Saturday, May 12, 2007

Labor's Fremantle candidate represents who?

From The Age, May 2, 2007 ....

Labor's candidate for the seat of Fremantle at the next federal election has sought to play down claims she is out of touch with the electorate.

Melissa Parke ["annointed" by retiring member Carmen Lawrence - SL] won preselection for Fremantle [at the beginning of the month] after no other candidates put in their nomination. Ms Parke, who lives and works in New York in the United States as a human rights lawyer, has been criticised by Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri as an outsider not in touch with local issues.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Ms Parke said she would listen to the electorate.
"I will be taking every opportunity over the next six or seven months to meet and speak with the people in the Fremantle electorate about the federal issues that affect them," Ms Parke said in the statement.

Mr Tagliaferri has again said he is considering standing as an independent candidate for Fremantle to ensure the seat has a candidate who knows the local issues. "If Melissa Parke is going to stand for election, what's in it for the federal seat of Fremantle?" Mr Tagliaferri said.
"She comes into it inexperienced, not connected to the community whatsoever. She hasn't lived in Australia for seven years, hasn't been on the electoral roll for several years - extraordinary stuff."....

....Carmen Lawrence, the current federal member for Fremantle, said ..."She's someone who will get involved as soon as she gets back here and will buy a house in Fremantle and then she'll be a Fremantle resident."...

Jewish Population in Arab Countries 1948-2001

Follow this link to see a table and chart detailing the almost 900,000 Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands after 1948.

Where are these Jewish refugees, now?

Where are the 20 million refugees from Europe, after 1945, now?

Why are 500,000 Arab refugees from Palestine in 1948 (defined by the UN as Arabs who had resided there for 2 years or more), plus their 5 million descendents, now still classed as refugees and held in "refugee camps"?


The Boston Globe, Wednesday, May 9, 2007, by Jeff Jacoby ...

.... the interim report of the Winograd Commission, a blue-ribbon panel appointed last September to investigate Israel 's failings in its second Lebanon War...documents in damning detail the bungling, the willful blindness, and the almost criminal ill-preparedness that pervaded the highest levels of Israel 's government during the war and the years leading up to it.

.... Hezbollah had been openly preparing for war for six years, ever since Israel 's unilateral retreat from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Making no attempt to disguise its intentions, Hezbollah swept into the territory Israel had abandoned, creating a network of fortified bunkers and launch sites and deploying thousands of missiles and rockets along the border. All the while Israel looked on, doing nothing about the mounting threat.

"Every alarm bell should have been ringing," Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz writes. "But many of the warning systems had, literally or figuratively, long since been disconnected. And those who did try to stress the unmistakable imminent dangers were often ignored."

How could Israel have been so complacent? What accounts for such lethargy in the face of a deadly menace that was growing more dangerous by the day?

The answer, says the Winograd Commission, is that too many of "the political and military elites in Israel have reached the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars." Unlike their forebears, who understood that the Jewish state would never have peace until its enemies decided to lay down their arms, today's Israeli leadership imagines that it can achieve peace by means of restraint and retreat.

"Since Israel did not intend to initiate a war," the report concludes, senior officials decided that Israel "did not need to be prepared for 'real' war." And that being the case, "there was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated way Israel 's overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize . . . all its resources -- political, economic, social, military, spiritual, cultural, and scientific -- to address the totality of the challenges it faces."

Fed up with fighting, aching to live normally, Israelis lulled themselves into a stupor. They shook hands with Yasser Arafat and ran away from Lebanon and expelled the Jews from Gaza. They blamed themselves for their enemies' hatred and turned the other cheek to suicide bombings and Kassam rocket attacks. They tried to be Athens , one Israeli commentator wrote last year. But to survive in the Middle East, even Athens must sometimes act like Sparta .

"We are tired of fighting," Olmert moaned in a 2005 speech. "We are tired of defeating our enemies." Unfortunately, those who grow tired of defeating their enemies generally end up being defeated by them.

As America 's beleaguered ally searches for new leadership, one voice worth heeding is that of Hebrew University game theorist Robert Aumann, a Nobel laureate in economics.

"We are like a mountain climber who gets caught in a snowstorm," Aumann said at this year's Herzliya Conference in January. "He is cold and tired, and he wants to sleep. If he falls asleep, he will freeze to death. We are in terminal danger because we are tired. I will allow myself to say a few unpopular, unfashionable words: Our panicked lunging for peace is working against us. It brings us farther away from peace, and endangers our very existence.

"Roadmaps, capitulation, gestures, disengagements, convergences, deportations, and so forth do not bring peace. On the contrary, they bring war, just as we saw last summer."

With enemies like Hezbollah, weariness is a luxury Israel cannot afford. And lest we forget, Hezbollah is [USA's] enemy too.

12th Grade Palestinian schoolbooks

From the Executive Summary of a Palestinian Media Watch, February 2007 Special Report entitled "From nationalist battle to religious conflict: New 12th Grade Palestinian schoolbooks present a world without Israel", by Itamar Marcus, Director, Barbara Crook, Associate Director, and PMW research staff...

[Aussie readers, watch out for a public talk by Itamar Marcus, who will be visiting Australian capital cities in the first week of June. Also note our recent posting on Palestinian Education. - SL]

At the end of 2006, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Higher Education introduced new 12th grade schoolbooks, written by ... Palestinian educators appointed by ... Fatah ....backed by foreign funding, with special thanks to Belgium noted in the new schoolbooks.

Before the year 2000, the schoolbooks used in the Palestinian Authority were primarily Jordanian and Egyptian books, republished by the PA. Between 2000 and 2005, responding to widespread international criticism of the old textbooks, the PA Ministry of Education issued new textbooks for Grades 1 through 11.....

PMW has found that the new 12th grade Palestinian schoolbooks make no attempt to educate for peace and coexistence with Israel. Indeed, the opposite is true: The teachings repeatedly reject Israel's right to exist, present the conflict as a religious battle for Islam, teach Israel’s founding as imperialism, and actively portray a picture of the Middle East, both verbally and visually, in which Israel does not exist at all.

The following description of Israel's founding represents the dominant dogma about Israel in Palestinian schoolbooks:

"Palestine’s war ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people from their cities, their villages, their lands and their houses, and established the State of Israel."
[Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, grade 12, p. 104 ]

Defining Israel's founding as a "catastrophe unprecedented in history," “a theft perpetrated by "Zionist gangs," together with numerous other hateful descriptions of Israel as "colonial imperialist" and "racist," compounded by the presentation of the conflict as a religious war, leaves no latitude for students to have positive or even neutral attitudes towards Israel. This negative imagery and religious packaging are compounded by hateful presentations of Israeli policy. The young students are imbued with a Palestinian identity as “victims” just by virtue of Israel's existence. The well-meaning student is left with no logical justification or religious option to accept Israel as a neighbor or to seek coexistence. Given the total rejection of Israel's right to exist, on nationalistic and religious grounds, Palestinian terror against Israel since Israel's founding in 1948 is defined as: "resistance … acts of most glorious heroism." [Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Commentary, grade 12 p 105]

Fighting Israel is a religious battle of Islam
But PA educators teach that fighting Israel is not merely a territorial conflict, but also a religious battle for Islam. The schoolbooks define the conflict with Israel as "Ribat for Allah" – "one of the actions related to Jihad for Allah, and it means: Being found in areas where there is a struggle between Muslims and their enemies." [Islamic Education, grade 12, p. 86]. Israel is thus stigmatized as existing on Islam's land, and fighting Israel is transformed from an Arab nationalistic goal into an uncompromising battle for God. Moreover, the youth are taught that their specific conflict with Israel - Ribat for "Palestine" - is "one of the greatest of the Ribat, and they [Palestinians] are worthy of a great reward from Allah". [Ibid, pp.86- 87].

The world without Israel - Israel does not exist at all
Beyond looking to the future, the educators have built a picture – both verbally and visually – of the present world, a world in which Israel does not exist. "Palestine" today is said to be a special "state" (Arabic – "Dawla" = state, not a geographical region) with water access to both the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, a situation possible only if Israel does not exist. [Physical Geography and Human Geography, grade 12, p. 105] Likewise the size of the "state" of "Palestine" is said to be more than 10,000 sq. km., which is the figure one gets only if Israel did not exist, as the full West Bank and Gaza Strip total only 6220 sq. km.
[Physical Geography and Human Geography, grade 12, p. 107]

Maps of the region likewise teach children to visualize a world without Israel, as Israel does not exist on any map and its area is marked as "Palestine."

Since all of Israel and all its cities are taught to be an "occupation" of "Palestine," and "Palestine" in all the school books replaces all of Israel, the following teaching can only mean that Israel's destruction is inevitable:
"Palestine will be liberated by its men, its women, its young ones and its elderly."
[Arabic Language and the Science of Language, grade 12, p. 44]

Terminology of Disdain
The terminology that the educators have chosen to use throughout the schoolbooks reinforces the message that youth should not accept Israel as a neighbor with a right to exist. The following terms all replace Israel, its founders, and status: “The Zionist enemy;" “The Zionist entity;” “The enemy of this people;” “The Zionist gangs;” “Zionist Imperialist plan.” Israel’s creation is “the occupation;” “stole Palestine;” “stole its land;” “in 1948, when the Jews occupied Palestine.” Palestinians are said to suffer from: “imperialist persecution, a life of exile, and the theft of freedom of thought and culture;” “massacre” and much more. (All sources appear in report.) With these as the educational messages, the next generation of Palestinian youth is actively being prevented from having any reasonable possibility of accepting Israel as a neighbor in reconciliation and peace.

The US and the West - a "Clash of Civilizations"
The current relationship with the West is described as a "Clash of Civilizations" between the West, led by the United States, and the Islamic-Arab world. [Contemporary Problems, grade 12, p. 92.] Islam promotes Human Rights [ibid, pp. 95-96], the US and the West, "the colonialist states, are taking advantage of it", "for interfering in the matters of other states, as is happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur…" [ibid, p. 101] America and Russia are guilty of "violations of international humanitarian law in Iraq and Afghanistan and …in Chechnya." [ibid, p. 108] Fighting against American and British soldiers in Iraq is called "brave resistance to liberate Iraq" against "occupation." [History of the Arabs and the World in the 20th Century, grade 12, p. 147.]

One of the most meaningful gauges of the ideology and aspirations of a people is the education of its youth. For this reason, the new Palestinian Authority schoolbooks, introduced in the end of 2006 by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Higher Education apparatus, are a continuation of the tragic disappointment of the earlier books. Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate future generations to live with Israel in peace, the PA schoolbooks glorify terror and teach their children to hate Israel, vilify Israel's existence and define the battle with Israel as an uncompromising religious war. Instead of working to minimize the current hate, the new PA curriculum is ingraining it into the next generation’s consciousness, and packaging the war against Israel as existential, mandatory and religious. The new PA schoolbooks are guaranteeing that the next generation will grow up seeing Israel as an illegitimate enemy to be hated, fought, and destroyed, rather than as a neighbor to negotiate with and to ultimately live beside in peace.

Follow this link to download a Microsift Word file of the full report.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Today's Cold War

From Azure magazine (The Shalem Center), Spring 5767 / 2007, No. 28, by DAVID HAZONY ...

A new Cold War is upon us. Though there is no Soviet Union today, the enemies of Western democracy, supported by a conglomerate of Islamic states, terror groups, and insurgents, have begun to work together with a unity of purpose reminiscent of the Soviet menace: Not only in funding, training, and arming those who seek democracy’s demise; not only in mounting attacks against Israel, America, and their allies around the world; not only in seeking technological advances that will enable them to threaten the life of every Western citizen; but also in advancing a clear vision of a permanent, intractable, and ultimately victorious struggle against the West–an idea they convey articulately, consistently, and with brutal efficiency.

It is this conceptual strategic clarity which gives the West’s enemies a leg up, even if they are far inferior in number, wealth, and weaponry. From Tehran to Tyre, from Chechnya to the Philippines, from southern Iraq to the Afghan mountains to the madrassas of London and Paris and Cairo, these forces are unified in their aim to defeat the West, its way of life, its political forms, and its cause of freedom. And every day, because of this clarity, their power and resources grow, as they attract allies outside the Islamic world: In Venezuela, in South Africa, in North Korea.

At the center of all this, of course, is Iran. A once-friendly state has embarked on an unflinching campaign, at considerable cost to its own economy, to attain the status of a global power: Through the massive infusion of money, materiel, training, and personnel to the anti-Western forces in Lebanon (Hezbollah), the Palestinian Authority (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), and the Sunni and Shi’ite insurgencies of Iraq; through its relentless pursuit of nuclear arms, long-range missiles, and a space program; through its outsized armed forces and huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons; through its diplomatic initiatives around the world; and through its ideological battle against democracy, Zionism, and the memory of the Holocaust. For the forces of Islamic extremism and political jihad, Iran has become the cutting edge of clarity.

The West, on the other hand, enjoys no such clarity. In America, Iraq has become the overriding concern, widely seen as a Vietnam-style “quagmire” claiming thousands of American lives with no clear way either to win or to lose. ...Europeans continue to seek “diplomatic solutions” even as they contend with powerful and well-funded Islamists in their midst and their friends among the media and intellectual elites–forces that stir public opinion not against Iran and Syria, who seek their destruction, but against their natural allies, America and Israel.

Throughout the West we now hear increasingly that a nuclear Iran is something one has to “learn to live with,” that Iraq needs an “exit strategy,” and that the real key to peace lies not in victory but in brokering agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and “engaging” Syria and Iran.

The Israelis, too, suffer from a lack of clarity: By separating the Palestinian question from the struggle with Hezbollah and Iran, and by shifting the debate back to territorial concession and prisoner exchange, Israelis incentivize aggression and terror, ignore the role Hamas plays in the broader conflict, and send conciliatory signals to the Syrians. Like the Americans with Iraq, Israelis have allowed themselves to lose sight of who their enemies are, how determined they are, and what will be required to defeat them.

The greatest dangers to the West and Israel, therefore, lie not in armaments or battle plans, but in our thinking. ...this conflict cannot be won without first achieving clarity of purpose. .... To achieve this, however, requires a major, immediate investment in the realm of ideas–a battle for understanding that must be won before the battle for freedom can be effectively engaged.

Israel, in particular, has a pivotal role to play. As the front-line state in the conflict, and the lightning rod of Islamist aggression, the world looks to Israel to see how it will respond. From its birth, Israel has served as a model to the West: In deepening its democratic character while fighting a series of wars; in fighting terror effectively, from the defeat of the PLO in the early 1970s in Gaza, to the Entebbe raid in 1976, through Operation Defensive Shield in 2002; and striking preemptively against enemies who combined genocidal rhetoric with the acquisition of sophisticated weapons, as with Egypt and Syria in 1967, and Iraq in 1981.

Israel can again serve as a model of a state proud of its heritage, a democracy that knows how to fight against its tyrannical foes without sacrificing its own character. But to do this will require that Israel, too, disperse the conceptual fog in which it has been operating, recognize the strategic costs of ambiguous outcomes such as with the Lebanon war last summer, and adopt a clear and coherent vision and plan of action. If the West is to act decisively and with clarity, it may need Israel to show the way.

What would such a struggle look like? We should not fear to call this conflict by its name: It is the Second Cold War, with Iran as the approximate counterpart of the Soviet Union. .... Like the Soviet Union, the Ayatollahs’ regime is based on an ideological revolution that repudiates human liberty and subjects its political opponents to imprisonment and death, a regime which, in order to maintain its popular support, must continue to foment similar revolutions everywhere it can, to show that it is on the winning side of history.

And like the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Iranian regime today has two clear weaknesses, which could ultimately spell its downfall: Economic stagnation and ideological disaffection.

With unemployment and inflation both deep in double digits; an increasing structural dependence on oil revenue; a negligible amount of direct foreign investment; and a stock market that has declined over 30 percent since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s heavy investment in other people’s wars and its own weapons and terrorist groups must in the end exact a price in terms of support for the regime.

Today, moreover, the great majority of Iranians do not identify with the government’s Islamist ideology, and among young people the regime is widely derided....

.....When taken in combination with the Soviet Union’s failing economy and widespread ideological disaffection among the populace–much as we see in Iran today–it was possible for the West... to bring about the downfall of what was, during the time of Jimmy Carter, believed to be an unstoppable, expanding historical juggernaut for whom the best the West could hope was “containment” and “détente.” Its vast nuclear arsenals, its pretensions to global dominance, its coherent world-historical ideology–none of these could protect it against the determined, united efforts of the free world. ....

By most measures, Iran is an easier mark than the Soviet Union. It does not yet have nuclear weapons or icbms; its Islamist ideology has less of a universal appeal; its tools of thought control are vastly inferior to the gulag and the KGB; and its revolution is not old enough to have obliterated the memory of better days for much of its population. should be much easier for the West to mount a similar campaign of relentless pressure on the regime–from fomenting dissent online, to destabilizing the regime through insurgent groups inside Iran, to destroying the Iranian nuclear project, to ever-deeper economic sanctions, to fighting and winning the proxy wars that Iran has continued to wage–in order to effect the kind of change of momentum needed to enable the Iranian people to bring their own regime down the way the peoples under communism did in the 1980s and 1990s.

....The fall of the Iranian regime will not end the global jihad. Beyond the messianic Shi’ite movement, there is still a world of Sunni and Wahhabi revolutionaries, from al-Qaida to Hamas, determined to make war on the West even without Iran’s help–just as anti-American communism did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet there can be no question that today, it is Iran that has earned the greatest admiration, given the global jihad its greatest source of hope and funds, and racked up the most impressive victories, taking on the West and its allies throughout the Middle East–and especially in Iraq, where its proxy insurgencies have frustrated American efforts and even brought about a shift in the internal politics of the United States. Iran is not the only foe, but it is the leader among them. It is only through Iran’s defeat that the tide of the Second Cold War will be turned.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A million moderate Muslims on the march

From THE JERUSALEM POST May. 9, 2007, by Daniel Pipes....

....moderate Muslims are no myth.

In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated on April 15 in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, protesting plans of a powerful mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic law, the Shari'a.

....In Turkey, more than a million moderate Muslims in four marches protested the bid of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take over the presidency of the republic, giving it control over the two top government offices (the other being the prime ministry, currently filled by Recep Tayyip Erdogan).

....a young woman carrying a huge Turkish flag, explained that the crowd was Muslim and believed in Islam, but didn't want Islam "to become our whole way of life." ....

....Nor are the masses alone in resisting AKP's Islamists. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer warned that, for the first time since 1923, when the secular republic came into being, its pillars "are being openly questioned" and inveighed against the imposition of a soft Islamist state, predicting that it would turn extremist. Onur ymen, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party, cautioned that the AKP's taking the presidency would "upset all balances" and create a very dangerous situation. The military - Turkey's ultimate powerbroker - issued two statements reinforcing this assessment. On April 12, the chief of staff, Gen. Mehmet Ya-ar B y kanıt, expressed his hope that "someone who is loyal to the principles of the republic - not just in words but in essence - is elected president." ....

....Is it not telling that great numbers of moderate Muslims see danger where so many non-Muslims are blind? Do developments in Pakistan and Turkey not confirm my oft-repeated point that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam the solution? And do they not suggest that ignorant non-Muslim busybodies should get out of the way of those moderate Muslims determined to relegate Islamism to its rightful place in the dustbin of history?

Israel-Diaspora relations need an overhaul

An opinion from THE JERUSALEM POST May. 9, 2007, by NACHMAN SHAI, senior vice-president and director-general of United Jewish Communities' Israel Office.....

One need only read the Winograd Committee report cover-to-cover to appreciate that Israel is in a crisis....Thirty three years ago,...the Agranat Commission ... produced a similar report following the Yom Kippur War. The similarity between these two reports is spine-chilling....little has changed. Leaders have come and gone, but the structural weaknesses from which Israel's society, government and public mechanism suffer have remained, and even worsened.

Clearly, the partial changes in the political and military leadership that have already taken place cannot solve these problems; certainly, they do not constitute a comprehensive solution. It is time for Israel to take a long, hard look at the deterioration of its values and functioning and examine the ways in which this has affected the operation of its two most vital systems - the political and the military.

THE PARTIAL report that was published dealt only with the first five days of the war. ...the state comptroller's report on the home front has not yet been published, and the second part of the Winograd Committee's Report, which also relates to the home front, will be released only in four months time. But everyone living in Israel in the summer of 2006 understands that the home front was in distress, and in need of immediate help.

This help was given quickly and efficiently by Israeli civil society through non-profit associations and philanthropic foundations. ....AS IN the past, the largest Jewish community in the world...came through for the State of Israel. The call to action was instantly translated into a massive, urgent fund-raising campaign, which began ...raised $350 million, which reached their targets in Israel with speed and accuracy....

...The existing paradigm of Israel-US relations appears to have been preserved. The Jews rally round in time of crisis, they make their contribution, but beyond that they leave Israel to run its own internal affairs, supporting the Israeli government platform and its decisions, including the controversial ones (such as the disengagement). They do not, however, interfere in what is considered Israel's "internal territory."

THE TIME has come to change this paradigm. The situation revealed by the war, and highlighted by the Winograd Report, also requires renewed thinking with regard to Israel-Diaspora relations. At a time when the very existence of Israel is under threat, and Israeli society is being weakened by the internal processes that it is going through, the existing parameters of Israel-Diaspora relations are no longer sufficient.

For Jews the world over, Israel is not just the realization of a dream, it is a daily reality to which they feel connected, that they accompany, and about which they are greatly concerned. Israel, for its part, admits that it takes into account the well-being and security of the Jews living outside its borders in its foreign policy considerations and sometimes even in its military actions (for example, during the intifada).

This is ...a mutual understanding that 12 million Jews who are scattered all over the world, indeed feel a sense of mutual responsibility and concern for one another's safety. For this reason, I believe that US Jewry needs to deepen its involvement in Israel's internal issues. Without crossing the red line of taking a political stand, they need to make their voices heard, to offer advice on matters which had previously been off-limits.

It is not my intention that they should have an influence over deciding who will run the country or who will lead it. That must remain the prerogative and the responsibility of Israel's citizens. But ....It is necessary for Israel to establish manifest or latent communication channels with the leadership of the Jewish community in the US as well as with other Jewish communities in the world. It is also necessary to maintain an ongoing dialogue of consultation and an exchange of opinions on Israel's internal affairs. These should include, for example, social gaps and vulnerable populations in Israeli society on one hand, and issues of peace and even war on the other hand, since every Israeli policy decision and every step that Israel takes also has implications for the situation of Jewish communities wherever they may be.

It is true that there are formal mechanisms for this, such as the Jewish Agency, and there are also informal contacts with Jewish organizations in the US through meetings and visits; but it would be appropriate to institutionalize and regulate this activity.

....There are times in which it is necessary to break with convention and accepted practice and choose a different course of action. This is the time....

Hizbullah training for attacks on US

From Ynewt News, 10/5/07, by Yaniv Halili

Hizbullah has set up a training facility in South America as part of its plan to launch terror attacks against the United States, the American Spanish-language Telemundo television network reported.

According to the report, the terror group is operating in a relatively secluded area on the Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil border, where it is collecting funds, brainwashing locals against the US and Israel and training the next generation of suicide bombers. The activity is being conducted in forests near the city of Ciudad Del Este in Paraguay, which has a large Muslim population.

Washington fears that Hizbullah members are planning to infiltrate the US through its breached southern border with Mexico to carry out attacks. It is suspected that Imad Mugniyah, the terror group’s elusive mastermind, is running the South America operation....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Archeologists unearth Herod's tomb

From JPost, May. 8, 2007, by ETGAR LEFKOVITS AND AP ...

The grave and tomb of King Herod has been discovered at Herodium, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced Monday.

The most outstanding among Herod's building projects, the Herodium is the only site that carries his name and is where he chose to be buried, said Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer at a press conference on Tuesday. Netzer, who is credited with the site's discovery, has been working on the project since 1972.

The burial site is accessible via a monumental flight of stairs, 6.5 meters wide, that leads to the hillside and was especially constructed for the funeral procession, he said.
The location and unique nature of the findings leave no doubt that this was Herod's burial site, Netzer said.

....Known as the "great builder," Herod was the king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE. Among the his major achievements were the significant expansion of the Second Temple, the building of Caesarea port, and the rebuilding of Masada.

It has long been assumed that Herod was buried at Herodium, but decades of excavations failed to uncover the site until now. The first century historian Josephus Flavius described the tomb and Herod's funeral procession.

Herodium was one of the last strong points held by Jewish rebels fighting against the Romans, and it was conquered and destroyed by Roman forces in 71 CE, a year after they destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

According to Jewish historian Josephus, Herod was interred at the Judean Desert fortress he ordered built during the Second Temple period, located 10 km. southeast of Jerusalem near Tekoa in Gush Etzion, but until now no grave had been found.

KLM accused of helping Nazis to flee

From The Times, May 8, 2007, by David Charter in Brussels ...

The Dutch national airline is facing calls for an inquiry into its role in helping Nazis to flee to South America, after the discovery of documents suggesting that it played an active role in smuggling suspected war criminals out of Germany.

... papers revealing the activities of a mysterious Herr Frick in trying to help Germans to cross into Switzerland then to fly to Buenos Aires have raised fresh questions about the behaviour of one of Europe’s best-known airlines in the mid-1940s. “The documents give the distinct impression that KLM was intensively involved in transporting Nazis,” said Marc Dierikx, an aviation historian at the Institute for Netherlands History in The Hague.

Argentina provided sanctuary for many Germans fleeing war-torn Europe after the war.
It was the refuge of senior Nazis such as Joseph Mengele, the doctor at Auschwitz nicknamed the Angel of Death, and Adolf Eichmann, who oversaw the death camps where millions perished.

.... KLM acknowledges that some of its passengers were probably fleeing Nazis. It insists, however, that its role was not to police its passengers but to carry those who turned up with valid papers who had completed airport security checks by the Allied authorities.

In papers unearthed in Swiss archives by Dutch documentary-makers, Herr Frick, said to be a KLM representative, is documented in October 1948 asking the Swiss authorities to allow potential passengers from Germany to cross the border without the proper papers.
Sander Rietveld, a journalist on the Netwerk programme, said: “It is a memo from the Swiss border police about a visit of the local KLM representative Herr Frick. He asked the Swiss police to allow Germans without an Ersatzpasse – or permission of the Allies – to enter Switzerland so that they could board planes to Argentina. On this occasion the Swiss police refused, although we know that in reality they did allow Germans to pass without permission. The point is that it shows KLM actively approached the Swiss police.”

KLM said that it did not know of a former employee called Herr Frick. However, passenger lists unearthed in the Argentine capital show long lists of German names, including two former Nazis.
Opposition MPs are demanding an independent inquiry and Bart Koster, a spokesman for KLM, said that he would advise the company’s board to commission one. He told Radio Netherlands: “If we really want to be sure what happened, we have to have a thorough investigation.”

An inquiry could reopen controversy about the role of the Dutch Royal Family as the late Prince Bernhard, father of Queen Beatrix, was on KLM's board in the postwar years....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Belgium apology for Shoah involvement

From JPost, May. 8, 2007 by ASSOCIATED PRESS, BRUSSELS, Belgium ....

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt .... apologized for Belgian authorities' involvement in the deportation of Jews to Nazi extermination camps during World War II.

"Only by recognizing the responsibility of the authorities at the time, can we build a future where this will never happen again," he told a gathering of Jewish and government officials before unveiling a plaque to commemorate Belgians who saved Jews from the Holocaust.
The apology came on the day that the government-backed report "Submissive Belgium" was published. It lays bare the responsibility of high-ranking officials and municipalities in collaborating with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Verhofstadt said such collaboration extended to many parts of Europe.
"We have to remember that a number - a big number of official people everywhere in Europe in the public administration have collaborated, have worked together with the Nazi regime in the deportation of Jewish people," he told The Associated Press. "We have to recognize that and say sorry. Otherwise it is impossible to go forward."

Some 50,000 Jews lived in Belgium in the 1930s and about half were exterminated in the Holocaust.

"Submissive Belgium" documents how an influx of Jewish refugees from Germany in the 1930s and a swerve to the right in politics created the breeding ground for anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism to take root.

After the Nazi invasion in May 1940, the Belgian government fled to Britain, but issued instructions authorizing civil servants who stayed to work with the Nazis to keep services running and prevent the economic breakdown that occurred during the German occupation in WWI. During the war, it often deteriorated into collaboration with the persecution of Jews.
The Jewish community welcomed Verhofstadt's move."It's very important for the Jewish community in Belgium to hear these apologies on behalf of the government for what happened in Belgium during the collaboration with the Nazi occupation," said Rabbi Samuel Pinson of Uccle.

But Senator Alain Destexhe, who attended the ceremony and was involved in the study, said more needs to happen. "We have to go further in the recognition of what happened in Belgium. We have half of the Jews who were exterminated," he said, compared to a quarter in neighboring France. "Our government was officially in London with the Allies, but here the high officials and the municipalities have actively collaborated up to 1942," before the war turned, he said. "The young Belgians don't know this."

Early in the war, Jewish citizens had to be registered. They were later forced to wear yellow stars, and schools and hospitals were segregated. "If the Germans told municipalities to draw up lists of Jews or make them wear yellow stars, there often was a bureaucratic zeal to do a good job of it. Within a couple of days the lists were there and the stars distributed," said Destexhe.Afterward came the raids to round up Jews who were deported to concentration camps in the east such as Auschwitz.

Verhofstadt, however, offset the dark chapter of his country's history by lauding Belgians who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination. In all, 1,442 Belgians were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations - an honor granted to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.....

Palestinian "Education"

From "Hamas steals Mickey Mouse image to teach hate and Islamic supremacy" by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch) - May 6, 2007

The Hamas Television is using a clone of Disney’s Mickey Mouse to teach children to hate Israel and America, and aspire to Islam’s inevitable and impending world domination.

The squeaky-voiced Mickey Mouse lookalike, named Farfur, is the star of a weekly children’s program called Tomorrow’s Pioneers on the official Hamas TV station (Al-Aqsa TV). Farfur and his co-host, a young girl named Saraa’, teach children about such things as the importance of the daily prayers and drinking milk, while taking every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the US and support of "resistance" – the Palestinian euphemism for terror.

Farfur tells children that they must pray in the mosque five times a day until there is “world leadership under Islamic leadership.” The earnest and soft-spoken Saraa’ explains that the nucleus of this world Islamic leadership will be from “all of Palestine,” i.e., including Israel. Farfur refers to Israel as “the oppressive invading Zionist occupation,” which the children must "resist."

In a religious warning that is striking, considering the young age of the target audience, Saraa’ announces that after death, the children will have to answer to Allah for what they did or did not do for the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and for Palestinian prisoners: “I remind you that Al-Aqsa and the prisoners are a responsibility on our shoulders, and Allah will ask us on Resurrection Day what we gave for their sake.”

....The effectiveness of this program is heightened by including child viewers, who phone in to the show and recite poems with images of hate and violence; for example, “We will destroy the chair of the despots, so they will taste the flame of death;” and, "Rafah sings ‘Oh, oh.’ Its answer is an AK-47. We who do not know fear, we are the predators of the forest." ....
Click here to see selections of Farfur – the Mickey Mouse clone

Follow the link to read the full article incuding some excerpts from three recent programs.


From "Hamas: 'The extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds.'” by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch) - May 3, 2007 ...

The extermination of Jews is Allah’s will and is for the benefit of all humanity, according to an article in the Hamas paper, Al-Risalah. The author of the article, Kan'an Ubayd, explains that the suicide operations carried out by Hamas are being committed solely to fulfill Allah’s wishes. Furthermore, Allah demanded this action, because “the extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds.” The killing of innocent Jews by terrorist attacks is portrayed as Allah’s plan for the benefit of humanity.

It should be noted that Hamas’s justification for the extermination of Jews, both as God's will and for the benefit of humanity, echoes Hitler's words in Mein Kampf:
“In this case the only salvation remaining was war… If the Jew with the help of his Marxist creed is victorious over the peoples of this world, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity… Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty Creator: when I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” (Mein Kampf)

In another parallel to the Nazi genocide of Jews, the writer says he wants to be sure that “everyone will know” that these murderous actions are “not of [Hamas’s] own accord” – an echo of the Nazi war criminals’ repeated justification of their actions with the defense that they were only following orders.

The fact that these orders are said to be divine in nature makes Hamas’s justification for the murder of Jews even more ominous. Following is the excerpt from the Hamas article:
"We find more than once condemnation and denunciation to the resistance operations and bombings [suicide attacks], carried out by Hamas and the Palestinian resistance branches. There is no other choice but to use restraint regarding the condemnation, the attaching of the label of terror [to "resistance"], and the assembling of conferences [for] condemnation [of the attacks]. [This] so that everyone will know, that we did this only because our lord commanded so, “I did it not of my own accord” [Translation of Quranic verse taken from USC Compendium of Muslim Texts] and so that people will know that the extermination of Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds on a land, to which Allah gave his blessing for the sake of the inhabitants of the worlds.”[Al-Risalah, April 23, 2007].

Harsh Truths of the Disengagement

From May 7, 2007, by P. David Hornik ....

Not long ago a bitter debate raged over Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. The more tender-minded proponents argued that once the hated “Israeli occupation” had been removed, Gazans would desist from anti-Israeli violence and turn to peaceful tasks of state-building. The more tough-minded proponents argued that, while the terror against Israel would continue, Israel would now have legitimacy in the world’s eyes to deal with it.

Whoever said the attacks would continue was right. Last March 8 the head of IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant, said that since the disengagement “2,053 Kassams have been launched at Israel, 296 explosive charges have been detonated, 143 attacks were carried out against tanks that were outside the security fence—not inside Gaza—and there were 260 incidents of gunfire at IDF forces outside the fence.”

....Opponents of the withdrawal, though, while expecting that Israel would have great difficulty both operationally and diplomatically in acting against Gaza terror after the pullback, did not foresee a situation in which Israel would just give up and let Sderot and the surrounding area become a helpless shooting gallery. But that is what has happened since the November 26 “ceasefire,” since which time hundreds of Qassams and mortars have been fired with almost no military response by Israel.

Not surprisingly, this period has also witnessed ongoing, massive anti-Israeli military buildups not only in Gaza itself but in Lebanon and Syria as well, as Israel’s deterrence—under the combined impact of its helplessness against short-range Hezbollah rockets last summer and its continuing helplessness against Gaza rockets—has sunk to an existentially dangerous nadir.....

.....Enough time has passed, then, since Israel completed the disengagement in September 2005 to assess that it has been an unmitigated disaster of an escalating terror buildup and terror offensive from Gaza met by ineffective Israeli responses dwindling to no response at all, along with the wholesale destruction of the settlements and the ongoing plight of their former residents. Many proponents were lulled by the “occupation” and “demographic” buzzwords at a time when Gaza’s Palestinian population was actually running its own affairs and Israel’s military presence was a minimal but indispensable check on jihadist ambitions.

Handing a territorial base to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah et al. made no more sense than it would to award, gratis, a launching pad to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or any other group hell-bent on destruction.

Clinton's Iran strategy (a phone call)

From The New York Sun, May 7, 2007, by SETH GITELL [emphasis added].....

...Addressing more than 400 people at the Charles Hotel under the auspices of a Harvard Kennedy School of Government conference, "The Looming Crises: Can We Act in Time?" Mr. Clinton spoke Friday for more than an hour and a half, covering such subjects as nuclear proliferation, health care, and the environment. ....

....Mr. Clinton [also] talked ... about .....prospects for peace in the Middle East....

"If our long-term goal is to try to minimize the number of groups like Al Qaeda that want to conduct terrorism both within the Middle East or beyond, they wouldn't all go away if the Palestinians and the Israelis made a comprehensive agreement, but half of the energy behind this would collapse," Mr. Clinton said.

"I don't think there is anything that we can do today on the terror front in a preventive way that is more important. … We'll never ever really turn the tide on terror until it's done."...

....Mr. Clinton also spoke of the danger of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, saying he was more worried about a terrorist group obtaining an Iranian bomb than the Islamic Republic using it itself. "Maybe some Iranian leader would think, maybe I can nuke Israel … but we can handle that with a phone call," he said. "If a nuclear bomb ever exploded in the Middle East, even if it wiped out Israel, the main victims eventually would be all the Muslims around it who would be killed in the nuclear fallout."

Mr. Clinton's comments about Iran seemed at odds with those of Senator Clinton, who has spoken of having him serve as a kind of ambassador at large if she is elected president.

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in February, Mrs. Clinton said: "We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."
Mrs. Clinton's campaign did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment yesterday.

The Next Mideast War?

From Washington Post, May 3, 2007, by David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.....

.... the causes of last year's war still exist -- and may spark another conflagration.

The first underlying issue is the failure to enforce U.N. resolutions. Israel resorted to military action last July largely because the United Nations and the international community did nothing to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 (passed in 2004) or Resolution 1680 (passed in 2006), which made clear that Hezbollah should disband and be disarmed. ...The end of the war led to the passage of Security Council Resolution 1701, which deployed thousands of U.N. peacekeepers to southern Lebanon. ...a key provision of the resolution -- an international embargo to prevent weaponry from entering Lebanon -- has not been met. ...arms from Syria are being smuggled into Lebanon, and ....Hezbollah is hiding Syrian-manufactured 220mm rockets just beyond the jurisdiction of the peacekeepers but within range of northern Israel. There is open speculation in Israel and Lebanon about the possibility of the conflict resuming this summer.

Two other factors add fuel to the fire. First, Syria is colluding with Hezbollah to destabilize the Lebanese government....

Second, in an eerie echo of the run-up to the 1967 war, U.S. and Israeli officials say Moscow is once again telling Damascus that Israel has plans to attack Syria. Israeli security officials say that Syria's new military deployments reflect this Russian advice. ...the prospects for miscalculation remain high....Syria sees its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah as a winning combination.

On top of all this, Hamas's approach to a cease-fire in Gaza is one of observation, not enforcement. Specifically, Hamas has done nothing to halt the firing of more than a thousand Qassam rockets from Gaza, which Israel evacuated from in 2005, into southern Israel over the past year, and last week it publicly asserted responsibility for some such attacks.....

Amid all these problems, and given Olmert's teetering position and the Arab League's insistence after its March summit in Riyadh that its peace plan is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, it is hard to believe that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will succeed in negotiating a "political horizon" -- namely, fleshing out guiding principles that would govern a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- until the Israeli political situation stabilizes and there is greater clarity about and a moderate direction to the Palestinian "unity government."

This situation does not argue for U.S. passivity. Rather, Rice should lead an international coalition to defuse multiple looming crises in Arab-Israeli arenas. The international community can and should agree to follow up U.N. Resolution 1701 with one involving the deployment of U.N. peacekeeping troops on the Syrian-Lebanese border. Avoiding another outbreak of violence could make Rice's political horizon a more likely possibility once the Israeli leadership crisis eases.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Out with the old, in with the 'Jew'

From JERUSALEM POST May. 3, 2007 by DAVID REINHARC, ALEXANDRE DEL VALLE and Yaniv Salama-Scheer....

...Sarkozy, whose father is Hungarian, has been something of an adopted son here (especially in Netanya) due to his Jewish background: His mother had a Jewish father. Sarko, as his supporters call him, has openly and repeatedly called himself a friend of Israel in good times and in bad. While he remains politically neutral regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has drawn criticism from many for his views and positions on Israel, notably from extreme right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen, who said during the Second Lebanon War that while the land of the cedars was under attack, Sarkozy was declaring that he was a supporter of Israel.

When Sarkozy gave his foreign policy address to the international media in early March, he acknowledged the stagnation between Israel and the Palestinians regarding talks, and said Israel must make necessary concessions to permit Palestinians to establish a viable state. But he also said it must be made perfectly clear to the Palestinian Authority that nothing can justify violence. Because of his views on Iran, anti-Semitism and global terrorism, he has been dubbed a no-nonsense politician when it comes to security issues.

In France, Sarkozy is seen by many as an "Atlantist" - someone who has more pro-American views than the average Frenchman feels comfortable with. While Sarkozy has taken some bruises from his political opponents on that front, it has given him a credibility on the international stage, especially in the United Nations Security Council, that his predecessor Jacques Chirac forfeited years ago by pushing forward with France's weapons-for-oil policy with the Arab states. Although France has long-standing ties with countries such as Lebanon and Algeria, Sarkozy is hoping to revolutionize its role from double-dealer to that of moderator and is concerned with only two things in Lebanon - political autonomy and the disarmament of Hizbullah.

Perhaps Sarkozy's most controversial undertaking is his blockage of Turkish membership in the European Union. He believes that if Turkey were admitted, Lebanon and Israel would have to be as well.

In between rounds of the presidential elections, Sarkozy discussed why he believes a two-state solution is in the best interest of Israel, UNIFIL and Hizbullah, the Iranian threat and his general outlook on French and Mediterranean politics in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post's French Edition.

In Europe and elsewhere, you have the image of a man who is more aligned with the Right on issues of security and liberalism, while being pro-Israeli and pro-American, which greatly pleases Franco-Israelis, but to a lesser extent the European Left. Do you feel this is a just portrayal?
It looks like you didn't leave anything out. To begin, there is a complete list of traits and caricatures generally used by those who are not very well-intentioned toward me. This perception is neither accurate nor just. I wanted to be the candidate representing the republican Right, liberated from the Left, to be a rightist based on values - work, authority, the priority of the victim over the aggressor, effort, merit, the rejection of a welfare mentality, [promoting] egalitarianism and building equality by starting from the bottom. That makes me the hard Right?
I worked hard in a ministerial capacity to combat and to curb an insecurity that literally exploded under the leftist government of Lionel Jospin. I got significant results, and I estimate that they will be consolidated in the future by an improvement in the mechanisms which dictate the penal system, and in particular to better fight against the recidivist impulses of minors who repeat their crimes. This makes me a man of security matters?
Economically, I am first and foremost a pragmatist. I believe in free economy. I believe in a market economy. But I also know that the market by itself cannot do everything, and cannot rectify everything on its own either. I believe in political volunteerism when it comes to industrial and technological matters, and I do not regret making the decision to intervene to save [French transportation manufacturer] Alstom, an enterprise which once again became flourishing. This makes me a liberal?
I am viscerally attached to the independence of France and Europe vis- -vis whatever forces there may be, and I deplore that the European Union does not take advantage of its unity, of its realism and autonomy in its economic and commercial relations with the other regions of the world, as it does with foreign policy or defense. I do not see an incompatibility between recognition of the US as a great democracy with which we have many common values and indissoluble historic ties. Moreover, I do not see the incompatibility between the rights of Palestinians to create a viable state and the consideration of the security of the State of Israel as non-negotiable. That makes me an "Atlantist," pro-Israeli and pro-American?

These analogies, at the least, lack the most elementary subtlety. The truth of the matter is that those who say that are anti-Israeli and anti-American themselves. They are trying to denigrate the others.

How do you see future dialogue between the government of France and the Muslim Council?
I was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the CFCM [Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman], which represents the Muslims of France, and its 25 regional branches. Why? Because I prefer the Islam of France to be in keeping with the values and rules of our republic, rather than an Islam that is subjected to foreign influences.
The CFCM gathers together the different Muslim schools of thought and allows for internal dialogue, and of course, also with the help of the public and other components of French society. Definitively, the CFCM is responsible for the construction of mosques, the burial of Muslims and the maintenance of their cemeteries, the handling of religious holidays, the nomination of chaplains in hospitals, schools and prisons, but also the appointment of imams. The objective of the CFCM since its creation in 2003 is for me both positive and encouraging. However, I am convinced that no future government, whichever government it may be, will challenge its existence and its intentions.

Security and immigration are the two fields which you worked on the most while you were interior minister. What do you think of the European directive which includes both an exchange between the various intelligence services in Europe and the harmonization of laws on illegal immigrants?
You are no doubt alluding to the proposed directive concerning the return [to their countries of origin] of immigrants in irregular situations. The European Commission said more cooperation with the procedure to send them back is necessary. This is undeniably a good thing, but on the condition that the European states conserve some leeway to act on their own.
Concerning information sharing by the different intelligence services in Europe, I believe it to be indispensable whether for combating illegal immigration, notably in the way the information system for visas will be conducted in the future, or against the network of organized crime, which prospers by exploiting misery and discrimination. More importantly, I hope the European states can go further in the future with respect to coordinating their policies on immigration, asylum and border control. In my capacity as interior minister, I had the opportunity to submit these kinds of proposals to our partners.

You have declared several times that you would like to revise the secularity laws of 1905 regarding church-state relations. How do you think they should be modified?
There was never a question of me touching the basic principles of the laws of 1905. This law is not a law of prohibition, but a clarification of the relations between the state and the different religions inside it. It is a law of tolerance which assures the liberty and neutrality of the state - in other words the equality of all faiths.
I simply hoped that there would be a reflection on the necessity to take into consideration a new reality - that the Muslim religion, which has become the second religion of France behind Catholicism, was virtually nonexistent in our territory in 1905. I recall that this law was amended 13 times. A report by experts which was given to me last September recommended that I draw up the legislation to give the boroughs the possibility, when properly set up, to aid the cultural investments if necessary.
Without a doubt, if this question merits study, it is because it is not only the faithful of certain religions who recently appeared in our territory who face difficulties in practicing their faith.
I do not think, however, that it would be a good thing to legislate without previously obtaining a very broad consensus. It seems to me that before legislating on these delicate questions, the sanction of a large majority of Frenchmen and of the different cultural communities is indispensable.

You are aware that the question of Lebanon preoccupies us greatly because we are neighboring countries. In Lebanon, European soldiers have conformed to the UN resolution for a multilateral force along the border with Israel. Certain reports from the UN signal the rearmament of Hizbullah. Do you think that the UNIFIL mission must be reworked to be efficient?
UNIFIL 2, which was established by Security Council Resolution 1701 to ensure a durable cease-fire between Israel and the various Lebanese factions, was universally warmly welcomed because France, at the initiative of Jacques Chirac, insisted that it be given a clear and strong mandate with predefined rules of engagement.
For the most part, the balance in the region is still fragile. The disarmament of the militias, in particular, which is fundamental for stability, must remain a major preoccupation for the Lebanese government. It is up to UNIFIL 2 to gather the arms caches left by the militias and to prevent the rearmament of some of them to ensure true control of the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Hopefully the Lebanese political process can restart, the Lebanese can retake their destiny into their own hands and find the path toward internal dialogue. Turning the militias' arms caches over to the legitimate Lebanese authorities would be the best guarantee of a return of a durable peace.

What do you think about the 2002 Saudi peace plan and, more importantly, the return of refugees as an obligatory condition?
As you know, since 2002 France has supported the Saudi initiative, as it has supported the efforts of all those who have searched for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I consider this initiative, recently relaunched at the Riyadh summit, as constructive. If we want peace and stability, it is best to start talking, in particular among neighbors. Only a negotiated solution will break the impasse, and therefore the refugees are one element.
That being said, I am concerned that there be a balance between the rights of Israel to security and recognition by its neighbors and the right of Palestinians to a state. I deeply believe in this balance. Only if Israel is guaranteed that its existence will not be threatened and the Palestinians are allowed to form a viable state can we achieve a durable and viable solution.

Do you think Israel's security barrier falls under the protection of Article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognizes the right of legitimate defense against terrorist attacks? Do you believe the EU and France should place Hizbullah on their lists of terrorist organizations?
You know that I defend the right of Israel to protect itself against external aggression, particularly when it takes the form of blind and cowardly acts of terrorism. But the measures taken must not condemn the search for a negotiated peace settlement. They must be appropriate and proportional.
Concerning Hizbullah, I understand that we can ask ourselves this question, given its attitude and the means it resorts to. However I am not convinced that such a debate is useful in the current Lebanese context, where appeasement is sought out.
I can only support the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of Hizbullah. If Hizbullah is really the political party it claims to be, let it truly behave as such and finally lay down its arms.

The Iranian threat is becoming more imminent. Certain countries like France, Spain and Italy seem to be more in favor of dialogue than other members of the international community. What is your position on the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
I want to be clear on Iran. It is unacceptable and dangerous that Iran pursues a militarily nuclear capability. Iran has the opportunity to reestablish confidence concerning the nature of its nuclear activities. That is what the UN Security Council has signaled to Teheran by unanimously voting for Resolution 1737. The important thing in this crisis is to maintain the firmness and the unity of the international community and its determination to contain the risks of proliferation. This European policy of firmness and of dialogue, which can be traced back to 2003, is today shared by all permanent members of the Security Council and will define my actions if elected.
With regard to Mr. Ahmadinejad, I remind you of what I have already said about his attitudes and positions. His call for the destruction of Israel and denial of the reality of the Shoah are totally inadmissible and irresponsible. I am actually not even sure these views are shared by a majority of Iranians, far from it.

You launched the idea of a Mediterranean Union as an alternative to admitting Turkey as a permanent member of the EU. Do you have a Mediterranean policy?
Turkey is a great country and a great ally for which I have much respect. If I am against its admission to the EU, it is not because I am against Turkey, but because I am for a "traditional" Europe. It seems to me that there is a fundamental contradiction between the admission of Turkey and the project of a more integrated Europe.
The EU cannot have infinite borders, and it seems to me that for reasons of history, geography and culture, Turkey has no place inside of these borders. I find hard to accept an EU which extends to the borders of Syria and Iraq.
I would also like to remind you that the inclusion of Turkey was envisioned about 45 years ago, and at the time, it was into a common market, a customs union, but not into a political union.
I therefore seek the establishment of a strategic partnership, economic as well as cultural, with Turkey and other states circling the Mediterranean. This is the basis of the Euro-Mediterranean union that I proposed. Europe cannot turn its back on the Mediterranean, which is a component of its identity.

Analysis: French Leader Is U.S. Friendly

From The Washington Post, Sunday May 6, by JOHN LEICESTER, The Associated Press ...

PARIS -- Au revoir, Jacques Chirac, and bonjour to a new U.S.-friendly French president who identifies with the American dream and happily affirms that the French like burgers, Madonna and Miami Vice.

...But Sarkozy's gaze in his first months in office will be directed more at home than across the Atlantic.French voters didn't elect the conservative because he promises a warmer new approach to the often troubled yet also deeply rooted relationship between France and the United States. In fact, Sarkozy's America-friendly inclination was seen more as an electoral liability than an advantage.

The new president's priorities will be to get France's sluggish economy and Europe's stalled process of integration moving forward again.

With the exception of Europe - a national obsession in France, which sees itself as a natural leader of the continent - foreign affairs got scant attention in the long presidential campaign that was dominated by worries over jobs, the economy and how to compete against rising powers like China.

That means not much is known about how President Sarkozy will lead France on the world stage _ even though foreign affairs are a major part of his new job, an area where Chirac had considerable expertise and where he often seemed more at ease than with domestic issues.

As Chirac's minister for the interior and, in 2004, for finance, Sarkozy worked with governments in Europe and Africa to combat illegal immigration and terrorism, represented France at the International Monetary Fund, and irritated Berlin by protecting the French engineering giant Alstom SA from the advances of Germany rival Siemens AG.

But it is unknown how Sarkozy would cope in a major international crisis.
"He's never done any serious, hands-on broad spectrum diplomacy," notes Francois Heisbourg, a leading French foreign and strategic affairs expert.

The learning curve for Sarkozy promises to be steep, and Iran will be a foremost challenge requiring immediate attention. Within days of Sarkozy's inauguration, which must take place before May 17, the international community could ratchet up sanctions against the regime in Tehran if it continues to refuse to suspend its nuclear program. France under Sarkozy can be expected to go along. He describes Iranian leaders as "extremely dangerous."...

...Sarkozy's election could improve chances of unblocking the paralysis that has gripped the European Union since 2005, when French and Dutch voters blocked greater integration. Those votes were giant setbacks for pro-Europeans like Sarkozy who want the 27-nation bloc to become a veritable player on the world stage, with coherent policies to guarantee its energy supplies, to regulate immigration from Africa, and to protect European workers from the most cut-throat excesses of globalization.

He promises to be a tough customer in global trade talks, saying Europe should only open its markets to those that open theirs. He wants an EU-wide tax on goods from countries - he has singled out China - that have not agreed to cap their greenhouse gas emissions.

And at the World Trade Organization, "I want reciprocity and I do not want anyone to tell me that we don't have the right to do what the Americans do," he says. "We created Europe to act, not to submit," he also says.

Sarkozy says German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the British and Spanish prime ministers, Tony Blair and Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have all given him a thumbs-up to his proposal that the bloc adopt a new treaty to unblock EU decision-making and give it an elected president.

But, ultimately, Sarkozy could make his greatest impact abroad, or at least in its region, by setting France on its feet again. By some measures, France has become the sick man of Europe. Only Poland and Slovakia have worse unemployment rates than France. Its economic growth rate is one of Europe's slowest - only Italy and Portugal did worse last year than France's 2.1 percent.

Reforming France and solving such problems, notes Heisbourg, "will have a lot more influence than any amount of foreign policy gesturing."
Chief of Bureau John Leicester has reported on France since 2002.

French Champagne is back on the menu

From BBC News, 6/5/07 ...

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has won the hotly-contested French presidential election, according to early results.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy:
  • 53.3% Segolene Royal: 46.7%
  • Turnout: 84.8%
  • Spoiled ballots: 3.75%
  • Source: French Interior Ministry
....Mr Sarkozy, 52, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, takes over from the 74-year-old Jacques Chirac....

Friendship for US
Mr Sarkozy's supporters have gathered for an open-air concert in the Place de la Concorde, which is expected to continue until the early hours.

....He said the US could count on France's friendship, but urged Washington to take a lead in the fight against climate change.

He also said he believed deeply in European integration, but appealed to France's partners to understand the importance of social protection.

"[Voters] have chosen to break with the habits and the ideals of the past so I will rehabilitate work, authority, morality, respect, merit!" he said. After he finished speaking at his party headquarters, jubilant supporters sang a rousing rendition of the French national anthem.

....Mr Sarkozy has promised to try to reform France to face the challenges of the 21st century, with putting the nation back to work at the top of his agenda. He has pledged to bring unemployment down from 8.3% to below 5% by 2012.

He is also expected to bring forward policies to cut taxes and keep trains running during strikes, in the first 100 days after he takes office on 17 May.

....French pundits greeted the strong turnout as a victory for French democracy....