Friday, January 22, 2010

Israeli drones soar

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 21, 2010, by Yaakov Katz:

While Israeli soldiers can't fight in the war in Afghanistan, Israeli drones can.

Starting next week, five NATO member countries will be operating unmanned aerial vehicles produced in the Jewish state in anti-Taliban operations in the Central Asian country.

Next week, officials from the German military will arrive to take delivery of an undisclosed number of Heron UAVs, made by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Heron is a medium altitude long endurance UAV that can remain airborne for more than 30 hours with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, and can carry a payload of 250 kg. It has a wingspan of 16.6 meters, a takeoff weight of 1,200 kg. and an operational range of several hundred kilometers. It can carry a variety of sensors used for surveillance and target identification.

Germany is the fifth country to operate Israel Aerospace Industries UAVs in Afghanistan. In December, the Royal Australian Air Force took delivery of several Heron systems, joining Spain, France and Canada that already operate the platform.

Israel is a recognized world leader in the development of UAVs. In November, the Brazilian government announced that it was prepared to sign a $350 million deal to purchase Heron UAVs to patrol its cities and borders, and to provide security for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Later this year, Israel Aerospace Industries will hold demonstrations of the Heron for Panamanian security forces in conjunction with the US military's Southern Command. The demonstration in Panama will focus on counter-drug operations, as well as border security.

Last May, the Heron underwent a month-long evaluation by the aSouthern Command nd the Salvadoran military to judge its suitability for counter-drug missions in Latin America and the Pacific. It was the first time that the drone, designed for intelligence gathering and surveillance, was used in such operations.

A clash of Wahhabism and Americanism

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 19, 2010, by Seth Frantzman, PhD researcher at Hebrew University:

In the waning months of 1775 an elderly imam named Sayf ibn Ahmed al-Atiqi ...in Sudayr, a region north of Riyadh ...was a well known imam of the Nejd and he had spent his dying days opposing a new religious movement named Wahhabism.

Two years before his death, this movement, led by the tribal sheikh Muhammad Ibn Saud, had conquered Riyadh, a sleepy desert oasis, and turned it into the capital of a new Islamic fundamentalist state.

In April 1775, on the other side of the world, American colonists were rousted from their beds in communities west of Boston by the cries of Paul Revere. The lonely rider warned them that the British had set out that very night to destroy their stockpiles of arms. The resulting conflagration was known as the "shot heard round the world" and would result in creation of the United States.

Although many have written about American involvement in the Middle East, few have realized that the eruption of Wahhabism and the founding of America were contemporary events....

...Charles Allen has recently uncovered a sort of secret history which illustrates that Wahhabism influenced Indian Muslim fundamentalists in the early 19th century. Allen illustrates in God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad that these "Hindustani fanatics" founded camps in Swat in what is now northern Pakistan.

These camps posed a perennial problem to British colonial officers and although they were destroyed several times, they continued to survive until the modern day when their ideology formed the basis of the modern Taliban. Allen claims that the arrival of Osama bin Laden and his Arab fighters in the region in the 1980s was merely a coming together of the worldwide Wahhabi movement. By 2009 that movement has spread far and wide, influencing Islamist fighters from the Philippines to Bosnia, Chechnya, Gaza and Somalia.

...World War I resulted in the emergence of the US as a world power and Saudi Arabia as an independent state. Neither country was imperialistic in the European or Ottoman model, pursuing instead a sort of cultural imperialism.

The defeat of communism augmented US hegemony, but it had the corollary of increasing the power of Saudi Arabia, whose legions of Wahhabi fighters poured out of Afghanistan, fresh from victory over the Soviets, to spawn terrorist movements throughout the world.

September 11 should have served as a wake up call to the US that the Saudi ideology was the next great threat to civilization.

It seems that George W. Bush's plan for the Iraq war was designed, at least in part, to undermine Saudi Arabia. Most analysts have misunderstood this side to the war. By attempting to bring democracy to Iraq and by establishing American bases there, the US could wean itself of reliance on Saudi oil and create an "American" cultural center in Iraq that would offset Saudi power.

... However the failure in Iraq and the election of Barack Obama rolled back that initiative and placed America back in the arms of the Saudis, a position illustrated by the controversy over Obama's bowing to the Saudi king in April 2009.

...it appears that Wahhabism, with its Saudi funding, has come to view America and its allies, rather than China or Europe, as the greatest threat to its continuing expansion. Wahhabism understands that individual states such as Russia or India do not pose it an existential threat. Europe no longer represents a source of ideas but more a source of rhetoric that also does not pose this ideology a threat, especially as it gains quiet inroads in that continent.

Islamic jurists such as Sayf ibn Ahmed al-Atiqi have viewed Wahhabism as a revolutionary movement that may, in fact, not be Islamic at all. Wahhabism has spent as much time slaughtering fellow Muslims, who it has termed "pagans," as it has "infidels."

America derived its intellectual foundations from Europe's values but recrafted them in a radical new ideology. The war that is being fought in many places, from Somalia to Kashmir, is not so much a war between Islam and the West but a war between two ideologies that derived from the former, namely Wahhabism and Americanism. The current war being fought between the fanatics in Afghanistan and the Americans will show who has the test of wills to win this round.

B'Tselem's False Accusations

From IsraelNN.com, 22/1/10, by by Gil Ronen:

The latest accusation hurled against Israeli  ...soldiers is that they defaced gravestones at the Arab cemetery of Awarta near Shechem, in Samaria, on Tuesday. This story, however, appears to be falling apart just a day after it was circulated in the Israeli and international press.

...investigation thus far has cast doubt on the accusations. It turns out that there were no Hebrew inscriptions on gravestones in the Muslim cemetery. However, it is possible that someone scribbled something on slabs of marble at a distance from the cemetery.

...members of the far-Left NGO B'Tselem admitted to IDF officers that the photos which were featured in the press, and which purported to show writing in Hebrew and Russian on Arab gravestones, were misleading.

European Commission hides criteria for funding NGOs

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 21, 2010, by Dan Izenberg:

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog organization, announced on Wednesday it has filed suit against the European Commission of the European Union, demanding that it meet its own transparency requirements and disclose internal documents revealing the decision-making process and criteria for funding Israeli and Palestinian nongovernment organizations.

Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor, said at a press conference in Jerusalem that the EU has contributed at least NIS 177 million since June 2005 to about 150 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, most of which he said demonized and delegitimized Israel.

...On October 23, 2008, Steinberg asked the EC for the transcripts of meetings relating to the funding decisions for grants to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs for the past three years under the PfP (the Partnership for Peace) and EIDHR (European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) programs. He also asked for other reports and documents.

It took six months for the EC to respond to the request, but even then it only sent a small number of documents and only after whiting out substantial parts of their contents, charged Steinberg.

The EC told Steinberg it could not provide more information because disclosure would undermine public security and also damage privacy and commercial interests.

Attorney Trevor Asserson said none of these were applicable to Steinberg's request. "The EC is throwing up a cloud of obfuscation," he charged.

Steinberg alleged that of the roughly 70 Israeli NGOs that receive funding from the EC, three-quarters demonize and delegitimize Israel. These, he charged, included B'Tselem, Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, Yesh Din, Ir Amim, Bimkom, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Adalah, The Israel Committee against House Demolitions, Gisha, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Peace Now, Mossawa, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch and The Center for Alternative Information.

Steinberg added that he regarded all organizations calling for a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel as being anti-Israeli political organizations....

Today’s great defamation of the Jewish people

From a Word From Jerusalem posting, by Isi Leibler on January 21st, 2010:

...today’s Israel bashers have stooped to the depths of distorting the genocidal murder of the Jews as a vehicle to demonise the descendents of the victims.

...in Muslim countries generally it may have become a primary component of antisemitic delegitimisation of Israel...
...countries that actively promote Holocaust denial have begun citing the criminalisation of Holocaust denial to justify criminal proceedings against any critique of Islam, Islamic practice or Sharia Law. Resolutions to this effect have already been passed by the United Nations General Assembly.

Today, a more potent challenge to the Jewish people has emerged in the trivialisation, distortion and inversion of the Holocaust. The first systematic study of this phenomenon is contained in Manfred Gerstenfeld’s recent book, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses.

Dr Gerstenfeld describes the efforts of some European nations to present themselves as victims of Nazi persecution in order to deflect attention from the role of their own citizens who collaborated with the Nazis or participated directly in the mass murder of Jews. For example, until the “Waldheim Affair”, Austria was notorious for its insistence that it was a victim rather than an accessory, suppressing the fact that the majority of Austrians had been enthusiastic Nazi collaborators.

Baltic countries are now applying moral equivalency between Nazi genocidal policies and Soviet crimes in order to cover up the fact that their own Nazi collaborators and murderers of Jews were never brought to justice.

The most obscene - and growing - of these current trends is that which equates Israelis - descendants of the victims - with Nazis.

This had its genesis in the Soviet-sponsored UN resolution of 35 years ago equating Zionism with racism. It has now been finessed and widened under the direction of Arab and other anti-Israeli agitators. The evil mantra reiterated is that “the victims have become the perpetrators”. In some countries, Holocaust Remembrance Day has even broadened to commemorate the “genocide of the Palestinian people”.

That these attempts to demonise Israelis as Nazis and accuse them of having committed war crimes against the Palestinians have succeeded is evidenced by the threat to issue arrest warrants against visiting Israeli political and military leaders in Britain and elsewhere.

The Nazis’ arch-propagandist Joseph Goebbels mastered the technique of repeating a lie ad nauseam until it was accepted as truth by the masses. Today, the same technique is being employed in this, the greatest of all contemporary defamations of the Jewish people.

Rambam synagogue restored

From Point of No return, Thursday, January 21, 2010, by Roger Bilboul and Yves Fedida of Nebi Daniel:


The Jewish Community of Cairo is to mark the inauguration of the newly-restored Maimonides (Rambam) synagogue and yeshiva with a three-day celebratory programme of events, from 7 - 9 March.
"The Rab Moshe complex as well as another nine synagogues in Egypt are historical heritage sites which fall under the aegis of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Through an extensive restoration programme the Supreme Council of Antiquities, with the help of the Jewish Community of Cairo, will have completed the renovation of the Maimonides complex.



The Yeshiva included the consulting room of Rab Moshe in the New Cairo of the 12th century where he taught and discussed points of religion with his students and where, upon his death, his body lay for seven days before being transported to Tiberias for burial.

The rooms have niches where, until recently, sick people of all faiths, men or women, would spend the night praying for recovery or fertility. The Synagogue adjacent to these rooms was built in the early 19th Century. The Yeshiva suffered from recurring flooding from underground water and the Synagogue was badly hit by the 1992 earthquake. The restoration has been a painstaking effort returning the compound as faithfully as possible to its original splendour .

In addition to the Dedication of the restored Rab Moshe Synagogue and Yeshiva, the three-day programme will include:

- Dinner in the communal centre of the main Synagogue, Shaar Hashamayim, an imposing building built in the early 20th Century which has also been faithfully restored and where visitors can admire the richly decorated interior with marble and gilded patterns.

- Visit to Fostat (Old Cairo) where the oldest remaining synagogue in Egypt stands, believed to have been first built around 340BC. The pre-Islamic Ben Ezra Synagogue which has also been perfectly restored was the synagogue where Rab Moshe prayed and held services as the head of the Jewish Community of the time. The famous Geniza Papers were found at the Ben Ezra Synagogue and the new Geniza museum in the Ben Ezra complex has a number of reproductions of these papers

- Visit to the also recently restored Moussa Dar’i Synagogue built by the Karaite community in the 1920’s. It is a superb building and features Art Deco lotus flower columns and an imposing dome.

- Finally, a visit to the Jewish cemetery at Bassatine, in the southeast outskirts of Cairo, a vast site that has not been easy to maintain. The Jewish Community of Cairo has made heroic efforts to defend it against a highway overpass and squatters’ buildings which have encroached on the territory itself. Most of the marble tombstones have been stolen in 1967 so that the majority of the tombs are today unidentifiable. However, the Cairo Community has built a perimeter wall and continues to landscape the cemetery and guard it against vandals. It maintains a list of a number of tombs that have been identified."

Obama winds back Expectations for Middle East peace

From Ynet News, 21/1/10:

President Barack Obama said his administration overestimated its ability to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to resume meaningful peace talks.

...If the US had anticipated that earlier, the American leader said he might not have raised his expectations so high.

..."From (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas' perspective, he's got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process. And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures," said Obama.

...Obama said the US will continue to work toward a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty.

...Israel and the Palestinians belittled each other's commitment to peace as US envoy George Mitchell began a fresh attempt on Thursday to break the deadlock and get them talking to each other again....

'Palestinians have climbed up a tree'
...Netanyahu attacked the Palestinian leadership for rejecting US calls to relaunch negotiations suspended for over a year. "The Palestinians have climbed up a tree," he said. "And they like it up there. People bring ladders to them. We bring ladders to them. The higher the ladder, the higher they climb."

Diplomats say Mitchell seems to be seeking a face-saving way for Palestinian President Abbas to drop his insistence that Netanyahu must stop all settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem before negotiations can be resumed.

...When Mitchell first visited, the Israeli leader was refusing even to talk about establishing a Palestinian state. But last June he embraced the "two-state solution" and in November he ordered a partial 10-month halt to settlement building.

Western diplomats say Washington now seems increasingly frustrated with Abbas. One, speaking privately, said Abbas "as the weaker partner" was now the focus of US efforts to stir the peace process back to life.

There was an "implicit threat" of cuts in US aid to the West Bank if Abbas held out, he said....

Haiti and Ethiopian Jewry Thank God for the State of Israel

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 20, 2010, by Michael Freund:

...amid the rubble-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince, three IDF rescue teams carefully searched through the ruins of the Haitian capital for survivors of the devastating January 12 earthquake. Racing against the clock, these young Jews in uniform, accompanied by specially-trained canines, heroically sorted through mounds of debris and wreckage to pull the wounded to safety.

...one could only marvel at the valor and courage of our soldiers, as they risked their lives to save those of others, in the process bringing honor to us all.

Meanwhile, the field hospital established by the IDF to treat victims of the disaster was quickly making a name for itself as the best-run and most fully-equipped operation in the area. Set up last Friday on a soccer field, the complex boasts 40 doctors and 24 nurses, as well as teams of paramedics, X-ray equipment and personnel, an emergency room, a children's ward, a maternity ward and even a pharmacy.

....Though a vast gulf separates Israel from Haiti, with more than 10,500 kilometers of ocean lying between us, the Jewish people demonstrated that their extended hand can bridge any gap and traverse any chasm when it comes to saving lives.

BUT THE residents of the Caribbean island nation were not the only beneficiaries of Israel's humanity this week. Much closer to home, we were witness to the arrival of 82 members of the Falash Mura, descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity centuries ago.

Landing at Ben-Gurion Airport early Tuesday morning, the new immigrants were greeted by Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.

It was a scene that should fill every Jewish heart with pride, as the remnants of Ethiopian Jewry complete the millennial-old journey back to the land of their ancestors. Hundreds more are expected to arrive over the next few months, as the government finally moves towards fulfilling its previous promises to allow the remaining members of the community to make aliya.

And so, even as our foes noisily continue to assert that Zionism is racism, Israel stands alone in embracing a black African community and welcoming it into our midst.

So it was quite a week for Jewish heroism. Over the course of a few days, the State of Israel saved lives and saved Jews.

It was, in every respect, Israel's finest hour...

...Thank God for the State of Israel. Without it, the world would be a far less noble place.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kabdeyu v'Khashdeyu

From IsraelNN.com, 21/1/10, by Hillel Fendel:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that Israel will have to encircle any new Arab entity in Judea and Samaria, in order to prevent rocket smuggling. ...Netanyahu said that Israel must ensure "an efficient way, at the entry and exit points, to stop rockets from being smuggled into the territories close to Israel."

... “...I don’t know how it will be executed, but it has to happen.”

...Netanyahu to Abbas: Get Down From Tree Already
The prime minister called yet again for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to enter into resumed negotiations with Israel without conditions: “They must get down off the tree. They climbed up a high tree, and they like it there. The more ladders they are brought, the higher they climb up.”...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti: Israel's Disproportionate Response

From American Thinker January 18, 2010, by Peggy Shapiro:

In the midst of the tragedy and chaos in the Haitian capital, Israeli doctors...delivered a healthy baby boy in an IDF field hospital. When the baby's grateful mother, Gubilande Jean Michel saw her newborn son, alive and well, she named him Israel in gratitude to the people and nation who brought her this blessing.

Little Israel is one of the hundreds who have been saved by Israeli doctors or rescue teams. A search and rescue team from the ZAKA Israel's International Rescue Unit pulled eight Haitian college students from a collapsed eight-story university building. Despite its small size, Israel sent a large contingent of highly-trained aid workers to quake-stricken Haiti. Two jumbo jets carrying more than 220 doctors, nurses, civil engineers, and other Israeli army personnel, including a rescue team and field hospital, were among the first rescue teams to arrive in Haiti. In fact, they were the first foreign backup team to set up medical treatment at the partially collapsed main hospital in Port-au-Prince. Yigal Palmor, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "It's a large delegation and we're prepared to send more."




The international agencies that condemn Israel for its "disproportionate response" when it is attacked are not mentioning Israel's disproportionate response to human suffering. The U.S. has pledged 100 million and sent supplies and personnel. The U.K. pledged $10 million and sent 64 firemen and 8 volunteers.China, a country with a population of 1,325,639,982 compared to Israel's 7.5 million sent 50 rescuers and seven journalists. The 25 Arab League nations sent nothing.

...At the start of Sunday's regular Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Israeli team had already treated hundreds of patients. "I think that this is in the best tradition of the Jewish People; this is the true covenant of the State of Israel and the Jewish People," he said. "This follows operations we have carried out in Kenya and Turkey; despite being a small country, we have responded with a big heart. The fact is, I know, that this was an expression of our Jewish heritage and the Jewish ethic of helping one's fellow. "...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

KEEP the Jordan Valley!

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 14, 2010, by DORE GOLD, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israel ambassador to the United Nations:

Speaking before Israel's ambassadors from around the world two weeks ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ...decided to stress that to safeguard the demilitarization of the West Bank, it was vital for the IDF to maintain a military presence along the points of entry to the territories from the east, in order to prevent these areas from being penetrated and flooded by smuggled weaponry.

...Netanyahu was reminding his diplomats about the critical importance of the Jordan Valley for the future security of Israel.

...IN the public discourse over Israel's future borders, it seems as though the question of the Jordan Valley has been forgotten for three reasons.

First, when military planners in the past talked about the importance of the Jordan Valley, Israel was still at war with the Kingdom of Jordan and concerned about the emergence of an eastern front, including Iraqi expeditionary forces. Since Israel now has ties with Jordan, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq was badly weakened in 1991 and occupied in 2003 by the British and the Americans, some have argued that Israel no longer needs the Jordan Valley.

Second, once prime ministers started talking about giving up 88, 93 or 97 percent of the West Bank, they stopped talking about the Jordan Valley. After all, the whole area is approximately 33% to 40% of the West Bank. A diplomatic strategy of holding on to the Jordan Valley contradicted their peace proposals, which became increasingly motivated by the question of what would be acceptable to the Palestinians rather than what was necessary for Israel's security.

Third, in the public discourse on the future of the West Bank, the major constraint in the last 10 years on any significant withdrawal became the large settlements that were part of heavily populated blocs, like Ariel, Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. After the tragedy of the disengagement, those drawing lines for peace proposals sought to squeeze as many settlers into as minimal an area as they could find. They either forgot about Israel's security needs or just assumed that if Kassams were fired from the West Bank, the IDF could easily retake the whole area in a few hours (this was before the Second Lebanon War and Cast Lead showed the complexities of such ground operations in densely populated areas, when future Goldstone Reports might be issued).

IT IS now well-understood by the Israeli public that the most crucial error of disengagement was abandoning the Philadelphi Corridor between the Gaza Strip and Egyptian Sinai, which allowed Hamas to build a vast tunnel network, with minimal Israeli countermeasures, and smuggle a huge arsenal into the Gaza Strip. From 2005, when Israel left Gaza, to 2006, the rate of rocket fire increased by 500%. New weapons, like Grad missiles, were fired for the first time at Ashkelon after the pullout. It does not require much imagination to understand what would happen in Judea and Samaria if Israel left the Jordan Valley - which should be seen as the Philadelphi Corridor of the West Bank.

For example, up until now, Israel has not had to deal with SA-7 shoulder-fired rockets that could be aimed at aircraft over Ben-Gurion Airport, because it is difficult to smuggle them into the West Bank as long as the area is blocked by the IDF in the Jordan Valley. Nor has Israel had to face Islamist volunteers who reinforce Hamas and could prolong a future war, like those who joined the jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen or Somalia, because Israel can deny them access to the West Bank.

In fact, in its annual survey for 2009, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) noted that while there has been a decrease in the terrorist threat to Israel, the only exception to this positive trend is the increasing involvement of global jihadi groups, who at present are building up a presence in the Gaza Strip. Clearly they would be in the West Bank if they could get there.

WHAT ABOUT the Jordanians? Why does Israel have to stay in the Jordan Valley if the Jordanian army intercepts units of al-Qaida coming from Iraq or Syria?

The fact of the matter is that if Israel withdrew from the Jordan Valley and it became known among the global jihadi groups that the doors to the West Bank were open, the scale of the threat would change and the Jordanians would find it difficult to effectively halt the stream of manpower and weaponry into their territory.

Clearly Jordan itself would be destabilized by this development. This is exactly what happened in 2005 when al-Qaida in Iraq set up an infrastructure in Jordan and attacked hotels and government buildings. This is also what happened during Black September in 1970, when the Jordanian army had to confront a massive Palestinian military presence and a civil war ensued. Besides, should Jordan have a common border with a Palestinian state, Palestinian irredentism toward the East Bank would undoubtedly increase.

More than 30 years ago, when foreign minister Yigal Allon - who had been Rabin's commander and mentor in the Palmah during 1948 - was summarizing his plan for "defensible borders" for Israel in Foreign Affairs, he simply said that if Israel wanted to be sure that the areas from which it withdrew would remain demilitarized, it must keep the Jordan Valley. Allon was writing in 1976, but his analysis remains as relevant as ever today.

More than Six Million...

From THE JERUSALEM POST, 14 January 2010, by E.B. SOLOMONT:

Father Patrick Desbois believes that many more than six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and he can prove it.

Through interviews with more than 1,200 witnesses, Desbois has uncovered upwards of 700 previously unknown Jewish mass graves in Eastern Europe, where at least 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews are buried. Since 2004, Desbois has worked systematically and painstakingly, documenting and mapping the site of Jewish mass killings by Nazi mobile killing units, or Einsatzgruppen, in Eastern Europe.

Desbois is reluctant to say how many more victims there might be of Nazis and German policemen, who lined up Jews and shot them one by one. Having made his way through the Ukraine, he turned his attention to Belarus last year.

“What we can say is that the number of shootings is without any comparison. If you look only at the German archives, you’ll find five to six times less than what we found. It’s sure that at the end, the number will increase,” he said on Tuesday, at a gathering in New York City hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“This killing began the first day of the war, and finished the last day of the war.”

Desbois said he is not looking for 10,000 or 45,000 missing Jews. “We are looking for the family,” he said. “For the persons. It’s what keeps us strong.”

For Desbois, the work began nearly 60 years after the Holocaust. The French Catholic priest said he was deeply impacted by his grandfather’s experience during the war, when he was held at Rawa-Ruska in the former Soviet Union. His grandfather mostly refused to speak about the experience, except to describe harrowing conditions, including no food and drink.

He always said, “Outside the camp, was worse,” said Desbois. “For me, I was wondering, what is worse?”

In 2004, Desbois established Yahad-In Unum, meaning “together” in Hebrew and Latin, to collect forensic evidence of the killings. The organization also maintains an archive in Paris. In November, Desbois published a book, The Holocaust by Bullets, which documents his findings to date.

During one of his first research trips to Eastern Europe, Desbois said he stopped at a farming village, where 100 old farmers stood waiting for him.

They took him to a mass grave, recalling that Germans had listened to music and played a harmonica while Jewish workers dug it. They secretly placed explosives in a field, and sent Jews from the town to rest in the area, where they were killed.

Later, Desbois and his team used a metal detector in the area and recovered fragments of the harmonica, along with bones and German shell casings.

The German policemen used one bullet per Jew, and they buried alive whomever they failed to shoot and kill, Desbois said, telling how witnesses later said the mass graves moved for three days. “It took me a while to accept, to understand,” he said.

Like so many Holocaust research projects, his is a race against time. “The witnesses are old and we are also in a political window that lets us do the job,” he said. “In five years this project is finished, unfortunately.”

It is a painstaking process, with his researchers cobbling together files on each town using documents and maps that are part of Soviet and German archives.

Desbois says during visits to each village, he taps local priests and mayors to find witnesses, while also scouring the markets for people who lived there during the war and remember seeing Germans killing their Jewish neighbors.

The interviews are matter-of-fact: Desbois asks for precise information regarding where the Germans stood, whether they brought dogs, which streets they blocked off.

“The goal is to rebuild the killing,” he said, explaining how forensic scientists then return to the scene and look for evidence, such as shell casings or neglected jewelry.

“We make at this moment a ballistic investigation. Why? Because the Germans were not afraid to leave evidence.”

He recalled one village where he found 50 gun cartridges in one place.

“It meant the shooter didn’t move,” he said. “We also found a bunch of Jewish jewels. It means these policemen stole everything and stole a lot of jewels.”

If the Holocaust was a secretive extermination in the West, it was public in the East, he said.

“Anybody who had a pistol could be invited to be in the killing group,” he said. Local Germans sometimes organized the killings.

For Desbois, a primary goal is not only to document what happened more than 60 years ago, but also to protect the mass graves, which are vulnerable to looting. He has encountered anti-Semitism along the way, and travels with bodyguards.

The recipient of honorary degrees from Bar-Ilan University and the Hebrew University, Desbois has been honored by Jewish organizations around the globe. In June 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy named Desbois Chevalier de la L├ęgion d’Honneur for his research.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the Presidents’ Conference, Alan Solow, expressed his “personal appreciation” for Desbois’s courage, perseverance and work to preserve humanity.

In presenting Desbois with a silver etching of a dove, Malcolm Hoenlein, the group’s executive vice chairman, underscored the importance in Judaism of preserving the sanctity of the dead. There is “no greater mitzva” than that, he said, “It’s something you cannot repay.”

“All my team, we have the same conviction,” Desbois said. “We cannot build Europe, we cannot build the modern world, and ask the thousands of Jews and gypsies to stay in silence.”

Also see

New Light On Roosevelt's Failure To Bomb Auschwitz

From the Wyman Institute, 17 January 2010:

For years, defenders of the Roosevelt administration's response to the Holocaust have tried to mitigate the Roosevelt administration's refusal to bomb Auschwitz by alleging that leaders of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, including future Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, opposed bombing the death camp for fear of harming the prisoners there.

But the new research shatters that claim.

... [Wyman] Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff described the research ...on the papers of the late Zionist leader Yitzhak Gruenbaum, which had been closed to the public more than twenty five years...[which]demonstrate that Ben-Gurion and his colleagues opposed asking the Allies to bomb Auschwitz only for a period of several weeks, when they believed that Auschwitz was a labor camp. After they learned that Auschwitz was a death camp, the Jewish Agency leadership reversed its position and Agency officials in London, Washington, Cairo and elsewhere lobbied the Allies to bomb Auschwitz.

...In 1996, the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute convinced the Holocaust Museum to change its exhibit on the bombing issue. The original exhibit stated that Jewish leaders favored bombing Auschwitz, but the administration refused their requests. The revised exhibit makes it appear that many Jewish leaders opposed bombing.

From Dr. Medoff's new report, "The Roosevelt Administration, David Ben-Gurion, and the Failure to Bomb Auschwitz.":

Executive Summary
Since the early 1990s, defenders of President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust have argued that the Roosevelt administration's failure to order the bombing of Auschwitz is mitigated by the fact that the leadership of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, including David Ben-Gurion, declared their opposition to
bombing Auschwitz, at a meeting in Jerusalem on June 11, 1944. ...

...Newly-discovered documents, found in a Zionist archival collection that had been closed to the public for more than 25 years, demonstrate that the Jewish Agency leadership, including Ben-Gurion, did change its position, and that efforts by Jewish Agency officials and other Jewish leaders around the world to bring about the Allied bombing of Auschwitz were more extensive than previously realized....

...Conclusion
.... An individual document, such as the minutes of the June 11, 1944 Jewish Agency Executive meeting,
may not provide an accurate or complete picture of the events in question. The leaders of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and their supporters  ...selectively quoted only from the June 11 session, thus providing a profoundly misleading portrayal of history....

The Yitzhak Gruenbaum papers and other Jewish Agency documents have now revealed the truth about the Jewish Agency’s position regarding asking the Allies to bomb the Auschwitz death camp and the railway lines leading to it. The Roosevelt Institute should acknowledge its error, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Musuem should correct its mistaken panel, as soon as possible.

Follow this link to read the full 19-page report.