Saturday, January 10, 2009

U.S. refused aid for Israeli raid on Iranian nuclear site

A report (or several reports) similar to this has appeared previously. The major information regards a clandestine program to disrupt the Iranian nuclear effort. Since then, a number of people have been arrested in Iran for spying for Israel. Perhaps this new disclosure will bring new arrests. Anything to sell newspapers, right?
The interesting news is the controversial National Intelligence Report which claimed Iran was not bulding a bomb was deemed to be defective by influential people in Washington.
The following is nonsensical:
In the end, success or failure may come down to how much pressure can be brought to bear on Mr. Fakrizadeh, whom the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate identifies, in its classified sections, as the manager of Project 110 and Project 111.
Even killing a single person will not stop a program, though it might slow it down a bit. The above is so silly it doesn't even look like good disinformation.
January 11, 2009
U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site
WASHINGTON — President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.
White House officials never conclusively determined whether Israel had decided to go ahead with the strike before the United States protested, or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was trying to goad the White House into more decisive action before Mr. Bush left office. But the Bush administration was particularly alarmed by an Israeli request to fly over Iraq to reach Iran's major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country's only known uranium enrichment plant is located.
The White House denied that request outright, American officials said, and the Israelis backed off their plans, at least temporarily. But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran's nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama.
This account of the expanded American covert program and the Bush administration's efforts to dissuade Israel from an aerial attack on Iran emerged in interviews over the past 15 months with current and former American officials, outside experts, international nuclear inspectors and European and Israeli officials. None would speak on the record because of the great secrecy surrounding the intelligence developed on Iran.
Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations.
The interviews also suggest that while Mr. Bush was extensively briefed on options for an overt American attack on Iran's facilities, he never instructed the Pentagon to move beyond contingency planning, even during the final year of his presidency, contrary to what some critics have suggested.
The interviews also indicate that Mr. Bush was convinced by top administration officials, led by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, that any overt attack on Iran would probably prove ineffective, lead to the expulsion of international inspectors and drive Iran's nuclear effort further out of view. Mr. Bush and his aides also discussed the possibility that an airstrike could ignite a broad Middle East war in which America's 140,000 troops in Iraq would inevitably become involved.
Instead, Mr. Bush embraced more intensive covert operations actions aimed at Iran, the interviews show, having concluded that the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies were failing to slow the uranium enrichment efforts. Those covert operations, and the question of whether Israel will settle for something less than a conventional attack on Iran, pose immediate and wrenching decisions for Mr. Obama.
The covert American program, started in early 2008, includes renewed American efforts to penetrate Iran's nuclear supply chain abroad, along with new efforts, some of them experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks on which Iran relies. It is aimed at delaying the day that Iran can produce the weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon.
Knowledge of the program has been closely held, yet inside the Bush administration some officials are skeptical about its chances of success, arguing that past efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program have been detected by the Iranians and have only delayed, not derailed, their drive to unlock the secrets of uranium enrichment.
Late last year, international inspectors estimated that Iran had 3,800 centrifuges spinning, but American intelligence officials now estimate that the figure is 4,000 to 5,000, enough to produce about one weapon's worth of uranium every eight months or so.
While declining to be specific, one American official dismissed the latest covert operations against Iran as "science experiments." One senior intelligence official argued that as Mr. Bush prepared to leave office, the Iranians were already so close to achieving a weapons capacity that they were unlikely to be stopped.
Others disagreed, making the point that the Israelis would not have been dissuaded from conducting an attack if they believed that the American effort was unlikely to prove effective.
Since his election on Nov. 4, Mr. Obama has been extensively briefed on the American actions in Iran, though his transition aides have refused to comment on the issue.
Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama must decide whether the covert actions begun by Mr. Bush are worth the risks of disrupting what he has pledged will be a more active diplomatic effort to engage with Iran.
Either course could carry risks for Mr. Obama. An inherited intelligence or military mission that went wrong could backfire, as happened to President Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba. But a decision to pull back on operations aimed at Iran could leave Mr. Obama vulnerable to charges that he is allowing Iran to speed ahead toward a nuclear capacity, one that could change the contours of power in the Middle East.
An Intelligence Conflict
Israel's effort to obtain the weapons, refueling capacity and permission to fly over Iraq for an attack on Iran grew out of its disbelief and anger at an American intelligence assessment completed in late 2007 that concluded that Iran had effectively suspended its development of nuclear weapons four years earlier.
That conclusion also stunned Mr. Bush's national security team — and Mr. Bush himself, who was deeply suspicious of the conclusion, according to officials who discussed it with him.
The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate, was based on a trove of Iranian reports obtained by penetrating Iran's computer networks.
Those reports indicated that Iranian engineers had been ordered to halt development of a nuclear warhead in 2003, even while they continued to speed ahead in enriching uranium, the most difficult obstacle to building a weapon.
The "key judgments" of the National Intelligence Estimate, which were publicly released, emphasized the suspension of the weapons work.
The public version made only glancing reference to evidence described at great length in the 140-page classified version of the assessment: the suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.
The Israelis responded angrily and rebutted the American report, providing American intelligence officials and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with evidence that they said indicated that the Iranians were still working on a weapon.
While the Americans were not convinced that the Iranian weapons development was continuing, the Israelis were not the only ones highly critical of the United States report. Secretary Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said the report had presented the evidence poorly, underemphasizing the importance of Iran's enrichment activity and overemphasizing the suspension of a weapons-design effort that could easily be turned back on.
In an interview, Mr. Gates said that in his whole career he had never seen "an N.I.E. that had such an impact on U.S. diplomacy," because "people figured, well, the military option is now off the table."
Prime Minister Olmert came to the same conclusion. He had previously expected, according to several Americans and Israeli officials, that Mr. Bush would deal with Iran's nuclear program before he left office. "Now," said one American official who bore the brunt of Israel's reaction, "they didn't believe he would."
Attack Planning
Early in 2008, the Israeli government signaled that it might be preparing to take matters into its own hands. In a series of meetings, Israeli officials asked Washington for a new generation of powerful bunker-busters, far more capable of blowing up a deep underground plant than anything in Israel's arsenal of conventional weapons. They asked for refueling equipment that would allow their aircraft to reach Iran and return to Israel. And they asked for the right to fly over Iraq.
Mr. Bush deflected the first two requests, pushing the issue off, but "we said 'hell no' to the overflights," one of his top aides said. At the White House and the Pentagon, there was widespread concern that a political uproar in Iraq about the use of its American-controlled airspace could result in the expulsion of American forces from the country.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Sallai Meridor, declined several requests over the past four weeks to be interviewed about Israel's efforts to obtain the weapons from Washington, saying through aides that he was too busy.
Last June, the Israelis conducted an exercise over the Mediterranean Sea that appeared to be a dry run for an attack on the enrichment plant at Natanz. When the exercise was analyzed at the Pentagon, officials concluded that the distances flown almost exactly equaled the distance between Israel and the Iranian nuclear site.
"This really spooked a lot of people," one White House official said. White House officials discussed the possibility that the Israelis would fly over Iraq without American permission. In that case, would the American military be ordered to shoot them down? If the United States did not interfere to stop an Israeli attack, would the Bush administration be accused of being complicit in it?
Admiral Mullen, traveling to Israel in early July on a previously scheduled trip, questioned Israeli officials about their intentions. His Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, argued that an aerial attack could set Iran's program back by two or three years, according to officials familiar with the exchange. The American estimates at the time were far more conservative.
Yet by the time Admiral Mullen made his visit, Israeli officials appear to have concluded that without American help, they were not yet capable of hitting the site effectively enough to strike a decisive blow against the Iranian program.
The United States did give Israel one item on its shopping list: high-powered radar, called the X-Band, to detect any Iranian missile launchings. It was the only element in the Israeli request that could be used solely for defense, not offense.
Mr. Gates's spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said last week that Mr. Gates — whom Mr. Obama is retaining as defense secretary — believed that "a potential strike on the Iranian facilities is not something that we or anyone else should be pursuing at this time."
A New Covert Push
Throughout 2008, the Bush administration insisted that it had a plan to deal with the Iranians: applying overwhelming financial pressure that would persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, as foreign enterprises like the French company Total pulled out of Iranian oil projects, European banks cut financing, and trade credits were squeezed.
But the Iranians were making uranium faster than the sanctions were making progress. As Mr. Bush realized that the sanctions he had pressed for were inadequate and his military options untenable, he turned to the C.I.A. His hope, several people involved in the program said, was to create some leverage against the Iranians, by setting back their nuclear program while sanctions continued and, more recently, oil prices dropped precipitously.
There were two specific objectives: to slow progress at Natanz and other known and suspected nuclear facilities, and keep the pressure on a little-known Iranian professor named Mohsen Fakrizadeh, a scientist described in classified portions of American intelligence reports as deeply involved in an effort to design a nuclear warhead for Iran.
Past American-led efforts aimed at Natanz had yielded little result. Several years ago, foreign intelligence services tinkered with individual power units that Iran bought in Turkey to drive its centrifuges, the floor-to-ceiling silvery tubes that spin at the speed of sound, enriching uranium for use in power stations or, with additional enrichment, nuclear weapons.
A number of centrifuges blew up, prompting public declarations of sabotage by Iranian officials. An engineer in Switzerland, who worked with the Pakistani nuclear black-marketeer Abdul Qadeer Khan, had been "turned" by American intelligence officials and helped them slip faulty technology into parts bought by the Iranians.
What Mr. Bush authorized, and informed a narrow group of Congressional leaders about, was a far broader effort, aimed at the entire industrial infrastructure that supports the Iranian nuclear program. Some of the efforts focused on ways to destabilize the centrifuges. The details are closely held, for obvious reasons, by American officials. One official, however, said, "It was not until the last year that they got really imaginative about what one could do to screw up the system."
Then, he cautioned, "none of these are game-changers," meaning that the efforts would not necessarily cripple the Iranian program. Others in the administration strongly disagree.
In the end, success or failure may come down to how much pressure can be brought to bear on Mr. Fakrizadeh, whom the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate identifies, in its classified sections, as the manager of Project 110 and Project 111. According to a presentation by the chief inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency, those were the names for two Iranian efforts that appeared to be dedicated to designing a warhead and making it work with an Iranian missile. Iranian officials say the projects are a fiction, made up by the United States.
While the international agency readily concedes that the evidence about the two projects remains murky, one of the documents it briefly displayed at a meeting of the agency's member countries in Vienna last year, from Mr. Fakrizadeh's projects, showed the chronology of a missile launching, ending with a warhead exploding about 650 yards above ground — approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was detonated.
The exact status of Mr. Fakrizadeh's projects today is unclear. While the National Intelligence Estimate reported that activity on Projects 110 and 111 had been halted, the fear among intelligence agencies is that if the weapons design projects are turned back on, will they know?
David E. Sanger is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times. Reporting for this article was developed in the course of research for "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power," to be published Tuesday by Harmony Books.

'Concentration camp' remark threatens Pope's visit to Israel

From Times Online
January 8, 2009


Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful during the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) message in St. Peter's square at the Vatican

(Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo)

Pope Benedict is scheduled to visit the Holy Land in May

Richard Owen in Rome

A diplomatic row between Israel and the Vatican cast doubt over Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to the Holy Land yesterday, after a prominent cardinal said that Gazans were living in a "big concentration camp".

In his annual speech to diplomats in the Vatican the Pope sought to damp down the dispute. He said that the war was "provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian populations" in Gaza and Israel. He urged "the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms" and added: "Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. The military solution is never an option," he said.

His remarks came amid outrage from Israelis over a statement by Cardinal Renato Martino, the head of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace and a former Holy See envoy to the United Nations, who compared Gaza to a concentration camp. The cardinal criticised Israel for killing civilians who had taken shelter at a UNrun school in Gaza.

Israeli officials said that they were "deeply shocked that a man of religion is using the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda". The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors antiSemitism and hunts down Nazi war criminals, said that Cardinal Martino had used the language of a "Holocaust denier".

In his remarks to the Italian website Il Sussidario, Cardinal Martino, one of the Pope's closest aides, said: "Defenceless populations are always the ones who pay. Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp." He condemned Hamas's rocket attacks on Israel, saying they were "not confetti" and that Israel "certainly has the right to defend itself".

But he added: "We need willingness from both parties because both are guilty. No one sees the interests of the other, only their own benefit. The consequences of this egoism is hatred for others, poverty and injustice. Those who pay are always the local people – just look at the conditions in Gaza."

He responded to Israeli protests by saying: "They can say what they want. I say look at the conditions in which people live; conditions that run contrary to human dignity. What is happening in these days causes horror."

The row has brought to the surface festering tensions over a range of issues, including plans by the Pope to beatify Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff accused by critics of failing to speak out in defence of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. The Vatican insists that Pius XII helped Jews while avoiding public statements that would have made matters worse, and has demanded the removal of a plaque attacking Pius XII at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Vatican officials also charge Israel with failing to keep promises to ease travel restrictions on Arab-Catholic clergy and remove taxes on Church-owned property in the Holy Land. Diplomats said that although plans for Pope Benedict's trip to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank in May were well advanced, they had now been put on hold. He had hoped to follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, who in 2000 prayed at the Wailing Wall.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said that Cardinal Martino's remarks were "untrue, distort the memory of the Holocaust and are only used against Israel by terrorist organisations and Holocaust deniers.

"The cardinal should know that however difficult conditions may be in Gaza, the one thing it surely is not is a concentration camp where Jews were brought to die by slave labour, starvation, or in most cases, burnt in the crematorium."

Iran: End Repression in Kurdish Areas

Human Rights Watch
January 9, 2009
(New York, January 9, 2009) - The government of Iran should amend or abolish broadly worded national security laws used to stifle peaceful dissent in the country's Kurdish areas and end arbitrary arrests of Kurdish critics and dissidents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 42-page report, "Iran: Freedom of Expression and Association in the Kurdish Regions," documents how Iranian authorities use security laws, press laws, and other legislation to arrest and prosecute Iranian Kurds solely for trying to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association. The use of these laws to suppress basic rights, while not new, has greatly intensified since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in August 2005.
"Iranian authorities show little tolerance of political dissent anywhere in the country, but they are particularly hostile to dissent in minority areas where there has been any history of separatist activities," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division.
Kurds account for 4.5 million of the 69 million people in Iran, and live mainly in the country's northwest regions. Political movements there have frequently campaigned for greater regional autonomy. The main Iranian Kurdish parties with a long history of activism deny that they engage in armed activity and the government has not accused these groups of any such activity since the early 1990s.
"No one would contest a government's right to suppress violence," Stork said. "But this is not the case here. What is going on in the Kurdish areas of Iran is the routine suppression of legitimate peaceful opposition."
The new report documents how the government has closed Persian- and Kurdish-language newspapers and journals, banned books, and punished publishers, journalists, and writers for opposing and criticizing government policies. Authorities also suppress legitimate activities of nongovernmental organizations by denying registration permits or charging individuals working with such organizations with spurious security offenses.
One victim of the government's repression is Farazad Kamangar, a superintendent of high schools in the city of Kamayaran and an activist with the Organization for the Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan. He has been in detention since his arrest in July 2006. The new report reproduces a letter Kamangar smuggled out of prison describing how officials subjected him to torture during interrogation.
On February 25, 2008, Branch 30 of Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on charges of "endangering national security." Prosecutors charged that he was a member of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but provided no evidence to support the allegation. In July, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Kamangar's lawyer has appealed to the head of the judiciary to intervene, the only remaining option for challenging the sentence.

Gaza Massacre

Terrible crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians. Protest immediately.


Spare the Pieties on Gaza

by Jack Engelhard
Israel is a Jewish State. Is that your problem?

Frankly, given a choice, I prefer the skinheads and other brutes who express their anti-Semitism openly. In such places, we know the enemy.

You called it "peace" as long as the Arabs were doing the killing and the Jews were doing the dying.

But please spare me the pieties and the righteous indignation of those "good people" protesting throughout Europe  against Israel's defensive operation in Gaza. True, thousands have taken up banners in support of Israel. At the same time, however, the streets of Europe (and even some in America) are in an uproar. These are the "humanitarians" - the good, the noble, the refined, who chant "peace."

Now you're up and about? Now you speak? Where were you when, throughout the years, thousands of jihadist bombs fell on Israel? The streets of Europe were empty. There were no pictures in the newspapers of grieving Jewish mothers and fathers. You called it "peace" as long as the Arabs were doing the killing and the Jews were doing the dying. All was well with the world.

Suddenly, as Israel answered back, you found your Cause; and how self-righteous you are in your Cause.

You are the best and the brightest of Europe. You are educated. You attended the finest schools. You care for the birds, the bees, the bears, the trees. You favor free speech and freedom of religion. Strange it is that the one and only place in the Middle East that shares your world-view is Israel, and it is Israel that you slander.

Israel is a Jewish State. Is that your problem? At the first hint of Jewish self-defense, how quickly you show your true colors.

I've seen the photos of your candlelight vigils along the streets and boulevards of Europe, all of it; all these tears in the service of those terrorists whom you call your brothers. Indeed you are related to Hamas (and Fatah) as once before, a mere generation ago, you were related to Hitler's stormtroopers. Your angelic faces are touching - and disgusting. Your hypocrisy is transparent and nauseating.

You speak of disproportion. You want proportion? Give Israel a population of 300 million residing in 22 countries, similar to the Arab Muslims who surround and ambush Israel - instead of five and a half million Jews in one single country. There's plenty of "proportion" coming from your BBC, which delights in presenting one side of the story and picks up where Der Sturmer left off. Now, with this type of "news", we know how Europe was conditioned for a Holocaust.

Already we see Nights of Broken Glass. Thank you, Europe, for reminding us why America was discovered just in time (and why Israel was redeemed many generations too late). You dare judge Israel? In your deportations, your expulsions, your forced conversions, your inquisitions, your pogroms, you have no moral authority over Israel or even within your own borders. You gave all that up from 1492 to 1942.

To those on the Left who sought peace, well, dear peace-lovers, peace brought this on. "Land for Peace" made this happen, as Land for Peace became Land for Jihad. "Painful Concessions" caused this war. "Goodwill Gestures" backfired. Want more "peace"? Give up the Golan Heights. Give up the entire West Bank. Give up Jerusalem. Imagine the "peace." As for those "innocent civilians" in Gaza, they were given a choice and they chose Hamas. They chose this pestilence.

You have no moral authority over Israel or even within your own borders.

As for those "refugee camps" - why are they "refugee camps" when Israel handed over all that territory for a nation to be built in peace and security alongside Israel? Why are all Palestinians automatically refugees even after they've been given a home? The only true refugees are the thousands of Israelis who were driven from Gaza and still live in trailer parks. No tears for them in this world that still dreams of Auschwitz.

On this day, in response to a column I wrote about Theresienstadt, someone responded that I was incorrect; that Theresienstadt was not a prelude to Auschwitz, but rather "a vacation resort." I wrote back wishing this person a lifetime in such vacation resorts. I wish the same lifetime vacation resorts to all those parading throughout the streets of Europe with banners crying, "Death to Israel."

God bless the IDF! Go Israel!

Tevet 11, 5769 / 07 January 09

Roots of the Gaza Conflict - by Nonie Darwish

Nonie Darwish is an American of Arab/Moslem origin. A freelance writer
and public speaker, she runs the website
With the explosive current events in Gaza, the world needs to
understand the roots of this eternal conflict, otherwise we are all
kidding ourselves with hopes of peace.
For decades, Arabs had demanded that Israel end the "occupation," and
in 2005, Israel did so, disengaging unilaterally from Gaza. With their
demands met, there was no `cycle of violence' to respond to, no
further justification for anything other than peace and prosperity.
With its central location and beautiful beaches on the East
Mediteranean, a peaceful and prosperous Gaza could have become another
Hong Kong; a shining trade and commerce center. But instead of
choosing peace, the Palestinians chose Islamic jihad. They rolled
their rocket launchers to the border and started bombing Israeli
Understanding the reasons why the Palestinians chose violence over
peace requires connecting the dots from the behavior of Muslim states
back to the laws of Islam: Sharia. Mainstream Sharia books define
Jihad as: "to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion."
(Shafi'i Sharia o9.0). Jihad is not just the duty of the individual
Muslim, but it is also the main duty of the Muslim head of State (the
"A Muslim calipha is entrusted to take his people into war and command
offensive and aggressive Jihad. He must organize Jihad against any
non-Muslim government, which prevents Muslim da'wah (meaning preaching
and spreading Islam) from entering its land." (Shafii Law o25.0 to o25.9).
Sharia law# o25.9 states:
"(When the caliph appoints a ruler on a region, his duty includes) if
the area has a border adjacent to enemy lands, (he will) undertake
Jihad against enemies, dividing the spoils of battle among combatants
and setting aside a fifth for deserving recipients."
"The Caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians until
they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax provided he has
first invited them to enter Islam or pay Jizya, the non-Muslim poll
tax, (in accordance with the word of Allah Most High Chapter 9 verse 29)."
Zia-Ul-Haq, former President of Pakistan, said "jihad in terms of
warfare is a collective responsibility of the Muslim Ummah."
One of Islam's eminent 20th century scholars, Sheikh Maolana Maududi said:
"Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the
face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of
Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The
purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology
and program … the objective of Islamic jihad is to eliminate the rule
of an un-Islamic system and establish instead an Islamic system of
state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a
single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a
universal revolution."
Some people seem to think that such laws are just historical relics,
on the books but not in practice or in control of the minds of
Muslims. But that is the kind of denial we cannot afford; these laws
rule the hearts, minds and actions of a majority of Muslim individuals
and states around the world today. These scriptures are taught,
preached and promoted as the incontrovertible and eternal word of God
and funded by Saudi petrodollars throughout the world, including
Western nations such as the U.K. and the United States.
No Muslim leader can survive in a Muslim country if he announces the
end of Jihad against non-Muslim countries and states that all
references to Jihad in Islamic law do not apply today. Treating
non-Muslim neighboring countries and individual as equals, with
respect and in peace without trying to convert them to Islam, is
simply against Islamic Law.
Muslim leaders who dare to go against this theology are called
traitors and puppets of the `Great Satan' West. That is a description
that no Muslim leader wants to be labeled with. When president Anwar
Sadat of Egypt signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1979, he told
his confidants that he knew he was signing his own death warrant. He
understood that under Sharia he must have permanent war with
non-Muslim Israel.
How can a Muslim leader or individual avoid the hundreds of Quran and
Hadith commandments to Muslims to kill Jews and Christians? Q 9:29:
"Fight those who believe not in Allah until they pay the Jizya with
willing submission and feel themselves subdued." Q 9:5: "Slay the
unbelievers wherever you find them". Q47.4: "When you encounter the
unbelievers, Strike off their heads."
A Muslim leader cannot face his devout Muslim subjects after making a
decision to engage in friendship and peace with Jews. Mosques all over
the Middle East, after all, recite Mohammed's commandment to Muslims:
"The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight
the Jews, and kill them. And the Jews will hide behind the rock and
tree, and the rock and tree will say: oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah,
this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!" (Sahih Muslim 41:6985,
also Sahih Bukhari 4:52:177)
This Hadith, issued by Mohammad, makes a whole group of people illegal
to exist. It was issued in the 7th century, not after the 1948
creation of the State of Israel. It is not a response to modern-day
grievances; it is a permanent commandment.
Many Muslims claim that Arabs and Jews lived well together for many
years before 1948. But that claim ignores the fact that Jews had to
live as `dhimmies' under Islamic Law and were never allowed to rule
themselves separate of the Islamic Sharia. When Muslims were weak they
often treated their dhimmi subjects well and ignored the commandments
to kill, subjugate and humiliate them. But Jew hatred is intrinsic to
Islamic scriptures that do not permit reformation under the penalty of
This is the real basis of the Arab/Israeli conflict: not a conflict
over land or occupation, but a divine obligation to destroy
neighboring (non-Muslim) Israel, where Jews are no longer dhimmis but
are free to rule themselves. We cannot ignore the root of the problem
in Muslim scriptures. That is the true force behind the hate and
propaganda Jihadist machine against Jews in the Muslim world.
Some Muslims tell me that they don't believe in Sharia and question
why am I making a big deal about it. My answer is that Sharia is the
law of the land in 54 Muslim countries and many Muslim groups are
demanding Sharia in the West. In 1990, 45 Muslim countries signed the
Cairo Human Rights Declaration which stated that Sharia has supremacy
over the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Muslim world must look within to its sacred laws, scriptures,
sermons, teaching and preaching, and reform the obstacles for peace
that have condemned them to a permanent state of jihad. The non-Muslim
world must have no illusions.
Nonie Darwish is an American of Arab/Moslem origin. A freelance writer
and public speaker, she runs the website

Hamas: Qassam Mujahedin soldiers are preparing to finish off the Zionists

Mujahedin Qassam soldiers are preparing to finish off the Zionists
2009-01-10 2009-01-10 (translated)  
Qassam Exclusive:
The Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas"stated that had on Friday (9-1), it had "finished off" the entire Zionist force holed up in the house in northern Gaza.

The "battalions" military communication today stated that "with God's help and power and helped in the process and the quality of lightning,  the Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, were able at 16:20 to break into a house occupied by the Zionists in the Sultan district in Beit Lahia, north-west of the Gaza Strip, where special forces stormed the building, the Qassam Brigades, in the presence of a number of Zionist soldiers. "

The author said that the mujahideen force attacked together, and  at least eight Zionist soldiers were killed, indicating that they will clarify the details at a later date.

The spokesman for the "Qassam" group said the operation took place at  4:20 this afternoon local time when a special unit raided a house in the western district of Beit Lahiya which the Zionist soldiers had captured previously.

Abu Obeida said in a telephone conversation with al Jazeera that the "brigades" fighters had begun firing RPG rocketson the house, stormed it quickly and killed the eight soldiers inside before the pullout, where resistance fighters were wounded.

Hamas: Big surprises waiting for the occupation .. The resistance has not been used only 40% of capacity

Hamas Big surprises waiting for the occupation .. The resistance has not been used only 40% of capacity
2009-01-10 2009-01-10
Qassam agencies:
Source: (translated)

Palestinian sources familiar with the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza stated: "The land battle has not started yet and the Palestinian resistance has not been used only 40% of its capacity in the battle on the edge of the Gaza Strip."

The sources said that "the Zionist tanks are still stationed in the open and agricultural areas and did not enter the Palestinian cities in the Gaza Strip", indicating that the tanks were in open areas  in Rafah or Khan Younis camps, or the central and northern Gaza.

The sources noted that the units of snipers and suicide bombers and booby-trapped houses and cars and thousands of fighters from the field units equipped with improvised explosive devices and rocket-launching persons and teams are not yet participating in the battle on the edge of the sector.

The sources pointed out that the artillery units assigned to the firing of mortar shells and rockets will operate out of thousands of cells of the resistance and deploy in the field and take their places in the streets and alleys, waiting for the battle between the alleys of refugee camps and neighborhoods.

The sources confirmed the fact that the war is expected to peak with the resistance meeting face to face with Israeli soldiers, noting that it was  possible to increase the number of martyrs to more than ten thousand dead and thousands injured in the risk of heavy losses on the enemy. " و
They revealed the existence of Palestinian resistance cells of about 40 people each, equipped with automatic weapons of various types, each equipped with ammunition and bombs.

The sources expected that all the combatants will join the people of the Gaza Strip in the battle against the Palestinian people, indicating that "a small number of fighters were involved in the battle on the edge of the sector now."

 It stressed that "in the battle between the alleys of the camp, a proficient Palestinian fighter knows the streets and alleys of the camp and exits and entrances of homes in the Gaza Strip," they said, adding that the  army of occupation in the Gaza Strip did not expect more than nominal resistance, and that Hamas benefited from the experience of battle in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002  and well as the experience of the July War on Lebanon in 2006.

"Hamas:" :and battle with the enemy did not start .. The resistance is fully prepared
"Hamas:" Land battle with the enemy did not start .. The resistance is fully prepared
2009-01-10 2009-01-10
Qassam agencies:

According to the Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas", the majority of the targets that had been shelled by Israel in the last days of the aggression are civilian targets, and did not deprive the resistance of its components. That was however, the easy part, and they were prepared for the ground battle ground that has  not yet begun.
The leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas", Mushir al-Masri, told reporters that the resistance has only lost a few fightes, and the targeting of civilians by the entity is only evidence of military and political failure. He said: "We stress that the resistance has only lost a few now in its battle with the Zionist occupation, We emphasize that more than 1000 casuality goal of the Zionist enemy is achieved by hitting civilian targets from universities, schools, hospitals, mosques and homes, and targeting of civilians is proof of the failure and bankruptcy by the enemy who did not face resistance on the ground so far. "

Al-Masri pointed out that the land battle "has not yet begun, and that the Zionist forces are still in the frontier areas and in the open", and said: "The land battle has not started yet, the enemy is still on the edge of the regions, and preparations for resistance is great, and the dozens of people killed among the Zionists is evidence of the strength of the resistance; we are at the back of this enemy, we will not enable the invasion of Gaza and the resistance will cause them losses, and launch dozens of rockets on a daily basis towards the Zionist settlements, "as he put it.

Izzedine al Qassam boast "Grad rocket hit Tel NOF Air force base"

At , the Hamas Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade boast (in Arabic):

"Qassam" bomb the largest air base with "Grad" [missile]  for the first time
2009-01-10 2009-01-10
Qassam Exclusive:
The "Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades", the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas", was able Mjahidiha Friday morning (9-1) of the bombing of the "Tel Nof" Zionist military air missile by a  "Grad".

The group said in a statement, posted on Hamas: "With God's help announce the martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam, claimed responsibility for the bombing, for the first time, the" Tel Nof "Zionist air base, which lies 45 kilometers from the strip, which is the largest central rule occupied Palestine and the north-east city "worthy" of Zionism, and this is the deepest rocket-Qassam Brigades, the north so far. "

The group  noted, "Qassam" missiles of the Mujahideen fired a "Grad"  missile, at the air base at 8:05 Friday morning.  Saying it is "in the framework of the" battle of the Criterion "waged by the Qassam Brigades, in response to the war waged by the Zionist enemy against the Gaza Strip, proud and steadfast, and in response to the ongoing massacres led to the deaths of more than 760 people and injuring thousands of innocent people."

The group  added: "We in al-Qassam Brigades announce it on this task to assure that the jihadist enemy doing this folly has resulted in luring soldiers into the trap prepared by the Mujahdona for them, the Zionists who are waiting on pins and needles to teach lessons in martial arts, and time will prove how stupid this Albarak was when he decided to enter Gaza. "

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who are the real Nazis?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Go back to the oven! You need a big oven, that's what you need!"

This is what one young woman thought passed for acceptable discourse during an anti-Israel rally last week in, of all places, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other chants were similarly unlovely. You can watch it on YouTube if you like.

But why bother? The Fort Lauderdale outburst is just one window on the upside-down world of Israel hatred. Across the Islamic world, and in too many points West, it is still considered a penetrating and poignant insight to call Zionists the "new Nazis." For instance, in Sunday's Gulf News, Mohammad Abdullah al Mutawa, a sociology professor at United Arab Emirates University, penned an essay titled "Zionists are the new Nazis." He began: "Today, the whole world stands as a witness to the fact that the Nazi Holocaust was a mere lie, which was devised by the Zionists to blackmail humanity."

At a Saturday protest in New York against Israel's military assault on Gaza, some carried signs that read: "Israel: The Fourth Reich," "Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors," "Stop Israel's Holocaust," "Holocaust in Gaza" and "Stop the Zionist Genocide in Gaza."

Type "Israel" and "Nazi" into any news search engine and you'll find a bounty of similar statements from just the last week or so. Gaza is the new Auschwitz, the Israeli Defense Forces are SS troops ... I find myself tempted to simply write "et cetera" because it's all so familiar by now. But to do that is to dismiss, and therefore accept, such grotesqueries as trivialities, when in fact such charges are deeply revealing.

First, let us note that if supposedly all-powerful Israel is dedicated to exterminating the Palestinian people, it is doing a bad job. The Palestinian population has only grown since 1948. There are more Arab citizens living in Israel proper today than there were in all of Palestine the year Israel was founded.

Perhaps one reason Israel fails at genocide is that it isn't interested in genocide? That would explain why Israel warned thousands of Gazans by cell phone to leave homes near Hamas rocket stockpiles. It would clarify why, even amid all-out war, it offers aid to enemy civilians.

Meanwhile, calls for the complete extermination of Israel are routine. The Hamas charter, invoking the fraudulent "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as justification, demands the destruction of Israel. Hamas exists solely because it is dedicated to the complete obliteration of the "Zionist entity." Remove that "principle" and Hamas is meaningless.

A sick mixture of Holocaust envy and Holocaust denial is the defining spirit of Hamas. Indeed, Holocaust denial passes for a scholarly pursuit not just in Gaza but throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world.

Why the obsession with casting the Israelis as the new Hitlerites? One answer is surely that critics know such charges are painful to a country largely born of the Holocaust and marked by its scars. It also grabs attention, galvanizes radicals, vents legitimate frustrations and anger, and helps demonize the enemy and, hence, justify the murder of "Zionists everywhere," as Hamas often declares in its communiques.

But I think the desire to cast the Israelis as Nazis is fueled, deep down, by the haters' need to see their own hatreds and ambitions mirrored in their enemy's actions. Hamas has an avowedly Hitlerite agenda. The only way to make such an agenda defensible is to convince yourself and others that the Israelis deserve it. Hence, Hamas and its allies insist that when they aim rockets at grade schools and playgrounds, they are resisting the "new Nazis."

Jonah Goldberg is the author of "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning." His e-mail address is

EXCLUSIVE-Gaza headmaster was Islamic Jihad "rocket-maker"

Mon May 5, 2008 9:08am EDT
By Adam Entous

RAFAH, Gaza Strip, May 5 (Reuters) - By day, Awad al-Qiq was a respected science teacher and headmaster at a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip. By night, Palestinian militants say, he built rockets for Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli air strike that killed the 33-year-old last week also laid bare his apparent double life and embarrassed a U.N. agency which has long had to rebuff Israeli accusations that it has aided and abetted guerrillas fighting the Jewish state.

In interviews with Reuters, students and colleagues, as well as U.N. officials, denied any knowledge of Qiq's work with explosives. And his family denied he had any militant links at all, despite a profusion of Islamic Jihad posters at his home.

But militant leaders allied to the enclave's ruling Hamas group hailed him as a martyr who led Islamic Jihad's "engineering unit" -- its bomb makers. They fired a salvo of improvised rockets into Israel in response to his death.

Qiq's body was wrapped in an Islamic Jihad flag at his funeral, pictorial posters in his honour still bedeck his family home this week, and a handwritten notice posted on the metal gate at the entrance to the school declared that Qiq, "the chief leader of the engineering unit", would now find "paradise".

That poster was removed soon after Reuters visited the Rafah Prep Boys School, run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. Staff there said on Monday that UNRWA officials had told them not to discuss Qiq's activities.

No one from the United Nations attended the funeral or has paid their respects to the family, relatives said, adding that Qiq's widow and five children had heard nothing about a pension.

Spokesman Christopher Gunness said UNRWA, which spelled its teacher's surname al-Geeg, was looking into the matter.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy towards politics and militant activities in our schools. Obviously, we are not the thought police and we cannot police people's minds," he said.

He added that staff were also regularly instructed not to engage in political or militant activities of any kind.

The Israeli army said its April 30 attack at Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, hit a workshop used for making rockets and other improvised weaponry. An Israeli intelligence source told Reuters that Qiq was involved in developing rockets and mortars.

Yet Qiq, a physics graduate with eight years' experience of teaching at UNRWA schools, was also described by colleagues as a rising star in education. Relatives said he was promoted to run the school last year, with the title of deputy headmaster.


The case of Awad al-Qiq highlights the complexities of life among the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip, where close to half voted for Hamas in 2006. Hamas fighters join Islamic Jihad in campaigns of rockets and suicide bombing in pursuit of a stated goal of recovering all Palestinian lands lost to Israel.

Qiq's high profile as both a public figure and in the secret world is unusual enough to cause considerable interest among those in Gaza who were surprised by the funeral arrangements.

Sympathies for guerrillas, who number in the tens of thousands, are widespread despite Israeli efforts to discredit Hamas and its allies by choking food and fuel supplies to the population.

That tactic has also set Israel and UNRWA at odds. The agency, set up to care for Palestinian refugees, has spoken out against what it calls collective punishment of civilians.

Israel has long alleged that militants use UNRWA vehicles and facilities. The United Nations has denied those charges, although some UNRWA employees have had prominent political roles in groups like Hamas -- such as teacher Saeed Seyam, who was interior minister in the Hamas-led government elected in 2006.

Some Western officials say the agency, as one of the biggest employers in the Gaza Strip, simply reflects the society it serves. But donors such as the United States, which fund UNRWA's work, insist on vetting procedures to ensure their cash does not reach groups they class as terrorists -- such as Islamic Jihad.

While many in Gaza are open about political allegiances, the threat of the kind of Israeli action that cost him his life on April 30 meant Qiq's double role was kept very secret indeed.

Surrounded by Islamic Jihad mourning posters at the family home, his sister Naima insisted: "He's only a teacher and head of the school. School was his life. He had no time to work with Islamic Jihad." Other family members nodded in agreement.

At the school, a 17-year-old who gave his name as Shadi read a poster for his former teacher and said simply: "Nobody knew."

At the bombed-out workshop 3 km (2 miles) from the school, damaged cars can be seen through now-locked gates. A 35-year-old man who gave his name as Abu Mohammed said he had found Qiq dying inside after helicopters fired a missile at the building.

"He was still alive, but he died shortly after," he said.

Relatives recalled with pride that Qiq had met John Ging, UNRWA's Gaza operations director. But while fellow teachers had come to pay their respects, they saw no U.N. representative.

Qiq's sister said his wife and five children were worried by the lack of news on any pension payment: "Awad did a lot for UNRWA," she said. "The family hoped UNRWA would support them." (Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Samia Nakhoul)

Human shields: Where's the outrage?

January 08, 2009

Sammy Benoit
Hamas' use of the children and other innocents as human shields at the UN school got its desired effect yesterday.  They fired mortars on Israeli troops, the troops returned the fire, and dozens of civilians died or were injured, along with the terrorists. There is a library full of evidence proving it isn't the first time Hamas has used innocents as human shields.

Hamas built armories in the basements of mosques and schools, private homes and hospitals. They create their bunkers and weapons factories in crowded neighborhoods. All of this "construction" was done out in the public. Under the watchful eye of the UN as well as human right's organizations such as Amnesty,  Human Rights Watch (HRW), and B'tselem. 

Where was Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch when Hamas was violating international law and setting up children as human shields? He was busy trumping up accusations of collective punishment against Israel for defending herself.

How about Irene Khan the Secretary General of Amnesty International? Surely she must have noticed that Hamas was "drawing targets" on hospital beds? No She was too busy blasting Israel for occupying Gaza, even though Israel left Gaza three years ago.

David Kretzmer and Gila Svirsky of B'tselem were too busy working on their annual report fabricating Palestinian civilian casualties to prevent any REAL civilian casualties. 

Where is the outrage? Why is no one complaining that these supposed Human Rights groups have chosen to distort international law, ignoring the real danger to Gaza civilians. 

The blood of the innocent women and children called out to these groups, but they fell on deaf ears, these organizations were too busy creating false charges and anti-Israel propaganda to notice the real human rights crimes.

Shame on you Ken Roth and HRW, Shame on you Irene Khan and Amnesty International, Shame on you David Kretzmer and Gila Svirsky of B'tselem. Their blood stain you just as if you killed these human shields with your own hands. You did!

Sammy Benoit is editor of the blog Yidwithlid

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Erilc Lee: Israel and London in the blitz

Nick Clegg's historical amnesia

[The following was submitted as a letter to the Guardian in response to this]

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, writing in the Guardian today ("We must stop arming Israel"), tosses a sop to Israel with the following sentences:

"Of course, Israel has every right to defend itself. It is difficult to imagine what it must be like to live with the constant threat of rocket attacks from a movement which espouses terrorist violence ..."

He then goes on to call for Britain and the rest of the EU to crack down hard on Israel, to cut off arms supplies and much more. But as I re-read the lines above, I couldn't help but think of the historical amnesia Clegg and those like him are suffering from.

He is in effect saying that we in Britain cannot understand what Israelis are feeling. Never having been under rocket attack ourselves as a nation.

Aren't we forgetting something here, Mr. Clegg? It was called the Second World War. You might wish to ask some older people about it.

Not only did Britain suffer the full wrath of a terrorist regime under the Blitz, but even as the war was ending and that regime ceased to be an existential threat to this country, the Nazis fired V1 and V2 rockets indiscriminately, killing innocent civilians.

And even though there was no real danger at this point of the Nazis winning the war, that generation of British leaders took the view that the best way to put an end to rocket attacks against London and other British cities was through the strategic bomber offensive against Germany.

German cities were flattened. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed. Goebbels and his propaganda machine howled about "war crimes". And then the war ended.

Ironically, Clegg's forerunner as Liberal leader, Archie Sinclair, served as Secretary of State for Air in Churchill's government. In that role, he helped plan the fire-bombing of Dresden.

Imagine if back in 1945 there was a political leader somewhere in the world, in a neutral country, who called for Britain to stop bombing Germany. Such a person might well have pointed out that bombing Germany would only anger Germans, and unite them behind the most extreme Nazi elements. There would be no chance of a negotiated peace with the Third Reich so long as the bombing went on. Such a politician might even have called for an arms embargo against Britain to prevent it from waging war against the Nazi regime.

History would not look kindly upon such views today. They would seem to be, at the very least, naïve in the extreme.

Britons do not have to imagine what it would be like to live under rocket attack. They've had the experience already and back in 1945, they knew how to respond.

Eric Lee

An Arab view of Gaza: Hamas must step down as Gaza's keeper

From the Beirut Daily Stair:
Hamas must step down as Gaza's keeper
By Sultan Al-Qassemi
Commentary by
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Regardless of the outcome of Israel's barbaric "Operation Cast Lead," one thing is certain: It is high time for Hamas to step down as keeper of Gaza. People will object and remind me that the movement was democratically elected. My answer to that is yes, but Hamas also happens to be incompetent. Most of us in the Middle East still believe that incompetence is a trait that is exclusive to Arab dictators. However modern history has proven that democracy and incompetent governance aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, George W. Bush and Mikheil Saakashvili were both democratically elected and yet they are responsible for disastrous wars.
Hamas has not mastered the art of politics. As the veteran British journalist Robert Fisk recently noted in The Independent, nor does the movement have the military discipline of Lebanon's Hizbullah. Hamas also missed the opportunity of a reconciliation with Fatah brokered by the Saudi King Abdullah last year, and it didn't mend that relationship when this might have allowed it to take partial control of the vital Rafah crossing with Egypt.
Then there is the audacity of Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, who currently resides in Syria. Soon after the Gaza attack began, he called for the launch of a third intifada, even as his own personal security was being increased by the Syrian regime. Does Meshaal believe that his life is more important than that of the scores of dying, innocent Palestinians in Gaza who he is responsible for as the representative of a supposedly democratically elected party? Meshaal can wake up in tranquil Damascus, turn on the television set, read the newspaper and have breakfast with his wife and seven children, then he can say live on Al-Jazeera - where else? - that "we want armed resistance, a military uprising to face the enemy." Couldn't he smuggle himself into Gaza to be with his resistance fighters?
This resistance has for many years been funded by donations from wealthy Arabs in the Gulf, among others, to cover an annual budget that the Council on Foreign Relations has estimated at $70 million. Yet Hamas has hardly managed to amass a significant arsenal or military capabilities thanks to this money. All the movement really has to show for its income, and after all this time, is an arsenal basically of long-range firecrackers whose launch against neighboring towns in Israel has done more damage to Hamas' own image than to Israeli infrastructure. Meshaal, who declared that the resistance "has lost very few people" as the body count approached 434, displayed the same disdain for human life as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who said in Paris last week that there was "no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."
Many thought that Gaza and the West Bank were inseparable entities until Hamas' bloody takeover of Gaza in summer 2007 undermined that promise. The movement's 18-month rule has been marred by lawlessness, extrajudicial public killings, and gang warfare reminiscent of Somalia.
Time magazine reported on the violence that followed the takeover, observing that "[g]angs have tossed enemies alive off 15-story buildings, shot one another's children and burst into hospitals to finish off wounded foes lying helplessly in bed." Recently, Taghreed El-Khodary of The New York Times reported that militants in civilian clothing had again resorted to killing wounded former inmates of Gaza's central jail who were accused of collaboration with Israel. These alleged collaborators were executed in public even though Palestinian human rights groups repeatedly claimed that "most of these people are completely innocent." Hamas seemed to be either unable or unwilling to stop these extrajudicial executions. 
On the first anniversary of Hamas' takeover of Gaza, reporters from The Christian Science Monitor found a lack of medicines in hospitals, as well as a lack of clean drinking water in the territory and raw sewage streaming into the sea. And this wasn't because Hamas' dignity prevented it from meeting with the enemy. Hamas' propaganda machine around the Arab world mysteriously failed to report on meetings between some of its members and Israeli representatives. For example, according to the BBC, in early 2006 the Hamas-affiliated acting mayor of the West Bank town of Qalqilya met for 90 minutes with an official from the Israeli state electricity company in order to sort out the town's electricity needs. The Palestinian official, Hashem Masri, told the station: "It was civil, without any problem between him and I."
By any standards Hamas has failed. It has failed in peace, it has failed in governance, and it is failing in war. In addition to Hamas' ambiguous political agenda, the movement's goal seems to be resistance for the sake of resistance, where it is the journey that ends up being the destination. It is time for Khaled Meshaal to step down before he causes even more damage to the Palestinian cause. He must allow more competent leaders to emerge.
Sultan Al-Qassemi is a Sharjah-based businessman, graduate of the American University of Paris and founder of Barjeel Securities in Dubai. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Conflict Hamas Caused



Tuesday, January 6, 2009; Page A13

Nearly a year ago, I was in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, where, on almost any day, you could see the current war coming. "The next Middle East war may start over Sderot," I wrote back then. I came by my prescience the hard way -- in a bomb shelter. That day, three Qassam rockets had hit the city. It took no genius to see the imminence of war. It takes real stupidity to blame it on Israel.

 On some days, dozens of rockets fell on Sderot. A blimp hovered over the town, and when it electronically spied an incoming rocket, the sirens went off. In Sderot, the sirens were virtually a single, long wail on some days. Everyone took shelter because shelters are everywhere -- a constant reminder of the nearness of death or, at the very least, destruction. Even a dud can bust through the roof of a house.

I get the impression that Israel is expected to put up with this. The implied message from demonstrators and some opinion columnists is that this is the price Israel is supposed to pay for being, I suppose, Israel. I am informed by a Palestinian journalist in a Post op-ed that Israel is trying to stop "amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities." In Sderot, I saw homes nagged to smithereens.


While I was reading the online version of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz for all the latest news about the war, a pop-up ad announced itself: "Camp Kimama, Israel, 2009 -- What childhood memories should be made of." The picture shows kids frolicking in the water. Placed next to stories about battle, it was a jarring -- but vivid -- statement of war aims: the expectation of normal life.

The CIA's World Factbook says that Israel has a population of 7,112,359. Of these, about 5,434,000 are Jews. That includes 187,000 settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights bordering Syria, and about 175,000 in East Jerusalem. It does not include, however, the approximately 750,000 Israelis living in the United States -- some for a brief amount of time, some for an extended period, some permanently. For a variety of reasons -- and often with considerable pain -- they have given up on the country of their birth.

As the leaders of Hamas understand, the war in Gaza is about Israel's incessant fight to be a normal country. Maybe that's impossible. The war between Arab and Jew predates the founding of Israel in 1948. For the Palestinians, it is a fierce fight for Arab justice, for Arab pride, for Arab myth -- for ancestral houses and orange groves that few living have ever seen. For Israel, it is so kids can swim in a lake.

Three years ago, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Good, the world said. Next, pull out of the West Bank, the world said. But then Hamas, which has vowed to destroy Israel, won the election in Gaza. Sderot soon became hell. The West Bank is controlled by Fatah, the moderate Palestinian organization, which once had control of Gaza, too. If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, will rockets come from there? If you lived in Tel Aviv, a spit from the West Bank, would you take the chance?

Anyone could have seen this war coming. The diplomats and demonstrators who are now so engaged in the problem and the process were nowhere to be found when rockets began raining down on southern Israel. The border between Gaza and Egypt is riddled with tunnels -- some for food, some for weapons. The international monitors that are so evidently needed now were just as evidently needed then.

Conventional wisdom says that when Israel went into Lebanon in 2006, it lost that war. Hezbollah stood up to the mighty Israeli army; Israel could not muzzle Hezbollah's rockets. That may not be the way Hezbollah sees things, however. After the war, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said he had miscalculated. He was not prepared for the fury of the Israeli attack. He apologized. Now, Hezbollah takes no role in the current war. It will be back, but it still has wounds to lick.

The horrors of war are not to be dismissed or demeaned. In 2006, Israel accidentally killed 28 civilians in the Lebanese village of Qana when it attempted to take out a nearby rocket site. In Gaza, innocent Palestinians are being killed. The suffering is great and cannot be ignored. But what has been ignored is the series of events that led to this war. Anyone could see how it was going to start. As always, though, it's a lot harder to see how it ends.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Gaza Cease Fire Rumors and Premonitions - 1701 all over again?

What is the end goal of the Gaza operation? Your guess might be as good as any. Toppling Hamas is not on the menu according to repeated Israeli announcements. It is not even a "nice to have" addition to the requirements list. Some things that are afoot:

Egypt to demand Hamas accept immediate truce in Gaza - 
Egyptian officials said Monday that Cairo was set to demand an immediate cease-fire from Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as Israeli forces moved into their 10th day of a military offensive on the coastal territory.
And more interestingly, a report that Israel is examining an international treaty that would isolate Hamas:
The United States has launched an international effort, which includes Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians, to formulate a ceasefire agreement that would neutralize Hamas' influence in the region, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem reported Sunday night.

The move will be carried out with the support of the international community.

According to Olmert, Israel is interested in a ceasefire agreement that would bring to an isolation of Hamas and include the following conditions: A stop to the rocket fire and the terror emanating from Gaza, as well as to Hamas' military buildup, and the deployment of international forces in the Gaza Strip to enforce the implementation of a truce.

The release of Gilad Shalit will also be stipulated as one of Israel's terms for a halt to the fighting as part of any future agreement.

A senior source in Jerusalem said Sunday: "After Israel launched the ground incursion, the world realized it must wake up and abide by the conditions set by Israel.

"... the American initiative is based on the agreement of the four elements that surround the only geographical territory in the world
that is ruled by a terrorist entity - Gaza."

The official explained that the initiative does not include negotiations with Hamas, but rather forcing such a regional treaty on the organization.
He added that Olmert has made it clear to the Americans and to other world leaders involved in the move, that Israel's conditions were not negotiable, and that if they are not obtained through a diplomatic course, they would be secured through the military operation.

One suspects that Gilad Shalit may be returned in parts. It is not clear why Hamas would agree to any such conditions, or who would enforce them or how. Does anyone believe any UN "monitors" will risk getting blown up in order to stop Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Popular Resistance Committees from launching rockets at Israel? Hamas, after all, can claim that it is these other organizations that are violating the conditions.  It seems that Condoleezza Rice has cooked up another UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and sold it to Zippy Tzipi Livni again.
Ami Isseroff

Ian O'Doherty: Why Israel had enough of Hamas

The independent is Ireland's larget selling newspaper I am told. It should not be necessary to repeat what is obvious, but it is.

Why the Israeli people have finally had enough

Enough is enough: An Israeli man stands on the scene after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed near the town of Sderot

By Ian O'Doherty

Monday January 05 2009

So, it's genocide now, is it? Or is it actually another holocaust, something which one typically restrained Palestinian analyst described as "worse than Hitler's war against the Jews"?

Are we watching the ethnic cleansing of an entire people? Are we witnessing the deliberate eradication of a race?

Well, no actually, we're not.

Yet the conventional dinner party wisdom which we've had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza.

Footage of air strikes with the ensuing photogenic explosions and dramatic plumes of smoke, quickly followed by clips of collapsed buildings and enraged mourners, makes far better copy than actually looking at the reasons why Israel has done what it's done.

Anyone who devotes only a cursory glance at the news, both print and television, would be forgiven for thinking that, out of spite, might and malice, Israel has decided to destroy the Palestinian people.

The problem with that conclusion -- and it's not something you're going to learn from the BBC and most other outlets -- is that, contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint.

Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough.

But behind that statistic there is a human dimension which tends to be rather ignored.

I know many people in the southern Israeli town of Sderot and what is remarkable about their stories is not the number or make of rockets which have fallen on them on a daily basis for years, but the psychological carnage this wreaked upon them.

One woman freely admitted to me that she hasn't had a proper night's sleep in more than two years as she and her family now basically live in their bomb shelter and it's hard to tell who she hates more -- the Muslim terrorists of Hamas or the Israeli government which she thinks has abandoned them.

It's a common feeling amongst residents of southern Israeli towns who have been the silent victims of a long campaign of violence, intimidation and murder carried out by Hamas. And now, finally, that the Israelis have said that enough is enough, they are somehow meant to be the aggressors?

There are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, but one of the main problems in this debate lies in the cowardly tendency of the Western media to apply equivalence to both sides.

Thus, Hamas is seen to be as legitimate a government as the Israelis, and its rocket attacks across the border from Gaza are seen as being part of a yet another, intractable, interminable Middle Eastern dispute.

There's just one problem with that approach -- it's completely wrong.

Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organisation intent on the eradication of the state of Israel and all its citizens; a violent fascist regime that allows honour killings and the execution of homosexuals to continue in its sphere of influence. Bankrolled by Iran, it manages to make even Hezbollah look like a moderate organisation.

But Hamas is clever.

As a friend of mine from Sderot pointed out, one of its favourite tactics is to launch Qassams from Palestinian schoolyards -- while the schools are still in session.

Hamas does this, you see, knowing that the IDF can't immediately strike back (they can vector a rocket launch site within 90 seconds) because the last thing the Israelis need is footage of a devastated Palestinian school with dead kids.

And, over the last week, we have seen carefully manipulated footage of dead civilians, with the fact that they were effectively used as human shields conveniently ignored. When Israel pulled out of Gaza -- ironically, the last battalion of IDF troops to leave Gaza contained some people from Sderot -- they were acceding to international and internal pressure. The doves on the Left said it was to prove to Palestinians that they wanted to give Palestinians independence, the hawks on the Right -- and there are some truly scary right-wingers in Israel, even as ardent a supporter of the country as I am will freely admit that -- prophesied that it would lead to carnage.

And, lo and behold, virtually as soon as the last jeep left Gaza the rockets started. And then the blockade began, and the whole damn mess started all over again.

But there's a bigger picture here, something which Israelis have been trying to broadcast to the world, but which, thanks to their spectacular inability to accurately and sympathetically portray their point of view, has not been properly transmitted. It's this -- Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism.

Would you rather live in a society with a free press, equal rights for women -- and anyone who knows an Israeli woman will know that they're not easily suppressed, anyway -- equal rights for gay people and a proud and stubborn belief in the right of the individual to lead their life in the way that they see fit or would you rather exist in a society where women who dare to speak their mind are executed, where gay people are not just shunned but murdered and where having a dissenting thought marks you out for death?

The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda.

Here in the West, where we share the same values as Israel, we need to start standing shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery.

To do otherwise is moral cowardice of the most repugnant kind.

The Middle East Studies Mess at MESA

Mesa is fully as bad as is portrayed here, and somewhat worse. In more private forums, many MESA members are openly anti-Semitic and for example, praise the Holocaust denying Iranian PressTV Web site.


Middle East Studies on the Mend?

by Jonathan Schanzer
American Thinker
January 4, 2009
In recent years, Campus Watch (CW) analysts have leveled a barrage of criticism against the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) as a bastion of groupthink for scholar-activists peddling a politicized agenda. CW's current director, Winfield Myers, noted that its "reputation has been shattered by years of politicized scholarship, one-sided teaching, and bullying students." Jonathan Calt Harris, formerly with CW, called the organization a "hive of academic opposition to America, Israel, and, in the larger sense, rationalism itself." After years of responding to such criticism with cries of "McCarthyism," MESA just might be owning up to a few of its failures.
The 2008 MESA conference, held in Washington, DC in November, consisted of 12 sessions over four days with more than 1,500 scholars and professionals in attendance.
In recent years, even after the 9/11 attacks, MESA has failed to offer useful information on the Middle East and Islam and almost completely ignored American national security issues. Not surprisingly, critics charged that MESA was increasingly irrelevant.
This year, MESA actually hosted several panels to correct the problem. Indeed, MESA's 2008 lineup reflected real improvements from 2007. Though few in number, there are positive indications that MESA may grasp, at least in some small way, why critics charge that the field has become a den of corruption and activism posing as scholarship.
One panel, titled "International Relations of the Middle East," featured a number of senior scholars -- including Gilles Kepel of France's Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland -- who conducted some soul-searching. In MESA's description of the panel, the organization admitted that "academic research has not always prioritized" policy issues. The session was held to assess "the state of the field: what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and the future of the field over the next decade." Former MESA president Lisa Anderson also served on the panel. The willingness of MESA to engage in a bit of self-criticism is a welcome departure from its traditional insistence that all is well in Middle East studies.
While many panels covered arcane subjects (i.e., The Diversity of Yemeni Poetry), as is customary throughout academia, there were a few earnest attempts to put the Middle East academic brain trust to work for the good of society. Ghada Al-Madbouh of the University of Maryland addressed a critical policy topic in "Inquiry into the Struggle between the Palestinian Authority Fatah's and Hamas over Governance." An entire panel was reserved for Iraqi scholars to provide suggestions on the "Role of Academics in Building Civil Society in Iraq."
MESA even included the study of Israel and the participation of Zionist Israelis this year, although it seems that Zionists seldom mixed with Arabists on panels. One homogenous panel, sponsored by the Association of Israel studies, examined "Israeli Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy after the Annapolis Conference." Chaired by veteran Johns Hopkins professor Robert O. Freedman, the panel also included Tel Aviv University's Eyal Zisser, a respected scholar of Syria. The goal appeared to be a serious presentation of scholarship on Israel and its security needs rather than MESA's usual drubbing of the Jewish state.
These and other small improvements suggest that the efforts of off-campus groups that closely monitor and critique Middle East studies have forced MESA to make some much-needed changes.
These changes are small, however. It must be noted that the politicized, anti-Western old guard still holds the reigns at MESA. Extremist professors like Juan Cole and Joel Beinin made a joint appearance to discuss "solutions" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The late Edward Said's dangerously anti-Western book Orientalism was celebrated, and panelists predictably presented papers that vilified Israel (Ilan Pappé on "The Vicissitudes of Israeli Historiography on 1948"). One University of California, San Diego student was honored (not challenged) for a paper that downplays the spiteful impact of Hamas' al-Aqsa television channel.
A further sign that the old guard remains strong was a panel hosted by the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC), a federally funded (Title VI recipient) organization that boasts some of the most politicized professors of the field. Titled, "New Studies in Palestinian Society and Economy," the panel provided a soap box for Palestinian apologists and Israel detractors to talk about "the Palestinian Economy after 40 Years of Occupation," the "Impact of Israeli Movement Restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," and the "Survival Narratives of Internal Refugees under Military Rule in Nazareth."
That taxpayers continue to fund PARC, via the Departments of State and Education, so that it can peddle propaganda at a scholarly conference is an outrage. Moreover, that MESA would host another PARC panel, as it has done in years past, is a continued black eye for the discipline.
Ideological change within the field of Middle East studies has only just begun. Professors continue to bully their students, apologize for jihadists, and teach fringe ideas in the classroom.
It is therefore too early to know if MESA's small first steps toward long-needed improvement will continue, or whether next year's annual meeting will be a return to the status quo.
MESA's change did not come easily. Six years of critique yielded just small improvements. Only continued external criticism will ensure reform.
Jonathan Schanzer, an adjunct scholar at Campus Watch, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and author of Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave 2008).