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Monday, February 28, 2011

ACLU Leaders Are Supporting Censorship of Israeli Speakers

The international campaign to prevent speakers from delivering pro-Israel talks at universities has been assisted by leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union—an organization that is supposed to protect freedom of speech for all.  The method used to silence these speakers and preclude their audiences from hearing their message is exemplified by a now infamous event at the University of California at Irvine.

Michael Oren—a distinguished scholar and writer, a moderate supporter of the two-state solution, and now Israel’s Ambassador to the United States—was invited to speak.  The Muslim Student Union set out to prevent him from delivering his talk  Here is the way Erwin Chemerinksy, Dean of the law school, described what the students did:

“The Muslim Student Union orchestrated a concerted effort to disrupt the speech.  One student after another stood and shouted so that the ambassador could not be heard.  Each student was taken away only to be replaced by another doing the same thing.”

Chemerinsky understates what happened, as anyone can see by watching a video of the event, available online.  This was more than a “concerted effort to disrupt the speech.”  It was a concerted effort to stop it completely—to censor Oren’s right to speak and his audience’s right to hear him.  The efforts to disrupt succeeded; the effort to stop ultimately failed.  Moreover, Chemerinsky fails to mention what happened both before and after the concerted effort.  There is undisputed evidence that there was a well-planned conspiracy to censor Oren’s talk, and then to lie about it, which the students did after the event.

The students were disciplined by the university for their actions, though the nature and degree of the discipline has been kept confidential. Campus sources have characterized it as a “slap on the wrist.”  Since the students were arrested, the District Attorney, quite understandably, commenced a criminal investigation.  After learning of the careful planning that went into the concerted effort to prevent Oren from speaking and the subsequent cover-up, the DA filed misdemeanor charges against those who were involved. 

This decision resulted in an outcry by radicals, many of whom favor censorship of pro-Israel speakers.  In a letter to the DA signed by many well-known anti-Israel zealots, the incident was described as merely a protest:  “The students nonviolently and verbally protested…”

Then, in an effort to blame the victims, the letter pointed the finger at pro-Israel students who wanted to listen to Oren speak claiming—quite falsely—that the Muslim Student Union censors “conducted themselves in less of a disruptive manner than some of the counter-protestors…”  This is simply a lie, as anyone can see by viewing the video.  Moreover, the intent of the so-called “counter-protestors” was simply to hear the speaker, whereas the intent of the Muslim Student Union was to censor the speaker. 

The fact that radical anti-Israel zealots would support censorship of a pro-Israel speaker comes as no surprise.  But the fact that the letter of support was signed by two ACLU leaders should shock all civil libertarians and supporters of the ACLU.  I have been a supporter of the ACLU for half a century and was a national board member.  I supported the right of Nazis to march through Skokie and I defend the right of the most virulent anti-Israel speakers to participate in the marketplace of ideas.  The ACLU policy has always been to oppose concerted efforts to prevent speakers from delivering their remarks.  While supporting sporadic heckling and jeering that merely demonstrates opposition to the content of the remarks, the ACLU has always condemned concerted efforts to silence invited speakers. 

Yet signatories of the letter—which never once criticizes the censoring Muslim Union students while condemning those who wanted to hear the speaker—include “Chuck Anderson,” who identifies himself as President ACLU Chapter, Orange County and Chair, The Peace and Freedom Party, Orange County;” (a hard left anti-Israel group), and “Hector Villagro,” who identifies himself as “Incoming Executive Director, ACLU of Southern California.” 

Dean Chemerinsky, while also opposing criminal prosecution, made a point to condemn the censoring students:

“The students' behavior was wrong and deserves punishment. There is no basis for the claim that the disruptive students were just exercising their First Amendment rights. There is no constitutional right to disrupt an event and keep a speaker from being heard. Otherwise, any speaker could be silenced by a heckler's veto. The Muslim students could have expressed their message in many other ways: picketing or handing out leaflets outside the auditorium where Ambassador Oren was speaking, making statements during the question and answer period, holding their own events on campus.”

The ACLU leaders, on the other hand, seem to be justifying the actions of the censoring students while limiting their condemnation to the pro-Israel students who wanted to hear the speaker.

After being criticized for supporting censorship, Villagro sought to justify his signing the letter by the following “logic:” 

“The district attorney’s action will undoubtedly intimidate students in Orange County and across the state and discourage them from engaging in any controversial speech or protest for fear of criminal charges.

The opposite is true.  If these students are let off with a slap on the wrist from the University, that will encourage other students around the nation and the world to continue with efforts to prevent pro-Israel speaker from delivering their speeches.  The ACLU should be supporting a clear line between occasional heckling and outright censorship.  The ACLU leaders who signed the letter are on the wrong side of that line and should not be speaking for the ACLU.

Unless the ACLU explicitly renounces its’ leaders support for students who seek to censor pro-Israel speakers, that organization will lose the backing of many who believe that all speech should be protected—not only speech approved of by its leaders.

Jerusalem Fair Presents Products by Gaza Expellees

A special fair will be held on Tuesday in the religious Har Nof school in Jerusalem: The fair will include products made by former Jewish residents of Gush Katif (the Katif Bloc) who were expelled from their thriving greenhouses, businesses, Torah institutions, synagogues and homes during the 2005 ‘disengagement’ from Gaza that then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised would bring quiet to southern Israel.

The fair, which will be held from 5:00pm to 10:00pm, will offer jewelry, clothing for children and teens, pictures of Gush Katif, electronic products, caps, disposable utensils for Purim and Pesach, and much more - all made by evacuees from Gush Katif.

The fair has become an annual event, and Zipporah Segal, one of its initiators, told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website on Sunday: “It started when I visited the private home of Olga Anavi who was expelled from Gush Katif. I saw beautiful glass menorahs there and I asked her if she sells them. She replied that she did but noted that since the expulsion there are no buyers since she lost her business location. I immediately bought menorahs for my sons and son-in-law. After I left her home, I made the decision to bring her to the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and allow her, as well as other expellees, to sell in our neighborhood what they had become accustomed to sell in their communities in Gush Katif.”

Segal noted that “the response to the initiative was and still is very warm and sympathetic. They are people of the highest quality, and I draw great strength from them.”

She said that she has learned much from the expellees about mental strength and resilience of faith, especially when her attempts to help them failed. “Sometimes I tried to arrange fairs like this in other places and not just Har Nof, and I could not get the hosts to be excited about it,” she said. “Sometimes there aren’t that many sales and yet the expellees are always happy to cooperate and go almost anywhere.”

Segal explained that “When you buy the expellees’ products it’s not just about giving them money. It’s mostly about giving them a sense of caring and of goodwill. We tell them: 'We are with you and we will never forget you.’”
She noted, however, that money is also very important in this case, since many of the expellees find it difficult to cope financially, some of them have no regular income and many of them have literally “eaten up” the compensation funds they are given by the government, as bureaucratic delays prevent their resettling.

These comments echo those of Mazal Cohen, a founder of the community of Gadid who lives today in a caravan in Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, who recently toldArutz Sheva that despite the many years that have passed since the 2005 expulsion, many deportees have still been unable to find new employment.

“When we were expelled we were given compensation, but the money was used by the people who did not have a job,” explained Cohen. “Fifty percent of expellees do not have the money anymore. We'll have to take large mortgages and I have no doubt that some will remain in caravans forever.”

Segal also noted that when one gives to the expellees, it actually means that one is helping people who gave so much of themselves for Israel over the years. She recalled a conversation she heard several days after the expulsion, between a representative of the Disengagement Authority and a representative of one of the charities. “The Disengagement Authority representative asked the charity to bring baby equipment and other products as it could to the expellees, who were then staying in crowded hotels. The representative of the charity said that he owes a large debt to the residents of Gush Katif who contributed a great deal to his charity over the years. He said that the residents of Gush Katif had contributed generously to the organization before the expulsion, providing  tons of vegetables as well as anything else that was needed.”

Segal also expressed her gratitude to the residents of Har Nof who always help out in making the fair possible. “The Har Nof school has helped out from the very first year – both the administration as well as the students. The expellees were very impressed by the entire community here.”

While many of the Gush Katif evacuees still live in temporary caravans, officials have recently promised a “turning point”. At a recent meeting of the Tnufa Administration, the body charged with resettling the thousands of Jews who were expelled from Gaza, the Prime Minister’s Office Eyal Gabbai said the government was making an effort “so that this will be the last winter in caravans.”

92 families of the hundreds expelled from Gush Katif in 2005 entered permanent homes in 2010. More than 100 plots of land in the Lachish region were distributed to expellee families.

Israel Helps Gaza Export Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoesIt’s business as usual for the Israeli government, and this includes the continuedeconomic aid to the Gaza Strip.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza announced on Sunday that Israel will be expanding its agricultural assistance to farmers in the Strip by giving approval for an additional phase in an export project headed by the Dutch government.

A spokesperson for the unit reported that based on a decision by the Ministerial Committee on Security to expand economic activity in Gaza and to expand exports from the Gaza Strip, an export of cherry tomatoes will begin this week from the Gaza Strip. The tomatoes will be taken through the Kerem Shalom crossing to markets in Europe.

It was also reported that the beginning of the export of cherry tomatoes from the Strip was made possible after much work by the Coordinator of Government Activities, General Eitan Dangot, who worked with the director of security in the border crossings as well as representatives of the Dutch government and the Palestinian Authority.
The spokesman stressed that Israel attaches great importance to the international community's involvement in implementing policies towards the members of the civilian population in Gaza who are not involved terrorism against Israel, and noted that Israel will continue to implement economic projects in the Gaza Strip
The project known as the Dutch Government Project also includes exports of 367 tons of strawberries from the Gaza Strip, about 5.3 million carnations, and 6 tons of peppers.

The announcement on the expansion of exports from Gaza comes despite the recent escalation in rocket attacks by terrorists from the Strip. Just last Wednesday, Gaza terrorists fired two Grad rockets at Be'er Sheva. One rocket exploded in a building and caused heavy damage to the place. Six adults and four children were taken to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva after suffering from trauma following the explosion.

Meanwhile, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit continues to be held captive and incommunicado by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Just over a week ago, a protest was held in Jerusalem near the official residence of the Prime Minister marking 1,700 days since Shalit’s kidnapping. The demonstration was attended by Shalit's parents and other family members. People held homemade signs reading “Gilad is a son to all of us.” The Red Cross has never been allowed to visit him.

Last week, Information Minister Yuli Edelstein addressed, during an interview with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website, the Israeli government policy towards the Gaza Strip in the wake of the continued terror attacks from Gaza and Shalit’s continued captivity. He described the situation as ‘absurd’ and said that it is a result of the 2005 "Disengagement" from the Gaza Strip which left Israel, in the eyes of the world,  still responsible for the Gaza Strip despite its total withdrawal from the area and the terrible personal price its Israeli residents paid for that expulsion.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The New Jordanian State of Palestine

Israel National NewsDear Friends and Members,

I am delighted to announce that Arutz Sheva ( has joined us in helping to create a Jordanian State of Palestine. Arutz Sheva has posted this ad link on their home page, on the right-hand-side of the daily column, in order to encourage people to sign this petition.  Please join us in making this call possible.

Click HERE and follow the link to read the petition. If you agree with this petition, please sign and pass it on. Please let people know about this petition.

Israel is constantly being pressured to allow a Palestinian State to exist.  In response, we are now pressuring Jordan's King Abdullah to declare Jordan the Palestinian homeland.  Remember, Jordan was part of the British Mandate for Palestine and also part of the Ottoman State of Palestine. That being a fact, why pressure Israel?  Why not pressure Jordan? 

Who are the real racists? As a democratic State, Muslims and Christians live in Israel and have every democratic right. In contrast, Jordan is predominantly Muslim and Jews are not allowed to live there. Therefore, let the Jordanian-Palestine State be for Muslims, and let Israel be for Jews and Israeli-Arabs.  Please watch the video below to find out why Jordan is Palestine.

Let us join in this effort to create a Jordanian-Palestinian State for all regional Arabs who do not have a state of their own.

Thank you very much,
Michelle Cohen

IDF Retaliates for Sabbath Rocket Attacks

The Israel Air Force was kept busy over the Sabbath retaliating for rocket attacks fired from Gaza at Jewish communities in southern Israel.

Overnight Friday, Israeli fighter pilots attacked two terror targets in central Gaza.

On Saturday, IAF aircraft targeted a terrorist tunnel and two terror activity sites in southern Gaza. The tunnel was intended to be used by terrorists to infiltrate into Israel and to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.

Arab terrorists in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at the western Negev Friday night, which exploded in an open area. The Color Red rocket alert system sounded in several cities in the area.

Terrorists also fired a mortar at Israeli targets on Saturday afternoon. No one was injured and no damage was reported in either attack.

Since the beginning of January, more than 50 Kassam rockets, mortar shells and Katyusha Grad missiles have been fired at southern Israeli communities.

Since last Wednesday, four missiles exploded in Be'er Sheva and the Sdot Negev Regional Council district.
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldier and will continue to respond harshly to terror,” said the IDF Spokesman in a statement.

“The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorists activity emanating from it.”

Iran aiming to exploit anarchy in post-Mubarak Sinai

Tehran studying new military presence in trying to establish mass smuggling mechanisms, according to defense officials.

Iran is working to bolster its weapons-smuggling infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula as anarchy continues to prevail in Egypt following the toppling of the Mubarak regime earlier this month.

According to information obtained by Israel, Iran has been working to build new infrastructure in the Sinai that can be used to smuggle advanced weaponry in large quantities into the Gaza Strip.

Iran to unload fuel from Bushehr nuclear plant
Syria and Iran agree to cooperate on naval training
IDF strikes Gaza terror targets in response to rockets

“Iran wants to take advantage of the current anarchy in Egypt and establish a stronger foothold in Gaza,” a senior defense official said. “They are building new capabilities, upgrading smuggling mechanisms and studying the new military presence there to see how it will affect them.”

While weapons have been regularly smuggled into Gaza even before Mubarak’s resignation, the Egyptian security forces were working to crack down on the smuggling efforts by building an underground steel wall and by using American tunnel-detection technology.

One known smuggling route for Iranian weapons to Hamas begins in Sudan or Eritrea where ships unload weaponry, which is then loaded onto trucks that travel up through Sudan and Egypt until they arrive at the Gaza-Egypt border. The weaponry is then smuggled into Gaza via one of the hundreds of tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor.

In addition the concern about an increase in smuggling, Israel also fears that the Sinai will turn into a launch pad for attacks into Israel.

Egyptian police authorities have abandoned dozens of police stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Beduins armed with missiles and assault rifles, according to information that has arrived in Israel.

This concern was behind Israel’s decision to permit close to 1,000 Egyptian soldiers to deploy in Sharm e-Sheikh and Rafa.

In recent years, the Sinai has turned into a platform for attacks against Israel including by Hamas, which several months ago launched Katyusha rockets into Eilat from theEgyptian territory. The Egyptian military has for years encountered difficulty in controlling the Beduin population that does not hold allegiance to the Egyptian government in Cairo.

Meanwhile Saturday, the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of targets throughout Gaza in retaliation to continued rocket fire on the western Negev.

The IAF bombed Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout southern and central Gaza, including a tunnel that the IDF said was being dug into Israel to be used by terrorists who planned to infiltrate to carry out an attack.

The aircraft attacked two terrorist targets in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Specific targets were hit and all IAF planes returned safely to their base.

“The strike was in response to rocket attacks on Israeli territory and the IDF will continue to work against terrorist activity that threatens the State of Israel,” a statement by the IDF read.

Palestinians in Gaza reported on Saturday that IDF planes hit targets in Gaza belonging to Islamic Jihad west of Khan Yunis.

Earlier in the day Palestinians reported that four people had been lightly injured as a result of IDF activity in the Gaza Strip, including a baby.

Overnight Friday, the IDF confirmed that IAF planes attacked two Islamic Jihad and Hamas targets in the central Gaza strip, in response to Kassam rockets fired on the Sdot Negev Regional Council earlier in the day.

The IDF spokesman confirmed direct hits on the targets. No Palestinian casualties were reported.

In addition to the Kassam rocket fired into Israel, another Kassam was fired that landed in Palestinian territory.

No one was injured and no damage was reported in the attack.

IDF Boosts Integration for Ethiopian-Israeli Soldiers

Source: Arutz Sheva
By Maayana Miskin

A new study has found that the IDF's Amir course for soldiers from the Ethiopian community is successful in boosting recruits' motivation, self-esteem, and confidence under pressure.

Israelis from Ethiopia have served in the IDF since the 1980s, and are known for their high rates of enlistment and patriotism. Previous courses aimed at improving service for the Ethiopian community showed some success; however, ten years ago studies showed that despite the IDF's outreach efforts, most Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers served as cooks, drivers, and in similar non-combat positions.

Using the success of the Ethipian soldiers who did make it into combat units as a guide, and fearing that the studies showed the IDF was not successfully utilizing Ethiopian-born soldiers' potential, commanders decided to form a new course, called Amir, to boost motivation and help soldiers move into “high-quality” positions in the IDF, such as elite units or service as officers.

The course is a definite success, the latest study showed. More than 40% of the soldiers who completed Amir training went on to serve in “high-quality” roles, while the same was true of 23.3% of soldiers in a control group.

The soldiers who took part in Amir also gave a higher assessment of their own abilities, and rated their self-esteem an average 4.22 on a scale from 1 to 6, while the average control group rating was 3.28. In addition, they  reported higher levels of confidence in their own abilities to perform well and withstand pressure.

It is hoped that more and more Ethiopian parents will be seen at the ceremonies where soldiers who have finished special unit combat training are given their well-earned beret, whose color represents the unit in which they serve, after successfully trekking what is known in the IDF as "the beret hike" (masa kumta)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Playing Israel’s good hand

By Caroline B. Glick

In these new and trying times, our leaders must shed their failed concepts of statecraft based on weakness and adopt new ones founded on strength.

On Wednesday night, Israelis received our first taste of the new Middle East with the missile strikes on Beersheba. Iran’s Palestinian proxy, the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood known as Hamas, carried out its latest war crime right after Iran’s battleships entered Syria’s Latakia port.

Their voyage through the Suez Canal to Syria was an unadulterated triumph for the mullahs.

For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s warships sailed across the canal without even being inspected by the Egyptian, US or Israeli navies.

On the diplomatic front, the Iranian-dominated new Middle East has had a pronounced impact on the Western-backed Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s political posture towards the US.

The PA picked a fight with America just after the Obama administration forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to surrender power.

Mubarak’s departure was a strategic victory for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and for its sister branch Hamas in Gaza.

As part of his efforts to neutralize the threat the Muslim Brotherhood posed to his regime, Mubarak sealed off Gaza’s border with Egypt after Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

The Gaza-Sinai border was breached during last month’s revolution. Since Mubarak’s forced resignation, the military junta now leading Egypt has failed to reseal it.

The revolution in Egypt happened just after the PA was thrown into a state of disarray. Al- Jazeera’s exposure of PA documents indicating the leadership’s willingness to make minor compromises with Israel in the framework of a peace deal served to discredit Fatah leaders in the eyes of the Israel-hating Palestinian public.

In the wake of the Al-Jazeera revelations, senior PA leaders escalated their anti-Israel and anti- American pronouncements. The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was forced to resign.

The shift in the regional power balance following Mubarak’s fall has caused Fatah leaders to view their ties to the US as a strategic liability.

If they wish to survive, they must cut a deal with Hamas. And to convince Hamas to cut a deal, they need to abandon the US.

And so they have. Fatah’s first significant move to part company with Washington came with its relentless bid to force a vote on a resolution condemning Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria at the UN Security Council. In an attempt to avert a vote on the resolution that the US public expected him to veto, Obama spent 50 minutes on the phone with Mahmoud Abbas begging him to set the resolution aside. Obama promised to take unprecedented steps against Israel in return for Abbas’s agreement to stand down. But Abbas rejected his appeal.

Not only did Abbas defy the wishes of the most pro-Palestinian president ever to occupy the White House, Abbas told the whole world about how he defied Obama.

Abbas’s humiliation of Obama was only the first volley in the Fatah leader’s campaign against the US. Abbas, Salam Fayyad and their PA ministers have sent paid demonstrators into the street to protest against America. They announced a boycott of American diplomats and journalists. They have called for a boycott of American products. They have scheduled a “Day of Rage” against America for Friday after mosque prayers.

While excoriating Obama and the US, the PA is actively wooing Hamas. On Wednesday, the PA accepted the legitimacy of Hamas control over Gaza. Three-and-a-half years after Hamas wrested control over Gaza from Fatah in a bloody coup, on Wednesday Fayyad said that the PA is willing to end its objection to Hamas control over the area if Hamas agrees to participate in the general elections Abbas has scheduled for September.

At the same time as he publicly beseeched Hamas to join forces with Fatah, Fayyad announced that the PA is willing to forgo US financial assistance if that assistance continues to come with political strings attached. The only real string attached to US aid is the stipulation that no US financial assistance can be used to finance Hamas.

THE PA’S announced willingness to end its receipt of US aid is by far its boldest move to date. With the Arab world going up in smoke, Fatah officials know they cannot expect to receive any significant funding from Arab states for the foreseeable future. That makes them entirely dependent on US and Europe.

And make no mistake, the PA budget is entirely a creation of foreign aid. The PA is the largest foreign aid recipient in the world. Last year, it received $1.8 billion in foreign assistance.

US direct assistance accounted for $550 million, or nearly a third of that amount. The US gave the PA another $268m. in indirect assistance through UNRWA. UNRWA is the UN agency devoted exclusively to providing welfare benefits to the Palestinians while subordinating itself to the Palestinian political agenda.

Without US assistance, the PA would cease to be a political factor in the region. So by offering to forgo the aid, Fayyad, Abbas and their colleagues are essentially threatening to commit political suicide.

The Palestinians’ declared readiness to forgo US aid is all the more remarkable when compared to Israel’s refusal to countenance the thought of forgoing or even cutting back the assistance it receives from the US. Whereas the Palestinian economy will collapse without US assistance, were Israel to forgo the $3b. in military assistance it receives every year from Washington, the move would have little impact on the economy.

Economic analyses of US military assistance have noted that several factors degrade the value of the aid. The US requires Israel to spend 75 percent of the assistance in the US. Israel’s inability to open its purchases to competitive bidding in the world market has forced it to pay inflated prices for much of what it buys.

So, too, by buying US weapons systems, Israel has harmed its own military industries, which are blocked from selling or developing systems for the IDF contractors.

Moreover, because the US has tied its aid to Egypt to its aid to Israel and justified its military aid to Jordan and Lebanon through its military assistance to Israel, by accepting the aid, Israel is enabling its neighbors to upgrade their military capabilities. Their upgraded military capabilities in turn force Israel to invest still more resources in its defense budget to maintain its qualitative edge against its US subsidized neighbors.

With all the hidden costs the military assistance entails, it is reasonable to discount the actual value of the aid by 50%. That is, the actual value of annual US military assistance is about $1.5b.

The direct military cost of the Second Lebanon War is estimated at $2.2b. The direct military cost of Operation Cast Lead is estimated at $1.4b. The actual costs of both wars to the Israeli economy were several times higher.

Those who claim that Israel cannot manage without US military aid ignore the fact that neither of these wars had any discernible impact on the economy.

The political cost Israel has paid for US military assistance has been astronomical. As a recent study of US military assistance by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies demonstrated, the psychological impact of the US aid on Israeli and American leaders alike has had a disastrous impact on the relations between the two states and impaired their ability to understand the actual strategic rationale of their alliance. Israeli leaders have developed a subservient mentality towards the Americans and the Americans have forgotten that a strong Israel is the US’s most valuable strategic asset in the region.

THE PALESTINIANS’ expressed willingness to forgo their assistance from the US is no doubt a bluff. And Congress would do well to call their bluff and cancel US assistance to the PA.

Yet their behavior presents Israel with an important lesson about the fundamentals of diplomacy that appear lost on our leaders.

The Palestinians understand the rules of diplomacy far better than Israel does. Israel believes that diplomacy is about getting other governments to be nice to us. Palestinians understand that diplomacy is a nonviolent means of weakening your enemies and expanding your own power. They also understand that the starting point for any effective diplomatic strategy is a reality-based assessment of other government’s interests.

As the revolutions throughout the region show, in the real world, the Arabs do not care about the Palestinians. Europeans and leftist Americans care about the Palestinians. European leaders need to support the Palestinians for domestic political reasons. US leaders support the Palestinians to maintain good relations with Europe and with the American Left.

Recognizing this, the likes of Abbas and Fayyad understand that no matter what they say or do, the West will probably not abandon them. Europeans need them to continue carrying out their political war against Israel because that is what their constituents demand. US leaders will continue to support them because they follow Europe’s lead.

On the other hand, given their newfound power, PA leaders have to bend over backwards to appease Hamas and Iran if they wish to survive.

Since they rightly assess that the West needs them more than they need the West, not only are the Palestinians unwilling to pay any price for maintaining Western support for them.

They are willing to initiate ugly confrontations with the US and humiliate Obama in order to win the approval of Hamas and Iran.

Facing this reality, Israel’s best bet is to initiate a few confrontations of its own to demonstrate its strategic importance to the US and Europe.

With the conflagrations raging in the Arab world essentially making its argument that a strong Israel is imperative for the West, Israel should be going on the offensive against the Palestinians and the international Left that supports them.

But instead of pointing out the truth, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues maintain their posture as supplicants to Washington, making concession after concession in exchange for further abuse in the hopes of avoiding a confrontation.

For instance, Netanyahu has defied his own party and broken his word to the public by maintaining an undeclared freeze on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Since January 2010, Netanyahu has systematically denied Jews building permits in the area in the hopes of appeasing Obama.

And how has Obama repaid Israel for our government’s willingness to deny Jews their civil rights? The Obama administration has branded all Jewish communities in post-1967 Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as “illegitimate,” and blamed Israel for the absence of peace in the region.

As our region is consumed by the flames of rebellion and revolution, the challenges and threats Israel faces multiply by the day. In these new and trying times, our leaders must shed their failed concepts of statecraft based on weakness and adopt new ones founded on strength. The PA is playing a bad hand wisely.

We are playing a good hand foolishly.

IDF Veteran Hero: Shelling Gaza is a Joke

The IDF's weak response to the Grad missile attack on Be'er Sheva "borders on the ridiculous," according to Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amatzia Chen, one of the IDF's veteran war heroes. Chen explained to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service that Israel's basic security policy changed in 1982, after a large leftist rally against the Lebanon War. Under the pressure of leftist organizations like Peace Now, he said, Israel ceased initiating the fighting and confined itself to responding to enemy attacks.
"In all of the previous wars, starting from the 1956 Suez Operation, through the Six Day War and in the Yom Kippur War as well, the IDF took the fight into enemy territory," Chen recalled. "The security concept was that of fighting the war we choose, and seizing the initiative. But since 1982, after that rally in Rabin Square, Rabin and Peres decided, for political reasons, that the strategy needs to be changed and that we should only go to war when there is no choice - i.e., when the sword is on our neck."
Chen said that since that decision was made, Israel has lost its deterrent capability. "Our enemies understood the dramatic change in Israel's security concept as a position of weakness. In any case, they had ceased threatening us with regular armies and turned instead to the weapon of terror. They murdered hundreds of Jews inside Israel, but controlled the bloodletting so as to enable Israel's leaders to maintain the concept that one does not go to war as long as there is a choice."
"Every Israeli citizen knows that the Israel of today is not the Israel of pre-1982."
Chen said that artillery fire on Gaza is not a proper response to the missile attack on Be'er Sheva. "We are a nation that wants to live, and there is no point in fair play when it comes to terrorists. That is not how terror is defeated. The State of Israel is a sovereign state that needs to formulate a proper strategy. Unfortunately, the strategy today is that if you are fired upon you fire back. We are, in effect, signaling to the enemies that they can continue using the same method in the future, too."  

Planned Israeli Pro-Zionist March in Yafo Causes Controversy

Nationalist activists led by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) are planning to show their pride in being Israeli Zionists in the midst of the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Yafo, just south of Tel Aviv. The activists plan to march through Yafo next week holding Israeli flags.

The march was planned in an attempt to counter recent Muslim extremism in the area, which has been bolstered by support from the extreme Israeli left, activists said. Last month, Muslims and leftists marched in Yafo, and many chanted slogans against Israel.

Activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel requested permission to march from police. Officers asked them to keep their plans under wraps, but they replied that they would not do so, and instead plan to publicize the event.

“The time has come to stand up to the Islamists who are calling for a revolution in central Israel like those in the Arab world,” the two said.

Ben-Gvir spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service and responded to detractors who accuse nationalists of provoking Israeli Arabs. “If marching down a street in Yafo with the Israeli flag is a provocation, then we are carrying out a provocation,” he said.

The march is geared to nip clashes between Jews and Arabs in the bud, not cause new ones, he added. “Elements in Yafo are trying to carry out a rebellion like the one in a-Tahrir Square in Egypt, and our job is not to stick our heads in the sand, and to take preventive measures,” he explained.

Ben-Gvir and Marzel previously held a march in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el-Fahm. Hundreds of Arab residents gathered to throw rockets at police officers protecting the march, leading to several injuries on both sides.

Among those who oppose the planned march are leaders of a group of religious-Zionist families who moved there to enhance Jewish life in the city as par of what is known as a  “Garin Torani'” [seed group for Torah, ed]. “We are firmly against any attempt, by anyone, Jew or Arab, to stir up tensions in Yafo in order to win political ratings at the expense of residents of the city,” said members Itai Garnek and Yuval Alpert.

“It would be fine to wave an Israeli flag and march in Yafo,” they continued. “But there is no room for a march the sole purpose of which is to fan the flames, and thus play into the hands of the extreme Left, which opposes the religious-Zionist presence in Yafo.”

Downturn in Jewish-Arab Relations in Israeli Cities

Nationalist protest (file)Reports from Israel's largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv Yafo (Jaffa), indicate that relations between Jews and Arabs in the mixed cities are at a boiling point. In Jerusalem, Jews have been arrested on suspicion of murdering an Arab man, while in Yafo, Jewish nationalists are planning a march next week.  
On Wednesday, a gag order was lifted on a report that four Jewish youths were arrested on suspicion of murdering an Arab in central Jerusalem two weeks ago. Following this news, Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language service interviewed Bentzi Gupstein, one of the leaders of anti-assimilation group Lehava.
"The situation in Jerusalem is on the verge of an explosion," Gupstein said. "Jewish girls are afraid to walk down the streets, they encounter harassment. We must put an end to this. There are Jews who decided to stop the phenomenon but it is the police's duty to do this. If the police do not act in this matter and if the phenomenon continues more Jews will get up and act. I do not want this to happen, stopping the harassment is the job of the authorities, and [if they do it] the Jews will not have to protect their sisters."
"We, at the Lehava hotline, continue to receive dozens of calls from all over the country. Girls call us and say that they cannot walk in the streets. These are girls from all sectors. The harassment must stop."
Meanwhile, nationalists headed by MK Michael Ben Ari have asked to hold a march down the streets of Yafo next Wednesday. Activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel met with officers from the Tel Aviv District and said that the march is a response to the march that radical leftists and Muslim Arabs held in Yafo last month, in which they chanted slogans against the state of Israel.   
The police asked the Jewish nationalists to keep their march a low-profile event, but the activists would have none of that. "It is time to put in their place the Islamic elements seeking to carry put a revolution in central Israel, against the background of the events in Arab countries," they said.
Ben Gvir told Arutz Sheva: "If marching down a street in Yafo with the Israeli flag is a provocation, then we are carrying out a provocation. Elements in Yafo are trying to carry out a rebellion like the one in a-Tahrir Square in Egypt, and our job is not to stick our heads in the sand, and to take preventive measures. I find it hard to believe that the police will not approve the march." 
The harassment of Jewish women by Arabs has become a hot topic in the past year. The subject of sexual harassment has been the exclusive domain of leftist gender-feminists for decades, and was used almost exclusively with regard to Jewish men. Only recently have nationalists realized that the term can also be used to apply to Arab abuse of Jewish women. The first known conference on the subject was initiated by the Zionist Women's Forum in 2009.

Chilean Miners: Just Like the Jews, We Kept Our Faith - Chilean miners give thanks for their survival in J'lem

It was right before noon when the visitors to the Western Wall heard a loud sound of joy,  which is quite unusual for the holy place of prayer, the only vestige of the Holy Temple complex,  destroyed in 70 C.E. by the Roman Legion and considered Judaism's most sacred site.

The jubilant cries came from the 24 Chilean miners who were rescued about three months ago from two months in  the depths of the earth. They arrived yesterday for a visit to Israel after being invited by the Israeli Tourist Ministry, and as part of their trip,  toured the Western Wall Plaza.

Israel National News TV spoke with two of the miners who described their feelings and the meaning of their visit to Israel. They said that their own rescue reminds them of the difficult periods in which the Jews were saved from harsh decrees throughout the ages.

“It’s something that’s very similar," said Samuel Avalos. "If there’s anything I can identify with it’s the idea of not losing faith, just like the Jewish people. I feel grateful that I can give back in return for everything that was done for me through all the prayers that were said for me and for the rest of the miners.”

“I would like to thank the Jewish people for extending this invitation to us and for the warm welcome,” said Luis Urzua. “I thank G-d and I hope that G-d stays with us.”

During their visit to the Western Wall, the miners said a prayer in which they thanked the Creator for the miracle that had befallen them in returning them from the depths of the earth to the open air. The miners approached the stones of the Western Wall with great excitement, placed notes, and prayed silently for a long period of time.
At their request, the miners did not tour the Western Wall tunnels because of the fear that still exists in them following the incident in Chile. Instead, they heard an explanation from the tour guides about the Western Wall and the Old City.


Twenty-three of the 33 miners, along with their families, are visiting Israel, country's holy sites as guests of the Tourism Ministry.

The Chilean miners who organized daily prayer sessions during their 68-day ordeal underground last year visited some of Jerusalem’s holiest Christian sites in an ecstatic celebration of faith and gratitude on Thursday.

“It is a great honor for us to be here, because the God who rescued us from the bowels of the earth is the God who brought us here, and we are so grateful,” said miner Jose Enriques. “It is amazing to be here, in this place, to be able to thank God for what he did for us.”

Chilean miners arrive for ‘pilgrimage of thanks’ 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which believers maintain holds the cave where Jesus was buried, as well as the hill where the cross stood, was the highlight of their eight-day spiritual pilgrimage in Israel, many of the miners said on Thursday.

Twenty-three of the 33 miners, as well as spouses and girlfriends, are visiting Israel this week as guests of the Tourism Ministry. On Thursday, they also visited the Western Wall and the Garden Tomb, which Protestants believe could have been an alternative site of the crucifixion and resurrection.

“It was a terrible accident, but I think what God wants is for us to be able to unite the world in prayer,” Enriques said while standing in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, referring to the August 5 mine cave-in. “He took this terrible accident and he has used it for something good to unite the entire world.”

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, told the miners that Jews around the world had prayed for their safety. Many of the miners placed notes in the wall after Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov gave them an official welcome.

Per the miners’ request, the group did not visit the Western Wall Tunnels.

“It’s very exciting what we’re seeing; we’ve been waiting for these things,” said Jorge Geilos, one of the miners. “Before, we never thought this could have happened.”

Father Fergus, head of the Franciscan Community at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, said the experience of visiting the church had been particularly deep for the minersbecause they were able to identify with the story of Jesus in the context of their own lives.

“There is a very potent emotional parallel experience with the miners. They seemed to be dead and came back to life,” he told The Jerusalem Post. He also praised the Tourism Ministry for putting the most spiritual part at the beginning of the trip, providing a framework for the eight-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The media frenzy around the miners’ pilgrimage had not abated since they arrived on Wednesday, and inside the Holy Sepulchre the miners and their wives were outnumbered some four-to-one by local and international media.

“We’re bringing the message that the Holy Land is for every faith to come and give thanks for something wonderful, and to pray during the harder days,” Raphael Ben Hur, the Tourism Ministry’s senior deputy-director-general told the Post as the miners wove their way through the alleys of the Jewish Quarter on the way to the Western Wall.

“We have great sympathy for what they went through, and [for] their difficult struggles and personal struggles, the same way Israel has throughout history, and that’s why we brought them to pray here,” he said.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hamas Iran-made missiles hit Beersheba as Iranian warships dock in Syria

Iranian warship heading for Mediterranean port

Israel's security leaders ought not to have been surprised when Hamas fired two long-range Iranian-made Grad missiles Wednesday night, Feb. 23 at the Negev cities of Beersheba and Netivot. The attack occurred exactly when Iranian Navy commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari was due in Syria's Latakia port to attend the welcoming party for the two Iranian warships which made it through the Suez Canal without US or Israeli interference. It also marked a fresh, redoubled Hamas offensive against Israel.

The occupants of the Beersheba home, hit by the first long-range Grad surface missile to reach the Negev city from the Gaza Strip (30 km away) since Israel's Cast Led campaign of 2009, saved themselves by using the seconds between the warning siren and the explosion to take shelter in a bomb-proof room. That was the only part of their home to survive the blast. Eleven shock victims were hospitalized along the battered street.

The town of Netivot  was spared by the Grad falling outside the built-up area.

Earlier that day, a shoot-out flared at the Karni crossing when a Palestinian gang laid explosives at the border fence and followed up with mortar fire. IDF border patrols and tanks crews returned the fire, injuring 11 Palestinians. A second round of Palestinian mortar fire followed against a Shaar Hanegev kibbutz.

No Israelis were hurt in this round of incidents.

Wednesday night, Israel put the communities within range of the Gaza Strip, including the cities of Beersheba, Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, on heightened alert status for further Palestinian attacks. That night, Israeli air strikes hit a Jihad Islami missile team and then spread out to bomb Hamas command centers, which had meanwhile been hurriedly evacuated in expectation of Israel's routine aerial reprisal.

DEBKAfile's military sources report that more aggression from the Gaza Strip is inevitable given the Netanyahu government's feeble or non-response despite the urgent need to shore up Israel's security situation continuously eroded by the turbulence in Arab capitals.

Even though it was obvious that Hamas had been strengthened by Hosni Mubarak's fall in Egypt, Israel stood by as Hamas rampaged out of Gaza and into Sinai and the Egyptian-Israeli border areas – even when a Hamas special team on Feb. 5 blew up the Egyptian pipeline which conveyed 43 percent of Israel's gas needs. Replacement sources have added close to $400 million a month to Israel's energy bill.

All Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did was to permit an additional Egyptian troop brigade and a half to enter Sinai, some of them to guard the pipeline, which Cairo shows no sign of repairing.

Western military sources report that the Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas is further exploiting the shaky situation in Cairo and Israeli inaction to double or even triple the quantities of weapons smuggled via the Suez Canal and Sinai into the Gaza Strip. One Israeli officer said he had never before seen surface-to-surface missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles secreted into Gaza in such bulk.

The free passage afforded the two Iranian warships for transiting the Suez Canal Tuesday, Feb. 22 – without Egypt or US and Israeli warships even inspecting their cargoes - has encouraged Tehran to press on with its expansionist ambitions.  Hamas understood that its redoubled offensive against Israel would be most welcome. The Palestinian extremists held their fire until Tehran announced the warships had put into Latakia Wednesday and the arrival of Iran's navy chief that night. And then they went into action – first against an IDF border patrol, then to fire Grads at Beersheba and Netivot.

Israel's policy-makers have chosen to ignore the role of those two vessels as the thin edge of a wedge: They are to set up a permanent base on the Mediterranean with more Iranian naval vessels continuing to pass through the Suez Canal and joining them at Latakia.

Hamas is counting on Iran building up its military presence and on Israel to stand by helplessly – just as it did when its request to the new military rulers of Egypt to stop the Iranian flotilla's passage through Suez went unanswered.

The Palestinians ruling Gaza are sending Grad missiles as messengers to Israel that they now enjoy Iranian support close by in the Mediterranean.  DEBKAfile's military sources wonder if this message will not finally act as a wakeup call for Jerusalem.

PA, Hamas fear Gaddafi will attack Palestinians in Libya

Dear readers,

Please forgive The Jerusalem Post for still using the name "Palestinians" in reference to regional Arabs, and for using the name "West Bank" in reference to Judea and Samaria.

Thank you,
Michelle Cohen

Concerns come in response to charges made by Libyan leader to the effect that Arabs living in Libya were involved in fighting against gov't.
Palestinians on Thursday expressed fear that Muammar Gaddafi would turn against thousands of Palestinians living in Libya under the pretext they are helping his opponents.

The concern came in response to charges made by Gaddafi and his son Seif al-Islam to the effect that Arabs living in Libya were involved in the fighting against the government.

Gaddafi blames Osama bin Laden for unrest in Libya
Int'l community pressures Gaddafi to step down
Both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government have called on neighboring Arab countries to intervene to prevent Gaddafi from carrying out “massacres” against Palestinians in Libya.

The number of Palestinians living in Libya is not known. But various Palestinian sources have estimated their number at several thousand.

The PA on Thursday welcomed Israel’s decision to allow 300 Palestinians who fled Libya recently to return to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“President Mahmoud Abbas appreciates this step and considers it a move in the right direction,” a senior PA official in Ramallah said.

The PA was “deeply concerned” about the fate of thousands of Palestinians who are still in Libya, the official said.

“We’ve received reports that Gaddafi is planning to take revenge against the Palestinians in his country because he believes they are supporting the revolution against him,” he added.

Anti-Gaddafi protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could also be used by Gaddafi as an excuse to strike at Palestinians in Libya, the official warned.

The Hamas government has appealed to the Egyptian authorities to facilitate the evacuation of Palestinians from Libya.

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said that Egypt has agreed to allow thousands of Palestinians to enter its territory through a border crossing with Libya. “We thank the Egyptian army for facilitating the evacuation of Palestinians from Libya and allowing them to arrive in Egypt unharmed,” Taha said.

Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA’s Al-Hayat al-Jadida daily, said that Gaddafi had always supported opponents of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas and had concocted conspiracies against them.