Saturday, July 24, 2010

Denial about Egypt, Turkey and Syria

From Middle East and Terrorism Blog, Friday, July 23, 2010, by Caroline B. Glick*:

Change has come to the Middle East.

Over the past several weeks, multiple press reports indicate that Turkey is collaborating militarily with Syria in a joint campaign against the Kurds of Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Turkey is a member of NATO. It fields the Western world's top weapons systems.

Syria is Iran's junior partner. It is a state sponsor of multiple terrorist organizations and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

Last September, as Turkey's Islamist government escalated its anti-Israel rhetoric, Turkey and Syria signed a slew of economic and diplomatic agreements. As Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made clear at the time, Turkey was using those agreements as a way to forge close alliances not only with Syria, but with Iran.

"We may establish similar mechanisms with Iran and other mechanisms. We want our relationship with our neighbors to turn into maximum cooperation via the principle of zero problems," Davutoglu proclaimed.
And now those agreements have reportedly paved the way to military cooperation. Syrian President Bashar Assad has visited Istanbul twice in the past month and then two weeks ago, on the Kurdish New Year, Syrian forces launched an operation against Kurdish population centers throughout Syria.

Wednesday Alarabiya reported that hundreds of Kurds have been killed in recent weeks.

The Syrian government media claim that eleven Kurds have been killed. There are conflicting reports as well about the number of Kurds that have been arrested since the onslaught began. Kurdish sources say 630 have been arrested. The Turkish media claims four hundred Kurds have been arrested by Syrian security forces.
Alarabiya also claimed that the Syrian campaign is being supported by the Turkish military. Turkish military advisors are reportedly using the same intelligence tool for tracking Kurds in Syria as they have used against the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq: Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicles.

Even if the Alarabiya report is untrue, and Turkey is not currently using Israeli-manufactured weapons in the service of Syria, the very fact that Syria has military cooperation of any kind with Turkey is dangerous for Israel. Over the past twenty years, as its alliance with Turkey expanded, Israel sold Turkey some of the most sensitive intelligence gathering systems and other weapons platforms it has developed. With Turkey's rapid integration into the Iranian axis, Israel must now assume that if Turkey is not currently sharing those Israeli military and intelligence technologies and tools with its enemies, Ankara is likely to share them with Israel's enemies in the future.

Obviously, the least Israel could be expected to do in this situation is cut off all military ties to Turkey. But amazingly and distressingly, Israel's leaders seem not to have recognized this. To the contrary, Israel is scheduled to deliver four additional Heron drones to Turkey next month.

Even more discouragingly, both the statements and actions of senior officials lead to the conclusion that our leaders still embrace the delusion that all is not lost with Turkey. Speaking the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told lawmakers, "What happens in Turkey is not always done with the agreement of the Turkish military. Relations with the Turkish army are important and they need to be preserved. I am personally in touch with the Turkish Chief of Staff."

As Turkish columnist Abdullah Bozkurt wrote last week in Today's Zaman, Ashkenazi's claim that there is a distinction between Turkish government policies and Turkish military policies is "simply wishful thinking and do[es] not correspond with the hard facts on the ground."

Bozkurt explained, "Ashkenazi may be misreading the signals based on a personal relationship he has built with outgoing Turkish military Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Ba?bu?. The force commanders are much more worried about the rise in terror in the southeastern part of the country, and pretty much occupied with the legal problems confronting them after some of their officers, including high-ranking ones, were accused of illegal activities. The last thing the top brass wants is to give an impression that they are cozying up with Israelis...."

As described by Michael Rubin in the current issue of Commentary, those "legal problems" Bozkurt referred to are part of a government campaign to crush Turkey's secular establishment. As the constitutionally appointed guarantors of Turkey's secular republic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist government targeted the military high command for destruction.

Two years ago, a state prosecutor indicted 86 senior Turkish figures including retired generals, prominent journalists, professors and other pillars of Turkey's former secular leadership for supposedly plotting a coup against the Islamist regime. By all accounts the 2,455-page indictment was frivolous. But its impact on Turkey's once all-powerful military has been dramatic.

As Rubin writes, "Bashed from the religious right and the progressive left, the Turkish military is a shadow of its former self. The current generation of generals is out of touch with Turkish society and, perhaps, their own junior officers. Like frogs who fail to jump from a pot slowly brought to a boil, the Turkish general staff lost its opportunity to exercise its constitutional duties."

And yet, rather than come to terms with this situation, and work to minimize the dangers that an Iranian- and Syrian-allied Turkey poses, Israel's government and our senior military leaders are still trying to bring the alliance with Turkey back from the dead. Last month's disastrous "top secret" meeting between Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Davutoglu is case in point.

Far from ameliorating the situation, these sorts of gambits only compound the damage. By denying the truth that Turkey has joined the enemy camp, Israel provides Turkey with credibility it patently does not deserve. Israel also fails to take diplomatic and other steps to minimize the threat posed by the NATO member in the Iranian axis.

Our leaders' apparent aversion to accepting that our alliance with Turkey has ended is troubling not only for what it tells us about the government's ability to craft policies relevant to the challenges now facing us from Turkey. It bespeaks a general difficulty with contending with harsh and unwanted change that plagues our top echelons.

Take Egypt for example. Over the past week, a number of reports were published about the approaching end of the Mubarak era. The Washington Times reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill and likely will die within the year. The Economist featured a fifteen page retrospective on the Mubarak era in advance of its expected conclusion.

There are many differences between the situation in Egypt today and the situation that existed in Turkey before the Islamists took over in 2002. For instance, unlike Turkey, Egypt has never been Israel's strategic ally. In recent years however, Egypt's interests have converged with Israel's regarding the threat posed by Iran and its terror proxies Hizbullah and Hamas -- the Palestinian branch of Mubarak's regime's nemesis, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. These shared interests have paved the way for security cooperation between the two countries on several issues.

All of this is liable to change after Mubarak exits the stage. In all likelihood the Muslim Brotherhood will have greater influence and power than it enjoys today. And this means that a successor regime in Egypt will likely have closer ties to the Iranian axis. Despite the Sunni-Shiite split, joined by a common enmity of the Mubarak regime, the Muslim Brotherhood has strengthened its ties to Iran and Hizbullah of late.

Recognizing the shifting winds, presidential hopefuls are cultivating ties with the Brotherhood. For instance, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and current Egyptian presidential hopeful Muhammed el-Baradei has been wooing the Brotherhood for months. And in recent weeks they have been getting on his bandwagon. Apparently, elBaradei's support for Iran's nuclear program won him credibility with the jihadist group even though he is not an Islamic fanatic.

If and when the Brotherhood gains power and influence in Egypt, it is likely that Egypt will begin sponsoring the likes of Hamas, al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. And the more powerful the Brotherhood becomes in Egypt, the more likely that Egypt will abrogate its peace treaty with Israel.

It is due to that peace treaty that today Egypt fields a conventional military force armed with sophisticated US weaponry. The Egyptian military that Israel fought in four wars was armed with inferior Soviet weapons. Were Egypt to abrogate the treaty, a conventional war between Egypt and Israel would become a tangible prospect for the first time since 1973.

Despite the flood of stories indicating that the end of the Mubarak era is upon us, publicly Israel's leaders behave as though nothing is the matter. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's routine, fawning pilgrimage to Mubarak this week seemed to demonstrate that our leaders are not thinking about the storm that is brewing just under the surface in Cairo.

Turkey's transformation from friend to foe and the looming change in Egypt demonstrate important lessons that Israel's leaders must take to heart. First, Israel has only a very limited capacity to influence events in neighboring countries.

What happened in Turkey has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the fact that Erdogan and his government are Islamist revolutionaries. So too, the changes that Egypt will undergo after Mubarak dies will have everything to do with the pathologies of Egyptian society and politics and nothing to do with Israel. Our leaders must recognize this and exercise humility when they assess Israel's options for contending with our neighbors.

Developments in both Turkey and Egypt are proof that in the Middle East there is no such thing as a permanent alliance. Everything is subject to change. Turkey once looked like a stable place. Its military was constitutionally empowered — and required — to safeguard the country as a secular democracy. But seven years into the AKP revolution the army cannot even defend itself.

So too, for nearly thirty years Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist. But as Israel saw no distinction between Mubarak and Egypt, the hostile forces he repressed multiplied under his jackboot. Once he is gone, they will rise to the surface once more.

Moving forward, Israel must learn to hedge its bets. Just because a government embraces Israel one day does not mean that its military should be given open access to Israeli military technology the next day. So too, just because a regime is anti-Israel one day doesn't mean that Israel cannot develop ties with it that are based on shared interests.

Whether it is pleasant or harsh, change is a fact of our lives. The side that copes best with change will be the side that prospers from it. Our leaders must recognize this truth and shape their policies accordingly.

*Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Will Europe finally tighten its sanctions on Iran?

From The WSJ (subscription needed) JULY 20, 2010, by EMANUELE OTTOLENGHI AND MARK DUBOWITZ*:

Getty Images

In the coming days, the European Union will hopefully adopt tough new measures designed to push Tehran to halt its illegal nuclear activities. "Sanctions have become inevitable," EU leaders said last month in a statement.

For years, Europe has been criticized for its lucrative business deals with a regime that threatens Israel with nuclear annihilation, sponsors terror around the globe, and brutalizes its own population. Now, the rest of the world will be watching how the EU expands on June's new round of U.N. sanctions, in both substance and implementation. The EU is Iran's largest trading partner, so whatever it does will become a "ceiling" particularly for Gulf and Asian countries that are unlikely to do more.

...The problem is that when it comes to Iran, the EU has so far drawn a distinction between ostensibly legitimate Iranian businesses and those involved in procurement and proliferation for the state's nuclear and missile programs.

...By designating specific companies and individuals in Iran's energy industry as well as their overseas procurement branches active in energy-related, nuclear-proliferation and missile activities, the EU could deny vital revenues to companies whose profits and access to foreign technology are critical to Iran's nuclear ambitions. Given that Iran's energy business is wholly owned by state companies; and that many enterprises in its energy-service industry are linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (a key player in the regime's nuclear activities and internal repression efforts), a proper EU blacklist would have to be quite exhaustive.

It would have to include, for example, the hundreds of affiliates operated by Khatam al-Anbiya (Ghorb), the IRGC engineering and construction company, which has won billions of dollars in Iranian energy-related deals. Though Ghorb is already on U.N., U.S., and EU blacklists, its hundreds of affiliates are not. These affiliates intentionally conceal their connection to Ghorb, creating significant business and legal risks for those Western companies transacting with them....

The EU blacklist should also include the 22 Iranian insurance, petroleum and petrochemicals companies recently banned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

The EU ought also to pay particular attention to Kala Naft, the overseas procurement arm of the National Iranian Oil Company, which is on British and Japanese watch lists for its connection to nuclear-proliferation activities.

NaftIran, registered in the Channel Islands and operating in Switzerland (a key player in European energy projects) also shouldn't escape sanctions, nor should Pars Oil & Gas Company, a major Iranian energy company with ties to the IRGC.

...other sectors should also get sharp attention, such as technology, raw materials, and banking. It is in these areas where, through the Iranian-German Trade Bank in Hamburg, Iran has been running operations to evade sanctions for years. ...the prohibition should also cover existing business deals, including the transfer of spare parts, maintenance and repairs to existing projects.

We also know that the EU will likely bar its own companies from entering into joint ventures, investments and other partnerships with Iranian companies in Iran's energy sector. This would effectively amount to a blanket ban on future European involvement in Iran's energy sector, given that no contracts there can be awarded without the participation of an Iranian partner. The EU should further ensure that this ban on investment applies to exploration, production and refining of Iranian oil and natural gas, and to prohibit the transfer of European technology and technical assistance.

So too should the EU extend its ban to overseas Iranian energy projects, where Iranian-government-controlled entities are currently partnering with European companies in Europe. These projects give the Iranian regime access to key technology, technical expertise and influence over European energy sources and their European energy partners.

The mere threat of U.S. energy sanctions, enacted by the Clinton and Obama administrations, has already had a significant impact: Many of Iran's energy partners such as Total, Lukoil, BP, and Eni have already terminated, or have announced their intentions to terminate, their businesses ties with Iran. Massoud Mirkazemi, Iran's oil minister and a former IRGC official, says that without annual oil and gas investments of at least $25 billion, Iran could soon become a net importer of oil. In the first four years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, foreign investment in Iranian energy plummeted 64% to $1.5 billion from $4.2 billion.

Now imagine what tough sanctions from Iran's biggest trading partner could do.

*Mr. Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author of the forthcoming "Iran: The Looming Crisis" (Profile Books). Mr. Dubowitz is the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and leads its Iran Energy Project.

Flotilla Incident Timeline

From YouTube, 15 July 2010, by idfnadesk:

Flotilla Incident Timeline (English: Part 1 of 2)

The film, produced by the Eiland Team of Experts, breaks down the events of the flotilla using a timeline that alternates between 3D models and footage captured throughout the incident.

The events leading up to and throughout the flotilla incident are recounted in the video, as presented by the team of experts led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland in the IDF's internal inquiry.

In light of weapons smuggling attempts, a maritime closure was established during the 2008-2009 Gaza Operation. Under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, a number of ships have attempted to reach the Gaza Strip, some permitted to enter, while others were stopped.

Due to these attempts, the IDF General Staff and Navy outlined orders to prepare for future attempts to break the closure, and in preparing for the May 31st flotilla, the IDF planned far in advance with extended discussion, and various simulation model scenarios. IDF attaches abroad and foreign attaches to Israel were all briefed in advance.

In addition, the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi sent a letter to the Defense Minister and Prime Minister emphasizing the following:

"Cooperation between nation ministries is required and the military option which includes seizing, confiscating and detaining the ship's activists is a last resort and at a low priority."

The video goes on to describe the various ships in the flotilla and the courses of their attempted journey to the Gaza Strip, as well as the number and extent of Israeli response ships, aircraft, and absorption center for the ships' passengers.

The video also outlines the orders given to the IDF soldiers boarding the flotilla ships, including the policy of using gradual force, and using live weapons only in life threatening scenarios.

The first phase of the operation: The IDF relayed the message that the flotilla ships were in an area of a maritime closure, and offered the ships to transfer their cargo from the Ashdod Port to the Gaza Strip. The Sofia ship did not respond at all, while the other ships responded with refusal and/or profanity.

The IDF forces were divided and each group boarded a different ship. The soldiers arrived at the Mavi Marmara at 4:28 AM, but could not board the ship due to metal objects being thrown at them, and electric buzz saws used by the demonstrators to slice the ladders IDF soldiers needed to board the Marmara. After an unsuccessful attempt to board the ship by smaller boats, a helicopter arrived at 4:30 AM with 15 IDF soldiers. The first rope dropped by the helicopters was tied by the demonstrators to the deck of the ship in order to prevent the soldiers' descent.

Flotilla Incident Timeline (English: Part 2 of 2)

In Part 2 of the Eiland Presentation, the final phases of the flotilla incident are recounted.

Soldiers that descended down the second rope were met by 2-4 demonstrators each who wielded knives, axes, and metal poles. The second soldier to descend was shot in the stomach by a demonstrator. The soldiers who were in danger of their lives were forced to use their live weapons. Five soldiers were injured by stabbing, blows and live fire by the demonstrators. Within seconds of boarding the ships, three soldiers were thrown off the deck by demonstrators. The injured were dragged to the hull of the ship.

A reinforcement of soldiers arrives from a second helicopter, which is also attacked by demonstrators, and the soldiers are met with violence when they attempt to access the lower deck of the ship.

At 4:46 AM a third helicopter arrives to the Mavi Marmara, and the two groups of soldiers combine forces on the ship roof and descend to the other parts of the ship, where they are also met with lethal violence, and thus respond with live fire.

Many of the demonstrators enter inside of the ship as the smaller boats arrive at the side of the ship, however some still violently attack the incoming boats and the soldiers respond with live fire.

The Commander of the Special Navy Forces boards the ship, and while evaluating the forces, it is discovered that three soldiers are missing. The missing and injured soldiers are discovered to have been abducted by a number of violent demonstrators, who abandon the soldiers and run back into the ship when fired at.

Two of the injured soldiers jump off the ship so that they can be picked up by the IDF boats. The third injured soldier is on the bow of the boat and slipping out of consciousness. IDF soldiers remaining on the boat come to his aid.

At 5:17 AM the situation is evaluated and some of the findings: live fire was used by demonstrators towards IDF soldiers who were on the ship, including one soldier who descended down the rope and was shot in the abdomen. Live fire by the demonstrators was also aimed at the soldiers on the small Israeli Navy boats next to the Marmara. The first occurence of live fire was that used by the demonstrators. In addition, a gun with emptied magazines was found in the hull of the ship.

IDF forces had boarded the other ships without incident. Treatment and evacuation was carried out for the injured soldiers and demonstrators alike. 38 injured were airlifted, 7 of them soldiers.

The three soldiers who had been attempted to be kidnapped and were taken to the hull of the ship were witness to an argument between the violent demonstrators, and other passengers of the Marmara who asked the violent demonstrators to cease their violent activity.

24 of the injured passengers were diagnosed at the Ashdod Port and treated in hospitals in Israel.

After the operation ended, the ships arrived at the Ashdod Port accompanied by Israeli Naval forces. An intelligence investigation following the flotilla incident found that 40 of the IHH activists previously boarded the Marmara ship from Istanbul before joining the others.

The 8 of the 9 demonstrators killed were members of the IHH or other allied groups. Around half of those killed had declared in front of their families their aspiration to die as martyrs ("shahids"). Footage on the Marmara shows that the violence had been prepared: metal poles and chains were prepared, slingshots, buzzsaws, gas masks, tear gas, bulletproof vests, knives, and more. A briefing had taken place before the IDF had boarded the ship, with the leader of the violent demonstrators telling the group to attack the IDF soldiers at any cost.

There were 718 total passengers of the flotilla ships. Most were released without undergoing any investigation. The last passenger left on June 6th

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Palestinian Authority still inciting hatred

From JERUSALEM POST, 21 July 2010:

"Abbas not fulfilling pledge."
Palestinian Media Watch Report by Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Barbara Crook
(Click to view full report in PDF)

When proximity talks started in May, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the PA would fulfill its commitments, with a special focus on stopping incitement. But the ensuing two months have brought no change in the messages being transmitted from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah to Palestinians...

An examination of the Palestinian leaders’ statements, official media, children’s programs and PA- and Fatah-controlled events shows that the conditions, principles and expectations set by the US and the UN Quartet for accepting the PA as a peace partner continue to be violated...

Contrary to the PA’s moderate statements to the West, its statements to its people in Arabic
  • continue to delegitimize Israel’s existence,
  • deny Israel’s right to exist,
  • define the conflict with Israel as a religious war for Allah,
  • promote hatred through demonization, slander and libel, and
  • glorify terror and violence...
The report, which [Itamar] Marcus said he would be presenting to American officials in Washington on Wednesday, said that the PA continues to teach on PA educational TV that Israeli cities across the entire country, including Jaffa and Haifa, are Palestinian cities; that official PA media deny Israel’s right to exist by using terminology to refer to Israel as “the homeland occupied in ‘48”; and that the conflict with Israel is defined by PA-appointed political and religious leaders not as territorial but as ribat – a religious war for Allah.

It cited instances in which the PA’s senior religious leader demonized Jews as the “enemies of God,” and a PA TV host remarked: “The Jews are our enemies, right?” It added that the PA continues to honor terrorists, and quoted Abbas as defending “the right to return to the armed conflict,” and describing negotiations as “a tactical decision, i.e., a temporary, defensive decision.”

Elaborating on PA educational programs that deny Israel’s existence, the PMW report quoted from a documentary film that portrays Israeli cities and sites as “Palestinian” and that was rebroadcast on PA TV on June 21:

“The Palestinian coast … spreads along the [Mediterranean] sea, from... Ashkelon in the south, until Haifa, in the Carmel Mountains. Haifa is a well-known Palestinian port.
 [Haifa] enjoyed a high status among Arabs and Palestinians especially before it fell to the occupation [Israel] in 1948. To its north, we find Acre. East of Acre, we reach a city with history and importance, the city of Tiberias, near a famous lake, the Sea of Galilee. Jaffa, an ancient coastal city, is the bride of the sea, and Palestine’s gateway to the world.”

It also quoted from an educational PA TV quiz show on June 25, with students competing from different Palestinian universities, which included questions and answers identifying Israel as “Palestine.”

News reports repeatedly deny Israel's existence
In terms of PA news reporting, the report quoted from a June 18 item in the official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida, which described the Israeli Arab village Um el-Fahm as being located “in the homeland occupied in ‘48.”

It cited several other examples of the same newspaper referring to Israel with numerous euphemisms that deny Israel’s legitimacy and existence, such as: “Interior Palestine,” “occupied in 1948,” and “’48 territories.”

Noting that US President Barack Obama has called the use of maps that present a world without Israel a security threat to Israel, the PMW report stated that “all the official PA maps in offices, Web sites, in schoolbooks, and those appearing on official PA TV since the start of the proximity talks, continue the PA policy of defining all of Israel as ‘Palestine’.”

Turning to the issue of the PA denying Israel’s history, it quoted the PA Mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, and several other senior PA figures, denying the Jews’ connection to the Western Wall and to Jerusalem in a series of statements.

In instances of what it called “demonization, hate promotion, anti-Semitism and libels,” meanwhile, the PMW report charged that, in June, “the PA has continued to falsely accuse Israel of intentionally spreading drugs and AIDS among Palestinians, having killed Yasser Arafat, and planning to destroy the Aksa Mosque. The PA added another accusation this month: that the Jews killed Jesus.”

PA exaggerated flotilla confrontation to promote hatred
It added that the PA exaggerated the Gaza flotilla confrontation to promote hatred of Israel.

Stressing that “the right to criticize Israeli actions is legitimate,” the report said, however, that the PA “slandered Israel” about it, noting that Abbas himself charged that “it was a decision made in advance, premeditated and with determination to kill.”

And it quoted from the PA daily, saying that murder and massacres are typical or innate Israeli behavior: “The Israeli attack on the ships...[are] more serious than a massacre in its ugliness and its inhumanity...This is the true nature of Israel.”

The PMW report further noted that a PA TV music video, demonizing Israel as “my enemy” and “a snake coiled around the land” reappeared in June. It was first broadcast in 2004, and from October 2007 to the end of 2009 it ran continuously on PA TV.

It quoted the following exchange by PA TV host interviewing the young sister of a Palestinian prisoner on June 21:
  • PA TV host: “[When you visit the prison] do they bother you, the Israeli army, the soldiers there?”
  • Girl: “Yes.”
  • Host: “They’re wild animals, right? Aren’t they wild animals?”
Turning to the subject of the glorification of terror and violence, PMW’s report noted that the US has strongly condemned the Palestinian practice of honoring terrorists: State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley, it recalled, in April declared that “Honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians, either by official statements or by the dedication of public places, hurts peace efforts and must end.”

Violence against Israel still being glorified
Nonetheless, the report noted that the Palestinian Third Culture and Education Festival held in June in Ramallah “included dancers holding rifles while dancing to a song with lyrics glorifying violence against Israel and praising death as an ideal. The annual festival is sponsored by the PLO National Committee for Education, Science and Culture. ...“‘There is no force in the world that can remove the weapon from my hand…’ ran some of the lyrics. ‘He who offers his blood doesn’t care if his blood flows on the ground.’”

...the PA in late June opened in Nablus a security course named after Abdallah Daoud that was held in the Abu Iyad [Salah Khalaf] hall. Daoud was one of the terrorists who stormed the Church of the Nativity in 2002, and continued to fight against Israel for several weeks while using the monks and the religious site as shields, said the report, while Khalaf was head of the Black September terror group. “Attacks he planned included the murder of two American diplomats, as well as the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972,” said the report.

The report also noted that a soccer tournament for youth was named after Khalil Al- Wazir (Abu Jihad), the former deputy to Arafat who planned “many deadly Fatah terror attacks, including the worst in Israeli history, the hijacking of a bus and killing of 37 civilians, 12 of them children.”

In its conclusion, the PMW report quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telling the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs in April that: “We will only work with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles: A commitment to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map” – whose Phase I, PMW recalled, requires that “All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel."

“Examining the Palestinian Authority leaders’ statements, its education of youth, and its controlled media during the first months since the proximity talks,” said the report, “it is apparent that the Palestinian Authority has not complied with the conditions set by the secretary of state, nor has it fulfilled its commitment to ‘work against incitement of any sort.’

 “In the first two months since the start of the proximity talks, not only has the PA failed to ‘unambiguously and explicitly’ accept these conditions, but it has done the opposite. The Palestinian Authority continues to ‘unambiguously and explicitly’ deny Israel’s existence, incite to hatred, and glorify terror and violence,” the report claimed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nazi Propaganda is still motivating the Arab World

"Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World" by Jeffrey Herf, Yale University Press, 2009, 352 pages

From a review by Daniel Pipes, April 2010:

The impact of National Socialism in the Middle East used to appear brief and superficial...

But two powerful, important books have set the record straight.

Djihad und Judenhass (2002) by Matthias Küntzel, translated into English in 2007 as Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, shows the continuing influence of Nazi ideas on Islamists.

Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World by Jeffrey Herf focuses on an earlier time, the 1930s-40s, and the major effort by Hitler and his minions to transmit their ideas to the Middle East.

...Herf brings a new corpus of information to light: summary accounts of Nazi shortwave radio broadcasts in the Arabic language that were generated over three years by the U.S. embassy in Cairo. This cache reveals fully, for the first time, what Berlin told the Arabs (and to a lesser extent, the Iranians).

As page after page of Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World establishes in mind-numbing but necessary detail, the Germans above all pursued two themes: stopping Zionism and promoting Islamism. Each deserves close consideration.

Nazi propaganda in Arabic portrayed World War II, history's largest and most destructive war, as focused primarily on the sliver of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. This interpretation both flattered Arabs and extended Hitler's grand theory that Jews wanted to take over the Arab countries and eventually the whole world, that the Allied powers were but pawns in this Zionist conspiracy, and that Germany was leading the resistance to them.

Palestine was the key, according to these broadcasts. If Zionists took it over, they would "control the three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Thus they will be able to rule the whole world and spread Jewish capitalism." Such an eventuality would lead to Arabs oppressed and Islam defunct. "Should Bolshevism and Democracy be victorious," announced Nazi radio, "the Arabs will be dominated forever and all traces of Islam will be wiped out." To avoid this fate, Arabs had to join with the Axis.

Jeffrey Herf
As the war progressed, Berlin's incitement became ever more furious. "You must kill the Jews before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews" went a July 1942 broadcast. Herf notes the bitter irony: "At this moment of complete Jewish powerlessness, the Arabic broadcasts from Berlin skillfully adapted the general Nazi propaganda line about Jewish domination of the anti-Hitler coalition to a radical Arab and Islamic view."

At the same time, the Nazi regime developed an approach to Muslims that largely ignored the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf, and other European sources in favor of selected passages from the Koran.

Hitler's propagandists assured Muslims, first, that Axis countries "respect the Koran, sanctify the mosques, and glorify the prophet of Islam." It cited the respectful work of German Orientalists as an important sign of goodwill. Second, it argued for what Heinrich Himmler called the "shared goals and shared ideals" of Islam and National Socialism. These included monotheism, piety, obedience, discipline, self-sacrifice, courage, honor, generosity, community, unity, anti-capitalism, and a celebration of labor and warfare.

In addition, Muslims were told that they and the Nazis were purportedly both fighting a "great struggle for freedom" against the British, the most important colonial power in the Middle East. The regime drew a parallel between Muhammad and Hitler and presented the umma as roughly analogous to its own notion of a totalitarian Volksgemeinschaft ("people's community").

Nazis portrayed Islam as an ally and, accordingly, called for its revival while urging Muslims to act piously and emulate Muhammad. Radio Berlin in Arabic went so far as to declare "Allahu akbar! Glory to the Arabs, Glory to Islam." The Germans held that Muslims who were not righteous enough (i.e., not following the Nazi ideological model) were causing the umma to languish: "Muslims, you are now backward because you have not shown God the proper piety and do not fear him." And not just backward, but also "invaded by merciless tyrants." Specifically for Shi'ites, the Nazis hinted at Hitler being the awaited Twelfth Imam or the Muslim eschatological figure of Jesus, who will fight the anti-Christ (namely, the Jews) and bring on the end of days.

The Nazis noted the parallel between sayings from the Koran (Sura 5:82, "You will meet no greater enemy of the believers than the Jews") and the words of Hitler ("By resisting the Jews everywhere, I am fighting for the Lord's work") and turned the Koran into an anti-Semitic tract whose primary purpose was to call for eternal hatred of Jews. They even falsely claimed that Muhammad ordered Muslims to fight the Jews "until they are extinct."

In the Nazi telling, Jewish-Muslim enmity dated back to the 7th century. "Since the days of Mohamed, the Jews have been hostile to Islam" went one broadcast. "Every Moslem knows that Jewish animosity to the Arabs dates back to the dawn of Islam" declared another. "Enmity has always existed between Arab and Jew since ancient times" insisted a third. The Nazis built on this premise to establish the basis for a Final Solution in the Middle East, instructing Arabs to "make every effort possible so that not a single Jew … remains in Arab countries."

Herf emphasizes the remarkable symbiosis of German and Middle Eastern elements: "As a result of their shared passions and interests, they produced texts and broadcasts that each group could not have produced on its own." Specifically, Arabs learned "the finer points of anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking," while Nazis learned the value of focusing on Palestine. He describes the coming together of Nazi and Islamic themes in Berlin as "one of the most important cultural exchanges of the twentieth century."

Having detailed Nazi propaganda in Arabic, Herf then traces its impact. He begins by documenting the great energy and expense devoted to these messages—the quality of the personnel devoted to it, their high-level Nazi patronage, the thousands of hours of radio transmissions, and the millions of pamphlets.
He then rounds up assessments of the Axis impact, all pointing to its success. Allied estimates from 1942, for example, found that "the people were saturated with Axis talk," that "upwards of three-fourths of the Moslem world are in favor of the Axis" and that "90% of the Egyptians, including their government, believe that the Jews are mainly responsible for shortages and high prices of essentials." A report from 1944 found that "practically all Arabs who have radios … listen to Berlin."

Allied reluctance to contradict Nazi propaganda also points to Axis success. Fearful of alienating Middle Easterners, the Allies stayed humiliatingly silent about the genocide taking place against the Jews; failed to refute allegations about Jews dominating London, Washington, and Moscow; did not dispute the distorted Koranic interpretations; and shied away from endorsing Zionism. Merely to dispute Nazi accusations, the Allies worried, would only confirm Nazi claims about Britain, America, and Russia being stooges of Jewish power. An internal U.S. directive in late 1942 acknowledged that "the subject of Zionist aspirations cannot be mentioned, inasmuch as … [this] would jeopardize our strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean."

Thus, when two leading U.S. senators, Robert Taft of Ohio and Robert Wagner of New York, proposed a resolution in 1944 endorsing a Jewish national home in Palestine, Berlin radio in Arabic called this an attempt "to erase Islamic civilization" and "to eradicate the Koran." Panicked, the entire weight of the Executive Branch came down on the senators, who felt compelled to withdraw their resolution. Clearly, Nazi offerings resonated deeply in the Middle East.

They continued to do well after the Nazi collapse and the war's conclusion. The defeat of Nazi General Erwin Rommel's aggressive push into North Africa meant that Nazi ambitions in the Middle East, in particular the Final Solution to annihilate its million or so Jews, were never implemented. But years of hate from radio and pamphlets and the repetitive, grotesque, ambitious, anti-Semitic, and Islam-based message detailed by Herf had taken root. Not only did the Middle East's Nazis emerge nearly invulnerable to prosecution, but they also prospered and were feted. An example: in 1946, Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brethren, lavished praise on Hitler's favorite Arab, Haj Amin el-Husseini, calling him "a hero … a miracle of a man." Banna added for good measure: "Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin el-Husseini will continue the struggle." Acknowledging el-Husseini's exalted status, a British officer in 1948 described him as "the one hero in the Arab world."

Ideas the Nazis spread in the Middle East have had an enduring twofold legacy.

First, as in Europe, they built on existing prejudices against Jews to transform that prejudice into something far more paranoid, aggressive, and murderous. One U.S. intelligence report from 1944 estimated that anti-Jewish materials constituted fully half of German propaganda directed to the Middle East. The Nazis saw virtually all developments in the region through the Jewish prism and exported this obsession.

The fruits of this effort are seen not only in decades of furious Muslim anti-Zionism, personified by Arafat and Ahmadinejad, but also in the persecution of ancient Jewish communities in countries like Egypt and Iraq, which have now shriveled to near-extinction, plus the employment of Nazis such as Johann van Leers and Aloïs Brunner in important government positions. Thus did the Nazi legacy oppress Jewry in the Middle East post-1945.

Second, Islamism took on a Nazi quality. As someone who has criticized the term Islamofascism on the grounds that it gratuitously conflates two distinct phenomena, I have to report that Herf's evidence now leads me to acknowledge deep fascist influences on Islamism. This includes the Islamist hatred of democracy and liberalism and its contempt for multiple political parties, preference for unity over division, cult of youth and militarism, authoritarian moralism, cultural repression, and illiberal economics.

Beyond specifics, that influence extends to what Herf calls an "ability to introduce a radical message in ways that resonated with, yet deepened and radicalized, already existing sentiments." Although a scholar of Europe by training, Herf's detective work in the U.S. archives has opened a new vista on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islamism, as well as made a landmark contribution more broadly to an understanding of the modern Middle East.

Also see

US rethinks its 'Muddle East' tactics

From: From The Australian July 21, 2010, by Ehud Yaari, Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Middle East Commentator for Channel 2 news in Israel, based on a talk he gave in Melbourne on July 12:

THE foreign policy team of US President Barack Obama is undertaking a reassessment of its policy all over the Middle East, including Israel ...and we can already detect the first products of this rethinking of policy.

The policy of keeping a distance from Israel, of picking fights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, led nowhere. There was a nominal freeze of construction in the settlements. The settlement freeze was not important in the first place and Mr Obama has decided, as you could tell during his latest meeting with Netanyahu, not to make it the central issue anymore.

Instead, we are going to see a policy that emphasises co-operation with Israel, understanding of Israel, working together, hand in hand, to bring the Palestinians to direct negotiations with Israel, instead of what is now in place -- proximity talks. Nobody talks about anything serious in proximity talks...

...Washington ...[has also] reached the conclusion that the US cannot adopt the option of containing a nuclear Iran.

The option of accepting a nuclear Iran, unwillingly of course, and then trying to contain it, was advocated by many important players on the American foreign policy scene. This option is now apparently off the table.

There is a change of policy not only in terms of sanctions, both at the UN Security Council and those unilateral sanctions now imposed by both the US, the EU and others; but also an understanding by the administration that in no way can Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

...why have they changed their minds? Because of what the leaders of the Gulf states, including the king of Saudi Arabia, have been saying to Obama for some time now; "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran."

...In Iraq we had elections that constitute ...a major victory to George W. Bush. The good guys won. The two main secular  lists, Iyad Allawi's Iraqia, which is a Sunni-Shia alliance backed by Saudi Arabia, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law list, both won in the elections ["secular"??? - are you kidding Yaari? - SL]...

...Mr Obama and some of the people around him are reaching the conclusion a policy that is based on engagement, on "unclenching the fist", "let's talk", and especially, "let's talk to enemies" ...doesn't really work. They got a no for an answer from the Syrians, they repeatedly get a no from the Iranians, they get slapped back all over the place. They are saying to themselves, "That's about as much as we are prepared to take." [If that's true, it's welcome news, and long overdue - SL]

Greek -Israel relations warming as Turkey strengthens links to Hamas and terrorist sponsors

From JPost, 21 July 2010, by HERB KEINON:

As a chill continues to blow through Israel’s ties with Ankara, those with Athens are warming considerably, as evidenced by Wednesday’s visit by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

..Papandreou, whose father, Andreas, served as prime minister of Greece twice (1981 to 1989, and 1993 to 1996) and was known for pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli leanings, has chartered a more moderate policy toward Israel than his predecessors since taking office last October.

...Once considered among the harshest critics of Israel inside the EU, along with countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Portugal and Belgium, Greece is no longer in that “basket,” one diplomatic official said.

Papandreou, whose 36- hour visit will be rich in symbolic gestures, is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday afternoon ...

People in government said there was no doubt that the recent tension with Turkey has led to a warming of the relationship between Israel and some of Turkey’s historic rivals, such as Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria. The Cypriot and Bulgarian foreign ministers paid visits to Israel earlier this year.

According to one diplomatic official, the Greeks – looking at the Israeli-Turkish, and Turkish-US tensions – are realizing that strategic alliances in the region are changing, and that this might be a good time to get closer to Israel as a way of warming ties with Washington.

...Ankara, meanwhile, has continued strengthening its relations with Hamas, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meeting Hamas chief Khalad Mashaal in Damascus on Monday.

According to the Turkish daily Hürriyet ...Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [said that] Hamas was not a terrorist organization, but rather “a resistance group defending [its] territory.”

Davutoglu was in Damascus for half a day, during which he met Syrian President Bashar Assad and visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Europe considers further sanctions on Iran

From The New York Times, July 19, 2010, by STEPHEN CASTLE:

BRUSSELS — The European Union is considering tough new sanctions against Iran to protest its nuclear program, including banning investment in the oil and gas sector and tightening restrictions on shipping and finance.

...A draft of the proposed new measures names 41 Iranian people, 57 companies or other entities, 15 additional companies thought to be controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and three deemed to be under the control of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

Senior European diplomats will discuss the proposed sanctions on Thursday. If approved, they are likely to represent a significant tightening of Europe’s economic pressure on Tehran.

...Last month, European Union leaders agreed in principle to go ahead with tighter measures

...the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has also made it clear she is ready for talks with Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

...The draft, which bans the supply of items needed for nuclear materials, weapons and ammunition, spells out detailed new restrictions for the energy sector. These would bar the “sale, supply or transfer of key equipment and technology” for refinement, liquefied natural gas, exploration or production. European companies would not be able to provide technical or financial help “to enterprises in Iran that are engaged in the key sectors of Iranian oil and gas industry.”

European Union governments would be forced to monitor Iranian banks in their jurisdiction closely. Financial transfers above 35,000 euros, or about $45,000, would require prior authorization.

Iranian banks would be prohibited from opening new branches or subsidiaries in the 27-nation bloc. There would be a ban on providing insurance and reinsurance “to the government of Iran, or to entities incorporated in Iran or subject to Iran’s jurisdiction.”

Countries in the bloc would stop “all cargo flights operated by Iranian carriers or originating from Iran with the exception of mixed passenger and cargo flights.”

The measures, which would be issued next Monday, include a list of senior officials who would be barred from entering the European Union, including Ali Akbar Ahmadian, chief of the Revolutionary Guards joint staff; Morteza Safari, commander of the navy; and Hosein Salimi, commander of the air force.

Money and economic resources owned or controlled by companies and entities regarded as close to the government or controlled by it would be frozen. These include First East Export Bank, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International.

Al-Qaeda thug lectures Arabs

From Yahoo News, 19 July 2010, by Ali Khalil:

Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda number 2 thug / murderer / terrorist
[AFP/SITE/File – A file picture released by the SITE Intelligence Group in 2009]

DUBAI (AFP) – Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri slammed Arab leaders as "Zionists" who are helping Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip...

..."These Arab Zionists are more dangerous than Jewish Zionists," Zawahiri said ...

He hit out at Egypt in particular for planning to build an underground metal fence with Gaza to curb cross-border smuggling ...
He went on to accuse Jordan's king Abdullah II, Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of being "Zionists."

"Who is providing his intelligence service to serve US intelligence and (Israel's) Mossad? Is he not the heir of traitors, Abdullah, the son of (late King) Hussein" of Jordan, he said.

"And who is aiding Mossad to kill the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) and capture them? Is he not the Arab Zionist Mahmoud Abbas?," he charged.

"And who presented an initiative (for Middle East peace), following the directions of Jewish (US journalist) Thomas Friedman, and organised an inter-faith dialogue conference where he shook hands with (Israeli President Shimon) Peres? Is he not the Arab Zionist Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz?," he added.

He slammed Arab leaders collectively for backing the Saudi-drafted peace initiative, which was first presented in 2002, offering Israel full recognition in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and a just settlement for refugees.

"Who were those who agreed collectively to hand most of Palestine to the Jews, and said that the refugees issue can only be settled in arrangements with the Jews?...

Zawahiri,  ...has a US bounty of 25 million dollars on his head...He hailed Taliban's military action against coalition forces in the south of Afghanistan, congratulating its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, on his "steadfastness" and vowing allegiance to him as "the leader of the believers." ...

Fatah supports Abbas intransigence

From Jpost, 20 July 2010, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

. . .The Fatah Revolutionary Council, one of the faction’s key decision-making bodies, is expected to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s stance . . . [that] he won’t agree to conduct direct talks unless progress is first achieved on security and borders during indirect proximity talks.

Abbas is under immense pressure from the US administration to agree to direct negotiations with Israel as soon as September, when the four-month deadline for the proximity talks expires.

Next week, two more significant bodies – the Fatah Central Committee and the PLO Executive Committee – are scheduled to hold meetings in Ramallah to discuss the status of the peace talks and issues related to internal reforms in Fatah and the PA.

The two bodies are also expected to back Abbas’s position regarding direct negotiations.

Muhammad Dahlan, a member of the Revolutionary Council, said ... “We also want a complete freeze of settlement construction, including natural growth, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.”

Dahlan said Fatah’s position remained that negotiations should be resumed from the point where they ended in December 2008 under then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.

The talks should be based on the basis of a two-state solution according to the June 4, 1967, lines and the Arab Peace Initiative, he added.

He warned that unless these demands were fulfilled, Fatah would not accept Washington’s request to launch direct talks.

On the eve of the Revolutionary Council meeting, Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah figure, launched a scathing attack on the faction for failing to reform.

Abdel Kader said that a year after Fatah’s sixth General Assembly, the first in 20 years, met in Bethlehem, the faction remains “paralyzed” and divided.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Know your friends (and stop the scepticism)

From Amazon:

"A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance" by Zev Chafets

Chafets' book ...explains the relationship between Evangelicals and Jews/Israelis and does so with marvelous wit and understanding. Chafets is a subversive writer drawing in the reader with personal (and very funny) anecdotes before getting down to serious business.  ...Highly recommended.

About the Author

Zev Chafets is a founding editor of the Jerusalem Report magazine and the author of nine books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary. He splits his time between Tel Aviv and New York.

From Amazon:

"Standing With Israel"
by David Brog

...The phenomenon of evangelical Christian support for Israel has garnered increasing media attention in recent years. Yet almost all of this coverage has been shallow and skeptical. Few have bothered to go beyond recycling the conventional wisdom. David Brog went behind the headlines to find the truth about Christian Zionism. By spending time with Christian Zionists, attending their churches and events, and reading their books and publications, Brog discovered the real motives and goals of an increasingly powerful political movement.

In the process, Brog became convinced he was tapping into something far deeper than politics. Brog, a Jew, came to believe that he was witnessing the birth pangs of a Christian/Jewish reconciliation that has been over two millennia in the making. In this important book, David Brog stands the conventional wisdom about Christians and Jews on its head. In so doing, he helps to further the very reconciliation he seeks to chronicle. This book is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of Christian/Jewish relations and the State of Israel....

...This important, persuasive book argues that "Christians who embrace the Jews as the elect of god are ascendant both theologically and politically. In twenty-first-century America, the righteous gentiles have taken over the church." Brog explains how and why "evangelical Christians have become a powerful pro-Israel force in America." He also challenges the american Jewish community to recognize the change and take it to heart. An eloquent and well-crafted presentation of an urgent proposition. —Jacob neusner Research Professor of theology Senior Fellow, Institute of Advanced Theology, Bard College

About the Author
David Brog is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He practiced corporate law in Philadelphia and Israel. Brog has worked on Capitol Hill for the past seven years and currently serves as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Friends of Israel mobilise in Finland

From CBN, 11 June 2010:

HELSINKI - More than 2,500 people took to the streets of Helsinki on Thursday to express their support for Israel.

The rally, one of several that took place in Europe and the United States, was meant to counter the widespread condemnation of the Jewish state over the confrontation aboard the Turkish-owned flagship of the Gaza flotilla.

Demonstrators carried thousands of Israeli and Finnish flags as they marched toward the seaport, chanting pro-Israel slogans and singing Jewish songs, including the ever-popular "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem" (We brought peace unto you).

Zek Moyal, an Israeli living in Helsinki, told YNet news that most of the demonstrators were not Jewish.

"They came here following a call by a pro-Israeli Christian organization, which coordinated the event with the Jewish community," Moyal said.

Click here to see the rally in New York City.

"Seeing this support brought a lot of joy, particularly in light of the local media's blitz on Israel in the days that followed the incident at sea," he said.

"The picture is beginning to balance out due to the photos of the weapons that were found on the [Gaza-bound] ship [Mavi Mamara]," Moyal said.

Finland's Jewish community numbers about 1,500, 200 of whom are Israeli.

Israeli Ambassador to Finland Avi Granot said seeing the thousands of flag-carrying demonstrators supporting Israel's right to defend itself against its enemies "was very heartwarming."

Pro-Israel rallies were also held in Vienna, Brussels, Hamburg, London, Montreal, New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

The rally in Los Angeles [also] drew a big crowd, according to the LA Times.

Today is the Ninth of Av, marking the destruction of the Temple

From a JCPA email 19 July 2010:

In commemoration of the Ninth of Av, the Jewish holiday marking the destruction of the Temple, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reviews Israel's connection to Jerusalem.

Claim: Jerusalem is of equal significance to Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

Response: Jerusalem is the Jewish people's holiest city. Though both Christians and Muslims have holy sites in Jerusalem, only the Jews see the city as their sole spiritual capital.

  • The Jews are the only community that has continuously sought to maintain a presence in Jerusalem ever since King David first made it their capital 3,000 years ago.
  • Jerusalem has never been the capital for anyone other than the Jewish people.
  • Ancient artifacts and documents confirm Jerusalem as the ancient Israelite capital where the Holy Temple stood. Even the earliest Muslim names for Jerusalem refer to it as the city of the Temple of Solomon.
  • Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times throughout the Bible.
  • Three times each day, observant Jews pray in the direction of the Temple Mount and pray for the rebuilding of the Temple; Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca.
See also:
The Struggle for Jerusalem by Dr. Dore Gold
Jerusalem: A Microcosm of Jewish Rights by Sir Martin Gilbert

Claim: Israel is violating international law by occupying east Jerusalem and should therefore withdraw immediately.

Response: Under international law, Israel's control over Jerusalem is legal.


  • As a result of the war launched by Arab states against Israel in 1948, Transjordan seized the eastern half of Jerusalem. However, Transjordan's occupation of the city was illegal since no territory can be won legitimately in a war of aggression.
  • In 1967, Arab armies again declared their aim to destroy the Jewish state. In response, Israel fought a defensive war in which it gained control of the Old City, the Temple Mount, and other areas of east Jerusalem.
  • UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 in 1967 which calls for territorial compromise involving some, unspecified amount of land captured by Israel in 1967 in exchange for "secure and recognized boundaries" and "a just and lasting peace." Resolution 242 does not require that Israel withdraw from Jerusalem, or any other specific territory.
See also:

Claim: It is unjust for Israel to be the sole sovereign authority in Jerusalem.

Response: For the past 2,000 years, freedom of worship in Jerusalem has been severely limited - until 1967 when Israel established its sovereignty over the city.


  • Regimes and their decrees:
  • Roman Empire: Forbade Jewish residence in Jerusalem.
  • Byzantine Empire: Forbade Jewish residence in Jerusalem.
  • Ottoman Empire: Forbade Jews from bringing Torah scrolls and other prayer artifacts to the Western Wall.
  • Jordanian Rule (1948-1967): Jews were marched out of the Old City as prisoners. Jewish homes were destroyed. No Jew was allowed to worship at the Western Wall, despite the armistice agreement which had specifically provided that right. Christians were also barred from buying land in the city.
  • After Israel established sovereignty in 1967, all of the city's holy sites became freely and equally accessible to worshippers of all faiths.
  • Christian presence in Jerusalem has undergone a rebirth, with the building of new churches as well as the preservation of holy sanctuaries.
  • Muslims enjoy an autonomous, religious administration for their holy sites, particularly the Waqf that presides over the Temple Mount.
To learn more, see:

Dangers of Dividing Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai

Monday, July 19, 2010

US Considers Terrorist Designation for Gaza 'Aid' Ship Funder IHH

From, July 14, 2010, by Ben Evansky:

The State Department is investigating whether to designate the Turkish Muslim charity that funded and operated a Gaza-bound "aid" ship as a foreign terrorist organization...

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Fox News at a briefing on Wednesday that the government is looking into whether The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), a nongovernmental organization, should be listed as a terror group.

...Sources also said that sections of the Treasury Department are actively investigating IHH with the intent to designate it as a terrorist organization, despite some opposition from within the administration. While the department declined to comment on any current or pending investigations into IHH, it is known that Treasury has raised concerns about the IHH with Turkish officials in the past.

IHH funded and ran the Mavi Marmara, the ship aboard which nine people were killed when Israeli commandos boarded it as it sailed toward Gaza as part of a "humanitarian aid" flotilla last month. The group is documented as having ties to terrorists and was named in federal court papers as playing a role in the failed Millennium bomb plot 10 years ago. It also was named in a 1996 CIA report as having links to terrorist groups.

Formed in 1992 with the goal of assisting Muslims in Bosnia, IHH has branched out to many places, including Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and the Palestinian territories.

The State and Treasury investigations follow a letter sent to President Obama late last month from a bipartisan group of 87 U.S. senators in which they called on the president to keep firm his administration's support of Israel. That same letter called on the president to investigate the Turkish group.

"We are deeply concerned about the IHH's role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas," the letter read. "The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by, and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. 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."

If IHH is placed on the terror list, the Turkish government "will be between a rock and a hard place," said Dr. Soner Cagaptay, senior fellow and director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington.

"Will it ban IHH, to which it has close ties? Or will it choose to ignore the U.S. designation, doing something quite unfitting a NATO ally, therefore creating a serious rift in bilateral ties?"

A spokesman at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, asked to comment about a possible terror listing, requested that Fox News email questions to two separate addresses within the Turkish Embassy. Two weeks later, Fox News has not received a response.

Fox News reported last month that IHH has links to terrorist groups including Hamas and Al Qaeda. The organization was described in federal court documents as playing a role in the Millennium terrorist plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. Additionally, the Turkish charity was described in a recent report by the Israeli-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center as being a "radical Islamic organization with an anti-Western orientation," and that "besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and that at least in the past, even global jihad networks.

The State Department and Department of Treasury can designate persons, groups and foreign countries as sponsoring or being terrorists. The State Department has a list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including
  • Hamas,
  • Hezbollah and
  • Al Qaeda,
that are designated by the secretary of state. It also has a similar list for State Sponsors of Terrorism, which currently has four countries on it:
  • Syria,
  • Iran,
  • Cuba and
  • Sudan.

World’s unions reject boycotts, embrace Israeli-Palestinian cooperation

Fran TULIP, 28 June 2010, by Eric Lee:

The international trade union movement has just delivered a stinging rebuff to advocates of the campaign to boycott Israel.

At its second world congress which just concluded in Vancouver, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) rejected calls to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targetting the Jewish state.

A vehemently anti-Israel resolution submitted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions never made it to the floor.

And in a stunning blow to pro-Hamas activists in some unions, the Israeli national trade union center Histadrut was honored by the global trade union movement.

Its leader, Ofer Eini, was elevated to the ITUC’s 25-member Executive Board as well as its General Council. Eini was also elected as one of the organization’s Vice Presidents.

The ITUC has 312 affiliated organizations in 156 countries and territories representing 176 million workers.

Eini’s election followed calls by major unions in the UK and elsewhere for the Histadrut to be boycotted. Instead, the international trade union movement has embraced the Israeli unions, understanding them — correctly — to be important partners in building peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a resolution adopted by the ITUC congress, the positive role of the Histadrut was made explicit:

“Congress welcomes the landmark agreement between Histadrut and the PGFTU on the rights of Palestinian workers, which was finalised with the assistance of the ITUC in August 2008, and initiatives by Global Union Federations in their sectors to support cooperation in defence of workers’ rights. This agreement, and other actions to promote decent work and end discrimination, are crucial to building the basis for just and equitable economic development.”

For the future, the ITUC resolution declared:

“Congress commits the ITUC to continue to support the strengthening of cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli trade union movements and calls upon the international community to support Palestinian economic reconstruction and development, including through the ILO Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection.”

In addition, the world’s trade unions
•Called for a two-state solution — and “universal recognition of Israel’s right to exist, next to an independent viable Palestinian state”
Rejected "the extremist policies of Hamas"...
•Acknowledged that Israeli’s December 2008 attack on Gaza came “in response to rocket attacks”
•Supported the 2002 “Road Map” for peace proposed by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union

....This is welcome news for Israelis and Palestinians and a blow to the supporters of Hamas who have tried hard to isolate and demonize Israel within the trade union movement.