Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pro-Syria summer camp starts in Golan

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Aug. 2, 2007, by Staff ...

A pro-Syria summer camp for Druse children has started on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, it was reported on Thursday. Syrian flags could be seen in the footage, aired by Channel Two, and children were heard proudly singing the Syrian national anthem.

The kids were seen split into small groups where they expressed their dedication to what they called their "homeland." "Syria will remain free," they chanted. The children spoke of how they aspired to return to Syria and visit their families. They said their "souls" were connected to Syria.

Head of the Druse community in the Golan, Fazi Abu Jabal, said that that the children considered Syria as their country. "It is close to the children's hearts," he said.
In the camp, each tent is named after a different Syrian village captured by Israel.
There were also sections of the summer camp shown draped with Palestinian and Lebanese flags, dedicated to Druse who identified with the two respective causes. "We want to free Arab Palestine," children were heard chanting.

Channel Two reported that the camp's organizers were attempting to raise money to set up similar camps in other Druse areas of the Golan.

'Anti-Israel conference' slammed

From Ynet, 3/8/07, by Yaakov Lappin ....

NGO watchdog: UN summit, hosted by EU Parliament is 'propaganda conference'

A UN conference of non-government organizations (NGOs) called to discuss "civil society in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace" at the end of August has been described by an Israeli NGO watchdog as an "anti-Israel propaganda conference".

The meeting, set to take place at the European Parliament (EP) on August 30 - 31, has been organized by the UN's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which describes itself as "the main UN forum where all NGOs interested in the Palestine issue can meet."

According to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization, the conference and its organizers form "frameworks that promote the conflict," adding that the NGOs involved in the upcoming conference were also active in "implementing the Durban agenda of demonization," - a reference to the 2001 UN Durban conference on racism, which saw unprecedented levels of anti-Zionist rhetoric, and calls for Israel's destruction.

"This year, for the first time, the exercise is gaining the legitimacy of sponsorship by the European Parliament, further highlighting the role that the Europe Union plays in supporting the NGO campaign," NGO Monitor said in its report.

Noting that "the speakers list is (being kept) secret until the conference, highlighting the violation of transparency in the UN and EU," NGO Watch said "past speakers have included radical figures such as... Jamal Juma' Ja'afreh, from the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. Topics include 'the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and civil society response,' and 'Strengthening campaigns to end occupation, including grassroots campaigns against the wall, rallying around Bil'in" (the site of violent attacks organized by NGOs in order to provoke Israeli responses).'"

Speaking to Ynetnews, Professor Gerald Steinberg, Executive Director of NGO Monitor, said: "What is surprising is not the UN involvement in the NGO's demonization of Israel, but that the EU Parliament is providing support and a platform for these fringe groups. This is yet another side of the absurdity of the EU's claim to support peace, whilst simultaneously promoting radical NGOs, like ICAHD, and giving them legitimacy at the EU Parliament." .....

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Palestinian fraud

From Debkafile, 1/8/07 ...

Olmert greets Rice with further concessions for Abbas despite discovery of Palestinian fraud over Israel amnesty

It has come to light, according to our military sources, that the weapons handed in two weeks ago by 168 Fatah-al Aqsa Brigade terrorists in return for immunity from Israel military pursuit were World War I vintage Italian carbines left behind by Turkish troops when they quit the country in 1917 and Mauser rifles from the 1930s. None of the terrorists surrendered their personal side-arms according to their pledge.

The furious demand from Israeli commanders that the government tell the public how it was conned was turned down by prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak. They were deaf to the arguments that the amnestied Palestinian terrorists remain fully armed and able to resume attacks at any time and that Palestinian leaders, who refuse to admit to the fraud, have nothing but contempt for their agreements with Israel.

Nonetheless, DEBKAfile’s Jerusalem sources reveal that Olmert plans to inform US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when they meet Wednesday, Aug. 1, of two new concessions for Abbas’ Fatah regime.
1. Israel will for the first time permit officers of the Palestinian Badr force, which is part of the Jordanian army, to enter the West Bank. Each entrant must be personally cleared by President Bush’s security coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton. Olmert refused Abbas’ request to admit the entire Badr force.
2. Israel will waive special permits for Palestinian officers and men traveling to Egypt and Jordan for military training. DEBKAfile’s sources report that the IDF and Shin Bet are against this concession because it denies them the resource for keeping track of the travelers and leaves them free to build contacts with outside terrorist agents.

Revenues released by Israel are paid to Hamas

From » Middle East » Aug. 1, 2007 by KHALED ABU TOAMEH [my emphasis added - SL]...

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh ...received [a salary payment] from ...Palestinian Authority government of Salaam Fayad....

... Last week the Fayad government [in Samaria] announced that all the legislators would receive their salaries, including those belonging to Hamas's Reform and Change List.

The decision to pay the salaries was taken after Israel released hundreds of millions of shekels of tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA. A PLC member makes from $2,500 to $3,500 a month.....

The looming haredi disaster

From The JPost, by Isi LeiblerAugust 1, 2007 ...

... the erosion of Jewish identity in the curriculum of the dominant secular school system is having disastrous repercussions. In their frenetic zeal to promote universalism, secular educators have diluted Jewish heritage to a minimum. Even the Bible, which once occupied a central place in secular Zionist education, has largely disappeared. Combined with growing hedonism and consumerism this has begun to undermine the faith of some youngsters in the sacred values of the nation. This phenomenon manifests itself in the increasing brain drain of young Israelis emigrating ...[and]...a number of popular entertainers who shamelessly boast of having evaded the draft.

....But regrettably this problem among the secular is now being dwarfed by a more immediate crisis arising from the demographically exploding haredi sector, whose political leverage peaked simultaneously with a failed government willing to virtually sacrifice anything to retain power.
This was evidenced in the passage of recent legislation obligating municipalities to provide equal funding to haredi schools, including those affiliated with movements even more extreme than Shas and Aguda, who brazenly exclude obligatory secular core curriculum subjects. Nobody seems unduly concerned that the state is effectively financing the molding of citizens destined for a life of impoverishment and total dependence on welfare.

Paradoxically, the children of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Western countries are obliged and do take part in secular core curriculum studies prescribed by their governments.

The statistics relating to this problem signal an even more alarming phenomenon. Currently the high haredi birth rates (considered a boon for Israel) have created a situation in which children from haredi families today comprise 22% of all first Israeli first-graders. This is virtually double the proportion which prevailed 10 to 15 years ago. No society in which almost a quarter of its members are destined to become parasitical burdens and impoverish the majority can indefinitely sustain itself.

Never in the history of the Jewish people has such a bizarre situation prevailed. In the past, exceptionally gifted Torah scholars were funded by philanthropists to lead a life of learning. But even in the shtetl, where poverty was endemic, religious Jews accepted earning a livelihood as a prerequisite to their well-being and dignity.

There is an equally frightening parallel to this. In 1948, in what was subsequently proven to be one of his greatest blunders, David Ben-Gurion agreed with Rabbi Avraham Yeshaye Karelitz - known as the Chazon Ish - to exempt all yeshiva students from conscription. At the time only 400 were involved. This year that number - which obviously includes many who could never be considered serious students - has mushroomed to well in excess of 50,000 and will continue to rise.

The Tal Law was introduced with the laudable objective of reducing haredi draft evasion and encouraging participation in the work force. It failed abysmally. Over a four-year period only about 500 yeshiva students were drafted and minimal numbers opted for legal employment. Yet the government once again buried its head in the sand and without weighing the consequences, extended the law for another five years.

But the worst has yet to come. Currently haredim account for 11 percent of draft exemptions. However, unless the system changes, when today's haredi first-graders turn 18, they will comprise nearly a quarter of the entire draft. Should that happen, aside from the additional physical burden on those drafted, the psychological implications for the nation will be devastating. Instead of representing a badge of honor, military service will be regarded as applicable only to hapless freiers or "lower-class people."

What is now a marginal but growing phenomenon among secular elites, celebrity draft-dodging, could become infectious and lead to widespread efforts to evade the draft. That would surely be disastrous for the Zionist vision.

Who is responsible, and what can be done?

...the principal responsibility rests with haredi rabbis and heads of yeshivot. Many of them have yet to reconcile themselves with the obligations of living in a Jewish state. There are no genuine halachic grounds to justify draft evasion. Far from promoting pacifism, Judaism is in fact explicit concerning the obligation to support a righteous war. Maimonides proclaims that even a groom at his wedding banquet is obliged to participate in defense of the nation.

But the primary reason that haredi rabbis so vehemently oppose the draft is a fear of exposing their followers to the outside world. They even have the gall to proclaim that the role of haredim is to "pray for the nation" - a none too subtle attempt to rationalize why non-observant Israelis and religious Zionists (who also pray) should fight and die for them. Their attitude is reminiscent of the ultra-Orthodox European rabbis before the Shoah who urged their followers not to leave Europe. Their attitude today could ultimately bring about an historical disaster of equal magnitude.

The negative attitude toward earning a livelihood is equally bizarre. Our sages from the time of the Mishna consistently upheld the virtues of labor and maintaining a family livelihood.
There is of course a substantial minority of haredim who do earn livelihoods and a number who also serve in the IDF. Some of them initiated efforts to create training centers and colleges for training haredim for employment in the computer and electronics industry. Regrettably, few rabbis encouraged their followers to take advantage of such opportunities.

Moderate religious Zionists, who in the past served as bridges to secular Israelis, should assume a leading role in this matter. Their children all serve in the IDF, are highly motivated and renowned for exemplary conduct and contribute - far out of proportion to their numbers - in combat units and as officers. In leading the campaign, they can demonstrate that far from conflicting with Halacha, army service and contribution to the defense of the nation is a mitzva. They can relate to the haredi Nahal unit, which has performed admirably and provide reassurances that the IDF will ensure that religious observance is respected.

They will avoid the haredi-bashing of bigoted anti-religious parties, like the now-defunct Shinui, and be constructive, even highlighting the positive aspects of haredi life which secular Israelis could emulate. Hopefully they will also gain the support of the hitherto silent haredim who are fully aware of the catastrophe that will inevitably impact on them and the entire nation unless these trends are reversed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Turkish Election - what does it mean?

From GLORIA, July 28, 2007, by Barry Rubin ...

[Professor Rubin will tour Australia commencing next weekend. Watch your local media for an opportunity to hear him speak - SL]

Is the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which won 47 percent of the vote in the July 22 election, going to make Turkey Islamist or not?

... the AK Party, which will have almost two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, is a pragmatic, conservative and business-oriented moderate party despite its roots as an Islamic-oriented one. However... in societal terms, the party probably is up to transforming Turkey from a secular into a more Islamic society.

“Actually, I think … Turkey has three basic choices: secularism, an open system or a more Islamic system. I think the party clearly intends to move Turkey from secularism to a more even system, to a more open system of equality between the secular and the religious. … Actually, I think there are three problems….”

“…The [first] question is… some of the main decisions …Who can be an army officer? Can you be an AK Party supporter and strongly practicing as an army officer? What kind of judges are you going to have? Are you going to have judges who may make ruling more because of considerations of Islamic law? What are you going to do with the educational system? Are you going to have equality between the Islamic -- the prayer leaders'-- schools and the government schools? And each of these decisions is going to be very controversial; how will they handle them, how hard will they push, how quickly will they move? So, that's the first problem. And a lot of that is tied up with the presidency because the president can make certain decisions.”

“…The second problem, I think, is the problem of the economy. I don't think there is any question that the good state of the economy was perhaps the single most important issue in the election, but can they keep this up? And there are certain dangerous sides. A key element of the success is the high interest rates. But if you continue the high interest rates, you have to pay the interest. And it is possible that at some point there could be a major crisis. Especially because this could mean that money is flowing out of Turkey. So, what happens if the economy doesn't do well? Will that mean they'd lose their support? That would bring a lot of political change….”

“…The third big problem issue is foreign policy. The most important issue in the Middle East and perhaps in the world is the question of radical Islamism. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, it's becoming more powerful. There is a war in Iraq between two groups, I mean Sunnis and Shiites are the Islamist movements, and the Iraqi government is strongly Islamic flavored. You have the problem of Hezbollah trying to take over Lebanon. You have a problem of Syria even though it is a relatively secular regime, but is acting as if it were Islamist and supporting Islamist movements. You have Hamas trying to take over, perhaps taking over the Palestinian movement, the Muslim brothers. … The US to some extent and the West in general are against this development. But the Turkish government under the AK Party does not view these forces as enemies. I think it's important to remember that even if within Turkey, the party is not necessarily so Islamist, internationally it sees these as friends. This puts it [the AK Party] on the opposite side of the West….”

“….Although no one is going to say so in the government, the nature of the relationship between Turkey and the US has changed in very big way. That's my job to say things that no one else wants to say. I think that between 1946, and ... say 2002 or 2003, Turkey and the US were ally countries. And I don't think they're ally countries today…It's very easy to misunderstand my words. Countries can be enemies; they can be allies; they could be friendly and they could have good relations. Turkey and the US are not enemies, but they are not allies; they have good relations.

And incidentally the same thing applies to Europe. I think, under an AK Party government, Turkey will have good relations with Europe….”