Friday, March 30, 2007

A bleak period in history!

From time to time Israeli journalists show they have keen insight and an ability to express themselves. Rosner does just that. Maybe it is because he and I see eye to eye vis a vis the meaning of the Riyadh meeting but I have been much harsher in my comments. I just returned from a meeting with him. He is here this weekend as a scholar in residence.

Rosner's outlook for any near term peace is rather bleak. He also believes it is highly likely Iran will become nuclear by default and the impact on Israel and the region will be significant. Israel, because it could impede external investing and this could lead to a scientific brain drain and ultimately a diminished standard of living and a nation whose future would be very circumscribed. The remaining Arab world because it would hasten the nuclearization of the region.

He does not quite understand Russia's intentions beyond wanting to make our own life diplomatically difficult but why at the expense of a nuclear shared border with Iran? But, then of course, China seems willing to live with a nuclear neighbor as long as it gives the West grief. (See 1 below.)

And when Israeli reporters want to do a hatchet job they are also expert. This time the mea culpa is against their own profession. (See 2 below.)

A professor examines Vietnam in view of the current actions of Democrats vis a vis funding Iraq. (See 3 below.)

It never hurts to hear what Arabs and Muslims say to their own and in their own language. (See 4 below.)

Predictions are seldom worth the writing so I am not going to make ant but I thought it might prove instructive to give the pro and con sides of a few pressing issues.


Leave Iraq because it has been a failure, has disrupted the region, given Arabs another reason to hate us and has been costly in both human and economic terms.


It signals our word is unreliable, our commitment questionable and the vaccuum created will simply strengthen Iran's spreading influence and will drive any "moderate" Arab nations to draw closer to Iran.


How can we not negotiate with our adversaries. Contact provides an opportunity to probe and find areas of common ground .


Contact is useful when your adversaries are interested in reaching a compromise but when they is are a position of perceived strength they are not likely to make concessions. Specifically in Israel's case what is to be gained from negotiating with those who seek your annihilation and any concession is deemed a signal of weakness.


Since WW 2 any nation that has become a nuclear power has restrained from using that weapon and this will be the case with Iran. Nuclear proliferation cannot be prevented.


A nuclear Iran would be a different matter if there were a regime change and the nation was not ruled by those intent on rectifying Christianity's "domination" of the Islamic World.


Illegal immigration is a fact of life and we should accept reality and improve the economic climate of countries bordering on our own.


Any nation that is unwilling to defend its borders has cheapened its own freedom and cherished values of the price of citizenship and made respect for enforcing its own laws suspect. Where does it stop?


1) 'Dancing with a corpse'
By Shmuel Rosner

WASHINGTON D.C. - No one knows the origin of the word "Hoyas," the name attached to the sports teams of Georgetown University, in Washington. Nor is there any certainty concerning the intention of the person who came up with the name. Apparently, he was a Greek- and Latin-speaking student back in the 1920s. But the one thing that's certain is this: The assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, David Welch, was this week - like all Georgetown basketball fans - in "Hoya heaven," the paradise reserved for winners.

Against all odds and expectations, Georgetown's Hoyas will play in the semifinals of the college basketball championship tournament this weekend, after defeating powerful North Carolina in a flip-flop, breathtaking game. And Welch watched the game. The whole thing. This is no trivial thing, because it was played in the midst of this week's visit to the Middle East by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which Welch played a key role. The staff of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv also gave him a handsome gift: a blue skullcap bearing the team's familiar mascot, Jack the Bulldog. Welch took it with him to a meeting with an avid soccer fan, who also happened to be the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert.

It's almost Passover eve, and with the theme of four (questions, brothers, cups of wine, etc.) in mind, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament has produced better news than what was generated by the "Arab Quartet." Furthermore, Rice's achievements were modest; from the outset no one pinned exaggerated hopes on her mission. Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland quoted an "admirer" of Rice as saying, to memorable effect: "Condi is doing everything she can. But she is dancing with a corpse that just keeps flopping over in another direction every time she tries to move it."

That is exactly what happened to her with Olmert. In the eyes of many, he too is a type of political corpse. Rice could not help but discern the change in his approach, the enthusiasm that has now cooled. The Americans came with a plan, but when they heard Olmert they realized that they would have to modify it. Even if they would have preferred that he behave differently, his interlocutors did not find it difficult to understand his reasons - political distress, but also, and no less serious, obstacles on the ground. How can he talk with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) about a political horizon before the latter brings about the return home of Gilad Shalit, the abducted soldier?

Rice, who in her talks with Israelis in the past occasionally mentioned that "we also have abductees," this week acceded to a request to meet with the families of Israel's kidnapped soldiers. That was no small matter, given the stack of excuses she cited in order to evade such requests in the past. The issue of these soldiers is being dealt with by the United Nations, and that is for the best, she explained in the past. The flexibility she showed this week came only after she grasped that her refusal to meet was signaling to the Israelis that she was making light of their grief.

Washington. Embarrassment

President Lyndon Johnson once gave somewhat cruel but amusing expression to the problem of the rather clumsy Gerald Ford: "He can't walk and chew gum at the same time," Johnson said, long before Ford became president. Like old gum, that image stuck to him and refused to go away. For his part, Ford went on to add hitches and stumbles to his already long list, which only heightened the embarrassment and amusement. One prominent example occurred when Ford hosted Anwar Sadat, then the president of Egypt, and raised a toast to the distinguished guest. Sadat, who was standing next to the table smiling, was astonished to hear the U.S. president greet him "and the people of Israel."

Egyptian suspiciousness regarding U.S. policy was certainly not diminished by that incident. Nor was it this week, either. On Tuesday, on the eve of the Arab summit meeting in Riyadh, the White House issued a soft-toned but clear statement. The subject: democratic reforms in Egypt. The timing: the completion of the ludicrous referendum conducted by President Hosni Mubarak. "We will continue to raise these issues [of reforms and democratization] at the highest levels, in an effort to help the government of Egypt fulfill the aspirations of the Egyptian people for democracy," the statement said.

Rice and President George Bush, it turns out, are undergoing a process of becoming more pragmatic, but their basic beliefs have not changed: Without democratization, they believe, the Middle East will know no peace. In any event, the foundation on which American policy is now resting - unification of a front of moderates in the face of the forces of darkness that are rocking the Middle East - looked very rickety this week. It's convincing on paper, but the concrete results are dubious. The Egyptians are angry, the Saudis are conducting an independent policy, the Jordanians are distancing themselves, and the Lebanese are trembling.

If this is the forecast, it's no wonder the Iranians are guffawing. Last week they poured more oil on troubled waters by abducting sailors of the Royal Navy. In the game of chicken that Iran is playing with the West, the first to get scared were Iran's Arab neighbors. The Saudi monarch informed the Americans that he would not be visiting Washington mid-month, as had been scheduled. They are having trouble deciphering this move, as is Israel. The television broadcasts from the summit were the most credible source of information for all those people holding out hopes that something good is happening to the Arab League. The assessments of statesmen concerning the likely outcome in Riyadh was more a reflection of their character and desires than it was of any hard information that they are harboring.

Rice's delegation tried to play up modest accomplishments in the visit. The agreement between Rice and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni relates to the decisive issue of the future of the talks. In Livni's words, "There are two possibilities - to wait for things to work out, which isn't happening, or to keep working on it." And another remark, voiced by a senior figure in the U.S. delegation, who tried to explain why Rice intends to go on investing in the "corpse": "Absent the effort, all the alternatives are worse."

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, demonstrated her clout, albeit not by a large majority, when she succeeded in pushing through a resolution calling for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. If anyone had any doubts, they disappeared this week: The Democratic Party seriously intends - and has the means available - to make the president's life miserable. On Sunday, Pelosi will talk about Iraq with someone who looks askance at her withdrawal plans: Prime Minister Olmert.

Jerusalem. Dinner

Pelosi's visit to Israel will be the first by a speaker of the House since Newt Gingrich attended the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin, a visit that was accompanied by a well-publicized political scandal. Gingrich got a lift on the plane of President Bill Clinton, and made a big deal out of the affront to his dignity when he was asked to leave by the plane's rear door, the one the president does not use. It wasn't one of Gingrich's great moments.

Pelosi's visit was arranged almost by chance. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik came to her office accompanied by the diplomat who serves as the liaison to Congress in the U.S., Alon Ushpiz.

"I would like to host you in the Knesset," Itzik said.

"When will we do it?" Pelosi asked her aide. A rumor had reached her that one doesn't refuse a stubborn person like Itzik.

"It's possible in the first half of April," the aide said.

And so, out of the blue, a visit by the third- ranking personage in the United States was worked out.

Pelosi will meet with Olmert and Livni at the beginning of the week. Before that, tomorrow, she will meet Abu Mazen in Ramallah and will be invited to a meal by Shimon Peres. On Sunday evening, Itzik will host an official dinner in her honor in the Knesset, and Pelosi will also deliver a speech. Her talk with Olmert, which will touch on Iraq, among other subjects, will be of interest. Two weeks ago, in a controversial step, the prime minister stated in his speech to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Israel lobby in Washington, that Israel objects to a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. He will reiterate this to Pelosi, if she asks. This is a matter of Israeli interest, and he is the prime minister of Israel. According to Olmert, such a comment does not constitute intervention in American internal politics.

Pelosi is unlikely to be persuaded. Informed Israelis say that she is cruising on a tail wind and that Olmert has sent a message that will have little effect: One way or the other, the Americans will get out of Iraq, earlier than Bush would like, unless there is a dramatic change, which is not currently foreseeable in the situation in Baghdad. This is yet another reason for Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian anxiety. Their analysis of U.S. policy in the years ahead detects confusion: The hands will still be the hands of Bush, but the voice will be that of Pelosi.

2) Media malfunction
By Ari Shavit

There is nothing left to say about Ehud Olmert. There are no words. On the first anniversary of his election, even the comparison to Richard Nixon has exhausted itself. Tricky Dick was a statesman of stature and a political scoundrel. By contrast, Cynical Udi is both a political scoundrel and a failed statesman. Israel has never had a worse prime minister. Israel has never had a more corrupt prime minister. Israel has never been put at risk by an unworthy leader to the extent to which it is being put at risk by Ehud Olmert.

Thus, on the first anniversary of this catastrophic government, the question is not about Olmert. The question is who catapulted Olmert into power. Who is responsible for the fact that in the 80 days that passed between the traumatic night of prime minister Ariel Sharon's collapse and the grotesque night of Olmert's victory, the truth about the deputy was not exposed? Who is responsible for the fact that during 12 fateful weeks, a thick layer of cotton wool enveloped the rotten fruit of Israeli politics and marketed it to the public like a worthy, glowing etrog, a fruit to be treasured? Who is responsible for the fact that between January 5, 2006, and March 28, 2006, the Israeli public was deceived?

The answer is clear: we, the journalists, are responsible. We are responsible for the fact that Ehud Olmert is now the prime minister of Israel. We are responsible for the fact that the helm of the world's most complicated country was placed in the hands of a hollow, corrupt man. We are indirectly responsible for the fact that the Second Lebanon War erupted as it did, was managed the way it was and exacted the price in human life that it did. In an indirect manner, we are responsible for the fact that Shula Zaken became the queen of the country and that Abraham Hirchson was entrusted with the state treasury. We are responsible for the fact that the current Israeli government is irresponsible, dysfunctional and tainted.

Why is our responsibility, that of the journalists, so preponderant? Because in the run-up to the 2006 elections Ehud Olmert was a very brittle candidate. Support for him was broad but wafer-thin. The fact is that when, on his Web site, investigative journalist Yoav Yitzhak performed the work journalists are supposed to do (he made public Olmert's real estate affairs in February 2006), support for Olmert eroded. In the same way, when Uri Blau did the real journalistic work (he published a comprehensive investigative report about Olmert in this magazine on February 24, 2006), support for Olmert plummeted.

If other journalists - more senior, more influential - had also done what journalists are supposed to do, the Israeli public would already have known during Purim 2006 much of what it knows now, at Pesach 2007. Kadima would have been forced to replace Olmert with Tzipi Livni or Shimon Peres. The Second Lebanon War would not have erupted the way it did and would not have been managed the way it was. The corruption would not have reached the levels it has. Last year would have looked different. Israel would have looked different. We would not be poised on the brink of the abyss.

Ehud Olmert evaded a television debate during the 2006 election campaign. Although the media criticized him for this, it did not press the issue. However, it cannot be said that Olmert avoided TV exposure. In a period of under two months he granted four interviews to three television channels. Given Olmert's vulnerability, each one could have provided the formative moment of the campaign.

In each interview, the leading candidate could have been asked about his past, his integrity and his suitability for the position. However, no such confrontation occurred. Five people interviewed Olmert without asking him the obvious question about his colossal failure as mayor of Jerusalem. Five people interviewed Olmert without asking him trenchantly and in detail about the affairs that have dogged him for 15 years. None of the interviewers exerted true pressure on the candidate. None of them tried to knock him off balance. None of them made a real effort to expose the truth beneath the mask.

Olmert granted the first - and most important - interview to Nissim Mishal on February 7, 2006. Mishal did a reasonable job. He noted that the Labor Party was claiming that Olmert was tainted by corruption. He pressed Olmert about a meeting he had had with the Gavrieli family. He asked critically about the evacuation of the outpost of Amona, about the strengthening of Hamas after the disengagement and about Olmert's lax leadership. However, the tone of the interview was soft and sympathetic. Mishal did not do to Olmert what he did to Ehud Barak in 1995 and to Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999. He allowed his interviewee to escape unscathed from the cordial chat.

Olmert granted the second interview to Ayala Hasson-Nesher on February 21, 2006. She, too, asked about the meeting with Gavrieli and she also inquired - with a smile - whether Olmert had any skeletons in his closet. She even went so far as to refer to the hot news item of the day: the sale of the house on Kaf Tet B'November Street in Jerusalem to Daniel Abrahams. However, the atmosphere of the interview was coquettish and sycophantic. The Channel 1 interviewer pitched Olmert a series of soft balls.

It was Yair Lapid, of all people, who proved to be a surprise. When his father's good friend sat down in the armchair across from his interview desk on March 6, 2006, Lapid Jr. fired six successive questions at him about his personal fortune, the suspicions against him and the antagonism he arouses. However, Lapid has a fixed repertoire. After four or five trenchant minutes, the conversation shifted to Olmert's morning jog, his diet and his wife's gentle nature. What did he want to be when he grew up? Yaron Zahavi, hero of the Hasamba youth books. Who would he take with him to a desert island? Aliza, the missus.

The most disgraceful Olmert interview of the 2006 campaign was conducted by the two beloved stars of Channel 10, London and Kirschenbaum. When they arrived at the deputy prime minister's office, just six days before the elections, Olmert's past affairs had already been published in Haaretz and the affair of the house on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street was already known.

However, these two veteran, experienced and critical journalists did not ask even one tough question. They did not mention the affairs of the past and did not touch on those of the present. The term "corruption" was not mentioned in their sycophantic conversation with the candidate. So much so, in fact, that when Kirschenbaum asked the last question, London remarked that, "Never before has it happened that an interviewer should throw his interviewee a ball like this." However, London himself immediately added that no interviewer in an enlightened country would have chosen to conclude an election-eve interview with a candidate for prime minister: "The athlete seated opposite was also perfectly fine," London told Olmert flatteringly.

Interviewers are not the only ones who can tilt elections. Researchers can, too. And when the leading candidate is a colorful person like Olmert, researchers can dig and dig. Amazingly, though, in the 80 days of the 2006 election campaign, not one biting investigative report about Olmert appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth or Ma'ariv, or on Channels 2, 10 or 1. Five of Israel's six major media outlets were silent. At a critical juncture they lost their offensive capability and their critical curiosity. All of a sudden the most professional of Israel's investigative journalists fell into a coma. The best and the brightest of us lapsed into a numbed daze.

It bears recalling: the investigation into the Bank Leumi affair began in November 2005, and the affair of the Investments Center inside the Ministry of Industry and Trade occurred in 2004-2005. Yet these two dramatic affairs were not brought to the public's attention before the March 2006 elections. While Yoav Yitzhak published the affair of the house on Cremieux Street a month before the elections, the major media outlets dismissed it as no-news. The affair over appointments in the Small Business Authority surfaced at the end of March but was either underplayed or portrayed misleadingly. With the exception of Haaretz and a few columnists in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's highest-circulation paper (Yigal Sarna, Mordechai Gilat, Moshe Krief and Yonatan Yavin), no media outlet returned to Olmert's fascinating past episodes (the grant to Muzi Wertheim, the land transfer to the Dankner family, aiding the Ofer family, the benefits granted Alfred Akirov, his close relationship with Benny Steinmetz). The investigative media in Israel seemingly decided it had no interest in the goldmine called the life and deeds of Ehud Olmert; that it had no interest in the intersection of capital and government that our pal Ehud embodies.

The op-ed pages of two of the country's major papers were more or less fair. Both Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz provided a fine variety of opinions from both Olmert supporters and opponents. The ongoing coverage on the news pages of Haaretz was balanced - a bit less so in Yedioth Ahronoth. Ma'ariv leaned clearly in Olmert's favor, though in a few moments of grace it, too, tried to demonstrate integrity.

It follows that the essence of the Israeli media's failure in the 2006 election campaign lay not in the ongoing work. The essence of the failure lay in the questions that were not asked. No real attempt was made to clarify whether the leading candidate and acting prime minister would make a worthy prime minister. No real attempt was made to examine whether the buddy-buddy prime minister was a corrupt prime minister.

In complete contrast to the case of Richard Nixon, whom the liberal press examined under a magnifying glass, Ehud Olmert was neither examined nor checked. At the decisive moment of his political career, the media covered up for him and rebuffed any effort to seriously clarify what he is made of.

Yoav Yitzhak, Uri Blau, and to a certain extent also Motti Gilat, Yigal Sarna, Moshe Krief, Yonatan Yavin, Amir Oren and Ze'ev Sternhell deserve a collective Sokolov Prize for their behavior during this dark period in the history of the Israeli media. Channel 10's Raviv Drucker also deserves some commendation. However, most of the other senior journalists - each of us separately and all of us together - bear responsibility for the resounding failure of the profession at its moment of truth.

Those who bear most responsibility are Nahum Barnea and Dan Margalit.

Barnea, because he is the most influential journalist in Israel and has, in the past, made the lives of most prime ministers miserable, but this time around he became a poodle. When he interviewed Olmert (on March 10, 2006, together with Shimon Shiffer, another leading journalist from Yedioth Ahronoth) in an interview of strategic importance, he did not ask what he was duty-bound to ask and instead behaved almost like a pal. And also because in his weekly column he led the charge to undermine the state comptroller and to revoke the demand for moral integrity. In addition, he assured his readers that "Olmert is imbued with the experience and the self-confidence a leader requires."

Margalit, a columnist for Ma'ariv, bears responsibility because he did not deal honestly with Olmert's affairs. The multi-channel journalist, who in recent years has conducted a crusade against corruption in Israel, failed at the critical moment when the question of his good friend's being corrupt appeared on the horizon. "My friend of 35 years, Olmert, is not corrupt," he promised his readers. "It is good that Olmert is not corrupt and did not line his pockets," he reiterated in print. "I know him and I know that he is intelligent, connected to reality and sensitive - and is at a stage of his life in which the accumulated experience and his good health have ripened to place him at the top of the pyramid."

Nahum Barnea continues to defend Tricky Ehud even now, which is a pity. It would have been more deserving for the most impressive career in the contemporary Hebrew press to conclude on a more impressive note.

Dan Margalit is demonstrating greater courage and is trying to atone for his failure by means of incessant attacks on his former friend. For this he deserves congratulations. At the end of the day, the decent journalist in him triumphed. However, the rest of Israel's senior journalists still owe their readers explanations for how they failed, where they tripped up, and why they betrayed their mission at the critical moment.

I, too, owe an explanation. In February-March 2006, I published a number of pieces on the Haaretz op-ed page in which I attacked Kadima, its path and its leader. In the election-eve edition of Haaretz I published a piece in which I take special pride, about Israel being taken over by the country's wealthy families through Olmert's corporate party. However, looking back, it is clear to me that I did not do enough. I did not overturn every rock. I did not throw every stone. I saw disaster approaching and did not do all I could have done to prevent it.

I am hereby reporting my relative failure to my readers. I hope my colleagues will also report their failures to their readers. If there is a press in Israel, it must draw the lessons of its grave failure in the election campaign that brought Ehud Olmert into power. If there is a press in Israel, it must, as befits Pesach, engage in biur hametz - removing the impure - and thereby ensure that the shame of March 28, 2006, will not recur.

3) The Current Meaning of Vietnam
By Ben Voth

Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. These are words we here with some regularity in today's media. The metaphorical lens through which all contemporary military conflicts must be viewed is Vietnam. For anyone championing a notion of American defeat, this metaphor is indispensable. Vietnam is taken to be a case study in American military failure. It is interesting to carefully examine this metaphor's relationship to current conflicts.

In 1975, the United States Congress voted to cut off funding to the democratic government of South Vietnam. The political decision of the Congress constituted the final renunciation of the war in Vietnam for which 58,000 Americans and thousands of South Vietnamese soldiers gave their lives in a decade long struggle. Images of the American choppers lifting off from Saigon have become emblematic of war the US could never win, even though the military never lost a battle on the ground of Vietnam.

Congress accomplished with its vote to end funding of the South Vietnam government what Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese communist had been unable to accomplish on the battlefield-- the end of democratic governance in Vietnam.

The Congressional vote in 1975 signaled the North Vietnamese government that it was finally safe to launch an overwhelming military attack on the young democratic government of South Vietnam. What ensued in Vietnam was cataclysmic. Close to one million people in Vietnam were executed in "re-education camps" instituted by the now unified Communist government. These killings did not go unnoticed in Vietnam and elsewhere. The unified Communist government sought to kill anyone deemed a traitor by their cooperation with the American power that previously sustained the democratic government of South Vietnam.

These drastic measures unleashed a panicked migration from Vietnam that sent hundreds of thousands of people out into the ocean in feeble crafts. Sparking this migration were desperate hopes of reaching America-- the former ally that had sustained their hopes in the former homeland. Thousands of Vietnamese people died at sea trying to cross the South China Sea. Perhaps their drowning in that ocean of 'peace' was a fitting end to the disingenuous rhetoric that sent them there. Tens of thousands did successfully emigrate to the United States and found sanctuary from the violence of the North Vietnamese.

Next door in Cambodia, a man by the name of Pol Pot capitalized on the vacuum of America's abrupt military withdrawal and precipitous rejection of funding for democratic governance. Pol Pot instituted one of the most vicious and swift genocides of the modern era. Killing as many as 3 million people, Cambodia instituted one of the most bizarre spectacles of human hatred, wherein even children were forced to perform the execution of their own parents under the supervision of the Khmer Rouge state. Though American and international media provided front row seats to the carnage, the outcry for international action was easily subdued by political movements for "peace" in Southeast Asia and an end to "American imperialism." The American left helped seal the deal on yet another dark chapter of brother abandoning brother into the outrageous public celebrations of human hatred immortalized by the Khmer Rouge.

And so today, many of us are still wondering what academics and intellectuals are speaking of when they say the magical word of 'Vietnam.' Is this the world that you speak of? When you speak of "peace" and the end of "imperialism," do you mean to confirm the world of abandonment and unmitigated ethnic hatred ? Is the world that looks less like Bagdad, a world that looks more like Rwanda or Darfur? What do your words mean? I would really like to know.

4)“Islam will enter every house and will spread over the entire world,” says Hamas leader Al-Zahar
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

While the Hamas goal of destroying Israel is well known, its aspiration for Islamic subjugation of the entire world is just as basic to Hamas dogma. Both aims appear in the Hamas Charter as God's irrepressible will, and both aims were reiterated this week by senior Hamas leader and former PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar.

At a mass rally in memory of Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin, Al-Zahar said that the Quran promises the "liberation of all of Palestine," meaning the destruction of Israel. He went so far as to challenge the Islamic faith of those who deny this goal: "No one can deny it. One who denies it must check his faith and his Islam.”

Regarding the Hamas religious goal of Islamic world domination, he said: “Islam will enter every house and will spread over the entire world.”

Below is the translation of Al-Zahar’s speech:

[Mahmoud] Al-Zahhar spoke at the mass rally held on the memorial day for Sheikh Ahmad Yassin…

Al-Zahhar emphasized that the Islamic Movement’s [Hamas'] position concerning the problem of the liberation of Palestine is clear and known, and said: "We have two important foundations: One is Quranic and the other is prophetic. The Quranic: The divine promise made in the ‘Al-Israa Sura’ [Chapter 17] is that we will liberate the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, 'and we will enter it as we have entered it the first time.' [paraphrasing Sura 17 (The Night Journey), verse 7]. And the prophetic foundation is the message of the prophet Muhammad, that Islam will enter every house and will spread over the entire world."

And added: "Our position is the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine. This is the final and strategic solution for us. There is a Quranic message for us, that we will enter the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the entrance to the mosque means the entrance into all of Palestine. This is the message, no one can deny it. Anyone who denies it must check his faith and his Islam.” [Al-Ayyam, March 25, 2007]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Slective blindness - liberal occupational hazard!

The Wall Street Journal is just full of interesting op ed pieces today.

First, we have the one about Mr Neuer's defense of Israel before a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. Neuer told it like it is: "The Dictators who run this council couldn't care less less about the Palestinians, or about any human rights. They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to delegitamize the Jewish state." For this he was admonished by the Council President.

Then Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney writes about what we should be doing to let the Iranians know we have had enough of their shenanigans. His article parallels my own thinking and, being a military man, he sets forth, in detail, what is available if we only had the guts - which to date we are sorely lacking.

Steve Forbes explains why he is endorsing Guiliani for "Prez" and bases his supporting argument on Rudy's demonstrated fiscal capabilities. Forbes says when Rudy left office, New York's deficit, which he inherited, had become a surplus, jobs had increased and taxes had been lowered. If it can be done in the Big Apple it can be done anywhere because Rudy had to overcome entrenched Democrats aligned with their labor friends who love raising taxes while running an unresponsive and bloated social system.

The former chess champion, Garry Kasparov, lets us in on a known secret - Putin is a thug who is turning Russia back into a dictatorship and the West sucks it all up because Putin is paying them off with little economic favors. My friend Marshall Goldman, a noted Russian expert, will be speaking here in December at our Speaker Series and will have more to say about all of this having recently had two private interviews with Putin.

The last bit of news is about the Attorney General whose days are numbered because of all things he misled some blood thirsty Democrat politicians and their gutless compatriots from the other aisle. If misleading is the basis for losing your job Congress would have been a wasteland of empty seats eons ago.

Congress' takes its prime legislative and investigating responsibilities seriously and executes them by passing a passel of misleading legislation based on specious reasoning couched in often downright hysterical speeches which are further buttressed by a not infrequent amount of lying. Their investigations are generally media shows staged to get them re-elected by brow beating un-cooperative witnesses or stacking the decks with "patsies.". Disney East! (But then see 1 below.)

An interview with "What me worry- Olmert." His responses are rational but they still leave me wondering about his capabilities. (See 2 below.)

Liberals were taught wrong to practice selective blindness. (See 3 below.)


1)Advice came from officers with US Central Command 5th Fleet HQ at Manama, who spoke of security tension, a hint at an approaching war with Iran. Arab sources report the positioning of a Patriot anti-missile battery in Bahrain this week; they say occupancy at emirate hotels has soared past 90% due mostly to the influx of US military personnel. They also report Western media crews normally employed in military coverage are arriving in packs.

Thursday, March 29, Gen. Khaled al-‘Absi, Bahrain’s chief of air defense operations disclosed new alarm networks had been installed and air defense systems upgraded to handle chemical, biological and radioactive attacks.

The USS Nimitz and its support ships will be departing San Diego Monday, April 2, to join the John C. Stennis Strike Group in the Persian Gulf. The nuclear carrier is due to relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower , but military sources in the Gulf believe all three US carriers will stay put if tensions continue to climb or if fighting breaks out involving American, British and Iranian forces.

The mighty American armada is further supported by the USS Bataan and USS Boxer strike groups.

War tensions have been triggered most recently by the crisis over the seized British sailors and large-scale US sea, air and amphibious exercises in the Gulf.

Sources report a contest exists within the Iranian leadership over how to handle the affair of the captured British seamen, the wildest radical element has gained the upper hand, reducing the prospects of their imminent release. Heading the tough Tehran faction are hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Gen. Rahim Safavi, commander of the Revolutionary Guards whose naval wing performed the seizure.

They gained strength from the British premier Tony Blair’s initial passive, semi-conciliatory response. Tehran quickly grasped it had acquired not just a propaganda tool but a military asset, which the UK cannot match as long as the Americans desist from throwing their military might into the fray. Washington has refused to risk a full-scale war confrontation with the Revolutionary Guards for the sake of the British sailors.

Iranian strategists also registered that, although the Blair government has begun moving mountains to gain the freedom of the marine crew held in Tehran, London appeared fairly laid back about the kidnap of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in broad daylight by gunmen in Palestinian Gaza, although three weeks had gone by.

Revolutionary Guards serving with Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza no doubt filed a full report on the Johnston case to Tehran, which drew its own conclusions.

Taking part in the big demonstration of American naval, air and marine force launched March 27 are the two nuclear carrier strike forces Stennis and Eisenhower , thousands of marines and 100 warplanes. Maneuvers on this scale in the tight, overcrowded waters of the Persian Gulf carry risks of a collision between American and Iranian craft.

Military sources report that the Nimitz group is composed of the Princeton guided-missile cruiser, four guided missile destroyers – the Higgins , Chafee , John Paul Jones and Pinckney . The strike force is armed with two helicopter squadrons and a special unit for dismantling sea mines and other explosive devices.

Earlier intelligence sources in Moscow predicted a US strike against Iranian nuclear installations codenamed Operation Bite has been scheduled for April 6 at 0040 hours. Missiles and air raids will conduct strikes designed to be devastating enough to set Tehran’s nuclear program several years back.

2) No reason to be worried?
By Aluf Benn and Yossi Verter

The holiday interview with Ehud Olmert took place on Wednesday at the Prime Minister's Residence, exactly a year to the day after his election victory. Olmert knows that the public expects him to engage in spiritual soul-searching after the hardest year of his life, but he is not eager to deliver the goods. He is out to show that he is, in the language of the legendary comedy troupe, Hagashash Hahiver, "unaffrontable" and "unsaddenable." The loss of trust in him, the war, the affairs that have turned into investigations and the looming Winograd Committee report - none of these is affecting his performance in office or breaking his spirit.

But this is not the same Olmert we saw a year ago. He is less self-confident, more skeptical. He is living in a kind of bubble at his residence, surrounded by security guards who like him, and by his aides. Here and there he emerges into the outside world, and what does he see? An economically prosperous country with less poverty and less unemployment, a higher minimum wage and a plan under which every citizen will have a pension. A country in which it's already more fun to live than it was a year ago, when he formally assumed power.

As long as the interview focuses on issues of state policy, Olmert leans back comfortably in the chair in his study. As soon as the stage of personal, family questions arrives, he tenses up. He literally sits on the edge of his seat. He reverts to his old pastime of clashing with the media. Questions that are too long, too trenchant, rile him. There is no holiday atmosphere in the prime minister's home these days, and the tenant, who is not in a festive mood either, will probably be living elsewhere come next Pesach.

Olmert maintains that he had no illusions on election day last year. "Even before March 28, I had become a target for attacks, investigations, accusations and vilification. I knew that political life in Israel is very cruel, and that there were a great many people for whom the idea that I - and not they - would be prime minister, would give them no rest. They have created an atmosphere here that forces me to address issues that are without precedent in our political history."

It's not hard to guess whom he means - Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and people who are close to the leader of the opposition. Olmert's remarks intimate that Netanyahu and his confidants are responsible for the reports and investigations being conducted against him, and for the newspaper ads against him signed by "The Reservists."

"No one before me," he says, "faced this type of hunt, but life has taught me that if you cling to your inner truth, the truth will out. I don't know when the change will come, but I have no doubt that it will come. In the end, more people are now living with a little more fun, and in time I will get the credit for that."

Are there mornings or nights when you ask yourself why you need all this?

Olmert: "I am focused on what needs to be done for the people of Israel. Period. I do not pity myself and I do not pat myself on the shoulder. I get up in the morning full of energy to fulfill my mission."

Are you made of Teflon? Does nothing hurt you?

"Did I say it doesn't hurt? Of course it hurts."

Do you feel alone?

"No. I have my family, I have friends - and there are people who disappointed me, which also happens in life."

Why aren't you popular?

"Some of the prime ministers whom you admire were in the past at the height of popularity, and afterward plummeted to a terrible low. One of them delivered the 'They are afraid' speech and did the gimmick with the protective vest, but I am not here to whine."

What is your response to the comment by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, on Channel 1, to the effect that you have to decide whether you are capable of continuing to serve in the shadow of the investigations?

"I am here and I will continue to be here."

Shula Zaken, Haim Ramon, Avraham Hirchson - your friends, your employees, your partners - are being taken from you one after the other.

"I don't know what they want from Shula [Olmert's longtime, close aide, now under investigation and suspended]. As for Haim, he really is a good friend of mine. He made a mistake, but I think he was flogged a little excessively. I hope he will know how to cope. Regarding Hirchson, I do not intend to ask him to go on leave as long as the High Court of Justice has not said that he has to, and as long as the attorney general has not said that he has to."

The question about his appointment of Labor Party leader Amir Peretz as defense minister delights Olmert. He has a ready response: "There is a great deal of hypocrisy and self-righteousness over this question. I know one newspaper that wrote an editorial calling on people to vote for him and stating that he should be appointed defense minister, and afterward the same paper wrote that the test of my leadership would be whether I would fire him. I am referring to the paper that the two of you work for." Olmert pauses and leans back. "I hope that will remain in the interview," he adds.

Peretz has stated that if he is reelected as Labor leader, he will demand the finance portfolio. Will you give it to him?

"I am not dealing with the question of what will happen if Amir is reelected."

Why don't you get along with Tzipi Livni?

"Who said I don't? I have close working relations with her. Just an hour ago we spoke on the phone."

Is she a good foreign minister?


Why is she incapable of saying a good word about you?

"Ask her."

What is Avigdor Lieberman doing in the government?

"He is deputy prime minister for strategic affairs and he will coordinate on my behalf the team that will deal with the Iranian question. We are actively and extensively involved in the efforts being made by the international community, and he will coordinate that work."

Aren't you apprehensive that if you launch a bold political initiative, Lieberman will resign?

"Lieberman is a bold person."

Are you confident that Shas will not abandon you?

"Shas is an excellent partner, and the Pensioners are excellent partners."

So you have a stable coalition.

"You don't ask how it is that the budget was passed on time and that the government is functioning and making the decisions it has to make, and that the Knesset is functioning. All this is happening because there is someone who is managing things, and not badly at all."

The prime minister vigorously defends the appointment of Prof. Daniel Friedmann as justice minister. "I reject the allegation that the justice minister wants to harm the Supreme Court. I will not allow the Supreme Court to be harmed. I hold the Supreme Court dear, but I do not have to oppose the court to think that the publication of the transcripts of the Winograd Committee is wrong. It is untenable that everyone who addresses these issues should be branded an enemy of the court. The justice minister wants to carry out reforms. That is why he was chosen."

What about Bibi Netanyahu?

Olmert guffaws. "Even today, when support for Kadima is low, it is higher than what Netanyahu received in the last elections. All right, he is now experiencing a good period. There is also some personal arrogance there. But I have no personal quarrel with him. That he wants me to resign is not surprising. He was not in favor of me before the elections, either."

Will he succeed in forging a coalition to replace you in this Knesset?

"I don't think so."

Do you fear a political earthquake when the Winograd Committee report is published at the end of April?

"I hope there will be no earthquakes of any kind in Israel. They are destabilizing."

Are you healthy?

"My doctors say I am very healthy. Otherwise, how could I sit with you for two hours without losing my patience?"

Do you watch [the satirical TV program] "A Wonderful Country"?

"Unfortunately, no. Those are the hours I spend with my grandchild, and if I have the opportunity to watch either a soccer game or a tape of 'A Wonderful Country,' I prefer soccer, or watching Shahar Peer win in tennis."

Did you want to go to the soccer game against the English national team?

"I almost called my good friend Tony Blair and said, [Olmert switches to English]: 'Tony, take a flight, come over and we will go together to the game.' But I dropped the idea."

Who, among all the leaders you have met so far, has impressed you the most?

"I will write about that in my book."

Do you keep a diary?

"No. I remember everything."

'No point in a bypass'

Olmert opened the policy section of the interview with an optimistic declaration: "Gentlemen, I believe that in the next five years, it is possible to arrive at a comprehensive peace agreement with the Arab states and the Palestinians. That is the goal. That is the effort, the vision."

How do we get there?

"With patience and with wisdom. The Palestinians are facing a historic junction at which they will have to decide whether they want to remain stuck in a corner of extreme fundamentalism, which will cut them off from the entire world, or whether they are ready to take the necessary steps. My role is to assist in building this process."

This week Olmert hosted the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He rejected ideas of making rapid progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, of a shortcut to the final-status settlement, and committed himself only to biweekly meetings with the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), at which confidence-building measures will be discussed. Rice had hoped to leave Jerusalem with a dramatic declaration on the revival of the peace process, but had to make do with a lukewarm statement.

"There was no real disagreement between us and the Americans," the prime minister explains. "There were very interesting and very productive discussions. All told, we said that there is no point in a bypass route, and that we have to confront the Palestinians and oblige them to fulfill commitments. That holds true also for Gilad Shalit. Abu Mazen promised he would not form a government if Shalit was not released. He told me that, he told Condi Rice that in my presence, he told [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel that. It's impossible to go on like this: Everything they commit to - to stop the terrorism, to fight terrorism, all these things ... How can you believe them when they don't fulfill anything?"

And you believe that one day they will undergo a transformation and start to fight terrorism?

"If they don't transform themselves, don't fight terrorism and don't fulfill any of their other commitments, they will continue to live in never-ending chaos."

But then demography will defeat us. Only a year ago you warned that it endangers the future of Zionism.

"At that time my role was to try to generate momentum in a different direction."

Olmert believes that various factors in the past year - the Second Lebanon War, the growing fear of Iran, and extremism - have pushed Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, into a different perception of the regional reality. "A bloc of states is emerging that understands that they may have been wrong to think that Israel is the world's greatest problem, and that maybe it is worthwhile to reach an understanding that includes acceptance of Israel's existence," he says. "I very much hope that the conference of Arab states will contribute to this."

The prime minister praises Saudi King Abdullah for his involvement, speaks favorably about the "Saudi initiative" and expresses reservations about the "Arab initiative" that cites UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which calls for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.

"I've referred positively to the Saudi initiative, which is something that prime ministers before me were not willing to say. I do not agree with every detail; it's not that I accept the initiative and tomorrow will be ready to sit down and sign an agreement. There are interesting ideas there, and we are ready to hold discussions and hear from the Saudis about their approach and to tell them about ours," Olmert says, adding that he'll be happy to participate in a regional conference that will support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"In my [November 2006] speech at [Kibbutz] Sde Boker, I said far-reaching things, to which the whole world paid attention, and they are the conceptual underpinning around which the moves are also being conducted now."

Why is Shalit's release stuck?

"Because it turns out that Abu Mazen cannot fulfill his commitment, and the conditions that Hamas is presenting are creating a gap that cannot be closed at this stage."

Do you confirm reports from the Arab side about major progress in the contacts?

"The reports from the Arab side are intended to bring pressure to bear on us, and they are very inaccurate."

Should [jailed Fatah leader] Marwan Barghouti expect an early release?


He is not part of the exchange?


Why not?

"I think the reasons are perfectly clear."

Olmert is convinced that he has to continue the dialogue with Abbas. "I do not know anyone else among the Palestinians with status and authority who is preferable as an interlocutor," the prime minister says. "After all, he is a person whom it is pleasant to meet with and talk to, very intelligent, and in his basic positions he is showing understanding that is approaching the foundation on which a political process can be constructed. There are two problems with him. One is that the stream he represents is a minority in the Palestinian state [sic], and the second is that he is not in control of the governmental machinery in a way that enables him to put into practice his approach against the other elements."

Do you also talk about personal matters? Family? Soccer?

"We have never talked about soccer, but the last time he called me 'Abu Shaul, Abu Shaul.' How do you know that, I asked him. He says, 'You see, you call me Abu Mazen, because my son is named Mazen, and your son is Shaul, so I call you Abu Shaul.'

"Those who are calling for a boycott of Abu Mazen," Olmert continues, "who do not want to maintain connections with anyone, are those who in the end want the way of war, blood, fire, confrontation - and we have already tried this, in all its aspects. We want to maintain the possibility of dialogue. But it is completely clear that we will not be able to accept the continued firing of Qassam rockets [from the Gaza Strip] indefinitely."

You have been saying that for a year already, and they continue to be fired. Just this morning eight rockets were fired into the Negev.

"During that year, until November, we were quite active."

It didn't help.

"It didn't help when we acted, and therefore the fact that we are not acting now is not the reason that Qassams are being fired. We are not ignoring this question. This is not the situation that existed in southern Lebanon, where for six years there were people in Israel who said things gotten rusty. I am not saying that. Every day I look at what is happening there. We are making an effort to mobilize the international community to prevent the smuggling. We are making a great effort so that a Palestinian force will be created that will prevent the smuggling and the terrorist operations."

The Israel Defense Forces is calling for a large-scale operation in Gaza, before Hamas gets any stronger. What is your opinion?

"We have time before getting to a military operation. That is not the first thing I am looking to do. Qassams were fired even when we were in Gaza and carried out large-scale operations. We can't get a solution just by pressing a button."

What about the evacuation of the illegal settler outposts? Since the demolition of the houses in Amona more than a year ago, not even a shack has been evacuated.

"That is true, apart from what was evacuated today in Homesh. That was, I think, a clear signal. Israel, in the final analysis, will evacuate the illegal outposts. It has to be part of a process in which the Palestinians fulfill their commitments. [That] will facilitate things for us, too."

Here, Olmert is changing the policy of his predecessor in office, Ariel Sharon, who demanded that there be a distinction between the handling of the outpost question and the dialogue with the Palestinians, and portrayed the evacuation as fulfillment of a personal promise he made to U.S. President George Bush. Olmert prefers to make evacuation of the outposts conditional on the Palestinian battle against terrorism.

Syria - when conditions are right

Did you miss an opportunity to renew the talks with the Syrians?

"I want to make peace with Syria. Unequivocally. But we all know - and the Palestinian experience also shows us - that there is a disparity between declarations and a credible process, which can also bring about a correct outcome. It is not enough for someone to make a vague declaration through some court journalist. I want to arrive at the possibility of peace with the Syrians, and when I believe that the conditions are right, I will not miss the opportunity."

What are those conditions?

Olmert is mysterious: "Conditions that make negotiations possible, and everyone with any experience of negotiations with the Syrians knows about them."

The prime minister is pleased with the efforts to impose sanctions on Iran, which were reinforced last week in a UN resolution. He believes that it will be possible to stem the Iranian nuclear program before a violent confrontation erupts, "and that depends on the resolve the international community will show now in implementing the economic and diplomatic measures."

Are you worried by the forthcoming Winograd Committee report? Were you upset by the testimony of Shimon Peres, who said that he would not have gone to war?

"I have dealt with the Lebanese issue since January 8, 2006 - four days after Arik [Sharon] fell ill and I assumed office. We deployed for the possibility that what happened in the end, would happen. Throughout these discussions, there was total across-the-board agreement, by all the security elements and by the civilian echelon, that it would be impossible not to respond differently from the way we did in the past. Some said that the absence of a response would cause strategic damage to Israel.

"All these processes led to determination of a position well before July 12. When I was asked by the army why I wanted to see the plans, and why I wanted to consolidate a clear position far in advance, my answer was very simple. I didn't want to reach that day and then start from scratch. I wanted to know where I stood, the considerations for and against, what was on the agenda, what the damage would be in each scenario - and then to reach a conclusion.

"All these matters were presented to the cabinet in great detail, and the entire cabinet, 24 ministers, voted unanimously in favor. It is true that I am the prime minister and I bear supreme responsibility, but still, there were 24 ministers there, and they voted unanimously in favor. What they told the Winograd Committee later, what they said or didn't say, I don't know. I don't know whether what has been published represents everything that was said, whether there were any mistakes as a result of remarks being fragmented. So I don't think I have any reason to be worried. I believe in the seriousness of the Winograd Committee, and I will wait patiently for the report that it will publish."

3) Muslim atrocities, Muslim victims, our silence
By Bradley Burston

As Jews, we learn not to talk about it. We're taught, from an early age, that it's not our business. As leftists, we're taught to interpret it in the broader context, as the understandable outgrowth of occupation, of colonialism, of Western oppression.

So this month, when a Palestinian toddler named Hassan Abu Nada was killed in the crossfire of a Hamas-Fatah gunfight in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lehiya, we said nothing. His grandmother was wounded. This was none of our affair.

Just as in December, when Palestinians gunned down three children of a Fatah security chief, boys aged three to nine on their way to school. We knew better than to pass judgment, protest on their behalf, raise our voices.

Just as we kept our opinions to ourselves when, in a Frankfurt court, a Muslim woman whose Muslim husband beat her and threatened to kill her, was denied a divorce. Judge Christa Datz-Winter ruled that "the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives," The New York Times reported. "The Koran, she wrote, sanctions such physical abuse."

Just as every morning, when the news of a fresh act of moral obscenity reaches us from Iraq, we swallow hard and shut up. On Sunday, for example, when a Sunni Muslim mosque was stormed, its minaret blown to pieces, and the structure set ablaze, in apparent retaliation for a suicide truck bombing the beside a Shiite mosque the day before.

Muslims should be able to worship without other Muslims blowing them to mist. Muslim children should be able to go to school and back without other Muslims shattering their bodies with automatic fire. Muslim women should be able to live their lives without worrying that their husbands are within their rights to beat them and threaten to kill them.

And we, as non-Muslims, should be able to say something about it.

Not a simple issue. Especially for those of us Jews and leftists who were educated at places like Berkeley, where we received our degrees in Selective Blindness, with a minor in Understanding the Roots of Violence when practiced by Muslims.

We were taught to sniff out, publicize, and condemn every instance of racism, violence, injustice, and humiliation practiced by Israeli Jews against Palestinian Muslims. And that was as it should be.

But we were also taught that it was racist to impose our Western values on the acts of Muslims, even, or especially, when it came to the most extreme of Muslims.

We can, with facility, therefore, comprehend all Muslim atrocities against Muslims in Iraq as the direct, understandable, and legitimate response to the American-British occupation.

We were taught wrong.

We can understand terrorism in Bali, in London, in the Twin Towers, as an outgrowth of anger over American expansionism and Israeli military repression.

We were taught wrong.

There are, of course, many Jews whose selective blindness works in the other direction, condemning Muslims at every opportunity, as though that made wrongdoing by Jews eminently forgivable and forgettable. As though we are somehow made moral by the moral failings of our neighbors.

This is what we should have been taught: Violations of human rights are violations of human rights, regardless of the cultural background of the perpetrator, regardless of the background of the victim.

This is what we should have retained: One way to demonstrate compassion for victims is to stop showing sensitivity to their tormentors. Even if both are Muslims. Because it's our business to cry out. Because the victims are human beings. Because villains deserve to be denounced.

We were taught to feel guilt, when we should have been taught that wrongdoing is the work of the wrongdoer.

In the end, those of us who excuse Muslim fanatics their outrages against their own, those of us who explain away their crimes by blaming them on the West, or on ourselves, are guilty of racism as well.

We are saying, in effect, that they cannot be considered responsible for their actions, as would any other human being.

We are saying, in effect, that we made them who they are.

We are saying, in effect, that the suicide bomber who kills his own, lacks the ability to discern right and wrong. We are also saying, in effect, that they can do what they like, to their own.

There is racism in our view, and megalomania, and arrogance, and cowardice, and weakness. Terrorists know this. They feed on it.

They were taught well.

Is Rodney Dangerfield running our State Department?

Britain worries about the rise of anti-Semitism on its campuses yet ignores the fact that the Mayor of London is an outright anti-Semite. Perhaps if the Brits acted with some guts in freeing their own captured soldiers it would be easier to take them seriously. (see 1 below.)

Tony Blair could go out in a blaze of "English Bull Doggedness" if he gave Iran the following ultimatum: You have 7 days to return all of the captured British Military and offer an apology. If not, Britain will declare a state of war and proceed accordingly." Wouldn't that be something but it will never happen. Britain will keep dithering and seeking more worthless condemnations from the toothless U.N. Security Council.

No wonder The Saudi Royal Family is quaking in their silken robes. They are about to learn that what goes around comes around. Their funding of terrorism, sponsoring of Wahabbism and financing hatred in Madrassas is going to bite them before too long and then they will have their own 9/11 to deal with and they will have no one to blame but themselves.

What we are witnessing is a pathetic display of abject weakness on the part of virtually every Western democracy and the Democrats in Congress are leading the parade. However,GW is not far behind with his incompetent diplomatic initiatives which have made us the laughing stock of the Arab World while at the same time it has emboldened them.

It is as if Rodney Dangerfield were running our State Department!

And if all of the above isn't sickening enough, another tragic and imbecilic leader, Ehud Olmert, is wandering around the Negev in search of "moderate" Arabs. (See 2 below.)

Olmert also tries to link the Lebanese War by claiming it has given Arabs insight into their own state of affairs. Good try! (See 3 below.)

Israel's foreign ministry issued their own inane diplomatic comment. (See 4 below.)

Not to be outdone by Israel's Foreign Ministry our State Department issues it own dream like message. (See 5 below.)


1) U.K. gov't worried by growing anti-Semitism on campuses
By Amiram Barkat

The British government has stated its opposition to an academic boycott on Israel and is concerned about the 'rising tide of anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Semitism on university campuses' according to the British government's response to the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism.

The government's response, released yesterday and presented by Race and Faith Minister Phil Woolas, stated: 'We are specifically concerned about significant indications that, unlike other forms of racism, anti-Semitism is being accepted within parts of society instead of being condemned.'

The report, submitted in response to the recommendations of the all-party committee headed by Labor Member of Parliament John Mann and published in September 2006, contains 35 recommendations on how to deal with rising anti-Semitism.

In specifically noting the problem of anti-Semitism on campus, the report stated: 'We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange.'

The report continued: 'We are aware that current rhetoric about Israel and Zionism (from the far-right, the far-left and Islamic extremists alike) employs anti-Semitic motifs consistent with ancient forms of hatred toward Jews.'

The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the government response. Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the organization, said 'with this robust response, neither anti-Jewish discourse nor more overt forms of anti-Semitism can be brushed aside.'

2) Olmert seeks talks with Saudis, moderate Arab states
By Aluf Benn

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to start a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries after the Riyadh summit again ratified the Saudi peace initiative.

In an interview appearing in the Haaretz supplement Week's End, Olmert said he would be happy to take part in a regional conference that would support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"A bloc of states is emerging that understands that they may have been wrong to think that Israel is the world's greatest problem. That is a revolutionary change in outlook," Olmert said.

"There are interesting ideas there, and we are ready to hold discussions and hear from the Saudis about their approach and to tell them about ours," he added.

"We aren't going overboard in this matter, but we are also not discounting it. We will act cautiously and wisely out of a willingness to create a dynamic that will improve and strengthen the process."

"The Riyadh summit is certainly a serious matter. We do not delude ourselves - they want us to go back to the 1967 borders and they also want the right of return. We were not surprised; we understood it would be this way. The content is important, but it is also important to relate to the atmosphere, positioning and direction.

"Saudi Arabia is the country that in the end will determine the ability of the Arabs to reach a compromise with Israel," Olmert said.

Israel's official response, released in a statement by the Foreign Ministry in coordination with the Prime Minister's Bureau, was lukewarm. It ignored the content of the Riyadh resolution and focused on the call by the moderate Arab nations to enter a dialogue with Israel.

"Israel believes in peace, and seeks to establish peaceful and neighborly relations both with the Palestinian people and with all the states of the region," the Foreign Ministry statement said. "Israel is sincerely interested in pursuing a dialogue with those Arab states that desire peace with Israel, this in order to promote a process of normalization and cooperation. Israel hopes that the Riyadh Summit will contribute to this effort.

"Israel's position with regard to the peace process with the Palestinians is founded upon fundamental principles, the most central of which is the existence of two nation-states, with each state addressing the national aspirations of its own people - Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinian people - and with both states coexisting in peace, free from the threat of terrorism and violence. For this purpose, a direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians is necessary." The statement added: "Israel also believes that moderate Arab states can fill a positive role by encouraging regional cooperation, and supporting the Israel-Palestinian track. A dialogue between these states and Israel can contribute to this end."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Thursday during a meeting called to discuss the Riyadh summit that Israel should derive satisfaction that the Arab consensus adopted the principle of ending the conflict and normalization with Israel.

According to Peretz, Israel will make a mistake if it ignores the Arab initiative, which should be seen as a basis for negotiations on a permanent status agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Participants at the meeting warned that a lack of response by Israel to the Riyadh conference might ratchet up international pressure and lead to the blaming of Israel for a freeze in the diplomatic process, which might deny it the freedom to act diplomatically and militarily.

Deputy Premier Shimon Peres called on the Arab states "to sit together with Israel and achieve an agreement, as we did with Egypt and Jordan. Unilateral declarations, in which each side presents its positions, will not achieve anything," Peres said.

3) War created revolutionary change in region, Olmert says

‘Influential Arab countries are beginning to understand that Israel is not their greatest concern; this marks a revolutionary change in their outlook,’ prime minister tells Kadima members in Jerusalem; adds that Palestinians are ‘nearing the point where they must make a decision’

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Thursday that the Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is part of a process that was facilitated by the Second Lebanon War.

“The influential Arab countries are beginning to understand that Israel is not their greatest concern; this marks a revolutionary change in their outlook,” the prime minister told fellow Kadima members during a Passover toast held at his official residence in Jerusalem.

Olmert continued to say that the Arab summit is “definitely a serious matter.”

“We are not deluding ourselves; they want us to return to the 1967 borders and implement the right of return,” he said. “This did not surprise us. The summit's content is important, but we must also pay attention to its atmosphere and direction.

“Saudi Arabia is the country that will eventually determine that Arabs’ ability to reach a compromise with Israel. Its willingness to lead and intervene is very interesting. We are not exaggerating the importance of this issue, but we are not dismissing it either.”

Turning his attention to the Palestinians, Olmert said they are “nearing the point where they must make a decision. When this time will come, a breakthrough will be made that will allow us to implement historic processes.”

4) Israel believes in peace, and seeks to establish peaceful and neighborly
relations both with the Palestinian people and with all the states of the

Israel is sincerely interested in pursuing a dialogue with those Arab states
that desire peace with Israel, this in order to promote a process of
normalization and cooperation. Israel hopes that the Riyadh Summit will
contribute to this effort.

Israel's position with regard to the peace process with the Palestinians is
founded upon fundamental principles, the most central of which is the
existence of two nation-states, with each state addressing the national
aspirations of its own people - Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine
for the Palestinian people - and with both states coexisting in peace, free
of the threat of terrorism and violence.

For this purpose, a direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians is

Israel also believes that moderate Arab states can fill a positive role by
encouraging regional cooperation, and supporting the Israel-Palestinian
track. A dialogue between these states and Israel can contribute to this

5) US welcomes Arab stand on Middle East

State Department welcomes Arab League’s reaffirmation of its 2002 land for peace proposal for settling Israeli-Palestinian conflict; ‘that is something we view as very positive’ spokesman Sean McCormack says.

The State Department on Thursday welcomed the Arab League’s reaffirmation of its 2002 land for peace proposal for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Call for Peace
Rejecting peace plan is like asking for war, say Saudis / Ynet
Saudi foreign minister says that Israel will put its fate in the hands of war mongers if it turns down peace initiative; Both sides must want peace equally, he says
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“That is something we view as very positive,” spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

He noted that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had urged during her recent trip to the region that the Arabs consider using the initiative as a “point of active diplomacy.”

The Arab reaffirmation came at a summit meeting in Saudi Arabia.

'Our forces are there only to help'

The spokesman said the United States has no interest in seeking revisions to the initiative. He recalled that Rice had said recently that it is an Arab initiative. “We are not and have not asked them to amend it,” he said.

McCormack brushed aside criticism by Saudi King Abdullah that the American military presence in Iraq is an “illegitimate foreign occupation.”

He characterized Saudi Arabia as a good friend and ally and said the monarch has good relations with President Bush and Rice.

McCormack said the multinational forces are in Iraq under a mandate from the UN Security Council. “They are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Our forces are there only to help support the Iraqi people and government as they try to build a different kind of Iraq,” he said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Iran is the target so shoot at Israel!

Our departing Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned Iraqi leaders Americans are growing weary of supporting politicians who drag their feet and they should move with greater haste in making necessary decisions to defend themselves and stop their own internal violence towards each other.

If we are at war certainly we have every right to expect those we are defending to carry their load and more and if we are at war then we should take whatever steps are necessary to win. Anything less is a disgrace. Thus, another reason I find it difficult to embrace Democrats who want to enact time tables. When did Congress ever do anything on a timely basis beyond speedily voting for pork or pass laws to which they are not themselves subjected?

When will the American people wake up and learn to distinguish between their understandable frustration over progress from the fact that we are in a fight with Islamic terrorists who want to destroy our way of life and support decisions accordingly?

What will we gain by leaving Iraq at this time? The answers are really simple.

We will destroy any future credibility in our commitments.

We will have abandoned a potential ally in a region where we already have few we can rely upon.

We will have created a vacuum which will serve to strengthen Iran and other radical Islamists all to the long term detriment of our own ongoing interests in the region.

We will have nailed our own coffin because by doing so we eventually will bring the battle to our shores, which may be inevitable in any event.

If Democrats have an answer for the aftermath of a precipitous pull-out they have not expressed it so I can only conclude they continue to display an opportunist and defeatist DNA.

I too wish things were going better. I too wish mistakes had not been made. I too wish we were not caught in a battle against Radical Islamists while at the same time having to fend off a sectarian struggle between Shia and Sunnis. I too wish the cost to our nation in human sacrifice and funding was not what it has proven to be.

I also wish Democrats had some backbone, would quit playing defeatist politics in hope of gaining power and demonstrated some leadership. Perhaps that is too much to ask or expect of petty politicians.

In time, Democrats will pay a heavy price for their duplicity and when it comes they will have no one to blame but themselves. They are surf riding the current crest of discontent but they will eventually be swamped when the voters, they are presently deluding, come to their own senses.

That reliable ally - Egypt - has put their tail between their legs once again and run like frightened camels away from their commitments. (See 1 below.)

Caroline Glick, pretty much sees it the way I do. Glick argues Iran should be the target. What Glick reminds us is that somehow Israel becomes the victim of our misplaced aim.(See 2 below.)

A subtle battle continues on university campuses to get, what could become another lost generation of students activists, to understand the complexities of the Middle East and to realize their support of terrorism will boomerang. That anti-Semitic Jewish apologists are leading them down an unwise path is an even greater tragedy. (See 3 below.)


1) Egypt's military has quietly abandoned the Gaza Strip.

Israeli sources said the 100-member Egyptian military advisory delegation
that arrived in the Gaza Strip in mid-2006 has been recalled. They said two
generals have remained, but spend most of their time in Israel to ensure
their safety from Palestinian attacks.

"The Egyptians have lost influence with the Hamas government and found that
they were under constant threat," an Israeli source said. "Under such
conditions, it was better to pull out the advisers."

The sources said an Egyptian security delegation formally remains in Gaza
Strip. They said the delegation, led by Maj. Gen. Burhan Hamad, was
comprised of a handful of personnel attached to the Egyptian Representative
Office in Gaza City.

2) An embrace of jihadist “peace”
By Caroline B. Glick

Recent history shows that the US and Israel will both pay heavily for the opportunism of our weak political leaders. It can only be hoped that the Israeli and American people have learned enough from our experiences to demand that our leaders stop their reckless behavior before the price of their cowardice and perfidy become unbearable

In an open act of war, Iran Friday kidnapped 15 British soldiers in the Persian Gulf. Iran's act of aggression occurred just as the British voted in favor of a UN Security Council resolution imposing increased sanctions against Teheran for its illicit nuclear weapons program.

Several theories have been raised to explain Iran's behavior. Some say that the Iranians acted against the British in the hope that Britain would respond by abandoning its alliance with the US and swiftly pulling its forces out of Iraq.

Another theory is that in kidnapping the sailors the Iranians are seeking to reenact their ploy from last summer. Then, Iran ordered its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah to kidnap IDF soldiers in order to divert the international community's attention away from Iran's nuclear program. As is the case with the British servicemen, so last summer's attack on the IDF took place as the Security Council was expected to convene and discuss sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Yet another theory has it that Iran kidnapped the sailors to use as a bargaining chip to force the US military to release Iranian operatives who the US has arrested in Iraq in recent months. Whatever the case may be, it is absolutely clear that the Iranians intentionally fomented this international crisis with the expectation that their aggression would in some way be rewarded.

AGAINST THIS backdrop, and given the stakes involved, it could have been expected that the US and its allies would be concentrating their attention on how to weaken Iran and its terror proxies and curtail Iran's ability to acquire a nuclear arsenal. But, alas, the US is doing just the opposite.

The Iranians acted as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was en route to the region. Since Friday, Rice has shuttled between Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, and is on her way to Saudi Arabia. She is not working to coordinate moves to check Iran's increasing bellicosity. Rather, Rice is laboring to empower Teheran's terrorist allies in Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah. This she does by promoting the so-called Arab peace plan, which demands that Israel agree to dangerous and strategically catastrophic concessions to the Palestinian terrorist government.

In behaving thus, Rice is walking in the well-worn footsteps of her predecessors. Indeed, it seems almost axiomatic that when the going gets tough for US administrations, administration officials get tough on Israel.

AFTER THE Republicans won control of the Congress in 1994, then president Bill Clinton was hard-pressed to advance his domestic agenda. And so Clinton — who had almost no interest in foreign policy in his opening years of office —turned his attention to Israel and the so-called peace process, in which Israel was expected to give land, arms and legitimacy to the PLO in exchange for terrorism.

Clinton's penchant for forcing Israeli concessions to the PLO in the name of peace became more pronounced as things became more difficult for him during his impeachment hearings in 1998. As the House of Representatives poised to vote on articles of impeachment, Clinton twisted then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's arm until he signed the Wye Plantation memorandum, in which Israel pledged to transfer wide swathes of Judea and Samaria to Yasser Arafat's terrorist government.

Clinton forced Netanyahu's hand in spite of the fact that, by 1998, it was clear that Arafat was actively enabling Hamas and Islamic Jihad to carry out terror attacks against Israel and indoctrinating Palestinian society to wage jihad for Israel's destruction.

But negotiating with Netanyahu was inconvenient. Netanyahu refused to implement the Wye agreement in light of Arafat's support for terrorism and forced Clinton to acknowledge that Arafat was doing nothing to combat terror. Unhappy with this state of affairs, Clinton set out to overthrow Netanyahu's government.

IN AN ACT of unmitigated contempt for Israeli democracy and electoral laws, Clinton sent his own election advisers James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Robert Schrum to Israel to run Labor party leader Ehud Barak's campaign in the 1999 elections.

The culmination of Clinton's campaign was the failed Camp David summit in July 2000. There, and in subsequent desperate discussions with Arafat at Taba, Barak agreed to hand over the Temple Mount to Arafat in addition to Gaza, Judea, Samaria and a pile of money.

Israel paid dearly for Barak and Clinton's behavior. In the Palestinian jihad that followed Arafat's rejection of Barak and Clinton's plaintive offers, more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered — more than 70 percent of whom were civilians. Israel's international standing fell to all-time lows as global anti-Semitism rose to levels unseen since the Holocaust.

America too, paid dearly for Clinton's behavior. Rather than pay attention to the burgeoning terror nexus which had placed the US directly in its crosshairs — in 1993 at the World Trade Center; in 1996 at the Khobar Towers; in 1998 at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and in 2000 at the USS Cole — Clinton remained scope-locked on the so-called peace process.

Rather than acknowledge the existence and threat of the global jihad to US national security, Clinton pressured the global jihad's primary victim — Israel — into transferring its heartland and capital to the godfather of modern terrorism.

But while Israel and America bled, Clinton himself paid no price for his behavior. Rather than be blamed for the war he contributed so richly to enabling, Clinton is upheld as a hero at best, or at worst a tragic figure who devoted his presidency to the cause of peace.

Today, Rice's newfound mania for peacemaking comes when local conditions negate any possibility of peace. Just last month the Saudis promised the Palestinians a billion dollars and so paved the way for the Mecca accord, where the Iranian-sponsored Fatah terror group surrendered to the Iranian-sponsored Hamas terror group. In so acting, the Saudis brought about the formation of a Palestinian government openly committed to the use of terrorism as a tool to ensure Israel's destruction.

International conditions also ensure that Rice's peacemaking will fail to make peace. Regionally, Iran ups the ante daily against the US-led coalition in Iraq. Domestically, the Democratic-controlled Congress works daily to prevent the US from fighting its enemies. Globally, states as far-flung as Russia, China and Venezuela make deals with terror governments to check US power.

The program that Rice has come to the region to advance does not even have the benefit of a peaceful facade. The Palestinians make clear every single day that they do not and will not accept Israel's right to exist in any borders, and that they will not work to combat terrorism against Israel. The Arab League, and its member states, for their part, have repeatedly announced that they will brook no change in their "peace" plan which, if implemented will bring about Israel's rapid destruction.

In behaving as she does, Rice, like Clinton before her, is aided by a politically weak and strategically incompetent Israeli government that is willing to sacrifice Israel's long-term security for the benefit of prime-time photo opportunities with bigwig American leaders and Arab potentates.

Sunday, the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government has announced that it is open to negotiating on the basis of the Arab plan. As one government official told The Jerusalem Post, Israel will "not dismiss" the plan.

THIS IS Israel's position in spite of the fact that the Arab plan calls for Israel to surrender east, north and south Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights to Hamas and Syria and for Israel to permit four to five million hostile, foreign-born Arabs posing as Palestinian "refugees" to immigrate to its truncated territory. As the "peace" plan makes clear, all these suicidal Israeli moves must come before the Arab states will be willing to have "regular" (whatever that means) relations with the indefensible, overrun Jewish state.

Commenting on the government's position, the official explained, "We would not reject this out of hand."

It is not surprising that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are behaving in this manner. After all, these are the same leaders who brought about Israel's defeat in Lebanon in last summer's war at the hands of Iran's Hizbullah proxy army. Last summer, Olmert followed Livni's lead in rejecting military victory as an option. Heeding Livni's unwise, defeatist counsel, Olmert postponed the essential ground offensive in south Lebanon until it was too late to make a difference and instead opted for a negotiated cease-fire.

As is the case with the Arab "peace" plan, the cease-fire Israel enthusiastically acceded to last summer was strategically disastrous for the country. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 placed Israel on the same plane as the illegal Hizbullah terrorist organization; prevents Israel from taking steps to defend itself; does not require the safe return of IDF hostages Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser; enables Hizbullah to rearm and reassert its control over south Lebanon; and lets Hizbullah's state sponsors Syria and Iran completely off the hook for their central role in Hizbullah's illegal war against the Jewish state.

Recent history shows that the US and Israel will both pay heavily for the opportunism of our weak political leaders. It can only be hoped that the Israeli and American people have learned enough from our experiences to demand that our leaders stop their reckless behavior before the price of their cowardice and perfidy become unbearable.

3) Educate Students to Counter Voices of Hate
by Asaf Romirowsky

"Israeli Apartheid Weeks" are becoming an accepted norm on many college campuses across the nation, during which a series of events staged by anti-Israel activists are held and the Jewish state is equated with the racist regime of apartheid-era South Africa.

Moreover, awareness weeks devoted to Islam are also held in order to "educate" the campus. The problem is that many times these are skewed presentations that teach an alternate reality.

In an effort to counter examples of the above, the pro-Israel community has similarly initiated "Israel Weeks," as well as daylong seminars, devoted to empowering students with the necessary tools to properly advocate for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

In a combined effort of the Center of Israel and Overseas of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia, just such a conference will be taking place at Bryn Mawr College on Sunday, March 25.

It will draw on the six campuses that Hillel of Greater Philadelphia serves, as well as other campuses reaching as far as Lehigh University and the University of Delaware. Keynote speaker will be Charles Krauthammer, winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and syndicated columnist for The Washington Post.

'Complexities of the Situation'

Andrew Mener, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the student committee that helped plan the program, states that the event "will provide students with an understanding of the complexities of Israel's situation from varying perspectives -- all in one day."

The conference will challenge students to think about Israel in a new light and encourage them to ask questions. In fact, the conference agenda has been formulated after careful conversations with student leaders on all the regional campuses, with the explicit goal of providing useful information that speaks to the needs of today's college students.

Unfortunately, opposition is never too far behind and, coincidently or not, three days after this conference wraps up, Norman Finkelstein will be speaking at Bryn Mawr. Finkelstein is a Jew who willingly collaborates with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.

In fact, when The New York Times reviewed his book, titled The Holocaust Industry, it described it as "a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' [The Holocaust Industry] verges on paranoia and would serve anti-Semites around the world."

People like Finkelstein help student campus groups such as "Jews for Justice in Palestine" gain credence as a "Jewish example" of credible criticism of Israel, and so widen the divide within the Jewish community.

Furthermore, such individuals sympathize and support radical Islamist groups like Hezbollah. As Finkelstein has written, "the honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah, as the United States and Israel target it for liquidation. Indeed, looking back, my chief regret is that I wasn't even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack."

Today, those who are anti-Israel insist that they are not anti-Semitic -- only anti-Zionist. That's the message that Finkelstein helps fuel.

Students must recognize that there is never justice in terrorism. It is unacceptable that some should even speak of eliminating a living and breathing state like Israel.

However, you would be surprised how pervasive such statements have become on campus. These advocates are the ones that should be on the defensive, not those working hard for the good of the Jewish state.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No longer all that's fit to print!

More bias from New York Times Reporter. (See 1 below.)

After briefing the Security Council on his latest report, Serge Brammertz said Wednesday: “We have a clearer idea of the political context in which the crime occurred (referring to the Harri assassination.). We believe the motive. most likely, is linked to Hariri's political activities.” Asked if he was suggesting the former Lebanese prime minister was killed because he represented a growing threat to Syria, the UN investigator replied that it would be up to a tribunal to determine who was guilty.

Is Quisling alive and well and still living in Norway in the guise of Raymond Johnson? (See 2 below.)

Who said Farrakhan is dying. (See 3 below.)

Who runs the country is determined by who reads what newspaper. H.L. Mencken coined the phrase: "Boobus Americanus." (See 4 below.)


1)Former NY Times Editor Reveals his Bias in Anti-Israel Magazine

The New York Review of Books has been described as "the premier journal of the American intellectual elite." It’s also been said to have an "ingrained distrust of Israel."

Unfortunately, these two often go hand in hand. While there’s no inherent relationship between progressive thought and Israel-bashing, one-sided attacks on Israel and its legitimacy are a staple of some self-styled "progressive" publications.

The New York Review, for example, was cited in Alvin Rosenfeld’s essay implicating "segments of the intellectual left," including some Jews who call themselves "progressive," as sharing with the far right and radical Islam an "emphatic dislike" of Israel. Rosenfeld, a professor of English and Jewish studies at Indiana University, was referring specifically to an article by Tony Judt, whose "emphatic dislike" drove him to call for the end to the Jewish state.

It is both shocking and telling that, well before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous call to "wipe Israel off the map," it was Judt and the New York Review encouraging an end to the Jewish state.

But delegitimization of Israel is sometimes less overt and direct. In the current issue of the biweekly magazine, Joseph Lelyveld, the former executive editor of the New York Times, takes a slightly more roundabout route. His review of Jimmy Carter’s widely criticized new book, Palestine Peace not Apartheid, emphasized two main problems. One is merely a complaint about style: "The former president’s peculiar combination of rectitude and starchy pride can be a little irritating," he says. The other complaint is much more striking, especially coming from someone who was until recently at the helm of one of America’s most influential newspapers. According to Lelyveld, Carter’s book doesn’t go nearly far enough with its apartheid analogy.

It’s not easy to establish yourself as more extreme an Israel-basher than Jimmy Carter, but Lelyveld does so by borrowing from the former president his main techniques of argumentation: distortions, lies, and ignoring or minimizing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

• Lelyveld writes:

Obviously, apartheid had plenty to do with racism but land was also at the heart of the South African struggle. ... Under the Group Areas Act, for instance, more than two million blacks and other nonwhites were forcibly moved from what were sometimes called "black spots" in areas designated as "white" to remote settlements and tribal reserves that were rebranded as "homelands." In the process, their lands and homes were confiscated. Finally the denizens of the homelands were told they were citizens of sovereign states, that they were no longer South Africans. All this was in service of apartheid's grand design.

With adjustments for the large differences in population size and land mass, it might be argued that land confiscation on the West Bank approaches the scale of these apartheid-era expropriations in South Africa. Jimmy Carter is well aware of the pattern of land confiscation there; he quotes Meron Benvenisti at length on the subject. But since he thinks apartheid in South Africa was all about race and not about land, he fails to see that it's precisely in their systematic and stealthy grabbing of Arab land that the Israeli authorities and settlers most closely emulate the South African ancien régime.

Apparently aware that a straightforward comparison of Israeli policy in the West Bank to the race-centric policies of apartheid South Africa would fail to convince most readers that the two have much in common, Lelyveld instead resorts to a highly misleading juxtaposition. He sets up the comparison by discussing the forcible transfers of blacks into "homelands" and the revoking of these residents’ South African citizenship. But why? He makes no such claims about the West Bank, and for good reason — nothing of the sort has happened there. Unable to accuse Israel of these apartheid practices, Lelyveld apparently is trying to attribute to Israel guilt by juxtaposition.

Moreover, if land was "at the heart of the South African struggle," as the article asserts, it was so only to the extent that land and race issues overlapped. Nonetheless, Lelyveld disingenuously unlinks South Africa’s apartheid land policies from its racist ideology in order to compare supposed Israeli land confiscation to that of the apartheid regime. (This would be akin to saying that laws of eminent domain in the United States have much in common with apartheid policy because both involve taking land.)

Lelyveld misleads further on the issue of confiscation. Here, from Carter’s book, is Lelyveld’s evidence that Israeli authorities "closely emulate" the South African regime:

Later I received a briefing from Meron Benvenisti .... With maps and charts, he explained that the Israelis acquired Palestinian lands in a number of different ways: by direct purchase; through seizure "for security purposes for the duration of the occupation"; by claiming state control of areas formerly held by the Jordanian government; by "taking" under some carefully selected Arabic customs or ancient laws; and by claiming as state land all that was not cultivated or specifically registered as owned by a Palestinian family.

So Lelyveld’s evidence that Israel "confiscates" land in a manner similar to apartheid South Africa includes the fact that Israelis purchased land and retained Jordanian, British and Ottoman law relating to West Bank land as per Israel’s obligations under international law. (See here for details about the Hague Regulations of 1907 and Ottoman law about state land.)

Details aside, the article has it backward on the most basic of levels. Blacks were forcibly removed from their homes so that a region could be exclusively white. If there is any parallel in the West Bank, it is in the Palestinian insistence that their future state be Judenrein, despite Jewish historic, cultural and religious ties to the land. (Lelyveld apparently has no problem with the ethnic cleansing of Jews from land on which they have lived for millennia.)

• Elaborating on "other similarities [to apartheid] of which Carter seems to be unaware," Lelyveld asserts:

Israel has proven that it’s not at all dependent on imported cheap labor from the territories, that it can get along just fine with Thais, Filipinos, and Romanians. It has thus gone beyond South Africa’s apartheid theorists who dreamed of a day when they could do without black labor but never got close.

The argument absurdly conflates race with citizenship, and racism with security. Arab citizens of Israel can, and of course do, work in the country, often alongside Jewish workers. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, however, are not citizens of Israel but rather residents of an area from which a brutal war against Israeli civilians was launched only a few years ago. It was as a result of this war that the number of Palestinians working inside Israel was reduced. One can call Israelis’ apparent preference to hire workers from countries with peaceful relations many things; but a parallel to apartheid it is not.

• More evidence of Israel’s supposed similarity to apartheid South Africa can be seen, according to Lelyveld, in the fact that "there’s a much bigger and more obvious military presence in the occupied territories than normally existed in the black townships and ‘homelands’ of the apartheid state." By that logic, the U.S. occupations of Germany and Japan after World War II were also like apartheid with their vast armaments, bases and manpower.

• Lelyveld repeats the disproved canard about a supposed "network of roads for the exclusive use of the [West Bank Jewish] settlers and the Israel Defense Forces." (See here and here for rebuttals to this common error.)

• Lelyveld mischaracterizes United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, saying that it calls for an Israeli withdrawal from "the territories." This a particularly striking error, since he is well aware that the resolution makes no such call. During Lelyveld’s tenure at the New York Times, the newspaper on three separate occasions incorrectly described Resolution 242 as calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines. Each time, the errors were acknowledged with corrections, such as the one published on September 8, 2000:

An article on Wednesday about the Middle East peace talks referred incorrectly to United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 Middle East War, calls for Israel’s armed forces to withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict," no resolution calls for Israeli withdrawal from all territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied in the war.

It is precisely because 242's drafters did not believe Israel should withdraw to the precarious 1949 lines that they insisted the resolution call for an Israeli withdrawal "from territories" rather than "from the territories" or from "all the" territories.

Lelyveld clearly understood the content and meaning of Resolution 242, and clearly understood that by repeatedly getting it wrong the New York Times was harming its own credibility. After the third correction, he convened his staff and said to them: "Three times in recent months we've had to run corrections on the actual provisions of UN Resolution 242, providing great cheer and sustenance to those readers who are convinced we are opinionated and not well informed on Middle East issues."

But he apparently realized the New York Review of Books doesn’t hold itself to such journalistic standards. Not only does the former Times editor let Carter’s fallacious characterizations of Resolution 242 pass without comment, but himself mis-describes 242 by inserting what the resolution’s drafter’s intentionally left out — the definite article "the."

• Lelyveld echoes the partisan Palestinian line that the security situation became more dangerous "pretty much as a direct result" of the growth of Israeli settlements, ignoring the fact that anti-Israel violence by Palestinians preceded not only the settlements, but the occupation itself, and ignoring the fact that groups that perpetrate violence against Israelis continuously make clear they are fighting not against settlements, but against Israel’s very existence.

• Lelyveld minimizes the success of Israel’s security barrier (which he, of course, calls a "separation wall"), claiming a Hamas declaration that it would not bomb inside Israel was "as much or even more" responsible for a decline in attacks than the barrier itself.

Even Ramadan Shalah, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, seems more willing than Lelyveld to unequivocally credit the fence for thwarting attacks. On Hezbollah’s al-Manar television station, he admitted the barrier is "an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different."

• He suggests that U.S. support for Israel’s reaction last summer to Hezbollah’s attacks is evidence of American "bias" for Israel.

Lelyveld’s polemic is extreme, but it is hardly the only example of radical anti-Israel rhetoric in the pages of the New York Review of Books and other supposedly "progressive" magazines—as if there is anything progressive about closed-minded, distorted and error-filled delegitimization of Israel.

2) Norway's dash for Gaza

Why was Raymond Johansen, the Norwegian deputy foreign minister, in such a hurry to be the first European representative to meet Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the new Palestinian unity government in Gaza?

What was the hurry? He certainly read Haniyeh's March 17 speech in which the Hamas chief outlined the Fatah/Hamas government program. Haniyeh said: "The government affirms that resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people." And he knows what Haniyeh means by "resistance" - suicide bombings of cafes and buses, drive-by shootings, rocket launchings.

He knows the new government demands the "right of return" to pre-1967 Israel for millions of Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendents. He knows that means that killing Israel demographically.

Johansen knows that the Fatah/Hamas government does not renounce violence; that it will not honor previous agreements signed by the PLO, and that it will never recognize the right of a sovereign Jewish state to exist anywhere in the Middle East.

So, I asked myself, again, just what was Johansen's rush? Now, I recall that Johansen was quoted back in March 2001 (by the Norwegian news agency NTB) as saying that international law gave the Palestinians the right to fight an "occupier," but he later said that he'd been misquoted.

So the more I thought about Johansen's rush to embrace Hamas, the more baffled I was.

I admit that I know very little about Norway. All I remember is that this faraway country enjoys beautiful fjords and other wonders of nature. As a matter of fact, I have never met a single Norwegian.

So I consulted my old files in our archives to see whether they would help me fathom Norway's rush to Gaza.

Here's what I came upon.

It was Norway that, during World War II, produced the original Quisling - Vidkun Quisling.

When Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940, Quisling announced a pro-Nazi coup. He thus betrayed his king and his country to collaborate with the invading German forces.

The very name "Quisling" still stands for a betrayal. And then I recalled that after World War II was over, the Norwegian government announced that it would agree to re-absorb, within its great land, precisely the same number of Jews as had been living in Norway before 1939 and had been murdered in the Holocaust.

But not a single Jew more.

THIS WAS at a time when tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors were in refugee camps in Germany desperate to get out of Germany and re-build their lives. The Norwegian government decision was certainly a logical one. No one, save for the Palestinian Jewish community, had any interest in all those "undesirable" survivors.

But I imagine that there was some satisfaction in Norway, when those survivors finally found sanctuary - in what would become the Jewish state.

Do today's Norwegians recall that once this refugee problem had been solved, Israel had to conquer the desert, absorb a million more Jews exiled by the Arab countries and fight war after war for its survival?

And perhaps in order to bring some order and peace to the Middle East, in 1993, it was the Norwegian government that helped foist the Oslo agreement on us.

Now, after over 2,000 Israelis perished or were maimed by the Palestinian terror which came in the wake of Oslo, the very name "Oslo" has became anathema to most Israelis.

And how do Oslo's own citizens react to the violence unleased by the accords named after their capital?

They probably say that we Israelis anyway agreed to it - forgetting the manipulations and dirty tricks that made our Knesset's acquiescence possible.

Besides, Norwegians probably tell themselves, they were not the only European country to push the agreement down our throats.

And so, thanks to Oslo, we turned over most of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. We brought Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the entire enemy command and control from exile in Tunis and set them up in Ramallah.

More recently, we even pulled out entirely the small Jewish communities from Gaza.

Still, our Arab enemies lost no opportunity to work hard, not for for the sake of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, as envisaged in the agreements signed so far, but for a single country, where only those Jews who lived in Palestine before 1918 would be eligible for citizenship.

The whole problem can today be summarized in a few words: There will be no peace as long as the Arabs believe that Israel can be destroyed - and sitting with Hamas reinforces this belief.

As long as Europe allows the Arabs to fantasize about "the right of return" there can be no end to this conflict.

But this message has failed to reach the consciences of the Norwegian government.

So let me appeal to the people of Norway: Tell your government that Israel has a right to live in peace and security. And that to do so, the Palestinian government must recognize the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO; must renounce the threat and use of terrorism against Israelis; and must recognize the right of the Jewish people to live as a sovereign nation in the Middle East

3) Nation of Islam' Leader Farrakhan Declares Support for Iran's Nuclear Program, Says Because U.S. Ignored His Warnings, 'The Time for the Chastisement of Allah is Here'

The following are excerpts from an interview with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the "Nation of Islam", which aired on Al-Jazeera.

"The Time for Warnings is Up"

Louis Farrakhan: "I believe that my teacher, Elijah Muhammad, came as a warning to America, on account of the evils that it committed for 400 years, against millions of black slaves. He came as a warning to America that its policies around the world will bring upon it the fate of ancient Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah, ancient Babylon, and ancient Rome - that this was coming to America. I am an extension of Elijah Muhammad.

"When I said my time is up, I meant that warnings can't go on forever. I have warned President Bush, I have warned his government, I have warned his people, and I have warned my own people. The time for warnings is up, and the time for the chastisement of Allah is here."


Interviewer: "Mr. Farrakhan, are you still being accused of being antisemitic, and if that's so, by whom and why?"

Farrakhan: "Are you a Semite?"

Interviewer: "Yes, I'm Arab."

Farrakhan: "Am I against you? Am I against Muslims? No. Are the Jews that came out of Europe Semitic? Who are the Sephardic Jews? Are they Semitic? Am I against them? Who has segregated them and the Ethiopian Jews? Is it not the Europeans? The real antisemites are those who came out of Europe and settled in Palestine, and now they call themselves the true Jews, when in fact, they converted to Judaism."


Saddam Was No Threat to His Neighbors

Farrakhan: "Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. He was no threat to his neighbors. If he were a lion, he had no teeth. His paws had no claws. He never shot down one American or British plane, which flew all over Iraq for twelve years. Iraq had lost its power to protect its own sovereign airspace. So when America went to war with Iraq, and called it 'Shock and Awe,' and used all these weapons against Iraq, it was committing murder, in order to get the oil of Iraq, to establish a democracy - that's lying and murder."


No Muslim Who Studies the Koran Would Bomb a Mosque - Where is the Hand of the Mossad and CIA?

Farrakhan: "It is anti-Islamic to bomb a mosque, so what Muslim who studies the Koran would bomb a mosque, whether he is Shi'ite, or Sunni, or Sufi, or Hanafi, or Hanbali? No Muslim would destroy even a synagogue, a monastery, or a church, much less bomb another mosque. Where is the hand of the Mossad in all of this? Where is the hand of the CIA in all of this? I didn’t mis-describe the administration of the United States. They are liars, and they are murderers, and they are guilty of heinous crimes, and they should be removed, for they have violated the constitution of the United States of America, and have violated the peoples of the world."


"Iran Should Not Be Denied Human Right" to "Atomic Knowledge"; If It "Believes in the Power of Allah, It Can't be Frightened by America"

Farrakhan: "Iran should not be denied the human right to knowledge. Atomic knowledge should be in the arsenal of knowledge of every nation, and if Iran wants to use atomic knowledge for peaceful purposes, she's in accord with international law. But the fear of America is Iran's attitude to Israel, and the cornerstone of America's foreign policy is the protection of Israel. So they don't want Iran to have atomic knowledge. But Iran is saying: 'I'm going to get that knowledge. I'm going to use that knowledge, so that we will no longer be dependent on oil.' Now, America, of course, is a powerful bully. I heard Vice-President Cheney say that all options are on the table. They're not frightening Iran. If Iran believes in Allah, and if Iran believes in the power of Allah, Iran can't be frightened by America. You can't frighten a true Muslim."

4)he Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time, and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country! and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country, or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions: if the leaders are handicapped, minority, feminist, atheist, dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided, of course, that they are not conservatives.

The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

And, finally, the country IS run by someone who cannot read any newspapers at all.