Saturday, December 05, 2009

What Hamas Really Wants from a Prisoner Swap

From Commentary 4 December 2009, by Evelyn Gordon:

One myth the negotiations over kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit should definitively debunk is that Hamas’s leadership actually cares about the fate of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In exchange for Shalit, Israel has offered to free 980 Palestinian prisoners, including 450 chosen in consultation with Hamas. And by all accounts, it has already agreed to almost all the 450 specific prisoners whose release Hamas is demanding: the London-based daily Al-Hayat claimed today that Israel has agreed to 400 of them; the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam claimed yesterday that Israel has agreed to all but 15.

Hence if Hamas really wanted to free a large number of Palestinian prisoners — including hundreds involved in some of the worst terrorist violence of the past two decades — all it had to do was say yes. And since the handful Israel still refuses to release includes several senior Hamas figures, such a deal would even reap a public relations bonus: it would show that Hamas is willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole, to let some of its top people stay in jail in order to win freedom for almost 1,000 of its Palestinian brethren.

But in fact, Hamas has said no, publicly and repeatedly. Why? ...

...There are only two possible ways to interpret this.

One, of course, is that Hamas’s leadership cares only about the handful of top-level terrorists in its inner circle, and unless they are released, the other 900-plus Palestinians can rot in jail forever for all it cares.

The other is that Hamas doesn’t actually care about any of the prisoners; what it cares about is proving that it can bend Israel completely to its will.

Granted, Hamas has already gotten Israel to capitulate almost completely. After initially refusing to negotiate at all, Israel began by agreeing to only 70 of the names on Hamas’s list and has since steadily retreated. In March, it agreed to release 325 of those on Hamas’s wish list, and now it has agreed to 400 or even 435.

But “almost” is not enough if the goal is to prove that Hamas’s path of “resistance” (i.e., terror) works better than Fatah’s tactic of diplomatic pressure. After all, Fatah has also gotten Israel to capitulate on almost everything: just last year, Ehud Olmert offered it the equivalent of 100 percent of the territories, including East Jerusalem, plus international Muslim control of the Temple Mount. Yet even then, Israel held out on a few issues, like the “right of return.” Hence to prove that “resistance” is the better path, Hamas needs 100 percent capitulation...

Jewish enemy and employee of the State of Israel

From FrontPage, November 30, 2009, by Paul Shindman:

Jerusalem – Dr. Neve Gordon of Israel’s Ben Gurion University is known as one of the most radical academic Palestinian sympathizers. However, his activities appear to have peaked this year with a call for an anti-Israel boycott, and revelations that he hosted a convicted Palestinian sentenced to house arrest.

Despite being the chairman of the political science department at Israel’s Ben Gurion University, Gordon wrote an L.A. Times op-ed calling for a worldwide boycott of Israel, including Israeli universities, to achieve what he calls "ending our apartheid."

Gordon’s call was widely seen as an anti-democratic attempt to undermine Israeli democracy and sovereignty and drew scathing criticism from his peers in both the academic and activist communities.

The president of BGU, Rivka Carmi, went so far as to say Gordon’s call meant the university “ is being threatened by the egregious remarks of one person, under the guise of academic freedom.” In a rebuttal editorial, Carmi had to point out that it was only Israeli labor law that prevented the university from firing Gordon. In a harsh assessment, she said his boycott call meant “Gordon has forfeited his ability to work effectively within the academic setting, with his colleagues in Israel and around the world.”

Veteran Israeli left wing anti-Zionist activist Uri Avnery was with Gordon and other Israeli extremists when they barricaded themselves in Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound during a prolonged siege by the Israeli army in 2002. Despite their common background, even Avnery rejected Gordon’s op-ed, saying it was an “example of a faulty diagnosis leading to faulty treatment. To be precise: the mistaken assumption that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resembles the South African experience leads to a mistaken choice of strategy.” This was harsh criticism from a political colleague that raised questions about Gordon’s professional abilities as an academic.

Gordon is viewed in his own country as notorious for his venomous anti-Israel writings and statements. The Israeli media reported when Gordon and other activists illegally entered Ramallah in 2002 to serve as human shields inside Yasser Arafat’s headquarters. They wanted to prevent the Israeli army from arresting the suspects wanted for the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister. Gordon was shown in newspaper photos embracing Arafat. The terrorists were eventually apprehended, tried and convicted.

Gordon also has a fractious track record in his teaching career with numerous run-ins with students who hold opposing views. Gordon regularly denounces Israel as a fascist apartheid entity and admitted that his boycott call was a tactic to force Israeli concessions with the Palestinians. Gordon’s articles are so openly anti-Israel that they are often published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial web sites.

Around the same time as the boycott call, Gordon turned his own home into a refuge for convicted Fatah organizer Mohammed Abu Humus, a resident of the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem. As a local Fatah organizer, Abu Hums had previous convictions for several security related offenses including arson and assault. Despite the latest conviction for directing demonstrators to throw rocks, Gordon described Abu Humus as a “political prisoner” and “a Fatah leader.”

A Jerusalem district judge earlier this year convicted Abu Humus and handed down a nine-month sentence, converted to house arrest. Gordon organized a group of far-left academics to testify on behalf of Abu Humus, and Gordon offered the court to host Abu Humus in Gordon’s own home in Beersheva for the duration of the house arrest. It is evidently the only case on record of a Palestinian terrorist being released to house arrest in the home of a Jewish Israeli citizen....

Friday, December 04, 2009

West Australian Public Sector Union: "activism" without accountability

The Commonwealth Public Sector Union / Civil Service Association (CPSU/CSA) Executive Committee adopted the following anti-Israel resolution on 11 February 2009. It was endorsed by the CSA Council on 25 February 2009:

1. This meeting of the CPSU/CSA Executive Committee strongly condemns the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip....

...3. This meeting of the CPSU/CSA Executive Committee expresses our support for the campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed at Israel until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territories in accordance with UN resolutions....

...5. This meeting of the CPSU/CSA Executive Committee calls on Unions WA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to commit their support to the BDS campaign...

A concerned union member recently wrote to Ms Tony Walkington, Secretary of the CPSU/CSA, and kindly provided a copy to JIW:

Dear Ms Walkington

I refer to the CPSU/CSA resolution to support a boycott of Israel and condem the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

As a Union member I am very unhappy that you would presume to make such a serious decision on my behalf.

Why boycott the only liberal democracy in the region. Israel has an enviable justice system which protects the rights of all its citizens regardless of gender, race or religion. It has a history of providing practical assistance and sharing technology with struggling third-world countries and has given a home to hundreds of Vietnamese refugees at a time when many countries were reluctant to do so.

Like any democracy Israel is not perfect, but it does have a system of checks and balances. Free speech is a basic right and diverse political views are accommodated. Israelis are politically aware and are never reticent in criticizing their governments. One thing they all agree on is that they desperately want to live in peace and not to have to send their children to war to defend their country against constant attack.

Have you considered the impact that this proposed boycott could have on the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel on a daily basis. Israeli unions protect the rights of those workers and are actively engaged with Palestinian unions in an effort to bring peace to the area. Israel is the only source of economic security for many of those people. So much for worker solidarity.

Why didn’t you condemn Palestine when Hamas bombarded Israel with over two thousand rockets during the last eight months of the cease fire? Did it concern you that many of those attacks were directed at schools? Did you complain at all during the last eight years of the Infitadah where Israel was constantly under attack from suicide bombers, rockets from Hezbollah in Lebanon and scud missiles from Iraq?

Clearly you did not seek to inform yourself of the argument for Israel before making this decision. In the interest of balance you should have. I understand that you are very busy and perhaps cannot study every issue in depth. I also understand that those who push anti-Israeli propaganda are strident and convincing.

I have attached a recent speech delivered by Col. Richard Kemp to the UN Human Rights Council which addresses the allegations against Israel in Gaza. I hope you will take the time to read it.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this resolution, reverse it and join TULIP (trade unions linking Israel and Palestine). This offers an opportunity to work constructively towards a peaceful solution in the area and sidelines those who perpetuate the war in order to serve their own dark purposes.

I look forward to your response – which will of course determine my future as a member of the CPSU/CSA.

Yours sincerely
Judith Lewis

Judith has received no response to her letter after many weeks. She will keep us informed of developments.

Not All in Middle East Want Peace

From The Korea Times, 4 Dec 2009, by Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism:

..Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has responded by demanding more ― as a pre-condition, before he will talk...

...for more than half a century, Western politicians and diplomats have built upon a mirage: the belief that because we see peace as a benefit, everyone in the Middle East must see it that way, too.

This assumption is most obviously false in regard to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza with an iron fist since Israel withdrew from that territory in 2005. Hamas' leaders have been candid: Their goal is the annihilation of Israel, an "infidel" nation occupying land Allah has endowed to the Muslims. A "two-state solution" or any other compromise is out of the question.

Of course, serious people do not envision Israeli-Hamas negotiations. It is rather talks between Israel and Abbas, who maintains tentative control of the West Bank, which President Barack Obama would like to get under way again.

But any agreement Abbas might strike with Israel, no matter how advantageous for average Palestinians, would be denounced by Hamas as an act of treachery and apostasy. Abbas' life would be in danger. If you were advising Abbas, what would you tell him? Probably, to do exactly what he is doing: Pocket any Israeli concessions the Americans can wring out of the Israelis while dismissing them as woefully insufficient; refuse to negotiate; but behind the scenes work with the Israelis on security ― not least your own ― and economic development. If nothing else, that may prevent Hamas from gaining additional ground.

As for Israel's neighbors, they are undemocratic regimes so, for them, allies are nice, but enemies are essential. Where else can popular dissatisfaction be deflected? Take Saudi Arabia: Israel long ago proved itself to be the Saudis' best enemy. The Saudis know they face no actual threat from Israel, but hatred of Israel is something Wahhabi clerics ― whose theological support the House of Saud requires ― can sink their teeth into during Friday night sermons. Why would a Saudi prince trade that for an invitation to dine in Jerusalem?

There's also this: Tension in the Middle East keeps the price of oil higher than it would be were a durable peace ever to break out. Any country that depends on oil sales ― Russia, for example ― benefits so long as the conflict stays at least on low simmer. Higher oil prices on the one hand, peace for Israelis and Palestinians on the other: You think it takes Vladimir Putin long to make up his mind?

As for Iran's Shia Islamist rulers, the vehemence of their jihad against Israel buys them legitimacy within the Sunni world. Like Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorists groups they finance (the first Sunni, the second Shia), Iran's rulers have not the slightest interest in such Western diplomatic constructs as a ``final-status plan for a two-state solution."

With so many key actors opposed to peace, there is no way for Israel, even with energetic American help, to reach a lasting settlement with its Muslim neighbors any time soon. But Abbas' Palestinian Authority does appear to be cooperating closely with the Israeli Defense Forces to crack down on both terrorists and criminals. And an improved security situation is among the factors contributing to a remarkable new economic vitality on the West Bank.

Netanyahu calls this the pursuit of ``economic peace." Could it pay off over time by persuading more Palestinians ― and more powerful Palestinians ― to embrace peace as their goal and effectively challenge peace's opponents? Yes to the first, doubtful but not impossible to the second. But why not achieve now what can be achieved now? Surely, cultivating a small oasis is preferable to pursuing a great mirage.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lebanon & Hezbollah's all the same

From, December 2, 2009, by Michael Tobin:

Lebanon ’s new government just took a game changing step in the event of another military conflict with Israel . It involves Hezbollah being folded into the Government of the new Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The Prime Minister answered Hezbollah’s demand and backed the groups’ demand to keep all of its weapons. Hezbollah says the weapons are for the purpose of deterring an Israeli invasion.

This puts Lebanon in a conflict with the U.S. and French sponsored U.N. resolution 1559 – which calls for the disarmament of all groups in Lebanon other than the Army.

From Israel ’s perspective, it puts the Lebanese government in an alliance with the armed wing of Hezbollah.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel ’s Prime Minister says, “Any attack from Hezbollah will be seen by Israel as an attack from the Lebanese state.” In the 2nd Lebanon war more than 1000 Lebanese were killed, most of them civilian. The damage to infrastructure was significant and more than 1 million Lebanese were displaced form their homes. According to Israel , these painful figures will only increase now if there is a 3rd Lebanon war because the entire state becomes a target.

“In the 2nd Lebanon war, a strategic decision was made that Lebanon was not the target,” says Regev. “ Israel made the distinction between Hezbollah and Lebanese.”

Hezbollah is now said to possess 40,000 rockets in Lebanon . The weapons stockpile is reported to be larger than it was at the start of the 2nd Lebanon war in July of 2006.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Things Never Change

From Shiloh Musings, Thursday, October 22, 2009, by "Netivotgirl":

THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 1968 (40 years ago) - Astonishing !

You probably won't remember the name Eric Hoffer. He was a longshoreman who turned into a philosopher, wrote columns for newspapers and some books. He was a (non-Jewish) American social philosopher ..born in 1902 and died in 1983, after writing nine books and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ...

...Here is one of his columns from 1968...

by Eric Hoffer (LA Times, 26 May 1968)

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman.

Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel , the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single one.

Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace.

Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world. Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967], he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Blacks are executed in Rhodesia . But, when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam , did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer [1967] had the Arabs their Russian backers won the war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iran Inquiry at a ‘Dead End’

From The New York Times, November 27, 2009, by David E. Sanger from Washington, and William J. Broad from New York:

The director general of the United Nations nuclear watchdog declared in unusually blunt language on Thursday that Iran had stonewalled investigators about evidence that the country had worked on nuclear weapons design, and that his efforts to reveal the truth had “effectively reached a dead end.”

The comments by the official, Mohamed ElBaradei, came four days before he is to leave office after 12 years at the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. His remarks refocus attention on Iran’s alleged work on weapons design at the moment that the West is debating how to respond after Tehran backed away from a commitment it made in early October to temporarily send much of its nuclear fuel abroad.

Dr. ElBaradei’s remarks also came as President Obama’s end-of-year deadline is approaching to reassess whether the United States should move toward what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has termed “crippling sanctions” on Iran.

...Dr. ElBaradei’s statement was a sharp departure in tone, and a tacit acknowledgment that his behind-the-scenes effort to broker a deal had collapsed.

...But the central issue in the Iran investigations has been the evidence suggesting that Iran conducted some level of research on weapons. An American intelligence assessment, published two years ago, contended that Iran ceased that work in 2003; intelligence agencies in Britain, France, Germany and Israel, examining the same evidence, have concluded that the work has resumed, or never stopped.

In October, parts of a confidential analysis written by senior staff members of the watchdog agency were leaked. The analysis concluded that Iran had acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb. The report’s conclusions went beyond Dr. ElBaradei’s public positions, and even those taken by the United States and several governments.

The analysis drew a picture of a complex program, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system,” Iran’s medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of southern Europe.

That analysis, and others like it, draw on years of clues and scraps of information gathered in Iran and from intelligence agencies around the world. For instance, atomic inspectors have found signs that Iran has done extensive research on high-voltage detonators, explosive lenses for bomb detonation and re-entry vehicles for missiles that can cushion nuclear warheads as they streak earthward.

The inspectors also found evidence that a Russian scientist had helped Iran conduct complex experiments on how to detonate a nuclear weapon. They said they believed he acted on his own as an adviser on experiments described in a lengthy document the agency obtained. Officials have described the original, in Persian, as a detailed narrative of experiments aimed at achieving the perfectly timed compression of nuclear fuel to squeeze it into supercritical mass, which initiates a nuclear blast.

In 2006, the agency released a report saying Iran had obtained from the global black market a document “related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components.” The previous year it told of the market’s offering to help Iran shape uranium metal into “hemispherical forms,” which Western experts say are needed to make nuclear bomb cores.

Also in 2005, European and American officials told of an Iranian laptop computer that held studies for crucial features of a nuclear warhead, including a telltale sphere of detonators to trigger an atomic explosion. The documents specified a blast roughly 2,000 feet above a target — considered high enough for a nuclear detonation to maximize the damage below.

"Settlements" are legal


The Office for Israeli Constitutional Law, a non-governmental legal action organization, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, warning that by labeling Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal, she is violating international law.

The little-known Anglo-American Convention, a treaty signed by the US and British governments in 1924, stipulated that the US fully accepted upon itself the Mandate for Palestine, which declared all of the West Bank within its borders.

...Though the United Nations' 1947 partition plan declared the West Bank an Arab territory, the mandate's borders still hold today.

..."The UN partition plan was just that-a plan," said OFICL chairman Michael Snidecor in a statement. "The General Assembly has no authority to create countries or change borders."

Clinton's rhetoric, according to Kaplan, has become more and more troubling. ...A few days after praising Israel for its "unprecedented" actions in freezing settlement activity, Clinton reemphasized the supposedly illegal status of the settlements.

"The United States believes that settlements are not legitimate," she said. "That has been the policy of our government for 40 years. That is the policy of President [Barack] Obama today and going forward."

According to Kaplan, the IDF presence in the West Bank has added to this misconception of illegal activity. "...the world says it is illegal occupation because of all the propaganda that's been out there. Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria does not qualify as an occupation under international law ..."

Growing international pressure on Iran


The US and Israel expressed satisfaction over the weekend with what officials from both countries termed "a growing momentum" of international pressure on Iran to halt activities that would enable it to construct nuclear weapons.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday passed a resolution censuring Iran 25-3, demanding that Teheran immediately freeze construction of its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed Security Council resolutions to stop uranium enrichment.

...[Israel's] Foreign Ministry urged world powers to make certain the demands on Iran "did not stop with just rhetoric," according to ministry spokesman Yossi Levy.

"There are two elements that will decide if international pressure is successful," Levy said. "One is an unbending schedule [for diplomatic talks], and two, a price tag for every Iranian violation. When these are in place, the diplomatic process will have a momentum that will ensure the sanctions on the Iranian regime are painful and effective."

....The 25 members of the 35-nation board that backed the resolution included the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, marking a rare measure of unity from the six world powers on Iran.

...In Teheran, a conservative Iranian legislator warned Saturday that his country may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty after the UN resolution censure - a move that could seriously undermine world attempts to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons...