Friday, November 17, 2006

United Nations Human Rights Council’s anti-Israel Resolution

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (Australia) MEDIA RELEASE, 17 November 2006:

The B'nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) strongly condemns the United Nations Human Rights Council’s one-sided resolution condemning recent Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution ‘expressed its alarm at the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by the occupying power, Israel…[and] called for the immediate protection of the Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law’.

ADC executive officer Mr Manny Waks commented: "This appallingly one-sided resolution is consistent with UN standard practice of unjustly condemning Israel and completely ignoring the plight of Israeli civilians who have been under Palestinian terrorist attacks for years."
"The Council was negligent in omitting the fact that Israel’s recent military action was in response to unrelenting Palestinian terrorism targeting innocent Israeli civilians. It is disappointing that this Council could not have the courage to condemn the ongoing Palestinian terror."

Mr Waks added that "despite Israel having evacuated from Gaza last year, the UN has been silent to the ongoing attacks emanating from Gaza, and Israel's attacks on Gaza would not occur but for the firing of rockets."

The ADC would like to acknowledge the statements made by Caroline Millar, Australia’s representative to the Council, which also expressed Australia’s disappointment in this unhelpful, one-sided resolution. Mr Waks noted that "Australia has an outstanding track record in seeking justice for all citizens alike. It is important for the Jewish community to know that the Australian Government unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself."

Sderot wakes Thursday to another two Qassam missiles from Gaza

From Debkafile, November 16, 2006, 9:03 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

Sderot wakes Thursday to another two Qassam missiles from Gaza, day after 11 missiles killed a woman, injured five civilians. Hamas claims the latest barrage.

Parents are keeping children home from school as government deliberates their partial evacuation. Wednesday night, three boys were injured, one critically, at a playground in the town center after Fania Slotzker, 57, a mother of two, was killed by a Qassam missile in the morning. The Qassam that killed her landed on the street where Defense Minister Amir Peretz and his family live. One of Peretz’s security guards, a 24-year-old, was severely wounded and lost his legs. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Thirteen Qassams have battered Sderot from Wednesday morning, 102 in November. Four more were fired into S. Ashkelon Wednesday night and two struck Zikkim.
Tuesday night, five Qassam missiles hit Sderot. Gaza Palestinians fired an RPG at an Israeli border patrol, stepping up attacks on IDF units guarding the border fence.

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state two weeks for a detailed plan to protect every classroom within range of Gaza missile attacks. The court rejected the Home Front’s assertion that all pupils were 15 seconds away from exiting shelters and did not need extra protection.

Israel Is Not Really Trying to Fight Palestinian Missile Terror from Gaza

From a DEBKAfile Special Military Analysis, November 16, 2006, 1:58 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

...Did Israel counteract Egypt’s permission to let Hamas’ $4million cash infusion from Iran and Saudi through to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Nov. 16? The answer is no, even though Israeli intelligence knows about Hamas’ regularly smuggled moneys and their destination - not hospitals, schools or food, but guns, troops and, yes, missiles.

Has Israel called Egypt to account for failing to stop the extremist Palestinian groups smuggling of arms and cash past its border guards? No, again. One way would be to move Israeli forces one kilometer deep into the Philadelphi border route for every $100,000 reaching the Hamas war chest. After all, Egypt contracted to seal its border against terrorist traffic under an international accord brokered by the US secretary of state. But prime minister Ehud Olmert prefers to let Cairo off the hook. Thursday, Nov. 15, the day after a deadly Palestinian missile attack on Sderot, he again praised “Egypt’s role in blocking smuggling to Gaza.”

Have the seven Israeli cabinet ministers used their presence in Los Angeles for an intensive information campaign to expose to the American public the role the Europeans and Egyptians are playing in the availability of funds for Hamas hands, despite the freeze imposed by the Middle East Quartet? No again, although, like the Egyptians, the European monitors posted at the Rafah border crossing are instructed by their governments to turn a blind eye – not just to the suitcases stashed with dollars, but also to the Iranian and Syrian military instructors, the Hizballah agents and the al Qaeda operatives who make free of the Rafah crossing in and out of Sinai. These entrants include bomb-makers and missile experts assigned to improving the precision, explosive power and range of the missiles fired day by day at Gaza’s Israeli neighbors - Sderot and Ashkelon.

....Diskin reported that 30 tons of explosives, arms and ammunition, enough to equip 10 brigades, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, and more is on the way. Hamas therefore commands an armed force which is one brigade larger than the 9 brigades available to the Galilee Division commander Brigadier Gal Hirsch as the backbone of the Israeli army fighting in the Lebanon War.

DEBKAfile’s military experts assert that Israel made no serious effort to keep the 30 tons of war materiel out of Gaza. Preventing the smuggled explosives from reaching the terrorist organizations’ missile workshops would have been a crucial step towards diminishing the missile threat against southwestern Israel.

Because Egypt is clearly a non-factor in this effort, DEBKAfile’s experts offer a number of practical alternatives:

1. General measures:
Israel must stop fooling itself about Palestinian intentions. Israeli spokesmen and pundits have been tracing blow by blow the bumpy progress of the Palestinian talks on a unity government, which foreign minister Tzipi Livni went so far as to proclaim in Los Angeles a step towards moderating Hamas’ fundamental radicalism. She evidently missed the Hamas spokesman’s statement that a new Palestinian unity government will neither recognize Israel nor accept a two-state solution. In any case, the entire unity government exercise is a fraud.....

...With their minds clouded by illusions, false hopes and enemy propaganda, Israel’s policy-makers are hardly competent to get down to brass tacks on ways to halt the Palestinian missile offensive. They find it easier to say there is no solution - and leave it at that....

2. Military options:
DEBKAfile’s military experts say there is no need to reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip or Beit Hanoun, or use artillery to bombard civilian locations. There are military options that could get around the Egyptian border police, who are useless for stemming the flow of arms and funds, and Israel’s reluctance to reestablish a military presence for sealing the Philadelphi route to smugglers.

One is the deployment of small commando units across the Egyptian border in northern Sinai. These units would pre-empt the smuggling by attacking the convoys of weapons and funds and blowing them up before they reach the Gaza border.

Our military experts are certain that Israeli intelligence agencies are fully apprised of the smugglers’ movements. Their hands are tied by prime minister Olmert’s instruction to do nothing except tip off the Egyptians and the Europeans, who then sit on their hands. Briefing the two foreign teams is not only pointless but counter-productive, because the Palestinian smugglers are then forewarned. This procedure needs to be stopped and Israel commandos sent for direct action against the illicit convoys.

The same tactic is applicable to the Gaza Strip.
Swarms of Israeli commando units should fill the areas from which the Qassam missiles are fired, including orchards. Ambushes at every corner will deter the missile crews and make them afraid of being liquidated on their way to launchings. This tactic was tried only once before in a location outside Beit Lahiya, next door to Beit Hanoun. It caused heavy casualties among the Palestinian gunmen and the Qassam teams gave this location a wide berth for some time.

It is evident that large-scale, complex Israeli operations like Autumn Clouds against Beit Hanoun earlier this month is costly in life while offering no recipe for curbing the missile attacks. But it is incumbent on the IDF to grasp the initiative at this stage of the war on terror and strike hard at the Palestinians’ fighting spirit. Since the Lebanon war, Palestinian terrorists have persuaded themselves that they are capable of continuing Hizballah’s successful war against Israel from Gaza. If this confidence is not shattered now, Palestinian missile attacks will continue to proliferate, gain in explosive force and spread to more Israeli cities. The most effective counter-terror tactic cannot mend in a single day the damage caused by Israel’s unilateral pullback from Gaza, but a beginning must be made without delay.

War drums beat again

From The Australian Editorial, November 17, 2006 [emphasis added]....

Another showdown is coming with Hezbollah at centre stage

TRAGICALLY, war is once again on the horizon for the eastern Mediterranean. Barely three months after the shooting stopped in the 33-day conflict between Hezbollah and Israel earlier this year, it appears the enemies of the Jewish state are once again spoiling for a fight.

In Beirut, Hezbollah, the radical Shia terrorist organisation that serves as the international arm of Iran's mullahocracy, is working hard to undermine the Government of Fouad Siniora by forcing an expansion of his cabinet and attempting to claim veto power for itself.

In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is as entrenched as ever and is firmly garrisoned among the local population in violation of the Geneva Conventions. And the results of the recent US mid-term elections were widely read across the Middle East as a sign that the US had lost its stomach for opposing moves by Iran and Syria in the region. Combined with Iran's increasingly bellicose rhetoric calling for Israel's destruction, it appears only a matter of time before the shooting starts again.

The sad fact is that in retreating behind its borders earlier this year under pressure from the UN and hostile elements in the global media rather than staying to root out Hezbollah, the Olmert Government in Jerusalem played straight into Iran's hands. The conflict destabilised the fledgling democratic Government brought forth in Lebanon during the Cedar Revolution of 2005 and aligned the Middle East balance of power in Tehran's direction.

Despite Israel's attacks, Hezbollah is as strong, if not stronger, than it was before the latest round of fighting. Israeli intelligence estimates that Hezbollah now has more than 20,000 missiles in its arsenal, while its chief, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, claims the number is closer to 30,000 – enough to bombard Israel for several months.

Much of the blame for this has to be sheeted home to the UN, whose UNIFIL deployment to the region is so ineffective that it has done nothing to prevent Iran and Syria from smuggling arms into the region. While UNIFIL steadfastly refuses to disarm Hezbollah, as called for in UN Resolution 1559, late last month French peacekeepers came within seconds of firing on Israeli aircraft monitoring the situation.

Hezbollah's bellicose machinations in the Middle East and beyond give the world more reason to be sceptical about allowing Iranian involvement in any Iraqi peace plan. And they make keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands all the more imperative.

This week, a UN report revealed that Iran arranged for more than 700 Islamic militants to travel from Somalia to Lebanon to help battle Israel – and that in return Hezbollah provided weapons and training to Muslim fighters seeking to bring extremist Taliban-style rule to the Horn of Africa.

Meanwhile, Iranian rhetoric suggests there is little interest in Tehran for a solution to the Palestinian problem that will allow for peaceful coexistence between Arab and Jew. Iranian government newspapers have in recent weeks stepped up their calls for what one outlet termed a "great war to completely wipe out the Zionist regime, and remove this cancerous growth".

Time is running out for the world to act to prevent more death and destruction in the region. Here the Bush administration must take a lead role in demanding the UN act; misplaced humility would only further play into Iran's greater strategic vision. And the people of Lebanon must stand up and be counted, just as they did last year and resist colonisation by a terrorist state within a state. Otherwise, the next conflict in the Middle East will come soon – and wind up being far more bloody, and decisive, than the last one.

Australians suspected suspected of supporting Hezbollah

From The Australian, 17/11/06, by Simon Kearney.....

TWO Australian citizens suspected of sending thousands of dollars to Lebanon to help fund Hezbollah during the recent conflict with Israel are being investigated for allegedly breaching terror financing laws.

Australia's anti-money laundering regulator Austrac has identified at least five suspicious transactions involving two people after closely examining every financial transfer between Australia and Lebanon during the 57-day war. Austrac's head of intelligence, John Visser, confirmed that an investigation was under way into a "network" suspected of providing financial assistance to the banned terror organisation, which launched more than 4000 Katyusha rockets into Israel during the conflict, killing 53 people and damaging 2000 homes.

.....But Mr Visser, citing official secrecy, refused to give further details, including whether the people had been arrested or charged with an offence, or the amounts involved. An Australian Federal Police spokesman told The Australian they had not charged anyone in relation to the matter.

....Last year, domestic spy agency ASIO assured federal parliament's joint intelligence committee that the Hezbollah organisation had no active links to Australia.

The head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Australia, Kamal Mousselmani, told The Australian yesterday he had also assured ASIO at the beginning of the conflict that the Shia community would not provide any financial support to Hezbollah. He said his community often sent money to relatives in Lebanon, but not to Hezbollah. He added that he was confident there was no organised financial support for Hezbollah in Australia....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Realism Now!

From GLORIA, November 15, 2006, by Barry Rubin ...

Let's get serious.... we are at a turning point not because the big changes are happening today but because they are clearly visible a bit down the road. Now is the time to make decisions about what to do.

It is going to be easy to make little day-to-day, reactive decisions. Yet, this approach will be inadequate. On each of a half-dozen impending crises, a strategy is needed...... Here they are:
  • Lebanon. An alliance of Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Michel Aoun's local Christians, and pro-Syrian Lebanese politicians are trying to take over the country's government.
  • UNIFIL. This force ... is looking the other way as Hizballah is being rearmed.
  • The Hariri murder investigation. It's pretty obvious, even from investigators' interim reports, that Syria was behind the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.
  • The Gaza-Egypt border. Egypt and the European Union (EU) promised Israel that they would keep terrorists and weapons from crossing into Gaza for use by Hamas..... Is anyone in Cairo or Brussels going to confront this miserable failure and the real chance that it might lead to a bloody war that will be their fault?
  • Hamas in Gaza. The strategy of Hamas is to build up semi-regular military forces, large stocks of rockets, and then try to do in the South what Hizballah did in the North.
  • Iran's nuclear drive....who believes that any serious sanctions are going to be put on Tehran or any other effective means will be taken to stop it?
  • The future of Iraq. The U.S. decision to withdraw, as proposed in previous editions of this column, is a correct one. Yet how is this going to be done without diplomacy making it worse (see below)?

There is a great deal of talk about solutions to these issues, misperceived as they are, but the focus is on four phony panaceas, which will clearly not work. In fact, they are likely to make the extremists bolder and more reckless:

  1. Reactivating the Palestinian-Israel peace've got to be really reality-challenged to believe in this one.....Hamas daily explains it will not change its goal of destroying Israel and is salivating for a chance to get out on the battlefield.
  2. Negotiations with Syria. Right. Give them Lebanon, forget about Hariri, and they'll happily come to meetings for the next ten years. But make peace with Israel, you must be kidding.
  3. Bringing in Iran and Syria to decide Iraq's future. So the solution is to throw Lebanon and Iraq to the wolves, begging the radicals to see this proves the West wants to be friends? Could anything possibly persuade them more not to make a single concession because victory is nigh?
  4. Convince Iran by talks and concessions to stop building nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Why should they, when they know defying the West will cost them zero?

As I said at the start of the column, let's get serious.

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:

German academics against Israel

From Ynet News, 16/11/06, by Eldad Beck ...

Twenty five influential academics post petition calling on government to stop embracing Israel because of Holocaust, start embracing Palestinians as well

BERLIN – Twenty five German academics published a petition Wednesday urging their government to loosen its embrace of Israel and start embracing Palestinians in an unprecedented act in the history of the relationship between Germany and Israel. The academics in question are highly influential professors at the country’s leading universities .... Many of them are known for their anti-Israel stances.

The academics called on the German government to stop giving “special treatment” to Israel following the Holocaust and warned that the sympathetic attitude could lead to unrest amidst the German people. The petition was recently published in the German based journal Frankfurter Rundschau owned by the Dumont Schauberg publishing house. The company recently purchased 25 percent of Haaretz’s stocks.

...The academics questioned whether Germany was obligated to stand exclusively by Israel in the Middle East in light of the Holocaust, and wondered about the whether preserving the relationship would have consequences on the German people, particularly between Jews and Muslims....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Anti-Israeli Bias in the European Parliament

From the JCPA, No. 48, 1 September 2006 / 8 Elul 5766:`An Interview with Rijk van Dam, executive director of the European Coalition for Israel, former Member of the European Parliament, representing several Christian parties from the Netherlands....

  • About 20 percent of the Members of the European Parliament are friends of Israel. Another 20 percent are clear friends of the Palestinian people, while the remaining 60 percent like to sit on the fence. Some of Israel's friends are outspoken; many prefer to keep a low profile.
  • Since 1993, the EU and its member states have given over four billion euros of financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority and a variety of Palestinian NGOs. This was meant to develop democratic institutions as well as promote education and prosperity among Palestinians. A substantial portion of the European funding, however, has served purposes such as corruption and terrorism.
  • One significant achievement of the friends of Israel in the European Parliament was a 2003 resolution that no EU money given to the Palestinians should be used, directly or indirectly, to strengthen hatred of Jews, to promote various types of racism, or to distort history.
  • Another achievement was the 2005 resolution of the European Parliament stating there is abundant evidence that Hizbollah is a terrorist organization, and the European ministers should put it on the list of such organizations. This has not happened because of the opposition of three EU member states: France, Spain, and Ireland.

Follow the link to read the full article. Some exerpts are posted below.

....."The low profile of Israel's friends became very clear when several years ago we took the initiative to have the Parliament investigate the funding of the Palestinian Authority. Some twenty to twenty-five German Christian Democrats were willing to sign only if we promised not to publish their names. We were still glad to have them."

....."Since 1993, the EU and its member states have given over four billion euros of financial assistance to the PA and various Palestinian NGOs. This was meant to develop democratic institutions as well as promote education and prosperity among Palestinians. There is no doubt that a substantial portion of the European funding has served purposes such as corruption and terrorism."

...."In the last year of Israeli rule [1993], GDP per capita in the West Bank was $3,500, and in Gaza, $2,800, and it had been growing. Had that growth continued, it would have been by now approximately $7,000, which is not that remote from what Saudi Arabia had before the meteoric increase in oil prices. It certainly would have dwarfed that of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Before the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000, under Palestinian Authority rule, the GDP per capita had fallen to about $1,300. Since then it has only declined further." [refer to "European Funding of Palestinian Institutions," Issue Brief,

"I am often asked whether I do this because in some way I have a remote Jewish family background. I explain that I have none. So people ask me: 'What is in it for you and your colleagues?' I answer that the only thing in it for us is the Lord's blessing, which says in the Scriptures: 'Who blesses you [Israel] will be blessed.' That is the sole reason why we struggle side by side against the evil forces that threaten the Jewish people."

Interviewed by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Palestinian unity govt won't recognise Israel

From ABC News online, Tuesday, November 14, 2006. 11:06pm (AEDT) ...

Ruling Islamic militant group Hamas says a planned Palestinian unity government would not recognise Israel or accept a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

The stance could undercut Palestinian efforts to ease an eight-month-old western economic boycott by forming a unity Cabinet more acceptable to Israel and the United States. The US, the European Union (EU), Russia and the United Nations imposed the boycott to pressure Hamas, which took control of the Palestinian Authority in March, to
  • recognise Israel's right to exist,
  • renounce violence and
  • accept existing peace deals.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says the program of the proposed unity government between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction will reject some of those demands. "We reject the two-state solution, which is the vision of US President George Bush, because it represents a clear recognition of Israel," Mr Barhoum said. "Our position in this regard remains unchanged. We reject joining in any government that recognises Israel." ....


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Official PA anti-Semitism

From Palestinian Media Watch, Nov. 1, 2006, by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook ...

The official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published a vicious anti-Semitic article last week that included many of the classic anti-Semitic libels and modern "updates":
  • Jews start wars, including the war in Iraq, to promote Jews' power and control
  • Jews are the dominant force in United States policy
  • Jews control international finance
  • Jews control international media

In the article, Muhammad Khalifa, columnist from the United Arab Emirates, argues that the US is planning to control all of the world's countries from a single central government in New York. The Jews, who dominate or control every key element in the US, including the stock market, the media and international finance, have used their "custom" of starting international wars to cement this US control.

The Jews, says Khalifa, started the war in Iraq as the first step to "force the other Arab nations to voluntarily surrender to their will." But this tactic will ultimately fail, lead to World War III and be the end of Western culture.

It is important to note that Al Hayat-Al Jadida is controlled not by the Hamas government but by the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Follow the link to read the full PMW posting. The conclusion (translated) is quoted here verbatim....

...."In conclusion, the role of the Jews in bolstering the inclination to evil, and fuelling its fire, and provoking wars, such as the war against Iraq, will inevitably cause the downfall of the American military power. When this power falls, it will mean the end of Western civilization, and the beginning of World War III which will erase everything and leave nothing behind, resulting in the end of the American empire as a superpower."Al Hayat Al Jadida, October 23, 2006

Hamas official: Shabir accepted PM post

From Ynet News, 13/11/06, by Associated Press ...

US-educated professor with ties to both Hamas, rival Fatah is leading candidate for Palestinian prime minister in emerging unity government. Hamas official says Shabir accepted post

.... Shabir did not deny he was being considered, but said he has not been officially designated. Shabir, who has a doctorate in microbiology from West Virginia University, is considered to be close to Hamas but not an active supporter. A Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement, said Shabir had accepted the post. Shabir was not available for comment.

Respected economist Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, is being considered for the post of finance minister, a job he held until the Hamas-led government took office early this year.

....Hamas and Fatah hope that Shabir and Fayyad will be acceptable to the international community and help persuade the West to lift economic sanctions on the Hamas-led government. Israel and Western donor nations have demanded that Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.

...Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, spokeswoman of the US Consulate in Jerusalem, declined to say whether Shabir - and the rest of the next Palestinian Cabinet - would be acceptable to the US. "When they're announced, we'll be looking not only at who they are but what their program platform is," She said.

...In Brussels, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner hinted at flexibility. "If a new government is formed, we need to be firm on the principles, but we must be flexible about the form in which the commitments are expressed," Ferrero-Waldner said. "I very much hope that we still can see a government which takes positions which allow us to re-engage."

The leading candidate for the third key post, foreign minister, is Ziad Abu Amr, an independent lawmaker with ties to both factions, officials close to the talks said. Abu Amr has mediated between Hamas and Fatah in the past. The post is currently being held by a Hamas hard-liner, Mahmoud Zahar.

..... Shabir rarely spoke in public about Israel , and his views on the conflict with the Jewish state are largely unknown.

.....The international boycott has made it largely impossible for Hamas to pay its 165,000 civil servants, causing widespread hardship in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

....Israel, the US and other Western countries have demanded that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing peace deals as conditions for lifting the sanctions. Until now, Hamas has rejected the conditions, and officials involved in the unity talks said the new government would be vague on the three principles.

Al-Jazeera English launch

From The Australian, November 14, 2006, by The Times [emphasis added]...

LONDON: Al-Jazeera... will launch its ... English-language channel tomorrow in the hope of tipping the balance of the international news agenda [no prizes for guessing in which direction they hope to "tip the balance"].

Based in Qatar and funded by the country's Emir, al-Jazeera International has poached journalists such as David Frost, Rageh Omar and BBC newsreader Darren Jordon.

Its goal is to become a respected and impartial provider of news and to act as an alternative to the US and European media. It will employ 250 journalists of 47 nationalities.
Managing director Nigel Parsons promised a different sort of news agenda. "When our rivals covered the verdict of the Saddam trial, they went back to London and Washington for the reaction of Middle East experts. Our experts are Arabs in the Middle East," he said.

Jordon, who will be a news anchor based in Doha, said it was exciting to work with people from a range of cultures. His former employer, the BBC, was once described as "hideously white" by its former director-general Greg Dyke.

The channel was expected to be on the air a year ago, but has been dogged by repeated delays. It will be one of the few channels to broadcast in high definition and will run an around-the-clock news service from four main bureaus, in Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London and Washington.
But it will battle to overcome the reputation of its 10-year-old Arabic sister network, best known for broadcasting recorded tapes from al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden.

The Arab network has had bureaus in Kabul and Baghdad attacked in military action since September 11.

Like the BBC, it intends to be sparing in its use of the word terrorism. The channel also promises to be circumspect about transmitting any tapes purporting to be from bin Laden and about use of the term "suicide bomber".

....The Arabic and English operations will share bureaus, video and staff, creating an opportunity for cultural crossover between the two stations.

The channel has quickly won acceptance in Europe, where it will be available in more than 40 million homes. It is thought British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be one of Frost's first guests on the al-Jazeera sofa.

However, despite attempts to cultivate the White House, Congress and US broadcasters, the channel is struggling to get mass distribution in the US.

Monday, November 13, 2006

2007 will be uncomfortable for Israel

From Ynet News, 12/11/06: an Opinion by Eitan Haber ....

... 2007 is approaching and it will probably be a critical year for the State of Israel ....

...The US will end its hegemony in this part of the world and although Russia is still not a potential heir, a successor has been found in the form of radical Islam and Iran. Perhaps even Syria would tag along and with it hundreds of millions of extremists throughout the Arab world.

...The recent mid-term elections have clearly indicated that this is the will of the American people. In effect, the US is fleeing Iraq, and the obvious conclusion reached from such a move is that the US has lost its military capability in the Middle East.

On top of the world
The Arabs, in broad general terms, no longer fear the US and view themselves as the victors in the war against the "great Satan" represented by Bush, Rumsfeld and "Condi." In their view this image is a reflection of what transpired even before the Americans' flight from Iraq: Israel's defeat – as they see it – in the second Lebanon war.

In other words, there is no longer anyone to fear, and they, the extreme Muslims, are on the path to global success. They are on top of the world.
If such a situation, heaven forbid, presents itself, it would have immediate ramifications on everything around us: Neighboring Arab states deemed "moderate" would join forces to protect their regimes and their leaderships against the radical tsunami.

Turkey, our strategic neighbor, would fear aspirations for independence by millions of Kurds who live amongst them and by the Shiites close to their borders, and will ask us politely to keep our distance. The Americans would make every effort to appease rising Islam and we'll end up waking "to the dawn of a new day," further away than ever from Washington's eyes and heart.
The next US president, whoever he or she may be, would have to maintain America's friendship with Israel but would also seek a close relationship with the Arabs.

Of course, this grim state of affairs could be totally reversed as a result of an unforeseen incident – however, if the world doesn't turn upside down, 2007 is likely to be a very uncomfortable year for us.

And if this is what's to be expected, the Israeli government's only conclusion must be to make every effort to calm the flames in the region, to hold the hands of the moderate Arab states, and to rack its brains in an attempt to find a solution vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the Syrians and the Lebanese people. It must do everything in its power to create a defensive shield against the militant Islam that is devouring the world in flames.

In such an event, the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Golan Heights would have to pay dearly, as hinted by Ehud Olmert last week. "Abu Mazen (PA leader Mahmoud Abbas) will be surprised to find out how far I would be willing to go."

Of course, on the other end we still have the ancient recipe of putting our trust in God, but bitter experience has taught us that recently God needs some reinforcements.

Propaganda Worthy of the Third Reich

From a World Politics Watch Exclusive, 09 Nov 2006, by Bridget Johnson ...

It's been no secret that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aims to turn anti-Semitism into an art form. And it was no surprise -- though still sickening -- when Iran launched a Holocaust cartoon contest in response to Muhammad caricatures published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

As some angry Muslims torched Danish embassies and demanded the heads of the Danish cartoonists, Iran sought to turn the tables on the "intolerant" West with the Holocaust contest, challenging the West to stomach religious offense with the mocking of six million Jewish deaths. (Deaths which, according to Ahmadinejad, are part of some elaborately constructed myth to support the establishment and continuance of the Jewish state.)

...Moroccan cartoonist Abdellah Derkaoui won a first-place prize of $12,000 for mocking the "alleged historical event" -- as was written in the official contest rules -- with a cartoon depicting an image of Auschwitz on a barrier being constructed by an Israeli crane through Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock in the background.Some interpreted the winning cartoon as a comparison of Israel's wall-building to the Nazis killing Jews in concentration camps. Some suggested that Derkaoui violated a theme of Holocaust denial by showing the tracks leading to the infamous Auschwitz gate in the first place. Others stated that the cartoon meant that the Holocaust was being used to shield Israelis from allegations of Palestinian human-rights abuses.My first reaction and interpretation of the cartoon was as a threat: If Israelis dare encroach upon the Dome of the Rock and keep Jerusalem, they will be sealing a Holocaust-like fate.

"The cynical motivation behind the cartoon 'contest' was underscored by the fact that the winning entry incorporates the Auschwitz death camp," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "So even as they deny the Holocaust, Iran's propaganda machine uses the imagery of the Shoah to demonize the Jewish state."

....another contest entry submitted by Derkaoui and displayed in an online gallery shows an open book emblazoned with a picture of Holocaust victims -- with an Israeli soldier wielding an ax dripping blood over a pile of Arab bodies behind the book....

...Actually, we will continue (the contest) until the destruction of Israel," exhibit curator Masoud Shojai was quoted as saying by wire agencies.

What's especially notable is not so much that Iran encourages anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, but that so many cartoonists around the world jumped on the bandwagon, including self-designated American progressives Mike Flugennock, an editor of DC Indymedia, and David Baldinger, cartoonist for the communist publication People's Weekly World. More than 1,100 entries from 62 countries were received, and 204 finalists were put on display. Large numbers of entrants were seen from Brazil, China, Cuba, India and Russia, in addition to the entrants from traditional Muslim countries.

One of the second-place cartoons -- by a French artist identified only as A-Chard -- shows a cutout of a gas chamber tipped to the ground, with "myth of the gas chambers" written on the bottom. "Who put it on the ground?" asks a Hasidic Jew. "Faurisson," responds a rabbi, apparently referring to Robert Faurisson, a literature professor at the University of Lyon and Holocaust denier.

The third-place cartoon by Iranian Shahram Rezai shows Israeli soldiers grinning as they lay blood-stained paper dolls in an open grave. An honorable mention by Maziyar Bizhani of Iran shows a swastika-shaped building with an entrance at the end of one arm reading "Holocaust museum."

Another honored cartoon by Omar-Adnan-Salem-Al-Abdallat of Jordan showed chickens burned because of bird flu concerns and the surviving ones demanding a country of their own like Israel.

Among other entrants, Sriramoju Ganesh of India showed a Star of David-headed beast with huge fangs eating people. Yasin Alkhalil of Syria depicted a wickedly grinning rabbi with a butcher knife looking in the mirror and seeing a reflection of Hitler. Galym Boranbayev of Kasakhstan drew two Arabs hanging by the neck from a Hasidic Jew's locks. Mehmet Kahramav of Turkey drew an Arab impaled by a Star of David. A cartoon of an ax by Alireza Nosrati of Iran showed a tiny area on the back bloodied, bearing a swastika, while the large blade in the front was dripping with tons of blood and bore a Star of David. Slobodan Trifkovic of Serbia showed the swastika being reformed into a Star of David.

.....Yosef Lapid, chairman of the council of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, said, "The exhibit not only is horrific propaganda that supports Holocaust denial, it also paves the road to justifying genocide of the Jews in Israel."

And the cartoon contest shows that such justification is not just the domain of Iran and its mad mullahs, but an international propaganda effort that would make the Nazis proud, masquerading as legitimate Middle East discourse.

Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.

Shia exits imperil Lebanon peace

From The Australian, November 13, 2006 ....

BEIRUT: The prospect of renewed chaos loomed over Lebanon at the weekend after the Hezbollah movement and its Shia allies quit the Government, plunging the country into a political crisis that could quickly spill into the streets.

The resignations of all five Shia ministers - two from Hezbollah, two from the Amal movement and one independent - from the cabinet of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora were announced hours after the collapse of high-stakes talks aimed at soothing rising sectarian tensions in the wake of the devastating war with Israel last northern summer.

It also coincided with the finalisation of a draft UN resolution that will establish an international tribunal to investigate those responsible for the death of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination in February last year was widely blamed on Syria. Lebanon's cabinet is due to meet today to approve the draft.

....According to cabinet rules, eight ministers would need to resign to topple the Government.

....In a toughly worded warning late last month, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he would order his followers to take to the streets to force change unless negotiations delivered progress by today on his demand that Hezbollah and its allies should be given a third of the seats in the 24-member cabinet, enough to give them veto rights.

The threat drew a swift response from the White House, which accused Hezbollah allies Syria and Iran of "preparing plans to topple Lebanon's democratically elected Government" and warned them to keep their "hands off" Lebanon.

The anti-Syrian alliance that dominates the Government, comprising representatives of the Sunni, Christian and Druze communities, rejected Hezbollah's demand. Instead, they offered a compromise under which the cabinet would be expanded to give more seats to Hezbollah's allies but not enough to give the pro-Syrian bloc veto rights....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gunner's nightmare

From Jerusalem Post, November 8, by Steve Linde ....

...In response to Kassam rocket attacks on southern Israel following the IDF withdrawal from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun on Monday, gunners were ordered to "fire at the source" - the spots from which the rockets were launched. And they did, firing a dozen or so shells. .... The Palestinian terrorists firing at civilian targets in Ashkelon, Sderot and other communities in the western Negev must know that the IDF can and will retaliate, and respond swiftly and strongly.

....There's a key difference between the Hamas and Hizbullah fighters and Israel's. They intentionally fire rockets at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage. We don't. The artillery troops who fired shells at Beit Hanun yesterday weren't hoping to hit civilians. They were targeting terrorists firing rockets. A CNN interviewer asked the prime minister's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, for her response to suggestions that Israel was using "a sledgehammer to crack a nut." Eisin, like other Israeli spokespeople, was very apologetic for the "tragic mistake." And rightly so.

But what does the international community expect Israel to do if it is hit daily by ...rockets? Ignore them? Make our own? Fire our artillery pieces more inaccurately? ...

... Of course, the army now will carry out a thorough investigation of the tragic incident, and the necessary lessons will be learned and taught to future generations of artillery men.

But the basic lesson is this: War is a dangerous game, and once you start firing rockets or guns, people will get hurt, and not always the people you plan to hurt. That's the sad fact, in a nutshell, and no one feels good about it.

The writer, managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, served for 15 years in the IDF artillery.