Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Soldier's Mother: The Things They Know

A Soldier's Mother: The Things They Know

Syrians torturing protesters - to get their Facebook passwords

Syrians torturing protesters - to get their Facebook passwords

From The Telegraph (UK) yesterday:

Protest organisers have set up the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page and have promised that "demonstrations will continue every day".

However, amateur video footage showing the violent suppression of protests has dwindled to a trickle amid signs that the regime could be gaining the upper hand after more than seven weeks of anti-government protests.

"The lines of communication have almost been completely severed," one activist said.

"Some of our people who have been taken have been broken under the most severe torture, and they have revealed passwords and names."

Activists admitted that many of the once-secure networks they used on sites such as Facebook and Twitter had been compromised following a campaign of mass detentions in which more than 8,000 protesters have been arrested.

Over the past two days, almost no video footage has emerged from the town of Baniyas and very little from the city of Homs, despite military sieges having been imposed on both places. With Western journalists barred from entering Syria, individuals have taken it upon themselves to smuggle out footage to reveal the full horrors of the regime's response to the protests, in which at least 650 people, possibly many more, are thought to have died.

Organisers of the uprising have depended on technology. Although the regime has cut off power as well as mobile and land telephone lines in many of the worst affected towns and cities, activists have got round the system by using generators and satellite telephones smuggled in by foreign sympathisers.

With these tools, they have powered up laptops and transmitted images to fellow activists who have then broadcast them to the world on the internet.

Iran is said to have provided the Syrian government with technology for blocking satellite telephone signals that it used to crush protests in Tehran in 2009.

Many of the activists who distributed the images have also fallen silent after they were arrested or cowed into submission. Activists said that some passwords that were disclosed as a result of torture had revealed the identities of many of those at the forefront of the protests and that they too had now been rounded up.
I had noticed that the number of videos had gone down over the weekend, but there seem to be more coming out today, including this one showing gunshots at a protest in Deir al-Zour:

The BBC adds:
Reports from Syria say columns of tanks have moved towards the central city of Hama, which has been the scene of anti-government protests in recent weeks.

Earlier, the UN said it was concerned it had been unable to get humanitarian aid to the embattled city of Deraa.
The humanitarian aid referred to is specifically to 30,000 Palestinian Arab "refugees" in Deraa, via UNRWA.

The best place to get up to date information is from Now Lebanon!

(h/t Mike)

Taken from Elder of Zion (http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com)

Love of the Land: Israel


Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
10 May '11


I have only moments to write - stolen moments before Elie and Aliza will come down and ask if I am ready to leave. I sit here in my nightgown - no, I'm not ready and no, I shouldn't be writing but I'm afraid that the day will come and go and I won't have time later.

We are going to the wadi nearby, as much of Maale Adumim is going to do - to have a barbecue with dear friends and celebrate the simplest of days - a day off from work, a day to enjoy being outside. The army has brought tanks and other equipment, the sensitive parts removed. Children will be allowed to climb in, on, over, and even under. Soldiers will be there to watch, to explain, to guard.

Last night fireworks - amazing, right over our heads. They scared Aliza a bit and so she half clung, half cuddled with me as we sat on the grass. But even with her pressed against me, I had a moment, as I do each year, to watch, to marvel. I love fireworks. And there, hidden in the noise, with all eyes looking up, I take a moment, as I always do, and whisper my love for this land.

Happy birthday, Israel. I love you so much. I love this land, this people. I love the society we have built and much of its values. I can join in and complain about so much but it is nothing to what I love. I look at each inch and marvel that I am blessed to live here and no, that is honestly not an exaggeration. I touch it with reverence - this land that God brought me to, this land that God gave me thousands of years ago and which is still mine.

What sets Jews apart, what much of the world doesn't really understand, is this sense of connection we have with each other. A Jew can travel the world and always have a home to stay in, a place to get food.

If a Jew is hurt in Kiev or Paris, my heart aches and I am filled with pain, with anger. Israelis understand - it is our job to protect them, to be here so that they can come. That is Israel. If something happens in a far off land - we will send people to help, equipment, doctors, troops to dig through the rubble. And quietly, as we do, we will find the local Jewish population and make sure they are safe. We will send extra people to track down any Israelis and make sure all is well. It is what we do. That is Israel.

And the connection goes with the physical land as well. This is ours. Each time I hear of an arson attack - I know that if you love something, you do not burn it down, you do not destroy it. It seems that the huge Carmel fire was started by carelessness, but in its wake, as Israel fought the fires, Arabs deliberately set dozens of fires to make it harder for us - this is the land they love?

Last night, today, I will go to the land. I'll sit outside and enjoy it with friends and family and somewhere, somehow, I'll take a moment and whisper again to the land, to the State, to the people - to all that we have built here, and to God - thank you. Thank you for bringing me home, for giving me this land, making this mine.

May you be granted peace.

Love of the Land: Israel

Love of the Land: Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
10 May 11


The two main partners in the new Palestinian government, Hamas and Fatah, have chosen to celebrate their unity accord by targeting anyone who helps Israel.

This means that the new unity government, which is supposed to be established in the coming weeks, would not only be opposed to compromise, but would also target those who maintain contacts with Israelis.

The timing of a recent execution in the Gaza Strip was seen as a warning message from Hamas to Fatah against continued "collaboration" with Israel.

Just hours before the signing of the Palestinian "reconciliation" pact in Cairo last week, the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip announced the execution by firing squad of Abdel Karim Shrair, 37, on charges of "collaboration" with Israel.

Days later in the West Bank, Palestinian gunmen believed to be members of Fatah, murdered Mohammed Khawaldi, 32, who had also been accused of "collaboration" with Israel.

Instead of issuing a condemnation, Fatah rushed to murder a "collaborator" in the West Bank – as if it is trying to tell the Palestinians: "You see, we are also capable of killing people who help Israel."

Fatah's failure to condemn the execution is a sign that the secular faction does not want to anger its new partner: Hamas.

Whatever Shrair did to help Israel, it could not have been more than what Abbas and Fayyad have done over the past few years. The two meet with Israelis on a regular basis and support security coordination between their security forces and the Israelis.

In the eyes of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayyad are also "traitors" because they have agreed -- at least in English and in public -- to recognize Israel's right to exist. If Abbas and Fayyad were to stand trail before a court on all what Hamas has accused them of doing, they too would end up facing a firing squad.

Shrair, after all, was also affiliated with Fatah, and had served in their security forces before Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

Citing Fatah security forces' security coordination with Israel, Hamas had previously refused to sign the unity accord, demanding an end to all forms of collaboration with Israel.

In the end, under Egyptian pressure, Hamas agreed temporarily to drop its condition.

The issue of security coordination between the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank and Israel had been a major obstacle to ending the dispute between the two rival Palestinian factions.

Over the past four years, Hamas complained that this security coordination has resulted in the arrest and of hundreds of its followers in the West Bank. The coordination, according to Hamas, has also led to the elimination of many Hamas-linked institutions in the West Bank.

Hamas has also accused Fatah leaders of helping Israel during the 2008 Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip known as Operation Cast Lead.

But now it appears that Hamas is willing to sit in a unity government with Palestinians it still considers to be "collaborators" with Israel.

The decision to execute Shrair hours before the signing ceremony in Cairo is an indication that Hamas continues to see the issue of collaboration with Israel as a very serious matter. Many Palestinians see it as a warning and challenge to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

Love of the Land: Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

Love of the Land: B"H Yom Ha'Atzmaut

B"H Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Yehudah HaKohen
Am Segula
09 May '11

In order to appreciate the full significance of Israel's Independence Day, one must clarify what the day is meant to commemorate and what this connotes according to Torah Law. One of the major reasons for the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut is to celebrate the establishment of renewed Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel following a long and bitter exile of most Jews from our soil. Yom HaAtzmaut celebrates the liberation of Eretz Yisrael from British occupation and the reestablishment of a Jewish political entity over our country.

In his supplement to the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban teaches that it is a Torah commandment for every generation that the Nation of Israel take control of and inhabit the entire Land of Israel.

"This is what our Sages call Milchemet Mitzvah... And do not err and say that this precept is the commandment to vanquish the seven nations... this is not so... this land is not to be left in their hands or in the hands of any nation, in any generation whatsoever... behold we are commanded with conquest in every generation... if so this is a positive commandment, which applies in every time... and the proof that this is a commandment is this: `They were told to go up in the matter of the Spies: Go up and conquer as HaShem has said to you. Do not fear and do not be discouraged.' And it further says: `And when HaShem sent you from Kadesh Barnea saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you.' And when they did not go up, the Torah says: `And you rebelled against the Word of G-D, and you did not listen to this command.'" (Positive Commandment 4 of the Ramban's supplement to the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot)

The Ramban states irrefutably that the conquest and settlement of Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah for Israel in every generation and that we are forbidden from allowing any part of our country to fall into – or remain under – gentile control. It is found in the Shulchan Aruch that all of the arbitrators of Torah Law (Rishonim and Achronim) agree with the Ramban concerning this issue.

"All of the Poskim, both Rishonim and Achronim, decide the Law in this fashion on the basis of the Ramban." (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer section 75, Pitchei Tshuva 6)

The Nation of Israel is eternally commanded by G-D to conquer and implement Jewish sovereignty over our homeland. Yom HaAtzmaut commemorates the fifth day of Iyar 5708, when Israel fulfilled this mitzvah for the first time in nearly two thousand years by establishing Hebrew rule over Eretz Yisrael. Just as a young man celebrates becoming a Bar Mitzvah because it is his first opportunity to really fulfill Torah commandments, we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut as our first opportunity to carry out the Divine directive of Jewish sovereignty over our country. It is our collective Bar Mitzvah signifying the Jewish people's national renaissance.

Aside from renewing the mitzvah of sovereignty, there is another essential reason to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut – the mitzvah to thank HaShem for the miracles He performs. This was the basis for sanctifying Chanukah and Purim. After the British were driven from our homeland and the State of Israel was declared, seven Arab states immediately waged war in an attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. Armed and trained by British officers, the Arabs attacked with tremendous force. Israel, on the other hand, had a small and unskilled army with virtually no ammunition or supplies. The entire world expected Israel's imminent destruction and there were no attempts by any nation or human rights organization to intervene in any way on our behalf. The Hebrew Nation was in great peril but refused to surrender. As Israel demonstrated tenacious heroism in the face of impossible odds, HaShem marched out to war with us as we warded off the surrounding armies invading our country.

Throughout the exile, scattered Jewish communities have had the authority to establish what is called a "Purim Katan" – a sacred day of thanksgiving meant to express gratitude to G-D for saving a community from danger. Since Yom HaAtzmaut is a day on which a miracle occurred for the entire Jewish Nation, it is a Torah precept to ordain a public festival for commemoration of HaShem's kindness towards His chosen people. Israel's Chief Rabbinate ruled that it is an obligation to say Hallel on this day in order to remember the miracles that G-D performed for Israel during our War of Independence.

But if the Law is so obvious, why would so many great Torah scholars appear to be so unsure about – or often even vehemently opposed to – the State of Israel and the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut? The Gaon of Vilna answers this question in Kol HaTor (the Gaon's teachings regarding the Redemption process).

"The Sin of the Spies... hovers over the Nation of Israel in every generation… How strong is the power of the Sitra Achra that it succeeds in hiding from the eyes of our holy fathers the dangers of the klipot; from the eyes of Avraham our father, the klipah of exile... and in the time of the Mashiach, the Sitra Achra attacks the guardians of Torah with blinders… Many of the sinners in this great sin of, `They despised the cherished land,' and also many of the guardians of Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in the Sin of the Spies, that they have been sucked into the Sin of the Spies in many false ideas and empty claims, and they cover their ideas with the already proven fallacy that the mitzvah of the settlement of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion which has already been disproven by the giants of the world, the Rishonim and Achronim." (Kol HaTor chapter 5)

The most amazing miracle of Yom HaAtzmaut is perhaps the foundation for all of the others. After so many centuries of persecution in the exile, HaShem placed a new spirit of valor within Israel. For the first time in modern history, a courageous generation of heroes arose to raise high the banners of liberty and Hebrew independence. More astonishing is that G-D strengthened the hearts of Israel's political leaders so that they were able to declare the establishment of a sovereign state despite being faced with so much aggression from the Arabs and pressure from the West.

Yom HaAtzmaut is the most important event to take place for mankind in nearly two thousand years. It was on this day that HaShem returned the Israeli Nation to sovereignty over our country and it is this sovereignty that will lead the world to unparalleled goodness and universal blessing. It is the goal of Creation that G-D's great Name be sanctified through Israel. The Maharal of Prague teaches in Netzach Yisrael that in order for Am Yisrael to bring history's goal to fruition, we must first be united and independent on our soil. Only then, as a major world power that lives a life of national kedusha, can Israel reveal the greatness and unity of HaShem in every sphere of life. Only by establishing the Kingdom of Israel in the whole of our borders, can we bring mankind towards universal blessing through illuminating the world with the light of Torah.

The modern State of Israel – G-D's Throne in this world – must be understood not only to be the handiwork of HaShem but also as an early stage in the development of universal Redemption – a process that unfolds through a series of natural historic events. While the current Jewish state has not yet reached the greatness for which it is destined, it must be recognized that the physical vessel is once again in our world and will eventually grow to reveal its exalted inner spirit. After so many centuries as a ghost walking through history, Israel again exists within a healthy national framework. The Redemption has begun with the Jewish people taking an enormous step forward by establishing Hebrew rule in portions of Eretz Yisrael. While the mere existence of a secular Jewish state was never the final goal of the Redemption process, it is certainly a powerful vehicle with which to achieve the Hebrew Nation's greater aspirations. The Zionist revolution will continue as all the Jewish people return to the entire Land of Israel with G-D's Temple in Jerusalem shining Divine blessing to Creation. Moadim L'Simcha L'Geula Sheima.

With Love of Israel,

-Yehuda HaKohen

Love of the Land: B"H Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Life in Israel: The History of Hatikva

The History of Hatikva

Perhaps you know this already, but I did not until recently and I found it interesting and Yom Ha'Atzmaut worthy.

I recently heard that when Israel was choosing a national anthem, the two finalists being considered were Hatikva, which was eventually selected as Israel's national anthem, and Shir HaMaalot - yeah, that one, the one we all sing by bentching with Yossele Rosenblatt's tune. I just heard that Hatikva beat out Shir HaMaalot by just one vote to be selected as the national anthem.

Being that I had never heard this interesting story before, I decided to research it and see what really happened. Research today means a comprehensive Google search, and I bring to you the results of what actually happened.

I will begin first with quoting sections of the Wikipedia entry on the history of Hatikva.


Hatikvah (Hebrew: הַתִּקְוָה‎‎, Hatiq'vah, lit. The Hope) is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv (today in Lviv Oblast), who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s.
The anthem's theme revolves around the nearly 2000-year-old hope of the Jewish people to be a free and sovereign people in the Land of Israel, a national dream that would eventually be realized with the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948.

The text of Hatikvah was written by the Galician Jewish poet Naphtali Herz Imber in Zolochiv in 1878 as a nine-stanza poem named Tikvateynu (lit. "Our Hope"). In this poem Imber puts into words his thoughts and feelings in the wake of the establishment of Petah Tikva, one of the first Jewish settlements in Ottoman Palestine. Published in Imber's first book, Barkai (lit. "Morning Star"), the poem was subsequently adopted as the anthem of Hovevei Zion and later of the Zionist Movement at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. The text was later revised by the settlers of Rishon LeZion, subsequently undergoing a number of other changes.
The melody, from a common European folk tune, La Mantovana, was arranged by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Bessarabia.
The British Mandate government briefly banned its public performance in 1919, in response to an increase in Arab anti-Zionist political activity.
Adoption as national anthem
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, Hatikvah was unofficially proclaimed the national anthem. However, it did not officially become the national anthem until November 2004, when it was sanctioned by the Knesset in an amendment to the Flag and Coat-of-Arms Law (now renamed the Flag, Coat-of-Arms, and National Anthem Law).
In its modern rendering, the official text of the anthem incorporates only the first stanza and refrain of the original poem. The predominant theme in the remaining stanzas is the establishment of a sovereign and free nation in the Land of Israel, a hope largely seen as fulfilled with the founding of the State of Israel.

Religious objections to Hatikvah
Some observant Jews object to Hatikvah on the grounds that the anthem is too secular and lacks sufficient religious emphasis, such as not mentioning God or the Torah. Some Hareidim have mocked the song by switching the word "חופשי" (free, alluding to a secular Jew being free of mitzvot) with the word "קודשי" (holy), thus reading the line: "To be a holy nation", referring to the verse in Shemos 19:10 "וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים וְגוֹי קָדוֹש" (you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation). (Some religious Zionists also replace the word "חופשי" for the word "קודשי" but do so quietly and without intent to mock.) Others have gone even further by appending the words "תשחקו בכדור" (play ball) at the end of the song, to mimic the USA's practice of yelling "play ball" at Major League Baseball games following the singing of its national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner".
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook objected to the secular thrust of Hatikvah and wrote an alternative anthem titled “HaEmunah” ("The Faith") in the hope that it would replace Hatikvah as the Israeli national anthem. Rav Kook did not object to the singing of Hatikvah (and in fact has endorsed it) as he had great respect for secular Jews, indicating that even in their work it was possible to see a level of kedushah (holiness).

Objections by non-Jewish Israelis
Some Arab Israelis object to Hatikvah due to its explicit allusions to Judaism. In particular, the text’s reference to the yearnings of “a Jewish soul” is often cited as preventing non-Jews from personally identifying with the anthem. Notably, Ghaleb Majadale, who in January 2007 became the first Muslim to be appointed as a minister in the Israeli cabinet, sparked a controversy when he publicly refused to sing the anthem, stating that the song was written for Jews only.
From time to time proposals have been made to change the national anthem or to modify the text in order to make it more acceptable to non-Jewish Israelis; however, no such proposals have succeeded in gaining broad support.

Now, as to the competition between Hatikva and SHir HaMaalot, it turns out that Hatikva was never officially accepted as the official national anthem until 2004. Hatikvah was voted over Shir Hama'alot as the anthem in the World Zionist Congress in 1933, after 36 years when both were popular and sung separately or together, at different venues. Prior to that, there were numerous votes held over the years and there was never a conclusive decision, as both songs were equally popular and supported. Therefore, they were also sung in many Jewish circles, together. In Israel it was adopted as the Israel National Anthem de facto - but not de jure until November 2004.

I don't know if in that final vote in 1933 Hatikva beat out Shir HaMaalot by only one vote, considering the popularity of Shir HaMaalot it is entirely possible, but it seems that Hatikva never really beat out the competition and only became adopted after many years because of the prominence it took over the years.

I wonder had Shir HaMaalot become the national anthem, would people segue into bentching immediately after singing it (such as the way people cheer "play ball" after hatikva)?

Life in Israel: The History of Hatikva

RubinReports: Israel’s New Neighbor Egypt: Radical Nationalist President; Islamist-Dominated Parliament

Israel’s New Neighbor Egypt: Radical Nationalist President; Islamist-Dominated Parliament

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post but I own the rights and the article is extensively updated here with additional information. So if forwarding or reprinting please link to this address.

By Barry Rubin

Amr Moussa, probably Egypt’s next president, has given a comprehensive picture of his views, a foretaste of the likely policies of someone about to become the Arab world's most powerful person. One thing he said is particularly important and shocking. Read on.

Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister (1991-2001) and head of the Arab League until his resignation takes effect on May 15, is a figure from the Egyptian establishment and the old regime. But which aspect of the old regime: that of the centrist Husni Mubarak, the moderate Anwar al-Sadat, or the radical Arab nationalist Gamal Abd al Nasser?

Moussa is the last Nasserist. He knows that the next president must also be a populist to survive. So he will bash Israel, the United States, and the Egyptian upper class. The hope is that he will be pragmatic enough to restrict his demagoguery to rhetoric.

It might seem ironic that a revolution against the old regime ends up electing as president a figure from the old regime. Yet Moussa perfectly combines experience and name recognition with radicalism. A recent Pew poll shows him with an 89 percent positive rating. Moussa’s prospects look so good because the Islamists aren’t running a presidential candidate. Moderate democrats, restricted to a small urban middle class constituency, can choose among four candidates running against each other, thus further splitting that vote.

Another reason Moussa’s election appears likely is his deft use of the anti-Israel card. So identified is Moussa with hostility to Israel that in 2001 a popular song entitled, "I Hate Israel (I love Amr Moussa)" zoomed to the top of the Egyptian hit parade. Indeed, Moussa is now emphasizing that much of the reason for his break with Mubarak was due to his desire to take a stronger policy against Israel.

Moussa’s basic argument in his Wall Street Journal interview is that Egypt has obtained nothing from peace with Israel and that Israel is completely at fault for the lack of an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement. Of course, Egypt received: the Sinai's return; the reopening of its oilfields and the Suez Canal; and the opportunity for more trade, tourism, and a lower military budget. Failure to take advantage of the latter points was due to Egyptian decisions.

In addition, Egypt and Israel had what amounts to an alliance against revolutionary Islamism, particularly Hamas in the Gaza Strip. President Moussa will reverse this policy and see Hamas as an ally, albeit one that he won’t trust and might try to restrain.

Hamas is now starting to believe that by attacking Israel it will have the power to draw Egypt into a war with Israel. If that view is not countered decisively by the next Egyptian government, the result will be a return to the 1960s and a terrible major conflict. Unfortunately, the current U.S. government cannot be counted on to see and help eliminate that problem.

As the Wall Street Journal accurately notes: “U.S. and European officials said they don't see the Egypt-Israel peace agreement in danger in the near term. They say Cairo won't place in jeopardy billions of dollars in aid.”

We’ve seen this kind of economic determinism before and every time it is applied to Middle East states it fails. Examples:

--Yasir Arafat will make peace with Israel because he wants to get a state and huge compensation funding.

--Syria will moderate and turn toward the West and away from Iran in order to get trade and investment.

--Iran would much rather become wealthy than to pursue these silly ideas about spreading Islamist revolution.

Now, here’s what’s really shocking in the interview. To quote the Journal’s account, Moussa, “Described a political landscape in which the Muslim Brotherhood…is dominant. It is inevitable, he said, that parliamentary elections in September will usher in a legislature led by a bloc of Islamists, with the Brotherhood at the forefront.”

Think about that. Even Moussa, who is anti-Islamist, admits this, though Western governments and mass media haven't figured it out yet. He's running as an independent meaning with no political party behind him. Thus, Moussa must constantly compromise with the Islamist majority in parliament that will consist of the Muslim Brotherhood plus even more radical groups.

The alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood with even more radical "Salafi" groups--the kind of people who launched a terrorist war in Egypt during the 1990s and who support Usama bin Ladin--is another dangerous development. The Salafis are the ones attacking Christians; the Brotherhood-Salafi alliance has organized two demonstrations outside Israel's embassy. In contrast, there are no riot police present and the demonstrators are allowed to approach closer to the embassy than before. It's only a matter of time before there's a nasty incident.

Now, just for fun, check out this MEMRI video on the pro-bin Ladin, anti-American demonstration at the al-Nur mosque in Cairo. They chant, "Death to America" and the Islamist chant calling for the slaughter of all Jews. There's also a new one we'll be hearing a lot of in the months to come, "Obama is the enemy of Allah!" There are, what, 2000 people in that one mosque?

Note how young the crowd is. See how they use their state-of-the-art smartphones to taken snapshots of bin Ladin's face in the mosque's place of honor! At least one of them is wearing the jacket of the English national football (soccer) team! Why they might even use Facebook!

The Financial Times reports a speech by Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie that when Egypt's parliament meets the Brotherhood, which will have the largest bloc, will propose the following program:

"An end to normalization [with Israel] which has given our enemy stability; an end to [Egyptian] efforts to secure from infiltrators the borders of the Zionists; the abolition of all [joint] economic interests such as the Qualified Industrial Zones agreement and the export of Egyptian gas to Israel."

Note the key point there: "an end to efforts to secure from infiltrators the borders of the Zionists." In other words, to turn Egypt into what the Gaza Strip was in the 1950s, Jordan was in the late 1960s, and Lebanon was in the 1970s: a springboard and safe haven for terrorists attacking Israel across the border. Such a policy can only end in full-scale war.

Isn't it great that now Egypt is a democratic state where people feel free to voice their opinions? Of course, the problem is the nature of those opinions.

Remember this: The Muslim Brotherhood doesn't have to engage in terrorist violence within Egypt because it has allies ready to do so. This is just like Hamas' use of smaller groups to attack Israel from the Gaza Strip and then disclaims responsibility, allowing its apologists to claim that now it's really moderate.

While I doubt that the Islamists will have an outright majority they should come pretty close and thus have one by allying with various radical nationalists, leftists, and independents. That also means they'll take a leading role in writing Egypt's new constitution.

Moussa makes another important point in the interview. First, after many years in which Egypt was oriented inward, he will reassert a leading Egyptian role in the Arab world. That probably means conciliation with Syria and the recreation of a radical Arab bloc that includes Egypt for the first time in more than 30 years. The best thing that can be said is that neither Iraq nor the Saudis would participate, while the Jordanians would be very wary.

Egypt will no longer be a U.S. ally. The question is the degree to which it will be an enemy of the United States.

Finally, he knows that he will have to deliver economic benefits to the masses. But that probably means higher subsidies and more government jobs, policies that will do nothing to improve Egypt’s economy in a real way. The worse the economy gets, the greater the anti-Israel, anti-American demagoguery will be.

. We are able to predict this crisis more than six months ahead of time, yet Western countries, media, and experts have not yet seen what is certainly coming down the road toward us.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

RubinReports: Israel’s New Neighbor Egypt: Radical Nationalist President; Islamist-Dominated Parliament

RubinReports: Syria: Who Needs a Propaganda Operation When You Have the New York Times?

Syria: Who Needs a Propaganda Operation When You Have the New York Times?

This article is published on PajamasMedia.

By Barry Rubin

To be immoral is bad; to be immoral against your own interests is worse.

No reporter has seemed more in the pocket of Hizballah and the Syrians than the New York Times' Anthony Shadid. His reporting on Lebanon often quotes mostly or exclusively their supporters, under a variety of labels, as if they are objective observers or represent a range of opinion.

While his latest article includes some material on how bad the situation is in Syria--350 people identified as killed so far by the regime--it reads like a press release from the dictatorship.

Not since the days of the Cold War--probably in the 1970s--has a U.S. government become such an apologist for a repressive dictatorship. What makes the situation truly amazing is that the Syrian government is no U.S. ally but an enemy repressive dictatorship.

Shadid quotes Bouthaina Shaaban, a notorious Assad regime crony as saying, “You can’t be very nice to people who are leading an armed rebellion...." Yet there is no evidence that the opposition has used weapons. Nevertheless, he reports without comment the regime's claim that demonstrators have killed 100 soldiers and police even though not a single such case has been even minimally documented.

Shadid quotes U.S. officials as saying that Shaaban and Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa are the good guy reformers while President Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher, is the bad guy hardliner. Poor Bashar is supposedly caught in the middle. What's a dictator to do?

Shabaan ridicules international "sanctions" against Syria and is right to do so. They amount to nothing, nothing except a license for the regime to murder its citizens without fear of repercussions.

Some day the Times coverage of Syria will be compared to its terrible reporting on the Stalinist Soviet Union and its largely ignoring the Holocaust.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org/. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.

RubinReports: Syria: Who Needs a Propaganda Operation When You Have the New York Times?

RubinReports: Why The Palestinian Authority-Hamas Deal Is So Dangerous

Why The Palestinian Authority-Hamas Deal Is So Dangerous

This is published in Bitter Lemons. Their title: "Hamas has real sponsors." I have made some changes reflecting my preferences for transliteration and nomenclature.

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By Barry Rubin

The Fatah-Hamas decision to reconcile, form a joint Palestinian Authority (PA) government and hold elections seems to be a short-run maneuver that might have some very long-range consequences.

Fatah's motive seems to be to have a united front when it goes to the UN in September to seek recognition of a unilateral declaration of independence. One of the arguments used to criticize its standing to make such a move has been the fact that the PA does not rule almost half the territory it is claiming.

For Fatah, it is also a popular move. A recent poll by Near East Consulting says that 89 percent of Palestinians want the dispute settled and believe it will help the Palestinian case at the UN.

But while September is the minimum time for this agreement to last, May 2012 is the maximum timeline. That is the approximate date set for new elections and the side that expects to lose would probably pull out of the pact. Hamas has no intention of yielding control over the Gaza Strip to a Fatah-dominated PA, while Fatah feels the same way about letting Hamas extend its control over the West Bank.

Which of the two groups is more popular? Ironically, it may be true that more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, fed up with Hamas’ repressive rule and destructive policies, would vote for Fatah candidates than last time; while West Bank Palestinians, fed up with Fatah's continuing corruption, might give more votes to Hamas.

On its side, Fatah's election slogan could be that the PA has delivered relative prosperity; Hamas offers ideological and religious fervor.

There are, however, three big problems that the merger--if it is at all applied in practice--creates for Palestinian politics and for the peace process.

First, radicalization. Hamas has more advantages for radicalizing Palestinian public opinion, the PA, and Fatah than Fatah has for moderating Hamas. Hamas is a disciplined organization with a clear ideology. It has a strong social welfare component--albeit only to build its political base--and has not been caught in high-level corruption. Moreover, it can play the card of Islam and of militancy against Israel and the West.

There is also the question of whose cadre is better. Fatah might always be linked to the word "moderate" nowadays, conjuring up the image of responsible middle class gentry, while Hamas people seem like wild-eyed fanatics. Yet in practice, the average Fatah cadre often have a thuggish, opportunistic character while Hamas' men are austerely puritanical. At least when they aren't in power--as on the West Bank--they might seem more attractive on the street level.

True, Fatah has on its side West Bank prosperity and providing the people with greater stability. But it has not delivered a state. In the past, Hamas’ talking points have done better than those of Fatah.

Yet the issue is not mainly what the people think but what the activists think. Fatah people have defected to Hamas and Islamist ideas have developed within the Fatah militias. Groups that exist to fight admire the most energetic, effective fighters. The younger generation of Fatah people has worked alongside Hamas and doesn’t bear the hatred of its elders toward a rival group.

In addition, Hamas people can now demonstrate openly in the Fatah-ruled West Bank while Fatah rallies are banned in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip

Hamas’ sponsors have done better than Fatah’s sponsors. In fact, Fatah has no real sponsors in the Middle East. In contrast, Hamas is backed by Iran, Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood, and now the Egyptian government. These forces seem to Middle Easterners on both sides to be getting stronger at the expense of the United States and the West.

The second factor is the Western perception of the PA. The PA’s image is not enhanced by bringing into the government as an equal partner an organization rejecting peace with Israel and advocating genocide while extolling and committing terrorism. On top of this, Hamas is a client of Iran, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood--not great strategic friends of the West. Both Hamas and Fatah representatives met with the Muslim Brotherhood's leader who told them that the winds of change blowing in Egypt placed the goal of liberating Palestine within reach.

Will Western governments be willing to give money to a regime that includes Hamas? One whose classrooms will teach that Israel should be destroyed and the Jews are subhuman? One very possibly containing a movement that continues to fire rockets and mortar shells into Israel? Already many congressional Democrats are calling for an aid cut-off.

The Obama Administration will ignore them but might there come a point when it can no longer do so?

Finally, there is a factor that exacerbates the first two points: How will this alliance affect PA policies?

A PA that has absorbed Hamas as part of the government will not be able to negotiate seriously with Israel. Indeed, set on the unilateral independence strategy, it will not want to talk seriously with Israel. On no issues--borders, security guarantees, Jerusalem, refugees--will it be able to make the tiniest compromise. It will certainly not reduce incitement to violence or terrorist attacks.

There is also the question of structural changes within the PA. Many within Fatah already want to get rid of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the man mainly responsible for the West Bank’s economic progress. Joined by Hamas partners, they would almost certainly succeed in forcing Fayyad out. If there are Hamas ministers, they will use their positions to bring their cadres into the government and turn the PA in a more radical and Islamist direction.

It should be stressed that for the PA to be a real partner for peace, one of the most important tasks would be to reinstall its (or, perhaps one might better say, Fatah’s) hegemony over Hamas. This is not at all what is happening now. Either the partnership will break down or it will make Hamas stronger, the PA more radical and, hence, unsuccessful in producing peace, prosperity, or progress toward an actual Palestinian state.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org/. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.

RubinReports: Why The Palestinian Authority-Hamas Deal Is So Dangerous

Israel Matzav: Thousands of Turks mourn Bin Laden

Thousands of Turks mourn Bin Laden

Thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul protested against the death of Osama Bin Laden on Friday, while setting fire to the flags of the United States, Israel and Britain (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
"The US, UK and Israel are the murderers of the martyr," the participants chanted. "The US is the terrorist, bin Laden is the warrior."

The mourners carried pictures of bin Laden and signs condemning his assassination, and called the man who planned the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans "a beautiful, wise man, a warrior for Islam."

The mourners, who gathered near Istanbul's Fatih Mosque, which is located in the area that is considered Turkey's epicenter of Islamic extremism, burned Israeli, American and British flags, and prayed facing a stone bench that traditionally holds the body of the deceased.
Let's go to the videotape (sorry, Turkish only):

In November 2003, a series of four truck bombs in Istanbul killed 57 people and wounded more than 700. The bombs were placed at two Jewish synagogues, a branch of HSBC Bank and the British consulate. Al-Qaeda was responsible for those attacks. On Thursday, a hotel opened on the site where the HSBC Bank stood. I wonder how many Turks will go there.

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Israel Matzav: Thousands of Turks mourn Bin Laden

Love of the Land: A Remembrance Day reminder of where terrorists should be

A Remembrance Day reminder of where terrorists should be

Frimet/Arnold Roth
This Ongoing War
09 May '11

On Remembrance Day, we Israeli families who have experienced terror at first hand are traditionally accorded national commiseration. Though our pain is constant, we are dutifully restrained throughout the year. But today, society, friends, community and nation encourage us to release our grief.

That concession is appreciated this year more than usual. It comes at an especially trying period for terror victims. The Israeli news media are waging a high-intensity campaign to agitate for the release of terrorist murderers in order to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

To help win our hearts and minds, journalists and politicians have focused their efforts on minimizing the pain of terror victims and questioning the motives that bring them to oppose the release of murderers.

Just a day ago, the eve of this year’s Remembrance Day, we learned that negotiations with Hamas over the release of terrorist-prisoners in return for Shalit may have progressed after months of stalemate.

Should we credit the six former high-level officials of the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the defence establishment who held a press conference two weeks ago? Their public demand that our government release every last prisoner on the Hamas list has been accorded much media attention, as has their blanket assurance:

(Read full "Remembering where terrorists belong")

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Love of the Land: A Remembrance Day reminder of where terrorists should be

Love of the Land: From Israel: Celebrating at 63

From Israel: Celebrating at 63

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
09 May '11

Tonight begins Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- Israeli Independence Day. There are those who have the impulse to remain subdued this year, even as celebration is called for, because of the many troubles we face.

But consider...

The return of the Jews to our homeland after 2,000 years was a miracle, and our ability over the years to survive and thrive beyond everyone's wildest imagination has been a miracle.

With the help of the Almighty we shall prevail, and we shall grow. Our role is to be strong, and to trust that we can do it.


Aish's musical video -- "Wave Your Flag" -- sings, "When I get older, I will be stronger, they'll call me freedom, just like a waving flag."

See it here.


Nefesh B'Nefesh is a marvelous organization that has helped thousands of people from English-speaking countries, mostly Americans, to make aliyah. This year, the group held a special celebration honoring the 45 sabra babies born to families that have come over the last year:

How's that for having faith in Israel's future?


JPost editor David Horovitz ran a piece last Friday that I've been saving to share for Yom Ha'Atzmaut. It's called, "Out of the ashes, to the height of self-sufficiency."

Horovitz writes about Benny Gantz, the new IDF Chief of Staff (who came to this position almost by political fluke, but, it seems, was meant to be where he is now).

"The IDF is strong, ready and a deterrent to our enemies," Gantz said during Yom HaShoah ceremonies last week. "It is capable of thwarting any enemy that rises up to kill us." (emphasis added)

Elaborates Horovitz:

"Born in Israel to a mother who was barely alive when she was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, Gantz emblemizes the near-miraculous revival of the Jewish people after the Holocaust: The survivor's child is now chief protector of the insistently surviving nation. (emphasis added)

"Standing tall and straight, Gantz nonetheless carries a perpetual air of concern. He exudes confidence and gravitas but also, in the furrows of his forehead, and the lines around his eyes, shows the burden of responsibility. All the way through to his gut, he knows the evil that humankind is capable of doing to the Jews. He knows that it falls to him, more than anyone else, to ensure that 'never again,' rather than becoming an empty slogan, remains an iron-clad fact.

"...In today's often morally misguided world, it is very difficult to be recognized as both strong and just. Usually, however absurdly in some cases, it is the weak who are automatically regarded as having justice on their side.

As it turns 63, the Jewish nation sometimes feels as though it is back, not in 1948, without a friend in the neighborhood, but a few years earlier still, with barely a friend in the world. But in life-saving contrast to those dark years, we have revived our homeland, and it flourishes.

We are and will continue to be both strong and just. We have built a vibrant, diverse, declaredly contented society. And with an army now headed by a general who emblemizes that rise from the ashes to the height of self-sufficiency, 'we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are.'" (emphasis added)



Some Interesting Facts about Israel (with thanks to Rebecca M.)

Israel is only 1/6 of 1% of the land mass of the Middle East
The Kinneret, at 695 feet below sea level, is the lowest freshwater lake in the world.
Israel is the only nation in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.
The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is the oldest continually used cemetery in the world.
Israel has only 2% of the population of the Middle East.
Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees per capita in the world.
Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation in the world - by a large margin.
Israel has the highest number of PhD's per capita in the world.
Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation in the world, per capita.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown over the last 50 years.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians, Muslims and Jews are all free to vote.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy full political rights.

Economics and Hi-Tech
Israel has the largest number of startup companies per capita in the world.
Israel is the world's largest wholesale diamond center.
Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies outside of the US and Canada.
The cell phone was developed in Israel at Motorola's largest development center.
Voice Mail technology was developed in Israel .
The first anti-virus software for computers was developed in Israel in 1979.
Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed in Israel by Microsoft.
Both the Pentium-4 and Centrino processors were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.

Hebrew is the only case of a dead national language being revived in all of world history. Israel has more museums per capita than any other nation in the world.
Israel has more orchestras per capita than any other nation in the world.
Israel publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world.

And how about this: The most independent and free Arabic press in the Middle East is in Israel .

Stand tall, my friends, hold up your heads and be proud!


A short video featuring Hatikva:



Before closing, I want to look back to what I had written yesterday:

The number of fallen that I cited yesterday -- 22,867 -- referred only to soldiers. Another 4,500 have died of terror attacks.

A reader has asked me if the number provided of those who fell defending Israel referred only to members of the IDF since the founding of the State. The answer is yes. But the point raised by this question is valid. If not for those who fought for Jewish rights before May 1948, we would not have seen the founding of the State. It certainly did not come about in a vacuum, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice prior to Israeli independence must also be recognized. I am not at all certain, however, that there would be a way to now tally the number who died in this era: there were separate groups, some clandestine, each following its own vision.


After I wrote yesterday's posting I watched the proceedings for Yom HaZikaron at the Kotel. Select family members of soldiers who have died were present and the camera from time to time focused on their faces. They wrenched the heart.

And so I would like to add this: We owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to all those who have fallen defending the State. But we also owe a debt to those who have lost sons and husbands, fathers and brothers. Theirs is an on-going sacrifice.


Yesterday, when I mentioned various members of Congress who are opposed to providing additional financial support to the PA, I neglected to include Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she is one of our very best friends. The fact that I've alluded to her many times in the past does not excuse her exclusion here. (Thanks, Stephanie.)


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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RubinReports: Egypt: Situation Deteriorating Badly and Rapidly

Egypt: Situation Deteriorating Badly and Rapidly

This article is published on PajamasMedia. The text is here for your convenience.

By Barry Rubin

In the wake of bloody Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians the New York Times informs us:

"By lifting the heavy hand of the Mubarak police state, the revolution unleashed long-suppressed sectarian animosities that have burst out with increasing ferocity...."

No kidding! Did you think a single Egyptian Christian didn't know this in February? Why didn't the media report or the U.S. government understand that this was absolutely inevitable and predictabe. But the only mentions of Christians were to claim that they were really enthusiastic about the revolution.

The remaining Christians in most of the Arabic-speaking world may be on the edge of flight or extinction. All of the Christians have left the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which is, in effect, an Islamist republic. They are leaving the West Bank. Half have departed from an increasingly Islamist-oriented Iraq where they are under terrorist attack. Within a few years they might all be gone.

In Lebanon while the Christians are holding their own there is a steady emigration. As for Syria, the community has generally supported the Asad regime fearing a revolutionary Islamist replacement. One dissident recalled that as he was being beaten in a Syrian prison a few years ago the police yelled at him, "Why are you doing this? You're a Christian!"

Egypt has more Christians than Israel's entire population. There have been numerous attacks, with the latest in Cairo leaving 12 dead, 220 wounded, and two churches burned. The Western media generally attributes this to inter-religious battles. Yet Egypt's Christians, so totally outnumbered and not having any access to the power of the state, have generally kept a low profile.

It is hard to believe that gangs of Christians go out and attack Muslims, especially when the fighting revolves around mobs attacking churches. “How can they say we started it when we are defending our church?” asked one Christian. That makes sense.

The Christians cannot depend on any support from Western churches or governments. Will there be a massive flight of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Christians from Egypt in the next few years?

The U.S. government has just announced that it will forgive about $1 billion of Egyptian debt at a time when the American economy isn't doing so well. You can just bet that there are no political strings attacked: no pressure over Egyptian backing of Hamas, growing anti-Israel policy, cutting off natural gas supplies, the increasingly difficult situation of Christians, opposing Iran's ambitions and nuclear weapons' drive, or anything else.

What will happen if and when an Islamist-dominated regime is in power in Egypt--which could happen as early as September? Will U.S. aid and support continue?

Up until now, the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood has been badly underestimated in the West. But increasingly it is also apparent that the strength of anti-Islamist forces has been overestimated.

I have noted that even Amr Moussa, likely to be Egypt's next president and a radical nationalist, has predicted an Islamist majority in parliament. That should be a huge story yet has been largely ignored.

He is not creating his own party, meaning that a President Moussa will be dependent on the Muslim Brotherhood in parliament. Rather than the radical nationalists battling the Islamists these two forces might well work together.

And who will they be working against? Just guess.

RubinReports: Egypt: Situation Deteriorating Badly and Rapidly
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