Wednesday, September 29, 2010

J Street's Fall From Grace




J Street’s a crooked road -Lenny Ben-David

Bravo to The Washington Times’s national security correspondent Eli Lake for his expos√© of J Street. The so-called pro-Israel organization is bursting with scandals about the identity of its contributors, its decision-making process, its conflicting policies on Iran sanctions, its ties to pro-Iranian and Arab American organizations and more. But many reporters have been reluctant to shine a spotlight on it, fearful of running afoul of the White House, for whom J Street proudly serves as President Barack Obama’s “blocking back.”

Since J Street’s founding, Jeremy Ben-Ami [pictured top] has repeatedly lied about his organization’s dependence on Israel’s super-critic George Soros [pictured]. Lake revealed that J Street’s US tax records prove that Soros and his family are major contributors.

Soros’ influence goes a long way in explaining J Street’s very existence, its frequent criticism of Israel, its refusal to condemn the Goldstone Report, its flirtation with Iran, its refusal to support Israel’s Gaza operation and its active opposition to some American Jewish organizations.

The IRS forms list J Street’s five officers and directors – something J Street never before publicized. For good reason. The fifth listed is Mort Halperin, a veteran Washington foreign policy hand who also serves as senior adviser at Soros’ Open Society Institute.

[E]qually troubling is a huge $811,697 contribution from a “Consolacion Esdicul” from Hong Kong. Why would a Hong Kong individual contribute as much as onehalf of J Street’s budget? Actually, [this] contribution is in line with J Street’s corrupt taking of money from pro-Saudi activists, Arab- American leaders, Muslim activists, State Department Arabists, a Palestinian billionaire and even a Turkish American who helped produce [an] anti-American and anti-Semitic film.

The $811,687 contribution from Hong Kong should raise the question whether the lobbyists need to register as foreign agents and not domestic lobbyists.

Last week J Street published ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal demanding that Israel “freeze settlement growth.” (There were no parallel J Street demands on the Palestinians to stop jihadi incitement in the PA’s newspapers, radio and television networks.)

Now we know who pays for J Street’s ads.

In recent months J Street endorsed several dozen candidates for congressional elections, and its political action committee has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to its favorite candidates. How many of the endorsees will rush to reject the J Street favors now that the organization has emerged as a Soros and foreign front?

Give J Street credit, though: It did succeed in identifying a leftist constituency looking for a voice in Washington. But The Washington Times expos√© is so devastating to J Street’s credibility and standing in Washington that its constituency needs a new champion, one free of intrigues, lies and corruption.
[Jerusalem Post]
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UPDATE:


J Street under fire after attempting to aid Goldstone -Gil Shefler

Critics of J Street rebuked the dovish advocacy group after it emerged it had considered facilitating meetings between Judge Richard Goldstone and congressmen.

The Washington Times reported that J Street approached several US lawmakers in November 2009 asking whether they would be interested in meeting the author of the UN report on the war in Gaza, to ask him questions on his findings.

J Street founder and director Jeremy Ben-Ami told The Jerusalem Post that his staff had made “two or three” such phone calls to US politicians and relayed their response onward. However, he stressed that after those initial inquiries were made, his organization decided not to become involved.

David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said that J Street’s contact with Goldstone, coupled with last week's revelation that it received funds from billionaire George Soros, an outspoken critic of Israeli policies on a number of occasions, undermined its stated mission of supporting the Jewish state.
[Jerusalem Post]

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Monday, September 27, 2010

US Strikes Iran in a Sophistocated Cyber War Attack...and will "neither confirm nor deny" doing so



Pentagon Silent on Iranian Nuke Virus -Justin Fishel

The Pentagon is refusing to comment on widespread accusations that it is responsible for coordinating a cyber-attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. Earlier this month the Iranians acknowledged the "Stuxnet Worm" had invaded software it uses at multiple nuclear production plants.

Pentagon Spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Department of Defense can "neither confirm nor deny" reports that it launched this attack.
[Fox News]


Did New Malware Target Iran's Nuclear Plant? -Mark Clayton

A cyber worm, called Stuxnet, may be the world's first known cyberweapon designed specifically to destroy a real-world target. One expert suggests Stuxnet may have already attacked its target - Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Stuxnet employs amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick. It targets and infiltrates industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software used to run chemical plants and factories as well as electric power plants and transmission systems worldwide, takes control of the automated factory control systems, and does whatever it was programmed to do with them.

Ralph Langner, a German cyber-security researcher, described Stuxnet as essentially a precision, military-grade cyber missile deployed to seek out and destroy a real-world target of high importance. "This is a 100% sabotage attack," he said.

Three top U.S. industrial control system security experts confirmed his findings. "This is the first direct example of weaponized software, highly customized and designed to find a particular target," says Michael Assante, former chief of industrial control systems cyber security research at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory.

A geographical distribution of computers hit by Stuxnet found Iran to be the apparent epicenter of the infections.
(Christian Science Monitor)


Not the First Cyberweapon -John Markoff

A remarkable set of events surrounded the 2007 Israeli Air Force attack on what was suspected of being a Syrian nuclear reactor under construction. Accounts of the event initially indicated that sophisticated jamming technology had been used to blind the radar so Israeli aircraft went unnoticed.

Last December, however, a report in an American technical publication, IEEE Spectrum, cited a European industry source as raising the possibility that the Israelis had used a built-in software kill switch to shut down the radar.
(New York Times)
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UPDATES:

As the Worm Turns -David Kay
The thought of a nerdy computer worm bringing Iran’s nuclear program to an at-least-temporary standstill, adds an element of comic irony to a dangerous challenge to global stability.

As one digs into the likely origins and motivations behind the "Stuxnet" computer worm, at the top of the list of obvious suspects would be the U.S. and Israel. But they are not the only suspects.

The Russians have shown increasing unease at the prospects of an Iran that would really have nuclear weapons. The Chinese have well north of $100 billion invested in Iranian oil and gas, and an attack by the U.S. and/or Israel on Iran and the chaos likely to ensue could well render these investments worthless and be a serious brake on the Chinese economy.

If the Stuxnet worm can be inserted by stealth into the prized jewels of Iran's nuclear program, who can assure the Iranian leadership that the son of Stuxnet is not quietly sitting in the guidance- and flight-control systems of Iran's missile-delivery capability?

The good news is that someone has shown a way other than sending in the bombers to give pause and buy time in confronting Iran's nuclear challenge.
(National Interest)
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Iran's Nuke Program Was Target of Stuxnet -Glenn Kessler

The Stuxnet computer worm that infiltrated industrial systems in Iran this fall may have been specifically designed to attack the country's nuclear program. [T]he worm appears to attack key components of [nuclear] centrifuges.

"Rigging the speed control is a very clever way of causing the machines to fly apart," said Ivanka Barzashka, a research associate at the Federation of American Scientists. "If Symantec's analysis is true, then Stuxnet likely aimed to destroy Iran's gas centrifuges."
(Washington Post)
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Poignant cartoon on settlement building


PA: Kill Palestinians Who Do Business with Jews -Khaled Abu Toameh

A Palestinian Authority court in the West Bank has just reaffirmed the death penalty for Palestinians convicted of selling land to Jews.

The court ruling also proves that, contrary to claims by some in Washington and Europe, the PA is continuing to send messages that radicalize Palestinians and promote hatred and violence. If anything, the court verdict is seen by many Palestinians as a green light to kill "traitors" who do business with Jews. The Palestinian law also calls for imposing the death sentence on any Palestinian found guilty of "collaboration" with Israel.

Over the past few decades, hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians have been killed on suspicion of selling land to Jews and "collaboration" with Israel. Only a few of the victims were executed by Palestinian authorities. Most were abducted and liquidated, often brutally, in extra-judicial killings carried out by Palestinian security officers, armed gangs, and Fatah and Hamas militiamen.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
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Castro Defends Israel...but is still a sleaze




Castro slams Ahmadinejad on Israel

Cuban leader Fidel Castro criticized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and promoting anti-Semitism.

In a wide-ranging interview with Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, Castro, a frequent critic of Israel, said the Iranian government could encourage peace by acknowledging the "unique" history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence.
(JTA)
[Hat tip: Larry]


Will Castro Free Imprisoned U.S. Jew? -Mary Anastasia O'Grady

While Fidel Castro told the Atlantic Monthly's Jeffrey Goldberg that he is outraged by anti-Semitism, what about poor Alan Gross, a U.S. government contractor and a Jew, who has been languishing in a Cuban prison since December. His crime: distributing cellphones to a handful of Cuban Jews who want to establish contact with the diaspora. Is that any way to show love for the Jewish people?
(Wall Street Journal)


Cuba's Deplorable Human Rights Record
-U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

[T]he Castro regime continues to inflict substantial domestic political and economic oppression. The Cuban people suffer without the most basic human rights, and the government imprisons students, journalists and anyone who speaks against the regime.
(USA Today)
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UPDATE:


Kudos to Castro -Editorial

President Shimon Peres issued a warm letter to Castro with gratitude for the “moving” and “unexpected” words that bore “an original and unique intellectual depth.” And a Prime Minister’s Office’s statement defined what Castro had said as a testimony to his “deep understanding of the history of the Jewish people and Israel.”

One need not be a great historian, however, to recall Cuba’s anti-Israel track-record under Castro. In 1967, Cuba’s ambassador to the UN described Israel’s preemptive attack against the onslaught of Arab armies in the Six Day War as “a surprise attack in the Nazi manner,” and Havana’s military advisers provided instruction to PLO terrorists both in Cuba and in southern Lebanon in the seventies and early eighties. Diplomatic relations with Israel were cut in 1973 after Castro sent Cuban tank commanders to join Syrian forces in the Yom Kippur War, and Cuba remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.
[Jerusalem Post]

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gaza: "Shredding of social fabric"


Panic in Gaza -Ibrahim Barzak & Diaa Hadid

A secretive Hamas campaign to catch Palestinians spying for Israel has ensnared some prominent Gaza residents, drawn unusual criticism and highlighted the Islamic militant group's deep fears about being penetrated by agents of the Jewish state.

There is widespread shock at some of the well-respected names among those thought to be detained - including two prominent physicians and an engineer, alongside members of Hamas itself.

"Everybody in Gaza is under suspicion," said Mukheimar Abu Sada, a Gaza-based political scientist, describing an atmosphere of fear in the territory. Hamas feels "the government has been completely infiltrated, that Israel knows more about Hamas than what they know of themselves," Abu Sada said.

Human rights workers estimate that more than 20 low-level Hamas operatives were rounded up as suspected collaborators in September. Detainees have been denied access to lawyers or family visits.

"Rumors...have touched people and families and organizations that are respected in Gaza, and this has led to confusion and the shredding of our social fabric," Gaza writer Mustafa Sawaf wrote in the pro-Hamas daily Felesteen, in a rare display of public criticism.
(AP)
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hamas and the Water Park






A photo and short video of Gaza's "Crazy Water Park" before Hamas shut it down...it was burned to the ground by seemingly mysterious gunmen

Gaza water park burned down after shut down by Hamas -Khaled Aub Toameh

Unidentified gunmen set fire to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip's most popular entertainment sites.

Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.

Manager Ala al-A'raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely.

Last week the Hamas government ordered the closure of Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that the place did not have a proper license.

Last month Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. The owner of the site was summoned for questioning and warned not to hold events where men and women sit together.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners violated an order banning women from smoking the nargila in public places. Last week the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama sea-side restaurant in Gaza City where a woman was seen smoking the nargila.

Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up its efforts to impose strict Islamic teachings in the Gaza Strip.
[Jerusalem Post]
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UPDATE:


Gaza's Police Force: Between Hamas and a Hard Place -Abigail Hauslohner

When Gazans speak positively of Hamas, they tend to focus on how well run street security is. When Hamas' rival Fatah dominated the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, chaos ruled the streets. But many Gazans also say the changes since 2007 on the streets have come at a price. "The police now are stronger and more violent," says Ramy Mansour, a tailor. Mansour's ire is focused on the largely plainclothes division known as Internal Security. "The fear is based on the long period that you could potentially be detained - and the torture," explains Abu Anas, a minibus driver.

And there is a third security force that Gazans fear: Hamas' highly secretive Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Referring to both the uniformed police and the plainclothes Internal Security, one civilian says, "They're all Qassam." Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghossain confirms, "Many of the Qassam operate within both the Qassam brigades and the Internal Security."
(Time)

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Frum: "Terrorism dwindling"


The Myths of 9/11 -David Frum [pictured]

In the aftermath of 9/11 we heard that we can't stop terrorism without addressing the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Well, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute remains unresolved. Yet despite this non-resolution, the Islamic terrorism problem continues to dwindle.

Nine years after 9/11, al-Qaeda terrorists are operating solo and isolated, because they fear any cooperation will be infiltrated, any communication intercepted.

In the decade since 2001, each attack has become less complex and less sophisticated. The only place on Earth that is more oriented to bin Ladenism today than ten years ago is Gaza.

Another myth is that terrorism is a product of poverty and despair. As has been minutely documented since 2001, terrorists disproportionately come from the elite of their native societies. The underwear bomber was the son of one of the richest men in Nigeria. The societies that produce terrorists are likewise not poor, not the way Burma is poor or Congo is poor.

Whatever it is, terrorism is not a cry of anguish from the dispossessed.
(National Post-Canada)
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The Coming War: Threat from the North


If War Comes: Israel vs. Hizbullah and Its Allies -Jeffrey White

The next war on Israel's northern border will bear little resemblance to the 2006 confrontation between the Israel Defense Forces and Hizbullah in Lebanon. It is likely to be broader and much more intense, with the potential to transform the wider region both militarily and politically.

This new study offers not a prediction of war, but rather an estimation of what renewed hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah might look like. It offers a meticulously calculated forecast of the future battlefield, outlining the capabilities and operational objectives of the two sides, the potentially game-changing roles played by Syria and Iran, and the possible impact on the region's post-conflict military and political environments.

The study concludes that this is the war the IDF must win.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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Yom Kippur Cartoon


I had to read this a second time to get it...possibly the year's best MidEast political cartoon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

HIV-AIDS Breakthrough in Israel


The HIV virus


New Israeli treatment kills HIV cells

A new treatment that destroys HIV-infected human cells without damaging healthy ones has been developed by a team of Israeli researchers.

The therapy destroys cells infected with HIV without damaging adjacent healthy cells. It is described in an article published last month in the scientific journal AIDS Research and Therapy.

To date, no [other] therapy has succeeded in completely destroying HIV-infected cells. Current treatments only delay the development of the disease and make it more manageable.
[ISRAEL21c]
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Pathetic Egyptian Press




Egyptian Newspaper Doctors Peace Talks Photo -Ben Leach

A photograph taken at the White House of five national leaders meeting to restart Middle East peace talks on Sept. 1. was doctored by Al-Ahram, Egypt's most widely circulated newspaper, to show Egyptian President Mubarak walking on a red carpet ahead of the U.S., Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders.

The original image [bottom photo] shows President Obama leading the way, with Mubarak [far left] trailing behind.
(Telegraph-UK)
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Iran's Economy...do Iranians miss the Shah?



Iran's Economy Slides Toward the Bottom -Hossein Askari

To say that the Iranian economy has underperformed since the Shah's overthrow in 1979 would be an understatement.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran ranks first in brain drain among developing countries, with roughly 150,000 Iranians leaving Iran every year, and with about 25% of all Iranians with post-secondary education now living abroad in developed countries.

Under the Shah, corruption was more or less limited to members of the royal family, ministers and other senior officials. In today's Iran it is even at the level of the doorman to government buildings. To go anywhere and get anything done requires a payment.

In short, the policies of the revolutionary government of Iran have failed the Iranian people miserably.
(Asia Times-Hong Kong)
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Resurrecting Joseph's Tomb


The unforgetable image of Palestinian Arabs destroying the Jewish holy site, Joseph's Tomb, following an Israeli troop withdrawl in the West Bank



New Dome Installed on Joseph's Tomb -Jonah Mandel

A new dome was installed at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, in place of the one destroyed ten years ago when a Palestinian mob ransacked the structure, smashing the dome with pickaxes and setting the compound on fire.

According to the agreements with the Palestinian Authority, the holy Jewish site is under Israel's jurisdiction, though Jewish worshipers have been barred from entering during the day. Monthly nighttime visits, coordinated with and secured by the IDF, have enabled busloads of Jewish worshipers to visit the tomb since November 2007. Israel's chief rabbis visited the site last month.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Iran extends tentacles



Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan & Iranian President Ahmadinejad


Iran Donates $25 Million to Turkey's Ruling Party -Con Coughlin

Western diplomats say they are alarmed by reports that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has negotiated a deal with Iranian President Ahmadinejad for Tehran to make a substantial contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey's Islamic AKP party.

Under the terms of the deal Iran has agreed to transfer $12 million to the AKP, with further payments of up to $25 million to be made later in the year. The money is said to be meant to help support Erdogan's campaign for re-election for a third term in next year's general election. Diplomats also say Iran has agreed to provide financial support for the Turkish Islamic charity IHH which supported last May's aid flotilla.
(Telegraph-UK)
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Ads from anti-Nuclear Iran group

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Ahmadinejad is coming soon to New York City to speak at the United Nations...again...these two creative ads will greet him.
Note the skeletal hand in the top ad and the ominous text in the second...best viewed by clicking on each for a larger view
[UANI]
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MidEast Peace Talks will fail unless US acts against Iran


The Road to Mideast Peace -Robert Satloff

Historically, the U.S. has made its most significant progress in Middle East peacemaking when it operated from a pre-eminent position in the region. That's what convinced Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to chuck the Soviets. It is also what convinced Arabs and Israelis to start the modern era of peacemaking at the Madrid peace conference, following the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait.

But this iteration of peace talks, which will resume on Sept. 14 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, begins with many in the Middle East questioning American strength, not deferring to it. This change has potentially negative implications for our ability to help Arabs and Israelis forge peace.

With all its messy implications, U.S. action to prevent Iran's march toward a nuclear weapons capability would buoy America's friends and undermine its adversaries from Morocco through the Persian Gulf. It alone would create a regional environment conducive to historic progress in Arab-Israeli peace.
(Foreign Policy)
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Hamas Video: 'Liberation of Tel Aviv'



The propaganda video above, produced by Hamas, depicts their jihadist goals clearly

Hamas Video Presents the "Liberation of Tel Aviv" -Ali Waked

A new Hamas video depicts the burning of the High Court of Justice and the Bank of Israel buildings in Jerusalem, cars with Palestinian flags driving on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, and a Palestinian anchorman on Israel television's Channel 2 news broadcast declaring the "liberation of Tel Aviv and Palestine."
(Ynet News)
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Bloody Chess


Your Move, Mr. Abbas -Charles Krauthammer

The Obama administration is to be commended for structuring the latest rounds of Middle East talks correctly. Finally, we're leaving behind interim agreements, of which the most lamentable were the Oslo accords of 1993.

[In the past] Israel made concrete concessions - bringing in Yasser Arafat to run the West Bank and Gaza - in return for which Israel received growing threats, continuous incitement and finally a full-scale terror war that killed more than a thousand innocent Israelis.

As noted by U.S. peace negotiator George Mitchell, what's under discussion [now] is a final settlement of the conflict. Meaning, no further claims. Conflict over.

[There is] a unique phenomenon in Israel -- a broad-based national consensus for giving nearly all the West Bank in return for peace. The moment is doubly unique because the only man who can deliver such a deal is Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu -- and he is prepared to do it.

The obstacle today, as always, is Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state. That has been the core issue of the conflict from 1947 through Camp David 2000, when Arafat rejected Israel's extraordinarily generous peace offer, made no counteroffer and started a terror war (the Second Intifada) two months later.

What will Abbas do? [H]e will exploit President Obama's tactical blunder, the settlement freeze imposed on Israel despite the fact that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had gone on without such a precondition for 16 years prior. Abbas will walk out if the freeze is not renewed on Sept. 26. You don't need to be prescient to see that coming. Abbas has already announced that is what he'll do.
That would solve all of Abbas's problems. It would obviate signing on to a final settlement, fend off Hamas and make Israel the fall guy.

Why not walk out? The world, which already condemns Israel even for self-defense, will be only too eager to blame Israel for the negotiation breakdown. And there is growing pressure to create a Palestinian state even if the talks fail -- i.e., even if the Palestinians make no concessions at all. So why make any?

The talks are well designed. Unfortunately, Abbas knows perfectly well how to undermine them.
(Washington Post)


How the PA and Hamas View Peace Talks -Boaz Ganor

The Hamas leadership is examining Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's activities in building the infrastructure for a Palestinian state and is preparing its forces in the West Bank for the time when they will take [over the West Bank], and will pluck the infrastructure already prepared by the PA, like a ripe fruit.

[I]f the process that started in Washington appears to be bearing fruit, then the Hamas leadership will renew the waves of suicide attacks inside Israel.

[T]he White House is in a hurry. President Obama wants to produce a political achievement, if possible, before the elections for Congress in November 2010. He is therefore coercing the sides to conduct direct negotiations. Israel and the Palestinians are obeying. Their only desire is to gain enough points to serve them in the propaganda campaign that will follow the collapse of the talks.
(Globes)
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

VideoBite: Stunning New Israeli Nature Documentary



A new Israeli documentary by Afikim Productions paints Israel not as a place of conflict, but as a place of intense natural beauty and awe

Daniel Gordis reflects on America and 9/11


What US could learn from Israel -Daniel Gordis

Israelis have something to teach Americans. It goes something like this: It’s fine [for President Obama] to say that “America is not at war with Islam,” to point out that most Muslims are not terrorists and that many American Muslims are moderates. That’s true, as far as it goes.

But it only goes so far. Because America is at war and its enemies are Muslims. Politically correct hairsplitting runs the risk of Americans blinding themselves to that simple but critical fact. It makes no difference what percentage of the world’s Muslims wants to destroy America. There are enough of them that US air travel is now abominably unpleasant and, more importantly, enough of them that more strikes on America appear inevitable.

The US got lucky on Christmas Day when the bomber headed to Detroit failed to detonate his explosives, and was lucky again in Times Square in May, but less fortunate at Fort Hood. Yet those may be but the beginning. We could, heaven forbid, come to see 9/11 as child’s play.

The United States’ future is under attack, but Americans resist admitting it. President Barack Obama has sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but he has also said that he intends to pull them out by July. Can we imagine FDR declaring war on Germany, but then adding that the war had to be over in a year, or in two? It would have been laughable. And America would have lost. The US has to decide – is it committed to destroying those who wish it ill, or is it willing to be destroyed by them? Those, sadly, are its only two alternatives.

Whether or not the Ground Zero mosque ultimately gets built may not matter nearly as much as whether or not Americans are willing to gird themselves for the battles that sadly lie ahead.

America can remain the “land of the free,” but only if it is also the “home of the brave.”
[Jerusalem Post]
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History Lesson for the New Year




This mini-documentary is brought to us by Toldot Yisrael


"Echoes of a Shofar" Video

The inspiring story of the young men who blew the shofar at the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year on Yom Kippur from 1930 to 1947 as part of the modern struggle for the rebirth of the Jewish people.

Under a British law passed in 1930, Jews in Palestine were forbidden to blow the shofar at the Western Wall, pray loudly there, or bring Torah scrolls, so as not to offend the Arab population.
Despite this, for the next 17 years, the shofar was sounded each year, as brave teenagers defiantly blew them at the conclusion of the fast. Some were captured and sent to jail for up to six months.

Six of these men returned to the scene of their "crime" where they recounted their stories.
(ToldotYisrael)

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tony Blair hits a Home Run


Tony Blair: Radical Islam: World's Greatest Threat

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today, in a BBC interview marking the publication of his memoirs.

Blair said radical Islamists believed that whatever was done in the name of their cause was justified - including the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. "This extremism is so deep that in the end they have to know that they're facing a stronger will than theirs."

He said Iran was one of the biggest state sponsors of radical Islam, and it was necessary to prevent it by any means from developing a nuclear weapon.
(BBC News)


Combating Islamic Extremism -Tony Blair

The extremism we fear is a strain within Islam. It is wholly contrary to the proper teaching of Islam, but it can't be denied that its practitioners act with reference to their religion. I feel we too often shy away from this assertion, as if it stigmatizes all Muslims. But if it is true - and it is - it has to be faced.

The extremists are small in number, but their narrative has a far bigger hold. Indeed, such is the hold that much of the current political leadership feels impelled to go along with this narrative for fear of losing support.

If the Palestinian cause gave up violence emphatically and without ambiguity, there would be a peace agreement within the year. Not enough voices in the Muslim world are asking them to.
(Wall Street Journal)
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With Obama out of sight, Abbas shows his plumage



All smiles just a few days ago, Abbas now sounds like his old rejectionist self

Abbas: No 'historic compromise' -Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas [pictured] rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's talk about an "historic compromise" and said there would be no compromises on core issues such as Jerusalem and borders.

Abbas also reiterated his rejection of Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "We're not talking about a Jewish state and we won't talk about one," Abbas said in an interview with the semi-official Al-Quds newspaper. "For us, there is the state of Israel and we won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state."
[Jerusalem Post]
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UPDATE:

Abbas Already Balking at Real Negotiations -Editorial

Faster than you can say "two-state solution," the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks begun with such fanfare have hit their first huge obstacle: an utter unwillingness to budge on the part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Four days after meeting President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the White House, Abbas told an Arabic West Bank newspaper he is not prepared to give. Not even an inch.

Abbas declared: "If they demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can't allow myself to make even one concession." How do you negotiate with someone who proclaims his intransigence?
(New York Daily News)

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Daniel Pipes speaks out against anti-Islamic tone in the Ground Zero debate


An artist's drawing of the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero

Americans Wake Up to Islamism...but -Daniel Pipes

The debate is as unexpected as it is extraordinary. One would have thought that the event to touch a nerve within the American body politic, making Islam a national issue, would be an act of terrorism.

Personally, I do not object to a truly moderate Muslim institution in proximity to Ground Zero; conversely, I object to an Islamist institution being constructed anywhere.

Ironically, building the center in such close proximity to Ground Zero, given the intense emotions it aroused, will likely redound against the long-term interests of Muslims in the United States.

The Islamic center controversy represents its emergence as a political force, offering an angry, potent reaction inconceivable just a decade earlier.

But I have one concern: the increasing anti-Islamic tone.

Misled by the Islamists' insistence that there can be no such thing as "moderate Islam," [critics of the mosque] often fail to distinguish between Islam (a faith) and Islamism (a radical utopian ideology aiming to implement Islamic laws in their totality).

This amounts not just to an intellectual error but a policy dead-end. Targeting all Muslims conflicts with basic Western notions, lumps friends with foes, and ignores the inescapable fact that Muslims alone can offer an antidote to Islamism.

As I often note, radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.
[National Review Online]
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Spelling out Israel's Peace Plan


All It Takes -Barry Rubin [pictured]

You can read and see many things in the American mass media, but there is one thing you will never find: what Israel wants from a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Either this information is omitted entirely and only Palestinian demands are mentioned or, at most, it is said to be something mysterious.

And yet nothing could be more easily ascertained. There is an official Israeli peace plan, approved by the government in July 2009. To ensure that violence and instability really cease, Israel wants and needs the following, as presented in that plan:

• Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Without this step, the aftermath of any peace agreement would be more decades of Arab effort to destroy Israel in all but name.

• Absolute clarity that a peace agreement ends the conflict and all claims on Israel. Otherwise, the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab world would regard any agreement as a license for a new stage of battle using Palestine as a base for attacks and demands.

• Strong security arrangements and serious international guarantees for those arrangements. Have no doubt—these will be tested by cross-border attacks from Palestine.

• A demilitarized Palestinian state that will retain the large security forces already in place; enough for internal security and legitimate defense but not aggression.

• Palestinian refugees resettled only in the new Palestinian state. The Palestinian demand for a “right of return” to Israel is just a rationale for wiping Israel off the map through internal subversion and civil war.

Now that does not sound so unreasonable, does it? Nor does it sound as if Netanyahu or the current government (which includes the Labor Party, the main party of the left) are right wing or reject a two-state solution.
[Hadassah Magazine]
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Abbas yearns for...status quo


What Abbas Wants -Hillel Frisch

Hamas, and to a much lesser extent, Islamic Jihad, remain a substantial threat to Abbas, and the threat of a Hamas takeover in the West Bank has yet to dissipate.

Dealing with this threat entails good security cooperation between Abbas and Israeli security forces - an arrangement in which Israel deals with the Hamas terrorist infrastructure by night while Abbas' security forces harass Hamas terrorists by day - as well as the dismantling of social infrastructure that Hamas has created painstakingly over the years.

Abbas is essentially using the IDF to gain the kind of political and security foothold Arab leaders recognize as being essential to the art of ruling. He is assuming the role of the traditional Arab ruler - controlling all the funds, avoiding elections (which will only be held if the outcome is a foregone conclusion), allowing no opposition, and making sure that his picture appears daily on the front page of the media.

Such security cooperation can hardly take place once any kind of peace arrangement is achieved. At that point, Israeli security presence in the West Bank would have to cease. This would leave Abbas' security forces to face Hamas alone. So Abbas prefers not to make progress in the peace talks until the terrorist swamp is more effectively dried up. A Hamas takeover in the West Bank must be averted at all costs. This means that no substantial progress in the peace talks can be made before such a danger is dealt with.

At the same time, the pretense of peace talks is essential to creat[ing] the kind of political environment that would allow the U.S. and Israel to deal with the far more imminent Iranian nuclear threat.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

While Hamas acts as Iranian proxy, Abbas roars at Iran...is the PA getting teeth?


Palestinians to Iran: Mind your own business

PA spokesman retorts that Iran "represses their people," after Iranian FM says those negotiating with Israel are "betraying their nations."

The Palestinian Authority has taken a stand against Iran, after the Islamic Republic criticized the PA for relaunching direct talks with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman said that Ahmadinejad "does not represent the Iranian people, forged elections, suppresses the Iranian people and stole the authority. [He] is not entitled to talk about Palestine, or the president of Palestine."
[Jerusalem Post]
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Friday, September 03, 2010

A negative spin on MidEast peace talks


What Egypt's Mubarak and Jordan's Abdullah Want -Khaled Abu Toameh

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah [pictured above], in Washington for the launching of direct negotiations between Israel and the PA, went there out of concern for their regimes, and not because they cared so much about the Palestinians or the Middle East peace process.

There is growing opposition in Egypt to the idea of Mubarak's son, Gamal, succeed him as president, as posters carrying pictures of Gamal and seeking support for his candidacy have appeared in many places in the country. Mubarak, 82, knows that without the backing of the U.S. and the approval of the Western media, Gamal will never be permitted to step into his father's shoes. Such backing is even more important than winning the support of the Egyptians, whose opinion doesn't matter anyway.

Mubarak went to Washington not to seek peace between Palestinians and Israelis, but to pave the way for his son's rise to power. If Mubarak really cared about the peace process, he would not be allowing his government-controlled media to continue vomiting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda: instead of delegitimizing Israel and demonizing Jews, he would be preparing his people for peace.

King Abdullah went to Washington because he wants to secure the continued backing of the West - and Israel - for his regime. King Abdullah is afraid of an independent Palestinian state on his border. He would rather see IDF soldiers patrolling the border with Israel than Palestinian border guards.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
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A positive spin on MidEast peace talks

Talks [and smiles] will continue in a few weeks

Israelis Do Not Have High Hopes in Peace Talks -Yossi Klein Halevi

"The peace process is back," my friend said with bitter sarcasm, after four Israelis were killed in a terror attack just before Palestinian-Israeli negotiations got underway this week.

The Oslo peace process of the 1990s was [also] accompanied by waves of attacks by Hamas jihadists, which Israelis believe were tacitly orchestrated by their negotiating partner at the time, Yasser Arafat. Then, in September 2000, just as Israel accepted a Palestinian state and the re-division of Jerusalem, Arafat responded by launching a four-year terror war.

But there is one crucial difference.

Today, Israel is facing a negotiating partner who isn't instigating terrorism while feigning moderation. Abbas is engaged in a life-and-death power struggle with Iran's ally, Hamas. That is why he approved an unprecedented level of cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

In the Middle East, pessimism is almost always warranted. But if expectations are kept modest and the focus holds on the common jihadist threat, Palestinians and Israelis may yet surprise themselves.
(Los Angeles Times)
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Bonded: American Jews Still Love Israel


American Jews Remain Attached to Israel

American Jewish attachment to Israel is holding steady among younger Jews as well as older respondents, a new study shows.

"Still Connected: American Jewish Attitudes About Israel," published by the Cohen Center for Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, was based on a survey of 1,200 self-identified Jewish Americans.
(JTA)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

High Political Theatre: Talks Begin



Flanked by leaders of Israel, Jordan, Egypt & the Palestinian Authority, President Obama stages grand political theatre


At Mideast Peace Talks, a Lopsided Table -Hussein Agha & Robert Malley

Staggering asymmetries between the Israelis and Palestinians could seriously imperil the talks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments.

Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement. Participation in direct talks was opposed by virtually every Palestinian political organization aside from Fatah, whose support was lethargic. Abbas' decision to come to Washington is viewed skeptically even by those who back him. If Abbas reaches a deal, many will ask in whose name he was bartering away Palestinian rights.
(Washington Post)


Abbas Is No Arafat -Moshe Arens

The negotiations between Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas will not be anything like the negotiations with Yasser Arafat, who had the support of almost all Palestinians. Abbas does not have the authority to carry out any agreement he might arrive at with Netanyahu. Maybe the Americans think that enough financial support for Abbas will eventually provide him with both the legitimacy and authority he lacks. But the American largesse and American pressure that have brought him to the negotiating table have made him look like an American puppet.

Arafat could have made peace with Israel, but he did not want to. Abbas may or might not want to conclude a peace with Israel, but he cannot.
(Ha'aretz)


Mideast Peace Talks' Hidden Threat -Jonathan Schanzer

A Palestinian state, as endorsed by the Obama administration, very likely would include only the West Bank, where the leaders are not democratically elected. Indeed, in the 2006 elections, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad won only 2% of the vote, and Abbas' term as president expired nearly two years ago.

Who does the Obama administration suggest rule this proposed state? If it's Abbas and Fayyad, Obama will be advocating yet another illegitimate authoritarian Middle East regime.
(Politico)


Direct Mideast Peace Talks Begin -Helene Cooper & Mark Landler

Prime Minister Netanyahu, turning toward Palestinian President Abbas, called him his "partner in peace."

"The Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland, the land of our forefathers," he said. "But we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity."
(New York Times)

Click here for a short video of the ceremonial beginning of the talks
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French shocker: Holocaust education should be 'neutral'


French Teacher Suspended for Spending Too Much Time on Holocaust

Catherine Pederzoli, 58, a Jewish French history teacher, has been suspended from her school for spending too much time teaching her pupils about the Holocaust and for organizing trips to former Nazi death camps.

She has been accused by education authorities of teaching the World War II massacres with insufficient "neutrality."
(AFP)
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Peace Talks Begin with Israeli Blood



Above: The mourners and the murdered
Below: the murderers




Four Israelis Shot Dead -Janine Zacharia & Samuel Sockol

Four Israeli civilians traveling in a car near the West Bank city of Hebron were shot dead Tuesday night as the Obama administration prepared to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington. Hamas asserted responsibility for the attack.
(Washington Post)


Netanyahu: Shooting Underscores Security Needs -Gwen Ackerman & Calev Ben-David

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a West Bank shooting attack that killed four Israelis underscored his nation's security needs ahead of a new round of Mideast peace talks.

"I will set clearly the security needs that are required precisely to address this kind of terror," Netanyahu said in Washington.
(Bloomberg)


The Murder Victims -Aviel Magnezi

Yitzhak Imes, 47, his [pregnant] wife Talya, 45, Kochava Even-Haim, 37, and Avishai Shendler, 24, were all from Beit Hagai.

Talya and Yitzhak were survived by six children, including a one-and-a-half-year-old infant.

Kochava Even-Haim, a teacher in Efrat, was survived by her husband and eight-year-old daughter.

Avishai Shendler had recently moved to Beit Hagai with his wife.
(Ynet News)


Medic Discovers Wife's Body at Scene of Attack -Yaakov Lappin

Zaka volunteer Momy Ben-Haim was dispatched to the scene of the terrorist attack with his colleagues.

"We saw a crying volunteer, and at first we did not understand what was happening - he has seen many disasters before," Zaka volunteer Isaac Bernstein told the Jerusalem Post.

"Then he started shouting, 'That's my wife! That's my wife!' We took him away from the scene immediately."
(Jerusalem Post)


Attack: Reminder of Hamas Power -Avi Issacharoff & Amos Harel

Hamas sent a painful reminder to the U.S. administration and the Israeli government that in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they must also be made party to any deal.
(Ha'aretz)


Hamas' "Heroic Operation" -Isabel Kershner & Mark Landler

Hamas described the killing of four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, in the West Bank on Tuesday as a "heroic operation" on its Arabic Web site.

In Gaza, hundreds of Hamas supporters took to the streets to celebrate the news of the attack, urged on by the calls of an imam over the loudspeaker even before Hamas had officially said it was behind the killings.
(New York Times)
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UPDATE:

Hamas Planned to Abduct Bodies of Shooting Victims -Jack Khoury

Hamas terrorists had planned to abduct the bodies of four Israelis they killed in the West Bank earlier this month in order to force the Israel Defense Forces into undertaking a mass operation for their return and thus foil the resumption of direct peace negotiations between Israel and the PA, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday. A car that pulled up to the scene of the murder thwarted this plan and the terrorists fled the scene instead.
(Ha'aretz)

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