Friday, October 07, 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

AIJAC's Jamie Hyams explains why Gilo is no block to peace

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Senior Policy Analyst Jamie Hyams interviewed on ABC News24 (28/9/11) explains why Palestinian intransigence and not Israeli settlement building is the real reason peace talks have not resumed since 2008.

He also discusses why the announcement of approval for a proposed application to build 1,100 homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo does not warrant international attention or condemnation.

Council of Europe: perplexity about the upgrading of the Palestinians to “Partners of Democrary” status

After yesterday’s vote at the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg on the Palestinian request for the status of “Partner for Democracy” within the CoE Parliamentary Assembly and in view of President Abu Mazen’s address before the Assembly this Thursday, some parliamentarians, delegates to the CoE by their national assemblies, expressed their concern in a letter sent to all their Colleagues. The letter conveys the parliamentarians’ perplexity for the rapidity and superficiality of the upgrading procedure adopted by the CoE Assembly. It has been undersigned by several MPs and among them: Hon. Roland Blum (UMP/France), Sen. Rosanna Boldi (Ldp/EDG), Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein (Pdl/PPE), Hon. Rudy Salles (EPP/France), Sen. Giuseppe Saro (EPP/Italy), Hon. Giacomo Stucchi (EDG/Italy), Hon. Marco Zacchera (EPP/Italy).

Here you can find the full text of the letter:

October the 3rd, 2011
Dear Colleagues,

it is with some perplexity and disconcertment that we witness the quick approval of a request for Partner for Democracy status within the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. We do not think that the way the subject as a whole has been managed and is going to be concluded will really help the Palestinian Authority in its effort to become a democratic State, a highly desirable goal for which we praise Mr Abu Mazen, while we convey to him our warmest wishes for his upcoming visit to our Assembly.
We also extend our wishes to both the Palestinians and Israelis for a prompt return to the negotiating table in order to achieve the aim that we all hope for, two States for two peoples living side by side in security and peace.

Our perplexity stems from the fact that it appears very difficult to reconcile the reality of the Palestinian Authority with the picture outlined in the Draft resolution that is going to be voted on Tuesday. While we wish that its aims could be pursued without delay, still we think that many principles and encouragements listed in this document ought to have been more thoroughly checked before we embark on the upgrading of the delegation sitting in the Council of Europe. We are worried that this well-intentioned upgrading could result in the opposite of what we expect and hope for the future of the Palestinian Authority.

The PA is very dramatically divided, from the political point of view, basically into two factions, Fatah and Hamas. In May 2011 there was a controversial pact of reconciliation and now, notwithstanding several disagreements, Mr Abu Mazen is trying very hard to renew it and make it effective. But Hamas is listed among the terrorist organizations in the European Union and in the USA; it bases its work on an anti-Semitic and anti-Western charter in which it promises to destroy Israel; it keeps the soldier Gilad Shalit as a prisoner in a secret refuge while nobody, not even the Red Cross, has ever been allowed to get direct information about him; it keeps its population under a heavy Sharia law.
The mandate of Abu Mazen’s presidency of the Palestinian Authority started on February 9th 2005, and actually ended on 9th of January 2009. He extended his term for one year, and afterwards he renewed it again. We hear now that elections are on their way: we wish that the Council of Europe will be able to see the return of the Palestinian Authority to the electoral system soon.

About citizens’ rights: according to the 2010 report of Freedom House, women “are subjected to restrictive personal status law, which retain discriminatory provisions related to marriage, divorce, and child custody. Domestic abuse remains a significant problem and violence against women has increased in the recent years… Discriminatory laws and tradition also affect inheritance, alimony, employment opportunities… So-called "honor killings," which typically involve the murder of women by relatives as punishment for extramarital sex, have also escalated”. As far as Hamas is concerned, the Islamist organization has incorporated in Gaza the hudud, a seventh century unified penal code that features punishments as amputations, whipping, stoning.
The Palestinian Authority applies the death penalty and, according to Human Rights Watch, at the moment at least 21 persons are waiting in prison for execution. In 2011 there have been three executions and two more persons have been condemned to death. In July 2011 two men have been hanged with the accusation of “collaborationism” with Israel. We must nevertheless recognize that President Mahmoud Abbas has requested from the judges a suspension of the death penalties since 2005.

‘Accidental’ but actually deliberate killings happen day after day without the possibility of the Security Forces to intervene in a decisive way, because there are factions and militias on political and family basis, fighting each other in the streets. We know that the Palestinian leadership tries to combat this phenomenon that nevertheless has a strong impact on society. The Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israelis have been lynched or gunned in the streets, sometimes after being taken away from the jails where they were imprisoned.

Since the Palestinian law, based on the 1960 Jordanian penal code, prohibits homosexual activity, the gay community in the Palestinian Authority has a very hard life, subjected to sanctions and persecutions. Consequentially many gay people run away and seek refuge in Israel.

Even if the law prohibits it, many underage children (with estimates as high as 72 per cent) work in shops, family farms, factories, enterprises.

As for freedom of opinion, we read that in 2006 at least 16 Palestinian journalists have been either killed or wounded by armed groups and PA security forces. Security forces of the PA, writes Human Rights Watch, have arbitrarily detained and sometimes abused many West Bank journalists.

As far as the condition of Christians is concerned, we have many witnesses of bad behaviour or even persecution from the Muslim side: in Bethlehem, in the last decades, the Christian population has squeezed from 90 to 15 percent. Not to speak about Gaza, where persecutions are on a daily basis and do not stop at murder.

It must also be mentioned that it has been stated in many declarations of the Palestinian Fatah leadership that a future Palestinian State will not admit the presence of any Jews, and we certainly cannot accept this as a good premise for democracy and coexistence.

It is for these and other reasons that, while wishing a future of democracy and peace to the Palestinians Authority and appreciating the commitment implied in the demand of an upgrading at the Council of Europe, we see the need for an enormous effort in future in order to fulfil this commitment and on our side, the side of the European institutions, the necessity of being more accurate and thorough in monitoring and accepting this process.

Sincerely yours,
Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein (EPP/Italy)

Sen. Rossana Boldi (EDG/Italy)
Hon. Marco Zacchera (EPP/Italy)
Hon. Giacomo Stucchi (EDG/Italy)
Sen. Giuseppe Saro (EPP/Italy)
Hon. Rudy Salles (EPP/France)
Hon. Roland Blum (UMP/France)

Assad threatens the West

From the Fars News Agency (Teheran), 4 Oct 2011:
TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu threatened the western countries that if Syria comes under a NATO attack, it would set fire on the Middle-East, specially Israel.

"If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than 6 hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv," Assad said after Davutoglu conveyed the United States' warning message to him.

He also reiterated that Damascus will also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch such an intensive rocket and missile attack on Israel that the Israeli spy agencies could never imagine.

"All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the US warships in the Persian Gulf and the US and European interests will be targeted simultaneously," Assad said.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, enduring organized attacks against Syrian police forces and border guards by well-armed gangs that are reportedly supported by foreign sources.

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.

The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

The US and the European Union have been criticizing Damascus throughout the unrest, accusing of repressive rule. The Western alliance recently went so far as calling for Assad's ouster and threatening the sovereign country with wide-ranging economic sanctions and foreign military invasion.

Turkey as a NATO member has also warned on various occasions that it would take action against Bashar al-Assad's government.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Israeli scientist wins Nobel chemistry prize

STOCKHOLM (AP) – Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman won the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals, a mosaic-like chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Shechtman's discovery in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter. It initially faced strong objections from the scientific community, and even got him kicked out of his research group.
..."It feels wonderful," Shechtman, a distinguished professor at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, told The Associated Press.
Crystallographers always believed that all crystals have rotational symmetry, so that when they are rotated, they look the same. In 1982, in Washington, D.C., Shechtman first observed crystals with 10 points — pentagonal symmetry, which most scientists said was impossible.
"I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me," Shechtman said in a description of his work released by his university.
For months he tried to persuade his colleagues of his find, but they refused to accept it. Finally he was asked to leave his research group.
Shechtman returned to Israel, where he found one colleague prepared to work with him on an article describing the phenomenon. The article was at first rejected, but finally published in November 1984 — to uproar in the scientific world. Double Nobel winner Linus Pauling was among those who never accepted the findings.
"He would stand on those platforms and declare, 'Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.'" Shechtman said.
In 1987, friends of Shechtman in France and Japan succeeded in growing crystals large enough for x-rays to repeat and verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope...

The Ottawa Protocol: Canada gets tough on antisemitism

From Huffington Post, 21 Sept 2011, by Avi Benlolo, President and CEO, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Canada

The government of Canada took an historic step yesterday by signing the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism. By doing so, it recognized anti-Semitism as a pernicious evil and a global threat against the Jewish people, the State of Israel and free, democratic countries everywhere. 
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has noted, 
"Those who would hate and destroy the Jewish people would ultimately hate and destroy the rest of us as well." 

The protocol is a declaration that hatred of this nature will not be tolerated in this country. It sets out an action plan for supporting initiatives that combat anti-Semitism and provides a framework for other nations to follow. 

It also sets out a vibrant definition of anti-Semitism which, for the first time in history, links anti-Semitism to the denial of the right Jewish people have to their ancestral home land -- the State of Israel. This, in fact, is what sets post-World War Two anti-Semitism apart from its historic roots. Today's anti-Semitism is all about denial: denial of the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish movement to reclaim the land of Israel; denial of a Jewish history in connection to the holy land and, in particular, the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people; denial of the Holocaust (while at the same time accusing Jews of Nazism); and denial of Jews to live free of anti-Semitism, hate and intolerance.

In announcing the Protocols, Foreign Minister John Baird has expressed his government's unequivocal support for the State of Israel. In referring to this week's turmoil at the United Nations and the Palestinian threat to unilaterally declare a state, Baird said, 
"Canada will not stand behind Israel at the United Nations, we will stand right beside it. It is never a bad thing to do the right thing." 

According to Baird, more and more countries are refusing to participate in the UN conference dubbed "Durban III" -- otherwise known as an anti-Semitic hate fest which began as a human rights forum in South Africa in 2001; the forum ultimately degenerated into an anti-Semitic slinging match in which repressive Arab and African countries blamed all the problems facing their own countries and the world on Israel. The governments of France, New Zealand and Poland (today) joined Canada and 10 other western nations this week by declaring they will not take part.

Unquestionably, the Government of Canada's stance on Israel is based on the principle of standing by your friends -- especially when they are democracies and advocates for human rights. Most Jewish leaders would agree that Israel is indeed Canada's greatest ally in the fight against hate and intolerance.

But the fight against hatred and anti-Semitism must be won here in Canada as well. The Ottawa Protocol is mostly the result of a report published this summer by a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism which was comprised of leading Canadian politicians who volunteered their time to probe the increasing and alarming tide of anti-Semitism in Canada. 

In a letter accompanying the report, Chairs of the Inquiry Panel and the Steering Committee Mario Silva and Scott Reid wrote, "The Inquiry Panel's conclusion, unfortunately, is that the scourge of anti-Semitism is a growing threat in Canada, especially on the campuses of our universities." The report cites numerous examples of anti-Semitism on various campuses including the infamous incident in 2009 when Jewish students at York University were chased and barricaded themselves in the Hillel lounge while a mob outside taunted them with anti-Semitic slurs. The list of examples is quite long and disturbing.

Universities should take note of the report and the signing of the Ottawa Protocols. They should put an immediate end to hateful and fallacious events like Israeli Apartheid Week; they should state unequivocally that freedom of speech should not be abused to provide a cover for anti-Semitism; they should ensure that Jewish students feel welcome on campus and that their learning environment should be freed from anti-Israel occurrences and finally, universities must become accountable for allowing their private property to be venues for hateful conduct among students.

The Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism is a template for every Canadian to consider. But it is especially a document of significance for universities that have allowed themselves to become vehicles of hatred and complicit in its promotion. As my friend, Professor Irwin Cotler said last night at the Ottawa signing ceremony, anti-Semitism is not only the longest known form of hatred in the history of humanity -- it is the only form of hatred that is truly global. 

Every person of conscience should take note of the Ottawa Protocols and never forget the lessons of the Holocaust when the world was silent.

Turkey in a house of cards

From Caroline Glick, October 4, 2011:

...Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ... was welcomed as a hero on his recent trip to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The Arabs embraced him as the new face of the war against Israel.

...Erdogan is probably the only world leader that conducted prolonged friendly meetings with both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barak Obama at the UN last month.

Then there are the Balkans. ...Erdogan's government has been lavishing aid on Bosnia for several years and is promoting itself as a neo-Ottoman guardian of the former Ottoman possessions.

EVEN ERDOGAN'S threats of war seem to be paying off. His attacks on Israel have won him respect and admiration throughout the Arab world. His threats against Cyprus's exploration of offshore natural gas fields caused Cypriot President Demetris Christofias to announce at the UN that Cyprus will share the revenues generated by its natural gas with Turkish occupied northern Cyprus....

Then there is the Turkish economy.
On the face of it, it seems that Turkey's assertive foreign policy is facilitated by its impressive economic growth.

According to Turkey's statistics agency, the Turkish economy grew by 8.8 percent in the second quarter of the year - far outperforming expectations. Last year the Turkish economy grew by 9 percent. ....But Turkey's actual situation is very different from its surface image.

... a closer analysis of its financial data indicates that Turkey's expansive growth is the result of a credit bubble that is about to burst. According to a Citicorp analyst quoted in The Wall Street Journal, domestic demand accounts for all of Turkey's economic growth.

This domestic demand in turn owes to essentially free loans the government showered on the public in the lead-up to the June elections. The loans are financed by government borrowing abroad.

Turkey's current accounts deficit stands at nearly 9 percent of GDP. Greece is engulfed in a debt crisis with a current accounts deficit of 10 percent.

Analysts project that Turkey's deficit will eclipse Greece's within the year. And whereas the EU may end up bailing Greece out of its debt crisis, Turkey has no one to bail it out of its own debt crisis. Consequently, Turkey's entire economic house of cards is likely to come crashing down very rapidly.

It is hard to understand why Erdogan is acting as he is given the poor hand he is holding. It is possible that he is
  • crazy.
  • insulated from criticism that he is unaware of Turkey's economic realities or of the consequences of his aggressive behavior.
  • ...hoping to combine a foreign policy crisis with Turkey's oncoming economic crisis in order to blame the latter on the former.
  • ...believes that US backing gives him immunity to the consequences of his actions.
No matter what stands behind Turkey's actions, it is clear Ankara has overplayed its hand. Its threats against Israel and Cyprus are hollow. Its hopes to be a regional power are faltering....


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

For Peace, Build an 'Iron Wall'

National Union Member of Knesset, Aryeh Eldad speaks at a Ze'ev Jabotinsky memorial event in New York.

Arutz Sheva photo

On Thursday evening over 200 people joined Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI) and The Nordau Circle as they commemorated the 71st yahrzeit of Revisionist-Zionist leader Ze'ev Vladimir Jabotinsky at the Congregation Ohab Tzedek on Manhattan's trendy Upper West Side...
..MK Dr. Arieh Eldad (National Union, a member of the Israeli Knesset since 2003, spoke of the incalculable impact of Jabotinsky's ideals on modern day Israel. "The defense policy of Israel was created 30 years before its birth, as it was based on Jabotinsky's short essay entitled "The Iron Wall", said Dr. Eldad.

"In 1923, Jabotinsky wrote, 'Except for those who were born blind, it was realized long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Arab world for converting 'Palestine' from Arab land into a country with a Jewish majority. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character, it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall."

Jabotinsky was not referring to 'Palestinians', who did not yet claim to be a people, but to the Arabs living in the Middle East, who later attacked the fledgling state of Israel.

Adding that the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, also adopted this policy, Dr. Eldad said, 
"When the Arabs will be convinced that they can't break this wall then we can have peace. Jabotinsky saw the future much clearer than any of us today and this is why his "Iron Wall" vision is so vitally essential now."

Dr. Eldad castigated the mentaliity of the "apologetic Jews who do not really believe that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people"
...Debunking the claim of a territorial conflict, Dr. Eldad said, "To the Muslim world this is a religious war. What motivates the Arab hatred against us is their scrupulous dedication to the execution of Shariah law."  
Calling for the Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria and the end of the Muslim occupation thereof, Dr. Eldad called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a weak leader" who needs to summon up the courage to stand up to President Obama and his pressure on Israel to retreat to the indefensible borders of 1967.

Jabotinsky, born in 1880 in Odessa, Russia to a liberal Jewish family,left home at 18 for Italy and Switzerland to study law and journalism. The horrific 1903 pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev led him to focus his energies on his people and the nascent Zionist dream of establishing a Jewish state in the land of Israel. 

He spearheaded a campaign to reestablish the first Jewish army in Israel in nearly 2,000 years, was elected as a delegate to the 6th World Zionist Congress in 1923, and founded the Betar Zionist youth movement in honor of his friend and fellow Jewish soldier Yosef Trumpeldor. Young Betarim were taught to defend Jews against their enemies and devote their energies to helping create a new Jewish state.  Derided as a "fascist" by his detractors because of his nationalist zeal and scorned and ridiculed as an alarmist when he traveled through Europe in the early 1930s urging Jews to evacuate Europe, Jabotinsky was only posthumously credited for his foresight. 

"Jabotinsky was a man of uncanny vision, principle and fearlessness," declared Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the American Center for Security and columnist at The Washington Times. Gaffney underscored the dangers posed by the radical Islamic movement; the implementation of "stealth jihad" and the egregious repercussions of the proliferation of Shariah law that has permeated Western civlization. Quoting from a scholarly study entitled, "Shariah: The Threat to America" published by the Center for Security Policy, Mr. Gaffney said, 
"Never has Israel been in as much danger as it is today and the objectives of the Islamists is still to drive the Jews into the sea." 
The "Arab Spring" Gaffney said, "means within a year's time, there will be another big war for Israel's survival." 
Noting the hostility of Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Latin America towards Israel, he said that the common denominator that binds the ideological directives of these nations is adherence actualizing Shariah law.

Taking issue with President Obama, Gaffney said, "We need to punish people who threaten Israel. We need to deny funding to the United Nations and we must put on notice that any nation that thinks about attacking Israel will be an enemy of the United States."....

Tour and briefing by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in Gilo, Jerusalem

Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau, October 2, 2011:

On Sunday, 2 October, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon conducted a briefing for foreign correspondents in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Also present for the tour and briefing were representatives from the Jerusalem municipality, Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur, and the Gilo Community Committee Manager.

DFM Ayalon told the journalists that Gilo is a neighborhood in Jerusalem and an integral part of the city. It is not clear why every new building and every local neighborhood expansion becomes a matter of international interest.

Standing at a strategic observation point in Gilo, Ayalon told the dozens of foreign journalists who joined the tour, 
“The reality is that, in any future agreement, the Gilo neighborhood will be part of Jerusalem and part of the State of Israel – that has never been in dispute. We are talking about a neighborhood with 40,000 inhabitants who have needs. In order to ensure that all the residents will have a place to live, a responsible government has to make sure that houses continue to be built for the people.”
Responding to questions from the journalists, Ayalon said, 
“Just as you don’t expect us to prohibit construction in predominately Arab areas, you shouldn’t expect us to prohibit construction in predominately Jewish areas.” 
Ayalon added that the announcement concerning municipal building plans, in which is included the expansion of Gilo, was not timed for political effect, but is only concerned with meeting the needs of the thousands of residents. “The Palestinians use construction and the Green Line as an excuse to distract world opinion and the parties from the central issue, which is negotiations,” Ayalon said.

Dep.FM Ayalon referred to Israel’s agreement to the Quartet proposal: “The Palestinians continue systematically to pile up difficulties and preconditions to the negotiations, which only decrease the chances for a genuine solution to the issues. It’s time to put an end to that.”

At the end of the briefing, Ayalon summed up Israel’s position: “We do not intend to stop building in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was and will always remain Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital.”