Friday, April 28, 2006

Defense Minister Amir Peretz?

From JPost Apr. 26, 2006 19:51 Updated Apr. 27, 2006 16:46 By URI DAN ...

The leaders of the Labor Party will be making a major contribution to Israel's future if they manage to convince Amir Peretz at the last minute not to accept the defense portfolio.
...Israel's national security interests will be damaged as a result of Peretz's appointment. He has no experience, no conception and no skills that qualify him to stand at the head of the huge and complex security establishment that safeguards our lives. Peretz's very willingness to take on this job proves that he understands nothing about it. The silence of the lambs of the other leaders of the Labor Party, those who have not gotten up to tell him "You are not the man for this job," proves that the only thing that interests them is their share in the government, at any price.

If Peretz were to become finance minister, as he claimed he wanted in his vapid "social-welfare" campaign slogans, the damage might be limited to the financial. Even then, it would be restricted, because even as finance minister, Peretz would not be able to do whatever he pleased with the national budget. It is already becoming clear that his campaign mantra regarding the $1,000 minimum wage is no more than a joke.

...Last Monday, after the Pessah massacre at the old bus station in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told me: "Since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian terror effort has been on an upsurge. We have thwarted 88 attempts by suicide terrorists so far this year, in other words, an average of about one per day. In 2005, we stopped about 4,000 terrorists."

And we have still not yet talked about the terror of the Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, the Iranian nuclear threat and the enormous danger posed by the huge army that Egypt has built up, notwithstanding its peace agreement with Israel.

Israel's blood-drenched wars with the Arabs have been the result of mistaken assessments. In 1967, the Israeli leadership together with the media focused on a "social-welfare agenda" - because Israel was in the throes of an economic recession at the time. All attention was devoted to this problem. And then Egypt surprised Israel when it concentrated all its forces in Sinai - leading to the Six Day War.

Prior to the Yom Kippur War the government felt smug and complacent as it celebrated Israel's 25th anniversary. So despite a brilliant Minister of Defense in Moshe Dayan, we were caught by surprise because our attentions were elsewhere.

In 2000, the politicians and the media once again misled the nation into thinking that then prime minister Ehud Barak would soon be bringing home an "end-to-the-conflict" commitment from Yasser Arafat at Camp David. But Arafat was preparing a terrorist onslaught that completely surprised Israel, one that continues to this day, shaking the very foundations of the Jewish state.

THE APPOINTMENT of Amir Peretz as defense minister, when he has no real experience in this area, proves that he and his colleagues have learned nothing from Israel's blood-drenched history, much of which was due to the criminal negligence of leaders who fell asleep on the job.Only someone who believes that Israel will soon become another Switzerland or Holland can afford to relate to the appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister with equanimity.

Only an Israeli media filled with ignoramuses or sycophants could welcome the parachuting of a political-social demagogue into the inner sanctum of Israel's national security. Only someone who is intellectually blind does not understand that appointing Peretz as defense minister could contribute to Israel being surprised with a war, as has happened in the past.

Give Peretz the entire national treasury, including the mega-salaries of the robber-baron bankers, just don't place our national security - that is, our lives, in fact the very future of the Jewish state - in his hands.

Kadima, Labor sign coalition agreement

From Ynet news 28/4/06 by Attila Somfalvi...

After three weeks of tiring negotiations with expected outcome, Labor Kadima sign coalition agreement; Labor will be given Defense, Education, Infrastructure, Tourism and Agriculture Ministries and two of its MKs will be ministers-without-portfolios. senior Kadima sources say deal with Shas finalized as well

...Kadima gave in to a Labor election promise of raising the minimum wage to USD 1000 by agreeing that the new figure will be a "target" of the new government. Between July of this year and the end of 2007, the minimum wage will be gradually raised by NIS 500 (USD 110).

Meretz to sneak in?
...As Labor and the Pensioners secure their place in the next government, it remains to be seen which other factions will be coalition partners. United Torah Judaism, Israel Our Home and Shas are the main contenders. Israel Our Home broadcast messages Thursday hinting it is likely to be in the opposition, which might clear the way for leftist Meretz to sneak in.

Meanwhile, senior Kadima sources told Ynet that a deal bringing Shas to the coalition has been finalized as well.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Israel launches satellite to spy on Iran

From Ynetnews 26/4/06 by Hanan Greenberg and AP:

Israel launches satellite Tuesday to spy on Iran's nuclear program; Defense Minister Mofaz lauds successful launch, characterizes it as 'huge achievement,' says Israel constantly continues to improve its defense capabilities ...

Holocaust effects

From Ynet News 25/4/06, by Shlomo Papirblat:

Son of Holocaust survivor still carries scars; will next generation be different?

... How is the life of a man different when he is the son of a man who was there...and ... survived the fire around him?

Different in almost every way....

(follow the link to the full article)

Osama no friend of Palestinians

From The Australian April 26, 2006 , by Richard King, a Fremantle-based journalist and reviewer:

The Islamic fundamentalism purveyed by al-Qa'ida is the enemy of moderate Muslims and secular Palestinians.

OSAMA ... bin Laden is ... very aware that Palestine is a hot-button issue in the West, where many liberal and left-wing commentators seem willing and even eager to believe that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism is attributable to American support for Israel. His pronouncements from the mid-1990s on are peppered with references to the Palestinians ... the reason for this is simple: these references have fallen on fallow ground.

... When it comes to discussion of Islamic politics, all roads lead to Palestine. Its invocation allows some liberals not only to contextualise Islamic fundamentalism, but also to compare Islamic fundamentalism to something they find even more objectionable: US support for Israel. It is, in the end, for the US, and not Islamic fundamentalism, that the Left reserves its most vociferous criticism....

...But to say that Islamic fundamentalism can be traced to US support for Israel, or that al-Qa'ida would disappear if only the Palestinians were free, is to play directly into bin Laden's hands....

... There is a war within the Muslim world. As yesterday's terror attacks on the Sinai peninsula remind us, the principal enemy of fundamentalist Islam is moderate Islam, not the West. Al-Qai'da's ultimate aim is to re-establish the Islamic caliphate and bring the entire Muslim world under the kind of repressive rule imposed by the Taliban in the late '90s....

Hamas has loudly distanced itself from bin Laden's latest proclamation. But the fact is they have certain aims in common: the abolition of Israel, for example, and the creation of a great Islamic state. Add to this the recent reports that al-Qai'da is increasing its presence in the Palestinian territories and the situation begins to look desperate.

... We need to realise that Islamic fundamentalism is the enemy, not the friend, of the Palestinian cause.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Unbelievable in-the-Bin-Laden

From Dry Bones Blog, 24/4/06 ...

Betar resistance to Nazis honoured

From JPost, Yom Hashoah 2006 ...

...on April 19, 1943 - the day before Pessah - began the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. It would take four days before the Germans, backed by artillery and tanks, would break the back of the resistance - but it was almost a month before their commander, SS General Jurgen Stroop, reported to his superiors that "the Jewish quarter of Warsaw no long exists."

The Warsaw uprising was the first urban revolt in Nazi-occupied Europe. In Jewish history, it would hold an even more significant place - a counter to the "sheep to the slaughter" image of six million Jews surrendering passively to death, an affirmation that Jews could fight. Numerous accounts by eyewitnesses and historians over the past 63 years have left the impression that there is nothing new to be said about the event. However, history is now being called to task for having overlooked a central element of the story.

... former defense minister Moshe Arens...has devoted the past three years to researching the role played in the uprising by Betar, the youth movement of the right-wing Revisionist camp.
Arens grew up in Riga, where Betar was founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and he himself served as head of the Betar branch in the United States which his family reached on the eve of the war.

...On the basis of research into Jewish, Polish and German sources, as well as interviews with surviving participants in Israel and Poland, Arens has produced articles on the subject published in Jewish scholarly journals. He argues that the commonly accepted narrative of the uprising, which assigns Betar a peripheral role at best, is skewed. Betar's fighters were the best armed and trained in the ghetto, he says. It was Betar that raised the Jewish and Polish flags that agitated the German high command and transfixed the Polish population watching the battle from afar, and it was to the Betar sector that Stroop referred when he described the "main Jewish battle group."

Betar's leaders were killed in battle while key leaders in the other Jewish camp, dominated by left-wing Labor Zionists, survived. It was the latter's version that set the tone of the subsequent narrative, leaving a large hole at the center of one of the epics of modern Jewish history by playing down, or totally ignoring, Betar's role. Despite Arens's admittedly partisan interest in the subject, his writing avoids polemics and his argument is backed by well annotated sources....

(follow the link for the full article, a detailed narrative of the uprising)

.... it had not been a battle whose outcome would be measured in casualties or territory. It had been a battle for dignity and the Jews had clearly triumphed.

This was reflected in the admiration expressed by underground Polish publications which often had to overcome innate anti-Semitism. "The courageous resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto has been going on for a month," wrote the newspaper Gwardzidsta. "It is the strongest and most prolonged act of resistance in the occupied territories."

Several newspapers noted that it was the first time that Jews, as such, had been engaged in battle since the Bar-Kochba revolt. "For the first time in 18 centuries they have risen from their humiliation," wrote a Catholic youth newspaper. "Who knows whether the spirit of Israel will not rise out of the ashes of Warsaw."

Another underground paper, Mysl Panstwowa (Government Thinking), wrote: "The Jews have risen to the level of a fighting people. Even if they do not fight for their existence - which is out of the question, considering the absolute superiority of the enemy - they have nonetheless demonstrated their right to national existence."

Yom Hashoah 2006

Yom Hashoah this year coincides with Anzac Day.

From the Yad Vashem web site ...

I post this in loving memory of my granparents Zvy ben Yosef and Chaya bat Yitzchak, and of my uncle Mordechai ben Zvy. I never hugged them, or even met them, but I carry them in my heart.

Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialized. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day-in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit.

The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work. Throughout the day, both the television and radio broadcast programs about the Holocaust. In recent years, other countries and Jewish communities have adopted Yom Hashoah, the 27th of Nisan, to mark their own day of memorial for the victims of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day begins this year on Monday evening, April 24, 2006 and continues Tuesday April 25, 2006 ... (follow the link to the Yad Vashem site)

30 killed in Egypt blasts

From The Australian April 25, 2006 network, by correspondents in Cairo. Source: Reuters ...

THREE explosions shook the Egyptian Sinai resort of Dahab today, killing 30 people and wounding more than 100, rescue and security officials said.

...The explosions took place at the Nelson Restaurant, the Aladdin Cafeteria and the Ghazala Supermarket, the Interior Ministry said. An official with the local ambulance service said many of the dead appeared to be foreigners. Israeli divers often stay in the resort but with the Passover holiday over it is unlikely many were there. The Israeli ambassador in Cairo and Israeli authorities said they did not know of any Israeli casualties.

It was the third set of three explosions on the eastern coast of the Sinai peninsula since October 2004, when a group attacked the Hilton hotel in the border resort of Taba and two other resorts on the north-east coast, killing 34 people. The Egyptian authorities said a closely related group attacked again in the up-market resort of Sharm el-Sheiklh in July last year, killing at least 67 people.

... The Egyptian authorities attributed the Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh attacks to a small Sinai-based group originally led by a man of Palestinian origin and with militant Islamist views.

From a seperate report in The Australian ...

EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak called the explosions in the Sinai resort of Dahab that killed 30 and wounded more than 100 today a "wicked terrorist act".....Previous official Egyptian statements said that three explosions took place in Dahab, without stating a cause.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Less Violent Anti-Semitic Incidents

From Haaretz, 24/04/2006, by Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent ...

The number of violent Anti-Semitic incidents around the world dropped by 20 percent in 2005 compared to the previous year, according to a report published Monday. The annual report, compiled by the Stephen Rot Institute for the Study of Contemporary anti-Semitism and Racism at the Tel Aviv University, said that since 2000 there was an increase in anti-Semitic violence every year, and 2005 is the first year in which Anti-Semitic violence dropped. France and Canada, countries that experienced a large number of attacks over the past few years, registered the most significant drop in violence. There was no change in the violent Anti-Semitic attacks in Britain, but the number of overall Anti-Semitic incidents dropped in the U.K. ...However, institute scholars said that anti-Semitic activity is on the rise in the Ukraine and Russia.

In 2005 there were 406 violent anti-Semitic incidents around the world, compared to 501 in 2004 - the year in which anti-Semitic violence peaked. However, the number of violent incidents did not yet drop to the 2003 level (when 303 incidents were registered).

MK Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who had been responsible for anti-Semitic issues in the Prime Minister's Office, said Monday that complacency should be avoided in light of the report data. Melchior said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents is not the "most reliable index" for assessing anti-Semitism, and said that "anti-Semitism is a deep and complex social process that does not necessarily express itself in this or other incident. On the Eve of the Holocaust Memorial, it is important to remember that Auschwitz wasn't built in a day."

Iran leader met top terrorist

From The Australian April 24, 2006 by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem ...

IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met one of the world's most notorious terrorists in Damascus earlier this year to discuss retaliatory attacks on Western targets in the event that Iran's nuclear sites were struck, according to intelligence experts.

A report yesterday in London's The Sunday Times said Mr Ahmadinejad, during an official visit to Syria in January, conferred with Lebanese-born Imad Mugniyeh -- commander of overseas operations for Hezbollah, the Iranian-affiliated Shia militia in Lebanon.

Mugniyeh is said to have been responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any living person prior to al-Qa'ida's attack on the US on September 11, 2001. His operatives bombed the US embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63 people. Six months later, he directed a suicide bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. He is also held responsible for the torture killing of a CIA station chief in Lebanon as well as the bombing of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in the 1990s...He would subsequently blow up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with car bombs.

The Sunday Times said US officials and Israeli intelligence sources believe that Mugniyeh, who is on the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list, has taken charge of plotting retaliatory attacks against the West in the event that US President George W.Bush orders a strike against Iran's nuclear sites.

During his Damascus visit, Mr Ahmadinejad reportedly met leaders of groups Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas....

...An Israeli defence source cited by the newspaper said that Mugniyeh met regularly with Iranian Intelligence Minister Ghkolamhossein Mohseni Ezhei, an appointee of Mr Ahmadinejad.
"Since we know from previous Iranian terror attacks that it takes about a year to plan a substantial one," the source said, "we should not be surprised if operations against Western targets are already in high gear. Mugniyeh is certainly playing a major role."

A former CIA official, Robert Baer, who hunted Mugniyeh in the 1980s, has described him as "the most dangerous terrorist we have ever faced". "Mugniyeh is probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we have ever run across, including the KGB or anyone else," he said.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported yesterday that three Israeli experts had returned last week from Iran, where they had spent 20 days offering engineering and agricultural advice. The report said the men were employees of an Amsterdam-based Israeli company that has done infrastructure work in Arab Gulf states and their identity was known to Iranian officials.
Two of the men were engineers who were asked for advice on strengthening bridges and roads in the event of earthquakes, to which Iran is prone.

The third was an agricultural expert who had been to Iran in 1998 as an adviser. He was taken to the Bushehr area, the report said, to see the farm area he had helped develop. His hosts reportedly said laughingly there was something else in the area -- "a surprise for you Israelis" -- that they couldn't show him, a clear reference to the nuclear reactor being built at Bushehr.
The Israelis participated in the Passover eve meal with members of the Jewish community in Tehran.

During the regime of the Shah, Israel was very active in Iran commercially and offered extensive rehabilitation assistance after disastrous earthquakes. It is not clear why Israeli experts are now invited to Iran when Mr Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


From Arab News April 22, 2006, by Amir Taheri ...

Every decade produces a word or a phrase that is sure to provoke commotion whenever it is pronounced....the current favorite phrase has been "regime change."

...The average citizen has been persuaded that even talking of "regime change" must be regarded as the eighth deadly sin.

...The Middle East today is passing through what historians describe as "disequilibrium". This happens when the status quo is shattered while a new one has not yet been formed.
So, who is going to create a new equilibrium and shape a new status quo in the Greater Middle East? he Arab states, still recovering from the shock of Iraq, plagued by internecine feuds, and preoccupied with Israel, offer no project. Turkey, one of the region's leading powers, has turned its face away from it in the hope of joining Europe. For obvious reasons, Israel is also out of this game.

That leaves only the United States and the Islamic republic to make rival bids for reshaping the region.

The real question, therefore, is simple: Will the new Middle East, which is bound to emerge sooner or later, be an American one, an Iranian one or an Irano-American one?

The United States, at least as long as President George W. Bush is in charge, regards the shaping of a friendly Middle East not only as a good thing in itself but also as vital for American security. The Bush Doctrine is based on the axiom that democracies do not export terrorism or start wars against other democracies. The strategic interests of the US, therefore, dictate that hostile regimes be replaced by friendly ones.

... the Islamic republic is determined not to allow the US to succeed in the region.
In every single country of the region — from Pakistan to Morocco — the US and the Islamic republic are engaged in almost daily political, diplomatic and, at times, even proxy military, combat, with varying degrees of intensity. The Islamic republic is actively engaged in sabotaging US plans for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and has revived its dormant networks in more than a dozen Arab countries. It has to do so because the emergence of a pro-American Middle East would mean the death of the Khomeinist ideology and its global ambitions.

There are only two ways to end this undeclared war between US and the Islamic republic.
The first is a Yalta-like agreement between Washington and Tehran to divide the Middle East into zones of influence, to set out the rules of the game, and to establish red lines. That would allow a new status quo to be shaped on the basis of a new balance of power. The model for such an arrangement is that of the Cold War between the West and the now defunct USSR that ensured Europe's stability for almost half a century.

But even then there is no guarantee that the two ideological adversaries, the Western democracies on the one hand and the Islamic republic on the other, will not pursue a global, low-intensity conflict just as was the case between the Soviet camp and the West throughout the Cold War. Another problem, of course, is that the other countries of the region — the Arab states, Pakistan, Turkey, the Caspian Basin nations, and Israel — might not be jubilant about an Irano-American condominium, and may try to undermine it.

The second way to end the undeclared war between the US and the Islamic republic is, you guessed it, regime change.

...Is regime change possible in either Tehran or Washington? The answer is: Yes.

One could imagine a new Jimmy Carter in the White House who would decide that it was no business of the United States to reshape the Middle East and that it would be better to allow "the natives" in the region to concoct their own witches' brew.

To achieve regime change in Washington, Tehran should do all it can to discredit the Bush Doctrine and to portray Afghanistan and Iraq not as successes, but as total failures. On that score the Islamic republic has many actual or potential allies inside and outside the US who, for different reasons, want Bush to fail and the US to be humiliated. This is why President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has based his foreign policy on a simple stratagem: Waiting Bush out in the hope that his successor will run away from the Middle East.

At the other end of the spectrum, the US, were it to adopt a policy of regime change toward the Islamic republic, something it has not done yet, would find many allies inside and outside Iran.
But even then regime change need not mean military invasion. The way change happened in Kabul was different from the way it happened in Baghdad. And, were it to happen in Tehran, it would again be different. Nor should we assume that a policy of regime change should be put into immediate effect. For a range of reasons that might not be possible, or even desirable, at this particular moment in time.

The important thing is to realize that the Middle East will not be out of crisis until one side gives in.

Palestinian in-fighting

From Ynet News 22/4/06, by Ali Waked ...

In show of force, dozens of Fatah activists flock to streets of Gaza City to protest Hamas leader's comments, after he accused PA officials of collaborating with Israel, U.S. to undermine Hamas government

Dozens of Fatah activists, including many gunmen, flocked to the streets of Gaza city and the surrounding refugee camps Friday night to protest against the remarks made by Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal, who accused Palestinian Authority officials of cooperating with Israel in an attempt to undermine the Hamas government.

Mashaal said Hamas will not allow "collaborators with Israel to take power" with Israeli and American support. He said intra-Palestinian attempts to undermine the Hamas government were tantamount to a military revolution. "What's happening today in the Palestinian Authority is not opposition activity, but rather, a conspiracy to thwart the elected Palestinian government," he added.

...Mashaal also referred to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' condemnation of Monday's terror attack in Tel Aviv. Abbas had said that the attack was a despised act...

Mashaal also slammed Abbas' decision to veto the controversial appointment of Popular Resistance Committees head Jamal Abu Samhadana as the PA Interior Ministry director-general, saying that the act undermined the government's authorities.

...In response to the accusations, Fatah Spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman harshly blasted Mashaal, saying that the Hamas leader was stirring civil war. ...Mashaal was even implicitly criticized by his party member, Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Nasser Shaer, who called on Palestinian leaders to exercise self-control in their comments....

And from another article on the same day ...

Hamas activists from Islamic University in Gaza clashed with students from Fatah over comments by Khaled Mashaal who accused Fatah of cooperating with Israel

Serious clashes erupted on Saturday afternoon in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas supporters. At least 20 people were injured when students from the two organizations clashed over comments by Khaled Mashaal, who accused Fatah of cooperating with Israel. Three Palestinians were moderately injured. In the course of the clashes, grenades were fired, and Molotov cocktails were thrown. The clashes spread to other areas in Gaza.

... Among demonstrators are many gunmen who have exploited the tensions to display power.

...In the afternoon, Fatah and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members held a press conference in Gaza and Nablus, in which they vowed not to let Hamas insult the honor of Fatah....

...At the same time Hamas heads in the territories and government ministries are calling for restraint following Mashaal's comments. Hamas members said off the record that "it would be preferable had the things not been said." Fatah is continuing to demand that Mashaal apologizes.