Friday, June 01, 2007

Anti-Semitism persistent among Arab Christians

From Ynet News, 29/5/07 ....

...Egyptian Copt Patriarch Shinoda III... told an interviewer on Egyptian TV that the Vatican was wrong to apologize for longtime church teachings about Jews as Christ killers.

“It is disturbing, but not surprising that there are still Christian leaders in the Arab world who not only wholeheartedly ascribe to the deicide charge, but who teach it to their congregants as a core tenet of their faith,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. “It shows the persistence of anti-Semitism among Arab Christian leaders and contributes to the already virulent anti-Semitism that is part of the mainstream in many Arab nations. It also shows the need for education and leadership for tolerance in Middle East not only among Muslims, but Christians as well.”

“What is the Vatican apologizing for?” Patriarch Shinoda III said in his April 8, 2007 appearance on Egypt’s Dream 2 TV. “It has done nothing that warrants an apology. ...” When the interviewer noted that the Catholic Church had apologized for describing Jews as “Christ killers,” Patriarch Shinoda responded, “The New Testament says that they (Jews) are. Is the Vatican against the teachings of the New Testament?”

Time to change course

From Ynet news, 30/5/07, by Moshe Yaalon, former IDF chief of staff ....

'Two-state solution' irrelevant; new thinking needed to resolve conflict

....the Six Day War changed the face of the Middle East. From a historic perspective it can be viewed as marking the beginning of the end of national-secular Arab ideology, which in turn encouraged the emergence of Islamic-Jihadist ideologies....

However, I am of the opinion that more than anything the Six Day War influenced the way Israelis perceived themselves....

On the one hand, Israeli self assurance, which was naturally emboldened by the shining military victory, led to complacency until the outcome of the Yom Kippur War, while on the other hand it led to the willingness for territorial concessions aimed at achieving peace.

...Israelis who sought to reach final-status agreement with the Palestinians through "land for peace" obscured the difference between resolving the conflict with Egypt via Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Those same elements went even further by obscuring the Palestinian demand for all of the Land of Israel rather then territories occupied in 1967 only, and ignored the persistent Palestinian refusal - which has been in place since the birth of Zionism - to partition the nation.

These elements vastly contributed to the erosion of Israel's positions upon recognizing the Palestinian peoples' right for self determination without insisting on mutual Palestinian recognition for the Jewish people and an independent Jewish State.

The self assurance that came in wake of the Six Day War created a sense of being "strong enough to take risks" - which is reminiscent of the time of the Oslo Accords. This self confidence led to the loss of the attitude associated with a society facing constant struggle.

.... recent statements by leaders of the Israeli Arab community expressed their refusal to recognize the State of Israel's right to exist as an independent Jewish State.

Events of the past years, the Palestinian failure to adhere to agreements and obligations within the Oslo framework, the launching of a terror war in September 2000, and the situation in Gaza following disengagement - could have served as opportunities to "reveal the true face" of the Palestinian leadership and its intentions to undermine the irrelevant concept of a "two state solution" within the ancient Land of Israel's western borders.

Grounding the "two-state solution" discourse to a halt among the Israeli public and in the international arena is a prerequisite for encouraging a new direction of thought with regards to the conflict and possible ways of resolving it. The key to moving away from this concept is Israel's clear understanding of the problem, forging internal agreement around this understanding, and a willingness to struggle for it.

The shining victory of the Six Day war has paradoxically turned into the starting point of the "retrenchment and withdrawal battle" over the Zionist narrative we are currently engaged in - until we make an about face.

Boycott (again)

From "Lecturers vote for boycott of Israeli universities", The Guardian, Thursday May 31, 2007, by James Meikle, education correspondent ...

....Delegates at the first conference of the new University and College Union in Bournemouth voted by 158 to 99 for "a comprehensive and consistent boycott" of all Israeli academic institutions, as called for by Palestinian trade unions in response to Israel's "40-year occupation" of Palestinian land. The union's leadership must now circulate calls from Palestinians for a boycott of Israeli universities to all branches throughout the country.

Tom Hickey, a Brighton University academic and union executive member ... led the move...

...Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the union, said: "I do not believe a boycott is supported by a majority of [120,000] UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it as a priority for the union."

The boycott was also opposed by the education minister, Bill Rammell. He said: "The UK government fully supports academic freedom and is firmly against any academic boycotts of Israel or Israeli academics. Whilst I appreciate the independence of the UCU, I am very disappointed that the union has decided to pass a motion which encourages its members to consider boycotting Israeli academics and education institutions. I profoundly believe this does nothing to promote the Middle East peace process." ...

...Ofir Frankel, spokesman for the Advisory Board for Academic Freedom, said: "We see it as discriminatory and counterproductive. It will make British academia look a little less serious."
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "Now is the time to strengthen the kinds of relationships that will bring all sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict together and, in this country, create a better understanding of the complex issues through that engagement. We call upon the union's leadership and all members who are rightly outraged by the decision to work towards a reversal of this policy."

From The Conference of Presidents of major Jewish Organisations the central coordinating body representing 50 (USA) national Jewish organizationson "Resolutions are obscene and acts of bigotry,” 30/5/07 ...

New York, May 30, 2007… Conference of Presidents leaders condemned the British University and College Union resolutions passed today that support campaigns to boycott Israeli academic institutions and to provide unconditional financial aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Harold Tanner, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “These obscene resolutions have all the faults that academics normally deplore in their profession: a superficial and flawed understanding of the subject, clear bias, and antagonism to the open exchange of ideas. Their call for unconditional financial support for the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, which continues to terrorize Israeli civilians and calls for Israel’s destruction, demonstrates that the sympathies of the majority of the union’s representatives lie with a terrorist group rather than the victims of terror. They launch this baseless assault on a democracy with true academic freedom and support those who would deny this and other freedoms and rights.”

The UCU resolution calls for “the restoration of all international aid to the PA” without requiring any of the Quartet’s three conditions for international support: an end to violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of prior agreements.

“The resolution asserts that boycotting Israeli academic institutions is not anti-Semitic, but singling out, demonizing, and delegitimizing the Jewish state, as the resolution does, is by definition just that. No amount of obfuscation will change that.”

“We call on the entire membership of the University and College Union to reverse this reprehensible and unjustifiable act of bigotry and discrimination by their representatives.”

Israeli environmentalists bolstered by regional conference at Petra

From JTA, 30/5/07, by Brett Kline (thanks Jerry for drawing attention to this good-news story - SL) ...

PETRA, Jordan (JTA) -- Ilana Meallem and Mazen Zoabi left a recent morning meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II smiling. The king had just proposed the formation of a regional science fund, and they were certain they would have access to that fund.The two Israelis, project managers at the Arava Institute, an environmental study and research center in southern Israel, were among a small group of people in their 20s from Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and other Arab countries occupying a visible role at a conference of Nobel laureates in Petra.

... Abdullah, who had opened the gathering with a plea for more regional cooperation outside the realm of politics, saw this group as a good example. "The king told us that we are the core of a new organization for youth exchange in the Middle East, and that there will be funding to organize regular meetings," Meallem said. "Israeli youths are full members in this organization. We have our full place here, and this is fantastic."

...The Arava Institute has about 40 students, including three Palestinians from the West Bank and 10 Jordanians. They all live and study at the kibbutz center on Kibbutz Ketura, about 25 miles north of Eilat. The institute is under construction to house up to 100 students in the near future.The 10-year-old institute has graduated more than 400 students from its yearlong program. It receives extensive funding from the Jewish National Fund and other American Jewish groups. Among the graduates is the son of Jordanian Prime Minister Ma'roof Al-Bakeet.The Israeli students are part of a master's program at Ben-Gurion University in Sde Boker. ...Until now the Jordanians have not sponsored their own students at the Arava Institute, but at the conference Jordanian Education Minister Khaled Toukan seemed open to the idea."....

...Programs at the institute include examining pollution levels in trans-border rivers touching Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, probing air pollution in Jordan and a special two-year project with Morocco to cultivate argan almond trees that until now have grown wild only in southern Morocco.

Meallem, originally from London, and Zoabi, a Technion graduate from an Arab town near Nazareth in the Galilee region, are headed to China for three months. They will bring back technology turning small-scale organic waste into energy for use in Bedouin villages in Israel, and later in Jordan and possibly the West Bank. The technology, known as biogas energy, is not uncommon but apparently has been best developed for small-scale use in China."We don't yet have a partner for this with the Palestinian Authority," Zoabi said.

He and Meallem spent much of the conference networking."Perhaps we could do projects with you and get more Palestinians involved in your institute," Sari Nusseibeh, a leading Arab moderate and the president of Al Quds University outside Jerusalem, told them. "Maybe your generation can go beyond the politics that have dragged us all down."

In the air-conditioned, temporary conference hall not far from the path leading to the spectacular Nabatean ruins that have put Petra on the map, Nusseibeh was busy chatting with Yigal Carmon, the head of the widely read MEMRI: The Middle East Media Research Institute and a counterterrorism adviser in the administration of the late Yitzhak Rabin."These environment projects are great for everyone because it is a win-win situation for all sides," Carmon said. "You see here that Jordanian politicians and various prize laureates and funders are very quick to speak with Ilana and the others because it gives them a sense of doing something good for people in a concrete way. I think we have seen enough sessions on conflict resolution; the answer is more real projects."

[Eli] Wiesel, the conference moderator and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, said his foundation was ready to put up or raise $10 million for the regional science fund that was proposed by Abdullah. The fund would sponsor projects proposed by groups all over the region."I think the Arab countries are taking scientific cooperation with Israel very seriously," Wiesel said. "His Majesty the King is a true associate in this endeavor with the young people. He knows and I know that some of them will be the leaders of tomorrow."

Kholouel Al Dorghan, who is in her 20s and works in the Bank for Trade and Finance in Amman, said she was excited by the possibility of working in Israel."I met Israelis for the first time in my life here at this conference, and I felt a real buzz in the air here from the young people and the delegates," she said. "I would be happy to do research in the Arava Institute or anywhere in Israel."Still, several young people who had been invited as individuals from other countries in the region preferred to remain anonymous."I would love to work with Israelis," one said, "but my government would not like that at all and would harass me and my family. There must be a way for us to participate as well. I am angry about this, but what can I do?"

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jenin comes to Lebanon. So where is the outcry?

From The National Post, Tuesday, May 29, 2007, by Jonathan Kay ....

Last week, the Lebanese army attacked a squalid Palestinian refugee camp that's become infested with Islamist suicide terrorists and guerilla fighters. On May 20, government troops surrounded the camp, with tanks and artillery pieces shelling it at close range. Army snipers gunned down anything that moved. At least 18 civilians were killed, and dozens more injured. Water and electricity were cut off. By week's end, much of the camp had been turned into deserted rubble. Thousands of terrified residents fleeing the camp reported harrowing stories of famished, parched families trapped in their basements.

How did the rest of the world react? The Arab League quickly condemned "the criminal and terrorist acts carried out by the terrorist group known as Fatah al-Islam," and vowed to "give its full support to the efforts of the army and the Lebanese government." EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also condemned Fatah al-Islam, and declared Europe's "support" for Lebanon. And the UN Security Council called the actions of Fatah al-Islam "an unacceptable attack" on Lebanon's sovereignty. As for the Western media, most outlets ignored the story following the first flurry of news reports.

At this point, please indulge me by re-reading the first paragraph of this column -- except this time, substitute the world "Israeli" for "Lebanese" in the first sentence. Let's imagine what the world's reaction would be if the ongoing siege were taking place in Gaza or the West Bank instead of the Nahr al Bared refugee camp on the outskirts of Tripoli, Lebanon.

First of all, a flood of foreign journalists would descend on the camp to document Israel's cruelty and barbarism, and the story would remain front page news to this day. Al-Jazeera would be a 24/7 montage of grieving mothers swearing revenge on the Zionist butchers, and rumours would swirl of mass graves and poison gas. The Arab League, EU and United Nations would condemn Israeli aggression -- as would the editorial board of The New York Times. The Independent would dispatch Robert Fisk to embed with Fatah al-Islam. And the newspaper's cartoonist, Dave Brown, would produce another award-winning rendition of his signature theme: Jews eating Palestinian babies.

Actually, we don't need to speculate: What I have just written is exactly what happened when the Israeli army invaded the Jenin refugee camp to root out terrorists in April, 2002, a battle that was similar in scale to this month's siege at Nahr al Bared. (At Jenin, 52 refugee camp residents were killed -- most of them gunmen, according to Human Rights Watch. At Nahr al Bared, the figure is 45 and climbing.) The main difference between the two sieges is that Israel's army put its troops at far greater risk by invading Jenin with infantry -- whereas the less humane Lebanese army has simply pummelled Nahr al Bared with explosives from a distance. Jews apparently care a lot more about saving Palestinian civilians than do Lebanese soldiers.

For years, we have been told that Palestinian suffering and "humiliation" is at the root of the Middle East conflict, as well as the Western-Muslim clash of civilizations more generally. This is nonsense: The 200,000-plus Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanese camps are treated worse than dogs -- with no access to decent schools or good jobs -- and no one in the Arab world cares a whit. In fact, many Arabs seem to embrace the same blind anti-Palestinian hatred of which Israel is typically accused. When Lebanese armoured personnel carriers rolled through Tripoli on May 20, they got a standing ovation from local residents. "We wish the government would destroy the whole camp and the rest of the camps," one local told The New York Times. "Nothing good comes out of the Palestinians."

Just as Lebanon's stew of eternally warring Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Hezbollah terrorists and militarized clans serves as a Mediterranean microcosm for the political dysfunction of the Arab world, this month's events capture perfectly the utter cynicism of the Islamic world's trumped up vilification of Israel, and the West as a whole. As with the Muslim- on-Muslim slaughter in Darfur, Iraq, Pakistan, Gaza and a dozen other hot spots, the siege at Nahr al Bared shows that what inflames "the Muslim street" (for lack of a better cliche) isn't Muslim suffering, but the relatively tiny fraction thereof that jihadi propagandists and their Western apologists can lay at the feet of Jews and Christians.

Muslim blood apparently comes cheap -- but only when it's drawn by other Muslims.

UN to set up Hariri court

From The Australian, May 31, 2007 ...

IN a challenge to Syria, the UN Security Council voted today to set up a court to prosecute the murder two years ago of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

After months of arguments between deeply divided Lebanese politicians and talks between the Beirut government and the United Nations, 10 council members supported a Western-sponsored resolution to set up the court and five abstained. There were no votes against....

...the five countries that abstained - Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa - argued that the council was exceeding its authority and interfering in Lebanese affairs. ...

Central to the dispute are Lebanon's ties with its larger neighbour Syria, which pro-government Lebanese leaders accuse of killing Hariri and 22 others with a bomb in 2005. The outcry over the murder forced Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon. Damascus denies involvement but has indicated it will not cooperate with the court.

....Key details of the tribunal, including where it would be based, remain to be decided and diplomats expect a year's delay before it starts working. Lebanese authorities are currently holding eight people over the Hariri killing. They are four pro-Syrian generals who headed Lebanese security departments at the time and four members of a small Syrian-backed Sunni Muslim group accused of having played a role in monitoring Hariri's movements. But a continuing UN investigation has not yet recommended who should be indicted in the affair.

No solutions to Qassams?

From Ynet news, by Isi Leibler, May 30, 2007....

Only tough military action can bring Palestinians to realization [that] their lives will improve only if they rid themselves of leaders who believe terror will destroy us

... our government stands impotent as missiles rain down on its territory and a border town is in the process of being evacuated, its inhabitants being transformed into refugees in their own land.

...It is immoral and even obscene for our government to consciously delay tough responses against such aggression. What will it take to compel it to go over to the offensive - a missile strike on a kindergarten, on a hospital or a key infrastructure? Only a miracle has averted a calamity to date.

It is even more outrageous when we hear the mantra "There is no answer to Qassam attacks". The long-suffering citizens in Sderot are effectively being told by their government to stoically adjust their lifestyles to a regime of daily "Russian roulette" missile attacks or get out.

In the absence of a more potent pre emptive action, our emboldened enemies are gearing themselves to intensify their onslaughts .... the longer we wait, the worse the ultimate confrontation is likely to be, especially if future battles take place simultaneously on three fronts: Gaza, West Bank, South Lebanon (and possibly also Syria)....

....Clearly a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza may ultimately be deemed necessary as a last option. But in the interim, there are calibrated responses that should be implemented immediately.

We must proclaim to the world that as of now we intend to respond as would any other nation whose citizens are under missile attack. We will endeavor to continue minimizing innocent civilian loss of life but we have resolved that if terrorists oblige us to choose between the lives of our citizens and those of Palestinians we will defend our own, irrespective of the consequences.

Netanyahu is correct in urging that in the wake of each individual missile attack, we should increasingly cut off electricity, fuel and water to the Palestinians and close border crossings. Will this harm innocent civilians? Yes. But it is surely high time for us to cease supplying services to neighbors whose leaders authorize missile attacks against us.

We may also be obliged to temporarily occupy slabs of Gaza territory to foil rocket attacks on border areas, including locations formerly inhabited by settlers before the disastrous unilateral disengagement. In all likelihood we would also need to regain control of the Philadelphi corridor in order to contain the flow of lethal Iranian armaments pouring across the border.

Targeted assassinations should be intensified against those orchestrating the attacks including political leaders. We must even reconsider renewing artillery bombardment of locations from which missile attacks are initiated. As in all likelihood this will again incur civilian casualties and impact on the Palestinian infrastructure, we will undoubtedly be accused of responding "disproportionately".

....The message to the Palestinians is neither brutal nor heartless. It is very simple and constructive: Stop directing missiles on our civilians or your civilians may also be harmed. In fact, a tough Israeli response could actually encourage Palestinians to bring pressure to bear on their leaders and may in the long run even save Palestinian lives.

We should avoid entering into any new fake truces which merely enable our enemies to regroup and prepare themselves for more intensive attacks at a time of their choosing. That applies especially when the Palestinian leaders openly boast that their non-negotiable objective remains to kill "the descendants of apes and pigs", and they constantly renew their irrevocable determination never to deviate from their commitment to destroy the Jewish state.

We must also dispel the illusion that negotiations with Jihadists can bear fruit. There has never been a single example of Islamic fundamentalists reaching an accord on the basis of negotiations or concessions. Likewise retreats and withdrawals under fire have consistently emboldened Jihadists into intensifying violence and have merely served as a prescription for greater future conflagrations.

Only tough military action can deter the terrorists and hopefully bring Palestinians to the realization that their bitter lives will only improve if they rid themselves of leaders who remain obsessed with the belief that violence and terror will destroy us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Extremists are winning the war of words

From The Australian, Thursday, May 31, 2007, by Greg Sheridan ...

SIX years after the 9/11 terror attacks that destroyed the World Trade Centre in New York and killed almost 3000 people, a majority of American Muslims do not believe the attacks were carried out by Arabs. And more than one-quarter of young US Muslims believe suicide bombings can be justified in some circumstances.

These shocking and tragic findings, which come from the Pew Research Centre, tell us much about why the war against Islamist terror is going to last for generations. The West is losing the information and propaganda war against Islamist extremism. It is not losing because it is being insufficiently kind to Muslims at home or in the Middle East. As Britain’s Tony Blair wrote in The Sunday Times: “Extremism will be defeated only by recognising that we have not created it ... pandering to its sense of grievance will only encourage it.”

Blair confronted the argument that Muslims hate the West because it has taken military action in Afghanistan and Iraq: “Tell me what exactly they feel angry about? We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes; we replace them with a UN-supervised democratic process. And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims. Why aren’t they angry about the people doing the killing?”

The reason we are losing the battle of information and ideas is because the coherent religious and ideological position that al-Qa’ida represents has an extraordinary degree of support within the Muslim world. Even sentiments that don’t finally endorse al-Qa’ida often adopt a similar world outlook that embraces much of al-Qa’ida’s historical narrative and paranoid world view.
Most Muslims are moderates and abhor terrorism. But the minority that is extremist is a big one.

The flipside of al-Qa’ida’s success in the information war is our own dismal effort in this field. This does not mean endlessly telling Muslims how much we love them. Although in principle a bit of that is OK, as Blair implies it can be counterproductive by feeding an unjustified sense of grievance.

A better guide to the roots of our failure comes in a new report from US think tank the Rand Corporation, Building Moderate Muslim Networks. Rand recommends that the US, and by implication allied governments such as Australia’s, should consciously support, materially and morally, and where necessary create, networks of moderate Muslims across the world who reject Islamist extremism.

....moderate Muslims are being outmuscled. As Rand comments, Saudi funding has greatly enhanced religious extremism all over the world (which raises again the question why nobody, in the Labor Party or the Government, has followed up this newspaper’s revelations of Saudi embassy funding of extremists in Australia).

In many nations, moderate Muslims have been intimidated or even killed.

During the Cold War, the US created or supported democratic institutions to fight against totalitarianism in civil society all over the world, especially in any margins of free space in communist societies. The US acted as a foundation, evaluating projects, funding them, then adopting a hands-off approach. In the war on terror, the US has a freedom agenda but no coherent idea of how to support it. It often cannot distinguish moderates from extremists.

The Danish imams who campaigned successfully to turn a few cartoons into a worldwide jihad had previously been wrongly identified as moderates and benefited from state travel grants and the like.

....One of the many disturbing features of the US Pew survey on the attitudes of American Muslims is that younger Muslims are substantially more extreme than their parents or grandparents. This reflects the experience in Europe, and probably Australia, that far from the second generation being more integrated, as has happened with every other migrant group, it is becoming more prey to the appeal of extremist ideologies and more alienated from its host society.

It is important to emphasise that the US survey does show that most American Muslims are moderate and reject extremism, and that American Muslims tend to be more moderate than European Muslims or Muslim populations in most majority Muslim nations.

But the US poll is merely the latest from across the world to show that the extremist minority is a very big, and therefore dangerous, one. A poll by the British think tank Policy Exchange showed similar results. Although most British Muslims are moderate, among 16 to 24-year-olds, 37 per cent would prefer to live under sharia law than British law, while 36per cent believe a Muslim changing their religion to something else should be punishable by death and 13per cent support al-Qa’ida.

Similarly, a joint Asia-Europe Foundation and University of Malaya poll found that 98 per cent of Malay Muslims believe Muslims should not be allowed by law to change their religion, 31 per cent want sharia law to replace the Malaysian constitution, 12 per cent support suicide bombings and a clear majority dislike or hate Europe, the US and Australia.

And in Australia, Taj Din al-Hilali, after all his extremist statements, remains the mufti. After everything, the national imams council still has not dismissed him. To equate this with Christian fundamentalism is utterly absurd. The widespread presence of extremist views in large minorities among Muslim communities poses acute dilemmas for a liberal society that no one has yet begun to face up to.

Sleepwalking towards mass destruction

From Melanie Phillips' Diary, May 29, 2007 ...

I attended an excellent seminar yesterday in Jerusalem, run by the estimable Shalem Centre, on the legacy of the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arabs, the 40th anniversary of which falls next week. Michael Oren, a notable historian of that war who has been mining the treasure trove of recently de-classified documents about it, related how, during the period leading up to June 1967 when attacks upon Israel were mounting, the tension in Israel became unbearable as people feared a second holocaust at the hands of the Arab states who were clearly preparing for all-out war.

De-classified documents have shown that Egypt, Jordan and Syria were planning to cut Israel in half; Jordan was planning to take out whole populations from Israeli towns and shoot them. Plans for the destruction of Israel had been laid to the smallest detail.

Israel, however, planned for no more than a 48-hour surgical strike, explicitly resolving not to enter Gaza or the West Bank. What Israel had not expected was that King Hussein of Jordan, who had hitherto been signalling covertly that he had no hostile intent, would launch a serious attack, but Egypt told him falsely, after Israel had destroyed its entire air force on the ground in the space of one hour, that Egypt was on course for victory. So Jordan started firing on Israel from the West Bank, and Israel was accordingly sucked in, as it was into Gaza after attacks were launched from there.

On June 16 1967 Israel offered to give back these territories to Jordan and Egypt in exchange for peace. It even convened a meeting of 18 notable Arabs from the West Bank to discuss whether a Palestinian state could be established there. They all said they would indeed like to have such a state – but if they signed any such agreement with Israel, radicals such as Yasser Arafat would kill them.

I look forward to this history being provided to the public by the British media over the next few days, particularly by the BBC.

There were two other notable contributions to the seminar. Martin Kramer considered the common argument that the 1967 war and subsequent ‘occupation’ led to the emergence of Islamist extremism and al Qaeda. The facts, he said, did not fit this thesis. For a start, the one country in the Middle East where Islamism had seized power since 1967 was Iran, which had played no part in that war. 1979, the year the ayatollahs came to power, was the landmark year for the emergence of Islamism; and the historical grievance behind that Iranian revolution was the return of the Shah. Israel was irrelevant. This meant that the key to countering Islamist fundamentalism was not the Israel/Arab peace process, but ‘rolling back the Iranian revolution’ – in other words, regime change in Iran.

In the most poignant and indeed tragic analysis of all, Yossi Klein Halevi suggested that the Six-Day War had brought to light a continuing ambivalence in the attitude to power of the Jewish people themselves. The weeks before that war, when attacks upon Israel and the threat of war were mounting – the ‘waiting period’—reawakened the primal Jewish fear both of a second holocaust and that the Jews would once again be isolated as the world stood by and watched it happen.

The principle established by the Six Day War would trigger pre-emptive action by Israel. The consequence of its victory, however, was that Jews felt able for the first time to confront the Holocaust and from that date it became central to the identity of Jews in the diaspora. The other side of the coin was that the same victory enabled the non-Jewish world to slough off its own responsibility for the Holocaust and in turn for the survival of the Jewish people. While Jews saw the Six Day War as a narrow escape from genocide, the non-Jewish world only saw the Jews victorious over another people.

And this division was carried through into the Jewish people themselves. Those on the left (roughly speaking) saw only the victory and concluded therefore that Israel could now take risks with its security in order to achieve peace with the Arabs. Those on the right saw that Israel was the only country in the world marked out for extermination and concluded therefore that taking risks for peace was suicidal.

The Jews have thus internalised the difference between May 1967, with its terror of annihilation, and June 1967, with its relief at the astounding victory. And the difference between these two months has divided them as a people. While the Six Day War made Israel the focus of their identity for many diaspora Jews and ignited their determination that ‘never again’ would they be slow to defend their own people against annihilation, for many others it turned them against it. For at the very moment that the left embraced ‘victim culture’ as their supreme cause, Israel ceased in their eyes to be David and turned instead into Goliath. For so long, Jews had been despised as cowards. Now they were to be despised as aggressors. As Halevi concluded: ‘The 1967 war made some Jews feel safe enough to long for powerlessness’.

The result is that the Jewish people today is living through a seismic internal rupture. The terrible conclusion from such an analysis is that it is only disaster and annihilation that will unite it. Victory and power divide and threaten to destroy it; there can be unity only in catastrophe. Such a pathological ‘Catch-22’, such an each-way bet on self-destruction, cannot be tolerated. It has to be fought. The Jewish people has to bring these two halves of its psyche together. It has to learn to acknowledge the reality of the unique threat to its existence and to accept that virtue does not reside in powerlessness. To believe that it does is to continue to be imprisoned in a psychic ghetto. Israel was established to say never again’ to precisely that mentality.

The dreadful internal war that is currently engulfing diaspora Jews, the legacy of those six days in June 1967, shows that for too many that elementary lesson – the denial of which is causing so many once again to sleepwalk towards mass destruction — still has to be learned.

My argument with the pope

From THE JERUSALEM POST May. 29, 2007, by JACOB NEUSNER, distinguished service professor of the history and theology of Judaism at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York ...

...My book, A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, was one ... contemporary exercise of disputation, and now, in 2007, the pope in his new book Jesus of Nazareth in detail has met the challenge point-by-point. ....

...In A Rabbi Talks with Jesus I undertook to take seriously the claim of Jesus to fulfill the Torah and weigh that claim in the balance against the teachings of other rabbis - a colloquium of sages of the Torah. I explain in a very straightforward and unapologetic way why, if I had been in the Land of Israel in the first century and present at the Sermon on the Mount, I would not have joined the circle of Jesus's disciples. I would have dissented, I hope courteously, I am sure with solid reason and argument and fact.

....I WROTE the book to shed some light on why, while Christians believe in Jesus Christ and the good news of his rule in the kingdom of Heaven, Jews believe in the Torah of Moses and form on earth and in their own flesh God's kingdom of priests and the holy people. And that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent from the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah.

.... In setting forth the grounds to this unapologetic dissent, I mean to foster religious dialogue among believers, Christian and Jewish alike. For a long time, Jews have praised Jesus as a rabbi, a Jew like us really; but to Christian faith in Jesus Christ, that affirmation is monumentally irrelevant. And for their part, Christians have praised Judaism as the religion from which Jesus came, and to us, that is hardly a vivid compliment.

We have avoided meeting head-on the points of substantial difference between us, not only in response to the person and claims of Jesus, but especially, in addressing his teachings. .... I propose to set forth a Jewish dissent from some important teachings of Jesus. It is a gesture of respect for Christians and honor for their faith. For we can argue only if we take one another seriously. But we can enter into dialogue only if we honor both ourselves and the other. In my imaginary disputation I treat Jesus with respect, but I also mean to argue with him about things he says.

WHAT'S AT stake here? If I succeed in creating a vivid portrait of the dispute, Christians see the choices Jesus made and will find renewal for their faith in Jesus Christ - but also respect Judaism. I underscore the choices both Judaism and Christianity confront in the shared Scriptures. Christians will understand Christianity when they acknowledge the choices it has made, and so too Jews, Judaism .....

.....WHEN MY publisher asked for suggestions of colleagues to be asked to recommend the book, I suggested Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Rabbi Sacks had long impressed me by his astute and well-crafted theological writings, the leading contemporary apologist for Judaism. I had admired Cardinal Ratzinger's writings on the historical Jesus and had written to him to say so. He replied and we exchanged offprints and books. His willingness to confront the issues of truth, not just the politics of doctrine, struck me as courageous and constructive.

But now His Holiness has taken a step further and has answered my critique in a creative exercise of exegesis and theology. In his Jesus of Nazareth the Judeo-Christian disputation enters a new age. We are able to meet one another in a forthright exercise of reason and criticism. The challenges of Sinai bring us together for the renewal of a 2,000 year old tradition of religious debate in the service of God's truth.

Someone once called me the most contentious person he had ever known. Now I have met my match. Pope Benedict XVI is another truth-seeker. We are in for interesting times.

Labour primaries are no threat to Kadima

From an opinion piece in THE JERUSALEM POST, May. 28, 2007, by Caroline Glick....

....yesterday's primaries for Labor's top-spot were about nothing but being on the air. The frontrunners, former prime minister and IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak, and former Navy commandant and Shin Bet chief MK Ami Ayalon, had no positions to speak of on the issues of the day. They had nothing to say about the Iranian nuclear program. They had nothing to say about Syria's daily threats of war. They had nothing to say about Gaza's post-withdrawal transformation into a mini-Taliban ruled Afghanistan replete with training bases for all the major global terror networks.

Rather than relate to the threats that Israel faces...They preened before the Labor voters,...and then spoke about how and at what price they will remain in Ehud Olmert's government..... Because that was what this primary was all about: acquiring and preserving power - for the candidates, for the Labor party and for the Israeli Left as a whole. The underlying theme of the five-month long Labor primary was that power must be maintained at all costs.... because more frightening than Iran or Syria or Hamas or Hizbullah is the specter of Knesset elections .... because everyone knows ..... Allowing the nation to choose it leaders means allowing the nation to reject them.

.... Speaking Saturday in Isfahan, one of the Iranian cities made famous in recent years for its illicit nuclear facilities, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again threatened Israel with annihilation. "Sixty year of invasion and assassination is enough," he said. "If you do not cease invasion and massacre, soon the hand of power of the nations of the region will rub you criminals with earth."

For his part, Syria's dictator Bashar Assad, who was just resoundingly reelected by a national referendum which pitted him against no one, is busily threatening Israel with war while using his al-Qaida surrogates in Fatah al Islam to overthrow the Lebanese government. As the Syrian dissident Reform Syria Party revealed this week, Fatah al Islam's commander is Shakir Absi, an until recently jailed Syrian Air Force officer. Syrian intelligence released Absi from prison and sent him to Lebanon to foment the overthrow of the Lebanese government.

Then of course there are the Iranian and Syrian Palestinian proxies, Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad which are fighting a mini-war against Israel in the south. Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin explained that the IDF operations in Gaza have in no way diminished the Palestinians' military capabilities. Hamas, Diskin said can turn its missiles and mortars on Ashkelon any time it wishes.

AND NOT only is the Olmert government failing to degrade the Palestinians' military capacity through limited air strikes, its feckless diplomacy has also failed to prevent Hamas's acquisition of international legitimacy. Britain, for instance has reacted to the abduction of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza by embracing Hamas.

As British architects, physicians, vicars and professors line up to boycott Israel, the British glitterati and incoming prime minister Gordon Brown happily shared a stage with Hamas spokesman and terrorist Ghazi Hamad at a literary festival in Wales. Hamad wowed his audience by spreading lies about his non-existent efforts to free Johnston.

The British embrace of jihadists is being matched by the collapse of the US policy on the war. Over the weekend The Boston Globe reported that the US closed down the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group, an interagency working group established last year to undermine the Syrian and Iranian regimes. The group was disbanded because the Bush administration has abandoned its policy of regime change in both countries. US Ambassador in Iraq Ryan Crocker's meeting yesterday with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad is just the latest evidence of this US embrace of appeasement.

Speaking of the significance of the American move, Iraqi parliamentarian Mithal al Alousi said that by opening direct contacts with the Iranians, the US "gives Iran guardianship over the Middle East."

All of these developments bode ill for Israel. And there are voices in Israel who understand this and have clear visions for defending the country against the gathering storm.....

IN AN interview with the Wall Street Journal's online Opinion Journal, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu cogently explained his strategy of using free markets to exert pressure on the Iranian regime that could lead to its overthrow. For the past six months, Netanyahu has been making frequent visits to the US to try to convince state and local governments to divest their public employee pension funds from companies that do business with Iran. Netanyahu explained that Americans across the political spectrum can agree to the principle that "a regime that promotes genocide cannot receive American taxpayers' savings . . . through European intermediaries."

....While it is far from clear that the divestment program, which was originally conceived by the Washington based Center for Security Policy, can in fact cause Iran to end its nuclear weapons program, it is absolutely clear that the initiative will make it more difficult for Iran to freely advance it. That is, even if it is only partially successful, the plan to end US investment in companies that enable the Iranian regime to function, will limit the regime's maneuver room.

....former IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon took to the airwaves back home to point to the dangers of the Olmert government's refusal to take action against Gaza. "The problem in Gaza won't go away, and no one can solve it for us, not Egypt, or an international force," Ya'alon said in an interview with Channel 2. While the Olmert government dithers and allows Sderot to be abandoned by residents it refuses to defend, Ya'alon said, "We have to get to the terrorists, get to their workshops and hit their infrastructure. We did it in Defensive Shield and we had our reservations before launching that operation too. You have to be blind to think entering Gaza in unnecessary."

What we see in Netanyahu and Ya'alon as well as in their colleagues is that Israel needn't be led by people who think that war is preferable to elections. We needn't be sitting by passively as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice advances James Baker's policy of selling out Israel for a temporary lull in the carnage in Iraq that could allow the US to meekly retreat. We needn't be discussing surrender of territory to regimes that are actively preparing to attack us. We needn't be listening to men who think that leadership of a country at war is nothing but a popularity contest.

Many commentators have for months ignored Labor's symbiotic relationship with Kadima and argued wrongly that the fate of the Olmert government would be decided in the Labor primaries. Given the fact that Labor and Kadima have identical interests, there was never any chance that Labor would bolt the government.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Aid flows into Palestinian account with US approval

From Reuters, Mon 28 May 2007, by Adam Entous ...

JERUSALEM, May 28 (Reuters) - With U.S. backing, donor funds have started flowing into an account controlled by Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad to pay partial government salaries, Palestinian and Western officials said on Monday.

Fayyad was expected to receive enough money through the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) account to pay government workers, including members of the security forces, at least half of their normal monthly wages later this week.....

A crippling Western aid embargo has been in place on the Palestinian Authority since Hamas came to power in March 2006, preventing the government led by the Islamist group from bringing in enough money to pay full salaries to workers. The embargo on the government remains in place even though it now includes members of President Mahmoud Abbas's once dominant Fatah faction. But in a May 14 letter to the European Union, the U.S. government said donor funds can be channelled to Palestinians through the PLO account controlled by Fayyad.

Some Israeli officials decried what they saw as a shift in U.S. policy that would reduce pressure on Hamas to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept interim peace deals. U.S. officials said the objective of providing the assurances was to ensure that banks felt comfortable transferring funds to the PLO and, in turn, to strengthen Palestinians like Fayyad and Abbas who favour a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict.

... Since getting the green light from the Bush administration, the PLO account has received at least $22 million from Qatar, Palestinian and Western officials said. Saudi Arabia is sending another $50 million. Norway is sending $10 million, the first non-Arab contribution. Together, the $82 million could cover up to 71 percent of next month's wage bill, though Fayyad was expected to spread the funds out to ensure he has enough for subsequent payments and to cover other expenses."We have started using the PLO account ... This is an important step to lift the siege," Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa al-Barghouthi said. Fayyad had promised government workers they would receive at least half their normal salaries at the beginning of each month through the PLO account and the European Union's so-called Temporary International pay about $30 million a month to public employees and pensioners in coordination with Fayyad. The EU payments go directly to beneficiaries, sidestepping the Hamas-led government, and include all workers except those in the security services....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fatwa promotes adult breastfeeding

From The Australian, May 28, 2007, by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem [this is a case of real life being stranger than fiction - SL] ...

A RELIGIOUS ruling by an Islamic scholar permitting women to breastfeed adults with whom they work has led to his suspension this month from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world's leading Sunni university.

Izzat Atiyaa had issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, offering his bold suggestion as a way around the prohibition in Islamic religious law against a woman working in private premises with a man who was not her close relative. Breastfeeding, he argued, would create a familial relationship under Islamic law.

Dr Atiyaa explained to the Egyptian newspaper al-Watani al-Yawm that: "A man and a woman who are alone together are not (necessarily) having sex but this possibility exists and breastfeeding provides a solution to this problem (by) transforming the bestial relationship between two people into a religious relationship based on (religious) duties."

In Islamic tradition, breastfeeding at infancy establishes a degree of familial relationship between nurse and child even if there is no biological relationship. Dr Atiyaa argued in his fatwa that if an adult male was nursed by a female co-worker it would likewise establish a familial bond that would permit them to work side by side without raising suspicion of illicit sex.

... his ruling evoked almost universal rejection among Muslim scholars and in the popular Egyptian press. ....Following his remarks, the university decided to suspend Dr Atiyaa, pending further investigation....

Lebanon a launch pad for al-Qa'ida's new phase

From The Australian, May 28, 2007, by Martin Chulov ...

The standoff in the Nahr al-Barad refugee camp is a crucial test for the region as the jihadi revolution prepares to spread around the world...

AS the encircled Islamists in north Lebanon heralded their last stand this weekend, regional governments were coming to terms with a much broader battle - al-Qa'ida's opening salvos in the western Middle East.

From the Horn of Africa to the eastern shores of the Atlantic, from Afghanistan to Lebanon, and as far away as Spain, the rise of Salafi Islamic Jihadism has taken on a dangerous new impetus that is likely to reshape the global war on terror. Throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean, fully fledged Salafi jihadi insurgencies are being fought in Iraq, Somalia, Algeria and Lebanon. Uprisings are stirring in Gaza, Tunisia, Morocco and the Egyptian Sinai.

All have the potential to drag the West into a conflict it increasingly seems unlikely to avoid.
Salafis are anti-Western and idealise an uncorrupted, pure Islamic religious community.
Of all the flashpoints, Lebanon seemed among the least likely to erupt into a standoff between the global jihadis and the rest of the world. The traumatised nation had been wrestling with sectarian conflict for the past seven months, indeed for much of its past 60 years. But the internecine battles had been fought largely for control of the levers of domestic power.

Lebanon has always been an arena for proxy battles instigated by its neighbours. And a key driver of the current standoff is believed to be no different. Western intelligence officers say the fledgling Fatah al-Islam group now surrounded in the Nahr al-Barad Palestinian refugee camp is directed by Syrian military intelligence chiefs who are determined to reassert their influence in the country they were forced to leave two years ago.

But the same Beirut-based Western spies say Lebanon is now being viewed on a bigger stage. Jihadis, they say, are seen as a potential Islamic emirate - a valuable part of a regional mosaic that draws its strength from the fearsome Iraqi insurgency and the sectarian Sunni-Shia civil war it has spawned.

Were an insurgency to take hold in Lebanon, it would bring the spread of global jihad to the doorstep of northern Europe and give Israel much more to worry about than the Shia militants of Hezbollah. "The game plan here appears to be to import elements of the Iraqi insurgency and kick it off here between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites," said one well-placed security officer. "Fatah al-Islam are an advance guard."

Only Syria stands between Lebanon and Iraq and, according to the US military, Damascus is already a key facilitator of the insurgency in Iraq. An Iraqi intelligence chief claimed on Saturday that the Syrian border area of al-Qaim is the key clearing house for Iraqi insurgents, 70per cent of whom come from the Gulf states, which are largely considered moderate and US-friendly.

"They, according to their own confessions, gather in mosques in the said (Gulf) states to travel to Syria using their passports, taking with them phone numbers of individuals waiting for them there," Brigadier General Rashid Fleih, the assistant undersecretary for intelligence of Iraq's Interior Ministry, was quoted as saying in Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper. He said that, once in Syria, the insurgents were given new passports.

Fatah al-Islam's leader, Shaker al-Absi, is believed to be linked to Syrian regime figures. He was released from a Syrian prison after serving a quarter of a 12-year sentence on terrorism charges and soon popped up in two Palestinian refugee camps, from where he launched Fatah al-Islam in the image of al-Qa'ida. Absi is believed to have been seriously wounded in a hand and shoulder during last week's battles with the Lebanese Army. Through a spokesman, he reiterated yesterday that he would not be captured. He claimed that three giant US military aircraft carrying supplies for the Lebanese army, which arrived in Beirut on Saturday, contained cluster bombs and other unconventional weapons to be used in a final assault against them.

The payload arrived less than a week after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had asked for $US280million ($342million) in aid from his key backer. The threat posed by Lebanon's surprise insurgency was not lost on the White House, which cannot bear Salafi Islamist strongholds mushrooming in the region.

But Fatah al-Islam may also prove to be a harbinger of hope in Lebanon.
If the Lebanese army prevails over the 250 or so militants, it and the Siniora Government will emerge emboldened - even among some supporters of the Hezbollah-led opposition. Mr Siniora can then boast one strong, functional and important arm of the state, reshaped to take on the jihadis, which could finally start to consolidate his ailing Government's position.

Such a result could place the army on an equal footing with Hezbollah, which its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, repeatedly casts as the only capable nationalistic force in Lebanon. Nasrallah, who in the Salafi jihadis' eyes is as much of an infidel as other Shias, Christians, Jews and even moderate Muslims, was struggling over the weekend to position himself and Hezbollah in the face of al-Qa'ida's emergence.

...The next week in Nahr al-Barad will prove a critical test for Lebanon and the region's will to face up to an imported and intensified foe that is making good al-Qa'ida's promise to spread its influence. The Jihadi revolution appears to have moved to a second phase, consolidating on the gains of the past five years and preparing to take the fight well beyond its heartland....

'Hamas will be ready for us'

From Ynet News, 27/5/07, by Ronny Sofer ....

Explosive tunnels, snipers, road bombs, all will be waiting should IDF decide to enter Gaza, says Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. Palestinians may have lost faith in leadership, he estimates, but Hamas is far from giving up

The escalating situation in Gaza and persistent Qassam salvo on the western Negev were at the heart of Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin's summary at Sunday's Cabinet meeting. "They will be more than ready for us," said Diskin when faced with ministers calling for a ground incursion in Gaza, or at least a more forceful reaction on part of the IDF. "They'll be waiting for us with explosive tunnels, snipers, road bombs and anything else they can think of, just in case we decide to go in," said Diskin.

The Shin Bet, he stressed, recommends, in agreement with the IDF, to continue the ongoing operation "in order to avoid hurting any civilians. We mustn't believe any fabricated calm," added Diskin. "We must keep hurting Hamas on a daily basis."

Changing the equation
"As much as I appreciate the efforts, the problem isn't with fortifications," said a livid Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. "The equation needs to be changed. We need to make it clear to the world that we have reached the end of our tolerance, and we should respond harshly. "I don’t mean ground invasion. I'm talking about focusing heavy fire on the launch sites. We need special unit activity based on quality intelligence. This is the only way we can change the equation, not through fortification," he added.

"The way we operate has made things very difficult for Hamas," said Diskin when asked about IDF actions in the last few days. "Rival Palestinian factions are talking to each other, trying to reach a ceasefire, and that shows us just how hard up they are," he added. "Hamas and Khaled Mashaal are very concerned by the despair and misery among the Palestinian public. "The Palestinian public has lost faith in its leadership's ability to deal with the ongoing anarchy and worsening economy," said Diskin.

Hamas far from breaking point
Diskin went on to warn that even though morale at Gaza has hit an all-time low, Hamas has not necessarily reached its breaking point. "They know they don't have public support, and they're sustaining serious physical losses," said Diskin. "They now face actual difficulties in moving their rocket launchers around."

The ministers pushed further, asking if Hamas was capable of increasing the amount of missiles launched at Israel. "They can make such an effort, but for no longer than a few days," said Diskin. "They are limited by the difficulties in moving rocket launchers around, they can't make as many rockets as before and they have an increasing amount of casualties," he added.....

Yael Branovsky contributed to this article

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hamas on the offensive in London as well as Sderot

From a DEBKAfile Special Report, May 27, 2007...

Sunday, May 27, was a red letter day for Hamas. One of the hundreds of Qassam missiles fired from Gaza in the last 12 days hit a car in Sderot’s center driven by 35-year old Oshri Oz from Hod Hasharon, whose company provides computer services in the battered town. He died on the way to hospital. He is survived by a two-year old daughter and a pregnant wife, who was hospitalized after she received the news of his death.

That day, too, Ghazi Hamad, spokesman of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniya of Hamas, was the honored guest at a prestigious English literary festival at Hay-on-Wye in Wales. Invited to the event by the British Guardian newspaper, the Palestinian terrorist shared a platform with future and past British premiers, Chancellor Gordon Brown, who enters 10 Downing on June 27, John Major, the designer Vivienne Westwood and other glitterati. The Palestinian jihadi starred in Sky television’s Adam Bolton’s Sunday interview program...

...Hamad is important in the Hamas Islamist terror machine in his capacity as director of the smuggling routes of funds and weapons from Damascus and Tehran through Egyptian Sinai. The money is spent on the manufacture of the Qassam missiles which day by day terrorize the Israeli civilian population abutting on Gaza. Some of the cash arrives in the infamous suitcases whose passage is allowed by the international observers posted at the Rafah crossing from Sinai.
Israel’s government heads know all this. Yet foreign minister Tzipi Livni has refrained summoning the British ambassador to protest the Hamas smuggling expert’s admission to Britain as star of an august literary event; nor has the Israeli ambassador to the Court of St. James asked the Foreign Office for clarifications.

On the day of the Hamas terrorist’s star performance in Hay, Tony Blair initiated new anti-terror legislation. In Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, declared solemnly at the weekly cabinet session: “No one involved in the Qassam offensive will escape; no one is immune.”

...As long as people like Ghazi Hamad are made welcome at British literary festivals, there is little hope for Alan Johnston or the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit, both kidnapped by the same nihilist al Qaeda-Hamas gangs. Neither will the UK be safe from jihadist terrorists, or Sderot live like a normal town.

Interestingly, leading UK organizations dish out the reverse treatment to the very people Hamas has singled out for destruction. British academic, medical and architectural groups have eagerly embraced a boycott of their Israeli colleagues - not to mention the Church of England’s divestment campaign. These arbiters of political morality generously offer Israeli academics and professionals a chance to avoid being blacklisted by disowning their government’s policies.

Man killed in rocket attack on Sderot

From Ynet News, 27/5/07, by Yael Branovsky...

A man was killed Sunday morning in the southern town of Sderot after a rocket landed near the car he was sitting in.

The man, 36, crashed into the wall with his car after it was hit. He managed to get out of the vehicle and take a number of steps before collapsing. He was evacuated to the Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon, where he died of his wounds.

Another resident was lightly hurt and several others suffered from shock. An additional Qassam exploded near Sderot.

Last week, another woman was killed in Sderot after being hit by a rocket near the town's commercial center.

...Children waiting for buses to take them to distant schools panicked upon hearing the alert system and the explosions which followed.

The Color Red rocket alert system was activated in Sderot just before 7 am on Sunday, followed by explosion sounds. Sappers and firefighters found the remnants of a Qassam rocket between a community center and an apartment building.

The new community center suffered slight damage following the explosion. The Sderot Municipality reported that the incident caused a lot of panic in the neighborhood and that only a miracle prevented injuries.

The rocket barrages did not stop over the weekend. On Saturday evening, five Qassams landed across the western Negev, one of them completely destroying an apartment.

Meanwhile, the IDF continued its airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, bombing another two posts belonging to Hamas' special force, on the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Raduan and the other in the Jabalya refugee camp.

Ten posts of the special force were destroyed in one day, and have in fact become Hamas' weak point in the current conflict....

Shmulik Hadad and Ali Waked contributed to the report

Ahmadinejad threatens (again) to "uproot" Israel

From MSNBC, 24/5/07, by AP...

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday warned Israel it would be “uprooted” if the Jewish state made any move against and attacked Lebanon in the coming summer.

....“If this year you repeat the same mistake of the last year, the ocean of nations of the region will get angry and will cut the root of the Zionist regime from its stem,” [said] Ahmadinejad, speaking live on state television....“... soon the hand of power of the nations of the region will rub you criminals with earth.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Ahmadinejad’s comments reflected the Iranian leadership’s support for the “most extreme elements in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority....Ahmadinejad funds, trains and arms the most extreme anti-peace elements in the region. If there is any real threat to regional security, it comes from an expansionist fundamentalist Iran,” Regev said.

...Ahmadinejad appears to be stepping up his confrontational tone at a time when Iran faces renewed pressure by the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program and just days before direct Iran-U.S. talks in Baghdad on Iraq’s security.

The United States, which has long accused Iran of providing sophisticated explosives to militants in Iraq, has also increased its military presence in the Gulf as a show of force.
Ahmadinejad comments Thursday also likely reflect his attempt to cast himself in the role of a champion of the Palestinian cause. Iran support the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups that refuse to recognize Israel.

Nobel laureate stands up to boycott call

From »May. 25, 2007 by JPOST.COM STAFF

Boycotting Israel indicates a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism, Nobel laureate Prof. Steven Weinberg wrote in a letter explaining his reason for withdrawing from a July physics conference at London's Imperial College, the Guardian reported.

Weinberg said he perceived "a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British opinion." Weinberg's announcement, which he said was triggered by a call from the National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli products, comes a few days ahead of a planned vote on two separate motions for academic boycott by the University and College Union, the largest professional association for lecturers and researchers in British higher education.

This was not the first time Weinberg has taken a strong stance against moves to boycott Israel. In 2005, the UK Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, two British lecturers' unions, passed a boycott motion, prompting Weinberg to cancel his participation in a conference at the University of Durham.

The 2005 motion was later reversed following a storm of international protest.
Last week, a delegation of senior Israeli academics concluded meetings with their British counterparts and with parliamentarians and journalists in an effort to persuade academics and members of the UCU to reject the boycott proposal.

The Israelis' trip was organized by the Fair Play Campaign Group (FPCG,) part of the Board of Deputies of British Jews' campaign to combat initiatives to boycott Israel, together with the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB,) set up by Bar-Ilan University in 2005 to respond to calls for boycotts of Israeli academics.

Jonny Paul contributed to this report.