This short clip follows the descendants of an ancient Chinese Jewish community as they 'return' to Israel. Okay, their singing voices are nothing impressive...but hey, when was the last time you sang a song in Chinese?!
[Hat tip: LindaF]
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Imagine cutting out a diseased appendix without ever having seen a Gray’s Anatomy diagram, or calculating drug doses without a Physicians’ Desk Reference, and you’ll have an idea what it’s like to practice medicine in Afghanistan.
Nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Factions of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, singled out medical texts for destruction, military medical personnel say, because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.
“They not only burned the books, but they sent monitors into the classroom to make sure there were no drawings of the human body on the blackboard,” said Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ms. Walker is helping lead an ambitious effort by American doctors and nurses to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks and other reference materials.
[New York Times]
Tuvia Grossman Interviewed by HonestReporting
On September 30, 2000, The New York Times, Associated Press and other major media outlets published a photo of a young man -- bloodied and battered -- crouching beneath a club-wielding Israeli policeman. The caption identified him as a Palestinian victim of Israeli brutality -- with the clear implication that the Israeli soldier was the one who beat him.
That young man was, in fact, Tuvia Grossman, a Jewish student from Chicago, who was beaten within inches of his life before being rescued by the Israeli border policeman in the photo.
The resulting outrage generated by the gross distortion of the photo "launched" HonestReporting.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
According to the FBI, there were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11. Now, that was a hate crime. The following year, the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents dropped to 155. The number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.
Even one hate crime is too many. But does that sound like an anti-Muslim backlash to you?
In every year since 9/11, more Jews in the U.S. have been hate-crime victims than Muslims. In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1.
Why aren't we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America? Because there isn't one. And there isn't an anti-Muslim climate either.
(Los Angeles Times)
For more than two decades, Abdelhamid Shaari has been lobbying a succession of governments in Milan [Italy] for permission to build a mosque for his congregants — any mosque at all, in any location.
For now, he leads Friday Prayer in a stadium normally used for rock concerts. When sites were proposed for mosques in Padua and Bologna, Italy, a few years ago, opponents from the anti-immigrant Northern League paraded pigs around them. The projects were canceled.
In that light, the furor over the precise location of Park51, the proposed Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, looks to Mr. Shaari like something to aspire to. “At least in America,” Mr. Shaari said, “there’s a debate.”
Across the world, the bruising struggle over an Islamic center near ground zero has elicited some unexpected reactions.
For many in Europe, where much more bitter struggles have taken place over bans on facial veils in France and minarets in Switzerland, America’s fight over Park51 seems small fry, essentially a zoning spat in a culture war.
[New York Times]
From an interview with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Israel Radio:
Q: What do you think Israel should say if the American president asks Israel to make "a gesture of good will, to freeze building in Judea and Samaria for as long as possible."
Lieberman: "We did make the gesture. For ten months we were waiting for the Palestinians to deign to come negotiate. They came during the last month. That's their problem. And on the contrary, we expect the Palestinian side to cease incitement, stop naming streets and plazas after various [terrorist] 'engineers.' Stop inciting and working against the State of Israel in all sorts of international forums or the OECD, stop the boycotts and all the opposition to us, filing lawsuits in The Hague."
"We've made enough gestures and seen nothing in return....We shouldn't have to pay for the pleasure of sitting at the table with the Palestinians, like we always have to pay. They should also have to pay. And first off, to get to the starting point, they should stop their rampant incitement against Jews and against Israel."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Mideast Peace Process Is a Mirage -George F. Will
Cigarette lighters sold on the West Bank show, when lit, the World Trade Center burning.
The biggest threat to peace might be the peace process - or, more precisely, the illusion that there is one. The mirage becomes the reason for maintaining its imaginary "momentum" by extorting concessions from Israel.
Palestinian officials are demanding that the 10-month moratorium on Israeli construction in the West Bank be extended as the price of their willingness to continue direct talks with Israel. If this demand succeeds, the "peace process" will be sustained by rewarding the Palestinian tactic of making the mere fact of negotiations contingent on Israeli concessions concerning matters that should be settled by negotiations.
When direct talks were finally announced, not all the Israeli newspapers bothered to carry the news on their front pages. Been there, done that.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
A few weeks ago, the Iranian air force shot down three drones near Bushehr, where a Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up.
Expecting to find proof of high-altitude spying, when the Revolutionary Guards inspected the debris, they found that the air force had blasted Iran's own unmanned aircraft out of the sky. According to official Iranian press accounts, the Iranian military had created a special unit to deploy the drones but hadn't informed the air force.
In July, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, admitted publicly that many top officers were supporters of the opposition Green Movement. Shortly thereafter, according to official government announcements, some 250 officers suddenly resigned.
In the past weeks, several journalists from the Guards' FARS news agency have defected, some to France and others to the U.S.
Meanwhile, Iran has suffered a series of attacks against its energy industry. An oil pipeline to Turkey was blown up last month, and there was an explosion in a natural gas pipeline near Tabriz. That was followed by a spectacular blast at the Pardis petrochemical plant in Assalouye. The same plant was similarly sabotaged six months ago.
Opposition is fed by enduring social and economic crises. Unemployment is as high as 45% in some regions.
(Wall Street Journal)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced:
"I've invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet in Washington, D.C., to re-launch direct negotiations...which we believe can be completed within one year."
Not taking yes for an answer -Efraim Karsh
No matter how many times Israel has reached out its hand in peace, it seems Mahmoud Abbas just wasn’t – and isn’t – interested.
No sooner had Hillary Clinton announced the imminent resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations without preconditions, than the Palestinian leadership cold shouldered the US secretary of state.
An emergency meeting of the PLO executive committee, chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to return to the negotiating table but threatened to pull out of the talks if Israel didn’t extend the freeze on all settlement activities. “Should the Israeli government issue new tenders on September 26, we will not be able to continue with talks,” chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters.
But the story doesn’t end here. While the English language announcement of the PLO’s decision sets [a] “Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel” as the outcome of the negotiations, the Arabic-language version makes no mention of the two-state solution.
And there lies the heart of the problem.
[T]he PLO leadership has been singing the praises of the two-state solution whenever addressing Israeli or Western audiences, [but] has consistently denigrated the idea to its own constituents, depicting the process as a transient arrangement required by the needs of the moment that would inexorably lead to the long-cherished goal of Israel’s demise.
In this respect there has been no fundamental distinction between Yasser Arafat and Abbas...
[I]n April 2009, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu [asked Palestinians to] recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside the would-be Palestinian state, Abbas [responded] in a speech in Ramallah: “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?...You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.”
When in June 2009 Netanyahu publicly accept[ed] a two-state solution and agree[d] to the establishment of a Palestinian state, provided the PA leadership responded in kind and recognized Israel’s Jewish nature, Erekat warned that the prime minister “will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him.”
And so it goes. Precisely 10 years after Arafat was dragged kicking and screaming to the American-convened peace summit in Camp David, his erstwhile successor is being dragged to the negotiating table.
[L]ike Arafat, as far as Israel’s existence is concerned, Abbas would not take a yes for an answer.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Iran's Nuclear Clock Is Not Slowing - Gary Milhollin
Latma's newest contribution to the growing library of Israeli policical sarcasm
The phrase that Iran's "nuclear clock has slowed" is now one of the Obama administration's favorites when arguing that Iran's progress toward nuclear-weapon capability has diminished, and that more time is available to convince Iran to change its ways. Sad to say, the assumption is false. The clock is still ticking, vigorously.
[W]e should keep our eyes on the big fact here, which is that Iran is fast approaching the status of a "virtual" nuclear weapon state - one with the ability to kick out UN inspectors and build a handful of nuclear warheads. We must confront the growth of Iran's nuclear capability, and not be lulled into imagining that it's not real.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Al-Qaeda is warning its supporters and sympathizers to prepare for a new war which will pit Israel against Iran.
Al-Qaeda's franchise in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), issued an audio message this month by its second-in-command, Saeed al-Shehri, who tells jihadists that he expects the Iranian Shia regime to try to take advantage of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities by seizing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina after blaming Saudi Arabia for helping Israel attack.
Shehri was held in Guantanamo for six years before being sent back to his native Saudi Arabia and then fleeing to Yemen to help set up AQAP.
AQAP demonstrated that it can reach beyond Yemen to carry out its plans when it dispatched the suicide bomber who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 last Christmas.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Taliban ordered their first public executions by stoning since their fall from power nine years ago, killing a young couple who had eloped, according to Afghan officials and a witness.
The punishment was carried out by hundreds of the victims’ neighbors in a village in northern Kunduz Province. Even family members were involved, both in the stoning and in tricking the couple into returning after they had fled.
“We see it as a sign of a new confidence on the part of the Taliban in the application of their rules, like they did in the ’90s,” said Nader Nadery, a senior commissioner on the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. “We do see it as a trend. They’re showing more strength in recent months, not just in attacks, but including their own way of implementing laws, arbitrary and extrajudicial killings.”
The couple eloped when the man was unable to persuade family members to allow him to marry the young woman. She was engaged to marry a relative of her lover, but was unwilling to do so.
The couple eloped to Kunar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, staying with distant relatives, but family members persuaded them to return to their village, promising to allow them to marry. Once back in Kunduz, however, they were seized by the Taliban, who convened local mullahs from surrounding villages for a religious court.
After the Taliban proclaimed the sentence, Siddiqa, dressed in the head-to-toe Afghan burqa, and Khayyam were encircled by the male-only crowd in the bazaar. Taliban activists began stoning them first, then villagers joined in until they killed first Siddiqa and then Khayyam, Mr. Khan said. No women were allowed to attend.
Mr. Khan estimated that about 200 villagers participated in the executions, including Khayyam’s father and brother, and Siddiqa’s brother, as well as other relatives, with a larger crowd of onlookers who did not take part.
“People were very happy seeing this,” Mr. Khan maintained, saying the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he said, “did a bad thing.”
Time magazine focused widespread indignation on Afghanistan recently by putting on its cover a picture of an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan Province whose nose and ears were cut off by her Taliban husband after she had fled her child marriage to him [see above].
[New York Times]
An Afghan woman whose ears and nose were cut off by her abusive husband as punishment for running away – and whose mutilated face featured on the front of an international magazine – has undergone extensive plastic surgery.
The 18-year-old, Aisha, was featured by Time magazine in an article that revealed how her husband, a commander in the Taliban, had disfigured her and left her to die.
The magazine also helped arrange for her to travel to the US for the reconstructive surgery.
Martin Indyk [pictured], the former U.S. ambassador to Israel writes:
"President Obama came into office determined not to use force against Iran....By the end of his first year, however, he reached the conclusion that engagement had failed and that it was time to put force back on the table."
"This shift in rhetoric was backed by the deployment of missile defense systems to the Gulf and a bolstering of the U.S. force presence there....It was also backed by a Pentagon study of the requirements for a U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear facilities....The conclusion of that study was that, in the words of one senior White House official, 'The Iranians are not ten feet tall - we can do this'."
"I would argue that, if current trends continue, it's actually more likely that the United States will bomb Iran than Israel."
The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem has proposed installing an elevator to improve access to the Western Wall for visitors with baby carriages and those in wheelchairs who now have to contend with several flights of stairs.
Arabs: Elevator "A Threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque"
The Al-Aqsa Foundation says the plans are a threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In a statement, the foundation said the project intended to divide the mosque and prevent worshipers from reaching it, citing the plan as an attempt by Israeli forces to increase the presence of Jews in the area.
Elevator Location Is Not Near Mosque
The elevator in the Jewish Quarter is not adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is way on the other side of the Western Wall plaza.
Declaration of Beliefs of Muslim Moderates -Tawfik Hamid [pictured above]
We are Muslims who want contemporary understandings of Islam to replace currently predominant harsh and radical (Salafi/Wahabbi) interpretations of our religion.
We therefore declare that:
1- Redda Law, the Sharia Law that allows the killing of Muslims who convert to other faiths, must be banned in Islamic teachings and in Sharia legal doctrine. [T]he right to convert to other faith[s] is a basic right that must be given to all Muslims.
2- Current mainstream Sharia doctrines justify the use of violence against women. They encourage men to beat their wives to discipline them. They allow women accused of adultery to be stoned to death. These doctrines are barbarically inhumane, non-egalitarian, and teach Muslim children to be violent. These teachings must be ended by reinterpreting the Islamic text that justifies such violence.
3- Traditional Sharia doctrines teach Muslims that they must engage in war so that Islam will dominate the world. These doctrines run contrary to modern respect for diversity and for personal freedom of speech and belief. This understanding of Jihad that seeks domination of Islam over other peoples must no longer be regarded as an Islamic value and its teaching as a duty for Muslims must end.
The early Islamic wars known as "Futohaat Islameia" were fought to implement this doctrine of Jihad. These wars therefore should now be regarded as un-Islamic and un-justifiable.
4- Jews are individuals who deserve the same respect accorded to all individuals. They should not be called "pigs and monkeys." The Islamic teaching that Muslims must fight and kill all Jews before the end of days is totally incorrect and unacceptable as it does not exist in the Quran. All teachings that encourage anti-Semitic attitudes, violence or disrespect toward Jews must be declared un-Islamic.
5- Slavery is a crime against humanity. All Sharia laws that justify slavery in our modern times must not be taught any more. Muslim scholars must have a clear and loud voice against slavery.
6- Islamic Sharia laws currently permit the killing homosexuals. These laws must be declared un-Islamic and their implementation must be considered criminal.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
[In] the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies, the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.
While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama.
[T]he American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed. Instead of “the hammer,” America will rely on the “scalpel.”
Obama administration officials defend their efforts in Yemen. The strikes have been “conducted very methodically,” and claims of innocent civilians being killed are “very much exaggerated,” said a senior counterterrorism official.
[New York Times]
Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar talks about his experiences representing Israel in the Arab media, in this short clip
Friday, August 13, 2010
Video: Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone -Michael Totten
"Blurred Vision," an Iranian exile band based in Toronto, has produced a remake of "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd, changed to apply to Iran in 2010.
It's an electrifying piece of music video art, especially the scene at the end where a Persian woman steps into the light and removes her state-mandated head covering.
The scenes where Iranians battle it out in the street with state-security thugs are real and were shot in Tehran.
Around 300 Muslim gravestones destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in a Jerusalem cemetery earlier this week were set up in the last few months in a bid to snatch government land, the Jerusalem Municipality charged.
"The municipality and the (Israel Lands) Authority destroyed around 300 dummy gravestones which were set up illegally in Independence Park on public land. The court approved the removal of all the dummy gravestones which were laid in the last seven months," the municipality said in a statement. "This is a fraudulent set-up, one of the biggest in recent years, whose aim is to illegally take over state land."
Underneath the tombstones excavators found only "plastic bottles, cigarette packets and parts of a sprinkler system," the statement said. It accused "Islamic elements" of trying to pull off a huge scam.
Benjamin Kerstein interviewed -Michael J. Totten
"Most Israelis are here because they fled from Muslim and European countries. They don't feel that either of those blocs have the right to lecture them about anything.
Why should a country where your parents were expelled or killed have the right to tell you how to conduct yourself in a war against people who are trying to kill you today? This is something hardly any non-Israelis understand. They don't understand how galling we find this."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Middle East Coexistence at the Supermarket -Lenny & Shellie Ben-David
The parking lot of the new supermarket at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank is packed with Palestinian and Israeli vehicles.
Palestinian families and Israeli "settlers" mingle in the aisles. At the checkout, one cashier was a Jewish woman from Kiryat Arba; at the cash register next to her was a Muslim woman from Halhul.
A boycott of settlement products is supposed to be in force in the Palestinian Authority, but that's certainly not enforced at the supermarket.
Israel Boycott Backfires on Palestinian Storeowners -Walid Shoebat
Writing on the Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN), Hiba Lama laments that the boycott of Israeli goods has simply bounced back on the Palestinians, as "numbers of Palestinians have abandoned their Palestinian shops after missing several items and went to stores in Israeli areas instead."
"Hanna Rishmawi, owner of a shop in Beit Sahour, suffers from low sales since the boycott was established...[as the Israeli stores offer] low prices and many special offers."
Abeer Taweel went to see the new [Gush Etzion] supermarket everyone is talking about, only to find all her relatives, neighbors and acquaintances there purchasing all their needs for the whole week.
At an emergency meeting, the PA Ministry of Economy adopted a policy to inspect all vehicles entering the Palestinian cities - Palestinian checkpoints to prevent their own people from exercising the freedom to shop.
One thing is certain, cursing Israel was not a great idea after all.
(Walid Shoebat Foundation)
PA Announces Boycott of Israeli Supermarket Chain
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy announced on Sept. 21 a boycott campaign against the Israeli Rami Levi chain of supermarkets, which it claimed has "spread like cancer" with new stores in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. Distributors and promoters of Rami Levi products will be prosecuted for advertising or selling their goods in the West Bank.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Keep the Claws Sharp -Editorial
Israel's enemies so often destroy their claims of victimhood by launching unprovoked attacks on the Jewish state that any neutral observer would have a hard time accepting their allegations. Last Tuesday, a maintenance squad was engaged in routine work along the country's frontier, cutting down a tree that was blocking observation of the tense border area, when nearby Lebanese troops opened fire. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which helps maintain peace in the region, has confirmed that the Israel Defense Forces were working on Israeli territory.
The Lebanese government reacted by stating that it disagrees with the orientation of the Blue Line and said it considers the place where the incident occurred to be Lebanese. This illustrates the basic philosophy of so many of Israel's enemies: Follow the rules until they inconvenience you and then break them. If Israel retaliates, scream injustice and blame the Jews.
Israel is forever being urged, by friend and foe alike, to shrink itself and allow its enemies more room. This, so conventional wisdom goes, will encourage them to live alongside the Jewish homeland in mutual peace and security. Yet somehow, it never turns out that way.
Israel needs to keep its claws well-honed because its innumerable enemies are ready and willing to send it into oblivion, with force, if words will not suffice.
News stories about bodies found at sea are occasionally published by Gaza newspapers, yet not all them chose to go swimming voluntarily.
The Gazans who found their death at sea include mid-level officials at government ministries, alongside police and security officers. Some of them were shot in the head before being sent on their "swim." All of the victims were designated as traitors by the secret service of Hamas' military wing and executed as collaborators.
Posters urging a war on collaborators hang in the streets, and the issue is discussed on the radio and during sermons at mosques.
In the upcoming school year, teachers will be asked to explain that good, suspicious children will turn in their parents.
Mosque Used by Sept. 11 Attackers Shut Down -Kirsten Grieshaber
A mosque in Hamburg once frequented by Sept. 11 attackers [pictured] was shut down and searched because German authorities believed the prayer house was again being used as a meeting point for Islamic radicals.
"We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad or holy war," said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for the Hamburg state interior ministry.
The ministry said the mosque had become a magnet for so-called jihad tourists - Muslims from out of town who bragged about having worshipped at the same mosque used by the Sept. 11 terrorists.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Gaza Palestinian Sobhi Hamami [pictured], 61, fondly recalls the 23 years he worked on an Israeli kibbutz, where he learned Hebrew, swam in the pool with Israeli friends and celebrated holidays with his Jewish boss.
His son Mohammed sees Israelis differently: "They're the enemy," he says. This generational split slices through families across Gaza, where older people remember when jobs in Tel Aviv and contact with Israelis were a short drive away.
Israel says the current travel ban will remain to keep out would-be attackers until Gaza is ruled by a government that doesn't seek Israel's destruction or consider Israeli civilians legitimate targets.
A group of former IDF combat soldiers, Krav Maga and martial arts experts are giving security training courses to employees of major Chinese companies operating in danger zones around the world, Yediot Ahronot reported.
After Chinese employees found themselves victims of armed robbery and abductions during their work overseas, an Israeli company, Alpha Angel, has been operating in China for the past two years to teach the Chinese how to handle dangerous situations.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Ian Anderson, [j]ust shy of his 63rd birthday, the gregarious front man of veteran British rockers Jethro Tull showed no signs of slowing down or mellowing as he prepared to leave home in England for two weekend Tull shows in [Israel's] Caesarea and Binyamina, and one more night in Jerusalem.
In a phone conversation with The Jerusalem Post, he especially minced no words about efforts to convince him to join the loosely-knit artistic boycott of Israel – efforts which prompted him to write a note on the band’s official Web site defending his decision to perform here.
“I didn’t feel the need to make any statement until I started receiving some very hateful communication from people representing different sides of this ongoing issue – from supposed human rights supporters to individuals, bodies and groups… there was some pretty nasty stuff,” said Anderson. Anderson called the attempts to convince artists to boycott Israel “irritating and shallow.”
“Basically what I wrote was, ‘don’t f***ing tell me what to do.’ And I have to say that since I posted the letter on my site, over the last two or three weeks, nobody has uttered a peep.”
Friday, August 06, 2010
While vexing to many, the mega mosque set to be built two blocks from Ground Zero has produced one interesting but unintended consequence: like the 9/11 strikes a decade before it, the "9/11 mosque" is also creating a stir, is making people think and talk — about Islam.
Consider: Before the Islamist strikes of 9/11, mainstream America was incognizant of the threat posed by radical Islam.
After 9/11, however, the veil was partially lifted: a flood of books dealing with Islam, political Islam, jihad, sharia, "dhimmitude," and any number of related topics appeared; politically incorrect books on Islam became bestsellers. The media began at least to acknowledge the existence of radical Islam...
In other words, one of the unintended consequences of 9/11 was that more Americans began to take note and interest in Islam — which led to greater scrutiny. After 9/11, it was no longer a few aging Orientalists who knew, for instance, that military jihad is obligatory in Islam, or that enmity for the infidel is standard, or that women and dhimmis are subjugated. The layman — the heart of democracy — began to be aware. In this sense, then, the 9/11 strikes were counterproductive to the Islamist cause.
All Islamists, of course, desire what jihadist groups like al-Qaeda desire — the reestablishment of a global caliphate and enforcement of sharia law. But unlike al-Qaeda, most mature Islamists know that the time is not ripe for all-out violence, which only exposes their activities to greater scrutiny.
[T]en years later, one of the unintended consequences of the 9/11 mosque is the same: Since it became known, the mosque project has been reported by all mainstream media, including CBS, CNN, Examiner, Fox News, Al Jazeera, NY Daily News, New York Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, ad infinitum.
Most recently, the Anti-Defamation League asserted that "the building of an Islamic Center at this location [near Ground Zero] is counterproductive to the healing process."
The inevitable result of all this media attention is precisely what Islamists seek to avoid — unwanted attention — as Americans, once again, take notice, think, and talk, including about dormant issues.
And while the main issue at stake (whether or not the 9/11 mosque should be built) has little to do with exposing Muslim doctrines or Islamist ideologies per se, consider: the more it is discussed in the media, the more the great majority unfamiliar with the larger issues begin to wonder what all the ruckus is about. A stray word lingers in the mind — perhaps "jihad" or "sharia" or "political Islam."
And if the 9/11 mosque is actually built, based on the amount of controversy it has already generated, there is reason to believe that it will be a permanent source of attention, provocation, and scrutiny — that is, a permanent Achilles' heel for the Islamist movement.
[An article by] Richard Cohen of The [Washington] Post tries to grapple with the issue of sanctity and sensitivity. The results, however, are not pretty. He concedes that putting up a Japanese cultural center at Pearl Harbor would be offensive but then dismisses the analogy to Ground Zero because 9/11 was merely "a rogue act, committed by 20 or so crazed samurai."
Obtuseness of this magnitude can only be deliberate. These weren't crazies. They were methodical, focused, steel-nerved operatives. Nor were they freelance rogues. They were the leading, and most successful, edge of a worldwide movement of radical Islamists with cells in every continent, with worldwide financial and theological support, with a massive media and propaganda arm, and with an archipelago of local sympathizers, as in northwestern Pakistan, who protect and guard them.
Why is America fighting Predator wars in Pakistan and Yemen, surveilling thousands of conversations and financial transactions every day, and engaged in military operations against radical Muslims everywhere from the Philippines to Somalia -- because of 19 crazies, all of whom died nine years ago?
Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers -- according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., more than 80 million souls -- it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert.
Ground Zero is the site of the most lethal attack of that worldwide movement, which consists entirely of Muslims, acts in the name of Islam and is deeply embedded within the Islamic world. These are regrettable facts, but facts they are. And that is why putting up a monument to Islam in this place is not just insensitive but provocative.
Just as the people of Japan today would not think of planting their flag at Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that no Japanese under the age of 85 has any possible responsibility for that infamy, representatives of contemporary Islam -- the overwhelming majority of whose adherents are equally innocent of the infamy committed on 9/11 in their name -- should exercise comparable respect.
[The Washington Post]
Charity is supposed to be fuelled by a selfless desire to help others, but it's hard to see any such motivation in the plans advanced by Canadian activists, members of Gaza Freedom March (GFM), to charter a boat and sail to the Gaza Strip.
On the contrary, the idea reeks of self-aggrandizement and narcissism, along with the usual helping of contempt for Israel. While Israel has largely lifted the blockade, allowing in most consumer goods, what these activists seek is a self-serving stint in Israeli custody, which amounts to both a badge of honor and a battle scar.
As a liberal democracy in the Middle East in a region awash in authoritarian regimes and militant puritanism, Israel has had to fight for its survival right from its inception. Despite being a beneficiary of the very same freedoms Israel is defending, the GFM is anxious to lend its support to the other side in a struggle half a world away.
These activists could do with a little less selfishness and a lot more self-reflection.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Attacked by Lebanon
Lebanese officers – whether locally or higher in the chain of command – unilaterally and arbitrarily decided that the fence constitutes the border and that any movement outside it constitutes infiltration of Lebanon. In any case, the fire wasn’t directed at the crews that ventured beyond the fence but at officers clearly on the Israeli side of it. UNIFIL personnel shouted at Lebanese marksmen to stop but their entreaties were ignored.
Though called “peacekeepers,” the UNIFIL forces did not raise, much less use, their weapon[s] to foil what was obviously outright aggression.
Israel ha[d] taken comfort in the fact that both a much-enlarged UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are deployed in south Lebanon.
But on Tuesday, UNIFIL proved impotent.
The international community cannot feign ignorance of incontrovertible evidence of Lebanon’s status as a Syrian vassal. Yet Lebanon’s military is directly and massively underpinned by the US and France.
Both need to reassess their aid to what has become an arm of the Iranian- Syrian axis.
U.S.: Lebanese Fire on Israeli Troops Totally Unjustified -Natasha Mozgovaya & Barak Ravid
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that the firing by Lebanese armed forces on Israeli troops near the Israel-Lebanon border, which killed one Israeli officer and seriously wounded another, was "totally unjustified and unwarranted....We don't want to see this happen again."
[However,] Israeli officials had expressed disappointment with the initial U.S. response to the shooting incident calling on both sides to show restraint, prompting Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren to hold talks with senior U.S. officials to demand a harsher response.
British Muslims are being urged to boycott Israeli dates when breaking their fast during Ramadan. But the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, appeared to take the threat of a boycott lightly.
"Israel will continue to successfully export dates, while others choose to export hate," he said.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
This information was confirmed by a UNIFIL representative.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told BBC that two Israeli officers had been attacked by "snipers from the Lebanese armed forces" in a "well-planned ambush" during maintenance operations on Israel's side of the border.
The head of Israel's Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, said the officers had been standing between 300 and 400 meters from the border, observing [other] Israeli soldiers removing bushes near the border fence, when "sniper fire was directed at their position." Lt.-Col. Dov Harari, 45, was killed and an Israeli captain was "critically wounded."
Israel responded with artillery and helicopter fire. The Lebanese army said three of its soldiers had been killed and four wounded.
Journalists and photographers were briefed in advance of the intention to ambush IDF troops and even broadcast trucks were present at the scene of Tuesday's deadly clash, IDF officials charge.
A correspondent for the Hizbullah-affiliated Beirut daily al-Akhbar was killed and another from Hizbullah's al-Manar television was wounded in the Israeli response.
"If this incident was not planned in advance, why did field commanders in the Lebanese army bother to dispatch journalists to the area and ensure that cameras were present at the site?" one IDF official said.
UNIFIL Confirms IDF Claims -Yaakov Katz
A UNIFIL official in southern Lebanon confirmed that the IDF informed the organization of its intention to conduct routine maintenance work in the area between Israel's border fence and the international border.
"I can confirm that we received notification from the IDF about the work and we passed the information on to the Lebanese Army," said the Hungarian diplomat who is part of the UNIFIL force.
Lebanese Army Confirms It Fired First -Hanan Greenberg
Hizbullah Allies in Lebanon Army Seen Behind Attack -Amos Harel
In the last few months there has been increasing friction between the Lebanese army and the IDF over the entire length of the border, as the Lebanese forces - especially Division 9, most of whose commanders are Shiite Muslim - take an aggressive stance against Israel.
[T]he IDF Northern Command speculated that Hizbullah had a hand in the border conflict.
Hizbullah, which is expecting to receive arrest warrants for some of its leaders surrounding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, may have used its allies within the Lebanese army to spark a confrontation.
Israel Blames U.S., France for Arming Lebanon -Barak Ravid & Shlomo Shamir
"Countries are providing the Lebanese army with advanced weaponry for it to fight Hizbullah, and instead the Lebanese army is using the weapons to fire on IDF soldiers," a senior Israeli official said, referring to the U.S. and France.
The U.S. has given Lebanon nearly $500 million since 2006 to purchase arms, despite Israel's objections. France has also sent a great deal of weaponry to Lebanon, including advanced anti-tank missiles.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Gaza Rocket Hits Educational Institution Near Sderot -Shmulik Hadad
A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit the roof of a building in Sderot.
One firefighter reported seeing smoke billowing from the building. "I have no doubt that had there been people in the building, it would have been a major disaster. It's a miracle," he said, adding that "serious" damage was caused to three rooms.
Hamas Rocket Hits Children's Rehab Center -Noam Bedein
[A] Palestinian rocket scored a direct hit on the children's hydrotherapy rehabilitation center, located in the heart of Sderot's Sapir College. The center provides therapy and workshops for special-needs children and is used by children from the entire country.
The facility was decimated. On any other day, a catastrophe would have taken place. During weekdays, the center is packed with hundreds of children and therapists.
(Sderot Media Center)