Friday, February 16, 2007

AIJAC statement on comments attributed to Professor Raphael Israeli

From an Australia / Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Media Release, Friday, February 16, 2007.....

MELBOURNE - The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today rejected comments [attributed to] visiting Israeli Professor Raphael Israeli in today's Australian Jewish News and Fairfax newspapers which appear to single out the growth of Muslim minorities as inherently dangerous.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein stated, "AIJAC strongly rejects and condemns the policy implications ... drawn in published comments attributed to him.

"I am pleased to see that Professor Israeli has clarified that, contrary to the Jewish News report, he was not calling for limits or quotas on Muslim immigration to Australia. AIJAC will always be committed to a non-discriminatory immigration policy, and is strongly opposed to quotas, targets, or restrictions on immigration based on either religion or ethnicity, including any such policies directed against Muslims."

Dr. Rubenstein continued, "AIJAC is very concerned by ... implication[s] that the Muslim community as a whole is a threat or danger....

Islamist extremism is a genuine and serious global problem, but it is completely wrong to single out all Muslims for suspicion or negatively stereotype the Muslim community as a whole in this way.

"AIJAC also disagrees with [the] implication in the Jewish News that multiculturalism is a contributing factor to Islamist extremism in Australia. AIJAC believes that a properly implemented policy of Australian multiculturalism, which incorporates both rights and the responsibility to uphold the core values of Australian society, remains an important part of the strategy to counter problems related to political extremism, and is not their cause.".....

Hicks is no ordinary felon

From The Australian, February 16, 2007, by Jeremy Rabkin, a professor of constitutional law at Cornell University in New York state ....

David Hicks should not be returned to Australia for trial before a regular criminal court

....Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, fighting alongside Taliban forces. He has been held at the Guantanamo detention centre since 2002. After many delays, Hicks is scheduled for trial before a US military commission in the coming weeks. Critics in Australia say the trial won't be fair. Therefore, they urge, Hicks should be returned to Australia for trial before a regular criminal court.

The case presents a great many technical questions deserving the attention of legal specialists. But the idea that there is some monstrous injustice here is a fantasy of demagogues who always depict US policy in the worst possible light. To quote our mate Howard, that sort of talk must be pleasing to al-Qa'ida.

If Hicks had been treated as an ordinary prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions, he would still be in a prisoner-of-war camp. Taliban insurgents are still fighting the new Government in Afghanistan, despite the efforts of Australian, British and US troops to suppress them. There's no novelty or injustice in continuing to hold PoWs while the war continues.

True, the US Government doesn't now acknowledge that the full protections of the Geneva Conventions apply in this setting. By its own express terms, the Geneva Conventions cover regular armed forces and other organised combatants who openly identify themselves as such, remain subject to military discipline and honour the laws of war in their own operation. No one seriously claims that these criteria apply to the Taliban guerillas.

Still, the International Red Cross has been allowed ready access to the Guantanamo detention camp, along with many other outside observers. Despite rumours and slogans, no patterns of serious abuse there have been documented. Compromises with full Geneva protections seem to involve rather special policy questions, such as the extent to which prisoners can be separated from each other to facilitate effective interrogations.

The trial now proposed for Hicks is not to determine whether he can be treated as a PoW but whether he should be separately punished as a war criminal. It's true the military commission won't be bound by all the safeguards observed in domestic criminal trials. That does not mean the trial by military commission is improper.

....The serious questions here are inevitably rather technical. Would it be improper, for example, to judge Hicks based on evidence that might not be allowed in a civilian court, because it came from a witness whose identity was not fully disclosed to the defendant, or it consisted of a witness describing what he had been told by an eyewitness rather than what he had seen himself? Security considerations and distance make it impractical to honour all the safeguards of normal trials. The question is which compromises may go too far.

A reasonable answer is that we ought to see how an actual trial works out under the proposed rules rather than harping on speculative objections based on hypothetical possibilities of abuse. The military commission is not meant to be a model for all times but an accommodation to special circumstances.

Before critics get too worked up, they might recall that the problems here are not unique to US military trials. Compromises with normal procedure have characterised international war crimes trials, too, starting with the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals in 1946, where, among other things, defendants were made to answer for some crimes only defined as such in retrospect. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has, on several occasions, protected witnesses by shielding their identities from defendants.

....Ordinary courts are not well designed to cope with the special challenge posed by terrorists and war criminals. Whatever else one wants to conclude about Hicks, he is not an ordinary felon.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Iran behind deadly bombs

From Times Online, February 11, 2007 by Times Online, and AP in Baghdad ...

The United States military says it has detected a significant increase in sophisticated roadside bombs in Iraq and believes that orders to send components for them came from the “highest levels” of the Iranian goverment, a senior intelligence officer said today.

The officer, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said that that between June 2004 and last week, more than 170 Americans had been killed by the bombs, referred to by the military as “explosively formed projectiles" (EFPs) and capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

The officer said American intelligence analysts believe the EFPs are manufactured in Iran and smuggled into Iraq on orders from the top of the Iranian government. American officials have long claimed that weapons were entering Iraq from Iran but had stopped short of alleging involvement by top Iranian leaders.

The US officer said Iran was working through “multiple surrogates”, mainly “rogue elements” of the Shia Mahdi Army, to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering the country at crossing points near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran and the Basra area of southern Iraq.

American authorities had briefed Iraq’s Shia-led government on Iran’s involvement and Iraqi officials had asked the Iranians to stop, the officer said. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia, has said he told both America and Iran that he does not want his country turned into a proxy battlefield.

...During the briefing, the officer said that one of the six Iranians detained in January in the northern city of Irbil was the operational commander of the Quds Brigade, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that trains and equips Shia militants abroad. He was identified as Mohsin Chizari, who was apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a ten-month absence, the officer said. The Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down a lavatory, the American officer said. They had also tried to change their appearance because bags of their hair were found during the raid, he added....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mobilize now, save the world

THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 11, 2007, by Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center....

Just over three years ago, at the first-ever global forum on anti-Semitism organized by the State of Israel, the essential task was to define the beast - the new anti-Semitism. Since then, as the fourth such global gathering meets this week, efforts to incorporate the "three-D" distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and the new anti-Semitism - demonization, double standards and delegitimization - have become part of international documents and discourse.

These and other accomplishments, as important as they are, have been dwarfed by the quantum leap anti-Semitism itself has taken. It has leapfrogged from isolated attacks against Jews to incitement to genocide - the actual elimination of the Jewish state.

This shift has come in the form of a pincer movement. On one side, we have the Iranian regime, which is denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" while racing to develop the physical means of doing so. On the other side, we have what is, in effect, international silence in response, coupled with growing willingness to discuss Israel's existence as a mistake, an anachronism, or a provocation.

We must recognize the fact that ... the idea of a world without Israel is more acceptable in polite company, the media and academia today than Hitler's expressed goal of a Europe without Jews was in 1939.

Given this situation, it should be clear that we are beyond the stage of definitions. The Jewish world now must mobilize at a level no less than during the struggles to establish the State of Israel and to free Soviet Jewry. It is this latter struggle that presents the most potent model for action today.

Though both sides of the genocidal pincer are in quite advanced stages of development, the Jewish world remains mired in pre-mobilization debates reminiscent of the early stages of the Soviet Jewry struggle in the 1960s. ... a debate raged among Jews over whether a campaign to free Soviet Jewry was "too parochial," and whether being out front risked making it too much of a "Jewish issue."

BEFORE THESE internal debates were resolved the Soviet Jewry effort could not be regarded as a movement, capable of attracting allies and moving governments. Nor were such debates easily, or ever fully, put to rest.

As late as 1987, when the by then mature and powerful movement organized the largest-ever Soviet Jewry rally on Washington's mall to coincide with Mikhail Gorbachev's visit, some Jewish leaders wondered if the community could be mobilized, and if such a rally would be counterproductive. They warned that only a few thousand souls would brave the winter weather, and that the Jewish community would be considered "warmongers" who were spoiling the recent warming of US-Soviet relations. In actuality, over 250,000 people came to a rally that was pivotal in opening the floodgates, not just to 10,000 or 20,000 Jews, which seemed like a dream at the time, but to a million Jews who came to Israel over the following decade.

Since it has been a while, a reminder is in order of what full mobilization looks like.

First, as Shlomo Avineri has recently proposed, Iranian officials should get the Soviet treatment. Just as no Soviet official, including sport and cultural delegations, could travel without being accosted by protests and hostile questions, so it should be with anyone representing the Iranian regime. As in the Soviet case, such protests will not themselves change Iranian behavior, but they are critical to creating a climate that will influence the policies of Western governments.

Second, an inventory of the governments and companies that provide Iran with refined oil, huge trade deals, and even military and nuclear assistance should be taken and public pressure be put on them to end their complicity with a regime that is racing to genocide.

Third, the pension funds of US states should be divested from all companies that trade with or invest in Iran. This divestment campaign must be pursued without apologies or hesitation.

Fourth, every country that is party to the Genocide Convention should be called upon to fulfill its obligation under that treaty and seek an indictment of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the charge of incitement to genocide, which is a "punishable offense" under Article III of that treaty.

Fifth, human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are heavily nourished by Jewish values, passion and funding, must stop squeezing both sides of the genocidal pincer. These groups must be challenged, on the one hand, to press for enforcement of the Genocide Treaty, to stand up for human rights in Iran, and to oppose and expose Iranian support for terrorism. On the other, they must stop perverting the sacred cause of human rights into a cudgel in Iran's hands against Israel. This happened just months ago when, during the Lebanon war, such groups all but ignored Hizbullah's terrorism from behind human shields and called Israel's self-defense a "war crime."

JUST AS the two sides of the pincer themselves are connected, so too must be the efforts to combat them. All the above steps concern the Iranian side of the pincer. But combating the other side, the denial of Israel's right to exist, is no less critical - and more difficult, since at times they necessitate confronting, not a rogue regime, but our own cherished institutions. On this front:

First, universities that provide chairs for professors who campaign against Israel's right to exist should be boycotted. In a number of countries, denying the Holocaust is a criminal act. In the current context, denying Israel's right to exist lays the groundwork for a second holocaust even more directly than does denying history. Therefore, the promulgation of such an ideology should be fought even by societies that justifiably revere freedom of speech. This may seem a hopelessly difficult task, but it is not. After 9/11, one woman, a student, took on Harvard University, which was ready to accept a $10 million "gift" from a Saudi sheikh. Harvard backed down, showing that moral clarity, unapologetically and passionately expressed, can change seemingly unassailable ideas. We must stand for a basic principle: If denying the Holocaust can land a professor in jail, denying Israel should not land him tenure.

Second, support for Israel must be demonstrated. Two decades after the massive Soviet Jewry rally of 1987, we need to return to the Mall on Israel's Independence Day in May with two messages: Support Israel and Stop Iran. It is late, but not too late, to overcome those fears of being "too parochial" that the Soviet Jewry movement succeeded in dispelling more than 30 years ago.

The fight to support Israel and stop Iran now is, if anything, less "parochial" than the Soviet Jewry movement was then. Then, the Jewish world took on a global superpower, the Soviet Union, and confronted the reigning American foreign policy paradigm - detente - with a very different one: linkage of trade to human rights.

Then, we successfully argued that the freedom to emigrate was not just a Jewish concern, but a universal one, and we were more right than we knew. The Jackson-Vanik amendment and the Helsinki Accords were critical factors in triggering the internal collapse of the Soviet empire. This collapse not only freed millions of Jews, but all the peoples behind the Iron Curtain, and ended a half-century-old superpower stalemate that threatened the entire planet.

NOW THE WORLD stands at a no less fateful watershed. The world's most dangerous rogue regime is on the verge of obtaining the ultimate weapons of terror. Already, Iran's confidence that it will not be stopped has led to one war, last summer's war in Lebanon started by Hizbullah. Already, Iran is fueling conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza - and all this before the regime enjoys its own full, declared nuclear umbrella.

The moment before mobilization is always a lonely one, in which it seems that the obstacles to making a cause universal are insurmountable. Yet, as in the case of the Soviet Jewry movement, we are not alone. We are surrounded by potential allies who may not themselves know they are ready to join us until we create a movement for them to join.

Our leadership will give others the opportunity to act. If the Jewish world does not lead the way, who will? It is as true now as it was then; if we build it, they will come.A decade after the wave of democracy that came with the fall of the Soviet Union, an Iranian-led wave of terror is rising that will not stop until it is stopped. Ultimately, we overcame our fear of parochialism to stand up for Soviet Jewry, and left the world a much better place for it. Now we must do the same to prevent a second holocaust, and in the process save the world.

Hamas must choose between Iran and Saudi Arabia

From an editorial by Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times (Kuwait), 8/2/07 ....

...Hamas should understand one important fact: it cannot establish cordial relations with the people of Palestine through Khalid Mishaal who recently claimed ties with Iran and Syria are essential. It is obvious Tehran and Damascus are worried about only their interests.

The fight between the two Palestinian factions will go on forever unless it is contained by Saudi Arabia. If Hamas decides to serve its own interests in association with Syria and Iran...then we can kiss the Palestinian cause goodbye. All peace treaties signed in the past and international efforts to solve the problem will go waste. The ball is in the court of Hamas. It can either act as a true Palestinian movement or be an agent of Iran and Syria. We wonder what it is going to be.

Riyadh Aims to Replace Tehran as Hamas Backer

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis February 11, 2007, 4:06 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

... in Mecca last week.... Israel was shouldered off the stage as a player in Palestinian politics, as was any hope of moderating the Palestinian anti-Israel war, a breakthrough to peace talks – or even a form of long-term coexistence.

... the Saudi monarch had quite different fish to fry: the replacement of Tehran as Hamas’ senior financier and backer. To this end, he dictated a reshuffle in both rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah.

The Damascus-based hard-line Khaled Meshaal, who had signed a pact with Tehran, was demoted, as was the second signatory of the Palestinian reconciliation package, the moderate, pro-Western Mahmoud Abbas. Raised in their place was prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’ political wing. Abbas’ ally, Gaza Strip Fatah commander Muhammad Dahlan, can expect a senior post in the Hamas-led government. Another winner is his business partner, the Palestinian-Kurdish tycoon Muhammad Rashid, who has turned his coat at least twice in two weeks while jostling to regain the influence he enjoyed behind the shoulder of the late Yasser Arafat who died in 2004.

... Ismail Haniya’s rise to the top of the Hamas tree was plotted during his visit to Riyadh in the second half of January. His audience with the king went on then for three hours, an unusual length for Abdullah’s conversations with foreign leaders. It sufficed for a secret deal to be concluded laying down the elements of cooperation between the Saudi government and Hamas political leaders in Gaza and effacing the effects of the US-led international boycott of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian government. ...The Saudi king and the Hamas prime minister agreed on a six-point plan for subsequent incorporation as the core of the Mecca accord:
1. A shared interest in weakening Israel and active collaboration to achieve this goal;
2. This collaboration is based on personal trust between Abdullah and Haniyeh. As middlemen, they appointed Saudi intelligence chief Prince Moqrin bin Abdulaziz and the Palestinian Muhammed Rashid; DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report the Saudi monarch sent his private plane to Libya Tuesday, Feb. 7, to fly Rashid first to Medina then to Mecca as his unofficial royal envoy to the Palestinian summit. Rashid’s role in obtaining the signed accord was crucial, elevating to him to a high albeit unofficial position of influence in the Saudi royal court and in Palestinian affairs;
3. The Saudi throne endorsed Ismail Haniya as Palestinian prime minister on condition that he introduced members of the Fatah young guard, led by Dahlan, to key government positions. This group of factions, which includes the suicidal al Aqsa Suicide Brigades, aspires to take Fatah over from the veteran leaders including Mahmoud Abbas;
4. King Abdullah personally guaranteed full Saudi diplomatic, military and financial support for the Hamas-led Palestinian government;
5. Hamas government members would not be required to recognize Israel or previous peace agreements. No mention was made of violence against Israel or the renunciation thereof;
6. The most pressing goal in Riyadh’s sights was Haniyeh’s personal guarantee to scale down in stages the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Hamas ranks with a view to banishing both from the Gaza Strip. Prince Moqrin is in charge of the quiet understandings accompanying this point of agreement, which also contains a Saudi pledge to take the place of Shiite Tehran and Hizballah by paying for all the weapons and military instructors the Palestinian group needs.

Riyadh thus reverted to its original role as the founder and banker of Hamas, which the Saudis created in the 80s as a Sunni counterweight to the Shiite Hizballah.

It is not at all sure that Haniyeh will be capable of living up to his six-point deal with the Saudi king or whether Meshaal will let him. Haniyeh leads Hamas’ political wing, but Meshaal, who was shunted aside in Mecca, is the master of the military wing. He is capable of ordering Hamas gunmen to challenge Haniyeh and thwart the deal’s execution. This would set off a fresh round of Palestinian factional warfare, which Meshaal and Abbas solemnly vowed in Mecca to halt.

...No reaction has been forthcoming from Washington to the foursquare financial, military and intelligence backing Saudi Arabia has granted the extremist, jihadist Hamas, with no strings attached. The heads of Israel’s government have clearly not yet digested the fact that an Arab power which its policy-makers had counted on as a moderating, pro-Western Arab force had proved to be the opposite of this....

Be strong and of good courage

From Jerusalem Post February 11, 2007, by Isi Leibler ....

.....Today, one only has to open a newspaper to be confronted with depressing articles predicting gloom and doom for the Jewish future, notably in Europe. They include a chilling common theme: For the first time in 60 years the world is once again being inundated with shrill accusations that Zionists/Jews (they are interchangeable) represent evil incarnate and, like a cancer, must be excised.

In addition to these Nazi-like genocidal threats, Israel is facing a renewed existential danger.
It is noteworthy that virtually every catastrophe in Jewish history was preceded by periods of intensive demonization. It happened before the Crusades, the exile from Spain, pogroms in Eastern Europe and also preceded the Nazi Final Solution. It is happening again today. As in the Middle Ages, Jews are being accused of poisoning wells, spreading plague and being culpable for all the woes facing humanity.

The difference now is that Israel has become the "Jew among the nations" - a new target of anti-Semites. The Jewish state is no longer merely demonized. There are increasing calls even from some Western liberals for Israel to be dissolved as a failed venture. It is bizarre that, aside from the United States, much of the world - in particular, enlightened Europe - against all logic views Israel as a prime source of evil, posing a greater threat to peace than even rogue states like Iran or North Korea.

EUROPEAN Jews courageous enough to face the truth feel they have been catapulted back in time to the 1930s. But today even many of their former liberal allies have forsaken them. In such a hostile, anti-Jewish environment they doubt whether Europe can provide a future for their children as Jews.

The frenzied hatred and delegitimization of Israel even unites traditionally opposing groups. Substantial numbers of Christians and Muslims, leftists and liberals, right-wingers and skinheads, Shi'ites and Sunnis - and, alas, even an ever-increasing number of misguided Jews - march together with the mad mullahs, demonizing Israel under the banner of "We are all Hizbullah."

There are even targets of Islamist terror who complain that if only Israel had not been created they would not now be confronted by "desperate Muslims."

On top of all this, there is now also the looming threat from the crazed Iranian fanatics bent on obtaining nuclear weapons. They exploit the poisonous atmosphere in order to create the rationale for our destruction. Our newspapers publish essays warning of a second Holocaust.

...There is a need to emphasize that we are no longer helpless, homeless or powerless. Despite the bungling of the Lebanon war, the State of Israel still possesses one of the most powerful armies in the world and is capable of defeating all its neighbors individually or collectively. We have the resources, we have the people, and we have the military deterrent.

In addition, no Diaspora Jewish community has ever been more powerful and affluent than that of America today.

... our principal effort must be to reinstate the genuine narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict and reverse the prevailing image of Israel as a rogue state.

In recent months there has been an ominous deterioration in our international position. Mounting numbers of misguided Jews on the fringe are supporting the dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state. In turn, the liberal media has increasingly been providing an aura of respectability for such views.... if the dismantlement of Israel becomes accepted as a respectable viewpoint by the liberal chattering classes, the warning bells should be ringing.

IN THE UK matters are even worse. There, the Anglo-Jewish establishment, represented by the Board of Deputies, stands silently by while the country's sole Jewish think tank and research body, the Jewish Policy Research Institute, continues to be directed by Antony Lerman, who "in his personal capacity" publicly endorsed the dissolution of the Jewish state and the right of return for Arab refugees. Not surprisingly, British Jews are having difficulty trying to convince the public that calls by our enemies for the dismantlement of the Jewish state cross the line. What can one expect when the head of Anglo Jewry's think tank endorses the same obscene formula?

...The other challenge will be to intensify the campaign to isolate Iran. Our primary objective must be to convince the world that the threat from a nuclear Iran is not exclusively directed against Israel, and that, unchecked, the mad mullahs could inflict a global catastrophe.
Iran is no superpower. Instead of wailing and promoting despair, we must make it clear that Israelis will not be intimidated. While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a few crazy imams may genuinely be willing to enter paradise prematurely in order to annihilate Israel, the vast majority of Iranians do not wish to join them.

The time has come to restate the Begin Doctrine, loudly and clearly: Any country directly or indirectly threatening to employ nuclear weapons against us will discover that our response will be utterly devastating.

History will surely condemn our generation if we fail to act now. It is certainly not too late to neutralize the intensive global hatred that threatens to engulf us.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish leader.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Iran sends shoulder-borne QW-1 anti-air missiles to Iraqi Sunni insurgents and Hizballah to shoot down US and Israeli helicopters

From DEBKAfile February 9, 2007, 10:30 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

Tehran has begun supplying Iraqi insurgents and Lebanese Hizballah forces with home-made QW-1 shoulder-carried missiles copied from Chinese anti-air missiles to maximize their threat to US and Israeli helicopters in two battle arenas – Iraq and Lebanon, respectively. Russian-made SA-7 anti-air missiles are also being delivered to these terrorist forces by Iran.

The Iranians aim to disable the US and Israeli helicopter fleets or make them too costly to use in combat.

DEBKAfile’s sources in Tehran and Kurdistan disclose that, last month, two Iranian QW-1 and SA-7 missile consignments reached Iraqi insurgents allied with al Qaeda and one, radical Shiite Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite militia, the Mehdi Army. Israeli sources report the same anti-air weapons were delivered at about the same time to Hizballah units in Lebanon including the south.

Our military sources add that Iran’s arms industry has succeeded in replicating a quality version of the Chinese QW-1 and improved its electronics. It is 1.447meters long and packs 16.5 kilos of explosives. The IDF estimates that the first of these missiles used experimentally by Hizballah caused an Israeli helicopter to explode during take-off near the Litani River in the Lebanon War last summer.

Iranian markings have been erased from the equipment going into Iraq and Lebanon to suggest they were bought on the black market. Dated Soviet-era models of the SA-7 were indeed bought by Iran on Far East black markets and supplied to Iraqi insurgents and also pro-Tehran governors in western Afghanistan. Iran is preparing the ground for a Shiite insurgency against NATO forces there.

According to our sources, all three consignments to Iraq went through the North Iraqi Kurdistani town of Suleimaniya not far from the Iranian border. An Iranian clandestine center operates there like “the liaison center” the Americans raided in another Kurdish town, Irbil, last month. The Suleimaniya center operates with permission from Iraqi’s Kurdish president Jalal Talabani.

They weapons were smuggled in concealed compartments of trucks transporting building materials and iron from Iran for a Kurdish building company. After unloading their legitimate freight, the trucks drove on south up to the regional border where Iraqi insurgents off-loaded the missiles to their vehicles and distributed them to their networks in Baqouba, Ramadi and Tikrit – north of Baghdad and Hilla to the south.

In January, two-man teams of Iraqi insurgents and Hizballah operatives were trained in the use of the new weapons against American and Israeli helicopters as instructors for missile crews in Iraq and Lebanon. One crewman was taught to locate the target and help the second to aim. The training facilities were set up in Kermanshah and Qasr-e Shirin close to the Iraqi border.
Tehran is stepping up its provocations in reprisal for the US president George W. Bush’s directive to US forces to capture or kill Iranian agents, America’s refusal to release the Revolutionary Guards officers captured in Irbil and finally by the seizure last week of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad.

Anti-semites boast about attack on Wiesel

From JPost, Feb. 10, 2007 1:26 By ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN FRANCISCO...

Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel was dragged from an elevator and roughed up, possibly by a Holocaust denier, during a peace conference at a San Francisco hotel last week, police said Friday.

According to San Francisco Police Sgt. Neville Gittens, a man approached Wiesel, the author of Night, a memoir chronicling his time in a concentration camp, in an elevator and requested an interview with the author on the evening of February 1 at the Argent Hotel.

When Wiesel consented to talk in the hotel's lobby, the man insisted it be done in a hotel room and dragged the 78-year-old off the elevator on the sixth floor, Gittens said. The assailant fled after Wiesel began to scream, and Wiesel went to the lobby and called police.

....A posting on a virulent anti-Semitic Web site Tuesday by a person identifying himself as Eric Hunt claimed responsibility. "I had planned to bring Wiesel to my hotel room, where he would truthfully answer my questions ......" Hunt wrote on the site. The poster also said "I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks" and had hoped to get "Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape."

...The anti-Semitic Web site was disabled late Friday. It is registered to Andrew Winkler in North Sydney, Australia.

Abbas aides fan out to sell unity deal

From Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 10, 2007 ...

Palestinian leaders fanned out across the world Saturday in a diplomatic blitz aimed at convincing reticent world leaders to support their hard-won power-sharing deal by lifting economic sanctions on their government.

The envoys may have a hard sell.

Western governments and Israel have given only muted reactions to the agreement signed Thursday by Hamas and Fatah leaders in the holy Saudi city of Mecca. International leaders said they would have to first study the deal and see how it changes the situation on the ground, dashing hopes for a quick end to the sanctions.

Meanwhile, Hamas representatives maintained on Saturday that the group had no intention of formally recognizing Israel. Speaking in Gaza, Ahmed Yosef, spokesperson for Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said the issue was not part of the deliberations in Mecca and would not be become a policy of the new unity government, despite pressure from the United States and the Quartet.

...Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who pushed for a deal for months, is hoping that personal diplomacy with every member of the Quartet will build momentum for his cause to end the embargo imposed on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas' election.

....It was also not clear whether Hamas and Fatah militants, whose running street battles in Gaza have killed over 130 people since May, will abide by the deal.