Saturday, June 19, 2010

New IHH flotilla incitement video evidence: ‘We Will Throw Them into the Sea’

From Arutz Sheva, June 19 2010, by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry exposed another video from the Mavi Mamara ship Friday, this time showing IHH leader Bulent Yildirim inciting followers,

“If you [Israel] send the commandos, we will throw you down from here and you will be humiliated in front of the whole world. If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!"

The footage, discovered among the possessions of one of the passengers, also catches an Egypian legislator joining others to chant, “Martyrs marching into Gaza by the millions.”

The film adds more proof to incriminating evidence that the hard core of 40 terror activists on the top deck of the ship conspired and incited to assault and kidnap Navy commandos. It further contradicts edited videos by the IHH and Free Gaza activists depicting the commandos' self-defense as if they were initiating the attacks.

Previous IDF videos have shown the 40-member gang assaulting the commandos as they hit the deck, descending on ropes from hovering helicopters. The terror activists, many of whom were trained in hand-to-hand combat, beat the naval officers with metal rods, knifed them and took several hostages until the commanding officer gave the order to open fire to save the lives of their comrades...

A History of Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

From SPIEGEL ONLINE, 17 June 2010, by Erich Follath and Holger Stark:
Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee (right) speaks before the United Nations after the passage of a resolution last Wednesday imposing additional sanctions against Iran.

In the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, the UN Security Council has imposed new sanctions. ...SPIEGEL traces the history of Tehran's nuclear program ...

Read the entire magazine article in seven parts:

Part 1: A History of Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
Part 2: Pinpricks with Little Impact on Berlin
Part 3: How the World's Nuclear Dealer Got His Start
Part 4: 'Arming to Threaten the Peace of the World'
Part 5: 'A Very Dangerous Man'
Part 6: Growing Suspicions of a Weapon Program
Part 7: Israel Secretly Prepares for a Military Strike

The Three Terrors

From LatmaTV — June 17, 2010:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Support Israel: if it goes down, we all go down

From The Times (UK) [login required], and posted on Tundra Tabloids, Thursday, June 17, 2010, by José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, 1996-2004:

Anger over Gaza is a distraction. We cannot forget that Israel is the West’s best ally in a turbulent region

....In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.

...A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities:

first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.

Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.

Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.

Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.

For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.

The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.

The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation.  ...Some  ...act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.

Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down.

To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.

The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.

It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.

What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.

Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.

Anti-Israel bias in Canadian TV

From The Rubin Report, Sunday, June 6, 2010, by Barry Rubin:

Here's an example of the insanity and profound anti-Israel bias currently gripping mass media

On June 1, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) anchorman Peter Mansbridge stated that the Gaza Strip "has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates" The obvious implication: it is Israel's fault because of its sanctions.

In fact, the Gaza Strip has a lower infant mortality rate than Turkey, which has been a modern republic with full independence for about 80 years, and Iran, which enjoys the "benefits" of the kind of Islamist government which Hamas and the current Turkish government applaud.

According to the CIA World Factbook, regarded as a definitive source, the Infant Mortality Rate in the Gaza Strip is 17.71 deaths per 1000 births, about the same as Mexico and below that of Brazil, Romania, and many other countries. In neighboring Egypt, the number is 26.2, in Turkey, 24.8, and Iran, 34.7.

The kind of coverage given to living standards in the Gaza Strip seems an example of what sometimes seems a principle of Western journalism:
  • Third World suffering is only of interest if it can be blamed on the West.
  • Third World suffering is the world's lead news story only if it can be blamed on Israel.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Syrian Intelligence Involvement in the “Gaza Flotilla” Incident

From Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, Volume XXVIII, No. 35 Tuesday, June 15, 2010, by Jason Fuchs, UN Correspondent, and Gregory Copley, Editor:

New Evidence Points to Syrian Intelligence Involvement in the “Gaza Flotilla” Incident; Links to Bosnian/Viennese Jihadi Networks Emerging

...sources in Croatia confirmed on June 14, 2010, that a key Syrian intelligence officer had been onboard the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, during its attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010. The agent, named Jaser Mohamed Sabag, was a Syrian native and naturalized Bosnian citizen.

...Sabag works directly for the Syrian Military Intelligence Service, Shu'bat al-Mukhabarat al-'Askariyya.

...Sabag had worked in the Balkans liaising with regional Iranian intelligence (Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniat-e Keshvar: VEVAK) networks to coordinate support for Balkan jihadist networks, including the Turkish IHH (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı), which purchased the Marmara for $800,000 in April 2010 and — ostensibly — spearheaded the so-called Gaza flotilla.

...This ...confirmed the Turkish Government’s linkage to the terrorist support work of IHH in the Balkans, during which time the jihadist terrorist groups there, using the IHH links, had been used against Western targets. But more importantly, it highlighted the links between the Turkish Government — via the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı: MİT) — with the Syrian Mukhabarat for many years in jihadist support operations, pre-dating the break-up in Turkish-Israeli relations.

The presence of Sabag onboard the Marmara raised a number of questions about the true nature of how the flotilla had been organized, funded and directed. It indicated, at a minimum, Syrian Government involvement, and, at most, that unwittingly many of the flotilla’s passengers had been used as cover in the intelligence gambit by Damascus and Ankara.

...The daily newspaper, Fokus, published in Banja Luka, Republica Srpska, Bosnia & Herzegovina, further reported that before working with jihadist networks in the Balkans, Sabag had been in charge of “intelligence affairs” for the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) where he established an effective working relationship with Halil Badia, the daughter of Abu Nidal (born Sabri Khalil al-Banna). Halil Badia, the report continues, assumed control of the ANO following her father’s death in Baghdad on August 16, 2002, and has since become “a main financier of the Wahabbist movement in ...(Bosnia & Herzegovina)”.

...The still emerging evidence of connections between Syrian intelligence operations in the Balkans, Bosnian jihadists, and the voyage of the Marmara raised serious questions for the West and particularly for NATO of which Turkey is a member about the extent to which the Turkish Erdogan Administration had been aware of these linkages when it gave permission for the Gaza flotilla to set sail.

If, in fact, Prime Minister Reçep Tayyip Erdogan had known about the presence on the Marmara of a Syrian intelligence agent with deep, long-standing ties to the global jihad movement, further questions would be raised about the extent to which Istanbul has chosen to reorient its strategic posture...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Israel has a right to protect itself, and the campaign to undermine this must be opposed

From the Australian Federal Government Hansard (my emphasis added - SL):

Tuesday, 15 June 2010 SENATE 103

Middle East
Senator [Scott] RYAN (Victoria) (7.53 pm) - Several weeks ago we were informed that Israel had allegedly outrageously intervened to stop a so-called peace flotilla, with commandos launching themselves at a peaceful armada seeking nothing more than to take humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Excuse me if I was a little cynical when I first heard the news, for despite days of a highly orchestrated media campaign to vilify Israel and her defence forces, the truth subsequently came out. These were not peace activists; they were agents of provocation, radicals seeking a violent confrontation as they broke the legal maritime blockade of Gaza. I did not realise that peace activists were so well armed, in this case, with knives, chains, firearms, molotov cocktails and pepper spray. By viciously attacking the soldiers, they quickly betrayed their true agenda with their anti-Semitic cries, as they did by their refusal to cooperate with the UN, Israeli or Egyptian authorities, who could have facilitated the entry of the humanitarian materials to Gaza. This was no peace flotilla; it was part of an orchestrated campaign to vilify the state of Israel for doing nothing more than would be expected of us in this place: to protect her own citizens.

The blockade of Gaza is well founded in law, but it is also well founded in the entirely legitimate need for a state and government to take reasonable action to protect its citizens-for Gaza under Hamas cannot be treated as if it or they were a reasonable neighbour, and in no way can it be considered a partner for peace. This blockade has been undertaken to prevent terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, no matter their race or creed. For some reason, certain people, NGO's and so called human rights organisations expect Israel to tolerate a much higher level of violence than in Manhattan, Melbourne or Manchester.

To those who do not understand what Hamas does to the innocent civilians of Israel, I urge you to go to Sderot. Look at the remains of the rockets that have been fired from Gaza into that neighbourhood by Hamas-intentionally fired from amongst civilians in Gaza so as to make detection and prevention more difficult. Visit the children's playgrounds in Sderot that are made from reinforced concrete. Bomb shelters are painted as coloured snakes in lieu of a playground, as children need to be within seconds of safety as the sirens blare 'code red' as another rocket is launched. Speak to the mothers of the children to whom the word 'red' provokes fear because of these sirens and amongst whom mental illness-particularly anxiety, stress and depression-related disorders-are at unprecedented levels. Go and look at the schools which have concrete slabs above their roofs in an attempt to limit the carnage caused by terrorists firing rockets from only a kilometre away, to whom a school is nothing more than a target. This is the situation for Israeli towns along the border with Gaza.

And why is it that we do not hear of the brutal rule of Hamas and what its clear and stated agenda is? It cannot be through innocence; it can only be through ignorance. Hamas does not seek to hide its agenda, at least on its home turf. The truth is that Israel had allowed elections in Gaza. The corrupt Palestinian Authority lost to the terrorist organisation Hamas. The electoral attitude of Hamas can be best summed up as 'One man, one vote, once,' for elections are not regular. And pity those who might attempt to compete with them anyway, as thuggery and violence rule, rather than the ballot box.

Despite a lack of coverage of the reality of Hamas, we should be in no doubt as to what it is. It is a terrorist organisation, dedicated to the use of violence against innocent civilians to achieve its objective. In this case its objective is nothing less than the elimination of the Jewish state and of Jews in their homeland. Across Israel, Hamas has killed thousands, Jewish and Muslim alike. Shrapnel from terrorists does not discriminate. For this reason, Israel blockades the rogue state that is Gaza-but so does Egypt. Contrary to the perception created by some reports, this blockade does not prohibit the entry of food and medicines. It merely ensures that the materials going into Gaza are not diverted into the tools of violence and terror.

So what was the real agenda of this alleged peace flotilla? It was part of the campaign to delegitimise Israel in the West. It was intentionally aimed at weakening the historic friendship between many nations of the West and the only liberal democratic state in the Middle East. Over the past decade, a campaign of vilification against Israel has been undertaken by elements of the left in the West. Using NGOs, an occasionally ignorant media and a lack of understanding in the West of the existential threat faced by Israel, they have joined with other groups, including violent Islamic groups in the Middle East who seek to destroy Israel. The incidence of academic boycotts and the use of terms such as 'apartheid' are all an attempt to achieve through factual manipulation what the enemies of Israel have not been able to achieve through other means. It could not be achieved by three wars and it could not be achieved by an unprecedented terror campaign against civilians, so now these organisations seek to weaken Israel by demonising and delegitimising it, weakening its alliance with other nations to diplomatically cripple and hopefully destroy it. This was merely the latest media stunt in that campaign.

For those who doubt the intensity of the hatred of Israel and its people, have a look at what is on some of the television stations in its neighbourhood. I have seen a dramatic serialisation of that historic slur The Protocols of the Elders of Zion being broadcast on television as if it were a mini-series we would see on our own TV screens, and the portrayal of a Disney-like children's character being killed by Jews on a children's program. And, of course, there is the constant denial of the reality of the Holocaust.

These are just some of the examples of horrific anti-Semitism fed to millions of people via their TV screens, endorsed or tolerated by Israel's Arab neighbour states. And while Hamas is of immediate interest with its control of Gaza, it is far from the only offender in creating and furthering racial hatred. The Palestinian Authority has maps on its walls that do not recognise the state of Israel. I have seen them. The schoolbooks the Palestinian Authority distributes to schools contain no reference to Israel or the three wars that were started against it. They have even named and funded a soccer tournament after a prominent suicide bomber. Israel and its citizens, including Muslim Arabs, do not live in the same world we do; they live in a world where their neighbours seek their violent destruction. No government is perfect. No state is perfect. But that does not mean one abandons those simply in need of security. In this case, it is the people of Israelwho have that need- the need for no more than what we expect in Australia.

A group called 'Australians for Palestine' has been running a campaign entitled 'Time to hold Israel Accountable'. Israel is accountable to its people via elections, courts and the rule of law, while Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel's other neighbours are not. Israel has a right to protect itself, and the campaign to undermine this must be opposed. More importantly, it must be exposed. The lies and misrepresentation of facts and the application of double standards in considering Israel's legitimate right of self-defence cannot go unanswered.

Of blockades and blockheads

From ABC Unleashed, Jun 15, 2010, by Allon Lee, a policy analyst with the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:

Why are supposed human rights activists so quick to attack Israel but never make a squeak against the anti-peace Hamas regime that persecutes women, Christians and homosexuals?

Why does the Gaza flotilla bloodshed automatically cancel out the moral and legal imperative of maintaining Israel and Egypt's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Strip?

These are the two questions that must be answered by those seeking to rollback the internationally sanctioned blockade of the Gaza Strip of materiel that can be used for military purposes. Fuel, medicines, gas, electricity and food have never stopped flowing into Gaza.

There is a reason why the blockade of Gaza exists. Namely, Gaza is under the rule of the extremist Hamas which refuses to accept a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The response was not a proto-state in the making but rockets and missiles being fired from Gaza onto Israel's southern cities on a daily basis, over 8,000 in all.

In July 2007, Hamas violently kicked out from Gaza its secular rival Fatah in an orgy of violence. The result was a literal division in the Palestinian nation.

The rejectionist Hamas rule with an iron fist the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, while 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank remain under the control of the more moderate Fatah which has accepted the two-state formula.

And despite the mealy-mouthed statements Fatah officials issue about the injustice of the Gaza blockade, their greatest fear is Israel lifting it and opening the way for Hamas to takeover the West Bank.

Noted Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh warned recently whilst visiting Australia, "It is Israel's presence in the West Bank that is keeping Abbas and the PLO in power, and preventing Hamas and Fatah from butchering each other. Two thousand Palestinians died in the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas." But that's an unmentionable truth.

The yawning chasm between rhetoric and reality that characterises Hamas apologists reflects the human capacity to hold two contradictory thoughts without being able to acknowledge the inconsistency. In psychology this is called "cognitive dissonance".

Take the recent Gaza flotilla incident.

There we see a so-called humanitarian and peace-loving aid ship manned by political agitators armed with metal pipes, slingshots, Molotov cocktails, stun grenades, fireworks, pistols and clubs.

Bloodshed ensues and yet the "peace-loving" Freedom Flotilla perpetrators responsible for starting the violence are considered the victim.

And as Hamas and its religious agenda of hate against secularism, individualism, feminism, Christians, Jews, gays, and even the wrong type of Muslim are swept under the carpet by apologists who call them "freedom fighters" and not "terrorists", sadly outside of Israel scant media coverage was accorded to the Hamas police raid on Palestinian NGOs just a few days after the flotilla tragedy.

Another counter-intuitive argument is that the blockade should end because there have been few rockets fired recently from Gaza into Israel.

It's the same muddle-headed thinking that says the efforts against Islamist terror should now stop because there have been no major successful terrorist attacks since 9/11. It stopped because of the mammoth effort expended in blood and treasure to reach that strategic objective.

Similarly, the rockets have largely stopped because Israel's war on Gaza in January 2009 has effectively deterred Hamas from firing them. Israel's military operation in Lebanon in 2006 had the same effect on Hezbollah terrorism.

Brutal? Yes, but not even in the same moral universe as Russia's wars against Chechnya resulting in reported estimates of up to 200,000 civilian deaths.

Let's assume that Israel and Egypt lift the blockade, what then? This is important because no critic of the blockade has considered what happens the day after.

First, there is no international law that obligates Israel to permit unrestricted entry or exit across its borders.

Which leaves the Palestinians transit to and from Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea or by air, and across its shared southern border with Egypt.

Egypt's role in the blockade is always an afterthought. No UN resolutions or enquiries stuffed with the good and the great ever demand Egypt tear down the great wall it is building across the 14km stretch of border it shares with Gaza. And if Palestinians manage to illegally cross into Egypt, they need to factor in that Egyptian soldiers have a shoot to kill directive.

Besides lifting the blockade, Israel is expected to parlay with Hamas on the basis that peace is made with one's enemies.

Once again, the emphasis is placed upon Israel, as though nothing is expected of Hamas, indeed nothing should be demanded from Hamas. Either because it is the "weaker" party or was democratically elected (as though that mandates Israel to negotiate with an outfit calling for its annihilation).

How does Israel talk to an opponent funded and armed by Iran and other radical states which repeatedly declares its longterm goal is Israel's destruction?

So the critics retort back that there are moderate forces in Hamas. Really, name them. Name one figure who has stood up and said "enough of the blood, enough of the conflict, we must make peace with Israel".

Israel would dearly love to end the blockade and see Gaza become a bastion of human rights, liberalism, and a prosperous Palestinian success story.

If a wise person can explain how to lift the blockade and prevent terror emanating from Gaza, then speak up now.

Sadly, anyone who dares call for peace in Gaza is usually not standing up for very long.

To me there is plenty of dissonance but not much evident cognition.

The Truth about Gaza... and its wider significance

From a paper by Dr. Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:

The tragic events of May 31 - when 9 Turkish blockade runners were killed in a clash with Israeli troops at sea - has focused attention on the current situation in Gaza. Unfortunately, much that is being said about the history and current reality of that unhappy territory is poorly informed.

Crowded, resource-poor Gaza has never been a particularly pleasant place to live. Slated to be part of a Palestinian state under the 1947 UN partition plan, when the Arab states followed up their rejection of the plan with a military attack, Gaza ended up under neglectful Egyptian military rule. When Israel captured it in the 1967 war, the area was dirt poor, with unemployment topping 40%, and average GDP per capita around US$150 per year.

From 1968 through 1986, as many Gazans found work in Israel, and investment in health, education and other infrastructure increased greatly, per capita income in Gaza and the West Bank combined rose tenfold, from $165 to $1,715, leaping ahead of the populations of neighbouring countries like Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Tunisia. Life expectancy and education increased markedly, while infant mortality plummeted.

Conditions deteriorated over the subsequent two decades as terrorist campaigns repeatedly led to border closures and economic paralysis.

Moreover, massive aid following the establishment of Palestinian Authority rule in 1995 was largely squandered due to corruption and mismanagement.

The terror campaigns were largely the result of the activities of Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian rejectionist terror group associated with the international Muslim Brotherhood but bank-rolled mainly by Iran. After 2003, Hamas, unable to penetrate the Gaza border for terror attacks, increasingly began to use homemade and imported rockets directed at Israeli civilian towns.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally pulled all Israeli troops and settlers out of Gaza. This should have been an opportunity to improve the lot of Gazans through self-government, aid and investment, but the opposite occurred.

In January 2006, Hamas won a plurality of votes in a Palestinian legislative election. Their victory depended on the corruption of the rival Fatah party, and Hamas' claim to have successfully used terrorist "resistance" to drive Israel out of Gaza. Following a year of tense and dysfunctional unity government, in June 2007, Hamas staged a bloody coup in Gaza, killing and driving out many members of Fatah.

Rocket fire into Israel increased dramatically. Over 8000 rockets were fired between 2004 and 2010, making normal life in many southern Israeli towns all but impossible. Moreover, with help from Iran, the ranges of the rockets kept increasing, placing more Israel cities under constant threat, leading ultimately to a full-scale war at the end of 2008.

Israel and Egypt both imposed a blockade on Gaza starting with the 2007 coup, controlling by land and sea the entry of military and dual use items - but not most civilian needs. It was designed to reduce Hamas's ability to arm itself, and to prevent the permanent entrenchment of the increasingly repressive theocratic regime being established in Gaza.

This is an accepted legal option in any state of armed conflict - in this case created by the reality that Hamas openly insists that it is at war and seeks Israel's elimination.

The blockade does adversely affect the standard of living of Gazans (as any state of war usually does to civilians) but this should not be exaggerated. Repeated reports make it clear that the shops are full and no-one is starving. Even Hamas officials admit as much.
In excess of one million tons of food, fuel, medical supplies, hygiene products, cooking gas and other basic needs were supplied to Gaza over the past 18 months across the Israeli border. That's almost 1 ton per inhabitant.

In addition to the massive physical aid, in the past three years, more than US$5 billion in government and non-government funds have been transferred to the territory (more than US$3000/person).

Meanwhile, the luxuries not allowed in from Israel flood into the shops through Hamas-controlled smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border.

The Gaza situation is part of the larger profound struggle taking place in the Middle East. This pits Iran and its allies - including Hamas - against most Arab governments, who fear Iran's hegemonic regional ambitions. For this reason, despite their public protests, most Arab governments tacitly support the blockade of Gaza, as does the PA, which is in an effective state of civil war with Hamas.

Turkey , once friendly to Israel but with a changed ideological direction over recent years, is a new factor in this equation, determined to exploit the current crisis to the hilt. The Islamist AKP government in Ankara has some ideological affinities with Hamas, and clearly authorised the blockade-busting ambush by the Turkish NGO IHH.

More importantly, Ankara is now seeking a leadership role in the Middle East and picking fights with Israel on behalf of Palestinians is one way to win attention there.

In reality, there can be only one way forward for Gaza, which everyone of good will knows - an Israeli-Palestinian agreement leading to the establishment of two states living in mutual peace and security. With significant economic and state-building progress occurring in the West Bank, and the last four Israeli governments all publicly committed to this goal, the Iranian-backed rejectionism of Hamas in Gaza is perhaps the most critical barrier retarding this outcome today.

Meanwhile, there could be few greater blows to peace hopes than an unconditional lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. The net result would likely see Hamas empowered by Iranian funds, expertise and armaments, keen and better able to take on both Israel and the PA, with its reputation vastly enhanced. Hezbollah in Lebanon, now armed with Scuds and other advanced weaponry, will be the model.

Anyone who really cares about the welfare of Gazans will seek first and foremost to end, or at least change dramatically, Hamas' brutal rule and its total resistance to any genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Bipartisan US call to consider IHH for terror list

From JTA, June 14, 2010:

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate are urging President Obama to consider placing the Turkish charity involved in the Gaza flotilla incident on the terrorism list.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), its minority leader, circulated a letter last Friday among their colleagues that would press Obama to investigate the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation.

..."Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockage," the letter says. "However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted."

...The letter alleges that IHH is affiliated with Hamas.

"We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department," it says. Placement on the list makes it a crime to fund-raise for the cited group.

The letter also encourages Obama to continue to support Israel "before international organizations such as the United Nations."

 ..."We ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing," the letter says.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Former Terrorist Renounces Islamic Terrorism, Praises Israel and calls on Islam to change

From YouTube, November 16, 2009 poted by PuttingItMildly, produced by Israel National News:

ANZ linked to Iran 'missile' bank

From: The Australian June 12, 2010 by Rowan Callick:

ONE of the world's leading experts on Iranian subterfuge has questioned why the ANZ Bank allowed itself to be closely associated with Tehran-based institution Bank Sepah, known as "the bank behind Iran's missiles".

ANZ announced this week that it had broken all links with Bank Sepah in 2007 after the introduction of UN sanctions, which are being tightened again.

Author of recently published Iran's Dirty Banks Ari Jorisch, a former US Treasury official [visiting Australia as a guest of AIJAC], said this raised a key question: "Why was ANZ conducting business with it in the first place? ...Bank Sepah was involved in illicit activity well before 2007..." .

..."ANZ should demand an explanation from Bank Sepah as to why they are still listing [ANZ] as a correspondent bank [providing foreign exchange, commercial payment and money market services] and insist they end such practices," [Jorisch] said.

...The Australian pointed this out to ANZ two days ago. [ANZ] then requested the listing be removed.

...US Treasury investigations show that Bank Sepah arranged financing for dozens of multimillion dollar deals for Iran's missile industry....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hebron shooting attack

From Ynet News, 14 June 2010, by Ali Waked:

Palestinian group vows additional attacks ... says, 'We will not acknowledge any ceasefire'

...A [previously unknown] group ...claimed responsibility for Monday's Hebron shooting attack, in which Command Sergeant Major Yehoshua (Shuki) Sofer was killed, and three other police officers were injured.

The group ...issued a statement ..."Our mujahedeen group in south Hebron ambushed an Israeli police car near Beit Hagai at 7:15 am and opened heavy fire at it ...we will not forsake our weapons as long as the Zionist military is in our lands, and we will not acknowledge any ceasefire."

Command Sergeant Sofer served in the Hebron District Police for 14 years, and planned to wed this September. He was hit by three bullets that were fired at him. Another officer was seriously injured and two others sustained lights wounds in the incident.

...According to estimates, the vehicle was shot by one person or more who was standing at the side of the road and fired the shot[s] at close range.

Peter beinart: another “celebrity liberal Zionist” Israel basher

From Commentary, 4 June 2010, by Jonathan Tobin:

Peter Beinart weighed in today with another column at the Daily Beast designed to bolster his standing as a “liberal Zionist” rather than as merely another member of the pack of jackals attacking Israel for trying to enforce the blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Of course, Beinart has not changed his mind about the attempts to isolate the Islamist terrorists who seized power in a bloody coup and who pose the biggest obstacle to the two-state solution to the conflict, which he says he wants. He still buys into the Palestinian myths about the situation in Gaza. And he is equally resolute in his determination to ignore everything that has happened in the Middle East  ...Because it is only by pretending that  ...Israeli concessions never happened that can he hold on to the falsehood that the lack of peace is due to Israeli intransigence aided and abetted by American supporters.

But, at least to his partial credit, Beinart hasn’t forgotten the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for four years. Beinart thinks the “Free Gaza” movement of foreign cheerleaders for Hamas ought to embrace Shalit’s cause and draw a moral equivalence between his plight and that of Palestinians trapped inside Gaza. He urges “Free Gaza” activists and others who are trying to aid Hamas by breaking the blockade to think of Shalit “as a Gazan — a caged, brutalized, Gazan Jew.” In doing so, he theorizes that they could gain the sympathy of Israelis who support the blockade in part because of Hamas’s refusal to free Shalit or even to allow the Red Cross to visit the prisoner. Beinart endorses Israeli journalist Eitan Haber’s proposal that the next ship that heads for Gaza be allowed through by the Israelis on the condition that it bring food to Shalit. That would, Beinart agrees, put the pro-Palestinian crowd to a test that would prove whether they are genuine humanitarians or merely Israel-haters.

Yet unfortunately for Beinart — and Shalit — the “Free Gaza” crowd has already been put to such a test.  ...before the flotilla that Israel intercepted was launched in Turkey, the family of Gilad Shalit begged the organizers to take a package of letters and food to the Israeli being held in Gaza. In return, they promised to lend their voices to a call for lifting the blockade. Accepting this offer would have cost “Free Gaza” nothing and would only have given them good publicity and probably would have caused the Israeli government to seriously consider letting them through the blockade. But, in a decision that Beinart and other critics of Israel seemed to ignore, they refused the Shalit family.

Why? It’s not that hard to figure out even if your grasp of the Middle East is as dim as that of Peter Beinart.

First, they don’t care about Gilad Shalit. Like his Hamas kidnappers, the “Free Gaza” group is composed of anti-Zionists — people who don’t think there ought to be a Jewish state and that Jewish soldiers who defend it are, by definition, criminals who deserve what they get from Hamas. Most think the same about Israeli civilians who live under the threat of rocket fire and terrorist attack from Hamas.

Second, they are not humanitarians. They are Israel-haters. The goal of their Mediterranean cruise was not to help Gazans but to embarrass Israel. After all, if foreign sympathizers of the Palestinians really wanted to help the people of Gaza, they might oppose the rule of a tyrannical Islamist terror group, advocate for peace, not the destruction of Israel, and support efforts to resettle and absorb the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees elsewhere rather than keep them in place in Gaza, where they can serve to continue to fuel the conflict.

Beinart needs to understand that the “Free Gaza” movement won’t lift a finger for Shalit for the same reason that the Palestinian leadership has refused to make peace ... they aren’t interested in compromise or peace; they want to destroy Israel.

Like the “Free Gaza” organizers, the Palestinian leadership has already been put to the test and failed. But I guess ignoring inconvenient facts is one of the membership requirements if you want to join Peter Beinart’s elite club of “liberal Zionist” writers who bash Israel.

Did you see: "The One About Hamas"

A "funny" 3-min clip from YouTube, 8 June 2010, by From: nolaughingmattr:

Erdogan's mask is off

From JPost, 11 June 2010, by AMOTZ ASA-EL:

Israel’s mistakes vis-à-vis the flotilla crisis were tactical; Turkey’s were strategic.

...Erdogan has now made his country’s many historic enemies suspect that he is a liar, a wolf in sheep’s clothing who thinks he can fool everyone all the time.

SUSPICIONS THAT Erdogan is a diplomatic swindler arose already two weeks after he entered office in spring ’03, when the Turkish parliament vetoed America’s entry into northern Iraq through Turkey. ...

...initial impressions that Erdogan was a moderate Muslim out to uphold Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s legacy eventually gave way to a crawling counterrevolution, whereby the secular military, media and judiciary have been gradually strong-armed into submission.

And that, in fact, is the problem with Erdogan’s many half-truths, diversions and downright lies; they can only last so long. Eventually everyone begins to suspect they are being taken for a ride.

To hear Erdogan yelling at us, the Jews, as he did this week “Thou shalt not murder” (“I will now say it in Hebrew!”) is grotesque. This is the man who won’t recognize his country’s mass murder of the Armenians last century, the great lover of humanity whose typically escapist response to the American and Swedish legislatures’ recognition of the Armenian genocide was to furiously recall his ambassadors from Washington and Stockholm.

Turkey’s many historic victims, from Serbia and Bulgaria through Romania and Hungary to Cyprus, Armenia, Kurdistan and the Arabs are now quietly taking stock of the man behind the Flotilla Affair, and they have no choice but to suspect they have business with the kind of Turk they would all rather forget. The man is trouble, an Islamist loose cannon in a world brimming with Islamist fervor, malcontents and agents.

IT IS only a matter of time before the Turkish middle class joins the elite in wondering just how much Erdogan’s adventurism will cost them.

It is bad enough that he embarrasses his people when he says, for instance, that he can’t allow schools to teach in Kurdish because that kind of minority right is not accorded anywhere in the world. Of course it’s allowed, for instance in Israel, where Arab schools teach in Arabic. And it is of course bad enough when Erdogan is so inconsistent as to demand that Germany allow its 0.3 percent Turkish minority the kind of cultural autonomy he won’t allow his own 15% Kurdish minority.

It is also bad for Turkey that its leader is now perceived across the world as a demagogue. Erdogan missed the irony of him, the man who hosted Sudan’s convicted perpetrator of genocide Omar Bashir, publicly hollering at Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres, “You are killing babies in Gaza.” Millions of others, however, did not miss the irony, and they realize they have business with a thug whose definition of morality and immorality is what is good or bad for him, rather than what is good or bad regardless of him.

It is certainly bad for Turkey to be associated with anti-Semitism, a disease with which it was never previously plagued.

Erdogan likes to declare that he loathes anti-Semitism. He visited the chief rabbi of Turkey after a terror attack on a synagogue in Istanbul, and this week he hosted Israeli rabbi Menachem Froman. Alas, such gestures, beside suggesting he distinguishes between the Jews’ right to their faith and their right to their land, become meaningless when he succumbs to the basest anti-Semitic profanity – the blood libel. As long as he is in power, Turkey will be at odds with the entire Jewish people, a proven recipe for the kind of decline that befell Spain after the expulsion and Russia after communism, not to mention Germany after Nazism.

Yet the worst thing for Turkey is to be associated with provocation per se.

Erdogan has convinced his country’s many historic enemies, most of all Russia, that he is a dangerous hothead who must be contained. For Russia, modern Turkey is but a reincarnation of the power with which it had 12-odd wars between 1568 and 1917. For Russia, Ankara’s meddling in superpower politics by intriguing with Iran and Brazil was an alarm bell, the kind Erdogan was originally careful to avoid ringing, until he became overconfident, forgetting that a nuclearized Islamic axis of the sort everyone now suspects he is cultivating is for Vladimir Putin what a Cuban A-bomb was for John F. Kennedy.

All intelligence services suspicious of Turkey – and they add up to at least a dozen – know the truth about the flotilla. They know it was inspired, and very likely masterminded, by Erdogan; that it was a metaphor for his entire foreign policy, a loudly trumpeted, well financed and poorly camouflaged voyage of zealots who elbowed their way into a ship of fools, in order to pick a fight where the world least needed one. Erdogan has now made all suspect Turkey of quietly feeding the very Islamism that is the bane of the entire world. What action all this will produce is a separate question, but the mask has come off, and it’s too late to put it back on.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Obama? Time for a Reassessment

From a CJHS email, 11 June 2010, by MK Dr. Arieh Eldad:

...After his election, Obama promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain the ambiguity Israel’s ambiguous nuclear policy. Two weeks ago he betrayed Israel.

On May 28, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which meets once every five years, called unanimously - with America’s support - for Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty and open its nuclear installations to external supervision.

...Iran is a signatory, yet Iran is rushing towards production of nuclear weapons. Syria and Libya are signatories, but their signatures have not prevented them from building uranium enrichment plants for military purposes. North Korea built a bomb and tests nuclear weapons, mocking the entire world supposedly opposed to it. Pakistani scientists led by the “father of the Pakistan’s nuclear bomb” Abed Qadeer Khan sold nuclear secrets and technology necessary for the building of nuclear weapons to Iran, Syria, Libya, and possibly North Korea.

In the face of this burgeoning industry, the United States gave in to an Egyptian initiative and agreed to single out Israel as the country the world should be worried about. Israel alone was mentioned in the NPT Review Committee’s report. Apparently only its installations need to be examined.

The time has come for a reassessment of U.S.– Israeli relations. ...Israel must reassess the value of all American promises ...He who without batting an eyelash has betrayed Israel on the nuclear issue, a matter whose existential importance to the Jewish state is obvious given the Iranian dash for bomb, will not hesitate to deny other commitments.

Obama is currently pressuring Israel to accept dictates that would lead to a Palestinian state in the heart of its country. In return, he offers to guarantee our security, preserve our technological advantage, and ensure the Palestinian state will be demilitarized.

Why would anyone in Israel be willing to take existential risks while relying on the commitment of an American president who has betrayed and denied the commitments of his predecessors and forgotten even his own?

...The depth of Obama’s betrayal must be made known to the American public today. As the November elections approach in the United States...