Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fires in Israel Rage

From a TIP press release, Dec. 3, 2010:
  • 42 dead - toll expected to rise
  • Turkey, Egypt and Jordan among those sending aid
  • Massive Russian firefighting plane on the way
Jerusalem, Dec. 3 - Turkey, Egypt and Jordan were among many countries rushing help to Israel to combat the nation’s worst-ever wildfire which has killed 42 people, destroyed homes and villages, consumed forests and is still threatening the major port city of Haifa.

“We are talking about one of the worst disasters in the country's history. This is hard day for the entire nation,”
said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Egypt, Jordan and Turkey were quick to offer help to the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thanked him for his country’s help.
"We very much appreciate this mobilization and I am certain that it will be an opening toward improving relations between our two countries, Turkey and Israel," Netanyahu said. It was his first conversation with the Turkish leader since the flotilla incident soured relations between the traditional allies earlier this year."
With several people listed in critical condition and others reported missing, the death toll was expected to rise.
Emergency services evacuated more than 15,000 people from their homes as flames swept through at least 5,000 acres of woodland. Police arrested two people, residents of a Druze village, on suspicion of setting fires. The Jerusalem Post said they were detained after being seen hurling Molotov cocktails in a forest on a Carmel mountain hilltop.
Israelis watched helplessly as their homes were destroyed by flames hundreds of feet high. Firefighters said one village was burnt to the ground.
The IDF sent soldiers and equipment, including helicopters, bulldozers, medics and army units to combat the blaze. More help came from Greece, Bulgaria which sent 100 firefighters, Spain, Azerbaijan, Romania Russia, Cyprus, France and Britain. The United States also offered aid. Israel is better known for sending its own rescue teams and medical personnel to other countries to help in their disaster-relief efforts.
"The Russians are sending and we are waiting for the biggest firefighting plane in the world... an Antonov with huge firefighting capacity," Lieberman told Israel Radio.
One of the main country's highways was closed as trees smoldered and smoke billowed toward the Mediterranean coastline and flames closed in on a hotel and a spa south of the city.
"The size of the fire is huge, the wind is very strong and there is a problem accessing the mountains and valleys," said Yoram Levi, a spokesman for Israel's fire and rescue service. "We don't have big aircraft that can carry a large amount of water. It is not enough for a large-scale fire."
“As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster,” U.S. President Barak Obama said at a candle-lighting ceremony on Thursday marking the Jewish Chanukah holiday.
Jewish organizations in the U.S. and beyond have launched campaigns to help the victims. The Jewish National Fund, which planted a large percentage of Israel’s forests, called for public support.
American firefighters are on alert to join the operation. The Israel Emergency Volunteers Project will coordinate any call up for the volunteers who have been fully trained under the auspices of the EVP.
The Israeli cabinet met on Friday to discuss the crisis with questions being asked about Israel’s preparedness for such disasters.

Friday, December 03, 2010

At least 40 dead on fire-engulfed bus in North Israel

From JPOST.COM, 12 December 2010, by YAAKOV LAPPIN:

Fire-fighting crews, planes attempt to control fire in brush-covered Carmel area amidst heavy winds; over 6,000 dunams burned; Damon Prison, University of Haifa evacuated.

The majority of the 40 people burned to death in a bus caught up in the Carmel forest fires were prison wardens en route to the Damon prison.

The wardens were meant to assist in the evacuation of some 500 prisoners from the facility, situated near Kibbutz Beit Oren, when their vehicle became engulfed in fast moving flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to Kibbutz Bet Oren.

A firefighter spokesman said the fire had traveled 1500 meters in less than three minutes, adding, "the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene."

The spokesman added at the fire was very far from the road on which the bus was travelling when it first set off towards the prison, but had spread far faster than expected.

Shimon Romach. Fire and Rescue Commissioner, added that the firefighting operation would be limited to ground forces after sunset, since fire planes cannot be used at night. "I don't think we will get control of this tonight," he added.

Thousands of dunam have gone up in flames in the Carmel forest between Haifa University and Ussafiya, and it remains unclear how the incident will end at this stage

Police described the incident as a "major disaster. Many of the dead are from the security forces, and include civilians. The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many areas....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Fatah declares refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state

From JPost, 27 Nov 2010, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

The Fatah Revolutionary Council concluded its fifth convention in Ramallah over the weekend by declaring its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

...“The council affirms its rejection of the so-called Jewish state or any other formula that could achieve this goal,” said a statement issued by the council...
The statement said that the Fatah council was categorically opposed to proposals for a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians...
The Fatah leaders said they supported Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s policies, especially with regards to the peace process with Israel. “The council salutes President Mahmoud Abbas for adhering to the basic rights, first and foremost the right of return for Palestinian refugees,” the statement said. “Also, the council salutes President Abbas for standing up against pressure aimed at resuming the peace talks without achieving the demands of the Palestinians.”
...Abbas ...also ruled out the possibility of returning to the negotiating table without a full cessation of construction in settlements and east Jerusalem.

...An Israeli government official on Saturday night called on the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations without any preconditions. ...
“I would ask the Palestinians the following question: If the Jewish state is fundamentally illegitimate in your eyes, what sort of peace are you offering us?” 

“It is clear that their refusal to recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy is the true obstacle to peace and reconciliation...” ...

UN Goldstone Committee Head Resigns

From an Eye-on-the-UN Press Release, December 1, 2010 by Anne Bayefsky:

Christian Tomuschat, who headed a UN committee charged with implementing the Goldstone Report, has reportedly resigned.

He had been appointed by UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay.

Tomuschat’s credentials were questioned earlier this year, in a July 14th, 2010 article by Anne Bayefsky.

Tomuschat’s resignation is the second blow to the credibility of the UN’s efforts to implement the Goldstone report. Following Bayefsky’s July article, the UN secretariat official whom Pillay had assigned to coordinate the Tomuschat committee’s activities, Ahmed Motala, was removed from the case.

In July, Bayefsky pointed out that Tomuschat and the other two members of his committee were tainted by their close affiliation with an NGO which had been deeply involved with the Human Rights Council’s campaign to vilify Israel.

Bayefsky’s article also revealed that the UN staffer Motala appointed to work with Tomuschat doubled as an anti-Israel blogger. In the midst of the Gaza war he had written that Israel targeted Palestinian civilians in order to impress voters. The Tomuschat committee staffer wrote “What better way to gain the support of the Israeli electorate than to…kill innocent civilians”

On July 15 Jerusalem Post correspondent, Benjamin Wienthal, revealed prior statements by Tomuschat that indicated deep prejudices on the very issues he had been assigned to tackle. Wienthal reported in the Weekly Standard and the Jerusalem Post that in 2007 Tomuschat told a German newspaper that Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was “as ruthless as the attacks of terrorists.” Later in July, Wienthal reported that Tomuschat had once provided legal advice to Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

Last month, UN Watch reported on further examples of Tomuschat bias.

Tomuschat’s resignation ought to further undermine the credibility of the report he submitted to the Council in September. In his report Tomuschat repeated the odious claim that Israel engaged in “violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy.” Tomuschat’s report went on to criticize Israel’s legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for “officials at the highest levels.”

Referring to a Hamas internal “investigation,” in which Hamas exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, Tomuschat’s team could only conclude that it “is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions.”

Following that report, the Human Rights Council reappointed Tomuschat and his other two committee members, Param Cumaraswamy and Mary Davis. They have been charged with producing yet another report by next March.

Unfortunately, many other UN authority figures, selected precisely because of their history of anti-Israel and anti-Western bias, remain.

For further information see EYEontheUN’s list of current UN authorities.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Arab states' concerns about Iran's nuclear program are revealled

From Washington Post, Monday, November 29, 2010; by Janine Zacharia:

TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed hope Monday that U.S. diplomatic cables revealing that several Arab states share his country's concern about Iran's nuclear weapons program could build momentum for tougher international action against the effort.

"More and more states, governments and leaders in the Middle East and the wider region and the world believe [Iran] is the fundamental threat," Netanyahu said, referring to disclosures in cables released by the Web site WikiLeaks. According to the cables, some leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah, have advocated using military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

"There's a gap between what they say privately and publicly," Netanyahu said at an annual gathering of the Tel Aviv Journalists' Association. Regional leaders read publicly from one "script" that says the "greatest threat is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Netanyahu said. "But in reality, leaders understand that this narrative is bankrupt...."

...The leaked documents show that "the entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program," wrote Sever Plocker, a commentator for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

The leak, he said, "strengthens the main message" of the United States and Israel that "Iran poses the greatest clear and present danger to the stability of the world, and the world has to act to remove this malignant tumor."

...Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and an adviser to Netanyahu on Israeli-U.S. relations, said the notion that the United States could not take tougher action on Iran without first moving forward on the Israeli-Palestinian front was undermined by the WikiLeaks disclosures...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bomb kills Iran's top nuclear scientist

From Washington Post Foreign Service , Tuesday, November 30, 2010, by Thomas Erdbrink:

TEHRAN - A prominent Iranian nuclear scientist was killed Monday and a second was seriously wounded in nearly simultaneous car bomb attacks in the Iranian capital, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

The explosions, which occurred near Shahid Beheshti University, were the latest in a string of recent assassination attempts in which five doctors and professors have been killed in Tehran.

Iranian authorities blamed agents of Israel and the United States for the killings, saying they want to cause chaos in the country. But leading figures in Iran's opposition movement accused the government of plotting the attacks to spread fear in the capital, where many oppose the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Undoubtedly the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved" in the attacks, Ahmadinejad told reporters in a news conference. He said the bombings would not stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, said, "It's not our practice to confirm or deny allegations of this sort.''

According to Fars, scientists Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi were parking their cars in separate locations near the university campus about 7:45 a.m. local time when they were attacked.

Witnesses said each car was approached by a group of men on motorcycles, who attached explosives to the vehicles and detonated them seconds later, the news agency reported. Shahriari was killed instantly. Abbasi was wounded. Both men were with their wives, who were also wounded.

Abbasi is a high-ranking Defense Ministry official who is involved in Iran's nuclear program. He has been subject to foreign travel restrictions since 2007 in accordance with U.N. Security Council sanctions and is considered a main player in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program.

The head of Iran's nuclear energy program, Ali Akbar Salehi, visited Abbasi in the hospital after the bombing and spoke to reporters about the scientists, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Salehi said Shahriari was "in charge of one of the biggest projects" of Iran's nuclear program, the news agency said, but it did not specify which program.

"The enemy took our dearest flower, but must know that this nation, through resistance and all its might, will make efforts to remove problems and achieve its desires," Salehi said.

Shahriari was also known for his involvement in a regional, non-nuclear scientific research project - called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME - in which Israel also participated. He is the second Iranian scientist involved in that program to be assassinated in Tehran.

The SESAME project is based in Jordan, under the auspices of the United Nations. It includes scientists from several Middle Eastern countries. The involvement of both Iran and Israel makes the project unusual, because Israel is not recognized by Iran and has no ties to the Islamic Republic. Palestinian scientists also participate.

Iranian and foreign scientists say the project has applications in industry, medicine, nanotechnology and other fields unrelated to nuclear power.

In January, another scientist involved in the SESAME project, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was killed in Tehran when a bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded in front of his house.

At the time, many thought Ali-Mohammadi had been supporting the opposition. Government officials accused the United States and Israel of being behind the attack.

Fars, which has close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that foreign "enemies" were involved in Monday's attacks, a charge that Ahmadinejad echoed hours later.

"The enemies of the Iranian nation, who have lost hope in their pressure and sanctions projects, have once again, on the eve of negotiations with Iran, resorted to blind terrorist attacks so that they can advance their illegitimate and oppressive demands against the Iranian nation at the negotiating table," the agency wrote.

Iranian officials are to meet Sunday with representatives of other nations for talks on nuclear issues and other topics.

World War II Nazi propaganda effort in the Middle East leaves a poisonous legacy

From The West Australian, 30 November 2010, by Rod Moran:

Mutual admiration: Haj Amin el-Husselnl, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in earnest talks with Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1941.
 History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its edifice except with skulls. Honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.
- Sheik Abdullah Azzam, Palestinian scholar and al-Oaida operative.
If faith, a belief, is not watered by blood, it does not grow ...Faith is propagated by counting up deaths every day, by adding up massacres and charnel houses.
- All Benhadi, Algerian Islamist.

Nazi ideology, Arab nationalism and a fundamentalist strain of Islam that advocates a politics of slaughter - those three elements form the essential roots to the pathology of one aspect of contemporary fundamentalist Islamist politics.

The above quotes vividly capture aspects of that toxic chemistry.

Recently accessed transcripts of nazi radio broadcasts from Berlin to North Africa, the Middle East and Persia during World War II throw chilling new light on the deeper roots of such contemporary Islamist ideology...
...Pro-nazi Arab exiles in Berlin were the key links between the National Socialist regime and the Muslim world in a propaganda war between 1941 and 1945. Chief among those exiles was Haj Amin el-Husssini, a Palestinian and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. "...
...el-Husseini's propaganda was also a part of Hitler's aim to extend the Filial Solution to the Middle East. As Rommel's victorious Africa Corps rolled across North Africa to the Suez Canal and beyond, the intention was to have, just as occurred ill Europe, SS extermination squads following to murder the Jews of the region...
...Australians may not be fully aware that their soldiers ... played a major role in preventing Hitler from extending

the Final Solution ... to encompass 700,000 Jews in North Africa and the-Middle East in 1942...

...political Islamism that emerged in the 20th century ...found common ground in a totalitarian vision ... and ...also shared Nazism's hatred of the Jews and its conspiracy theories of world politics....

Go to this link to see a scanned copy of the original article in The West Australian.