Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dialogue of the deaf

from an article by JUDEA PEARL, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 16, 2005

...A host of conferences meant to bring together East and West have been cropping up. ...I had the opportunity to attend ...(a) high level US-Islamic World Forum, held in Doha, Qatar.

...hundreds of progressive pundits and activists from all sides ...diligently discussed both the needs and the means for achieving democracy, reforms and renaissance in the Muslim world. And, as expected, there was hardly a Muslim speaker who did not stress the pivotal importance of seeing progress toward settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

...Indeed, almost every speaker ended his or her speech by arguing that American credibility hinged on resolving the Palestine issue.

Rami Khouri, executive editor of The Daily Star in Lebanon, summarized these sentiments, noting: "Democracy is essential, but it is incomplete without full sovereignty, and cannot be promoted credibly under conditions of foreign occupation. Resolving the Palestine issue in this respect is vital for progress, and should be addressed alongside movement toward democratic reform."

...I was curious to find out what the participants had in mind when they pressed for "progress" on the Palestine issue: progress toward what?

...I had a friendly conversation on this issue with one of Dahlan's aides, who confessed that "we Palestinians do not believe in a two-state solution, for we can't agree to the notion of 'Jewish state.'" "Judaism is a religion," he added "and religions should not have states.... Palestine is too small for two states."

...I discussed my disappointment with an Egyptian scholar renowned as a champion of liberalism in the Arab context. His answer was even more blunt: "The Jews should build themselves a Vatican," he said, "a spiritual center somewhere near Jerusalem. But there is no place for a Jewish state in Palestine, not even a national-Jewish state. The Jews were driven out 2,000 years ago, and that should be final, similar to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain 500 years ago."

The problem with Muslim elites could be seen again, even at the University of California at Irvine, where the Muslim Student Union organized a meeting entitled "A World Without Israel" - cut and dry. Also in May came a colorful radio confession by the editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi Abd al-Halim Qandil: "Those who signed the Camp David agreement ... can simply piss on it and drink their own urine, because the Egyptian people will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli entity."

Qandil's bald statement drove home a very sobering realization: in 2005, I still cannot name a single Muslim leader (or a journalist, or an intellectual) who has publicly acknowledged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute between two legitimate national movements.

The writer is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, an organization that promotes cross-cultural understanding named after his son, a Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

Click here for a full copy of the article

Israel to face terror war after pullout

From an article "Ya'alon: Israel to face terror war after pullout",
By Ari Shavit, Haaretz Correspondent

Moshe Ya'alon, leaving the post of army chief (earlier this month) after three years, warned in ...that unless Israel commits to further withdrawals after this summer's disengagement from Gaza, the pullout will be followed by an outbreak of renewed violence ...and ...that the establishment of a Palestinian state would lead to war at some stage.

...Ya'alon said that it was Israel's military efforts that brought the Palestinians to cease their campaign of terrorism, at least for the present.... Ya'alon told the ceremony."There is no doubt in my heart that the military achievements were what brought our enemy to the awareness, for the moment, that terrorism doesn't pay."

In (an) interview, published earlier ... Ya'alon said "If there is an Israeli commitment to another move, we will gain another period of quiet.""If not, there will be an eruption ... Terrorist attacks of all types: shooting, bombs, suicide bombers, mortars, Qassam rockets." Without an additional withdrawal, "there is a high probability of a second war of terror," which will begin in the West Bank.

Asked whether Ya'alon intended to say that, following the disengagement, Kfar Sava's situation will be like Sderot's today, he responded: "And Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, too. There will be suicide bombings wherever they can perpetrate them."

...Ya'alon said that recent statements by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas show that Abbas "has not given up the right of return. And this is not a symbolic right of return, but the right of return as a claim to be realized. To return to the houses, to return to the villages. The implication of this is that there will not be a Jewish state here." Therefore, he said, the establishment of a Palestinian state will lead to war "at some stage," and such a war could be dangerous for Israel. The idea that a Palestinian state can be established by 2008, and will then produce stability, is "divorced from reality" and "dangerous," as any such state "will be a state that will try to undermine Israel."

Asked about the current situation in the PA, Ya'alon responded: "For the Palestinians it is still convenient to maintain a gang-based reality rather than a state foundation."When [the PA] permits Hamas to take part in the elections without abandoning its firearms, is that democracy? It's gangs. Armed gangs playing at pretend democracy," he said. "If Fatah continues to behave as it does now, Hamas will eventually take over the Gaza Strip," he added.

...Asked for his views on the general concept of two states for two peoples, he said: "In the present reality, I see difficulty in producing a stable situation of end-of-conflict within that paradigm." A two-state solution, he continued, is simply "not relevant. It is a story that the Western world tells with Western eyes. And that story does not comprehend the scale of the gap and the scale of the problem. We, too, are sweeping it under the carpet."Asked whether he fears for Israel's existence, Ya'alon responded: "A combination of terrorism and demography, with question marks among us about the rightness of our way, are a recipe for a situation in which there will not be a Jewish state here in the end."

For a real Knesset debate

From an article by Isi Leibler, THE JERUSALEM POST, Jun. 16, 2005

Have we lost our minds? How else can one explain the curtain of silence which greeted the devastating press interviews by outgoing chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon?

Ya'alon predicted that:

* Current government policies might culminate in a new round of terror directed at the major population centers - including Tel Aviv - which could be inundated by suicide bombers and Kassam rockets.

* Even a retreat to the '67 armistice lines will not achieve a settlement. The current Palestinian leadership will only be satisfied when Tel Aviv is conceded and Jewish sovereignty is ended.

* Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat are birds of a feather, and Abu Mazen's determination to promote the Arab "right of return" is set in stone.

* About the two-state solution, Ya'alon says, "We have created a paradigm that generates an illusion." A Palestinian state under the existing leadership would intensify the existential threat to Israel.

* The realization seeping into Palestinian consciousness that terror was harming their cause will be totally undermined by Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. The "victorious" terrorists will be able to strengthen their argument that by continuing to kill our civilians they will ultimately overcome Israel's will to resist.

The devastating Ya'alon scenario conveys the fear that by renewing our former delusions about having peace partners we are inviting a replay of the Oslo debacle.

....CAN THE only country in the world facing an existential threat simply ignore such a warning from the retiring head of its defense establishment?

...After all, even Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan warned Israel that unless Palestinian demands are met, a third "intifada" is inevitable.

...I don't know if Ya'alon is right. But when a man with his qualifications feels impelled to share such fears with the people, at least a full debate and review is warranted.

...We stand once more at the crossroad, and need to make decisions that will have existential implications on our long-term future. Over 1,000 Israelis have already lost their lives. If the Knesset does not act now and conduct an informed debate on these issues, it would amount to a dereliction of responsibility, and history will condemn the leaders of Israel far more harshly than in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War disaster.

End the silence. Start an enlightened debate.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and is a former chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.

Friday, June 17, 2005

HAMAS - Talk is Cheap

From The New Republic Online: HOW NOT TO ENGAGE HAMAS , by Robert Satloff 06.16.05

...the Middle East policy buzz du jour is whether the Bush administration will jettison years of precedent and authorize diplomatic contact with Hamas....Running on an anti-corruption, clean-government platform, Hamas won nearly half of all municipal councils up for grabs in recent voting. ...

The rub, of course, is that more than just a party with which we disagree; it is a terrorist organization, responsible for the murders of hundreds of Israelis, Americans, and citizens of many other countries. Its hate-filled charter--which endorses just about every crazy conspiracy theory about Jews, Freemasons, Lions, and Rotarians ever conceived--specifically calls for Israel's destruction.

...So which is the correct approach to Hamas--engagement or isolation?

The answer lies in our historical experience with ... the Palestine Liberation Organization. The United States should subject Hamas to the same conditions it demanded of the PLO two decades is only worth engaging Hamas after it fulfills a set of commitments that would, by their very nature, transform the organization from a radical terrorist group into a legitimate political party.

...Local popularity--whether measured by polling data or the ballot box--should not by itself merit Washington's seal of approval. Two other tests are key: a terror test (does the group renounce armed struggle to achieve its aims and accept negotiations as the only means to a settlement?) and a values test (does the group recognize Israel's legitimate right to exist?). If Hamas wants a relationship with the United States, it should meet both tests; and if it doesn't, the United States would be wise not to deal with those Palestinian municipalities that have elected Hamas politicians. Instead, America could send funding for local projects to the Palestinian Authority ...or even scrap U.S. funding for a particular town's project altogether--and demonstrate to local citizens that voting the Hamas ticket is not cost-free.

What sad irony it would be if the United States failed to demand of Hamas today what was demanded of the PLO two decades ago. To expect such concessions before talking to Hamas is only common sense. It should be de rigeur and required.

Dr. Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Hilaly - dubious hero


From Herald Sun: Our dubious hero [17jun05] by Andrew Bolt....

EXCUSE me for interrupting our big-noting Mufti for a second to give the credit where it's truly due.

... it was the Iraqi army's 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, that freed Wood after an exchange of fire with the hostage takers.

...But be gentle in telling that to Sheik Taj El-Din El-Hilaly, ...who in an early appeal to Wood's captors, said: "We value your jihad and your efforts." Of course, the Mufti may have said that only to flatter the kidnappers...

...Officials say ...they genuinely appreciate his help. Some feel his appeals may have helped to keep Wood alive during his 47 days in captivity.

...Hilaly does have a record of preaching hate, from the time he said Jews "control the world" by "buggery, espionage, treason and economic hoarding", to his sermon calling the September 11 attacks "God's work against oppressors".

...When news of Wood's release finally broke on Thursday, Hilaly spokesman Keysar Trad rushed to the TV studios to give a self-serving and entirely fictitious account of what happened. He claimed Hilaly played a "key role" in this "negotiated release" with insurgents who merely wanted "a better deal for orphans" and women. So sweet.

..."He said to me that this had been a prearranged pickup, that the location had been communicated the Australian taskforce." Wood was then handed over, with no shooting, in Ramadi, 110km west of Baghdad.

In fact, Hilaly did not tip off the Australians, and Wood was found in Ghazaliya, a Baghdad suburb. According to General Naseer al-Abadi, the Iraqi army's deputy chief of staff, this was no "prearranged pickup", but a raid in which two men were arrested. He said his soldiers had to wrestle past Wood's kidnappers, who claimed they had no one inside but their sick father. One insurgent even fired into the room.

...CNN reports (that Wood) said he'd been in the same Baghdad house for 35 days.

So praise Hilaly for helping Wood, but also ask how much he can be trusted. For the sake of our many moderate Muslims, also ask our Australian Federation of Islamic Councils: Is this Mufti really the best you've got?

Join Andrew's interactive forum on

For an "amusing" report of Hilaly's 2004 visit to Lebanon in have a look at

6,600 millionaires in Israel (up 10%)

From Ynetnews - Merrill Lynch: 6,600 millionaires in Israel:

"Some 6,600 millionaires resided in Israel during 2004, marking a 10 percent rise from 2003, according to the 2004 World Wealth Report compiled by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch & Co. and consultancy firm Cap Gemini Group.

The report defined millionaires as 'high-net-worth individuals' or those with at least USD 1 million in financial or liquid assets.

Some 70 multimillionaires, or people with at least USD 30 million in financial or liquid assets, currently reside in Israel, up 15 percent from 2003, the report said.

Six Israelis made to the list of the world's 500 wealthiest people."

Pro-Israel students take back campuses

Massive anti-Israeli rallies have become routine on campusues, and animosity for Israel has moved into the academic field, but pro-Israel supporters in the US are fighting back. Will our students here in Australia do the same?

Exerpts from Ynetnews - Opinion - Pro-Israel students take back campuses:
By Eytan Schwartz

"... The number of anti-Israeli demonstrations and activities on American campuses was at its peak last semester since the start of the Palestinian uprising in 2000...

... The good news is that the general opinion towards Israel has improved slightly....(however) the pro-Palestinian organizations are continuing their battle and even intensifying it. Only now, the pro-Israeli groups are fighting back in a stronger way.

Since the start of the uprising, several college campuses have turned into scenes of anti-Israeli sentiment. While the majority of Americans sympathize with Israel, at some of universities, anti-Zionism and empathy for the Palestinians has become all the rage is has turned into a “cool” goal.

...Students have protested Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza by setting up mock walls and checkpoints at the entrances to colleges.

...Some universities have prevented students from studying in Israel

... Calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions are made frequently, and some professors slam Israel under the cover of “academic research” and “free speech”.

...many Jewish students spoke of intimidation by professors and anti-Israeli advertisements in academic material.

...Today, the students are responding. Five Columbia students decided they could not remain silent and gathered witness testimonies on video on what had gone on in classrooms. The tapes turned into a cult hit, the school was presented in an embarrassing light and the administration was forced to carry out structural changes to deflect the criticism.

Read these special pieces on the Columbia situation, written exclusively for Ynetnews by former Columbia student activist Noah Liben:
Whitewashed on the Hudson
Academic intimidation's chilling effect

Also, students today, more than ever, are signing petitions and putting political pressure on the administration. Others are initiating demonstrations, organizing celebrations on Israeli topics and creating pro-Israel websites.

Rumours grow of Annan's early exit from the UN

The Australian: Rumours grow of Annan's early exit:
James Bone in New York
June 17, 2005


"THE steady drip of revelations about the oil-for-food scandal threatens to force Kofi Annan from his job as UN Secretary-General before the end of his term.

Speculation is mounting ... that Mr Annan will announce his resignation at a summit of world leaders in September ...(following) the reopening this week of the inquiry into the scandal ..., part of which had focused on the award of a border inspection contract in Iraq to a company employing Mr Annan's son, Kojo Annan.

One senior UN official told The Times that Mr Annan could present his resignation as a means of sparing the UN further embarrassment. "

Thursday, June 16, 2005

European antisemitism reinvents itself

The Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council's current issue of The Review includes an essay entitled Old Wine, New Bottles, by Robert Wistrich, Neuberger Professor of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He eloquently reinforces the (rather obvious) point that "...antisemitism - has returned to haunt the European continent. Once considered the preserve of reactionary clerics, conservative nationalists, fascist bigots, and ultra-radical leftists, Judeophobia has undergone a radical mutation .... Since the start of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, reinforced by the impact of 9/11 and the war against Iraq, antisemitism has become a central feature of the violent Islamic jihadism that has spread from the Middle East to parts of the Muslim diaspora in Europe."

"The new antisemitism has also been enthusiastically embraced by broad sectors of the anti-globalisation movement, which, like the Islamists, fervently believe in the existence of an American-Zionist conspiracy to dominate the world. This new 'red-green alliance' reviles Israel and 'Jewish-controlled' America, even as it opposes the exercise of Western military power abroad and the export of its democratic ideals to non-Western countries. ..."

This is a "must-read"........

Click here for the AIJAC essay, exerpted from an American Jewish Committee report by the same author.

The full 35-page report can be downloaded at the following AJC download link.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


On Monday 13th June's program ENOUGH ROPE, Andrew Denton interviewed Saud Amiry, author of "Sharon and My Mother-in-Law". Despite her ostensibly jovial, good-natured manner, Ms Amiry proceeded to take age-old and worn anti-Semitic positions as axiomatic, including blaming the establishment of Israel for her woes, wishing Ariel Sharon dead, and sympathising with terrorism.

The show has generated a flurry of comments on the ABC Website.

Some exerpts from the transcript of the show follow.....

(Taking her mother-in-law from Ramallah during the seige) "Then I said, 'Mother, come on, let's hurry up, you know. I'll take you home to my house....She was looking for her money and jewelry. ... 'I promise to come back and take the money and jewelry.' And she looks up at me like this and she says, 'You know what, Suad, that's what we said in 1948 when we left Jaffa.' And when she said that, you know, I had tears, I just couldn't take it. "

".....One time, you know, the refugee camp over Jenine, I'm sure all of you heard about it, the Israeli really attacked that camp and they were around 200 people killed, Palestinian killed, in that camp....."

.....ANDREW DENTON: How different would the Middle East be would if Yasser Arafat's pet had met Ariel Sharon's pet? It could be a completely different place, couldn't it?
SUAD AMIRY: Well we've done our share, it's time for the Israelis to have Sharon die.
......ANDREW DENTON: I see, you've got rid of Arafat, now it's Sharon's turn?
SUAD AMIRY: It's time for the Israelis. The ball is in their game.

ANDREW DENTON: You mentioned all the checkpoints and the Israeli soldiers. Do you just view them all as uniforms that are causing you grief, or do you start to view these soldiers as people after a while?
SUAD AMIRY: You know, when I was younger I used to ...get very scared and very resentful and very angry. the last three years ...I started looking at them as young people who have been brainwashed.

...ANDREW DENTON: And many Israelis, they live in fear of suicide bombers. There are still militant elements within the Middle East that say Israel should be wiped from the map. Do you understand your (Israeli) friends' position?
SUAD AMIRY: I understand some of their positions, not all, because I think there is also a lot of abuse of that position and there is a lot of misuse of that position.

I am totally against suicide bombs .... but if you had a son or a daughter who is, you know, about to commit suicide, you will seriously consider what has put them into such a situation. ...What have we done to people to put them to an edge of killing themselves and taking the lives of others?...