Saturday, December 17, 2005
Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank opened fire in the southern Hebron Hills early Friday afternoon, killing an Israeli man and lightly wounding two other women.The victim of the attack has been named as Yossi Shok, 35, from the West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai.Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a Fatah-linked militant group, claimed joint responsibility for the attack.
. . .the gunmen shot at Shok's vehicle near Beit Hagai, not far from the regional IDF headquarters.
'The murderer is sitting in Sharon's bureau'
Beit Hagai spokesman Yair Lior said he saw an IDF bulldozer removing a military checkpoint from the location of the attack, which took place just hours later. "The murderer is sitting in Sharon's bureau," Lior said in response to the shooting. "Whomever votes for Kadima is voting for a gang of murderers who have no respect for the spilling of the blood of Israel. They are doing to us what Joseph's brothers did to him - 'Go away, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let not our hands be on him'... Sharon, Mofaz and the chief of staff are responsible for this murder. The blood is on their hands. I and others warned the military echelon, painting a precise scenario of such an event. We will not be broken by the Arabs. The problem is the Israeli government. A government in which criminals and murderers sit, and I invite anyone who wants to bring me to trial for this statement to do so," he added.
Security forces closed off the southern Hebron Hills area after the attack and were searching for the gunmen, Israel Radio reported. It said a militant cell specializing in shooting attacks is known to operate in the area where the shooting took place. . . .The attack was carried out not far from an IDF regional brigade headquarters, indicating that the perpetrators of the attack meticulously planned it.
Two months ago three Israelis were killed and three others were wounded in the area after Palestinians fired at a hitchhikers station.
Nine months ago four soldiers were wounded in the area by shots fired at them from a passing car.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke on Thursday said that the fight against terrorism will not succeed unless the United States leads efforts to create a viable Palestinian state.
'Nothing effective can be done while the festering sore of the Palestinian problem continues,' Mr Hawke told delegates at a global peace forum in Malaysia.
....Mr Hawke said the lack of jobs and dismal living standards for Palestinians 'is a breeding ground for despair and worse'. ...The United States, along with other countries in Europe and the Middle East and the World Bank should help provide the capital, technical and educational expertise and equipment to create a viable Palestinian state, he said.
He was speaking to some 2,000 delegates attending the three-day forum, organised by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad.... Other speakers include ...Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
There is a right way and a wrong way, strangely, to call for the elimination of Israel.
Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, provided an example of each in recent weeks. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, stated on October 2 6 that "the regime occupying Jerusalem must be eliminated from the pages of history," Annan replied by expressing "dismay." Again on December 7, when Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be moved to Europe, Annan responded with "shock."
But dismay and shock at Ahmadinejad's statements did not prevent Annan from participating on November 29, just between the Iranian outbursts, in a UN-sponsored "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." Anne Bayefsky of "Eye on the UN" (www.eyeontheun.org) reports that Annan sat on the dais adjacent to an Arabic-language map of "Palestine" showing a Palestine replacing Israel. It cartographically achieved exactly what Ahmadinejad called for: The elimination of the Jewish state.
Annan's contradictory actions result from the fact that, since 1993, explicit calls for the destruction of Israel have become offensive but implicit ones have become more acceptable. The latter include:
- Demands for a Palestinian "right of return" (demographically overrunnin g the Jewish state with anyone claiming to be a Palestinian)
- declaring a "jihad to liberate Jerusalem"
- commemorating the creation of Israel as Al-Nakba ("the disaster")
- proposing a "one-state solution" (i.e., no more Israel)
- tributes to "all those of who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people" (including suicide bombers)
- maps that do not show Israel
Fatah and Hamas together display this dichotomy. Both aspire to eliminate Israel, but they choose different paths to get there. Fatah's tactics have been opportunistic, duplicitous and inconsistent since 1988, when Yasser Arafat nominally condemned terrorism and began the "peace process" with Israel - even as he simultaneously sponsored suicide terrorism and promoted an ideology totally rejecting Israeli legitimacy. This transparent deception enabled Fatah to gain great benefits from Israel, including a self-governing authority, a quasi-military force, vast Western subventions, and near-control of one border.
Hamas, in contrast, consistently rejected Israel's existence, winning it ever-larger segments of Palestinian public opinion (the latest poll shows it ahead of Fatah in the forthcoming elections, 45 percent to 35%).
BUT THIS overt rejectionism also made it anathema to Israel and others, limiting its effectiveness. As a result, Hamas in recent months has started showing more flexibility; for example, it has generally honored a cease-fire with Israel and is moving in the direction of entering the diplomatic process. This brings advantages; the "Conflicts Forum" and others are, with some success, presenting Hamas as a newly legitimate interlocutor.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) might find itself the only purely rejectionist organization against Israel.
Why do such distinctions in style matter? Because the Fatah approach seduces Israelis enough to work with them; Arafat-like euphemisms, inconsistencies, subterfuges and lies encourage them to make "painful concessions."
Contrarily, the Ahmadinejad-PIJ approach crudely confronts Israel with overt and brutal threats that cannot be rationalized away. Blatant calls for Israel's destruction make Israelis bristle, acquire new armaments and close down diplomatically.
These ploys might strain credulity - surely the Israelis realize that more subtle tactics are no less lethal than overt threats with the same aim? Actually, they do not.
Since 1993, Israelis have shown themselves, in the words of the philosopher Yoram Hazony, "an exhausted people, confused and without direction," willing and even eager to be duped by their attackers. All they need are some overtures, however unconvincing, that they will be freed from war, and they barely can restrain themselves from making concessions to mortal enemies.
Thus does enlightened world opinion condemn Ahmadinejad, sensing he went too far and will cause Israelis to retreat. If he would only tone down his comments and politely call for Israel's elimination by, for example, endorsing a one-state solution, all would be well.
Thus have Israelis effectively defined which anti-Zionism is acceptable and which is not. Kofi Annan's record of both condemning and endorsing Israel's elimination merely reflects the etiquette of destruction established by Israelis themselves.
PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) submits letter of resignation to Chairman Abbas Thursday; sources say Qureia decided to quit after being placed only fourth on Fatah’s list ahead of elections
...Abbas accepted the resignation and appointed Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Sha’ath as interim prime minister.
.... Should the resignation hold, it may pave the way for the return of several prominent Fatah members who recently joined Marwan Barghouti’s alternative list of candidates ahead of the elections.
Barghouti, the West Bank Tanzim leader currently jailed in Israel (serving five life terms for his direct involvement in deadly terror attacks - SL) , heads Fatah’s official candidate list for parliament, alongside senior figures such as former PA Minister for Civilian Affairs Mohammad Dahlan and National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub.
...The Fatah list was submitted by Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa and other senior Fatah members. Barghouti's name is followed by only two veteran members: Prime Minister Qureia, who is in the fourth spot, and Intisar al-Wazir, member of the Fatah's central committee. The rest of the candidates are mainly activists and senior members of the young generation.
...Prisoner Affairs Minister Sufian Abu Zaydeh, a member of Barghouti's new party, told Ynet that "our list is the one which expresses the desire of the majority of Fatah members. It comes to say that it is time for the young members to fulfill their duties inside the movement and on its institutions." ....
(I wonder what "duties" he has in mind - SL)
. . .To run for the leadership of one party and then switch to another because you lost, as Peres did - or because you are clearly going to lose, as Mofaz did - is genuinely contemptible. If you do not support a party's goals and ideals, you should not be in it to begin with, much less running for its chairmanship. And if you do, you should not switch to another party just because the voters declined to give you the No. 1 slot.
Nevertheless, Peres at least never actively undermined Labor while still a member. During the leadership campaign, he touted the party's virtues, and after he lost, he kept silent until he joined Kadima.
Mofaz and Hanegbi, in contrast, both exploited their senior positions in Likud - Mofaz as a candidate for its leadership and Hanegbi as its acting chairman - to actively undermine the party in the weeks before they jumped ship to Kadima. ...Likud has been plummeting in the polls for two main reasons, and both are largely the work of Mofaz and Hanegbi.
One reason is that Likud is the only major party that has not yet even started campaigning, because it still has not chosen its prime ministerial candidate. Without a leader, the party lacks a rallying point and a unified message. Moreover, the lengthy primary campaign has meant that rather than directing their fire at Labor and Kadima, leading Likud members have been launching vitriolic attacks on each other...
YET THIS entire situation is due largely to Mofaz and Hanegbi. When Ariel Sharon first left Likud to found Kadima, the three original leadership candidates - Binyamin Netanyahu, Uzi Landau and Moshe Feiglin - all urged that the primary be held as soon as possible so that the party could focus on the real campaign. But three other candidates who joined the race only after Sharon's departure - Mofaz, Silvan Shalom and Yisrael Katz - demanded a much later date, charging that otherwise, they would not have time to campaign. And Hanegbi, the acting chairman, used his authority to force a compromise. As a result, the leadership primary will be held only on December 19, and Likud will have spent the crucial first month of the campaign season leaderless and rudderless.
Mofaz was also largely responsible for the primary's vitriolic character. Netanyahu, to his credit, largely refrained from attacking his rivals, focusing instead on his own achievements. But Mofaz, along with Shalom, attacked the other candidates incessantly ...
The second problem dogging Likud has been its stigmatization as a party of right-wing extremists. ... Mofaz and Hanegbi both leveled this charge relentlessly. Mofaz, in fact, made this the centerpiece of his primary campaign: His consistent message was that Likud had become a party of extremists, and only by making him chairman could it recapture the center.
But Hanegbi ... termed ... MKs who opposed the disengagement - "extremists" who "destroyed" the party by "expelling" Sharon. In other words, not only is it "extremist" to honor the wishes of party members - who voted 60-40 against disengagement in a referendum - but the entire party is worthless without Sharon!
The truth is that Likud is far from extremist.... Granted, the party's membership opposed the disengagement, as did leadership candidates Landau and, to some extent, Netanyahu. But according to repeated polls, so did 35 to 40 percent of the Jewish public .... A position adopted by close to 40% of the Jewish public is hardly marginal or extremist.
Moreover, even among the "rebels," a primary objection to the plan was Sharon's refusal to obtain a genuine public mandate for it, via either a referendum or new elections, after having won office by campaigning explicitly against unilateral withdrawal. ...Even among the plan's supporters, roughly half consistently expressed unease over Sharon's undemocratic behavior and would have preferred a clear public mandate.
...the fact that (Mofaz and Hanegbi) chose to serve Kadima from senior positions in Likud should put them beyond the pale.
Candidates running under the banner of Hamas terrorists won municipal elections in Jenin Thursday, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine won in Ramallah. Earlier reports showed Hamas winning in Shechem and El-Bireh, near Ramallah. The latest results represent a serious defeat for the Fatah party, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas won landslide victories in Shechem, receiving 75 percent of the votes, and inEl Bireh with 72 percent of the ballots.The results signaled increased popularity for Hamas, which is fielding candidates in the January 25 PA legislative elections.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Amongst the terrible hostage news in Iraq it has almost been forgotten in the UK that this is the week of Iraq’s most important elections for decades.
... well these are certainly the most dangerous elections in the world. Scores of people have already been killed who were involved in some way in the elections. The former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has already had 11 of his parties candidates killed. At the other end of the spectrum young Christian men have been shot dead as they placed posters in place for the Assyrian Democratic Party.
Yet however much one tries to keep religion out of politics it still features prominently. The Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had said he was going to keep out of the election after supporting the Iraqi Alliance last time. However he has told people to vote for religious candidates and he has allowed his face to appear on various candidates posters.
Despite the dangers involved Iraq is not short of parties or candidates. Two hundred and twenty six parties are standing with over 7000 candidates. Quite a list to choose from. Also electioneering has been intense. With it being too dangerous to take to the streets the price for advertising on TV has climbed to $3000 per minute. Un-requested text messages have been sent to the new Iraqi mobile phones. Many of Iraq’s 200+ newspapers have pushed their parties hard, half of them are owned by political parties. Amidst this great activity the shooting and killing has continued. Indeed in the past few weeks the violence and insurgency has increased.
Yet people will be turning out to vote in their masses, despite being a new phenomenon in Iraq democracy is taken seriously. What the West needs to realise though is that democracy here in the Middle East is a very different phenomena than in the USA or UK. We do not know yet if it will even work. The down side is that you can not predict who is going to win. Or even who will be Prime Minister.
It may well be people the West does not like. We just have to look at what recently happened after elections in Iran, the possible results in Gaza next month are equally worrying. When you look at the most stable countries in the region one is immediately drawn to Jordan and Morocco. Both in reality are not democracies but the benevolent dictatorship of their kingdoms. So we do not know what the results will be and it is likely to take several weeks before we precisely know who will lead the nation.
In a poll released in Iraq this week people stated that having a strong leader was the most important thing that the nation needed. They saw this requirement as being more important than even democracy. As Thomas L Friedman of the New York Times said jut after the war “Saddam ruled this nation with an Iron fist, we are trying to rule it with and Iron finger, and this isn’t Norway you know”. Iraq certainly needs strong leadership but it also needs benevolent leadership. For too long Iraqis have suffered the abuse of their leader, they now need to see strength and kindness and the two can go together
The election is overseen by the independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI). They themselves only just know what they are doing. It was only a month ago they came to us at the Iraqi Institute of Peace and asked if we would run all the elections in Al Anbar (The Sunna Triangle) it involved taking on 6500 staff in just 10 days. Not quite the way you would expect elections to be organized, but here in Iraq nothing works like one would expect.
The advantage of the new Government will be that it will have time to begin to bring about real change. Since the war, Iraq has had three Governments in fewer than three years. Now at least it will have four years to try and begin to work things out. At its outset though it will be plagued by difficulties as it tries to come to terms with what is certain to be great diversity. The difficulty is that many of those elected will not just be political opponents, they will hate each other. What’s more they will not even all be nice people. There are certain to be elected some very dangerous individuals.
Democracy in Iraq is not the solution to all it problems. We now realise it will take years to work out. This may though just be the beginning of change, but even that will take time.
Canon Andrew White
CEO of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East
Anglican Priest in Iraq
International Director of the Iraqi Institute of Peace
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I'm still waiting for the international outrage.
I'm still waiting for my colleagues in the news media to jump on the story.
I'm still waiting for Americans to recognize the way the story illustrates the root cause of conflict in the Middle East.
I refer to last week's story of how WND's Jerusalem bureau chief, Aaron Klein, was denied entry to Syria because he is a Jew.
...Why is this story so significant?
Because it so perfectly illustrates why we continue to have conflict in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis.
This is not a conflict between two sides with legitimate grievances and competing interests. It is a conflict, at its core, between a nation that asks only to live in peace with its neighbors and a racist, hate-filled group of nations and peoples who seek only the destruction, the annihilation, the extermination of all Jews from the Middle East....
...Yes, it may seem like a small development that an American Jewish journalist was denied entry to Syria, while his non-Jewish colleagues and traveling partners were permitted. It is not. It is a huge news story. It puts to the lie the notion that Syria is anything but a terrorist rogue state hell-bent on destroying the only Jewish state in the world.
As ABC Radio talk-host John Batchelor, one of Klein's traveling partners put it: "It's like 1938 all over again." Batchelor did the right thing in response. He refused to enter Syria without his Jewish colleague. He said it was important to show the people of the Middle East we don't countenance bigotry and racism and hatred.
...Today, I'm not sure who inspires more revulsion in my soul – the fascists in Syria, or my media colleagues who pretend this incident never happened.
Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. His latest book is "Taking America Back." He also edits the weekly online intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, in which he utilizes his sources developed over 30 years in the news business.
Monday, December 12, 2005
In the aftermath of World War II, when it became apparent that millions of destitute refugees were not going to be attended to by existing organizations, the United Nations saw fit to establish an agency–the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)–to coordinate assistance to them....
.... the UNHCR takes as its ultimate goal the attainment of long-term or “durable” solutions to refugee crises, such as voluntary repatriation or resettlement in countries of asylum or “third” countries. To date, the UNHCR has helped over 25 million people successfully restart their lives.
There is one group of refugees, however, for whom no durable solution has been found in the more than fifty years since their problems began: Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel in the period 1948-1949 as a result of its War of Independence...
...Whereas the rest of the world’s refugees are the concern of the UNHCR, the Palestinians are the sole group of refugees with a UN agency dedicated exclusively to their care: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates independently of the Convention on refugees. The differences between the two agencies are striking: In addition to classifying Palestinian refugees by a distinct set of criteria...UNRWA has declined to entertain any permanent solution for the Palestinian refugees, insisting instead on a politically unfeasible “return” to pre-1967 Israel.
... UNRWA has succeeded in perpetuating a growing refugee problem. ... UNRWA not only has failed to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue, but has also lost sight of its original humanitarian goals, subordinating them instead to the political aims of the Arab world.
...In the final analysis, UNRWA’s handling of the Palestinian refugee issue is both antagonistic to the achievement of peace in the Middle East and detrimental to the plight of the refugees themselves.
Given these failings, and in light of the existence of an entirely separate and far more successful UN strategy for dealing with refugees under the aegis of UNHCR, a serious reconsideration of the value of UNRWA’s continued existence seems in order.
UNRWA... described “Palestinian refugees” as persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.
...Contrast this with the definition provided by the UNHCR.... a refugee is someone who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
By emphasizing “country of nationality or habitual residence,” the UNHCR clearly intends to exclude the kind of transients– for example, a new arrival to the area in question for the purpose of employment–embraced by UNRWA’s definition.
This is not the only way in which the two definitions differ. The UNRWA definition also encompasses many other persons who would otherwise be excluded by the UNHCR. The latter, for example, outlines in detail the conditions under which the status of “refugee” no longer applies, stating that formal refugee status shall cease to apply to any person who has
voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality; or having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily re-acquired it; or, he has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality; or… he can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of his nationality.
By excluding people who have found legal protection from established states, or who have refused to do so when offered, UNHCR has sought to prevent expansion of the definition in ways that would encourage the improper use of UNHCR’s services for political ends.
UNRWA, however, has done just the opposite: Not only has it declined to remove the status of refugee from those persons who no longer fit the original description, such as the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been granted full citizenship by Jordan, but it confers indefinitely the status of refugee upon a Palestinian refugee’s descendants, now entering the fourth generation. ....
..... Without a country to call their own, refugees are denied the basic social, economic, and political rights that most civilians take for granted, and without which a citizen’s ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life is nearly impossible. For this reason, the UN has always sought to end a person’s status as refugee as quickly as possible.
UNRWA’s handling of the Palestinian refugee issue, by contrast, has done just the opposite. For implicit in UNRWA’s decision to expand its already problematic definition of a Palestinian refugee to include a mounting number of descendants is the guarantee that the problem remains an ongoing, ever-growing, and thus ever-worsening one...for Palestinian Arabs who have remained refugees for decades, and for their children, brought into the circle of dependence, the fact of UNRWA’s granting special refugee status has for the most part made their situation only worse.
...the General Assembly resolution establishing UNRWA intend its mandate to be temporary: It sought “the alleviation of the conditions of starvation and distress among the Palestinian refugees” with “a view to the termination of international assistance for relief” at an early date. The provision of direct relief was originally set to end no later than December 1950; yet its mandate has been renewed by the General Assembly every few years, and its current term now runs through June 2008. This begs the question: If UNRWA was set up as a temporary agency, why is it still operating more than half a century later?
One reason, again, lies in its singular definition of a refugee: By conferring the status of refugee on descendants, UNRWA has ensured an ever-growing population in need of its services. Yet a more significant reason has to do with its policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: UNRWA refuses to consider any resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue other than that demanded by the Arab world–the “right of return” to Israel....
....by encouraging the expectation of and desire for a “return” to Israel that is in all likelihood impossible, UNRWA has done a grave disservice to the refugees themselves–in effect, subordinating the humanitarian aims of refugee assistance to the political aims of Arab leaders. Unlike other refugees, who have been helped to regain some measure of autonomy, the Palestinian refugees remain mired in a sense of helplessness and frustration, condemned to an existence as stateless, displaced persons.
Of all the problems inherent in UNRWA’s policies, however, the practice of hiring from within its own client population is perhaps the thorniest. Of the approximately 24,000 persons in its employ, all but the roughly 100 “internationals” in executive positions are Palestinian Arabs... there is a general rule of thumb that it is not appropriate for an agency to do large-scale hiring of staff from the population it serves. No other UN agency does this; the UNHCR, for example, maintains by design a certain distance from its client base. The reason for this distance is clear: Employers who share the situation of their clients are vulnerable to conflicts of interest. UNRWA staff naturally share the passions and perceptions of their fellow refugees, and can easily be led to act on them inappropriately. In some cases, this means turning a blind eye to beneficiaries of UNRWA services engaged in terrorism; in others, it means outright involvement in terrorist activity itself.
Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence of such involvement. Incidents like the one on July 6, 2001 are not uncommon: The terrorist organization Hamas convened a conference in an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza with the full participation of school administrators and faculty. Students were addressed by Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who spoke about the “liberation of Jerusalem.” He was then joined by Saheil Alhinadi, UNRWA’s representative from the teachers’ sector, who praised the Hamas students who had carried out suicide attacks against Israelis in recent months. “The road to Palestine,” he orated, “passes through the blood of the fallen.”
....The full extent of the terrorist infiltration in Palestinian refugee camps was revealed during the IDF’s Operation Defensive Shield, mounted in the spring of 2002 in response to an unprecedented wave of terror attacks inside Israel. The evidence gleaned from that operation is both irrefutable and damning: Hardly innocent residential areas, the UNRWA-run camps which the army entered were riddled with small-arms factories, explosives laboratories, Kassam-2 rocket manufacturing plants, and suicide-bombing cells. The camp in Jenin, site of the most intense fighting, provides the most dramatic example of the terrorist takeovers of UNRWA camps. .... The refugee camp is rightly considered to be the center of events and the operational headquarters of all the factions in the Jenin area–it is, as the other side calls it, a hornets’ nest. The Jenin refugee camp is remarkable for the large number of fighting men taking initiatives in the cause of our people. Nothing will defeat them, and nothing fazes them. They are prepared to fight with everything they have. It is little wonder, therefore, that Jenin is known as the capital of the suicide martyrs.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the IDF found a number of wanted terrorists hiding inside UNRWA schools; that a large number of youth clubs operated by UNRWA in the camps were discovered to be meeting places for terrorists; and that an official bureau of the Tanzim, or Fatah-affiliated, militia was established inside a building owned by UNRWA. UNRWA’s donors might be surprised to learn that funds intended for humanitarian relief sometimes end up serving the goals of Palestinian terror....
...UNRWA’s role in the terrorist activity of the Palestinian refugees is not only a passive one. Rather, UNRWA employees themselves sometimes engage in terrorism. According to the 2003 report by the United States General Accounting Office, for example, UNRWA employees were arrested and convicted by Israeli military courts of throwing firebombs at an Israeli public bus; possession of materials that could be used for explosives; and transferring chemicals to assist in bomb-making. Also, the IDF demonstrated that UNRWA ambulances have been used to transport terrorists and firearms in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, himself saw shahid (martyr) posters on the walls in the homes of UNRWA workers during a visit to Jenin in April 2002. “It was clear,” he said in a December 2003 interview, “that UNRWA workers were doubling as Hamas operatives.”
Rather than confronting these problems, however, UNRWA has stonewalled. UNRWA’s then-deputy commissioner general Karen AbuZayd (she has since been promoted to commissioner-general), in response to the charge of terrorism in the camps, told The Jerusalem Report in August 2002 that “We just don’t see anything like this. These things are not visible to us.”
And when recently retired commissioner general Peter Hansen submitted to the General Assembly his mandated annual report for the period of July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002...he failed to mention, even in passing, what had been exposed regarding the terrorist apparatus in the Jenin camp. ....He did, however, admit in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll,” but added, “I don’t see that as a crime.”.....
Whether UNRWA is afraid to interfere with terrorist activity in its camps, or has become so entrenched in the terrorist infrastructure as to be effectively indistinguishable from it, the evidence is clear that an agency mandated to serve a humanitarian purpose has been drafted to further a militant political agenda. Yet complicity in terrorist activity is only the worst element of an entire UNRWA regime structurally aimed at advancing the Palestinian cause rather than relieving Palestinian suffering.
As its original, noble objectives have been lost, and its policies are now geared to perpetuating rather than solving the problem, one might rightfully wonder what positive value UNRWA’s continued existence may serve. The present situation, indeed, benefits no one: Not the UN, whose reputation as the guardian of international law and guarantor of international peace and security is tarnished by UNRWA’s links to terror; not Israel, whose hopes for peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbors are thwarted by UNRWA’s unswerving promotion of the “right of return”; and finally, not the Palestinian refugees themselves, who have been denied the opportunity to create new lives, and thus to break the cycle of dependence, frustrated hopes, and perpetual victimhood. In light of these facts, it seems clear that if one is to take seriously the standards of international law set out by the United Nations with respect to refugees, and the aims of its agencies in helping refugees around the world, one must also conclude that UNRWA is not only unhelpful to the Palestinian refugee issue, but in fact detrimental to it.
UNRWA has failed the Palestinian refugees. This failure is the product of half a century of overwhelming politicization of a humanitarian effort. Fortunately, another UN agency exists to deal with the problem of refugees, one with a successful record of resolving their problems around the world. Those nations interested in finding a genuine, viable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem–a sine qua non for peace in the Middle East–should be encouraged to support the end of UNRWA’s regime and the application of the policies of the UNHCR to the Palestinian refugee issue.
You never want to be labeled a fan of Israel in today’s Hollywood
Jack Engelhard, author of the bestselling novel and movie "Indecent Proposal"
It remains to be seen, literally, if Steven Spielberg has switched sides, from kosher ("Schindler's List"), to treyf. His movie, "Munich," will be opening in a few days and early word has it that he has indeed gone "Hollywood." This means that he's joined the trend to the Left...
If advance screenings prove accurate (the movie is set to open December 23), Spielberg has used the Olympic Massacre of 1972 to send a message .... that the bad guys who murdered 11 Israelis are not all that bad, and that the Israeli secret services that pursued the killers, the good guys, are not all that good. They're troubled by second thoughts.
... Observers of our culture may conclude that Spielberg has bought an even bigger script than the one at hand, featuring moral equivalency as a sub-title.
... In Hollywood today, where David is Goliath and Goliath is David, you never want to be labeled a conservative or a fan of Israel. Hollywood is all about being trendy and Israel is not the trend. You won't get invited to the right parties and you won't win any Oscars if your heart bleeds for a nation that is always on the verge of being wiped off the map.
... Jews pioneered Hollywood. If, as our enemies say, we own Hollywood, well, here's the plot twist - we have lost Hollywood, and we have lost Spielberg. Spielberg is no friend of Israel. Spielberg is no friend of truth. His "Munich" may just as well have been scripted by George Galloway....
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Islamic fundamentalists are gaining power and support in Egypt and in the Palestinian Authority, as evidenced by local voter opinion.
In a new poll conducted among Arabs of voting age in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled Gaza, the Islamist movement Hamas was shown to have 45.8 percent support, as opposed to just 36.1 percent for the ruling Fatah organization.
... The poll was conducted between November 29 and December 4 by Al-Mustaqbal Surveys and Studies Center.
PA legislative elections are slated for January 25, with Hamas taking part in the process - to the consternation of Israel. When asked if his organization would join a new government after the elections, Hamas spokesman Hassan Yussuf said this week, "If it serves the Palestinian interest, we will. All roads are open to us."
A second Islamic fundamentalist group, Islamic Jihad, has refused to take part in elections.
... As part of the Hamas campaign, the terrorist organization has chosen the "Mother of Martyrs" as a leading candidate for the January elections. The woman, Mariam Farhat, is considered a leader in the terrorist war launched by the PA five years ago.The gun-toting, 56-year-old woman earned her nickname as a result of the deaths of three of her six sons during terrorist attacks or in Israeli counter-terrorist strikes. Her reputation as a leader was sealed when she reportedly advised her son Mohammed how to attack a Jewish community in 2002. Mohammed murdered five Israelis before being killed himself. Farhat's eldest son, Nidal, was killed in 2003 while preparing to attack Israelis, and a third son, Rawat, died earlier this year in an IDF air strike on his car, which was carrying rockets to be used in attacks on Jewish targets.
"The Jihadist project completes the political one and the political project cannot be completed without Jihad," Farhat told Reuters News Agency.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, independent candidates affiliated with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, officially banned in Egypt, have made impressive gains in parliamentary elections, which ended this week. The month-long, violent election process led to Muslim fundamentalists increasing their representation in the 454-member Egyptian National Assembly from 15 to 88 seats. At least ten people died in the violence surrounding the polls, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds protesting alleged voter fraud in districts heavily favoring Islamist candidates. Egypt surrendered to American pressure in opening up the election process to true opposition parties, but State Department officials said that violence used by the country's security forces aroused concern about Cairo's "commitment to democracy and freedom."
The Muslim Brotherhood and its graduates have inspired Islamic terrorist groups the world over, including in Al-Qaeda. Brotherhood members have been involved in attacks on tourists in Egypt, as well as in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat for his 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Hamas terrorists are using United Nations schools and office to stage rallies, according to the Israel Resource News Agency, headed by journalist David Bedein.
..."there have been instances of Hamas rallies on the school grounds of UNRWA schools," said Arlene Kushner, who works with Bedein. U.N. officials denied the accusations.
Speaking at a conference of United Nations correspondents, Bedein said his investigations raised questions about a "moral code" at UNRWA. Kushner reported that a school organized by the relief agency held a service commemorating the death of an Islamic Jihad terrorist killed by the IDF. She added that UNRWA intentionally keeps tension high in villages where it operates.
... UNRWA is a separate agency dealing only with Arabs in Israel as opposed to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees which handles problems of other people throughout the world. The High Commission employs people from all nationalities but the UNRWA staff of 25,000 is made up only local Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs. ....The agency's yearly budget is $400 million and will more than double in the next two years, according to the Palestinian Authority (PA) information services.
The agency's Liaison Officer Maher Nasser warned that eliminating the agency, as several American Congressman have suggested, would have severe political ramifications. ...