Friday, August 26, 2005

Sharon again has right strategy

From August 25, 2005 / 20 Av, 5765 By Victor Davis Hanson ... (thanks to Doron for alerting us to this thought-provoking analysis) ...

...Sharon was always a strategic thinker, and we are seeing his accustomed foresight working in the controversial exodus from Gaza.

The Israeli military is crafting defensible borders, no longer made any sense to periodically send in thousands of soldiers in Gaza to protect less than 10,000 Israeli civilians abroad, when a demographic time bomb of too few Jews was ticking inside Israel proper.

But Gaza itself is only a tessera in a far larger strategic mosaic. The Israelis also press on with the border fence that will in large part end suicide bombings. The barrier will grant the Palestinians what they clamor for, but perhaps also fear — their own isolated state that they must now govern or let the world watch devolve into something like the Afghanistan of the Taliban.

...Palestine as a sovereign state rather than a perpetually "occupied " territory also inherits the responsibility of all mature nations to police its own. So when Hamas and co. press on with their killing — most likely through rocket attacks over the fence — they do so as representatives of a new Palestinian nation. In response, Israel can strike back at an aggressor without worry about the blowback on isolated vulnerable Israeli settlements.

Sharon's withdrawal policy from Gaza is thus a critical first step of turning the struggle from an asymmetrical war of terror back into a conventional standoff between delineated sovereign states. And that can only help a militarily superior Israel.

...The pullout from Gaza is bringing long-needed moral clarity to a fuzzy crisis. Heretofore the Palestinians have counted on foreign support through fear of terrorism, influence with oil producers, unspoken anti-Semitism and carefully crafted victim status accorded savvy anti-Western zealots. But now they are increasingly on their own, and what transpires may soon end their romance of the perpetually oppressed.

So Ariel Sharon leaves, with a "Hasta la vista, Gaza — and be careful what you wish for."

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Manhunt for Jerusalem Stabber

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World Aug. 24, 2005 20:50 Updated Aug. 26, 2005 0:15 By ETGAR LEFKOVITS ...

A massive police manhunt was underway Thursday for an Arab man who stabbed 21-year-old British yeshiva student Shmuel Mett to death and seriously wounded a classmate with a large kitchen knife in a terror attack in Jerusalem's Old City.

...The Wednesday night attack came just a day after Israel completed its pullout from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. The assailant fled the scene, after hurling the 30 cm long knife on the ground.

The joint police-Shin Bet manhunt for the suspected Arab terrorist gathered steam Thursday after it was determined that the attack was caught on police surveillance cameras positioned in the Old City, with the assailant believed to be hiding somewhere in Jerusalem, security officials said.

The two victims of the stabbing attack, who studied at the city's Mir Yeshiva, were rushed by Magen David Adom paramedics to Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Karem and Jerusalem's Sha'are Tzedek Hospital. Mett died on the operating table in the intensive care unit of Hadassah Hospital just over an hour later, having never regained consciousness.

Mett came to Jerusalem from Britain to study about a year and a half ago. Rabbi Binyamin Carlebach, head of the Mir Yeshiva, related that he would get up every morning at 4:00 to study. He was engaged several months ago and was planning to marry in three months.
Mett is also survived by two brothers and a sister, residing in Israel.

...At the site of the attack, a small memorial was set up. Nearby, vandals scrawled anti-Arab graffiti and calls for revenge. The Jerusalem stabbing was the second in the capital in just over a month. Last month, a 30-year-old Israeli who was sitting with his girlfriend at a popular Jerusalem promenade was stabbed in the foot by an Arab assailant who remains at large.

IDF to disinter 48 Gaza graves Sunday

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World Aug. 25, 2005 12:20 Updated Aug. 25, 2005 21:48 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN ...

The IDF will begin the solemn task of disinterring 48 graves, including those of three fallen soldiers, from the Gush Katif cemetery this Sunday, OC Manpower Maj.-Gen. Elezar Stern said Thursday.

....The process is being coordinated with the bereaved families through the Adjunct General Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbibay. An IDF team was assigned to each family throughout the process. The families who have left the Gush and are in a new place will want to end this phase as quickly as possible and start the next phase of their lives, but also don't want to be distant or feel they have abandoned their loved ones," Stern said.

IDF Chaplain General Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss said he had full halachic backing from the country's leading rabbis for the nearly unprecedented task. He even read out a ruling by former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who cited that as chief rabbi during the 1982 Yamit withdrawal he endorsed the disinterment of Jewish graves "because the goyim may dig up the bodies and desecrate them."

...Weiss vowed that the territory would not be handed over until at least all the bodies have been removed. Weiss, himself a bereaved father, said he promised one mother to personally remove the remains of her soldier son from the Gush Katif cemetery.

According to Weiss, halacha calls for the immediate relatives; father, mother, sister, brother, spouse and children to observe mourning from the moment the body is disinterred until dusk. They are also required to observe "kriya", the renting of their clothing, but without reciting the prayer.

...Weiss also said that the full picture would only be determined on Sunday when they open the graves. Not only are the bodies to be disinterred, but the earth around them according to Jewish law and the tombstones too. The tombstones would likely be shattered during the opening of the graves. They will be collected and reburied in a mass tombstone grave, Weiss said

Abbas accuses Israel of wrecking peace.

From ABC News Online Thursday, August 25, 2005. 8:23pm (AEST) . . .

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of wrecking the prospects of peace after soldiers killed five militants and officials unveiled plans to expand the largest West Bank settlement.

The shootings, Israel's first deadly operation since the historic pullout of settlers from Gaza, came as a British Jew was stabbed to death by a lone Arab in the first fatal Palestinian attack in Jerusalem's Old City in three years.

. . .The five gunmen, one from Islamic Jihad and the rest members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that is loosely affiliated to Mr Abbas's Fatah party, were shot dead when an overnight arrest operation disintegrated into a fierce shoot-out.
Israel said all five belonged to Islamic Jihad and were wanted in connection with a suicide bombing last month that killed four Israelis, claimed by the Islamist faction.

. . .Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had warned on the eve of the Gaza pullout that Israel would respond more harshly than ever against militant violence unless the Palestinian Authority clamped down on armed groups in the future.

In Jerusalem, a young Jewish seminary student from London was killed and his American classmate injured when a Palestinian stabbed them with a kitchen knife in the Old City near Jaffa Gate. The attacker managed to escape.

. . .An Israeli official on Thursday announced plans to build a new police headquarters close to Israel's largest West Bank settlement, after kicking up a storm by appropriating Palestinian land for its huge separation barrier. "The construction project for a police HQ and an access road has obtained all the necessary authorisations and will begin shortly," said a military spokesman responsible for civil affairs in the West Bank. The building will be erected on public land between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim settlement.

. . .Mr Sharon has said that after the Gaza pullout Israel will expand and develop its largest settlement blocs in the West Bank, which the Palestinians want to make the bulk of their future state. A project announced last March aims to build 3,500 new houses in Maale Adumim, which will effectively cut off Palestinian areas of the West Bank from occupied east Jerusalem.
The project has been condemned by the international community.


Rocket fired into southern Israel.

From ABC News Online Thursday, August 25, 2005. 11:38pm (AEST) . . .

Palestinian militants fired a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel on Thursday after Israeli troops killed five Palestinians in a West Bank raid.
The rocket landed near the Israeli town of Sderot, an Israeli military source said.
There were no reports of casualties or damage. A second rocket fell short inside Gaza, the source said.
It was the first rocket fire since Israel finished evacuating all Jewish settlements in the occupied Gaza Strip and four of 120 in the West Bank.
In Gaza, the Popular Resistance Committees, a militant faction, said it targeted Sderot 'in retaliation for the Tulkarm massacre,' naming the West Bank town raided by Israeli forces overnight.
The Israeli army said the five Palestinians were shot after they resisted an attempt by soldiers to arrest them as suspects in two suicide bombings in Israel earlier this year.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Muslims attack UK deportation plans

From ABC News Online Thursday, August 25, 2005. 0:03am (AEST) ...

...Muslim groups and human rights organisations have criticised a new plan by the British government to crack down on Islamist extremists in the wake of the London terrorist attacks.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced a string of 'unacceptable behaviours' and said he would use his powers to deport and exclude foreigners engaging in any of the activities listed.

...A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the country's largest Muslim umbrella group, said it feared Mr Clarke's list lacked clarity. ...'These rules... have the very real potential of harming those engaged in legitimate struggles against oppression and human rights abuses,' ...
'We are especially concerned that senior Islamic scholars will be barred from the UK purely on the basis of media witch-hunts orchestrated by pro-Israeli elements,' he said.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone had similar fears. "I remain concerned that some of these definitions are sufficiently vague that they could have led to Nelson Mandela, (late Palestinian leader) Yasser Arafat or anyone supporting them being banned," he said in a statement. (so what's wrong with that?? - sandgroper)

....The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission said it was "alarmed" by the list and warned the grounds for deportation were tantamount to "criminalisation of thought, conscience and belief"..... (in other words 'we demand the freedom to think about and believe in terrorism' - sandgroper)

Iran defies Atomic Agency - EU suspends talks

From Teheran Times, August 25, 2005 ....

PARIS (Reuters) -- European powers are still keen to talk to Iran about its nuclear program despite calling off an Aug 31. negotiating meeting, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Wednesday.

Britain, France and Germany have called off next week's negotiations on proposals they made to Iran earlier this month because Tehran has resumed some nuclear work in breach of a promise to freeze it while talks lasted, France said on Tuesday.

...The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, has called on Iran to halt nuclear program and its head Mohamed El Baradei is to report on Iran's activities on Sept. 3.

...Under the Paris Agreement, agreed in November 2004, Iran voluntarily suspended all work related to atomic fuel production while negotiating a deal with the EU.

Despite calling off the Aug. 31 talks, the European powers remained in contact with Iran, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said on Tuesday. "That does not mean there will be no contact with the Iranians," he said. "We have contact with the Iranians. The three European countries have embassies there."

Iranian officials have said they will never suspend work at the Isfahan plant again and Tehran now wants to discuss resuming part of the nuclear fuel cycle – uranium enrichment -- at its facility in Natanz....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

AIJAC Disappointed by NSWJBD's Cavalier Attitude

From a 19 August 2005 MEDIA RELEASE by the Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) ...

MELBOURNE - AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler and Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein declared their profound disappointment at the cavalier attitude exhibited by NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President David Knoll towards a pro-terrorist Islamic radical movement with a history of promoting anti-Jewish violence.

In a radio interview on 17 August 2005, Knoll applauded the Australian government's inability under current legislation to proscribe "yet another Islamic group as a terrorist organization." But the "Islamic group" in question is Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an unabashedly jihadist organization that preaches murder against Jews. Hizb-ut-Tahrir was recently outlawed by the British government.

In 2002, Hizb-ut-Tahrir's British website quoted an Islamic hadith that commands Muslims "kill them [Jews] wherever you find them." The website went on to justify its genocidal stance with a further statement from the hadith that contends: "the Jews are people of slander, a treacherous people." And this vile antisemitism was endorsed just last month by Hizb-ut-Tahrir's Australian spokesman, Wasim Doureihi. Speaking on ABC Radio National's 'PM' program, Doureihi called for the Muslim reconquest of Spain and "most definitely agreed" with his movement's anti-Jewish sentiments. Members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir have also called for attacks against Coalition troops in Iraq, a policy that includes support for assaults against Australian soldiers.

AIJAC finds David Knoll's blase attitude towards an explicitly jihadist organization to be perplexing and disappointing.

The 60th anniversary event of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies featured former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser as keynote speaker. In his speech, Fraser harshly criticised the Howard government, claiming that the ASIO bill was "the sort of law you would find in tyrannical countries." Knoll was quoted by the ABC as expressing his support for Mr. Fraser's interpretation of the Commonwealth's anti-terrorism legislation.

But Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock responded by saying that both Fraser and Knoll suffer from a "serious misunderstanding" of the ASIO bill. On the floor of Parliament, Mr. Ruddock stated: "Hizb-ut-Tahrir espouses a very extreme and radical agenda. I can confirm that my department is reviewing the proscription provisions contained in the Criminal Code and is looking for possible ways to strengthen those provisions."

...AIJAC applauds the government for its recognition of the serious threat posed by Islamic radical pro-terrorist groups. Leibler and Rubenstein communicated AIJAC's support for the government's counter-terrorism policy directly to the Attorney General....

Christian support is ignored

From Jerusalem Post Aug. 23, 2005 23:00 Updated Aug. 24, 2005 2:53 By YECHIEL ECKSTEIN ...

Most American Jews are...completely unaware ...of the fact that evangelical Christians feel such a strong tie with Israel and the Jewish people and are expressing that support – without conditions, much like Jews do – through financial donations, tours, political advocacy, hasbara and much more.

...Christians have,...contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support social service programs in Israel, Turkey, Ethiopia and throughout the former Soviet Union. But not only are most Jews ignorant of these matters because of the negative way in which evangelicals are generally portrayed when mention is made of them, their solidarity is ascribed to all sorts of cynical and nefarious ulterior motives. It's as if their support is too good to be true.

...Why is it that even involved Jews are barely aware of this growing phenomenon? Well, other than The Jerusalem Post , which has both covered and encouraged the budding Evangelical-Jewish relations, the Jewish media has mostly ignored it or, worse, been highly critical of it.
ONE PARTICULAR ...Jewish newspaper in the US – last month ran four articles, most front-page stories, on the mainline Protestant divestment issue, but barely a word on evangelicals, not even the fact that they are among the strongest opponents of these mainline Protestant anti-Israel measures....

...Divestment is, indeed, one of many critical issues that legitimately need to be covered. But I cannot fathom why the Jewish press expends so much energy covering faith groups so clearly contemptuous of Israel while giving another group, larger in both membership and influence and desirous of supporting Israel in any way it can, so little, if any, mention.

The writer is founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews/Stand for Israel.

Chief of Staff, Halutz: Evacuation nearly complete

From Jerusalem Post Aug. 23, 2005 19:02 Updated Aug. 24, 2005 2:29 By MATTHEW GUTMAN AND YAAKOV KATZ ...

Security forces on Tuesday evacuated the last residents and activists from the northern Samaria settlements of Homesh and Sa-Nur, completing the most harrowing stage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan under which 25 settlements have been evacuated in barely a week.

While the "evacuation is over it is not yet complete," Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said Tuesday night. Israel must still raze the settlements before it cedes them to Palestinian control in October and re-house the 9500 residents evicted from their homes.

The largest Israeli military and police operation in a generation was concluded without a shot fired or a single serious injury. In total, over 15,000 Jews were evacuated from the settlements, Halutz said at a press conference in the northern West Bank Tuesday evening.

Halutz told reporters it would take another 10 days to remove belongings still in the homes and transfer them elsewhere. Another 10-day period would be required after that to allow for the demolishing of homes; many public buildings are to be left intact and handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

On Monday night OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said that the area where the four evacuated West Bank settlements are located will remain under Israeli security control (Area C), unlike Gaza.

....While Israel's political echelon remained silent on the success of the controversial plan, Benzi Lieberman, Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, said the pullout would only strengthen West Bank settlement. "When a crisis hits, people respond and this expulsion has raised people's consciousness about the necessity to settle Judea and Samaria," he said in a telephone interview.

Over the past week Lieberman shuttled back and forth among groups of more extreme activists, urging them to toe the settlement leadership's line of non-violent struggle. "Any violence could have crushed us [the settlement endeavor] irrevocably," he said.

...The secret to the security force's success in evacuating the settlements with no casualties, ...was the continuous dialogue the IDF and police officers kept up with settler leaders throughout the week.

Margot Dudkevitch contributed to this report.

Israel, Egypt reach Philadelphi deal

From Jerusalem Post, Aug. 23, 2005 23:32 Updated Aug. 24, 2005 3:21 by JPOST STAFF AND AP ...

Israel and Egypt have sorted out the last details of an agreement regarding Egyptian supervision of the border with Gaza, one of the key elements that had to be resolved for Israel to complete its pullout from the Gaza Strip.

Citing unidentified defense sources, Israel Radio said ...750 Egyptian border police would be equipped with armored personnel carriers, light arms, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Egypt will also deploy naval patrol boats off the Gaza coast.

... Egypt pledged it would not provide weapons to the Palestinian Authority after Israel leaves the frontier.

...The agreement must still be approved by the cabinet and the Knesset before it can be signed by senior military officers...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Abbas: PA to control evacuated areas

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 20, 2005 14:37 Updated Aug. 21, 2005 1:40 By KHALED ABU TOAMEH ...

...Abbas announced that he had signed a decree that would give the PA control over all lands and assets that are evacuated by Israel in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank...."These lands will be government-owned and individuals and political factions will be prohibited from using them," he explained.

...He added that the Palestinians were seeking a final settlement with Israel on the basis of dismantling all settlements in the West Bank and the implementation of United Nations Resolution 194 regarding the Palestinian refugees' rights.

...On Friday, Abbas made his first visit to the international airport in the southern Gaza Strip, where he declared that the disengagement was the fruit of the sacrifices of Palestinian "martyrs." "We must remember that our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrs," he told thousands of supporters who gathered to greet him. "The martyrs have paved the road for us. "The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupation leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements. "This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem."

....But in a new challenge to Abbas, dozens of Hamas gunmen held a press conference in one of the main squares of Gaza City on Saturday, where they announced that they would continue to launch terror attacks on Israel even after the disengagement. PA policemen who arrived at the scene did not intervene. "This retreat does not mean the end of our battle, but it is the beginning," said one of the Hamas gunmen, who identified himself as Abu Obaidah. "Our battle with the enemy is long and will continue." He said Hamas would not surrender its weapons until all Palestinian lands were liberated. "We will keep all our weapons and we will even develop them," he said. "The weapons of the resistance are pure and clean and we won't remain idle in the face of continued occupation and the desecration of our holy sites."

Musa Abu Marzouk, the No 2 man in Hamas, also announced that his movement would continue the fight against Israel after the disengagement. In an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abu Marzouk said: "This withdrawal does not mean the end of occupation. There is still the West Bank and Jerusalem. Gaza is only a small part of occupied Palestine. As long as the occupation continues, we won't lay down our weapons."