Saturday, April 22, 2006

More Palestinian Doublespeak

Tel Aviv Bombing
(cartoon from Cox & Forkum, 18/4/06)

From JPost Apr. 21, 2006 9:41 Updated Apr. 22, 2006 7:07 by JPOST STAFF AND AP GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip ....

Palestinian Authority Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Sha'arr called on Friday for Palestinian leaders to "moderate" their public statements....Sha'ar emphasized that the accusations made earlier Friday in Damascus by Hamas leader abroad Khaled Mashaal, in which Mashaal reiterated that his government and his organization would never recognize Israel, and claimed there was a "fifth column" in the region working against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, were Mashaal's own opinions and not Hamas's official position.

...In response to Mashaal's remarks, which followed a Hamas-appointed security chief Jamal Abu Samhadana's assertion that he would not halt his involvement in attacks on Israel, the Fatah revolutionary council published a statement late Friday declaring that "Hamas is trying to incite a civil war."

Samhadana, who is high on Israel's wanted list, was appointed Thursday to lead a new security force comprised of Hamas members. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday vetoed the plan, but it was unclear whether Hamas would honor the veto.

...Abu Samhadana, 43, would not comment on Abbas' veto, but hinted he would ignore it..... ".... I am not going to give up resistance. There is no contradiction between the appointment and resistance. I am a fighter protecting the homeland."

Earlier on Friday, Israeli officials reacted harshly to the appointment of the man currently No. 2 on its wanted list, saying that his new position would not confer him immunity from Israeli security forces. Interior Security Minister Ze'ev Boim said that Israel ... that, sooner or later, security forces would lay their hands on the new official. He told Israel Radio that the appointment indicated that Hamas was turning the Palestinian Authority into a terrorist entity.

Former Mossad chief MK Danny Yatom (Labor) told Army Radio that Samhadana remained a legitimate Israeli target, along with Hamas ministers in the Palestinian cabinet. "I understand that our sights are also trained on Hamas ministers, not only on the police chief," said Yatom. "Nobody who deals with terror can have immunity by any means, even if he holds a ministerial portfolio in the Hamas government." Yatom said that Hamas Cabinet ministers could be the targets of Israeli assassination efforts, including the newly appointed head of the Palestinian security force.

Abu Samhadana is one of the founders of the Popular Resistance Committees, a terrorist group that blew up several Israeli tanks in Gaza and killed three US security guards in a deadly bombing attack on a US diplomatic convoy.

AUSTRALIA has granted asylum to Muslim Brotherhood members

From The Australian April 22, 2006 by Natalie O'Brien ...

AUSTRALIA has granted asylum to five men who claim their membership of an organisation accused of ties to al-Qa'ida would expose them to persecution in their home countries. The men from Syria, Egypt and India sought protection on the basis of their membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned in Syria and is considered the father of terrorist groups including al-Qa'ida.

Osama bin Laden's right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri adopted the organisation. And earlier this month, The Weekend Australian revealed that one of the five asylum-seekers, Ahmad al-Hamwi, who arrived in Australia 10 years ago, was a senior al-Qa'ida bagman linked to 1993 World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yousef.

US terror expert Steven Emerson said the practice of allowing Muslim Brotherhood members into Australia was "extremely dangerous". Mr Emerson, credited with being the first expert to warn about al-Qa'ida, said Britain had a similar policy to Australia, which had led to a "high concentration of radicals" and the establishment of extremist networks there.
"I am astounded at such a policy ... there is no doubt that there are ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa'ida," Mr Emerson said.

The five cases, which went before the Refugee Review Tribunal and the Federal Magistrates Court between 1996 and 2002, revealed the applicants had sought protection on the grounds they were members or associates of the Brotherhood. Two men were given protection in 2002, after the September 11 attacks in the US. The Syrian arm of the Brotherhood has been linked to the al-Qa'ida members involved in planning the attacks.

In one case that went before the RRT, a Syrian revealed how he had been recruiting members to the Brotherhood without specifically mentioning the group. He said he tried to attract recruits by speaking about the aims of the group to overthrow the Syrian Government and usher in an Islamic society.

The former head of security with the French secret service, Alain Chouet, has this month written a briefing for the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, warning that the Muslim Brotherhood should not be underestimated. "Like every fascist movement on the trail of power, the Brotherhood has achieved perfect fluency in doublespeak," Mr Chouet wrote.

Tzvi Fleischer, an analyst with the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council, said: "While only parts of the Muslim Brotherhood are terrorists, the rest are cheerleaders or apologists for terrorism."

But federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the Muslim Brotherhood was not a listed terrorist organisation in Australia or in any of its allied countries. "It would be a flawed view to assume a person was a security risk simply because they had a link to an organisation of this name," he said. Mr Ruddock said anyone wanting to come to Australia was checked by intelligence agencies but the Government would be concerned if any new information came to light linking them to terrorist organisations.

Mr al-Hamwi was, by his own admission to the RRT, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Friday, April 21, 2006

We could lose the next war

From Haaretz 21/4/06, by Ari Shavit (exerpts only - follow the link for the full article)...

...Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ... chairman, MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) ...

... "I learned that we have a very high quality defense establishment. It has extraordinarily high quality and intelligent people in it. The various systems possess dedication, professionalism and internal review. There are frequent exceptional achievements, sometimes even achievements that leave one dumbfounded. But at the same time, the defense establishment is arrogant and overweening. It does not subject its conceptions and its basic assumptions to in-depth examinations. It operates in large measure by inertia. As a result, the defense establishment is moving in incorrect and even dangerous directions. Just as in the period before the Yom Kippur War, the defense establishment is liable to lead us into a situation that endangers the existence of the state and the nation."

..."I'll illustrate from the intelligence sphere. Before the Iraq War there was much pride, bordering on boasting, in the Israeli intelligence services concerning all sorts of achievements in connection with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. There was great amazement at the ability to know in real time what was happening at various points in Iraq. .... But when the war ended it turned out that we did not have true intelligence about Iraq. .... We didn't know the central things. We did not have penetration of the circle close to Saddam Hussein. We did not know if he had ballistic missiles that could endanger Israel. We did not know if he had operative chemical weapons. We entered the war with assessments that proved to be utterly unfounded. So, overall, even though there really were very fine point-specific achievements in Iraq, there was a colossal intelligence failure.

"Even more serious was the intelligence failure in Libya. Muammar Gadhafi was very close to a nuclear bomb and we didn't know. We knew that something was going on there. We knew there was some sort of preliminary research. But when the full picture was revealed by the Americans and the British, it turned out that Israel lacked elementary information on a subject of critical importance. The intelligence failure in Libya was almost existential in character. It is a far graver failure than the failure of the Yom Kippur War."

... "What I am saying is that with all the admiration for the technological achievements of the Israel Defense Forces and Military Intelligence and Unit 8200 and the Mossad espionage agency - in the final analysis we did not have an intelligence picture. And if you don't know, you don't know....

... "Yes. The IDF is a good army: trained, high quality and possessing a human and technological advantage against any adversary. But it has two flaws. One is that the level of the senior officer corps - from the rank of colonel and up - is lower than it was in the '50s, '60s and '70s. The second is that the IDF is making a gross and dramatic mistake in its conception of security and force building. That mistake is liable to result in a surprise such as occurred in 1973. I don't see in the IDF readiness to examine itself historically and challenge its military doctrine. ...

.... "Take, for example, the war on terrorism as it is pursued by us and by the Americans. At the techno-tactical level, it's hats off to the IDF and the Shin Bet security service. They have arrived at intelligence and tactical achievements against Hamas, which far exceed the Americans' achievements against Al-Qaida. .... But in the end, after five years, Al-Qaida is in great retreat, whereas Hamas is on the rise. Today it is clear: we are losing in the war against Palestinian terrorism. Today no one will say that we are 'searing the Palestinians' consciousness.' No one will say we have won. Despite the impressive techno-tactical achievements, we lost the war against Hamas."

... "If Israel does not change its security policy from the foundations up, it is liable to lose the next war." What you are saying is outside any reasonable context. It contradicts the whole discourse on army and security affairs. The accepted assumption is that the era of conventional wars has passed and also that Israel is wildly powerful militarily. "I don't understand the argument that says there will be no more large-scale conventional wars. Just three years ago we went through the Iraq war, which in its first stage was not a war on terror and not a nuclear war but a war of planes and helicopters and tanks and artillery and antiaircraft batteries. I do not accept the argument that Israel is wildly strong. In my capacity as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I was exposed to Israel's deepest secrets. I was exposed to information that most cabinet ministers and IDF generals are not exposed to. I peeked into the abysses of national security, and I can tell you that in relation to the size of a country of seven million people our strength is indeed astonishing. But in relation to the threats that surround us, that strength is reasonable, and sometimes even low."

... Our air force, for example, is not only superior to all our neighbors but in certain senses is also superior to the British or American air forces. But Israel's strength is compressed into a very small area. Israel's dimensions are tiny and its borders are impossible. And size does make a difference. In questions of modern national security, size counts. In the era of precision weapons the importance of territory does not decrease but increase. And Israel has almost no territory. Israel has no strategic depth. That is an Achilles heel that is liable to put its very existence at risk."

... "In the Second World War it was possible to operate an airfield 10 kilometers from the front. In the Yom Kippur War it was possible to operate an airfield 30 kilometers from the front. Today you need a distance of 50 kilometers to operate an airfield. Israel does not have any airfield like that. All our airfields and our air control units and the power stations and the sensitive strategic sites are within a few dozen kilometers of the border. As such, they are vulnerable to surface-to-surface missiles and to long-range rockets, which are liable to knock them out of action and paralyze the Israel Air Force. The concern is about a scenario that is the opposite of the Six-Day War. There could be an attack on all our airfields that would be similar in its effectiveness to the attack that resulted in the destruction of the Arab air forces on June 5 and 6, 1967. The result will be the Six-Day War in reverse. Accordingly, I see danger of a conventional victory against Israel. If we do not change our security concept and our force-building principles, we are liable to lose in a war."

... "It is important for me to emphasize that I am not a doomsayer. I see a gloomy picture, but I believe in Israel's ability to overcome and find solutions. But for that to happen, it is essential to look at reality soberly. .... What worked in the past in Israel's favor is now liable to work to its detriment. It is therefore imperative to adjust the force structure immediately to the new conditions and to the new strategic environment. We must not dismiss the enemy's surface-to-surface missiles and antiaircraft missiles as we did the Sagger missiles and the SAM 2 and SAM 3 [surface-to-air] missiles before the Yom Kippur War.

..."I have two main proposals: to accord Israel maritime strategic depth by its transformation into a sea power and to accord Israel firepower that is not dependent on airfields and planes but is based on tactical missiles that are cheap and precise. "If we do this, if we turn the whole eastern basin of the Mediterranean into an area under Israeli military control, and if we maintain in it vessels that will become Israel's maritime fire bases, we will thus replace the old and fragile pillar of the Air Force with a new and alternative and strong pillar that is capable of creating firepower of thousands of missiles that are fired from the sea and are not dependent on vulnerable, exposed airfields."

... "I see an existential conventional threat based on the formation of two military alliances directed against us: an Egyptian-Saudi alliance in the south and a Syrian-Iranian alliance in the north. I am especially concerned about Egypt. I think that there is a concrete danger that Israel fell asleep and that when it wakes up it will find itself facing a very tough Egyptian military challenge."

..."I suggest that we not take at face value the Egyptian declarations of peace but that we look at the facts. The facts show that a vast army is being built in Egypt. Egypt faces no threats and has no active border disputes and no resources but is investing billions in creating an army that has absolute dominance in the Arab world and in Africa. Why is Egypt doing this? The numbers are simply astounding. The size of the Egyptian Air Force is about the same as that of the Israel Air Force, but the number of tanks, artillery pieces, boats and missile batteries is exponentially greater than ours. The Egyptian army is far larger than the IDF. But beyond the fact that during 25 years Egypt forged a tremendous force, an additional process has developed in the past 10 years. "Since the mid-1990s, Egyptian doctrine, Egyptian indoctrination and Egyptian training exercises have been directed against Israel. Since the start of this century Egypt has also invested billions in relocating its military infrastructures so they are opposite Israel. Initially its surface-to-surface missiles were scattered across Egypt, whereas now they are massed against us in the Suez Canal region. The same holds for the logistics facilities and ammunition dumps. Everything is concentrated on the two sides of the Suez Canal. There are also worrisome signs in the Sinai desert itself - perhaps very worrisome, but I cannot elaborate on them. The lenient interpretation says that this gigantic enterprise is being created because the Egyptians are afraid of us. But there is also an alternative interpretation: Egypt is preparing for war. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then maybe it really is a duck. If it looks like preparations for a military confrontation and sounds like preparations for a military confrontation, then maybe it really is preparations for a military confrontation against Israel."

..."I have no doubt that if Egypt could make Israel disappear from the map, it would not object to that. A future military confrontation with Israel exists in the Egyptian national consciousness and in the consciousness of the Egyptian security forces, and that is what Egyptian strategic planning is leading toward. I am in favor of peace with Egypt. I welcome the partial improvement that has occurred in relations in the past year. But I think that we must not delude ourselves. A definite possibility exists that a military confrontation between us and Egypt will take place in the future. We have to deploy for that."

... "Israel faces two existential threats. The Iranian existential threat is the only we are permitted to talk about and even like talking about. The Egyptian existential threat is the one we are prohibited from talking about. Quite a few people are aware of it, but only a few dare to utter its name explicitly and refer to its scale. For the same reason we ignore the fact it was Egypt that caused the Camp David conference to fail. Ignore the fact that it is Egypt that built up Hamas and is continuing to do so. Ignore the fact that Egypt allows smuggling into the Gaza Strip and is effectively arming the Palestinian people against Israel. Egypt is interested in seeing Israel and the Palestinians bleed. Contrary to its rhetoric, it had no interest in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - on the contrary."

.. "... You have to understand that Iran is not North Korea. It does not intend to maintain three or four bombs in the basement. Iran intends to manufacture 54,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium and place them in a vast facility at Kashan. Those 54,000 centrifuges can produce 20 to 25 nuclear bombs a year. The Iranians do not aspire to be a regional power. They aspire to be a world power. If Iran crosses the threshold, it will become a power on the scale of China or of Britain and France."

... "Ahmadinejad's Iran is not behaving rationally. This is a regime that says that a few million Iranians can be sacrificed for the sake of a worthy Islamic goal. This is a regime whose missiles say Israel's destruction and whose open declarations by its leaders talk about Israel's destruction. There is a clear analogy here to Hitler's Germany. Therefore I think that there is a danger of an Iranian bomb falling on Tel Aviv or Haifa. But even if that act is not carried out, for fear of a fierce retaliation, a nuclear Iran will achieve hegemony in the gulf, in the Arab world and in the Muslim world. A nuclear Iran will bring about sweeping nuclearization in the entire region. A nuclear Iran means a different strategic environment and a different world.

"Already today Iran has Shihab-4 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, which encompasses the Balkans, Greece, Romania and the outskirts of Moscow. They are working on Shihab-5, which will have a range of 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers. That will take in Berlin, Paris and London. They could reach the eastern shores of the United States. And I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein's Iraq here. I'm talking about a serious power that is doing serious work. When I read the reports about the developments in Iran, I see a world power in its infancy. I see a monster under construction. If Iran is not curbed, it will have dozens of nuclear warheads within a decade. Maybe even a hundred. It will have the ability to launch them at every relevant point in the world."

... "It's still possible to prevent Iran from going nuclear. There are two ways to do this: either the Iranians disarm or the Iranians are disarmed by force. The Americans are still capable of using air power to strike at Iran's nuclear network in a way that will set it back by at least 10 years."

.... "Nuclear industry is not high-tech industry. It is heavy industry. There is no heavy industry on the face of the earth that is immune to air attack. A massive and precise air attack can destroy any nuclear industry, including Iran's."..."We must not send the message to the world that Israel can be relied on to solve the problem. This is a terrible threat, not only to Israel but to the countries of Europe and to the United States. I don't want anyone in those countries to delude himself into thinking that he is exempt because Israel will repeat what it did in Iraq."

... "In my assessment, the Iranians are two years away from a nuclear weapon. It could be a bit more and it could be a bit less. After the success in enriching uranium at an initial 164-centrifuge cascade, the technology is largely in their hands. To create a first bomb they have to reach 10 cascades on 1,600 centrifuges. Now that they have the technology, the question is one of investment. If no one interferes with them and if they scoff at the world and invest resources and run ahead fast to accelerate the process, we're talking about two years, maybe a year and a half. Maybe even a year."

... "We're in the home stretch. If a massive military operation against Iran is mounted, it will be between this point of time, of April 2006, and the end of 2007." .... "Only one thing will prevent an American military operation in Iran. Only if the United States shows the Iranians a very big stick and waves it wildly in front of them will it perhaps be able to prevent the use of that stick." ... "There will be implications. If its nuclear facilities are attacked, Iran will try to strike not only at the American forces in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, but at Israel as well. The Iranian attempt to attack Israel will be carried out by planes or by missiles or by terror." .....

Syria announces measures to support Hamas government

From Haartez, 21/04/2006, By News Agencies ...

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syria on Thursday announced a series of measures to support the Hamas government, saying it would raise funds for the Palestinians and establish direct phone links with them.

Making light of the West's boycott of the Hamas government, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters: "We are not afraid of anyone in our support for the Palestinian cause."Moallem addressed a joint press conference with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, the leading Hamas official in Gaza, who has suffered two diplomatic setbacks during the past week. The Egyptian foreign minister refused to see him when he visited Cairo last weekend. And Jordan cancelled a Zahar visit scheduled for Wednesday after discovering a cache of Hamas weapons - with which Hamas denied involvement.

Arriving in Damascus early Thursday, Zahar held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and later with Moallem ...."We are beginning a new era in constructive cooperation," Zahar said.

... Zahar played down the diplomatic rebuffs by Egypt and Jordan, saying the Palestinians enjoyed "distinguished" relations with Cairo.

Jordanian PM says smuggled Hamas weapons came from Syria
Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet told a meeting of parliamentarians that weapons seized from a secret Hamas arms cache in Jordan had been smuggled from Syria...The kingdom postponed a visit by Zahar in the wake of the find.....The militant group has a large following in refugee camps across Jordan, a country which hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees outside the West Bank and Gaza.

PA, gunmen to cooperate

From Ynet News, 21/4/06, by Ronny Sofer and AP ...

The beginning of a beautiful friendship? A top fugitive appointed to a top Palestinian security post says he intends to closely cooperate with gunmen and 'resistance groups,' according to Palestinian news agency Ramtan.

"The (Interior) Ministry will be investing great efforts in guiding the resistance," Popular Resistance Committees Commander Jamal Abu Samhadana said in a talk with Ramtan. "The Ministry will be cooperating with resistance organizations in order to prepare for defending the entire Palestinian people and mitigate its suffering."

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam announced Samhadana's appointment as the Ministry's director-general, in charge of oversees Palestinian security forces. Samhadana said the Interior Minister will be undertaking efforts to end the security anarchy in the PA.

..."Our participation in the government stems from a belief this is a combative government that comes to safeguard the resistance and support it, rather than fight it," he said. Sanhadana added the Palestinian government did not ask him or his group to curb rocket attacks at Israeli targets....

U.S. slams appointment
The United States blasted Thursday evening the appointment of Popular Resistance Committees Commander Jamal Abu Samhadana to the post of director-general of the Interior and National Security Ministry. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack denounced the move, saying it showed "The true nature and the true tactics of this particular Hamas-led government."

... Meanwhile, political sources in Jerusalem also condemned the appointment, noting it constitutes "an ongoing trend by the Hamas government to appoint terror figures to key posts in their government."

..."With the rise of the Hamas government, every appointment of a person whose name is tied to terrorism doesn't constitute a surprise," a security source told Ynet. The official refused to elaborate about Israel's attitude to Abu Samhadana, but noted that "anyone who carries out terror or plans or funds it may be hurt, regardless of the position he fills."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Calls to charge Arab MKs with treason

From Ynet News 20/4/06, by Attila Somfalvi* ...

The support United Arab List-Ta’al Knesset members have shown for the Hamas members whose Israeli citizenship was revoked has infuriated politicians across the political spectrum. Some have called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to investigate whether the visit UAL-Ta’al members paid to Hamas representatives in east Jerusalem this week doesn’t legally qualify as treason. Others have demanded that UAL-Ta'al MK Taleb el-Sana be immediately kicked out of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that the “Arab MKs proved once again that their loyalties lie with the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, and not with Israel and its laws.” He called on Mazuz to launch an inquiry into the incident to see whether such behavior breaks Israeli law and could be considered treason.

The Likud responded harshly as well, saying, “This shows that the Central Elections Committee made a grave error when it rejected the Likud’s petition to disqualify the UAL-Ta’al list. The close ties between Hamas and the party obligate its disqualification.”

MK Ophir Pines (Labor) harshly criticized the meeting, saying there should be no pardon or compassion for the incident: “Knesset members should learn from (PA Chairman Mahmoud) Abbas, whose harsh condemnation of the suicide bombing was brave and adequate,” Pines said.
He added that he has called for the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to meet as soon as possible to discuss the issue.

MK Aryeh Eldad from the National Religious Party-National Union said, “It appears that no Israeli citizen that supports the existence of Israel as a Jewish nation, would be especially sorry if the Arab MKs who identify with Hamas give up their citizenship and join Abu Tir.”
Fellow NRP-NU party member Effi Eitam demanded of MK Haim Ramon, who heads the Knesset organizing committee, that MK el-Sana be kicked off the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee without delay. “An MK who identifies with and supports Israel’s worst enemies cannot serve on a committee whose task is to ensure Israel’s security. I’m deeply concerned that A-Sana will divulge the sensitive information he has been privy to and endanger Israel’s safety,” Eitam said.

A-Sana is currently serving on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as a temporary member, and it is doubtful he will continue to hold the position after the coalition is set up and Knesset committees are reassembled. In the interim period, membership in the Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Financial Committees has been temporarily appointed by the organizing committee.

* Ilan Marciano contributed to the report

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Germany agrees to open Holocaust records

From Haaretz 19/04/2006, By The Associated Press (also refer to our earlier posting on this subject) ....

WASHINGTON - Germany said Tuesday it would help clear the way for opening records on 17 million Jews and other victims of the Nazis, a major step toward ending a long battle over access to a vast and detailed look into the Holocaust.

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said her country would work with the United States to assure the opening of the archives, which are held in the German town of Bad Arolsen, and allow historians and survivors access to some 30 million to 50 million documents.

Until now, Germany had resisted providing access to the archives, citing privacy considerations.

The dramatic announcement, made at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, came after a 20-year effort by the museum and some other countries to get the archives opened. Negotiations intensified in the past four or five years and took on even greater momentum in the past two years, said Arthur Berger, spokesman for the museum. In a meeting Tuesday with museum director Sarah Bloomfield, Zypries said Germany had changed its position and would seek immediate revision of an 11-nation accord that governs the archives. The 10 other countries also must agree if the records are to be opened, a process she said should take no more than six months.

Edward B. O'Donnell Jr., the State Department's special envoy for Holocaust issues, said he was encouraged, but he added: "We still have negotiations to do."The next step is a meeting in Luxembourg on May 15, when all 11 countries would have to reach consensus. In some instances, parliaments would have to approve the archives' opening as well. Opening the archives would enable many survivors and families of victims of the Nazis to learn with more certainty what happened to their relatives."We are losing the survivors, and anti-Semitism is on the rise, so this move could not be more timely," Bloomfield said in an interview.She said the move was "something of moral and historical importance in a critical time."

.....Besides Germany and the United States, the other countries involved are Belgium, Britain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland.

Jordan accuses Hamas of smuggling weapons

From Ynet News 19/4/06, by Associated Press (this is good news because Jordan's geography and demography make it a key to alleviating the growing humanitarian crisis of Palestinian Arabs who have been pawns and acnnon fodder for too long)...

Jordan puts off visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister and Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar ... because activists of his Hamas party had been smuggling missiles and other weapons into the kingdom.

Government spokesman Nasser Judeh ... told The Associated Press that "missiles, explosives and automatic weapons were seized in the last couple of days." Hamas activists had managed to smuggle "such dangerous weapons into the country" and store them, he said. He declined to say whether the activists had been arrested.

...In a separate statement to the official Petra news agency, Judeh said Jordanian security services had observed Hamas activists "exploring several vital (potential) targets" in the capital, Amman, and other cities. He did not elaborate.

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, maintains a tough line on militants and once expelled the current leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, for his activities.

Kiddie TV (Archival Material)

If you want to see a graphic illustration of the war of hearts and minds, go to the MEMRI TV search page and look for clip #924 from Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia) - 5/7/2002 of 3½-Year-old Egyptian Basmallah being "interviewed".

You can read a transcript at this link.

Thanks to Miki for drawing my attention to this one .... frightening ....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Feud Over Access To Nazi Archive

From Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, April 18, 2006; Page A01 By Craig Whitlock . . .

BAD AROLSEN, Germany -- Boxed away in a former Nazi SS barracks in this central German town is the core of one of the largest collections of historical documents from World War II. All told, the archive contains 50 million records that list the names of 17.5 million people, including concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers and other victims of the Third Reich.
For 60 years, the International Committee of the Red Cross has used the documents to trace the missing and the dead, especially those of the Holocaust. But the archive has remained off-limits to historians and the public, fueling an increasingly bitter dispute among Holocaust researchers, Jewish groups and the 11 nations that oversee the collection.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and diplomats from the United States, France and the Netherlands are pressing to open the archive to researchers and make digital copies of the collection available for inspection outside Germany. Possessiveness and a refusal to change with the times have kept the records closed, some critics contend. Some German officials and other people argue that disclosing intimate details about the fates of concentration camp inmates and slave laborers would violate their right to privacy.

The dispute has percolated for nearly a decade. Unless a settlement is reached within a few weeks, a political brawl could break out next month in Luxembourg at the annual meeting of the commission that oversees the International Tracing Service, as the archive is formally known. German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries is to meet in Washington on Tuesday about the issue with the director of the Holocaust museum, Sara Bloomfield.

Keeping the records closed "is absolutely scandalous," said Karel Fracapane, a Polish diplomat and executive secretary of the 24-nation Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. "This is about the memory of the most appalling event in human history and about respect for the survivors today," he said. "It's extremely important for the archives to become open as soon as possible and give survivors and their families relevant information before they die."

The International Tracing Service provides a unique window into the Nazis' obsession with documenting all facets of their rule, including lice inspection reports from concentration camps and records of insurance policies that German firms were required to maintain when they used conscripted workers. The bulk of the collection is German papers seized by Allied forces; it also includes meticulous Allied records on efforts to settle refugees after the war.

The archive is managed by the Red Cross and financed by the German government. It continues to receive about 150,000 requests a year from people seeking information about missing relatives or confirmation of what happened to them under Nazi rule. In part because of funding cuts from the German government, a severe backlog has developed; administrators said an inquiry into an average case can take up to four years.

The service is technically owned by 11 countries: the United States, Britain, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Greece and Luxembourg. Eight years ago, the governments agreed in principle to open the archives to historical researchers, but they have missed a succession of self-imposed deadlines to do so.

Part of the problem is that officials from the countries meet for only a day each year to review the archive's operations. They also require a unanimous vote to take action on most issues.
Germany and Italy have resisted proposals for opening the archives, including a plan to share digital copies of the records with each of the 11 nations. German diplomats said they worry their government could be sued if the privacy rights of individuals named in the documents were not protected.

Many leading Holocaust researchers dismiss such concerns, noting that archives around the world successfully protect privacy. They blame bureaucrats from the German Interior Ministry for the impasse."They are the principal opponent to the whole thing, and it's very difficult for me to understand why," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the Holocaust museum in Washington. "Invariably, at the end of the day, the German representatives always put restrictions back on the table that they are absolutely insistent about."

German Interior Ministry officials involved in negotiations declined to comment. Sonja Kreibich, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, said the government favors opening the archives. But "what has to be found is a common solution toward the legal questions, including issues of privacy and liability," Kreibich said. "Finding that solution is quite complicated."
Germany does not need to worry that documents in the archive would trigger a new round of compensation lawsuits, experts say, because deadlines in most class-action settlements have passed.

Researchers and diplomats point to the director of the tracing service, Charles C. Biedermann of Switzerland, a Red Cross employee, saying he has worked behind the scenes to keep the records bottled up. Johannes Houwink ten Cate, director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, said Biedermann and the tracing service staff were reluctant to give up control because of an insular culture and fear for their jobs. He said the original mission to trace the whereabouts of refugees had inevitably changed but that the service was unprepared to adapt to a new role as a historical research center.

"They're not unlike the Japanese soldiers who stayed behind in the jungle and were finally discovered" after decades in hiding, he said. "They are continuing to ignore the outside world. The outside world has changed, but they have not."In an interview last week, Biedermann said he wanted the service to open to the public but that the decision was up to the 11-country commission. "I absolutely hope it will be done," he said. "I'm sure if there's a will, there's a way."
He said his critics misread his motives. He said he had led efforts to scan the records, which would allow easy sharing of the documents with other countries. "That's the best proof that we are for opening the records," Biedermann said.

Meanwhile, Dutch, French and American diplomats are pushing a group of scholars and legal experts to find a compromise to submit to the tracing service's annual meeting May 17 in Luxembourg. "It's been almost 61 years now since the end of World War II and the Holocaust," said Edward B. O'Donnell Jr., the State Department's ambassador and special envoy for Holocaust issues. "It's time to open all records of the Holocaust, and that certainly remains a priority for the United States."

Jihad leader: No barrier can stop us

From a Ynet interview 18/4/06 by Ali Waked ....

Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin says no security measures will stop attacks on Israel. . .

Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv proves that "no closure, no roadblock, no assassination and no arrest can prevent the Islamic Jihad's mujahadeen from carrying out attacks," the organization's head in the Jenin region, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Saadi, told Ynet. According to the top Islamic Jihad leader, no Israeli withdrawal would deter the organization from its path. "As far as we are concerned, Jenin and Tel Aviv are both a part of Palestine, and we shall continue to raise the flag of resistance and will not surrender," he stated.

. . . A government committed to further withdrawals is set to be established in Israel. Why continue with these attacks?
. . . we in the Islamic Jihad do not recognize any withdrawals. For us this entire land is Palestine and there is no difference between Tel Aviv and Jenin, Haifa and Nablus.....

Monday, April 17, 2006

"We are at war"

From JPost Updated Apr. 17, 2006 18:03 By YAAKOV KATZ ...

"We are at war," declares Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak "Haki" Harel, head of the IDF's Planning Directorate and a senior member of the IDF General Staff.... The Palestinian Authority... has been taken over by a group of Hamas terrorists and murderers, and the IDF's current operation against the Kassam rocket fire in the Gaza Strip is no different from a war.

But while the "war" is being fought right under our noses in cities like Nablus, Jenin and Gaza, Harel claims that Israel's security situation has never been better during its soon-to-be 58 years of statehood. Evidence of this, he says, can be seen in the results of last month's elections. "The fact that the government can talk about a social agenda is the result of having a strong defense establishment," he asserts.

...The probability of a full-fledged war with Israel's neighbors, he says, is at an all-time low. Yet the IDF might be on the verge of launching a large-scale military operation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to curb the escalation of Palestinian terrorism. The incessant missile fire is intolerable, he says, and the army will continue its attacks on Gaza, which could culminate in a massive ground invasion into refugee camps like Jabalya.

He also says that Israel needs to sever all ties with the PA, including the transfer of humanitarian assistance. "There was a decision on the Palestinian side to create a government of terror," he says of Hamas's recent rise to power. "The entire border with Gaza needs to be hermetically sealed…We should stay on our side, they on their side and that is it."

...Eventually, there will be no Kassam fire. The question is how many steps we need to climb before we get there. But we need to remember that on the other side there is a terrorist government led by a terror organization that at this stage is not dong anything to stop it. And we need to shoot anyone who shoots at us. As the Talmudic saying goes: "Rise to kill those who get up to kill you."In the end we might return to parts of the Gaza Strip, from where the rockets are being launched. The main question is, "When will the Palestinians decide that it is no longer worth it for them to continue firing the rockets while we are striking back?"

We will continue escalating our actions… and it is possible that eventually we will launch a ground operation in Gaza. The main issue, however, is that the other side needs to understand that even one launched rocket is not worth it for them. We are almost there.

...the Palestinians. Why should we give them anything? They kill our children. It is only by miracle that the Kassams aren't falling on people's heads. The suicide bomber intercepted [last month] on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway would have blown himself up if he had not been caught. We are talking about Arabs who want to kill us, and that is why the army is fighting for our survival.

....Hamas is a government of terrorists and one day many years from now, when the Palestinians decide to return to their senses, they will know where to find us.

....We are already in the midst of a conflict and we are at war with the Palestinians both in Gaza and in the West Bank. The real question is whether the level of conflict will change and require that we send more troops into the territories under a large-scale operation. For now, we feel we are being effective. But if tomorrow we feel that our operation in Nablus is not achieving its goal, we will escalate our actions ....

...The IDF cannot leave the West Bank. The IDF will need to control every corner there to provide security for the Israeli people. The difference between the West Bank and Gaza is that Gaza is Palestinian territory, while in the West Bank we control the territory so terror won't flow into Israel. Gaza has one solution and the West Bank requires a different one. But as long as there isn't someone on the other side to take the reins, we need to be in control to prevent the firing of Katyushas or mortars from Kalkilya to Netanya - something that cannot be allowed to happen.

Toll increases 9 killed, 60 wounded

From JPost Apr. 17, 2006 13:48 By JPOST.COM STAFF ...

The prevailing Pessah calm was destroyed shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon when a suicide bombing rocked Tel Aviv's Neve Sha'anan neighborhood, near the old central bus station. At least nine people were reported killed, not including the suicide bomber, and at least 60 were wounded, 15 seriously. One person was still in critical condition as a result of the large blast.

... Islamic Jihad, ...together with the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for Monday's attack in a video released to Palestinian television.

...The new Hamas-led PA government called the suicide bombing a legitimate response to Israeli "aggression."

6 killed in Tel Aviv blast

From Ynet News 17/4/06, by Avi Cohen ...

Loud explosion rattles shawarma stand at old central bus station area in southern Tel Aviv... Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claim responsibility for attack ... six people were killed in the blast and at least 30 people were wounded, 10 of them sustaining serious wounds.

According to an eyewitness, the terrorist entered the store, and when the security guard asked him to open his bag he detonated himself. A short while after the explosion, police forces began chasing a blue commercial Mitsubishi vehicle seen fleeing the area of the attack.

....The previous terror attack at the area took place on January, when an Islamic Jihad suicide comber detonated himself next to the same shawarma stand, wounding 32 people. Following the attack, the stand owners placed security guard in the area.

...Immediately after the attack, security forces raised their alert level across the country.
Following the terror attack, the Immigration Absorption Ministry opened an information line for immigrants in Russian, Amharic, French, Spanish, English, and Hebrew. The phone number is: 1255 081 010

Efrat Weiss contributed to the report



Iran has readied an "army" of 40,000 suicide bombers to strike targets all over the Western world and Israel as a response to a possible attack on their nuclear facilities, the British Sunday Times reported Sunday morning.

Two senior officials from the Homeland Security Agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed with the prediction and warned that Iran could set a worldwide terror network into motion in the US and elsewhere.

...The Sunday Times also procured a tape of Dr. Hassan Abasi, head of the Iranian Center for Strategic Studies. He warned that Iran was ready to strike "sensitive American and British targets" if its nuclear facilities were to be attacked.

With projections that Iran could develop a nuclear bomb within the next two-and-a-half years, a high-ranking IDF officer from Military Intelligence told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend that the successful enrichment of uranium announced last week proved that diplomatic efforts to stop Teheran's race to the bomb had failed. "The way it looks now, it is doubtful that the United Nations and the international efforts will succeed in stopping Iran," the high-ranking officer said. "Iran spit in the world's face but the world hasn't done anything."

On Friday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired a series of verbal shots at Israel, saying it was a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated, and questioning the validity of the Holocaust. "Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a three-day conference in support of the Palestinians attended by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and other Hamas members. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm," he said.

...the Foreign Ministry had no response Saturday night to Ahmadinejad's comments.

...(an) IDF officer (said) ... that Iran was in the process of developing nuclear arms in a separate program run parallel and alongside the Islamic republic's publicly-known and claimed-to-be civilian nuclear program. "It is ... probable that they have a second and secret plan [to develop nuclear arms] and they will copy the technology they are now developing in the open and use it in a secret location," the officer said.

Iran, the officer predicted, would obtain independent research and development capabilities - sometimes referred to as the "point of no return" - in a matter of months, technically allowing it to move forward with its nuclear program without external assistance.

...While Israel needed to fear a nuclear attack by Iran, the threat was shared by the entire world and needed to be taken care of appropriately, the officer said. Tough and immediate sanctions could still potentially suspend and stop Iran's nuclear program, he added. "The diplomatic efforts made until now have been exhausted," he said, "and it is now time for a diplomatic process with sharp teeth."

The Iranian president ... said... : "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon.""The existence of this (Israeli) regime is a permanent threat" to the Middle East, he added. "Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."

Fifth Column assembles in Jerusalem

From Ynet News, 17/4/06, by Paiz Abbas ...

Marking anniversary of prophet Muhammad’s birth, 30,000 Muslims gather in Kfar Kana soccer stadium in event organized by Islamic Movement; leader Shiekh Salah calls for return of Jerusalem to Arab, Palestinian, Muslim hands

... The event was organized by the Islamic Movement... (and) ... broadcast live on television throughout the Middle East and elsewhere by Al-Jazeera

...Sheikh Salah addressed the Arab world, calling on them to "save Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews .... Jerusalem will soon be the capital of the world Islamic nation, and it will be governed by a caliph... The Six Days War hasn’t ended since 1967, and it continues in Jerusalem... They want to build a temple instead of the al-Aqsa mosque, and that will never happen...” ...(he) appealed to the Arab world to establish a fund to “save Jerusalem” from the Jews and restore it as an exclusively Arab, Palestinian and Muslim city.

Regarding the Palestinian situation, Salah expounded at length about the Israeli siege of the Palestinian territories, especially since Hamas’ victory in the parliamentary elections. “They want to starve our people. Will you let them?” Salah demanded of his audience.

Birds of a feather ... throw tokens.

From Ynet News, 17/4/06 by Roee Nahmias ...

Syria announces the launching of a fundraising campaign ... to donate money to Palestinians. Earlier, Iran says it will give PA 50 million dollars.

...The announcement was made during a joint press conference held by al-Shara and former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was visiting Damascus. According to al-Shara, Syrian citizens would be able to make their donations through banks, and the funds would be collected under the supervision of a committee and with full transparency (SL: ha ha ha...)...

... the Syrian VP ...added that Syria may support Iran should it be attacked.

Earlier Sunday, Iran's foreign minister announced that Tehran would be giving the Palestinian Authority 50 million dollars. According to Iran's official news agency, Minister Mottaki called on all Muslim and Arab countries to offer assistance to the Palestinian people and government....