Saturday, June 20, 2009

Security Threats to Israel From Syria and the Golan Heights

Technical justification that explains why

Assessing the Israel-Egypt Alliance: Dan Diker on Al-Jazeera

Interesting exchange of myths between Al-Jazeera and facts by The Jerusalem Center spokesperson.

"How the Palestinian Hate Industry Undermines Prospects for Peace" Itamar Marcus

People are concerned with Israeli settlements as an "obstacle to peace"  and not one word about Palestinian hate industry, a real obstacle to peace?
Itamar Marcus presented developments in Palestinian society, showing recent hate propaganda in video and print. Marcus's presentation detailed the demonization, denial of Israel's right to exist.
With such education how is it possible to believe that a new Palestinian state could guarantee regional peace? Impossible.  Some people prefer to ignore facts or they underestimate the gravity of the problem generated by the Palestinian hate industry (since Oslo Accords, Arafat started the education of children to hate Jews).
If Fatah and Hamas indoctrinate children to hate Jews, it is reasonable to believe that they could ever be partners for peace with the Israelis? Impossible.
Part 7 of 8: (key info about Oslo accords)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran: The real election figures?

The following are supposedly the real Iran election figures that were suppressed, which came in a letter sent anonymously, purportedly an official IRI document with Islamic Republic of Iran Letterhead. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the claim.  The total for Ahmadinejad looks to be too low, for example.
Total number of the votes           42,026,078
Mir Hosain Mosavi                    19,075,623
Mehdi Karoobi                           13,387,104
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad                5,698,417
Mohsen Rezaie                              3,754,218
Votes disregarded                              38,716
Iran vote letter
Ami Isseroff

Netanyahu speech outlines what is really important to Israel and peace

Never fight the battle where the enemy wants you to fight it. Fight the battle on the ground most important to you, where the enemy is weakest.

Israeli policy after Netanyahu's speech

19.06. 2009
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

To understand the proper direction of Israeli efforts to present its case, we must understand the significance of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech (see Address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Begin-Sadat Center.

The speech was a workmanlike and competent component that be the basis of a reasonable foreign policy. It served several very important purposes. The first was to return some of the "peace process" initiative to Israel, and to counter some of the extreme diplomatic isolation that Israel experienced following the installation of the Netanyahu government. The second was to pay the necessary debt to Barack Obama in his quest for Middle East peace. The third and most important was to provide a relatively clear policy statement and delineation of Israeli rights around three principles:

No 'return' of Palestinian refugees to Israel

No division of Jerusalem

Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination.

These three conditions form the core of the Israeli case, and efforts at justifying and explaining the case for Israeli peace should focus on them, and not be distracted by gimmicks and side issues such as settlement freezes and outposts. In a hundred years, it will not matter if there was or was not a settlement freeze. But the decision on every one of the above issues will matter for as long as there is a Jewish state and a Jewish people. Palestinians have understood this longer than we have. It is no accident that they have objected strenuously to all three conditions, because they are the heart of peace for Israel. The aim of pro-Palestinian propaganda in the west is to divert attention from the focus of the conflict, defined in those issues, where the Israeli case is strong, to the issue of settlement freeze, and to force a split between the United States and Israel. Regrettably, some of the pro-Israel reaction in recent days has served the Palestinians very well.

Continued - Israeli policy after Netanyahu's speech

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why the Iranian elections were fraudulent

The discussion of the American opinion poll is especially interesting, because VOA claimed the poll "proved" that the electios were honest. They also claimed falsely that demonstrations were confined to Tehran.


By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 17 June 2009
[TEHRAN BUREAU] Much has been said about the outcome of the Iranian presidential election, which took place last Friday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that the vote counting was honest. The reformists' supporters hotly dispute that. Extra ammunition has been provided to those who believe that the President was the true victor by the results of a poll taken by the Center for Public Opinion and the New American Foundation between from May 11-20, 2009, asking 1001 Iranians living in Iran for whom they would vote.
According to the poll, 34% of the respondents said that they would vote for the President, while 14% said that they would vote for the main reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister.
So, who is right?
There is much evidence to support those who believe that the vote counting was fraudulent.
Let us begin with the American poll. According to the poll, 77% of the respondents said that they want the Supreme Leader to be elected directly by the people; 74% favor full inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities to ensure that it will not be used for non-peaceful purposes; 77% favor normal trade with, and full recognition by the United States; 68% favor Iran's government to help the U.S. in Iraq, and 52% favor recognition of Israel in return for U.S. recognition and open. trade. Who espouses such policies? The reformists, not President Ahmadinejad.
90% of the respondents thought that the economy should be the top priority of their government. How has Mr. Ahmadinejad's economic performance been (aside from distributing cash among the poor in the last month of the campaign)? Dismal! Unemployment, inflation, and the costs of housing, fuel, and food have all skyrocketed since 2005.
Then, why is it that, while agreeing overwhelmingly with what the reformists advocate, a plurality of the respondents said that they would vote for the President? The answer lies in the Iranian culture. Iranians are notoriously secretive about their political opinions when they talk to strangers, especially when they are called over the phone. In a country where social and political repression has increased dramatically under Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people are terrified by the possible consequences of honest answers, especially with respect to their preferred candidate.
Moreover, the poll was finished on May 20, and that was just before the campaigns were taking off. There was a dramatic increase in the support for Mr. Mousavi (as well as Mr. Mahdi Karroubi, the 2nd reformist candidate) only in the last three weeks of the election.

Iran: From Eyewitnesses in Tehran

Below are two reports relayed from eyewitnesses in Iran.  There are additional reports that give the same picture essentially: Demonstrators shot, means of communications cut off, Police removing satellite dishes, arrests...
What you would expect from a crackdown in an authoritarian regime. But the crowds shouting "Allah o Akbar" do not suggest that this is a liberal revolution or that the demonstrators have any interest in changing the constitution of the Islamic Republic. Nor do the reports suggest that they have much chance of success.
Ami Isseroff

As we speak, I can clearly hear gun shots in the streets and people shouting 'Allah o Akbar' and 'Death to this liar government'.

All mobile phones are off, sms has not been working for days, internet is extremely slow, some pages take over 20 minutes to load. Many sites have been filtered, France 24, Deutsche Welle, BBC Persian and BBC World Satellites are not working. VOA Persian just works every now and then, over 100 reformists have been arrested, and we have at least 7 confirmed dead!

The atmosphere up to the election day had been one of joy and happiness. All sides have demonstrated side by side, without violence and in friendship. I could go with Karoubi banners into an Ahmadi crowed and we could have friendly discussions.

The whole city of Tehran was generally in green. But the day before election when advertising was banned, no one, really no one was wearing green or advertising. This to me shows great respect for the law and how advanced our civil society is.

After the announcement of the results, all major squares were suddenly packed with anti riot police, basij, ansare hezbollah and gaurdaye yegan vije. I was stuck in Abbas Abad. It has been the most violent scenes I have every seen. Motorcycles were burning, buses were burning, the government forces were randomly attacking people and blocking both sides of the roads.

I have seen women and old people been beaten. These were people passing by. I was hiding in two garages with a friend. People would let us in so we wont get beaten up. But we later found out that basij would even storm houses and destro the dorrs.

Sunday Tehran seemed calmer. The University of Tehran dorms was fully isolated. There were at least 200 guards there. At night they attacked the dorms. In central Tehran ansare hezbollah and basij stormed the university building. There are rumours of deaths but nobody knows. In Tehran people were honing their cars and police was smashing cars.

There were apparently many riots in Sa adat abad and Shahrake Gharb but I was not there.

Yesterday we went to the mass rally. Many did not come because their were reports that there would be shootings. Still 1 to 2 million showed up.

I have never seen crowds this large and this peaceful. The main slogans were:

marg bar diktator. che shah bashe che doktor nasro menallah va fathon gharib, marg bar in dolate mardom farib haleye nooro dide raye mano nadide in 63 darsad ke migan koo? dooroogh goo, dooroogh goo ey dolate koodetah, estefa estefa na qaze na lobnan, faghat mellate iran mardom chera neshestin, iran shode felestin iraniye ba gheyrat, hemayat hemayat ta ahmadinejade, harooz hamin basate raye mano dozdide, dare bahash poz mide estefah estefah esteeeefaaah, begoo

From Enghelab square to Azadi and from Azadi square to Sadeghiye the streets were packed.

Unfortunately you all know what has happened at the end.

Today the atmosphere is even more tense.

But in central Tehran, any house we passed had green flags hanging from hanging from it.

Everyone you talk to voted for Mousavi.

I have no doubts the votes were rigged. Best,


I talked to two well-connected friends in Iran today; this is their analysis.

- In their opinion there is no doubt that there was fraud in the elections.

- Motivation: The leadership and conservative forces have decided once and for all that there is too much tension in the country, and they want to run the country with no more tensions (between them and the reformists/left). The plan is to immediately open up to the West/US, reduce tensions, focus 200% on the economy, and in the next 4 years reduce inflation and unemployment dramatically and improve people's economic lot significantly. So that in 4 years, they can press the reset button on elections, and the people, having seen 4 years of good economy, vote them into office. And from this point on, no reformist/leftist will ever be allowed to assume power in Iran. This is all well and good on paper - except that it does not include one factor: the people's will and desire! We're talking pseudo-Chinese style management with lip service to elections.

- Technicalities: there were about 48,000 ballot boxes. None of the candidates had representatives for all of them. Mousavi only had 5,000 approved representatives. Karrubi had even less than that. The Interior ministry did not issue the necessary documents for all those suggested as representatives. According to first hand reports, these election monitors witnessed only the counting process but they were not authorized to sign any document or approve anything. That means Mousavi and Karrubi do not have any "legal" documents to object to the results. The only hope that they may have is to reopen some boxes randomly and recount and see if there is a large meaningful difference between the outcome and what has been announced. Even in that case they may only be able to disqualify those particular boxes and not the whole election, unless that they can recount all boxes. Also there were at least 14,000 mobile boxes. There was no supervision on these boxes at all. Ahmadinejad and his team can easily manipulate those boxes according to their wishes.

- They therefore engineered this election. Ahmadinejad had to have much more votes than Khatami in past elections. Karroubi had to be destroyed with that ridiculously low number of votes. Rezaie's economic plans/use of experts/professionals was to be killed off since they have their own economic plans. And of course Mousavi had to go.

- In preparation for this, they foresaw some minor disturbances, put security forces on alert, and even warned the people against "agitation" (Khamenei's televised speech right after he cast his vote), but overall they thought the left are a bunch of sissies; shoot a few bullets in the air, intimidate, beat, and they go away. They have reason to believe this - over the past 20 years every time the system has come under some so called "threat" (e.g. via press freedom) or "expediency" (e.g. vetting of candidates) has been required, the left (e.g. Khatami) has backed down, to the point that the left has given up a lot and the right has advanced and gained a lot.

- As for the fraud itself, one said he has official data from the past elections (2005) which shows that Ahmadinejad's gains in 2009 were almost entirely in the big cities, and not in the small provincial villages/cities in which he didn't gain as much. This by itself points to fraud, and also is the cause for the immense level of discontent in the large cities. People see who votes in their neighborhood and city and when they see the announced results, they know it can't be possibly true (he mentioned seeing people in line who were voting for the 2nd time in their life: the first time was at the Islamic Republic Referendum in 1979!).

- Another point is that finally in this election, it became absolutely clear where the leader stands. In the past the reformists would go meet him, and seek his intervention, and he leaned this way and that. This time, he is firmly behind the takeover of power and this is clear to all. He has made his decision for the future.

- So now, what has gone wrong? a) the fact that Khatami is not leading the movement (who would have backed out by now for "expediency"), but rather it is Mousavi who told the leader point blank in their meeting that there has been fraud and it has to be dealt with (after being told by the leader to "let go"); and b) people's demonstrations which have surprised even the left. He said from Tuesday morning till 3 pm, the Tehran District and Provincial Heads, and Head of police were on TV one after another over and over, warning people that if they take part in any demonstrations, that will be it! People didn't listen and 1 million showed up.

- The reason you are not seeing foreign condemnation of this also is because the foreign countries are waiting for the government to finish its job. They foreign states will then recognize the President, and justify it saying the elections were fair and there are rioters everywhere in the world. The longer this recognition takes (the longer the government takes to "finish" things) the worse things will be; at some point they will have to make statements, do something, ... if there is killing and the problems continue they may be forced to recall ambassadors, downgrade relations, ... and that will be the kiss of death for the government who wanted to open up to the West and improve people's economic lot.

- Will the reformists give up this time too? Both think unlikely since the reformists/left now understand 100% that this is their last stance; if they give up now, they will never, ever, be able to hold any power in Iran in the future.

- This is confirmed by Ahmadinejad's three statements since the elections in which he has basically drawn out his sword and shown a no-compromise stance with respect to the reformists.

- Government is in a bind now. They didn't expect the large demonstrations. And they can't do anything when people go to work and on way back home every single car is honking horns in protest, and when after dinner they go to the balcony and chant Allah-o-Akbar. The people realize that they are out of the government's equation. This is the reason for the revolt.

- The only factor that can change the game is popular demonstrations by people, going on strike and with a high regret, some bloodshed. The amount of blood depends on the resistance of both sides. Only in that case the whole system will come under question and to retain legality they will need to do something, perhaps dramatic.

- The best thing the US and EU can do is to not recognize this government, and downgrade relations. Else they will be seen as co-conspirators by the Iranian people. One CIA led coup in Iran's history is enough.


Water in the Middle East

Oman is looking into building solar and wind power plants to meet rising demand as the Gulf oil exporter faces a gas shortage, a government energy official said yesterday.

"We are now turning to renewable energy like wind and solar to reduce the reliance on gas as the major fuel for power stations," Zahir Al-Suleimani, director general of projects at the Public Authority for Electricity and Water told Reuters in an interview.

Electricity consumption is increasing by 15 percent annually and water by 10 percent due to industrial and infrastructure projects as well as domestic use." Gas demand is 13.6 million cubic meters per day and will increase to 20 million by 2015, according to Oman Power and Water Procurement Company figures.

The government will need to import gas to meet that demand, that's the reason it makes sense to go for renewable and environmental friendly energy as alternative," Suleimani said.

The non-OPEC oil exporter needs to increase gas supplies by 48 percent to 7.2 billion cubic meters (254.3 billion cu ft) a year by 2013 to fuel power and desalination plants. An energy official said in May that Oman aims to use coal to meet 20 percent of its energy needs by 2020 to reduce reliance on gas, and is setting up a new firm to buy coal to fire a planned 1,000 megawatt power station.

The Gulf state has awarded about $ 5.5 billion worth of projects so far this year as it looks to develop infrastructure and the economy. Among the
projects was a contract for the $ 1.17 billion Muscat airport terminal last month.

The government plans to spend a total of $ 16.5 billion on projects in 2009. Oman plans to drastically reduce its reliance on oil exports and double its income from industrial activities in the coming decade as the Gulf Arab region strives to diversify away from crude export revenues

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brits shocked at segregation in Islamist group meeting - what did they expect?

How could an Islamist extremist group meeting NOT segregate between men and women? What did they expect? What did this Douglas Murray think would happen in this debate?
Of course their ideas don't "Stand up." They don't need to "Stand up" as they have thugs to make them stand up.

Robert Booth
The Guardian, Thursday 18 June 2009

An attempt to relaunch the controversial Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun ended in chaotic scenes after the management of the London venue that was to host the group's first meeting in five years cancelled proceedings, complaining "fundamentalist thugs" had tried to enforce the segregation of men and women.
Supporters of the group, which wants sharia law in Britain and has praised the 9/11 terrorists as the "Magnificent 19", were ordered to leave Conway Hall in Holborn on Wednesday night when it emerged that Al-Muhajiroun had placed bouncers on the doors and were not letting women into the main hall.
Speakers who had been invited to share a platform with Anjem Choudary, the group's leader, accused Al-Muhajiroun of inviting them under false pretences.
Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said the platform of the planned debate was "completely unacceptable". "I'm perfectly willing to debate Anjem Choudary and Al-Muhajiroun's ideas," he said. "His ideas are not difficult. They do not stand up. But it's very clear that this debate is not neutral. This was a segregated event, policed by Al-Muhajiroun's guards."
He said he had been invited to the event by a student society, Global Issues Society, but the Islamist group had hijacked proceedings.

Iran's Stolen Elections

Video - Iran's stolen elections. The first part is in Farsi but there is English translation.
Be patient!
Pass it on.

Iranian Election Fraud evidence?



Judith Apter Klinghoffer 

Why are Iranians questioning the validity of the election results? Well, consider the case of Kerman, a city of half a million located in the southeast part of the country. According to the election map published this morning in the NYT, Ahmadinejad won over 70% of the votes in Kerman province.

So what? you'd ask. Mousavi's influence is known to be limited to the big cities.

It is just that a few hours ago a video showing a very large pro Mousavi demonstration was posted on Youtube. Take thirty seconds to watch it.

Can such a demonstration have taken place in a genuine Ahmadinejad strong hold?

Now consider this piece of information found in Wikipedia:

Politics in Kerman are influenced by the former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, his brother and Vice President Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the Vice President Hossein Marashi, both from the nearby Rafsanjan.

Rafsanjani is, of course, a major supporter of Mousavi. What are the chances that Ahmadinejad won over 70% of the votes there?

Conspiracy theory Gem: Iranian opposition leader Mousavi is a Jew

It was inevitable that someone would claim that Mousavi is a Jew. That explains everything. Now we know who is responsible for all the problems in Iran. International Zionism.

Update - Sorry folks. Though Iranian government is blaming the riots on the international something or other and though some people are insisting the CIA is behind this, this particular theory was posted as a hoax and I've been had. See here.

MOUSAVI (of Moses) is a Jew

Judith Apter Klinghoffer

Giti from India sends me this conspiracy gem;

It is well known Mousavi (of Moses) is a Jew and the demonstrations in Iran are the work of Mossad agent provocateurs. The ordinary people of Iran are peace loving and would not wish to threaten the Islamic revolution. The agitators are funded by international zionism and the Jew owned international media, in thrall to the zionist oppressors, are running alongside.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mossad Head: Iranian Nukes by 2014; riots will fizzle out

One would be interested to know if this will be a big clumsy "gun" bomb, which requires much more material but is easier to make if less efficient, or a little implosion device that can fit in a suitcase or a warhead. 
One would also be interested to know how certain this prediction is, and whether or not it is likely Iran can have a bomb before 2014 "ready to use" (just add delivery system and stir). Without such details, and without knowing the intelligence on which the prediction was based, it is difficult to evaluate it in an intelligence way.
'Iran will have nuclear bomb by 2014'
Jun. 16, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will have a nuclear bomb ready for use by 2014.
Speaking to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee several days after the disputed Iranian elections, Dagan said that "what matters is the position of the [supreme] leader and this has not changed. The riots take place only in Teheran and one more region, they won't last for long." Dagan said the riots won't become a full-fledged revolution.
The violence in the wake of the elections in Iran and allegations of vote rigging are not different from "any other democracy… the discussion within the Iranian elite… is an internal affair."
Dagan said Israel would in fact have an easier time explaining the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons to the world when the country is led by a hardline fanatic president [reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] than if Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is seen as a moderate, would win the election. "We mustn't forget Mousavi is the one who started the nuclear program."
Regarding the nuclear threat, Dagan said Iran was closely following US response to recent threats made by North Korean despot Kim Jong Il. "If they see that the American policy can't bend or break North Korea, this will certainly affect the Iranians in future talks with the US. The Americans decided to try soft power on the Iranians… Iran thinks the world will come towards it."
Iran, according to Dagan, "wants to be like Egypt was in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a lot of cooperation between Iran, North Korea and Syria. The notion of an Iranian nuclear weapon is an existential threat to Israel and has to be removed."
This article can also be read at

Prime Minister's Speech at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University




Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace has always been our people's most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.

We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.

Two and half months ago, I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government – and I did.  I believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than ever as we face three immense challenges – the Iranian threat, the economic crisis, and the advancement of peace.

The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated yesterday.  The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons.  I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with European leaders.  For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to stabilize Israel's economy. We passed a two year budget in the government – and the Knesset will soon approve it.

And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the advancement of peace.  I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully support the idea of a regional peace that he is leading. 

I share the President's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in expanding the circle of peace in our region.

I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: "Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace. I am ready to meet with you at any time.  I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place- including Jerusalem.

I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia, Africa and Europe. 

The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come and invest here and to assist the Palestinians – and us – in spurring the economy.

Together, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of jobs and create tourist sites that will attract millions of visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of history – in Nazareth and in Bethlehem, around the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee and the baptismal site of the Jordan.

There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism, if we can only learn to cooperate and to develop it.

I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority, and I say: Let's begin

negotiations immediately without preconditions.

Israel is obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties to keep their commitments.


We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors. We want our children and your children to never again experience war: that parents, brothers and sisters will never again know the agony of losing loved ones in battle; that our children will be able to dream of a better future and realize that dream; and that together we will invest our energies in plowshares and pruning hooks, not swords and spears.

I know the face of war.  I have experienced battle.  I lost close friends, I lost a brother.  I have seen the pain of bereaved families.  I do not want war.  No one in Israel wants war.

If we join hands and work together for peace, there is no limit to the development and prosperity we can achieve for our two peoples – in the economy, agriculture, trade, tourism and education -  most importantly, in providing our youth a better world in which to live, a life full of tranquility, creativity, opportunity and hope.

If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace?  Why has this conflict continued for more than sixty years?

In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict?

In his speech to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl, said about the Jewish national home "This idea is so big that we must speak of it only in the simplest terms." Today, I will speak about the immense challenge of peace in the simplest words possible.

Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland.  

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.


The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence.

The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel's independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the six-day war, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. 


All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria .

Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity.  The signing of peace treaties have brought about an end to their claims against Israel, an end to the conflict. But to our regret, this is not the case with the Palestinians. The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict.

Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement.  We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal.  In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected.

We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of settlements and evicted thousands of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children. 

The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality.

In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hezbollah in the north, repeatedly proclaims their commitment to "liberate" the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa. 

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

Achieving peace will require courage and candor from both sides, and not only from the Israeli side.

The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: "Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace." 

I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be.

Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. 

To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel's borders.  For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel's continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.

The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we ourselves proved in a similar situation.  Tiny Israel successfully absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. 

Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be solved outside Israel's borders.  On this point, there is a broad national consensus.  I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved. 

So far I have spoken about the need for Palestinians to recognize our rights.  In am moment, I will speak openly about our need to recognize their rights.  

But let me first say that the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years.  Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us.  This is the land of our forefathers.

The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000 years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and massacres which culminated in a Holocaust - a suffering which has no parallel in human history. 

There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established.  But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occured. 

This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.

But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged. 

As Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel's Declaration of Independence: "The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of books."

But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them.

In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.  Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government.  Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other.

These two realities – our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it – have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us.

I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society. These are the principles that guide our policy.

This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed.  We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.

I have already stressed the first principle – recognition.  Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.  The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. 

Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza. 

We don't want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport.  We want peace.

In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel.

It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized.

On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.


Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel:  Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory – real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today.  And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts.

Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.

I told President Obama when I was in Washington that if we could agree on the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem. 

And here is the substance that I now state clearly:

If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state. 

Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. 

The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement.  In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements. 


But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere.  The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace.  Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.

Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with our neighbors.  That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing realities.  I believe that a strong Palestinian economy will strengthen peace.

If the Palestinians turn toward peace – in fighting terror, in strengthening governance and the rule of law, in educating their children for peace and in stopping incitement against Israel - we will do our part in making every effort to facilitate freedom of movement and access, and to enable them to develop their economy.  All of this will help us advance a peace treaty between us. 

Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas.  Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction.  

Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe.

With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace. 

Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible.  Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders.

Our microchips are powering the world's computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable.  Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge.

If only our neighbors would respond to our call – peace too will be in our reach.

I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership, let us continue together on the path of Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: "nations shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war  no more."

With God's help, we will know no more war. We will know peace. 



Monday, June 15, 2009

The hate industry


Dr. Reuven Erlich
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center


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Solving the "Palestinian Problem"

Daniel Pipes
Israel's war against Hamas brings up the old quandary: What to do about the Palestinians? Western states, including Israel, need to set goals to figure out their policy toward the West Bank and Gaza.

Let's first review what we know does not and cannot work:

  • Israeli control. Neither side wishes to continue the situation that began in 1967, when the Israel Defense Forces took control of a population that is religiously, culturally, economically, and politically different and hostile.
  • A Palestinian state. The 1993 Oslo Accords began this process but a toxic brew of anarchy, ideological extremism, antisemitism, jihadism, and warlordism led to complete Palestinian failure.
  • A binational state: Given the two populations' mutual antipathy, the prospect of a combined Israel-Palestine (what Muammar al-Qaddafi calls "Israstine") is as absurd as it seems.

Excluding these three prospects leaves only one practical approach, that which worked tolerably well in the period 1948-67:

  • Shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule: Amman rules the West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza.

To be sure, this back-to-the-future approach inspires little enthusiasm. Not only was Jordanian-Egyptian rule undistinguished but resurrecting this arrangement will frustrate Palestinian impulses, be they nationalist or Islamist. Further, Cairo never wanted Gaza and has vehemently rejected its return. Accordingly, one academic analyst dismisses this idea "an elusive fantasy that can only obscure real and difficult choices."

It is not. The failures of Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, of the Palestinian Authority and the "peace process," have prompted rethinking in Amman and Jerusalem. Indeed, the Christian Science Monitor's Ilene R. Prusher found already in 2007 that the idea of a West Bank-Jordan confederation "seems to be gaining traction on both sides of the Jordan River."

The Jordanian government, which enthusiastically annexed the West Bank in 1950 and abandoned its claims only under duress in 1988, shows signs of wanting to return. Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari documented for the Middle East Quarterly in 2006 how the PA's "failure to assert control and become a politically viable entity has caused Amman to reconsider whether a hands-off strategy toward the West Bank is in its best interests." Israeli officialdom has also showed itself open to this idea, occasionally calling for Jordanian troops to enter the West Bank.

Despairing of self-rule, some Palestinians welcome the Jordanian option. An unnamed senior PA official told Diker and Inbari that that a form of federation or confederation with Jordan offers "the only reasonable, stable, long-term solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." Hanna Seniora opined that "The current weakened prospects for a two-state solution forces us to revisit the possibility of a confederation with Jordan." The New York Times' Hassan M. Fattah quotes a Palestinian in Jordan: "Everything has been ruined for us -­ we've been fighting for 60 years and nothing is left. It would be better if Jordan ran things in Palestine, if King Abdullah could take control of the West Bank."

Nor is this just talk: Diker and Inbari report that back-channel PA-Jordan negotiations in 2003-04 "resulted in an agreement in principle to send 30,000 Badr Force members," to the West Bank.

And while Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak announced a year ago that "Gaza is not part of Egypt, nor will it ever be," his is hardly the last word. First, Mubarak notwithstanding, Egyptians overwhelmingly want a strong tie to Gaza; Hamas concurs; and Israeli leaders sometimes agree. So the basis for an overhaul in policy exists.

Secondly, Gaza is arguably more a part of Egypt than of "Palestine." During most of the Islamic period, it was either controlled by Cairo or part of Egypt administratively. Gazan colloquial Arabic is identical to what Egyptians living in Sinai speak. Economically, Gaza has most connections to Egypt. Hamas itself derives from the Muslim Brethren, an Egyptian organization. Is it time to think of Gazans as Egyptians?

Thirdly, Jerusalem could out-maneuver Mubarak. Were it to announce a date when it ends the provisioning of all water, electricity, food, medicine, and other trade, plus accept enhanced Egyptian security in Gaza, Cairo would have to take responsibility for Gaza. Among other advantages, this would make it accountable for Gazan security, finally putting an end to the thousands of Hamas rocket and mortar assaults.

The Jordan-Egypt option quickens no pulse, but that may be its value. It offers a uniquely sober way to solve the "Palestinian problem."


Jan. 7, 2009 update: The National Post cleverly dubs my plan (in its title to this article) the "back-to-the-future option," but I like best the name bestowed on it by blogger Mary P. Madigan: "the no-state solution." Perfect.

For an extended discussion of this topic, see my weblog begun in 2005, "The West Bank to Jordan, Gaza to Egypt."

Also, I am not a recent opponent to a Palestinian state; note the title of an article I published in the New York Times on April 25, 1988, "Imagine a Palestinian State: A Nightmare for the Arabs and for Israel," and a brief extract from it:

no one should expect a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza to end the Arab-Israeli conflict: It would merely move it to a new stage … A Palestinian state means new disasters for the Palestinian people and instability for the Arab states.

Jan. 8, 2009 update: Some readers interpret this column as an endorsement of Jordan-is-Palestine - the idea that Palestinians can have Jordan as their state. Two responses:

  1. I argued at length against Jordan-is-Palestine back when that was a live issue. See my full-scale article on this issue from 1988 at "Is Jordan Palestine?" and a shorter one from two years later at "President Arafat? [and the Jordan-Is-Palestine Issue]." My views have not changed in the interim decades - I remain opposed to this gambit for all the reasons expressed there.
  2. My idea in the above column is that Jordan - the Hashemites in particular - rule the Palestinians, not the reverse. And the same goes for Egypt, obviously. Call it, if you will, Palestine-is-Jordan.

Other readers have asked what implications the Jordan-Egypt scenario has for Israeilis living on the West Bank - specifically, does it mean their forced evacuation as happened to their counterparts in Gaza? No, and again two points:

  1. The boundaries between Israel and the West Bank are more fluid than those between Israel and Gaza. I assume they would not return to those that existed in 1967.
  2. My idea concerns the Israeli government not ruling the Palestinian population; it says nothing about control of territory.

Fisk on Iranian Democracy: A smash in the face, a kick in the balls

Not everyone will agree with Fisk that Obama's life would have been made easier if Mousavi had been 'elected' (is that what it is called?), especially since, as he notes, Mousavi favored a return to the conservative values of the Ayatollah Khomeini, whose insistence on wiping out the Great Satan is well known.  But the frank picture of Iranian 'democracy' at work is a real 'kick in the balls' coming from someone like Fisk.
June 14, 2009

A smash in the face, a kick in the balls – that's how police deal with protesters after Iran's poll kept the hardliners in power

First the cop screamed abuse at Mir Hossein Mousavi's supporter, a white-shirted youth with a straggling beard and unkempt hair. Then he smashed his baton into the young man's face. Then he kicked him viciously in the testicles. It was the same all the way down to Vali Asr Square. Riot police in black rubber body armour and black helmets and black riot sticks, most on foot but followed by a flying column of security men, all on brand new, bright red Honda motorcycles, tearing into the shrieking youths – hundreds of them, running for their lives. They did not accept the results of Iran's presidential elections. They did not believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won 62.6 per cent of the votes. And they paid the price.

"Death to the dictator," they were crying on Dr Fatimi Street, now thousands of them shouting abuse at the police. Were they to endure another four years of the smiling, avuncular, ever-so-humble President who swears by democracy while steadily thinning out human freedoms in the Islamic Republic? They were wrong, of course. Ahmadinejad really does love democracy. But he also loves dictatorial order. He is not a dictator. He is a Democrator.

Yesterday wasn't the time for the finer points of Iranian politics. That Mir Hossein Mousavi had been awarded a mere 33 per cent of the votes – by midday, the figure was humiliatingly brought down to 32.26 per cent – brought forth the inevitable claims of massive electoral fraud and vote-rigging. Or, as the crowd round Fatimi Square chorused as they danced in a circle in the street: "Zionist Ahmadinejad – cheating at exams." That's when I noticed that the police always treated the protesters in the same way. Head and testicles. It was an easy message to understand. A smash in the face, a kick in the balls and Long Live the Democrator.

Many of the protesters – some of them now wearing scarves over their faces, all coloured green, the colour of Mousavi's campaign – were trying to reach the Interior Ministry where the government's electoral council were busy counting (or miscounting, depending on your point of view) Friday's huge popular national vote. I descended into the basement of this fiercely ugly edifice – fittingly, it was once the headquarters of the Shah's party, complete with helipad on the roof – where cold chocolate lattes and strawberry fruitcake were on offer to journalists, and where were displayed the very latest poll results, put up at 10.56am Iranian time.

Eighty per cent of the votes had been counted and the results came up as Ahmadinejad 64.78 per cent; Mousavi 32.26 per cent; Mohsen Rezai (a former Revolutionary Guard commander) 2.08 per cent; and Mehdi Karoubi (a former parliament speaker) a miserable 0.89 per cent. How could this be, a man asked me on a scorching, dangerous street an hour later. Karoubi's party has at least 400,000 members. Were they all sleeping on Friday?

There were a few, sparse demonstrators out for the Democrator, all men, of course, and many of them draped in the Iranian flag because the Democrator – devout Muslim as he always displays himself – wrapped his election campaign in the national flag. Each of these burly individuals handed out free copies of the execrable four-page news-sheet Iran.

"Ahmadinejad," the headline read, "24 million votes. People vote for Success, Honesty and the Battle against Corruption." Not the obvious headline that comes to mind. But Mousavi's Green Word newspaper allegedly had its own headline dictated to it by the authorities – before they shut it down yesterday: "Happy Victory to the People." And you can't get more neutral than that.

Back on the streets, there were now worse scenes. The cops had dismounted from their bikes and were breaking up paving stones to hurl at the protesters, many of them now riding their own motorbikes between the rows of police. I saw one immensely tall man – dressed Batman-style in black rubber arm protectors and shin pads, smashing up paving stones with his baton, breaking them with his boots and chucking them pell mell at the Mousavi men. A middle-aged woman walked up to him – the women were braver in confronting the police than the men yesterday – and shouted an obvious question: "Why are you breaking up the pavements of our city?" The policeman raised his baton to strike the woman but an officer ran across the road and stood between them. "You must never hit a woman," he said. Praise where praise is due, even in a riot.

But the policemen went on breaking up stones, a crazy reverse version of France in May 1968. Then it was the young men who wanted revolution who threw stones. In Tehran – fearful of a green Mousavi revolution – it was the police who threw stones.

An interval here for lunch with a true and faithful friend of the Islamic Republic, a man I have known for many years who has risked his life and been imprisoned for Iran and who has never lied to me. We dined in an all-Iranian-food restaurant, along with his wife. He has often criticised the regime. A man unafraid. But I must repeat what he said. "The election figures are correct, Robert. Whatever you saw in Tehran, in the cities and in thousands of towns outside, they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad. Tabriz voted 80 per cent for Ahmadinejad. It was he who opened university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri. In Mashad, the second city of Iran, there was a huge majority for Ahmadinejad after the imam of the great mosque attacked Rafsanjani of the Expediency Council who had started to ally himself with Mousavi. They knew what that meant: they had to vote for Ahmadinejad."

My guest and I drank dookh, the cool Iranian drinking yoghurt so popular here. The streets of Tehran were a thousand miles away. "You know why so many poorer women voted for Ahmadinejad? There are three million of them who make carpets in their homes. They had no insurance. When Ahmadinejad realised this, he immediately brought in a law to give them full insurance. Ahmadinejad's supporters were very shrewd. They got the people out in huge numbers to vote – and then presented this into their vote for Ahmadinejad."

But of course, the streets of Tehran were only a hundred metres away. And the police were now far more abusive to their adversaries. My own Persian translator was beaten three times on the back. The cops had brought their own photographers on to the pavements to take pictures of the protesters – hence the green scarves – and overfed plain-clothes men were now mixing with the Batmen. The Democrator was obviously displeased. One of the agents demanded to see my pass but when I showed my Iranian press card to him, he merely patted me on the shoulder and waved me through.

Thus did I arrive opposite the Interior Ministry as the police brought their prisoners back from the front line down the road. The first was a green-pullovered youth of perhaps 15 or 16 who was frog-marched by two uniformed paramilitary police to a van with a cage over the back. He was thrown on the steel floor, then one of the cops climbed in and set about him with his baton. Behind me, more than 20 policemen, sweating after a hard morning's work bruising the bones of their enemies, were sitting on the steps of a shop, munching through pre-packed luncheon boxes. One smiled and offered me a share. Politely declined, I need hardly add.

They watched – and I watched – as the next unfortunate was brought to the cage-van. In a shirt falling over his filthy trousers, he was beaten outside the vehicle, kicked in the balls, and then beaten on to a seat at the back of the vehicle. Another cop climbed in and began batoning him in the face. The man was howling with pain. Another cop came – and this, remember, was in front of dozens of other security men, in front of myself, an obvious Westerner, and many women in chadors who were walking on the opposite pavement, all staring in horror at the scene.

Now another policeman, in an army uniform, climbed into the vehicle, tied the man's hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, took out his baton and whacked him across the face. The prisoner was in tears but the blows kept coming; until more young men arrived for their torment. Then more police vans arrived and ever more prisoners to be beaten. All were taken in these caged trucks to the basement of the Interior Ministry. I saw them drive in.

A break now from these outrages, because this was about the moment that Mousavi's printed statement arrived at his campaign headquarters. I say "arrived", although the police had already closed his downtown office – Palestine Street, it was called, only fitting since the Iranian police were behaving in exactly the same way as the Israeli army when they turn into a rabble to confront Palestinian protesters – and Mousavi's men could only toss the sheets of paper over the wall.

It was strong stuff. "The results of these elections are shocking," he proclaimed. "People who stood in the voting lines, they know the situation, they know who they voted for. They are looking now with astonishment at this magic game of the authorities on the television and radio. What has happened has shaken the whole foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and now it is governing by lies and dictatorship. I recommend to the authorities to stop this at once and return to law and order, to care for the people's votes. The first message of our revolution is that people are intelligent and will not obey those who gain power by cheating. This whole land of Iran belongs to them and not to the cheaters."

Mousavi's head office in Qeitariyeh Street in north Tehran had already been besieged by the Democrator's loyal "Basiji" volunteers a few hours earlier. They had chucked tear gas at the windows. They were still smouldering when I arrived. "Please go or they will come back," one of his supporters pleaded to me. It was the same all over the city. The opposition either asked you to leave or invited you to watch them as they tormented the police. The Democrator's men, waving their Iranian flags, faced off Mousavi's men. Then, through their ranks, came the armed cops again, running towards the opposition. So whose side were the police really on? Rule number one: never ask stupid questions in Iran.

Last night, all SMS calls were blocked. The Iranian news agency announced that, since there would be no second round of elections, there would be no extension of visas for foreign journalists – one can well see why – and so many of the people who were praised by the government for their patriotism in voting on Friday were assaulted by their own government on Saturday.

Last night, the Democrator was still silent, but his ever-grinning face turned up on the posters of his supporters. There were more baton charges, ever greater crowds running from them. Thus was the courage of Friday's Iranian elections turned into fratricidal battles on the streets of Tehran. "Any rallies," announced the Tehran police chief, General Ahmad Reza Radan, "will be dealt with according to the law." Well, we all know what that means. So does the Democrator.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the blacksmith's son and former Revolutionary Guard, who, since his surprise victory four years ago, has seemingly gone out of his way to play bogeyman to the US. In his first term in office, Mr Ahmadinejad became known for his fierce rhetoric against America and Israel, his proud promotion of Iran's nuclear programme and persistent questioning of the Holocaust.

In Iran, he benefited from a surge in petrodollar revenues and has distributed loans, money and other help on his frequent provincial tours. But critics say his free spending fuelled inflation and wasted windfall oil revenues without reducing unemployment. Prices of basics have risen sharply, hitting more than 15 million Iranian families who live on less than $600 a month. He blamed the inflation, which officially stands at 15 per cent, on a global surge in food and fuel prices that peaked last year, and pursued unorthodox policies such as trying to curb prices while setting interest rates well below inflation.

During the campaign, in a series of bitter TV debates with his three rivals, he was repeatedly accused of lying about the extent of price rises. Mir Hossein Mousavi also accused Mr Ahmadinejad, 53, of undermining Iran's foreign relations with his fiery anti-Western speeches and said Iranians had been "humiliated around the globe" since he was first elected.

During Mr Ahmadinejad's first term, the UN Security Council imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects has military aims.

Mr Ahmadinejad, the first non-clerical president in more than 25 years, basks in the support of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on Iranians to vote for an anti-Western candidate. The Ayatollah ultimately calls the shots in Iran, where the president can only influence policy, not decide it.

Mir Hossein Mousavi

Life for President Barack Obama would be a great deal easier if Mir Hossein Mousavi had won Iran's election. The man who was prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s says he would seek detente with the West, ask Mr Obama to debate at the UN with him, and floated the idea of an international consortium overseeing uranium enrichment in Iran.

On the domestic front, the 67-year-old architect and painter urged a return to the "fundamental values" of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Netanyahu speech

The highlight  of  Benjamin Netanyahu's speech this evening was support for a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state of Israel. Netanyahu insisted that the state would be demilitarized and could not form alliances with other states against Israel. That is no more and no less than has been Israeli policy in fact, at least since 2000.  What Benjamin Netanyahu did not say could fill a book. He did not say  what Israel is going to do about illegal outposts, and he didn't talk in detail about the situation in Gaza. He neither demanded directly that the Palestinians or the United States take steps to change the regime in Gaza or at least to bring about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, nor did he promise any humanitarian concessions in Gaza. The purpose of this speech was to give Barack Obama one of the concessions he demanded: Israeli support for a Palestinian state. Mission accomplished. Netanyahus concession has already stirred up a bit of a ruckus in the Likud party, where several MKs are contemplating a revolt. The White House welcomed the speech, while the Palestinians rejected it. They complained that Israel does not concede East Jerusalem, and that Netanyahu did not concede right of return for Palestinian refugees. But no Israeli government is going to allow the refugees to return, and it is unreasonable to expect any concessions from Israel regarding Jerusalem, as long as Palestinians refuse to even admit that Jerusalem was the capital of a Jewish state in ancient times. Israel has recognized the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own. It is only right that the Palestinians, after 60 years, should recongize the right of the Jews to a state of our own.  Aluf Benn was correct when he wrote that Obama will decide how good Netanyahu's speech is, and apparently it is good enough. In the nature of things, Netanyahu having made a major concession, the Palestinians might be expected to follow suit, if the world is fair. The world, however, is not necessarily fair.
Last update - 23:41 14/06/2009    
Full text of Netanyahu's foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan  
Honored guests, citizens of Israel.
Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat - and we share their vision.
Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before.

We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace.
The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.
With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.

The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the U.S.A's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.
I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.
I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)
I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe.
Together we can realize the initiatives that I see in the Persian Gulf, which amaze the entire world, and also amaze me. I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions, people who want to walk in the footsteps of history, in Nazareth and Bethlehem, in the heights of Jericho and on the walls of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and at the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is a huge potential for the development of tourism potential here. If you only agree to work together.
I appeal to you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions. Israel is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations.
I say to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet, and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to 'know war no more.'
We do not want parents and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to know the sorrow of bereavement. We want our children to dream of a better future for humankind. We want us and our neighbors to devote our efforts to 'plowshares and pruning hooks' and not to ?swords and spears?? I know the terror of war, I participated in battles, I lost good friends who fell [in battle], I lost a brother. I saw the pain of bereaved families from up close ? very many times. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. (Applause)
Let us join hands and work together in peace, together with our neighbors. There is no limit to the flourishing growth that we can achieve for both peoples - in the economy, in agriculture, in commerce, tourism, education - but, above all, in the ability to give our younger generation hope to live in a place that?s good to live in, a life of creative work, a peaceful life with much of interest, with opportunity and hope.
Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years? To bring an end to it, there must be a sincere, genuine answer to the question: what is the root of the conflict? In his speech at the Zionist Congress in Basel, in speaking of his grand vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish People, Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, said: This is so big, we must talk about it only in the simplest words possible.
I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been ? and remains - the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.
In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.
Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.
To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.
To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.
A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.
We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.
We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.
With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to 'liberate' Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias.
Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)
Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides. I am speaking today with courage and honesty. We need courage and sincerity not only on the Israeli side: we need the Palestinian leadership to rise and say, simply "We have had enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state its own in this Land. We will live side by side in true peace." I am looking forward to this moment.
We want them to say the simplest things, to our people and to their people. This will then open the door to solving other problems, no matter how difficult. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. (Applause)
For this to have practical meaning, we need a clear agreement to solve the Palestinian refugee problem outside of the borders of the State of Israel. For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. We must solve the problem of the Arab refugees. And I believe that it is possible to solve it. Because we have proven that we ourselves solved a similar problem. Tiny Israel took in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were uprooted from their homes.
Therefore, justice and logic dictates that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel. There is broad national agreement on this. (Applause)
I believe that with good will and international investment of we can solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.
Friends, up to now, I have been talking about the need for the Palestinians to ecognize our rights. Now I will talk about the need for us to recognize their rights.
The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)
The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years -- persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state.
The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)
As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.
But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.
These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.
I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause)
And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.
This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.
Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. (Applause)
Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. (Applause)
The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. (Applause)
Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace.
But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it. (Applause)
Hamas are not willing to even let the Red Cross visit our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity three years, cut off from his family and his country. We want to bring him back whole and well.

With help of the international community, there is no reason why we can?t have peace. With help of USA, we can do we can do the unbelievable. In 61 years, with constant threats to our existence we have achieved so much. Our microchips power the worlds computers unbelievable, we have found cures for incurable diseases. Israeli drip irrigation waters barren lands throughout the world. Israeli researchers are making worldwide breakthroughs. If our neighbors only work for peace, we can achieve peace. (Applause)
I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more.
Let us know war no more. Let us know peace