Saturday, March 24, 2007

BBC pays £200,000 to 'cover up report on anti-Israel bias'

The BBC has been accused of "shameful hypocrisy" over its decision to spend £200,000 blocking a freedom of information request about its reporting in the Middle East.

The corporation, which has itself made extensive use of FOI requests in its journalism, is refusing to release papers about an internal inquiry into whether its reporting has been biased towards Palestine.

New Palestinian government marks collapse of Israel's Middle East positions

The Hamas-Fatah government taking office Sunday, March 18, is more than a policy failure by prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni; it is another milestone on the road to the collapse of Israel's Middle East positions at large, on a scale comparable to the setback to its deterrence from the mismanaged war against Hizballah last summer.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

No Pancake Breakfasts this year to Commemorate Corrie’s Death


No Pancake Breakfasts this year to Commemorate Corrie's Death
By Julia Gorin (bio)


In honor of the fourth anniversary of Rachel Corrie's descent to Allah, I am pasting the highlights of my Corrie article from June:

After the New York Theater Workshop had the good taste to back away from staging "My Name is Rachel Corrie" a few months ago, the British production has moved to New York's Minetta Lane Theater for a one-month run starting October 15th.

According to Corrie's aunt Cheryl Broderson, the family is "absolutely ecstatic" that the play will be seen in New York.

Complete arfticle:

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.

The British BS company is at it again

BBC is still busy systematically distorting the news, in little ways and in big ways. When they reported the Iranian kidnapping of British soldiers, they went out of their way to write a headline that violates several principles of journalism - UK sailors captured at gunpoint . BBC used a passive voice headline that provides minimum information. Perhaps it was just incompetence, but it looks like BBC was trying to minimize the damage and the identity of the perpetrators. Wouldn't the natural headline  have been, "Iran captures 15 UK sailors at gunpoint."?
Below, Melanie Phillips dissects BBC commentary on the Israeli war with Hezbollah (Iran). Actually, Phillips missed a point or two. For example, BBC claimed:
The conflict began on 12 July last year, when Hezbollah launched a cross-border raid and captured two Israeli soldiers...
Hezbollah also killed three other soldiers in the raid. Those boys are never coming back.
Ami Isseroff

March 22, 2007

An item on BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning, along with a back-up article in this week's Spectator, provides a snapshot of Britain's moral sickness. Presenter Ed Stourton was trailing a programme he has made, to be broadcast next month, on last summer's Lebanon war. In the article, he repeats two misleading canards about that war:

The conflict began on 12 July last year, when Hezbollah launched a cross-border raid and captured two Israeli soldiers, and by the time the fighting ended almost exactly a month later some 1,200 people had been killed — the overwhelming majority of them civilians.

The Hezbollah attack that started the conflict did not simply consist of the kidnapping of the two soldiers, but also a barrage of rocket fire at Israel's northern towns. It was a significant act of war. Let us not forget also the thousands of Hezbollah rockets trained upon Israel from Lebanon's border, and the regular shellings of northern Israel and cross-border raids from Lebanon that Hezbollah had mounted for more than a decade. As for those who were killed in Lebanon in last summer's war, it is not known how many of them were civilians, since Hezbollah soldiers disguised themselves as civilians; according to the Israelis, 500-600 of these fatalities were actually Hezbollah fighters.

What was notable was that, despite all this, Stourton assumed that Israel's attempt to defend itself against that aggression was illegitimate — and that no reasonable person could disagree. He asked the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, why the Americans and the British had not supported the international calls for an immediate cease-fire.

Continued here

Friday, March 23, 2007

Is the US pro-democracy in Egypt, or not?

An interesting (long) article in the Washington Post discusses the Bush administration's love/hate relationship with democracy in Arab countries, notably Egypt. The administration sees democracy only or mainly as holding "elections"--and of course if elections were free and fair in places like Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists would do well. (A more sophisticated understanding of democracy would consist of settling disputes peacefully, and strengthening democratic institutions).

Key, sad paragraphs:

"For 60 years," [Condi Rice said in 2005], "my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people." For five paragraphs of her speech, diplomatic niceties made way for a series of declarative "musts" directed at Egypt's government: It must give its citizens the freedom to choose, Egyptian elections must be free, opposition groups must be free to assemble and participate. The Egyptian government, Rice said, "must put its faith in its own people."

The language was black-and-white, but America's relationship with Egypt -- with President Hosni Mubarak and with the reform movement -- never is.

Nearly two years later, the legacy of Rice's words is intimately tied to the fate of Egypt's democracy movement, divided and withering under unrelenting repression by a government that remains one of America's key allies in the region. What began as a test of American mettle ended in failure to bring about far-reaching change in a country that has received more per capita U.S. aid than Europe did under the post-World War II Marshall Plan. In the eyes of activists and, at times, the government itself, that failure stands as a narrative of misperception about the people Americans sought to court, and of naivete about those the Americans wanted to reform.

In the end, they say, pragmatic priorities triumphed over promises.

"The Americans now prefer stability over democracy," said George Ishaq, a demoralized opposition leader. He fell silent, then narrowed his eyes. "I will never trust them again."

Who can blame him? Condi Rice--a Russian specialist who barely speaks Russian--leaves this week again to talk with Arab leaders that we now support, because they're better than the alternative.
The full article is: "DEMOCRACY'S DUSK A Movement Fades
Egypt Shuts Door on Dissent As U.S. Officials Back Away," at:

--Wendy Leibowitz, in Washington, D.C.

US Navy Lacks Plan to Defend Against `Carrier-Destroying' Missile

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Navy, after nearly six years of warnings from Pentagon testers, still lacks a plan for defending aircraft carriers against a supersonic Russian-built missile, according to current and former officials and Defense Department documents.

The missile, known in the West as the ``Sizzler,'' has been deployed by China and may be purchased by Iran. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England has given the Navy until April 29 to explain how it will counter the missile, according to a Pentagon budget document.

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wondering what happened to the Soros alternative Israel Lobby?

In case you are wondering what happened to the rumored pro-peace Israel lobby that was to have been started by billionaire George Soros (I was wondering too), there is this note in the Forward:
While the debate is reaching a boiling point in the public sphere, work on the ground on establishing a new lobbying apparatus by dovish Jewish groups and individuals is moving at a much slower pace.
The initiative was initially called in media reports "the Soros lobby," after the financier attended an exploratory meeting last fall in New York to discuss creating a new lobby. Since that meeting, however, Soros has shown no further interest in the effort, organizers said.
"He met with us once and that's it," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, one of the main figures behind the initiative. Ben-Ami stressed that that Soros has not yet pledged any funds for the new advocacy group and that the initiative is still in need of donors. Many in the group now refer to it jokingly as the "non-Soros lobby."
It is not clear that Israel needs an anti-Israel Israel lobby, as there are groups that already perform that function. It is clear however, that several forces are converging to mount an attack on AIPAC and on Zionist advocacy in the United States. Some of it is due to extremist stands taken by AIPAC, but some of the attacks are grossly unfair. Soros's article in the New York Review of Books  did what many of these critics do consistently: he confounded legitimate dovish views and criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda. He presents perfectly legitimate views of a given person and writes something like,  "See, what's wrong with that? Why are the Zionist extremists attacking the poor fellow?  But he does not tell you that the "poor fellow" is not being attacked for advocating a peace solution, but rather for making off-the-wall anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic assertions.  For example, Soros tells us that Alvin Rosenfeld, in his study of anti-Semitism, condemns:
Richard Cohen, a Washington Post columnist, who wrote, among other things, that the "sanest choice for Israel is to pull back to defensible—but hardly injurious—borders" and to get out "of most of the West Bank"—a policy often advocated in Israel itself.
Poor Cohen, a real peace martyr. But what drew Reosenfeld's ire was not Cohen's suggestion above, but rather his article in the Washington Post that claimed that Israel is a mistake of history. Perhaps Cohen is a mistake of history. Soros's speculations about Middle East policy are amateurish and certainly open to debate. If Israel had only recognized the results of the Palestinian elections, it would have strengthened the moderate wing of the Hamas. This childish idea may be convincing to Americans who think the Hamas is like an American political party. This is the Middle East and not the United States.
Soros should stick to the world of finance. He does not understand that the Hamas is controlled by the Syrian army Mukhabarat (secret police). It is not a democracy where everyone has equal votes. Damascus and Tehran decided policy, at least at the time. Perhaps Saudi Arabia has more influence now.  In any case, no wing of the Hamas was proposing to recognize Israel. How could Israel legitimize the election of a party that vows not to recognize Israel?
Ami Isseroff

Bill Clinton thanks AJC for exposing errors in Carter's book

The American Jewish Committee, in its weekly news bulletin, says that Bill Clinton (who was skewered in Carter's book) has thanked the Jewish group for its efforts in exposing the errors in Carter's book. (FYI, Clinton and Carter--both Democrats, both Southerners, both ex-presidents who have many concerns in common--can't stand each other).

Former President Clinton Thanks AJC for Efforts on New Carter Book

Former President Bill Clinton, in a handwritten letter to AJC Executive Director David Harris, voiced appreciation for his efforts to expose the inaccuracies in President Jimmy Carter's book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Thanks so much for your articles about President Carter's book. I don't know where his information (or conclusions) came from …" said Clinton. "I'm grateful."

A sample of David Harris's op-eds that challenge Carter's view of the Middle East is online at the AJC Web site,, at:

The Security Agenda - Israel

The General Security Service is warning of an upsurge in terror activities involving Arab Israelis. The current support activities for terror could soon escalate to independent terror initiatives.

The complete article:
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Aid to Palestinians Fosters Culture of Dependency

A disturbing article in today's New York Times (url at the end of the post) details what many have long known: that aid to the Palestinians, despite the embargo, is higher than last year; that the Palestinian territories were the third-largest recipients of aid from the United Nations, after Sudan and the Congo, and that the money does little good, and may actually be doing a great deal of damage, in terms of fostering a culture of dependency and eroding independent institutions. It's really sad--the Palestinians have invested so much in a great p.r. machine, and the result is aid that will keep them as dependent on foreign aid as the Sudan. And perhaps as miserable.
--Wendy in Washington, D.C.

March 21, 2007
Aid to Palestinians Rose Despite an Embargo
JERUSALEM, March 20 — Despite the international embargo on aid to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas came to power a year ago, significantly more aid was delivered to the Palestinians in 2006 than in 2005, according to official figures from the United Nations, United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Instead of going to the Palestinian Authority, much of the money was given directly to individuals or through independent agencies like the World Food Program.

The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations say the Palestinians received $1.2 billion in aid and budgetary support in 2006, about $300 per capita, compared with $1 billion in 2005.

While the United States and the European Union have led the boycott, they, too, provided more aid to the Palestinians in 2006 than 2005. Washington increased its aid to $468 million in 2006, from $400 million in 2005.

The European Union and its member states alone are subsidizing one million people in the West Bank and Gaza, a quarter of the population, as part of their effort to avoid creating a catastrophe from the embargo.

Asked if the European Union could spend any more money on the Palestinians if it recognized the new Palestinian government than it does now, a senior European diplomat laughed and said, "We'd probably spend less."

One side effect of the redirected aid, some officials said, is that while starvation has been avoided, institutions are withering and a culture of dependence is expanding.

In 2007, the United Nations began a humanitarian appeal for the Palestinians of more than $450 million, twice the 2006 appeal, the third largest United Nations request, after Sudan and Congo, ahead of 18 other disasters.

"These numbers are quite stunning," said Alexander Costy, head of coordination for Álvaro de Soto, the United Nations special Middle East envoy, "given the relatively small size of the population of the Palestinian territory."

He added: "What we do know for sure is that Palestinians, and their economy and society, are becoming increasingly dependent on humanitarian handouts, and this dependency is growing fast. For a state in the making, I think this was a step backwards in 2006 and a cause for alarm."

The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations estimate that direct budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority in 2006 was about $740 million, more than double the $350 million in 2004 and 2005.

But Salam Fayyad, the finance minister in the new Palestinian unity government, thinks the Palestinians received at least 250 percent more than that in direct support when cash from Iran and Arab nations is counted, as well as the amount smuggled in by Hamas officials after trips abroad.

"I say the minimum for direct budgetary support was $880 million in 2006 compared to about $350 million the year before," Mr. Fayyad said. He estimates total aid in 2006 was closer to $1.35 billion.

The United States, Europe and Israel imposed their boycott because Hamas supports terrorism and refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence or honor existing Palestinian-Israeli agreements. The unstated aim has been to build enough disaffection among Palestinians that they would drive Hamas from power and replace it with Fatah.

Mr. Fayyad, who is from Fatah, says the international embargo should be lifted for the new unity government that includes non-Hamas ministers like him, because much of the money coming in cannot be traced and some is surely being stolen or misappropriated.

Mr. Fayyad, a former official with the International Monetary Fund, is considered to be credible by the United States and the European Union. He met Tuesday with the American consul here, Jacob Walles.

The larger amounts of aid Western countries poured into the Palestinian territories in recent months were aimed at making up for the inability of the Palestinian Authority to pay salaries. To a large degree, beginning in the summer of 2006, the European Union and Arab countries paid the salaries instead.

By the last quarter of 2006, full salaries were again being paid to Palestinian Authority employees, who, over the year, received about 55 percent of their salaries.

Those salaries were paid despite Israel's decision — beginning in March 2006, when Hamas took office — to withhold from the Palestinian Authority some $50 million a month it collects for the Palestinians in duties and taxes, after it deducts the cost of electricity and water that it supplies to the West Bank and Gaza.

While Israel recently handed over $100 million of the sum as a humanitarian gesture to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, Israeli officials say that as of today, they are holding back $475 million in money belonging to the Palestinians, a big hole in the normal Palestinian budget.

European and American officials also cited the difficulties in Gaza caused by Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian imports and exports as another reason for the increased aid. Their contributions were to United Nations agencies that deal with the Palestinians, like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the World Food Program and various health agencies, to nongovernmental agencies and, in the case of the European Union, large cash payments directly to employees of the Palestinian Authority.

The United States provides more money to the United Nations refugee agency than any other country. Congress authorized $400 million in aid to the Palestinians in fiscal year 2005, including its aid to United Nations agencies, said Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the American Consulate in Jerusalem which deals with the Palestinians. In fiscal year 2006, she said, $468 million was authorized.

The European Union, moved by the plight of Palestinians, set up a mechanism to pay partial salaries directly to nonsecurity employees of the Palestinian Authority and to help pay fuel bills, either to Israeli fuel companies or through the office of Mr. Abbas of Fatah.

In 2005, according to Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union and its individual states contributed about $711 million to the Palestinians, not including contributions through United Nations agencies.

In 2006, Ms. Udwin said, the European Union and its states spent $916 million on the Palestinians, not including United Nations contributions.

The amount of aid has increased, but the structure of the aid has changed: aid that had gone to economic development has been diverted to simply keeping people fed and sheltered. In 2005, 16 percent of European aid was classified as humanitarian; in 2006, 56 percent was.

The point, Ms. Udwin said, was to isolate the Hamas-run authority, "but not to punish individual Palestinians."

But rather than pressuring Hamas, the European aid is now paying 77,000 Palestinian households, or 88 percent of the salaried nonsecurity personnel of the Palestinian Authority, a subsidy to nearly 470,000 people, plus another 73,000 low-income households who are considered to have special needs.

Arab countries provided an estimated $400 million in 2006, the International Monetary Fund says.

Despite all the aid, the economy, hampered by security restrictions put on Palestinian travel and exports and fierce Palestinian infighting between Hamas and Fatah, continued to show signs of collapse. The Palestinian gross domestic product dropped by 6.6 percent in 2006, poverty rose by 30 percent and unemployment was over 30 percent. The proportion of those who would be unable to feed themselves without aid reached 49 percent of Gaza's population, and internal violence among Palestinians caused ten times the number of deaths and injuries as in 2005.

Since 1999, before the second intifada caused Israel, in the name of protecting its citizens, to reinvade the West Bank and set up various security restrictions, the Palestinian gross domestic product per capita has dropped 40 percent in real terms, according to the International Monetary Fund — a severe depression. So even external aid of $1.2 billion or more doesn't offset the loss of what would have been another $2 billion in Palestinian Authority income.

In general, the Palestinians take in about $15 million to $20 million in taxes a month, Mr. Fayyad said, plus the $50 million or so from Israel. But the budget now is at least $170 million to $175 million a month, with a bill for wages and pensions alone of $115 million a month.

The Palestinian Authority's self-generated income, including the amount Israel collects but is not now delivering, is only about 60 percent of the monthly wage bill alone, and only about 40 percent of the monthly budget. So the Authority needs between $1.2 and $1.3 billion in foreign aid every year now just to break even — about what Palestinians, if not the Authority itself, got in 2006.

Numerous aid officials think that the current aid structure for the Palestinians is highly inefficient and undesirable since it is not going to development or training but is simply being consumed by one of the most aid-dependent populations in the world.

A United Nations official who asked for anonymity in order to speak frankly, said "aid is going down the sink hole," keeping people alive rather than creating jobs or helping them to create economic opportunities.

Álvaro de Soto, the United Nations special envoy, says that because so much aid has been redirected to humanitarian purposes, development aid has dried up. "And by not engaging with government bodies that actually run Palestinian affairs, the international community has undercut its ability to promote the reform goals it advocates, to ensure that the Palestinian administration runs efficiently," he said in an interview.

"There is a real fear that Palestinian institutions that the international donor community has toiled to build and beef up over the years are being gradually undone," he said. "This has grave political consequences, since these institutions are meant to be the foundation on which, one day, a Palestinian state will be built."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Can an Israeli Arab cabinet minister sing Hatikvah?

The newly appointed Israeli Arab minister of Science, Culture and Sports, Raleb Majadle, will not sing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva. Perhaps it will surprise some people that I don’t think this is a bad thing.

Majadle, a long-time member of the Labor Party, defended his decision, saying he does not believe that “enlightened and sane Jews” would request a Muslim to sing a song which speaks to the Jewish people. “The Arabs are not in a mood to sing right now,” the Arab minister commented.

“Of course I would not sing the anthem in its current form,” Majadle said. “But before we talk about symbols, I want to talk about equal education for my children. It’s more important that my son would be able to buy a house, live with dignity.” — Arutz Sheva

We have predictable reactions from both sides. The Right says that this shows that he’s disloyal, that any Arab would be disloyal, and that Israel should not have an Arab cabinet minister. The Left says that it’s undemocratic that the symbols of the state discriminate against one-fifth of its citizens, and that Israel should get a new national anthem.

Both types of reaction are wrong.

Continue reading 'Democracy and Hatikvah' at

-- Vic Rosenthal

Needed: One Israeli Peace Plan

The Arabs and the Palestinians have "peace plans." Of course, these plans are not acceptable because they invovle the destruction of Israel and set impossible conditions, but they are offered -- and accepted -- as political devices that can be labelled "Peace Plans." Israel needs a peace plan that will rally the support of European countries and the United States and test the mettle of the new Palestinian unity government. Make them an offer they cannot refuse.
More here  and here.
Ami Isseroff

Germans calling Jews Nazis

Germans calling Jews Nazis

How is it possible that 30% of the Germans think that Israel is doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, as Haaretz recently reported? It is hardly conceivable that they don't know about the concentration camps and the gas chambers, so they must be totally ignorant about the situation in the Middle East, no? 

The notion that Jews have been transformed from victims into perpetrators, and that they are no better than their former executioners, is attractive because it relieves the Germans from their guilt without actually saying that the Holocaust didn't take place or that the Nazis were not so bad after all, and it has become increasingly mainstream. Read more at: 

Also recommended reading, with many concrete examples and cartoons:

Holocaust Inversion:
The Portraying of Israel and Jews as Nazis


Israeli Jews think it is OK to criticize Israel

A poll shows Israeli Jews think it is OK for Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel. I wonder if they had in mind those who say that Israel is a colonialist imperialist state that should be wiped off the map. The poll was conducted by the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Perhaps ZOA would have gotten a different result. In any case, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky and Sara Roy are going to go on "criticizing Israel" whatever Israeli Jews say, won't they?
Of course it is OK for Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel. It depends on the criticism, doesn't it? We hear them much better if they come here of course.
The same poll showed that Israeli Jews believe Israel should invest in Jewish education abroad, and unsurprisingly, the poll found that Israeli Jews have ties with Jews in the Diaspora:
Meanwhile, the World Union survey found that 60 percent of the representative sample of 501 Israeli Jews said they had an ongoing connection with Diaspora Jews and that 73 percent said Israel should take the views of Diaspora Jews into account, to varying degrees, when deciding religion-state issues such as conversion and the Law of Return.
Some of my best friends are Diaspora Jews. About 86% of Israelis want Diaspora Jews to keep giving money to Israel. As far as I am concerned, you can give direct to me, and avoid the middle man.
Ami Isseroff

Women's day in the Arab world - Cartoons

The status of women in the Arab world is the subject of constant comment in the Arab press, even if not much is done about it. Egypt and many other Arab countries are signatories of international conventions on the rights of women, but these are not implemented. Lack of education for women, polygamy, legality of wife beating according to the Qur'an, sequestration, honor killings, female circumcision, lack of property rights are all still common in most Muslim countries.

At the beginning of March, a women who had been gang raped was sentenced to a severe lashing by a Saudi court, because she had met with a male who is not a relative.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, the Arab press published numerous cartoons bewailing the plight of women. Here is a sample.

Cartoon No. 1: "Women's Day"

Cartoon No. 2: The writing on the note in the dustpan says: "International Women's Day - invitation to a feast for the poor in a five-star hotel." The writing on the patches says: "Invitation," "Women's Day Celebration," "for the Promotion of Women's Rights," etc.

Cartoon No. 3: The text on the TV screen says: "International Women's Day."


Ami Isseroff

Howard University head blocks Israel divestiture motion

A little good news:
The head of Howard University, a historically black university here in Washington, D.C., has blocked a motion to divest from Israel, using strong language.

"Howard University's president has rejected a faculty resolution calling on the school to become the first American institution of higher learning to divest from certain companies doing business with Israel.

"Without qualification, Howard University and I oppose any action calling for a divestiture" from Israel, President H. Patrick Swygert stressed in a letter Thursday to the American Jewish Committee.

The AJC had written to him after learning of the resolution to express the organization's distress over the development.

"I hope that my complete and unqualified rejection of this resolution will serve to reaffirm our relationship with the American Jewish Committee and all our friends who are interested in promoting peace and reconciliation," Swygert wrote.

He also said that the resolution had not been approved according to university procedures and therefore did not represent the position of the university or the College of Arts and Sciences from which it emerged."

More details at:

--Wendy "Proud of Howard University" Leibowitz, in Washington, D.C.

U.N.'s Commission on Women Criticizes One Country

The United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women ended its 51st session on March 9, 2007, by criticizing only one country — Israel. Seriously.

The true victims of this obsession with bashing Israel are the women in places like Saudi Arabia and Sudan, whose rights are truly violated every minute of every day.

Most people have given up on the UN's Human Rights Council as a vehicle for the Organization of Islamic States to do their mischief. But the UN Commission on the Status of Women has actually done some decent things in the past, and is capable occasionally of focusing on problem areas. WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED? The vote was 40-2, with the US and Canada being the only two countries to vote against the motion.

The EU, led by Germany in this instance, was particularly craven. "Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated, “we express our deep concerns for the impact on all women in the region including Israeli women.” (They had not bothered to insist such language be inserted in the resolution itself.)

Don't bother looking on the UN Web site for this--their propaganda machine is too sophisticated. Check Anne Bayefsky:

--Wendy Leibowitz in Washington

Libya May Expel Palestinians

A Middle Eastern nation may expel thousands of Palestinians to protest the (unspecified) actions of the new Palestinian government. If this were Israel, this would be front-page news, and lead all newscasts. But --it's Libya.

According to Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, and Arutz Sheva, at, the Palestinian Minister for Refugee Affairs, Dr. Atef Adouan, "went public on the issue, telling the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi this, 'We hope that the Libyan leadership will act wisely and with patience. Deporting the Palestinians from Libya would cause greater suffering to the Palestinian refugees.'" It's not an empty threat--Libya expelled thousands of Palestinians to protest the Oslo Accords, in 1995. Libya wants to expel more Palestinians by the end of March.

A few thoughts: what PA policies bother the Libyans? Not terrorism--the Palestinian government has endorsed or winked at terrorism for decades. Not hateful incitement against Jews, the US, the West, etc.--that's a staple of Palestinian media. Perhaps there were calls for Arab governments to become more responsible, open and democratic? That would terrify Libya. No. Libya is upset that the Palestinian Authority may accept the Saudi peace plan, which might mean softening the "right of return" of refugees who left in 1948.

It's up to everyone (regardless of your thoughts on the Saudi Peace Plan) who cares about protecting innocent people to try, however hopeless it may seem, to protect the Palestinians in Libya from deportation. They are, in a sense "the Jews" of that country, quite vulnerable and disliked. As the Jewish saying goes, "Whoever saves one life, saves a world entire." Write or e-mail the Libyan Embassy or consulate in your country. I do believe (naively, I know), that decent people of all races, creeds and colors must always speak out to protect the innocent, and this effort--a bit like this blog, perhaps--is part of building a more peaceful Middle East.
--Wendy Leibowitz, Washington, D.C.

Where left meets right

How can "progressive" socialists support medieval genocidal religious fanatics who believe in repressing women and killing homosexuals? It is happening, believe it or not. Osama Bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ismail Haniyeh assume a patina of radical chic by promoting themselves as "anti-colonialists" who are against "imperialism" - and there people who are buying it.

Those who care about the fine tradition of the left in upholding justice and progress have to be concerned.
See Alliance of Islamists and leftist extremists

Ami Isseroff

The new Palestinian government - a detailed analysis

A Hamas member of the new Palestinian government said:
" We want Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and if we do not succeed in liberating it now, or in the near future, with the help of Allah, it will be done… " (Al-'Alam TV, March 18). "

As far as Israelis are concerned, that may be all we need to know. The differences between Hamas and Fatah remain. The government was formed to stop the internal chaos and to try to break the internal block.

Here is a detailed analysis.
Palestinian national unity government - an analysis

Ami Isseroff

Saudi Arabia and Iran

The recent summit of Iranian and Saudi leaders should not be ignored. An Israeli analysis is valuable both because of what it teaches us about Saudi Arabia, and because of what we can learn from it about the way in which many Israeli analysts view Saudi Arabia.

Is this the begining of the Muslim reformation?

Islam is in need of a reformation if it is to be able to deal with the modern world and function in a secular state. A new "secular Islam" movement has met in St Petersburg Florida. Its manifesto is one solution that may be valid for Muslims in the United States and Europe. Its idea will percolate through the Muslim world. It is too early to know the significance of this movement, but it has attracted the opposition of CAIR and the derision of the Washington Post. It is a development worth watching. More about this here:

Debate: Who should defend Israel?

The legitimacy of Zionism and Israel are under increasing attack in the United States and Europe. Defense of the right of Israel to exist is mostly in the hands of Zionists of the right wing persuasion, who often do more harm than good. They cannot speak the language of the left. They confound local conservative politics ("buy an I am a conservative T-shirt") with Zionism, they raise the ire of non-Zionists with assertions like "There are no Palestinians" and site "authorities" who are often discredited or racist. The people in the BEST position to defend Zionism and Israel on campuses and in public debates are progressive Zionists. They can pose the case for Israel and Zionism in terms of human rights issues and national liberation. They can divorce the issue of Israel's right to exist from the occupation and its ills.
More about this here:

A good day for Israeli PR

Ynet reports on a gathering in Ramallah called 'Jerusalem First' conference. The proceedings of the conference are, most probably, as good a proof of a deity pulling some strings as any other natural or supernatural phenomena. After all, it is a rare day when our fairly useless PR machinery gets what is called in modern advertisement lingo "a free gift".

It started with the following call of despair:

Hadash Party Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh ... sharply attacked Israeli policy in the capital, claiming that it sought to empty the city of its Palestinian inhabitants.

"With all due respect to Al-Aqsa Mosque and its holiness," Barakeh declared, "if Israel succeeds in emptying Jerusalem of its residents, what will be the city's importance? The city, if it has no inhabitants, will be no more than stones."
Unfortunately, the honorable participants in this conference failed to compare notes, and this is what happened:
The Palestinian Authority's "governor of Jerusalem," another conference participant, said that "despite all our fears, we are managing to survive in Jerusalem. In 1967 there were 70,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem and now we are 300,000."
Some stones... Truly a meeting of minds. And this is not all. The above mentioned "governor of Jerusalem" decided to go even farther with the following pearl:
"No historian or archaeologist - even Israeli ones - have ever succeeded in proving that there is a historically based religious or political link between the Jews and Jerusalem."
No comments...

Cross-posted on SimplyJews

Monday, March 19, 2007

Over a quarter of Israeli Arabs deny Holocaust

According to a recent poll, over a quarter (28 percent) of Israeli Arabs do not believe the Holocaust ever happened and among educated Israeli Arabs -- those who have graduated from high school and college -- 33 percent deny the Holocaust.

Over three-quarters (76 percent) of the Arabs polled described Zionism as racist.

The poll was conducted among 721 Arab and 702 Jewish participants by a top sociologist at the University of Haifa, Prof. Sami Smooha.

Full article:

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.

Calpers Pressed to Drop Billions in Iran `Terror' Investments

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- California lawmakers are considering legislation that would force state pension funds to sell billions of dollars worth of shares in companies doing business with Iran.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.

Teapacks / Typex - Blindness of the European Left

This article by Sever Plocker takes up the attempt to censor the Teapacks (Typex-- there I wrote it, that's the real name that you are not allowed to see for copyright reasons) Eurovision song because it mentions nuclear war, and that might be offensive to Mr. Ahmadinejad. In other words, the following is a Zionist Neocon statement according to the censors:
I wanna see the flowers bloom;
I don't wanna go kaboom
Good Europeans believe that Zionist warmongers have no use for flowers. We should all want to go kaboom.
Will the other sort of Typex be used to wipe out politically inconvenient culture?
Ami Isseroff

Sever Plocker 
New breed of censorship

Criticizing Ahmadinejad politically incorrect among European leftists
Published:  03.04.07, 17:56 / Israel Opinion

The "Teapacks" band is planning to appear in the Eurovision Song Contest with a protest song that brings a message to mankind: It warns against a nuclear war and against insane leaders that can "push the button." Ostensibly, this is not a disputed topic, yet nonetheless, the Eurovision management is weighing the possibility of disqualifying Israel's participation.
During the Cold War, anti-war messages were received enthusiastically by the cultured world and "Teapacks" would have been guaranteed an honorable spot on the stage. The fear of a nuclear war deeply penetrated people's awareness from both sides of the iron curtain and united them in their goal to prevent delusional leaders from pushing the button.
 But the Cold War is over, and with it the fear of a nuclear conflict between the superpowers. Liberal and leftist public opinion in the West, particularly in Europe, is now focusing its attention on other dangers, such as environmental pollution and global warming.
The fact that a handful of insane leaders are continuing to develop nuclear arms no longer interests them: The opposition to these leaders and to their delusional plans is viewed as a politically incorrect act. It is crystal clear to liberal leftists in Europe that humanity's number one enemy is US President George Bush, and not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 The latter has even benefited from a somewhat forgiving attitude in his capacity of spearheading the holy war against Bush's America.
And thus, with a moral distortion that an honest person would find hard to comprehend, in today's Europe it is not politically correct to sing songs against nuclear bombs, because they are likely to hurt the Iranian regime's feelings (and perhaps also the North Koreans,) and to spark a political dispute.
Other outrageous expressions disrupt the moral judgment prevalent in Europe and America. A bloodthirsty terrorist blows himself up every day in populated centers in Iraq, killing dozens and sometimes hundreds of innocent civilians, including a high number of women and children. No occupation resistance movement throughout history has ever set out for itself the goal of primarily killing its own people.
Nonetheless, thus far, not a single demonstration has been held in European cities to protest the murderous terror acts being perpetrated in Iraq. Because if this terror can in any way be attributed to the US, even indirectly, then it is right and just. At least in the eyes of the spoiled West.
Protesting Iranian actions inappropriate
The idea that Bush's policies in Iraq, and the genocide that is being systematically carried out there by Muslim terrorists, can also be protested doesn't occur to a British intellectual who fervently reads "The Independent." Just as it doesn't occur to him that he can protest against Ahmadinejad's nuclear bomb as well as pollution of the atmosphere.
Because one thing is certain: Had "Teapacks" proposed a song protesting global warming it would not have occurred to the organizers to disqualify the text. On the contrary, it would have been praised by all. We also have reasonable basis to assume that had Israel sent a utopian peace song depicting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a foolish conflict over the location of a falafel stand, our message would have been accepted by the commissars of European culture.

Yet a protest, even if just implied, against the insanity of Iran's leader, is not appropriate for the Eurovision Song Contest. Heaven forbid. It's not anti-American and therefore not politically correct.
 This is how political correctness has turned into a new breed of political censorship: Censorship that bans protest against politicians preparing for nuclear wars.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Euston Manifesto - Liberalism Revised - an in-depth dialogue

This is an important and interesting dialogue dear to the hearts of many of us.

To the Euston Station: A Dialogue with Norm Geras

Late last summer I engaged in an email-based exchange with Norm Geras, a professor of Government at the University of Manchester and a prolific Marxist intellectual with one of the most widely read blogs in the UK. Like Oliver Kamm and Nick Cohen, author of the new polemic What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way, Norm has made a name for himself as a leading spokesman for leftists with no truck for what passes for "left" politics in Britain these days. Along with Cohen, he drafted the Euston Manifesto, a declaration of progressive principles for the post-9/11 era. An explanation of what's in the often misunderstood (and more willfully misinterpreted) document follows in the pair of letters below, but suffice it to say that Euston has been the source of no little controversy and ridicule in the UK, while remaining something of a little-mentioned curio on this side of the Atlantic. As a signatory, and an avid reader of the Euston blogs (of which this site is one), I was most interested to hear what Norm thought about the Left in the United States, which he had just visited for the first time prior to this discussion, and where Euston and its supports might go from here.


Continued Here

A vision for Palestinian independence

The Lebanese patriot Charles Jalkh has this advice for Palestinians. It is certainly good advice, whatever the source. There are Palestinians who, like Gandhi, advocate non-violence. But they advocate non-violence as an additional technique, not as a central moral value. In the morning we blow people up, and if that doesn't work then we can have a sit down strike. They also advocate non-violence to further immoral and evil goals, such as genocide and destruction of another state. Non-violent demonstrations in support of the rights of child-molesters are not "moral" just because they are non-violent.
He writes:
The world in this 21st century is attentive to the sufferings of people, but is much more repulsed by acts of violence committed in the name of the "oppressed".
It is a noble moral stance. Actually, the world in the 21st century is much more attentive to the sufferings of people who blow up others, than they are to the sufferings of real victims in Darfur and Tibet and East Congo.
Ami Isseroff

The Shortest Path to an Independent Palestine
By: Charles Jalkh (Freedom Fighter)
March 19/07

Back in the 20th century, one man, inspired hundreds of millions to march proudly, unarmed, peacefully, and stoically, into hails of police batons and sometimes bullets, to demand freedom. The Indian nation rose en masse, in peaceful civil disobedience, forcing the end of the British occupation. Mahatma Gandhi shamed the brutal "civilized" world into withdrawal. He did not incite a revolution nor carried arms, yet planted a seed for humanity and showed by example, that freedom can be achieved through peaceful means.

The Palestinian people can also achieve their dreams of a dignified life if they adopt similar peaceful means instead of blowing up humans in buses, discotheques, and pizza parlors. In this 21st century, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, or perhaps, the pen is the sword. A flower is far more effective than a Kassam rocket. The power of conviction through peace is mightier than all armies.

Humanity today listens to a lower frequency than the one broadcasted by the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Humanity is more interested in global issues, climatic changes, planetary resource sustenance, peace, order, neighborly civilized conduct, economic progress, social justice, the welfare of all humans, and the enlightenment of the individual.

 The people of the world would be much more sympathetic, if Palestinians, families and children, old and young, descend to the Gaza beaches on a cool pink summer sunset, armed with candles and prayers, to demand liberty and offer genuine peace. The world would then light a billion candles for peace for the tortured Palestinian and Israeli people. Humanity would pray for the souls of all victims of these futile wars, and to honor the living, Palestinians and Israelis alike. For a Soul bares no nationality in the eyes of the Loving God.

Another great historical example is dramatized in the Armenian tragedy. One and a half million Armenians were massacred at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915, many more exiled throughout the Middle East and the four corners of Earth, while what's left of their homeland got absorbed by the Soviet Union. Yet, the Armenians rose from underneath the ashes, as a powerful cultural and economic civilization throughout the world. The Armenians did not carry arms. They enlightened the world with music, poetry, art, inventions, commerce and sciences. And today, Armenia is free without firing a single bullet. Similarly, the shortest path to an independent Palestinian state is through peace, and the fastest way to peace, is through the Love of all life. There is no "holy land"; only Mother Earth and human life are precious and holy.

Twenty or thirty years into a peace, it would not matter much what geographical boundary your state controls. Through treaties, trade, and cultural exchanges with neighboring nations, your citizens would feel right at home in a larger geographical human extent. Observe how an Italian, a Lithuanian, or a French feels today in the EU, with the freedom to travel, to engage in business, even buy property in any of the union states. Frontiers become irrelevant between humanistic democracies. What matters, is human freedom and dignity. This is the essence of the western civilization. It does not mean losing your cultural peculiarity. It means contributing uniquely to a larger fragrant bouquet of cultures. For we are all roots to the tree of Life, and any weak root, diminishes Mother Life for all.

The world in this 21st century is attentive to the sufferings of people, but is much more repulsed by acts of violence committed in the name of the "oppressed". The cruelest of all oppressions however are ignorance, delusion, hatred, and the refusal of peace. The Palestinians can reenter the conscience of humanity when they lay down their arms, make true peace with Israel, and turn their attention towards healing their nation and lifting their people into a new age, a New Palestine, living side by side with its Semitic cousin Israel.

Jewish intellectuals -- then and now.

Long ago the prophet foretold, "Your ruiners and destroyers will go out from you" (Yeshaya 49:14). In recent years, that prophecy has been most frequently fulfilled by Jewish intellectuals and professors.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."  
Cowboy Saying.

Anatomy of a Lie: Zionism and Nazism

One of the most pernicious lies of the twenty-first century is that Zionism is like Nazism, that Israel is perpetrating a "Holocaust" against Palestinian Arabs and that Israeli soldiers act like Nazis.
It is believed by people who can see that there are no death camps for Palestinians, that Palestinian Arabs are not being killed off but are rather increasing in numbers, and that Israeli force is directed in self defense against the perpetrators of terror. 
For more background on how the lie got started and what keeps it going, see:
Ami Isseroff