Thursday, June 01, 2006

25 years ago today ...

From JPost 1/6/06 ...

On the 25th anniversary of the Israel Air Force's devastating raid to wipe out Saddam Hussein's nuclear plant at Osirak...Yehuda Avner, a veteran diplomat who served on the staffs of five prime ministers, describes the atmosphere at Begin's residence, on the eve of Shavuot 1981, as the prime minister waited anxiously to hear how the raid was proceeding.

...As the waiting continued, Avner writes, Begin also bitterly castigated Shimon Peres, the opposition leader, for having written to him a few weeks earlier "to ask me to desist from taking action. ...

When word finally came through that the target had been hit and destroyed in less than 90 seconds, Begin praised God and phoned the US ambassador, Sam Lewis. "I have to tell you in all honesty that I suspect some people in the White House will be pretty furious about this," said a shocked Lewis. "Your weaponry was procured from us under the Arms Export Act, for purposes of self-defense only."

"Self-defense?" Begin retorted. "What greater act of self-defense could there be than to demolish Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, designed to bring Israel to its knees, kill our people, vaporize our infrastructure - in a word to destroy our nation, our country, our existence? Over these past months I've told you again and again, Sam, that either the US does something to stop that reactor, or we will have to."

Stressing the resonance and relevance of the Osirak strike given the current international crisis over Iran's nuclear program, Avner notes that Begin, at the end of a cabinet communique he issued shortly before Shavuot began that evening, vowed that Israel would never allow "an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our people" and would take "whatever preemptive measures are necessary to defend the citizens of Israel."

The Euston Manifesto - The Left Comes to its Senses?

(Thanks Malca for alerting us to this.)

From ABC Online, LateNightLive, 31/5/06 (a show hosted by Phillip Adams) ...

Last Thursday night [26/5/06] in London a group of left-wing philosophers, academics, journalists and bloggers, got together to launch something called the Euston Manifesto.

All of the signatories are disillusioned with the Left, especially over the way the Iraq War has been opposed, and over what they see as the Left's blanket anti-Americanism and indulgent support for reactionary regimes and movements around the world.

The idea behind the manifesto is to reaffirm the "authentic values" of the Left; support for democracy, human rights...and freedom. It has taken off like crazy in the online-world: apparently there are more than two thousand signatories, including British Labour MP Gisela Stuart, Francis Wheen, Kannan Makiya and many, many more.

Phillip Adams interviews three promiinent supporters of the Manifesto. Follow this link to download and listen to the programme.

Go to the Euston Manifesto Web site to read the manifesto and "sign on".

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

UK 'regrets' NATFHE boycott decision

From JPost, May. 28, 2006 , by TALYA HALKIN ...

A motion to boycott Israeli academics ... has provoked a wave of condemnations from Israeli and British officials and from senior academics and universities in Israel and abroad.

"Around the world this proposal has been rejected as an act of blatant discrimination," said Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Zvi Hefetz. "As a means of promoting dialogue and coexistence in the Middle East, an academic boycott of Israel is counterproductive in the extreme." ..."By pursuing such a policy, NATFHE will isolate its members and their students rather than isolating Israeli academics, who are [in] the forefront of international cooperation on academic study and research, including with Palestinian universities and institutions elsewhere in the Arab world," Hefetz added.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Triesman also expressed regret at the boycott vote. "We believe that such academic boycotts are counterproductive and retrograde. Far more can be obtained through dialogue and academic cooperation," he said.

The boycott motion approved by NATFHE will only be effective for three days due to a merger between NATFHE and the Association of University Teachers, a smaller union, which is scheduled to take place on June 1. NATFHE has indicated that the new body will not be bound by the decision.

..."Any attempt to connect politics and academic research is pure McCarthyism," [University of Haifa President Aaron ] Ben-Ze'ev said. "The university will continue working in collaboration with its colleagues in Israel, Britain and elsewhere, in order to protect the principle of academic freedom," he said.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir also expressed strong criticism of the boycott motion, as did Zevulun Orlev, chair of the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee.

"This is a political victory for supporters of a blacklist against Israeli academics," said British academic Dr. David Hirsh, a founder of the ENGAGE Web site, which was created to battle left-wing anti-Semitism.

The Academic Friends of Israel in Britain also released a statement condemning the boycott.
"This only brings dishonour and sheer ridicule upon NATFHE which can be rightly called and remembered as a racist and discriminatory union," the statement said. The organization said it would continue its policy of exposing academics who boycott Israeli institutions and academics, and added that it believed anyone who pursues such an action is guilty of breaking discrimination and equal opportunities laws as well as university rules and their own contracts of employment.

"There are countless Palestinian and Arab collaborations with Israel in agriculture, medicine, science and many other fields, as well as burgeoning links between academics in this country and Israel," said Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel. "If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalize the standing of NATFHE, its successor union, the UCU and British academia."

The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) at Bar-Ilan University also expressed its deep dissatisfaction with the boycott decision. IAB Chairman Yosef Yeshurun, provost of Bar-Ilan University, said, "It is unfortunate that NATFHE decided to adopt a negative approach, seeking to burn bridges instead of building them. "The idea of a 'grey boycott' contained within the resolution represents an insidious threat to the world of academia," he said. "Instead of judging academics on merit, academics will be judged according to their nationality and political opinions."

Professor Gerald Steinberg, director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation and a member of the IAB executive committee, added that "Such political actions both fuel the Arab-Israeli conflict, and destroy the academic process, since we will no longer be able to trust the objectivity and professional detachment of academics who are involved in 'silent boycotts,' the journals they edit, and the peer review processes in which they participate."

According to the NATFHE conference notes, the union's boycott policy will not bind the new University and College Union that will be created by the June 1 merger of NATFHE and the AUT. Nevertheless, Yeshuron told The Jerusalem Post it was still unclear to the IAB what the status of the boycott decision would be following the merger of the two unions. "There is no need to mourn, because this boycott decision will have no immediate effect," Yeshuron said. "This is a single union and its decision is negligible. Nevertheless, it has symbolic significance and can be problematic in the long term." Yeshurun said it was necessary to continue actively working against such calls for boycott.

"The danger of such a 'grey boycott' is that a faculty member can sever relations with Israeli academics on a personal basis without publicly declaring he was participating in a boycott," Yeshurun said. He added that while pro-boycott activists were a marginal group, the majority of union members were not necessarily aware of the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the range of political opinions on Israeli campuses, and could be personally influenced by the boycott decision in the long-term. While senior Israeli scientists would not be hurt by such decisions, he said, the results could be detrimental to young scholars. Yeshurun also said that the IAB would budget funds for collaboration with English academics in order to encourage scientists to work against the boycott.

UK Hamas financier to be deported

From JPost, May. 30, 2006, by YAAKOV KATZ ...

A Pakistani-born British national, suspected of involvement in funding Hamas terror activity, was arrested three weeks ago by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and was scheduled to be deported back to the UK.

Iaz Ali, 36, security officials said, admitted to having served as an official representative of the Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), a UK-based organization suspected of funding Hamas activity. Ali told Shin Bet investigators that he had served as the organization's representative in the Gaza Strip since December 2005 and mainly worked on money transfers from abroad and to Hamas institutions which had been outlawed by Israel.

On his computer, Shin Bet investigators and the Israel Police found incriminating documents allegedly proving IRW's relationship with illegally-run Hamas charities in Nablus, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

The IRW, established in 1984, based in Birmingham and with offices in Ramallah and Gaza, was, according to the Shin Bet, behind the financial support of Hamas. IRW representatives in Israel sometimes operated out of Hamas offices and served as an integral part of the Palestinian terror organization, security officials said.

Following negotiations with Ali's lawyer, the Shin Bet agreed that he be released under restrictions in the coming days and be deported back to the UK shortly after without the option of returning to Israel in the future.

British academics' union votes to boycott Israeli academics

The Associated Press (apwire), published on 2006-05-29 ...

LONDON: British academics' union NATFHE adopts motion to boycott Israeli academics over "apartheid" policies towards Palestinians

Members of Britain's largest college teachers' union on Monday voted to boycott Israeli academics over what members termed "apartheid" policies and discriminatory practices toward Palestinians. The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) passed the motion at its annual conference in the northern English city of Blackpool. Two parts of the proposal passed with a show of hands, while a third went to a vote.

But union spokesman Trevor Phillips said the motion will only act as an advisory policy and will not necessarily be adopted, as the union is to merge this week with the Association of University Teachers, or AUT, to become the University and College Union with more than 100,000 members.

Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, said his group would continue fighting the boycott and called the union's move "racist." "If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalize the standing of NATFHE," Fraser said.

The third section of the motion called on union members to consider if they should refuse to cooperate with Israeli academics or Israeli research journals that do not "disassociate themselves" from the policies described in the motion. It said members had a responsibility to ensure "equity and nondiscrimination" in Israeli education institutions and was passed with 106 members in favor, 71 against and 21 abstentions, Phillips said.

The first two parts of the boycott motion noted Israel's "apartheid practices" toward Palestinians, including the construction of a wall between Israel and the West Bank, and called for more meetings in secondary schools and universities on the subject.

Delegates also said a potential humanitarian disaster could be caused by withholding EU and U.S. aid since Hamas won the Palestinian election in January. The proposal reopened debate sparked last year, when the 40,000-member AUT voted to boycott Israel's Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities for actions which it said undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom. ... The universities said many elements of the allegations were false, and the move was condemned by the Israeli and British governments. The decision was overturned after a month.

Some British academics continue to push for ties to be cut. Professor Richard Seaford, a classicist at Exeter University, told the British Broadcasting Corp. this week that he and other academics were already engaged in an informal boycott, refusing to submit work to Israeli journals or collaborate with Israeli academics.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science urged the union to withdraw the motion, calling it "antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations, despite political differences."

Follow this link to keep up-to-date on boycott issues courtesy of ""

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Islamist Threat to Jordan

Jordan's relations with Israel are warm and deep. But this article from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 25, 25 May 2006, by Nibras Kazimi, warns that the majority Jordanian Palestinian population is fertile ground for Islamo-fascist jihad. We post the summary only. Follow the link for the full text ...

  • The elusiveness of a unifying Jordanian identity now provides a window of opportunity for the jihadists, for whom Jordan is to be the "Land of Mobilization and Fortitude" - the staging ground for the liberation of Palestine and the destruction of Israel. Alienated Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin (who form the majority of the population according to most estimates) will always be vulnerable to an agenda that politically agitates for a return to the Palestinian homeland through armed struggle.
  • For an increasing number of Palestinians, Hamas has ceased to be militant enough, and they will seek out an alternative organization through which to channel their militancy. This trend will probably be mirrored among Palestinians in Jordan as well, with many finding their way to al-Qaeda, or setting up home-grown and organizationally-independent (and thus harder to track) al-Qaeda affiliates.
  • There is a historical precedent for this: young Palestinian Muslim Brothers - such as Abu Iyad, Yasser Arafat, and Abu Jihad - left the organization to train and fight under the auspices of new groups like Fatah in the 1960s that gave vent to their militancy.
  • The convergence of the "global jihad," conducted by organizations such as al-Qaeda, with the concept of "local jihad," that was the niche of homegrown militants such as Hamas, is something of a homecoming for the traditional presence of Palestinians within the ranks of Islamic extremists fighting far beyond their borders. Palestinians now have the opportunity to serve their own cause - the convenience of being a "good" global jihadist and a "good" Palestinian nationalist both at once.
  • Zarqawi has vowed to cut off the head of King Abdullah II. The Iraq phase has taught many Palestinians and Jordanians fighting skills, who may have returned to Jordan. Today, these experienced elements pose the most direct threat to Jordan's security.

Follow the link for the full text ...

Europe's Response to theThreat of Global Terror

Summary of an article from The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 23, 27 April 2006 by Jose Maria Aznar, Former Prime Minister of Spain (follow the link for the full text) ...

  • If we trace the line between the West and the rest, Israel is on the same side as Europe, the U.S., Japan, and Australia. We defend the same values against the same enemies.
  • Now it is imperative to defend our values and way of life against a new threat: Islamic extremism and terrorism. The new mission of NATO should be clear: to combat jihadism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • If the Allies want to prevail collectively over the gathering threats, NATO must refocus itself on fighting terror, the major threat today. Indeed, this is an existential threat, if we bear in mind what Islamic terrorism plans for outsiders - "the crusaders and infidels" - and for Zionism, as well.
  • If defending our own values against the radical Islamists is the future of NATO, we must change the way the Alliance is conceived geographically and open its doors to those nations that share our values, that defend them on the ground, and that are willing to join in the fight against jihadism. Thus, NATO should invite Japan, Australia, and Israel to become full members.
  • Treating Israel as if it were not an integral part of the Western world is a big mistake that will affect our ability to prevail in this long war against jihadism. I think it is in our mutual interests to have Israel as a formal ally. The West cannot fight this radical tide without Israel.....

(Follow the link for the full text)

Iranian badges: the National Post apologises

From Canadian National Post, May 27, 2006. The Canadian National Post, which ran a story claiming that Iran was to introduce distinctive badges for Jews and other minorities, has now said the story was false and apologised (the link needs a subscription) ....

Last Friday, the National Post ran a story prominently on the front page alleging that the Iranian parliament had passed a law that, if enacted, would require Jews and other religious minorities in Iran to wear badges that would identify them as such in public. It is now clear the story is not true....

The story of the alleged badge law first came to us in the form of a column by Amir Taheri. Mr. Taheri, an Iranian author and journalist, has written widely on Iran for many major publications. In his column, Mr. Taheri wrote at length about the new law, the main purpose of which is to establish an appropriate dress code for Muslims. Mr. Taheri went on to say that under the law, 'Religious minorities would have their own colour schemes. They will also have to wear special insignia, known as zonnar, to indicate their non-Islamic faith.'

This extraordinary allegation caught our attention, of course. The idea that Iran might impose such a law did not seem out of the question given that its President has denied the Holocaust and threatened to 'wipe Israel off the map.' ...

Mr. Taheri...put out a statement saying the National Post and others 'jumped the gun' in our characterization of his column. He says he was only saying the provisions affecting minorities might happen at some point. All of the people who read the column on the first day took it to mean the measure was part of a law that had been passed. Mr. Taheri maintains the zonnar, or badges, could still be put in effect when the dress code law is implemented.

... We acknowledge that on this story, we did not exercise sufficient caution and skepticism, and we did not check with enough sources. ...We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story. We take this incident very seriously, and we are examining our procedures to try to ensure such an error does not happen again.

Douglas Kelly, Editor-in-Chief, National Post

Palestinians discuss violence

From JPost May. 26, 2006 by ASSOCIATED PRESS ...

The rival Hamas and Fatah groups agreed Friday to form a committee to iron out differences in an effort to avoid further clashes between the sides, officials said.

The sides were meeting in a second day in an effort end fighting that has claimed 10 lives in the Gaza Strip over the past week. Earlier Friday, the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government withdrew a controversial 3,000-strong private militia from the streets of Gaza, saying it wanted to reduce friction with Fatah.

The move came on the second day of Hamas' talks with Fatah...The talks focused on Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' demand that Hamas accept the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In a bold move, Abbas said Thursday he would hold a national referendum on the proposal in July if Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, doesn't accept the plan within 10 days.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas is expected to meet with Abbas next week to discuss the proposal, Hamas officials said. But in a speech Friday, Haniyeh hinted that he opposes a referendum....Haniyeh said Hamas will stick to its political program....

UK union to vote on boycott of Israeli academics

From JPost, May. 28, 2006, by TALYA HALKIN ...

A call to boycott Israeli academics is expected to be brought to a vote on Monday by members of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, Britain's largest academic trade union.

The vote is planned for the conclusion of the union's annual conference.... It concerns a motion calling for a boycott of Israeli scholars and academic institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories.

...On Friday, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) ... announced that it condemned the proposed boycott and similarly urged NATFHE to withdraw the motion.
The statement released by the AAAS board of directors said it joined with other organizations "in condemning this proposed boycott as antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations, despite political differences." It added, "Free scientific inquiry and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and scholarly matters."

Bar-Ilan University's International Advisory Board on Academic Freedom also called for an immediate withdrawal of the boycott motion. It published an on-line petition calling on NATFHE members, the academic community and the general public to oppose the boycott, explaining why an academic boycott was wrong. The petition was signed by thousands of international academics.

In another letter that was also published Saturday in The Guardian, however, a group of Palestinian academics applauded the boycott motion.

Last year another British faculty group, The British Association of University Teachers, voted to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, charging them with complicity in Israel's "suppression of the Palestinians." The council of the association reversed the decision after objections by leading scholars and academic organizations.

NATFHE and the AUT are due to merge next month and any decisions made by the unions prior to the merger - including a possible NAFTHE vote in favour of boycotting Israeli academics - will be automatically nullified by the merger.

In another, unrelated boycott campaign against Israel, the Ontario division of Canada's largest union voted Saturday to support an international campaign that is boycotting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Delegates to the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario convention in Ottawa voted overwhelmingly to support the campaign until Israel recognizes "the Palestinians' right to self-determination." The Ontario group [purportedy] represents more than 200,000 workers.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Late Pope's Birthplace Shrine Will Honor Jews

From Washingtom Post, by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, May 28, 2006 ...

Landlord's Descendant Makes Deal for Holocaust Memorial
WADOWICE, Poland, May 27 .... As part of a four-day tour of Poland, Benedict XVI came here to see the centuries-old church where his predecessor was baptized, to tour the home where he was born and to raise Polish hopes that John Paul one day will be declared a saint.

....More than 200,000 people annually make pilgrimages to Wadowice to visit the museum, which has been open to the public for more than two decades and contains memorabilia and exhibits about John Paul's early life. Soon, however, the museum will add an exhibit about a less celebrated part of Wadowice's history: the Jews who perished during the Holocaust and World War II.

At the time of John Paul's birth and during his childhood, the house was owned by a Jewish family, the Balamuths, who ran a general store and rented out a few rooms to families. About a quarter of the population of Wadowice in those days was Jewish. The fact that the Balamuths owned one of the largest buildings in town, right next to the church, was a sign of how Jews and Christians got along.

That changed in 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland and the entire Jewish population of Wadowice fled or was taken to concentration camps. Of the 30 members of the Balamuth clan, only Chaim Balamuth, the 32-year-old son of the man who owned the store, escaped. As German troops marched into town, he and his new wife hopped on a motorcycle and rode all the way to Russia.

After enduring forced labor camps in Russia, Chaim Balamuth emigrated to Israel when the war ended. He remarried and made a new life but could never quite bring himself to sever his ties with Wadowice. For decades, even though the government had confiscated his family's building on the town square, he stubbornly asserted a claim to the property, according to his son, Ron Balamuth, a psychoanalyst in New York.

"The story of my family is like that of many Jewish families in Poland," Ron Balamuth said in a telephone interview. "It is a story of trauma and loss and displacement."

After his parents died in Israel, Ron Balamuth took over the family's quest to regain the building. The end of the Cold War provided a legal opening for Jews and other Poles to receive restitution for stolen or confiscated property. But the town of Wadowice and church officials, having turned the building into a museum honoring John Paul, were not eager to relinquish control.

...A breakthrough came in 1999, on a visit by John Paul. In an address to a crowd of Poles, he recalled living in the Balamuths' building and said kind words about Ron Balamuth's grandfather....The public recognition by the pope immediately boosted the Balamuth family's attempts to reclaim the property. In 2000, they secured title to the building.

....Afterward, Ron Balamuth said, he approached Polish church officials with an offer to sell back the building, on the condition that the papal museum be preserved and that it also include a memorial to Jews who perished during the Holocaust. The church balked at the offer, and negotiations stalled for several years.

Last year, however, church officials showed renewed interest after Balamuth came close to selling to another buyer. In March, a Polish businessman bought the house on behalf of the church, agreeing to the stipulation that the property honor both John Paul and the Jews of Wadowice. "This family home of our greatest Pole belongs to Poland and all its countrymen," the businessman, Ryszard Krauze, said in a statement after the sale was finalized.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but Balamuth said he was pleased with the outcome.
"I had a vision for the house as a memorial of Jewish-Catholic friendship," he said. "It speaks to the potential of the place and its history as a symbol of what was good between Jews and Catholics."

The people of Wadowice also seem happy that the property will be preserved. On Saturday, as the crowd waited for Benedict to appear, people cheered when it was announced that Krauze was present for the ceremony and that the new pope would enter and bless the house.

"I think it's an extraordinary idea," said Ewa Kadzioka, 43, who came to the square at dawn with her four children to wait for the pope. "The people of Wadowice are very proud and happy about this."

ABC "linguistics"

From ICJS 26/5/06 ...

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has finally conceded that Palestinian groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah are terrorist organisations.

Four years after the ABC’s international chief John Tulloh banned journalists from calling the groups terrorist organisations, the ABC has now admitted they are terror groups.

The change of heart has followed three years of forensic questioning of ABC executives by Liberal Senators Santo Santoro, Michael Ronaldson and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. The admission from ABC news director John Cameron, that the Palestinian groups are terrorist organisations, came at Senate Estimates this week (May 24, 2006).

“This is a long overdue but nevertheless very welcome concession from the ABC”, said Senator Ronaldson. “The ABC has finally been forced to drop its immoral double standard, where terrorists were terrorists in any part of the world except Israel and the Palestinian territories”, he said.

“I now call upon the other national broadcaster, SBS, to do the same.”

...and on the same subject, from the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC), Thursday May 25, 2006....

The ADC’s Executive Officer, Mr Manny Waks, says “While it is difficult to understand what has taken so long for the ABC to arrive at this obvious conclusion, we must nonetheless congratulate the ABC on this decision.” ...

...The ADC acknowledged the work of Senator Santoro and more recently by Senators Ronaldson and Fierravanti-Wells in pursuing this matter. For three years the ABC executives have been intensely questioned by the Senators. “They have shown great persistence and determination,” Mr Waks said.

Mr Waks also said that “the ADC supports Senator Ronaldson’s hope that SBS would come to similar conclusion to the ABC and concede that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah are indeed terrorist organisations.”...