Saturday, September 23, 2006

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan lead ME peace plans

From The Arab Times (Kuwait), 19/9/2006 by Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Editor-in-Chief...

EGYPT, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan ...will soon take the responsibility for initiating political dialogue with the Western countries to implement the Middle East peace plan according to the initiative taken by ....King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. This crescent will be fully responsible for the present and future of the Arab world and we can confidently say that we have a competent group which is capable of projecting the true image of Arabs as peace loving people.

Some people are still against the idea of allowing peace to return to the Arab world. These groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah which have strategic ties with Iran’s plans for expansion, are afraid their revenues from selling their national cause and the practice of trading their stand on important political issues will dry up.

People of Arab countries are no longer in the mood to allow anybody to trade on their suffering and political issues. This explains the dispute between the people of Palestine and the Hamas-led government. Less than seven months after Hamas came to power, the Palestinians have understood they have been deceived and are going to starve to death. While urging its people not to kneel even if they starve, Hamas has seized the opportunity of being in the government to politically trade this position with Iran and Syria. According to a recent opinion poll conducted in Palestine the popularity of Hamas has gone down to 25 per cent while that of Fatah Movement has increased to 47 per cent. It is obvious the Palestinians are against selling their cause to serve foreign interests or providing Director of Political Office at the Hamas Movement Khalid Mishaal with a safe place in Damascus.

We are counting on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to project the true image of Arabs to the world. We are confident they will succeed, especially as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is a political reference in the Gulf region, President Hosni Mubarak is popular and has a remarkable influence in Africa and western parts of the Arab world, and King Abdullah II of Jordan is an important political figure in the Mediterranean Arab region.

Unfortunately, Syria has become an international pariah after being linked to Iran. The Arab crescent formed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will soon play a crucial and strategic political role by presenting Arab issue to the international community in a logical and acceptable manner. They will lead the Arab world in formalizing ties with the international system. Other countries, which are still refusing to respond and cooperate, will continue to live in the Cold War era and its ruins.

... Against Fascism in the Middle East

From GLORIA, September 18, 2006, by Barry Rubin ...

You've heard the bad news about the Middle East. Here's the good news: across the region, people are standing up to the radical Islamist axis of, respectively, the presidents of Iran and Syria....

...The rise of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas axis has led to a reaction by a more unlikely alliance than could ever be imagined. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, all the Lebanese non-Shia communities, and others, are coming together to fight radical Islamist forces. While none say this publicly, their interests parallel those of Israel and the United States and they know it.

..... Almost all Arab regimes view Syria and Iran to be the kind of threat Saddam Hussein was in the 1980s, which eventually led them to side with the United States in a war against him. Moderates don't want to see their societies transformed into second-rate imitations of Afghanistan under the Taliban. From Lebanese Shia clerics to Saudi princes, people resent how the radicals dragged them to war. In bizarre alliances, Saudi Sunni royalty funds Lebanese Christians to fight Lebanese Shia.

Lebanon's Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims, about 60 percent of the population are lining up for visas or thinking of the need to fight. A poll found 79 percent of Druze and 77 percent of Christians want Hizballah disarmed. Even among Sunni Muslims the figure was 54 percent, while 84 percent of Shia Muslims support Hizballah.

Many developments show similar trends: - Saudi and Egyptian state-controlled media regularly attack Syria, Iran, and Hizballah, including saying that Hizballah lost the war....Even Sunni Muslim holy-war-fighting types, the kind of people who, like Usama bin Ladin, are declaring that the fight against Iran and Hizballah is as important as that against the evil Crusader Americans and the Zionists.

.... The United States should support the anti-totalitarian forces. True, they don't want open American support, but there are many ways to help indirectly and covertly. The United States must also crush misguided attempts to sell out Lebanon and Israel as a way of trying to buy off radicals who seek total victory and view concessions as a sign of weakness prompting escalated attacks. People all over the Middle East understand the danger posed by the terrorists far more than do naive Westerners. What is needed is not appeasement but a united front against the fascism of our time.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His co-authored book, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, (Oxford University Press) is now available in paperback and in Hebrew. His latest book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, was published by Wiley in September. Prof. Rubin's columns can now be read online at:

Israeli Technology Advances

From IsraCast Technology, highlights in the recent news in science and technology in Israel ... [Follow the link for a full list of the latest breakthroughs]

The dawn of cognitive technology
...the Israeli company CogniFit, which has developed a unique adaptive technology that enables its software to learn the users abilities, and based on this data, create a personalized cognitive training program.

Venus - The next eye in the sky
By the end of the decade a revolutionary new micro-satellite will orbit around the world at an altitude of 700km sending precise information on agriculture and marine changes in unprecedented precision and detail. The Israeli-French project will allow farmers to better treat their crops, fisherman to locate large quantities of fish in mid-sea and will also vastly increase the ability of the scientific community to study and monitor the flora and fauna in many areas around the globe. ....

Viruses: The new cancer hunters
Researchers from the Hebrew University have succeeded in isolating a variant of the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV-HUJ), which usually affects birds, in order to specifically target cancer cells. The research, which has already cleared the first phase of clinical trials, is already patented and if all goes well it might receive an approval for clinical use, changing the way we think about viruses forever.

An Israeli company has recently tested one of the most shock-resistant materials known to man. Five times stronger than steel and at least twice as strong as any impact-resistant material currently in use as protective gear, the new nano-based material is on its way to becoming the armor of the future.

A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as Magnesium and Aluminum was developed by an Israeli company..... When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about the same as existing conventional cars to run, and will be completely emission free.

A new technique that can accurately diagnose anxiety disorders by performing a simple blood test, was developed at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The researchers hope that the anxiety blood test will soon make its way into hospitals and E.R. rooms and give doctors and psychiatrists a quick and precise tool for examining, and eventually treating, these disorders. The team has recently started work on another common illness - depression. They hope to find a way to diagnose and finally treat the millions who suffer from this illness as well.

An Israeli Inventor has developed a breathing apparatus that will allow breathing underwater without the assistance of compressed air tanks. This new invention will use the relatively small amounts of air that already exist in water to supply oxygen to both scuba divers and submarines. The invention has already captured the interest of most major diving manufacturers as well as the Israeli Navy.

A system that could predict earthquakes has long been the Holy Grail of scientists trying to prevent the next catastrophe. Now a small Israeli company, backed by experts, is not only claiming to have discovered a method for accurately predicting earthquakes well before they occur, but also for preventing some of them.

A revolutionary method of using concentrated solar energy for producing hydrogen in a clean, safe and inexpensive way was developed by a cooperation of scientists from Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and France. ....

An Israeli company developed a new technology for water disinfection. It uses ultra violet (UV) light to disinfect water and is 10,000 more effective then existing techniques. ....

Israeli medical doctor developed a revolutionary bandage that can replace both ordinary bandages and Tourniquet and can even be used to treat burns. ....its inventor hopes that when it enters mass production its low price and superior performance will allow it to save lives across the world.

Smart implant will help broken vertebra
The first clinical trials of a new and minimally invasive procedure for vertebral fracture reconstruction have recently been started at the Beilinson Hospital in Petah-Tikva. The new method uses a smart implant made of Titanium that is inserted into the spinal cord of the patient using a small tube.....

In research conducted at the Hebrew University, a method for controlling bacterial activity without antibiotics was developed. .....

New technology developed in Israel is revolutionizing the field of smart video motion detection by using advanced algorithms to automatically detect and track intruders from hundreds of meters away, day and night, in all weather conditions. The new system, which recently passed rigorous testing by Israeli security forces, is already being installed in various strategic locations in Israel and the U.S.

Israeli scientists working with the financial backing of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have developed a biochip that can detect toxic substances in drinking water. When the device will be available it will be the size of a credit card and will be able to analyze a water sample in less than ten minutes.

[Follow the link for a full list of the latest breakthroughs]

Zentai Extradition hearing delayed

From The International Herald Tribune, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2006, by Associated Press ....

PERTH, Australia: Proceedings to extradite to Hungary an elderly man accused of torturing and slaying a Jewish teenager during World War II were delayed Friday after he lodged an appeal.

Charles Zentai, 84, has been under investigation by Hungary's Foreign Ministry since December 2004 on suspicion of murdering Peter Balazs, 18, on Nov. 8, 1944, for failing to wear a yellow star identifying him as a Jew.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center alleges that Zentai tortured and beat Balazs to death in a Budapest army barracks. Zentai, who emigrated to Australia in 1950 and became an Australian citizen soon after, has denied the claim.

Zentai appeared briefly Friday in Perth Magistrate's Court, where his lawyer, Michael Bowden, said the accused had lodged an appeal against a Federal Court ruling last month that dismissed his challenge to the extradition proceedings.

Chief Magistrate Steven Heath adjourned the hearing until Dec. 11, when he is to decide whether to set a date for the extradition hearing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Intel Jerusalem helps develop world first in data communication

From JPost, 18/9/06, by Avi Krawitz [full article available to subscribers]....

Intel's Jerusalem research and development center and the chip maker's Santa Clara headquarters has developed a new concept to answer a foreseen bottleneck in data communication transfer, which will increase the speed of future generation computers a thousandfold. "This technology removes one of the last major barriers to producing low-cost, highbandwidth silicon-based optical devices for use inside and around future computer and data centers," Intel said ahead of the release of the new technology on Monday. The company carried out the research in partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara, to develop a "proof of concept" for an electrically powered hybrid silicon laser using silicon manufacturing processors [sic - should be "processes" - SL] - a world first, Intel said.

In layman's terms, Nahum Izhaky, photonics technology development manager at Intel Jerusalem and head of the Israeli team involved in the project, explained that the technology allows data to be transferred from chip to chip via light, or laser electrons, rather than copper wiring, thus overcoming major limitations expected to come to the fore from the current system. "The question will soon arise on how much information you can send through copper lines and at what speed," Izhaky told The Jerusalem Post. "While the foreseeable problems can be overcome with the current technology this would be very complicated, inefficient and prohibitively expensive." Intel's breakthrough, he explained, will make that process cheaper and several thousand times faster.

The researchers developed a method to combine the light-emitting properties of Indium Phosphide with the light-routing capabilities of silicon into a single chip. "When voltage is applied to the chip, light generated by the indium phosphide-based layer enters the silicon waveguide where it is contained and controlled, creating a hybrid silicon laser," the company said. While the previous use of indium phosphide-based lasers has been very expensive, the new method's use of silicon drastically reduces that cost. "This marks the beginning of highly integrated silicon photonic chips that can be massproduced at low cost," said John Bowers, a professor at UCSB. One of the great advantages of this, Jerusalem's Izhaky said, is that it will provide the ability to produce hundreds of lasers in the same process.

As the demands of data transfer increase, the limitations of copper wiring on transistors becomes ever more pressing. "We don't see limitations on the transistors themselves and it will take about 20 years to get there," Izhaky said. "The complications from using copper wiring in the interconnections between chips within the transistor however will limit our capabilities in a few years' time, probably around 2012." And with the proof of concept in place, the Jerusalem team can continue its work to bring it to the next stage of development in creating a suitable architecture thus allowing for the development of commercial product by then. "While still far from becoming a commercial product, we believe dozens, maybe even hundreds of hybrid silicon lasers could be integrated with other silicon photonic components onto a single silicon chip," said Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's photonics technology lab in Santa Clara. "This could enable low-cost, terabit optical 'data pipes' in future computers, making possible a flood of new applications for high-speed computing."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Imminent al-Qaeda threat to Eilat

From Ynet News, 19/9/06, by Meir Ohayon ...

Senior officer says terror cells being set up around southern town – in Sinai, Jordan, Saudi Arabia – and that defense establishment needs to stay alert in order to prevent attacks

A senior army official said that the defense establishment needs to be prepared for the possibility of a global jihad attack in the southern town of Eilat. "Eilat is a target. In the last two years many global jihad attacks were carried out around it. The ability and the intent to attack exist, and we must stay alert in order to prevent a strategic strike," he stated.

The escalation in infiltration attempts from the Egyptian border, al-Qaeda's threats to carry out a terror attack in Israel, and the formation of terror cells in Sinai, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, give the IDF further reason to step up operations to thwart infiltrations.

"The threat to Eilat is multi-dimensional: From the air, the sea, and of course – from land, and can be launched from Jordan or Egypt," the officer explained. "We have yet to see the Islamic jihad's fingerprints in this region, but nevertheless I consider it to be an imminent, worrying threat that I don't want to see nearing the area," he added.

The official recommended to close the western road along Egypt's border until an electronic fence is erected in the area. Due to plans of the terror organizations across the border to hit tourist destinations, the IDF recently decided to establish a new base in Mount Sagi in the Negev, and station reserve and compulsory service units in the place that will reinforce the operations of army forces in the area.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Militants freed from Israeli custody behind 14 attacks

From Haaretz , 18/09/2006, by Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent---

Members of terror organizations who were released from Israeli custody after being defined as not having "blood on their hands" perpetrated 14 terror attacks in the past several years. In them, 132 Israeli civilians were killed and many others were injured, according to a report released over the weekend by the Almagor Terror Victims Association.

The organization said that from 1993-99, Israel released 6,912 terrorists in the context of various confidence-building gestures, some of whom returned to terror activities "at the cost of huge destruction of life."Almagor on Sunday called on the Israeli public "not to be led astray by formulations that take the terrorists' murderousness lightly" and "not to console ourselves with the hope that the next terror attack will not hurt us or our immediate surroundings."

The organization issued a list of 14 major attacks carried out or engineered by released terrorists, including the 2002 Park Hotel attack in Netanya (29 killed, 155 injured), the 2002 Karkur Junction attack (14 killed, 42 injured), the suicide attack at Jerusalem's Cafit Cafe (11 killed, 20 injured), and the 2003 suicide attack at Cafe Hillel, also in Jerusalem, in which seven people were killed and many more were injured.

Sunday morning Almagor held a protest vigil of families of terror victims, across from the Prime Minister's Office in the capital. Among the protesters was Debra Appelbaum, whose husband, Dr. David Appelbaum, and 20-year-old daughter Nava were killed in the Cafe Hillel attack.

Sorry we forgave

Follow this link for a timely article from Ynet News, 17/9/06, by Shahar Ilan about forgiveness ahead of the approaching Yom Kippur, including some rulings on the issue by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and an opinion that the Nazis can only be forgiven by their 6 million victims ----

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Violent Anti-Semitic Attacks in Western Europe

From "Totally Jewish" (UK), Friday 15th of September 2006, by Justin Cohen ....

Six youths were arrested by Barnet [UK] police this week in connection with a vicious anti-semitic attack on a 12-year-old girl, that left her unconscious with a fractured eye socket. The young victim who asked not to be named told the Jewish News yesterday how the incident last month had shattered her confidence and left her suffering from terrifying nightmares.

The police said that four 14-year-old girls, a 10-year-old girl and a boy aged 10, had been arrested and released on bail in connection with the attack, which shocked London’s Jewish community.

The victim ... was allegedly travelling with a friend ... when the pair were approached at Mill Hill Broadway by a group of girls and a boy. The group allegedly sat close to the girls and began quizzing them about their clothing before asking if they were Jewish. One of the assailants allegedly told them to stand up and frisked them for their belongings before snatching a bracelet from the victim. As the girls tried to leave the bus at Mill Hill Broadway station their way was allegedly blocked. The 12-year-old said: “She started hitting me with a phone on my cheekbones to wind me up and she slapped me three times really hard. “I don’t remember what happened until I was on the floor screaming. My friend was in the corner screaming for help. I woke up with someone stamping on my face .... Despite her screams of terror, fellow passengers looked on and said nothing until eventually a boy forced the door open so they could make their escape.

A passing motorist stopped to help and the girl was taken to Barnet hospital where she was treated for a fractured eye socket and bruising to her face and chest. Her injuries were so severe that her 42-year-old father decided it was better for her mother not to visit the hospital......His daughter, who will celebrate her batmitzvah next month, remains traumatised that her plight was ignored by bystanders. She said: “...I’m scared and get frightened more easily.”Constant nightmares mean she is unable to get a full night’s sleep which, in turn, has affected her school work. She said: “I wake up screaming and my mum has to comfort me.” She added: “It is just not human not to help someone who is being attacked. I understand if people were scared but at least they could tell the driver to call the police. As soon as we got off the bus, the driver closed the doors and went off like nothing happened.”

....Mark Gardner, of the CST [Police], said: “This was one of the most shocking anti-semitic attacks in Britain in recent years. It was extremely important that the police investigated it fully, for the sake of the victim, her family, and the community as a whole. We welcome the arrests and hope that prosecutions will follow.”

...and from Ynet News, 17/8/06, by Meital Tzur ...

Shots fired at Oslo synagogue
.... perpetrators fire gunshots at synagogue in Norway’s capital from passing car; police open investigation....

The incident occurred at 2:30 a.m. and the gunshots were apparently fired from a passing car, which quickly fled the scene. No one was wounded, but local police opened an investigation into the incident.

Yael, a 35-year-old resident of Oslo, told Ynet that the synagogue was located in central Oslo, next to the municipality and a Jewish kindergarten. As the only synagogue in the Norwegian capital, it serves Oslo’s small Jewish community. She said the building’s fa├žade was hit by the gunshots....

Worsening atmosphere
Yael noted that since July, with the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hizbullah, attitudes towards Jews in Norway have worsened.

“Since the war in Lebanon,” Yael said, “there is an unpleasant atmosphere here. There were a lot of (verbal) attacks on Israel by religious leaders, and there were demonstrations against the war by Muslims and the Norwegian left wing, mostly attended by adolescents.”

....demonstrators carried anti-Semitic symbols and called for bombing Tel Aviv. After the protest, the demonstrators hurled stones at the synagogue and one of them even defecated on the stairs of the temple,” she said.

With that, she said the most recent incident indicated an escalation, due to the unprecedented use of an automatic weapon. According to Jewish Agency data, some 1,200 Jews live in Norway, most of whom reside in Oslo. An additional 500 Israelis can be found throughout Norway.

Roee Nahmias contributed to the report

Bush Wants 'Clarity' on Interrogations

From The new York Sun, September 15, 2006, BY TERENCE HUNT - Associated Press ...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Facing a Republican revolt in the Senate, President Bush urged Congress on Friday to join in backing legislation to spell out strategies for interrogating and trying terror suspects, saying "the enemy wants to attack us again." "Time is running out," Mr. Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. "Congress needs to act wisely and promptly."

Mr. Bush denied American might lose the moral high ground in the war on terror in the eyes of world opinion, as Secretary Powell suggested. "It's unacceptable to think there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective," said Mr. Bush, growing animated as he spoke.

On Iraq, Mr. Bush said he regretted American troop levels are rising instead of falling. He blamed it on the recent surge in sectarian violence. "We all want the troops to come home as quickly as possible," he said. But he said Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, needed reinforcements "to help the Iraqis achieve their objective."

"And that's the way I will continue to conduct the war. I'll listen to the generals," Mr. Bush said. "Maybe it's not the politically expedient thing to do. But you can't make decisions based on politics about how to win a war."

....Mr. Bush's news conference came a day after four Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee broke with the administration and joined Democrats in approving a bill assuring that foreign terrorism suspects would be accorded Geneva Convention protections. Mr. Bush claims that measure would compromise the war on terrorism. He is urging the Senate to pass a bill more like a House-passed one that would allow his administration to continue holding and trying terror suspects before military tribunals and to give interrogators more leeway.

Mr. Bush said he would work with Congress but stood firm on his demands. "Unfortunately the recent Supreme Court decision put the future of this program in question. ... We need this legislation to save it." The high court earlier this year struck down Mr. Bush's current arrangement for holding detainees held at the American Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mr. Bush said that it was vital to clarify the law to protect intelligence professionals who are called on to question detainees to obtain vital information. He called it an important debate that "defines whether or not we can protect ourselves. Congress has got a decision to make."

Democrats were quick to respond. "When conservative military men like John McCain, John Warner, Lindsey Graham and Colin Powell stand up to the president, it shows how wrong and isolated the White House is," said Senator Schumer. Senator Warner is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Senators McCain and Graham are members. Mr. McCain is a former Navy pilot who spent more than five years in enemy captivity during the Vietnam War. Mr. Graham is a former Air Force Reserve judge. Mr. Powell is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he supports the McCain approach because it would be less likely to be challenged by the Supreme Court as unlawful and violating American obligations under the Geneva Convention.
He said he voted in committee for the House-administration position to "move the process along," but said he will attempt to amend it when the House votes next week. "I don't want to give any terrorist a free pass or get-out-of-jail-free card," Mr. Skelton said.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who supports the president's plan, said he hoped Congress could reach agreement "in a way where the interrogation of terrorist detainees can continue." Meanwhile, foreign ministers of the European Union on Friday called on America to respect international law in its handling of terror suspects after Mr. Bush acknowledged America had run secret prisons abroad. "We reiterate that in combatting terrorism, human rights and human standards have to be maintained," said Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, speaking on behalf of the 25 EU ministers.

The dissident group led by Mr. McCain _ and backed by Mr. Powell, Mr. Bush's first-term secretary of state _ said Mr. Bush's approach would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops.
Mr. Powell said Mr. Bush's proposal would redefine the Geneva Conventions and encourage the world to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism" and "put our own troops at risk."

But, Mr. Bush told reporters, "We must...provide our military and intelligence professionals with the tools they need to protect our country from another attack. And the reason they need those tools is because the enemy wants to attack us again."

It was Mr. Bush's first news conference since Aug. 21, when he said the Iraq war was "straining the psyche of our country" but that leaving now would be a disaster. Mr. Bush has made the struggle against terrorism and the war in Iraq the top issues in the November elections, hoping to persuade voters that Republicans are better than Democrats at protecting the country. Mr. Bush's voice rose and he chopped the air with his right hand several times as he spoke on Iraq. He denied anew that the surge in sectarian violence meant a civil war.

U.S. May Lose War on Terror

From The New York Sun, September 13, 2006 BY DANIEL FREEDMAN....

The victor of the war on terror is far from clear, the historian Bernard Lewis told a Hudson Institute conference. The British-born professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton said Monday that he was "more optimistic about the future of our struggle" in the early 1940s — when the French had capitulated to the Germans, when Stalin was Hitler's ally, and when America was still neutral — than he is today.

"Hitler would have won under these conditions," Mr. Lewis said, citing America's inability to clearly define the war on terror and exactly who its enemy is. The professor, whose vision of the future of the Middle East and knowledge of Islam has guided President Bush's foreign policy, also cited as challenges the multilateralism that hamstrings America's ability to fight the war and the strong political opposition to policies designed to defeat the enemy, such as detaining terrorists without trial.

During the darkest days of the fight against Nazism, Mr. Lewis said, he "had no doubt that in the end we would triumph." He does not "have that certitude now," he said.

Mr. Lewis told the center-right think tank's conference on the United Nations that he agrees with a former communist dissident and current Israeli parliamentarian, Natan Sharansky, that the only real solution to defeating radical Islam is to bring freedom to the Middle East. Either "we free them or they destroy us," Mr. Lewis said.

The contention, especially popular in diplomatic circles, that Arabs aren't suited to democracy and that the West's best hope lies with friendly tyrants shows an ignorance of the Arabs' past and contempt for their present and future, and is "demonstrably absurd in historical terms," Mr. Lewis said. Mr. Lewis said a great deal of material exists — from Arabs, from Persians, and from Turks — that can form the basis for democracies in the region.....

Mr. Lewis said he places no hope in the United Nations being part of the solution. He "first realized the U.N. was hopeless" after the partition of Palestine, he said. Palestine was a "triviality" compared to the partition of India that took place a year earlier, in 1947, he added. Millions of refugees were created and yet India and Pakistan formed a working relationship and sorted out the problems. The key difference, Mr. Lewis said, was that "in the partition of India, the U.N. was not involved. "The United Nations failed to act after the Arab states invaded Palestine, and then treated Jewish and Arab refugees differently, leaving problems that remain today, he said.

Security around pope beefed up

From Ynet News, 17/9/06, by Nir Magal and agencies ....

....Italian media reported that security around Pope Benedict XVI has been beefed up following the harsh responses to his remarks on Islam. On Sunday the pope is expected to deliver his weekly sermon from his summer home, and it is still not clear whether he will address the international uproar his comments have stirred.

In a speech delivered last week in Germany the pope quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Following harsh condemnations from the Muslim world, the Vatican issues a statement saying that the pope is "extremely upset" that Muslims have been offended by some of his words. The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said that the pope's position on Islam is unmistakably in line with Vatican teaching that the Church "esteems Muslims, who adore the only God."

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the pope’s comments were "ugly" and said the pontiff should withdraw them. ..... Hizbullah and Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim religious authority denounced the pope’s remarks, with the militant Shiite Muslim group warning of a global religious schism. Hizbullah called on the Vatican to review the pope's "declared attitude which can lead to world divisions and from which the enemies of humanity - the neo-conservatives led by ..... Bush and the neo-racists and Nazis, the Zionists who attack civilians and the land - can benefit.”

'We will blow up all of Gaza’s churches'
The spiritual leader of Lebanon's Sunnis, the Grand Mufti Sheik Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, said the pope's remarks emanated either from "Ignorance and lack of knowledge or were deliberately intended to distort Islam."

..... Five churches throughout the West Bank were attacked by Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs. Firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames

In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying they were carried out to protest the pope's remarks in a speech this week in Germany linking Islam and violence.

Later Saturday, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings, striking both with bullets.

In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, striking the facade. A policeman at the scene said he saw a Mitsubishi escape with armed men inside. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage.

On Friday night about 2,000 protesters gathered outside the Palestinian parliament building to express their anger at the pope's statement. "This is a new crusade against the Arab Islamic world. It comes in different forms, in cartoons or lectures ... They hate our religion," Ismail Radwan, a local Hamas official, told the rally.

During one rally gunmen in Gaza city opened fire at the Greek Orthodox church; no injuries or damage were reported. An unknown organization named “The sword of Islam claimed responsibility for the incident. “We want to make it clear that if the pope does not appear on TV and apologize for his comments, we will blow up all of Gaza’s churches,” the group said in a statement.