Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's Iran, stupid

From Cox & Forkum, 28/9/06 ...

If you're going to boycott Israel - do it properly!

From a private email ....

OK. So I understand that you are ticked off at Israel, and in love with the Palestinians. That's fine with me, as long as you have truly weighed up all the facts.

So, you want to boycott Israel? I'll be sorry to miss you, but if you are doing it - do it properly.

Let me help you.

Check all your medications. Make sure that you do not have tablets, drops, lotions, etc., made by Abic or Teva. It may mean that you will suffer from colds and flu this winter but, hey, that's a small price for you to pay in your campaign against Israel, isn't it?

While we are on the subject of your Israeli boycott, and the medical contributions to the world made by Israeli doctors and scientists, how about telling your pals to boycott the following . . .
  • An Israeli company has developed a simple blood test that distinguishes between mild and more severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis. So, if you know anyone suffering from MS, tell them to ignore the Israeli patent that may more accurately diagnose their symptoms.
  • An Israeli-made device helps restore the use of paralyzed hands. This device electrically stimulates the hand muscles, providing hope to millions of stroke sufferers and victims of spinal injuries. If you wish to remove this hope of a better quality of life to these people, go ahead and boycott Israel.
  • Young children with breathing problems will soon be sleeping more soundly, thanks to a new Israeli device called the Child Hood. This innovation replaces the inhalation mask with an improved drug delivery system that provides relief for child and parent. Please tell anxious mothers that they shouldn't use this device because of your passionate cause.

These are just a few examples of how people have benefited medically from the Israeli know-how you wish to block. Boycotts often affect research.

  • A new research center in Israel hopes to throw light on brain disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's disease. The Joseph Sangol Neuroscience Center in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital aims to bring thousands of scientists and doctors to focus on brain research.
  • A researcher at Israel's Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious smallpox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.
  • Two Israelis received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Doctors Ciechanover and Hershko's research and discovery of one of the human cells most important cyclical processes will lead the way to DNA repair, control of newly produced proteins, and immune defense systems.
  • The Movement Disorder Surgery program at Israel's Hadassah Medical Center has successfully eliminated the physical manifestations of Parkinson's disease in a select group of patients with a deep brain stimulation technique.
  • For women who undergo hysterectomies each year for the treatment of uterine fibroids, the development in Israel of the Ex Ablate 2000 System is a welcome breakthrough, offering a noninvasive alternative to surgery.
  • Israel is developing a nose drop that will provide a five year flu vaccine.

These are just a few of the projects that you can help stop with your Israeli boycott. But let's not get too obsessed with my ducal research, there are other ways you can make a personal sacrifice with your anti-Israel boycott.
  • Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. So, set a personal example. Throw away your computer!
  • Computers should have a sign attached saying "Israel Inside." The Pentium NMX Chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.
  • Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.
  • The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 in Israel by four young Israeli whiz kids.
  • Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R. & D. facilities outside the US in Israel.

So, due to your complete boycott of anything Israeli, you now have poor health and no computer. But your bad news does not end there.

  • Get rid of your cellular phone. Cell phone technology was also developed in Israel by MOTOROLA which has its biggest development center in Israel. Most of the latest technology in your mobile phone was developed by Israeli scientists.
  • Feeling unsettled? You should be. Part of your personal security rests with Israeli inventiveness, borne out of our urgent necessity to protect and defend our lives from the terrorists you support.
  • A phone can remotely activate a bomb, or be used for tactical communications by terrorists, bank robbers, or hostage-takers. It is vital that official security and law enforcement authorities have access to cellular jamming and detection solutions. Enter Israel's Net line Communications Technologies with their security expertise to help the fight against terror.
  • A joint, nonprofit, venture between Israel and Maryland will result in a 5 day Business Development and Planning Conference next March. Elected Israeli companies will partner with Maryland firms to provide innovation to the US need for homeland security.

I also want you to know that Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita - 109 per 10,000 - than any other nation. Israel has the highest number of startup companies per rata. In absolute terms, the highest number, except the US. Israel has ratio of patents filed.

Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley. Israel is ranked 2 in the world for venture capital funds, behind the USA.

Israel has more museums per capita.

Israel has the second highest publication of new books per capita.

Relative to population, Israel is the largest immigrant absorbing nation on earth. These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom or expression, economic opportunity, and quality of life.

Believe it or not, Israel is the only country in the world which had a net gain in the number of trees last year.

Even Warren Buffet of Berkshire-Hathaway fame has just invested millions with Israeli Companies.

So, you can vilify and demonize the State of Israel. You can continue your silly boycott, if you wish. But I wish you would consider the consequences, and the truth.

Think of the massive contribution that Israel is giving to the world, including the Palestinians - and to you - in science, medicine, communications, security. Pro rata for population we are making a greater contribution than any other nation on earth.

We can't be all bad.....

Friday, September 29, 2006

The New Anti-Semitism

From RealClearPolitics, September 28, 2006, by Victor Davis Hanson ...

Hating Jews, on racial as well as religious grounds, is as old as the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Later in Europe, pogroms and the Holocaust were the natural devolution of that elemental venom.

Anti-Semitism, after World War II, often avoided the burning crosses and Nazi ranting. It often appeared as a more subtle animosity, fueled by envy of successful Jews in the West. ....

A recent third type of anti-Jewish odium is something different. It is a strange mixture of violent hatred by radical Islamists and the more or less indifference to it by Westerners.
Those who randomly shoot Jews for being Jews - whether at a Jewish center in Seattle or at synagogues in Istanbul - are for the large part Muslim zealots. Most in the West explain away the violence. They chalk it up to anger over the endless tit-for-tat in the Middle East. Yet privately they know that we do not see violent Jews shooting Muslims in the United States or Europe.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promises to wipe Israel "off the map." He seems eager for the requisite nuclear weapons to finish off what an Iranian mullah has called a "one-bomb state" ..... Instead of Israel being a safe haven for Jews in their historical birthplace, the Iranians apparently find that concentration only too convenient for their own final nuclear solution.

... state-run, and thus government-authorized, newspapers of the Middle East, slander Jews in barbaric fashion. "Mein Kampf" (translated, of course, as "Jihadi") sells briskly in the region. Hamas and Hezbollah militias on parade emulate the style of brownshirts. In response, much of the Western public snoozes......

....In the last two decades, radical Islamic terrorists have bombed and murdered thousands inside Europe and the United States. Their state supporters in the Middle East have raked in billions in petro-windfall profits from energy-hungry Western economies. For many in Europe and the United States, supporting Israel - the Middle East's only stable democracy - or even its allies in the West has become viewed as both dangerous and costly.

In addition, Israel is no longer weak but proud and ready to defend itself. So when its terrorist enemies like Hezbollah and Hamas brilliantly married their own fascist creed with popular leftwing multiculturalism in the West, there was an eerie union: yet another supposed third-world victim of a Western oppressor thinking it could earn a pass for its murderous agenda.

We're accustomed to associating hatred of Jews with the ridiculed Neanderthal Right of those in sheets and jackboots. But this new venom, at least in its Western form, is mostly a leftwing, and often an academic, enterprise. It's also far more insidious, given the left's moral pretensions and its influence in the prestigious media and universities. We see the unfortunate results in frequent anti-Israeli demonstrations on campuses that conflate Israel with Nazis, while the media have published fraudulent pictures and slanted events in southern Lebanon.

The renewed hatred of Jews in the Middle East - and the indifference to it in the West - is a sort of "post anti-Semitism." Islamic zealots supply the old venomous hatred, while affluent and timid Westerners provide the new necessary indifference - if punctuated by the occasional off-the-cuff Amen in the manner of a Louis Farrakhan or Mel Gibson outburst.

The dangers of this post anti-Semitism is not just that Jews are shot in Europe and the United States - or that a drunken celebrity or demagogue mouths off. Instead, ever so insidiously, radical Islam's hatred of Jews is becoming normalized. The result is that the world's politicians and media are talking seriously with those who not merely want back the West Bank, but rather want an end to Israel altogether and everyone inside it.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. You can reach him by e-mailing (C) 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Arab PR tricks

From GLORIA, September 26, 2006, by Barry Rubin ...

To understand what is going on now in the Middle East, and in Western perceptions of the region, it is a revelation to recall the brilliant prophecy made by Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Sharaa in January 2000.....

..... In his January 2000 speech to the Syrian Writers' Union, Sharaa opened on a pessimistic note. After their defeat in the 1967 war, the Arabs seemed to be "really cornered and faced with one of two choices. Either we have to accept a peace that is akin to capitulation and surrender, which can never be the peace we want, or we have to reject peace without a solid ground on which to base this rejection."..... Rejecting peace without a solid basis meant just sounding extremist by preaching perpetual war on Israel.

For decades, Arab states had publicly insisted they would never make peace with Israel. After Egypt did so in the late 1970s, every regime tried to prove it was not a traitor like Sadat. Then Arafat made a deal in 1994, and Jordan signed a peace treaty thereafter. The old position was not just untenable, it was recognized as a public relations' disaster.

Here is how Sharaa put it prophetically in 2000, a few days before Syria rejected getting its land back through the peace process: "If we do not get our land through the peace process, we will win the world and Arab public. For Israel has continued to claim that it is always with peace and that the Arabs are against it. True, the media are directed against us and are in favor of the enemy to a large extent, but it is possible to penetrate these mighty, hostile media.... Our strong, solid, and persistent position and the reaffirmation of our constants in a convincing way are bound to have an effect."

In other words, as long as the Arab side explicitly rejects peace, Israel will have the diplomatic and media advantage. What must be done is to say the Arabs were ready for peace, to repeat demands and so, "in a convincing way," persuade the international community that Israel was at fault for the conflict since it rejected these demands.

When Israel did offer almost everything the Arabs sought, new, other issues were found to explain why the Arabs said "no." Such issues include the Palestinian demand that all refugees should return to Israel (where they can sabotage it from within.) Then, there are always tiny, forgotten pieces of territory, as with the Hizballah's claim that Israel is occupying a small piece of Lebanon (the Shabaa farm), which everyone else (including Syria) regards as Syrian territory; or the Syrian demand for Israeli land illegally occupied by Syria in 1948, which would give Damascus a claim on Israel's main water source. There is always the pretext of prisoners being held by Israel (those who committed the last round of terrorist attacks) or quibbling over language. Has Hamas recognized Israel's right to exist? Well it has, maybe, perhaps, sort of implicitly, hinted, if you read between the lines and ignore what Hamas leaders say in Arabic to the contrary.

"A strong argument is important in the media," said Sharaa back in 2000. "We only want our land and rights. They are the ones who are exposed now because they want to keep the land...." And so, six years after Israel offered to give up all the land it captured in 1967, it is possible to persuade the world that... Israel has not offered to do so. Immediately after Israel withdrew from all the Gaza Strip and proposed large withdrawals from the West Bank, much of the Western media, and even governments, were convinced that the problem was that Israel is still an occupier.

No wonder Sharaa concluded, "So, in either case, we will not lose."

With Arab regimes insisting they did want peace--but avoiding any irreversible step in that direction--the world's diplomats beat a path to their door. Even after Arafat and Syria rejected peace in 2000, an Arab leader merely had to say he wanted peace--with whatever subtle qualifications or differences between English-language flexibility for Western ears coupled with Arabic intransigence for the folks at home--and the onus was put on Israel for the failure to make a breakthrough.....

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. ... Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online at:

National Intelligence Estimate misrepresented

From Debkafile, September 27, 2006, 7:14 PM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added]...

Excerpts of classified spy report declassified on US President’s unusual order ....

The 3½-page section of the 30-page report was released by the US intelligence director’s office Wednesday Sept 27, hours after President George W. Bush ordered it declassified to counter what he called misrepresented, politically motivated conclusions. "Read it for yourselves," he said.

....President Bush ordered these excerpts published because, he said: “Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.” Those leaks had stirred up a storm of controversy in the run-up to the US mid-term elections.

“If it is perceived that the jihadists in Iraq are succeeding, it will fuel more extremism,” according to the report. But if the jihadists are perceived to have failed, "we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight," the report states.

Arms smuggling continues on all fronts

From Debkafile, September 28, 2006, 12:38 AM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added]...

Shin Bet chief accuses Egypt of closing its eyes to Palestinian arms smuggling to Gaza. But DEBKAfile reports its volume is dwarfed by Hizballah’s illegal imports

Diskin informed the cabinet Wednesday, Sept 27, that since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, 19 tons of explosives have passed through Sinai to the Gaza Strip. “The Egyptians know who the smugglers are – we gave them intelligence – but they are doing nothing,” he said.

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that while Egypt helps the Palestinians move the tools of war into Gaza, the Syrians have established large arms dumps for the fresh war materiel incoming from Iran and Syria itself on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. It can be moved over to any part of Lebanon in an instant. This device enables Damascus to keep Hizballah re-supplied while pretending to uphold the arms embargo ordered in Security Council resolution 1701.

Our sources reveal 25 of these large weapons stores have been located in Syrian army camps, air bases and security installations close to the Lebanese border. They contain miscellaneous missiles, including the latest models of surface-to-air and anti-tank rockets, all sorted and marked by type of weapon and the Hizballah units for which they are destined. Drawing on the lessons of the Lebanon war, Iranian Revolutionary Guards supply and engineering corps have dropped the use of arms trucks which drew Israeli air attacks and have attached expert “smuggling squads” to each Hizballah unit. Syria is also topping up Hizballah’s war losses of ammunition and shells as well s mortars, machine guns, grenades, anti-tank missiles, explosives and automatic rifles.

The weapons supply situation for the Palestinians in the south and Hizballah in north means that both are in equipped with enough war materiel to open simultaneous fronts against Israel from both ends of the country. Senior Israeli officers say that the government in Jerusalem and the military high command have been sitting on their hands since the August 14 ceasefire instead of dealing with the dual war threat.

The Shin Bet director is not alone in sounding a warning note; a past Navy commander and Shin Bet chief, the Labor MK Ami Ayalon, bluntly contradicted his own party leader, defense minister Amir Peretz, at a briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Sept 26. He reported according from his naval intelligence sources that UNIFIL’s naval control of Lebanon’s sea lanes is totally ineffective and Hizballah’s weapons shipments continue to be dropped ashore.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Archbishop and Chief Rabbis sign agreement

From The Archbishop of Canterbury Web site, 5th September 2006 ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger today [5th September 2006] signed a joint Declaration which sets out a framework for continuing dialogue between them. Dr Williams described the agreement as historic: “This is a most significant step in developing better mutual understanding and trust between the Anglican Communion and the Chief Rabbinate and worldwide Judaism.” ...

...excerpts from the text of agreement [emphasis added]:

.... Our meeting forms a further and hopeful chapter in the long story of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. It is a story in which Christianity emerges from within Judaism, but includes down the centuries all too many times of violence and persecution by Christians of Jews.......This relationship has not been without setbacks and difficulties, but for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion this is a commitment that reflects a continued determination to honour the covenant made by God with Abraham. ....

....We consider that the purpose of this and future meetings is to provide new opportunities for dialogue between us.... Neither evangelism nor conversion has a place amongst the purposes of the dialogue and we emphasise the importance of respect for each other’s faith and of rejecting actions intended to undermine the integrity of the other.....

...Amongst our profound concerns is the rise of anti-semitism in Britain and the rest of Europe, in the Middle East and across the world at the present time. This is a scourge that we are committed to struggle against. ...we will seek to educate the coming generations in the history of anti-semitism, recognising that there have been times when the Church has been complicit in it....

....The Holy Land has a very special place in our heritage, as it also has for Muslims. .... The Holy Land and its people, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, continue to suffer all forms of violence and its consequences. Terrorism remains rife. Governments and political and religious movements deny the very right to existence of the State of Israel. There is no agreement on the rights of the Palestinian people and the means to mutual wellbeing and flourishing....

....We reaffirm for ourselves today the condemnations of violence made by our colleagues and predecessors such as in the 2002 Alexandria Declaration. We reaffirm our belief in the rights of the state of Israel to live within recognised and secure borders and to defend itself by all legal means against those who threaten its peace and security. We condemn without reserve those who deny a place for Israel and especially those who engage in the evil work of seeking to bring about its destruction. We warmly encourage all forms of constructive engagement, whether religious, humanitarian or economic, which seek to enable closer bonds between individuals and communities.....

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar of Israel
Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger of Israel
The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Dated: 5th September 2006, 12th of Elul, 5766

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Saudi Initiative Endangers Israel

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs DAILY ALERT, Tuesday,September 26, 2006 ...

Former UN Ambassador Dore Gold told Israel TV Monday that the Saudi initiative now being revived includes a full Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley. This could result in an unimpeded flow of weapons to West Bank-based terrorists, posing a threat to population centers in central Israel. He also said he was not certain it was in Israel's interest to try to join in a Sunni anti-Shiite coalition, and noted that the U.S. Treasury Department had charged in August that two branches of an official Saudi charity were funding al-Qaeda.

View the interview. (IBA English News)

Increased Israeli exports to Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia

From Ynet, 26/9/06, by Tani Goldstein ...

Exports to ...[Saudi Arabia]... rise by 10 percent to USD 470,000 in first half of 2006.... medical equipment, fertilizers, minerals, metals, machines and mechanical appliances

Israeli exports to Saudi Arabia totaled USD 470,000 in the first half of 2006, constituting a rise of 10 percent compared to the first half of 2005... However, the extent of exports from Israel to Saudi Arabia is still very small compared to the economy of the world's largest oil manufacturer.

... The direct Israeli exports to Arab countries totaled USD 57 million in the first quarter of 2006, a sharp rise of 34.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year. The data do not include Israeli exports to the Palestinian Authority, which is Israel's second largest trade partner, after the United States, and purchases from Israel goods worth billions of US dollars.

... Some 1,343 Israeli exporters are operating in Jordan today, mainly in the furniture, paper, print and machinery industries. The exports to Jordan amounted to USD 26.5 million in the first quarter of 2006, a drop of 6 percent compared to the parallel quarter in 2005. Exports to Jordan totaled USD 115.2 million in 2005.

... About 257 Israeli exporters are operating in Egypt today, mainly in the textile, chemicals and oil refinery industries. The exports to Egypt in the first quarter of 2006 amounted to USD 26.5 million – like the exports to Jordan, a rise of 148.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Exports to Egypt in 2005 totaled USD 93 million, a sharp rise of 214 percent compared to 2004.

... Some 46 Israeli exporters are currently operating in Morocco. The exports to Morocco amounted to USD 2 million in the first quarter of 2006, a rise of 23.5 percent. Exports to Tunisia totaled USD 500,000 in the first quarter of the year, a drop of 16 percent.

Egypt demands Hamas release Israeli soldier

From Ynet News, 26/9/06, by Associated Press ...

In 'strongly worded' letter addressed to Hamas politburo head Khaled Mashaal, Egypt's Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman demands that Hamas Gilad Shalit at once, form unity government with President Abbas

Egypt has demanded that Hamas immediately release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to avoid a worsening crisis in the violence-battered Gaza Strip.... The Egyptian demand came in a "strongly worded letter" From Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.....

The letter also demanded Hamas cooperate fully with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in forming a national unity government, a step that has been stalled by the group's refusal to form an administration that recognizes Israel.

The message reflected increasing impatience with Hamas by Egypt, which has been mediating for months, trying to reach a deal on a prisoner swap for the release of Shalit, who is being held by Hamas-allied terrorists in Gaza..... Suleiman's letter was "strongly worded."

....Egypt told Abbas that it will press ahead with its effort to solve the standoff over the Israeli soldier.

UN supports the Palestinian people's democratic rights ... to murder Jews

From Ynet News, 26/9/06, by Roee Nahmias [emphasis added] ...

Joint survey by Israeli, Palestinian institutes finds that over 60 percent of Palestinians think Gaza, West Bank terror groups should imitate Hizbullah tactics and bombard Israeli towns....

The recent war in Lebanon increased support for Hizbullah among the Palestinian population in the territories, as well as among Israeli Arabs, who believe that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is looking out for their wellbeing.

The boosted support for Hizbullah was revealed in a public opinion poll carried out jointly by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research based in Ramallah.

According to the survey, which was carried out after the end of fighting in Lebanon, a solid 65 percent majority of the Palestinian public believes terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank should adopt Hizbullah’s tactics and shell Israeli towns with rockets. Only 35 percent were opposed to such a move.

.... The war had no effect on Palestinian support for suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians, and a majority of Palestinians continued to support them. According to the present poll’s findings, 57 percent of Palestinians supported suicide bomb attacks, while a similar survey in March 2006 found 56 percent support.

The tactic of kidnapping of Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips won the support of three-fourths of Palestinians, while only 23 percent opposed.....

Meanwhile, the UN blames Israel for "collective punishment" of the "Palestinian" democratic will in this Ynet news report of 26/9/06 ...

United Nations Human rights envoy to the Palestinian territories John Dugard has published a report Tuesday where he does not shy away from sharply criticizing Israel and the West for the situation in Gaza. "Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians
and have thrown away the key," he said, adding that "in other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing."

In the report handed to the UN Human Rights Council Dugard wrote that "life in Gaza has turned to be intolerable, appalling and tragic." According to him, 75 percent of Gaza's population is dependant on food aid for survival, and the destruction left from Israeli bombings is "intolerable."

Dugard also mentions the situation in the West Bank where there is a danger of a humanitarian crisis because of the security fence which is as bad as in Gaza. The South African lawyer, who has been a special UN investigator since 2001, repeated earlier accusations that Israel is breaking international humanitarian law with security measures which amount to "collective punishment."

Dugard also attacked the United States, the European Union and Canada for withdrawing funding for the Palestinian Authority in protest at the governing party Hamas' refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.

...."Israel violates international law as expounded by the Security Council and the International Court of Justice and goes unpunished. But the Palestinian people are punished for having democratically elected a regime unacceptable to Israel, the US and the EU," Dugard said....

Summary: the "Palestinian people" vote to murder Jews, and the UN supports their "democratic right" to do so ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Abbas cancels meeting with Haniyeh over recognition of Israel

From Ynet News, 26/9/06, by Ali Waked [emphasis added]...

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has cancelled his planned visit to Gaza, where he was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in order to discuss the formation of a Palestinian unity government....divisions between the sides convinced him that at this time there was no point in a meeting that would not advance the issues. recent days the PA president has returned to weighing the option of dissolving the government and the legislative council, declaring a state of emergency, and appointing an emergency government, or alternatively calling for new general and presidential elections.

.... the Hamas government has returned to the same uncompromising stance that prevented the formation of a unity government immediately after the elections.

'Nothing left to talk about' [ Gaza - the address is Damascus]
Abbas has become convinced that there is nothing left to talk about with Hamas representatives within the Authority, and he is weighing the possibility of sending a delegation of senior officials to the chairman of the Hamas politburo, Khaled Mashaal [in Damascus], in order to decide finally on the steps that need to be taken.

"We have reached a final conclusion that there is no point in talking with Haniyeh and those around him, as the decision making power is not in their hands. ....all of the agreements have been violated time after time – making trust between the sides minimal," a Palestinian source told Ynet. He added that Abbas will make one last attempt to advance the unity government, mainly with the Hamas leadership abroad, and if he reaches the conclusion that there is no chance for such a government, he will decide to either declare an emergency state and set up an emergency government, or to dissolve the government and head for elections......

An earlier report from Ynet News, 24/9/06, by Ali Waked explains that Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel torpedoed Abbas efforts to form national unity government ....

....Haniyeh warned over the weekend that he refuses to head a government that will recognize Israel, prompting Abbas to declare that unity government talks are dead.

[Senior Abbas aide Saeb] Erekat said Abbas "will tell Hamas, 'If you want a unity government, there are international requirements that need to be met, and that's the only way to form a unity government.'" ....

Interview with Olmert

From Ynet News, 25/9/06, by Yon Feder ...

In special Ynet interview, Olmert denies report on secret meeting with senior Saudi official, says he is unimpressed by Syrian president's declarations, and rejects possibility of releasing Barghouti in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldiers

... Prime Minister Ehud Olmert .... says that he was stunned to read Yedioth Ahronoth's leading story heralding that he had met a senior Saudi official – perhaps King Abdullah himself....In a special interview with Ynet on Monday, Olmert systematically denied the report, charging that the Israeli press has "a speculative imagination."

While he denied having held talks with Saudi officials, Olmert expressed a crystal clear position on Syria . President Bashar Assad , he says, is not a partner in peace for the time being.

The prime minister brushed aside Syria overtures towards Israel as political maneuvers to ease mounting international pressure on Syria to play a more constructive role in the Middle East.

As for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah , Olmert believes the fiery Shiite cleric is in no better situation than his Syrian patron, despite a high turnout for his 'victory' speech on Friday.

...[on] post-war Lebanon....
.... in southern Lebanon not one Hizbullah member is seen carrying weapons. One cannot crush all the weapons they have, but it cannot be activated and sent, with the reality of 3,000 multinational force soldiers and 15,000 Lebanese army soldiers….

"For two months or a month and a half since the end of the war there has been no smuggling. Something happened, gentlemen, we must open our eyes, something happened that today Hizbullah and Nasrallah are outcast inside Lebanon. Something happened, that today the moderate Arab states are coming out against this radical Shiite extremism."

... Is Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister, a potential peace partner?
"I can't point to contacts being held with Fouad Siniora. In principle I don't rule out that option, to the contrary. I would have viewed the matter positively if Siniora would hold direct contacts with me if only regarding UN decisions on future relations between Israel and Lebanon. There are plenty of international officials interested in this meeting, I listen to them, but I see no development at the moment."

Can Assad be Israel's peace partner?
....What I understand from that is that the Syrians … continue to sponsor terrorists, including Palestinian terror groups working against us in the territories. I don't see in their behavior a sign that could encourage Israel to start a process.

"The United States is opposed to talks with Syria not because it opposes peace. It, like many others, doesn't believe that Syria wants peace, but that Syria's face is turned towards lessening pressure on it, which is the result of its support for terror – Terror against the United States in Iraq and terror against Israel in the territories.

"This explains America's suspicion over talks with the Syrians, because they believe the Syrians do not truly mean what they say, and there is no reason we should give Syria rewards it doesn't deserve. I didn't say Assad is no partner. At this moment in time … I don't see in him a partner to steps that could lead to negotiations."

...Iran's nuclear ambitions
...Olmert doesn't rule out the possibility of Israel accepting an UN-monitored peaceful nuclear program, despite suspicions over Iran's intensions. "If Iran in fact develops nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and accepts international monitoring in a manner that clearly proves there is no real danger, the situation will be different. We need to remember that the process of nuclearization for peaceful purposes is completely different from military nuclearization and the use of nuclear arms The differences are easily identified.

The question of whether we believe the Iranians are serious – I am not sure. "I don't believe the United States takes seriously Iran's excuses … I estimate that for the sake of creating the right atmosphere for negotiations, the United States doesn't want to give the impression that it is coming to the table with the belief that nothing helps."

[on Arab members of Knesset]
The prime minister lashed out at pro-Hizbullah comments voiced by some Israeli Arab MKs ..... The behavior of Israeli Arab MKs is of great concern … the Attorney-General has justly initiated a criminal probe into a behavior that is very, very problematic.

"Israeli Arab MKs are toeing a very extremist line and it is difficult not to see in their remarks an anti-Israel feeling of the first order … MKs are exhibiting political radicalism which calls for concern, which sometimes goes beyond what a democratic country can tolerate."........

Follow the link for the full interview.

Monday, September 25, 2006

An Anglican view of "tikkun olam" (repairing the world)

From an update, 25/9/06, from Canon Andrew White, a true Anglican peace worker [not one of the fakes from the Anglican "Peace and Justice Network"]....

In just two days I will make my return to my beloved Baghdad having had five days at home mainly ill but I praise G-d that this morning I was well enough to preach at St Andrew’s Chorleywood.

....Just occasionally I think wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a lively Church rather than rushing around the world dealing with terrorist, military and people of other faiths. .... Interestingly it is Christians who often have such limited understanding of what we do, how or why we do it.

Our work is not in the comfort and safety of the West. On one hand I get criticized for getting hostages set free or working with the US Military. The fact is I do both. You do not get hostages released by dealing with nice people. Nice people do not take hostages and the only reason we can sometimes get them released is because we don’t always and only deal with nice people.

....The other thing I have been widely criticized for is my links with the military and especially the US military, there have even been those who have asked how I could bring myself to receive an award from them this week. Well the answer is easy first of all I did not know I would receive this and secondly I not only like the military but consider them the major peace keepers in the world today. My friends at the Pentagon and in the military I not only consider amongst my closest colleagues but also consider them some of the foremost peacemakers in the world today. For them it may cost them their life, most of those I work with in Baghdad have had close friends killed in conflicts. You see this kind of peace making is not just drinking tea and eating sandwiches in suburbia. This is making peace on the front line, it is always difficult. People always get hurt and killed and we soon realize that peacemaking can not just involve the nice people.

What is more if any real peace is to be made today it must always involve bad people and the good military. Only then will there be any chance of changing our broken world. Not everybody will be able to do this work themselves but what we can all do is pray and pay for peace. Please do pray for your military because they too are part of the way to peace.

So I finish with the words of Habakkuk 3:18 I will still be joyful and glad because the Lord G-d is my Saviour.



Haniyeh fans the embers of unity government

From Reuters, Sun Sep 24, 2006, by Nidal al-Mughrabi [empahsis added]....

GAZA (Reuters) ....Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said on Sunday talks on a Palestinian unity government could still succeed, brushing aside President Mahmoud Abbas's comment that they had reached "point zero" and must start from scratch.

....Abbas plans to travel to Gaza on Monday or Tuesday to resume talks, which he froze a week ago before attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York, senior aide Saeb Erekat said.
Erekat said Abbas would tell Hamas: "If you want a unity government, there are international requirements that need to be met, and that's the only way to form a unity government."

... Abbas has accused Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders of reneging on an agreement reached earlier this month on a political program for a unity government that included recognition of interim peace deals with Israel.

The row centers on agreeing a political agenda for the unity coalition that is clear enough in recognition of Israel to satisfy the West but vague enough for Hamas to say it does not contradict their charter, which calls for Israel's destruction.

Palestinians hope formation of a unity government will prompt Western powers to ease an aid embargo Gaza and the occupied West Bank..... was imposed when Hamas came to power in March to pressure the Islamic militant group to meet three conditions: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals.

...."Any coming (Palestinian unity) government that recognizes Israel and its right to existence will be a legitimate target for us," said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees. "We will fight it by all means and we will deal with it as an extension of the Zionist occupation."

....Washington has threatened to shun Fatah members who join a government led by Hamas if that government does not meet the three conditions...... Washington had hoped Abbas would sack the Hamas-led government, not join it.

.... Hamas said it would not join any unity government that recognized Israel.

"Unfortunately, we are back to point zero," Abbas said on Saturday of the unity talks.....

Thousands hear call to disband Hezbollah

From ABC (Australia) Online, Monday, September 25, 2006. 6:09am (AEST), by Middle East correspondent David Hardaker and wires ...

...Tens of thousands of Maronite Christians have rallied at a hilltop cathedral to hear anti-Syrian leader and one-time warlord, Samir Geagea. Mr Geagea has scoffed at Hezbollah's claims of victory in its conflict with Israel.

"We are the victors, and yet we do not feel it was victory but rather that a real catastrophe befell our country, and that our fate and destiny are at the mercy of the winds," he said.
"We are the victors because it was us who were demanding the [Lebanese] Army's deployment [in south Lebanon], backed by UNIFIL, while they were opposed."

....Mr Geagea, who served 11 years in prison ... as a leader of the LF militia in Lebanon's civil war, has called for Hezbollah to disarm. He has also called for an end to Hezbollah's power as a state within a state. "They demand a strong state, but how can a strong state be built with a statelet within its midst?" he said. "How can it be done with arms and ammunition continuing to flow in, when they force the state to follow their own schedule?"

The Nasdaq loves Israel

From Ha'aretz, Mon., September 18, 2006 Elul 25, 5766, by Shirley Yom Tov ...

Now that the number of Israeli companies has hit 75 on the Nasdaq, Israel is the foreign country with the largest number of firms traded on that U.S. market.

In order to leverage Israel's presence on Wall Street and other U.S. financial markets, and to encourage direct investment in Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) hosted a joint conference with the Nasdaq in New York last Thursday...

Follow the link for the full story.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Population of Israel: 6,990,700

From the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21/9/06 ...

On the eve of Rosh Hashana 5767, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the population of Israel stands at 6,990,700. Of them, 5,313,800 are Jewish and 1,377,100 Arabs.
The population growth rate in 2005 stood at 1.8 percent, roughly the same figure as the previous two years.

In 2005, the number of native Israelis continued to grow and reached approximately 3.7 million people. The largest country of origin continues to be the former Soviet Union, including its Asiatic republics, with a population numbering 1.177 million (242,000 of them born in Israel). The second-largest country of origin is Morocco, with a population numbering 492,000 (337,000 of them born in Israel).