Friday, May 03, 2013

We'll See You in Court, Abbas

From Israel Hayom, 1 May 2013, by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner*:For months now, the Palestinian Authority has threatened to file for membership at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, which would enable it to press war crimes charges against Israeli soldiers and senior officials. This was one of PA President Mahmoud Abbas' primary objectives when he submitted the PA's candidacy at the U.N. for nonmember observer state status, because one year earlier, devoid of this status, the ICC denied the PA's membership request.
Abbas uses this threat like a Sword of Damocles over Israel's head. If the peace process fails to move forward, and if the Israeli government builds in E1, he will use this weapon.
The ICC is eager to pursue cases that don't involve the slaughter and all-out warfare against tribes in Africa. The debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially when Israel is on the defendant's stand, tops the wish list for the war crimes tribunal, which portends to be the ultimate authority pertaining to human rights. Out of the hundreds of claims submitted to the ICC, it will choose to tackle those it has desired the most: the prosecution of Israeli soldiers.
Such prosecutions could have fateful consequences. The ICC has the authority to issue arrest warrants against those it convicts, and it is the duty of member countries to make these arrests. IDF soldiers, therefore, will be prevented from stepping foot in more than 100 member countries, such as Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
This would be a decisive blow not only to Israeli backpackers recently discharged from the army, but to all fighting units, which new recruits will seek to avoid due to the risk involved. What's the point, they'll say, in not only sacrificing three years to the IDF, but also the freedom to move around in the world afterward.
Of his two options -- starting a third intifada or turning to the ICC -- Abbas will choose the most preferable: the one that doesn’t come at the cost of blood, that grants him credit with European leaders for choosing the nonviolent path, and that affords him the greatest odds of winning. He'll turn to The Hague.
The Hague's authority, however is a two-way street. From the moment the PA becomes a member, it opens itself to similar war crimes claims. Its leaders are liable to find themselves responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Sending terrorists to commit suicide bombings; launching tens of thousands of missiles and rockets against civilian communities; inciting and directing its own population and security forces to kill innocent civilians, as these efforts have become increasingly systematic to the point of long-standing official policy against another civilian population -- these are all crimes against humanity and genocide. There is already such a precedent, after a New York federal court in 2007 ruled that intifada-related crimes were crimes against humanity, and that Israeli victims of terror had the right to pursue legal action against those who aid and abet terrorism.
The only way to protect IDF soldiers from international prosecution is to deter the PA from turning to The Hague, and this is by threatening to submit thousands of countersuits against it on behalf of terror victims.
Subsequently, the Israeli-based civil rights organization Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) has in recent days commenced with a pre-emptive attack. We are collecting testimonies from any Israeli who was a victim of terrorism and are asking that these testimonies be posted to our Facebook page as evidence that can be used in countersuits against leaders of the Palestinian Authority for their roles in the perpetration of war crimes.
If Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh want to go to The Hague -- we will be there to meet them.
*The writer is director of Shurat HaDin, which acts to protect human rights and the security of the State of Israel.

New Research on Nazi Influence in Arab World

From Algemeiner, 30 April 2013 by Dr. Rafael Medoff *:

Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, with Nazi SS officers in November 1943. Photo: German Federal Archives.
[With the 70th anniversary of the Mufti’s sabotage of a plan to rescue Jewish children from Europe coming up next month] Nazi Germany’s effort to recruit supporters in the Arab world is attracting new attention among scholars.
...During the Holocaust years, Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, lived in Berlin, where he recorded pro-Nazi radio broadcasts that were beamed to the Arab world and recruited Bosnian Muslims to join an all-Muslim unit of the SS.
Seventy years ago, on May 13, 1943, Husseini caught wind of a plan to permit 4,000 Jewish children, accompanied by 500 adults, to travel to Palestine in exchange for the release of 20,000 German prisoners of war. Both the Germans and the British had agreed to the exchange, but the Germans backed down when the Mufti objected.
The Mufti was the most prominent Arab figure to support the Nazis, but he was not alone.
“My research tracks the effort by the Germans, Italians, and Japanese to spread their propaganda and influence in Palestine and various Arab countries,” said Dr. Cohen [from Israel State Archives]... “They worked hard at it and, to a significant extent, they succeeded.”
Cohen has been combing through Arabic-language Nazi and Axis leaflets and radio broadcasts that were collected and analyzed by Haganah intelligence in the 1930s and 1940s.
Some of the leaflets found by Cohen feature stark headlines such as “Kill the Jews and the British!” Some were printed on the back of facsimile British pounds or American dollars, so that when they were dropped by German planes over Arab regions of Palestine, they looked like money and immediately attracted attention.
According to Cohen, some of the Arabic-language Nazi propaganda promised that those who attacked Jews would be rewarded by being given “the most beautiful of the Jewish girls” after Palestine’s Jewish community was vanquished. “That sort of language makes one think of the promise that Muslim terrorist leaders today sometimes offer—that those who die while killing Jews will receive seventy virgins in heaven,” Cohen said.
The text of the leaflets and broadcasts were composed by Nazi authors, and then translated into Arabic by members of the Mufti’s entourage in Berlin.
Some of the Mufti’s men in Germany were more than writers: several parachuted into Palestine in 1944 with vials of poison that they intended to dump in the Tel Aviv water system. They were intercepted by the British police before they could carry out the attack.
Cohen found an internal memo from British police headquarters in Jerusalem in 1939 reporting, “The Arab population in Palestine are listening to the Berlin Broadcasts in Arabic most attentively, particularly in town and village coffee shops where large crowds gather for the purpose ...uneducated classes are undoubtedly being influenced” ...
In 1945, the activists known as the Bergson Group successfully lobbied the government of Yugoslavia to indict the Mufti as a war criminal, because of atrocities committed against Allied soldiers and civilians by members of the Bosnian Muslim SS unit, known as “Handschar,” that he helped create. The Yugoslavs never took steps to extradite him, however.
Husseini fled Berlin during the final days of the war but was briefly detained by the French authorities and placed under house arrest in a Paris villa. In response to Arab pressure, the French permitted the Mufti to stage a faux escape, and he found haven in Cairo. Later he moved to Beirut, where he passed away in 1974.
Earlier this year, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas stirred controversy when, in a PA television broadcast, he listed the Mufti’s name among a number of “martyrs and heroes” who have died while fighting Jews or Israelis.

*Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, DC. His latest book is “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,” available from Amazon.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

"Human-rights" prize nominee supports rocket attacks on civilians

Egypt's Mona Seif, finalist for the Martin Ennals Award for "Human Rights Defenders"
GENEVA, May 1, 2013 – In response to new revelations, a top contender for the world's premier human rights prize -- one of three Final Nominees selected by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and eight other NGOs -- today acknowledged having posted "anti-Israel tweets." See UN Watch's original protest here.
Mona Seif was announced last week as one of three finalists for the Martin Ennals Prize for Human Rights Defenders, considered "the Nobel for human rights."
But UN Watch yesterday exposed Seif's tweets advocating terrorism, and protested the nomination together with two courageous Egyptian rights activists, Amr Bakly and Maikel Nabil, who believe in peace and non-violence and oppose hate.
In a letter to HRW director Ken Roth, UN Watch asked him to cancel Seif's nomination. We also appealed to former Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the foundation; to the nine other NGOs on the jury, along with the chair, Hans Thoolen; and to prize patron Theo Van Boven, a Dutch law professor and former UN expert. None has yet responded. To help with UN Watch's Twitter campaign, see below.
UN Watch's protest, supported by many on Facebook and Twitter, now appears in numerous news sites, including today's Washington Times ("Human Rights Watch selects proponent of terrorism as finalist for award"), and in popular blogs ("Disturbing: Radical anti-Semite nominated for international human rights award"). More major media are expected to report the story. The Israeli press is expected to remain oblivious.
Earlier today, human rights prize nominee Mona Seif responded on Twitter:
"Just a note: all my anti-Israel tweets were written in English precisely so that the international community celebrating our revolution understands that we support the resistance of the palestinian nation against israel. I didn't fool anyone or hide my thoughts... I support a nation's right to resist occupation! Sending me tweets calling me a terrorist won't change the fact that [the] real terrorist is Israel."
Although dozens of Seif's supporters in the Arab world have rallied to her side, and endorsed her anti-Israel comments, none has denied that she support the deliberate targeting and killing of Israeli civilians, nor has Seif herself denied it. 
Moreover, though they sang her praises up until yesterday, not a single international human rights group has defended Seif since the UN Watch revelations. 
In a similar incident in March, Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim went to Washington to receive a State Department award when suddenly it was revealed that she had cheered a terrorist attack against Israelis and made other antisemitic comments. Though initially she claimed her Twitter account had been hacked, she eventually acknowledged having made "statements hostile to Zionism," for which she refused to apologize. Her award was canceled.
Say No to Terror: Join Twitter Campaign
Don't let a proponent of violence against civilians get rewarded on the world stage as a model of human rights. Please send a polite message on Twitter to the jury members below asking them to cancel Mona Seif's nomination, and to condemn her support for terrorism.
  • Hans Thoolen, Chair of Martin Ennals Award Jury: @thoolen
  • Human Rights Watch: @kenroth @hrw
  • Amnesty International: @amnesty
  • International Federation of Human Rights: @fidh_en
  • World Organisation Against Torture: @omctorg
  • Front Line: @frontlinehrd
  • International Commission of Jurists: @ICJ_org
  • Human Rights First: @humanrights1st
  • International Service for Human Rights: @ISHRglobal
  • Diakonie Germany: @diakonie
  • Hurdidocs: @huridocs
Sample tweet to all (cut & paste):

Jury, REJECT Seif #tweets4terror: @amnesty @hrw @fidh_en @omctorg @FrontLineHRD @ICJ_org @humanrights1st @ISHRglobal @diakonie @huridocs.

It's not about land

Thursday, May 2, By William Booth:
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians could not achieve a peace deal based on land swaps alone and insisted that the most important thing is for Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.
“You saw what happened when we left the Gaza Strip. We evacuated the last settlers, and what did we get? Missiles,” he said, referring to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of soldiers and settlers from the Palestinian coastal territory in 2005.
Netanyahu seemed to offer a cool response to remarks made Monday in Washington by members of an Arab League delegation, including Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani, who suggested that the Arab states would support a limited, mutually agreeable exchange between Israel and the Palestinian territories of lands that fall outside the pre-1967 borders.
“The root of the conflict is not territorial,” Netanyahu said ... “The Palestinian lack of will to recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict.”
... In 2002, the Arab League offered recognition of Israel by Arab states in exchange for a complete Israeli withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital. So the statements by the Arab leadership that land swaps were acceptable is seen by some as a step forward.
... In his address at the Foreign Ministry, Netanyahu said, “Until the Palestinians recognize our right to exist as a national state — no matter what the borders — and until they declare that the conflict is over, there will not be peace.”

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Israel is Doing Remarkably Well

From Rubin Reports, 1 May 2013, by Barry Rubin:
Israel's economic and strategic situation is surprisingly bright right now. That’s partly due to the government’s own economic restraint and strategic balancing act, partly due to a shift in Obama Administration policy, and partly due to the conflicts among Israel’s adversaries.
Let’s start with the economy. During 2012, Israel’s economy grew by 3.1 percent. While some years ago this would not be all that impressive it is amazing given the international economic recession. The debt burden actually fell from 79.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 73.8 percent. As the debt of the United States and other countries zooms upwards, that’s impressive, too.
Israel’s credit rating also rose at a time when America’s was declining. Standard and Poor lifted the rating from A to A+. Two other rating systems, Moody’s and Fitch, also increased Israel’s rating.
And that’s not all. Unemployment fell from 8.5 percent in 2009 to either 6.8 to 6.9 percent (according to Israel’s bureau of statistics) or 6.3 percent (according to the CIA).
In terms of U.S.-Israel relations, the visit of President Barack Obama and Israel’s cooperation on Iran and on an attempted conciliation with Turkey brought quick rewards. For the first time, Israel will be allowed to purchase KC-135 aerial refueling planes, a type of equipment that could be most useful for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities among other things.
The same deal—which includes sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to make U.S. allies feel more secure vis-à-vis Iran—includes V-22 Osprey planes that can switch between helicopter and plane mode. Israel is the first foreign country to be allowed to purchase this system. It could be used for border patrols—a bigger problem given the decline in the stability along the Egyptian and Syrian borders—and troop transport.

Finally, there would be more advanced radars for Israeli planes and a new type of missile useful for knocking out enemy anti-aircraft sites, potentially useful against Iran among other targets. In addition, an Israeli company is now going to be making the wings for the advanced U.S. F-35 fighter planes.
The completion of the border fence with Egypt increases security in places where Palestinian and Egyptian Islamist groups are trying to attack. It also has reduced illegal civilian crossings to zero. Ironically, Israel has gotten control of its border while the U.S. government proclaims that task to be impossible for itself.
And of course there is the usual and widely varied progress on medical, agricultural, and hi-tech innovations. Here is a summary of those inventions.
The picture is even bright regarding U.S.-Israel relations, certainly compared to the previous four years. This point is highlighted by Wikileaks publication of a U.S. embassy dispatch of January 4, 2010...
“[As far as Israel is concerned] what is important is that Obama and his entourage has learned two things. One of them is that bashing Israel is politically costly. American public opinion is very strongly pro-Israel. Congress is as friendly to Israel as ever. For an administration that is more conscious of its future reelection campaign than any previous one, holding onto Jewish voters and ensuring Jewish donations is very important….
“The other point is that the administration has seen that bashing Israel doesn't get it anywhere. For one thing, the current Israeli government won't give in easily and is very adept at protecting its country's interests. This administration has a great deal of trouble being tough with anyone. If in fact the Palestinians and Arabs were eager to make a deal and energetic about supporting other U.S. policies, the administration might well be tempted to press for an arrangement that largely ignored Israeli interests.
“But this is not the case. It is the Palestinians who refuse even to come to the negotiating table -- and that is unlikely to change quickly or easily. Arab states won't lift a finger to help the U.S. on Iran, Iraq, or Arab-Israeli issues. So why bother?”
I think this analysis really fits the events that came to fruition in March 2013 with Obama’s coming to Israel, signalling a change in U.S. policy.

Face it. The obsession with the “peace process” is misplaced and misleading.

The big issue in the region is the struggle for power in the Arabic-speaking world, Turkey, and Iran between Islamists and non-Islamists. And, no, the Arab-Israeli conflict has very little to do with these issues. Those who don’t understand those points cannot possible comprehend the region. Secretary of State John Kerry may run around the region and talk about big plans for summit conferences. But nobody really expects anything to happen.
This is not, of course, to say that there aren’t problems. Yet what often seems to be the world’s most slandered and reviled country is doing quite well. Perhaps if Western states studied its policies rather than endlessly criticized them they might gain from the experience.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Arabs are waking to Hezbollah's deceit

From Arshaq Al-Awsat (pan-Arab daily newspaper), 27 April 2013, by  Mshari Al-Zaydi:

In Syria, what was hidden has been revealed.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has cemented the image that some of its supporters in the Islamic world have tried so hard to deny, namely that of Hezbollah as Khomeinist Iran’s iron fist.
...Every critic of Hezbollah, particularly over the group’s ties to the Khomeinist Iranian project, would face counter accusations of being “agents of the Americans and Zionists”.
Hezbollah is blatantly interfering in the war currently raging in Syria, particularly the battles taking place in border villages in the Al-Qusayr region. In fact, former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi Al-Tufayli acknowledged that the group is involved throughout Syria.
This is something that Moaz Alkhatib has brought to the attention of current Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, emphasizing the deceit of the “resistance”. He stressed that the “resistance” slogan is nothing more than an empty political mantra that is used for propaganda purposes and to manipulate Arab and Islamic sentiments.
The “resistance” slogan truly is nothing more than a deceit, not just today ...but rather this has been used as a false slogan for more than ten years.
Do you recall how Arab television channels and writers rushed to condemn all those who criticized Hezbollah’s actions in dragging Lebanon into its military adventures with Israel? Do you recall how the Hezbollah media, along with the pro-Assad media in Lebanon, and so-called pro-resistance satellite channels, seemed to join forces to oppose the Arab moderate camp? Of course, this is something that was completely wiped out by the rising wave of the Arab Spring.
Figures like Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal expressed their “understanding” of Hezbollah’s takeover of western Beirut. In addition to this, Islamic figures like Salim Al-Awa in Egypt attempted to promote ties between the Iran, Hams, and Hezbollah camp and the rest of the Arab world. Meanwhile Hamas chief Khaled Mishal bit his tongue and did not issue any statements about Hezbollah’s campaign to intimidate and suppress its political opponents.
It is ironic that Hezbollah, along with the Bashar Al-Assad regime, claim to stand against sectarianism, when in reality they are the ones stoking the sectarian fire.
...Hezbollah has been shown to be nothing more than a mere tool of the mullahs in Tehran, promoting the lies of the “resistance” while condemning all those who have refused to fall for this charade. Indeed, this is an approach that Hezbollah continues to follow today.

Free Ouda Seliman Tarabin

From The Times of Israel, 24 April 2013, by Stuart Winer:

An Israeli citizen, held for over 12 years in an Egyptian prison on charges of spying that he denies, said he is starting a hunger strike in protest against both Egyptian and Israeli authorities that have failed to bring about his release.
الهوية الإسرائيلية للجاسوس عودة ترابين
“I am the only one who is paying the price of the revenge and hatred for the State of Israel and the prime minister that come from the Egyptian government and those who head it,” wrote Ouda Tarabin, a Bedouin from Rahat, in a hand-written letter to Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, Yaacov Amitai, on Tuesday.
Tarabin said that he began his fast because Israel has violated its commitments to him by not doing enough to secure his freedom, even though it knows that he is innocent. Tarabin also asked for the letter to be delivered Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
“I request from the honorable sir, that by virtue of his being the ambassador of Israel and the representative of the prime minister in Egypt, to bring a notification of my hunger strike to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi,” he wrote.
In recent years there has been talk of a prisoner exchange of dozens of Egyptians held in Israel in return for Tarabin, but so far they have not come to fruition. Likewise, he was not included in the 2011 Ilan Grapel exchange.
In 2000, the 19-year-old Israeli Bedouin Tarabin was captured by Egyptian forces after he illegally crossed the border. He was tried for espionage in absentia by an Egyptian military court and sentenced to 15 years in prison under Egypt’s emergency laws, which allow possibility for parole. Tarabin has maintained his innocence from his Cairo jail since his arrest.
It is unknown why Tarabin crossed the border from Israel to Sinai, but Tarabin’s brother claims that he was likely planning to visit his sister in El-Arish. Another version contends that Tarabin, a shepherd, strayed across the border while searching for a lost camel.
Although Israel lobbied for Tarabin’s release in October 2011 as part of the deal negotiated for the release of Ilan Grapel, the Egyptians were not willing to consider the suggestion. Grapel, a law student with dual US and Israeli citizenship, was jailed for five months on espionage charges before being released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners.

In a letter to the Israeli ambassador in Cairo that was featured in a Voice of Israel Radio broadcast on Wednesday, Tarabin urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to file a complaint with the UN Security Council and a lawsuit with the UN's International Court of Justice for his release.
Addressing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, he said that he was not given a fair trial and held the Israeli prime minister responsible for his life....
...According to an Israeli television channel, a team from the United Nations Commission of Human Rights that investigated Tarabin’s case said in 2012 that he was subjected to arbitrary arrest and had not received a fair trial.
From JPost, 24 April 2013, by Gershon Baskin, co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit:
...Ouda Seliman Tarabin is a national of Israel. He was 10 years old when his family moved from Egypt to Israel, and was subsequently granted Israeli citizenship. I have been told that during the time that Israel controlled Sinai, Tarabin’s father probably collaborated with the Israeli security forces there. When Israel handed Sinai back to Egypt, Tarabin and his family were given Israeli citizenship and they moved to the Negev.
In September 1999, Tarabin and his mother traveled to Egypt on their Israeli passports to visit his sisters who were residing in El-Arish, Egypt. They returned to Israel at the end of their visit.
On December 2, 2000, while on another visit to Egypt, Tarabin was arrested by the local police at his sister’s home in El-Arish, allegedly for illegally crossing the border and for espionage. The arrest took place two days after he had arrived in Egypt.
Following his arrest, Tarabin was taken for interrogation by the Egyptian Military Intelligence and told that he was being sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. He was informed that his cousin had confessed to the allegation that he and his father were connected to the Israeli army. According to the information received from the source, he did not have access to a lawyer or legal assistance during his interrogation or thereafter. The source submits that the cousin had been interrogated about whom he had visited when he crossed the border into Israel. Reportedly, he responded that he had gone to visit his uncle, Tarabin’s father.
Tarabin was allegedly sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a military court in Sinai in March 2000. We have been informed that his prisoner card indicates that he was arrested on December 3, 2000. Therefore, it seems that he was tried and sentenced by the court, prior to his arrest. The source contends that he was not present at the trial and upon arrest he was not given the opportunity to be promptly brought before a competent tribunal. The source further reports that the Egyptian State Security Office stated that his trial took place in March 2000. At that time, Tarabin was not in Egypt; he had not received a summons from any court and he was not aware of any charges against him...