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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lessons from the weekend protest you won't read about

Over the weekend, some 10,000 people protested over social issues in Tel Aviv. Unlike the violent protests the week before, where riots broke out and banks were broken into, this one was largely peaceful and as far as I can tell, no one was arrested

There was another, much smaller protest over the weekend that reveals a lot more about the Israeli/Arab conflict, however. And if it was covered at all by world media, it was barely a footnote.

From Ma'an:
Dozens of young Palestinians clashed with PA security forces in Ramallah on Saturday at a protest against the leadership's scheduling of a meeting with Israeli vice premier Shaul Mofaz.

The youth gathered in central Ramallah and tried to march on the headquarters of the leadership, the Muqataa, where they were blocked by riot police and some plain clothes agents.

"They beat them badly," a witness who asked not to be identified told Ma'an, adding that three people were taken to hospital but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. They were identified as journalist Muhammad Jaradat, Hassan Faraj and Waed Barghouti.
So at a much smaller protest with only dozens of people, we have six arrests and some serious beatings, including that of a journalist.

And their protest wasn't for social justice or for Palestinian Arab unity or anything like that. It was a protest against even talking with any Israeli.

And here's the kicker: It worked.
President Mahmoud Abbas was slated to meet Mofaz in Ramallah on Sunday, but officials announced Saturday the summit had been postponed indefinitely.

A senior Fatah official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Ma'an the meeting was postponed for several reasons including public opposition under the current circumstances.
Imagine a world where Palestinian Arabs would protest to make peace with Israel. Has that ever happened, even once, in history?

It will never happen. Because only one side has shown any real interest in any sort of real peace, the kind where both sides compromise to reach a permanent solution. And the other side has been raised to believe that if they just wait long enough, they'll get everything they demand no matter what, so there is no reason to compromise, ever.

The American Girl in the Bunker (Tablet)

From Talia Lefkowitz in Tablet:
[...]I am a volunteer IDF soldier from New York City serving in an elite paratroopers unit. I am the only girl in a unit with 85 combat soldiers. Over the past year, we have served all over the country. Now we are based on the border of Gaza and Sinai, and things have started to get hairy.

The rocket attacks always stop at some point. I know there will eventually be a temporary ceasefire, and life on base will go back to normal. I’m surprised, frankly, that the current attacks even made it onto Facebook, because outside of Israel, no one seems to think they’re newsworthy, much less an act of war. No big deal, right?

It doesn’t feel that way inside the bunker. When you are on the other end of these rockets—hearing their high-pitched squeal as they fly past, feeling the room shake as they hit ground, and smelling the acrid smoke plumes that rise from the craters—it feels like war.

Our rooms on the base are similar to a caravan. The walls are thin, and the ceiling is just weak metal. Our beds are made of thin pieces of steel, and the mattress is a smelly egg-crate that has probably been slept on for over 20 years. When soldiers are not on missions, they are doing exactly what the movies portray: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, lifting dumbbells, making coffee on a little gas stove. Three days ago we were just minding our business when we heard a huge explosion that literally shook the ground. I know the floor moved because our coffee spilled.

I didn’t think it could be a rocket or bomb because the warning siren, the tzeva adom, had not sounded. We all ran out to see what the noise was all about, and in the distance, maybe 2 kilometers away, we could see the telltale plume of smoke.

Seconds later, the siren rang and we all ran to the nearest shelter. The shelter is windowless. The room is built to hold 30 people, but somehow we managed to squeeze 70 inside.

[...]
Hours go by without a rocket, and I start to relax. Maybe it’s over. The media, even the Israeli newspapers, are saying that it is no big deal. I start to believe them. But then another bomb hits without warning, and this one falls just feet from us. It’s like an earthquake. The room sways, and I fall out of my bed. The next few minutes seem to move in slow motion. Screaming, frenzy, smoke. Everyone running. Hands covering their ears. Wiping their eyes. Holding tissues over their mouths and noses.

As I run, trying to get to safety, I flash back to my family’s apartment in Manhattan, or to the house in which I grew up in Maryland. It’s inconceivable to me that something like this could happen there. There would be shock, outrage, even international condemnation. Or maybe such a massive American response that the rocket attacks would finally stop—forever. Instead, I am sure tomorrow’s Facebook page will be filled with more criticism of Israel and more justification for the attacks.

I am a New York City girl who came to Israel to defend the Jewish state. I am proud of my service and of all the remarkable young men I have met who risk their lives every day to keep this country safe. I am the girl in the bunker, and I can tell you that these rocket attacks are a big deal.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The myth of "Jewish only roads" (Presspectiva/CAMERA)

From CAMERA:

Yishai Goldflam, editor-in-chief of Presspectiva, CAMERA's Hebrew Web site, published an Op-Ed column in Ha'aretz, faulting that paper and other Israeli media for spreading the falsehood that Israel maintains "Jewish-only" roads in the West Bank. This is significant, especially since the fiction of "Jewish-only" roads features prominently in "Israel apartheid" mythology and is frequently cited by anti-Israel and pro-BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) agitators.

Here's the English translation:
Do there exist roads in Judea and Samaria that are designated for "Jews only"? Are Christians and Muslims really prohibited from traveling on roads across the Green Line? This charge, which is often voiced in these parts, including in this newspaper, provokes condemnation of Israel's alleged racism-- and is simply untrue. There appears to be a terminology confusion that produces a factual error that harms legitimate discussion and criticism of Israeli actions.

Here are the facts: the state did, indeed, impose restrictions on certain roads in Judea and Samaria several years ago and did not allow Palestinians to travel on them, especially after the eruption of the second intifada. But most of the restrictions were already removed in 2009. Today, most West Bank roads are open to the majority of the Palestinian population. And even at the time those roads were restricted for Israeli use, they were never restricted to Israeli Jews alone. The roads were open to all Israeli citizens -- Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians. There was never a religious or ethnic-based separation on the roads of Judea and Samaria.

Actually this fact is crystal clear to anyone who has ever been to the area. Only someone who has never traveled in territory over the Green Line could possibly believe the claim that there exist roads for only Jews. Today, one can see license plates of Palestinians from Jenin to Hebron, on bypass roads that were allegedly built for Jews only, for example, the Qalqilya bypass, the southern Nablus bypass, and the Ramallah bypass roads, as well as on main roads like Route 505 leading to Ariel -- a road that was labeled at least twice in this paper "an apartheid road for Jews only."

The Associated Press published a correction in January 2010 stating, "These roads are open to all Israeli citizens, including Arabs, foreigners and tourists." Similar corrections were published on CNN, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. But the journalistic responsibility and professionalism demonstrated by the world's leading media outlets apparently made no impression on the Israeli media, which even today continues to air this false charge.

Beyond the error itself, the claim of "Jews-only" roads impairs reasonable discussion about Israeli actions. While it is possible to debate and criticize the (real) restrictions imposed on Palestinians (all Palestinians, not just Muslims) on some West Bank roads during a specific time period, Israel and her supporters are forced to address the bogus claim of ethnic-religious separation on these roads.

Raising this claim, particularly in the Israeli media, grants it validity. Anti-Israel activists, too ignorant and lazy to substantiate their own charges, wave around "facts" they find in Israeli newspapers that supposedly "prove" the racism of the State of Israel and justify their own attacks on her. It's hardly surprising this mendacious claim has become a major weapon in the attempt to brand Israel an "apartheid state." Thus, irresponsible journalists and publicists contribute to the distortion of the domestic and international discussion about Israel.

Many media outlets in the world have already acknowledged their mistake and corrected it. Is the Israeli media capable of meeting the accepted standards of journalistic integrity?

Weekend links

From Ian:


New (mini-)Latma
The Israeli Left reaches breaking point with Hamas



Caroline Glick
About those Jews.
"So it works out that Iran's vice president really hates Jews. In fact, he hates Jews so much that even The New York Times reported it. On Tuesday, the Times published an account of Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi's speech before a UN forum on fighting drug addiction in Tehran"

The Future Leaders of Palestinians Terrorists by Hisham Jarallah
"In Palestinian society, it is much more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from a university in the U.S. or Europe. Economic prosperity and the peace process with Israel are not going to convince most Palestinians to vote for people like Fayyad or Abbas."

US bars business with four in Hezbollah laundering link
"The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday banned Americans from doing business with three Lebanese-Venezuelans and a Lebanese man it accused of helping to launder drug money to the benefit of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group."

A Deception Named UNRWA Ben Dror Yamini
"The chain of absurd and deception has to end. There is a need for universal definitions and norms. The anti-Israel camp claims again and again that Israel must obey international norms. A wonderful and just demand. That is exactly what should also happen on the subject of the refugees. The same definitions of “who is a refugee” and the same treatment which helps the real needy and does not eternalize them as “refugees”. That would be the international community’s biggest contribution to encouraging peace."

BBC exposes its Mid-East bias?
"We may never know what conclusions Malcolm Balen reached over the BBC's coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. But Mortimer's latest report on its coverage of the "Arab Spring" may shed some light."

Egyptian oil minister who signed deal with Israel sentenced to 15 years in jail
"Former oil minister Sameh Fahmy and businessman Hussein Salem convicted of harming national interests by selling natural gas to Jewish state"

London 2012 Two Muslim converts arrested over Olympic terror plot

Why Is Sec. Clinton Giving Hundreds of Millions of Dollars to Muslim Brotherhood?

Syrian Rebels Plundering and Destroying Churches (German site) (UPDATE: Maybe not)

The Role of Iranian Security Forces in the Syrian Bloodshed

Conan sketch on Madonna in Tel Aviv


Who painted this picture of the Third Temple?

Where on the Internet can you find this picture?


On the Al Aqsa Heritage Foundation site!

Of course it is meant to rile up the readers about supposed Zionist plans to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, but it is ironic that you can find pictures like this more often on Arabic sites than Jewish ones.

Hamas writer rues the bad old days before the first Intifada

A writer in the Hamas-oriented Felesteen site writes about how things were when he grew up in the 70s:
When I was a young child in the seventies at demonstrations on the occasion of Earth Day or the anniversary of the Nakba, I would hear people shout: "Khaybar Khaybar Jews, Muhammad's Army will be back."

We shouted these slogans, even though Palestine was far from Islam. Women wore scandalous short clothes, and grocery stores sold liquor and also sold soft drinks in public, and the Jews used to come every Saturday to shop from our markets and would walk secure in our streets ... The Jewish employers would share happy occasions with their Palestinian workers, dancing with them and drinking wine and beer at weddings together. The ideas that were prevalent at the time were closer to Kufr them to faith, such as Arab nationalism, communism, secularism. Even so we would shout throughout Palestine: "Khaybar Khaybar Jews, Muhammad's Army will be back."
You can learn more about Hamas - and history - from a personal anecdote like this than from a thousand Arab op-eds in the New York Times.

The danger to the Church of the Nativity sure isn't from Israel

From YNet:
UNESCO's World Heritage committee has voted to approve a Palestinian bid to place the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on its list of sites of World Heritage in Danger.

The Palestinians had pressed to have the church and pilgrimage route inscribed as an emergency candidate at the meeting of the World Heritage 21-nation committee in St. Petersburg, Russia.

UNESCO spokeswoman Sue Williams said the committee voted 13-6 on Thursday to put the iconic Christian site on the list. Two nations abstained.

Emergency status for the candidacy meant the Palestinians could take a shortcut to getting the church on the list.

Some nations saw the move as an attempt by the Palestinians to mix politics and culture.

The United States and Israel, neither of which is on the committee, were among nations opposed to the Palestinian proposal of an emergency candidacy for the iconic Christian site, shortcutting what is usually an 18-month-long process to apply for World Heritage recognition.
So is the Church of the Nativity in real danger, or is this a cynical political move?

PA officials are unambiguous:
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad welcomed UNESCO's decision, saying it strengthens the Palestinians' determination to act toward the establishment of an independent state within the 1967 borders.

"It's time for the UN and its organizations to take a political, legal, cultural and moral stance to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, and prevent the risk posed to its cultural heritage due to the actions of the Israeli occupation," he said.

"This global recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people is a victory for our cause and for justice," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, as Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called it "a historic day."

"These sites are threatened with total destruction through the Israeli occupation, through the building of the separation wall, because of all the Israeli sanctions and the measures that have been taken to stifle the Palestinian identity," the Palestinian delegate said after the vote.
But the application to UNESCO the PA didn't say that the danger to the church was because of Israel - but because of water leaks.

Birthplace of Jesus: the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as it is suffering from damages due to water leaks.

Hmmm..the Palestinian Arabs saying one thing to one audience and a completely different thing to another. Sounds familiar.

Amazing how the church survived when Israel actually was in charge of the Church of the Nativity on a day to day basis.

The problem of the church roof leaking is an old one - and one that Israel offered to fix when Bethlehem was under full Israeli control. From AP, November 21, 1990 (click to enlarge):


The roof problem obviously has nothing to do with Israel, and priceless artifacts in the church have been getting damaged by leaks for a very long time. And the Palestinian Christians opposed Israel fixing the problem that is now regarded as an "emergency," at least in the application to UNESCO.

The biggest irony, of course, is that the Palestinian Arab leaders are saying that they want to preserve a holy Christian site at the exact same time that the Christians under their rule have been fleeing. From Gatestone Institute:

The drive to have the Church of the Nativity recognized as a global heritage site is nothing short of offensive. Christians have been driven out of their ancestral lands; Palestinians have shown nothing but hostility to both Christians and Jews. Moreover, Christ himself was a Jew.

Upon the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, Bethlehem had a Christian population of over 80 percent. With the rise of the Muslim population, Christians dwindled in numbers. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority took over the town in 1995, thanks to the Oslo Accords. Along with the PA, came a tribal political system which caused Bethlehem's Christian population, already at 15%, to further sink to 2% today. Under this political system Christians are targeted, seen as inferiors, and subjected to threats, violence, discrimination and acts of terrorism.

Upon entering Bethlehem Yasser Arafat was strategic in overtaking the Christian populace. He first expanded municipal boundaries to include 30,000 Muslims living in refugee camps, as well as Muslim Bedouins who lived east of the town.

The first and second intifadas further drove Christians out of their ancestral town as they became trapped in the crossfire between the Palestinians and Israelis. The violent struggle predictably drew international attention, and created the ideal platform for Palestinian sympathizers to levy blame on the so-called Israeli "occupation."

Israel's so-called "occupation" and "aggression" were solely based on self defense: both the Palestinian and Hamas Charters call for Israel's obliteration; Israel's southern cities is still live under nearly daily attack by hostile Arab States and forces seeking its destruction.

The Muslim aggression on the other hand is based on a conditioned, generational hatred against the Jews (and Christians) evidently determined to see the Jews of the State of Israel, a country the size of Vancouver Island, pushed into the sea, while an Islamic Caliphate is formed to rule the Middle East.

(h/t Leo Daf Hofshi)

UPDATE: Don't forget that the terrorists who cynically used the church to protect them from being captured by Israel in 2002, and who did great damage to the church itself, are considered heroes by the majority of Palestinian Arabs.

UN confirms that Arabs lied about dead child

I reported last Sunday that Hamas held a major funeral for a five-year old boy killed in Gaza.



The UN's OCHA-OPT's weekly Protection of Civilians report notes what really happened:
Armed factions also intensified the firing of projectiles, including Grad rockets, at southern Israel...Some of the projectiles dropped short of the Gaza/Israeli border or exploded prematurely, killing a five-year old Palestinian child, and injuring a total of 15 Palestinians.
This is separate from the two-year old girl killed the week before by a Qassam rocket who the Arabic media said was killed by Israel.

Every single Arabic news site reported as a fact that he was killed by an Israeli warplane, and not one of them I could find reported Israel's denials.

If you are an Arabic speaker, there is no way you would know that all those stories were lies (outside of reading OCHA's Arabic report.)

And yet the news media and the leftist hate-Israel sites still quote Gaza officials without any skepticism, even when they are the biggest, provable liars.

Hamas now blaming Syria for murdering Ranaja in Damascus

From YNet:
Who assassinated Hamas official Kamal Ranaja? Hamas is pointing fingers at two opposite directions – Israel and the Syrian regime.

While members of the terrorist organization blamed Israel's Mossad for the Damascus assassination, other Hamas members claimed that Bashar Assad's forces were behind the hit.

The main reasoning for this hypothesis is that the method of the assassination does not fit the Mossad's MOs. Arab media reported that Ranaja suffered a particularly brutal death.

According to the report, assassins broke into his apartment, interrogated him under torture and the murdered him. The assassins then cut off his head, placed the severed body parts in a closet and set the apartment on fire – not forgetting to take away with them some secret documents.

"The Mossad would have killed him differently, this was not its MO," said Mohamed Hifawi, a member of the Local Coordination Committees (LLC) in Syria on behalf of Hamas. "Israeli assassins would have done it quicker and cleaner and would not have wasted time needlessly abusing the body."

"The way the body was mutilated and the attempt to burn the house are all methods that point to the involvement of the (Syrian) security forces," he told AFP.

In a message to the French news agency, Hifawi mentioned other details which support his supposition. "He was visiting Syria and nobody knew he was in the country apart from the security services who gave him permission to enter.

"He arrived at an apartment in a neighborhood in Qudsaya which was under a curfew and could only be accessed by the security forces and the regime's thugs."

Israeli experts agreed:
Former senior Mossad member Rami Igra said, “Practically, it’s not reasonable that Israel or a Western country would settle accounts with a man like this, at this stage, in Syria. He’s not big enough.

“He’s not important enough. To assassinate him would be a very complicated, dangerous operation, and it would be taking a huge chance. I don’t see Israel or any Western country willing to take this risk,” Igra said, noting the unstable Syrian situation.

On the other hand, “it would not be a problem for any gang in Damascus, maybe one working for Assad, to do this,” Igra added. “With certainty I can say, it was not Israel.”

Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior terrorism expert from the Interdisciplinary Center’s Institute for Counter-Terrorism, agreed.

He said the most likely entity behind the killing was the Syrian regime, since Ranaja may well have been “involved in smuggling weapons to the Syrian opposition,” particularly to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“If he really was an aide to Mabhouh,” Karmon said, referring to reports that Ranaja was the aide of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the late Hamas arms smuggler assassinated in Dubai, “then he had connections to weapons smuggling.”

“The Muslim Brotherhood is in a state of crisis with the regime. There is a reasonable chance that he provided arms to the opposition,” Karmon added.

A second possibility is that Hamas itself killed Ranaja after suspecting him of pocketing cash given to him to pay for weapons, ships and smuggling teams.

“We saw this happen with Fatah, when Arafat killed his own operatives in Europe for stealing cash,” Karmon noted.

(h/t Yoel)

CNN interview of British victim of sexual assault in Tahrir Square

Earlier this week, Natasha Smith, a journalism student and reporter from Great Britain, wrote a searing and incredibly brave article on her blog describing in sickening detail how she was sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square during the celebrations of Mohamed Morsi's victory in the Egyptian elections on Sunday:
But in a split second, everything changed. Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.

My friend did everything he could to hold onto me. But hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera. But it was no use. My camera was snatched from my grasp. My rucksack was torn from my back – it was so crowded that I didn’t even feel it. The mob stumbled off the platform – I twisted my ankle.

Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.

...I began to think, “maybe this is just it. Maybe this is how I go, how I die. I’ve had a good life. Whether I live or die, this will all be over soon. Maybe this is my punishment for some of the emotional pain I’ve caused others through some foolish mistakes and poor judgement recently. I hope it’s quick. I hope I die before they rape me.”
She's back in England now where CNN interviewed her:



This has been a major problem in Egypt throughout the revolution, as we have documented. But it was happening in Egypt  for years.

Zulus and Christians rally for Israel - in South Africa



From AFP:
Several hundreds of people staged a protest march in Pretoria on Thursday against South Africa's plans to stick "Made in the Palestinian Territories" labels on goods from the area.

Around 300 members of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Inkatha Freedom party marched peacefully and handed over a petition against the labelling to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, ministry spokesman Sidwell Medupe told AFP.

South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has argued that consumers must be informed of a product's origin, as is common practice in other parts of the world, including the European Union.

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the ACDP argued however that "the South African government must not involve itself in the political agenda of organisations and anti-Israeli lobbies."

The government has issued a notice of intention to introduce "Made in Palestinian Territories" tags and will make a decision after a public consultation process that ends on July 10.
The proposed law for labeling only those Judea and Samaria goods made by Jewish companies is itself a model of how ignorant people are of history.

It includes this statement:

"The government of South Africa recognises the state of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations in 1948. Such demarcated borders of Israel by the UN do not include Palestinian territories occupied after 1967."

There were no borders demarcated by the United Nations in 1948.

The UN proposed a partition resolution where a Jewish State would exist alongside an Arab State in 1947, but that resolution was never implemented as it wasn't accepted by any Arab nation, who decided to destroy Israel instead. That resolution is not international law. Israel's legal basis is not UNGA 181 but the fact that Jewish nationalists survived and won a war waged against them meant to exterminate their presence in Palestine. (This is without going into the legal basis of the League of Nations' action in 1922 supporting a Jewish homeland in all of Palestine west of the Jordan, partitioning off eastern Palestine into the new entity called Transjordan for the Arabs.)

The lines that became what is incorrectly called "Israel's 1967 borders" were armistice lines that were agreed upon between Israel and the Arab nations, under UN oversight, in separate negotiations in 1948 and 1949.

In fact, UNSC 242 notes this by saying that there must be "secure and recognized borders" between Israel and the Arab world.

So which "borders" are South Africa referring to?

When people are ignorant of basic facts,of course they come up with ignorant resolutions.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Betar and the PA's attempts to destroy Jewish history

From Diana Muir Appelbaum:
An interesting contest is being waged over a Judean hilltop known as Betar or Battir.

This hilltop village with a system of stone-walled hillside terraces has been nominated by the Palestinian Authority for recognition as a World Heritage Site, and has won the Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes, awarded by UNESCO.

...The World Heritage site nomination caught the attention of a number of commentators since the village is best known under the older, Hebrew version of the name: Betar. Betar was the military headquarters of the Bar Kochba Revolt, a Jewish revolt against Roman rule in 135 CE, and it was that revolt’s last stronghold. When Betar fell, the defenders and their leader, Shimon Bar Kochba, were killed. The event is commemorated by the villagers who call the ancient defensive tower “Khirbet el-Yahud”, “the Jewish ruin”.

...The ancient village dated back to the Iron Age and the archaeological discovery of a “Lmlk” seal impression establishes that it was part of the Judean kingdom in the eighth century BCE. The site was abandoned after the battle. Bar Kochba apparently chose the small, hilltop farming village because it has a constant spring of water and was on a defensible hilltop beside the Jerusalem-Gaza road. The archaeological survey done in 1993 by David Ussishkin (D. Ussishkin, “Archaeological Soundings at Betar, Bar-Kochba’s Last Stronghold”, Tel Aviv 20, 1993, pp. 66-97) reports that the the Jewish liberation fighters hastily threw up crude stone fortification walls, incorporating parts of the walls and buildings of the Jewish village.

In effect if not in intent, UNESCO has awarded the Mercouri prize to a set of retaining walls at least the upper tier of which belonged to an ancient Jewish village.

The Jewish claim to the land is that Jews are the original people of the land, as attested by the ancient Jewish kingdoms.

The Arab claim to the land is that they are the indigenous people of the land, as attested by farming villages like this one. It is not an unreasonable claim, but perhaps nominating an ancient Jewish village for UNESCO World heritage Status is not the most effective way to make it.
Some of David Ussishkin's research from Betar is online. He notes:
The line of the fortification wall, dating apparently to the time of the Second Revolt, is visible along most part of the site and was studied in the excavations. The northern part of the summit which was not settled was left outside the walled area. The city-wall was built as a retaining wall, its lower part supported by a fill on the inside, thus resembling a terrace on the hilly slope. It contained several semi-circular buttresses or towers (see picture), and at least one rectangular buttress or tower on the western side. Apparently built in a hurry, the wall was carelessly and inconsistently constructed.
So indeed the upper terrace is of Jewish origin, and was not meant to be a terrace at all but a fortification.

The Hebrew LMLK seal found on pottery in Betar establishes it as a Jewish town nearly a millennium before the Bar Kochba revolt, as the many LMLK-stamped artifacts are all from around the time of King Hezekiah, around 700 BCE. LMLK means "for the King."

Any way you look at it, Betar is Jewish. Which is almost certainly why the Palestinian Arabs choose it to commemorate "Palestinian history."

Because they want to erase Jewish history.

UPDATE: See also My  Right Word.

The toy guns are that"insult Aisha" fueling Sunni-Shiite tensions

Remember the toy guns that Muslims said were insulting Mohammed's wife Aisha?

It looks like they are the linchpin in growing Sunni-Shiite tensions throughout the Arab world.

Really.
Plastic toy guns—the kinds with flashy lights and sound effects—were an unlikely source of sectarian tensions Friday. Yet following his weekly sermon in Saida, Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir brandished the toys and accused Lebanese Shia of fomenting sectarian tensions by putting an audio recording on the toy guns that, according to Assir, says in Arabic, “hit Aisha,” a wife of the Prophet Mohammad and a revered figure in Sunni Islam but not in Shia Islam. Addressing Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Nabih Berri, the leaders of Shia parties Hezbollah and Amal respectively, during his sermon, Assir said: “If you don't take heed of this issue, I will not let you sleep at night as long as I live.”

Assir’s words were reminiscent of those uttered by Sudanese Sheikh Mohammad Al-Amin Ismail who, in a video uploaded in September of last year, also accused Shia of distributing anti-Sunni toy guns. But from when Ismail plays the audio from the guns in his video, it is evident that the recording is in English and that the uttered words are, "Go, go, go! Pull over! Save the hostages!"

These two cases are not unique. In October 2011, 1,500 toy guns were removed from shelves Saudi Arabia for “mocking and offending” Aisha, and a week later nearly 100 more were seized in the United Arab Emirates. More recently, on May 6 of this year, an Egyptian MP held up a plastic toy gun in the People’s Assembly and said it is offensive to Egyptian and Muslim culture as it says the words, “shoot Aisha.”

The increased Sunni-Shia tensions in Lebanon reflect a growing regional antagonism between the two groups, according to Hazem Saghieh, political editor of the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat. The ongoing crisis in Syria, a country whose politics is intrinsically linked to Lebanon’s, is increasingly being seen in Sunni-Shia terms. So too is the ongoing conflict in Bahrain and past protests in Saudi Arabia.
Following Assir’s accusations, both Lebanon’s General Security and Dar al-Fatwa, the seat of the highest Sunni authority in the country, investigated the claim. On Saturday, they both rejected Assir’s accusation as unfounded. The head of Dar al-Fatwa’s Public Affairs department, moreover, confirmed the audio as saying: “Go, go and take the hostages.”

In a phone interview with NOW Lebanon, Assir maintained that while the English sentence was clearly audible, an Iraqi accented voiceover that insulted Aisha was added to the recording.

They don't need to have Jews around to act crazy. They manage to do it on their own just fine, thank you.

Arab columnist calls Israeli offer to help Syrians "blackmail"

On Monday I reported about an Israeli organization that is sneaking into Jordan to help Syrian refugees, and linked to an Israeli Channel 2 news report on the topic.

I admit I wasn't thrilled with the made-for-TV portions where they (presumably the TV producer) tell the Syrians that they are Israeli and the astonished reactions are filmed. The TV station was staging things for drama, as they are wont to do. But here we see an Arab TV journalist, Diana Mukkaled, who really thinks that this entire endavor is simply blackmail on the part of Israelis!

Syrian regime loyalists received a gift from Israeli TV when the latter screened a short film about people labeled “activists” who risk their lives by entering “hostile territory” in order to support Syrian refugees. “Assad is slaying Syrians while the world is standing still, but some people are taking action … Israelis,” is how the film starts.

This is more than enough for “patriots” who are out to protect Arab rights to take advantage of the plight of Syrian refugees inside and outside Syria in order to promote the conspiracy theory that attributes the Syrian revolution to a Zionist/Western scheme.

The film shows how a group of Israelis, disguised as Bedouins, enter areas sheltering Syrian refugees in Jordan (though the country is not named in the film) and start befriending them and providing them with supplies. They tell them they are Israelis and use cameras to zoom in on their faces that display a mixture of astonishment and confusion.

There is a woman whose husband was attacked by Syrian regime thugs and needs an urgent surgery or else would lose his eyesight. When she knows that those offering her help are Israelis she starts crying for she would rather have her husband lose his eyesight than resort to this kind of help.

The film ends with a question posed by one of the Israelis in the group about the nature of the animosity between Syrians/Arabs and Israelis. He wonders if Israelis extending a helping hand to Syrian refugees now would be latter attacked by those same refugees in the future.

Is there a cheaper form of blackmail than offering to save a refugee’s eyesight provided that it is done in Israel?

This film will not make a difference for Syrian refugees nor would it change the stance of Israeli authorities who are from the beginning of the Syrian revolution siding with the Syrian regime because it provides with border stability. It will also have no impact whatsoever on the Arab-Israeli conflict that is much more complicated that a few scenes screened for a film and which are not even plausible.

However, the way Israeli TV hurried to make use of the tragedy of Syrian refugees reveals the shallowness with which it understands the future relationship between the Arab Spring and the conflict with Israel. It also reveals absolute insensitivity.

Portraying the “moral superiority” of Israeli activists through putting Syrian refugees to tests related to their stance on Israel is a cheap attempt that would ultimately fail in undermining the Syrian revolution or making its aims any less noble.
Yes, she says that Israelis helping Syrians is "insensitive."

Yes, she says that Isrselis offering to help save a Syrian's eyes in Israel is "blackmail."

Yes, she says that the people doing this are really trying to shore up the Syrian regime.

Yes, she says that Israel TV is trying to undermine the Syrian revolution.

The clown who hands out candy to make the homeless Syrian kids laugh? He is an Assad supporter!

Israel Derangement Syndrome - the seething hatred that twists everything any Israeli does to make it into an insidious, anti-Arab plot - seems to be an incurable disease, even among educated, presumably liberal Arabs.

PA TV host prays for Israel's destruction

From PalWatch:

Palestinian Authority television interviewed a Syrian journalist who claimed to have seen a top secret CIA memo from the Clinton administration. This CIA memo allegedly predicted that Israel would not survive beyond the year 2022. The PA TV host responded with a short prayer that this prediction should be fulfilled:



Syrian journalist, Al-Bujayrami: "What I'm going to say, no one has ever heard. A report was submitted by the American Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, to former US President Clinton. It was written on the report: 'Eyes only.' 'Eyes only' means for the President's eyes only. No one else is allowed to see it."
PA TV host: "Top secret."
Al-Bujayrami: "It's more classified than 'top secret.' ... The CIA says [in this report]: 'If things continue as they are, we don't think that Israel will continue to exist after the year 2022...'"
PA TV host: "By Allah, from your mouth to Allah!"
[PA TV (Fatah), June 12, 2012]
I've seen this claim before, and tracked it down to that bastion of truth, Iran's PressTV.

The funny thing is that this report was supposedly written during the Clinton administration and claimed then that Israel would not last twenty more years. Well, it's been twelve years since the Clinton administration, and I haven't detected any weakening. I guess they padded the year to 2022 because 2019 seemed a little unrealistic.

Then again, the CIA did once predict that the Jewish state could not possibly survive.

The track record of the many who have made that prediction over the years is approximately 0.00%.

Link'in from Ian

Founding National Myths Fabricating Palestinian History by David Bukay
“The vast literature proving the historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel has been extensively manipulated and distorted as part of the Palestinian politics of nationalism. Propaganda, indoctrination, and socialization, both domestically and internationally, are essential parts of the strategy and tactics of asserting Palestinian nationhood and statehood. By appropriating to themselves the values, traditions, and historical facts that belong to the Jews, Palestinians have managed to fabricate a "legitimate" history and political traditions out of nothing while denying those of Israel.”
Racism in Arab Lands by Michael Curtis
“Discrimination, intolerance, and racism in the Arab world persist in many forms: they affect women; all non-Muslims; dark skinned people, Blacks, would-be refugees, and migrants. Among those groups and peoples who have been denied political and civil rights are Kurds, the non-Arab people whose language belongs to the Iranian group; Berbers, the pre-Arab native people of North Africa; Turkmen who speak their own language; the Christian Copts in Egypt; the Assyrians or Assyro-Chaldeans in Iraq subject to both ethnic and religious persecution; and Jews. Christians and Jews are still regarded as dhimmis ["tolerated" people], defined in different ways but always as second-class citizens. Extreme Islamists, regarding them as infidels, have used violence against many, including the Copts and the Bahais, as well as against Jews.”

Reactions to Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi:
Iran Declares War against the Jewish People by Alan M. Dershowitz
Camera reminds Prof. Waltz that he said the Iranians were “rational”: This is Who Kenneth Waltz Thinks Should Have a Nuclear Bomb
“Foreign Affairs, a leading journal covering foreign policy, has published a piece in its July-August issue by Columbia University Professor Kenneth Waltz advising us not to worry about an Iranian nuclear bomb. In fact, Waltz says "a nuclear-armed Iran would probably be the best possible result of the standoff and the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East." Dismissing American and Israeli concerns as "typical of major powers, which have historically gotten riled up whenever another country begins to develop a nuclear weapon," Waltz argues that the Iranian leadership is rational.”
EU raps Iranian VP Rahimi over anti-Semitic speech
"The High Representative is deeply disturbed by racist and anti-Semitic statements made by Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi at the UN International Day against Drug Abuse," Ashton stated.”
UN head calls on Iran to refrain from anti-Semitic comments

BDS fails
London hosts conference touting Israeli innovation
"Any assumption that the UK is a fertile ground for the boycott campaign against Israel was laid to rest on Tuesday as London hosted one of Europe’s largest hi-tech conferences aimed at enhancing the strong connection between the UK and Israel in innovation.
Held in central London, Innovate Israel 2012 was attended by over 500 business leaders, investors, decision makers and government representatives.”
Israeli cherries sold in Iranian markets
Tehran's media says Israeli fruit sold in local markets despite mutual trade ban

Russia is open for Israeli business, says expert

Egypt to Block Jewish Pilgrims From Holy Site
“Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta.”
“An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting the gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis.”

We may have confused Turkish jet for an Israeli one, Syrian minister claims
Omran al-Zubi says Friday’s downing of an F-4 was a mistake, and that Israeli planes are ‘welcomed by fire’"Turkish planes and Israeli planes look alike,” the minister told the Turkish news station A Haber.
Although the Turkish and Israeli air forces both purchased McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom fighter jets from the United States, the IAF decommissioned its last F-4 in 2004.

Save the children…except when they’re Israeli. - Richard Millett
“With politicians, NGOs and charities totally impotent to stop massacres in Syria and starvation and disease in Africa they got back to doing what they do best; delegitimising Israel.”
Israel persuaded Russia not to sell Syria missiles'
“Barak says J'lem influenced cancellation of sale of S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Damascus worth around $100m.”

Palestinian Christians falsely claim Bethlehem is "surrounded" by a wall

From CAMERA:

Palestinian Christian activists and their allies have a difficult time describing the security barrier accurately. They describe the barrier as completely surrounding Bethlehem when in fact it does not.

Bishara Awad, president of the Bethlehem Bible College has uttered this falsehood, as has his son, Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust. Both Bishara and Sami live in Bethlehem.

Lutheran Bishop Margaret Payne has also uttered this falsehood and has refused to retract it when challenged by CAMERA. The news show 60 Minutes has made the same false statement and has refused to correct.

Now it is Diyar, a Bethlehem-based consortium led by Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb that is broadcasting this falsehood.

Diyar bills itself as “a group of Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented institutions serving the whole Palestinian community ‘from the womb to the tomb', with an emphasis on children, youth, women & elders.” 

In a Diyar-produced video posted on Youtube on Jan. 18, 2012, a narrator states the following:
The city of Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ and home to more than 40,000, is now encircled by an eight-meter high concrete wall. This apartheid wall as many have come to call it, has turned Bethlehem into a walled ghetto, cutting through Palestinian land, destroying neighborhoods and imprisoning its population.
This statement is false in two ways. First of all, not all of the barrier is comprised of a concrete wall. Much of the barrier is built with a security fence. Secondly, the barrier does not “encircle” Bethlehem but instead passes by its northern and western sides.

The falsehood appeared again in a letter sent by newly-minted Diyar employee, Rev. Victor Makari, Ph.D.
Makari, who currently works as regional consultant for the Religion and State Program for Diyar, mischaracterized the security barrier in a June 23 202 letter to his supporters in the U.S.

Makari, who previously worked for the Presbyterian Church (USA), Makari wrote that he was
…humbled and encouraged daily by the endurance and tenacity of hope of our Palestinian neighbors, living within the confines and restrictions of the Israeli Occupation – a 25-ft-high concrete wall that has surrounded the West Bank andenclosed Bethlehem for 10 years now
...Why do Palestinian Christians and their allies have such a difficult time getting it right about the security barrier?
Here is a map of the security barrier from B'Tselem, showing that Bethlehem is hardly "surrounded":



Facebook may add "Insha'Allah" button for events

From Bikya Masr:

Arabic-speaking Facebook users want the social networking website to add an “Insha’Allah” button to the platform for the Middle East. And Facebook seems ready to make the move to boost its regional presence.

According to Immanuel Simonsen from Multilingual Search, “Facebook has identified a strong wish from Arabic natives to include an “Insha’Allah” (Arabic term meaning “God Willing” that indicates hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future) button for Facebook events.”

While Facebook may not be the most popular social media network in the Arab world, this addition “looks to be the first new localized feature for the Arabic market.”

“However small this current adding, it’s indicative of Facebook now actively trying to adapt its product to better reflect and accommodate the specific needs of the Arabic world, and representatives from Facebook Arabia have already made it very clear that this is just the first of many alterations to come,” says Simonsen.
How about a mini-Grad rocket button for Gazans? A "fatwa" button for Iranian clerics?

The possibilities are endless....

Two Arab youths arrested for setting fires on Mount Scopus

Maariv (and Palestine Today) report that two Arab youths were arrested for setting recent fires on Mount Scopus near Hadassah Hospital and an army base.

The youths were from Issawiya. One of the youths confessed and implicated the other.

13 soldiers were treated for smoke inhalation for that fire last Sunday.

There have been a series of hundreds of suspected arson fires around Jerusalem over the past month, and Arabs are suspected of setting many of them.

There were reports that the deadly Carmel fire last year was also purposefully set by Arab arsonists.

It appears that this is a new form of "resistance" where Arabs are purposefully setting fires in the land they supposedly love so much, exhausting Israeli fire and emergency forces.

Hamas' Meshal on second official visit to Jordan today

Today, a delegation led by Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal is visiting Jordan to meet with King Abdullah.

His first official visit was in January, but that was in context of the reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah. This visit appears to be more a reflection of Jordan's recognition of the Islamist revolutions taking place, especially in Egypt, and Abdullah's anticipation that Hamas' influence will continue to grow. Jordan is one of the last remaining Arab countries that can be described as moderate, and its leadership feels that it must not appear to be against the Islamist tide.

In January, officials said that the issue of re-opening Hamas offices in Amman were not raised in the talks, but Hamas now says that they will raise that issue with the king as well.

It appears that Hamas publicly re-engaging in terrorist activity by bragging of shooting rockets against Israeli civilians last week has actually helped it politically in the Arab world. Instead of being shunned more, a proud terrorist organization is now being welcomed as the effective leadership of Palestinian Arabs by the Arab world at large.

This is a good thing to keep in mind as people try to pressure Israel to make even more concessions for "peace."

Iranian culture revealed in a "kill Salman Rushdie" videogame

From Iran's PressTV:
The 2nd edition of Iran’s International Computer Game Expo and Festival is scheduled to be mounted in the capital city of Tehran’s Grand Prayer Grounds.

The expo, which is slated to kick off on July 26, 2012, will host many game designers from Iran and many other countries from across the world.

Organizers say the event aims to introduce Iran's culture and Islamic identity, discover new talents and present Iranian products to international producers and distributors of computer games.
And here is an example of that famed Iranian culture featured at the expo:
Salman Rushdie was the target of a notorious fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic of Iran, 23 years ago. Now, the author of The Satanic Verses is the subject of an Iranian computer game aimed at spreading to the next generation the message about his "sin".

The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production.

News of the computer game came as Tehran on Tuesday played host to the country's second International Computer Games Expo.
(h/t Gary)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jews in sports - Airplane! joke proven

First, the classic joke:



Now, the proof:
The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Adolph and Rose Levis Museum (PJSHOF) celebrated its 15th anniversary by honoring eight new individuals in a reception held on May 21, 2012...

The inductees into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame represent the best of the best, those individuals and teams who, through perseverance, dedication, superior talent and skills, have risen to the top of their respective sports.

This year's special class includes coaches, charity founders, sports managers and a prize-winning writer.
In other words - essentially no athletes.

I liked this inductee:
Glenn Fine is a former inspector general of the United States Department of Justice and Rhodes Scholar, who was a 10th-round draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs.
He never actually played for the Spurs, you understand, but he did reach the rarified heights of being a tenth round draft pick!

Midweek links

From Ian:



More on Reuters bias:
Honest Reporting: Reuters Incorrect “Correction”
“Nothing “shook” the truce. Palestinian terrorists fired rockets at Israeli civilian areas. Hours later, Israel attacked (from the air, lest anyone think that the word “raid” implies that Israel entered Gaza on the ground) terrorists preparing to launch more rockets.
Would it be asking too much for Reuters on their correction to get the story right?”
HR Video: Reuters- It All Started When Israel Fired Back


Anti-Semite Charles Barron loses big in New York, demands recount
"At the risk of sounding like a sore loser, honesty compels me to say there will be no congratulatory statement to the opposition tonight, only because of the way the campaign was run," Barron was quoted as saying by the New York Daily News.
Australian parliament stands in silence in memory of Israeli athletes
"The move came after a motion was passed unanimously in parliament last night calling “on the International Olympic Committee to observe one minute’s silence at the 2012 Olympic Games in honour of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at 1972 Munich Olympics.” The parliament decided that although the decision to hold a minute’s silence in London was yet to be reconsidered, the Australian parliament would hold one today."
The Incredible Shrinking US-Israel Security Cooperation

Michael Coren with documentary maker Nicky Larkin - Israel changed my mind


Forty Shades of Grey trailer



Also:

Brotherhood Representative Won’t Speak to Israeli Journalist

MEMRI: Morsi During Elections Campaign: Jihad Is Our Path; the Shari'a Is the Constitution of Egypt



And a Kurdish friend of Israel is kidnapped, reportedly by Iran.
Mawloud Afand, editor of Israel-Kurdish magazine "Israel Kurd" disappeared ten days ago in Kurdistan region of Iraq. His friends say he traveled to the city of Sulaimaniyah where he was abducted by Iranian Intelligence, as reported on Israel Army Radio, and reported by Israel national news.

(h/t O., Yoel)

Hamas claims to have planned rocket attacks on Knesset, BG Airport in 2002

The Hamas Al Qassam website has an interview with Akram Ahmed Salmi, a terrorist who was recently released after nine years in prison.

He claims that Hamas was manufacturing missiles in 2002 that were meant to be shot to the Knesset, to Ben Gurion Airport and "most importantly" to the settlement of Bet El.

Salmi claimed that the expertise to manufacture the rockets was transferred over from Gaza and that some 20 Qassam missiles had been built. The manufacturing slowed down a lot after Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, as the priority then changed to building IEDs to attack the IDF troops.

According to Salmi, the entire factory went up in smoke in late March 2002 when a fire broke out, destroying all the rockets.

It is unclear how true this story is. The first Qassam launch from Gaza may have been in January 2002, with a known Qassam attack in the West Bank on February 13th.

According to this caption, a Qassam factory was discovered in Tulkarem on March 9, 2002.

I couldn't find any information about a fire in the West Bank in late March 2002. So this could all be some after-the fact bragging. But it is significant that there were some Qassams from the West Bank early in the intifada, and there was little at the time stopping it from escalating - except the fear that the IDF would go crazy if it happened.

And that is not a small thing.



Rachel's Tomb, 1861

Legendary Muslim tolerance. 

From the Newmarket (Ontario) Era, July 19, 1861:


(h/t jhrhv)

Interview with the IDF ethicist

From Israel HaYom last week:

[Professor Asa] Kasher, an Israel Prize laureate in philosophy, is considered the foremost philosopher in Israel and a supreme professional authority in the field of ethics. Some say that he is the most respected moral authority of our generation. Besides his work in academia as a world-renowned expert in linguistics, he was the chairman of several important public committees and serves on several others. He also became known as the conscience of the security establishment after he wrote the IDF’s code of ethics. His writings about medical ethics, media and science are considered milestones. Yet despite all his frenetic public activity, he hardly appears in the media.

..Kasher served on the Shamgar Committee regarding negotiating a ransom for kidnapped soldiers. ...[H]e says, “The price of sending terrorists back is not a matter of national honor but rather a question of security and justice. When we look at the list of those who were released in the Shalit deal, where they were released to and the restrictions that were imposed upon them, no danger to security has been created. Yes, justice was compromised, but there was no alternative. After all, we will not leave a soldier in that kind of situation merely to protect justice.

“The families of the victims of the murderers who were released should have been treated with kid gloves. They should have been told before the fact, and not by the media. The authorities should have given them psychological therapy and a listening, sensitive ear.”

Q. In the context of preventing kidnappings, the “Hannibal order” — preventing a kidnapping even at the price of harming a soldier — has been discussed quite a bit.

“There is a common error, as though an order existed to shoot a soldier who had been kidnapped, deliberately, because ‘a dead soldier is better than a kidnapped soldier.’ The Hannibal order says that when there is an attempt to kidnap a soldier, it must be prevented by an order to open fire in order to get the soldier back home safe and sound. The kidnappers, not the soldier, are fired upon, even if the soldier’s life is put in some danger. If the soldier is in certain danger — for example, firing an artillery shell at the kidnappers’ car — it’s not allowed. I’m glad that the twisted idea of this procedure that exists in the soldiers’ minds never actually happened. The order has been invoked several times already, and there has never been a case in which any soldiers killed another soldier in order to prevent him from being kidnapped.

“There is a distortion of thought that says that while the state must pay a high price for a kidnapped soldier, Israeli society is willing to accept a dead soldier. This is a scandalous and false idea. Would you be willing to take responsibility for a soldier that you killed? I heard this twisted interpretation for the first time in 1995. I raised an outcry, and I tell you that the damage that the state would suffer from a soldier’s death is greater than the damage that it would suffer from negotiating for his release. Don’t help the country by killing a soldier. It would be better for him to be captured by the enemy than killed by you.

“During Operation Cast Lead, I heard commanding officers say, ‘None of our men will be kidnapped.’ That doesn’t just mean be careful. It means kill yourself rather than let it happen. That’s absolutely horrible.”

Q. Can the IDF code of ethics undergo changes?

“The code is stable. The more abstract the values are, the less they change. The doctrines can change because we are in new situations all the time. The doctrine of combating terror, which I dealt with together with Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, who was the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, includes a new situation in which terrorists live among civilians. We must free ourselves from the attitude that regards others’ lives with fear and trembling while holding the lives of our own combat soldiers in complete contempt. International law wants to impose a position on us whereby soldiers are a consumable resource and that the lives of enemy civilians must be protected more than the lives of our own combat troops. Bandages are a consumable resource. Water is a consumable resource. Human beings are not.

“If we warned the terrorists’ neighbors to leave the area, in Arabic, in any way — flyers, telephone calls, television broadcasts, a warning noise — and they stay anyway — why are they staying? Because they choose to be human shields for terrorists. I do not want to kill a human being only because he is a human shield, if he is not a threat to me. But should a soldier of mine risk himself for him? Is the blood of a human shield any redder than the blood of my soldier? A soldier has no choice other than to be in Gaza, in that alleyway. But to be sent inside — why? In the battle in Jenin, in the middle of Operation Defensive Shield, the IDF knew that the refugee camp was booby-trapped. But they still insisted on not bombing from the air in order to keep from harming civilians, and they suffered terrible losses. That was a mistake. They should have made an effort to get the civilian population out of the terrorist environment, and then there would have been no need to send in the infantry.”

Q. Is the IDF more ethical today than in the past?

“The IDF is the only army in the world whose code of ethics states that a human being’s life should be valued simply because he is a human being. There is no other army in the world that would accept such an idea, and among us it passed without anybody batting an eyelash. We are improving all the time. An incident such as what happened on Bus 300 could not happen today. Today’s Shin Bet would not go within 10 miles of such a thing.

“On the other hand, army politics have only gotten worse. What does it mean, ‘running’ for the position of chief of staff? In a professional organization, nobody runs for a position. A tradition of transition from the army to politics has been created, and norms from the political world have trickled into the army.”

Read the whole thing.

What does the new Egyptian leadership mean for Ouda Tarabin?

Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Arab,  has been imprisoned in Egypt since 2000 when he went over the border to visit his sister in El Arish without proper papers. He never had a chance to defend himself in court against the espionage charges.

There were rumors during and after the Grapel deal last year that Tarabin would be released, but it never happened. Now that Egypt has a new government, what does that mean for him?

Israel's Channel 2 recently wrote up about the case, noting that Israel has been very quiet in negotiating his release. Yet even most Israelis never heard of Tarabin.

According to CNN Arabic, the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists plans to file a complaint against Egypt to the International Council for Human Rights saying that Egypt's arrest of Tarabin deliberately violated his human rights. The organization also plans to appeal directly to new Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsi to release Tarabin.

The article quotes Israel Radio as saying that Amnesty International also submitted a report about arbitrary arrests by Egyptian authorities, including that of Tarabin, and Egypt never responded. A 2011 Amnesty report says:

Dual Egyptian-Israeli national Ouda Suleiman Tarabin continues to be detained allegedly on the basis that he had been tried by a military court and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for espionage back in 1999, when he was aged 19. Ouda Suleiman Tarabin was arrested two days after he entered Egypt illegally. He said he was insulted when he showed an Israeli passport. He told the lawyer who represents him now that he was never brought before a judge nor assigned a lawyer before. The authorities have so far failed to provide a copy of the verdict of the military court despite repeated requests by the lawyer to the Minister of Interior, Minster of Justice and the prison authorities and it remains unclear whether he is indeed serving a prison sentence or is in fact held in administrative detention. Amnesty International wrote to the Minister of Interior to inquire about the legal status of Ouda Suleiman Tarabin but received no answer. Ouda Suleiman Tarabin continues to be held in Liman Tora Prison.
The case of Tarabin will show whether Morsi is a reformer who will fight against the abuses of the previous military regime, as he claims, or if he is just another politician.

Syrian Free Army captures army base

From The Telegraph:

Members of the Syrian Free Army gained control over a military base in the northern town of Daret Ezzah after heavy fighting with government troops.

The rebels said they co-ordinated the attack with a group of defectors inside the base 30 miles northwest of Aleppo province.

"The Free Army battalions in western rural Aleppo liberated the battalion 1041 in the area of Jabal al Sheikh Barakat in the town of Daret Ezzah," army defector Abu Jehad said.

"Thank God, we have full control over the location with the help of defecting soldiers from inside the battalion. We seized all artillery including anti-aircraft systems and light personal weapons,"

Also:
Gunmen stormed a pro-government Syrian TV channel headquarters on Wednesday, bombing buildings and shooting dead three employees, state media said, in one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state.

President Bashar al-Assad declared late on Tuesday that his country was "at war". U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian regime was "holding fairly firm" and digging in for a long struggle against rebel forces who are getting stronger.

The dawn attack on Ikhbariya television's offices, located 20 km (15 miles) south of the capital, as well as overnight fighting on the outskirts of Damascus showed 16 months of violence now rapidly encroaching on the capital.

"We live in a real state of war from all angles," Assad told a cabinet he appointed on Tuesday, in a speech broadcast on state television. "When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."

The declaration marks a change of rhetoric from Assad, who had long dismissed the uprising against him as the work of scattered militants in "terrorist gangs" funded from abroad.

The rambling speech - Assad also commented on subjects as far afield as the benefits of renewable energy - left little room for compromise. He denounced the West, which "takes and never gives, and this has been proven at every stage".

(h/t Yoel)

Ha'aretz deliberately ignores anti-Israel incitement in the PA

From Behind the News in Israel by David Bedein:

At the annual American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) Conference, held last week in Philadelphia, a newsworthy session was held with Chemi Shalev, the newly appointed US correspondent for the English language edition of HaAretz.

Working with foreign journalists in Jerusalem for the past 25 years, the significance of HaAretz reaches beyond its scope as a daily newspaper in Israel.

The HaAretz English edition, sold in Israel together with the International Herald Tribune, is the paper of record for reporters who cover complexities of middle east issues.

Therefore, the opportunity for AJPA to hear Shalev's s insights into the middle east reporting policies was significant.

After hearing Shalev's insightful analysis of current Israeli politics and the current state of Israeli-Arab negotiations, our news agency posed a question to Shalev:

* Why does HaAretz not report what the Palestinian Authority communicates to their people in their language, on the PBC TV, the PBC radio, Palestinian Authority newspapers and the Palestinian Authority schools?*

After all, over the past few weeks, PBC TV has conducted daily features which promote the armed struggle to liberate all of Palestine, praise for those who martyr themselves while murdering Jews, transforming Israeli cities into Arab cities, and worse.

Shalev's candid response: “We do not have room to cover all of that”

The follow up question was simpler: In the context of any article that HaAretz runs on the peace process, why not mention what the spokespeople of the PA say that day in their media and in their own language?

Shalev: * As an editor, I would recommend not covering that”.

In other words, a senior editor of HaAretz admitted to a gathering of journalists that his newspaper engages in a journalistic indiscretion.

As a matter of policy, Shalev admitted, Haaretz will not report the consistent message that the Palestinian Authority conveys in the Arabic language.

This poses a challenge to agencies that rely on HaAretz as a source.
Ha'aretz' biases are obvious to anyone who reads it - except to lazy Hebrew-challenged journalists in Israel who rely on it as a substitute for real reporting. But here we see that its new English language editor is explicitly confirming those biases.

(h/t My Right Word)

PalArab support for Hamas goes up sharply

From the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research:
These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 21-23 June 2012.

The second quarter of 2012 shows clear improvement in the standing and popularity of Hamas and Ismail Haniyeh, especially in the Gaza Strip, and a decline in the popularity of Fateh and President Abbas. The increased Hamas popularity might be due to the fact that it has allowed the Palestinian election commission to begin voter registration in the Gaza Strip and might reflect optimism about future improvement in the conditions of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in the Egyptian presidential elections. The decline in the popularity of Fateh and president Abbas comes in light of widespread popular anger with the PA for the arrest of journalists and the blocking of internet sites. It might also reflect public perception of a reluctance on the part of Abbas to form a reconciliation government despite Hamas' decision to allow the election commission to operate in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, it is possible that Abbas' reluctance to go to the UN or take the initiative to break the deadlock in the relationship with Israel might in part explain the increase in public dissatisfaction with his performance and the decrease in the percentage of votes he might receive in a new presidential elections.

Findings also indicate that the overwhelming majority of the public opposes the arrest of journalists or the blocking of internet sites and view such measures as harming the Palestinian cause in international public opinion. A majority is also pessimistic about the chances to implement the reconciliation agreement and a very small minority is optimistic about the chances of forming a reconciliation government in days or weeks or organizing parliamentary and presidential elections before the end of the year.
Ha'aretz Hebrew has some of  the numbers, showing that the gap between those who would vote for Abbas and those who would vote for Haniyeh has narrowed to 7%, as opposed to 12% last quarter.

But if terrorist Marwan Barghouti would run for president against Haniyeh, Barghouti would win 60%-34%.

Fatah's popularity in parliamentary elections also declined from 47% to 40%.

The raw results will probably be released next week.

(h/t Yoel and CHA)

6 out of 10 Arabs support censorship of the arts

From Al Ahram:
An opinion poll conducted by the Doha Debates television programme reveals that six out of 10 Arab citizens support government censorship of the arts, especially when it comes to nudity or profane language.

According to the poll, conducted between 30 May and 3 June, most said that the existence of regulatory bodies and institutions affiliated with the state is a must, as art could be "inappropriate" and offend "religious beliefs."

Most of those polled suggested that censorship was needed on modern art taught in Arab universities, but most also said that censorship would not be able to stand in the way of artists because thoughts and beliefs live in our imaginations.

In the poll, most of those who supported government censorship of art came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen. Poll samples from less conservative countries in the region returned different results.
Al Ahram itself came under fire recently for censoring  a famous piece by Abdel Hadi al-Gazzar by covering up the breasts of a woman in the painting: