.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A scary photo mistake

Al Arabiya English has an article by AFP about how Islamists are gaining the upper hand in northern Africa and how the West is growing concerned.

What interested me more than the article was the file photo illustrating it:

When was this photo taken?

It turns out that Al Arabiya got the photo caption wrong. 

It is not a recent photo of Islamist women in Egypt demanding an Islamist victory in the elections.

It was taken in February.

And these anti-democracy Islamist women are not demonstrating in Cairo, but in London.






Great speech by Ron Prosor at the UN yesterday

Here is what Israel's ambassador the the UN, Ron Prosor, said yesterday in a speech on the occasion of the General Assembly debate on "The Question of Palestine."
Mr. President,

A great Jewish sage once wrote, “The truth can hurt like a thorn, at first; but in the end it blossoms like a rose.”

His words came to my mind today. His insight could really benefit many in this hall.

It takes a well of truth to water the seeds of peace. Yet, we continue to witness a drought of candor in this body’s discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. On this historic day, real facts in the General Assembly remain few and far between.

For any who have been here on November 29th before, today is déjà vu. Some of you may have noticed that some minor changes have been taking place in the Middle East lately, but any changes in this body’s resolutions condemning Israel are very, very rare.

Indeed, it didn’t take a creative writer to craft the language in these resolutions. The exact same text is copied and pasted, year after year – much of it dating back five decades.

The account we heard today is one-sided. It is unilateral. It is unjust. And it is unhelpful. It presents a distorted and partial version of history. It transforms the cause of Palestinian self-determination into a deliberate attempt to denigrate, defame, and delegitimize the State of Israel.

The political dynamics in this body are sadly predictable. Every November, the leaves change color in New York, but the automatic anti-Israel majority never changes its votes.

Each and every responsible member of the international community that affixes its seal of approval on this exact same set of resolutions – which are irrelevant at best, and damaging at worst— should do a little soul searching. Is this the message that you want the General Assembly to send to the world?

Mr. President,

Let me take a moment to remind this Assembly about what actually occurred on this day 64 years ago – and in the days that followed.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition then British-Mandate Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab. Two states for two peoples.

The Jewish population accepted that plan and declared a new state in its ancient homeland. It reflected the Zionist conviction that it was both necessary and possible to live in peace with our neighbors in the land of our forefathers.

The Arab inhabitants rejected the plan and launched a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state, joined by the armies of five Arab members of the United Nations.

One percent of Israel’s population died during this assault by five armies. Think about that price. It would be the equivalent of 650,000 dying in France today, or 3 million dying in the United States, or 13 million dying in China.

As a result of the war, there were Arabs who became refugees. A similar number of Jews, who lived in Arab countries, were forced to flee their homes as well. They, too, became refugees.

The difference between these two distinct populations was – and still is – that Israel absorbed the refugees into our society. Our neighbors did not.

Refugee camps in Israel gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees.

We unlocked our new immigrants’ vast potential. The Arab World knowingly and intentionally kept their Palestinian populations in the second class status of permanent refugees.

In Lebanon for many years and still today, the law prohibits Palestinians from owning land – and from working in the public sector or as doctors and lawyers. Palestinians are banned from these professions.

In Kuwait, the once significant Palestinian population was forcibly expelled from the country in 1991. Few remain.

In Syria, thousands of Palestinians had to flee refugee camps in Latakia last August when President Assad shelled their homes with naval gunboats.

In the vast majority of Arab Countries, Palestinians have no rights of citizenship. It is no coincidence that the Arab World’s responsibilities for the “inalienable rights” of these Palestinians never appear in the resolutions before you.

Mr. President,

The basic question underlying our conflict for 64 years has not changed. That question is: has the Arab World – and particularly the Palestinians – internalized that Israel is here to stay and will remain the Nation-state of the Jewish People?

It is still unclear whether they are inspired by the promise of building a new state, or the goal of destroying an existing one.

Two months ago, President Abbas stood at the podium in this very hall and tried to erase the unbroken and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

He said the following:

“I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).”

This was not an oversight. It was not a slip of the tongue. It was yet another deliberate attempt to deny and erase more than 3,000 years of Jewish history. The Arab leaders from those two nations that sought peace have offered a different message.

For example, in 1995, King Hussein came to the United States and said (quote): “For our part, we shall continue to work for the new dawn when all the Children of Abraham and their descendants are living together in the birthplace of their three great monotheistic religions.”

In 1977, President Sadat came to Israel’s Knesset and quoted this verse from the Koran: “We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes and in the books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their lord.”

President Sadat and King Hussein spoke of THREE monotheistic religions, not ONE or TWO.

Mr. President,

The resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of a “Jewish State” no less than 25 times. We still do not hear Palestinian leaders utter the term.

The Palestinian leadership refuses to acknowledge Israel’s character as a Jewish state. You will never hear them say “two states for two peoples”. If you ever hear a Palestinian leader say “two states for two peoples”, please phone me immediately. My office has set up the equivalent of a 911 number in the event of such an unprecedented occurrence.

Palestinian leaders call for an independent Palestinian state, but insist that the Palestinian people return to the Jewish state. This is a proposition that no one who believes in the right of Israel to exist could ever accept.

The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. At this very moment, the gap between their perception and reality remains the major obstacle to peace.

Let me repeat that: the so-called right of return is and will remain the major obstacle to peace. It is not settlements. It is not the laundry list of baseless accusations launched against Israel in today’s resolutions.

I’ll repeat it again: the so-called right of return is the major obstacle to peace. Everyone knows it.

Yet, all of those who were so vocal today in telling Israel what is has to do for peace – mumbled, stuttered and conveniently lost their voices when it came to telling the Palestinians that the so-called right of return is a non-starter.

For decades, this body has rubberstamped nearly every Palestinian whim, no matter how counter-factual or counter-productive. What has this accomplished? The lip service of this body has only done a disservice for peace.

Mr. President,

True friends of the Palestinians have a responsibility to tell them the truth.

They will stop promoting the distorted version of history that characterizes this day, and start delivering the real lessons of history that the Palestinian leadership now refuses to heed.

These lessons are clear: bilateral negotiations are the only route to two states, for two peoples – living side-by-side in peace and security; negotiations that resolve the outstanding concerns of both sides.

While bypass maneuvers may work for heart surgery and highway construction, they will not bring peace or security to our region.

Direct negotiations were the way of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, the way of Prime Minister Rabin and King Hussein. It has been the framework for advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the past two decades.

Time and again, we have extended our hand in peace to the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu stood in this very hall last September and declared his commitment to the cause of Palestinian self-determination – and his vision for establishing a Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish State of Israel – two states for two peoples.

Yet, today we wait for the Palestinians to give up the false idol of unilateralism – and get back to the real hard work of direct negotiations. And – as they continue to run away from the negotiating table, the Palestinian leadership continues to move closer into their embrace of Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

This development brings to my mind Groucho Marx’s famous line: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them … well, I have others." The Quartet has long applied three principles that Hamas must adopt. It must renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by prior agreements. At no point has Hamas satisfied these conditions – or indicated any intention to do so.

Those who advocate recognizing a Government that includes Hamas are urging a Groucho-Marxist policy in a complex, unstable region. If Hamas is too extreme to accept these principles, they argue, we must tailor our principles to match Hamas's extremism.

The bar has been set very low. On these basic requirements for peace, there can be no adjustments. There can be no bargaining. There can be no Holiday Season discounts – in this hall or anywhere else.

Mr. President,

Even more than the words spoken in the speeches here today – or the words in the resolutions before you— it is the words not spoken that speak volumes. This Assembly has made clear that it does not stand in solidarity with many people in our region today.

In this hall, I hear no solidarity with the one million Israeli men, women and children who live under the constant rain rockets, mortars and missiles from the Gaza Strip.

I hear no solidarity with the 16-year old boy who was killed last April when a Hamas anti-Tank Missile struck his school bus. Or the thousands of other Israeli civilians who have been killed and injured.

I hear no solidarity with the Israeli children who learn the alphabet at the same time that they learn the names Kassam, Grad, and Katyusha – the rockets that keep them out of school for weeks at a time.

I hear no solidarity with the Palestinians who are victims of brutal Hamas rule – with the political opponents who are tortured, the women who are subjugated, or the children who are used as suicide bombers and human shields.

And – Mr. President, today I hear no solidarity with the many people in the Middle East who are being repressed and slaughtered every single day for demanding their freedom. From Syria to Iran to Yemen, these people are no longer content with their leader’s explanations that Israel is to blame for all the problems of the Middle East – a fiction that is advanced through resolutions like those before us today.


Today the People of the Middle East demand real answers for their plight.


I also heard no discussion today about the incitement that continues to fill the West Bank and Gaza, where the next generation of Palestinian children is being taught that suicide bombers are heroes, that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, and that they must seek to annihilate the State of Israel.


From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums; from the names of public squares to the public pronouncements of Palestinian leaders, these messages are everywhere.


Just last month, President Abbas declared that the Palestinian Authority would provide a grant of up to $5,000 to every terrorist released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, Israel’s kidnapped soldier.

These are people like Ibrahim Shammasina, who helped to murder four Israelis, including two teenagers. People like Walid Anajas, who planned bombings in the heart of Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, which killed 32.

People like Wafa-al Bis, who unsuccessfully tried to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital.

Washed in the blood of innocents, these terrorists are being held up as role models for the next generation of Palestinian children.

Palestinian Authority television broadcast President Abbas’ remarks to these released terrorists last October. He said, “You are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland... Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain.”

Mr. President,

Sustainable peace must take root in homes, schools, and media that teach tolerance and understanding so that it can grow in hearts and minds.

It must come from a Palestinian leadership willing to tell its people about the difficult compromises that they will have to make for statehood.

It will come through the hard work of state-building, not the old habit of state-bashing.

Today none of these truths have been spoken.

Today I hear no solidarity with the principles of peace.

I know that the truth can be a burden. I know that old habits die-hard. I know that the convenience of the moment sometimes weighs heavy on the interests of the future.

Yet, only the truth will set us free. After years of darkness, I call on this Assembly to bring new light to this debate.

I call on each and every delegate in this hall to embrace pragmatic solutions, not automatic resolutions; to speak with candor, and not slander; to grapple for a new vision, and not old divisions.

I call on this Assembly to finally glean truth from this historic day, nourishing the seeds of peace in our region that can blossom into a brighter future.

Thank you, Mr. President

(h/t CHA)

Turkey suspends all financial dealings with Syria

From Al Arabiya:

Turkey will suspend all financial dealings with Syria and freeze Syrian government assets as part of sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

Davutoglu also told a news conference that Turkey, once a close friend of Damascus, would block the delivery of all weapons and military equipment to Damascus as part of measures aimed at persuading Assad to end a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, according to Reuters.

Turkey’s move follows in the wake of sanctions announced by the Arab league. Davutoglu also said a cooperation agreement with Syria was being suspended until there was a new government in place.

“Until a legitimate government which is at peace with its people is in charge in Syria, the mechanism of the High Level of Strategic Cooperation has been suspended,” Davutoglu said, adding Assad’s government had come “to the end of the road.”

A dozen ministers from both countries convene a few times a year to discuss joint projects under the high-level strategic council mechanism, according to AFP.

Davutoglu underlined that Turkey would not take any measures that would harm Syrian people and said the government would contemplate “additional measures” according to the steps to be taken by the Syrian administration.

Davutoglu on Tuesday said that Turkey did not want to consider a military option for intervention in Syria but that it was ready for any scenario.
I believe that this is going much further than US and EU sanctions.

Which puts Turkey at the forefront of the world community acting against Assad - and, indirectly, against Iran.

Iran for its part warned Turkey against acting so Zionist.
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, during a press conference on Wednesday, advised Islamic countries not to play in the ground that extra-regional powers have prepared against Syria.

He said, “We expect Islamic countries not to allow those who hold a grudge against Syria for its resistance against the Zionist regime to take advantage of the situation.”

He also advised Turkey not to play the game, which has been designed by “others.”

Kristallnacht in Highland Park, NJ (UPDATE: Arrest, video)

I am still piecing things together, but it appears that about five Jewish owned stores were vandalized last night in the heavily Orthodox Jewish community of Highland Park, NJ.

Someone threw stones through the windows of a pizza shop, two Judaica stores, a kosher restaurant and a Jewish-owned hardware store.






More photos here.

I am also told that someone threw a brick through the windows of Rutgers Hillel, only a couple of miles away in New Brunswick, yesterday.*

A Facebook comment alleges "Someone also got verbally attacked last night at Dunkin [Donuts, also kosher.] He threatened a second Kristalnacht."

Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Vote to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

From what I can tell, there are other stores in between the ones that were hit that were untouched.

So far no news media has covered this, I'm only getting stuff from Facebook and email.

UPDATE: A statement from the Highland Park, NJ police:

The Highland Park Police Department would like to advise you about the reported incidents of vandalism that occurred overnight on Raritan Ave.

Detectives are actively investigating these incidents and are in contact with and coordinating efforts with other law enforcement agencies that may be able to expedite the investigation.

We are currently gathering and reviewing information that may lead us to a suspect. We cannot be more specific because we do not want to jeopardize the investigation.

We would also like to briefly address the fear that these are acts motivated by anti-Semitism or that these are bias crimes. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has been notified, but it is too soon to reach a conclusion.

All of our officers are aware of the sensitivity of this situation and we will make every effort with patrols and surveillance to keep everyone safe. We would like to encourage you to communicate with your congregants and urge them to avoid speculation which could lead to unnecessary anxiety.

Here is a map of where the vandalism occurred. All of the stores are Jewish or owned by Jews. There are plenty of other stores in between.


I think it is a bias crime.

Algemeiner has more.

UPDATE 2: There were apparently also attacks at two other locations in New Brunswick yesterday - from what I understand, at the Rutgers Chabad house and at an Israeli-owned falafel place.

*According to Tablet, Rutgers Hillel was attacked on Saturday night. But the window at Maoz, the falafel shop in New Brunswick, was shattered (I believe) yesterday. I am told the Chabad was vandalized early Sunday as well.

UPDATE 3: Voz iz Neias reports:
A 52 year old New Brunswick man has been placed under arrest and charged with five counts of criminal mischief after smashing the windows of five Jewish owned businesses in Highland Park.

Richard Green of Bayard Street was arrested this afternoon in New Brunswick. No determination has been made yet if the incident will be considered a bias crime and an ongoing investigation will determine if Green was responsible for other acts of criminal mischief that have occurred in the past few days.
According to Highland Park mayor Stephen Nolan, Green has been sent for a psychiatric evaluation.

Here is video from Fox NY:


Hamas didn't seem to get the "unity" memo

Hamas Gaza leader Mahmoud Zahar has again said that the heralded "unity" deal with Fatah is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Zahar pointedly said that the meeting between Abbas and Meshal in Cairo was not reconciliation, but a postponement of reconciliation.

He says that there is no way that the elections will be held in May because in the time beforehand there needs to be a provisional government set up and elections need to be organized, and Zahar says that this simply will not happen by May.

He claims that Fatah is arresting Hamas members, and that Abbas is dragging his feet because of the Israeli and US "veto" .

He also says that the Islamist takeover of the Arab Spring is an expression of natural historic forces and that American is experiencing decline.

Meanwhile, Hamas security forces stormed into Al Quds University, causing the administration to complain.

Within hours of the 1947 UN partition vote, Arabs massacred 7 Jews

On November 30, 1947, while Jews were still in the streets of Palestine celebrating the UN partition vote, Arabs murdered seven Jews.

Six of them were on a bus. Arabs threw grenades at an Egged bus traveling from Netanya to Jerusalem, and one exploded inside.

Devora Yaari was injured, and her husband Shalom rushed to her aid. He was shot dead in cold blood.

Shoshana Mizrahi Farhi, 22, was on her way to Jerusalem to get married. She was killed.

The other victims were Hirsh Starer, Mrs. Hanna Weiss, and Miss Haya Yisraeli.

Another Egged bus was attacked a half hour later, and Nechama Hacohen, a pathologist at Hadassah Hospital, was killed.



That same day, buses were fired upon in Haifa and Jerusalem as well, injuring one.

The Palestinian Arabs had been relatively quiet in the months leading up to the partition vote, hoping that a temporary lull in terrorism would convince the UN that they had no desire to destroy the Jewish community.

It didn't take long for them to return to their murderous ways.

In the coming days, there were many more fatal attacks on Jews, and Jews were chased out of their homes as well. 


Muslim Brotherhood leads Egypt voting, Salafists in 2nd place

From Al Masry al Youm:
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is leading parliamentary polls across Egypt, according to early estimates Wednesday.

Egyptians cast their ballots Monday and Tuesday in the first round of parliamentary elections, held in nine governorates. Elections will continue over several phases into January.

With the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ability to organize and mobilize supporters, many expected the FJP to dominate the polls.

In Luxor, where about 80 percent of ballots have been counted, FJP appears to lead the vote, closely followed by the Salafi Nour Party. The liberal Egyptian Bloc and moderate Wasat Party won far fewer votes in that governorate.

In Port Said, 70 percent of the votes have been counted... For the list-based candidacy seats, indicators show that the FJP leads, followed by the Nour, Free Egyptian and Wasat parties.

In Cairo's eighth constituency, which includes Dar al-Salam, Misr al-Qadeema, Sayeda Zeinab, Khalifa and Moqattam, ... The Salafi Nour Party and FJP lead the party list vote, with the Egyptian Bloc and Wafd trailing behind.

In Helwan, FJP leads for list-based candidacy seats while the Nour Party and the Egyptian Bloc and the Conservative Party are competing for second place.

In Assiut's first constituency, where 70 percent of votes have been counted, FJP leads, followed by Nour Party and the Egyptian Bloc. In the second constituency, FJP leads, followed by the Conservative Party....

In the Red Sea Governorate, FJP tops the polls, followed by the Egyptian Bloc and the Egyptian Citizen Party.

In Kafr al-Sheikh, Nour Party appears to lead the first constituency, followed by FJP and then the Wafd Party. In the second constituency, FJP leads, followed by Nour and then Egypt National and Wafd parties.
If the Muslim Brotherhood is correct in their claim that their FJP party is receiving some 40% of the vote, then it is possible that they would not need to rely on any secular parties to create a ruling coalition - the even more hard-line Salafists would seem to have enough votes to put them over 50%.

They are very keen on appearing moderate, so this might not be their first choice, but it is now a serious possibility, especially if the Salafists manage to get 15-20% - enough to make an unbreakable coalition.

Confirmed: "Students" at the British embassy were Iranian militia

From Amir Farshad Ebrahimi's blog; I have no way to confirm it:


 According to the regime, the students stormed the embassy. But this guy is a Quds force officer, Karim Jalali, When he was there, it means Sepah was behind it with direct order of the supreme leader.

The Wall Street Journal adds:

The scenes outside the British embassy in Iran yesterday evoked Tehran, 1979. Young, bearded men forced their way in and briefly held six British employees.

The attack was no impromptu happening. Police stood by, and Iranian state television broadcast events live. By some strange reflex, Western media insisted the attackers were "students." To Iranians who know better, they were the basij militia, the regime's first line of defense. These thugs were called out to brutally put down the 2009 Green Revolution, a genuine student-led uprising.

The assault was no doubt revenge for Britain's decision to impose financial sanctions in the wake of the recent U.N. report on Iran's nuclear-weapons program. Iran's parliament voted Monday to expel the British ambassador, MPs chanted "Death to Britain" and issued threats against the U.K. embassy. Twenty-four hours later, the basij arrived.

The episode is one more reminder that Iran is not the "status quo power" that many in the West imagine. It is a regime that flouts civilized norms and seeks to dominate its region and terrorize the U.S. and its allies.
Deutche Welle confirms:
Hamid Etemad (name changed), a lecturer at a university in Iran and an expert on international law said "such an act in blatant violation of international law would be unthinkable without getting a green light from the highest political decision-makers."

Omid Nouripour, foreign policy spokesman of Germany's opposition Green Party, agreed. Tuesday's event was an organized protest, Nouripour said. Forces involved in the brutal crackdown on the Iranian pro-democracy movement in 2009 were among the alleged demonstrators, he claimed.

(h/t Yoel, T34)

Isfahan explosion was at a uranium enrichment facility (UPDATE: no it wasn't)

From The Australian, originally at The Times of London:
AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

Isfahan uranium enrichment site
The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

The explosion at Iran's third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran's nuclear weapons program.

On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.

"This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials," said one military intelligence source.

He would not confirm or deny Israel's involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were "many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program".

Iran went into frantic denial yesterday as news of the explosion at Isfahan emerged. Alireza Zaker-Isfahani, the city's governor, claimed that the blast had been caused by a military exercise in the area but state-owned agencies in Tehran soon removed this story and issued a government denial that any explosion had taken place at all.

UPDATE: There is no uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan. See followup here.

(h/t Yoel)

Tom Friedman keeps pushing the fake "Fayyadism" movement

Thomas Friedman at the New York Times just can't learn.

Clueless Friedman
Israel has an Arab awakening in its own backyard in the person of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority. He’s been the most radical Arab leader of all. He is the first Palestinian leader to say: judge me on my performance in improving my peoples’ lives, not on my rhetoric. His focus has been on building institutions — including what Israelis admit is a security force that has helped to keep Israel peaceful — so Palestinians will be ready for a two-state solution. ...

Israel’s best defense is to strengthen Fayyadism — including giving Palestinian security services more areas of responsibility to increase their legitimacy and make clear that they are not the permanent custodians of Israel’s occupation. This would not only help stabilize Israel’s own backyard — and prevent another uprising that would spread like wildfire to the Arab world without the old dictators to hold it back — but would lay the foundation for a two-state solution and for better relations with the Arab peoples. Remember, those Arab peoples are going to have a lot more say in how they are ruled and with whom they have peace. In that context, Israel will be so much better off if it is seen as strengthening responsible and democratic Palestinian leaders.
I respect Fayyad. He is the only Palestinian Arab leader in history not to be tainted with terrorism. His thinking is Western. He is not corrupt, unlike the people around him (including, apparently, even the PA's Minister of Economy.)

But if Friedman thinks that Israel's backing Fayyad would help matters, he is out of touch.

From the perspective of the Arab street, especially the Islamists who are pivotal in Arab revolutions - and who are dominant in Gaza - Fayyad is more like Mubarak than like Egypt's Wael Ghonim.

Fayyad was never elected. Fayyad has very little popular backing, despite his attempts to gain some with a series of half-hearted photo-ops earlier this year. Fayyad has no political clout. And Fayyad's only hope to hold onto office is if and when the Hamas/Fatah unity sham remains the fake-smiling deadlock it appears to be.

Not only that, but if Israel is perceived as backing Fayyad, that would ensure his fall. How long has Friedman been covering the Middle East not to notice that the biggest insult an Arab can give another is "Zionist"? If Fayyad is perceived as a collaborator, his precarious career will end even sooner than it already will.

Friedman also pointedly ignores one other fact: Netanyahu was promoting much of what Friedman calls "Fayyadism" way before Friedman himself was. Israel always recognized the disconnect between Palestinian Arab leaders and their people, and as a result Israel has encouraged bottom-up reform based on helping the PA economy and institution building, helping Palestinian Arabs have better lives and a stake in their future. Fayyad deserves some credit for the improvement in the lives of West Bank Arabs over the past few years, but so does Netanyahu - an idea that is anathema to Friedman.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Forward reveals that Stand With Us is - gasp! - right of center!

Here's another Forward expose, this one written by Nathan Guttman, where they find out that a pro-Israel organization is somewhat to the right of the Forward!

Shocking, I know:
[I]n a time characterized by burning debate among Jews regarding what it means to be pro-Israel, SWU’s stance has provoked some strong criticism. Those who claim to be Zionists and supporters of Israel while publicly criticizing its government’s policies towards the Palestinians, says Rothstein, are not supporters at all. For SWU, said [SWU founder Roz] Rothstein, supporting Israel means “respect[ing] the elected government of Israel.”

Rothstein rejects the claims of critics who say this constitutes a right-wing agenda. But a close look at SWU’s learning material and talking points reveals a right of center narrative on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rothstein said that SWU welcomes any pro-Israel view. But in an interview with the Forward she explained that she does not consider the dovish lobby J Street as pro-Israel because “they are lobbying this country to pressure the government of Israel to change its policy.”
StandWithUs has also been active in opposing West Coast communities hosting a speaking tour of Israeli soldiers who speak out against the occupation.
So in The Forward's view of the world, a rightist pro-Israel organization must accept the leftist narrative as equally valid - but where are the Forward articles demanding that J-Street allow Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to speak at their events, or that left-wing Jewish groups not protest Israeli speakers on campus?

Apparently, The Forward's indignation goes only one way.

One of the oldest tricks in the media book is to hide the reporter's opinions behind a supposed "expert." We saw it in the last hit piece against Zionists we looked at from the Forward, and Guttman doesn't fail us here:

“I think their attitude does harm to Israel,” said Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. “If we adopt a view that we support anything official Israel says then we’ll deprive Israel of the benefit of our good advice and discourage Jewish Americans from being involved in the discourse over Israel.”

Cohen, who has conducted extensive research into the opinions of American Jews on Israel, said that to win the PR war, “we need outspoken Zionists from all camps.” Cohen believes this discussion should include even representatives from the far left, as well as the right-wing Hilltop Youth settlers.

So Roz Rothstein has an opinion. Steven Cohen has his. The Forward makes clear which side they are on.

The only problem is that Steven Cohen's, and The Forward's, opinions are meant specifically to weaken Israeli democracy. The entire purpose of J-Street is to circumvent Israeli democracy by using outside money and outside pressure to, frankly, change the government to one that they find more palatable. Israeli electorate be damned.

I do not recall StandWithUs protesting against Israeli policy under Kadima, so StandWithUs is consistent in its support of the democratically elected Israeli government's decisions, no matter what its orientation.

Not to say that Jews outside Israel cannot make their opinions known, or that they cannot criticize Israel. But lobbying against the Israeli government is not merely expressing an opinion; it is an attempt to interfere with and undermine a democratically elected government.

Sorry, but that cannot be considered "pro-Israel" by any definition.

If Steven Cohen or any American Jewish leftist doesn't want Israel to be deprived of their "good advice" (as if they can advise anything that Israel's Left hasn't thought of)  there is a simple solution that every Zionist, left or right, would wholeheartedly support: They can make Aliyah.

The rest of the article is just smarmy, as the Forward brings facts about SWU that are perfectly ethical and above-board and paints them as vaguely underhanded:
SWU supporters also keep an eye on pro-Palestinian campus activists. In the case involving 11 students at University of California, Irvine, who interrupted a speech of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, it was an SWU videotape of the protestors that led to their arrest.
...
Pro-Israel organizations usually take special care not be seen as operating on behalf of the Israeli government, since that would require their registration as foreign agents under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. StandWithUs stressed it did not receive any payment from the Israeli government for the Ayalon video or for any of its other activities. And Craig Holeman, an expert on U.S. lobbying laws, said it was unlikely federal law would require a group like SWU to register as a foreign agent. Holeman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a citizen rights advocacy organization, said that a group focused on public education, as SWU is, and which does not receive funds from a foreign government, does not need to register as a foreign agent.
And who even intimated that SWU should register as a foreign agent to begin with? Why, Nathan Guttman of The Forward!

Stand With Us is probably the single best proponent for Israel in the US today. Unlike The Forward, SWU is unapologetically Zionist.

Which is the real reason the Forward writes such pieces of drivel to begin with. They are simply uncomfortable that some people love Israel without reservation.

So they must spare no effort in trying to rid the world of such proud Zionists, to assuage their own discomfort.


(Disclaimer: StandWithUs has used some of my posters/graphics in their materials and they have compensated me. And I can tell you Roz Rothstein has personally rejected quite a few of my posters for being too far to the right.)

Why would anyone think this is a hate crime?

From The Gothamist:

More details have emerged about the man who was stabbed on a Park Slope subway yesterday—while initial reports said that the incident occurred on the G train, the Daily News says it was an F train, and the spat began over some anti-Semitic comments.

Emil Benjamin, a loan broker from Bensonhurst, was on a southbound F train approaching the 4th Avenue/9th Street station around 10 p.m. Monday night when two men reportedly started taunting him, saying "You're nobody, you Jewish bastard." The men attacked, and Benjamin fought back, even as the doors opened and the fight carried over the platform. "They were on my from both sides," said Benjamin, who didn't even realize that he had been stabbed in the back and the thigh until his jeans were soaked with blood. He was taken to Lutheran Medical Center and has since been released.

Cops busted Rafael Padin, 22, and Jose Santos, 18, shortly after the attack, and charged them with assault. Padin, who left his knife on the platform after the attack, was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Police said they are not investigating the incident as a hate crime. Benjamin, for one, knows his verdict: "They are punks," he said of the attackers. "A real tough guy only needs his fists."
Other New York media didn't mention the "Jewish bastard" part.

(h/t Vandoren)

It's Buy Israel Week!


This is an interesting initiative to buy Israeli goods this week. It seems to be more like a Groupon-type site, along with some local deals (at least in the US.)

Nicely done, check it out!

Secularists, Salafists clash at Tunisia university

From AFP:
Hundreds of demonstrators calling for women to be allowed to wear the Muslim veil in class clashed with students at a university outside Tunis on Tuesday for the second day running.

Protesters wearing the veil and bearded men wearing the Muslim tunic shouted “God Is Great”, facing other students responding “Islamists, Go Home.”

The demonstration at the University of Manouba, west of Tunis, came a day after a group of Salafists disrupted classes there, demanding a stop to mixed-sex classes and for female students to wear full-face veils.

“A group of Salafists, dressed like Afghans, have been camped in front of my office since early afternoon,” Habib Kazdaghli, the dean of faculty at the University of Manuba, told AFP on Monday.

Tutors and union representatives voted at a general assembly on Tuesday to go on strike Thursday in protest at the incidents.

Several students and teaching staff said demonstrators were not enrolled at the university, and many were allegedly “agitators” from working-class neighbourhoods near the Manouba campus.

“This is not what the revolution was about,” one student said.

Two officials of the Islamist Ennahda party which swept to power in October 23 elections were involved in attempts to resolve the crisis.

Pro-headscarf demonstrators denied they were Salafists, a fundamentalist branch of Islam, and said they had not asked for mixed-sex classes to be stopped.

“We want two things: a prayer room inside the faculty and the right for girls wearing the headscarf to sit exams and attend classes,” said Anis Rezgui, a first-year student.
The article mixes up veils and headscarves. From an earlier Reuters article, I believe that it is only the veil that is banned at Tunisian universities.

Jordanian op-ed sets record for amount of anti-semitism in one article

This columnist in Jordan's Al Arab al Yawm, Asad al-Azzouni, manages to hit every major anti-semitic stereotype about Jews - and create a couple of new ones - in a pretty short op-ed.

MEMRI gives us the translation:

Israel is a peace rejectionist. That much is obvious. But what people don't know is the reason for this – namely, that Jews and peace are generally incompatible.

[The Jews] are the epitome of corruption, and this is what caused the Christian West to commit inhuman acts [against them] and to violate international laws. I am referring to the [West's] scheme to expel the Palestinians from their land and hand it over to the Jews as their national homeland...

The Christian West was repulsed by the Jews, their plots, their licentiousness and their [practice of exacting] usury, and decided to get rid of them, not knowing that they would encircle the whole West in a Christian-Zionist noose, bind everyone in shackles of humiliation and control, and pass freedom-limiting laws, such as the law [against] antisemitism.

None of the wars and conflicts in the world would have started if it weren't for the Jews, who scheme in the darkness to start fires in [various] countries and instigate conflict among people. What is written in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is perhaps [the best] proof that they [work to] prevent peace from prevailing between the ruler and his subjects. They form groups that establish ties with both sides and incite each against the other, warning the ruler against his citizens and [at the same time] urging the citizens: 'rise up against your oppressive ruler.'

It was the Jews who invented the position of secretary – in order to create a buffer between bosses and their subordinates… [They also invented] the legal profession in order to exonerate oppressors and oppress the innocent. They are behind all [forms of] corruption, and they are not happy unless they are [instigating] wars.

The Jews cannot live with others, regardless of their identity, and that is why they invented [their] ghettos and fortresses. During their heyday in Europe, they lived in special neighborhoods of their own, and in the Arabian Peninsula, before the advent of Islam, they lived in fortified compounds, which explains why [today] they choose to build their West Bank settlements on the tops of the hills and the mountains.

Their tanks and [fighter] jets also [serve them as] fortresses. The way they arm and equip themselves indicates the extent of their cowardice...

But in confrontations without tanks and jets, they are transformed from ferocious lions into helpless rabbits. This was clearly evident in the [1968] Battle of Karama [in Jordan], in the battles in South [Lebanon] and during the siege on Beirut. May God curse those who strengthened [the Jews] while weakening themselves.

For Israel, war is an opportunity to gain sympathy by any means. During the 1960s, there was a German film which showed 22 men dressed as Arabs, armed with swords and [other] weapons, surrounding a beautiful half-naked girl who was crying for help. At the end of the film, a caption appeared saying 'Save Israel'! [When] the lights came on in the theatre, pretty half-naked girls would pass [through the audience] with collection boxes labeled 'Donate to Israel!'

They twist every situation to their own advantage, [including] statements by Arab and Muslim leaders... They market [these statements] to the West as threats against Israel, and the West – which fears that the Arabs might defeat Israel, forcing [the Jews] to return to their [countries] of origin – is thus forced to support Israel, materially, morally and politically.

Israel understands very well that if it allows the Arabs' feebleness to be understood as peace, the West – including even the Jews that refuse to emigrate [to Israel] but [nevertheless] support it – will withdraw [its support]… That is why [Israel] fights every effort to make peace, and deals daily blows to the Arabs who call for peace and aspire to it... That is why it has decided to keep the flame of threat and tension burning in the region.

We have seen how Israel continues its aggression in the Gaza Strip, though Hamas is calling for a tahdiah and wants a long-term ceasefire with the enemy, and is [even] keeping other factions from carrying out armed operations against Israeli targets. [In fact,] if nobody [threatens] it, it will instruct its own agents to carry out deliberate terrorism against civilian Israeli targets, so that it can scream bloody murder [and tell] the West that the Arabs are not interested in peace with it, and that it needs urgent help in order to defend its citizens. For it knows that the West, terrified of the possibility that the Jews might come back, will meet its demands.

One of the commenters actually took the author to task for promoting racism, saying there were some good Jews. Like Mordechai Vanunu.

Two more data points for the clueless Karl Vicks of the world

Yesterday I wrote about how Time magazine's Karl Vick was wedded to the idea of a moderating Hamas despite all evidence to the contrary.

Since then, Hamas' "political wing" member Sheikh Salah Aruri has emphasized that terrorism is a "right":
Our agreement with Fatah has nothing to do with the rest of our choices and our visions. We remain with our previous position, that all forms of resistance are a right and duty, with no restrictions on the resistance.
And Khaled Abu Toameh, the Arab that the liberals love to ignore even though his track record is orders of magnitude better than theirs, writes:
Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have twice lied to the Palestinians in the past six months.

The first time was in May, when the two men announced in Cairo that they had reached a "historic" reconciliation agreement to end their differences and form a unity government. The second time was last week, when they met once again in the Egyptian capital and declared that they had agreed to open a new page in their relations and work as partners.
Palestinian Arab leaders lying? That concept is way too foreign for the intelligentsia who know that what they say in English must be the absolute truth.

(h/t Silke)

November 1947: Arab "students" attack Western offices

In the wake of the Iranian "students" attacking the British embassy in Iran today, here is what was happening in the Middle East on November 30, 1947:


Wow, who knew students were so violent?

Then again....

Religious quasi-police group organizes in Tunisia

A self-declared "Association of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" is being organized in Tunisia, in what appears to be patterned after the religious police in Saudi Arabia.

The organizers hope to create an Islamic legal authority that stands on its own and does not depend on rulings from imams in other countries.

While Tunisian law does not allow for the creation of political parties on a purely religious basis, this is not a political party.

Secularists in Tunisia are fearful that the group will start intimidating or forcing people to go to prayer services, or to stop eating during Ramadan.

The leader of the movement denies any intent to be like the Saudi religious police.


Praise for Bin Laden, threats to Jews in Tahrir Square

MEMRI translated the video showing cleric Tawfik al-Afni in Tahrir Square on November 18:




Tawfiq Al-Afni (in interview): First of all, Islamic law is the only source for legislation. 
[…]
In addition, I would like to say to the whole world that the Prophet Muhammad prophesized that the return of Islam was inevitable. Why do they fear Islam? When Islam rules, justice, compassion, and goodness will prevail. So why do people fear Islam? 
[…]
I say to the people who fear Islam: Are you thieves that should fear the chopping off of hands? Are you alcohol-drinkers that you should fear being flogged? 
On stage:
Sheik Osama Bin Laden is a man who waged Jihad for the sake of Allah, and we pray that Allah will unite us with him and the martyrs in Paradise. My brothers, in Islam, we say with great pride that we adhere to the Jihad for the sake of Allah… 
Crowd: Allah Akbar.
Allah Akbar.
Tawfiq Al-Afni: We are not waging Jihad for worldly benefits or for positions. By Allah, we have only come to pledge our allegiance to Islam. We wage Jihad for the sake of Allah and the Koran. 
[…]
We respond to Your call. Please turn our skulls into a ladder for your glory. 
Crowd: We respond to Your call. Please turn our skulls into a ladder for your glory.
Tawfiq Al-Afni: We say to infidel America: By Allah, if you contemplate coming to Egypt, you will encounter men who love death more than you Americans love life… 
Crowd: Allah Akbar.
Allah Akbar.
Tawfiq Al-Afni: I say to the Jews: if you contemplate harming Egypt or its Muslim people, you will encounter men who seek death more than you seek life…
Crowd: Allah Akbar.
Allah Akbar.
Man in crowd: Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is here. 
Crowd: Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is here.
Man in crowd: Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is here. 
Crowd: Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is here. 
[…]
Tawfiq Al-Afni: Oh Allah, grant us martyrdom for your sake.
Crowd: Amen.
Tawfiq Al-Afni: Say with me: [The revolution] is Islamic, Islamic…
Crowd: Islamic, Islamic… 
Tawfiq Al-Afni: It is Islamic, Islamic…
Crowd: Islamic, Islamic… 
Tawfiq Al-Afni: It is neither Eastern nor Western…
Crowd: Neither Eastern nor Western…
Tawfiq Al-Afni: It is neither Jewish nor American…
Crowd: Neither Jewish nor American… 
Tawfiq Al-Afni: You return, oh Islam…
Crowd: You return, oh Islam… 
Tawfiq Al-Afni: You will rule, oh Koran…
Crowd: You will rule, oh Koran… 

Iranian "students" storm British embassy in Tehran

From NYT:

In the latest sign of deteriorating relations with the West, a group of Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy compound in Tehran on Tuesday, chanting “death to England,” tearing down a British flag and ransacking offices, according to British officials and images broadcast live on state-run Iranian television.

One Iranian news agency said six embassy workers had been taken hostage , but withdrew the report from its Web site minutes later with no explanation, Reuters reported. The semi-official Mehr news agency initially said: “Students from universities in Tehran took hostage six people working for the British embassy in Qolhak garden,” referring to the compound that protesters stormed earlier on Tuesday.

The episode came a day after Iran enacted legislation to downgrade relations with Britain in retaliation for intensified sanctions imposed by Western nations last week to punish the Iranians for their suspected nuclear development program. Britain promised to respond “robustly.”

The British Foreign Office in London said in a statement Tuesday that there had been an “incursion by a significant number of demonstrators into our embassy premises, including vandalism to our property.”
Iran's Mehr News says:
Iranian students stormed the British Embassy compound in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows and setting the British flag on fire during a protest against new sanctions imposed on Iran by Britain.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and one waved a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth apparently found inside the compound, the Iranian TV showed.

The incident followed London's imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic Republic last week over its nuclear program.
In 1979, during the Islamic revolution in Iran, the protesters were usually referred to as "students."


November 29, 1947: Arab nations continue to plan division of Palestine

As a follow-up to this post from Sunday:

From the Palestine Post, November 30, 1947:



Again, no Arab nation is talking about accepting a Palestinian Arab state! It's as if they didn't think that Palestinian Arabs were a nation.

You can almost imagine them saying words to the effect that there were no such thing as a "Palestinian people" in 1947.

So when the UN declared in 1977  that November 29 should be considered an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, they must have had in mind the previous thirty years of cynical use of the Palestinian Arab cause by the Arab nations who never had any interest in their Palestinian brethren except as pawns to hurt Israel.


Foreign Policy praises a lying conspiracy theorist as a "global thinker"

Foreign Policy magazine put out their annual list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, and coming in at #28 are Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, "for forging a path between violence and surrender."
"Enough, enough, enough." With those words at the U.N. General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas finally stepped out of Yasir Arafat's shadow and began to build his own legacy as a Palestinian nationalist. Abbas, who has guided the Palestinian Authority through nearly seven post-Arafat years, took the bold step in 2011 of giving voice to Palestinians' widespread exasperation with a 20-year "peace process" by taking their cause directly to the United Nations, where he appealed to the world's preeminent international body for recognition. The U.N. statehood gambit, conceived last winter after negotiations with Israel ground to a halt, may have been greeted with cries of dismay in Washington and Tel Aviv, but it galvanized the world's attention in a way that dozens of suicide bombers never could.

I never knew that repeatedly saying "no" to negotiations and adding condition after condition to peace talks makes someone a great thinker, but then again, I must not be as smart as the rocket scientists at Foreign Policy, who define "making serious compromises for peace" as "surrender."

After all, Abbas' speech at the UN was brilliant, just brilliant. It takes real skill to write a speech with dozens of lies and still be considered a serious statesman.  It takes brains to brag about intransigence in Arabic and pretend to be a peacemaker in English. And it takes a very high IQ to calculate that you can blatantly lie about what the leader of the free world said only a year before - and get a pass from place like Foreign Policy magazine.

The world needs to know that one of Foreign Policy's top global thinkers believes that Israelis raise and train wild dogs and boars to attack Palestinian Arabs.

One thing is for sure:

Abbas is a lot smarter than the folks at Foreign Policy.


Useless UNIFIL contradicts itself after Lebanon rocket fire into Israel

From YNet:

One of the Katyushas
The IDF confirmed Tuesday that two Katyusha rockets were fired at the western Galilee from Lebanon on Monday night. No injuries were reported, but several structures sustained damage.

The IDF's Northern Command has been placed on high alert following the fire. The military stressed that Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the indicent.

Hezbollah sources denied any connection to the rocket fire. UNIFIL, which has a peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, has launched an investigation into the incident, but a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was quoted by Beirut's radio as saying that "UNIFIL rejects reports suggesting any violation of UN Resolution 1701 and is working to restore normalcy."
Really? Rockets are fired into Israel and UNIFIL rejects the idea that there was a violation of 1701?

The UNIFIL website says the exact opposite:

UNIFIL radars detected firing of at least one rocket into Israel shortly after midnight last night from the general area of Rumaysh in south Lebanon. Israeli authorities indicated to UNIFIL that a number of rockets impacted in northern Israel.

The IDF returned artillery fire directed at the location from where the rocket fire originated.

At this time, no casualties have been reported from either side. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

UNIFIL, in cooperation with the parties, is currently investigating on the ground to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident as well as to locate the launching site of the rocket fire.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas is maintaining close contact with the parties and has called for maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.

The Force Commander said: “This is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area. It is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack and we will spare no efforts to this end working in cooperation with the LAF. Additional troops have been deployed on the ground and patrols have been intensified across our area of operations to prevent any further incidents.”
So either UNIFIL has no clue what it is saying, or Beirut radio lies.

From all accounts, Hezbollah has an iron grip on southern Lebanon. The idea that some tiny armed group can get a hold of Katyushas and fire them without Hezbollah's knowledge is possible but seems unlikely.

Of course, the idea that the LAF or UNIFIL will be able to investigate this and find anything out is a lot more far-fetched.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Time's Karl Vick remains clueless

How many times do we have to see people who pretend to be analysts prove themselves so incredibly, irredeemably wrong?

Here's Time magazine's Karl Vick:

[W]hat if Abbas is holding still, and Hamas is moving closer to Abbas? That's what's been happening, from nearly all appearances, for the last two or three years, and everything coming out of the Cairo meeting points in the same direction. The head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, and Abbas spoke for two hours, Abbas in the big chair, Meshaal on the couch with two others. Afterwards both met the cameras smiling. "There are no differences between us now," Abbas said. Mashaal went with: "We have opened a new page of partnership." And on whose terms? Hamas stands for resistance, its formal name being the Islamic Resistance Movement. But in the Gaza Strip where it governs, Hamas has largely enforced a truce with Israel since January 2009. And in Cairo it signed a paper committing itself to "popular resistance" against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. That's "popular" in contrast to "violent" or "military" resistance. We're talking marches here. Chanting and signs, not booby traps or suicide bombs.

"Every people has the right to fight against occupation in every way, with weapons or otherwise. But at the moment, we want to cooperate with the popular resistance," Meshaal told AFP. "We believe in armed resistance but popular resistance is a program which is common to all the factions."
For the past three years, Abbas has gone from someone actively participating in negotiations to someone who adamantly refuses to even talk with Israel under identical circumstances that the PLO negotiated for fourteen years. He has furthermore made unilateral moves, such as his UN stunt, to avoid any possible compromise with Israel - and has bragged about his intransigence. He has upset the US and the EU with his refusal to negotiate.

So much for Abbas "standing still."

Now, as far as Hamas is concerned, let's look at what they have been saying and doing in just the past week or so.

From all evidence, Hamas sacked every member of its security forces that was not explicitly a Hamas member.




But Vick cannot be bothered to actually read Hamas websites in Arabic. No, if he can find an AFP interview in English, well, that must reflect the entire reality!

Hold on, though. Vick thinks he found a new piece of information!
Quite possibly biggest news out of Cairo was deep in the fine print: Efforts are under way to bring Hamas into the PLO, or Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella for all Palestinian factions. The PLO is the one "brand" that still resonates with ordinary Palestinians, and Hamas has wanted to join it since at least 2005. If Hamas finally gets in, the implications would appear to be immense. It would mean agreeing to the positions and agreements the PLO has already made. This includes recognizing Israel, and renouncing terror -- two things Hamas has never been willing to do. "Yes, when they are in they have to agree to the political program of the PLO," says Shaban. "This will take time." But should it occur, it would complete Hamas' move toward the center, and open the door to the international recognition craved by many in the organization.
Only one problem. It will never happen without the PLO changing its current stated positions.

Hamas cannot and will not recognize Israel. It cannot and will not accept a Jewish state in any form whatsoever. Literally. Its entire charter is based on Israel's destruction, and if Hamas can be counted upon for anything, it is to remain true to its principles.  They have been remarkably consistent in their stated positions since their inception. If Vick actually believes that Hamas is one bit closer to recognizing Israel than they were in 2005 or 1995, then he is an idiot who simply refuses to open his eyes.

I can see the PLO muddying the language of its recognition of Israel to accommodate Hamas. But it is absolutely inconceivable that Hamas would accept the current stated PLO position of recognizing Israel and officially being against terrorism (a position the PLO roundly ignored only a few short years ago anyway.)

Vick, like so many other journalists, cannot distinguish between reality and what he wants to believe. And then he feeds this misinformation into the minds of equally clueless decision makers who want to believe that peace is possible as much as Vick does, and who rely on clueless pundits like him to buy the myth of a flexible Palestinian Arab leadership (and, naturally, the intransigent Israelis - the only ones who have actually made real concessions for peace, multiple times, over decades of conflict.)

Hamas is not moderating, and it never will. Just as there were people who were convinced that Hamas had moderated during the 2005 elections, and that Hamas had moderated before Cast Lead, there will always be credulous and utterly incompetent analysts who believe that Hamas is becoming more peaceful now.

And no matter how many times these pundits are proven wrong, they will continue to push their hopes and dreams as if they are reality.

Egyptian stone thrower arrested; found to have 50 shekels

Al Ahram reports that a stone thrower in Alexandria was arrested - and found to have 50 shekels in Israeli currency on him.

Michael Awad Hanna , 21, is a clothing salesman from the Giza governate, and was apprehended while throwing stones. He said that another protester gave the money to him.

The implication, of course, is that Israel is fomenting riots in Egypt.

To their credit, the commenters are mercilessly ripping apart the story, asking if the Mossad is so stupid as to pay in shekels, which are pretty worthless in Egypt, rather than euros or dollars.

But don't you see? That's their brilliance! Paying protesters - and making fools of Egyptian security at the same time!

Syrian army shoots at family attempting to flee to Jordan

From Jordan Times:
Shots rang out at the Jordanian-Syrian border late Sunday as Syrian forces attempted to prevent civilians from entering the Kingdom, hours after an Arab League decision to impose sanctions on Damascus.

Syrian soldiers opened fire on a married couple and their young child as they attempted to enter the Kingdom late yesterday near the Jaber border crossing, some 90 kilometres north of the capital, according to Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Rakan Majali.

The Syrian family arrived in the Kingdom and received emergency medical attention, Majali indicated.

Incidents like this one, which occurred hours after the Arab League endorsed a series of economic sanctions targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, have become “commonplace” over the past few months, he said.

“This has now become a very normal incident that happens nearly every day, but often without notice,” Majali told The Jordan Times.

According to Majali, the woman was rushed to Mafraq Military Hospital where medical sources indicated she was listed in serious condition as of late yesterday, adding that her husband and child were not injured in the incident.

The incident will not register a response from the Jordanian government, the spokesperson said, noting that the Kingdom will continue to extend efforts to “ensure the humanitarian protection” of Syrian civilians.

The humanitarian impact of the Syrian crisis has become an increasing concern for Jordan, which has hosted thousands of civilians fleeing violence since mid-February, with over 1,500 Syrians registered with the UN refugee agency.
Jordan has been keeping a very low profile in regards to Syrian refugees; we hear about the ones who fled to Turkey and Lebanon but not much about Syrians who flee to Jordan. I'm surprised that there are 1,500 of them.