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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Worth reading: "Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People"

From JCPA:


Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People:
From the San Remo Conference (1920) to the Netanyahu-Abbas Talks

Joshua Teitelbaum

  • According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the real root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians had been their ongoing refusal to recognize "the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland" and he has singled out this issue as a key "prerequisite for ending the conflict." Netanyahu's proposal puts back on the global agenda a fundamental Jewish national right that was once axiomatic but today is rarely mentioned.
  • Ninety years ago at the San Remo Conference following World War I (April 1920), the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers determined the allocation of the Middle Eastern territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire and decided to incorporate the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish national home in Palestine into the British Mandate for the territory, a move which confirmed international recognition of the right of Jewish self-determination.
  • The language adopted at San Remo was a triumph for Zionism, which saw a national solution to the problem of the Jews. It recognized the existence of the Jews as more than individuals who subscribed to a certain religion - Judaism - but rather as a corporate group deserving of national expression, in this case in the form of a national home. And this home was to be in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews. The language agreed upon at San Remo was, as British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon put it, "the Magna Carta of the Zionists." It was clear at the time that the term "national home" really meant a state.
  • Jewish self-determination was part of a process that ended up decolonizing the Middle East in an effort that led to Arab as well as Jewish independence. Repeated recent associations of Israel with colonialism - an ahistorical canard that erases the millennia-long association of Jews with the Land of Israel as an indigenous people - ignores the benefit that Zionism actually brought to the Arabs through the process of decolonization. The British Peel Commission Report of 1937 was quite clear on this. Indeed, it was the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel that gave critical mass to a distinct and unique Palestinian identity as well.
  • The Jews have been brought back into history through the establishment of the State of Israel. This was accomplished with the aid of international institutions which recognized the justice and importance of Jewish national self-determination. These institutions accepted the validity of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jews. Today, those who deny the Jewish right to national self-determination, more than 60 years after the founding of Israel, engage in a new kind of anti-Semitism.
Read the whole thing.


(h/t Joel)

Some news about Amnesty

A couple of recent items about Amnesty International:

In May, Amnesty released a strongly worded communique condemning Israel for arresting a "human rights activist:"
Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of a human rights activist whose week-long detention by the Israeli authorities was extended today.

Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested in a dawn raid at his home in Haifa, northern Israel, by the Israeli security services and police on 6 May. He has been charged with "contact with a foreign agent" on the basis of “secret evidence”.

"Ameer Makhoul is a key human rights defender, well-known for his civil society activism on behalf of the Palestinian citizens of Israel," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"His arrest and continued detention smacks of pure harassment, designed to hinder his human rights work. If this is the case, we would regard him as a prisoner of conscience call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
Last week, this "key human rights defender" admitted to being a spy for Hezbollah.
As Yaacov Lozowick asks - will Amnesty apologize to Israel for accusing them of harassing someone for their human rights work?

The other story is about a kangaroo court called the Russell Tribunal for Palestine. It plans to meet in November to create its second show trial against Israel, with members of the "jury" including such rabid Israel bashers as Mairead Corrigan Maguire, John Dugard, Ronald Kasrils and even conspiracy theory nutjob Cynthia McKinney. It is sponsored by the Law Society of England.

A meeting to discuss the goals of this farce is going to take place on November 8th. The venue? The Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre!


UPDATE: Summing up the Russell Tribunal for Palestine:
From the Israel Embassy in Spain, h/t Elder of Lobby

PA restricts how and what media can report. Journalists silent.

From the Jerusalem Post:

The Palestinian Authority said on Monday that foreign journalists who visit the West Bank through Israeli media facilitators are “unwelcome.”


The move is seen as an attempt by the PA to prevent journalists from writing stories that may reflect negatively on the Palestinian government’s image.


The Jerusalem-based Media Central organization thus canceled a planned tour of foreign journalists to Jericho, which was to have taken place on Tuesday.


The organization has been taking foreign journalists on organized tours of the West Bank, where they have been able to speak to PA officials and other Palestinians freely. In Jericho, the journalists were supposed to meet with various PA officials, as well as the mayor.


However, a spokesman for the PA informed Media Central that foreign journalists should coordinate their visits to the West Bank through the PA’s press office and not through Israeli bodies. The spokesman said that foreign journalists whose visits are organized by Israeli groups are “unwelcome.”


The latest decision was apparently made in response to a report in the Los Angeles Times about a ceremony marking Jericho’s 10,000th birthday party. The report noted that many Palestinians and foreigners who were invited to the event did not show up.


“No foreign diplomats attended the opening ceremony, Shakira was not there to sing or shake, and even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a no-show,” according to the Los Angeles Times report. “Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, greeted by a few dozen Jericho children, unveiled a Jericho-themed postage stamp.”


The Palestinian Government Media Center also responded sharply to claims of violating press freedoms on Tuesday after the Palestinian Authority refused to accommodate any journalists who enter PA-controlled territory with the assistance of the Jerusalem-based Media Central organization.


"The Palestinian Government Media Center is very keen, as a new institution, to provide facilities for journalists wishing to report on the reality of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and give an accurate view of the political situation," said a statement released by the group. "What it is not prepared to do is work in co-operation with Israeli organizations dedicated to propaganda in support of the Occupation."
Perhaps, one might think, the PA Media Center is dedicated to freedom of the press and truth in reporting? Maybe the Jerusalem Post is exaggerating that they were upset at the negative LA Times story?

Well, let's go to their webpage and find out the goals of the Palestine Media Center - written only in Arabic:


In light of the escalation of the struggle of the Palestinian people, and their heroic sacrifices, which reached peaks in the first Intifada and the Al-Aqsa [second] Intifada ... cabinet affairs minister Yasser Abed Rabbo created an information center that addresses the media and public opinion and the Arab World at the regional and international levels, for truth and justice towards the fact that the national struggle is a just and honorable struggle of the Palestinian people and the peoples of the Arab nation, in defense of their natural rights in the liberation of their occupied land and sovereignty.


It is possible to summarize the objectives of the Centre in this manner:


Explain and clarify the official Palestinian position towards the various issues of the Arab and Palestinian - Israeli conflict.


* To clarify the image of the Palestinian and international media and proving the legitimacy of their struggle for independence.


* Address the world public opinion in plain, understandable and contemporary language.


* Improve the process of working with existing media, especially the U.S. media, to reorganize and manage the Palestinian relationship with the networks and representatives of various agencies and global media.


The center also aims to create a system of effective information shows the official position of the National Authority towards various issues, in addition to the right of self-determination and the declaration of the state and the return of refugees and commitment to the principles of international legitimacy, and to enhance the image of Palestinians around the world through effective cooperation with the media, and influencing global public opinion about the Palestinian people, especially with regard to achieving the national goals of independence and human rights, and the cultural, social, economic and political development of the Palestinian people.
In short, foreign journalists are now being forced by the PA to coordinate their movements with an organization whose very existence is explicitly against fair reporting about the conflict and only for giving one side of the story.

Compare the PMC goals with those published by Media Central:
MediaCentral is an independent media-liaison organization offering a friendly place to work in downtown Jerusalem, with free services including:


  • WiFi access & printer/fax facilities, etc.
  • Primary sources (experts, analysts, interviewees, materials)
  • References / contacts – photographers, translators, drivers, guides, etc.
  • Field Tours to locations of interest – Sderot, Golan & the North, Security Barrier, etc.
  • Updates, briefings, analysis – in a range of languages
  • Translations of breaking news and critical materials
  • Drop-in lounge with coffee/tea/drinks & snacks
  • Wide-screen TVs with continual news feeds
  • Helping hand services/info – logistics, contracts, what’s hot, what’s not
  • Every Thursday - MediaCentral's TGIT! "Thank Goodness It's Thursday" end of the week gatherings every Thursday at 4pm (with wine & cheese, beer & snacks) - with occasional briefings on various topics (TBA). 
MediaCentral can be your 'base-camp' in Jerusalem. We take an open, direct and needs-based approach to serving you, in cooperation with both Israeli and Palestinian partners from the government and NGO sectors. Initiated by Honest Reporting, our goal is to promote impartial and comprehensive coverage; confident that accuracy is Israel’s best ally, we aim to simply help you achieve your goals of understanding and reporting the facts and providing insightful analysis.
Note the highlighted section: to MediaCentral, truth and accuracy is the primary goal, even as it is confident that this very accuracy will help Israel. Contrast that the the PMC, whose entire stated purpose is explicitly pro-Palestinian propaganda and no balance whatsoever.

While MediaCentral can and does arrange for reporters to meet with Palestinian Arab officials, the PMC would never dream of facilitating reporters meeting with Jewish leaders who live in Judea and Samaria. That is the difference between an organization that is meant to help the media and one meant to mislead it.

If the PA is now telling its officials to stop working with MediaCentral, that means that the PA is afraid of the truth and wants to force journalists to adhere to their narrative. This is, to put it simply, outrageous, and the media should be making their objections clear to this attempt to influence their opinions and limit their ability to hear both sides of the story.

Unfortunately that is not happening. The media is silent on this explicit curtailing of their freedoms under the "moderate" yet authoritarian Palestinian Authority. The only person to report on this outrage is - as usual - Khaled Abu Toameh, the brilliant and courageous Arab journalist who reveals the stories that the Western media are too timid to touch.

In what is seen as yet another bid to restrict freedom of the media, the Palestinian Authority government has announced that journalists who wish to report "accurately" on Palestinian life are urged to do so directly with Palestinians.

The Palestinian government's decision is aimed at sending a warning to journalists who dare to report anything that may reflect negatively on its reputation.

It is not clear why representatives of the foreign media have not protested against the new restrictions directed against them.

The Western-funded Palestinian government is actually telling foreign journalists that from now on they should report only on matters that shed a positive light on the Palestinian Authority and its leaders.

By insisting that foreign journalists arrange their visits to the Palestinian territories only through Palestinians, the Palestinian government is proving that its attitude toward freedom of the media is not much different that that of Hamas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Bashar Assad.
(h/t Backspin)

Kuwait to run for UN Human Rights Council

Another joke in the offing:
Kuwait has decided to run for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) membership for 2013-2015 in aim to what it calls “buttressing and disseminating” the culture of human rights, Kuna news agency reported on Thursday.

The country’s permanent representative at the U.N. Mansour al-Etebi has embarked on the UNHRC country’s decision during a U.N. General Assembly Social, Human and Cultural Committee meeting late Wednesday.

Al-Etebi repeated Kuwait’s commitment to spread the culture of human rights through the involvement of the country in all of the relevant international events pertinent to the development and protection of human rights and dignity.
The article goes on to helpfully point out that Kuwait has recently banned books at a book fair as well as stripped a man of his citizenship because he insulted Aisha, one of Mohammed's wives.

In addition, Kuwait restricts the hours that women are allowed to work, its press engages in self-censorship and you can get arrested for eating in public on Ramadan.

Sounds like a good fit with Libya, Saudi Arabia, China and the other freedom-loving members of the council.

Two wrongs

From AP:
One of Egypt's best-selling novelists lashed out on Friday at an unauthorized Hebrew translation of his best known novel, describing it as intellectual "theft."

Alaa al-Aswany told AP that he will sue an Israeli center for translating his hit book, "The Yacoubian Building," without his permission.

The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information acknowledged it translated the novel against al-Aswany's will on the grounds of "expanding cultural awareness."

The center's founder, Gershon Baskin, said that al-Aswany is against culture normalization with Israel and that is why he turned down several requests to translate the novel into Hebrew.
In consultation with the organization's board, Baskin said, he decided to offer a link to a PDF file of the Hebrew translation, sending it out to the 27,000 people on the group's e-mail list.

"This man apparently rejects the fact that his country has been at peace with Israel for 30 years," Baskin said. "With all due respect to his copyright privileges, we decided it was important for people here to read this book. Let's give the Israeli Jewish public an opportunity to understand Arab society better."

Al-Aswany, a dentist-turned novelist, said bringing up his opposition to normalization with Israel was an attempt to distract from what he characterized as a theft.

"The fact is someone's intellectual property has been stolen and that this happened in Israel, a country that claims to be democratic," he said.
For al-Aswany to be against translating his novel to Hebrew is stupid and bigoted.

But that doesn't give the ICPRI the right to publish it and distribute it for free without giving al=Aswany royalties. If they had published it, sold it and given his the proceeds, they might have an argument, but to use al-Aswany's bigotry to justify IPCRI's theft is a bit outlandish.

I find it especially ironic that the same Gershon Baskin wrote an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post last month about the peace process, saying that both sides are right but "two rights don't make a wrong." Perhaps he should re-visit the original expression that he was twisting.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Left wing activists caught cutting down Arab olive trees

From YNet:
Arabs and leftist activists staged an attack on Palestinian fields in a bid to accuse settlers of vandalism, an organization that claims to have documented the incident says.

Tazpit Unit [is] an organization identified with the settlers which documents news events in the territories. Tazpit says that these staged attacks were meant to falsely accuse settlers of attacking Palestinian land.
The photos, taken by members of the Tazpit Unit, were shot on Palestinian land Friday, near the Neveh Tzuf settlement. The images allegedly show Palestinians and left-wing activists cutting down Palestinian olive trees using an electric saw.
Here's the picture enlarged:
While it is possible/probable that some Jews have cut down Arab olive trees, I have still never seen a picture such as this one showing it - even though these "peace" activists are all over the West Bank looking for just such an event.

 I had mentioned this phenomenon before.

You can always count on Palestinian Arab intransigence

I've mentioned how an outgoing UNRWA official, Andrew Whitley, caused a storm of protest by stating an obvious truth: that most Palestinian Arab "refugees" will never end up in Israel and that it is cruel to keep feeding them that fantasy - a fantasy that has already ruined three generations of families.

Now, that oh-so-"moderate" PA spokesman and serial liar Saeb Erekat has added his voice to the complaints, writing a letter of complaint to the UN and happy that UNRWA distanced itself from the speech Whitley gave.

An additional lie that Erekat added to his stellar record is that UN General Assembly Resolution 194 calls for the "right of return" for Palestinian Arab refugees from 1948. Of course, it doesn't - it calls for "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." That clause about living at peace with their neighbors limits its applicability by quite a bit, besides the simple fact that it was a General Assembly resolution that is not binding (it also called for the internationalization of Jerusalem and a huge chunk of the West Bank, including Bethlehem - something that Jordan certainly didn't do and that Palestinian Arabs today are not contemplating.)

And, I would add, the definition of "refugee" used at that time did not include descendants of refugees, a unique interpretation that was made up only for Palestinian Arabs by UNRWA, an agency that didn't exist at the time this resolution passed.

So, no, UN 194 does not give any "right of return" and those who say it does, like Erekat, are liars. They are placing the well-being of millions of people behind their own petty politica and hatred of Israel. Erekat doesn't give a damn about the descendants of the refugees - he just wants them to fester in misery forever, rather than have them become full citizens of the host countries that the vast majority of them were born in.

And while we are talking about Erekat's and the PA's intransigence, he also said that the "secret plan" supposedly floated by the US to Israel where Israel would lease parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank from the PA for a number of decades is a non-starter, saying that "Palestine is not for rent." A Fatah leader also said that Abu Mazen (Abbas) would never agree to that.

So no matter what possible compromises anyone comes up with, rest assured that the Palestinian Arabs will not accept them - secure in their knowledge that their consistent rejectionism will not be noticed by the West, who will continue to label only Israeli leaders "hardline" and "intransigent" and Palestinian Arab leaders as "moderate" and "pragmatic."

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

RivkA, an Israeli blogger who has been chronicling her battle with cancer, passed away on Friday. Her funeral was Saturday night in Jerusalem.

While I did not frequent her blog, she sounds like she was an amazing person.

Since the topic of Rachel's Tomb came up yesterday, here is her account of her visit there in 2008.

May her family be comforted.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shabbat Shalom open thread


Here's another picture I took with my camera phone this week (heavily cropped and somewhat adjusted to make it brighter.) It was through the car window so it is not as nice as the one I did yesterday.

I have been working off and on to move the products from my CafePress store to Printfection, where you have much more variety for every design. I was able to embed the store in a Blogger page so you can visit without leaving this site. Check it out! If the embedded page doesn't work for some reason, you can go straight here

For that store, I made (with help from Daughter of Ziyon) a different Elder logo, one that is horizontal and without Spongebob, because I thought they might not allow it because of copyright issues. 
I do need to apologize for those who have been sending links to me; I know I am not acknowledging them all but the blog and work and the other stuff in my life is making time very, very scarce. I appreciate the emails very much, even if I don't respond.

Have a great Shabbos/Shabbat/weekend!

UNESCO pushes a lie

From the UNESCO site:
• The Palestinian sites of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem: the Board voted 44 to one (12 abstentions) to reaffirm that the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law, the UNESCO Conventions and the United Nations and Security Council resolutions.

Back in March, UNESCO went a little further and referred to "the historic Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque," helpfully putting "Rachel's Tomb" in parentheses.

The only problem is that it is completely false.

As I documented in some detail last year, the name "Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque" was never used before the mid-1990s - even by Arabs! Calling it "the historic Bilal Bin Rabah mosque" is, simply, a lie, and an easily proven one.

For a good example of this, here is a UN document from 1994 where the Arab League is describing Israeli "violations of human rights in the territories:"

[T]he settlers demanded the right to engage in acts of religious worship, like the Muslims, in a number of mosques, including the Ibrahimi Shrine, Joseph's Tomb at Nablus, Nabi Samwil at Jerusalem and Rachel's Tomb at Bethlehem.
Even the Arab League called it Rachel's Tomb a mere sixteen years ago! The only Arabic name for the site has historically been Qubbat Rukhail, or "The Dome of Rachel."

UNESCO is an institution whose entire purpose is meant to foster co-existence based on education, the sciences, and culture. By saying that an undisputed Jewish holy site is primarily a mosque, and only parenthetically a Jewish site, shows its utter disregard for those three fields represented in its name. It is pushing a lie that was created from whole cloth by Muslims to eliminate Jewish history and culture.

It is a travesty of UNESCO's goals to rewrite history in the service of those who want to eradicate Jewish culture from the Middle East.

See also JPost on Netanyahu's reaction.

Latest Latma (10/29/10)



Starts off strong; goes downhill. But still good.

Jordan condemns UNRWA official's comments

Earlier this week, I mentioned an outgoing UNRWA official had stated out loud what everyone knows - that most descendants of Arab refugees from Palestine in 1948 will never "return" to Israel, and it is cruel to keep feeding them that lie.

Predictably, UNRWA distanced itself from the comments.

Jordan has now condemned the comments as well:
Jordan has condemned remarks by a United Nations official saying Palestinian refugees must not be deluded about their right to return and that Arab countries must resettle them.

Wajih Azaizeh, who directs Jordan's Palestinian Affairs Department, on Thursday called remarks by Andrew Whitley, the N.Y. director of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, "irresponsible."
It is especially interesting that Jordan is upset, because it is the only Arab country that gave citizenship to Palestinian Arabs (the ones who lived in the West Bank that was illegally annexed by Jordan.)

In recent years, Jordan has been slowly taking away Palestinian Jordanians' rights - and citizenship, especially from Arabs who live in or have ties with the West Bank.

This is apparently more evidence that Jordan has no intent to treat its Palestinian citizens equally. From the reaction, it appears that Jordan is pushing to deport all of its PalArab citizens to "Palestine" as soon as that option arises.

And this is the Arab country that has treated Palestinian Arabs the best, by far!

UK government minister attends terror-supporting conference

From The Telegraph(UK):
A GOVERNMENT minister spoke at an event where suicide bomber accessories and items glorifying terrorism were on open sale.

Andrew Stunell, the communities minister, addressed the controversial “Global Peace and Unity” (GPU) conference in East London on Sunday. The event’s programme says its official “supporters” include the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.

A few yards from where Mr Stunell was speaking, a stall sold suicide bomber headbands and T-shirts promoting two banned terror groups.

One of the shirts showed a masked terrorist holding a Kalashnikov rifle in one hand and the Quran in the other against a backdrop of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The Daily Telegraph bought one of the shirts.

The image is the official logo of the al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist group banned across the EU and United States. Underneath, a slogan in Arabic read: “The conscripts of the martyr. Here in response, O Jerusalem.”

The al-Qassam Brigade has been responsible for at least 200 civilian deaths in suicide attacks since 2000.

Hooded tops with the flag of another proscribed terrorist organisation, Hezbollah – a clenched fist holding a Kalashnikov, and the slogan “Resistance” – were also on sale. Hezbollah has killed many Israelis in rocket attacks.

Also available were “shahada headbands” as worn by many Palestinian suicide bombers. “Shahada” in this context means martyrdom. The headbands contain the personal testimony of the suicide bombers.

Legal experts said the items could constitute glorification of terrorism, which is illegal under UK anti-terror laws. A senior City of London police officer was listed on the programme as speaking before Mr Stunell.

The items were on sale at a stall in the GPU’s exhibition area operated by a company called Wearaloud, based in a flat in a tower block in Bethnal Green. According to its website, it specialises in “Islamic,” “political” and “guns and military” items. However, it appears to have no Companies House or other registration. The website also offers for sale a garment described as an “AK47 militia fighter fun T-shirt.”

Other stalls at the exhibition distributed fundamentalist literature calling for the destruction of Israel and the subjugation of women.

The GPU is one of the most controversial events in the annual Muslim calendar. Organised by the Islam Channel, a digital TV station with a number of extremist and fundamentalist presenters, this year’s event was boycotted by the Conservative Party because of deep concerns about some of those taking part.

They included Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, a Holocaust denier who has said that the extermination of the Jews was a “hoax,” and Mohammed Ijaz ul Haq, who has said that the British government’s decision to knight the author Sir Salman Rushdie justified suicide attacks.

The Tory chairman, Baroness Warsi, was banned from attending by the Prime Minister, David Cameron. However, Lib Dems, including Mr Stunell and the party’s deputy leader, Simon Hughes, were not affected by the ban. Senior Labour figures, including the party’s candidate for mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, also spoke at the event.

The DCLG said that Mr Stunell’s speech “made clear that the Coalition Government will not tolerate extremism, hatred or intolerance in any form.”

Paul Goodman, the former Tory MP who shadowed Mr Stunell’s brief in opposition and has campaigned against GPU, said: “This evidence demonstrates why no minister should have gone. I hope that Andrew Stunell, the minister who did go, did deliver the robust renunciation we were promised.”

Jamal Uddeen Waitakarie, a spokesman for Wearaloud, said he thought his products were “acceptable,” adding: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” He described the suicide bomber headbands as “an identification of faith” and said: “I suppose suicide bombers wear them. But anybody wears them.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “There was no formal Met Police representation at GPU. The Commissioner was invited to attend or record a video message but did not. We understand a small delegation from the Association of Muslim Police attended. The Metropolitan Police Service does not support any extremist view or behaviour and would consider any allegations of criminality raised.”

A spokesman for City Police said: “We spoke at the event to raise awareness of we were doing to work with the Muslim community, and to raise awareness of fraud against hajj pilgrims.”
(h/t Eran Shayshon; top photo is his via Facebook - other photos from website of vendor)

How "humanitarians" spend their free time

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has put together a lot of information about the recent Viva Palestina trip to Gaza - and showing exactly what the self-proclaimed "humanitarians" did while they were there.

Some highlights:

The de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip conducted a media campaign to use the convoy as a lever to improve its image in international and Arab public opinion, defame Israel and exert pressure on it achieve a unilateral end to the so-called "siege" of the Gaza Strip. Convoy activists, especially those from the Arab-Muslim world, were included in ceremonies and events which were clearly Hamas-Islamist in character (On the other hand, the European members of the convoy, who were in the minority after the Middle East contingents arrived, made sure to keep a low media profile.)

The convoy activists met with senior Hamas figures, headed by Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration. During a sermon he called Israel ("the occupation") "a cancerous growth on the living body of the Arab nation" and emphasized that Palestine was and would remain Palestinian, Arab and Muslim.

On the evening October 22 a festive ceremony was held in honor of the convoy's participants at the Rashad al-Shawa Center in Gaza, attended by senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad figures. Convoy spokesman Zaher Birawi and Muhammad Sawalha (two Hamas activists living in Britain), as well as other activists, expressed their appreciation. The last speaker was Ismail Haniya, who welcomed the assembled audience and said that the arrival of the convoy was "a continuation of the Palestinian victory in Operation Cast Lead." He called it a historic moment, the end of the era in which Israel received international support. He appealed to members of the convoy and asked them to continue their actions until the "siege" was broken. He said it would be broken and that the "occupation" would end through the convoys and shaheeds (martyrs).

Members of the Turkish delegation, who did not reveal their organizational affiliations (in our assessment, most of them belonged to IHH), were taken by commanders of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to visit its positions. The PIJ's website posted pictures of the Turks, who joined PIJ operatives and were photographed with them holding weapons, wearing uniforms and decorated with PIJ headbands.
Solidarity meeting of Turkish activists with the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Solidarity meeting of Turkish activists with the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic JihadSolidarity meeting of Turkish activists with the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The visit to the Gaza Strip was used by the Turkish delegation to demonstrate solidarity with the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Delegation members were careful not to openly identify themselves to the media as belonging to IHH. However, before they left for the Middle East they were received by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who during a ceremony in Istanbul called on Egypt to allow the convoy free entry.

Members of the Turkish delegation toured several Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions with commanders of the Jerusalem Battalions, the PIJ's military wing. During the tour one of the Turks said that Muslims (i.e., the PIJ) trusted them to struggle against "the criminal Zionist entity" and that he was proud to meet them. He said that the entire Turkish nation, like the Arabs and all Muslims, were praying for their victory and supported them (Jerusalem Battalions Ilam Ghaza forum, quoted by the official website of the Jerusalem Battalions, October 26,2010).

In addition to their statements, pictures were posted on the PIJ forum of members of the Turkish delegation wearing camouflage uniforms and headbands, and holding guns.

A ceremony to lay the corner stone for a hospital was held in the Jabaliya refugee camp, attended by senior Hamas figures and the Yemeni delegation (Hamas’ Paltoday website, October 24, 2010). One of the members of the Yemeni delegation was apparently Sheikh al-Idrisi, a member of the Al-Islah faction of the Yemeni Parliament and a Hamas supporter. He was aboard the Mavi Marmara and was photographed waving a large shabaria (dagger) (a picture which gained popularity). During his stay in the Gaza Strip he presented the shabaria, or a similar one, to Ismail Haniya.

Sheikh al-Idrisi waving the shabaria (dagger) aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Sheikh al-Idrisi waving the shabaria (dagger) aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Sheikh al-Idrisi presents Ismail Haniya with a shabaria
Ismail Haniya
It's really touching how much compassion these "humanitarians" show for would-be genocidal terrorists.

Massive Gaza rally planned today to celebrate a terrorist leader

All week, there have been a number of events in Gaza to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of Islamic Jihad co-founder Fathi Shiqaqi.

Shiqaqi was first Sunni terrorist leader to find Koranic justification for suicide terrorism.

He was assassinated in a Mossad operation in Malta on October 26, 1995.

The commemorations reach their peak today with a planned rally in Gaza, to be attended by all factions and not just Islamic Jihad members. It will be broadcast on satellite TV.

The rally will emphasizes that the Palestinian Arabs support the approach of jihad and resistance, and reject any "defeatist" options or compromises that would waive what they consider their basic rights to all of Palestine.

Because the rally goes against all of Western conventional wisdom about how moderate most Palestinian Arabs are, it - and its themes - will be all but ignored by the media.

Here are some pictures from Islamic Jihad parades through Rafah and Khan Younis yesterday. (The last two pictures are dated from six months ago, so either the camera time was not set or Palestine Today is not quite telling the truth about the rallies....)



UPDATE: Here are pictures from the rally.


Egypt arrests group planning to bomb US ships in Damietta

Egyptian security authorities arrested 14 men from the city of Damietta last Tuesday, saying that they formed a terrorist cell called "Soldiers of Allah," and seized weapons and explosives, saying they 'were planned to be used in terrorist attacks'.

The group held meetings in the home of one of their leaders, 35-year old Subhi Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is a pharmacist. They were planning to carry out terrorist operations against a number of commercial ships in the port of Damietta. Police secretly videotaped recorded a number of these meetings.

Police raided the home of the leader of the cell, and arrested its members, and seized weapons and explosives and a variety of books containing information on the manufacture of grenades, time-bombs and remote-controlled bombs, as well as cash and mobile phones.

The main target was to be U.S. ships in the port of Damietta.

Report: US plan for Israel to lease settlements from PA

Asharq al-Awsat reports that the US and Israel are in secret negotiations in Washington to define the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian Arab state.

According to the sources, the agreement that the US is pushing involves recognition of a Palestinian Arab state exactly along the 1949 armistice lines in return for Palestinian Arab agreement to lease parts of "Arab" eastern Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to Israel for somewhere between 40 and 99 years.

This is an American proposal, coming in response to Israeli insistence that the US adhere to the letter that George W. Bush sent to Ariel Sharon that large settlement blocs would remain under Israeli control.

The sources said that the idea of leasing land was floated during the 2001 Taba negotiations, but for 6-9 years and not for many decades.

The US and Israel declined to confirm or deny the report. A State Department spokesman said "We are in constant contact with Israel. This is part of our strong and solid commitment [to the peace process.] Some are public communications, and some are private, and of course we do not announce non-public communications."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Egyptian elections coming up

The Egyptian regime is having major problems trying to keep the elections legal, and yet marginalizing the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt has made the Muslim Brotherhood's slogan, "Islam is the Solution", illegal for use on campaign posters.

Even though the MB is not allowed to run, they back independent candidates who subscribe to their positions.

From The Canadian Press:
Egyptian security detained 65 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday while they were hanging election posters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria for next month's parliamentary vote, police said.

The arrests are the latest in the government's crackdown on the popular Islamist group, the strongest opposition to Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party.

Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker and candidate Hussein Ibrahim said the campaigners were arrested while hanging posters for one of the group's four female candidates.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said the workers violated an election law banning the use of religious slogans.
Hussein said the posters contained the phrases "God is great" and "Praise be to God," common phrases not associated exclusively with the group. He accused the government of targeting the group.

"This is the beginning of a blatant election fraud since the ruling party candidates' posters were left untouched although they contained full verses of the Qur’an (Islam's holy book)," he said.

The ban on religious slogans by Egypt's Electoral Committee forced the group to forgo its longtime slogan "Islam is the Solution" in favour of substitutes like "Change Is Our Path."

Tuesday's arrests bring the number of Brotherhood members arrested to about 250 since the group announced on Oct. 9 its decision to participate in the elections. Police say they have detained 160 in the past week alone. Thirty remain in custody.
That's not the only drama in Egypt's election campaign, though:

Egypt's largest liberal opposition party Wafd threatened on Tuesday to boycott a parliamentary election next month after state television refused to air its political advertisements.

A spokesman for the party, Mohammed Sherdi, told a news conference Wafd would boycott the election "if the government's obstinacy towards the Wafd party and the refusal of its right to air political advertisements continues."

Wafd was the first to announce it would contest the November election after Egyptian dissident and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei called for a boycott.

Sherdi said state television refused to air the advertisement because it was not approved by the election committee.

"But this campaign has nothing to do with the election. It is a political advertisement for the group that has been in the works for five months," he said.

The head of the state broadcaster, Osama al-Sheik, said on Monday that television would air such advertisements only if they were approved by the election committee.
And to add to the mess, inject Jimmy Carter.

Carter offered to monitor the elections. The Muslim Brotherhood was enthusiastic about the idea, but Mofid Shehab, Minister of Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Councils, said that any outside observers would prejudice the sovereignty of the Egypt.

It is a really ugly situation. If true, free elections were held, the extremists would do well - but it does not appear that they can win, because they are running for less than half the available offices.

However, the government seems to be running roughshod over all possible candidates, not just Islamists.

Any way you look at it, Egyptians have no freedom and no democracy. But before free elections can be held, a few years of true freedom needs to come first, so the people can make truly informed decisions. This means freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, not to mention freedom of religion.

The government might be better than some of the alternatives but it is sacrificing freedom altogether, and the result is that all Egyptians are losing.

Autumn open thread

My cell phone camera might not be nearly as good as a dedicated camera, but in the right conditions it can do OK. I took this shot this morning.


Who does the AP consider an "extremist"?

Here are all the recent stories I could find by AP that used the word "extremist" as a factual statement, not as a quote:

October 19: A northern Virginia man who warned the creators of the animated TV show "South Park" that they risked death for mocking the prophet Muhammad is scheduled to plead guilty to supporting an al-Qaida linked terrorist group, according to court records....Prosecutors say that Chesser tried twice in the last year to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabab as a foreign fighter. ...After his latest attempt to leave the country, Chesser apparently tried convincing FBI agents he had renounced his extremist views and said he would work for the FBI if the government helped him travel to Africa, according to the affidavit.
October 21: Radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki lunched at the Pentagon as part of a program to reach out to moderate Muslims in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a military official said Thursday....The report said he had also been investigated by the FBI in 1999 and 2000 for having been "contacted by a possible procurement agent for (Osama) bin Laden" and for connections to extremist fundraising groups.
October 23: A U.S.-born spokesman for al-Qaida on Saturday urged Muslims living in the United States and Europe to carry out attacks there, calling it a duty and an obligation....He spoke in Arabic in the video, which was made available by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.
October 27: US drone strikes killed up to six militants in Pakistan's tribal belt on Wednesday, targeting the extremist Haqqani network and a compound harbouring foreign fighters, officials said.
October 27: An American who was arrested on suspicion of having links with al-Qaida has been charged with the murder of a Yemeni soldier and the wounding of another during a failed escape attempt....U.S. officials say Mobley, who grew up in Buena, N.J., traveled to Yemen more than two years ago with the goal of joining a terror group and that the U.S. government was aware of his potential extremist ties long before his arrest.
In all of these cases, the word "extremist" is used to refer to murderers and/or supporters of terror groups with a long track record of murders and terror attacks.

(AP also uses the word in quotes when referring to, say Democrats accusing Republican candidates of "extremism.")

But one other group in the world also gains that title in AP's world: right-wing Jews:
October 20: In the West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinians said Jewish settlers set fire to a girls school near the northern city of Nablus. The school was found vandalized with Hebrew graffiti on the wall reading "regards from the hills." The fire caused minor damage. The incident appears to be the latest action in a campaign extremist Jewish settlers call the "price tag."
Admittedly, arson is not something to belittle - but why is it called "extremist"?

Even more glaring was this report from yesterday:
Israeli police and stone-throwing Arabs clashed in northern Israel on Wednesday as a group of extreme right-wing Israelis tried to march through the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.
Hundreds of police clad in riot gear fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse angry Arab youths, many with scarves wrapped around their faces, who burned tyres and hurled stones in protest ahead of an extremist rally in their town.

Tensions were high as around 20 Israeli demonstrators from a group called "Our Land of Israel" turned up for a march calling for a ban on the radical wing of the Israeli Islamic Movement, which is led by the firebrand preacher Sheikh Raed Salah.

"Death to terrorists!" they shouted, waving banners reading: "Make the Islamic Movement illegal," and "Death to Raed Salah," although they were prevented from marching by police who hemmed them in with three coaches, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
While some may disagree with these protesters, they hardly have a track record of political assassinations or mass murders. Their protest was peaceful, if provocative. Their targets are terrorists and those who incite terror (like Raed Salah, who constantly makes up stories about Israeli plans to desecrate the Al Aqsa Mosque and has more that a bit of anti-semitism.)

Here we have a planned, legal, peaceful rally. Arabs who opposed it burned tires and threw stones. By any sane standard, the violent protesters should be labeled "extremist," not the Jewish protesters.

But in AP's worldview, nationalist Jews who claim disputed land and who protest Islamic terror incitement within their own country are regarded the same way as Al Qaeda.

(h/t Zach, also see Meryl Yourish)

UPDATE: After I wrote this I see that Just Journalism, the British media watchdog, caught The Independent and the BBC also using far more pejorative terms for right-wing Jews than for extremist Arabs.

Iran and Saudis likely joining UN women's rights agency

From AP:
Iran, where a woman convicted of adultery has been sentenced to death by stoning, is likely to become a member of the board of the new U.N. agency to promote equality for women, prompting outrage from the U.S. and human rights groups.

Some rights groups are also upset that Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive and are barred from many facilities used by men, is also vying to join the governing body of UN Women.

The General Assembly resolution adopted in July that merged four U.N. bodies dealing with women's issues into a single agency with greater clout to represent half the world's population calls for a 41-member executive board, with 35 members chosen by regional groups and six representing donor nations.

The Asian group has put forward an uncontested 10-nation slate that includes Iran, U.N. diplomats said, and Saudi Arabia has been selected for one of two slots for emerging donor nations.
Robin Shepard comments:
This is as big a farce as the dictatorship-ridden UN Human Rights Council. But, more than that, it provides yet another illustration of the impossibility of squaring notions of multilateralist, global governance with liberal-democratic principles. Whatever one’s views of the Bush administration, which pulled out of the Human Rights Council, this is one point they understood with complete clarity. Sadly, that is something one can’t necessarily say of their successors who seem almost as bemused as the hapless Europeans.
Zvi notes in the comments:
The western world insists on pretending that the UN - which due to its inclusion of non-democratic and brutal regimes is fundamentally a non-democratic organization - is able to advance human rights. It insists on granting undue influence to blocs of dictatorships. But the fact that dictators protect themselves and their allies from even modest censure by holding seats on the UNHRC, while turning the UNHRC into a political weapon against Israel, shows that this insistence is not only unhelpful, but actually kills people.

Now Islamist regimes are applying the same lesson with regard to UN Women.

The stench of hypocrisy is overpowering.

Egyptian Christians in trouble

Israel Today, a Christian Zionist publication, refers to Raymond Ibrahim's recent piece in writing an update on the dangers facing Egypt's Coptic minority:

Egypt has parliamentary elections coming up next month and an important presidential election next year. As with similar regimes throughout history, the current rulers of Egypt need a scapegoat to take the voters’ attention off its disastrous social and economic policies (after all, rigging elections is so tedious).

Unfortunately for Egypt’s 10 million Christians, they are the perfect scapegoat in an increasingly radicalized Muslim society.

To stir up the public against the Christians, Egyptian Muslim clerics and media outlets have circulated a claim that the nation’s Coptic Christian minority is importing weapons from Israel in preparation for an assault on Egypt’s Muslims.

The claim originated on the pan-Arab satellite news network Al Jazeera, which ensured that just about every Egyptian Muslim, if not ever Middle East Muslim, was aware of the unfounded assertion that Egypt’s Christians were preparing for war with the aid of the hated “Zionist entity.”

Speaking on Al Jazeera on September 15, prominent Egyptian Muslim cleric Mohammed Salim al-Awwa declared that Egyptian Christians were “stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries - arms imported from Israel, no less, as Israel is at the heart of the Coptic Cause - and are preparing to wage war against Muslims.”

Other reports have included rumors that the Christian assault has already begun, and that Christian women who have converted to Islam are being kidnapped and tortured by the Copts.
Since those reports first started circulating last month, the Barnabas Fund, an organization that provides assistance to persecuted Christian communities, says that at least 10 large Muslim demonstrations against Christians have taken place in Egypt.

At least one Muslim group is calling for a “bloodbath” to be perpetrated against the Christian minority.

Further inflaming Muslim passions was an official Egyptian government body’s insistence that the Coptic Church formally apologize after one of its clergymen criticized a verse from the Koran that refers to Christians as “infidels.” The leader of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, promptly apologized, but the Muslim anger was not appeased.
It concludes:
Tellingly, the international media has almost completely ignored this story, while not failing to provide prime headline real estate whenever Israeli Jews build a few houses that upset the Palestinian Arabs.

That the construction of Jewish apartments can result in emergency UN meetings, official condemnations and weeks of front page news, but the persecution and potential slaughter of Egypt’s Christians cannot is evidence that the international community’s motives are not truly humanitarian in nature.

A new weapons route from Iran to Gaza?

From Ha'aretz:
Nigeria's secret service said on Tuesday it had intercepted 13 containers of weapons from Iran in what Israeli defense sources believe may be part of a new smuggling route from Iran to Hamas in Gaza.

Rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives camouflaged as building material were seized in the Nigerian port of Lagos after being unloaded from an Iranian ship.

Nigerian media reports said the ship, which came from Iran, docked in Lagos' port for a few hours only, unloaded 13 containers and sailed on.

The bill of lading said the shipment consisted of building materials, Nigerian State Security Service spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said.

"On opening the first container, the service operatives discovered rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives," Ogar said, adding the weapons were concealed among crates of floor tiles.

A senior defense source said preliminary information suggests the weapons' seizure has exposed a possible new arms smuggling route from Iran to Hamas, via Africa. He said the Iranians may have run into difficulties sending arms to Hamas via the Red Sea to the Sudan region and from there to Gaza via Sinai, following the beefed up international supervision on the movement of Iranian ships.

"Perhaps the Iranians were planning to unload the weapons in Nigeria and transfer them by land to Sudan and Sinai," the senior source said.
Meanwhile, Arabic media quote Yediot Aharonot in Hebrew as saying that Hamas has tested a locally-manufactured rocket that has a range of 80 km, enough to reach the heavily-populated center of the country, as well as Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets with a 70 km range.

Hamas is also said to have anti-aircraft rockets.

Jordanian "honor killer" has sentence reduced

From Al Arabiya:
A Jordanian man was condemned to death on Wednesday for killing his raped teenage niece to "cleanse" the family's honor, but the sentence was later commuted to 10 years in jail.

"The victim's family has urged the court to reduce the sentence, and it was commuted to 10 years in prison," a criminal court official told AFP.

Murder is punishable by the death penalty in Jordan, but in the case of so-called "honor killings," a court usually commutes or reduces sentences, particularly if the victim's family urges leniency.

Last year, Jamil, 41, shot his 16-year-old niece Abir eight times in different parts of her body after she was raped in 2008. The court did not provide the surnames of the victim or her uncle.

"In his confession, he claimed that he killed the girl to cleanse his family's honor," the official said, citing court papers.

Abir gave birth to a baby boy two months before her murder, and her family kept the child, he added.

Between 15 and 20 women are murdered each year in Jordan in the name of honor, despite government efforts to fight such crimes. Parliament has refused to reform the penal code to ensure harsher penalties.

Jew-hatred alive and well in Jordan

In 2006, Pew Research asked people throughout the world their opinion of Jews.

The country that came in dead last, with 98% saying that they do not like Jews, was Jordan. (Egypt came in at 97%.)

That's all the background you need to understand this:
It has been a while since Israelis entering Jordan were first required to deposit items of a Jewish-religious nature in order to cross the border for "security reasons." Most recently, Israelis have been asked to removes their yarmulkes.

A., an Israeli businessman who visits Jordan often was amazed when he was asked to leave his yarmulkes in a safe on his most recent visit to the country. "We know tefillin are confiscated and we recently heard brimmed hats were being taken, so we came with regular hats," he told Ynet.

"The man in the counter asked us to take off our hats and we thought it was standard procedure for passport control. But when the man saw the yarmulkes, he took us to the tourism police. The officer there said that the ban to wear yarmulkes was 'for our own benefit,' put it in the safe and gave us a form with which to receive the yarmulkes when we return."
Perhaps that is just because they are anti-Zionist and not anti-semitic? Not quite:
A. said that in light of such limitations he makes a point of not staying in Jordan for more than a day in each visit. "I don’t carry tefillin so I can't stay the night," he said. "What's really annoying about the whole thing is that together with us at the border crossing was a group of post-army youngsters with IDF training t-shirts who were so obviously Israeli citizens. They didn't give them any hard time, while with us they insisted."
Even if you agree that the border guards are simply protecting the Jews for their own good, it means that Jordan's government admits that its citizens are rabid Jew-haters - and it has no interest in doing anything about it.

Well, not quite true. They are willing to do something.

Because when Pew Research returned in 2008 to ask the same question about Jordanian attitudes towards Jews.

And Jordan refused to allow that question from even being asked!

(h/t Joel)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lauren Booth sets the record straight about her Islamic adventure

Al Quds al Arabi, the London-based pan-Arabic newspaper, interviewed Lauren Booth about her conversion to Islam.

First, she said that she simply converted to Islam, not to any particular sect within Islam. I guess she needs to get past page 60 of the Koran to make such a decision. She said she did it after returning from Iran, not in Iran.

Some newspaper mentioned that she swam in Gaza in a bikini the last time she was there. She denies this, saying she kept her clothes on and swam early in the morning so no one would see, and anyway now that she converted all of her sins are gone so it doesn't matter, but she might sue the newspaper that claimed she was in a bikini.

Well, I did find a picture of her at the beach in Gaza...

At her Iranian employer PressTV, she adds:
It is definitely not easy for a Western woman to convert to Islam. Everything that you have been shown about the way that Islam is treated in the West says to you that this is going to be difficult.

Your practices and your daily life are going to change. We only like changes that come out of diet but someone suggesting a new gym routine, or to, actually, commit to praying 5 times a day, to commit changing your lifestyle, to commit trying to be a better person and to understanding Islam and to make that into your life.
It took her about three seconds to convert to Islam, and her love of the spotlight is giving her headlines that she adores. And she's saying that it is difficult?

Anyway, I'll let Julie Burchill have the last word:
It's hard to know where to start when describing the sheer ickiness of Booth. That she works as a paid stooge for the murderous Iranian regime's television channel has to come pretty near the top. A woman, choosing to act a front for a gang of thugs who uphold the punishment of death by stoning for adulteresses! This is surely Stockholm Syndrome gone gaga.

Her entirely inappropriate addiction to the spotlight, although she was obviously designed as one of Nature's plus-ones, is another stand-out feature. A failed actress, a mediocre hack, it's pretty fair to say we would never have heard of her had her half-sister not married a man who became Prime Minister. And now her meal-ticket is Mohammed.

Yes, it seems that even the faith she was raised in isn't narrow-minded, patriarchal and oppressive enough for the sensation-hungry Booth, who having tried everything else is so jaded that she can only get a kick from self-denial. (There does seem to be a particular affinity between Catholics and Muslims – Jew-hating is a great bonding agent.) And a kick it is – she describes her engagement with faith in terms that veer between the drooling of a clammy adolescent ("this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy") and that of a recovering alcoholic clinging desperately to the wreckage of her sobriety ("I haven't had a drink in 45 days!")

We've all done embarrassing things, but the spectacle of Booth attempting to rap in the celebrity jungle does seem to indicate that she is the sort of dweeb who would do anything to get in with the tough kids – who she now perceives as being the Muslims.

Maybe like a lot of Western cowards, she thinks that if she sucks up to Islamism hard enough she will be spared its rage. Personally, I prefer to aspire to the words of the great Spanish anti-fascist activist Dolores "La Pasionaria" Ibarruri; "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

As I pointed out in this column a while back, the website Iranian.com, a voice of the country's exiles, recently ran a photo of Miss Booth in full modesty drag, with the headline HAS THIS WOMAN GONE MAD? and the comment "in donning the hijab, she is kowtowing to the very fundamentalism that holds the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in its hands ... To use the language that Booth might to describe Israel's excesses, it is shameful and disgusting that she a) works for Press TV, and b) agrees to wear Islamic headgear on screen."

What sort of woman freely converts to a religion which supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year? The sort of woman who writes love letters to a serial killer, I reckon. Still, might as well look on the bright side. Go on, Lauren, treat yourself to a full-face and – most essentially – mouth-covering burka!

If your Iranian paymasters and puppet-masters won't spring for it, I'd be more than happy to.

Wednesday afternoon links

Israeligirl: Cultural Oppression in Iran

Haaretz: Israeli Arab activist (and head of an NGO network) admits to spying for Hezbollah

Backspin: The Legal Niceties of Hamas Executions

Soccer Dad: Wanting peace more than the Palestinians

Sultan Knish: When Jewish Windows Break

Remember the nutty anti-semitic article about how Jews leaving the White House is a bad omen for America? Well, it now has a new audience - readers of the Arab American News! (h/t Dan)

Your tax dollars paying for PalArab pensions

A couple of weeks ago:

The European Commission decided, on 5 October, to provide an additional financial package worth €61.4 million for the Occupied Palestinian Territories under the 2010 budget. Some €41.4 million will go towards helping the Palestinian Authority meet its salary obligations for teachers, doctors and nurses in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
But apparently some of that €41.4 million is going elsewhere:
The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Dr Salam Fayyad, and the European Union Representative, Christian Berger, on Wednesday, signed a €41.4 million (Dh152.05 million) financing agreement, which will help to cover the expenses of the Palestinian Authority until the end of 2010.

These funds will cover the Palestinian Authority's salaries and pensions through PEGASE, the European mechanism for support of the Palestinians.

The €41.4 million financing package will contribute to the payment of civil servants' salaries and pensions, both in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank, for November and December 2010.
Maybe to Europeans, pensions are considered so basic as to be the same as salaries, but doesn't it seem a little strange that a cash-strapped pseudo-government like the PA is paying people who contribute nothing towards building a state?

Which map is offensive?

Imagine that the State of Israel published maps showing its boundaries looking something like this:


This map would include parts of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as all of Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Do you think it might offend people? Would it spur a huge set of angry demonstrations and op-eds, accusing Israel of expansionism and having aggressive, militaristic goals? Would Jordan be justified in reducing diplomatic ties because of an official map that takes a chunk of that country away?

It turns out that this map roughly represents the boundaries of Palestine requested by the Zionist Organization and presented at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.  It is also not far off from what most people in the early 20th century would have considered to be historic Palestine, although it explicitly excluded Amman and the Hejaz Railway.

Nowadays, of course, Israel is not demanding these boundaries for itself. A map like this one would be considered highly offensive, and in all probability if the Israeli government would publish even one copy of such a map as reflecting the desired borders of Israel it would result in UN resolutions condemning it as incitement.

Now look at this picture of Mahmoud Abbas published in the PA's Al Hayat al-Jadida yesterday, via MEMRI:

He is holding a map of "Palestine" carved in stone - and Israel doesn't exist.

Is that not offensive?

(Note again that the PA has no territorial designs on any Arab country, even when they are part of historic Palestine. Only Israel.)

So does the UN support a unilaterally declared Palestinian Arab state?

Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post seems to have been the first to report:
UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Negotiations Robert H. Serry expressed the UN's support for the declaration of an independent Palestinian state to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad while the two picked olives together on Tuesday near the West Bank village of Turmus'ayyeh, close to the Israeli settlement of Shiloh.

"All international players are now in agreement that the Palestinians are ready for statehood at any point in the near future," said Perry [sic]. He continued, "We are in the homestretch of your [Fayyad's] agenda to reach that point by August next year and you have our full support."
A few hours later, a reporter asked the UN spokesperson about this in their daily briefing:
Question: Robert Serry said yesterday to Salam Fayyad that the UN would support a declaration of the Palestinian State this… next summer… actually, next August.

Spokesperson: Said to whom?

Question: Said to Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The 1995 Oslo Accords, for which the UN is sponsored, from which participation in the Quartet says that any such declaration should be a result of negotiation. The question is, does Serry… does the Secretary-General believe that Serry’s sentiment also supports a unilateral declaration of statehood or through the UN without consulting Israel, which is the current path on which the Palestinians are going?

Spokesperson: Well, Benny, let me check with Robert Serry’s office on exactly what was said. Okay, thanks. Okay, thank you very much. Thank you. [He later informed the correspondent that Robert Serry had been quoted inaccurately, and that the paper writing about him had revised its story.]
As far as I can tell, the Jerusalem Post has not revised anything from what I just quoted above.

So what really happened?

Excitement in Yemen parliament over child marriages

The Yemen parliament debated a proposed law to set 16 years as the minimum age for girls to get married in that country.

The discussion deteriorated as the Islamists who oppose the law argued with its supporters.

The two sides started insulting each other and using profanity.

Then, one lawmaker raised his shoe to hit his opponent, and security broke up the scuffle. The session has now been postponed.

Al Watan, an Arab American newspaper reporting on the story, commented wryly in its headline: "Welcome to democracy."


By the way, I had never looked at the American Al Watan before. In Arabic, it links to at least one explicitly anti-semitic video.