Friday, February 03, 2006

Post-PLC Elections survey

Near East Consulting (NEC)'s Post-PLC Elections survey of Palestinian Arabs made headlines this week thanks mainly to two results:

Do you support or oppose a peace settlement with Israel
Support 79.5% Oppose 15.5% Other 5.0%


Should Hamas change its position on the elimination of Israel?
Yes 63.2% No 20.9% Other 16.0%


The poll, carried out 27-29 January, 2006, is a telephone survey. Of the over 1,200 randomly selected Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem they contacted, the pollsters ended up with 863 completed surveys. This 72% rate is within the range experienced
by Israeli pollsters.

Follow this link for the full results, which are very interesting.

Q & A with Saeb Erekat

Follow this link to a Jerusalem Post (Feb. 1) article in which Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat answers JPost.com readers' questions, subsequent to the Hamas election victory.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

10,000 illegal Arab living units in Jerusalem

This article from IMRA, Wednesday, February 1, 2006, by Justus Reid Weiner, puts the forced evacuation of 9 illegal Jewish living units in Amona into a different perspective...

At a conference that took place on January 7, 2002, at the Jerusalem Center for Women, Hatem Abed El-Khader Eid, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Jerusalem district, proudly announced that, during the last four years, Palestinians have erected 6,000 homes without building permits, out of which only 198 were demolished.

... Eid declared, "we in the Palestinian Authority are willing to build ten homes for every house demolished by Israel". According to a report in the newspaper Ha'tsofeh, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the PA are among the sources of funding for the wave of illegal construction in Jerusalem.

In sum, the knowledgeable sources all agree that thousands of illegal units are going up. Extrapolating from the assessments, the number might well exceed 10,000 if the tally were to begin five or ten years ago.

Also refer to a Wednesday, February 5, 2003 posting on IMRA: "Illegal Construction in Jerusalem: A Variation on an Alarming Global Phenomenon"

Don't demonize good people

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 31, 2006 by ISI LEIBLER (emphasis added...at the end)...

It is a highly unedifying spectacle to witness Israelis demonizing Israelis. Unfortunately, in recent times this has extended ...to many rank-and-file citizens.

In the last elections Shinui garnered many votes by exploiting those aspects of haredi life that generated fear and dislike - refusal to serve in the army, failure to contribute productively to the economy, and, in some cases, even ambivalence toward the state itself. The party fanned such prejudices for political purposes, sinking political discourse to the lowest common denominator.

...Shinui has imploded, but its former vilification of haredim has now been redirected by other hate-peddlers to religious Zionists and settlers, the new group currently being demonized with a vengeance and exploited as scapegoats for Israel's security problems.

THE HATRED generated against settlers is likely to have more far-reaching negative consequences than the campaign against the haredim. The latter are a relatively isolated group, whereas religious Zionists are an integral element of society occupying important roles in every field of Israeli life and endeavor.

The settlers, who had been encouraged by successive governments of all shades of opinion to settle the land in Judea and Samaria, represent a highly constructive element in the nation. They also served on the front lines and bore the brunt of Palestinian terrorism, suffering more casualties than any other sector of the community.

In fact, religious settlers assumed the role of a new Zionist vanguard filling the void left after the secular kibbutz elites of the earlier days of statehood gradually disappeared. They emerged as the antithesis of the Tel Aviv consumerism and post-Zionist trends that diluted the Zionist ethos that had dominated the state in its formative years....

...The manner in which the settlers are being portrayed in election rhetoric is ... disconcerting. Following the cue of a number of politicians, the media is having a field day, irresponsibly presenting extremist elements as though they reflect the norm, creating an atmosphere of hysteria and hatred against the entire Israeli settler community.

Needless to say, such demonization in no way excuses the violence of a small number of hooligans. Scenes of young Israeli hoodlums wearing masks and violently confronting law enforcement officials can only be described as obscene. No responsible person would deny the need to ensure that people who behave in a violent manner and refuse to abide by the laws of the land be dealt with severely.

...In the current climate, however, it is not surprising that when every violent incident is highlighted as though it typified settler behavior, the public perception of settlers as a group has deteriorated substantially and assumed a highly negative profile. ... the vast majority of settlers have always been, and remain, law-abiding model citizens. In fact their lifestyle is remarkably reminiscent of the pre-state secular Zionist pioneers who also chose to settle with their families in barren areas frequently surrounded by hostile Arabs.

... Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must also caution the police that encouragement by the government to take resolute action to enforce the rule of law must not be regarded as carte blanche to employ violence indiscriminately. ....Unfortunately, since Olmert encouraged the police to act with greater firmness there have been documented cases of innocent people undergoing police brutality. ....Olmert stands at a crossroads. He must clearly demonstrate that he has the welfare of all Israelis at heart .... He has the choice of turning a blind eye while vulgar populism is channeled to gain votes by demonizing all settlers. Or he can act as a statesman and demonstrate his determination to heal and unify rather than intensify schisms.

The demonization of any societal sector must be nipped in the bud. Woe to Israel if settlers and religious Zionists, who include the most devoted citizens in the land, are transformed into a political football and vilified as enemies of the state. It would have a devastating impact on our society, one for which we would pay a bitter price for generations to come.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and is a veteran Jewish international leader.

'Amona clashes most violent in years'

From Ynet News (02.01.06, 18:40) by Hanan Greenerg ....

Hundreds of evacuees, dozens of injured, and nine demolished buildings. The struggle over the Amona outpost has been marked by unprecedented violence.

One police officer told Ynet: "I have been targeted by more rocks today than anywhere in Gaza or the West Bank."
Border Guard Commander Hasin Faris ... said that the protesters in Amona "used violence against police that we have not seen in the last five years. We expected this development and we were prepared with our forces. We instructed the officers to act with determination and sensitivity to enforce the law."

A security official told Ynet, "We succeeded in the mission given to us, but will have to do a lot of serious thinking the next time that we are ordered to carry out such activity. A legal operation by the government must not result in so many injuries."

A military official, trying to explain the level of violence, said, "In Amona, we saw the result of rage and frustration by those opposed to the relatively smooth evacuation of Gush Katif.
The operation took under four hours despite the 3,000 protesters who inhabited the illegal buildings and the rooftops. There are, however, worried voices alongside those congratulating the security forces for completing the mission.

"We prepared for resistance and some level of violence. But what we saw today was exaggerated, severe, and very worrying," said a military source....

Around 250 injured in clashes
A spokesman for Magen David Adom said that 219 people had been treated for injuries from clashes in the outpost of Amona.

One man is seriously injured, and nine others sustained moderate to light injuries. Most of those injured have already been taken to a number of hospitals.
A further 25 lightly injured people were evacuated from the scene of the clashes.

...Police Commander Ronny Ohana, who presided over a police force which isolated the area, told Ynet, "Protest is legitimate, but boulders, concrete blocks, and rocks on the heads of police and citizens is atrocious irresponsibility. The forces showed determination despite their lives being in danger."

State prosecutors told Ynet that any testimonies against rioters in Amona will result in indictments against them.
"It's clear according to the pictures and injures that this was violent resistance, much more so than seen in the entire disengagement, and therefore we are deep in our zero tolerance policies," said a source from the Prosecutors' Office.

Right accuses police of unjustified violence
National Religious Party Secretary-General Sar Shalom Jerbi has demanded that Minister for Interior Security Gideon Ezra establish an independent investigation committee to examine the conduct of police in Amona.

According to Jerbi, who was at the scene during the evacuation, police in Amona acted with brutality towards youths with no justification.

The outpost's evacuation was undertaken in stages, with forces first heading in the direction of Amona at 3 a.m. Wednesday. The troops were greeted with a barrage of rocks, oil, paint, and water, but stopped at the outpost's entrance after the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction against the demolition of Amona homes.
Unlike the disengagement from Gaza, officers did not have a choice whether to take part or not in this evacuation. "This was a High Court decision, not a government decision, and we came up to enforce it, because that is our job," said one of the police officers.

Meital Yasur Beit-Or, Efrat Weiss, Anat Bershkovsky, and Tal Rosner contributed to this report

Knesset members hurt at Amona

From Ynet News 02.01.06, 18:41 by Efrat Weiss, Amona ...

Knesset Members Arieh Eldad and Effie Eitam were injured Wednesday morning as troops clashes with settlers during the evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona. Eitam sustaines head injuries, Eldad breaks hand, faints.

...Later, speaking from the hospital, Eitam said that "In Gush Katif we proved that we know how to define the limits of the battle, and that is what we also planned to do today. I stood in front of the youths and thought that there would be a police officer there to talk to....The mounted police officers were well-aware of our presence, but then a horse with a mounted policeman hit me and I lost consciousness..." .

Eitam harshly blasted Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Directly addressing Olmert, he said that “you are far from being the successor of (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon....You have proven today that you are frightened, confused and manipulative. You have acted with stupidity and narrow-mindedness. This is not the way to build premiership...We would have known how to control this incident like in Gush Katif, but the police officers were ordered to act with violence against the children and public leaders...."

'Olmert - a very small politician'
Eitam said that he did not get the opportunity to express his leadership.

"For 30 years I fought in the battlefield and I never believed I will be wounded by a Jewish policeman while I fulfill my duty as a Knesset member. I bear no grudge toward this policeman. He carried out the order of an inexperienced acting prime minister driven by his media advisors," he said.

"Olmert is producing a TV campaign advertisement for Kadima and the police officers were there to display brutal force and intimidate a public that has already been seriously hit in the summer. Olmert proved that he is unworthy of leading a state and a nation. He is a very small politician who held a demonstration on the Israeli society's account," Eitam charged.

Dozens of security officers and settlers were also hurt in the violence.

Police forces stormed the outpost through the barricades erected by settlers. The troops hit the settlers with batons and used mounted forces in the operation. Meanwhile, settlers threw stones at the evacuating forces.

Several right-wing Knesset members, including Effie Eitam, Benny Elon, Arieh Eldad and Uri Ariel attempted to serve as a barrier between forces and settlers.

Violence doesn't pay
Earlier, Knesset members from the Renewed National Religious Zionism party responded to the decision to approve the evacuation by saying "the High Court is assisting Ehud Olmert's elections campaign aimed at evoking hatred...between brothers while rejecting all attempts to reach a compromise."

MK Uzi Landau (Likud) said: "Ehud Olmert wants confrontation at all cost. His refusal to compromise with the settlers proves we face a struggle not over the rule of law, but a political maneuver aimed at distracting the public from his role in Hamas' victory. He cannot fight terror, so he turns the settlers into the enemy." ...

Tal Rosner, Roee Nahmias and Meital Yasur-Beit Or contributed to the report

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Iran ready for nuclear bomb test

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive: January 31, 2006, 8:11 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

Moscow believes Iran has developed a large nuclear device in its “preliminary stage.”

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov put this information before the five permanent UN Security Council and Germany, which Tuesday night, Jan. 30, agreed for the first time to haul Iran before the UN body over its nuclear program. Until then, Moscow and Beijing had stood out against the UN nuclear watchdog’ referring the Iran dossier to the Security Council. Tehran hit back Wednesday by saying the decision was unconstructive and the end of diplomacy.

According to Lavrov, Russian intelligence estimates that Iran is now capable of detonating this non-weaponized nuclear device - or in other words carrying out its first nuclear test.

DEBKAfile sources add: This estimate which Russian president Vladimir Putin passed to President George Bush some weeks ago is challenged by US and Israeli nuclear experts, who do not believe Iran is up to the stage of a nuclear device. However, on Jan. 21, the opposition FDI claimed Iran would carry out its first nuclear test before the Iranian new year, which falls on March 20.

Ahead of the IAEA’s Thursday meeting in Vienna, a leaked report claimed Iran had last week given the watchdog sensitive documents which apparently showed how to mold highly enriched uranium into the hemispherical shape of warheads, in an effort to stave off referral to the Security Council. At the same time, according to the same unnamed diplomats, the agency passed to Tehran intelligence provided by the US that suggests Iran has been working on details of nuclear weapons, such as missile trajectories and ideal altitudes for exploding warheads. When the IAEA asked Iran for an explanation of the documents, Tehran replied they had been obtained from members of a nuclear black market network.

Still ahead of the nuclear watchdog’s meeting, Moscow and Beijing dispatched diplomats to Tehran to explain that their support for referral to the Security Council did not mean an end to diplomacy.

Referring the issue to the UN would have a “very big effect” on oil prices, Libyan Energy Scretary Fathi Hamed bin-Shatwan said Tuesday at an OPEC meeting in Vienna.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2,000-Year-Old Judean Date Seed Growing Successfully

How about some good news for a change, from Arutz Sheva 11:55 Jan 31, '06 / 2 Shevat 5766 By Ezra HaLevi ...

A 2,000 year old date seed planted last Tu B’Shvat has sprouted and is over a foot tall. Being grown at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava, it is the oldest seed to ever produce a viable young sapling.

The Judean date seed was found, together with a large number of other seeds, during archaeological excavations carried out close to Massada near the southern end of the Dead Sea, the last Jewish stronghold following the Roman destruction of the Holy Temple. The age of the seeds was determined using carbon dating, but has a margin of error of 50 years – placing them either right before or right after the Massada revolt.

The seeds sat in storage for thirty years until Elain Solowey of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies was asked to attempt to cultivate three of them. Solowey ... has grown over one hundred rare and almost extinct species of plants. Together with Hadassah Hospital’s Natural Medicine Center, she seeks to use the plants listed in ancient remedies to seek effective uses for modern medical conditions. The Judean date has been credited with helping fight cancer, malaria and toothaches.

...The Judean palms once grew throughout the Jordan Valley, from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) to the Dead Sea. Those from Jericho, at the northern end of the Dead Sea, were of particularly notable quality. Though dates are still grown widely in the Jordan Valley, the trees come mostly from California.The Judean date palm trees are referred to in Psalm 92 (“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree…”). The tree was also depicted on the ancient Jewish shekel and now appears on the modern Israeli 10-shekel coin. It is too early to tell the sex of the tree, but if it is female, it is supposed to bear fruit by 2010, after which it can be propagated to revive the Judean date palm species altogether. “It is a long road to our being able to eat the Judean date once again,” Solowey said, “but there is the possibility of restoring the date to the modern world.”

THE RISE OF HAMAS AND THE FALL OF PALESTINE

Take the time to read this brief article (with emphasis added) from The New Republic Online Post date 01.26.06 by Yossi Klein Halevi (subscription required)...

Here then is the real asymmetry of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Precisely at the moment when a majority of the Israeli people has accepted not just the political necessity but moral legitimacy of a Palestinian state, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people empowers its most hateful and triumphalist ideology.

A two-fold spin has already begun. The first spin concerns Hamas. The same commentators who once assured us that power and responsibility would transform Yasir Arafat from terrorist to statesman now assure us that Hamas leaders similarly will be transformed by the process of governance. Fatah was supposed to control Hamas; now, presumably, Hamas will control itself. And so get ready for the era of the wink and the hint. Experts will examine Hamas statements for signs of the slightest shift; they will ignore what Hamas tells its own people and celebrate every seemingly reasonable utterance to Western journalists. And Hamas leaders will readily oblige: They will speak of "peace," just as Arafat spoke of the peace of the brave. And the peace they will mean, as the bitter Israeli joke once went, is the peace of the grave.

The essence of Hamas is a commitment to destroy the religious affront of Jewish sovereignty. For Hamas to "moderate" would mean turning into an apostate of its own most sacred truth. If the process of moderation didn't happen to the less devout Fatah, which continues to reject Israel's legitimacy and now opposes terror only on temporary tactical grounds, it surely won't happen to Hamas.

The second spin concerns the Palestinian people. Palestinians, we're being told, didn't really intend to vote for the bad Hamas that blows up buses and promotes Holocaust denial and enshrines the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its charter. They were simply fed up with Fatah corruption and voted for the good Hamas that provides social benefits and a sense of discipline and purpose. True, Palestinians were understandably outraged at Fatah, which was the recipient of billions of dollars of foreign aid and managed in the last decade not to rehabilitate a single refugee camp. Yet to excuse the landslide vote for Hamas is to continue to patronize the Palestinian people, as most of the international community did through five years of suicide bombings. Palestinians voted for a movement for whom means and ends are identical: The suicide bombings are mini-preenactments of Hamas's genocidal impulse. Not to hold the Palestinians responsible for their fate, when they vote democratically, is to deny them the right to define themselves.

In truth, Hamas's victory doesn't mark the end of the peace process. That's because the peace process ended five years ago, when Arafat responded to Ehud Barak's peace overtures with the terror war. A recent poll asked Israelis the following question: If Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, uproots the settlements, redivides Jerusalem, and signs a peace treaty with a Palestinian state, would the conflict end or would terror continue? Some 70 percent responded that the conflict would continue. And that was before the rise of Hamas. What the Hamas victory has ended, then, is the pretense of a peace process.

The rise of Hamas also marks the end of the era of the guilty Israeli conscience, which began during the first intifada in the late 1980s. Perhaps the most effective ally of the Palestinians in their quest for statehood was the realization among many Israelis that the Palestinians had rights and had been wronged. Over the last five years of terror, though, the Israeli guilty conscience has been steadily eroded. Now, none but the most deluded Israelis will continue to maintain that the conflict is about the occupation and the settlements rather than Israel's existence. As Dan Meridor, one of the Israeli negotiators at Camp David, put it, the peace process failed not because of a Palestinian state but because of a Jewish state.

What, then, is Israel going to do? There is a virtual national consensus to treat a Hamas government as no more legitimate than the Holocaust-denying, extermination-minded regime in Tehran. That consensus will hold. Less certain is the fate of the unilateralist policy begun by Ariel Sharon in Gaza. The logic of unilateralism--that in the absence of a credible Palestinan partner, Israel must define its own borders--has never been more compelling. Yet, ironically, the consequences of unilateralism have never been more terrifying. Until the Hamas victory, those of us who supported further unilateral withdrawal hardly expected Fatah to control terror and rocket attacks from the evacuated territories, but could at least trust that Fatah would try to prevent Iranian penetration, if only to ensure its continued rule. Now, though, any territory Israel evacuates will almost certainly become a frontline base for Iran.

The operative result of the Hamas victory, then, is that Tehran has just moved several thousand kilometers closer to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In fact, Israel is now surrounded by Iranian proxies--Hezbollah to the north and Hamas to the south and east.

As untenable as Israel's options have now become, the more enduring tragedy belongs to the Palestinian people. Palestinians have chosen rejectionism after being handed the entirety of Gaza as an experiment in Palestinian sovereignty. Electing Hamas, then, may well be the historical equivalent of the Palestinian rejection of U.N. partition in 1947.

Palestinians have delivered their next generation to Moloch, to a movement whose religious pageants include parading children dressed as suicide bombers. The celebration of mass murderers as religious martyrs and educational role models, promoted by both Fatah and Hamas, has now reached its inevitable conclusion in the national suicide of the Palestinian people.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a TNR foreign correspondent and senior fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

UN Support for Delegitimisation of Israel

Follow the link for a detailed Special Report from Eye on the UN.

The report includes:
  • Updated information on the UN map without the state of Israel, which was on public display on November 29, 2005 at UN Headquarters.
  • Exerpts from a UN publication, entitled "The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1988," and produced by the UN Division for Palestinian Rights (1990), which rewrites history from the early nineteenth century on.The UN website is used by students, teachers, laypersons and legislators across the globe.
  • Copious anti-Israel statements from the NGO BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. In January 24, 2006 the UN Committee on NGOs granted UN accreditation to BADIL. Accreditation gives NGOs the ability to attend UN meetings, and in some contexts, such as the UN Commission on Human Rights, an entitlement to speak.

Slippery Slope to Recognizing Hamas

From a DEBKAfile Special Analysis January 30, 2006, 9:06 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

After a series of muddled statements and zigzags, wishful thinking prevailed in London and Brussels after all. The European Union, led by the Middle East Quartet, agreed to release financial aid to a Palestinian government taken over by a terrorist organization.

“We give them three months to assess the situation. We don’t want chaos and we want to go on with the peace process,” said EU foreign executive, Javier Solana at the end of the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels Monday, 30 Jan.

Hamas, which is responsible for at least 60 bombing attacks on Israelis and countless deaths, did not have to fight too hard or too long for a reversal of the short-lived boycott on funding, sparked by its election victory over Fatah with 74 seats in the 132 Palestinian Legislative Council. The Islamist terrorists were not required to give up a single principle for the sake of Western aid.

After the Quartet’s decision, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice left Europe for Kabul. At first, she tried urging the EU to stand by its pledge to withhold aid from the Palestinians until Hamas renounces terrorism. A few hours later, like her European colleages, she was saying two opposite things at once: The administration, she said, would follow through on aid promised to the current, US-backed Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas. But then, Rice went on to rule out any US financial assistance to an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, advocates violence and refuses its obligations under an international framework for eventual Mideast peace.

The inference here is that Abbas, supported from Washington and Jerusalem, was responsible for Hamas’s participation in the Jan 25 election. So it was up to him to arrange things so as to enable West to send financial aid to the Palestinian people without violating its own laws and principles against terrorist organizations. The stakes are high. The EU gave the PA $615 million last year. The US had budgeted $234 for 2006.

The West and Israel too are clearly clinging to Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah was trounced in the Palestinian election last week, as a fig leaf to cover the true shape of the new Palestinian government until everyone can catch their breath and come up with a coherent new policy.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh played along with this stratagem by appealing to the Americans and Europeans to keep the aid funds flowing because, he said, they were not destined for Hamas but for Palestinian president Abu Mazen.

The only clear statement came from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the next EU president, Monday in Jerusalem: A Palestinian Authority that included Hamas cannot be directly supported by EU money as long as the group refuses to give up violence and refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, she said. This meant that Berlin ties financial aid to the Hamas changing at least one of its stripes – relinquishing terrorism. However as a collective, European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, including her own subordinate, sang a different tune.

Hamas provided the European powers with some helpful keys for unlocking Western aid for zero concessions:
1. Hamas does not intend heading or even participating in the next Palestinian government. That administration will therefore not match the strict definition of a Hamas government. This magicked away one major obstacle holding up the flow of aid funds from Europe.
2. Hamas does not oppose the new Palestinian government meeting its obligations under international frameworks. That is no problem either. Hamas has no trouble voting for the peace principle so long as its conditions are met, namely Israel must disappear.
3. A new government can be voted in by Fatah’s 44 votes plus the smaller factions. Hamas lawmakers will abstain. The new government is free to adopt the principle of peaceful negotiation or any other guideline it wishes. In any case, Hamas will dictate government policies and actions by remote control. Yasser Arafat provided a precedent. He freely pledged to refrain from sponsoring terrorism, which did not stop him at the same time plotting, orchestrating, pinpointing and funding terrorist operations. That example will serve Hamas in good stead.
4. Aid funds may be transferred to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority through a third party, whether international or an Islamic charity.

None of these options was ruled out in Western stipulations for continued aid to the Palestinians. Quite the contrary, they were seized on to ease the decision to go forward.
The Israeli position is as two-faced as the Europeans’. On the one hand, acting prime minister Ehud Olmert announced the NIS200 million ($44 million) of revenues due to the Palestinians will be frozen so that they do not reach the hands of murderous terrorists determined to destroy Israel. But then he went on to say: “At this stage, we are studying the situation and following developments.”

In other words, Israel is withholding funds for a brief period, after which Jerusalem will decide what happens next in consultation with the Americans and Europeans.

DEBKAfile’s Islamic experts warn that these transparent maneuvers will be seen by the Islamic terrorists group as a sign of weakness and they will therefore blow back in the faces of their authors. Hamas will maintain its seemingly reasonable posture and hold its fire, while using the chance to go forward without interference towards its long-term religious-territorial goals.

Champions of a new Holocaust

From Ynetnews - Opinion (01.30.06, 13:42) by Abraham Cooper, Leo Adler ...

...The fact that Palestinian voters would give so much support to a murderous terrorist organization is telling....In effect, many Palestinians were voting for the extermination of the Jewish state.

Of course, Hamas does not yet have the means to make good on this goal. Nor will it anytime soon. But the same is not true of the group's patrons in Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and has said that he wants to put Israel "into eternal coma -- like (Ariel) Sharon."

Ahmadinejad also denies the historical reality of the Nazi Holocaust, which he claims is a hoax invented by Zionists. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has challenged Iran's President to visit Auschwitz to "come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself."
The response by Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reiterates Tehran's promise to hold a government-sponsored Holocaust Denial conference giving voice to a rogue's gallery of hatemongers who will promote Ahmadinejad's claim that Hitler's murder of six million Jews is a "fairy tale."

... Compounding the menace of Hamas on Israel's doorstep and Iran's genocidal threats is the fact that not a single Arab government is willing to forthrightly condemn either movement. Perhaps these leaders remember the fate of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, murdered in 2005 by Syrian agents. He'd got on the wrong side of Damascus' Bashar Assad in 2001 by courageously canceling an international Holocaust Deniers' Conference in Beirut.

... Collectively, Hamas, Hizbullah and their patrons in Tehran represent the synthesis of two poisonous ideological movements in the Muslim world: The denial of the Nazi Holocaust, and the desire to create a second Holocaust. And they're getting plenty of support from "mainstream" Arab sources. In Egypt, where a columnist in the newspaper Al-Massa recently described Nazi gas chambers as "no more than rooms to disinfect clothing," the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's leading opposition movement, has abandoned its "moderate" pose during recent parliamentary election in order to add its voice to Ahmadinejad's. According to Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the Brotherhood's supreme spiritual leader, "the sons of Zion" are responsible for manufacturing "the myth of the Holocaust" as well as "manipulating" the "new world order" that America is imposing on the Mideast.

Despite recent condemnations from leaders such as Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush, the world continues to give Mideast hatemongers mixed signals.

No cozying up to Hamas-led government
In June, 2005, UN Secretary Kofi Annan eloquently described the world body as "emerging from the ashes of the Holocaust" to rectify great evils like Jew hatred. But the UN General Assembly has failed to even censure Tehran for threatening genocide against a member state; and at the recent UN Palestine Day proceedings, Annan appeared on stage in front of a map of the Mideast with Israel expunged.

Only now is it beginning to dawn on some world leaders that we are approaching a 21st century "Munich moment." Will Washington recognize a Hamas administration as legitimate? Will it succumb to threats to unleash a terrorist network to "burn" American cities if the world takes action against Iran's nuclear program? Will the European Union seek to appease Tehran's genocidal Jew-hatred in hopes that any toxic fallout will be limited to the Middle East?

The West must make clear that it will not give in to terrorists and their supporters. In addition to tough UN sanctions to stop Iran's nuclear weaponization, Western governments must counter Iran's anti-Semitic statecraft by making opposition to the new global Jew hatred integral to their own statecraft.

No more friendly meetings or sweetheart economic deals with Tehran until the mullahs stop their genocidal rhetoric and nuclear preparations; ad no cozying up to a Palestinian government dominated by Hamas. There is still time to act before the world may have to face a new Holocaust.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Leo Adler is Director, National Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto

Monday, January 30, 2006

PA Corruption drove Palestinians to Hamas

From JPost Jan. 26, 2006 22:18 Updated Jan. 30, 2006 1: By KHALED ABU TOAMEH ...

...Hamas had won Wednesday's parliamentary election... because of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority....

"I don't belong to Hamas, but I voted for them because I was fed up with the bad government we had here for 12 years," (an engineer at the al-Bireh Municipality) explained. "Most people here voted for Hamas because they wanted regime change, and not because they support suicide attacks or the destruction of Israel."

...For years, Palestinians have been complaining about bad governance and the embezzlement of international aid by their leaders. In fact, the complaints started almost immediately after the signing of the Oslo Accords and the return of the PLO from Tunis to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the beginning, most Palestinians were convinced that Yasser Arafat and the ruling Fatah party would do their utmost to establish a free and democratic regime, one that would put the right man in the right place and invest funds for the welfare of the people. But the Palestinians' hopes were quickly shattered as they watched a corrupt and dictatorial regime emerge in Ramallah and Gaza City.

Many of the PLO leaders who returned with Arafat started building grand villas next to the homes of impoverished Palestinians and driving around in Mercedes that were brought with the money that came from American and European donors. Arafat cronies like Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub were transformed into wealthy figures almost overnight with the help of security forces that served as private militias.

Other Fatah leaders saw the Oslo Accords as an excellent opportunity for establishing monopolies that caused grave damage to the Palestinian economy. The result was that Palestinians had to pay more for cigarettes, petrol and basic goods. The Oasis Casino in Jericho was only one of the symbols of rampant corruption, because it was seen as a joint venture of Israeli and Palestinian officials to pump more money into their secret bank accounts.

THE RESULTS of the election show that a majority of the Palestinians did not believe their leaders when they vehemently dismissed allegations of corruption as "Jewish propaganda."
Palestinian officials often held Israel responsible for their failure to improve the conditions of their own people, claiming that Israel had been systematically undermining the PA through a series of security measures. When asked why they were doing nothing to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy, these officials often pointed an accusing finger at Israel, saying it had "destroyed" the Palestinian security forces over the past five years. This is another claim that most Palestinians did not accept, especially as they saw about 60,000 policemen cast their ballots in this week's election....

..."This is an historic day for the Palestinians," said Juma'ah Mahmoud.... "We are very happy because we finally got rid of all the corrupt people in the Palestinian leadership. Most of these guys came from Tunis as beggars and became very rich by stealing our money and living in big houses. Now we have proved to them and the rest of the world that our people don't want them."

When asked about the future of the peace process, Mahmoud and his friends burst out laughing. "Which peace process are you talking about?" they chuckled sarcastically. "The peace process and the Oslo Accords died a long time ago. Oslo is finished and so are all the corrupt guys who came from Tunis."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

When Democracy Fails

Commentary by Gedalia

Did the Palestinian Arabs fail democracy, or has democracy failed the Palestinian Arabs? I suggest both.

The Palestinians have elected a group of terrorists to govern, and the media and politicians have met this development with expressions of surprise. This despite many published opinion polls of recent years which confirm that the majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing and favour the destruction of Israel. Those polls are now reflected in the referendum that was the recent Palestinian ballot, unequivocally demonstrating how culturally endemic the glorification of murder and genocide has become within the Palestinian psyche.

Commentator Michael Freund wrote as follows “No longer can it be said that the majority of Palestinians are interested in peace. The only possible conclusion one can draw from this is that most Palestinians want to see Israel destroyed, and most Palestinians want a political leadership that will actively advance that goal.”

On this basis, the Palestinian election provided many losers and no winners. Even the terrorists who have now been accorded civic responsibility have emerged from this ballot with an ideological conflict, ironically delivered by the political system of democracy. Hamas activity is heavily influenced by Syria and Iran, and any reconciliation with democratic governance is paradoxical to their own charter.

Nobody has suggested that the democratic system is infallible. Democracy is not a flawless political system. However in the modern world there are no better alternatives. To be effective, democracy is a privilege that a society must earn by according liberty to its citizens.

For many years America has pursued the idea that democracy is the answer to Islamist terrorism, and has based their Middle Eastern foreign policy on the imposition of democratic reform at all costs. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. had, relatively secretly, spent $2 million in recent weeks to promote Fatah in this election on that very basis.

American policy is currently failing in the Middle East simply because democracy is a means to an end, and not an end within itself. In essence, the western approach is based on trying to resolve a religious conflict with a system of political diplomacy, without simultaneously attempting to confront fanatical theocracy with the universal ideals of religious morality.

Maybe the Palestinian election will provide the “shock treatment” required to recognise that Islamists are humouring democratic values, and that more appeasement will simply lead to more state sponsored terrorism. That Hamas was allowed to participate in this election was itself an example of capitulation, a clear breach of the now forgotten “Roadmap” obligation to disarm terrorists.

We have a long way to go. Throughout the Palestinian election media coverage, examples and images of the “social work” and “charity” of the Hamas “political arm” were broadcast, along with claims that the election victory will require Hamas to moderate their stance towards Israel.

Following the poll, observer and former President Carter stated “The elections were completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence" and went on to say “I hope that support for the new government will be forthcoming".

The reality is that no amount of spin can veil what Hamas as a movement represents and proudly champions. Israel currently has no partner for peace. That is what the Palestinians have affirmed through the ballot box for all to see. Do not try and force a negotiation with terrorists, it cannot and will never work.

There is now only one path ahead to achieve a peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. That is to bring up a new generation of each who are educated in the ways of peace, respect and love of life. That is something that the Israelis, despite the daily incidence of terror directed against them, still attempt with great hope and faith. However, as yet there are no signs that Palestinian children are taught anything other than how to hate and destroy Israel. Hamas in particular teach Palestinian children how to fire guns, turn themselves into human bombs, and murder innocent people.

The commencement of a true solution rests with directing the considerable amount of international Palestinian funding (much of which has been subject to allegations of mass corruption), and the support called for by President Carter, towards controlled programs of education. Remove autonomous Palestinian control of donor funds until they can be appropriately dispersed. Most importantly, invest in building trust ahead of building democracy within a society that has proven they are unable to cope with it.

Israel remains the only true democracy in the Middle East. Pretending that there has been an established Palestinian institution of democratic Governance may have been politically expedient since the times of the Olso accords, but the farce is now over.

Out of WWII has come some 60 years of stable and peaceful democracy in countries such as Japan and Germany. These are democracies that respect human rights under law, and permit political dissent and religious freedom. So too Palestinians can be awarded with true democracy, but it first needs to be recognised that democracy is incompatible with totalitarian rule.

Munich terrorist 'regrets nothing'

From JPost, Jan. 28, 2006 18:49 Updated Jan. 28, 2006 18:53 By ASSOCIATED PRESS BERLIN ...

A former Palestinian terrorist said he "regrets nothing" and will not apologize for being one of the masterminds of the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed, according to a TV interview transcript released Saturday.

..."I regret nothing" about the Munich attacks, Mohammed Oudeh, better known by the code name Abu Daoud (... Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist) told Germany's Spiegel TV, according to a transcript of the interview released before its broadcast. "You can only dream that I would apologize."

Spiegel TV said they spoke with the 68-year-old, who lives in Damascus, Syria, last week in Cairo.

Daoud was a member of a shadowy Palestinian terrorist group called Black September that took Israeli weightlifters hostage at the 1972 Olympic Games. Eleven Israelis, three of the Palestinian attackers and a German police officer were killed during a near two-day standoff.

Daoud told Spiegel TV he brought the weapons involved in the attack by train from Frankfurt to Munich in various suitcases, then stored them in lockers before distributing them to his team when they arrived. He had previously scouted the Olympic village, and said he had no problem reaching inner areas. "Nobody checked us," he said....

Khaled Mashaal promised Tehran an Iranian embassy

DEBKAfile Exclusive, January 28, 2006, 1:12 PM (GMT+02:00):

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal promised Tehran an Iranian embassy in Ramallah very shortly after its victory – five days before the Palestinian election

The promise, indicating that Hamas was not surprised by its victory at the Jan 25 poll, was delivered at a secret meeting in Damascus on Jan. 20. On that day, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmanidejad interviewed 11 Palestinian terrorist leaders based in the Syrian capital with cameras flashing. Not so, Mashaal’s half-hour absence for a secret down-to-earth discussion with the Iranian Republic Guards Corps’ al Quds division commander Gen. Qassam Suleimi, who was in the presidential party.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources know Gen. Suleimi as the Islamic Republic’s supreme commander of Iran’s terrorist activities in Iraq, the rest of the Arab world, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. His meeting with the Hamas leader was the follow-up to their talks in Tehran last December, when Mashaal spent three weeks making the rounds of Iran’s terror executives. The Hamas leader intends arriving in Palestinian territory in the wake of the victory his movement snatched from the Fatah. One of his first plans is to hoist the Iranian flag over Ramallah’s Manara Square. If he sets foot in Israel-controlled territory, he will be arrested, but he can easily reach Gaza through Egypt.

DEBKAfile counter-terror sources report that Thursday, Jan 26, the day the Hamas win was declared, Mahmoud Abbas indicated that far from stepping down after his Fatah party’s defeat, is collaborating fully with the winning Hamas. During Thursday night, Abu Mazen was on the phone to the real power behind Hamas, the radical Khaled Mashaal, at his Damascus headquarters. Mashaal said he did not want to be prime minister and would therefore not appoint the new government. He advised the appointment of public Palestinian figures with international credibility as prime minister and also finance minister.

The names Hamas would find acceptable were Fatah’s Nabil Shaath, Socialist Dr. Mustafa Barghouti and independent former finance minister Salim Fayyad. The portfolio that Hamas wanted was internal security with control over Palestinian security and intelligence services. The new Palestinian ruler will also take over the PA’s television, radio and press.

Iran threatens launch of medium-range missiles

From Ha'aretz 28/1/2006 ...

TEHRAN - Iran said on Saturday it would launch medium-range missiles if attacked and accused Britain and the United States of arming rebels in its south, as international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear plans grew."If we come under a military attack, we will respond with our very effective missile defense," Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guard, told state television....

...Military experts reckon the Revolutionary Guard's Shahab-3 missiles have a range of some 2,000 km (1,200 miles), meaning Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf and foreign troops in Iraq lie within their range.

..."Iran produces its own ballistic missiles and does not draw on any foreign assistance for technology," Safavi said.....

War on the horizon

Dear friends, here is an extract from a posting on this Blog, on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 ...

From Ynet News, Opinion, by Ofer Shelah (11.16.05, 11:56)

...Mark your calendars (January / February 2006): Israel, Hamas on a collision course

.... Until the Palestinians hold parliamentary elections in less than two months, Hamas will continue to battle for legitimacy and will avoid action that would re-ignite the conflict.... The result of all this is clear: In January, save for some sort of miracle, Hamas is expected to do very well in the elections. Afterwards, the organization will try to realize its power, and if it encounters opposition it will try to realize the retribution it has been promising for months.

... the path to conflict is clearly defined ....

'Hamas ready to form Palestinian army'

From Ynet News (01.28.06, 15:03) ...

Khaled Mashaal, Hamas politburo chief, tells news conference in Damascus group ready to merge armed factions, including its military wing, to form army to defend Palestinian people News Agencies

Hamas is ready to merge armed factions including its military wing to form an army to defend the Palestinian people, a senior Hamas leader said on Saturday.

"We are willing to form an army like every country... an army to defend our people against aggression," Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal told a news conference in Damascus following the group's sweeping victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections.

..."Resistance is a legitimate right that we will practice and protect. Our presence in the legislature will strengthen the resistance," Mashaal said. "If people raised the issue of targeting civilians, we said and we say that when our enemy stops targeting civilians we will abide by that."

...Asked if a truce that ended at the end of 2005 will be renewed, Mashaal said "its results were not encouraging."

...Mashal vowed to work for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, which, he said, numbered 9,000.

First International Holocaust Memorial Day

From Arutz Sheva 13:34 Jan 27, '06 / 27 Tevet 5766By Hana Levi Julian ...

For the first time, countries around the globe on Friday commemorated those who lost their lives in the wholesale slaughter of Jews and others during the nightmare of World War II.
The United Nations set January 27 as the date for International Holocaust Memorial Day, a first for the world body. Jews see the move as a new page in Israel’s relationship with the UN, where Israeli professionals are being included in committees and special agencies more often than ever before.

The event has served to change the image of a constant battle between Israel and the UN to develop a more positive image for the Jewish state. Israeli scientists and other professionals currently participate in the UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), including the World Heritage committee and others.

The head of the Israeli Health Ministry’s Food and Nutrition Service runs the World Health Organization office in Belgrade. Infectious disease control specialist Dr. Bina Rabinovich is now in Turkey to help address the avian flu epidemic which has taken hold there. An international health symposium is being held in Geneva, organized with help from the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Medical Association in cooperation with various UN agencies.

“We in the international organizations branch set as a target the normalization of Israel’s status in the UN and other international bodies,” said Ilan Elgar, director of the Foreign Ministry’s International Organizations Department. “Another way to fight Israel’s image as a one-issue state constantly under attack for the conflict with the Arab world and the Palestinians is to promote Israeli professionals’ participation in all agencies,” he added.

... Holocaust Museum Watch...Chairperson Carol Greenwald ... wants ... to expose the anti-Semitic participation of the the Arab and Muslim world during the Holocaust....(and)... speak out against current anti-Semitic statements by leading members of the Arab community, including those by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad. The Iranian leader has recently denied the Holocaust, called for the complete destruction of Israel, and suggested a Jewish state should be established elsewhere in provinces of Germany and Austria.

A new generation ...

From Arutz Sheva Saturday, January 28, 2006, 28 Tevet 5766 ...


Attacks on Israeli civilians will continue

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, Jan. 26, 2006 21:33 Updated Jan. 28, 2006 16:36 By JPOST STAFF AND AP ...

Hundreds of Fatah activists, angry at their party's election defeat, entered the compound of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday to pray at the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

...Outside the compound, known as the muqaata, some of the militants shot in the air and chanted: 'We came to you Abu Amar to forgive us for what happened.' Abu Amar was Arafat's nickname.

Jibril Rajoub, Abbas' national security adviser who was among the protesters, warned Hamas not to tamper with the security forces. "The security forces will stay. Hamas has no power meddling with the security forces," he said.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of angry Fatah activists, led by masked gunmen firing wildly in the air, marched in the West Bank on Saturday, demanding the resignation of party leaders.
Dozens of them made their way into the Palestinian parliament building in Ramallah Saturday afternoon and began shooting in different directions.

Some of the gunmen said they would no longer observe an informal cease-fire with Israel.
In the city of Nablus, about 2,000 Fatah members marched through the streets, led by dozens of gunmen from the Fatah-allied Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, who climbed aboard the back of a truck and fired in the air. "Al Aksa, from Rafah to Jenin, has stopped the cease-fire," one of the gunmen aboard the truck, Nasser Haras, told the crowd. "We are now no longer part of the cease-fire."

Following bloody clashes Friday night and Saturday morning between his group and Fatah, Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Hania, told his followers Saturday morning that, "weapons should be turned only against Israel. "Our battle is not against our own people," he added.


...Khaled Mashaal, the man who runs Hamas from his office in Damascus, ...outlined three goals: Reform of the Palestinian authority, sustaining its resistance to Israel and "arranging the Palestinian home...As long as we are under occupation then resistance is our right," he said.

Mashaal indicated attacks on Israeli civilians would continue as long as Israel continued to target Palestinian civilians.