.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Obama changed his tune due to Zionist pressure"

Iran's Press TV is just so much fun to read:
A senior advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says US President Barack Obama's recent remarks about Iran's election show that he is under pressure from the Zionists.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday night, Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi said that Obama originally took a soft stance on the results of Iran's presidential election but then was forced by the Zionists and the US neoconservatives to make tough comments about Iran.
And next we are going to force him to support building new Jewish towns in the West Bank!

Ramadan in Israel, 1949

I just came across this from the Palestine Post of June 30, 1949, describing how hard the new state of Israel tried to accommodate its Muslim citizens - and even its Muslim enemy POWs.

In 1949's Ramadan, Israel went out of its way to give extra rations to Muslims for their break-fast meals, mosques were repaired, special Muslim programs were broadcast on Kol Yisrael, and Muslim POWs were given access to extra food and religious articles.

Notice also that one of the reasons that there was a shortage of sheikhs and imams - because they fled their communities during the war, leaving their followers behind. The story of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who voluntarily fled in 1948 has still not been adequately written, and this would be an interesting chapter of that book.

Rabbi Boteach trying to turn Michael Jackson's kids Jewish?

Apparently, if you believe Al Arabiya in Arabic.

Al-Arabiya seems to have taken some relatively obscure news stories: one about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's friendship with Michael Jackson, and one about MJ's ex-wife Debbie Rowe considering herself Jewish and seeking custody of her two kids.

Putting the two together, and you get Arab journalism at its finest.

Al-Arabiya is saying that Debbie Rowe seeking custody to raise the kids Jewish at Rabbi Boteach's urging. It also says that Botech hired lawyer Gloria Allred, who filed a complaint against Jackson in 2003 after he dangled his baby from a hotel window, to help Rowe gain custody.

They have a video that supposedly shows this, but it is only a video of Rabbi Boteach being interviewed on Fox News about Jackson the day after his death.

Usually, mainstream Arabic news tries to be somewhat accurate if slanted. Apparently as soon as the word "Jew" shows up, their few journalistic standards go out the window.

Of course, neither this story nor yesterday's story about how Arabs shouldn't sell Jewish souvenirs in Jerusalem were never translated into their English language site.

UPDATE: Boteach seems quite happy leaving MJ's kids with their grandmother.

Another Free Gaza lie

The Free Gaza publicity boat that was intercepted by Israeli authorities on the way to Gaza had declared upon its leaving Cyprus that the intended destination was - Egypt:
The Cypriot Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a statement following the incident, saying "The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Israel would like to inform that the "Spirit of Humanity" boat, sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement, that attempted in the early hours today to reach Gaza was given permission by the competent Authorities of the Republic of Cyprus to sail off the port of Larnaca in Cyprus on the basis of its declaration that its intended destination was the port of Port Said in Egypt."
So while they are whining that they are doing nothing wrong, they are in fact deceiving their Cyprus hosts and gained permission to leave Cyprus by doing what they do best - by lying.

"Free Gaza" deja vu

Once again, the "Free Gaza" movement is claiming that Israeli naval vessels are threatening their lives, and once again they are lying.

It will be recalled that last December a Free Gaza boat tried to get to Gaza. The Israeli Navy intercepted them and stopped them. They claimed that they were fired upon, that they were surrounded by six boats, that they were rammed by the Israeli boats and lots of other things. Yet the journalists on board and all the terror supporters with cameras and video could never show any video that corroborated any of their outlandish claims.

Today's edition follows the same script. From the Free Gaza mailing list:
We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times.
Of course they are now choosing claims that could never be disproven - and of course we will never hear any recording of the radio or loudspeakers threatening to open fire on them.

From Reuters:

Overnight, the activists -- in a small ferry boat sailing from Cyprus to Gaza -- said they had received threats they would be fired upon unless they turned back.

Yigal Palmor, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters no such threats had been made. He said the boat's declared destination was Port Said in Egypt and that the boat appeared to be heading in that direction.

"If it changes course and tries to go to Gaza or declares that it intends to do so, the navy can take action, although they would definitely not fire at the boat," Palmor said.

The activists from U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement have publicly said their destination was Gaza, which is under an Israeli blockade, and activists on board the boat earlier told Reuters an Israeli patrol boat had approached them.

"We were told that if we did not turn back they would open fire," said Derek Graham, an Irish activist.

"We are continuing our course to Gaza," he said.

Keep in mind that Free Gaza is not interested in humanitarian aid - they are only interested in publicity. They want confrontation. They define themselves as a "resistance group," not an aid group. They support and encourage Palestinian Arab violence. They came out publicly against any humanitarian aid to Gaza going through Israel. They've shown reckless disregard for Gazan lives (if you believe their statements.)

Oh, and all that cement that they tell journalists they are bringing to Gaza? From their Twitter account:
We left this morning, one boat, 21 passengers, 20 olive trees, one symbolic bag of cement.
Sounds like last time, when they claimed to be bringing "60 tons" of aid - and it was all a lie.

Like everything else they say.

Today's PalArab news roundup 6-30-09

A 'breakthrough" was announced in the Hamas/Fatah negotiations.

But even as that was happening, Hamas arrested some 150 Fatah members in Gaza. And the PA arrested seven more Hamas members in the West Bank.

Even more bizarrely, the PA announced that they foiled a Hamas plot to assassinate senior PA officials, apparently to torpedo these very Fatah/Hamas negotiations. It is possible that Hamas has some infighting going on, of that the Damascus leadership is trying to stop the Gaza leadership from compromising with Fatah.

Eight other Palestinian Arab factions including the PFLP and DFLP announced that they would not be bound by any Hamas/Fatah agreement. They are particularly upset over the reported provision that any new elections would not count votes for parties that receive less than 5.1% of the vote.

Meanwhile, Hamas arrested and allegedly tortured members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamist group in Gaza.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Morocco hosts a beauty contest - for "most beautiful ass"


Remember Saudi Arabia's beauty contest for camels?

Well, Morocco has one...for donkeys.

Al Arabiya (Arabic only, alas) has details on the competition. It describes a number of competitions - most beautiful ass, fastest ass, and slimmest ass. (Hey, I'm not making this up.)

Part of the reason is to promote the donkey as a beautiful animal, and not as a butt of jokes.

The festival also includes some talks on donkey topics, such as "The donkey in human thought and creativity," and "The donkey in rural society and its roles", in addition to participation of a representative of the U.S. Democratic Party on the reasons for their choice of a donkey logo.

And the story really is illustrated with the photo and caption shown above.

Arabs upset at selling Jewish souvenirs in souk

Al Arabiya (Arabic) just discovered the shocking truth that every visitor to Israel knew already: Arab shopkeepers sell items to tourists that include things that tourists might want to buy, including Jewish-themed jewelry!

The newspaper is upset:
At a time when the Palestinians are struggling to preserve the identity of the city of Jerusalem and the stabilization of the right to be the capital of the State of Palestine, some of the Palestinians are promoting Jewish religious symbols within the walls of the Old City in East Jerusalem.

In the old city of Jerusalem, which contains Islamic and Christian significance, one can find the Star of David flag of Israel and the menorah (which is the logo of the Jewish State) and other Jewish symbols, taking considerable space in stores of some Palestinian merchants in Jerusalem.

These are the symbols to denote the "holy land" and the Zionist concept of the "Promised Land", with this inscription on some gifts and souvenirs, which means that the Palestinians are promoting goods that serve the idea of a Jewish Jerusalem.

Khalid Salfiti, a storeowner, justified that traders sold some of the symbols of Israelis. "These are tourists we are dealing with. Unaware of the political consequences, there are tourists from foreign countries and Jews wandering in the market and looking for some of these symbols and, therefore, it must be made available to them in our stores. "

For his part, Abu Muhammad, who declined to disclose the full name, said this work is forbidden, and therefore "we must refuse to deal with it because it was contrary to religion and conflict with the rights of the Palestinian people."

Clerics urged Muslims and Christians not the promote these goods.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, mufti of Jerusalem, told Al Arabiya, "that we may promote the symbols which are not recognized by the Islamic faith. We consider the symbols of the Islamic faith as true...What is happening in the markets of Jerusalem is forbidden to the traders, the same way we would outlaw the sale of alcohol, pork and Satanic symbols and other taboos."
The article, in the mainstream London-based Arab newspaper, makes it clear that Muslims cannot even countenance the idea that Jews - not Israelis, but Jews - have any historic or religious ties to Jerusalem.

They have no problem promoting Christian symbols, only Jewish ones, so it is not a pro-Islamic position - it is pure Jew-hatred, to the point of falsifying history to exclude Jews from Israel.

It also makes clear that the Arab goal is to make Jerusalem Judenrein again, the way it was when it was under Jordanian rule.

Who says Abbas cannot compromise?

Mahmoud Abbas again today totally rejected everything in Binyomin Netanyahu's peace plan:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated on Monday his rejection of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stipulations for a two-state solution.
But no one will call him a "hardliner" or a "rejectionist" or a "hawk" or any of the other pejorative terms that the media loves to give Likud leaders.

Perhaps it is because Abbas is very willing to compromise...with some people:
In a different regard, Abbas addressed the issue of the new round of Fatah-Hamas talks in Cairo. “We gave emphatic directives to our delegation to Cairo because we don’t want this dialogue to last forever, and we want this round to make success at any rate,” Abbas asserted.
In Arabic, the translation is somewhat stronger:
"We want this dialogue to succeed at any cost. I do not want to continue to dialogue forever. We do not want to continue to talk forever. We do not want there to be division among our people forever. These are the instructions that went out to our delegation to Cairo."
See? Abbas can be flexible, and he's willing to do everything possible for peace - with Hamas terrorists.

PA destroys "expired" water bottles

From Ma'an:
The health department in Bethlehem destroyed three tons of water bottles and expired food not suitable for human use on Monday.

Dr Muhammad Issa Rizek, the head of the health department, added that the quantities were seized at one of the stores in Bethlehem.
The PA has had problems with Palestinian Arabs selling food past its expiration date, and those stories pop up regularly in the PalArab press.

But destroying water bottles?

The best article I could find on whether bottled water ever goes bad is here:
Like all packaged food and drink, bottled water is regulated by the FDA, whose position is that there’s no limit on its shelf life (provided it was bottled and stored properly).

So why does bottled water have an expiration date? Blame New Jersey. A 1987 law in that state required all foods (legally, water is a food) sold in New Jersey to display an expiration date of two years or less from their date of manufacture. Because it would be inefficient to make separately labeled batches of product just for New Jersey, most bottled water producers began stamping their products with a two-year expiration date, says Stephen Kay, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association. A bill repealing the requirement was signed into law in early 2006, but many large retailers like Wal-Mart now insist on expiration dates.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the bottles you’ve been storing in your basement for the Apocalypse will taste the same as those you bought last week. The plastic (high-density polyethylene, or HDPE) that makes up most bottles is slightly porous, which means the water inside can pick up smells and tastes from its environment. “The bottles are … not hermetically sealed,” Kay says. A few months or years in a musty basement will result in musty-tasting, but not unsafe, water. “I’m not aware of any issue that would make them nonconsumable,” says Dr. Sam Beattie, a food safety extension specialist at Iowa State University. But just to be cautious, you probably shouldn’t store your bottled water (or, for that matter, anything you intend to consume) near gasoline, paint, or other noxious chemicals.

As your bottles sit, there may be some migration of chemicals from the plastic into the water, but FDA spokesman Mike Herndon says the levels are “well within the margin of safety.” You may have heard about health problems caused by plastic leaching into water from bottles. However, that applies to containers that have a high percentage of polycarbonate (like many of the hard bottles people buy at camping stores to use over and over), not HDPE or PET (polyethylene terephthalate, another popular water bottle plastic).

Let's say that somehow the water bottles had gained a bad smell from where they were stored. In a region where water is at such a premium, does it make sense to destroy the water rather than use it for some other purpose?

Saudi Vice, episode 28: Helping kids can be a crime


In the magic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one can never be too careful in avoiding sin. Even acts that might look like they are laudatory may in fact just be fronts for perverted actions, and it is better to stay on the safe side rather than risk doing something awful...like Khilwa.

Khilwa, of course, is the illegal seclusion of a man and a woman, and something that our heroes, the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, is highly attuned to. Even the faintest odor of khilwa can cause the religious police to swoop down and take charge - in the name of protecting the innocent girl, of course.

From the Saudi Gazette:
The former neighbor of two homeless girls and their brother who he took into his home while attempting to find them suitable care through official channels has described his dismay at facing a month in prison after the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Hai’a) charged him with khilwa, or illegal seclusion with non-related members of the opposite sex.

“It is ironic that I now face a month in prison after the Hai’a arrested me for being in illicit seclusion with the girls,” said the former neighbor of the 13 and 14-year-old girls and their nine-year-old brother. “The case is still being looked into by a court in Makkah.”

The children had been living on the street after being abandoned by the uncle in whose custody they had been placed following their father’s imprisonment and their mother’s remarriage, until their former neighbor saw their plight and took them into his home with his own family while the Ministry of Social Affairs resolved the issue.

He has now spent nearly a year trying to resolve the situation through the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Committee for the Care of Prisoners, and Makkah’s Social Protection Home.

An official from Makkah Social Affairs, which has taken up the case, said the children had been subjected to violence by their uncle, and that an application for urgent shelter had been submitted to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Indeed, from the Commission's perspective, it is far safer for two teenage girls to live on the street than to be taken into the house of a caring neighbor. Because that neighbor could be a pervert.

You might ask, who has such a twisted mind as to even consider that the girls could be molested by their neighbor? The answer, again, lies with our heroes, who only have the best interests of the girls at heart. If they can imagine it with their clean Koranic minds, it must be true.

Obama increases aid to Jordan by 41%

From the Jordan Times:
US President Barack Obama has signed a supplemental appropriations bill, which includes $150 million in additional economic assistance to Jordan for the 2009 fiscal year, a senior official said on Sunday.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Suhair Al-Ali said the supplemental assistance is in addition to the $363 million in regular US economic assistance to Jordan for 2009, bringing the total to $513 million.

The US assistance programme to Jordan is among the largest in the world, the US embassy in Amman previously said in a statement.

I cannot find this story in any Western media source, although YNet noticed it.


Op-ed calls supposed Hamas moderation "tactical"

There was a slight splash made by Khaled Mashal a couple of weeks ago when he indicated that he would accept a Palestine in the territories, a move that some Westerners were quick to trumpet as proof that Hamas is "moderating."

Certainly, no one on the Palestinian Arab side believes that.

From Palestine Today, in a editorial called "The Hamas two-state solution: the strategic tactic!":
...It is important to say that the question of the admission of the "Hamas" movement of tactical interim solutions (under the title of a two-state solution) is not new now from a practical viewpoint; for a number of years more than one leader in the "Hamas" has indicated of acceptance of the principle of progress in the national action for the benefit of an integrated national program, taking into account the move towards a just solution to the historical issue of the Palestinian people, on the basis of the right to the land of historic Palestine from the sea to the Jordan river.
In other words, Hamas hasn't changed its goals in the least, just how it talks to gullible Western reporters.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jordan taking away citizenship rights from some Palestinian Jordanians

Over the past two decades, Jordan has been quietly consistently and methodically restricting citizenship rights for its Palestinian Arab residents. These deliberate moves have been essentially invisible to the West.

Most people don't realize that, although Jordan extended full citizenship to Palestinian Arabs on both banks of the Jordan river in 1950, they revoked the citizenship of West Bank Palestinian Arabs in 1988 (except for those in UNRWA-run camps.) This affected some 750,000 people, ironically roughly the same number who became refugees in 1948 to begin with. King Hussein justified this move of turning three-quarters of a million people stateless by saying it was "with the aim of enhancing the Palestinian national orientation, and highlighting the Palestinian identity."

As a result, Jordan adopted a tiered passport system, giving some citizens full rights but restricting West Bank Palestinian Arabs to either "yellow card" (five year) or "green card" (two year) status, effectively reducing citizenship rights into travel documents. (There are also some 150,000 Gazans in Jordan who have "blue card" status with no citizenship rights.) Those with green cards can only travel to Jordan with specific work permits or to visit family on a temporary basis.

In recent years, Jordan has been tightening these restrictions even further, often swapping the five-year yellow cards with two-year green cards for its Palestinian Arab residents.

In 2006, Jordan admitted that it had a policy that anyone who held a Palestinian Authority passport would lose their all their rights as Jordanians. Apparently this policy has been accelerating even more recently.

Al-Quds today quotes a Jordanian newspaper with specific cases of East Bank families losing their Jordanian citizenship for merely having had visited the West Bank in the past decade. From the interviews and the comments, it is apparent that Jordanian Palestinians are upset and angry at their dwindling rights. It is equally apparent that Jordan is doing everything possible to marginalize and exclude their Palestinian Arab population.

Yet the world is completely silent at these actions by Jordan. As long as the Arab kingdoms can justify their systematic discrimination against their Palestinian brethren as being for the Palestinians' own good, they are immune from criticism by the West. And the Palestinian Arab leaders will not publicize their suffering that comes directly from Arab regimes so as not to dilute their blaming Israel exclusively for their six decades of pain.

Human rights organizations are particularly quiet about this methodical discrimination against Palestinian Arabs in the Arab world. In fact, Jordan is the country that treats Palestinian Arabs far better than any other, even though its bigotry against the Palestinian 60% of its population is transparent and obvious.

You will never find anyone calling Jordan's purposeful disenfranchisement of over a million Palestinian Arabs a "naqba."

Saudi Vice, episode 27: The Big Brother Shopping Mall



Al-Arabiya reports that the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is soon to gain a new weapon in protecting Saudis from the horror of indecent behavior:
Saudi Arabia's religious police caused a stir this week after they told a parliament session they planned to install cameras in shopping malls to monitor and catch people committing what they labeled as "indecent behavior."

But the religious police defended their suggestion, which they said they were asked to do by the mall administrators.

"Firstly the decision is still open for discussion," Abdul-Mohsen al-Qafari, a spokesman for the religious police, said, adding "mall security officers will be in charge of surveillance and only in case violations or suspicious behavior would they contact the committee."

The committee's deputy chief, Ibrahim bin Suleiman al-Howaimel, denied press reports that the Shura Council had rejected the decision and said only some members had reservations.

Howaimel added that so far surveillance cameras have been a success in several malls in the capital of Riyadh and the holy city of Mecca, where cameras were installed two years ago.

"The decision aims at making the committee do its job as it is supposed to be by monitoring people's behavior. This is for the benefit of everyone," he added.

The committee has field officers all over the kingdom and their job is to make sure that unrelated men and women do not mingle and that stores close during prayer times. They also cooperate with the police to combat the use of alcohol and drugs.
Our heroes at the Muttawa have their defenders for this idea as well, as this letter to the Arab News attests:
Some say the commission is trying to strengthen its presence and power in malls by taking away personal freedoms. But are these cameras any different from security cameras aimed at preventing theft? Why do some consider cameras for monitoring sexual harassment a bad idea?

In Islam, protecting a person’s dignity is very important. So which is more important: monitoring against shoplifting or guarding against the theft of a woman’s dignity?

Fairness demands that we look at this issue with logic and reason. I am sure the commission is not going to use these cameras to blackmail shoppers or violate their freedoms. There are many women who in the Arabic press call for installing cameras in streets and shopping places to put an end to sexual harassment.
The letter writer is right - the religious police wouldn't even think of violating people's freedoms.

He leaves one question unanswered, tough: if the reason the Saudis force women to wear burqas and abayas is to make them immune from sexual harassment, why is there still so much sexual harassment that forces the Muttawa to install cameras? Has any study been done that shows a correlation of Muslim women dressing modestly and their safety from harassment? Or, perhaps, a reverse correlation?

UPDATE: The Muttawa now denies any plans to install such cameras. It now is focusing on the next real threat: immoral haircuts and jewelry:
Al-Homayyel said the Hai’a would work with the ministries of Education, Culture and Information, Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the General Presidency of Youth Welfare to fight alien customs such as “strange hairstyles, western clothes and sexual harassment.”

The Strategic Studies Center affiliated to the Hai’a has conducted a series of studies on what it called “alien habits” manifested in haircuts and neck chains worn by some teenagers influenced by Western fashion.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"We will Knock on the doors of Paradise with the skulls of Jews"

In the Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades English forum, there is a "martyr" section where the signature of every posting looks like this:


Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades
We will Knock on the doors of Paradise with the skulls of Jews


But don't you dare call them anti-semites. They get very offended.

By the way, the Arabic Al Qassam Brigades site continues to stealthily add more and more names of their terrorist members who were "martyred" in the Gaza operation over five months ago. We now have identified 302 people who the PCHR called "civilian."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Party of God News

Yesterday:

Speaking about his party's relations with foreign countries, [Hezbollah deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Qassem] said Hezbollah was open to talks with representatives of all Western governments except the United States.

"Several US officials at different levels and more or less close to the administration have asked to speak with us but we have refused," he said.

"It is useless to have any dialogue with the Americans since they regard us as terrorists," Qassem added. "The Europeans for their part have a role to play, especially as they are taking a different approach from the Americans."

Today:
Hizbullah has a greater capability of staging a mass casualty terrorist attack in the US than al-Qaida does, and military action against Iran might trigger exactly that, according to a top counter-terrorism official with the New York police.
So, when will we be reaching out to Al Qaeda?

Terror group celebrates anniversary of murder

From Ma'an:
The armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said on Friday it would consider capturing further Israeli soldiers for future exchanges.

As long as one Palestinian prisoner remains in an Israeli jail, the Salah Ad-Din Brigades said in a statement to Ma'an, capturing Israeli soldiers "will remain among the most important of our priorities for the present and coming stages."

The brigades' statement came on the three-year anniversary of the capture and killing of an Israeli pre-military yeshiva student and settler, Eliyahu Asheri, in the northern West Bank.
Asheri was a civilian, plain and simple. Calling him a "pre-military yeshiva student and settler" is the Arab way to whitewash a war crime.

And the murderers were not only from the PRC, but mostly from the "moderate" Fatah movement.

PalArab news roundup 6-26-09

Amina Abbas, the wife of the PA president, spoke at an Arab women's conference in Tunisia. of course, she didn't talk about "honor killings" or the dangers to women's rights posed by radical Islam or anything like that - she spoke about Israeli "brutal aggression." Interestingly, she said now that "over 1500" were killed in Gaza. The lies keep increasing...

A Palestinian Arab media organization blasted both Hamas and the PA for infringing on freedom of the press - arresting journalists, stopping distribution of newspapers they don't agree with, and intimidation leading to self-censorship.

While Reporters Sans Frontieres did not report on this, they did mention that the PA erased video footage from an Al Jazeera reporter two weeks ago about a case of alleged torture in a West Bank prison.

One was killed and four are missing in another smuggling tunnel collapse. The 2009 PalArab self-death count is now at 108.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Jews of Jerusalem, 1871

Sometimes I like looking through Google Books to see what life was like for Jews in Palestine in the 19th century. Here is a description of both prayer at the Kotel as well as how the Muslims treated the Jews at this pre-Zionist time.

Narrative of a Modern Pilgrimage Through Palestine on Horseback, and with Tents By Alfred Charles Smith, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain),

On another occasion we paid a visit to the outer wall of the Haram, a spot in the Tyroposon where several courses of huge bevelled stones, such as I have mentioned above, are confidently asserted to be a fragment of the south-west wall of the Temple, but would be more correctly described as the base of the wall which supports the west side of the Temple area;4 at all events, it is the nearest approach which the Jews can make to the remains of their ancient sanctuary, and it is sheltered from observation by high walls and narrow passages.1 This is well known as the Jews' " wailing-place," and here may generally be seen two or three Israelites weeping and praying ; but on the afternoon of Friday, when we visited it, after threading our way through the intricate, not to say filthy, lanes which lead from the "Dung gate" through this crowded portion of the city, there must have been sixty or seventy Jews of both sexes assembled for the very touching service which is held here every week just before their Sabbath begins. We found the men assembled at one portion of the wall, the women at another; all were provided with Hebrew Scriptures, and first the minister read one portion, and then the people responded in loud voices, while all rocked their heads and swayed their bodies, and bowed again and again, after the manner peculiar to the Jews of every country. Then it was touching to see them handling the venerated stones of the beloved Temple ; old men and women feeling them with reverent and caressing touch, patting them, putting their fingers in the interstices between the several blocks, and kissing them with passionate earnestness,2 while tears streamed down their furrowed cheeks, and the lamentation was hearty and sincere. The younger portion of the community did not appear so demonstrative in their grief, though there were unmistakable signs of an intensity of feeling on every face ; and, doubtless, amongst that devout congregation there was nothing of hollow appearance or formal pretence, for, in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah,3 they mourn over the departed glory of their race with most genuine sorrow, and they pray for the happy restoration of their country, for which they so ardently long, with such a vehemence of devotion, and with their whole souls so absorbed in the work, as to testify to their firm faith in the efficacy of united supplication.

With many authors it has been the habit to ridicule this weekly lamentation of the Jews over the desolation of their beloved Temple as a mere superstitious and idolatrous veneration of the glorious fabric long since destroyed; but, to my mind, then: persistent reverence, their ardent longings for restoration, their eager hopes for the future, far from exciting ridicule, bespeak our warmest sympathy; and if they do cling to the spot which recalls their past glory with the stubborn obstinacy for which the race is notorious, surely it is not only an excusable, but a very praiseworthy and patriotic tenacity, and is calculated to command respect and admiration for a body generally disliked and despised. It was certainly the most affecting scene we witnessed throughout our tour, and one which has impressed itself very deeply on my memory; for it was no exceptional service, no extraordinary outburst of overwrought feelings, such as sometimes accompanies religious revivals in England, but which rarely has any solid foundation on which it may rest when the excitement of the moment is passed away; but here was a congregation assembled from all parts of the world, meeting together regularly week by week—as has been the custom for many ages—on every Friday in the year, and their tears and their sobs showed how genuine was their lamentation, and how in real truth they mourned over the rough foundation stones of their revered Temple.

The Jews at Jerusalem were singularly forbearing with strangers, and—considering their general antipathy to all Gentiles—were almost civil and obliging. This unnatural good-will might perhaps be due in part to my escort, the well-known Yakoob ; perhaps, too, in part to their own despised condition, for, scarcely tolerated and often persecuted as they are by their Muslim rulers, they dare not show an illiberal spirit, or display any tokens of religious hostility or rancour through fear of retaliation ; still more, may we not say, in all probability to the kindness and charity and good feeling shown towards them by the Anglican and American missions, of whose disinterested goodness and large-hearted benevolence towards them they have had ample proof, and of which they are, for the most part, fully sensible.

Example #69,823 of Palestinian Arabs lying

A new book just came out called "Arafat and the Dream of Palestine: An Insider's Account," by Bassam Abu Sharif.

The prologue is available on Amazon and it talks about Arafat's plan crash in the Libyan desert and how Sharif reacted to the news. Sharif speaks reverently about how Arafat heroically handled the crash, taking care of the survivors personally. One detail of the story is very interesting, though:
Sharif says that he had to call The White House. He got connected to President Jimmy Carter, who was at his Georgia home, who within 15 minutes found out exactly where Arafat's plane was and communicated the coordinates back to Sharif. Thanks to the quick thinking of Sharif and Carter, Arafat's life was saved.

One small problem is that, according to Sharif, the plane crash occurred on April 8, 1993, over twelve years after Jimmy Carter left office.

If Sharif called ex-President Carter in 1993, is it possible that Carter would still manage to get that information to Sharif in 15 minutes? Is it possible that he could completely circumvent The White House, the State Department, the CIA and everyone else necessary to get satellite intelligence so quickly?

Well, it turns out that Sharif is quite simply a liar. First of all, the crash happened in 1992, not 1993. And according to the New York Times,
In Washington, Bush Administration officials said a feeling of ambivalence about Mr. Arafat's fate led to indecision on whether to use American satellites to try to find the P.L.O. leader's downed plane. A Palestinian official had sought American help through former President Jimmy Carter, but the White House had not reached a decision by the time the plane was found. The State Department insisted it played no role in the rescue, saying: "We did nothing. Nothing."
They lie as naturally as they breathe. And one can assume that this worshipful book about Arafat is as filled with lies as this first anecdote is.

Hamas reveals more about Carter's love of terrorists

Palestine Press Agency quotes a Hamas official giving more details of what Jimmy Carter told them during his visit.
Hamas parliamentary spokesman Salah al-Bardawil quoted former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, during his visit to the Gaza Strip recently, as saying to Hamas:"Help us to help Obama to overcome the Zionist lobby.... What can you do to help Mitchell, and even help Obama, so that everyone can make the policy change to the terms that the "Quartet" demands ofthe Palestinian people?!"

He added that Carter said, "Mitchell is waiting on pins and needles, and if did not receive this letter [I assume to accept a Palestinian Arab state in the territories, not recognizing Israel, and accepting the Arab peace initiative - EoZ], I think that your fate will be very, very difficult, and even if elections have taken place so you will not be allowed entry [accepted as legitimate] .. I am so sad .. I do not want this, but the decision is not in my hands."
The next paragraph is not so clear; I will reproduce the autotranslated version and my interpretation:
Bardawil stressed that "the game is clear: Obama launched .. .. Netanyahu invest Carter plays in relationships and networking to take advantage of direct reactions in practice."
"The game is clear: Obama sent Carter to make judgments directly from Netanyahu and others' reactions to trial balloons."
Baradawil continued, "Carter does not come to the area by chance, as a man without a decision ... Carter was certainly under orders from Obama personally; because Obama was Carter's pupil, and Mitchell was his student as well."
Just as a reminder, the Quartet conditions that evidently have Carter so steamed are that Hamas should oppose violence, accept Israel's existence and honor past agreements. Apparently Carter has problems with all three.

Hamas says it doesn't know if Shalit is alive

From Xinhua:
The Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday said it cannot confirm or deny if the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive.

"The crazy war on the Gaza Strip wiped out everything so we don't know if Shalit is still alive or if he has died," Osama al-Muzini, a Hamas official authorized to speak on this issue, told Xinhua, referring to a 22-day Israeli offensive against the Hamas-controlled territory in January.

Al-Muzini, however, said Israel has to go ahead with talks to exchange Shalit for a number of Arab prisoners "whether the soldier was dead or alive."

"The Zionist enemy has to pursue negotiations without any signal confirming or denying this argument," al-Muzini added.

Thursday marks the third anniversary of Shalit's capture by Hamas-led Gaza militants in a cross-border raid at his military base near the Gaza Strip.

This is even more barbaric than Hamas' refusal to let the Red Cross visit Shalit. The torture that Hamas puts Shalit's family through is sickening.

Hamas has every reason to show signs of life from Shalit, as it helps their bargaining position. Their denying knowledge of Shalit's condition - as clear a lie as is possible - indicates that these murderous scum are not in a hurry to purchase their next "birthday cake" for him.

B'Tselem and Hamas' excellent adventure

YNet reports:
A B’Tselem ad calling on Hamas to release IDF soldier Gilad Shalit "immediately and unconditionally" has been banned in Gaza, according to the Israeli human rights organization.

The group spokeswoman said the ad was published on Thursday by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, which is circulated in the West Bank, but the Gaza-based daily 'Palestine' refused to print it.

"We wanted to publish the ad in the Gaza Strip as well, but we were unsuccessful," the spokeswoman told Ynet.

"They ('Palestine' newspaper staff) did not give us a reason for the refusal, but we assume it's because the issue is a complex one (in the Hamas-ruled territory). The press in Gaza is apparently not so free. The ad was published in Al-Quds, and we hope the residents of Gaza will read it there."
B'Tselem, a human rights organization, will not hesitate to condemn Israel at the drop of a hat, but look how difficult it is for them to say anything bad about Hamas.

"We assume."
"It's complex."
"Apparently not so free."

Not "We were refused" but "we were unsuccessful."

This episode illuminates B'Tselem's mindset far better than it illustrates Hamas'.

UC Santa Barbara clears lying, anti-semitic professor

From YNet/AP:
A committee at a California university has cleared a professor who sent an e-mail comparing Israel's policies in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Officials at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sent a letter Wednesday to sociology professor William I. Robinson saying the committee had closed the matter.

In January, Robinson offended some students and others with an e-mail to his "Sociology of Globalization" class that juxtaposed grisly photos from the Nazi era with a recent Gaza offensive.

Robinson has said his justified criticism of Israel's policies should not be confused as anti-Semitism.
As I reported then, the media screwed up this story big time.

First of all, Robinson sent out an email with 42 pictures juxtaposing Nazi-era pictures with pictures of Israelis and Arabs. While it was characterized as if it was source material for a class, it was nothing of the sort.

Secondly, while the university seems to have been fixated on whether this was anti-semitic or not (and it clearly is,) it ignored that his "facts" were provably wrong. Robinson didn't just tell his students his opinions; he told them lies as if they were factual.

When a university has such a disregard for the truth, it loses all credibility. This episode does not just damn Robinson - it damns the entire University fo California Santa Barbara as a serious institution of higher education.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today's PalArab news, part 2 (6-24-09)

There are rumors that Israel's release of Hamas politician Aziz Dweik is an initial move towards Hamas releasing Gilad Shalit in Egypt in two weeks. We've seen these sorts of rumors before, though.

Sources in Jordan's Interior Ministry are saying that there is international pressure for Jordan to naturalize Palestinian Arabs living there, with Jordan refusing to do so - of course, in the name of preserving "Palestinian identity." I wonder if they gave a referendum among Jordanian Palestinian Arabs, asking what they might want?

The former Secretary-General of the Arab National Conference, Maan Bashour, said in a conference in Syria that all of Jerusalem is the undivided historic capital of Palestine. Yes, he is claiming western Jerusalem as well.

More on Mizrahi Jews

I wrote on Monday about a Cambridge conference on Mizrahi Jews that downplayed the Arab role in their cultural disappearance.

This great article at ZioNation, a response to a different article by a "progressive" Sephardic Jew, explains things very well:
I would like to respond to "Why Jews left Arab Lands" a Progressive Sephardic view by David Shasha.

Allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Israel Bonan, I am a Mizrahi Jew. I was born in Cairo, Egypt in the mid 1940s. I was expelled from Egypt in 1967, and left with a torn shirt on my back, and a pair of mangled glasses, broken intentionally, on my face, and with very little else.

I am considered by any descriptive measure, a bona fide "refugee", a designation echoed by the United Nation High Commissioner of Refugees UNHCR, on behalf of the more than 800,000 displaced Mizrahi Jews fleeing the Arab countries (expressed twice, in 1957 and subsequently in 1967). I currently reside in the Boston area in the US.

I have been familiar with Mr. Shasha's views for quite sometimes now, and I find it disquieting that his positions, which run contrary to the factual history of the era and the conventional wisdom of the Mizrahi community, or as he prefers to call us "the Arab Jews", are taken as representative, when they are not.

It never ceases to amaze me, that Mr. Shasha who likes to refer to himself as an Arab Jew, though born in the US, has such a meager understanding, of the history of the era and about what constitutes a refugee or to dwell with any depth about their lot. Be that as it may.

I find that Mr. Shasha's logic and the common thread in his writings, have always consisted of three major assertions; making his discourse monotonously predictable and invariably repetitive.

One, life was always rosy for the Jews living in Arab lands and Israel's creation, as a cataclysmic watershed event, is the only cause for disrupting such an idyllic life.

Two, Israel as a product of an Ashkenazi culture, that is European by nature, has always suppressed, repressed and maligned the Mizrahi community and treated them as second class citizens; though they do represent, according to Shasha, the most effective group to undertake any peace initiative and dialog with the Arabs, having shared their culture, albeit without the author postulating any specific ideas as to the who, the why, the what, the when or for that matter, the how.

Finally, and he shares that notion with his counterpart (and much quoted resource in his writings) Professor Yehuda Shenhav; that it is unconscionable nay, immoral, to compare the plight of the Mizrahi Jews with that of the Palestinian Refugees.

Once again in the cited article, he did not disappoint, neither did he deviate from his usual template, but merely continued his revisionist approach to the Mizrahi historical narrative.

Extremism by its very nature does not allow for a tempered view of events or for cogent reflective analysis. The end result is always black or white; so regardless of how carefully and temperately Mr. Shasha seems to preface his views, the end result is always the same … black or white, all or nothing.

It is strange to note that in Mr. Shasha's attempt at historical fairness and balance, he used the following 26 words, in an article of more than 3300 words: :

Some arrived of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.

That was the extent of defining what really happened to the Mizrahi Jews in an article titled: "Why the Jews left Arab lands," and you know what, Mr. Shasha is right!! Now if we can only take those 26 words and flesh them out a bit more with the historical facts of the matter, we get a totally different unfolding narrative that is not steeped in demonizing a country or a refugee class, or in cataclysmically defining some watershed events while glossing over others.

I took pains to chronicle my own personal Exodus ordeal, in "A Personal Exodus Story" after more than 35 years of silence. Shasha wrote:

It is curious that in a world that has largely ignored the voices of Arab Jews, the few we hear are filled with anger, resentment and hostility toward Arabs.

I invite Mr. Shasha to read it and to tell me, how much hate he can attribute to me vis-à-vis my Egyptian tormentors or Arabs in general, after reading it. By my accounting, none; yet I will let him be the judge. It is not hate, nor rancor or anger that motivates us to speak out as the "Forgotten Refugees". It is done out of fairness not retribution, it is about justice after having our human rights trampled upon and above all to record our own history that should not be denied us.

In a co-authored article with Dr. Rami Mangoubi titled: "Zionism for the ages", we rebutted the first two of Shasha's stated positions and in my article titled: "The Banana Jews"I took Professor Shenhav to task in rebuttal to his article "Hitching a ride on the magic carpet" about the third topic you both share.

In a nutshell, and again I happen to agree with Mr. Shasha, the Jews of Egypt participated fully and in greater proportion to their numbers in all aspects of life in Egypt; they more than made their mark on the cultural and economic landscape of the country. Where we disagreed with David Shasha, is that he choose the watershed event of the creation of the State of Israel as the turning point without which life in Egypt (and ergo the rest of the Arab countries) would have remained idyllic.

Idyllic indeed, when law after law (as far back as 1869), before even Zionism was spoken of, was enacted to limit access to citizenship for the Jews of Egypt in the country of our birth. through successive Nationality decrees and laws (of 1929).

Idyllic indeed, when law after law was enacted, to economically ethnic cleanse the Jews and other minorities by passing the Company law (of 1947) to restrict Jews and other minorities from access to work in the private and public sectors.

Idyllic indeed, when the Nationalization law (of the mid 1950s) was enacted, to deprive the members of our community of their remaining assets and businesses. Lest I forget and be judged guilty of omission, many other minorities at the time also suffered through this ordeal.

We also touched on the issue of the class system that favored the Ashkenazi community over the Mizrahi community; only to find ourselves citing some top government leadership roles that are today studded and replete with Mizrahi Jews. Mr. Shasha, class struggles are just that, they are struggles to improve ones status and to raise the ante for the whole country to improve, through an honest and thriving competitive spirit; and it will always will be and better be, a work in progress; for everyone's sake.

In my rebuttal of the third point, I wrote at length of my experience and that of my parents' experience and about what a refugee is, because it is not about being an arm chair apologist or being a Monday morning quarterback. It is about the suffering experienced, the dislocation, the angst associated with what was left behind and for one having to start rebuilding a life in one's old age. It is also about leaving behind a culture, a way of life and the familiar. Undoubtedly the older refugee generation has suffered, more so, than the younger one.

But then, what could I expect from Mr. Shasha, the Arab Jew, with his non-refugee status; or from Professor Shenhav, who as a Moroccan Jew by birth, had actually left with his family, of their own volition to settle in Israel, and with all their assets intact (Morocco being the only country out of 10 Arab countries that allowed such largesse). Are we being intentionally obtuse and blind to the fact that it is more than just assets and businesses that matter to a refugee, especially the ones that were left with nothing to call their own?

That takes me back again to the famous 26 words I alluded to earlier, and Shasha's attempt to cover all the bases for historical completeness; and in the process Shasha saw only what he wanted to see and felt what he could only touch; and the rest to Shasha, remained conceptual, at arm length and clinically sterile indeed.

As part of my public speaking educational campaign about the Mizrahi Jews "The Forgotten Refugees", I always stress the fact that the Middle East narrative has been one sided for far too long and that our history needs to be disseminated. I also never neglect to touch on the issue of the two refugee populations, as a study in contrasts; the same event (the creation of the State of Israel), that affected two classes of refugees, The Mizrahi Jews, the "Forgotten Refugees" and the Palestinian refugees and what became of them, after the fact.

They both started undeniably with a lot of hardships. The Mizrahi Jews who left for Israel, had to live in tents and ma'abarot (refugee camps), but not for long and in the process they helped and were part and parcel of creating a new country.

The Mizrahi Jews who were resettled elsewhere, invariably found the Jewish community at large eager to help, to get them started in their new life and they rebuilt their lives in the country of their choice.

On the other hand the Palestinian refugees, for the most part, were denied absorption in the Arab countries; they were left in camps as wards of the UN for over 60 years and they passed their refugee status much like an inheritance to the fourth generation. All this dehumanizing behavior on the part of their Arab brethren was simply for political expediency and never once did the Palestinian refugees' dignity entered into anyone's consideration.

This is my narrative, this is my parent's narrative, this is the Mizrahi Jews' narrative and we will not be denied our history. It is pathetic to hear Shasha suggest that he speaks for me or for the Mizrahi Jews; his perspective is flawed and does not add much value to the historical narrative of the era.

Arab Jewish voices have today largely been silenced, and with that silencing has come the lamentable absence of a perspective that could allow us to see the Middle East in different ways.

One last note, that is conspicuously absent from Shasha's writings, save for the inherent braggadocio without any real substance, which has to do with the sensitivity of the discourse vis-à-vis the Arabs. I again happen to share Shasha's notion, as I truly believe that the Mizrahi Jews are in a unique position to enhance the dialog between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

To resolve an ongoing feud, as ingrained in the Middle Eastern culture, both sides have to acknowledge and fully account for what they had done to each other. Admission and full accounting, is a prime imperative to reach a "sulha" or a sustainable peace. Yet we find the Arab governments in total denial about having harmed their Jewish communities.

A peace solution needs to include a priori such an acknowledgment phase, before they can reach a forgiveness phase and eventually a sustainable peace. It is paramount for both sides to acknowledge that there never was only one injured party, after so many years of feuding.

That simple detail was not lost on the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, when he had the courage to apologize to both refugee classes, the Mizrahi Jews and the Palestinians for what they had to go through. Can Mr. Shasha find it in his heart to follow suit? I, for one, will not hold my breath.

Israel Bonan

PalArab news roundup 6-24-09

Hamas' crackdown on the media continues, as they kidnapped the editor of a Gaza newspaper and confiscated is computer. Which makes their little "visit" to Ma'an even more transparent.

A Fatah member was similarly kidnapped from his home by Hamas, and they took his computer and his (and his wife's) cell phones.

The only place to find stories like these is the Palestine Press Agency. The rest of the Palestinian Arab media are way too frightened to write stories against Hamas.

A Rafah man accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun. I count this as a "self-death" because the PCHR includes deaths like these as "misuse of weapons."

Another man from Hebron was found dead "under mysterious circumstances" south of Ramallah.

The 2009 PalArab self-death count is at 107.

They might not be "dirty Arabs" but they are liars

Joharah Baker writes in the "Palestine Chronicle" (this article has also been published in literally hundreds of other Arab and left-wing sources):

What unwritten law is out there that allows Israelis to sling racist insults at Palestinians with impunity? After all my years in this country and the absurdities that come along with it, this is one absurdity I still find hard to digest.

Obviously, my outrage has been most recently rekindled by Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who during a tour of the old central bus station in Tel Aviv called a Palestinian-Israeli policeman a "real dirty Arab." Once the words were out, the minister was forced to apologize, saying his remarks did not reflect his worldview. A spokesman for the ministry also issued a statement saying that, "in a moment of jest, and using common slang, the minister said what he said, not intending to hurt anyone."

If this were an isolated incident or if it were not an Israeli right-wing minister who said it, we might, just might, be inclined to believe this sorry excuse for an explanation. But in Israel's history with the Palestinians, this can hardly be considered slip-of-the-tongue. Instead, such slurs are embedded in a historically-rooted relationship between Israeli Jews and their perceived Palestinian-Arab subordinates, a relationship that is so lopsided it allows room for those who wish to be verbally abusive against Palestinians to thrive.

Ms. Baker must have hundreds of examples of such instilled hatred, right? Let's check them out.
This is certainly not the first time an Israeli political or religious figure insults Palestinians or calls them some degrading name. In 2001, the spiritual leader of Shas, Ovadia Yosef called Palestinians snakes and called on God to "annihilate Arabs." In an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv, he said, "It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones."

Expecting that such remarks might not be received well by the public and the media, a Shas spokesperson at the time clarified that Yosef had only been referring to "Arab murderers and terrorists." Doesn't that make us all feel better?
OK, her first example is not from an Israeli official, in a quote that indeed referred to terrorists, from eight years ago. Not quite the best example of Zionist racism, but she has more:
Still, some may say Yosef was an overzealous, ultra-religious fumbling fool who should not be taken seriously. Fine. What about Israel's prime ministers? Those who the Israeli public voted into office? In 1982, in a speech to the Knesset, Prime Minister Menachem Begin said, "The Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs."
Unfortunately for Baker, that (quite distorted) quote was also referring very specifically to terrorists. As CAMERA notes, the full quote is this:
The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of... Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.
But Baker isn't finished:
A year later, Raphael Eitan, then-Israeli army chief of staff told the New York Times, "When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle."
This is the only slightly accurate quote Baker finds, and even that one is way out of context. Eitan was arguing against shooting Palestinian Arab stone-throwers, saying "The Arabs will never win over us by throwing stones. Our response must be a nationalist Zionist response. For every stone that’s thrown–we will build ten settlements. If 100 settlements will exist–and they will–between Nablus and Jerusalem, stones will not be thrown. If this will be the situation, then the Arabs will only be able to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle." Certainly nothing to be proud of, but hardly reflective of a deeply biased Arab-loathing society.

Her last example is from a Ha'aretz article where the people quoted as singing "All Arabs must die" weren't even Israelis.

Of course there exists some bigotry against Arabs in Israel as well as elsewhere. (Iranians are famously not fond of Arabs, for example.) And within the Arab world, there is even more bigotry against Palestinian Arabs - see how they were treated in Iraq after Saddam's fall, in Kuwait after the first Gulf War, in Jordan in 1970, in Lebanon today. However, considering the fact that Israel is literally surrounded by Arabs who are far less reticent to openly speak of their own ambitions to destroy all Jews, Israelis and Zionists, Israel's record is pretty damn good.

Baker's thesis is that "Israelis sling racist insults at Palestinians with impunity." Her biggest example was a case where an Israeli minister who indeed made a bigoted remark was forced to make a public apology. Perhaps she doesn't understand the meaning of the word "impunity." Or perhaps Baker is simply another liar who projects her own hatreds onto her perceived enemies.

Baker digs up a few mostly inaccurate examples sprinkled over three decades. I can easily find far more examples of prominent Arabs saying far worse things about Jews, and thousands of examples of them saying worse things about Israelis and Zionists, just over the past year.

Including lying articles like this that baldly equate Zionism with racism.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Afternoon Links

Contentions: What was Jimmy Carter's proposal to Hamas?

WSJ: Israel radio show captivates Iranians

Qantara: Turkey, the Jews and the Holocaust

The worst ex-prime minister in history

From Ha'aretz:
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the Holy Basin area of Jerusalem would be under no sovereignty at all and administered by a joint committee of Saudis, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, the former prime minister told Newsweek magazine in an interview in the current issue.

The proposal to internationalize the Holy Basin was intended to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations around the issues of sovereignty over holy sites in Jerusalem, the issue which had reportedly caused the breakdown of the Camp David talks in July 2000.

Olmert also told Newsweek he suggested to Abbas Israel would withdraw from 93.5 to 93.7 per cent of the West Bank, compensating the Palestinians with territory equivalent to 5.8 per cent of the West Bank, and allow for direct crossing between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The fact that Olmert was willing to give away the most important sites in Judaism is not news.

The fact that he is willing to tell the world that Jerusalem is not nearly as important to him and his secularist, wishful thinking cronies as it appears to be to Palestinian Arabs - and implying that most Israeli Jews agree with him - is also not novel.

But what is new is that an ex-prime minister is actively trying to subvert the current elected leader of Israel by publicizing his incredibly foolhardy offer. By telling these details to Newsweek - an offer made while he was a lame duck PM, one that there is no evidence he could have pushed through the Knesset - he is telling the world that Binyomin Netanyahu is not pushing a consensual view of the Israeli electorate. He is telling everyone that anything less than this offer is not serious, and that Palestinian Arabs have no reason to compromise beyond his terms because if they wait out Netanyahu, they'll get more. He is not only showing his poker cards - he is telling the other players that Netanyahu is bluffing. He is encouraging the West to pressure Israel mercilessly until it meets Olmert's idea of what needs to be freely given away for a worthless piece of paper.

The incompetent, immoral and likely criminal Olmert is undermining Israel democracy and security to boost his own ego and gain legitimacy in Western eyes as a "peacemaker." And he is selling Israel down the river to do it.

Even Barak didn't do anything like this when he left office.

Great Britain, 1929. Barack Obama, 2009.

On September 23, 1928, on the evening of Yom Kippur, the Jews of Jerusalem placed a removable screen at the Western Wall to separate the male and female worshippers.

This was not new; they had done this in years and decades past. But this year, the Arabs decided that such a partition was an unacceptable structure, symbolizing Jewish attachment to Jerusalem, and they told the British authorities to take it down or risk mass riots.

While the elderly Jews at the Wall pleaded to at least allow the screen to stay until the fast was over, the British took the Arab side. Ten armed policemen with steel helmets came on Yom Kippur morning and destroyed the screen, while Arabs chanted "Death to the Jewish dogs!"

The British felt that the screen was a provocation to the Arabs and it was easier to cave to Arab demands than to risk riots.

Of course, it emboldened the Arabs to riot anyway, as they did in 1929, killing some 135 Jews.
After the 1929 Arab riots, the British caved again, forbidding Jews from bringing chairs and Torahs to the Wall and also from blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to placate the angry Arabs and avoid new "disturbances."

The entire British policy during the Mandate period can be characterized that way. The British agreed to limit Jewish land purchases and to limit Jewish immigration in the face of Arab threats.

All of this was "legal." Jews who violated these rules - by immigrating to Palestine, by blowing the shofar on Yom Kippur - were acting "illegally."

The Arabs, of course, weren't basing their objections on legal issues. They simply hated the Jews and feared their increasing power. The British were willing accomplices because they could be counted on to cave to Arab pressure. After the fact, they could justify their actions by saying that they were simply enforcing the rule of law.

The appeasement policy didn't work. The Arab uprising in the 1930s was as much against the British as it was against the Jews, and it took that long for the British to finally realize that their appeasement in the previous decade only encouraged more violence.

But it was too late. The net result of this legal, immoral British policy was that millions of Jews who could have been saved from the Holocaust by fleeing Europe to Palestine were murdered instead.

Today, the Obama administration is saying that Jews do not have the right to build anything even in the Old City of Jerusalem. Not in the Jewish Quarter, not near the Western Wall - nothing.
"We're talking about all settlement activity, yes, in the area across the line," [State Department spokesman Ian Kelly] said, referring to neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the Green Line, or pre-1967 armistice line, in response to a question on where America's calls to halt construction in the settlements would be applied.
The official reason is that such construction is "illegal." The real reason is because this administration fears Arab pressure and threats, just as the British did.

It wants to appease the Arabs in a foolhardy attempt to gain their trust, just as the British did.

The Arabs are more than willing to use this new leverage to demand the Americans add more and more restrictions on the Jews, just as they demanded from the British.

The next logical question to ask the State Department would be - would the Obama administration consider erecting a removable screen at the Western Wall an illegal expansion of the Old City Jewish "settlement"?

Trader Joe's boycott attempt fails miserably

The attempt to "de-shelve" Israeli products from Trader Joe's this past weekend has apparently fizzled, and the store sold lots and lots of Israeli products. Details can be found here.

Jew visits holy place; Arabs call it a "provocation"

From Ma'an:
Israel’s Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City under heavy guard on Tuesday morning in what Palestinian officials condemned as a provocation.

...The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage said in a statement that the Israeli minister also barged into the Marwani mosque and into the Dome of the Rock, and circled the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The organization said, “This visit shows that the Israeli institution are targeting Al-Aqsa,” and it asked, “is this incursion a provocation only or is there something else behind the visit?”
Finally, the last paragraph shows that the visit was coordinated with the Waqf:
Shiekh Azzam Khatib, the director of Jerusalem Waqf (Endowment) said the visit was carried out with coordination with the Waqf, which has jurisdiction over the compound. He said he did not know the reason for the visit.
Which means that the "provocation" was not that an Israeli minister "barged in" or unilaterally trespassed or anything like that. It was planned and known ahead of time.

The "provocation" is that a Jew decided to visit the holiest place in Judaism.

UPDATE: Ma'an now changed the story to "without coordination."(h/t Yitz)

Today's Syrian drought - and the Hauranites

YNet reports:
Some 700,000 households in Syria – about 3.5 million people - have no income. In other words, an average of one family of five in Syria leans on monthly governmental aid in order to survive, according to a comprehensive study conducted by the Social Affairs and Labor Ministry in Syria, whose main findings were published by the local al-Watan newspaper.

These reports join a recent international report, which states that some 160 villages in northeastern Syria have been abandoned by their residents due to the food shortage. These villagers immigrate to the country's big cities, putting a great amount of pressure on the already shaky infrastructures in Syrian cities.
This reminds me of what happened in the Hauran district of Syria in the early 1930s. A severe drought there also prompted tens of thousands of Hauranites to leave - and the emigrated to the most logical place to make money, Palestine:

The Hauranite "invasion" was so massive that both Arabs and Jews protested the illegal immigration: (all articles from the Palestine Post)

Nonetheless, the Hauranites did find jobs and sent back money to their families:

Palestine in the 1930s was a logical place for Arab immigration, for precisely the same reasons - its economy was the envy of the Middle East. More importantly, Arabs didn't feel a strong attachment to the areas they lived in (outside their villages) - the nascent Arab nationalism that the intelligentsia adapted from the West did not permeate the villages and the peasants, who were itinerant and moved where ever they wanted whenever it made economic sense, corssing "national" boundaries.


Many (although not most) of todays' "Palestinian" Arabs are actually descended from these immigrants from Syria, Iraq and Transjordan. They didn't consider themselves parts of these nations - they simply considered themselves Arab.

When the fighting began after the 1947 partition agreement many of them crossed borders again, thinking that their Arab brethren would allow them to settle in new homes as they had for centuries before when circumstances prompted Arabs to relocate elsewhere in the Middle East. They didn't anticipate that they would become pawns in a power game against Israel for the next six decades and beyond, and that their Arab brothers - and leaders - would do everything possible to keep them stateless.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Open thread - summer's here

Even though the East Coast has had one of the coldest Junes on record, it is summer nonetheless. Time for an open thread!

Meanwhile, a nice link.

Proof that Hamas controls the tunnels

The media likes to portray the smuggling tunnels under Rafah as pure capitalism at work, where people desperate for money or goods are forced to engage in this dangerous but heroic activity to bring in candies, schoolbooks and cattle into Gaza.

However, a story in Palestine Today puts a lie to that.

There have been a large number of motorcycle accidents in Gaza over the past few months, and many people are complaining about it. As a result, Hamas has put a number of restrictions in place on motorcycles, mandating helmets and restricting underage drivers and so on.

One of their restrictions is to ban the import of more motorcycles from Egypt through the tunnels.

How can Hamas restrict the goods being smuggled into Gaza unless they know about and control each tunnel?

And if Hamas does control the tunnels, how much effort do they place in importing weapons and explosives compared to consumer goods?

The media doesn't seem to worry about that part of the issue very much.

The subtle politics of a Cambridge conference

From the University of Cambridge:
A major conference, to be opened by Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan this week, will shed new light on the underexplored subject of Arab Jews.

The Jews of Arab Culture: 1948-2009 conference, which takes place from 22-24 June, is being co-hosted by Cambridge University's Department of Middle Eastern Studies and the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths.

Over the course of the 20th century, Arab Jews came to Israel from Arab countries ranging from Morocco to Iraq and now constitute more than 50% of Israel's Jewish population. While the study of medieval and early modern Judaeo-Arabic culture and literature is a comparatively well established field in Western academia, the complex identity of the recent influx of Arab Jews to Israel and its impact on the culture of the Middle East has been little studied.

The conference will examine the cultural repercussions of the absorption process of Arab Jews by the State of Israel, the impact this has had on Arab Jewish literature, and the reactions which followed in Palestinian literature.

The conference, which will be held at Westcott House and will include internationally renowned academics, will be accompanied by the screening of various films and a concert of Jewish-Arab music played on the 'Oud and Violine by Israel-Iraqi musician Yair Dalal, all of which are open to the public.

Professor Yasir Suleiman, Director of the Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, said: "Arab Jews have historically been an important part of Arab culture well before the advent of Islam. In Arabia, Spain, Iraq, Egypt, and the Levant Jews have played an important role in creating a culture that belonged to all those for whom Arabic was a native language. The conference will tap into this past to challenge and repair some of the ruptures of the present by showing the richness and diversity of an inclusivist culture that belonged to all the communities that helped create it."

Gregor Schwarb, Ariane de Rothschild Academic Director of the CMJR, said: "Showing the richness and dynamism of the culture of Jewish Arabs dispels the myth that there is a total divide between Arabs and Jews. In this way, we hope that the conference will contribute towards greater understanding, a spirit of reconciliation and a greater respect of differences".

Research shows many Arab Jews look with affection and pride on their Arab heritage; others see themselves as "forgotten refugees", whose cause is akin to that of Palestinian refugees. In a recent open letter, a group of prominent Israeli Jews whose parents came from Arab or Islamic lands wrote that "the culture of the lands of Islam, the culture of the Middle East, and the Arabic culture, are all part of our identity, a part of it that we cannot sever and wouldn't wish to sever, even if we could." They added: "The rift between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world cannot be a permanent one, since it splits our identities and our souls."
In general, such a conference is to be welcomed. But some of the details show that what should be a purely academic conference still has plenty of political bias.

First of all, why is there a separate Palestinian Arab track that has essentially nothing to do with the topic of the conference? Here's that description:
14:30–16:00 Panel VII – Palestinian Literature
Chair: Shmuel Moreh (Jerusalem)
Atallah Mansour (al-Nāṣira), The Shadow of the Political Conflict on Hebrew and Arabic literature in Palestine/Israel
Sayyed Kashua (Jerusalem), Language-Choice and Perception among Palestinians and Jews in Israel
Manar Makhoul (Cambridge), Palestinian Novelists in Israel: the Writing and the Context
Secondly, the conference seems to spend a bit of time on the problems that Jews from Arab countries had in integrating to Israeli society - a very valid and important topic - but nothing about the anti-semitism they suffered in their old homes that prompted them to leave. To speak of one and ignore the other puts the responsibility of the disappearance of this culture entirely on the backs of the only place where it still exists.

One of the speakers is Rachel Shabi, an outspoken leftist critic of Israel who emphasizes the Zionist attempts to attract Mizrahi Jews and downplays the Arab countries' discrimination against their Jews. While she correctly points out that there was both a "push" and a "pull," she doesn't seem to realize that the very existence of a Jewish state gave the Jews of Arab lands an alternative that was never available to them - an opportunity to shake off their dhimmi status. There are no comparable speakers who talk about the very real Arab anti-semitism that caused the Jews of Arab countries to all but disappear.

Thirdly, characterizing the Jews of Arab countries as "Arab Jews" is actually offensive to many of them, who never considered themselves Arab and always felt like outsiders, even as they adopted much of Arab culture in their own lives.

This is probably because the conference is consciously trying to be as pro-Arab as possible, inviting the Jordanian prince to open it.