Friday, January 25, 2008

UN fails to agree on statement against Gaza blockade

From Ynet News, 24/1/08:

American objections block Security Council agreement over compromise statement that would press Israel to lift lockdown of Strip....

...Experts of the 15-member body met behind closed doors overnight Friday to amend a draft statement submitted by the Arab League that calls on Israel to end its siege of Gaza and ensure "unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people" but makes no mention of the rocket attacks that triggered the blockade.

Only one of the 15 council members - the United States - opposes the Arab draft. A senior US envoy said Washington was unhappy with it because it fails to condemn the "terrorism" against Israel and ignores the causes of the problem.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations [Dan Gillerman] criticized the organization's humanitarian affairs chief for failing to acknowledge the suffering caused by Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza. "...4,100 rockets ...have been launched at Israeli cities aimed at the killing of Israeli babies and children, innocents...." Gillerman told reporters....

Hamas wins ground

From DEBKAfile January 24, 2008, 10:54 PM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added - SL]:

Mubarak pulls Eyptian border forces out of N. Sinai, Washington evacuates US MFO unit from El Arish

Announcing that Egypt would not expel the hundreds of thousands of Gazan Palestinians who continue to crossed the broken border fence into N. Sinai, President Hosni Mubarak redeployed his special border force from the Gazan border to points south of El Arish, Bir Lahfan and Abu Aweigila. This step effectively handed over to the control of Hamas-led Palestinian terrorist organizations and al Qaeda a northern Sinai enclave of roughly 855 sq, km., twice the area of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Early Thursday, Jan. 24, American forces and equipment withdrew from the Multi-force Organization base at Al Gura northeast of al Arish. This force monitors Sinai’s demilitarization under a key clause of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. Washington and Cairo are discussing evacuating the entire base and its 400 multinational personnel. The Egyptian high command was informed that Hamas had begun moving some of its elite units to its new stronghold.

Egyptian forces are not capable of contending with this strength or the hundreds of thousands of Gazan Palestinians on the move between Gaza and Sinai since Hamas blew up the concrete border fence Tuesday.

Israeli officials continue to treat the crisis as a problem for Egypt to address, rather than emanating from Israel’s failure to pre-empt Hamas’ well-laid plan with timely and appropriate military action.....

Implications of the Breached Gaza-Egypt Border

Observations, from JCPA Daily Alert 24/1/2008:

Gaza Border Breach May Pressure Egypt to Act
Adam Entous Retired Brig.-Gen. Shalom Harari of Israel's Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya said Hamas may have achieved a "PR" victory in Gaza, but the situation would now put more pressure on Egypt to act - to Israel's benefit. "The situation may look worse on the surface, but Israel has not lost control on our border," he said. "For months and months, Israel has been telling the Egyptians, 'You guys have been playing with fire.' So I'm not so sure Israel is unhappy with what's going on right now," said David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process. (Reuters)

...Israel Wants to Sever Connections with Gaza
Israel would like to sever its remaining connections with Gaza. "We need to understand that when Gaza is open to the other side we lose responsibility for it. So we want to disconnect from it," Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio on Thursday. (Reuters)

...Will Responsibility for Gaza Shift to Egypt?
Benny Avni - Some Israeli officials saw an "opportunity" in the flow of hundreds of thousands of Gazans into Egypt, suggesting that responsibility for Gaza's humanitarian situation should be shifted to Egypt. "If Egypt and international welfare organizations are so concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, why don't they just reroute the deliveries? They can send food and necessities to Egypt, and then deliver them to Gaza through the Rafah crossing," an Israeli official said. (New York Sun)

...Proving the Egyptian Alternative
Yaakov Katz - Egypt helped Israel on Wednesday to complete its disengagement from Gaza. Egypt's decision to open the Rafah crossing to the Palestinians proved to the world that Egypt is perfectly capable of caring for the Palestinians when it comes to food and medical care. "By going into Egypt, Hamas loses its claim that it is under siege by Israel," said a senior Israeli defense official. Mubarak's decision to open a floodgate into his country for thousands of Palestinians demonstrated that there are alternatives to Israel when it comes to being Gaza's provider. (Jerusalem Post)

...Hamas' Strategy: Disconnect Gaza from Israel, Connect to the Arab World
Pinhas Inbari - Opening the border between Gaza and Egypt is part of Hamas' long-term strategy to disconnect Gaza from Israel and connect it to the Arab world. Hamas has been methodically attacking the border crossings connecting Gaza with Israel, thereby keeping them blocked and forcing all the pressure toward opening Gaza to Egypt and thus to the Arab world. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)

Immoral Equivalence by Sydney Morning Herald

From ICJS, by Peter Wertheim AM, former President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and current board member of the NSW Anti Discrimination Board, Friday January 25, 2008:

A spate of letters appeared this week in the Sydney Morning Herald comparing Israel's measures aimed at stopping rockets and mortars from being fired into Israel from Gaza to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto. Although the Herald received numerous letters debunking the analogy, it published only one of them. This is the second time the Herald has lapsed into cheap moral relativism over the Nazi Holocaust. It was given a rap over the knuckles by the Press Council in 2003 for publishing a cartoon making a similar analogy. At the time, the Herald published an apology for its "lapse of judgement" and promised not to do it again. It has clearly reneged on that promise.

Let's be very clear about this. The Nazis were openly and explicitly committed to "the final solution to the Jewish question in Europe", that is murdering or forcibly expelling every last Jew from Europe. This was unashamedly a program for genocide, and it lay at the core of Naziideology and practice. ....

.... Even though Jews had been persecuted in Europe for centuries, Jews did not launch rocket attacks against European towns and cities or blow themselves up in European shopping centres, trams and restaurants or teach their kindergarten-aged children to hate and kill their non-Jewish neighbours.

Nevertheless Jews were herded into ghettos (Warsaw was only one of many), packed on to cattle cars and transported by train to purpose-built death camps where they were systematically gassed to death and their bodies cremated. ....

For the last 60 years Israel has been facing precisely the same threat that the Jews of Europe faced in the 1930's and 1940's. For Hamas, Hezbollah etc, most Jews are to be killed or forcibly expelled and the Middle East is to come under exclusively Arab and Islamic sovereignty, even though the recorded history of the region is not exclusively (or even predominantly)Arab and Islamic. On the question of the ultimate intentions of Israel's enemies, don't take my word for it. Let Hamas, Hezbollah etc speak for themselves. Read, for example, the Hamas Charter, if you can stomach it. An excellent English language translation prepared by Yale University can be accessed at Have a look for example at Article 7. No intellectually honest person can come away from a reading of that document without concluding that it is a Charter for racism, a program for genocide. Hamas is openly and explicitly committed to a 'final solution to the Jewish question' in the Middle East that is no different to Hitler's final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.....

....So the 'Gaza is Warsaw' historical analogy falls flat on its face for 3 reasons.
  1. It's Hamas and Hezbollah, not Israel, which share the genocidal program of the Nazis - and against the same target. Their attacks have provoked the restrictions Israel has applied to Gaza, not the other way round. Israel does not impose such restrictions for the fun of it.
  2. The measures taken by Israel are in self-defence against repeated attacks against their civilians by an enemy openly bent on genocide. Nobody ever argued that the Nazis acted in self-defence against Jewish attacks, because there weren't any.
  3. The measures taken by Israel may seem harsh, but it is obscene to compare them to what the Nazis did. Not unless you can point to an example of Palestinians being packed on to cattle cars and transported by train to purpose-built death camps where they are systematically gassed to death and their bodies cremated.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

350,000 Gazan Palestinians who stole into Sinai will not be expelled

From DEBKAfile: January 24, 2008, 9:39 AM (GMT+02:00):

....Senior military sources told DEBKAfile that the strategic feat achieved by Hamas Tuesday night, in capturing a section of Sinai from Egyptian forces, is irreversible.....

...By demolishing the 10-km concrete barrier dividing the Gaza Strip from Egyptian Sinai, Hamas, backed by a Palestinian horde surging across Wednesday, has broken out of the siege and acquired a new stronghold outside Israel’s military reach while their missiles and guns retain access to Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip.

US and Israeli intelligence sources report that Hamas laid the ground for its coup well in advance and timed it deliberately for the opening Wednesday of the Palestinian National Congress in Damascus. This event was organized by Tehran and Damascus to counter the US-promoted Annapolis conference and discredit Mahmoud Abbas’ diplomatic track with Israel under the US aegis. Tehran and Damascus brought to the congress some 900 Palestinian delegates of 17 radical Palestinian opposition groups and 300 “special guests” from across the Arab world. It was opened by hard-line Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal with a speech which glorified his Gazan brothers’ feat in breaking down the Gaza-Egyptian border as the greatest Palestinian achievement for years.

He declared that an “end to the occupation” in all parts of Palestine must take precedence over Palestinian statehood – a direct challenge to the Bush administration’s two-state thesis.

Rice and David Welch, assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, made a point of warning Mubarak that he must act expeditiously to restore border security because the entire Washington Palestinian strategy hinging on Abbas and the Annapolis declarations hangs in the balance.

But the Egyptian president replied that his main worry is not the Palestinian issue but concern that his own opposition, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, may adopt Hamas tactics and stir up trouble in his cities. Mubarak said he would leave the situation in northern Sinai as it is for the time being. In other words, his troops would not force the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who swarmed out of Gaza to return home.

Such an effort would be a tall order, anyway. According to information reaching Cairo, Hamas has instructed large numbers of Palestinians who fled Gaza to stay where they are. Their assignment is to create a bridge between Gaza and the 40,000 Palestinians living in North Sinai. This population ballooned fivefold on Jan. 23 in the space of a few hours.

Furthermore, the Palestinian department of Egypt’s security services is on high alert after learning that the 130,000 Palestinians living in communities in Cairo, Alexandria and the Suez Canal cities are preparing to help their Gazan brothers steal into Egypt.

Canada expected to back out of UN racism conference

From Canwest News Service, by Steven Edwards, Tuesday, January 22, 2008:

Critics fear Durban conference would be anti-west, anti-Israel

UNITED NATIONS -- Canada is poised to become the first country to significantly distance itself from a major anti-racism conference the United Nations is planning for next year.

Maxime Bernier, the Foreign Minister, is expected to announce as early as Wednesday Canada is dropping out of planning for the Durban II Conference, which the UN is billing as a global follow-up to its 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. Insiders say the government feels the new conference is shaping up to be like the anti-West and anti-Israel free-for-all that critics said the initial gathering quickly turned into.

...."At the moment, much of the planning for the conference suggests it will focus little on denouncing racism wherever it occurs, and a lot on advancing some countries' agendas against Israel and the West," said one insider familiar with the new policy. "The government feels that taking a stand against the gathering will do more in the long run for combatting racism than joining in."

Arab- and Muslim-led verbal attacks on Israel at the 2001 conference were so dominant the United States and Israel walked out in protest. Canada, then under a Liberal administration, stayed, but its senior delegate told the assembly it did so "only ... to ... decry the attempts ... to de-legitimize the State of Israel and to dishonour the history and suffering of the Jewish people."...

....The UN gave planning oversight to its Human Rights Council, which since its launch less than two years ago has targeted Israel in 14 of its 15 resolutions charging human rights violations.
States sitting on the Council then placed Iran, which has called for Israel's destruction, on an executive planning committee. Libya is the chair....

...."Make no mistake, Durban II is on track to be even worse than Durban I," said Anne Bayefsky, a Canadian academic who edits the New York-based monitoring Web site "Canada, if it drops out, would be exhibiting moral clarity and courage after making the mistake at Durban I of staying despite serious reservations."

Canada was among 41 countries that last month opposed allocating US$6.8-million in UN funding to help pay for preparatory meetings for Durban II. The measure carried in the 192-member General Assembly. "No one can stop Durban II because countries that are classified as less than democratic hold a majority in the General Assembly, and they are for it," said Ms. Bayefsky. "But Canada's move would not only be consistent with its opposition at the General Assembly, but also encourage other democratic countries to follow suit, and send a strong signal de-legitimizing the final gathering."

Whose fault is the Gaza Crisis?

From VOA, by Margaret Besheer, United Nations, 23 January 2008:

Statement on Gaza Stalls in UN Security Council

Following a day of debate, the U.N. Security Council could not agree on language for a statement condemning the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip. ...The draft statement circulating among the 15-member council expresses concern about "the steep deterioration of the humanitarian situation" in Gaza due to Israel's continued closure of all border crossings, and the cutting of electricity and reduction of fuel to the Palestinian territory's one and a half million residents. But it fails to mention the hundreds of rockets Hamas militants have fired into southern Israel in the last week.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he could not support the Libyan-authored draft as it stands. "As is, it is not does not talk about the rocket attacks, the attacks on innocent Israelis."

The U.N.'s political chief, Lynn Pascoe, told the council that the situation in Gaza and southern Israel has escalated dramatically since the 15 of January, when an Israeli air and ground offensive killed 19 Palestinians, most of them militants. The offensive was in response to rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel....

.... Israel's delegate, Gilad Cohen, said the situation in Gaza did not develop overnight, but was the result of what he said were "wrong choices" the Palestinians have made to adopt terrorism and violence over peace and negotiations with Israel. He said Israel faces an "impossible situation" but would protect its citizens from these rocket attacks.

...and from Ynet, 22/1/08, by Dana Zimmerman and Roni Sofer:

European Commissioner for Justice Freedom and Security: Israel has right to defend itself against Qassam rockets, expresses regret at EU treatment of Israel.

... In a briefing to Israeli reporters Tuesday, European commissioner for Justice Freedom and Security, Frano Frattini, said that the steps leading up to the Gaza blackout cannot be construed as a war crime and criticized the incessant Qassam rocket fire on Israeli civilian population centers.

.... “There has been a large misunderstanding in recent years between Europe and Israel. And Israel is justified in its concerns. For too long, Europe has put too much blame on Israel for lack of peace with the Palestinians. We, as Europeans, should have understood Israel's concerns sooner,” said Frattini.

The European official also noted that “as friends, it was our duty to criticize when we felt criticism was needed, but we did it too often and unfairly. We asked you to take risks and often we didn’t provide you with assurances that you wouldn't stand alone if things went badly.”
Frattini continued to say that, “Europe's attitude towards Israel is changing, and Europe better Today, Europe better understands the complexities of the Middle East landscape.” ....

...and from Haaretz, 22/01/2008 By Cnaan Liphshiz:

Dutch Foreign Minister says Israel unfairly singled out for criticism by UN

...Visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen told Haaretz Monday that the singling out of Israel for criticism in international forums was unfair. "It is not acceptable to focus on Israel time after time, while other countries like Sudan do not receive any reference whatsoever at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in New York," Verhagen said in an interview.

"I would like to set the record straight on Israel." Interviewed in his suite at Jerusalem's King David Hotel, the Dutch foreign minister said he has pursued "a more internationally balanced approach" to Israel and has conditioned Dutch support for resolutions criticizing Israel upon condemnations for Hamas' actions. .....

.... A member of the ruling Christian Democratic Appeal party, the minister said his cabinet "would never negotiate with Hamas for as long as it calls for the destruction of Israel and as long as it doesn't give up on violence as a tool." Although some of the CDA's coalition partners have called for opening ties to Hamas, Verhagen said the Netherlands "should never give a veneer of legitimacy to the shelling of civilians and blowing up of buses - and this is the opinion of both the government and the majority of the Dutch parliament." ....

Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option

From The Guardian (UK), by Ian Traynor in Brussels, Tuesday January 22, 2008 [my own emphasis added - SL]:

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views. It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.

"The risk of further [nuclear] proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible," the authors argued in the 150-page blueprint for urgent reform of western military strategy and structures. "The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."

The authors - General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff and Nato's ex-supreme commander in Europe, General Klaus Naumann, Germany's former top soldier and ex-chairman of Nato's military committee, General Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch chief of staff, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, a former French chief of staff, and Lord Inge, field marshal and ex-chief of the general staff and the defence staff in the UK - paint an alarming picture of the threats and challenges confronting the west in the post-9/11 world and deliver a withering verdict on the ability to cope.

The five commanders argue that the west's values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

  • Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.
  • The "dark side" of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential "environmental" migration on a mass scale.
  • The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.
To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new "directorate" of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU "obstruction" of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:
  • A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.
  • The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.
  • No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.
  • The use of force without UN security council authorisation when "immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings"......

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Anti-Semitic carnivale

From Ynet, 23/1/08, by Shlomi Laufer:

Renowned Brazilian singer speaks out against Jewish community, sending entire country into uproar

The Jewish community in Brazil is up in arms after renowned Brazilian singer, Nana Caymmi, made blatantly ant-Semitic remarks during a recent interview.....

In an interview with British publication Queen Magazine, Caymmi was asked about her son’s long battle with drug addiction. The singer stated that “it is pure hell. You cannot imagine the drama I live with. I constantly ask myself why I need suffer so. I am not Jewish, I did not crucify Jesus.”...

...A few days later, Caymmi apologized to the Jewish community in an announcement published in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

“... said Caymmi, “I just want to say that the statements I made were unfortunate.... I had no intention of offending the Jewish community, with whom I have always had a good relationship. I truly respect the Jewish and Israeli community.”

..."...(Brazilian Jews) feel that these remarks are something skin to ‘but some of my best friends are Jewish,” said Shelly Aharon, director of the Brazilian culture and music form on the Tapuz website, and presenter of the Canta Brasil program on Mt. Scopus Radio.

“Without meaning too, Caymmi expressed a very common philosophy among Catholic-raised Brazilians,” said Aharon, a Ministry of Education employee who recently visited Brazil and remains in close contact with the country’s musicians. She, like Brazil’s Jewish community, remains unmoved by Caymmi’s apology.

“It is important to keep in mind that anti-racism legislation has been enacted in Brazil since 1988, which makes prejudiced remarks like Caymmi's punishable by time in prison, so I am not surprised that she recanted,” said Aharon.

“The fact that she published an apology in one of the country’s most prominent papers is a true victory for the Jewish community, however.”

Military action against Iran is left to Israel

From DEBKAfile, January 22, 2008, 11:12 PM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added - SL]:

At a lecture in Herzliya, Israel, Jan. 22, the former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said: “One can say with some assurance that in the next year the use of force by the United States is highly unlikely” – especially since a US intelligence report claimed Iran had suspended a nuclear program in 2003.

Bolton went on to estimate that further UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic would be ineffective in stopping Iran’s military program. “Another resolution will be even more toothless than the previous two sanction resolutions,” he said.

This increases the pressure on Israel in that period of time… If it feels Iran is on the verge of acquiring that capability, it brings the decision point home to use force,” said the US speaker. “If you are worried about an Iran with nuclear weapons and an extreme theological regime in power, the time to take the plan of action is before Iran acquires the weapons,” he said, explaining: “The calculus in the region changes dramatically once Iran has nuclear capability, meaning the preemptive use of force or the overthrow of the Iranian regime has to come before they get the weapon.”

Once Tehran has the weapon, said Bolton, there is a risk of retaliation with nuclear capability “and that’s why Israel is in danger – it is a very small country and two or three nuclear weapons (and) there is no more country. The window of time available is narrow.”

Bolton was of the view that Iran’s response “will be a lot more measured than people think.”
A senior Israeli security official commented on the American ex-official’s words: "One should listen very closely to what Bolton has to say."

British NGO: UK taxes fund PA hate education


British taxpayers are funding hate education and violence in the Middle East, according to a new report published by a British NGO over the weekend.

...."Funding Hate Education" reveals disturbing evidence on the millions of pounds of British tax revenue has been funneled into hate education and promoting violence in the Middle East.
Some of the money is even being used to fund school textbooks that teach children in Palestine to worship violence and hate all non-Muslims....

....The report, launched by the TPA with the Conservative Friends of Israel in Parliament on Thursday, shows that part of the £47.5 million of British aid to the Palestinian territories goes towards textbooks that praise insurgents in Iraq and encourage execution of apostates and idealize martyrdom.

The report offers as examples programs on the Palestinian Authority's official TV station. Many aimed at children urge violence against non-Muslims and promote the view that Israel should not exist. "We want to kill the Jews. Kill them one by one, make their children orphans and their wives widows," exhorted one televised sermon in November 2006.

According to the report, one PA pre-school program, broadcast in 2004, featured the following exchange between a girl and a puppet: Girl: "If a boy comes in front of your house where a tree is planted and cuts it down, what would you do?" Tarabisho (the puppet): "I'll fight him and make a big riot. I'll bring AK-47s and I'll commit a massacre."

....David Lidington, Shadow Foreign Office Minister, said he was "disturbed" by the report's findings. "It is imperative that future generations... are taught a message of reconciliation and mutual understanding," he said. Lidington said he had contacted representatives of both the Palestinian Authority and the UN Relief and Works Agency to discuss the issues raised in the TPA report.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said it worried him "deeply that British taxpayers' money is being used, quite improperly, for destructive purpose... While aid needs to be directed to the needy, its abuse for terrorist purposes is grotesque."

Hannu Takkula, vice-chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education, said that children's rights "include [the] right to a hate-free educational system. Since the EU is financially supporting the Palestinian administration, including the educational system, it has to ensure that the values taught to these kids correspond to the fundamental values of Europe itself." ...

Arabs blame Hamas for Gaza crisis

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 21, 2008 by Khaled Abu Toameh:

A prominent Arab editor on Monday blamed Hamas for the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, saying the Islamist movement had acted "stupidly" by firing rockets at Israel.

....Abdel Rahman Rashed, a Saudi national serving as general manager of the pan-Arab Arabiya news channel, said Hamas was responsible for the suffering of some 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. "Hamas committed a stupid act when it gave the Israelis an excuse to launch attacks in retaliation for a few antique rockets," Rashed wrote in the London-based daily Asharq Al- Awsat. "Prior to that, Hamas committed a big crime against the Palestinian people by overthrowing the Palestinian Authority [in the Gaza Strip]. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have suffered a lot because of Hamas's actions. Hamas is bringing Israel back into the Gaza Strip after it was liberated by the Palestinian groups."

Rashed questioned the wisdom of firing rockets and mortars at Israel which, he said, was only increasing the suffering of the Palestinians, let alone that they were not causing much harm to Israel. He pointed out that "only" 10 Israelis were wounded in the recent attacks as opposed to the "huge disaster" that has befallen the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Rashed is regarded by many Arab journalists as an unofficial spokesman for the Saudi royal family. He previously served as editor-in-chief of the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper and his writings regularly reflect the views of the Saudi establishment....

...PA Information Minister Riad al-Malki said the latest crisis was the result of Hamas's "insistence on creating an Islamic republic in the Gaza Strip." He also accused Hamas of seeking to evade responsibility for the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip by blaming the Ramallah-based government of PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad.....

....A top PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that ... "...the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are paying a heavy price for Hamas's irresponsible actions." The official also accused Hamas of ordering owners of bakeries to keep their businesses closed for the second day running to create a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. "Hamas is preventing people from buying bread," he said. "They want to deepen the crisis so as to serve their own interests." The official said that contrary to Hamas's claims, there is enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in the Gaza Strip operating for another two months. "Hamas members have stolen most of the fuel in the Gaza Strip to fill their vehicles," he said.

Iranian Threats

From MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series - No. 1820, January 23, 2008:

Iranian Website: In Response to an Israeli Attack, Iran Can, With Syria's Help, Wipe Out Half of Israel

Following reports on Israel's January 17, 2008 test of the Jericho III missile, which has a range of 4,500 km, the Iranian website Tabnak, which is affiliated with Iranian Expediency Council secretary and former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohsen Rezai, wrote that the missile's addition to Israel's arsenal does not change the balance of power between Israel and Iran.

The website stated that in the event of a conflict with Israel, Iran would use its strategic alliance with Syria to fire missiles at Israel from Syrian territory. [1] It also hinted that, in addition to assistance from Syria, any attack by Israel would also bring retaliation by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah. [2]

....[even] if we leave out reciprocal attacks by the Islamic resistance in Lebanon [i.e. Hizbullah], Iran and Syria know very well that an attack on Iran will bring in its wake an attack on Syria, and that an attack on Syria will bring in its wake an attack on Iran - and that in both situations, the third target or the parallel [target] are the Islamic Resistance [organizations] in Lebanon and Palestine. If, prior [to such an attack], Iran employs joint defense measures, and arms itself with a missile defense system through cooperating with Syria, Israel will beyond a doubt receive a crushing response if it attacks Iran.

...[The placement of] Iran's missile sites is based on the doctrine of irregular warfare. Accordingly, neither Israel nor the U.S. can take out Iran's missile sites in a single surprise attack. For the same reason, Iran's strategic missile defense doctrine benefits from the advantage of [territorial] depth, particularly because Iran can use at least 400,000 square km of its territory as an effective area for aiming [its missiles] at Israel....

....Therefore, it can be explicitly said that Israel's recent missile test, on January 17, changes Iran's missile defense balance [against Israel] not one whit, and does not impinge on a single one of its defense doctrines... For this reason, this missile test does not create a new situation or [new] result, in any arena of possible confrontation between Iran and Israel...


Mark Regev, the former Australian who is now the Spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister, addressed a standing-room only capacity crowd on Tuesday, 22/1/08 in the hall of the Kew Shule in Melbourne, Australia. Follow the link for a report from an audience member.

The "Palestinian State" solution has failed

From The Israel Initiative, the web site of Binyamin Elon*, Chairman of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the Moledet Party:

For many years, Israel has repeatedly attempted to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and reach a state of peace and stability with the Palestinians, based primarily on the formula of "land for peace".

Israel recognized the PLO and pressed for the establishment of a Palestinian entity in Judea, Samaria and Gaza – but peace became even more remote. Even the territorial withdrawals carried out by Israel did not improve the situation. On the contrary, the threat of terrorism against Israel intensified dramatically. Thousands of Israelis have been murdered, tens of thousands injured, and life in Israel returned to normal only with the adoption of strict security measures, the construction of fences, and the return of the IDF to intensive activities in Shechem, Jenin, and Tul Karem.

Palestinians have likewise received no benefits from the peace process. No refugee has been rehabilitated, the standard of living has dropped, and tens of thousands have fled from the territories under Palestine Authority control. Instead of allocating the tremendous sums of money contributed by the international community for the construction of an advanced economy for the welfare of Palestinian residents, the Palestine Authority has allocated massive sums for the personal benefit of its leadership, as well as for terrorist activities against Israeli citizens.

Even the Gaza "disengagement" of 2005 brought not peace but only a further deterioration in the situation. The pro-Iranian Hamas gained control of Gaza and is overtly striving for the destruction of Israel. These forces fire Kassam rockets into the Negev and perpetrate day-to-day terrorism against the Arab residents of Gaza, many of whom have been cruelly tortured or murdered.

It is now quite clear that the concept of "the Palestinian State" has collapsed. If we desire peace, we must soberly examine the reality and understand where we went wrong. Now is the time to display creativity and advance towards peace along a different path.

The Alternative – The Israeli Initiative
The Israeli Initiative is based on a totally different concept.
It proposes:
  • Striving for a humanitarian solution to the Palestinian problem, instead of a political one.
  • Basing peace on strategic cooperation with Jordan, instead of with the Palestinian Authority.
  • Extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, instead of handing over these parts of the country for a Palestinian State.

A humanitarian instead of a political solution
....The problem of the Palestinian refugees is not a political, but a humanitarian one. The establishment of the State of Israel did not take away their state from the Palestinians, since such a state had never existed. However, in many cases it did take away their homes and their dignity. There is a way to give the refugees back their dignity, provide them with a home and a starting point for a new life. It is possible to replace their status as poverty-stricken refugees with a reality of welfare, prosperity and hope. Such a solution is what Palestinians themselves desire.

Peace is made with stable entities
The choice of the leaders of Palestinian terrorism as "partners" for peace was a mistake. Peace must be made with entities that desire stability and peace, not with the leaders of terrorist organizations. The Israeli Initiative proposes strategic cooperation with Jordan and additional Arab countries seeking a solution of the Palestinian problem and an end to Islamic extremism.

Israeli sovereignty – regional stability
The Israeli Initiative assumes that the most effective and correct way to preserve the stability of the region is to guarantee Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and bring to an end the long-existing vagueness regarding the status of these areas. Only Israeli sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean can prevent Shiite penetration into the heart of the western region of the Middle East and guarantee the continuation of Israel's existence as a Jewish State.

Judea and Samaria form the geographical and historical heart of western Eretz Israel and there is no reason – moral, legal, demographic or geographic – to abandon those parts of the country that provide vital strategic depth and land reserves.

Now is the time—This is the opportunity
The Middle East has undergone dramatic changes in recent years that create an opening for the fulfillment of new hopes based on the principles outlined above.

The Iranian threat, the rise of Al Qaeda, the strengthening of Hezbollah and the victory of Hamas in Gaza are causes of anxiety today in both the Western and Arab worlds. Dangerous Islamic extremism has become a major force in the world....

Abandonment of old fixed ideas
We must abandon the old fixed ideas: No to a "Palestinian State," no to "territories in return for peace," no to "the strengthening" of Abu Mazen and/or the Palestinian Authority. The time has come for the State of Israel to present its own diplomatic initiative based on the integration of its interests and those of its neighbors—an initiative that realistically leads to peace and prosperity for the entire region.

Such a proposal must be fully integrated with the need of all nations in the region to halt the advance of Shiite Islam, a force that threatens the stability of all the Arab countries.The Israeli Initiative proposes an implementable, regional, humane and just solution that responds to the real needs of all parties.

Overall and full rehabilitation of all the refugees and a new and simple map in which Israeli sovereignty extends to the Jordan River, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is recognized as the national home of the Palestinians.

*Binyamin Elon is the Chairman of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the Chairman ofthe Moledet Party. He has served twice as Israel’s Minister of Tourism. He currently serves as Chairman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, and is a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The first thing leaders need to do

From Jan 21, 2008 by ISI LEIBLER [my emphasis added - SL] :

.... It is, of course, mandatory for military leaders to take all possible measures to minimize losses, especially today, when the potential for this is much greater than it was 20 years ago. However, taking this to an extreme could become the IDF's Achilles heel.....

....The subject is insightfully analyzed in an essay by Assaf Sagiv, in the current (Winter 2008) issue of Azure. Sagiv concludes that despite the principal obligation of the IDF to defend civilians, Israeli leaders today appear to be more concerned about the public fallout from IDF casualties than about civilian losses....

...A by-product of this has been a less than robust response to terrorist incursions from our neighbors, severely eroding our deterrent ability. Until recently, Israel was renowned for responding vigorously to all acts of aggression. Interpreting our apparent overriding concern with avoiding casualties as a weakening of resolve, our enemies have become emboldened.

Today, despite possessing the most powerful military force in the region, Israel has increasingly developed a reputation as a nation that repeatedly responds to aggression with empty threats. In fact, over the past decade, with the exception of the disastrous Second Lebanon War, terrorists have become reassured that beyond limited targeted assassinations, subject to review by the High Court, broader Israeli reprisals will no longer be implemented....

...Nor do we seem to have learned the lesson. Hamas is currently constructing an offensive infrastructure in Gaza that is virtually certain to culminate in a war. The concern for casualties is apparently once again a major factor dissuading us from taking the necessary preemptive military action to stop the current build-up, despite the realization that the inevitable confrontation at a later date will, in all likelihood, exact a far greater toll in lives....

....Israel was created as a haven for Jews in distress and as a means to overcome 2,000 years of Jewish powerlessness. Yet, paradoxically, today, despite having one of the most formidable armies in the world, the Jewish state has become transformed into one of the most dangerous locations in the world for Jews.

Israel is unique in being the only country in the world in which a neighboring entity openly launches missiles against its citizens. Our abysmal failure to defend our civilians descended to a level of madness when, immediately following a 72-hour period during which 200 missiles and mortars were launched at us, our government, on "humanitarian" grounds, resumed servicing the electricity and water requirements of Gaza's inhabitants. It is inconceivable that any other country would behave in such a manner and fail to take more drastic military action to bring an end to such outrageous attacks....

....The bottom line is that the prime responsibility of leadership is to defend the state and safeguard civilian life and limb....they must assume the obligation of determining how the long-term strategic requirements and national interest can best be served. Once such a policy has been determined, it must be explained and promoted to the public.

The adoption of such strategies will have immediate implications for Sderot, where Israelis forced to endure unbearable ongoing missile attacks have become transformed into refugees in their own land. Once the final Winograd Report is been released, we must bite the bullet. The nation cannot afford to delay until missiles penetrate deeper into Israel, ultimately even reaching Tel Aviv.

The longer we postpone confronting the issue, the more damage Hamas and Hizbullah, supported by the Iranians and Syrians, will be able to inflict on us when we ultimately have to take decisive action.

A nation under threat must rationally confront such challenges, or the fanatical resolve of our enemies will bring about greater disasters.

The first 'core issue': Incitement

From THE JERUSALEM POST, by ELIHU RICHTER*, Jan. 19, 2008 [emphasis added - SL]:

Last week the Israeli government reportedly started negotiations on the "core issues" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: borders, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem - but not incitement and hate language.

....At Annapolis, the statement of principles called for "confronting terror and incitement ...."

...During Bush's visit, official statements provided no evidence of any intent to monitor and eradicate incitement and hate language from official Arab media, texts and places of worship; a colossal act of diplomatic negligence.

...AT ITS worst, incitement includes the dehumanization of Jews as "monkeys and pigs," the dissemination of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and maps without Israel; Holocaust denial and propagation of many of the classic motifs of anti-Semitism, in which Israel and Zionism have replaced "Jews" as targets. Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls to wipe Israel off the map, along with his Holocaust denials, are the tip of the iceberg.

An end to state-sponsored incitement to terror belongs right on top of the negotiating agenda, before any discussions on borders, settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, and all the other issues. The first "confidence-building measure" should be ending incitement, cutting off funding for those spreading such incitement, and prosecuting those who propagate hatred, not only in the PA, but its hinterland in Egypt and Jordan, and, yes, Saudi Arabia.

As The Jerusalem Post reported, even "moderate" Arab papers showcased anti-Semitic cartoons ahead of the Annapolis summit....

...In 1969, the Israeli government forcefully demanded removing and amending texts, including inflammatory content from Jordanian textbooks used in UN-supported refugee camps. But Israel has failed to exploit the precedent of the 1988 Knesset decision banning parties that incite to racism and violence.

Incitement and hate language are the most toxic exposures of our time. They shape the socio-cultural environment that enables genocidal terror to become an accepted or approved social norm. Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable, and exposing them is a form of child abuse. They are indoctrinated to act on its messages, thereby ensuring intergenerational perpetuation of hate.

It is state-sponsored incitement, - i.e. the messages on the loudspeakers, airwaves and the Internet - and not what is whispered between diplomats, that signals the intentions of states or their surrogate organizations. The blowback from "the street" makes the decision-makers captive to such messages. So long as incitement warps the minds of coming generations, no diplomatic solution of the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world will be sustainable.

Israel should be demanding an end to funding by US, EU and UN agencies of all institutions of learning and education that tolerate or issue hate language. Until Saudi Arabia and Egypt put an end to the propagation of the ugly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish motifs in their mosques, texts, universities and media, neither should have any credibility as a participant or intermediary in any peace process.

Israel - and the world community - need to demand as the first "core issue" that we apply public health models of surveillance to identify and ban the use of hate language and incitement.
In order to reduce the risk of perpetual conflict, we have to institutionalize surveillance of incitement. The purpose of such monitoring would be to trigger bans and punitive legal actions designed to deter the perpetrators of incitement and hate language. Using the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Code, which specifies that incitement to genocide is a crime against humanity, Israel should be leading the way in criminalizing incitement to genocidal terror as a central part of any future agreement coming out of Annapolis.

I ASK President Bush and Secretary Rice: Has the US consul-general, who has been assigned to monitor "progress in compliance with the road map" been required to monitor how many times the words "pig," "cancer," "filth," "microbes" and "vermin" and the all the other anti-Semitic motifs appear in Arab textbooks, sermons, official Internet sites and media?

The core values of all human social contracts need to guide resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians and their hinterland. Incitement to terror is a blatant assault on respect for the most basic of all human rights - human life and dignity - signaling genocidal intent by its perpetrators and practitioners.

The road map explicitly calls for an end to incitement as an essential precondition for all future agreements. Official monitoring, reporting and sanctioning of incitement are the essential next steps to eradicating this fundamental obstacle to peace and threat to human life.

*The writer heads the Genocide Prevention Program at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine and serves on the advisory board of Genocide Watch.

Barak caves in on fuel and medicine deliveries to Gaza

From DEBKAfile, January 21, 2008, 10:36 PM (GMT+02:00):

... Monday night, defense minister Ehud Barak gave a “one-time” order to resume the heavy fuel and medicines deliveries to the Gaza Strip. He thus surrendered to the pressure drummed up by Hamas’ highly telegenic humanitarian crisis that never was.

Neither the foreign ministry nor the army spokesman was geared to fend off this psychological war stunt. By the time they argued back that Israel, while taking 50 missiles a day, was feeding Gaza 75 percent of its electricity and its hospitals (unlike those in Arab countries) were caring for dozens of Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip, no one was listening.

This episode had ...immediate effects:
1. Hamas successfully mustered Arab opinion across the Middle East against the Western siege imposed on the terrorist-ruled Gaza Strip.

2. The prestige of Palestinian Authority leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyed suffered a knock for failing to force its peace partner, Israel, to lift the siege of Gaza.

3. Israel’s surrender to pressure was an object lesson for the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah, as well as the Palestinian Islamists Hamas. Hassan Nasrallah has launched his own propaganda campaign against Israel over the remains of soldiers allegedly left in Lebanon from the 2006 war.

4. The plight of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants did not reached crisis point – unlike the dwindling Israeli communities living under constant Palestinian missile fire. Yet their plight never made it to the world media in the same way as the show of suffering in Gaza....

Indian space center successfully boosts Israeli Tecsar into orbit

From DEBKAfile, January 21, 2008, 10:38 PM (GMT+02:00):

New Israeli polar satellite launched from Indian space center begins transmitting

...The 300-kilogram Tecsar is the most advanced of Israel’s satellites. It is the first to be equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that allows its camera to take high-resolution pictures of small targets in cloudy or foggy weather at any point on earth.

It was launched from India because the Sriharikota space station in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is positioned for boosting a satellite into polar orbit. Our military sources report that with Tecsar aloft, Israel will have complementary access for tracking Iranian’s nuclear and military activities that provided by its Ofek spy series.

The satellite, developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries, was launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle Monday, Jan. 21, at 05:45 Israeli time. It has signaled its smooth entry into orbit around the globe. First images will be beamed down to earth in two weeks.

This was India’s second commercial mission on behalf of a foreign country and was acclaimed in New Delhi as an “important milestone” for India’s space program.

Electricity supply of Gaza continues to flow

In response to media inquiries regarding power outages in Gaza, the Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman stated Sunday evening (20 January 2008):

The supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israel and the Egyptian power grids (124 Megawatts and 17 Megawatts respectively) has continued uninterrupted. These 141 Megawatts of power represents about three quarters of Gaza's electricity needs.

While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision - apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations.

Noteworthy is the fact that while the Gaza population remains in the dark, the fuel generating power to the Hamas rocket manufacturing industry continues to flow unabated.

The Hamas claim of humanitarian crisis in Gaza is also greatly exaggerated. There is no shortage of basic foodstuffs, and Gaza patients who need treatment in Israeli hospitals continue to travel into Israel for care....

See also

Rocket and mortar barrage on Sderot and western Negev continues

Cabinet Communique 20-Jan-2008

Behind the Headlines: Escalation of Terror in Gaza

Israel Electric Corporation: 'We're supplying electricity to Gaza under Qassam fire'