter's unabashed hostility to Israel, he still won a plurality of the Jewish vote in the 1980 election, and probably would have won a majority but for the third party candidacy of John Anderson. If the Republican nominee is Huckabee or Palin, all the Leftist Jews who fear the word "Christian" will run right back into the Obama camp. If it's someone else (maybe even Romney), there is some chance of siphoning off some Jewish votes.

Israel may play prominently in this year's races - California Senate comes to mind. If Fiorina beats out Campbell, I believe she can pick up a substantial number of Jewish votes (honestly, if Campbell wins, I think even I would vote for Boxer).

As to Jewish organizations, I think you'll see a split between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox groups, with the Orthodox groups voting more Republican (and maybe getting more Modern Orthodox Jews to do the same), and with Conservative and Reform still staying with the Democrats.

One wild card: If God forbid Iran attacks Israel before 2012 and Obama just lets it happen, all bets are off.

Israel Matzav: Will the Jews hold Obama accountable?

Israel Matzav: Takeaways from Washington

Takeaways from Washington

The trauma that our Prime Minister underwent this week in Washington leaves us some lessons that must be internalized quickly. Here are some things I think the government needs to take into consideration as it moves ahead. I'm going to quote from an article by Avi Issacharoff because I think it does a fair job of summing up American perceptions and I'm going to give what I believe our counterpoints must be.

Netanyahu must also recognize the changing reality on the Palestinian side. Until 2004, the Palestinian Authority was led by Yasser Arafat, who was perceived by the Americans and Europeans as a terrorist. Now, the Palestinian leaders are viewed in Washington and within the EU as true partners in the peace process and in the effort to create a Palestinian state. It is Israel's leaders - specifically Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Likud Minister Benny Begin and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon - who are far from being perceived in that way. In the past, the U.S. saw settlement construction as a "stick" used to deter Palestinian terror, but today it is viewed as an obstacle.

Israel was seriously mistaken in attacking Abu Mazen only for weakness. There is so much more to attack about him and Salam Fayyad. For example, how many Americans even know that Abu Mazen is a Holocaust denier who continues to call for violence against Israelis and Jews? That point needs to be driven home again and again. Abu Mazen is a Holocaust denier who incites and threatens violence against Jews. He is also a corruptocrat. I understand why Obama is giving him a free pass. Why are we? Why are we pulling our punches?

The same goes for the 'educated' and 'cultured' Fayyad. He is neither of the above. He's just another power grabbing politician without a base. He too is corrupt and a liar. Let's call him that.

We need to drive home again and again that there is no difference between Hamas and Fatah. They both want to destroy us. Why is no one saying this in Washington? Why isn't the 'peace process' being exposed as a sham? Israelis all know it. The days of Shimon Peres' 'New Middle East' are over - it's been exposed as a pipe dream. So why aren't we saying that in Washington? Why are timid in our own defense?

Obama's reaction is not a result of his victory in passing health care reform. The American president doesn't needto be strong to offend an Israeli prime minister over a matter such as settlements. And despite the hopes of some in Israel, it doesn't appear that the U.S. Jewish community will go out of its way to defend Israel on the settlement issue either.

"Netanyahu should have taken into account the change within the American Jewish community," Dov Weisglass, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the MESS Report. "Their support for Israel is decreasing and they will defend Israel in the face of the administration only on matters where there is a real threat to Israel. I have serious doubt that U.S. Jews see the Netanyahu government's territorial aspirations in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem as an existential matter."

This is true. It's partly because we have pretended for the last 16.5 years that the 'peace process' will lead to 'peace' and that we can afford to give up Judea and Samaria. We have to stop doing that. We have to show again and again why Judea and Samaria are vital for Israel's security. If Judea and Samaria - God forbid - go to form a 'Palestinian state,' the Jewish state's long-term survival is very much in jeopardy.

But the second part of that statement is also true. We have lost American Jewry. Not all of it. But we've lost most of the non-Orthodox and nearly all of the intermarried. We have to acknowledge that - like it or not - our power base in the US is Christian. Without Christian support, America would not be supporting us. The Jews will vote for Obama regardless of what he does to us. The Christians won't. Either we cultivate that relationship or somewhere down the road they will tire of us and we will lose it. How do we cultivate that relationship? Stand up for ourselves. Show off our history. Judea and Samaria are where our biblical forefathers walked. They are God's country and God promised it to us. There's nothing wrong with making the security argument and the entitlement argument side by side. One doesn't preclude the other.

"The current Israeli government, which was founded on different guiding political principles and does not recognize the Road Map, essentially abandoned the doctrine outlined in Bush's letter. Israel brought the subject of settlement construction back to square one - and the Americans obliged them by returning to their default stance that Israel cease building beyond the Green Line."

For better or for worse - mostly for worse - Israel signed the road map. Democracies are expected to live up to their written commitments. But, Israel signed the road map subject to fourteen reservations. It is only obligated by the road map subject to those reservations. It never agreed to anything else. Why are those reservations ignored? Why were we silent when Condi Clueless decided to skip Phase One of the road map (a phase that the 'Palestinians' will never fulfill - it requires them to uproot terrorism) and go straight to Phase Three at Annapolis? Why aren't we asserting those rights now? Why are we letting Obama go to final status talks without the earlier phases being fulfilled? Why are we agreeing to negotiate 'final status' issues with an errand boy?

Why are we complicit in giving the 'Palestinians' a free pass on their obligations under dozens of signed instruments?

We woke up late to defend ourselves from the Goldstone Report accusations. But now that we have defended ourselves, we can see that there is plenty to be said in our favor. The same goes for the current crisis with the US. We have rights and we need to assert them. The American people aren't fools. The Congress is on our side. Let's give them the ammunition to fight for us.

Israel Matzav: Takeaways from Washington

Israel Matzav: Petraeus clears the record so Gates attacks Israel

Petraeus clears the record so Gates attacks Israel

On Wednesday, US Centcom commander David Petraeus set the record straight on comments he allegedly made about Israel and about how the Israeli - Arab conflict affects US interests overseas. Petraeus said that he was misquoted and neutralized any assertion that American troops were in jeopardy because of Israel.

In a move that has to make you wonder whether the White House is orchestrating a 'blame Israel' crusade (I believe they are), Defense Secretary Robert Gates - who took the military option against Iran off the table nearly a year ago - came right back and criticized Israel again, claiming that Israeli - 'Palestinian' tensions are jeopardizing US national security interests in the region.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions are affecting US national security interests in the region, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

"The lack of progress toward Middle East peace is clearly an issue that's exploited by our adversaries in the region" and "does affect US national security interests in the region," Gates was cited by AFP as saying.

Gates spoke at a news conference amid US discontent with Israel over its announced plans to build new homes for Jews in east Jerusalem, which Washington says hurts Mideast peace efforts.

This is all being orchestrated by the White House to keep the pressure on Netanyahu. Trust me.

Israel Matzav: Petraeus clears the record so Gates attacks Israel

Israel Matzav: Ex-CIA agent in Revolutionary Guard says West misreads Iran

Ex-CIA agent in Revolutionary Guard says West misreads Iran

'Reza Khalili' was a CIA double agent who penetrated Iran's Revolutionary Guards. 'Khalili' first reported to his CIA handlers in the 1980's that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. He has no doubt that Iran is continuing to develop nuclear weapons today. 'Khalili' says that the West misreads what's behind Iran's apocalyptic ideology. He implies that we underestimate Iran's willingness to use nuclear weapons to upset the World order. Here's what he says we should do:

We can’t allow Khamenei’s statements to deceive us. Whether it is haram or not, Iran is almost certainly developing nuclear weapons, and an Islamic Republic of Iran with atomic bombs would strongly destabilize the world.

The choices are clear: We can either rise up to our principles and defend the aspirations of the Iranian people for a free and democratic government, or we can continue with our vacillation and indecision, allowing Iran to become a nuclear-armed state.

Instead of counting on watered-down United Nations sanctions, the West should cut off all diplomatic ties with Iran, close down all airspace and seaports going to or from Iran, sanction all companies doing business with Iran, and cut off its gasoline supply. We should then demand an immediate halt to all Iranian nuclear and missile delivery activities and the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech for all Iranians. And if that fails, a military action should be in the cards.

He's right of course. But the odds of anyone attacking Iran these days - with the possible exception of Israel - are not good. The United States is led by a man whose middle name is Hussein who is in the process of degrading the United States' military capabilities, destroying its alliances and denying its exceptionalism.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Ex-CIA agent in Revolutionary Guard says West misreads Iran

Israel Matzav: Congress trying to prevent US funds from going to Iran

Congress trying to prevent US funds from going to Iran

Two and a half weeks ago, I reported on the massive US funds going to companies that violate existing sanctions against Iran. Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ) is trying to put a stop to that.

Adding to Congress's threats to move Iran sanctions legislation regardless of what happens at the United Nations, a House appropriator will move to keep all U.S. government money out of the hands of companies that do business there.

"During the House Appropriations Committee's consideration of the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bills, I will offer an amendment to each of the twelve appropriations bills to ensure that no federal funds go to companies doing business with Iran," Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J, will say in a statement to be released Thursday but obtained in advance by The Cable.


If the committee votes to adopt Rothman's language when they takes up the spending bills, it would become the law of the land that no U.S. Government funds would go to such companies, no matter what other sanctions might be in place.

Rothman isn't the only lawmaker trying to close the path of funds from Washington to Tehran. The House version of the Iran sanctions bill currently awaiting conference has a provision to stop U.S. government funds from going to companies involved in Iran's oil sector, written by Rep. Ron Klein, D-FL.

The Senate version of the bill has a similar provision that covers technology exports to Iran, but not oil industry involvement. Inside the conference, several lawmakers are expected to push for language that covers both sectors and perhaps more.

Fortunately, Obama doesn't have a line-item veto, so this might actually get through.

Israel Matzav: Congress trying to prevent US funds from going to Iran

Israel Matzav: 300 members of Congress sign letter to Clinton

300 members of Congress sign letter to Clinton

Some 300 members of Congress (only the House) have signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirming their commitment to an 'unbreakable' bond between the United States and Israel.

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. In every important relationship, there will be occasional misunderstandings and conflicts.

The announcement during Vice President Biden's visit was, as Israel's Prime Minister said in an apology to the United States, "a regrettable incident that was done in all innocence and was hurtful, and which certainly should not have occurred." We are reassured that Prime Minister Netanyahu's commitment to put in place new procedures will ensure that such surprises, however unintended, will not recur.

The United States and Israel are close allies whose people share a deep and abiding friendship based on a shared commitment to core values including democracy, human rights and freedom of the press and religion. Our two countries are partners in the fight against terrorism and share an important strategic relationship.

A strong Israel is an asset to the national security of the United States and brings stability to the Middle East. We are concerned that the highly publicized tensions in the relationship will not advance the interests the U.S. and Israel share. Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability.

From the moment of Israel's creation, successive U.S. administrations have appreciated the special bond between the U.S. and Israel.

For decades, strong, bipartisan Congressional support for Israel, including security assistance and other important measures, have been eloquent testimony to our commitment to Israel's security, which remains unswerving.

It is the very strength of this relationship that has, in fact, made Arab-Israeli peace agreements possible, both because it convinced those who sought Israel's destruction to abandon any such hope and because it gave successive Israeli governments the confidence to take calculated risks for peace.

In its declaration of independence 62 years ago, Israel declared: "We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land."

In the decades since, despite constantly having to defend itself from attack, Israel has repeatedly made good on that pledge by offering to undertake painful risks to reach peace with its neighbors.

Our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement.

As the Vice-President said during his recent visit to Israel: "Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space."

Steadfast American backing has helped lead to Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. And American involvement continues to be critical to the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

We recognize that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues both large and small.

Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies. We hope and expect that, with mutual effort and good faith, the United States and Israel will move beyond this disruption quickly, to the lasting benefit of both nations.

We believe, as President Obama said, that "Israel's security is paramount" in our Middle East policy and that "it is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel's security as an independent Jewish state is maintained."

In that spirit, we look forward to working with you to achieve the common objectives of the U.S. and Israel, especially regional security and peace.





I would be happier if it were 400....

Israel Matzav: 300 members of Congress sign letter to Clinton

Love of the Land: European Politicians Are Living a Lie about Israel: An Interview with Fiamma Nirenstein

European Politicians Are Living a Lie about Israel: An Interview with Fiamma Nirenstein

The Italian politician and author talks about the East Jerusalem flap and makes some startling statements about the similarity of views between the European left and jihadists.

Stefan Frank
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

The Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein is the author of numerous books on anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Middle East conflict, including (in English) Israel is Us and Terror: the New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West.

In April 2008, she was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies as a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party. She is presently the vice-president of the chamber’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. In February, she accompanied Prime Minister Berlusconi on a three-day visit to Israel.

Stefan Frank spoke with Fiamma Nirenstein about Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, anti-Semitism on the left, European criticism of Israel, and the significance of Berlusconi’s recent visit.


Q: Jerusalem is presently the focus of a great deal of media attention. Some people say that by announcing the construction of new residential units in East Jerusalem, Israel has clouded the prospects for peace in the Middle East and angered the USA. Relations between the two countries are said to be in a deep crisis.

Fiamma Nirenstein: The 10-month freeze granted unilaterally by Netanyahu in December — which Obama welcomed enthusiastically — referred to West Bank settlements. East Jerusalem was never included. Jerusalem is an issue with which Israel and the Palestinians will deal only at the negotiating table. Most people are ignorant of the fact that what is commonly known as East Jerusalem was ruled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Before then, the town had a Jewish majority for centuries.

In previous negotiations, like those between Arafat and Barak in 2000 or between Olmert and Abu Mazen in 2007, even the Palestinian side considered that many of the neighborhoods being called “settlements” by the newspapers, like Ramat Shlomo, could possibly be annexed to the Jewish part of the town in a final agreement. This is because most of these neighborhoods have been built either in deserted areas or in areas that had already been inhabited by Jews, who could not, however, live there under Jordanian rule because of the threat to their lives.

In short, the decision to build 1600 units was taken a long time ago. The Americans have seized on the bad timing of the announcement during Biden’s visit in order to push the peace process in the way Obama wants.

Q: You write a lot about leftist anti-Semitism. When and how did you discover its existence?

Fiamma Nirenstein: I made this discovery in theory and in practice. In 1967, as a young girl, I was a communist like all the other people of my age. My parents sent me to a kibbutz in northern Israel called Neot Mordechai. It was a leftist kibbutz, every week it dedicated one working day to the Vietcong. During the Six-Day-War, which broke out during my stay, I took care of the kids and brought them to the shelter.

(Read full interview)

Love of the Land: European Politicians Are Living a Lie about Israel: An Interview with Fiamma Nirenstein

Love of the Land: A reality too terrible to admit

A reality too terrible to admit

Jonathan Spyer
26 March '10

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

The Obama administration's approach to the Middle East is characterized by an apparent desire to revive the sunny illusions of the 1990s peace process - in an era that is far more uncertain and dangerous. This is particularly noticeable in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, in which the United States, the dominant world power, sets the parameters of debate. As a result, international discussion of the conflict is now more detached from reality than at any time in the past 40 years.

There are two layers to the edifice of unreality in which mainstream debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is now taking place. The first and most obvious one concerns the Hamas enclave in Gaza. It is now over four years since the movement's victory in elections to the Palestine Legislative Council, and nearly three years since the Hamas coup in Gaza. It is therefore past time to acknowledge that a single, united Palestinian national movement no longer exists.

Since this is, apparently, a reality too terrible to be admitted, the U.S. and the Europeans have chosen, in public at least, to ignore it. The fiction that the West Bank Palestinian Authority speaks in the name of all Palestinians is politely maintained. Behind the scenes, however, the reality is widely acknowledged. The intended means for coping with it constitutes the second layer of illusion.

The inability of even mainstream Fatah-style Palestinian nationalism to accept partition as the final outcome of the conflict has prevented its resolution twice - in 2000 and 2008. This type of nationalism understands the conflict as one that pits a colonial project against a native, authentic nationalism.

From such a perspective, partition of the land means admitting defeat. But Palestinian nationalism does not feel defeated. It is characterized, rather, by a deep strategic optimism. From its point of view, it is therefore not imperative to immediately conclude the struggle - but it is forbidden to end it. Hence the endless reasons why the partition deal somehow can never be inked.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: A reality too terrible to admit

Love of the Land: Practical Zionism

Practical Zionism
25 March '10

In the early days of the Zionist enterprise, a group of Jewish Palestinians — in those days, the word ‘Palestinian’ referred to Jews — organized a group called hashomer, ‘guardians’ who defended Jewish farms and towns against marauding Arab bandits. Not everyone who applied to join was accepted, including David Ben-Gurion.

Today, despite the existence of a Jewish state with police, an army and numerous other security-related institutions, it’s become necessary to recreate this paramilitary organization.

In recent years, it has become harder and harder for Jewish farmers in the Galilee and Negev to survive, because they are assailed on a daily (or nightly) basis by Bedouins or Palestinian Arabs who steal everything that isn’t nailed down, destroy fences, set fire to crops, build squatter dwellings on farmers’ land, slaughter their animals in their fields, and threaten, beat or even try to kill anyone who tries to prevent them.

These aren’t ’settlements’, by the way (not that it matters), this is happening inside the Green Line.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Practical Zionism

Love of the Land: CENTCOM, Gen. Petraeus and Israel

CENTCOM, Gen. Petraeus and Israel

JINSA Report #: 975
25 March '10

Sometimes it takes a while for a story to come full circle. Last week, we reported (JINSA Report #973) on a blog that said American military officers in CENTCOM blamed U.S. relations with Israel for American weakness in the region. The ForeignPolicy blog went viral on the web, attracting other "authoritative" statements blaming Israel for American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan-and attributing negative comments about Israel to CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus.

Our take was that American weakness in the region is attributable in some measure to the Saudi and Gulf State belief that the United States will not prevent Iran, their nemesis as well as Israel's, from acquiring nuclear weapons. Although the Saudis do frequently complain about what they call "the Israel problem," it is a way of deflecting their own inability to be strong partners. The rest, we said, was a lie, an opportunity to shred the U.S.-Israel security relationship and label Israel a liability rather than an asset to American military planners.

Speaking in New Hampshire this week, Gen. Petraeus addressed the controversy, beginning with the point that some statements attributed to him personally were, in fact, sentences lifted out of context from a 56-page CENTCOM Strategy Document.

"There's... a statement in [the document] that describes various factors that influence the strategic context in which we operate and among those we listed the Mideast peace process. We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean that is a perception; it is there, I don't think that's disputable. But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly." He noted other factors listed in the same section of the report, including "a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which, by the way, deny Israel's right to exist. There's a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place...So we have all the factors in there, but this is just one, and it was pulled out of this 56-page document, which was not what I read to the Senate at all."

In response to a question, Gen. Petraeus said he had called Gen. Ashkenazi, the IDF Chief of Staff, and assured him that the web reports were inaccurate.

(Read full report)

Love of the Land: CENTCOM, Gen. Petraeus and Israel

Love of the Land: No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

Jonathan Tobin
25 March '10

This White House likes symbolism. After Barack Obama moved in, one of the first things his staff did was to unceremoniously remove the bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office and return it to Great Britain, thus signaling that this president no longer valued the special relationship with the UK, which had been a cornerstone of American diplomacy from the days of FDR to those of George W. Bush. And when Obama finally met with the Dalai Lama last month, the visit was kept low key, with no official welcome and no media allowed to witness the event for fear of offending China. The one picture that was released of the meeting appeared to show the president lecturing the exiled Tibetan so no one might think that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review had anything to learn from a legendary spiritual leader.

But the cold reception of the Dalai Lama now seems like a wild party compared to the way Obama received Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week. Oh, I know, Bibi is in the doghouse because we’re all supposed to think that Israel gravely insulted Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a housing-project start in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to coincide with his recent visit there. But the reason this is such a “big f@!%ing deal,” as the vice president might put it, is not because it was a real insult but because it was an excuse for the administration to renew its war on Netanyahu.

This is not the first president to dislike an Israeli prime minister or even Israel itself. The elder George Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@!% the Jews” Baker despised Yitzhak Shamir. But never has the leader of America’s ally Israel been treated with such open contempt as shown by Obama to Netanyahu. The Israeli’s visit to the White House was closed to the press — with not even one photo released of their encounter. The fact is that Obama didn’t even want his picture taken with Netanyahu. That’s particularly strange since the president has never any qualms about getting snapped next to a wide variety of international leaders on his travels.

In yesterday’s press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was quizzed on this startling behavior by Jake Tapper. In response to repeated questions as to why the White House chose to treat a democratically elected head of the government of a close U.S. ally in this manner, Gibbs did not try very hard to pretend that it was anything but an indication of Obama’s dislike for the Israeli and the country he represents. Coming from a president that has spent his time in office making non-stop efforts to reach out to and engage America’s enemies around the world, this open hostility to Israel is breathtaking in its brazenness.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

Love of the Land: Israel Policy Makers Should Assume a Two Term Obama Presidency

Israel Policy Makers Should Assume a Two Term Obama Presidency

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
25 March '10

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sits with his "seven ministers' forum" tomorrow (this) afternoon they should analyze Israel options based on the working assumption that U.S. President Obama will ultimately serve two terms rather than that President Obama will already find himself seriously weakened as we approach the November congressional elections and perhaps even essentially relegated to lame duck status for the balance of his term after those elections give expression to a massive shift against Mr. Obama.

The second scenario might justify a policy of concessions to buy time with the expectation that they can be contained as Israel finds itself in a much stronger position vis-à-vis Obama in a few months. That was part of the logic for the housing construction freeze in Judea and Samaria that was set to expire just as the congressional campaigns will be heating up in the U.S..

But there's no guaranty that this is how it will play out. And it could turn out to be a devastating mistake to rely on it.

Assuming a two term Obama presidency radically changes the ramifications and consequences of the concessions Israel makes today.

Let's not kid ourselves.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Israel Policy Makers Should Assume a Two Term Obama Presidency

Elder of Ziyon: Zahi Hawass: "I will not allow any Jew to pray in restored synagogue"

Elder of Ziyon: Zahi Hawass: "I will not allow any Jew to pray in restored synagogue"

Elder of Ziyon: Obama ensures that terror has no consequences

Obama ensures that terror has no consequences

From YNet:

The Obama Administration is demanding that Israel hand over more West Bank land to exclusive PA control, including the Abu-Dis area adjacent to Jerusalem, Palestinian sources told Ynet Thursday.

According to the US vision, the move will take place as part of reverting to the state that prevailed in the West Bank before the outbreak of the last Intifada.

"The most significant demand is to restore the situation to what it was on the eve of the Intifada," one source said.

Because what could possibly be wrong with turning back the clock to the day before a war began that killed a thousand Israeli civilians?

Starting and losing a war has consequences in every part of the world except for one. Since 1967, the world - and "international law" as interpreted by most - is fixated on the idea that the Arabs can start all the wars they want against Israel. If they lose, international pressure will ensure that the previous status quo can be returned to, so there are no consequences for losing.

We have seen Egypt, Syria, the PLO, the PLO again, Hezbollah and Hamas start wars with Israel, secure in the knowledge that they will not lose anything of consequence if they lose the war. Just expendable people who are less important than "The Struggle" and perhaps a few years of negotiations and pressure.

It wasn't that many years ago that Israelis were putting their lives on the line in order to take a bus or go to a restaurant. Their government finally went on the offensive to fix this intolerable situation - it built a fence, it took actions against terrorists, it added checkpoints both in the territories and all over Israel itself that every citizen had to go through many times daily, and it took actions to stop giving Hamas materials to build rockets and tunnels with.

All those defensive actions, meant to save lives, appear to be now "unacceptable," in the term that the Obama administration uses with serious conviction against Israel and with fake conviction against Iran.

Now, the surviving Palestinian Arab leaders who wholeheartedly supported the intifada are being given an opportunity to turn back the clock, so they can come up with a new way to destroy Israel without losing any leverage.

The strategy is simple. When the Arabs win, militarily or politically, they win. When Israel wins, it is a draw at best. So all the Arabs have to do is keep trying.

While the White House thinks in terms of four-year chunks of time, the Arabs think in terms of centuries. To them, the Crusades were a mere blip in time.

And so is Israel.

So, backed by Westerners who cling to the false hope that a temporary peace treaty will somehow stop worldwide Islamic terror, the Arabs can keep trying to shave parts of Israel off until there is nothing left. After a Palestinian Arab state will come demands for the Arab parts of Israel, then demands for the 1947 partition lines, then demands for Arabs to "return" to lands that they never owned to begin with. There will be demands for "Palestine" to have full control over its airspace, to have the full ability to invite Iran or Syria to place an army on its territory, all in the name of fairness and independence.

The demands,and the supporting wars, will not stop because there is no incentive to stop them. They know that the West will always want to turn the clock back if they lose, so why fear losing?

There is a basic fact that should be self-evident, but years of double-talk and wishful thinking has rendered it invisible in the Middle East:

The only way towards real peace is if both sides have something to lose by its absence.

Elder of Ziyon: Obama ensures that terror has no consequences

Elder of Ziyon: Another bomb in Gaza

Another bomb in Gaza

Yet another bomb exploded in Gaza near a security compound, the latest in a series of such bombings aimed at police in recent months.

Earlier this week, Hamas' interior minister blamed the bombs on "teenagers."

Elder of Ziyon: Another bomb in Gaza

Elder of Ziyon: The secret Jewish plan (guest post by Zvi)

The secret Jewish plan (guest post by Zvi)

In response to my posting on Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass' obsession with the Jews, where he declares his love for them but then informs us helpfully that the Jews have no history, culture or redeeming value, regular guestblogger Zvi reveals The Plan:


You might as well read the rest, then.

We're trying to humiliate Arabs, you know. Especially Egyptians. That's our obsession, the reason why we Jews live. It's the reason why we wake up in the morning.

And of COURSE we control the world. It makes SUCH perfect sense. Using this world control - which the Nazis used to rant about, so very unlike the wise and philo-Semitic leaders of Iran and Syria and Israel's great friend, Egypt - we ensured that 6 million of our loved ones would be murdered across the European continent. Yes! This was because our parents and grandparents knew that they would not miss their families anyway, and knew - clever Jews! - that survivors would be able to come to the Middle East and be locked up in British internment camps in Cyprus for several years.

Of course, we knew in advance, because it was part of the Plan, that the detainees would eventually be able to come to Israel and have the unusual opportunity to be attacked from all sides by 3 armies and their local allies, without an air force or tanks or even sufficient small arms to use in the defense. We knew, because it was in the Plan, that a few million Jews would somehow survive this kind of onslaught and would then be able to live on a fingernail clipping of land, half of which is desert, the 151st largest country in this Jew-controlled world. [And one of the few areas in the region without any oil - EoZ]. Yes indeed, we knew from the start that Jews would manage to live under bombardment in this snippet of a country, to which of course we have no real connection, because it's really "Muslim land", but which we "occupy" simply in order to humiliate the Arabs! We could really live anywhere in the world and continue to rule the planet - Tehran, for example, or Oslo, or Barcelona, or Baghdad. But Jews live in Israel for a Great and Wonderful Purpose - to drive Mahmoud al-Zahar nuts.

We set it all up in advance, because it was our plan all along to get massacred and expelled five or 6 times! Or was it 20 or 100 or 1000 times? Elder, when did we cook up this brilliant scheme, again? The year 1900? Or was it 1500? Or 100? Part of the Plan is that I don't know what the Plan is! Our diabolical cleverness astounds me whenever I think about it!

[Zvi - everyone knows that it is in the Talmud, but in the censored parts.]

Our incredible, magical control of the world allowed us to ensure that 1 million of us would be driven from homes in Arab and Muslim countries *cough Egypt cough* by Nazi-inspired repression, pogroms and threats of genocide, and allowed us to ensure that these refugees ended up in tent cities near present-day Sderot, where nobody but the Jews shouldered the burden of helping them and integrating them into Israel's population.

Our control further ensures that the Palestinians' childrens' childrens' children are not allowed to return to the countries from which many of their fathers and grandfathers came, and are living in squalid camps, supported by the taxes of people whom they hate. This is a big part of the Plan - to make sure that these people are kept on the dole, all the while being brainwashed to kill us.

Our control ensures that Israel gets rocketed and nobody worries about it, and that Israel is continually and uniquely attacked by one United Nations resolution after another, while most of Europe and Asia watch the spectacle. We are very clever, we who ensure that no other national state on earth receives such "special handling!"

Our absolute control of the world enables us to ensure that otherwise "caring" governments don't raise a finger to help Jews who are physically attacked or threatened in places like Oslo and Malmo, and it's why, when a Jew displays an Israeli flag in his window in Germany, we ensure that the German authorities make him take it down - while allowing a crowd of vicious anti-Semites to issue threats of violence against us without challenge.

Our pernicious control allows us to arrange for The Guardian and Aftonbladet to spread blood libels about our people and our lone national state; and because we control the world SO completely, we are able to make sure that our national state is singled out in this manner, that no other state on earth receives such a constant barrage of manufactured hatred. We ensure that when other states slaughter thousands of civilians in cold blood (e.g. Sri Lanka and Sudan) over the course of a few weeks, this is virtually ignored! Of course we do! We want the media to focus exclusively on insane, trumped-up political attacks on OUR lone national state. Because we are so diabolically clever and have such magical control over the planet. All part of the Plan.

And we control all of the money and all of the business! This is because we control the world's oil resources! Haha! Just seeing if you were on your toes! Okay, so we don't control the oil. But "everybody knows" that we control the banks - never mind the fact that the boards of directors of most of the world's biggest banks include either no Jews at all, or very few. We do it with Joo Rays (we're good with this high-tech stuff)! What else do we control? The making of Kosher l'Pesach food - very important. Oh, right, I forgot that we control the media; we use it to ensure that our lone national state is constantly bashed for behavior that is ignored when anyone else does it. All part of our clever plan! (It is a VERY CLEVER plan! ; - ) )

And we control elected governments, and NGOs! Never mind that there are only 11 million of us in the world. Pay no attention to the fact that governments blatantly don't give a fig what we think about Jerusalem, about Iran, or about most other major topics. But have no fear. We control with our JOO RAYS! We're mind-controlling politicians with our wily ways. Except when we're not. Do not be distracted by the relentless way in which major NGOs bash Israel in order to raise money from oil dictators. We control them!

And oh, boy! Our cabal is such a secret cabal! Every Jew participates in this network! Except for Norman Finkelstein. And Jeremy Ben-Ami. And just about all of the left-wing Jews. And the Neturei Karta. And the Israeli supreme court. And the settlers. And the millions of other Jewish people who can't be bothered to show up at the synagogue. No, wait! Sorry! I forgot! We're ALL conspirators; we just don't realize it! I don't realize it either. It's such a clever plan that nobody in the world knows what the plan is! We have endless, friendly debates about it in public forums, using such friendly pet names as "heartless neocon", "self-hating dhimmi", "naive liberal" and (whispers) "Zionist". Yes, Zahi is right. We Jews are so powerful because we are completely and totally united! Bibi is in league with Noam Chomsky! And Tzipi Livni! And Amira Hass! Danny Ayalon is consorting with Rahm Emanuel! And we have kept all of this a secret for thousands of years!

Oh, it's a fiendishly clever Plan.


And it's all about humiliating Egypt. By signing a peace treaty with it and giving back the Sinai. Oops, wait. I think the idea is to humiliate the Arab world by continuing to breathe. Elder, help! I've lost the threads of our super-secret conspiracy!

[It is all very complicated, as you can imagine. A lot of it is centered around lawn darts, SETI, women's pro wrestling and shaitel machers. When you reach the rank of Elder Daled Zayin you will gain more knowledge.]

And only wise Zahi can detect our secret control! Wallah! It's a miracle!

Elder of Ziyon: The secret Jewish plan (guest post by Zvi)

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Petraeus Clarifies

Petraeus Clarifies

General Petraeus called Gabi Ashkenazi, his Israeli counterpart, to deny the reports of his blaming Israel or Israeli policies for endangering Americans.

"But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it," he added. "And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly."

Petraeus was referring to blogging activity surrounding his comments on Israel, and apparently it was important for the general not to be seen as hostile to Israel, for Israeli consumption but also for the American public.

The two decisions Petraeus made, to call Ashkenazi and publicize the conversation, are important. CENTCOM is responsible for all the Arab states east of Egypt, and tends to shy away from making public its contacts with the IDF. Petraeus told the press that he did not seek to bring the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into the realm of CENTCOM responsibility, as they, along with Israel, fall under the responsibility of the European Command.

Hmmm. Bloggers.Who might he have in mind, do you think?

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Petraeus Clarifies

No Change on Jerusalem Policy Despite US Pressure - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

No Change on Jerusalem Policy Despite US Pressure - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Activists: Bibi, Stand Strong - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Activists: Bibi, Stand Strong - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Activists: Bibi, Stand Strong - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Activists: Bibi, Stand Strong - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Mayor Barkat: Netanyahu Protected Jerusalem in Washington - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Mayor Barkat: Netanyahu Protected Jerusalem in Washington - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Petraeus Confirms INN's Report: "I Never Blamed Israel" - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Petraeus Confirms INN's Report: "I Never Blamed Israel" - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Wants Israel to OK Dead Sea Tourist Scheme - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Wants Israel to OK Dead Sea Tourist Scheme - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

'Tel Aviv Waking Up to Illegal Entrant Danger' - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

'Tel Aviv Waking Up to Illegal Entrant Danger' - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Dr. Clara Hammer, Jerusalem's 'Chicken Lady,' Dies at 100 - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Dr. Clara Hammer, Jerusalem's 'Chicken Lady,' Dies at 100 - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Small bit of good news: US sells Israel 3 C-130J cargo planes

Small bit of good news: US sells Israel 3 C-130J cargo planes

I'm not sure why Haaretz is referring to a $210 million arms deal as 'massive' - that's chump change in the world of arms dealing. And I'm also not sure which of the two planes pictured at top left Israel is actually getting. But the small piece of good news out of Washington this week is that the US is selling us three C-130J Hercules military cargo planes. No, they're not bombers and the F-35 negotiations I've discussed many times still haven't been concluded. But they're selling us something. According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes.

The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million.

The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel's defense industry.

The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds. The Pentagon will issue a formal announcement on the matter on Thursday evening.

America and Israel have still not reached an agreement regarding the purchase of the Lockheed F-35 war plane. It is still not clear when that deal, which is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, will finally be sealed and carried out.

Given that the US is rumored to have put an arms embargo on Israel, there's a part of me that views this sale as a way of eating up Israel's aid money that has to be spent in the US anyway without actually selling us anything that can be used as a weapon. After all, the C-130J is a cargo plane. In other words, it's not very helpful. And that makes me wonder even more why HaAretz, which hates Netanyahu, would be playing it up.

Israel Matzav: Small bit of good news: US sells Israel 3 C-130J cargo planes

Love of the Land: Ashton in Gaza: When the "experts" are clueless

Ashton in Gaza: When the "experts" are clueless

Elder of Ziyon
22 March '10

One of the more frustrating parts of watching the Middle East is when one sees that people who should have some basic knowledge, who present themselves as experts, and who urge actions based on their experience and expertise, are completely clueless.

Meet Catherine Ashton.

Lady Ashton is the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice president of the European Commission. She visited Gaza last week, and, armed with the latest on-the-ground intelligence, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times describing exactly what needs to be done to make the Middle East a happy place again.

Here is her first paragraph:

It is the process of entering the Gaza Strip that strikes you most. At the Erez checkpoint you go into what looks like a modern airport terminal. Leaving it you move through a winding maze of gates and walls and emerge, like a time-traveler transported backwards, on a dirt track. This is where the industrial center of Gaza used to be, before the shelling just over a year ago. Now, people with donkeys and carts carry stones from the rubble.

Ashton is stating as fact that the heartless Israelis, for no discernible reason, reduced the Erez area to rubble during Operation Cast Lead and bombed the formerly prosperous industrial area to the stone age.

Love of the Land: Ashton in Gaza: When the "experts" are clueless

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

This video is dedicated to our Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Chazak - be strong!

Sung by Avraham Fried (who wrote the song) and Mordechai Ben David.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC says Israel must compensate Hamastan

UNHRC says Israel must compensate Hamastan

From Arab News:

Israel should pay Palestinians reparations for loss and damages suffered during last year’s war in the Gaza Strip, the UN Human Rights Council said Thursday.

The 47-nation body didn’t call for similar payments by Palestinians to Israelis. The resolution was opposed by the United States and five European countries.

The council, which has been criticized for excessively focusing on Israel in the past, approved four other resolutions condemning the Jewish state on Wednesday.

Here are some expenses that the UN did not feel worthy of compensation:

* The cost of fortifying homes and schools in Sderot and other Negev communities (over $75million spent so far, an additional $150 million needed)

* The cost of 32 public bomb shelters ($1.5 million) and additional ones in Ashkelon ($2 million)

* Building new rocket-resistant schools in the Negev ($18 million)

* Paying for treatments of thousands of residents with post traumatic stress

* Compensating for those killed and injured

* Compensation for the lost property values in Sderot and surrounding communities

* Compensation for lost productivity of Negev residents

* Compensation for the cost of developing the Iron Dome system and any new systems to defend against rockets and mortars

* Compensation for the entire cost of Operation Cast Lead, a war that Israel would not have had to wage if the rockets weren't being fired. This includes the huge amount that Israel was forced to spend to minimize civilian casualties, dropping leaflets, calling residents to warn them to leave, the intelligence behind accurately targeting terrorists.

In the end, no one has yet come up with an alternative to Operation Cast Lead that would have stopped the rocket fire. In the absence of any real alternative, it appears that it is Hamas that owes the residents of Gaza compensation for starting the war.

Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC says Israel must compensate Hamastan

Israel Matzav: Smith poll: 9% of Israeli Jews think Obama pro-Israel before he snubbed Netanyahu again

Smith poll: 9% of Israeli Jews think Obama pro-Israel before he snubbed Netanyahu again

A Smith poll taken for the Jerusalem Post on Sunday and Monday - before President Obama abused Prime Minister Netanyahu yet again - showed that only 9% of Israeli Jews believe that Obama is pro-Israel. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5%, which means that it is fairly close to last summer's results that showed 6% and 4% of Israeli Jews believing that Obama is pro-Israel (Hat Tip: Norman F).

Forty-eight percent said that the Obama presidency favored the Palestinian side, 30% said his administration was neutral and 13% chose not to express an opinion for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The poll of a representative sample of 500 Israelis was conducted on Sunday and Monday after weeks of heightened tensions between Obama and Israel, but before the crisis intensified during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.

Respondents who consider themselves right-wing were more likely than the rest of the population to characterize the Obama administration as more pro-Palestinian (72%). Those who define themselves as left-wing were more likely to call the administration in Washington more pro-Israel (16%).

The number of Israelis who see Obama’s policies as pro-Israel has risen from 4% in the last Smith Research poll taken on behalf of the Post in August. In that poll, 51% of Jewish Israelis said Obama’s administration was more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, while 35% considered it neutral and 10% declined to express an opinion.

By comparison, 88% of Jewish Israelis felt that the George W. Bush administration was pro-Israel.

Some of you may recall that last Friday I posted a review of Israeli pollsters in which I characterized Smith as 'centrist.'

On the other hand, I found this little blurb from the end of the JPost report disturbing.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll conducted on March 19-21 and released on Tuesday found that 39% of Americans see Israel as an ally, while another 41% consider Israel friendly to the US but not an ally. Twelve percent said they consider Israel unfriendly and 5% said Israel is an enemy.

The CNN survey was conducted through telephone interviews with 1,030 adult Americans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

39%? That's all?

Israel Matzav: Smith poll: 9% of Israeli Jews think Obama pro-Israel before he snubbed Netanyahu again
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