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Friday, September 30, 2011

IAF Strikes Gaza Strip in Response to Rocket Attack

IDF says it hit a terror activity center in the central Strip, won't allow any attempts to harm Israeli citizens or soldiers.

The IAF struck the central Gaza Strip early Friday morning in response to a Kassam rocket attack on Thursday. The IDF Spokesman's Office said that the location of the strike was a terror activity site.

"The IDF won't allow any attempts to harm Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers and continues to act against all sources of terror activity against the State of Israel," the IDF statement continued, saying that it holds Hamas responsible.

No injuries were reported following the strike.

Earlier Thursday evening, a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area inside Israel. No injuries or damages were reported.

On Tuesday, two rockets fired from Gaza exploded in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported in that attack.

One of the rockets exploded near an electricity line causing damage. The second rocket landed in an open field.

Barack Hussein Obama’s Jew-free Policy

By seeking to force Israel to cease building houses in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Barack Obama is legitimizing the Islamist zeal for the eviction of 300,000 Jews who live in parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967.

Obama’s administration just blasted Israel for the new homes to be built in Gilo, a Jerusalem neighborhood where 40,000 Israelis live. For 19 horrible years, Jordanians and Palestinians controlled the neighborhoods now under Obama’s attack. Jews were summarily expelled. Property was seized. The historic synagogues of the walled enclave were gutted, trashed, some turned into makeshift barns.

Obama’s de-legitimization of Jerusalem’s post-1967 neighborhoods is nothing less than a renewed “Judenrein” (empty of Jews) policy. To decide, as a matter of policy, not to endorse the building of Jewish homes within existing Israeli areas is the abrogation of the right of Jews to live wherever they wish in Israel.

If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, then it cannot build in Neveh Yaakov, Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev and East Talpiot. Gilo is also a special symbol of the Israeli resistance during the Second Intifada, when Arab snipers fired at Jews from the village of Beit Jala. Gilo was turned into another Ireland. The Jewish residents began to evacuate. Fear, rage and worry dominated their minds. Belatedly, the Israeli government provided cement barriers and bullet-proof glass to protect the neighborhood’s residents.

Today, Gilo is a strategic neighborhood for the security of the entire State of Israel: Not building there means accepting a Palestinian belt around the capital of Israel, which could be in a state of siege. Gilo was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed. Now the US president is reviving this goal by “peaceful” means.

Return to Jewish ghettos?
Obama has also blasted Israel for new homes in Har Homa, another Jewish neighborhood on Jerusalem’s southern flanks, where in 1940 a group of Jews purchased 130 dunams of land. In 1948, the hill was rendered “Judenrein” by the Jordanians (Jews are still not permitted to live in Jordan).

Har Homa is a strategic impediment to Arab attempts to link up northern Bethlehem with Jerusalem. Har Homa is about a kilometer from the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Bethlehem and the Old City of Jerusalem lies just 5.5 kilometers beyond. No wonder Palestinians are launching an attack on the new apartments.

Yet more surprising is Obama’s attack on any inch of land in Jewish neighborhoods built after 1967. In stark contrast to cities like Belfast, Beirut and Sarajevo, Jerusalem under Israeli control is a model of freedom and guaranteed rights for all.

Moreover, these neighborhoods, which house about one-third of Jerusalem’s population, also serve to protect the city. The neighborhood of Ramot serves as a buffer to the north; Mount Scopus, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, and Sanhedria protect Jerusalem’s east.

In the 16th century, many Polish towns obtained the so called “privilegia de non tolerandis Judaeis”, cities in which the Jews were forbidden to live. Europe had the Jewish ghettos during the Middle Ages and the “zoning restrictions” for Jews in the Czarist Russia. Now, it’s Obama’s turn.

Et tu, Bill? - Bill Clinton’s New Game

Following in Jimmy Carter's footsteps?


By Martin Sherman

Bill Clinton joins bon-ton trend of Bibi-baiting throwing some outrageous ethno-religious slurs of his own into the anti-Israel mix.

Do whatever you want, you and your family in your home, worship whatever you want, but there has not been, nor will be a church [in the kingdom]...

... I do not forget we have 100 percent enmity with Israel. Israel is trying its best to harm the Kingdom in these crucial circumstances.

Prince Sultan bin Abd al Aziz of Saudi Arabia at a press conference in Riyadh, March 8, 2003 

These excerpts from an address to the media by the Saudi minister of defense and aviation, on the eve of the war in Iraq, epitomize important aspects of the domestic and foreign policies of the desert kingdom – total religious intolerance and obdurate enmity towards Israel.

They also help to highlight the utter absurdity of Bill Clinton’s recent rant against Binyamin Netanyahu.

But I am getting ahead of myself...

During a roundtable with bloggers on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York just before the UN debate on the Palestinians unilateral bid for statehood, the former US president unequivocally laid the blame for the failure of the Mideast peace process on Netanyahu.

Clinton’s allegations are as lamentable as they are ludicrous. However, it seems that Bibi-baiting has become such a socially bon-ton imperative that even someone of his international standing feels he cannot abstain from it.

Willfully misleading or woefully misinformed 

A brief look at Clinton’s jaw-dropping accusations will leave any moderately well-informed reader aghast. They are so wildly inaccurate that one is forced to conclude that he is either woefully misinformed as to Mideast realities or willfully misleading the public as to those realities.

Clinton bemoans the departure of Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon from the political scene, suggesting that had they remained, peace would have been attained long ago. None of this has any basis in fact. 

Netanyahu’s proposals to the Palestinians go far beyond anything contemplated by Rabin. Indeed, today if Netanyahu were to embrace, verbatim, Rabin’s vision for the permanent solution as expressed in his last address to the Knesset, he would be dismissed as an unreasonable extremist.

Rabin, in this address, delivered after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and showered with international acclaim as a “valiant warrior for peace,” 

• rejected the notion of a Palestinian state (declaring the final Palestinian entity would be “less than a state”), 

• robustly rebuffed any possibility of returning to the pre-1967 lines, 

• endorsed a united Jerusalem (including its post-67/trans-Green Line suburbia) as Israel’s capital, 

• called not only for the inclusion of existing “settlements” within the final frontiers of Israel, but for the constructions of additional ones “like Gush Katif,” and 

• insisted that Israel retain the Jordan Valley border – “in the broadest meaning of that term” – as its permanent security border.

As Rabin was assassinated shortly after this speech, this was his final articulation of his position on the peace process. Clearly it would never have been accepted by the Palestinians.

Of course it is a matter of speculation whether and how Rabin might have changed his views had he been alive today. However, those believing that he would have abandoned them for a less conciliatory course might feel that their case was considerably strengthened by the recent declaration by his daughter, former deputy defense minister Dalia Rabin, that “on the eve of his death... he was considering a U-turn” and “stopping the Oslo Accords because terrorism was rampant, and... Arafat was not delivering on his promise.”

Recalling recalcitrant realities 

Moreover, misplaced nostalgia seems to have dulled or distorted Clinton’s memory on other matters.

Rabin and Sharon were responsible, for two of the most ill-considered and disastrous policy measures (Oslo and disengagement, respectively) that brought devastation not only on their own country but also to the Palestinians.

Under both of their governments, violence soared to unprecedented levels.

A study conducted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, underscores just how out of touch Clinton’s assessment is.

The study, which spans the period from September 1993 to November 2001, shows that in the 30 months after the Accords were signed by Rabin, more Israelis were killed by terrorists (213) than in the preceding decade (209).

Following Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, Shimon Peres became prime minister. In his seven-and-a-half months in office, terror fatalities rose even more rapidly. When he was succeeded by Netanyahu, terrorism was reduced dramatically, to almost negligible levels.

Ehud Barak inherited the stability induced by Netanyahu’s policies. This was maintained until the latter portion of Barak’s term, which coincided with Clinton’s 2000 peace initiatives. It was then that things began to go badly wrong.

Almost immediately following Barak’s May 2000 pullout from Lebanon, terror began to rise steeply, and in the last six month of his term, the rate of casualties outstripped even that under Peres. The security debacle under Barak led to his defeat in February 2001 by Ariel Sharon, who inherited the bloody instability of his predecessor.

The carnage in Israeli cities, at Israeli restaurants, and on Israeli buses rocketed off the charts, compelling Sharon to abandon his risible “restraint is strength” posture and launch Operation Defensive Shield.

This again brought “West Bank” terror to almost negligible levels which, to date, Netanyahu has managed to maintain in his second term.

Clinton’s longing for Sharon curiously ignores that it was Sharon who authored 2005’s disastrous disengagement from Gaza, which led to a deluge of rocket and mortar fire on Israeli population centers in the South. The result of this Sharonesque “stroke of genius” was not the advancement of peace, but Operation Cast Lead and more than 1,000 Palestinian fatalities.

So who should Israelis – indeed Clinton, in his pursuit of peace – prefer as prime minister, those whose policies exacerbated violence and bloodshed or those whose policies have managed to maintain calm and stability? 

Demography and demagoguery 

This brings us to the next outrageous aspect of Clinton’s blame-game: The claim that an unfavorable demographic shift in Israel is making the public less amenable to peace.

Incredibly, he ascribes proclivity for peace to ethno-religious origins, making the bald assertion that Israeli society can be divided into demographic groups that have various levels of enthusiasm for making peace.

No kidding. Not much daylight between that and naked racism.

In what might turn out to be a dramatic windfall for the Republicans in their pursuit of the Jewish vote, Clinton announced that “the most pro-peace Israelis are the Arabs.”

Ah, if only it wasn’t for those pesky peace-obstructing Israeli Jews... Doesn’t get much more Judeophobic than that.

One can only puzzle over how Clinton came to this conclusion. Perhaps he missed a 2010 University of Haifa poll of Israeli Arabs which produced the following findings: 66.4% rejected Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state, while 29.5% opposed its existence under any terms; 62.5% saw the Jews as “foreign settlers who do not fit into the region and will eventually leave, when the land will return to the Palestinians” – and 37.8% denied the Holocaust.

So I guess much depends on your definition of “peace.”

Clinton goes on to rank the peace-affinities of the various segments of Israeli society: “... second the Sabras, the Jewish Israelis that were born there.”

Hmmm. The problem is that about 70% of the Jewish population are native Sabras, Clearly if there was any truth in Clinton’s classification, this should make the pro-peace segment overwhelmingly dominant. It certainly should make his rancor over an alleged “unfavorable demographic shift” look ridiculously unfounded.

He continues his assessment of ethno-based peace-compliancy in Israel: “... third, the Ashkenazi of long-standing, the European Jews who came there around the time of Israel’s founding.”

Ah yes, the “white Jews.” So much more enlightened and refined than their primitive bellicose “darky” kinfolk, the Sephardi Jews who emigrated from Asia and North Africa.

It seems inconceivable that a former US president would descend into such racially charged innuendo, but when it comes to Israel, no holds are barred.

Clinton goes on to indict the culprits: “The most anti-peace are the ultra-religious, who believe they’re supposed to keep Judea and Samaria, and the settler groups, and what you might call the territorialists, the people who just showed up lately and they’re not encumbered by the historical record.”

Well, the ultra-religious (or haredim) make up less than 10% of the Israeli population, including a large proportion of young children, who have no voting rights, hardly a dire demographic threat. Indeed they are about half the number of the allegedly “peaceenthused” Israeli Arabs and dwarfed by the peace-conducive Sabras.

So what is Bill’s beef demographically? 

Moreover, if one bothers to examine the facts one will find that apart from Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox are not hard-line territorialists, and Judea and Samaria play almost no part in their political credo as articulated in their party platforms – certainly far less than the line taken by Rabin.

As for “settlers,” strangely they have a higher proportion (over 80%) of Sabras than the national average, and are overwhelmingly of Ashkenazi origin. So according to Clintonian classification, the most peace-resistant segment of the population incorporates the most peace-inducive segments?? Go figure.

Racist Russo-phobic recriminations? 

As for the “territorialists, the people who “just showed up lately and they’re not encumbered by the historical record” – translation immigrants from the former USSR – they have a special place in Clinton’s demographic purgatory.

Indeed at last year’s Clinton Global Initiative they – rather than Netanyahu – were deemed the villain du jour.

According to Clinton in 2010, the Russian immigrants to Israel emerged as a central obstacle to achieving a Mideast peace. He berated the increasing numbers of Russophone Israelis in the IDF, claiming: “This presents a staggering problem.”

Lamenting that realities in Israel cannot be frozen in time, he grumbles that “It’s a different Israel” and states with manifest disapproval that “16% of Israelis speak Russian.”

Horrors! Imagine that! One might just think that being a Russophone is akin to having some dreaded infection. It certainly seems to have exposed a Russo-phobic tendency in the ex-prez.

The Saudi blueprint for suicide 

Clinton not only condemns Israel for what it has allegedly become, but also for what is has allegedly done – or rather not done.

This brings me back to the Saudi issue I broached at the start of the column. Clinton denounces Israel for “moving the goalposts” because it did not embrace the 2002 Saudi Initiative to achieve normalization with the Arab world.

After all, all this required was that Israel agree to the geographically suicidal measure of withdrawing to the indefensible 1967 lines and to the demographically suicidal measure of accepting a Palestinian “right of return.” So what’s the problem? 

In an apparent bid to outdo Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Clinton declares, “The king of Saudi Arabia started lining up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘If you work it out with the Palestinians... we will give you immediately not only recognition but a political, economic, and security partnership... This is huge.... a heck of a deal.’” 

Really? Lining up all the Arab countries? Which would those be? Those whose regimes have already been deposed; or those who are engaged in the slaughter of their own citizens to prevent them being deposed? Feel like betting the farm on that? 

And what sort on normal relations is he envisaging? Israeli tourists in the Saudi streets sporting yarmulkes and Magen Davids in a country where displaying a cross in a criminal offense? Give us a break.

But just like Alice in Wonderland, it gets curiouser and curiouser. What security cooperation could there with arguably the most Judeophobic country on the planet, the cradle of Wahabism that begot 9/11 and most of the folks who perpetrated it? A country where it is considered more moral to let schoolgirls burn to death than to let them escape a burning dormitory in their nighties? A country which declares itself to “have 100% enmity with Israel” will suddenly embrace the Jewish state because it agreed to set up a micro-mini state for the Palestinians whom the Saudis despise? 

Career considerations rather than carnal desires 

Just as this article was being submitted for publication, it was reported that the State Department, headed by Clinton’s spouse, was distancing itself from his remarks. Looks like another marital spat between the Clintons might be brewing – but now the focus is likely to be Hillary’s career considerations rather than Bill’s carnal desires.


By Richard Baehr

U.S. President Barack Obama appears to have problems with Jewish voters. Thirteen months before the 2012 presidential election, his support among Jewish voters is declining. An Orthodox Jewish Democratic candidate was decisively defeated in a contest for an open seat in Brooklyn and Queens long held by Democrats. Fundraising among Jewish donors is way down.

The president is unhappy that he may have to cast a veto in the U.N. Security Council that will serve to deny the Palestinians their statehood bid. His much-heralded effort to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by first getting Israel to halt settlement activity, has been a disastrous failure. Suddenly, out of left field, Bill Clinton enters the scene to try to save the day for Obama by shifting the onus for the president’s problems onto Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Clinton claims, “has destroyed the peace process.”

Clinton’s comments came at a session of the Clinton Global Initiative, his New York City-based NGO. There are many differences between Clinton and Obama, but they both share a remarkable self-regard. Years back, just out of business school, I was offered a job with the Boston Consulting Group. That firm's founder, Bruce Henderson, shared the narcissism gene with Obama and Clinton. He authored the book, “Henderson on Corporate Strategy” by Bruce Henderson.

It is a neat trick when an author gets his name into the title of his book. There was no chance that Clinton would not play off his name in his philanthropic ventures, or that he would retreat to the sidelines when his term in office was over.

Bill Clinton likes to be in the news. And there is little love between the Clintons and Obama, not after Obama destroyed the Clintons’ long-term plan for political resurrection in 2008 by denying Hillary the nomination. As a face-saver, Hillary was offered the Secretary of State job, which she accepted, and which at least gave her more stature and media coverage than going back to being one out of 100 U.S. senators. But there is usually something in it for the Clintons when they appear to be doing the bidding of another.

Bill Clinton was very popular with Israelis. He, unlike Obama, never hesitated to show up in Israel. In both of his presidential runs, Clinton won more than 80 percent of the Jewish vote each time, winning the biggest percentage margin among Jewish voters since Roosevelt. Today, Barack Obama’s re-election looks to be in a lot more jeopardy than it did in 2009 when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. At that time, Hillary would likely have envisioned Obama serving two terms, and her chances at the White House not coming again until 2016, when she would be 68. There is, I think, no chance that Hillary Clinton will challenge Obama for the nomination in 2012. That would almost certainly result in a decisive defeat and the end of her political career. But now, Obama may be a one-termer. If that happens, Hillary Clinton will be out of a job in 2013, and can begin to prepare the framework for the Democrats’ restoration in 2016, with her as the standard-bearer, the candidate who really should have been the nominee in 2008 had Democrats used their heads instead of their emotions.

If this is the thinking of Team Clinton, then how does bashing Netanyahu fit in to the grand plan? The Clinton-Netanyahu problems go way back to Netanyahu’s first years as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999.

Netanyahu was narrowly elected over Shimon Peres, by a mere 1 percent margin, in large part due to voters’ unhappiness with the security situation after a series of deadly bombings in Israel’s largest cities. Netanyahu chose to slow down the Oslo process and demanded reciprocity -- Palestinian performance on stopping the terror attacks -- as a prerequisite for any further withdrawals from the West Bank. Those in the Clinton camp blamed Bibi for stalling and slowing down the peace process.

Clinton’s current attack on Netanyahu comes in a similar vein. The peace process is in bad shape, he claims, because Netanyahu is playing to his right-wing base and refusing to show a willingness to compromise. With all the subtlety of a Chicago police chief, Clinton summarized Israel’s electorate as follows, identifying the Arabs and the good Jews (the pro-peace crowd), and the ultra-religious and Johnny-come-lately’s (the stubborn pro-settlement crowd):

“The most pro-peace Israelis are the Arabs; second the Sabras, the Jewish Israelis who were born there; third, the Ashkenazis of long-standing, the European Jews who came there around the time of Israel's founding.

“The most anti-peace are the ultra-religious, who believe they're supposed to keep Judea and Samaria, and the settler groups, and what you might call the territorialists, the people who just showed up lately and they're not encumbered by the historical record.” Russians who have come to Israel are lumped into the “territorialist” camp.

In essence, Bill Clinton is attempting, I think, to clear a path for separating his wife from Obama, should she run in 2016, despite their being on the same team. Hillary Clinton is now the loyal servant of her president, who has been stymied by Netanyahu, much as Bill Clinton was in the late 1990s. If Hillary competes to become the nominee in 2016, there will be plenty of time with Obama out of office to admit that he may also have made some mistakes, but she, in her job at the State Department, did not shape policy.

For now, Bill Clinton can win the hearts of Obama acolytes by helping Obama with the Jewish voters. In the runup to 2016, the check for all this loyalty will come due. 

Judea and Samaria: We're living here for you!

Do you know that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed 193 members of the U.N. and dedicated half his speech to me? International concern over the settlements, which altogether constitute an area slightly larger than Central Park, is mind-boggling. Every newborn settlement here gets an automatic 15-minute spotlight, which is actually alarming, not flattering.

It's not easy to be a settler. Especially if you read Israeli newspapers. Last week, Asher Palmer and his son Yonatan were murdered near Kiryat Arba. It took the media here three days to treat their deaths as a terrorist attack, despite clear-cut evidence at the scene of the crime. Last month, a special police unit entered homes through windows, at 3 a.m., to remove the residents and destroy their homes. This didn't happen in the Bedouin village of el-Arakib, but in the Jewish village of Migron. That's why the media didn't point out that these were actual homes, in which children were thrown out of their beds into the cold, dark night, without prior warning. 

In addition to Arab terror, we are subjected to persecution from within as well. We endure a corrupt justice system, selective enforcement, housing and construction discrimination that doesn't occur in other sectors, life under military rule, faulty infrastructure, blocked roads, lack of public services, censorship, harassment at locations designated as secure areas, and character assassinations in the media, theater, literature, satire, social protests, and everywhere else.

When an enemy leader speaks at the U.N. about “Palestinians who cannot reach hospitals and settlers who set their dogs upon them,” the commentators chime in immediately and point out that Palestinians are treated well in our hospitals, which is true, of course. But one doesn't need Abbas to be shocked by false descriptions -- it's enough to listen to the news in Hebrew. Which leads us to the question: Why do we do this to ourselves?

Today is the day of judgment. Today the world was born, and every human being will be judged. It's between you and the Judge. There is to be no passing of notes to your attorney, and no witnesses. The evidence was gathered during 24-hour surveillance, which is hard to escape from.

Some say that one should not ask for personal favors on this day. A direct spotlight focused on yourself is not a good idea when your soul is trembling on the witness stand, and the trick to obtain exoneration is to ask forgiveness for others. Jewish New Year prayers are not about the private, but the public. Instead of private confessions, we say, “Rule over the entire world, with your honor.” We beseech God to “keep us alive,” and Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi explains: Let me live for all those around me, keep me here so that I can help someone in need. We will merit another year only if we ask to be allowed to help others.

So why do we still camp out in the mountains? Good question. There are advantages to settlements, but I still haven't found a single personal benefit that can compete with the fear, distance, isolation and cost.

I have the audacity to say out loud that people living in the West Bank are not living there for themselves, but for the good of all. And when we all have no more strength to continue, they still carry on.

Perhaps that is what will save us in the end from destruction. “Keep us alive,” for another year, for many years to come, not for ourselves.

Israel's Bitter Lessons

It has become almost axiomatic for Western leaders who are aware of Israel's acute military vulnerability to suggest that international forces be deployed to address the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has even been suggested that the IDF withdraw from strategically vital parts of the West Bank, like the Jordan Valley, and instead let international forces take their place. This was in fact proposed in the past by General Jim Jones, President Barack Obama's first national security adviser.  

Some Israelis have also proposed this idea; former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told The New York Times earlier this year that he wanted to deploy international forces in the West Bank, though he suggested they be led by the U.S. The last major experiment with international forces was actually attempted under the Olmert government at the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. It is worthwhile to look back five years to see how that international force actually functioned before more proposals of this kind are put on the table in the future by the international community.

At the time, Israeli diplomacy was focused on instituting security arrangements that were intended to prevent the return of the military conditions along Israel's northern border that had contributed to the outbreak of hostilities to begin with. Thus Resolution 1701 called for the creation of a larger UNIFIL force with a much more more robust mandate than before. It was not supposed to be just another U.N. force with underpaid third world soldiers, but rather European forces from France Spain, and Italy, like those who make up NATO, were deployed instead. 

The resolution also reiterated the importance of UNIFIL actually disarming Lebanese militias, like Hezbollah, in accordance with past U.N. resolutions. Resolution 1701 sought to prohibit the transfer of arms into Lebanon that were not authorized by the Lebanese Government, thereby making any further Iranian arms transfers to Hezbollah a violation of a U.N. Security Council Resolution. In order to implement this arms embargo, German naval ships were deployed to monitor the Lebanese coastline in September 2006.    

But clearly the most important innovation that Resolution 1701 proposed was the establishment of a special area between the "blue line," which demarcated the Israeli-Lebanese border, and the Litani River, in which the only weapons and military personnel permitted would be those of the Lebanese Army or UNIFIL. It was a kind of internationally sanctioned security zone, without Israeli troops. This last provision was supposed to keep Hezbollah units away from the Israeli border and make it more difficult for them to open fire on Israeli patrols or to kidnap Israeli soldiers right across the border. 

Before the Second Lebanon War, there were approximately 5,000 Hezbollah terrorists in this area who were equipped with 10,000 rockets. Hezbollah had another 5,000 rockets north of the Litani River. These weapons would have to be completely eliminated from the security zone south of the Litani. At the time, Resolution 1701 was hailed in Israel as a great diplomatic achievement.   

But what happened five years later to Resolution 1701 and the new, more robust international forces that it created? First, Hezbollah has returned to South Lebanon with a force similar to what it had prior to the Second Lebanon War. There are now close to 40,000 rockets in Hezbollah's total arsenal in Lebanon, of which 30,000 are located south of the Litani, in the zone that was not supposed to have any weapons other than those of UNIFIL or the Lebanese Army.

Second, in late March 2011, the Washington Post published IDF maps showing that Hezbollah had established not just a few military positions in southern Lebanon, but rather hundreds of military sites throughout its villages, sites that contained weapons, storage facilities, underground bunkers and observations posts. In some villages, like al-Khiam, a Shiite village that is only four kilometers from the Israeli border, these facilities have intentionally been placed next to schools and mosques as well as within civilian homes.  

According to Resolution 1701, UNIFIL should be going into the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon to remove the Hezbollah weaponry that is being stored there in violation of the provisions in Resolution 1701. The chances that even European troops would be willing to risk their lives and move into Shiite villages to take out weaponry is almost nil. Already in July 2011, France's UNIFIL force came under attack, leading President Nicolas Sarkozy to threaten that he was going to pull out his troops from southern Lebanon.

What does this experience mean for international forces in the Jordan Valley safeguarding the demilitarization of a Palestinian state? If UNIFIL cannot guarantee the de-militarization of Southern Lebanon, how will international forces help guarantee the de-militarization of a Palestinian state in the West Bank? 

Certainly, one of the main lessons of the Gaza Disengagement was that it was a cardinal error for Israel to withdraw from the Philadelphi Route. The Route became a corridor for Hamas to import huge quantities of rockets, explosives and even SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip. Hamas used small, locally-made Qassam rockets before disengagement, but it only attacked Israel with longer-range Grad rockets for the first time in 2006, after the IDF was no longer operating against the smuggling in the Philadelphi Route. 

In the case of the West Bank, the failure of UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon is only the latest reminder of why Israel must retain the IDF in the Jordan Valley as the front-line of its defense to the east. Anyone who proposes that Israel make its security dependent on international forces only has to look at what has happened in southern Lebanon over the last five years.

Canada Gets Tough on Anti-Semitism

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper

The government of Canada took an historic step yesterday (September 20, 2011) by signing the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism. By doing so, it recognized anti-Semitism as a pernicious evil and a global threat against the Jewish people, the State of Israel and free, democratic countries everywhere. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has noted, "Those who would hate and destroy the Jewish people would ultimately hate and destroy the rest of us as well."

The protocol is a declaration that hatred of this nature will not be tolerated in this country. It sets out an action plan for supporting initiatives that combat anti-Semitism and provides a framework for other nations to follow.

It also sets out a vibrant definition of anti-Semitism which, for the first time in history, links anti-Semitism to the denial of the right Jewish people have to their ancestral home land -- the State of Israel. This, in fact, is what sets post-World War Two anti-Semitism apart from its historic roots. Today's anti-Semitism is all about denial: denial of the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish movement to reclaim the land of Israel; denial of a Jewish history in connection to the holy land and, in particular, the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people; denial of the Holocaust (while at the same time accusing Jews of Nazism); and denial of Jews to live free of anti-Semitism, hate and intolerance.

In announcing the Protocols, Foreign Minister John Baird has expressed his government's unequivocal support for the State of Israel. In referring to this week's turmoil at the United Nations and the Palestinian threat to unilaterally declare a state, Baird said, "Canada will not stand behind Israel at the United Nations, we will stand right beside it. It is never a bad thing to do the right thing."

According to Baird, more and more countries are refusing to participate in the UN conference dubbed "Durban III" -- otherwise known as an anti-Semitic hate fest which began as a human rights forum in South Africa in 2001; the forum ultimately degenerated into an anti-Semitic slinging match in which repressive Arab and African countries blamed all the problems facing their own countries and the world on Israel. The governments of France, New Zealand and Poland (today) joined Canada and 10 other western nations this week by declaring they will not take part.

Unquestionably, the Government of Canada's stance on Israel is based on the principle of standing by your friends -- especially when they are democracies and advocates for human rights. Most Jewish leaders would agree that Israel is indeed Canada's greatest ally in the fight against hate and intolerance.

But the fight against hatred and anti-Semitism must be won here in Canada as well. The Ottawa Protocol is mostly the result of a report published this summer by a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism which was comprised of leading Canadian politicians who volunteered their time to probe the increasing and alarming tide of anti-Semitism in Canada.

In a letter accompanying the report, Chairs of the Inquiry Panel and the Steering Committee Mario Silva and Scott Reid wrote, "The Inquiry Panel's conclusion, unfortunately, is that the scourge of anti-Semitism is a growing threat in Canada, especially on the campuses of our universities." The report cites numerous examples of anti-Semitism on various campuses including the infamous incident in 2009 when Jewish students at York University were chased and barricaded themselves in the Hillel lounge while a mob outside taunted them with anti-Semitic slurs. The list of examples is quite long and disturbing.

Universities should take note of the report and the signing of the Ottawa Protocols. They should put an immediate end to hateful and fallacious events like Israeli Apartheid Week; they should state unequivocally that freedom of speech should not be abused to provide a cover for anti-Semitism; they should ensure that Jewish students feel welcome on campus and that their learning environment should be freed from anti-Israel occurrences and finally, universities must become accountable for allowing their private property to be venues for hateful conduct among students.

The Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism is a template for every Canadian to consider. But it is especially a document of significance for universities that have allowed themselves to become vehicles of hatred and complicit in its promotion. As my friend, Professor Irwin Cotler said last night at the Ottawa signing ceremony, anti-Semitism is not only the longest known form of hatred in the history of humanity -- it is the only form of hatred that is truly global.

Every person of conscience should take note of the Ottawa Protocols and never forget the lessons of the Holocaust when the world was silent.

Forging India-Israel Bonds - Over Stories and Theatre

Nothing is clearer than black and white.  Greys get in the way and cause one to go astray.

- Michelle


When noted Israeli playwright-filmmaker Motti Lerner and popular short story writer Savyon Liebrecht presented their literature to a packed house here, it was a way of bringing Israel and India closer.

Israel was the draw of a truncated edition of the Kovalam Literary Festival at the India International Centre (IIC) here Thursday.

Award winning writer Liebrecht, who has penned six volumes of short stories, read an English excerpt of one of her stories about the journey of a young woman in search of identity. Her metaphors were wood apples in the desert.

Savyon hinted at a gamut of issues like religion, freedom and struggle for rights which qualify the current-day socio-politics of West Asia.

'I think there is something very common in the way the process of creativity talks... all over the world. I usually write about what I am familiar with but I do not write about personal experiences,' Savyon said.

Commenting on literature and politics, Savyon said the 'majority of the writers and artists belong to the Left and a handful belong to the right wing in Israel. The right wingers tend to see life in black and white'.

India and Israel, the cradles of two world religions, Hinduism and Judaism, have nurtured rich legacies of culture and history over the centuries.

Lerner said: 'Indian plays like those in Israel have strong political echoes - but their style is traditional and are often grounded in mythology. But I use contemporary stories and style to comment on the present.'

The playwright, one of whose plays - 'In The Dark' - is being staged in India, said 'memories of the holocaust and politics were the two defining forces in Israeli theatre unlike mythology which lends Indian theatre its dramatic colour'.

India and Israel, strikingly dissimilar in size and population, however, share a common reality: they both belong to societies that are struggling to create themselves as new modern societies, Lerner said.

Toting numbers, Lerner said '3.5 million of the total population of a little more than 6 million in Israel are theatre-goers'. The medium, like in India, reaches out to half the country's population.

The playwright who has made eight tele-episodes and two feature films, mostly about the trauma of the holocaust, said the 'the audience in India has been very responsive to his plays and movies'. He taught play-writing at Jawaharlal Nehru University last year.

'I had screened one of my feature films, 'Spring 1941', which I had made in 2008 starring Joseph Fiennes at the Whistling Woods acting school in Mumbai. It was about a Jewish family escaping from the Nazi occupation. It was a fascinating school,' the playwright said.

Lerner is looking for a collaboration in Bollywood. 'With the world becoming universal, we can work with each other very easily,' Lerner said. Lerner is currently shooting for 'Madeleine', a feature film about a girl who survives the Nazi massacre of Poland in 1942 and working on a book on the 'influence of political theatre on moral judgments of spectators'.

'An anthology of three of my plays in English will also be published in India,' he said.

India has inspired Lerner to revive one of his controversial plays. The freedom of expression here is infectious, Lerner said. 'I will work my controversial play, 'Murder of Isaac' 12 years after I wrote it.'

The play is based on the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a rightwing Jew.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

L'Shannah Tovah u'Metouka

Have a TERRIFIC New Year filled with BLESSINGS.  Thank you for being such a WONDERFUL audience.

Song Lyrics:
Synagogue, Rabbi's talk, going on for a while, can you check the clock, huh
Cantor's opera, lost my spot, do you know the place, choir in the slot
Wine we drink, with family now, good deeds you do, good for your soul
Fish head, ram's horn, shofar blow, give some money, appeal for dough

Yo, I'm returnin' to the fold can you explain mo'
Got this desire to know Torah scroll, say hello
Our prayers rock, yeah, we're the Jews and we question
Got the pride, just cant stop, our lives are changin'
Rosh Hashanah's in the house tonight

All the world is passing through the light
Let's all get written in the book of Life
Shana Tova -- It's High Holiday time

Taking stock is what we do tonight
Shana Tova -- it's High Holiday time
Let's all get written in the book of Life
Blow the shofar and -- Shuckle!

Three times a day I'm shucklin'
shucklin', shucklin'

Shofar blast, all across the world we will do this task
Apples and honey, feelin' glad -- now stop, never get mad

Fill the Kiddush cup, my friends around
Books are opened up, the challah's round
All our history, we see it now
Now please hear our plea, we're prayin' now

Stand up, sit down, pass the prayer books around
Stand up, sit down, pass the prayer books around
Stand up, sit down, pass the prayer books around
Pass the prayer books around, pass the prayer books around

Rosh Hashanah's in the house tonight
All the world is passing through the light
Let's all get written in the book of Life
Shana Tova -- it's High Holiday time

Taking stock is what we do tonight
Shana Tova -- it's High Holiday time
Let's all get written in the book of Life
Blow the shofar and -- Shuckle!

Everyday I'm shucklin'

A Prayer for 5772

By Caroline B. Glick

It's my prayer for coming year that US Jewish community will act with the majority of their fellow Americans to defend Israel.

Upon his return to Ramallah from New York, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by a crowd of several thousand well-wishers. They applauded him for his speech at the UN. There, Abbas erased Jewish history from the Land of Israel, denied Israel’s right to exist and pledged his commitment to establish a racist Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of all Jews.

Many of Abbas’s supporters in Ramallah held posters of US President Barack Obama. On them Obama was portrayed as a monkey. The caption read, “The First Jewish President of the United States.”

The fact that the Palestinians from Fatah and Hamas alike are Jew-hating racists should surprise no one who has been paying a modicum of attention to the Palestinian media and general culture. Since the PA was established in 1994 in the framework of the peace process between Israel and the PLO, it has used the media organs, schools and mosques it controls to spew out a constant flow of anti-Semitic propaganda. Much of the Jew-hating bile is indistinguishable from anti-Jewish propaganda published by the Nazis.

As for their anti-black bigotry, it is enough to recall the frequency with which Condoleezza Rice was depicted as a monkey and a devil in the Palestinian and pan-Arab media during George W. Bush’s presidency to realize that the racist depiction of Obama was not a fluke. Moreover, and more disturbingly, it is worth recalling that like its fellow Arab League members, the PA has strongly supported Sudan’s genocide of black Africans in Darfur.

To a degree, the willingness of African-Americans to turn a blind eye to Arab anti-black prejudice is understandable. Since the mid-1960s, oil rich Arab kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia have spent hundreds of millions of petrodollars in outreach to African-Americans. This outreach includes but is not limited to massive proselytization efforts among inner city blacks. The combination of a strong and growing African-American Muslim population and a general sense of amity towards Muslims as a result of outreach efforts contribute to a willingness on the part of African- Americans to overlook Arab anti-black racism.

Unlike African-Americans, Jewish Americans have been targeted by no serious outreach campaigns by the likes of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. To the contrary, as Mitchell Bard documented in his book The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East, these Arab nations have spared no effort in anti-Israel lobbying in the US. Among the Arab lobby’s goals is to undermine the legitimacy of American Jewish lobbying on behalf of Israel.

Furthermore, the anti-Jewish atmosphere in the Arab world is far more comprehensive and poisonous than its anti-black prejudice. A Pew global opinion poll from 2008 showed that hatred of Jews is effectively universal in the Arab world and overwhelming in non-Arab Muslim states. In Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, between 95 and 97 percent of respondents expressed hatred of Jews. In Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan between twothirds and three-quarters of respondents expressed hatred of Jews.

Jew-hatred among Muslim minorities in the West is less overwhelming. But Muslim antagonism towards Jews vastly outstrips that of the general populations of their countries. According to a Pew survey from 2006, while 7% of British citizens express unfavorable views of Jews, 47% of British Muslims admit to such views. In France, 13% of the general population admits to harboring negative feelings towards Jews and 28% of French Muslims do. Likewise in Germany, 22% of the general population acknowledges anti-Semitic views and 44% of German Muslims do.

More dangerously, the quantity of anti-Semitic attacks carried out by Muslims in the West far outstrips their percentage in the general population. According to Pew data, in 2010 Muslims comprised just 4.6% of the population of the UK but carried out 39% of the anti-Semitic attacks. Moreover, according to the Times Online, in 2006, 37% of British Muslims claimed that British Jews are legitimate targets for attacks. Only 30% of British Muslims disagreed.

WITH THE overwhelming data showing that throughout the Arab world there is strong support for organizations and regimes which advocate the genocide of world Jewry, the American Jewish community could have been expected to devote the majority of its attention and resources to exposing and combating this existential threat. Just as the American Jewish community dedicated itself in the past to causes such as the liberation of Soviet Jewry and fighting neo-Nazi groups in the US and throughout the world, it could have been expected that from the Anti-Defamation League to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that major American Jewish groups would be using the financial and human resources at their disposal to defend against this violent, genocidal hatred.

But this has not occurred. Many leading American Jewish organizations continue to be far more involved in combating the currently relatively benign anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians than confronting the escalating dangers of Muslim anti-Semitism.

According to a Gallup poll released last month, 80% of American Jews have favorable views of American Muslims. Seventy percent believe that they are not supportive of al-Qaida. These data indicate that American Jews are second only to American Muslims in their support for Muslim Americans. Indeed 6% more American Jews than American Muslims believe that American Muslims face prejudice due to their religion.

American Jewish championing of American Muslims is disconcerting when compared with American Jewish treatment of the philo-Semitic Evangelical Christians. Matthew Knee discussed this issue in depth in a recent article published at the Legal Insurrection website.

In a 2003 Pew survey, 42% of American Jews expressed antagonism towards Evangelical Christians. In a 2004 American National Election Study, Jews on average rated Evangelical Christians at 30 out of 100 on a “feeling thermometer,” where 1 was cold and 100 was hot.

A 2005 American Jewish Committee survey found that Jews assessed that following Muslims, Evangelical Christians have the highest propensity for being anti-Semites. And yet, in the same 2004 American National Election Survey, Evangelical Christians rated Jews an average of 82 on the 1- 100 feelings scale. Evangelical Christians rated Catholics at 80.

Consistent survey data show that levels of anti- Semitism among Evangelical Christians is either the same as or slightly lower than the national average According to a 2007 ADL survey, the US average is 15%.

There is a clear disparity between survey data on anti-Semitism among various American ethnic groups and American Jews’ assessment of the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the same groups. The AJC survey found that American Jews believed that 29% of Evangelicals are largely anti- Semitic. They assessed that only 7% of Hispanics and 19% of African-Americans are anti-Semites.

As it works out, their perceptions are completely incorrect. According to the 2007 ADL survey, foreign born Hispanics, and African-Americans, harbor significantly stronger anti-Semitic views than the national average. Twenty-nine percent of foreign born Hispanics harbor very anti-Semitic views. Thirty-two percent of African-Americans harbor deeply anti-Semitic views.

Like Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans and Muslims vote disproportionately for the Democratic Party. Evangelical Christians on the other hand, are reliably Republican. A 2009 survey on US anti- Semitism conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco found that Democrats are more likely to be anti-Semitic than Republicans.

The Gallup survey from last month showing American Jews’ deep support for American Muslims is of particular interest because that support stands in stark contrast with survey data concerning American Jewish perception of Muslim American anti-Semitism.

THE 2005 AJC survey showed that American Jews believe that 58% of American Muslims are anti- Semitic. That is, American Jews are Muslim Americans’ strongest non-Muslim defenders at the same time they are convinced that most Muslim Americans are anti-Semites. What can explain this counterintuitive behavior? And how can we account for the apparent pattern of incorrect Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism among Evangelical Christians on the one hand and fellow Democrats on the other hand.

As Knee argues, the disparity may very well be due to partisan loyalties. The Democratic Party has openly engaged in fear mongering and demonization of Evangelical Christians in order to maintain Jewish loyalty to the party. Knee quotes then-Democratic national chairman Howard Dean’s statement that “Jews should feel comfortable in being American Jews without being constrained from practicing their faith or be compelled to convert to another religion.”

As for Muslims, Knee cites a press release from the National Jewish Democratic Council from March attacking Congressman Peter King’s hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. In the press release, the council claimed that such hearings “can and will” harm religious tolerance in America. That is, the council implied that by investigating the radicalization of American Muslims – and its concomitant transformation of American Muslims into supporters of the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic among radical Muslims worldwide – Rep. King is endangering Jews.

If American Jews are most concerned with being able to maintain their loyalty to the Democratic Party, then it makes sense for them to wildly exaggerate Evangelical anti-Semitism. It is reasonable for them to underestimate African-American and Hispanic anti-Semitism, and ignore the higher rates of anti-Semitism among Democrats than among Republicans. Moreover, it makes sense for them to follow their party’s lead in failing to address the dangers of global Islamic anti- Semitism.

None of this makes sense, however, if American Jews are most concerned with defending Jews – in America and worldwide – from anti-Semitic sentiments and violence.

On Wednesday evening we begin our celebration of the New Year. Rosh Hashana marks a period of soul-searching among Jews. We are called upon at this time to account for our actions and our failures to act and to improve our faithfulness to our people, to our laws and to God.

It is possible that American Jews are simply unaware of the disparities between reality and their perceptions of reality. But it is the duty of all Jews to educate ourselves about the threats that reality poses to ourselves and our people.

At the UN last week, Abbas received accolades and applause from all quarters for his anti-Semitic assault on Jewish history and the Jewish state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks were applauded by Israel-supporters in the audience in the General Assembly.

As Israel is increasingly isolated and Jews worldwide are under attack, it is my prayer for the coming year that the American Jewish community will come to terms with a difficult reality and the choices it entails, and act with the majority of their fellow Americans to defend Israel and combat anti-Semitism in the US and throughout the world.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Gilo is Not a Settlement

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected on Wednesday the condemnations of Israel over the decision to build 1,100 new housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.

“Gilo isn’t a settlement, but a Jerusalem neighborhood, 5 minutes away from the city center,” Netanyahu posted on his Twitter account. “All Israeli governments have built there.”

The plan, which was approved by the Interior Ministry, will see 20 percent of the units in Jerusalem’s southern neighborhood allotted for young couples.

It will be subject to 60 days of public debate before final approval from Jerusalem municipal authorities, and also includes the construction of a boardwalk, public structures, and a commercial center.

The plan was met with criticism by U.S. and European Union officials, with the U.S. saying the move was “deeply disappointing” and “counterproductive.”

Top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton said that the plan “should be reversed. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and runs contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations.”

The Palestinian Authority also railed against the approval, saying the new construction project is “a unilateral move by Israel that undermines Palestinian efforts to build a state with East Jerusalem as its capital" and "an obstacle to the peace process.”