But the probe, which was launched immediately after the incident, determined that the children were playing tag near the launchers, as revealed by army footage recording the incident. The video reportedly shows the children - who appear as figures whose age cannot be determined - approaching the launchers and then moving back, in a way that could be seen as suggesting that they were loading the launchers with rockets.
The terrain did not allow for direct observation of the area, so the army had to rely on aerial photography. The unit that launched the missile at the children used this visual feed to direct their fire, army sources told Haaretz.
The video does show one of the figures to be a child, army sources said, but this happened so close to the moment of impact that the troops were unable to abort in time.
IDF troops near the Gaza Strip are under orders to fire at rocket launchers only when terrorists approach them. The launchers themselves are easily replaceable and are of little value to the terrorist organizations, so the IDF prefers to target the terrorists who are directing the firing.
So this time the lesson is not that the 'Palestinians' send their children to be canon fodder and retrieve missile launchers. Instead, this time the lesson is that the 'Palestinians' endanger their children's lives by shooting Kassams from civilian areas. Either way, the 'Palestinians' are violating the Geneva Convention which says that terrorists cannot immunize themselves by hiding behind civilians. That's what the 'Palestinians' are doing every time they fire a rocket from a residential area.
But give them a statereichlet and surely they will learn to stop hiding behind their children.
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Natan Sharansky, whose book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror inspired US President George W. Bush to try to bring democracy to the Middle East, gave the President's opponents a failing grade for rejecting the idea just because Bush raised it.
Sharansky, the former Prisoner of Zion who currently chairs the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday: "I have to give Bush credit, because he brought back the agenda of linking security and democracy, which was abandoned by the free world after the defeat of the Soviet Union. [But] what makes it hard for him to implement it is that he's so lonely.
"Many politicians and institutions that should be promoting democracy and freedom are cynically reluctant to do it, because Bush raised the agenda," Sharansky went on. "That's why I give Bush an "A" for raising the idea, a "C" for implementation and I give his opponents, who abandoned the idea, an "F," because they are attacking Bush not for inconsistency in implementing the agenda but for raising it. Their approach denies the people of the Middle East the ability to live in freedom."
Sharansky called Bush "a lonely dissident for democracy in the White House" because of his lack of support. But he cited three cases where Bush could have and should have been more consistent in his insistence on democratization: the Palestinians, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
For those of you who are about to say that the 'Palestinians' held free elections last year and got Hamas, Sharansky understands what many other proponents of his ideas can't grasp: that democracy is about democratic institutions and not just about democratic elections, and that the institutions have to be there first:
"I told Bush before and after [the vote] that quick elections cannot replace the democratic process," Sharansky said. "Elections require a free society. Elections have to be the last step of the democratic process."
Sharansky also has some choice words for the US State Department and their support of Hosni Mubarak's thugocracy in Egypt:
"America was afraid that if they would fight corrupt dictators, the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power in the Middle East. When America starts speaking powerfully, democratic dissidents are strengthened. But when America makes dictators allies, the dissidents are weakened and Islamic fundamentalism is strengthened. That's why America should not support Mubarak or Saudi Arabia," the former Soviet dissident said.
But here's the saddest part of all: Sharansky does not see any of the current Presidential candidates picking up where Bush left off:
Asked if there was a candidate running for US president who could implement his vision better than Bush had, Sharansky said he did not know of anyone who believed in his ideas more than the current president.
"He passionately believes in the power of freedom," he said. "But we saw it's not enough to believe. You have to be able to bring broad support for these ideas. It's not enough for a candidate to believe in the ideas, it's who can build a broad coalition around the ideas and sell them to the American people."
This administration in Washington started out with so much hope and so much promise. It's a pity that much of its direction has been changed by knee-jerk opposition in Congress and tunnel-visioned Washington bureaucrats in the State Department.
It's official: Olmert will re-divide Jerusalem, give most of Judea and Samaria to 'Palestinians'
Based on reports in Arab media, respected scholar Dr. Guy Bechor (who is definitely NOT a right winger, as will become evident when you read this post) reports on his website (link in Hebrew) that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has proposed in writing to the 'Palestinians' to re-divide Jerusalem and to give the 'Palestinians' nearly all of Judea and Samaria. Bechor terms this a 'defeat in the diplomatic plane that is similar to last summer's military defeat in Lebanon.' I have translated this article from the Hebrew for those who don't read Hebrew:
It is amazing and serious that such existential matters are negotiated in complete secrecy between Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Chairman Abu Mazen, none of us knows anything about it and almost no one is interested. These are the same tactics as Oslo: not to report anything and then to explode a fait accomplis in the media, to present the matter as finished and to open an international process over which one has no control. And maybe this is a reflection of the the material exhaustion in Israel, of the collapse of all ideologies, and with this material exhaustion no one cares. And since the Israeli side doesn't tell us what's going on, we must learn from leaks on the Palestinian side and they are important.
It is definitively known that in the last few days, Israel has delivered at least one draft of a dramatic "Agreement of Principles" to Abu Mazen, pursuant to which a Palestinian state will be created based upon the June 1967 borders alongside a "Jewish state." The Palestinian state will be demilitarized and will include 6250 square kilometers, which is equal to the area of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. But there will be some border adjustments, such that most of the settlements will be dismantled and what remains will be concentrated in narrow, secure areas, and in return the Palestinians will receive alternative land in Israel. I do not know what this alternative land is. A passageway will be constructed between Judea and Samaria and Gaza, whose nature is not yet clear, that will be under Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian management.
Israel is ready to divide Jerusalem, with the Arab neighborhoods being under Palestinian control, and the Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli control, except that there is a mention of some sort of "religious" sovereignty that is not yet clear to me over the Holy places. Each side will recognize the other side's religious needs in Jerusalem.
The subject of refugees is not mentioned at all in the draft, and this is the most difficult point of contention between Israel and the Palestinians. Abu Mazen is not yielding on the matter, and is demanding the refugees' return at least in principle.
Abu Mazen and his advisers reviewed the Israeli draft and they are not pleased (Of course. They know how to conduct negotiations. One should never open with one's final position as Israel does). Before knowing the details, Abu Mazen announced that he is opposed to the idea of a declaration of principles, as there was in Oslo, because in his opinion, experience has shown that its use to the Palestinians is only verbal. Two days ago, in a telephone interview with Palestinian television, Abu Mazen said that the declaration of principles is a "waste of time" and that it is "useless." What the Palestinian side wants now is a clear framework of actions with clear dates: to establish a state, for Israel to withdraw, for the settlements to be dismantled and for the refugees' return.
They know that the closer November and the international conference get, the more pressure there will be on Israel.
The closer we get to November, the more diplomatic pressure will be exerted by the Palestinians on Israel. We've already been in this game.
There is doubt on both sides whether the parties can reach an agreement, especially with the two limping partners, Abbas and Olmert, with Abbas indisputably not in control of Gaza. Former minister Mustapha Barghouti, a close friend of Abu Mazen, said yesterday: "The November meeting will be a disappointment, because in any event, it is just surprise package. No one knows what is in the bag and what will come out of it. It's not a conference, but a meeting, to which not all of the Arab parties have been invited, and those who have been invited are under American pressure to recognize Israel, to normalize relations with it, and to fight what they call 'terror.'" According to him, the entire meeting idea is an Israeli trap, from which nothing will come out for the Palestinian side. Saeb Erekat added that from his perspective, in any event, the serious discussions are continuing between Abu Mazen and Olmert.
What can be learned from these first details which are clear and serious? That what happened a year ago in Lebanon on the military plane is now happening on the diplomatic plane. A group of amateurs, none of whom have any experience negotiating with the Palestinians (it can be assumed that Ehud Barak is excluded from the negotiations, but his experience is also quite pathetic) or any diplomatic experience, is trying reach an imaginary solution just as the release of the prisoners a year ago was a known illusion from the start. In these negotiations, they don't consult experts or professionals in the field, and they don't learn from their predecessors' experience. The name of the game is compartmentalization, improvisation, instinctive reactions and binding governments that may follow it. The public is not aware of what is going on in secret, it is hidden from it, but it will feel the disastrous result now just as then.
And another point.
A number of years ago, at the height of the intifadeh, I participated one night in the radio program "Situational Assessment" on the second network, as I have been doing for more than ten years. The program was held in Israel Radio's Jerusalem studios.
One of the people interviewed (by telephone) was Ehud Olmert, who was Mayor of Jerusalem then if I am not mistaken. I suggested my approach to him, as I suggested here, that Israel must give up most of the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem with their residents, since in any event they will become part of the Palestinian entity to be established. The way he attacked me for that idea.... How could I even dare to think of something like that?
I have to admit that I was offended, and I thought about it most of the way home. And today, Ehud Olmert has passed me in his eagerness to "divide" Jerusalem without any public debate and without consulting with anyone. Does he still remember what he said just a few years ago?
This week, Israel's new President did exactly what many of us feared he would do as President: He effectively pardoned five Arab murderers by setting a specific number of years for their life sentences. The sentences - 35 years for three of them and 45 years for two who were convicted of a second murder - make the first three eligible for parole immediately (parole requires serving two thirds of a sentence and they have been in jail since 1983) and the last two eligible for parole in 2015.
But these weren't just any murderers. These five 'Israeli Arabs' kidnapped a 14-year old Jewish boy (I've seen some accounts that said 12 but 14 seems to be correct) from outside his Haifa home, brutally sodomized him and murdered him, his body being found in a cave outside the Arab village of Sakhnin several days later. Convicted of murder in 1985, their convictions were overturned, and a second trial at great cost to the Israeli taxpayer convicted them again in 1999. And they specifically said that they sodomized and murdered Danny Katz for nationalistic reasons. For those of you who think that Arabs don't commit rape for nationalistic reasons, please recall this.
Here's what Slimy Shimon had to say about his actions:
"The president understands the pain of the Katz family, whose son Danny was murdered by evildoers. In accordance with the procedure in effect since the day the country was established, the president is responsible for determining the commutation of a life sentence, and that is after the committee for reviewing life sentences, headed by a judge, submits its detailed recommendations to the Justice Ministry."
Hiding behind the committee and the Justice Ministry is a farce. By law, the decision is the President's - and the President's alone - to make.
There have been two sets of accusations made against Peres as a result of this case. One is that he pardoned Danny Katz HY"D's murderers in a bid to encourage Arabs to support the Olmert-Barak-Livni government. The other - even more sinister - claims that the pardons were payoff for the Arab parties' voting for Peres in the Presidential election. If that can be proven, it might even be grounds for impeachment, although that is unlikely with the current junta in power. At the time of the election, many people expected the Arab parties to vote for Likud candidate Ruby Rivlin, who is widely respected in the Arab community because his father is a noteworthy scholar of the Koran and translated it from Arabic to Hebrew.
But perhaps the most prescient comment of all surprisingly showed up on YNet's web site today, which is a bit of a surprise since YNet's parent - Yediot - is probably the second most leftist paper in the country after Haaretz:
It is possible that everyone acted in good faith and in accordance with the law, including members of the release committee and Justice Minister Friedmann. Yet there is still something that bothers me: Several years ago, the law allowing for a reduction in the sentence of murderers was amended, so that if a person assassinated a prime minister because of a political-ideological motive, he will never be released.
That being the case, why can't we apply the same standard to Arabs who murdered a mere Jewish boy, and not a prime minister, because of a similar motive?
Good question. And one I'm sure convicted assassin Yigal Amir's family is asking too. But don't expect Peres - or anyone else - to set any date for Amir's release. The double standard continues.
The fix is in on Olmert's dealings with Bank Leumi
One of the many instances of corruption hanging over Prime Minister Ehud Korruption Olmert is his involvement in the auction of the government's controlling shares of Bank Leumi, the country's second largest bank. How the government came to have a controlling share in the country's second largest bank (and indeed in all its banks) is a long story that's really not relevant for purposes of understanding this post, but for those who are interested in knowing about it, you might start here.
Yesterday, Roni Bar On, who was installed by Olmert as Finance Minister after the previous Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson was forced to step down due to - you guessed it - accusations of corruption, announced that he was 'not renewing the contract' of accountant general Yaron Zelekha, who uncovered the entire affair and has taken it on as his personal project.
State Prosecutor Eran Shendar on Thursday announced that he would not intervene in the finance minister's decision not to extend Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha's contract for an additional term.
The accountant-general is the star witness in an ongoing police investigation against Olmert, in which the prime minister is suspected of interfering with the tender for the controlling interest in Bank Leumi in 2005, when he served as finance minister. Zelekha was behind the initial complaint to the comptroller on the matter.
The finance minister has stressed that Zelekha has not been fired, but says rather that the accountant-general's tenure is simply coming to an end, and he places "great importance on rotating personnel during terms."
Shendar explained to Zelekha why he had decided not to prevent Finance Minister Roni Bar-On from dismissing him, saying that Zelekha had served a four year term, his term was nearing its end. He added that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had several times over the course of Zelekha's term stepped in on his behalf to prevent his dismissal, after the accountant general filed complaints against the prime minister in relation to the Bank Leumi affair.
By law, Mazuz is the official with the authority to intervene in Bar-On's decision to dismiss Zelekha. However, Mazuz has recused himself from dealing with the Bank Leumi case due to a conflict of interest (Mazuz's sister was an advisor to the treasury during the relevant time period) and thus the authority to handle matters surrounding the case fell into Shendar's hands.
"We have become convinced that there is no need to interfere with the finance minister's decision to bring before the cabinet a candidate for the post of accountant general, who would bring about the end of your term," Shendar wrote to Zelekha. "I believe that upon your completion of a four-year term, the finance ministry is justified in considering the appointment of a new accountant general."
As I have noted before, the State's Attorney's office is in the left's pocket, and it may well be that Olmert is being protected by the leftists in the State's Attorney's office because he is trying to give the country away to the 'Palestinians.' Zelekha may still appeal to the High Court of Justice himself, or more likely, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, another known enemy of Olmert's, will intervene to prevent Zelekha from being fired. Here are some Knesset reactions:
On Thursday, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovitch said that motives behind the accountant general's dismissal were not pure, and threatened to petition the High Court of Justice herself.
Lindenstrauss said Thursday that anyone who reveals government corruption will be protected by law and that this protection is an important step in curtailing corruption in the public sector.
The comptroller's office said that Zelekha's has yet to file a complaint and that if he does it will be examined immediately. Since Zelekha uncovered the Bank Leumi affair that Lindenstrauss is investigation, he has the authority to issue an order keeping Zelekha at his post.
Knesset State Control Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev said he will call upon the comptroller to prevent Zelekha's ousting and give him the protection that corruption fighters deserve by law. The committee will convene on Tuesday to discuss Zelekha's ousting.
Labor MK Ophir Pines demanded that a special Knesset meeting be convened during its recess as well, in order to discuss the Zelekha affair.
"Bar-On is being used as the prime minister's tool in order to get back at a man that did not follow the crowd, wasn't a yes-man and uncovered the prime minister's alleged transgressions," Pines said.
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said that "ending Zelekha's tenure is a symptom of a sick system which has difficulty understanding the importance of criticism."
Likud MK Limor Livnat called on the Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to prevent Zelecha's firing, called him "the guardian of proper administration," and saying that "Zelekha turned his post into a position with some bite to it, and acted with bravery and integrity to protect the public."
Livnat called on Zelekha to fight with all the legal means at his disposal so that he can continue to serve the public.
The Movement for Quality Government turned to Mazuz and Bar-On and demanded that Zelekha not be removed.
"If one hair is to fall from Zelekha's head, this movement will not spare any of the legal means to protect him," the movement said in a released statement Thursday.
Zelekha was the economic advisor to Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, a known adversary of Olmert, while Netanyahu was prime minister. Moreover, Zelekha was appointed to his current position of accountant-general by Netanyahu while he was finance minister.
Legal experts asses that that the law is on Zelekha's side. The High Court of Justice has ruled in the past that terms of law enforcement positions, such as the accountant-general post, are not limited by a specific timeframe and can only be terminated if there is a proven and legitimate cause that would stand up in court.
Since Zelekha is a highly praised official and has won awards for his performance in the past, it may be difficult to convince the court that his ousting is legitimate.
On the other hand, the Civil Service Commissioner said that ending Zelekha's term, much like the term of any civil service executive, is not equivalent to firing him.
While Zelekha may be saved, who knows whether the next whistle blower will be. Unfortunately, this type of corruption is all too typical here in Israel. It's time for the country's honest citizens to try to find a way to put a stop to it.
My friends at Gates of Vienna published a brilliant essay this week that was written in memory of Etgar Zeitouny, who was abducted from a Tulkarm restaurant in January 2001 and murdered. For those of you who, like many Israelis, cannot understand why 'peace' is not possible with the 'Palestinians,' perhaps this will help you:
When the Oslo accords were signed I was ambivalent. However, I said, “who knows, maybe…” I was of the mindset that if you give a sixteen-year old boy an education and the choice between partying (and hopefully a chance of, you know, getting to second base with a girl) or blowing himself up, then this adolescent would choose life. I thought, “who knows maybe this will be the beginning of normalisation of relations with our neighbours. After all we ultimately all care about the same things - putting a roof over our family’s head, feeding them and spending time with them. The line from an old Sting song came to mind: I hope the Russians love their children too.. I knew from experience that our cousins loved their children because both in Israel and in Australia my Muslim friends showed the same devotion to their children that I have for mine.
Very quickly my “maybe” turned into “what the hell is going on here? Why are we continuing with this madness?”
My father-in-law was living with us at the time and he used to ask me why I didn’t want peace. My response was that I would chop off my right arm for peace but I was not willing to slit my throat and kill my children for the peace of the grave.
Of course, I didn’t really believe that peace would happen. My father-in-law accused me of being a pessimist, and then pronounced upon me the worst insult an Israeli can mutter: I was right wing (which was ironic as my father always accused me of being a Socialist). I asked him what he would do as a businessman if a person he went into partnership with did not fulfil a single one of his obligations as agreed upon in their contract, while he, in good faith, had begun fulfilling his part. His immediate response was that he would dissolve the partnership.
I then asked him what he would do if his partner had a “valid” excuse for not fulfilling the first criteria, saying he needed more time. My father in law said that if it was valid, he would let it slide.
I went on: what if his partner offered a valid excuse for the second and third and fourth criteria. My father-in-law said, “well at some point business is business and I should not have to carry someone who is unable to fulfil his part of the contract.” So I asked him to point out to me one thing that Palestinian leadership had done do fulfil their obligations.
“That is different,” he said.
“I know, I answered.” “In business it’s only money. Here… - - - - - - - - - it is people’s lives.”
I cannot tell you how often in Israel I heard the words, “How can you think like that? You are an intelligent, educated, thinking woman.” I was told that I was racist for thinking that peace with our Muslim cousins was unattainable.
One of my best friends, a beautiful gentle soul who also happened to be gay, was the most confused by my attitude. Here I was a believing Jewess, fighting for animal rights, chaining myself to trees, fighting for honesty in Government and so on. He could not reconcile my general humanistic demeanour (which, by the way, is very much in keeping with Jewish law) and my adamant stance that Israel was committing suicide in its policy of appeasement and rewarding terror with more concessions. He was constantly trying to explain to me the error of my ways.
I would tell him, “ I am not judging Islam, I am just stating facts. They do things differently to us. If their daughters act in a manner they feel is inappropriate, they kill them. We tell our daughters off and maybe we send them to their room.” I was not judging, I was stating a fact. “They have a problem with a neighbour, they kill them. We will go to the police or make faces at them if we happen to see them in the street.” Again, not judging but stating a fact. “In their culture revenge killing is acceptable. In our culture it is not.”
And then my gentle friend, together with his cousin, was murdered while visiting an Arab village. An Arab friend of ours was with them and he begged the murderers to leave his guests alone as they were with him (up until that point, under the honour system that Arabs had if you visited an Arab village accompanied by an Arab you were safe). The killers placed the gun by the side of my friend’s head and shot it off. They told his Arab friend that if he didn’t shut up he would be next.
Here’s another difference between our culture and that of our Muslim cousins: in the early nineties there was a rash of terror attacks that took the form of knifings. One such attack took place in Tel-Aviv. Immediately, the attacker was set upon by angry Israelis. After they disarmed him, they began beating him. A woman - I think she may have been religious - threw herself between the mob and the terrorist. “We are a rule of law, not a bunch of thugs,” she said. They stopped. She did what she did knowing full well that the mob would not attack her.
So while my friend and his cousin were dragged out of the restaurant where they were eating, no one except for our Muslim friend moved a muscle. I do not believe their failure to react was due to indifference. I believe that those also in the restaurant did not interfere because they knew full well they would suffer the same fate if they said anything. They did indeed live under the tyrannic rule of a bunch of thugs.
Until we recognise these differences and accept them, there cannot be true dialogue and therefore no peace. Our leaders, driven by the left, display the height of arrogance by refusing to acknowledge the culture that they are trying to negotiate with is different to ours. They are patronising in the extreme when they let “our partners in peace” get away with the old mantra, “ we are unable to control the terrorists.”
There's also a follow-on post that you can find here. And here's some more of the Newsweek article from 2001 to which they are referring (I have it on my computer from the Matzav email list days):
Nearly a year after he failed to achieve a deal at Camp David, former president Bill Clinton gave vent to his frustrations this week over the collapse of peace in the Mideast. And Clinton directed his ire at one man: Yasir Arafat. On Tuesday night, Clinton told guests at a party at the Manhattan apartment of former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his wife, writer Kati Marton, that Arafat called to bid him farewell three days before he left office. "You are a great man," Arafat said. "The hell I am," Clinton said he responded. "I'm a colossal failure, and you made me one."
CLINTON SAID HE TOLD Arafat that by turning down the best peace deal he was ever going to get-the one proffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and brokered by Clinton last July-the Palestinian leader was only guaranteeing the election of the hawkish Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli leader. But Arafat didn't listen. Sharon was elected in a landslide Feb. 6 and has gradually escalated his crackdown on the Palestinians despite a shaky ceasefire negotiated two weeks ago by CIA chief George Tenet.
Clinton has refused most interview requests since he left office Jan. 20. But at the party-which was held jointly by Holbrooke and the International Crisis Group to celebrate a new book, "Waging Modern War," by former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark-Clinton captivated guests for nearly an hour with an insider's tale of the Camp David talks. Among the listeners, who gathered around the former president as he cheerfully downed Diet Cokes and hors d'oeuvres, were Holbrooke, Clark and John Negroponte, who has been nominated by President Bush to replace Holbrooke as U.N. ambassador.
Clinton said, somewhat surprisingly, that he never expected to close the deal at Camp David. But he made it clear that the breakdown of the peace process and the nine months of deadly intifada since then were very much on his mind. He described Arafat as an aging leader who relishes his own sense of victimhood and seems incapable of making a final peace deal. "He could only get to step five, and he needed to get to step 10," the former president said. But Clinton expressed hope in the younger generation of Palestinian officials, suggesting that a post-Arafat Palestinian leader might be able to make peace, perhaps in as little as several years. "I'm just sorry I blew this Middle East" thing, Clinton said shortly before leaving. "But I don't know what else I could have done."
Clinton also revealed that, contrary to most conventional wisdom after Camp David ended on July 25, 2000, the key issue that torpedoed the talks in their final stages was not the division of East Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis, but the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" of refugees to Israel. On Jerusalem, he said, the two sides were down to dickering over final language on who would get sovereignty over which part of the Western Wall. But Arafat continued to demand that large numbers of Palestinian refugees, mainly from the 1967 and 1948 wars, be allowed to return-numbers that Clinton said both of them knew were unacceptable to the Israelis.
Clinton said he bluntly contradicted Arafat when, in one of their final conversations, the Palestinian leader expressed doubts that the ancient Jewish temple actually lay beneath the Islamic-run compound in Jerusalem containing the holy Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This was a critical point of dispute, since the Western Wall, a remnant of the temple's retaining wall, is the holiest site in Judaism and one the Israelis were intent on maintaining sovereignty over. "I know it's there," Clinton said he told Arafat. The so-called Al Aqsa intifada began after Ariel Sharon made a controversial visit to the disputed compound on Sept. 28, 2000.
Assuming that emphasis on the 'right of return' still holds (and there is no reason to believe it does not), I doubt Olmert will be able to reach any arrangement. The 'right of return' is one of the few things that is anathema even to the Israeli left. But I wouldn't put it past Olmert to try to make major concessions on that point as well.
Last night, someone commented to me that it would be appropriate for Olmert to give the country away on Yom Kippur. He won't. It's the one day of the year that the airport is closed, which would preclude Olmert's escaping to France immediately after he signs a deal.
A potential diplomatic incident was averted last night when a Turkish national television station decided not to show video taken by one of its reporters of Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer fans cursing and singing songs about Muhammed during a trip to a game in Turkey.
The network decided to shelve the tape following appeals from senior government officials.
The video was filmed by a Turkish reporter of Channel 24, Elif Ural, who accompanied the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team on its flight from Israel to the Turkish town of Kayseri, where it is scheduled to play against local team Erciyesstor Thursday evening.
A group of fans who were on the plane with the team were caught on video singing songs against Muhammad and Muslims.
Ural, who has been living in Israel for the past three years as the network's Mideast correspondent, was deeply offended by what she witnessed and heard, and by the club's officials' failure to intervene and put an end to the offensive behavior.
"The decision not to broadcast the video was the right one and I don’t have a problem with it," Ural said. "There is really no need to risk relations between Israel and Turkey because of 10 idiots. I understood that if the incident is published, the potential for a violent outbreak at the stadium and in the city could grow significantly. But what I felt on the plane would be very hard to forget."
Ural plans to speak with the club's chairman, Lonnie Hercikowicz, and complain about the incident."He needs to make it clear to his people that they should be no less committed than him to civility and mutual respect," she stated.
In all fairness, Israel's soccer fans are as lowlife as they are anywhere else in the world, and there have been incidents here in the past in which racist taunts have been heard at games, particularly against Arab players and teams. But that's not the point.
Since when does a soccer team control what its fans do on what was apparently a commercial flight? Is this meant to provide an excuse for violence at tonight's game? If they were so afraid of violence, why wasn't YNet asked to hold this story until tomorrow morning? And given that there was violence at a game two weeks ago between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Široki Brijeg in Bosnia, maybe games between Israeli teams and Muslim countries ought to be shifted to 'neutral sites' as was done with Israeli 'home games' in the European leagues during the Oslo War?
Former State Department official Larry Wilkerson claims that Israel urged the Bush administration to attack Iran and not Iraq four years ago:
Israeli officials warned the George W Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing to the region and urged the United States instead to target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former Bush administration official Lawrence Wilkerson.
Wilkerson describes the Israeli message to the Bush administration in early 2002 as being, "If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy."
The warning against an invasion of Iraq was "pervasive" in Israeli communications with the US administration, Wilkerson recalled. It was conveyed to the administration by a wide range of Israeli sources, including political figures, intelligence, and private citizens.
Wilkerson noted that the main point of their communications was not that the US should immediately attack Iran, but that "it should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein" from a focus on the threat from Iran.
The Israeli advice against using military force against Iraq was apparently triggered by reports reaching Israeli officials in December 2001 that the Bush administration was beginning serious planning for an attack on Iraq. Journalist Bob Woodward revealed in Plan of Attack that on December 1, 2001, secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld had ordered the Central Command chief, General Tommy Franks, to come up with the first formal briefing on a new war plan for Iraq on December 4. That started a period of intense discussions of war planning between Rumsfeld and Franks.
Soon after Israeli officials got wind of that planning, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon asked for a meeting with Bush primarily to discuss US intentions to invade Iraq. In the weeks preceding Sharon's meeting with Bush on February 7, 2002, a procession of Israeli officials conveyed the message to the US administration that Iran represented a greater threat, according to a Washington Post report on the eve of the meeting.
Israeli defense minister Fouad Ben-Eliezer, who was visiting Washington with Sharon, revealed the essence of the strategic differences between Jerusalem and Washington over military force. He was quoted by the Post as saying, "Today, everybody is busy with Iraq. Iraq is a problem ... But you should understand, if you ask me, today Iran is more dangerous than Iraq."
Sharon, who was incapacitated by a stroke last year, never revealed publicly what he said to Bush in the February 7 meeting. But Yossi Alpher, a former adviser to prime minister Ehud Barak, wrote in an article in The Forward last January that Sharon advised Bush not to occupy Iraq, according to a knowledgeable source. Alpher wrote that Sharon also assured Bush that Israel would not "push one way or another" regarding his plan to take down Saddam.
Alpher noted that Washington did not want public support by Israel and in fact requested that Israel refrain from openly supporting the invasion in order to avoid an automatic negative reaction from Iraq's Arab neighbors.
After that meeting, the Sharon government generally remained silent on the issue of an invasion of Iraq. A notable exception, however, was a statement on August 16, 2002, by Ranaan Gissin, an aide to Sharon. Ranaan declared, "Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose. It will only give [Saddam] more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction."
I don't buy this story. Alpher is close to Barak, not to Sharon. If Uri Dan had written that, I might believe it. But Alpher would not have had access to Sharon and I don't believe in anonymous sources like that in Israel (everyone here talks). If Israel had given advice like that to Bush, we would have heard that here already.
I believe the Israeli government wanted Saddam out as much as it wants Ahmadinejad out. Saddam had WMD's and threatened Israel with them regularly. The article totally discounts the possibility that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but I have seen and blogged evidence that Saddam stashed weapons in Syria before the US attacked him.
I think this article was written in the hope of making the Bush administration look foolish. I don't buy it.
Actor Amr Waked, now shooting in Tunisia, ran into trouble when his union learned that Israeli actor Yigal Naor is playing the role of the ousted and executed dictator in the drama about his life.
Waked, who appeared alongside Hollywood star George Clooney in the 2005 blockbuster Syriana, defended his position, telling several Egyptian papers he did not know an Israeli was involved until after he signed the contract.
He also said the film was pro-Arab and criticises US foreign policy, according to the Egyptian Mail.
"The position of the union is clear in its rejection of normalisation (with Israel) and requires that members abide by this position," Ashraf Zaki, the head of the union, told AFP.
"Amr Waked is playing the role of the husband of Saddam's daughter opposite an Israeli who plays Saddam... Amr will be facing an investigation as soon as he returns (from filming)," Zaki said.
Waked, who could face expulsion from the union which would prevent him from acting in Egypt, expressed concern that withdrawing from the production now would be in breach of his contract.
Israel and Egypt signed a 'peace treaty' in 1979 on the basis of which 'our friends the Egyptians' are the third largest recipient of US foreign aid.
This is a news report from al-Arabiya television translated by MEMRI. If they tried throwing each other off buildings, it wasn't reported. But I'm happy to see them playing Fatah v. Hamas instead of practicing murdering Israelis. Too bad that in real life, they're much more likely to be sent to attack Israelis than to attack anyone else.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Hezbullah has set up a wireless, underground phone network in southern Lebanon and around Beirut that is designed to be secure against wiretaps by the Lebanese government and Israeli intelligence. The report is based on 'Lebanese sources,' which I assume means this Naharnet report.
Underground cables were recently discovered running parallel to those of the state phone system near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon, according to the reports. On Wednesday, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh slammed Hizbullah for installing the network, saying it violated Lebanese law.
An independent phone network system could pose a challenge to any efforts to gather intelligence from the conversations of Hizbullah guerrillas.
Creating an independent phone network is not difficult as long as money is not an issue, according to Yael Shahar, director of the Database and Open Source Intelligence Project at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at IDC Herzliya. If the reports are true, Shahar said, the new network could, in theory, prevent Israeli eavesdropping, as well as help Hizbullah counterintelligence operations to ensure that no one within its ranks is a spy.
"This is not rocket science," she said. "You can sublease from worldwide networks and build your own network. All you need is money to hire technicians and to buy equipment such as transmitters."
It should be clear to all by now that the Lebanese government does not have the will to reign in Hezbullah's state within a state, just as it did not have the will to do the same with the PLO between 1975 and 1982. The next war is, unfortunately, just a matter of time.
The bomber was stopped overnight Tuesday as he approached the Golani Brigade soldiers, according to the IDF. The youth had reportedly strapped explosives to his body that he planned to detonate when he reached the force, the IDF said.
Details on how soldiers persuaded the bomber to surrender weren't made available. Publication of the incident was prohibited until the operation ended on Thursday.
As Golda Meir quipped, "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." It hasn't happened yet.
Britain has become the home away from home for Hamas and other 'Palestinian' terror organizations according to a report issued yesterday by the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center. This was apparently tolerated by the Blair government and continues now that Tony Blair has gone to become the quartet's representative for the peacepiece by piece process. One would think that after the 7/7 attacks and the recent spectacular failure to attack in Glasgow that the British government would have learned something. One would be wrong.
The IICC report asserts that Hamas's use of Britain as a major source of publishing and distribution of incitement is “hardly coincidental.” On the contrary, “there are several factors at play: first, the policy of the British government, allowing Hamas (and radical Islamic elements in general) a relative freedom of action on British territory, particularly in the sphere of propaganda; second, the existence of a network of Arab/Muslim supporters in Britain; third, the technical ability to produce high quality publications in Britain and distribute them across the globe.”
One cannot help but wonder what it will take for the British government to consider shutting down radical Islam.
If any of you had any doubts that the redivision of Jerusalem into a Jewish city and an Arab city is on the table, this ought to dispel them. 'Moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen has appointed former director of the Islamic Wakf Adnan Husseini as his 'adviser on Jerusalem affairs.' The Wakf is the organization that controls anything the Muslims call a holy site, and that currently controls the Temple Mount; the organization is responsible for multiple, daily violations of Israel's Antiquities Law on the Temple Mount. Husseini is also a cousin of the late Faisal Husseini, who held the position under Yasser Arafat.
The Jerusalem Post spoke with Husseini and his big priority seems to be re-establishing 'Palestinian' institutions in Jerusalem that were established in violation of the 'Oslo accords,' and that were operated out of Orient House (pictured above), a building that is just barely into 'East Jerusalem' that Israel shut down after the Sbarro terror attack in the summer of 2001. Incredibly, the Post article is so politically correct that it does not even mention why Orient House was shut down. Neither does the Wikipedia biography of Faisal Husseini (linked above). If anyone knows how to edit Wikipedia posts, you may want to consider editing that one. I don't know how to do it.
The new adviser told the Post one of his first tasks would be to try to persuade Israel to reopen Palestinian institutions in the city that were closed down by Israel over the past seven years.
One of these institutions, Orient House, served as the unofficial headquarters of the PLO in Jerusalem. Orient House enjoyed the status of an unofficial diplomatic mission - a fact that angered many in Israel, especially as some foreign ministers insisted on holding talks there with leading Palestinian figures.
Israel had argued that the presence of Orient House and other PLO-linked institutions in the city were in violation of the Oslo Accords, which banned the Palestinians from conducting such activities in Israel. The closure of Orient House was followed by similar moves against at least a dozen PLO-affiliated institutions.
"Jerusalem is living without a soul in the absence of Palestinian institutions," Husseini said in an interview with the Post. "The people of Jerusalem have been suffering because of the closure of their institutions. Today, everyone realizes that Jerusalem can't exist without these institutions, which used to provide essential services to the public."
Husseini said he was prepared to meet with Israeli government officials to discuss the issue if the institutions and other matters related to the day-to-day affairs of the Arab residents.
"We are prepared to open even small windows with Israel," he said. "We are prepared to do anything to serve the interests of our people in Jerusalem and end their suffering." [End their suffering? With the construction of the 'security fence,' 'Palestinians' have been moving in droves from Judea and Samaria into neighborhoods like French Hill and Pisgat Zev because they would rather be under Israeli control than 'Palestinian' control. CiJ]
Husseini appealed to Israel not to waste time with regards to discussing the issue of Jerusalem.
"We believe that we can reach a solution to the issue of Jerusalem," he said. "We hope the Israelis will wake up and realize the importance of the city to the Palestinians. Israel must accept the fact that we will never give up our claim to Jerusalem."
Husseini said Israel must also realize that peace can't be achieved without a solution to the issue of Jerusalem.
"There will be no Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital," he said. "This is a holy city and we want Israel to acknowledge this fact. Israel is mistaken if it thinks that the policy of driving the Palestinians out of the city can lead to peace. Peace can't be achieved by denying the rights of the others. Disrespect for others is a sign of weakness, not strength."
The Waqf department, which is in charge of the Islamic holy sites in the city, remained under the control of the Jordanians after the Six Day War in 1967. Attempts by the PA over the past 14 years to establish an alternative Waqf department have been thwarted by both Israel and Jordan.
Olmert's willingness to divide Jerusalem has woken up Yuval Steinitz of the Likud:
Likud MK Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had proven his hypocrisy by negotiating Jerusalem's future with Abbas. He recalled campaigning for the Knesset with Olmert, who told people to vote for him because he left the Jerusalem mayoralty to defend Jerusalem from a position of power against those who wanted to divide it.
"Olmert is a prime minister with zero public support, waiting for a verdict from the police and the Winograd Commission, who is ready to divide Jerusalem and allow it to be destroyed to save his skin," Steinitz said.
Yuval is right of course. But if he's waiting for his boss, Binyamin Netanyahu, to get up and lead the battle cries against the division of Jerusalem, he is sadly mistaken. Netanyahu is apparently waiting for Olmert to do the dirty work of dividing Jerusalem, so that when Netanyahu becomes Prime Minister he will be faced with a fait accomplis. The police and Winograd reports could yet be a long time in coming. I have noted before,
Olmert is also under several serious criminal investigations, but the state's attorney's office here is in the left's pocket, and so long as Olmert is moving towards the creation of a 'Palestinian state', he will be protected the same way Sharon was protected from criminal indictment while expelling the Jews from Gaza.
Olmert is trying to divide Jerusalem NOW. Will Steinitz be the one to get up and lead the people into the streets? We wait and see.
Human Rights Watch cancels report release press conference
Human Rights Watch has canceled a press conference that was to be held tomorrow at the Beirut Crowne Plaza hotel in conjunction with the release of a report accusing Hezbullah of war crimes for targeting Israeli civilians in last summer's war.
Human Rights Watch today canceled a news conference planned for Thursday, August 30, 2007 in Beirut, citing reports by Hezbollah-controlled media about planned demonstrations to prevent the scheduled event at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and the hotel’s decision to disallow the news conference.
“Hezbollah is trying to silence criticism of its conduct during the 2006 war,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “But the fairness and accuracy of our reporting will speak for themselves, whether we hold a press conference or not.”
This report is one of a series by Human Rights Watch examining compliance of parties to the 2006 war with international humanitarian law. On September 6, Human Rights Watch is releasing in Jerusalem a report critical of Israel’s conduct in its attacks on Lebanon, a comprehensive follow-up to a report released during the war, titled “Fatal Strikes: Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon”.
“Our focus is on the protection of civilians wherever they may be, and not about taking sides in a conflict,” said Whitson.
In the course of preparing the report, Human Rights Watch repeatedly sought meetings with Hezbollah officials and solicited information in writing from them, with no substantive response. But starting on August 28, 2007 the Hezbollah-controlled al-Manar television station and website www.almanar.com.lb ran repeated stories criticizing Human Rights Watch for its planned news conference and reporting that Lebanese organizations were mobilizing to “prevent” the news conference.
Al-Manar television and www.almanar.com.lbfalsely stated that Human Rights Watch had been assisted by unspecified Lebanese parties in preparing the news conference. It refused repeated requests to provide Human Rights Watch an opportunity to present its report and respond to the accusations. Due to security concerns following the decision of the hotel where the conference was planned to cancel the venue, Human Rights Watch has decided not to relocate Thursday's news conference and to publish the report for immediate release.
Hezbollah forces in Lebanon fired thousands of rockets into Israel, causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures. Hezbollah’s means of attack relied on unguided weapons that had no capacity to hit military targets with any precision. It repeatedly bombarded cities, towns, and villages without any apparent effort to distinguish between civilians and military objectives. In doing so, Hezbollah, as a party to an armed conflict governed by international humanitarian law, violated fundamental prohibitions against deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
Rockets killed and injured Israelis in their homes and workplaces, and on the streets of villages and cities. Rockets struck hospitals in Nahariya, Safed, and Mazra, an elementary school in Kiryat Yam, and a post office in Haifa. Such attacks on civilians and civilian structures were often the foreseeable consequence of Hezbollah’s attacks, and, as its statements indicate, were at times intended.
Hezbollah rockets repeatedly hit populated areas in Israel. In some of those cases, we could find no evidence there had been a legitimate military target in the vicinity at the time of the attack, suggesting it was a deliberate attack on civilians. In other cases, we found that there had been a military object in the vicinity but, even assuming Hezbollah had been intending to hit the military target instead of civilians, the unguided rockets it used was incapable of distinguishing between the two. At the time of attack, Hezbollah also failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize loss of civilian life, such as by issuing “effective advance warning . . . of attacks which may affect the civilian population.”2
I'm kind of surprised that Hezbullah is suddenly so concerned with its image as a human rights violator.
Three more 'Palestinian' kids killed retrieving rocket launchers
Three more 'Palestinian' children were killed this evening in Beit Hanoun and another was critically wounded after they were sent by adults to retrieve rocket launchers that were used to bombard Israeli cities in the western Negev. Two other 'Palestinian' children were killed in a similar incident last Tuesday night. The children killed this evening were cousins and they were killed by an IDF tank shell:
The IDF said that it attacked rocket launchers west of the town in a ground operation.
The army explained that there were a number of launchers in the area which were pointed at Israel and that troops opened fire at several suspicious looking people who were handling them.
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza often send children to retrieve rocket launchers after Kassams are fired into Israel.
The IDF said that if the fatalities were indeed children the army regretted the use of minors for terrorist purposes.
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry, amending his initial report of three dead, said 10-year-old Mahmoud Ghazal and his 12-year-old cousin Yehiya Ghazal were killed.
Their 10-year-old cousin Sara Ghazal was critically injured, he said [and died later. CiJ].
A relative of the children, Wasfi Ghazal, said he heard the sound of an explosion and then children screaming. He held both Israel and the rocket squads responsible. [Sorry Wasfi, but only one side is responsible. Only one side is using children as cannon fodder. Only one side has introduced ten and twelve-year old children as combatants. And you and I both know which side that is. You and I both know which side exhorts its children to be 'martyrs' and to follow in the footsteps of Mohamed al-Dura. You should be ashamed of your so-called 'culture' that teaches kids that death is better than life. That has nothing to do with the 'occupation.' That has to do with the fact that the 'Palestinians' are despicable scum who would as soon murder their own children for their 'honor' as let them live and thrive to be decent human beings. CiJ]
"We are victims of the occupation and victims of the misbehavior of some of the fighters who are randomly choosing our area to target Israel," he told The Associated Press.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the killing of the children, predicting violence would breed more violence.
"This will add to the complexities and feed the fire," Erekat said. [Go back to your mansion and shut your mouth Saeb. You couldn't give a damn about any child who is not your own. CiJ]
I'm sorry but there is NO excuse for sending ten and twelve-year olds to retrieve rocket launchers or on any other kind of 'military' mission. From the inside of a tank, you can't tell who is out there, and you shoot first and ask questions later. The 'Palestinians' think that if they turn enough kids into martyrs, they will be able to murder Israelis instead. It's a despicable attitude.
Where is Human Rights Watch? Where are all the children's advocacy organizations? How come no one cares?
Police officer tries to stop illegal Wakf Temple Mount digging
A Druze police officer lay down in a trench that was being dug illegally by the Wakf on the Temple Mount in an attempt to stop the digging today. His Jewish chief came over and told him to 'calm down.' I wish I were making this up. I'm not.
Gideon Charlap, a top Jerusalem architect and Temple Mount expert, told Arutz-7 what he saw when he visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday: "The Arabs there are digging a deep north-to-south trench, up to a meter [1.1 yards] deep. It is being dug in the area that served during Holy Temple times as the Ezrat Nashim [the area known as the Women's Courtyard, though it was not reserved only for women -ed.]. The trench passes through three east-to-west walls, according to my calculations - walls that probably served as separations for the Temple's offices and the like. This means that the destruction is tremendous..."
"At one point during the digging," Charlap continued, "a policeman - apparently a Druze - tried to stop the work from going on, and actually entered the cabin of the tractor. A struggle ensued, and when the Arabs finally pushed him out, he actually stood in the trench and physically blocked the rest of the work!"
Charlap said that at that point, the chief officer of the Temple Mount police station, Shai Alali, arrived on the scene. "But instead of stopping the lawbreakers," Charlap related with incredulity, "he tried to 'calm down' the policeman!"
Charlap said he was unable to see how the story developed from there, "because our allotted time was over." Jews are permitted onto the site - Judaism's most sacred anywhere in the world - only four or fewer hours a day.
Police Chief Shai Alali was unavailable for comment. Police spokesmen say they will look into the assault and illegal digging.
The digging is taking place just east of the Dome of the Rock.
Our dhimmi government has turned our police force into a bunch of dhimmis. To see video of a similar trench, go here.
Last night, the Jerusalem Post reported that Bari Atwan, the editor of London-based Arabic daily al-Quds al-Arabi said that he would 'dance in Trafalgar Square' if Iran struck Israel with nuclear weapons.
Talking about Iran's nuclear capability on ANB Lebanese television on June 27, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, said, "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight."
Bari Atwan founded the pan-Arab daily in London in 1989, and today the paper has a circulation of around 50,000. He is also a regular commentator on Sky News and BBC News 24.
Sky News refused to comment specifically on his comments.
"It is not our policy to comment on what contributors may or may not say on other channels," said Adrian Wells, head of foreign news at Sky.
A BBC spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that editors make decisions based on the following BBC guidelines.
"We should not automatically assume that academics and journalists from other organizations are impartial and make it clear to our audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint."
"The BBC is required to explore a range of views, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or underrepresented."
"The BBC will sometimes need to report on or interview people whose views may cause serious offense to many in our audiences. We must be convinced, after appropriate referral, that a clear public interest outweighs the possible offense."
"We [the BBC] must rigorously test contributors expressing contentious views during an interview."
Undoubtedly, neither Sky nor al-Beeb will do anything to Atwan in response to his comments. In fact, they're likely to have him on more frequently. But that's not why this story is here. When I saw this story, I thought of the 'Palestinians' dancing in celebration of 9/11, and of the late Faisal al-Husseini dancing on the roofs of homes in Judea and Samaria praying that Saddam Hussein's scud missiles would strike Israelis during Gulf War I. But blogger Publius Pundit had a much more biting commentary:
Finally an honest Arab Muslim! It should not be a secret anymore that (some) Muslims use religion as a shield to justify murder especially when those targeted are Jews. Their real oppressor is not Israel. Palestinians should look at their own government (s) and the 'elite' that keeps them in misery and hide behind religion to achieve power&money.
As soon as we accept that terrorism is nihilistic rage unconnected with, and not a reaction to, any actions or policies on Jews/American part the better.
The ceremony, which will be held in Beit Horon, is scheduled to coincide with the official military ceremony awarding citations to soldiers who fought in the Second Lebanon War.
The soldiers in the alternative ceremony will also receive cash rewards worth thousands of shekels, courtesy of a Jewish donor in the US.
The organization's leader, Rabbi Shalom Dovber Wolpo [in the linked article it's spelled Wolpe, but it's the same person CiJ], told Army Radio on Wednesday morning that "we need to consider that if there hadn't been a criminal order at the time of the disengagement, there would not have been a Second Lebanon War, and we wouldn't be in this situation today. If [soldiers] like these had refused this expressly illegal order then, we wouldn't need [to hand out] these prizes."
He stressed that his group in no way meant to demean those who truly deserved awards for their dedication and sacrifice in the Second Lebanon War, but that "we also need to show respect for those who refused to follow orders [to evacuate Jews] and sat in jail" for their insubordination.
A group of 12 Orthodox soldiers - including two squad commanders - were sentenced to 28 days in prison and were discharged from their combat units for refusing to participate in the Hebron evacuation.
Look for the left to be all over this story (including legislation to make paying soldiers to refuse orders 'illegal') in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1.... But hey, it's (supposed to be) a free country.....
'Moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen may have been in Jerusalem yesterday to romance Israeli Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, but his heart is still in Gaza with 'moderate' deposed 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh. And Haniyeh has decided to strike up their romance again. Hamas was prepared to cede to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas control of PA institutions and bases in the Gaza Strip, in return for a renewal of the unity government, reforms in the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] and reinstating the Palestinian parliament, Israel Radio quoted a report from the pan Arab daily Asharq Alawsat, Wednesday.
The proposal was reportedly given by Hamas seniors to Abbas on Tuesday but the leadership of Hamas was reluctant to embrace it.
A Palestinian source was quoted as saying that if Hamas leaders would become supportive of the proposal, Abbas would accept it.
For those of you who think that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is going to take this lying down, think again. Olmert is trying to compete with Haniyeh and has come up with an even better offer for Abu Mazen.
Palestinian militants exiled from the West Bank in 2002 - following a stand-off with the IDF in which gunmen took over the Church of the Nativity - may be allowed to return, senior sources from the Palestinian Authority said Tuesday.
According to the sources, future coordination of the issue was agreed upon during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier Tuesday.
Family members of the exiles and sources in the Palestinian Authority expressed hope that an agreement would soon be consolidated that would allow the militants to return to Bethlehem, as the exiles in Gaza – primarily Fatah-affiliated - have been complaining of harassment by Hamas since the group's June takeover of Gaza.
Exile Jihad Jaara told Ynet that, according to information he received from senior Palestinian officials, a solution for the exiles will be implemented beginning Ramadan, at the beginning of October.
For those of you who have forgotten what happened at the Church of the Nativity, there's background here. For more on Jihad Jaara, go here and here.
Abu Mazen is doing a great job of playing Hamas and Olmert off against each other, while continuing the terror and maintaining plausible deniability. His mentor would be pleased.
For those of you who think that I complain too much about the high taxes here in Israel, have a look at this:
"With Tax Freedom Day occurring nine days sooner in 2006 than the previous year, I had hoped that 2007 would continue this trend and be an even better year for taxpayers. Unfortunately, we seem to have gone backwards and the trend is continuing," said Corinne Sauer, director of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, which calculates "Tax Freedom Day" in Israel. "It is often joked that people spend more time working for the government than for themselves and their family. Unfortunately, in Israel, it is true."
Do you remember August 2? That's the day, 214 days into the year, that the institute says Israelis became free of their tax burdens, with every agora earned until that day basically going straight into the government's coffers; only then did locals start earning money for themselves.
In the early 1990s, the institute said, Tax Freedom Day occurred in mid-July, but over the past 17 years it has come later and later, with four exceptions in 1996, 1998, 2003 and 2006.
And, in each year since 1990, the first year for which calculations are available, Israeli taxpayers have worked more for the government than for themselves, according to the institute.
The figures are among the worst for developed countries. In comparison, the US celebrated Tax Freedom Day 2007 on April 30, 95 days prior to Israel, while in the UK the day the nation as a whole earned enough to fund its annual tax burden came on June 1, 63 days before Israel. Even Norway, which is known for its high tax burden, celebrated four days prior to Israel on July 29.
Based on the 2008 state budget draft just passed by the cabinet, the largest in Israel's history, Tax Freedom Day will be even later next year.
And for those of you who are going to rush to say, "but the defense budget...." Think again:
"This is bad news for Israel," said Sauer, who added that the country's high tax burden could not be attributed solely to the security situation. "Despite a socialist past, the economic liberalization of the formerly socialist countries of Eastern Europe prove that a lower tax burden is possible."
In the Czech Republic Tax, this year's Freedom Day was observed on June 11, while Estonia marked the day on April 24.
There's no requirement to file tax returns here either unless you are self-employed, the owner of a corporation or have an extremely high salary. The marginal tax rate hits 48% at NIS 11,000 per month (NIS 4.2 = $1 approximately). What do you think that means?
I'm glad to hear that at least someone is thinking along these lines. Two British scholars, arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, have written a paper in which they conclude that "the United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles." Here are some of the key conclusions:
Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact. [That's the mistake his father made in Iraq in 1991 in Gulf War I and you can bet that's one mistake he will not make. CiJ]
US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.
US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.
Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.
Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.
Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.
The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb. [Surprisingly, so is Nicolas Sarcozy of France, a potential ally that the paper apparently does not mention. CiJ]
The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.
Here's the key part of the paper:
Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:
This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.
However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.
Butcher says he does not believe the US would use nuclear weapons, with some exceptions.
"My opinion is that [nuclear weapons] wouldn't be used unless there was definite evidence that Iran has them too or is about to acquire them in a matter of days/weeks," notes Butcher. "However, the Natanz facility has been so hardened that to destroy it MAY require nuclear weapons, and once an attack had started it may simply be a matter of following military logic and doctrine to full extent, which would call for the use of nukes if all other means failed."
Some experts disagree with the paper:
Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director for Transportation Security, Antiterrorism Assistance Training, and Special Operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, Larry Johnson, does not agree with the report’s findings.
"The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities," said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.
"But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are."
And then there's Iraq and the upcoming Presidential election to factor in.
Will this happen? If Donald Rumsfeld were still Secretary of Defense and the 'neo-cons' were still sitting en masse in the White House, I'd be much more confident saying yes. But even without them, I still believe this is likely to happen if the Bush administration believes there is no other way to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons - a point that we are rapidly approaching. Ahmadinejad has been saying since last December that Iran is a nuclear power. Even most dhimmicrats don't seem to favor accommodation with a nuclear Iran. I don't see Bush planning on leaving office with this unresolved. The question is one of timing: At what point will enough be enough and how can the attack be pulled off in a manner that makes it not be a blatantly political tactic (recall President Clinton's attack on Libya to try to distract the country from impeachment proceedings) that will divide the US for years to come. The US isn't afraid to go it alone, and I believe that the UK and Sarcozy's France (and of course Israel) will support the US anyway.
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"
I'll bet that that's what the Israeli government is saying this morning: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". Just like William Shakespeare wrote in Act IV, Scene II of Henry VI (Part 2). If the latest plague comes down on Israel it sounds like it's going to come from the lawyers. Don't laugh too hard: Hezbullah wants to go to court.
Hezbollah is planning to file a host of lawsuits against Israel over the damages it caused during the Second Lebanon War. Lebanese individuals with dual citizenship will file the suits in the countries where they hold citizenship.
Attorney Ibrahim Awada, who heads Hezbollah's legal department, revealed the plan last week on a Syrian television program devoted to "Zionist crimes against Lebanon." He said that each plaintiff will hire a lawyer in the country where he files suit, and Hezbollah will pay the lawyers' fees.
The Lebanese government began mulling lawsuits against Israel immediately after the war ended last summer, but was stymied by the fact that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war, blamed Hezbollah, rather than Israel, for its outbreak. The government therefore set up a legal committee to explore more limited options, such as suits specifically over Israel's use of cluster bombs and destruction of infrastructure.
However, Hezbollah was furious that the government has so far done nothing, and therefore decided to launch its own lawsuit blitz, using private individuals.
Unfortunately, this is likely to play really well in Eurabia, and the Israeli government is likely to have to spend some money defending these nuisance suits (or at least sending lawyers to appear and say that Israel doesn't submit to jurisdiction - maybe there's some work for me there :-). In the US, it's less likely to succeed, because they would have to find plaintiffs with standing, and because it's much more difficult to sue a sovereign government without its consent.
So, let me get this straight, HizbAllah kidnaps Israeli soldiers yet HizbAllah is the victim. Instead of playing silly games the party should apologize to its fellow citizens that it brought war upon Lebanon. Shame on them!
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married and a fourth is engaged! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com