Monday, 29 March 2010

RubinReports: The Significance of Passover for Contemporary Arab and Muslim History

The Significance of Passover for Contemporary Arab and Muslim History

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By Barry Rubin

One of the greatest little challenges of my life--at least in terms of needing to react instantly--came when I was sitting in a meeting with high-ranking Egyptian officials during Passover. One of them asked me if it was true that the Jews had a holiday about defeating the Egyptians. I realized I had about ten seconds maximum to come up with the best answer.

And it then came to me: "Ah, I replied, those were jahiliyya times."

In Islam, the time before the beginning of that religion is viewed as a time of not only paganism but barbarism. Pharoah is a villain in the Koran. So they instantly accepted my answer: celebrating a story which ends with the drowning of pharoah isn't an act against Egypt but against a hated tyrant.

We are in a similar situation today. Change for the better will only come when the ideas and individuals who dominate the Middle East today--and oppose modernization, women's equality, democracy, peace with Israel, and real friendship with the West--are seen not as heroic leaders embodying Arabism and Islam but as unrepresentative tyrants.

That is not going to happen any time soon. It will take decades. Coincidentally, I just read the following written by George Orwell in 1946:

"Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible….This habit of the mind leads also to the belief that things will happen more quickly, completely, and catastrophically than they ever do in practice. The rise and fall of empires...are expected to happen with earthquake suddenness, and processes which have barely started are talked about as though they were already at an end.”

Yes, this process has only "barely started" and there is a long way to go. Indeed, it is arguably true that more in the West have accepted the "Middle East" interpretation of reality in the last decade than the other way around, viewing Islamists as heroic revolutionaries and tyrannical regimes as fighters for the underdog.

A brave Syrian oppositionist once asked me whether I thought democracy would come soon to his country. I choked up, having to much respect for him to tell him a pleasing lie. He understood my silence: "Oh, well," he sighed, "maybe in my children's time."

And so let me give greetings today especially--though not exclusively--for the democratic forces in Turkey, the democratic opposition in Iran, and in Syria, and those who dream of a free Lebanon. Your liberation will come also. Not when those tyrants' and the revolutionary extremists triumph. On the contrary, it will come when the waters close over them for the last time.

But only when the masses see what so very many of them are so proud to extol today as greatness as instead the political and social equivalent of the jahiliyya times they despise--the time of slavery to men who acted as pharoahs and to ideologies that extolled the equivalent of barbarism--will it be anywhere near an end.

RubinReports: The Significance of Passover for Contemporary Arab and Muslim History

RubinReports: Leaving Behind All Logic and Rational Policy in an Effort to Bash Israel

Leaving Behind All Logic and Rational Policy in an Effort to Bash Israel

By Barry Rubin

When you barely scratch the surface of what's being said by the Obama Administration and supporters about its current one-way feud with Israel it is easy to see how ludicrous are the claims being made.

For example, here's Thomas Friedman producing a much-quoted statement where no one seems to see the glaring omission:

“This tiff actually reflects a tectonic shift that has taken place beneath the surface of Israel-U.S. relations. I'd summarize it like this: In the last decade, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — for Israel — has gone from being a necessity to a hobby. And in the last decade, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — for America — has gone from being a hobby to a necessity. Therein lies the problem.”

Typically, of course, he leaves out the second main party: the Palestinians. Imagine, in a conflict between two sides, the attitude of one of them has been completely left out of this formula. So I would add: for the Palestinians (or, if you wish, Palestinian Authority) the peace process has gone from a necessity to a nuisance.

And by the way: can anyone make a serious argument that obtaining a quick peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is either possible or a necessity for the United States? No. And the only way that this claim can be asserted is by systematically censoring out a dozen counter-arguments.

Moreover, as the United States fights for an instant peace process—only a few weeks after President Barack Obama admitted in January that it wouldn’t go anywhere—the Palestinians have been the main factor blocking it. The PA has refused to negotiate for 14 months while daily Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed the willingness to talk immediately.

The nonsensical view of the situation being pushed by the White House and its supporters can only be maintained by massive censorship of the facts.

Now we have the first fruits of U.S. engagement with Syria, as the Syrian government urges the PA to abandon negotiations altogether and return to violence. There has been no reflection on the fact that the concessions to Damascus have produced more extremism there.

Also censored out of history was the U.S.-Israel agreement last October to let Israel continue building in Jerusalem.

The administration can twist the facts as it wishes but why should the mass media go along with these distortions?

It is starting to seem conceivable that the Obama Administration will back sanctions on Israel before it does so effectively on Iran. That says more about its foreign policy foolishness than just about anything else could.

I know that people have come up with many reasons for this confrontation--ranging from visceral and ideological hatred of Israel, to a cover for failure over sanctions on Iran, to a way to justify sanctions on Iran, to a way (rather misguided!) to protect American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But here's the bottom line analysis:

From a rational national interests standpoint, from a political standpoint to win support for the administration, from a standpoint of getting the administration's first foreign policy victory, from the standpoint of trying to strengthen support for U.S. policies in the Muslim-majority and Arabic-speaking world, this tactic makes no sense.

And for a U.S. government to behave that way is the scariest thing of all.


RubinReports: Leaving Behind All Logic and Rational Policy in an Effort to Bash Israel

Israel Matzav: Passover music video

Passover music video

Happy Passover wishing you the robots of the R&D Institute for Intelligent Robotic Systems CS Department, College of Management Academic Studies, ISRAEL.

And a Happy and Kosher Passover from me too.

Because the holiday is only one day here, I will be back on Tuesday night with more for those who can be online.

Let's go to the videotape.



Chag Kasher v'Sameyach everyone.


Israel Matzav: Passover music video

Elder of Ziyon: Report that Hamas robbed Gaza bank (updated)

Report that Hamas robbed Gaza bank (updated)

Palestine Today reports:

Armed elements from Hamas today took control of a branch of the Bank of Palestine in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, and confiscated a million shekels.

Local sources reported that, in the wake of this incident, the management of the bank decided to close all its branches in the Gaza Strip.

In a completely different news story, the PA announced a $3.9 billion budget for 2010, of which some $1.5 billion will go towards the Gaza Strip.

All the money that the PA gives Gaza is money that Hamas can free up to buy weapons and to avoid any responsibility for the people under its direct control.

And, as we see, Hamas has some rather novel ways to raise money itself.

UPDATE: More details from Al Arabiya:

Hamas security forces took $400,000 from a bank in the Gaza Strip on Monday, in a direct challenge to Palestinian authorities in the West Bank who had frozen the money to comply with money laundering regulations.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, said the men were executing a court order to seize the assets of a medical organization, the Patient's Friend Association.

Seeking to apply global regulations against money laundering, the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) froze the association's account after its board fell under Hamas control, banking sources said.

The PMA described Monday's seizure, the first time Hamas had challenged the authority, as a "sinful attack".

Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, said Monday's move was "the implementation of a judicial decision." The association had "resorted to court after the Fatah government froze its account in the bank," he said.

One employee of the Bank of Palestine, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the Hamas policemen had forced the staff to open the bank's vault and acted "aggressively".

"They took 1.5 million shekels ($400,000) and signed a paper showing the amount of money they had taken," the employee said.

It was the first time Hamas had challenged the PMA, which functions as regulator of the Palestinian banking system in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

"This is a serious development. We are investigating the matter and then we will take the appropriate action," Jihad al-Wazir, the governor of the PMA, told Reuters. He declined to give details about the raid.

In a statement, the PMA called on Hamas to "abide by the rule of law to safeguard the soundness of the banks so that they can keep providing services to the people."

Banks in the Gaza Strip would stage a strike on Tuesday to protest at the raid, Wazir said. Around a dozen banks, Palestinian- and Arab-owned, still function in the Gaza Strip, though their headquarters are in the West Bank.

Well, bank robbing is pretty easy for Hamas. They already have the masks.



Elder of Ziyon: Report that Hamas robbed Gaza bank (updated)

Israel Matzav: How's that 'engagement' with Syria going Barack?

How's that 'engagement' with Syria going Barack?

As the Obama administration goes out of its way to court Syria, the Syrians go out of their way to torpedo any 'peace process' with Israel.

Syria and Libya teamed up Sunday to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to quit peace talks with Israel and return to violence, delegates to an Arab leadership summit said.

In the wake of that call, Arab leaders gathered at their summit Sirte, Libya on Sunday failed to reach a consensus on whether the Palestinians should resume stalled talks with Israel.

An adviser to the U.S.-backed Palestinian leader quickly rejected the suggestion, calling for the 22 nations represented at the gathering to be realistic. Despite the opposition from two of Israel's longtime foes, the summit had been expected Sunday to renew backing for Palestinian peace talks with Israel.

The Arab League has now scheduled an extraordinary summit for later
this year to tackle issues it had been unable to resolve during its two days of meeting.

A committee of foreign ministers from some member states produced a resolution at the meeting saying that a halt to all settlement activity was necessary for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to go ahead.

But that decision was not adopted by the full summit and, in a sign of the lack of consensus, Syria's foreign minister said his country would not recognize the document as representing the view of the Arab League.

When does the American ambassador get to Damascus? What other rewards do you have for the Syrians? Moron.


Israel Matzav: How's that 'engagement' with Syria going Barack?

Israel Matzav: Scandal: Egged buses carry ad praying for rebuilt Temple

Scandal: Egged buses carry ad praying for rebuilt Temple

What a scandal! How politically incorrect! What will Obama say?

A private group has placed ads on 200 Egged buses running in Jerusalem that pray for the Holy Temple to be rebuilt. The ads - needless to say - show the Temple taking up the entire Temple Mount.

The posters, which contain the phrase, “May the Bais Hamikdosh [Holy Temple. CiJ] be rebuilt speedily and within our days,” were sponsored by the Our Land of Israel group, which is led by Rabbi Shalom Dov Volpo and activist Baruch Marzel, leave out the site’s current structures – namely the the Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The campaign’s organizers chose to plaster the posters on buses whose routes take them through predominately Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

With regards to the campaign, Volpo said Israel is waiting breathlessly for the coming of the messiah and the rebuilding of the temple.

“The Arabs and President Obama know that the Temple will be built on the Temple Mount,” he said. “Instead of the temporary buildings that are there today.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Marzel said it was no mistake that the Islamic shrines were left out of the picture.


“We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes,” Marzel said. “That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there.”

“When we reach the end of the Pessah Seder tomorrow night, he continued, “we’ll say, ‘Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.’ What does ‘rebuilt’ mean? It means with the Third temple intact.”

Marzel brushed off the furor the ads might elicit from the capital’s Muslims, saying, “It upsets them that we’re alive, and that we’re living here.

“If such a basic point is going to piss them off, then we mine as well say what we truly believe and what we pray for three times a day. That is to rebuild the holy temple on top of the Temple Mount, and tomorrow – not to wait any longer.”
And to think that it's too close to the Holiday to call the Supreme Court into session.... Heh.

By the way, for the record, the Holy Temple is supposed to come down from the sky fully built when the Messiah comes. Somehow, I don't think there's anything the 'Palestinians' will be able to do to stop it anyway.

And yes, when you pray at the end of the Seder (and at the end of Yom Kippur) "next year in Jerusalem" (or in a rebuilt Jerusalem), it means Jerusalem with a rebuilt Temple and not Jerusalem with what's currently on the Temple Mount.

Israel Matzav: Scandal: Egged buses carry ad praying for rebuilt Temple

Israel Matzav: What would happen if Netanyahu conceded on Jerusalem

What would happen if Netanyahu conceded on Jerusalem

What would the 'Palestinian' and Arab reaction be if Prime Minister Netanyahu were to give in to President Obama on Jerusalem? Here's a likely scenario:

“President Obama! President Obama,” said the aide in a cheery voice as he entered the Oval Office, “we just heard that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to stop all construction in Jerusalem and give in to all your demands!”

“That is wonderful news,” chortled the chief executive. ‘’And as you know I never waste a moment. Quick! Get me my friend Mahmoud Abbas on the phone.”

With the magical swiftness of the White House communications equipment, within moments the leader of the Palestinian Authority was on the line. Quickly, Obama explained to him what had happened, adding, “and now we can move quickly to a comprehensive peace.”

“Not so fast,” answered Abbas. “Since you got the Israelis to back down on that issue—and a great job you did, Mr. President-- surely you can now get them to agree to a return to the 1967 borders, accept all the Palestinian refugees who want to go live in Israel, and drop all the demands they have on us to do anything. Oh, and they have to agree that if we sign a peace treaty that doesn’t mean the conflict is over so we can then launch another round to get everything.”

“But you said that’s all you needed to make a peace treaty!”

“Oh, yes, Mr. President, it’s all I need. But then there are all those Fatah leaders who have the real power and they have their heart set on a Palestinian state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Then there are those Hamas leaders, and you know how unreasonable they can be! Why if I settled for anything less they’d have my head! Oh, yes, that reminds me, unless Hamas agrees do keep in mind that anything I accept doesn’t apply to the Gaza Strip and Hamas. They can just go on fighting. Hope you don’t mind.”

After a bit more discussion, Abbas said, “Sorry, Mr. president but I must go now as my favorite show, `Do You Want to Marry a Suicide Bomber,` is coming on Palestinian television right now.”

There's more. Read the whole thing.


Israel Matzav: What would happen if Netanyahu conceded on Jerusalem

Israel Matzav: Israel's Leftist media slams Netanyahu

Israel's Leftist media slams Netanyahu

You may have the impression from reading my blog that most Israelis are behind Prime Minister Netanyahu. And as I told the radio station in South Africa on Monday morning, I believe that most of them are. However, Israel's mostly Leftist Hebrew media has been slamming Netanyahu, blaming him for the shabby treatment he received from President Obama last week.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vehemently denied Sunday morning that an aide commented, "We've got a real problem. You could say that Obama is the greatest disaster for Israel -- a strategic disaster.”

The alleged comment was headlined by Israel's largest daily, Yediot Acharonot, which also operates the Ynet website and has been a long-time foe of the Prime Minister while championing parties that favor eliminating a Jewish presence in most of Judea and Samaria. The daily is threatened by the freebie Israel Today that supports Netanyahu and is causing Yediot Acharonot to lose much of its circulation. Yediot also published the Shepard House acquisition as Obama and Netanyahu were about to meet last week, although it had been authorized in July 2009.
Along with the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, the two publications have published an onslaught of articles against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand for a total building freeze for Jews in areas of Jerusalem that the United States State Department calls “occupied.”

The Prime Minister’s office rejected the comment as the Cabinet met for its weekly meeting, but the story had already hit the headlines in American media. A statement issued by Netanyahu's office said, "The Prime Minister emphatically rejects the anonymous quotes about President Obama that a newspaper attributed to one of his confidantes, and he condemns them."

I happen to believe that President Obama is a disaster for Israel. But that is in no way Prime Minister Netanyahu's fault. No Israeli Prime Minister can give on a 'freeze' in Jerusalem.

Is it possible that had Tzipi Livni been Prime Minister, the Obama administration would not have overzealously insisted on a 'settlement freeze'? Maybe and maybe not. But she's not Prime Minister because Israelis have decided that we've had it with the 'peace process.' That's the real divide between Israel and Obama - and it's a divide between Israel (including Netanyahu and Ehud Barak - whose Left wing credentials should not be in question) and Obama. As David Horovitz pointed out over the weekend:

The Israel-US dispute may have exploded over 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, it may be rumbling on viciously around the incendiary wider issue of any and all Israeli building in east Jerusalem, but it is essentially rooted in this stark difference of perception between Jerusalem and Washington as to the Palestinian Authority’s peace-making readiness and intentions.

Succinctly put, the thrust of Clinton’s speech, and of the succession of Netanyahu’s meetings with the secretary, with Vice President Joe Biden and, most crucially and problematically with President Barack Obama, reflected Washington’s contention that Abbas wants a deal, that he is ready to make the compromises necessary to forge one, and that Israel’s vital interests mandate that it does all that it possibly can to ensure the deal is done. Ironically, for an administration so starkly hostile to most everything it inherited from the Bush administration, one of the very few channels of continuity is the insistent belief that an accord with the Palestinian Authority beckons.

For the Israeli leadership – encompassing not just Netanyahu but Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well – this assessment is unfathomable.

Indeed.

The picture at the top is former Haaretz editor David Landau, who once told Condi Clueless that his 'wet dream' was for the US to rape Israel. Most of Israel's Hebrew-speaking media (but not its general population) probably agreed with Landau.

Israel Matzav: Israel's Leftist media slams Netanyahu

Israel Matzav: We're in good company

We're in good company

The Times of London reports that Israel isn't the only country that feels that its 'special relationship' with the United States has come to an end. Britain feels the same way.

BRITAIN’S special relationship with the US — forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war — no longer exists, says a committee of influential MPs.

Instead, America’s relationship with Britain is no more special than with its other main allies, according to a report by the Commons foreign affairs committee published today.

The report also warns that the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America’s “subservient poodle” has been highly damaging to Britain’s reputation and interests around the world. The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be “willing to say no” to America.

Sounds like a good lesson for Israeli Prime Ministers as well. Mr. Netanyahu seems to be in the process of learning it.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

Who could have foreseen that the president who follows Obama will have to hit the reset button…..with Great Britain and Israel!!! And the list may grow longer, he’s only been president for 14 months. India anyone?

Honduras? Georgia? Ukraine? France? Do I need to go on?

Israel Matzav: We're in good company

Israel Matzav: Obama's plan for the Middle East

Obama's plan for the Middle East

For those of you who have been watching the goings on for the last couple of weeks and wondering whether President Obama has a plan other than visceral Jew hatred, unfortunately I can assure you that he does have a plan. William Kristol explains.

Why the exploitation of a minor disagreement with the Israeli government to justify a turn against Israel? President Obama cares about being popular—in America, certainly, but in the world as well. And not just because popularity in the world can help the United States achieve its foreign policy aims. But because, as James Ceaser argued in these pages in January, Obama aspires to be a leader of humanity, not merely a president of a single country.

And there’s no better way to be a leader of humanity than to show disapproval of the Jewish state. Sure, Obama’s turn against Israel will make it less likely that Palestinians will negotiate seriously with her. Sure, it will embolden radical Arabs and Muslims against those who would like their nations to take a different, more responsible, course. Sure, it’s a distraction from the real challenge of Iran. But the turn against Israel is ultimately a key part of what Obamaism is all about. That’s why there’s been so little attempt by the administration to reassure friends of Israel that Obama has been acting more in sorrow than in anger. Obama’s proud of his anger at the stiff-necked Jewish state. It puts him in sync with the rest of the world.

Jennifer Rubin adds:

In this, we see the intersection of Obama’s multilateralism, his aversion to American exceptionalism, his fetish with his own international popularity, his obsession with engaging despots, his disinterest in promoting human rights, and his hostility toward the Jewish state. They are interlocking pieces in the greater Obama vision — each reenforces the other and makes more precarious the security of not only Israel but also the United States. Obama may suppose he is making America more popular or reducing conflict with rogue states, but instead, he is fueling the ambitions of aggressive despots and frittering away America’s moral standing. We are abetting an international free-for-all as the world’s bullies look for openings to assert themselves and to show just how dangerous it is to be a small democratic ally of the U.S.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama's plan for the Middle East

Israel Matzav: Alan Dershowitz on Obama

Alan Dershowitz on Obama

Haaretz uber-Leftist Akiva Eldar interviews Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Note this exchange about President Obama and Iran.

Do you believe that Obama is a friend of Israel and is truly committed to his promise not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons?

I believe Barack Obama is committed to Israel's security. He is also committed to the two-state solution and the peace process.

I hope he understands that unless Israelis - and the rest of the world - believe that he will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, many Israelis will be unwilling to take significant risks for peace. I will remain committed to Obama so long as he continues to support Israeli security unequivocally. Obama's historic legacy will be based on whether he succeeds in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. If such weapons are obtained on his watch, history will remember him as it remembers Neville Chamberlain, despite anything else he might achieve in terms of domestic American policy.

Note what Dershowitz doesn't say. He doesn't say that Obama is a fried of Israel. He doesn't say that Obama is committed to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

So what does being 'committed to Israel's security' mean?

And does anyone outside the White House believe that Obama is a friend of Israel?

Israel Matzav: Alan Dershowitz on Obama

Israel Matzav: David Litman addresses the 'Human Rights Council' on Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the 1922 and 1947 partition plans

David Litman addresses the 'Human Rights Council' on Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the 1922 and 1947 partition plans

Most people don't even realize that 77% of the original 'Palestine mandate' was given to Jordan in 1922 and that the Arabs rejected yet another partition plan for the remainder in 1947. They also don't realize that nearly a million Jews were expelled from Arab countries in the post-1948 period.

David Litman explains it all to the United Nations 'Human Rights Council.'

Let's go to the videotape.



More here.


Israel Matzav: David Litman addresses the 'Human Rights Council' on Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the 1922 and 1947 partition plans

Israel Matzav: Unanswered questions in Dubai

Unanswered questions in Dubai

Edward Jay Epstein highlights some unanswered questions in the liquidation of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

The much-publicized hotel surveillance videos, while highly diverting on YouTube, do not show any of the 26 suspects engaging in any illegal activities other than using false identities, a practice which is not unknown in Dubai. (Mabhouh himself reportedly had five different passports.) Even if all 26 identity thieves were intelligence operatives, as seems the case, it does not necessarily follow that they were all in Dubai on the same business, or even working for the same side.

Since Iran maintains its largest offshore financing facility in Dubai—which is used by the Revolutionary Guard, among others, to support its traffic in covert weapons— more than one intelligence service might be interested in Mabhouh’s trip. Consider, for example, the peculiar fact that two of the 26 Dubai suspects exited by boat to Iran, according to Dubai authorities; this is not a likely escape route for Mossad agents.

Two other individuals whom the Dubai police had named as suspects worked for the Palestinian Authority, an arch-enemy of Hamas. (They were arrested in Jordan and turned over to Dubai.) Another person wanted by Dubai for questioning returned to Damascus just prior to the killing. And then there is the question of who in Syria played a role in stripping Mabhouh of his protection just hours before his flight to Dubai.

The key missing piece in the jigsaw remains Mabhouh’s mission to Dubai—apparently important enough for him to travel there without his normal contingent of bodyguards.

Mabhouh arrived from the airport at his hotel shortly before 3 p.m., and after changing his clothes left for an unknown destination. He was gone for several hours. But even with its state-of-the-art surveillance cameras in Dubai, and extensive interviews with all the taxi drivers at the hotel, authorities claim they cannot determine either his whereabouts during these hours or the identity of whom he met.

The world-wide focus on the spooks—whose false identities allowed many of them to vanish in the intelligence netherworld—has diverted attention from the potentially embarrassing mission that brought Mabhouh to Dubai. The real intrigue here is not who killed a wanted terrorist, but what he was up to. Without this missing piece, any rush to judgment about who his killers were may be premature.

Some of you may recall that I did some speculating about this very issue back in February.

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.


Israel Matzav: Unanswered questions in Dubai

Israel Matzav: Axelrod backpedals and lies

Israel Matzav: Axelrod backpedals and lies

Love of the Land: The ‘Obama Intifada’ Begins in Israel

The ‘Obama Intifada’ Begins in Israel


Abraham H. Miller
Pajamasmedia.com
29 March '10

This Passover, as in every previous Passover, the struggle for Jewish survival continues.

We now face an administration that has turned a bureaucratic flap over an incomplete building permit into a diplomatic crisis with Israel.

Ramat Shlomo is a Jewish neighborhood. The Arabs never protested building there because the Arabs never envisioned that Ramat Shlomo would be turned over to them in a final peace accord.

Twelve years ago, major construction began in Ramat Shlomo without a stone being thrown.

Today, a fourth stage of a seven-stage building permit and the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s central synagogue, malevolently and illegally destroyed under the Jordanian occupation, creates an Intifada, the Obama Intafada.

Obama has created negotiation positions for the Palestinians they themselves knew were unrealistic. But no Palestinian leader can afford to demand less for the Palestinians than the Americans are willing to demand for them.

First there was the demand for a settlement freeze as a prelude to negotiations. But negotiations took place all the time while settlements were being built. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never asked for a freeze as a precondition, but once Obama carved out that position, Abbas had to fall into line. Can the Palestinian president be more accommodating to the Israelis than the Americans are?

Then, of course, the Obama administration put the building freeze in Jerusalem on the table. Abbas never asked for a freeze in Jerusalem until after the administration took the lead. Does the Obama administration believe they can make Jerusalem Judenrein (“Jew free”)?

Building in Ramat Shlomo, and the reopening of the central synagogue, the Huvra, transformed into rallying cries for a new Intifada, about which the administration remains mute. Whenever Jews choose to return to where they lived before the Jordanians evicted them, they are met with outcries from the international community. This is the same international community that chose to be blind and mute about Jews being evicted from their homes and cut off from their holy places during the Jordanian occupation.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: The ‘Obama Intifada’ Begins in Israel

Love of the Land: Obama's Jewish Defenders

Obama's Jewish Defenders


Caroline Glick
carolineglick.com
29 March '10

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama opened a diplomatic war on Israel. The proximate cause of his offensive was the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Board's decision to approve the future construction of 1,600 housing units in northern Jerusalem.

The goal of the assault is twofold. First, it seeks to undermine the legitimacy of Israel's control over Jerusalem in order to weaken Israel's standing among the American public. As Obama advisor Martin Indyk mocked, Obama's onslaught against Israel has made the Netanyahu government "supersensitive," about Jerusalem.

Second, as Obama's advisors explained to The Atlantic, through his unprecedented attacks on Israel's right to sovereignty over its capital city, Obama is working to topple Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government in the hopes of replacing it with a leftist government led by Tzipi Livni and Kadima.

It is a startling turn of events. Obama of course was elected to the presidency with the overwhelming support of the American Jewish community. Part of that support - which netted him 78 percent of the Jewish vote -- was based on his repeated assertion that he is absolutely committed to Israel's security.

Obama's expressed desire to overthrow the democratically elected government of Israel stands in contrast to his refusal to acknowledge the basic illegitimacy of the Iranian regime he seeks to appease. That government is founded on last June's stolen presidential elections which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power amidst massive opposition from the Iranian people. And of course, the Iranian regime which Obama coddles is publicly developing nuclear weapons with the declared purpose of destroying Israel; serves as the leading state sponsor of terrorism; and according to the US and British militaries is training al Qaida and Taliban fighters to kill US and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Obama's Jewish Defenders

Love of the Land: Obama's Israeli coalition members

Obama's Israeli coalition members


Caroline Glick
carolineglick.com
28 March '10

Americans watching in horror as Barack Obama makes clear that he is an enemy, not a friend of Israel, will be shocked to know that while the Israeli public shares their estimation, the Israeli media and the political left are taking Obama's side against Israel.

It is important to understand the context behind what is happening today in Israel because the powers that be on the Israeli Left are advancing several different agendas at once by attacking Netanyahu.

For their part, Yediot Ahronot, Ma'ariv and Channel 2 television news which is owned by more or less the same people as Yediot, are all battling Netanyahu as a proxy against his political supporter US billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson owns the new free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom and his is distributing for free in 350,000 copies a day. Recently, Yisrael Hayom began publishing a weekend newspaper as well.

Before establishing Yisrael Hayom, Adelson made two attempts buy Ma'ariv which has been hemorrhaging cash for years. After the leftist media establishment circled the wagons to block him, Ma'ariv's primary owners, the Nimrodi family rejected his offer.

Just this month, they sold a large share of the newspaper to high-tech multimillionaire Zaki Rakib. Media analysts suspect that something other than financial interests played a role in the deal because no one believes that Ma'ariv has a future in light of Adelson's move to capture the newspaper advertising market with his free paper. Among other things, it has been reported that Rakib has just formed an investment fund with Yediot's heiress Judy Shalom-Nir-Mozes.

So too, in Jul 2008 Yediot lost its monopoly, (i.e. more than 50% share) of the Israeli daily newspaper market due to Yisrael Hayom's erosion of its readership. Both Yediot and Ma'ariv declared war against Netanyahu in the hopes that by putting the squeeze on him, he will prevail on Adelson to cut back on Yisrael Hayom's circulation. In light of Yediot's owners' ownership shares in Channel 2, financial interests have played a role in the television station's animosity towards the premier.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Obama's Israeli coalition members

Love of the Land: The hard truths the UN does not want to hear

The hard truths the UN does not want to hear


Bataween
Point of No Return
28 March '10

When David Littman of the NGO World Union of Progressive Judaism chose to address a poorly attended session about the rights of Jewish refugees from Muslim lands at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva (sic) on 23 March, it was too much for the vice-president of the session to take: to Littman's point that there were more Jewish refugees than Palestinian Arab refugees, the vice-president blurted out his surprise: "Excuse me, sir?" and promptly cut Littman off. He allowed other delegates to have their say uninterrupted. Via Jihadwatch (With thanks: Eliyahu)



Here is most of David Littman's text:

"Our written statement *contains full facts and figures relating to the British Partition Plan of 1922, by which more than 77% of the 1921 League of Nations designated area of Palestine [120,000 km²] became the Hashemite Emirate of Trans-Jordan, renamed The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. Then came the UN General Assembly 1947 Partition Plan, whose aim ** was to divide the area west of the river Jordan - covering the remaining 23 percent of the original Mandate area - into "independent Arab and Jewish States", with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum administered directly by the United Nations. This UN 'Partition Plan' was categorically refused by all Arab League countries, five of whom then invaded Israel [- a day after its rebirth on 15 May 1948].

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The hard truths the UN does not want to hear

Love of the Land: New World’s Record for Chutzpah: Obama’s Seder

New World’s Record for Chutzpah: Obama’s Seder


Jonathan Tobin
Contentions/Commentary
28 March '10

Some 29 years ago, the first president Bush earned the enmity of American Jews with his rant about being “one lone guy” standing up against the horde of AIPAC activists exercising their constitutional right to petition Congress. Bush’s statement symbolized the intolerance and enmity that his administration felt toward Israel and its American friends. But say one thing for that Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@#$ the Jews” Baker: at least they never pretended to be anything but what they were, country-club establishment Republicans who were not comfortable with Israel or Jewish symbols. Not so Barack Hussein Obama.

After a week spent beating up on Israel, blowing a minor gaffe into an international incident, subjecting Israel’s prime minister to unprecedented insults that Obama would never think of trying on even the most humble Third World leader, and establishing the principle that the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem — even in existing Jewish neighborhoods — is illegal and an affront to American interests – after all that, Obama plans on spending Monday night mouthing a few lines from the Passover Haggadah at a Seder held in the White House.

According to the New York Times, Obama will take part in a Seder in the Old Family Dining Room along with a band of court Jews such as David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. The Seder, as the newspaper notes, will end, according to tradition, with the declaration of “next year in Jerusalem.” (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: New World’s Record for Chutzpah: Obama’s Seder

Love of the Land: Bombers For Settlements

Bombers For Settlements


Avi Davis
The Intermediate Zone
25 March '10

I can’t say I disagree with the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens all too often. His is the first piece of writing I turn to every Tuesday morning, so certain am I that I will be greeted by a succinct, well argued editorial, wrapped in elegant, wry prose.

But his last two pieces for the print version of the Journal have angered me, not for the thrust of his arguments, but for some ancillary matters that he allowed to slip into the writing which betrayed a bias out of keeping with his generally level headed approach.

On Tuesday, March 16, his piece Settlements Aren’t the Problem, he let fly this doozy of a paragraph:

“It’s easy to dislike Israel’s settlements, and still easier to dislike many of the settlers. Whatever your view about the legality or justice of the enterprise, it takes a certain cast of mind to move your children to places where they are more likely to be in harm’s way. In the current issue of The American Interest, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer persuasively spells out the many ways in which the settlement movement has undermined Israel’s own rule of law, and hence its democracy.



(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Bombers For Settlements

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Historical Perspective

Historical Perspective

The first part of the 1980s were hard times in Israel. Menachem Begin's Likud won the 1981 election by a whisker, but only after an acrimonious election campaign that came close to tearing apart Israeli society. There was a war of no consensus from 1982 that kept on getting worse. The economy was in shambles, and that, too, kept on getting worse, eventually approaching Argentinian-style inflation. Part of the time the relations with the American administration were considerably worse than what they are today, or at any rate certainly no better (hard to believe, huh?).

That was the background for Meir Ariel's song about Pharaoh. Ostensibly, it was a series of kvetches about his upstairs neighbor, the nasty bank clerk, and other woes - except for the refrain:
- Aval avarnu et Par'o, na'avor gam et ze. (We survived Pharaoh, we'll survive this also).

It was an instant and eternal hit. Precisely because it didn't specifically kvetch about Reagen, say, or Begin, or the minister of finance (there were lots of them in those days, coming and going all the time), it never lost its immediacy; by focusing on the original disaster, from which we eventually so spectacularly escaped, it was more comforting than some of the subsequent calamities. "We survived the Cossacks", while true, would have had a less triumphant ring. And it certainly was triumphant, in a kvetch-infused sort of way.

Ariel is unfortunately no longer with us, but the sentiment is still just fine. Just fine for this day of preparations before Pessach, just fine for the American's new boss, just fine as a summary of the past and present.

Avarnu et Par'o, na'avor gam et ze.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Historical Perspective

Elder of Ziyon: Must read: "The Future of an Illusion"

Must read: "The Future of an Illusion"

By Elliott Abrams:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned, it seems, to direct the Middle East policy of the Obama administration.

Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, 17 years of efforts under three American presidents and six Israeli prime ministers have taught five clear lessons. Each of them is being ignored by President Obama, which is why his own particular “peace process” has so greatly harmed real efforts at peace. Today the only factor uniting Palestinian, Israeli, and Arab leaders is distrust of the quality, sagacity, and reliability of American leadership in the region.

What are the lessons the Obama team is ignoring?

1. Israel’s flexibility is dependent on its sense of security.

2. The failure to set standards for Palestinian conduct hurts the cause of peace.

3. Israeli withdrawals do not lead to peace unless law and order can be maintained by responsible security forces.

4. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is not the center of world, Arab, or Muslim politics.

5. The ‘peace process’ retards peace.

Read the whole thing.

(h/t Yaacov Lozowick in a great essay of his own)


Elder of Ziyon: Must read: "The Future of an Illusion"

Torat HaRav Aviner: CHAG KASHER VE-SAMEACH!

Torat HaRav Aviner: CHAG KASHER VE-SAMEACH!

Elder of Ziyon: Another picture of Jews "storming" the Temple Mount

Another picture of Jews "storming" the Temple Mount

In a story about alleged Jewish plans to storm the Temple Mount on Passover, Palestine Today illustrates the article with another image of Jewish desecration of the Temple Mount:

Shocking!


Elder of Ziyon: Another picture of Jews "storming" the Temple Mount

Elder of Ziyon: Arabs nervous over Murdoch purchase

Arabs nervous over Murdoch purchase

Last month, media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased a 9% stake in Arab entertainment giant Rotana.

This has caused some consternation in Egypt that Murdoch, widely assumed in the Arab world to be Jewish, is trying to plant a "Trojan horse" in Arabic culture to normalize relations with Israel.

As Middle East Online says:

The tie-up between Arab entertainment giant Rotana and pro-Israel media mogul Rupert Murdoch is viewed in Egypt not only with suspicion but as signalling the decline of Arab film and art heritage.

In a country where film and television attract some of the largest audiences across the Arab world, the tycoon's foray into the Middle East is widely seen in cultural circles as a ruse to benefit Israel.

Murdoch's News Corp last month acquired a 9.09-percent holding in the Rotana Group of Saudi royal and business tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, with an 18-month option to double the stake.

Rotana is one of the largest film producers in Egypt and also owns the rights to hundreds of Egyptian motion pictures.

In Egypt, which signed a 1979 peace treaty with Israel but has resisted a warming of cultural ties, there has been wide suspicion that the tie-up with Rotana is part of a Murdoch scheme to thaw frosty Arab views of Israel.

"Murdoch will enter every Arab home to impose normalisation" of ties with Israel, said Egyptian film critic Ola al-Shafei.

The partnership amounts to "a defeat for the Arab film and art heritage," she added.

Scriptwriter Osama Anwar Okasha wrote that Murdoch's stake in Rotana was a "Trojan horse" designed to stealthily penetrate Arab culture.

"The important thing is not the share sold by Alwaleed, but a person who hands over nine percent can also sell off the rest of the company," said novelist Ezzat Qamhawi.

"We are now facing the reality of the sale of Arab films and music to an investor whose media empire is one of the causes of the erroneous image of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the West," he added.

Egypt's state-owned film company has already threatened to stop working with Rotana, whose bouquet of free-to-air satellite channels target an Arab audience across the Middle East that is equally opposed to Murdoch's politics.

Ironically, there is one rich person in this story who is explicitly hoping to affect news coverage with business deals - and it is not Murdoch:

[Prince Alwaweed] said last month that he hoped the partnership could help moderate the widely-perceived anti-Arab bias of some of News Corp's most strident outlets, such as Fox News.

"It's not only Fox that in general is against the Arab world. It's an American syndrome," he said at a news conference in Riyadh when the deal was announced.

"We will always do our best to lower that tone," he said.

When in 2005 Alwaleed was reported as saying he had influenced how Fox News depicted rioting in heavily Muslim suburbs in France, the conservative Accuracy in Media group called for an investigation.

After Alwaleed, who owns a seven-percent stake in News Corp, gave an interview to Fox News this January conservatives blasted the network for its alleged kid-glove treatment.


Elder of Ziyon: Arabs nervous over Murdoch purchase

Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC Resolution Score: Israel 5, World 3

UNHRC Resolution Score: Israel 5, World 3

From UN Watch, last Wednesday:

The UN Human Rights Council slammed Israel in 4 resolutions today, with another scheduled tomorrow. The Council’s five against Israel surpass the total combined amount of resolutions it will dedicate to all other countries in the world — one each on Burma, North Korea and Guinea.

The nation that has the best record on human rights in the Middle East is considered to be worse than every other nation combined by the esteemed UNHRC. And no one even considers this unusual anymore.


Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC Resolution Score: Israel 5, World 3

Elder of Ziyon: Followup: Clothing and shoes to enter Gaza

Followup: Clothing and shoes to enter Gaza

I mentioned an Arabic news story last week that Gaza authorities rejected Israel sending clothing and shoes to Gaza because the number of daily truckloads were too low.

Today, Ma'an mentions that an agreement has apparently been struck, and Israel will be sending 10 trucks full of clothing a day. Of course, Ma'an doesn't mention Hamas' previous rejection of the shipments as being too insulting to accept. (The Arabic Ma'an story says that Hamas' managed to negotiate the amount of daily shipments from 5 to 10,, short of the 30-50 they had been demanding.)

Ma'an also illustrates the story with another heartbreaking picture of a Gaza storekeeper with nothing to sell.


Elder of Ziyon: Followup: Clothing and shoes to enter Gaza

Moscow Terror Attack Kills 40 - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Moscow Terror Attack Kills 40 - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US May Abstain if UNSC Votes on Eastern Jerusalem Construction - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US May Abstain if UNSC Votes on Eastern Jerusalem Construction - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Arab League Summit Focused on Jerusalem, "Resistance" - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Arab League Summit Focused on Jerusalem, "Resistance" - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US Official Takes Aim at Dennis Ross for Supporting Israel - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US Official Takes Aim at Dennis Ross for Supporting Israel - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama Adviser: 'No Snub Intended' to Netanyahu - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama Adviser: 'No Snub Intended' to Netanyahu - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Ashkenazi Comforts Family, Addresses Soldiers - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Ashkenazi Comforts Family, Addresses Soldiers - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Wounded Golani Soldier Recovering - Good News - Israel News - Israel National News

Wounded Golani Soldier Recovering - Good News - Israel News - Israel National News

RubinReports: President Obama Follows Up on His Middle East Victory, A Satire

President Obama Follows Up on His Middle East Victory, A Satire

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By Barry Rubin

“President Obama! President Obama,” said the aide in a cheery voice as he entered the Oval Office, “we just heard that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to stop all construction in Jerusalem and give in to all your demands!”

“That is wonderful news,” chortled the chief executive. ‘’And as you know I never waste a moment. Quick! Get me my friend Mahmoud Abbas on the phone.”

With the magical swiftness of the White House communications equipment, within moments the leader of the Palestinian Authority was on the line. Quickly, Obama explained to him what had happened, adding, “and now we can move quickly to a comprehensive peace.”

“Not so fast,” answered Abbas. “Since you got the Israelis to back down on that issue—and a great job you did, Mr. President-- surely you can now get them to agree to a return to the 1967 borders, accept all the Palestinian refugees who want to go live in Israel, and drop all the demands they have on us to do anything. Oh, and they have to agree that if we sign a peace treaty that doesn’t mean the conflict is over so we can then launch another round to get everything.”

“But you said that’s all you needed to make a peace treaty!”

“Oh, yes, Mr. President, it’s all I need. But then there are all those Fatah leaders who have the real power and they have their heart set on a Palestinian state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Then there are those Hamas leaders, and you know how unreasonable they can be! Why if I settled for anything less they’d have my head! Oh, yes, that reminds me, unless Hamas agrees do keep in mind that anything I accept doesn’t apply to the Gaza Strip and Hamas. They can just go on fighting. Hope you don’t mind.”

After a bit more discussion, Abbas said, “Sorry, Mr. president but I must go now as my favorite show, `Do You Want to Marry a Suicide Bomber,` is coming on Palestinian television right now.”

The president hung up, fuming. But then he brightened up, realizing that since it wasn’t the Israelis he couldn’t possibly have been insulted. Still, he needed something to cheer him up so he telephoned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran.

Obama explained what had happened, and added, “So now that the Israelis aren’t building in Jerusalem will you reconsider your nuclear weapons’ program?”

“Oh yes, Mr. President,” said Ahmadinejad in a soft voice, “of course we’re going to reconsider it.” Then he screamed at the top of his lungs—if you know the comedians Gilbert Gottfried or Sam Kinison you can imagine them doing it—“We’re going to double our speed, you dummy! Since we see you’re so weak and the Zionist entity is about to fall apart!” Ahmadinejad hung up.

Once again, Obama was a bit miffed. But since it was an enemy he couldn’t stay angry for long. Instead, he dialed up Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, asking if this news would make Syria stop paying, arming, and training terrorists to kill Americans in Iraq. Asad sounded like Ahmadinejad but just a little more polite.

“Ha,” thought Obama, my concessions really are moderating him and splitting him away from Tehran. But the president was still a bit down. “I know,” he decided, “I’ll call my good buddy King Abdallah. That should cheer me up.”

“This is wonderful news, Mr. president,” said the king respectfully. “Of course we will need a bit more. If I ask the Arab League to support talks the Syrians will try to veto it but you have done a very good job. Please feel assured that the Muslim and Arab people really love you and appreciate you.”

By the time Obama was finished with that call he was in a much better mood. “I did it,” he thought, “I’m a great statesman.”

But as soon as the king hung up the phone he called his finance minister. “Quick,” shouted the king excitedly. “Sell as many dollars as you can and buy Iranian war bonds!”

RubinReports: President Obama Follows Up on His Middle East Victory, A Satire

Elder of Ziyon: Now Gazans can smuggle entire cars

Now Gazans can smuggle entire cars

Sshender sends me this link to an Israeli Channel 2 news story that seems to show a car being pulled, whole, through a Rafah smuggling tunnel. (Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embed it.)



Elder of Ziyon: Now Gazans can smuggle entire cars

Love of the Land: Another Triumph of Smart Power

Another Triumph of Smart Power


John Noonan
The Weekly Standard
26 March '10

Over at the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl dives into an unnecessarily tense meeting between Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and President Obama.

Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward. Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to. Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.

President Obama's stewardship of the special U.S.-Israel relationship has been nothing short of shameful. But, beyond that, his behavior towards Netanyahu doesn't make a lick of sense. There's no quantifiable end game here. Obama is either so caught up in his own personality cult that he honestly believes he can drive a wedge between the Israeli electorate and Netanyahu's fragile government (unlikely), or he's just that infantile -- throwing a temper tantrum over an ill-timed settlement announcement.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: Another Triumph of Smart Power

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

Here's Mordechai Ben David singing al Zeh (on this). which asks God why He should forget us forever and leave us for so long.

Let's go to the videotape.


Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC passes resolution limiting freedom of expression

UNHRC passes resolution limiting freedom of expression

From Al Arabiya:

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday narrowly passed a resolution condemning Islamaphobic behavior, including Switzerland's minaret building ban, despite some states' major reservations.

The resolution, which was criticized by the United States as "an instrument of division," "strongly condemns... the ban on the construction of minarets of mosques and other recent discriminatory measures."

Some 20 countries voted in favor of the resolution entitled "combating defamation of religions," 17 voted against and eight abstained.

The resolution also "expresses deep concern ... that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism."

It "regrets the laws or administrative measures specifically designed to control and monitor Muslim minorities, thereby stigmatizing them and legitimizing the discrimination they experience."

However, the European Union pointed out that the concept of defamation should not fall under the remit of human rights because it conflicted with the right to freedom of expression, while the United States said free speech could be hindered by the resolution.

"The European Union believes that reconciling the notion of defamation with discrimination is a problematic endeavor," French ambassador Jean-Baptiste Mattei said on behalf of the bloc.

Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. also slammed the resolution as an "ineffective way to address" concerns about discrimination.

"We cannot agree that prohibiting speech is the way to promote tolerance, and because we continue to see the 'defamation of religions' concept used to justify censorship, criminalization, and in some cases violent assaults and deaths of political, racial, and religious minorities around the world," she said.

"Contrary to the intentions of most member states, governments are likely to abuse the rights of individuals in the name of this resolution, and in the name of the Human Rights Council," added the U.S. envoy.



Elder of Ziyon: UNHRC passes resolution limiting freedom of expression

Love of the Land: 'Jews not allowed to pray' in Maimonides synagogue

'Jews not allowed to pray' in Maimonides synagogue


Bataween
Point of No Return
28 March '10

More proof, if proof were needed, that Egypt intends its synagogues to be museums. Lord forbid any Jew should actually want to pray in one. From the Elder of Zion blog, via Solomonia:

Zahi Hawass, the Jew-hating general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and Egypt's top archaeologist, has announced that he will not allow any Jew to pray in the restored Maimonides synagogue in Cairo.

He told a Muslim scientific forum that "his decision to close the temple was a reaction to Israeli attacks on Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem."

He stressed that he would treat the Maimonides synagogue the same as any other Egyptian antiquities, and that the decision to cancel the opening rededication ceremony of the synagogue was to keep history and politic separated.

But he would not allow any Jew or Israeli to pray there and he would not allow the Egyptian Jewish community to administer the site. He also said that this was a reaction to "provocative practices that carried out by the Jews in their celebration which was held in the temple." He was referring to the dancing and drinking of wine, which he felt offended a billion Muslims.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: 'Jews not allowed to pray' in Maimonides synagogue

Israel Matzav: US considering abstaining on UN resolution on Jerusalem

US considering abstaining on UN resolution on Jerusalem

The United States is considering abstaining rather than vetoing a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel over building in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the US is reportedly considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem. The US usually blocks Security Council resolutions criticising Israel.

US officials in Washington have not confirmed the report. It is likely that the US is considering how to maintain pressure, and a UN resolution would be one way, says BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas.

In the wake of a controversial visit to the US, Mr Netanyahu said on Friday that his policy on East Jerusalem would not change, despite US pressure on Israel to announce a freeze on building Jewish homes there.

A best-selling Israeli newspaper then quoted an unidentified aide as saying: "You could say that Obama is the greatest disaster for Israel - a strategic disaster."

But the prime minister, speaking before he briefed the cabinet on his US trip, condemned these comments as "unacceptable".

"They do not come from anyone representing me. The relations between Israel and the United States are those of allies and friends, and are based on tradition spanning many years."

If Netanyahu did not say that, he's about the only one here who has not said it. And at this point, a US abstention (which would take us back to the Carter era) would not surprise anyone at all.

Israel Matzav: US considering abstaining on UN resolution on Jerusalem

Israel Matzav: Iran building two more atomic plants

Iran building two more atomic plants

The New York Times reported on Saturday that Iran is starting work on two additional atomic sites, which will be built inside mountains to protect them from attack (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). Nuclear inspectors are searching for the sites.

In an interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, the official, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had ordered work to begin soon on two new plants. The plants, he said, “will be built inside mountains,” presumably to protect them from attacks.

“God willing,” Mr. Salehi was quoted as saying, “we may start the construction of two new enrichment sites” in the Iranian new year, which began March 21.

The revelation that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, now believe that there may be two new sites comes at a crucial moment in the White House’s attempts to impose tough new sanctions against Iran.

Iran has an interest in spreading out its nuclear program to make it more difficult to destroy that program. The West really doesn't know what Iran has. Russia and China are still unwilling to go along with sanctions against Iran.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Iran building two more atomic plants

Love of the Land: A portrait of the extremist mainstream in Great Britain, a man with a problem with Jewish names

A portrait of the extremist mainstream in Great Britain, a man with a problem with Jewish names


Robin Shepherd
Robinshepherdonline.com
28 March '10

Back in 2003, Richard Ingrams, one of Britain’s best known columnists and a co-founder of the satirical weekly Private Eye wrote in the Observer (sister newspaper on Sunday to the Guardian) the following gem about his attitude to Israel and the Jews:

“I have developed a habit,” he said, “when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.”


As I have said on many occasions (see previous entry for example), there is now no price to be paid in mainstream Britain for such attitudes. They are taken as normal. Now consider his latest piece of writing, this time in the Independent, as an example of what happens when such “normal” attitudes are allowed to fester.

Ingrams writes his column in the form of a diary which then goes on to address other subjects. Yesterday, he opened his piece by reflecting on Britain’s decision last week to expel an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai assassination of a Hamas terrorist. Here is what he said, with my italics to highlight the tone he adopts:

“The expulsion of a Mossad man from London following the affair over the forged passports used by a gang of Israeli assassins in Dubai is welcome, if only to remind us that regardless of this single expulsion Mossad operates openly out of London with the full approval of the British Government.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: A portrait of the extremist mainstream in Great Britain, a man with a problem with Jewish names
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