Saturday, March 07, 2009

Science Pogrom Week in the UK

From The Spectator, 4th March 2009, by Melanie PHILLIPS:

It’s Science Pogrom Week.

Yesterday, the Independent cranked up a front-page splash claiming that 400 academics were calling upon the Science Museum to cancel workshops being held this week promoting Israeli scientific achievements to schoolchildren. This was a reference to the 400 or so individuals who signed a letter to the Guardian last month screeching about "the indiscriminate slaughter and attempted annihilation of all the infrastructure of organised society in Gaza" and that the museum was thus promoting scientists and universities who were "complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza."

Such venom is particularly egregious considering Israel’s hugely disproportionate contribution to science for the benefit of all mankind – even that of the 400 signatories. And then of course there were the ritual lies. There was no ‘indiscriminate slaughter‘; most of those killed were terrorists. The weaponry used in Gaza was used to try to stop the murder of innocents; it was legal and proportionate; the Israelis went to huge lengths to avoid hitting civilians. All this is demonstrably so.

What the signatories are of course really saying is that Israel should not defend itself -- and therefore that it should be destroyed. An excellent leader in the Times this morning got the point that the real agenda here was not concern for the Palestinians but hostility to Israel's existence. These are actually scientists for extermination. They want Israel obliterated.

In any event, are they all scientists? The organisers seem to be largely retreads from the stymied attempt to impose an academic boycott of Israel. The signatories include such non-scientists as novelist Ahdaf Soueif, architect Walter Hain, Nobel ‘Peace’ Laureate Mairead Maguire, singer Reem Kelani and writer and TV producer Karl Sabbagh. To turn what they say about the Science Museum’s workshops back on them, their stunt clearly has nothing to do with science and everything to do with Israel.

Of course, it is pure coincidence that the Independent published this month-old non-story on its front page in ‘Israel apartheid week’, part of the orchestrated campaign of lies about Israel designed to soften up the high-minded for genocide.

This verbal pogrom has been making particular inroads, for some reason, into the medical profession. ...Honest Reporting has established that the [British Medical Journal] BMG’s obsession with Israel goes far beyond its coverage of any other conflict. In a search of the medical literature for citations relating to victims of international conflicts, including Palestinians, it discovered the following:

When Europeans kill Europeans (Bosnia), the BMJ allocates one citation for every 2000 deaths.
When Africans kill Africans (Rwanda), the BMJ allocates one citation for every 4000 deaths.
When Muslim Arabs kill Christian Africans (Darfur), the BMJ allocates one citation for every (minimum) 7000 Christians who are killed.
When Israelis, in the process of combating terrorists, kill Palestinians, the BMJ allocates one citation for every 13 Palestinians killed (including terrorist combatants).
When Arab Muslims kill Kurds, the BMJ fails to give this any attention whatsoever.

The evidence clearly shows that the BMJ has a disproportionate interest in Palestinian deaths over those from other conflict areas where the impact on public health is certainly as great and potentially greater than that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nor is it alone. The verbal pogrom has swept through the hallowed halls of the Royal College of Physicians. The February issue of its Commentary bulletin carried a ‘Special Feature’ article by Dr Chris Burns-Cox on ‘Physicians in Palestine’. This is a boiler-plate one-sided account of the (undoubted) privations of health care in Gaza with shortages of drugs and fuel for hospital generators, patients dying while waiting for permits to leave (for Israeli hospitals!!) and "severe limitations on postgraduate training" through "restrictions on movement and checkpoints". But no mention of the fact that the reason for these shortages is that the government which Gaza voted in is waging a war of extermination against Israel; nor of the fact that the checkpoints are only there because Gazans never stop trying to blow up Israeli citizens.

...Tomorrow, in another amazing coincidence with ‘Israel Apartheid Week’, the Lancet unleashes a further onslaught by publishing a special supplement on ‘health care in the occupied Palestinian territory’, prefaced by a symposium today at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. (Maybe someone can tell them Gaza is no longer occupied).

I think it’s a fair bet that this series of papers will not feature one of the most remarkable things about health care in Gaza -- unknown in any other theatre of war on the planet -- where patients from the side waging war are regularly treated in the hospitals of those against whom they continue to fire rockets and missiles aimed at killing their civilians. Israel regularly treats patients from Gaza – and yet the only reference ever made to this is the complaint that Gazan patients are often delayed in getting to those Israeli hospitals. And of course no mention that the reason for those delays is the war that Gaza is waging – or the fact that Hamas actually prevent Gazans from crossing into Israel to be treated.

The Lancet is unlikely to tell us any of that. Nor is it likely to tell us that the current undoubtedly parlous health indicators amongst Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, are solely the result of the war they continue to wage – as demonstrated by the following statistics of Palestinian health indicators reported by Professor Efraim Karsh of Kings College London:

From June 1967 until Israel passed control to the PA in the mid-1990s, life expectancy had risen from 48 to 72 years (compared to 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Mortality rates fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000 (in Iraq the rate is 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22).

To their eternal shame, and as proof that scientific reason confers upon those who lay claim to it no immunity against gross prejudice and the abuse of power, scientists played a key role in fascism and communism. Now some British scientists are once again colluding in just such an evil perversion of their calling.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bad day all round for the values of civilisation

From The Australian, March 04, 2009, by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor:

THIS appalling outrage in the Pakistani city of Lahore, closely modelled on last November's terrorist bombings in India's Mumbai, represents a new template for al-Qa'ida and like-minded groups around the world.

Lahore is the ancient capital city ofthe Punjab, Pakistan's largest province. Its desecration through this terrorist attack is a savage blow to the Pakistani state. It is second only to the murder of Bennazir Bhutto in demonstrating the continuing, and worsening, crisis in Pakistan.

The question deserves to be asked: are we witnessing the unravelling of Pakistan? ...Clearly, terrorists can now strike anywhere in Pakistan, and seemingly at will. The Government cannot carry out the most basic function of a state -- securing its own territory, whether that be the tribal regions, the badlands on the borders, or even its cities.

This brazen attack is also a declaration to the Pakistani Government that it bought absolutely nothing through its deal with the Taliban in the Swat Valley. You cannot buy your way clear of terrorists. They take whatever coin you offer and then renew the attack anyway.

Nonetheless, the only sensible option for the West, for the US and Australia, is to increase assistance to the ramshackle Pakistani Government.

The Pakistani state is facing a crisis of competence and capability. But if the state were to fail it would be replaced by the terrorists. The urgent priority, therefore, is to bolster the state, however difficult andin some senses even futile that may seem.

The other disturbing conclusion from this attack is that we will see more like them. Western intelligence agencies believe that al-Qa'ida and affiliated groups have fully internalised what they see as the success of the Mumbai attacks. They caused havoc, disrupted a major city for days, killed a lot of people and dominated the global media for much longer than a single bombing, no matter how destructive, was likely to do.

Western intelligence agencies believe there is a good chance that the next big terrorist attack in a Western society could follow the Mumbai model, now repeated in Lahore.

This is a bad day all round for the values of civilisation.

Anti-Semitism In Araby

From the NEWSWEEK magazine issue dated Mar 9, 2009, by Josef Joffe*:

To achieve Arab-Israeli peace will mean dealing with a civil society on one side that is by no means civil.

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Israel and the West Bank.... The play is called "Mediating in the Middle East," and it might be another 40 years before the cast sings the finale.

The reasons for this slow pace are familiar: the status of Jerusalem, problems with security, Jewish settlements, civil war among the Palestinians, etc. But one other key problem is stubbornly ignored: the fact that no Arab regime has shown itself willing to truly prepare its people for peace with Israel, which would mean accepting the lasting presence of Jews in their midst. Indeed, anti-Semitism—the real stuff, not just bad-mouthing particular Israeli policies—is as much part of Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah. Whereas this darkest of creeds is no longer tolerated in polite society in the West, in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.

For a European, it all feels uncomfortably familiar. Take the cartoons one sees in the government-controlled Arab press. They feature The Jew as a murderous conspirator, a capitalist bloodsucker or Satan himself—the classics. He even looks like his predecessors in Der Stürmer, with his hooked nose, thick lip and sinister beard.

Open Egypt's Al-Gomhuria newspaper, and there is The Jew as a serpent strangling Uncle Sam over a caption that reads "The Jews taking over the world." On Al-Nas TV, Egyptian cleric Ahmad Abd al-Salam tells his viewers, "I want you to imagine the Jews sitting around a table, conspiring how to corrupt the Muslims … The Jews conspire to infect the food of Muslims with cancer [and] to ship it to Muslim countries." Al-Salam's colleague, Zaghloul al-Naggar, has called Jews "devils in human form." And this is a country at peace with Israel. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis' chief propagandist, would be proud.

Meanwhile, Saleh Riqab, Hamas's deputy minister of religious endowment, has picked up smoothly where European anti-Semitism leaves off, declaring on TV that "the protocols of the elders of Zion discuss how the Jews should seize control of the world. In Europe, and especially in the U.S., there was a quick Jewish takeover of the major mass media." One Egyptian cleric has even voiced the widely shared opinion that "Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews." So much for a two-state solution.

No anti-Semitism is ever complete without the idea of sexual subversion. The Nazis accused the Jews of "polluting" the Aryan race. Sure enough, one Egyptian "expert" has opined on Al-Nas TV that "the No. 1 goal [of the West and the Jews] in spreading pornographic films is to destroy the identity of the Islamic nation." A favorite trope is the Nazi-Jew comparison, which has a simple psychological function. Since Nazis are the epitome of evil, so must be the Jews. Thus a Qatari paper has shown the contrails of an Israeli warplane forming a swastika, and a Saudi paper has superimposed it on the Star of David. The official Syrian Tishreen newspaper has depicted an Israeli soldier gesticulating to Adolf Hitler in front of a sea of skulls. The caption reads "The Israeli is explaining to the Nazi: 'We are the same'."

Finally, an example that might be amusing if it didn't illustrate the depth of the problem. It comes from Captain Shahada, of Egypt's Unique Moustache Association, who confessed on Egyptian TV: "I respect the moustache of this Hitler because he humiliated the most despicable sect in the world. He subdued the people who subdued the whole world—him with his [style number] '11' moustache." This is the essence of obsession: the compulsive recurrence of images and ideas over which you have no control.

So peacemakers, beware. They'll have to deal with a civil society on one side that is by no means civil. Indeed, as the Egyptian examples show (and there are plenty more from Jordan), there is an inverse relationship between policy and attitudes. Egypt's government has been at peace with Israel for 30 years; for Jordan, it's been 15.

Cynics might argue that this horrid creed is the price of peace—that the regimes in Cairo and Amman (and Ramallah, Qatar or Riyadh) deliberately stoke the flames of hatred to distract the masses from their quasi alliances with the Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority today owes its life to the Israeli Army. So it has to out-Hamas Hamas when it comes to the Jew-devil.

It's a nice theory, and it might even be true in parts. But it's not sustainable. How can you make or maintain peace with Satan incarnate? The Israelis long ago began to change their textbooks from a nationalist narrative to a more inclusive one that emphasizes not only the Holocaust but also the nakba, the flight and plight of the Arabs in 1948–49. But in Araby, we have the Syrian actress Amal Arafa, who makes a very different point. Even in peace, "Israel will continue to be a black … spot in my memory, in my genes and in my blood … We've sucked it in with the milk of our mothers [and] we will pass it down for many more generations."

Good luck, Secretary Clinton.

*Joffe is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Abramowitz fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.

The new anti-Semitism

From The National Post (Canada), February 17, 2009, by Irwin Cotler* [my emphasis added - SL]:

Reflecting on the contemporary surge in anti-Semitism, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has stated, "I have not felt the way I feel now since 1945. I feel there are reasons for us to be concerned, even afraid ... Now is the time to mobilize the efforts of all of humanity." This sentiment is what brings together parliamentarians from around the world, for the first conference of the International Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism [ICCA].

[Follow this link to read the keynote address by the Honourable Irwin Cotler at the founding conference of the ICCA ]

What we are witnessing today is a new sophisticated, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism, reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel since the end of the Second World War. This new anti-Jewishness found early juridical expression in the United Nations' "Zionism is Racism" resolution, but has gone beyond that. Traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever host society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves discrimination against the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations -- the denial of, and assault upon, the Jewish people's right even to live -- with Israel as the "collective Jew among the nations."

Observing the complex intersections between the old and new anti-Semitism, Per Ahlmark, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, pithily remarked that the new anti-Semitism is marked by attacks on the "collective Jews -- the State of Israel," which then "start a chain reaction of assaults on individual Jews and Jewish institutions." In and around my home city of Montreal, I have witnessed chilling examples of these phenomena -- from the firebombing of my own high school, to the physical assault of Jews in the Laurentians, to the vociferous chants against Israel during recent Gaza hostilities.

Let me be clear: I have never argued that Israel should be immune from criticism. But the protesters at purported anti-Israel rallies who cry "Jews are our dogs" are of common ilk with traditional anti-Semites. The whole underscores Ahlmark's conclusion: "In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, 'free of Jews.' Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, 'free of a Jewish state.'"

The indices of this new anti-Semitism are different from those of the old. Today it may be uncommon for a Jew to be refused service in a restaurant. But now Israel remains the standing object of genocidal threat from Iran and its terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas; the Jewish state is singled out in the international arena while the major human rights violators of our time enjoy exculpatory immunity; the legitimacy of Israel is discriminatorily scrutinized to the extent that, for the purpose of country groupings at the United Nations, it is considered not even to "exist" in Asia; and less sophisticated voices spread rumors of Israelis injecting Palestinians with the AIDS virus. Jews may no longer be denied equal housing, but they are now being denied an equal homeland.

As New York Times commentator Thomas Friedman put it: "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanctions, out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."

It is this escalation of anti-Semitism that necessitates the establishment of an International Parliamentary Coalition to confront this oldest and most enduring of hatreds. Silence is not an option. The time has come to act. For as history has taught us only too well: While it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mine shaft of evil, and it threatens us all.

*Irwin Cotler is the MP for Mount Royal and former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. He is a professor of law (on leave) from McGill University who has written extensively on matters of hate, racism and human rights. He is a co-founder of the International Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism with U. K. MP John Mann.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Israel Can't Afford Any More Dangerous Concessions

From Wall Street Journal Europe MARCH 2, 2009 by TOM GROSS [my emphasis added - SL]:

Obama shouldn't push the Jewish state to give territory to terrorists.

... many influential people in America and beyond are clamoring for the Obama administration to pressure Israel into making major concessions. ...bear in mind the pain Israel suffered the last time it was forced to make such concessions -- when Mrs. Clinton's husband was president.

...thousands of Israelis -- both Jews and Arabs -- [were] injured by Palestinian suicide bombers who were sent out on their deadly missions by either the Islamist Hamas movement or the Fatah faction headed by "moderate" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The number of Israelis killed in terror attacks [over 1,200 killed and 8,000 injured since 2000 - SL] has been greatly reduced in recent years after the government built a security fence to make it harder for bombers to get through.

... Barely a day goes by without Jimmy Carter and assorted European politicians calling on Mr. Obama to coerce Israel into hastily withdrawing from more land no matter the security risks. The reigning Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for instance, former Finnish Prime Minister Martti Ahtisaari, went so far as to use the prize ceremony as a soapbox to urge Mr. Obama to make pressure on Israel the principal focus of his first year in office.

... no one wants the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be peaceably resolved more than Israelis do.

But Israelis are also very aware of the dangers of naively handing over territory to terrorists, as was done during the presidency of Secretary of State Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, in the 1990s. The vote by Israelis in elections two weeks ago was not a vote against peace as many Western commentators claim. It was a vote for realism and security.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's likely next prime minister, has been wrongly vilified as being against a two-state solution. In fact he is open to the creation of a Palestinian state, but only if it is one that will live in peace with Israel. And for this, Mr. Netanyahu argues, you can't simply wave a magic wand at some fancy signing ceremony on the White House lawn and say "hey presto" -- which is exactly what politicians tried to do at the Oslo signing ceremony in 1993.

First the Palestinians need to do the hard work of building institutions that would allow such a state to succeed -- a functioning economy, the rule of law and so on. And Mr. Netanyahu is very willing to offer Israeli assistance in building such mechanisms.

Avigdor Lieberman, one of Mr. Netanyahu's possible coalition partners, who has been misleadingly described as an extreme rightist by many journalists, has been even more explicit than Mr. Netanyahu in calling for a two-state solution, including the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Even Shimon Peres, Israel's dovish president, now has second thoughts about unilateral Israeli concessions. Having long championed territorial withdrawals to attain peace, Mr. Peres last month acknowledged that it was a mistake for Israel to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 without first having a peaceful and democratic Palestinian party to hand that territory to.

Israel has always shown a willingness to make peace if a peace partner exists, as it did in the case of the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Jordan's King Hussein. Israelis are still waiting for a Palestinian Anwar Sadat.

One of Mr. Netanyahu's most difficult challenges during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 was coping with a Clinton administration that berated him for his belief that peace must be built from the bottom up through the liberalization of Palestinian society, rather than from the top down by giving land to terrorists. The question is whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton have come round to Mr. Netanyahu's way of thinking.

...Israeli concessions will never resolve the conflict in themselves. They will only work if there is corresponding pressure on the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and to make aid to the Palestinians conditional on putting an end to their inciting for the destruction of Israel.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Obama Administration Double-Deals On Israel

From, 3 march 2009, by Anne Bayefsky* [my own emphasis added - SL]:

Barack Obama just added double-dealing to his foreign policy repertoire.

On Friday, administration officials led many Jewish leaders to believe that the president had decided to boycott the United Nation's "anti-racism" conference known as Durban II. At the same time, however, human rights organizations were being led to believe that the administration was not pulling out and was looking for a way to "re-engage."

Durban II, scheduled for Geneva in April, is the U.N.'s attempt at a rerun of the 2001 global anti-Semitic hate fest held in Durban, South Africa.

After sowing confusion over the phone lines, the State Department chose late Friday night to put the real deal in print. Their release reads: "the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable," and "the United States will not ... participate in a conference based on this text," but we will "re-engage if a document that meets [our] criteria becomes the basis for deliberations." A new version must be: "shorter," "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration," "not single out any one country or conflict," and "not embrace the troubling concept of "defamation of religion."

And by the way, it continued, the U.S. will "participate" for the first time in the U.N. Human Rights Council.

All of this leaves the American people not knowing whether they're coming or going.

It does open a window, however, into Obama's gerrymandering. On one phone line with Assistant Secretary of State Karen Stewart were Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.N. Foundation, the UNA-USA Association and the Arab American Institute, among others. On the other line with National Security Council member Samantha Power were Jewish organizations. The dangerous message was that an Arab advocacy group does human rights, while Jewish organizations do Jews.

The Durban Declaration claims that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism; with Israel the only U.N. state charged with racism. The end game, as 2001 attendee Yasser Arafat made plain, is to analogize Israel to apartheid South Africa, pile on political isolation and sanctions and defeat Israel politically, if not militarily. The purpose of Durban II, as decided in August 2007 with the consent of the European Union, is to "foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration." In January of this year, the E.U. agreed to "reaffirm" the Durban Declaration "as it was adopted at the 2001 World Conference." Durban II cannot be salvaged; its very raison d'être includes demonizing Israel.

Some Europeans and Australia had been teetering on the edge of following Canada and Israel in boycotting the conference. But they were waiting for Obama to walk with them. Rather than encouraging these like-minded states, America's mixed message has sent human rights organizations and states scurrying. They are looking to inject some creative ambiguity into "not reaffirming in toto"--or as Stewart put it, "not unequivocally reaffirming"--the Durban Declaration. Instead of leadership and clarity of convictions, the U.S. has started a race to the bottom of the diplomatic barrel.

The prospect irritated Human Rights Watch, the American U.N. Association and the U.N. Foundation, which all let Stewart know they would have preferred to cut Israel loose now as a fair cost of engagement. Peggy Hicks from HRW complained that insisting on "no reference to a single country or conflict is very problematic and destructive to the Durban Review process." Susan Myers of the U.N. Foundation worried that the move "boxed in the administration" and "undercut the ability of the U.S. to re-engage."

In fact, Obama's four deal-breakers do not include many other troubling provisions still on Durban II's negotiating table. These include: questioning the veracity of the Holocaust, a variety of attacks on freedom of expression in addition to "defamation of religion," and incendiary claims of "Islamophobia"--the general allegation of a racist Western plot to discriminate against all Muslims.

The administration's decision to slip in the Human Rights Council as a consolation prize for Durban enthusiasts is an attempt to downplay a major move. State Department officials intimated that they intend not only to observe but to run for a seat--subject to the "likelihood of successful elections." Council members and human rights gurus, like China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are sure to welcome the instant legitimacy provided by U.S. participation. The Council--controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference--has adopted more condemnations of Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined, while terminating human rights investigations on the likes of Iran, Cuba and Belarus. Obama's move denies the opportunity to leverage the prospect of American membership to insist on reform.

Whether Obama actually stays away from Durban II is most likely to depend on his cost-benefit analysis of sacrificing Israel vs. heeding the siren's call to engage. My guess is he'll take the loss in the engagement column on Durban and the Israel column on the Council. Who said the human rights business had anything to do with human rights?

*Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and editor of

Ill winds from Washington

From THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 2, 2009, by Isi Leibler:

There are ominous vibes emanating from Washington signaling impending confrontations between the Obama administration and the incoming Netanyahu government.

Over recent weeks the administration has appointed to senior government postings, personnel with track records of hostility towards Israel such James Jones and Samantha Power.

But what utterly shocked friends of Israel was the selection of former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, to head the National Intelligence Council. Freeman, who will determine what intelligence is to be presented to the president and personally attend his intelligence briefings, is a bitter foe of Israel. Until now he actually headed the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council where he justified Palestinian terror against Israel and even tried to rationalize Hamas behavior. Last year he accused the Bush administration of "supporting right wing Israeli governments to undo the Oslo Accords and to pacify the Palestinians rather than make peace with them". He also dismissed the two state solution as too little and too late "because what is on offer looks to Palestinians more like an Indian reservation than a country".

There were also disconcerting statements from George Mitchell, Obama's Middle East envoy. Some Israelis recollect that in the course of his involvement in the region during the Clinton era, his obsessive even-handedness resulted in an inability to distinguish between terrorists and victims. His failed 2001 plan was a classic manifesto of moral equivalency, repeating mantras about cycles of violence and condemning both sides equally for lacking restraint.

Hitherto, the US administration and Israel agreed not to negotiate with Hamas unless it unequivocally reneged on its objective to destroy the Jewish state. Mitchell has now planted the seeds for a confrontation with the incoming Netanyahu government by asserting that the divisions between the two Palestinian factions represent a major obstacle towards achieving a settlement and urged Hamas and Fatah to unite. He failed to explain the benefits of submerging the weaker Fatah into the more powerful Iranian proxy whose extremism matches that of the Taliban.

THERE ARE other troubling signals. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is providing Gaza with close to a billion-dollar bailout to be transferred through tainted bodies like UNWRA which will unquestionably strengthen Hamas. Clinton also angrily insists that Israel open border crossings, dismissing the fact that Gilad Schalit remains incarcerated and that Hamas continues launching missiles and shooting at Israelis.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman John Kerry ominously suggested that while ultimately Israel must decide, the US would try to steer its ally in a direction that was good for Israel and the international community. Congressman Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, until now a strong supporter of Israel, made bizarre remarks bracketing "the same destructive dynamic which creates terrorism and the march of settlements and outposts" and "leads to the firing of rockets and perpetration of settler pogroms." Democrat Congressman Robin Baird urged the administration to reassess aid to Israel to pressure the new government.

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurzer, a long-standing Obama Middle East adviser, warned that "a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu which included Avigdor Lieberman would be a bad combination for American interests" which would be loath to "embrace a government that included a politician who was defined as a racist."

BUT THE GREATEST shock was the initial decision by the administration to participate "for the time being" in the preparatory committee for the Durban II conference, scheduled in Geneva on April 20. The original Durban "anti racism" conference in 2001 was a vile anti-Semitic hate fest boycotted by the Bush Administration. The Durban II Preparatory Committee is under the auspices of the Orwellian named UN Human Rights Commission, an evil body dominated by a coven of Moslem states and tyrannical regimes creating an obscene parody of human rights.

The committee is currently chaired by Libya, whose president accused Israel of responsibility for the genocide in Darfur and also recently recommended that Israeli Jews be resettled in Alaska. Iran and Cuba are deputy chairs. The drafts for Durban II reaffirm the call to delegitimize Israel, the only country singled out for human rights violations. The Jewish state is defined as a "foreign occupation founded on settlements, and operated by laws based on racist discrimination… a contemporary form of apartheid and a security threat to international peace".

The Canadians last year announced that they would boycott Durban. The US may have done likewise had our confused Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni not prevaricated and naively hinted that Israel might yet participate if the organizers changed course.

It was thus disgraceful that after seven years of the US treating this vile body as a pariah, aware that global anti-Semitism was at an all time high, the Obama administration dispatched a delegation to the preparatory committee. They did so under no illusions that the organizers could be persuaded to alter their disgusting program.

Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, detailed on her Web site ... the utterly demeaning and groveling manner in which the US delegation did raise concerns about efforts to muzzle freedom of speech (such as the use of allegations of Islamophobia to block all criticism of Islam), about demands to criminalize profiling, and about discrimination based on sexual orientation [see our previous posting on this subject]. But inexplicably, they remained absolutely silent concerning the vile references to Israel in the drafts and even failed to respond when invited to comment about Iranian objections against a European proposal to condemn Holocaust denial.

The passive participation of the United States at a gathering dominated by anti-Semites whose objective is to "reaffirm the Durban Declaration" was shameful and legitimized the resurrection of the hate fest by this wretched group. Bayefsky was justified in accusing the Obama administration of abandoning and betraying Israel as well as sacrificing basic American values in order to conform to the new policy of reaching out to Iranians and other extremist bodies.

Confronted by an eruption of public indignation, the administration subsequently withdrew from this despicable forum. But enormous damage has already been incurred, and some European countries who initially intended absenting themselves may still participate.

Although the jury is still out, we face difficult times. If in order to obtain accolades from the Arab world, the Obama Administration is planning to distance itself from Israel or pressure her into making concessions which undermine her basic security needs, we must maintain a united front and stand firm.

Our American Jewish allies and friends of Israel must gird themselves for new challenges. In contrast to the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush eras when support of Israel was synonymous with US policy, they may now find themselves conflicting with a powerful administration intent on distancing itself from Israel. They are also being undermined by a minority of noisy renegade Jews who shamelessly lobby the administration to employ what they describe as "tough love," a code message for threatening Israel with sanctions if it does not obey their demands for further unilateral concessions. American Jewish leaders now face the challenge of convincing a hopefully pragmatic President Obama - whom they overwhelmingly supported in the election - that appeasing an Iranian terrorist proxy and prematurely creating a Palestinian state controlled by Jihadists can only undermine prospects for peace and harm US interests.

After the above article had appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Isi Liebler added the following postscript to his email list:

I was shocked to learn that the Obama administration compensated for their enforced withdrawal from Durban by participating for the first time in the despicable Human Rights Council. This decision was buried in a press release relating to Durban.

It makes a mockery of the purported US stand against anti-Semitism and Israel bashing to begin at this time participating in a body purporting to promote human rights which is controlled by the organization of the Islamic conference and other rogue states and spends most of its time demonizing Israel.

To make matters worse, Bayefsky alleges that the State Department intends to fully legitimize this bogus organization purporting to promote human rights, by running for election to obtain a seat on the Council..

It is inexplicable that US and international Jewish agencies have made press releases profusely praising the Obama administration for withdrawing from Durban but made no reference to this outrageous gesture enhancing the status of an international organization pledged to undermine Israel.

I stated in my article appearing above that the jury is still out on the Obama administration’s attitude towards Israel. Alas, the situation now substantially intensifies grounds for genuine fear of an impending abandonment of Israel.

For more information see this posting.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Era of Engagagement likely to be short

From an analysis in THE JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 25, 2009, by Jonathan Spyer* [my emphasis added - SL]:
President Barack Obama, in his first international media interview following his election, told Al-Arabiya that "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us."

In addition to the new policy of seeking to reduce pressure on Iran, the US is currently engaged in what looks like an extended courtship of the Assad regime in Syria.

Obama mentioned neither Syria nor Iran in his latest speech to Congress. But the speech coined a phrase which handily sums up the essence of the administration's apparent approach to the region: "In words and deeds," the President told Congress, "we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun."

In words and deeds, the response of Iran and Syria to the Obama approach is also becoming apparent. Since the election of Obama, Iran has this month carried out two high-profile acts indicating that its drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability has - so far at least - failed to be swayed by the new era. At the beginning of the month, Teheran announced that it had successfully launched its first satellite into orbit. The launch was testimony to the advances made by Iran's long-range ballistic missile program. It was also testimony to the importance the Iranian regime attaches to acts of open defiance and demonstrations of strength.

This week, Iran announced that it is to begin a test run of its Russian-built light water reactor at Bushehr. The plant, which began construction in 1998, is due to begin functioning in the first half of this year. Russia has resisted international calls to suspend involvement. The test run, which coincides with a visit to Teheran of the head of Russia's state atomic energy corporation, represents an additional message from the Iranians regarding their position on the relative importance of extended hands and clenched fists.

Under the radar, there is concern at the increasing opacity of the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranians have chosen a unique interpretation of their obligations vis-à-vis the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and its investigations. More and more, Iran simply declines to provide information. The result is that there are now real fears that a secret uranium enrichment site in addition to the site at Natanz might have been constructed. Regarding the not-yet-operating heavy water plant at Arak - again, Iran is simply refusing to answer questions. Teheran's impunity derives from a reading of the current international atmosphere which is probably correct.

The courting of Syria, meanwhile, is showing no signs of being knocked off track by the latest revelations from the IAEA regarding just what it was that the Israeli air force bombed at al-Kibar in September, 2007. A report from the agency issued last week dismissed Syrian attempts to claim that traces of uranium found at the site were residue left by Israeli munitions. Inspectors have complained that Syria is denying access to parts of the site, and has failed to provide requested documentation concerning the site's use. Syrian spokesmen have explained the reluctance to grant access as deriving from fears that Israel might try to use information provided to gain knowledge of Syrian "military installations."

As if on cue, and in the latest evidence of the Syrian regime's feline sense of humor, a missile facility has now appeared at the site bombed in 2007. The facility will no doubt, in addition to defending Syria's skies from its enemies, serve an additional function as a reason why the site cannot be made open to inspectors from the IAEA.

Despite all this, the charm offensive is continuing. In addition to three high profile congressional delegations to Damascus, a series of quieter gestures are signaling to the Syrians that the sanctions regime put in place by the previous administration may be discreetly wound down. The Treasury Department last week permitted $500,000 to be transferred to a Syrian charity. The Department of Commerce approved the supplying of spare parts to Syria's superannuated Boeing 747 aircraft, and so on.

Thus far deeds. In terms of words - the picture does not differ greatly. The Syrians were reputedly angered by a suggestion from Congressman Benjamin Cardin during the visit of the first congressional delegation that Damascus might share some responsibility for its international isolation - because of its "partnership of terrorism." An editorial in the al-Watan newspaper described such remarks as "far from the Arab, international and American reality."

The newspaper succinctly summarized Syria's position as follows: "the Syrians are looking forward to a change in American policy, not to a change in Syrian policy."

Iranian spokesmen have struck a similar tone. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi responded to Obama's earlier declaration by contending that Iran had "never clenched its fists." Rather, it was the Bush administration which had shown its "clenched fist to Mid-East nations."

The new era of engagement thus appears so far to be providing the Iranians with valuable leeway for the pursuit of their nuclear ambitions, and the Syrians with similar space to avoid being brought to account for their own apparently now discontinued program. In addition, the new era is giving the spokesmen of both dictatorships plenty of opportunity for engaging in the scolding and proclamations of moral superiority of which they are so fond. It is unlikely that this is what the new US president had in mind. It is therefore probable that the new era will be an unusually short one.

*Jonathan Spyer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. He will be visiting Australia in March, as a guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

A Purim Joke - It would be funny, but ...

Who were the 1948 refugees?

From ICJS, Thursday February 26, 2009, by Charles Oren:

1. 320,000 Palestinian, and 820,000 Jewish, refugees were produced by the 1948 war, which was launched by Palestinians, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon against Israel.

2. The Jewish refugees - from Muslim countries - were absorbed (590,000 in Israel), as were millions of European refugees in the aftermath of WW2. In contrast, Palestinian refugees have been confined to camps, by Arab and PLO leaders, fomenting terrorism. None of the financial aid received by the PLO, from the US and other countries, has been directed at the refugee camps!

3. 800,000 Arabs resided in Israel (defined by the 1949 ceasefire lines) on November 30, 1947. At the end of the war there were 170,000 Arabs in Israel (including 14,000 Bedouins, down from 64,000 before the war). Considering the 100,000 who were absorbed by Israel, the 1%-2% war fatalities (Israel lost 1% of its people!), the 50,000 Bedouins, who joined tribes in Jordan and Sinai, the 100,000 Palestinians who rejoined their families in Lebanon and Syria (please see below) and the wealthy Palestinians who were resettled in the Mideast and in other parts of the globe and the 50,000 who were foreign laborers returning to their countries of origin, the actual number of Palestinians refugees, in 1949, was 320,000!

4. Many Palestinians are descendants of Egyptian, Sudanese, Syrian and Lebanese migrants, who settled in the current boundaries of Israel during 1830-1945. Migration by Arab citizens of the Ottoman Empire did not require any permit until WW1. Migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman and (since 1919) by the British authorities for infrastructure projects: The port of Haifa, the Haifa-Qantara, Haifa-Edrei, Haifa-Nablus and Jerusalem-Jaffa railroads, military installations, roads, quarries, reclamation of wetlands, etc. Illegal Arab laborers were also attracted by the relative boom, stimulated by Jewish immigration, which expanded labor-intensive enterprises (construction, agriculture, etc.).

5. The (1831-1840) conquest, by Egypt\'s Mohammed Ali, was solidified by thousands of Egyptians settling empty spaces between Gaza and Tul-Karem up to the Hula Valley. They followed in the footsteps of Egyptian draft dodgers, who fled Egypt before 1831. The British traveler, H.B. Tristram, identified Egyptian migrants in the Beit-Shean Valley, Acre, Hadera, Netanya and Jaffa.

The British Palestine Exploration Fund indicated that Egyptian neighborhoods proliferated in and around Jaffa: Saknet el-Mussariya, Abu Kebir, Abu Derwish, Sumeil, Sheikh Muwanis, Salame\', Fejja, etc. Many of those who fled in 1948 attempted to reunite with their families of origin.

6. "30,000-36,000 Syrian migrants (Huranis) entered Palestine during the last few months alone" ("La Syrie" daily, August 12, 1934). Syrian rulers have always considered the area as a southern province of Greater Syria. Az-ed-Din el-Qassam, the role-model of Hamas terrorism, who terrorized Jews in British Mandate Palestine, was a Syrian, as were Said el-A'az, a leader of the 1936-38 anti-Jewish pogroms and Kaukji, the commander-in-chief of the Arab mercenaries terrorizing Jews in the thirties and forties.

7. Tristram, and other travelers, identified over 15 Arab nationalities who settled in Jaffa. Libyan migrants and refugees settled in Gedera, south of Tel Aviv. Algerian refugees (Mugrabis), escaping the French conquest of 1830, settled in Safed, Tiberias and other parts of the Galilee. Their leader, Abd el-Kader el-Hasseini, headquartered in Syria! Circassian refugees, fleeing Russian oppression (1878), Moslems from Bosnia, Turkomans, Yemenite Arabs (1908) and Bedouin tribes from Jordan (escaping wars and famine) diversified Arab demography there.

The aforementioned data are contained in the book The Claim Of Dispossession (Arieh Avneri, 1982) and by From Time Immemorial (Joan Peters, Harper, 1984).

8. Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League: In 1948, Azzam Pasha, the former Secretary General, "assured Arabs that the occupation of Palestine, including Tel Aviv, would be as simple as a military promenade...Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property, and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states." (Al-Hoda Lebanese daily, New York, June 8, 1951).