Saturday, March 29, 2008

We must learn more about our enemies

From The Australian, by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor March 29, 2008:

.... One of the dumbest things you can do in a war is not listen to your enemy..... The worldwide Islamist terror movements are nothing if not voluble and it is amazing how little we listen to them.

A prime case is the Palestinian terrorist movement, all the endless reporting on Gaza, almost no one examines what Hamas says about itself.

...some of the thousands of newly translated documents from the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein... indicated a promiscuous and intense relationship between Saddam's government and international terrorism.

... after the 9/11 attacks a Palestinian leader, presumably a Hamas leader, told the Iraqis that Hamas had 35 armed terror cells across the world, mingled with refugee populations, including in France, Sweden and Denmark. An internal Iraqi intelligence report of March 26, 2003, reads:

"We have lately been visited by representatives of the Hamas movement in Baghdad who inform us of the following points:
  • "... we renew our commitment to you against the foolish American attack."
  • "A request to open our border checkpoints to let the volunteer fighters participate in the war."
  • "An offer from Hamas leader Dr al-Rantisi to carry out demonstrations and suicide attacks to support Iraq."

...A report from August 1, 1998, reads:

"An agent supplied us with information about a pact between (Hamas leader) Sheik Ahmad Yasin and the Iranian leadership. The most significant information was Iran's support for the Hamas movement and the appropriating of $15 million a month, as well as supplying Hamas with commando teams to carry out operations abroad, and forming a new organisation named Hezbollah-Palestine to divert suspicion away from Hamas in case it carries out sensitive operations and assassinations."

Hamas began life in 1988 as the Palestinian branch of Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood. It is extremist, committed to terrorism as a way of life and totalitarian in its Islamist ideology.....

....its proxies have relentlessly fired rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, mainly at civilian targets. Last Wednesday alone there were 20 such rockets and mortar shells. Because of the breakdown of border security between Gaza and Egypt, ever longer range rockets are being smuggled into Gaza, and the big Israeli city of Ashkelon is often hit. But with longer range rockets coming from Iran, there is no reason Hamas ultimately will not be able to fire on Tel Aviv.

As this column has previously assessed, Israel will eventually have to respond. I believe there will be a big Israeli campaign and this will convulse the Middle East. Because to really remove the rocket threat, Israel will have to take back control of the Gaza-Egypt border, establish military intelligence and response posts at least in some parts of Gaza, and possibly occupy some of what have been the rocket launch points in northern Gaza.

Given Hamas's murderous methods, there is no way it will lose control of Gaza through any democratic election.... Anyone who thinks it unfair to characterise Hamas as extremist, terrorist, Islamist and totalitarian should read the Hamas charter.... It is a sickening document, full of violence, crude anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.

It says, for example, that Rotary and Lions clubs, as well as the Freemasons, of course, are spy organisations in the pay of the Jews. It relies on the notorious tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to establish Jewish behaviour. It accuses the Jews of being behind not only the French revolution and the communist revolution and World War I, but even World War II.
Why did the Jews promote World War II, in which six million Jews were killed? According to the Hamas charter, it was for purposes of profiteering and to pave the way for the establishment of the state of Israel.

The Hamas charter demands Islamist control of all the territory of Israel and Palestine and repeatedly denounces any peace process or compromise that allows Israel to continue to exist.

But the most telling feature of the Hamas charter is its pervasive religiosity.

The failure to understand that Islamist terrorism is a religious, ideological movement, with a coherent if grotesque world view, is one of many failures of Western commentators. Reading the Islamists' documents would be a good place to start in remedying that so far abject failure.

Report on Israel to Western Australian Parliament

Our posting on Friday, February 29, 2008 referred to The Hon. Robert Charles Kucera's report to the Western Australian Parliament Legislative Assembly on the WA Parliamentary Study Tour of Israel last December, under the auspices of the the Australia / Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Rambam programme.

Interested readers can download a full copy of the report, as archived in the Parliamentary Library (in pdf form), by following the links below.

Kucera Rambam Report a Executive Summary.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report DAY 1_2.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report DAY 3_4.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report DAY 5_6.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report DAY 7_8.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report DAY 9_10.pdf
Kucera Rambam Report x Conculsion.pdf

I will get a copy of the Hansard transcript and, if possible, of the video clip of the session and try to make them available to readers of Jewish Issues Watchdog.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Changing the Rules of the Games

From a New York Times MAGAZINE PREVIEW, by ILAN GREENBERG* (The article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine published March 30, 2008):

...[There are] four staff members of Dream for Darfur ...

...Jill Savitt, Dream for Darfur's executive director..., a peripatetic, hyperarticulate 40-year-old human rights activist, is the mind behind a long string of organizations conducting campaigns to pressure China to change its policies by threatening to tarnish this summer's Olympic Games.

...Savitt told me proudly, "is looking at the entire world calling its cherished games the 'Genocide Olympics.' " Nonetheless, shaping world opinion is a tall order, especially with a staff of four; and the Olympics is not as easy a target as it might appear....

..."People say there are a lot of problems in the world, so why single out Darfur and why target China?" Ruth Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president who is now head of the American Jewish World Service, told me recently in her Manhattan office. "But this is the first genocide, since the word was coined, where it was defined as genocide by the American government while it has been happening," she added, referring to Colin Powell's statement in 2004 that the Darfur killings were indeed a genocide and a Congressional resolution making the same designation. Messinger is one among perhaps three dozen professional political operatives and freelance agitators who have collaborated closely behind the scenes with the Dream for Darfur team, participating in strategy sessions and connecting Savitt with larger political networks. "Darfur is singular," Messinger told me. "China is the reason Darfur is happening. And it is happening now...."

...Savitt says that the sponsors are starting to take notice. Even executives at Coca-Cola have privately expressed anxiety about their association with the Games.... mid-February ...Steven Spielberg resigned as a creative consultant for the opening ceremonies. The actress Mia Farrow, who has visited the greater Darfur region eight times and says that she may move permanently to that part of Africa when her youngest child, now 14, gets a little older, had originally identified Spielberg as a target. Farrow communicates daily with Savitt and works on nearly every aspect of the campaign. She popularized the Genocide Olympics slogan in an opinion column - written with her son Ronan Farrow, a 19-year-old Yale law student - in The Wall Street Journal a year ago. Farrow had decided that for the director of "Schindler's List" to have a role in China's Olympics was unacceptable; she called him a "key collaborator." She and Savitt relentlessly criticized Spielberg....then Spielberg changed his mind, saying his "conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual."

....Many of the corporate sponsors were also refusing in February to meet with Farrow...Dream for Darfur is a report card to corporate sponsors rating their actions on Darfur. Those who earn lower than a C will be the focus of demonstrations at their offices beginning next month. And a "Turn Off/Tune In" campaign will ask viewers of the Olympics to turn off the ads of flunking sponsors and to watch Farrow's broadcast from refugee camps.

"From start to finish, what we want China to fear is death by a thousand cuts," Savitt says. "China thought it would only face a ham-fisted boycott. It is getting something more sophisticated, more insidious."...

....Last spring, Humanity United wrote Dream for Darfur a check for $500,000. The financing followed publication of Farrow's "Genocide Olympics" article ...

...Late last month, Savitt arranged a meeting with M+R Strategic Services, a national consultancy specializing in high-tech campaigning that happens to have its New York offices in the same building as Dream for Darfur. ...

....Dream for Darfur was now viewing the corporate sponsorship part of the campaign as more crucial than before. A significant point of leverage that could tip the balance: Olympic broadcasters and corporate sponsors account for 87 percent of Olympic revenue. Microsoft, which is poised to become an even bigger player in China if its acquisition of Yahoo goes through, responded in a written statement that the company is "shocked and horrified by the violence and human rights violations in Darfur." The company further "commend[ed] Dream for Darfur and other organizations for their leadership in casting a spotlight on this atrocity and the need for immediate international resolution. Microsoft will continue to support these organizations in their mission through technology assistance and other resources."

Sponsors of the torch relay that began last week, which include Coca-Cola and Lenovo, are especially vulnerable. The relay will traverse Tibet, where in mid-March police cracked down on protesters, including monks, leading to at least 16 deaths [probably hundreds - SL]. Indeed, the Tibetan conflict is threatening to supercede Darfur as the driver of the Olympic campaign. ....

..... The city-to-city torch procession that is a lead-up to the Games is also a potential powder keg. Groups representing aggrieved minorities in China, like the Falun Gong religious sect and the ethnic Uighurs in China's western Xinjiang Province, hint at planned "street actions" almost certain to spark an angry police response. The torch-carrying route from Greece leads to the summit of Mount Everest to Beijing - and right through Tibet.

..... "The most climactic part of our campaign will be during the Games themselves," says Tenzin Dorjee, the deputy director of a group called Students for a Free Tibet, which claims 650 student chapters around the world. Dorjee, who works out of New York, is planning a massive march from Dharamsala, India, home to the Dalai Lama and a large exiled Tibetan population, to the Chinese border. The group also plans to surreptitiously hang Free Tibet banners on highly trafficked Chinese landmarks, as it did last year on the Great Wall. "We plan to do more of the same: high-profile direct actions in prominent places," Dorjee says. "China will either have to let these protests happen or crack down. And when it cracks down, it shows its true colors. It gets unmasked. That's our plan."

Savitt maintains that "it's actually great there are more voices in the chorus - it puts exponentially more pressure on China to do something." ....

*Ilan Greenberg, an adjunct fellow with the Asia Society, reported on Central Asia for The Times until last year. His last article for the magazine was about Mikhail Saakashvili, the president of Georgia.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New upsurge of attacks from Gaza

From DEBKAfile, March 26, 2008, 10:40 PM (GMT+02:00):

New upsurge of Palestinian attacks from Gaza - 16 missiles fired Wednesday injuring 3 Israeli civilians

A heavy barrage of 7 Qassam missiles struck Sderot Wednesday night, March 26.

One exploded in the old market, injuring three people and leaving 16 in shock.

Of the 16 fired during the day, one landed south of Ashkelon, several exploded in kibbutzim causing heavy damage to property.

Israeli military sources tell DEBKAfile that Hamas is passing missiles to Jihad Islami in order to step up the attacks on Israel, without being held accountable and drawing Israeli fire – to heat up tensions for the arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday.

Better than a peace conference

From » Opinion » Editorials » Mar 26, 2008:

.... the Russian approach to fostering peace in the region .... [is] "Thuggish" ....

... Russia's attitude toward the peace conference it wishes to sponsor is that it will be held "whether Israel likes it or not." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's one-day visit here last week was described as "nasty."

Perhaps all this is not surprising from a country that is supplying the Iranian regime with nuclear fuel and sophisticated missile defense systems while running interference for the mullahs in the UN Security Council.

Lavrov even had the temerity to lecture Israelis about refraining from military action, even as Russia systematically blocks the draconian sanctions on Teheran that are the only hope of avoiding the military option.

One might even ask why Moscow would want to hold a peace conference in the first place. Some Israeli officials seem to be taking at face value Russian claims that it is concerned over growing Iranian influence in the region. .... It should be obvious, however, that the only way to fundamentally reverse the trend that supposedly concerns Moscow is to address its source: the growing prospect that a terrorist state with a expansionist, totalitarian ideology will become a nuclear power.

If Russia truly wants to prevent this, it is in an excellent position to do so. Russia and China are Iran's key allies in the UN Security Council. If Russia joins with the US, the UK and France in favoring truly punishing sanctions on Teheran - such as a ban on refined oil exports to Iran that supply 40 percent of its fuel needs - then it would not be easy for China to remain exposed as Iran's sole protector....

....Instead, Moscow seems to be reprising the old Soviet policy of being weapons supplier to rogue states and sticking its finger in the eye of the West. How this is in the interest of today's Russia is difficult to imagine.

What is clear, however, is that Israel should have no part of it...Israel must not attend a "peace" conference in Moscow that serves to legitimize the Russian role. If an unreformed Russia wants to hold a "peace" conference without Israel, let it.

This does not mean that Israel should oppose a constructive Russian role. On the contrary; Israel should make clear that it welcomes Russian involvement in isolating Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas.

Russia cannot have it both ways. It cannot fashion itself as an international troublemaker, and a friend to even worse troublemakers, and then act surprised when the trouble it helps creates spins out of control and backfires against Russian interests....

...Does Russia really have an interest in Iran prevailing against the US? If not, Russia should truly join, not impede, the international campaign to force Iran to back down. If Russia were to take such an about-face and join the side of peace, it would do more for peace than a thousand conferences.

Shifting the blame in Gaza

From the National Post (Canada), Tuesday, March 25, 2008:

Over the weekend, al-Qaeda released an audio message .... In it, the speaker called for attacks on American and Israeli interests in retaliation for Israel's recent raids on the Gaza Strip, which Palestinians claim have killed nearly 100 residents.

... there are undoubtedly many in the Western world who believe Israel's actions were unjustified and who accept the contention of Islamic extremists -- al-Qaeda included -- that Israeli actions are at the root of global Muslim rage. It is Israeli actions, terror apologists claim, that precipitate Islamist terrorism, and not the other way around.

But such beliefs are naive. Israel's attacks on Gaza over the last month have been far from unprovoked. In any case, even if the Jewish state were to cease all counter-terrorist operations immediately, jihadis would still target the West.

Since 2001, there have been more than 6,000 rockets and mortars launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, an average of nearly three per day. Most have been aimed at the industrial-agricultural city of Sderot, whose 20,000 residents live under the constant threat of 15-second air raid warnings. Over 4,000 of the Palestinian-launched attacks -- more than two-thirds -- have occurred since the Israeli army forcibly removed nearly 7,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza, a gesture of good faith that, Israelis were repeatedly reassured, would end the bombardments. But in just the first two months of this year, there were nearly 900 attacks (15 per day). This was before Israel's army and air force began their recent reprisals.

Israel has shown tremendous patience and restraint in the face of this daily, deadly fusillade. Islamic fundamentalists, such as Dr. al-Zawahiri, have willingly misinterpreted Israel's belated, self-defensive attacks as provocative first strikes. Twisting the facts helps them whip up Muslim anger worldwide, which aids their recruitment of new foot soldiers for their terror war against the West.

What puzzles us, though, is why so much of the world's media so easily swallows this cynical spin without even trying to ascertain the reasons behind Israel's counterstrikes. If and when al-Qaeda manages to launch fresh attacks against Western targets, even inside North America, the groundwork will already have been laid for placing the blame on Israel.

What response would Canadians demand of their government and Armed Forces if 6,000 bombs and missiles had been fired from Mississauga into Etobicoke in the past seven years, or from Surrey into Vancouver, or Longueuil into Montreal? It is unlikely we would have accepted such a long delay in reacting with force nor would we worry that some distant terrorist was threatening an escalation in attacks if we sought to stop the assault.

So far this year, school disruptions in Sderot have been a regular occurrence. Lessons or recess have been curtailed by the need for students to run frantically to bomb shelters on at least 22 different occasions. Canadians who show sympathy for the Palestinian cause might well think differently of Israel using troops and gunships to take out mortar placements and rocket launchers if their own children were under constant threat of injury or death.

Clearly, it is equally tragic when Palestinian children are hurt or killed by Israeli forces. But it is not the Israeli government that hides rocket launchers and mortars in apartment blocks and schoolyards, thereby making human shields of its own people.

We are optimistic Canadian security forces will uncover and dismantle any terror attacks on Canadian soil before they occur. But if Dr. al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda are successful in carrying out acts of terrorism here or elsewhere in the name of Gaza, Westerners should blame the source rather than Israel.

Arab Officials and Columnists blame Hamas for Escalation in Gaza

From MEMRI No. 1879, March 25, 2008:

Following the recent escalation in the Hamas-Israel conflict, Arab officials and columnists have been criticizing Hamas in the Arab and Palestinian press, blaming it for the escalation of violence and for the Gaza residents' suffering. It was also stated that Hamas was not acting for the benefit of the Palestinians, but was following Syrian and Iranian directives and promoting their interests.

The following are excerpts from various statements and columns:

...Palestinian Information Minister Riyadh Al-Maliki said:
"As the force in charge of Gaza, Hamas must bear the responsibility for its citizens' [wellbeing].... These rockets ... achieve the opposite of what is intended, causing hundreds of Palestinian civilians to be killed." ...
[Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 3, 2008]

Harsh criticism of Hamas was also voiced by the Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, who said that the Hamas' rocket attacks were useless and would only bring trouble upon the Palestinians themselves. [Al-Quds (Palestinian Authority), March 4, 2008]

Hilmi Al-Ghul, political advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayadh, attacked Hamas for boasting of victory over Israel when hundreds of Palestinians had been killed as a result of Hamas' actions:
"What victory are they talking about? Do the massacre of [Palestinians] and the destruction of Gaza's vital infrastructures count as a victory? Where is the victory in that? Over 120 [Palestinians] have been martyred, and over 300 have been wounded, while [on the Israeli side] only two or five have been injured. Is that a victory? Why doesn't the Hamas leadership do a [simple] cost-benefit analysis?... "Oh leaders of the useless [Gaza] coup!... stop shouting [empty] and deceptive slogans... return to your senses and to your people, and give up the wretched notion of establishing an [Islamic] emirate [in Gaza]..."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 5, 2008]

Kuwaiti reformist Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa that Hamas bears sole responsibility for the Palestinians' plight in Gaza:
"Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli attacks, triggered by the launching of a few Hamas rockets that [did no more than] wound one or two Israelis. ...Is there anyone rational in this insane movement called Hamas?... How long will this madness last? ....Palestinians ...are paying for the folly of following Hamas... The Palestinian people, whom Hamas has placed under siege in Gaza, have been reduced to begging Hamas for charity. Due to the moral laxity of its members, this movement [Hamas] is not above stealing food from the mouths of the Palestinian people - food donated by the Gulf states... The truth that the Palestinians refuse to see... is that their daily suffering - the deaths and wounding, the unemployment, and the power outages - are mostly [the result of] the arrogance of [Isma'il] Haniyya and his movement. [Haniyya] controls this movement by means of a gang that does nothing but terrorize the Palestinians, brutalize them on a daily basis with [the help of] its gunmen... and [provoke] ongoing Israeli attacks. If the Palestinians [really] support Hamas, as they claim, they should stop complaining about what Israel is doing. Do they expect the Israelis to shower them with flowers rather than missiles? Hamas - whose leader appears only at rallies, like [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah... - bears sole responsibility for the death of Palestinians [which is occurring] on a daily basis... In light of their insane insistence on launching improvised rockets [into Israel], they bear sole responsibility for the destruction of Gaza... "
[Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 1, 2008]

....Kuwaiti columnist Nasser Al-'Utaibi wrote in Al-Siyassa:
..."The Arab nation is tired of regimes, groups, power centers and self-interested [parties] exploiting the Palestinian cause as a pretext for [waging] wars... All peoples are familiar with this exploitation of the [Palestinian] problem, and with the harm these forces have done to the Arab nation in the past 50 years. They do nothing but [shout] high-flown slogans, issue statements that are never put into practice, and spend huge sums of money on weapons at the expense of the people's wellbeing and quality of life. ...We feel sorry for the Palestinian people, which fallen prey to the leaders in Damascus and Tehran... It pains us that innocent Palestinians are dying because of the stupidity of their leaders, who cleave to their positions [of power], pursue their own interests, and succumb to the [pressures of the] Iranian and Syrian regimes instead of looking after the interests of the Palestinian people..."
[Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 10, 2008]

Columnist Muhammad Hashem wrote in the reformist website
"Hamas, and the Syrians and Iranians who fund it, bear the sole responsibility for the recent scenes of bloodshed in Gaza. Today they are the happiest of men, since, [with the world condemning Israel for the attacks on Gaza], they are no longer under political pressure to stop transforming Gaza into a terrorist entity and to be more receptive towards the calls for peace emanating from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.... Hamas celebrated when extremist organizations from the Gulf and the Iranian and Syrian governments showered it with funds as a reward [for escalating the situation in Gaza] - funds which enable its leaders to build themselves palaces outside Palestine, [while] using the bloodshed to advance their own agenda - which is based on nothing but killing."
"Hamas was truly elated when the calls by its sheikhs in the mosques - who have now been made government ministers - were put into practice, and the death toll among Gazan civilians was jacked up in order to embarrass the Palestinian Authority. Khaled Mash'al's shrill clamoring was clearly [intended] to ignite a war, as [Hamas'] only way to extricate itself from the mess in Gaza."
"Amidst all the tumult of Hamas' clamoring and the deaths of innocents, nobody paid attention to the countries that were supporting Hamas, and that were planning moves aimed at embarrassing their rivals... at a cost of innocent lives."
"Does Iran realize that it is party to the murder of innocents in Gaza because of its support for Hamas' [foolhardy] actions? Has Qatar considered, even for a moment, withdrawing its financial and media support for this wretched and loudmouthed movement? Does Syria realize that its involvement with Hamas does not lessen its isolation [in the international arena] but increases it?"
"Will the people of Gaza wake up and rebel against Hamas and its financiers, and thus send [its members] scurrying like rats for cover, along with the Al-Qaeda cells, both dormant and active, [in Gaza] - as happened to the remnants of Al-Qaeda in Iraq? We hope that they will."
[, March 2, 2008]

Also, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed wrote:
"Syria and Iran must be questioned about the seriousness and efficacy of the actions of their allies in Hamas - both those who remain in Damascus and those who hide in their holes in Gaza. Did their rocket [attacks on Israel] benefit the helpless Palestinian [people in any way]? Or have the people of Gaza been left to deal with the death and destruction on their own, while the Hamas leaders flee to safe hideouts, calling this the 'prudent' way to wage war with Israel...?"
[Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 2, 2008]

PA failing in fight against terror

From Haaretz, by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay:

The American officers responsible for monitoring Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the road map peace plan recently criticized the Palestinian Authority's counterterrorism efforts.....

... Specifically, the Americans are concerned that the PA does not engage in the full spectrum of counterterrorism activities, including arrests, interrogation and trial, as it would if it were trying to eradicate the armed wings of Islamic terrorist organizations. Instead, it makes do with trying to "contain" terror - to prevent specific attacks, and to keep Hamas from growing strong enough to threaten Fatah's rule in the West Bank.

The PA security services do occasionally arrest members of Islamic organizations, but they do not then follow up with the other steps in the "chain of prevention": interrogations, arrests of additional operatives, indictments and trials. Trials generally take place only if the PA is under external pressure, as in the case of the Palestinians who killed two off-duty soldiers out on a hike near Hebron three months ago. And when they do take place, they are generally hasty affairs.

Israel has been complaining about the lack of a "chain of prevention" for years, ever since the second intifada broke out in 2000. Now, it seems that the American monitoring team, headed by General William Fraser, has adopted Jerusalem's position on this issue....

Russia, Egypt nuclear deal

From Yahoo News, by Victoria Loguinova, Tue Mar 25:

NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AFP) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Tuesday with Russian leaders to close a deal allowing Moscow to join a tender for Egypt's first civilian nuclear power station.

The agreement, which has taken years to draw up, opens the way for Russia to bid for a 1.5-1.8 billion dollars (970 - 1.16 billion euros) reactor project on Egypt's Mediterranean coast....

...Meeting with Mubarak at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow, President Vladimir Putin praised Egypt as "one of the leaders of the Islamic and the Arab world" and said Russian-Egyptian relations were of "strategic importance."

Putin's incoming successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes over the Kremlin in May, told Mubarak that he expected a "productive partnership" in the nuclear sphere...

....Russia -- which is close to completing Iran's controversial first nuclear facility in Bushehr, and also recently signed a contract for a reactor in Bulgaria -- is keen to re-establish a commercial and diplomatic presence in the Middle East.

The region was a stronghold of Soviet influence before the end of the Cold War and subsequent surge of US dominance. Today, nuclear technology and conventional weapons sales are again giving Moscow a foot in the door....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The truth about the Bibi 'scandal'

From The JPost, March 25, 2008, by Isi Leibler:

The Israeli media have reported ad nauseam Binyamin Netanyahu's so-called binge in London during the Second Lebanon War.... for sins he never committed....

....The story was initially broken by TV journalist Raviv Druker of Channel 10, who ....accused him of having lived it up like a fat cat while fellow Israelis were undergoing a war. Most of the Hebrew press jumped gleefully onto the bandwagon, assailing Netanyahu with such epithets as "greedy politician," "King Bibi the First," and a "regular Scrooge."

....The most outrageous aspect of this media offensive against Netanyahu was that far from being a personal luxury jaunt, the visit was in fact a genuine contribution to the welfare of Israel and Anglo-Jewry. Moreover, the journalists trying to discredit him were all aware that Netanyahu did not receive any remuneration or personally benefit in any way from the visit. He went once to the theater and his wife used a hairdresser - all of which Netanyahu paid for from his own pocket. The Israeli taxpayer did not contribute a single shekel toward defraying his expenses. Netanyahu was thus fully justified in telling the media: "I acted for the state, not at the expense of the state."

... Joshua Rowe, the Manchester philanthropist who sponsored the visit...informed me that he had appealed to an initially reluctant Netanyahu to come to London in order to respond to the media demonization of Israel during the Second Lebanon War and attempt to raise the spirits of Anglo-Jewry, which was deeply depressed and desperately needed a boost.

Rowe assured me that arrangements for Netanyahu were fully in accordance with former visits by other prominent Israeli personalities. In fact he had happily assigned the Israeli Embassy to take care of all the arrangements for the visit, including selection of the hotels.

Rowe personally covered the bulk of the costs for the visit. He told me that he had also intended to pay Netanyahu's personal expenses, but that Netanyahu adamantly refused and insisted on reimbursing him with a personal cheque for over NIS 12,000.

Those involved in the visit testified that it exceeded all expectations. Netanyahu worked day and night. He had multiple encounters with all segments of the media, including what has been described as a "brilliant" interview with BBC's Hard Talk which was televised worldwide. He raised substantial funds for Israel Bonds and his address to the Jewish community dramatically lifted its self-esteem.

Netanyahu's mission to Britain was recognized as one of the most successful visits of its kind in recent times. Rowe told me: "If it had cost me double or triple the amount, I would still gladly have underwritten the trip."

....Whatever deficiencies and errors in judgment Netanyahu made as a prime minister, he did succeed in reducing terrorism to the lowest level and was the first to demand reciprocity in return for concessions to the Palestinians. And few will deny that he subsequently proved to have been an outstanding finance minister.

Today, given the broad contempt toward Olmert's government, Netanyahu is clearly emerging as the frontrunner, and he may well be granted a second opportunity to show his mettle as a prime minister.

It is utterly unethical for a clique of journalists to divert attention from the real issues confronting the nation by indulging in the systematic defamation of a man who does not find favor in their eyes or those of their employers. In these very difficult times, instead of indulging in sleazy efforts to personally discredit the leader of the opposition, the media has an obligation to convey, analyze and either praise or criticize the policies Netanyahu has undertaken to implement if elected as prime minister. It will then rest with the people to determine whether or not they will support him.

...also see the following, from The Australian, March 18, 2008, by AP:

Netanyahu sues TV station for libel

JERUSALEM: Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu filed a libel suit against a television channel for broadcasting what it claimed was an astronomic tab he ran up during a trip to London while the country was at war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Channel 10 report claimed Mr Netanyahu spent more than $US50,000 ($53,000) during the six-day public relations tour during Israel's war against the Shia guerillas in the northern summer of 2006. Staying with his wife at one of London's best hotels, the Connaught, Mr Netanyahu's tab included first-class airfare, bar bills, meals, dry-cleaning and $US3170 for theatre tickets, the report said.

The report portrayed Mr Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and the frontrunner in national polls for the country's top job, and his wife, Sarah, as spendthrifts living luxuriously while the country was at war. The report also alleged some of the money came from a wealthy supporter, which could be an ethics violation.

Mr Netanyahu said the report was inaccurate and politically motivated. He had his lawyers file a lawsuit in Tel Aviv demanding 2million shekels ($620,000) in damages from the station.
"I paid for my personal expenses out of my own pocket," Mr Netanyahu said.