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Friday, October 30, 2009

An independent audit of the IDF procedures

The Goldstone report recommends that Israel set up an independent commission of inquiry into Operation Cast Lead. Israel is reluctant to do so for a number of reasons: the IDF already has an investigation procedure that is similar to those of all Western nations; if it caves on this demand then it will look like an admittance of errors, and others.

In my opinion, what is needed is not so much a commission about Cast Lead. Instead, there should be an independent audit of the IDF investigation processes and procedures.

Auditors know how to check not only whether the processes and procedures are effective (in this case, for investigations) but also whether the IDF is accurately following their own procedures. If the audit comes out clean, then the IDF procedures would be "certified."

These external audits should happen regularly, perhaps annually. They can be done by a Big 4 accounting firm without compromising Israeli security. They should happen regardless of any political events like Goldstone. They should not be done to mollify the world, rather to ensure to the IDF and the GOI that IDF procedures are effective, fair and accurately followed - which should be welcomed by all.

This would solve all the problems. If the audit comes up clean, fair minded people can look at the sanitized results of the report certifying that the procedures are valid just the way that audit firms validate all sorts of procedures. If it doesn't, the IDF and the Government of Israel would be the first to want to know how to improve their procedures.

An audit procedure would address the root issue - whether IDF investigation procedures are adequately independent, effective and adhered to. Instead of spinning up a commission for every alleged war crime that some NGO screams about, this would be a reproducible, self-correcting and certified process that is used by major corporations daily.

It is entirely possible that the IDF does this already, but if not, it should.

(I briefly discussed this idea in a comment on this blog, and I sent it to a mailing list with really smart people, and no one responded. So either it is a brilliant idea or it is incredibly stupid.)

UNRWA doesn't acknowledge a murder

On Thursday morning, there was a double murder in Ramallah. Two Palestinian Arabs were found stabbed to death.

One of the was reported to have been a UNRWA teacher in Gaza.

Usually, when UN workers are killed, there are press releases by the appropriate agencies to announce the news. For some reason, UNRWA has not yet acknowledged the murder of one of their employees.

Last night I emailed UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, who has been busy lately making a one-man play about how horrible Israel is, asking him:
Can you confirm that this happened? Do you know the circumstances of the murder? Has there been any official UNRWA statement about this?
So far, I have not received a reply.

The cynical part of me thinks that UNRWA does not want to publicize anything that makes Palestinian Arabs look bad - even when their actions affect UNRWA itself. They've done that before.

Goldstone Report inaccuracies, part 23

The Goldstone Report has a section about the booby-trapping of Palestinian Arab houses by Hamas.

If Hamas booby-trapped houses in civilian neighborhoods, that would violate the principle of distinction, which is a major claim that Goldstone accuses Israel of routinely violating during the operation. It would mean that Hamas disregarded the lives of its own people to at least the same extent that the report claims the IDF forces did.

Goldstone looks at the evidence, and starts off with an absurd paragraph:
461. In chapter XIV the Mission will report on different incidents in which witnesses have described the circumstances in which they had been used by the Israeli armed forces during house searches and forced at gunpoint to enter houses ahead of the Israeli soldiers. These witnesses testified that they had been used in this way to enter several houses. None of them encountered a booby trap or other improvised explosive devices during the house searches. The Mission is also mindful of other incidents it has investigated that involved entry into civilian
houses by Israeli soldiers in different areas in Gaza. None of these incidents showed the use of booby traps.
Goldstone begins his analysis of whether Hamas booby-trapped houses and civilian areas by saying that none of its eyewitnesses, who were handpicked by the Commission to prove the worst allegations of Israeli abuses, verified that they saw any Hamas booby-traps - while they were detailing highly suspect testimony that Israel used these witnesses as human shields.

Besides the fact that these people were not chosen to investigate booby-trap claims, Goldstone is implying that since they didn't see the booby traps, there is no direct evidence that such traps existed. One does not have to be a military expert to realize that if Hamas did booby trap homes, they would not have wired up every house in every neighborhood; rather they would only choose a sample of homes that they would try to lure IDF soldiers into. Saying that supposed witnesses did not see any booby traps is, literally, meaningless as proof one way or the other.

In addition, it also proves that Goldstone did not set out to investigate Hamas war crimes, and only would report on things that the commission found out about while they were investigating alleged Israeli crimes.

Goldstone then allows that there were reports of booby-traps:
462. The Mission, however, recalls the allegations levelled in the reports that it has reviewed. The Government of Israel alleges that Hamas planted booby traps in “homes, roads, schools and even entire neighbourhoods”. It adds, “in essence, the Hamas strategy was to transform the urban areas of the Gaza Strip into a massive death trap for IDF forces, in gross disregard for the safety of the civilian population.”317 The Mission notes that the existence of booby-trapped houses is mentioned in testimonies of Israeli soldiers collected by Breaking the Silence. One soldier recounts witnessing the detonation of a powerful explosion inside a house as a bulldozer approached it. A second soldier stated “many explosive charges were found, they also blew up, no one was hurt. Tank Corps or Corps of Engineers units blew them up. Usually they did not explode because most of the ones we found were wired and had to be detonated, but whoever was supposed to detonate them had run off. It was live, however, ready…”.318 Also the reports published by Palestinian armed groups, on which the submission to the Mission on the tactics of Palestinian combatants by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs is based, suggest that booby-trapped civilian houses were a frequently used tactic.319 According to the Israeli Government, “because roads and buildings were often mined, IDF forces had to target them to protect themselves”.320
So after writing an initial paragraph whose only purpose is to cast doubt on any claims of Hamas booby traps, Goldstone briefly lists some damning evidence that such devices did exist. The Breaking the Silence testimonies, which Goldstone accepts uncritically when it slams the IDF, is quoted as having "mentioned" seeing booby traps, and terrorist websites themselves bragged about using such tactics. By any reasonable standard, this would appear to be real proof, not simply "allegations." Yet Goldstone places it after a paragraph that starts off the discussion by casting doubt that such devices existed and clearly downplays all of this evidence by lumping it all together into a single paragraph.

His final paragraph on the topic shows the unbelievable bias that the Commission had:
463. While, in the light of the above reports, the Mission does not discount the use of booby traps by the Palestinian armed groups, it has no basis to conclude that civilian lives were put at risk, as none of the reports record the presence of civilians in or near the houses in which booby traps are alleged to have been set.
Again, if Hamas placed live bombs in civilian areas, they are violating international law. Yet this report soft-pedals this war crime by saying that there is no evidence that any civilians were nearby - in civilian neighborhoods! Goldstone seems to be adding a new caveat to the Geneva Conventions - saying that civilian objects can be used by terrorists if there is no evidence that any civilians are there at the time they are planted. Perhaps Goldstone did not envision the civilians ever returning to their houses and opening their own front doors. This is mind-boggling.

While Israel is castigated by Goldstone for not being specific enough in dropping hundreds of thousands of flyers warning civilians to leave areas before they bombed. Hamas booby traps buildings in these same areas, and does not warn residents to leave at all - yet their actions are not condemned at all!

If using civilian areas as a base of attack in order to protect the attackers is illegal under international law, shouldn't the purposeful use of civilian objects themselves as weapons (something that Geneva didn't seem to imagine) be considered even worse?

This pseudo-legal stretching to absolve Hamas of responsibility for booby traps is not even the most egregious problem. These three paragraphs constitute the entirety of Goldstone's investigation into this topic. Yet Goldstone ignored the most obvious evidence of Hamas' use of booby traps.

One is the well-known video of the booby-trapped zoo and school in Gaza that the IDF discovered:


Another is this map, captured by the IDF, that showed the placement of booby traps in the Al-Atatra neighborhood:


The map shows placement of bombs in houses and near gas stations.

In addition, here is a photograph (from a JCPA PowerPoint) of a booby trap in a house:


Both the video and the map were well publicized during Cast Lead, and it is not possible that the Commission would have been unaware of this evidence.

In short, this short section on booby-traps shows Goldstone's bias against Israel, his bias towards Hamas, his playing fast and loose with the law, and his purposeful ignoring of evidence that goes against his apparently pre-formed conclusions.

Islamic Jihad celebrating defeats

Islamic Jihad today is holding a festival to commemorate both the 14th anniversary of Israel's assassination of its founder, Fathi Shikaki, as well as the 9th anniversary of the beginning of the second intifada.

In other words, it is celebrating two major defeats.

And while most of the photos it is publishing seem to show lots of people attending these celebrations, one of the photos at Palestine Today betrays that they were expecting a lot more people than they got, based on all the empty seats:

To be consistent, maybe next year they will celebrate the first anniversary of this massive rally.

Those wily Israelis and their Katyushas

On Tuesday, a Katyusha rocket was launched from Lebanon into Israel.

Who could have shot it? Hezbollah? A different terror group?

According to Lebanese president Michel Suleiman, of course not:
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday put the blame on Israel regarding the Katyusha attack on northern Israel on Tuesday night. According to him, an "Israeli agent" was responsible for the action. "This work is a pretext for Israel to continue to violate Lebanese sovereignty, and a swift interpretation of what it had said about an expansion of intelligence activity in Lebanon because of Hizbullah's presence," Suleiman conveyed.
Meanwhile, an al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attack:
A group linked to Al-Qaeda claims it fired the Katyusha rocket attack from Lebanon that hit northern Israel earlier this week, a US-based group that monitors jihadist websites said on Thursday.

The Brigades of Abdullah Azzam, Battalions of Ziad Jarrah, said it was responsible for Tuesday's attack, according to a statement released on Thursday by the Al-Fajr Media Centre, SITE Intelligence Group said.

The group said it had prepared five rockets but only fired one, adding that the attack was to protest a Sunday raid by Israeli police on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

"The occupying Jews have dared to repeatedly raid the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque ... In response to this aggression, a battalion among the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah" fired the Katyusha, it said.

Which is, of course, more proof that Al Qaeda is really a Zionist group.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rachel's Tomb and the making of an Arab lie

Today was the traditional anniversary of the death of the matriarch Rachel, and thousands of Jews went to Rachel's Tomb to pray. Ma'an reported it this way:
Thousands of Israelis, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, descended on the tomb of the Biblical matriarch Rachel in a militarized compound in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday.

Right-wing religious groups petitioned Israel’s highest court in 2004 to re-route the wall to include the tomb on the western side. To this day the site, formerly known as the location of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque, is accessible only from the Israeli side.
Was Rachel's Tomb ever really known as the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque?

The answer is, of course, no. That name was created relatively recently - believe it or not, in the 1990s!

As Nadav Shragai revealed in a 2007 article:
In 2000, after hundreds of years of recognizing the site as Rachel's Tomb, Muslims began calling it the "Bilal ibn Rabah mosque."20 Members of the Wakf used the name first in 1996, but it has since entered the national Palestinian discourse. Bilal ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian known in Islamic history as a slave who served in the house of the prophet Muhammad as the first muezzin (the individual who calls the faithful to prayer five times a day).21 When Muhammad died, ibn Rabah went to fight the Muslim wars in Syria, was killed in 642 CE, and buried in either Aleppo or Damascus.22 The Palestinian Authority claimed that according to Islamic tradition, it was Muslim conquerors who named the mosque erected at Rachel's Tomb after Bilal ibn Rabah.

The Palestinian claim ignored the fact that Ottoman firmans (mandates or decrees) gave Jews in the Land of Israel the right of access to the site at the beginning of the nineteenth century.23 The Palestinian claim even ignored accepted Muslim tradition, which admires Rachel and recognizes the site as her burial place. According to tradition, the name "Rachel" comes from the word "wander," because she died during one of her wanderings and was buried on the Bethlehem road.24 Her name is referred to in the Koran,25 and in other Muslim sources, Joseph is said to fall upon his mother Rachel's grave and cry bitterly as the caravan of his captors passes by.26 For hundreds of years, Muslim holy men (walis) were buried in tombs whose form was the same as Rachel's.

Then, out of the blue, the connection between Rachel, admired even by the Muslims, and her tomb is erased and the place becomes "the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque." Well-known Orientalist Professor Yehoshua Porat has called the "tradition" the Muslims referred to as "false." He said the Arabic name of the site was "the Dome of Rachel, a place where the Jews prayed."27

Only a few years ago, official Palestinian publications contained not a single reference to such a mosque. The same was true for the Palestinian Lexicon issued by the Arab League and the PLO in 1984, and for Al-mawsu'ah al-filastiniyah, the Palestinian encyclopedia published in Italy after 1996. Palestine, the Holy Land, published by the Palestinian Council for Development and Rehabilitation, with an introduction written by Yasser Arafat, simply says that "at the northwest entrance to the city [Bethlehem] lies the tomb of the matriarch Rachel, who died while giving life to Benjamin." The West Bank and Gaza - Palestine also mentions the site as the Tomb of Rachel and not as the Mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah.28 However, the Palestinian deputy minister for endowments and religious affairs has now defined Rachel's Tomb as a Muslim site.29

On Yom Kippur in 2000, six days after the IDF withdrew from Joseph's Tomb, the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida published an article marking the next target as Rachel's Tomb. It read in part, "Bethlehem - ‘the Tomb of Rachel,' or the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque, is one of the nails the occupation government and the Zionist movement hammered into many Palestinian cities....The tomb is false and was originally a Muslim mosque."30
Indeed, the earliest reference I can find to such a name is from the BBC in 1997, and for the rest of the 90s that is the only news outlet I can find that ever used that terminology.

Looking at some old books, I see it was called "Kubbet Rahil" by Muslims in 1901. This travelogue from around 1880 says:
...We came to Rachel's tomb, a small square whitewashed domed building, part of which dates back to the twelfth century. It stands by the side of the road, a mile short of Bethlehem. It is in possession of the Jews, and is only opened on Thursdays; but we looked in through a small aperture on the south side.


Many other 1800's-era books do describe Rachel's Tomb as a mosque or as a place of worship for both Jews and Muslims. But none of them give any Arabic name that doesn't include the word "Rachel" in some form. And certainly none of them describe the spot as being exclusively Muslim.

Similarly, in 1949 the UN listed major holy sites according to religion. Here is what they said about Rachel's Tomb as being claimed by both Muslims and Jews:
Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, when Jacob was travelling from Bethel to Hebron. A pillar was set up over her grave, and the spot was a familiar landmark in the time of Samuel. Several medieval writers refer to it as a Jewish Holy Place. The Arab writer Mugeir-al-Din described it as built of "eleven stones and covered with a cupola which rests on four pillars, and every Jew passing writes his name on the monument."

The tomb lies on the Jerusalem-Hebron road just before it enters Bethlehem. It consists of an open antechamber and a two-roomed shrine under a cupola containing a sarcophagus. The building lies within a Moslem cemetery, for which it serves as a place of prayer. The tomb is a place of Jewish pilgrimage. The Jews claim possession of Rachel's Tomb by virtue firstly of the fact that in 1615 Mohammad, Pasha of Jerusalem, rebuilt the Tomb on their behalf and by a Firman granted them the exclusive use of it; and secondly, that the building, which had fallen into decay, was entirely rebuilt by Sir M. Montefiore in 1845. The keys were obtained by the Jews from the last Moslem guardian at this time.

The Moslem claim to own the building rests on its being a place of prayer for the Moslems of the neighbourhood and an integral part of the Moslem cemetery within which it lies. The Moslems state that the Ottoman Government recognized it as such and further that it is included among the Tombs of the Prophets for which identity signboards were issued by the Ministry of Waqfs in 1328 A.H. They also assert that the antechamber was specially built, at the time of the restoration by Sir M. Montefiore, as a place of prayer for the Moslems. The Moslems object in principle to any repair of the building by the Jews although (up to the recent war) free access to it was allowed at all times.

In 1912 the Ottoman Government permitted the Jews to repair the shrine itself, but not the antechamber. Three months after the British occupation of Palestine the whole place was cleaned and whitewashed by the Jews without protest from the Moslems. In 1921 the Chief Rabbinate applied to the Municipality of Bethlehem for permission to repair the shrine. This gave rise to a Moslem protest, whereupon the High Commissioner ruled that, pending appointment of the Holy Places Commission provided for under the Mandate, all repairs should be undertaken by the Government. However, so much indignation was caused in Jewish circles by this decision that the matter was dropped, the repairs not being considered urgent. In 1925 the Sephardic Community requested permission to repair the Tomb. The building was then made structurally sound and exterior repairs were effected by the Government, but permission was refused by the Jews (who had the keys) for the Government to repair the interior of the shrine. As the interior repairs were unimportant, the Government dropped the matter, in order to avoid controversy.
The claim that Moses Montefiore built a mosque at Rachel's Tomb is laughable. Montefiore was a religious Jew, and he and his wife, who could not have children, identified so strongly with the biblical Rachel that they now lie in a replica of Rachel's Tomb that he built in England.

As far as the Muslim cemetery surrounding Rachel's Tomb is concerned, it is also relatively recent. Photographs of the area from the early 1900s show no such cemetery.


Once again, we have a case of where Muslims claim shrines of other religions as being their own. In this case, they added a completely new reason to venerate the site - specifically to take away the obvious fact that Rachel herself is associated exclusively with Jews.

Work accident!

Hamas' Al Qassam website reports that Suleiman Abu Hassanein was killed this morning in a "special Jihad mission" in Rafah.

"Special Jihad mission" almost always translates to "accidentally blew himself up," although I suspect that on a couple of occasions it has meant "got killed by a co-terrorist."

Either way, time for another round of sweets!

The 2009 PalArab self-death count is now at 207.

Two shot at LA synagogue

From AP:
LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles police have detained a man near the North Hollywood synagogue where two people were shot in the legs.

Officer Rosario Herrera says she was unsure if the arrest was connected with the shooting Thursday at the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue.

Police say a black man with a handgun entered the building at about 6:20 a.m. and shot two Jewish people. Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

The victims were taken to a hospital.

It was not clear how many people were in the building at the time.

The shul has a minyan at 5:30 and at 6:15 AM, so one would expect at least 10-20 men there at that time in the morning.



UPDATE: Many more details from the LA Times.

Ancient Egyptian Baseball

The October 27, 1949 Palestine Post has this intriguing article:It appears that there is something to it. From Sports Illustrated in 2003:
Peter Piccione translates hieroglyphs for his history students the way a horror-movie archaeologist deciphers ancient curses from sarcophagi -- slowly and portentously. During slide presentations at the College of Charleston, he'll run through images ranging from papyrus paintings to the Pittsburgh Pirates before posing a question seemingly out of leftfield: "Did the Egyptians invent baseball?"

It's a rhetorical question for Piccione. For years this 51-year-old academic sleuth has investigated the mysteries of seker-hemat, a bat-and-ball game that predated Wee Willie Keeler and Big Train Johnson by at least four millennia. Piccione's seminal lecture lures crowds far outside Charleston -- he's given his baseball talk in Chicago, Dallas and Cooperstown; this month he's booked at Emory University in Atlanta -- and the way he tells it, the original sandlot was the Sahara. And the top hitter of 1475 B.C. was the pharaoh Thutmose III, a Near Eastern Leaguer as immortal as Babe Ruth.

An authority on ancient Egypt for three decades -- his doctoral dissertation decoded the rules of the Egyptian board game senet, a distant uncle of Parcheesi -- Piccione is the first scholar to propose that baseball grew out of a Pharaonic fungo. [Not quite, see above.] By decoding reliefs and texts on the walls of temples, the Brooklyn-born Egyptologist has determined that the really old ball game was played by kings during the festivals of certain goddesses and in front of the statues of deities. References to seker-hemat (roughly, "batting the ball") go back 4,400 years. In Piccione's reading of Pyramid Texts Spell 254, gods command a pharaoh to cross the heavens and "strike the ball" in the meadow of the sacred Apis bull.

A thousand years later, at the shrine of the love goddess Hathor in Deir-el-Bahari, Thutmose III was depicted playing pepper. In one hand T-3, as Piccione calls him, brandishes a sort of Memphis Slugger; in the other, a ball resembling the stitched leather orbs that have been found in excavations. Two priests, arms upright, grasp balls in their hands. The inscription: "Catching it for him by the servants of god."

The aim of the game, Piccione reckons, was to swat at and destroy the evil eye of Apopi, the serpent of chaos. Though it's unclear if T-3 was a designated Hittite, the professor suspects seker-hemat involved umpires, baserunning ("Running was a big part of Egyptian games" ) and huge crowds. "Who wouldn't want to see the Pharaoh beat Apopi?" Piccione asks.


The pictures above link to other articles on the topic. The first one is in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Today's PalArab news (10/29)

Two Gazans were found stabbed to death in Ramallah. One of them was a UNRWA teacher. So far the UN has been silent on the issue.

PA president Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he is seeking conciliation with Hamas. At the same time he blames Israel for trying to trying to start a religious war over Jerusalem. He's so...so...moderate!

Hamas in Gaza sentenced an alleged "collaborator" to death by firing squad.

Hamas is again considering the creation of an alternative PLO-type organization. They threatened the same thing last January.

Al Jazeera reports that the Goldstone commission was the brainchild of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC.) Who'da thunk it? (h/t Israel Matzav)

Israel intends to send 3000 cattle to Gaza over a ten day period starting next week.

A Gazan who took a detour from his Hajj pilgrimage has been stranded in the Jordan airport for ten days, with both Saudi Arabia and Cairo refusing to allow him in their countries.

And, in the Adventures in Autotranslation department, this anti-Hamas article in Palestine Press Agency features this indecipherable section translated by Google:
Our people have become immune to the lies that the smallest Atntli Palestinian boy sits on the ruins of the destroyed home in Gaza and the expected election promises are of the view vulva vagina coming down heavily on the heads of the leaders and members of Hamas.
There's a mental image I want to erase.

UPDATE: Gaza soccer and politics, from CNN. (h/t Media Backspin tweet)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If I wrote this I would be called an Islamophobe - part 2

The Daily News Egypt has an op-ed about how freedom of thought is nonexistent in Egypt. While it starts off saying that Western societies suffer from the same malady of self-imposed thought censorship, auther Nael M. Shama ends off his piece with a bang:

In Egypt, the space for thought and expression has been tightening at alarming rates, with the mind of Egyptian society tilting towards the right. The heated discussion over whether niqab is religiously obligatory or not makes any contentions that the hijab (headscarf) is not obligatory (a debatable issue among theologians) seem awkward and intolerable, and thus excludes it from public debate. Under this suffocating censorship, no one would dare — like Ismael Adham did in the 1930s — write a book entitled “Why Am I Atheist?”

Censorship went hand in hand with the scarification of unsacred parties and issues. For instance, any explicit or implicit critique of the military establishment (or, say, its performance in the 1973 War against Israel) is today inadmissible. The number of sacred cows has been increasing.

Prolonged practice is the most effective means of indoctrination. After long periods of time of exposure to the same ideas, censorship of other ideas becomes voluntary. In Egypt, Islamists are not currently in power, but they need not worry much. That introspection is inhibited by intimidation and dissent is discouraged denotes that the doctrine of rigid Islamists has already been underway. History tells us that the control of power is often preceded by the control of ideas.

Already under a secular regime, novels have been banned by a “liberal” minister on the grounds they are blasphemous, various intellectuals were convicted by courts of being apostates and citizens were arrested for eating during the fasting hours of Ramadan.

Creativity and imagination recede when the mind is constrained by so many restrictions. Scrutiny and inquiry are substituted by stereotypic answers to all questions of life and destiny.

The withering away of the critical evaluation of ideas, thoughts and beliefs is giving way for the triviality and fundamentality of extremist minds. So at a time when the advanced world has been exploring the applications of Nanotechnology, investigating the secrets of the big bang and decoding the map of the human genome, our minds have been preoccupied with discussing the possibility of marriage between man and jinn [genie, h/t Jeff], figuring out the mandatory length and width of the piece of cloth covering women’s bodies and preaching about the benefits of drinking Prophet Mohamed’s urine.

Pity the nation that was once the hub of thought and knowledge in the region.

If I wrote this I would be called an Islamophobe

Elaph.com, a popular liberal pan-Arabic news site based out of London, has an article that you won't see in most Arab media:
A recent report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in America, has estimated the number of Muslims around the world as being one billion and five hundred and seventy million people.

Apart from the exaggerated number, something found in all the reports in which [Dalia] Mogahed is involved which are always clearly biased to the Muslims, the actual number is certainly at least one billion three hundred million people, while the number of Jews around the world is only about 14 million. Yet comparing what the Jews accomplished and what is done by Muslims over the last hundred years, in my estimation is the difference between mental health and serious mental problems saturated with religious bombast.

When you read the figures and statistics you immediately discover that science and scientific research is the one subject that elevates nations and creates glory for them.

There are 56 states calling themselves Islamic, but in all these countries there is not one university among the top 500 universities in the world, while small Israel has 6 universities on the list.

Islamic countries spend on average less than .02% percent of their GDP on scientific research, while Israel will spend 2.53% of their GDP on scientific research.

No wonder then that Jews have wons 180 Nobel Prizes in the last hundred years compared to only 9 Muslims.

No wonder then that the Jews excel in all areas as a result their respect for science and their investment in their children's education in the most important and best universities in the world. It is difficult to count the number of Jewish geniuses in all areas around the world from Albert Einstein to Sigmund Freud to Karl Marx to Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize winner in economics ... and the list goes on.

[he then lists a whole bunch of prominent Jews in industry and science.]

In conclusion, the Islamic countries do not participate in the making of knowledge and do not participate in the dissemination of this knowledge, given that the number of books translated from all languages into Arabic since the time of Caliph al-Mamun is equivalent to those translated into Spanish in a single year, according to the Arab Human Development Report issued in 2002.

Islamic countries are busy complaining about the Jewish global conspiracy against the Muslims, while at the same time the Jews themselves are busy achieving more success and excellence through science and hard work.

Islamic countries are busy persecuting women and the non-Muslim minorities, and always blame the victims... The presence of a non-Muslim person in itself is a provocation to the Muslim extremist, while Muslim refugees from more than 90% of the number of refugees in the world, yet refugees to Israel from Muslim countries were absorbed.

There is no hope in the progress of Islamic science, except for scientific research, but this research is impossible when Islamic religion controls to all aspects of life ..... Here we go back to square one in which is the influence of religion causes the failure of these countries and communities.
The author, Magdi Khalil, is a liberal director of the Egypt-based Middle East Freedom Forum.

PA minister: Selling "settlement" goods is treason

From Ma'an:
The Palestinian Authority’s new minister of national economy vowed on Wednesday to bring to justice anyone who deals in products produced in Israeli settlements as traitors.

“Those who trade these products will bear the stigma of treason,” Hassan Abu Libdeh told private sector and civil society figures at the offices of the ministry in Ramallah.

The minister said that the top priority of one of the ministry’s organs, the Palestinian National Committee for Organizing Domestic Market, is to enforce a boycott of settlement products.
Boycotting products made by Jews east of the Green Line is a "top priority" for the PA?

You would think that building their own tattered economy would be a bit more important.

The ironic thing is that these boycotts never work. Enterprising Arabs will always find ways to buy the best goods at the lowest prices, no matter where they come from, and edicts like these will just ensure that the underground economy prospers and no taxes are paid, further destabilizing the already teetering PA.

As usual, this will only hurt ordinary Palestinian Arab businessmen and consumers, and the trials for "treason" will cause infighting and resentment. It's happened before and it will happen again, as long as Palestinian Arab "leaders" define themselves as being anti-Israel (trying to hurt Jews) as opposed to as a true people in their own right (trying to help Palestinian Arabs.)

Fayyad's plan exposes real Palestinian Arab goals

If one assumes that the goal of Palestinian Arab nationalism is the establishment of an independent state, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently made wrong decisions time after time again. From rejecting the Peel Commission recommendations in 1937 (where the Jewish State would have been minuscule and unsustainable) to the UN Partition through Camp David and Barak's offer, the answer has always been a resounding "NO!" This would appear strange, as the primary goal of nationalism is the establishment of a nation-state.

It has been pointed out many times that Israel was built by Zionists who created and expanded the institutions of statehood while under the control of the British. Their goal was a state, and they instinctively realized that the foundations must exist before such a state could be realized. So through the first half of the century, Jews built the infrastructure of the future Jewish state - hospitals, schools, quasi-government offices, social programs, an economic infrastructure, cultural institutions and more. They organized themselves and acted state-like way before 1948.

Palestinian Arabs have done no such thing. Any infrastructure they have has been mostly built either by Israel or by external parties like UNRWA.

Palestinian Arab prime minister Salam Fayyad is aiming to change that.

Fayyad is an anomaly in Palestinian Arab history; he has little following of his own and he did not come up through the terror ranks. His tenure as prime minister has been consistently pragmatic; he cleaned up a lot of the corruption and made the donor economy of the PA much more transparent to the West. He is not associated with any major political group.

Fayyad has put together a two-year plan of massively building Palestinian Arab institutions with the goal of unilaterally declaring an independent Palestinian Arab state in 2011. In a very real sense, this plan is a far bigger challenge to Israel than decades of terror have been. And it has not been lost on observers that Fayyad is using Zionism as his blueprint.

Fayyad's goal (at least initially) is clearly to build an independent nation-state. This is in direct opposition to the primary goal of Palestinian Arab leaders since Haj Amin al-Husseini - the destruction of Israel. Although they cloaked this goal in nationalist terms, their decisions over the years have proven that statehood was a political cover for their real aim. As such, Fayyad poses a challenge to the traditional Palestinian Arab mindset no less than it does to Israel.

In today's Comment is Free, former Palestinian Arab negotiator Ahmad Samih Khalidi tries to articulate to a Western audience why he is against Fayyad's plan. His article is convoluted and bizarre, as he attempts to hide the ingrained PalArab goals of destroying Israel while also trying to find a logical problem with statehood. It reveals much about the Palestinian Arab psyche. (Khalidi cannot even mention Fayyad's name.)

At the heart of the PA's programme lies a basic contradiction: while it claims to be building a state against the occupation, it is in practice building state-like structures with the occupation. No genuinely sovereign state has been or can be built while still under occupation, and nothing in Israel's current stance on the basic issues of Palestinian sovereignty (territorial extent, control over borders, the right to self defence, and so on) suggests otherwise.
Yet somehow Israel was built while under British occupation and with the presence of hostile Arabs surrounding the Zionists from within and without. Khalidi pretends to explain that:

The second problem stems from a total misreading of history. The Zionist movement may indeed have developed its state-building capacity while under the British mandate, but Israel only came into being as a state by using force against British and Palestinians alike. By way of contrast, the only military capability the PA is building under US supervision is directed against those who seek to take up arms against the occupation. The "Zionist" option of military self-reliance and readiness to use force for political-territorial ends is totally absent from the PA's new approach and is inimical to its political outlook.
In other words, Khalidi (besides making up a history where Israel was the aggressor in 1948) is saying that a Palestinian Arab state must by definition come into existence by successfully defeating Israel in battle.
The state-first approach carries other significant risks: it threatens to transform any final status negotiations into a prolonged state-to-state dispute whereby the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Arab Jerusalem and other critical issues will be indefinitely deferred. The urgency of dealing with Palestinians' national grievances as a whole will diminish, and their interests will be gradually pushed to the margins of international and regional concerns on the grounds that they have already fulfilled their major aspiration by being granted statehood.
Here Khalidi admits, in a backhanded way, that statehood is not the goal for the vast majority of Palestinian Arab leaders and thinkers: it is "dealing with Palestinians' [national] grievances." Addressing grievances are the goal: destroy Israel demographically with a "right of return," making Jerusalem Judenrein, and do everything necessary to avoid having a real state where the world will notice that Palestinian Arabs really do not have the will to be independent.

To Khalidi, and to generations of Palestinian Arabs, the goal is the negation of Israel, preferably by violence:
The first essential duty of a state is defending its citizens against foreign incursions and threats.
He believes that an army defines a state and that infrastructure is secondary. Terrorism, in this mindset, is more honorable than a negotiated peace, and humiliating the enemy trumps helping your own people. This is the reason that one hears the words "justice" so often in the words of Palestinian Arabs and their supporters: "justice" is a keyword that ensures that there will never be a compromise and that PalArabs (especially those who remain stateless in Arab countries) will remain in misery indefinitely.

Generations of a mindset where Palestinian Arab "nationalism" was defined in terms of what Jews control, rather than what would help ordinary Palestinian Arabs live their lives honorably, cannot be easily erased by Salam Fayyad.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hamas website brags about "humiliating the Jews"

The Hamas al-Qassam Brigades website has a long article bragging about how successful they believe they have been in kidnapping Israeli soldiers over the decades.

The headline is most instructive as to their goals in such operations:
Al-Qassam Brigades ... a long history of abducting soldiers and humiliating the Jews
Of course, this is another attribute of the psychological projection that most Arabs have; they are deeply humiliated every day by Israel's existence and they think that this is Israel's raison d'etre; and their goal is likewise to pay back that humiliation.

Goldstone Wordle

Here are the top 250 words in the Goldstone report's conclusions and recommendations section, in graphical format using Wordle. The size of the words indicates how often they were used.

Can you find "Hamas"? (Click to see full size.)

(h/t Daughter of Ziyon)

Work accident!

From Ma'an:
A Gaza armed group said two of its members were killed while carrying out a “Jihad mission” on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said in a phone call, “Ahmad Abu Darb and Ibrahim Qatasha died while they were implementing a jihadi mission” without explaining the nature of this mission.

Meanwhile local sources said that two people were killed in an unexplained explosion in that set fire to a house north of the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

It was not immediately clear if the explosion was related to the deaths of the two fighters.
The Palestine Press Agency assumes that these are the same people.

An explosion in Rafah indicates that some explosives that were recently smuggled in to Gaza went off a bit earlier than intended.

The 2009 PalArab self-death count is now at 203.

Morning links

Amnesty International came out with another report slamming Israel, this time about water rights. From looking at it briefly it appears to be a skillful piece of propaganda. While the amount of water that the PA receives was determined at Oslo and there is no indication that Israel is violating that agreement, Amnesty conflates issues of "equality" with needs. Amnesty also goes the Goldstone route of referring to international treaties that do not apply at all (such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Art. 14 para. 2(h), which explicitly refers specifically to discrimination against women and not to all access by women to water.) NGOs appear to think that if they throw enough references out there that no one will read them.

Anyway, I don't have time for a full fisking, but NGO Monitor makes some good points. And Israel's Water Authority blasted the report for inaccuracies and bias.

Israel Matzav translates a Maariv article by a doctor, an open letter to Richard Goldstone detailing how Palestinian Arab doctors lie and why one cannot accept their testimony without verification.

Egyptian security thwarted an attempted infiltration attempt into Israel from the Sinai - by a Palestinian Arab.

CSM looks at Hamas' increasing religious restrictions on Gaza.

WSJ has an article, written by Egyptians, on the tradition of anti-semitism by Egypt's "liberals."

(last two h/t Media Backspin tweets.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Syria and Palestine are one nation"

Just found this old New York Times article from August 31, 1921:


Isn't it funny that the Palestinian Arabs didn't want an independent state but wanted to be part of Greater Syria?

Eighth annversary of Qassam rocket

The Hamas al-Qassam Brigades website says that today is the 8th anniversary of the first Qassam rocket shot at Sderot. They reproduce their press release at the time:
In the name of God the Merciful

A military statement issued by the Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam

Qassam rockets at the so-called Zionist city of Sderot in response to the Zionist terrorist crimes against our people in the West Bank.

Hey fans of the heroic Palestinian people ...

O Arab and Islamic nation: with the help of God the Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam declares it claimed responsibility for bombing the city of the so-called "Sderot" Zionism northern Gaza Strip, several Qassam rockets (1) Friday, 26.10.2001 comes our operation of this In reply to the Zionist crimes against the Palestinian people, which was most recently in the town of Beit Rima.

O our Palestinian: We promise to God and promise to the Zionists to make their life a living hell for them to abandon settlements and towns and get them out submissively with the help of God, and invite you to always be aligned to the option of jihad and resistance and not to despair, and we promise to be loyal always to liberate the whole territory of Palestine.

It is a Jihad, victory or martyrdom

Brigades of the Martyr Izz el-Deen al-Qassam

26.10.2001
They are so proud of their war crimes!

J-Street stops publicly pretending to be pro-Israel

J-Street is the anti-"Israel lobby" lobby and real-life anti-Israel lobby. Other blogs get more into discussing them that I do but this story is just too funny:
J Street's university arm has dropped the "pro-Israel" part of the left-wing US lobby's "pro-Israel, pro-peace" slogan to avoid alienating students.

That decision was part of the message conveyed to young activists who attended a special weekend program for students ahead of J Street's first annual conference, which began on Sunday.

At their earlier weekend session, the 250 participating students mapped out strategies for bringing J Street's approach to college campuses and encouraging students to join in the effort.

"We don't want to isolate people because they don't feel quite so comfortable with 'pro-Israel,' so we say 'pro-peace,'" said American University junior Lauren Barr of the "J Street U" slogan, "but behind that is 'pro-Israel.'"

Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board that decided the slogan's terminology, explained that on campus, "people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East."

She noted that the individual student chapters would be free to add "pro-Israel," "pro-Israel, pro-Palestine," or other wording that they felt would be effective on this issue, since "it's up to the individuals on campus to know their audience."

Yonatan Shechter, a junior at Hampshire College, said the ultra-liberal Massachusetts campus is inhospitable to terms like "Zionist" and that when his former organization, the Union of Progressive Zionists (which has been absorbed into J Street U), dropped that last word of its name, "people were so relieved."

And they seemed so proud of their purportedly pro-Israel positions!

Israeli company developing super-vaccine for flu

From Arutz-7:
Israel Radio reported Sunday morning that an Israeli company had developed a universal vaccine for all forms of flu – including bird and swine flu – and shares of Rehovot-based BiondVax trading on the Tel Aviv stock exchange went through the roof. But the ardor of investors was tempered somewhat when the company announced that it had not yet tested its vaccine on swine flu, nor had it conducted tests on pregnant women – one of the groups that is most susceptible to the disease, and for which developing a vaccine has been more difficult.

Nevertheless, the company says its universal multi-season/multi-strain flu vaccine will greatly enhance the average person's immune system, enabling patients to receive a single shot once every few years that will protect them against most forms of influenza. It turns out that most strains of flu have characteristics similar enough to enable development of one vaccine that contains the elements of the flu virus' downfall.
But it is not only Israelis who are working on a generalized cure for the flu. At least one Arab claims to have a cure as well.

(By the way, Biondvax shares, only traded on the Tel Aviv Exchange, are unbelievably volatile, with a 52-week low of 20 and a high of nearly 950. Right now it is at about 410.)

Carter to Saudis: I'm the antidote to the Jewish Lobby

From the Arab News:
Former US President Jimmy Carter visited Jeddah on Saturday to share his vision of the future of cross cultural and interfaith relations and peace in the Middle East with an invited audience.

Carter said that his return to Saudi Arabia reminded him that the Kingdom represented the common aspirations of many human beings.

Peace, cooperation, forgiveness and ability to work together for common goals that are also common to all the major religions,” he said.

Carter described some of the activities of the Carter Center that are driven by those principles and said that he had a very deep commitment to several issues. He noted that since he was free of political office he could go where he chooses and say what he wants.

“The most important political goal of my life for 30 years is to bring peace to Israel and to all Israel’s neighbours with justice for the Palestinians,” he said.

Carter said that he had faith and confidence in the moral values of President Barack Obama and that he was well aware of the tremendous pressures on him by interest groups in the US.

Offering a glimpse of the way the Carter Center worked at both ends of the peace continuum, he said; “We try to provide an alternative voice to some of those groups. I have free access to President Obama and his advisers and we continue to pursue the goal of the US taking leadership to bring about the dream of peace.”

One doesn't have to read very much between the lines.

Fatah prisoners to give their "salaries" to de-Judaize Jerusalem

Firas Press reports that some Fatah prisoners are asking PA prime minister Fayyad to redirect their salaries to "defend" Jerusalem. In English, this means to do whatever they can to destroy any Jewish connection to the city.

Now, why do Fatah prisoners get a "salary" to begin with? These salaries are paid by the PA with funds that they beg and get from the rest of the world (just like they pay Gaza Fatah members not to work.)

In other words, this is how our tax dollars are spent.

Arab paper calls Jews on Temple Mount "rapists"

YNet reports:
The Jerusalem Police is gearing to reopen the Temple Mount compound for visitors and Muslim worshipers Monday. The compound was sealed off at noon following riots.
Palestine Today reports the story this way:
Israeli occupation authorities decided Monday to allow "visitors to enter the congregation of the holy Aqsa Mosque", that is, the entry of rapists and provocateurs.

This is after violent clashes on Sunday between the Palestinians stationed in the courtyard of the campus to address the storming settlers, and the occupation forces that were deployed in force on the Temple Mount and its surroundings to protect these rapists.

The Israeli police and security services on Sunday night held an evaluation session where it was decided to allow on Monday "visitors and worshipers" into the courtyard of the Temple Mount ..!

It is clear from statements by officials that the Zionist escalation in the recent days in the campus are due to declared Zionist goals to "open the Temple Mount to all believers", i.e., for the Jews just like the Palestinians.

Sunday saw violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces that were deployed in force on the Temple Mount and its surroundings to protect the rapists to enter the Temple Mount.

Report: Hamas nervous about the future

Palestine Press News Agency reports that it has obtained the results of an internal Hamas survey discussing the group's predictions and options for the future.

According to the story, this survey was initiated because of pressure on Hamas in Gaza, as well as fear that a political solution will arise that would exclude Hamas.

One paragraph of the story is telling:
The survey results suggest that the current situation is difficult and harsh, particularly in terms of attrition of the capabilities of Hamas. The movement also fears that people's priorities are changing towards improving conditions of life at the expense of national aspirations, and this is expected to increase pressure in the next phase of movement to allow for the ascendancy of the Fatah movement. "
The bolded part needs to be emphasized to the world: Hamas (and, historically, many Palestinian and other Arab leaders) are so insecure in the nationalism of Palestinian Arabs that they want to keep them in a misery-induced unity. To them, happy Palestinian Arabs will no longer identify as "Palestinian" and will not be useful for their own political and terrorist aspirations.

This next paragraph is more difficult to understand in autotranslation, but I believe my restatement is accurate. If someone who knows Arabic could check it, I would appreciate it and correct it if necessary.

The study shows that that Hamas believes it is capable in the foreseeable future to bring about major breakthroughs in the field of conflict, and thus be able to primarily address more [military] steadfastness and stability, and it is betting on time waiting for [improvement of] the quality of weapons [autotrans: "variables"] [manufactured] within the country or [smuggled from] abroad.
(PPNA is very anti-Hamas and occasionally errs, but most of their stories turn out to be accurate.)

Egypt captures more weapons meant for Gaza

From Ma'an:
Egyptian security forces said on Sunday that they discovered and seized a major weapons cache and arrested a suspected smuggler in near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security officials said police stopped the suspect when he was driving in the area. The suspect, Ahmad Abu Maleeh, 30, from the Egyptian side of the city of Rafah, told interrogators that he had just driven another smuggler to tunnel in the area.

Security forces also discovered a tunnel in the same area, and confiscated what they said was a large quantity of firearms and ammunition. The officials said that the security presence in the area was increased as a result of the discovery.
Egypt has found tons and tons of explosives and weapons in recent months. Yet the Western media rarely mentions these regular finds by Egypt. Instead, they talk about how the tunnel trade is being used for consumer goods with barely a mention of the major reason that Gaza is under a blockade.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Daily Goldstone 10/25b

"Trevor Norwitz has written an impressive and extensive response to the Goldstone report. According to information received from reliable sources Trevor grew up in Cape Town where he attended SACS and UCT before going on to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He is now a successful attorney in a leading corporate practice in New York."

Here is part of the lengthy letter, which can be read as a PDF file here.
Your Selection of Incidents to Investigate
A closely related point is your Mission's selection of which matters to investigate and which to ignore. Your Mission investigated 36 incidents in Gaza and stated that it "considers that the report is illustrative of the main patterns of violations." (17) Since virtually all of these incidents were cases involving Israeli actions and Palestinian casualties or damage, it is clear that the "pattern of violations" that interested you most were those where Israel could be condemned. As discussed above, the efforts you made to find the relevant facts underlying the operation left much to be desired. Very little effort was made to investigate the behavior of Hamas and the other "Palestinian armed groups": did they direct attacks at civilian targets? Did they use
civilians as human shields? Did they hide weapons in civilian buildings like mosques, schools and hospitals? You do not even raise as a possibility the question of whether Hamas and the other "Palestinian armed groups" intentionally drew fire towards civilian objects to score public relations victories (I do not believe in their wildest dreams they ever expected the PR and strategic windfall that you have awarded them), although this appears to be a central element of their moqawamma ("resistance") strategy. I understand that seeking those facts was difficult ­ the people you were talking to would not talk about that (because of both bias and intimidation)
and the people who would talk about it (the Israelis) refused to talk to you ­ but that should not relieve honest fact-finders of their obligation to try find the facts. Reviews by others of the video clips of interviews with Palestinian witnesses posted on your website suggest that you did not even press witnesses for answers to these questions19. Instead you simply relied on the absence of countervailing evidence to validate the "facts" reported to you by those biased and intimidated witnesses.

On a few occasions, you accepted the "possibility" that there might be another side to the story that you "could not entirely discount," that is, that there may have been inappropriate actions on the Palestinian side. For example: "The Mission finally notes that it cannot entirely discount the possibility that Palestinian civilians may have been killed as a result of fire by Palestinian armed groups in encounters with the Israeli armed forces, as argued in a submission to the Mission, although it has not encountered any information suggesting that this was the case." (361) "[W]hile the Mission would not rule out the possibility that there might be individuals in the police force who retain their links to the armed groups, it believes . . ." (417) "[T]he Mission accepted, on the basis of information in the reports it had seen, the possibility of mortar attacks from Palestinian combatants in the vicinity of the school." (444) The Mission cannot discount the possibility that Palestinian armed groups were active in the vicinity of such [United Nations] facilities." (483)

However these matters were never investigated to the point of ascertaining whether they amounted to war crimes or whether they justified the Israeli actions under investigation. For the most part, you were satisfied simply to state that you were unable to make any determination regarding these matters: "The Mission is unable to make any determination on the general allegation that Palestinian armed groups used mosques for military purposes." (484) "On the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities . . ." (485) "On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission found no indication that the civilian population was forced by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups to remain in areas under attack from the Israeli armed forces." (486)

On other occasions, where the evidence of bad behavior on the Palestinian side was so clear you could not deny it or profess ignorance, you proceed ­ astonishingly ­ to justify it or explain it away.

Example: Firing rockets from civilian areas: "[T]he Mission finds that there are indications that Palestinian armed groups launched rockets from urban areas . . . Palestinian armed groups do not appear to have given Gaza residents sufficient warning of their intention to launch rockets from their neighbourhoods to allow them to leave and protect themselves against Israeli strikes at the rocket launching sites . . . Given the densely populated character of the northern half of the Gaza Strip, once Israeli forces gained control of the more open or outlying areas during the first days of the ground invasion, most ­ if not all ­ locations still accessible to Palestinian armed groups were in urban areas." (480) In other words, you explain and even seek to justify Hamas' actions endangering civilians because it would have been dangerous for it to fight Israel otherwise.

Another example: Booby trapping houses: "From the information it gathered, the Mission does not discount the use of booby traps by the Palestinian armed groups. The Mission has no basis to conclude that civilian lives were put at risk, since none of the reports records the presence of civilians in or near the houses that were allegedly booby-trapped." (482) Your willingness to accept a "no-harm-no-foul" defence for booby trapping civilian houses is as telling as your reluctance to find improper intentions on the Palestinian side.

These few examples (of the many more that could be cited) should suffice to demonstrate that your Mission chose only to investigate one side of the conflict (Israel), and made its findings based on evidence presented by only one side one the conflict (the Palestinians).


Fundamental but Dubious Assumptions
Without denying that there are matters raised in your report that deserve further investigation and explanation by Israel, it appears that your wholesale condemnations of Israel and accusations of "war crimes" rest in large part on certain fundamental premises or a "world view" shared by you and your fellow Commissioners. These premises reflect assumptions that underlie much of your
Report, but their validity is not incontrovertible. Indeed they are highly contentious and to the degree these assumptions are wrong, your Report's conclusions are invalid.

Legitimizing Hamas. One of these fundamental assumptions that permeates your entire analysis is that Hamas is a nonviolent political organization distinct from its military wing. This characterization of Hamas is entirely implausible. It requires more than naiveté to reach that conclusion, in light of all the readily available evidence, including that organization's refusal to renounce the use of violence or even to recognize the existence of the State of Israel (which together torpedoed the peace process and damned Gaza to its present state of destitution), the express statements of Hamas' own leadership regarding the use of violence and terrorist tactics, and the fact that the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide against the Jewish people (which remarkably does not merit a mention in your Report).

Because it openly embraces terrorist tactics, Hamas is widely condemned as a terrorist organization. In light of all the readily available evidence, the suggestion that Hamas can be neatly separated from its military wing is spurious.

Earlier I stated that your Report not only legitimizes but whitewashes Hamas. Although the press has chosen not to highlight this, a close review of every reference to Hamas throughout your Report will reveal that, while there are some perfunctory condemnations of "armed Palestinian groups" (which include Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades) and some measured criticism of the "Gaza Authorities" regarding things they could have done better (sins of omission rather than commission), Hamas itself gets off virtually scot-free in your Report and even emerges looking like an innocent victim. My point here is not to refute as a substantive matter that highly troubling aspect of your Report ­ I shall leave that to others ­ but simply to observe that a critical assumption underlying many of your claims of "war crimes" is that Hamas should be considered independent of its infamous military wing. To the extent that this assumption is flawed, the conclusions on which it is based are invalid. But the very fact that you approached your fact-finding mission with this as a basic assumption indicates a perspective that calls the conclusions drawn by your Mission into question.

Gaza Still Occupied? A second fundamental assumption, discussed above, is the notion that Gaza remains occupied by Israel notwithstanding its complete unilateral withdrawal four years ago which, in your view26, has "`done nothing' to alter the character of Israel as an occupying Power." 27 Again, I will leave it to others to debunk this dubious legal conclusion, noting simply that it is one of the foundations on which you build your case for the prosecution. The implications of your position are dramatic. For example, although Israel facilitated the supply of significant humanitarian aid to Gaza and even your Report acknowledges "that the supply of
humanitarian goods, particularly foodstuffs, allowed into Gaza by Israel temporarily increased during the military operations" (72), you nevertheless condemn Israel as violating the Fourth Geneva Convention for not doing enough "as Occupying Power" to provide such supplies. In other words, your report twists Israel's humanitarian efforts (done from its perspective out of kindness rather than legal obligation) into a war crime because you reached a different legal conclusion on the status of Gaza. If you are wrong in your conclusion that Gaza remains occupied, then rather than being condemned as war criminals, Israel should be commended for its humanitarian efforts to support the Palestinian civilian population even while that it was in the midst of a bloody war to root out the terrorists who had converted their homes into rocket launching sites.

Placing Blame. Perhaps the most fundamental and flawed assumption underlying your Report is the position that the tragic situation of the Palestinian people, and especially those in Gaza, is all Israel's fault. That your Mission is of this view is clear from the way you characterize (or rather mischaracterize) the history of the region; it is clear from your use of language throughout your Report; it is clear from your failure to seek to understand why actions were taken ­ why Israel shut border crossings? Why Israel built the security barrier? Why Israel felt the need to
undertake the Gaza operation at all? And it is clear from your refusal to acknowledge what Hamas and its charter say unequivocally that Hamas exists to destroy the Jewish State. Your perspective is also clear from specific statements, including the curious analysis you offer in one of your concluding paragraphs where you say: "After decades of sustained conflict, the level of threat to which both Palestinians and Israelis are subjected has not abated, but if anything increased . . . The State of Israel is therefore also failing to protect its own citizens by refusing to acknowledge the futility of resorting to violent means and military power." (1711) It is telling
that it is Israel you criticize in this regard, and it is unclear what you expect Israel to do in the context of a foe that refuses to negotiate but only wants to fight.28

There are other elements of the "world view" with which you and your fellow Commissioners approached your assignment and which impacted your Report ­ assumptions regarding Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state at all, for example, or regarding the legitimacy of a separation barrier to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks, or whether Israel is a decent country (for example at 132 you state: "The Mission is also of the view that the Israeli system presents inherently discriminatory features that have proven to make the pursuit of justice for Palestinian victims very difficult.") This is not the place to debate these interesting topics; I mention them solely to make the point that there are perspectives and prejudices that underlie your investigation that cannot but influence your findings.

UK college bans burqa student

From Al Arabiya:
A college in the United Kingdom has banned a Muslim student from enrolling because she refused to take off her burka, or face veil, press reports said Saturday.

Shawana Bilqes, 18, was turned away from enrollment after she refused a staff member's request to remove her burka for identity fraud purposes, Britain's the Sun tabloid reported.

Bilqes said she tried to compromise with staff but could not remove her burka because of her religious beliefs. Muslim scholars say the burka is not obligatory in Islam and is a cultural practice rather than Islamic.

"I tried to compromise but they wouldn't. The college sent me a letter to say I could continue with my course if I stopped wearing the veil," the paper quoted Bilqes as saying.
Ironically, her choice to wear a pink headcovering over the veil would be seen in parts of Saudi Arabia as being way over the line of acceptable clothing.

Some of the Muslim Al Arabiya commenters got it right:
Why is she being so stupid for? she doesnt need to wear the niqaab or the burka its a cultural practice not an islamic one. just because she got refused from the college for wearing one she gets all huffy and tells the entire world, i am a muslim too and i dont wear the niqaab or the burka and my religion is very important to me and i practice it too. Wearing the burka and niqaab may hinder communication between staff and students a little but its not the end of the world. Plus i dont blame the college for doing what they did - it is for security reasons and they have every right to do so. why doesnt she just take it off - its not going to make her any less islamic or prevent her from practicing her religion is it? she is just being stupid and wants attention. get a life!!!
AS A MUSLIM I AM HAPPY THAT SHE WAS NOT ALLOWED IN SCHOOL, THE BURKA IS NOT ISLAMIC THEREFORE IT SHOULD BE BANNED.THESE PEOPLE ARE GIVING THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM MORE REASON TO HATE US EVEN MORE.i AM ALL FOR HIJAB BUT BURKA NO WAY.

Arabs keep trying to light the spark of a new intifada

The pattern of incitement to violence continues, and the world media ignores it.

Yesterday, in a clear move to start more riots today, Sheikh Tayseer al-Tamimi called on all Arab to go to the Al Aqsa mosque today and defend it against an alleged "storming" by Zionists.

As we've seen in the past, this "storming" means only one thing: visiting the Temple Mount respectfully, and at most meditating there.

Tamimi pre-emptively said that Israeli police would be responsible for any violence that happened on Sunday.

Naturally, in light of the clear incitement, the Israeli police geared up for trouble, committed to ensuring that the status quo is not changed on the Temple Mount. And naturally, their very presence was regarded as a green light for Arabs to riot, throw stones - and lie by saying that the police shot tear gas at them and that they entered the Al Aqsa mosque itself. These lies were then used in a call for more people to come and riot - using the mosque's loudspeakers, which the Israeli police then turned off.

Ha'aretz reported the facts:
Early Sunday morning, police were patrolling near the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem, when the youths began to hurl stones at them. Officers subsequently stormed the compound and arrested 12 people on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

A large wall of riot police, holding glass shields, closed in on the crowd, sending many of the rioters running into the mosque for cover.

Arab youths hurled a firebomb at police during clashes at the site, but no one was wounded.

A Jerusalem police spokesman, Shmuel Ben-Ruby said police did not enter the Al-Aqsa mosque atop the compound.

The violence came after Jerusalem police announced Saturday that they would beef up their forces on Sunday around the Temple Mount, after Muslim leaders urged Arabs to defend Jerusalem against "Jewish conquest."

There have been repeated rumors among Palestinians that Jewish extremists are planning on harming the holy site. No such attempt has been made.
Keep in mind that these lies, plus the lie that Israel is digging under the Temple Mount, made their way into the UNHRC resolution that was passed against Israel a week ago.

Daily Goldstone 10/25

Israel Matzav shows a Bill Moyers interview with Richard Goldstone, and then quotes an Israeli legal expert demolishing his claims. For example:
1. The Goldstone report draws its conclusions on the basis of 36 incidents it says it investigated. The report says that incidents are illustrative and therefore justify the broader conclusions made by the report. But Goldstone admits that the report lied in saying that the incidents are “illustrative” and in saying that the Mission worked according to its self-described neutral mandate rather than the official biased one. Goldstone says “We chose those 36 because they seemed to be, to represent the most serious, the highest death toll, the highest injury toll. And they appear to represent situations where there was little or no military justification for what happened.” In other words, the Mission chose incidents that were seen as NOT ILLUSTRATIVE, and, rather, most likely to support a finding of war crimes.

2. Goldstone repeatedly misstates the law in the interview.

a. Goldstone implicitly misstates the rule of distinction. Goldstone rightly says that the rule of distinction requires combatants to distinguish between “combatants and innocent civilians.” But then, he “proves” that Israel violated the rule of distinction by saying “We found evidence in statements made by present and former political and military leaders, who said, quite openly, that there's going to be a disproportionate attack. They said that if rockets are going to continue, we're going to hit back disproportionately.” Stating that a counter-attack will be disproportionate to the attack isn’t a violation of the rule of distinction. The rule of distinction requires that Israel not aim its fire at civilians as such. It has nothing to do with how much fire Israel can aim at legitimate targets.

b. Regarding the rules of distinction and proportionality, Moyers asks Goldstone, “Who is to say that? Who is to make that distinction?” Goldstone answers, “Well, that distinction must be made after the event.” That is absolutely, positively, not the law. The law is that commanders must make judgments on the basis of knowledge they have at the time, not that one second-guesses them after the event and judges them guilty on the basis of knowledge they may not have had. Thus, for example, Newton testified “In order to properly assess a real proportionality assessment therefore, the relevant question is what did the commander know? What information was available to him?”
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Israelis barred from Komen cancer event in Egypt

The news over the past few days about this have been muddled, but the upshot is that Israelis have been banned from attending events sponsored by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization in Egypt this week.

A couple of days ago, Egyptian authorities announced that they will not allow Israeli doctors to attend, and the Komen people said that they would do everything they could to ensure that the Israelis would be able to attend in a press release last Thursday:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Pleased to Announce Egyptian Events to Welcome All Advocates, Including those from Israel Statement by Nancy G. Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

“Breast cancer advocates from the United States and across the Middle East are meeting in Egypt from October 21-27 for breast cancer awareness events. There have been reports that some of the invited participants would not be allowed to attend these events. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has now received confirmation that all advocates, regardless of their country of origin, are invited to fully participate in events to bring breast cancer to the forefront of public discussion in the Middle East.
It was still unclear whether any Israelis would be able to attend at that point, and a number of people on the SGK bulletin board felt that the organization should pull out of the Egyptian events if the Israelis could not attend.

The ADL praised Komen for their position on Friday.

Today, though, the Daily News Egypt is saying that the Komen Foundation has withdrawn the invitation to Israelis:

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has withdrawn its invitation to Israeli doctors to attend a conference in Egypt upon the request of Egypt’s Minister of Health.

The conference was organized as part of the American NGO’s breast cancer awareness month activities on Oct. 21-22 in Alexandria, which brought together breast cancer awareness advocates from 10 Middle Eastern countries.

According to the Israeli news portal J Weekly, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, wrote a letter to the NGO’s President Hala Moddelmog, condemning the decision, describing it as “shocking and contrary to the stated purpose of these programs.”

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest breast cancer advocacy organization and is holding the breast cancer awareness month in cooperation with the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt and the Suzanne Mubarak Regional Center for Women’s Health and Development in Alexandria, with support from the governments of Egypt and the United States.

Representatives of the organization were unavailable for comment.

The J weekly article was published on Wednesday, though, and it did not indicate that the Komen Foundation had rescinded the invitations but rather that Egypt had, so it appears that the Egyptian newspaper is not being completely accurate.