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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Security forces avert major terror attack in Judea and Samaria - Bob Simon - Nothing New Under the Sun - Soldiers save Palestinian baby near border crossing

Here is the reason why Israeli soldiers "humiliate" Arabs at Judea and Samaria checkpoints. - Michelle

Source: Jerusalem Post
By Yaakov Lappin

Border Police officers averted a major terror attack in the West Bank on Saturday after stopping two Palestinian men acting suspiciously, and discovering powerful explosives in their possession, as well as knives and a gun.

The incident occurred near Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, near a hitchhikers post used by many Israelis on Saturday night.

Security forces suspect that the post was the intended target of the attack.

"Our fighters noticed two men in their 20s acting strangely," a Border Police spokesman said. "They looked under pressure in the presence of security personnel," he added.

The suspicious conduct by the Palestinians prompted Border Police to initiate a search of them and their bags. The officers uncovered a small arsenal of powerful explosives.

Four pipe bombs, two knives, and a home-made gun were seized in the search.

A Judea and Samaria Traffic Police patrol car then joined the scene, and placed the suspects under arrest.

During initial questioning, each suspect blamed the other. Both men are from the Balata region of Nablus. The suspects were taken away for questioning, and are refusing to cooperate.

Border Police then dispatched a bomb squad unit, which defused pipe bombs.

Israelis pass security check even before entering a shopping mall, nightclub or grocery store

Bob Simon - Nothing New Under the Sun

In January 25, 2009 he had this to say:
"Palestinians ... when they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank."

 In April 22, 2012 he had this to say:

"For all Palestinians, just leaving Bethlehem is a struggle. Getting to Jerusalem, only seven miles away, whether it's to pray, go to a doctor, visit family members, or work, means going through this Israeli checkpoint. That can take hours but before Palestinians can get even this far, they need a permit from the Israelis which can take weeks or months to obtain and is frequently denied."

So Who is Humiliating Whom?

April 24, 2012 |Eli E. Hertz
Revised, originally published 2004 & 2009 

Bob, you say Palestinian Arabs feel humiliated and harassed when Israeli authorities search them and their belongings; when they are prevented from traveling freely because of checkpoints, roadblocks, closures and curfews. You say they feel "corralled."

Bob, in Israel, every Israeli is searched numerous times during the course of a single day. Israelis are asked to open their bags and purses for inspection. In most cases, they are subjected to body searches with a metal detector every time they enter a bank or a post office, pick up a bottle of milk at the supermarket, enter a mall or train station, or visit a hospital or medical clinic. Young Israeli men and women are physically frisked in search of suicide belts before they enter crowded nightclubs.

As a matter of routine, Israelis' car trunks are searched every time they enter a well-trafficked parking lot. Daily, their cars pass through roadblocks that cause massive traffic jams when security forces are in hot pursuit of suicide bombers believed to have entered Israel.

Israelis are searched not only when they go out for a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza, but also when they go to the movies or a concert, where the term "dressed to kill" has an entirely different meaning.

These ordinary daily humiliations now extend to similar searches when Israelis go to weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. No one abroad talks about the humiliation Jews in Israel are subjected to, having to write at the bottom of wedding invitations and other life cycle events, "The site will be secured [by armed guards]" - to ensure relatives and friends will attend and share their joyous occasion.

Bob, these ubiquitous security checks do not exist in Arab cities and towns in Israel (or, for that matter, in Judea and Samaria) because those places are not and never have been targets of Palestinian terrorism. In fact, the average Israeli is "humiliated and harassed" by being searched far more times a day than the average Palestinian. Not one human rights group, nor you, has so much as noted this massive intrusion into the rights of privacy and person imposed on Israelis.

To date, no one protests the fact that, since the 1970s, Jewish schoolchildren in Israel are surrounded by perimeter fences, with armed guards at the schoolyard gates.

Not one Arab village in Israel or the Territories has a perimeter fence around it. Guards are not required at Arab shops, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, wedding halls or schools - either in Israel or in the Territories. Palestinians also do not need armed guards to accompany every school trip, youth movement hike or campout. They are not targets of terrorism.

Countless Israelis in sensitive areas within the Green Line - not only in the Territories, but also in Jewish towns, villages and bedroom suburbs - are "ghettoized" behind high fences.

Many Israeli motorists avoid major arteries that pass through Arab areas of Israel, while Arab citizens and Palestinians from the Territories continue to enter Jewish cities and go about their business without peril. Israelis are told, in effect, to disguise themselves when traveling abroad - not to speak Hebrew in public and not to wear garments that reveal their Jewish-Israeli origins. Even Israel 's national airline - El Al - has been forced to remove its logo from the tails of its aircraft at certain airports, out of concern for the safety of its passengers. On the other hand, Arabs who frequent Jewish cities and towns in Israel wear their traditional Arab headgear without fear of being attacked or harassed.

Bob, all of this begs the question: Who is Humiliating Whom?


Israeli soldiers learning how to care for babies

Soldiers save Arab baby near border crossing

Source: YNet News
By Yoav Zitun

 The Home Front Command's Kedem Battalion, which is currently stationed near the Halamish settlement in the West Bank, saved the life of a 10-day old Palestinian baby from one of the adjacent villages, who was suffering from acute respiratory distress.

Following the soldiers' care, a Red Crescent ambulance evacuated the infant to a nearby hospital in Ramallah.

In the early hours of Monday morning, the baby's Palestinian mother made her way to the border crossing while carrying her sick daughter in order to ask the soldiers for help.

A soldier who was on guard duty, noticing the mother's distress, immediately called the battalion's physician, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Michael Findlar.

"The baby suffered from severe respiratory distress and was vomiting," said the military physician. "We immediately began administering first aid and stabilized her condition.

"While several of us were treating the baby, another soldier called an ambulance in order to evacuate her to the Ramallah hospital," he said.

According to Dr. Findlar, this was not the first incident of its kind. He said local Palestinians realize they are better off turning to IDF soldiers during a medical emergency.

"This was the third such incident in two weeks. They know we have a regimental infirmary and a military ambulance," Findlar noted.

"Last time, one of the paramedics on guard treated a young girl suffering from meningitis, and during the third incident, I treated a girl who had severe jaundice. In both incidents, the patients were transferred to an Israeli hospital for additional medical care," he said.

Palestinian Authority Radicalizing Palestinians, Dragging Them Toward War - Gaza’s Hamas rulers will begin teaching Hebrew in schools

The two following articles were submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach

Source: Gatestone Institute
By Khaled Abu Toameh

If the Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don't they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel's door for help in various fields?

On the same day that two Palestinian officials met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority issued an order banning Palestinians from making direct contact with Israeli authorities in the West Bank.

The new order is yet another sign of how the Palestinian Authority is radicalizing Palestinians and eventually dragging them toward another confrontation with Israel.

The ban, which was issued by the Palestinian governor of Bethlehem, prohibits Palestinians from directly seeking the services of the Israeli District Coordination Committee [DCO].

Established under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the DCO's main mission is to provide various services to Palestinians, especially those who seek to enter Israel for medical treatment and work. Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought the services of the DCO also to facilitate travel arrangements and overcome bureaucratic hurdles.

But now the Palestinian Authority government has decided to put an end to this phenomenon. Palestinians have warned that anyone who violates the latest ban would be punished.

The ban will only increase bitterness and suffering among Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that the anger on the Palestinian street will ultimately be directed against Israel.

The new order is the latest in a series of decisions that raise tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and go against the spirit of the peace process.

Last week, the Palestinian government issued another order banning Israeli -- not only settler -- agricultural products from some areas in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has also banned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians that allegedly promote "normalization" between the two sides.

Moreover, Palestinians have been banned from working in settlements in the West Bank or selling goods manufactured in some of these settlements. But because the Palestinian government has not been able to come up with a plan to compensate tens of thousands of workers for the loss of their jobs in the settlements, many of them have chosen to simply ignore the ban, putting their lives at risk.

If anything, all these new measures reflect the Palestinian Authority's double standards in dealing with its own population.

How can the Palestinian government call for a boycott of Israel when its political and security representatives are holding formal and informal meetings with Israelis almost on a daily basis?

If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want Palestinians to seek the services of the Israeli authorities, why don't they then return their Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them privileges denied to most Palestinians?

If Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don't they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do senior Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel's door for help in various fields?

If the Palestinian government does not want Palestinians to work in the settlements, why hasn't it provided them with alternative jobs or financial compensation?

Gaza’s Hamas rulers will begin teaching 
Hebrew in schools

Source: YNet News
By Elior Levy, AP

A senior Hamas official in Gaza said the territory’s terrorist rulers intend to begin teaching Hebrew for high school students beginning next year.
Ziad Thabet, the Education Ministry undersecretary, said Monday the government is trying to find and train teachers. He says students should be introduced to as many languages as possible.
Hebrew, the chief language of Israelis, is now only offered as a university course.
Thabet says the Gaza government still needs to approve the decision, but it is likely to go ahead.
Many Palestinians see Hebrew as the language of the enemy. However, Hebrew used to be widely spoken in Gaza, particularly by those who worked in Israel before it started a decade ago to block laborers from entry amid escalating violence.
The proposal drew criticism from the Palestinian Education Ministry in Ramallah. Deputy Minister Muhammad Abu Zeid was quoted by the Ma'an news agency as saying that the Palestinian Authority has never considered teaching Hebrew in its curriculum.

 "It is unacceptable that the disagreement (between Hamas and Fatah) reaches the educational curricula," he said, urging the Ministry of Education in Gaza to consult with the PA's ministry in order to implement a standardized curriculum in the West Bank and Gaza.
"There shouldn't be any opposition to teaching Hebrew, but the issue hasn’t been discussed yet," Abu Zeid added.
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Egypt Unilaterally Breaks Off Gas Deal - Military chief: Israel increases covert operations - Israel intercepts ship for security check-official

Source: Arutz Sheva
By Gil Ronen

Egypt informed Israel Sunday afternoon that it is unilaterally cancelling the agreement of supply of gas to Israel. The announcement was made to EMG, the firm that receives the gas from Egypt, and reported on Channel 2 news.

The peace treaty with Egypt includes a financial appendix, in which Egypt agrees to supply Israel with oil. Several years ago the appendix was changed so that the oil was replaced by gas. The treaty commits Egypt to supply Israel with the amount of gas it requires for a specified period, in exchange for payment.

Egypt's unilateral abrogation of the treaty causes "tremendous financial damage" to Israel, and to the Amgas and Ampal companies, according to Channel 2. However, the primary damage is diplomatic, reporter Amnon Abramovich said.

The pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel was blown up 14 times since the Mubarak regime was toppled in February 2011.

Military chief: Israel increases covert operations

Source: Phillyburbs

Israel's military chief of staff says he has ordered his forces to step up covert operations in enemy countries.

Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz made the remarks Sunday in an interview published in Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily.

"You almost won't find a point in time where something isn't happening somewhere in the world," he said. "I am escalating all those special operations."

Gantz did not identify any of the countries or give any further details.

He said 2012 is a critical year in the standoff between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Israel and much of the West believe Iran is close to nuclear weapons capability. Israel has hinted it may strike Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to halt its nuclear program.

Israel's naval blockade

 Israel intercepts ship for security check-official

Source: Reuters

Israeli naval forces intercepted a cargo ship in the Mediterranean on Sunday and troops have boarded the vessel for a "security check", military sources said.

Israel routinely patrols the seas for ships suspected of carrying weapons destined for Palestinian militants. A year ago Israel seized a cargo ship it said held Iranian-supplied arms intended for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The official said so far "nothing outstanding has been found" on the ship, and declined to provide details, describing the interception as "routine protection of our territorial waters".

An Israeli military source said the ship was seized about 160 miles (260 km) off the Israeli coast, and that troops were conducting a "very thorough search of its cargo".

In the earlier searborne interception in March 2011, Israel said the vessel it seized had set sail from Syria, had stopped in Turkey and had been destined for Alexandria in Egypt.

Palestinians use a network of tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Palestinian militants in Gaza often fire rockets at Israel and say it is in response to Israeli raids in their coastal territory.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Christians for Palestine

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach
Source: Tablet
By Lee Smith

A vocal majority of evangelical Christians are zealous supporters of Israel. But a growing movement seeks to align them with the Palestinian cause.

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.

Last month, a conference convened in Bethlehem by Palestinian activists and Christian clergy long at odds with the Jewish state managed to bring a number of leading lights from the evangelical community in North America and Europe to the Holy Land. Many of the speeches at the conference touched on themes that one would commonly hear at a BDS teach-in, like blaming the entire Middle East conflict on Israel’s occupation and the settlements.

Indeed, the name of the conference, Christ at the Checkpoint, is indicative of the different direction this segment of the evangelical movement is heading toward. The idea is that evangelicals should rethink their support for a state that occupies another people and oppresses them. Once they get the full story, conference organizers hope, Western evangelicals may find they have more in common with the downtrodden Palestinians than with the Israelis.

To pro-Israel evangelicals and Zionists who were paying attention, Christ at the Checkpoint was a wake-up call. The larger trend, which for want of a better phrase might be called the pro-Palestinian evangelical movement and is indeed spearheaded by Palestinian Christians, is already changing minds. Giving them momentum are money raised in the United States, theology, and perhaps most important of all, a movie. The documentary film With God on Our Side is leaving many former pro-Israel evangelicals wondering why they never heard the Palestinian side of the story.

Many friends of Israel, as well as Israelis, have long been concerned that evangelical support is premised largely on self-interest of an especially macabre nature. Israel, in this reading, is ground zero for the apocalypse: Before Christ can return to Earth, the Jews must return to Israel and the Temple must be restored, ushering in first a time of tribulation and then a reign of peace.

Of course, the apocalypse and Christ’s return is not the only justification for Christian support of Israel. Indeed, this end-time scenario embarrasses some evangelicals whose support is premised on the idea that God keeps his promises, not only to Christians but also to Jews, to whom God pledged the land of Israel. This conviction is further buttressed by a sense of historical responsibility, specifically to stand with the Jews and atone for the failure of Christians during the Holocaust to save the nation that gave them their savior.

Though the vast majority of evangelicals still maintain that support, for the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948, there is an increasingly heated debate in the evangelical community that may augur a shift in the political winds. And if the Christ at the Checkpoint camp wins out, the pro-Israel Jewish community that once looked warily upon evangelical support may come to regard that movement with nostalgia.


“The debate in the Jewish community should not be about whether or not to be comfortable with Christian support for Israel,” David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, told me last week. “Christians are going to be involved in the issue whether we are comfortable or not. The question is whether they’re going to be on Israel’s side or not.”

Christians United for Israel is the United States’ largest and best-known Christian Zionist organization. Founded in 2006 by John Hagee, pastor of the CornerStone Church in San Antonio, Texas, CUFI boasts over a million members. Hagee has found himself in the middle of political controversy in the past—most recently during John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign when his statements regarding the Holocaust were misinterpreted and McCain rejected his support. (Hagee declined to comment for this article.)

Hagee and other figures base support for the Jewish state on biblical foundations, specifically on Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” The message is clear: Those who support Israel will be rewarded by God. But pro-Israel evangelicals have sent their flock out into the field vulnerable—that is, without an account of the conflict that besets the citizens of the present-day homeland of the Jews. Armed only with a biblical defense of the Jewish state, evangelicals are unprepared to justify it on political grounds.

This gap has made room for people across the cultural and ideological spectrum—whose motivations run the gamut from genuine compassion for Palestinians to anti-Semitism—to fill the space with their own interpretations of contemporary Middle East history. Not surprisingly, many of these narratives tend to be drawn from precincts of the left, like the BDS movement, that are known for their hostility to the Jewish state. What is peculiar is that these accounts are being entertained and sometimes embraced in evangelical churches, Bible schools, and Christian colleges that are not typically known for their progressive politics.

It wasn’t difficult for these Christian critics of Israel to find a weak link in the Christian Zionist narrative—it’s the ethical morass inherent in the formulation of Genesis 12:3. The children of the Bible, Christians as well as Jews, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are therefore born with individual dignity. But if people of faith are supposed to bless Israel because they’ll be blessed in return, then they are treating others, Jews and Arabs, not as individuals but rather as instruments in their own spiritual drama.

You can’t treat people as chess pieces, says Porter Speakman Jr., the 40-year-old director of With God on Our Side. This 82-minute-long documentary, which premiered in 2010 and is now being shown at churches and college campuses, has had a major role in tilting evangelical opinion, especially among young people, against Israel. Speakman told me in a phone interview that isn’t aim isn’t to “delegitimize Israel, but to be critical of policies that are having an effect on real people’s lives.”

“I grew up in a Christian home in the south, where not to support Israel was to go against God,” Speakman told me. He said he made the film in order to explore a question that he thinks has been missing from the conversation in the evangelical community. That is: “What are the consequences of my beliefs and my theology for real people living on the ground?”

With God on Our Side follows the intellectual odyssey of Christopher Harrell, a twenty-something recent film-school graduate, who is trying to come to grips with the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very different story from the Bible-based injunctions that formed his spiritual life as a child. The film’s narrative trajectory starts with Harrell’s parents, who he recalls once celebrated Passover—“I’m not sure why we did that. We’re not Jewish. We’re just this normal American Midwestern family”—and who support Israel because that’s “just what everyone did.” The film moves then to a series of interviews with figures in the evangelical community known for their animus toward Zionism, like Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer, and writers outside the evangelical milieu whose reputation rests on their hostility to Israel, like Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein.

These interviews challenge the mainstream evangelical narrative with well-worn accusations typical of BDSers. For instance, the Israeli occupation, says one South African evangelical, is “apartheid on steroids.”

“Growing up,” Speakman said of his childhood, “there was never a choice, you were supposed to love and support Israel. That meant following Genesis 12 as well as a fulfillment of endtime prophecies. But does supporting Israel mean supporting all of Israel’s geopolitical decisions?”

Speakman, who lived in Israel with his wife from 1998 until 2003, said that he thinks the role of Christians is to support both Jews and Arabs in their search for a solution. But some critics of his documentary think that the film goes much further. They see it as making the case that evangelicals have taken the wrong side—favoring a nation inhabited by those who rejected Jesus as their savior rather than the Christian communities that have existed in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. The issue is that key segments of the Palestinian Christian community have a vested political interest in delegitimizing Zionism—a fact that Speakman and other Western activists in the evangelical community may or may not be aware of.

Among the Palestinian outfits leading the campaign critical of Israel is the Bethlehem Bible College, which organized Christ at the Checkpoint, for which Speakman served as a media coordinator. The most prominent and active organization is the Jerusalem-based Sabeel, headed by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek. Its American branch, Friends of Sabeel North America, is based in Portland, Ore., and raises money for its Jerusalem affiliate.

“Sabeel is nakedly hostile to Israel,” Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, told me in an interview. In an article on Sabeel and Ateek published last week, Van Zile quotes the clergyman at length, including this peculiar admission: “From my perspective as a Palestinian Christian, Zionism is a step backward in the development of Judaism.”


According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.

“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”

In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.

But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”

The unpleasant reality is that Christian anti-Semitism has as much, if not more, theological justification as Christian support for Israel. Compared to two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating with the Holocaust, one biblical verse is a pretty thin thread on which to hang support of the Jewish state.

Neal says that he believes Christian love of Israel is premised on Genesis 12:3 and on Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will enter into judgement with them there for my people, my heritage Israel.”

“We are supposed to love what God loves,” Neal said. “We consider ourselves ambassadors of Christ. For centuries, Christians abused and abandoned the apple of God’s eye, and we are not going to let that happen again on our watch.”

But as CUFI pushes Genesis and Joel, the Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is focused exclusively on Palestinians’ distress and apparently ignoring history. CAMERA’s Van Zile, who attended last month’s conference, noted that nowhere in the pro-Palestinian evangelical narrative is there any account of Jewish persecution. “I’ve heard moving testimony about Palestinian suffering. But they don’t acknowledge Muslim anti-Semitism. They don’t talk about Palestinian leadership, or how it’s abused the Palestinian community. There’s no account of Hamas in their story about Israel.”

No Excuses For Terror

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach
Source: Backspin

David Aaronovitch, a respected journalist and commentator aired a documentary, “No Excuses For Terror," on British TV. Aaronovitch, who considers himself left-wing, criticizes how the anti-Israel views of the far-left and far-right have permeated the mainstream media and political discourse. Channel 5 went against the grain to broadcast this. The 45-minute documentary was posted on You Tube in four parts.

A Lesson in Civics

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach
Source: Israel Hayom
By Dror Eydar

The Education Ministry banned a civics textbook earlier this week, and the Israeli Left was abuzz. "This is political persecution" the authors of the book told Haaretz. Here are the facts: three experts who evaluated the textbook were shocked to find a long list of errors – in the data, in historical facts and in basic civics terms. Hundreds of mistakes. That alone should justify banning the book, especially since many of the mistakes that were purported to have been corrected, had not actually been corrected. Professor Asher Cohen, the chairman of the Education Ministry committee for civics studies, has provided plenty of examples.

But the book is not only rife with factual errors, it also indoctrinates students in regard to the fundamental issues that face Israeli society. In this book, the basic issues are addressed from a particular political point of view. There are so many examples of this that it is hard to choose just one. They have a cumulative effect on the students.

Throughout the book, the writers direct students to examine the contradiction between Israel's status as a Jewish state and as a democracy. It is not stated explicitly, but this attitude is woven into examples and statements, leaving no doubt as to the spirit of the text. This runs contrary to one of the education system's express goals – to teach students that there is actually no such contradiction.

"Contradiction," said one of the book's evaluators, "is a strong word that implies that there is no possible resolution unless one of the factors that stand in contradiction is eliminated. And indeed, the book keeps going back to the argument that the only way to resolve this contradiction is to change the character of the State of Israel."

Under the heading "the clash between the civil rights … and the goals of the State of Israel as a Jewish state," the book states that the Law of Return "which allows every Jew to immigrate to Israel … does not permit Arabs to immigrate." This creates the impression that the Law of Return is a contradiction, but what do civil rights have to do with selective immigration laws? And on the flipside: Isn't a violation of civil rights possible even in the absence of selective immigration laws?

The book states that Israel's Arab citizens express their Palestinian identity, among other ways, in their support for a two-state solution. The book doesn't mention "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel" - a joint document put together by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee and the Committee of Arab Local Council Heads (which represent most Israeli Arabs) in Dec. 2006, which calls for the State of Israel to shed its Jewish identity and become "a state of all its citizens" or, in other words, a bi-national state.

The historical background included in the textbook states that "two central processes (at the end of the 19th century) led to the perception that Judaism is not just a religion but also a nationality." This precise wording is repeated later in the book, in the chapter dealing with the First Zionist Congress, stating that the most important aspect of the congress was the "recognition … that Judaism is not just a religion but also a nationality." Later in the book, it is stated that "there is no argument as to the fact that originally the meaning of Judaism was limited to religion."

All this implies that until the 19th century, Judaism was seen as a religion, and that the concept of Jewish nationalism is entirely new. This is an iteration of the radical claim that nationalism is a modern "invention," especially Jewish nationalism. It is also the anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist argument that has been used against Israel for years. The (anti-Semitic) perception held by Arabs, along with the radical Western Left, is that the Jews are not a people, they merely subscribe to a particular faith, and therefore have no right to national self-determination.

For the sake of comparison, here is a quote from the Palestinian National Charter (article 20): "Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood … Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with its own identity; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

There are many arguments that counter the assertion made by this book - which are not presented in it – attesting to an ancient Jewish nationalism, from the time when we settled this land as a nation and for hundreds of years. Zionism's most notable figures all subscribed to this view. Did they think that they were inventing a nation? No. It was clear to them that they were resurrecting an existing nation. Furthermore, even those who don't subscribe to the idea of Biblical Jewish nationalism still accept the fact that the Jewish religion incorporates within it obvious nationalist aspects such as an attachment to a specific territory, the sanctity of a specific language, the return to the homeland, independence and more. Where is all this in the book? What are our children supposed to be learning?

So who was responsible for the approval of this textbook in the first place? The Education Ministry's chief supervisor of civics education, Adar Cohen, who was appointed back when Yuli Tamir was minister of education. Cohen replaced the former supervisor, whom Tamir's camp felt was too right-wing. On July 31, 2011, Cohen wrote a letter to the director of the ministry's textbooks department, saying "my examination of the book revealed that as a whole, it complies with all the standards of civics textbooks and with the curriculum." He attached ten pages of corrections, adding that the book would get final approval once the corrections had been made. The corrections didn't even begin to address all the embarrassing errors in the book.

In any case, a mere day later, on Aug. 1, Adar Cohen rushed to approve the book – meaning that the entire long process of checking the corrections, correcting them and checking again, was done in a single day. For the sake of comparison – the process of approving Professor Avraham Diskin's civics textbook lasted many months. By the way, two of the members of the civics committee claim to possess proof that Cohen revised the protocols of the civics committee in a politically biased manner.

This professional scandal, which naturally should compel the ministry to dismiss Cohen from his supervisory post, hasn't prevented left-wing members of academia and the media from defending him. The irony is that they charged critics of the book with political persecution. As the saying goes, it takes one to know one. This gang doesn't care about the errors, or the facts, as long as their ideology is being propagated by this book.

Members of the civics committee reported that Professor Dan Avnon, head of the Gilo Center for Citizenship, Democracy and Civic Education, a hothouse for the concepts promoted in this book (one of the supporters of the Gilo Center was, fittingly, the New Israel Fund), was livid at Dr. Efraim Podoksik for pointing out the book's many professional and factual omission and for assigning the blame to Cohen. Avnon was seen yelling a Podoksik "I hope that one day you will be persecuted the way you are persecuting him (Cohen)." Podoksik was shocked. We are all familiar with this kind of language. In all likelihood, in academic speak what he actually said was "you are a senior lecturer. Next time you are up for professorship, I will sit on the promotions committee and I will make sure that you are not promoted."

One of the loudest proponents of the book, in typical over-simplicity, described the debate as being "between the two approaches – teaching patriotic-nationalist civics with a sprinkling of formal democracy, or teaching the civics of a country that is Jewish, democratic and pluralistic at its core." Where do I even begin tearing apart this condescending intellectual insipidness? By the same token, one could argue that the difference is between teaching Zionism and recognition of Israel as a Jewish democracy and teaching post-Zionism, which seeks to change the character of the State of Israel to “a state of all its citizens.”

It is fascinating to see that those who crucified Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner (who was recently filmed smashing his rifle into the face of a Danish ISM activist during a demonstration) were quick to defend Adar Cohen. The truth is that Cohen and his buddies have caused Israel far greater and deeper damage than what Eisner supposedly did. Regardless of the professional failure, this was a failure of values because Cohen tried to indoctrinate extreme political perceptions under the guise of civics studies.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Israeli Official: Rockets Fired at Eilat Came from Libya - Israel: Sinai militants plan attack on tourists

Source: Arutz Sheva
By Elad Benari

The rockets that were fired from Egypt toward Israel earlier this month were smuggled from Libya, an Israeli defense official told The Associated Press on Friday.

The official was referring to the firing of two Grad-style rockets at the Israeli resort town of Eilat, right before the Passover holiday.

Israel has said the attacks originated in the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has denied the rockets were fired from its territory.

The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity according, told AP that Israel believes the rockets were stolen from a Libyan weapons storehouse and smuggled into Egypt.

The official said that Libyan rockets were also smuggled into Gaza and were launched into Israel this month, adding that Israel also believes longer-range Scud missiles were smuggled from Libya to Gaza.

Last year, Israeli officials said that terror groups based in Gaza have acquired anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets from Libya. The officials said the arms were acquired during Libya’s civil war which resulted in the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

Israel: Sinai militants plan attack on tourists

Source: Newsday
By The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - (AP) -- Israel's government is telling its citizens to immediately leave Egypt's Sinai desert peninsula, citing warnings of planned attacks against them.

Spokesman Ofir Gendelman said Saturday that the country has "concrete information" that militants intend to attack Israeli tourists in coming days.

Gendleman wouldn't provide further detail or say how many Israeli tourists are in the nearby Sinai, a popular destination. He said doing so would endanger their security.

Israel has had in place for years a general warning not to go to the Sinai, but urgent alerts to leave have stepped up as post-revolutionary Egypt grapples with security problems. In August militants crossed from the Sinai into Israel and killed eight people.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Anti-Israel sentiments in higher education: Not just for the Ivy League

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach
Source: Legal Insurrection
By Bryan Jacoutot

This blog has often highlighted the pervasive anti-Israel sentiments present in the higher education system of this country.

Last month, Cornell Professor of Physics, Yuval Grossman, wrote a guest post here regarding a pro-Palestinian Cornell student group attempting to orchestrate a boycott against a Technion-Cornell collaborative project. Technion is the oldest and most prestigious technical university in Israel, and Professor Grossman rightly called the effort to boycott the project an “attempt to make Israel illegitimate.”

Not to be limited to the traditionally liberal institutions of the Ivy League, the higher education “anti-Israel syndrome” extends south to a university located in northwest Atlanta. The Kennesaw State University Sentinel recently ran an article entitled, “Israel, a beacon of humanity or propaganda?” The question was obviously rhetorical.

The article took aim at an event known as “Israel Fest,” an effort by Jewish student organizations to educate and promote awareness of Israel on campus. The article derided the event as “a bold exercise in whitewashing Israel of its horrendous human rights record.” Additionally, the article called the event a “farce,” attempting “to persuade [students] of Israel’s benevolent role in the international community.”

Beyond recognizing the blatant and one sided anti-Israel nature of the article as a whole, it is yet another poignant example of the poor state of academia today. The modern trend of higher education institutions attempting to delegitimize Israel is palpable, and stretches beyond Ivy League universities like Harvard and Cornell, into what many would consider the heart of conservative territory.

Not all is lost however. The President of Hillel, one of the Jewish student organizations that sponsors “Israel Fest,” responded to the article with a piece of her own which ran in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Kennesaw State University Sentinel. Additionally, the comments section of the original article was almost uniformly in disagreement with the author.

However, it begs the question, why was this article even published? It seems as though, even in the collegiate media, it is the extremist few forcing their opinions on the largely silent majority. From the spires of the Ivy League to the dixie land universities, it continues to be our job to push back against false narratives attempting override fact, with one-sided and unsubstantiated opinion.

We should remember that when we’re talking about a “horrendous human rights record,” this is what the world considers “peace” for Israel:

Friday, April 20, 2012

'Hamas-Israel truce to be like with Lebanon, Syria'

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach
Source: Jerusalem Post

Hamas rejects any peace treaty with Israel, but supports the possibility of establishing a lasting ceasefire such as the one between Israel and Lebanon or Israel and Syria, a top Hamas official said in a rare interview with an American-Jewish newspaper published on Friday.

Speaking with The Jewish Daily Forward, Hamas's Mousa Abu Marzouk expressed views ranging from Hamas' willingness for a "Hudna," or truce, with Israel, to a possible willingness to change Hamas' charter regarding Jews, to a refusal to recognize any future peace treaty signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The interview of Hamas' second-highest-ranking official with an American Jewish newspaper was unusual and appeared to be Marzouk's attempt to express a new readiness for reducing conflict in practice, even if Hamas still stridently opposes the Quartet's demands that Hamas forfeit its "resistance" tactics in principle if it wishes to participate in peace negotiations. The Quartet includes the US, Russia, the EU and the UN.

This was not the first time that a Hamas representative articulated the paradigm of an indefinitely extendable truce as opposed to a formal peace agreement; other Hamas representatives, including Marzouk himself ,have been proposing the idea since at least 1994.

However, this was the first time that a Hamas representative described the nature of the truce. Marzouk said, “We will not recognize Israel as a state. It will be like the relationship between Lebanon and Israel or Syria and Israel,” according to the Forward.

Regarding Hamas' charter's anti-Semitic and violent references to Jews,  Marzouk said that the charter does not govern his organization and that, "there are many Hamas people talking about changing the charter" because there are many current Hamas policies "against what’s written in the charter.”

The Hamas deputy political director made headlines in recent years mostly as Hamas' main spokesman to the public regarding the Gilad Schalit deal.

Over the years, Marzouk has given other interviews to Western and Israeli media outlets to seek to reach out to US President Barack Obama in 2009 after he took office as well as at other points in time where Hamas wished to raise its profile with Israel and the West.

Marzouk has been a major leader in Hamas for decades and the interview also comes in a time period in which he is competing to take-up Hamas's top post in the wake of Khaled Mashaal's announcement not to continue as Hamas's political bureau chief.

The interview also occurred against the drop-back of many Hamas leaders leaving Syria and spreading out to other Middle Eastern countries in light of the ongoing conflict in Syria and regime changes in various Arab countries viewed by Hamas as potentially favorable to their cause.

A decade since the battle of Jenin, ‘the myth of Jeningrad'

Submitted by correspondent Tom Ifrach

Source: Jerusalem Post

By Marcus Shaff

Ten years ago this month, British and other European media outlets launched an assault on Israel’s character that was noteworthy for both its viciousness and staggeringly low journalistic standards.

By March 2002, the second intifada had been raging for 19 months. But Israelis remember that month in particular for the carnage on their streets – a 30-day bombing campaign by Hamas, Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad in 13 separate attacks, including the bombing of Netanya’s Park Hotel during a Seder, which left 30 people dead and 140 wounded, and the murder of 16 people four days later at the Matza restaurant in Haifa.

Israelis were horrified by the attacks and their own loss of any sense of personal security. On March 29, the Israel Defense Forces took the fight to the West Bank in an operation dubbed Defensive Shield, designed to stop the terrorists before they got into Israel.

On April 2, the IDF reached Jenin, from which 23 of the 60 terror attacks in 2002 had emanated. There, the army waged a pitched battle, involving house-to-house fighting with Palestinian gunmen in the city’s refugee camp.

Booby-trapped houses were primed to collapse on the Israeli forces. By the time the fighting ended, 23 IDF soldiers and 52 Palestinians (of whom 14 were civilians) were dead. Ultimately the Palestinian Authority, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations corroborated these figures.

BUT FROM the smoke and smell of battle, sections of the press created a different narrative, one in which Israeli soldiers had committed a heinous massacre of Palestinians, in what came to be known as the “myth of Jeningrad” – a phrase coined by Tom Gross, a leading Middle East commentator and former Jerusalem correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph.

As Gross writes, for two weeks, they “devoted page upon page, day after day, to tales of mass murders, common graves, summary executions, and war crimes. Israel was invariably compared to the Nazis, to al-Qaeda, and to the Taliban. One report even compared the thousands of supposedly missing Palestinians to the ‘disappeared’ of Argentina. (No Palestinians were in fact missing.) A leading columnist for the Evening Standard, London’s main evening newspaper, compared Israel’s actions to ‘genocide.’” 

Gross spent hundreds of hours poring over the material. He writes that “American reporters in Jenin reported accurately. Molly Moore of The Washington Post wrote there was ‘no evidence to support allegations by aid organizations of large-scale massacres or executions.’... By contrast the Jerusalem correspondent for the (London) Independent, Phil Reeves, began his report from Jenin: ‘A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed.’ 

“He continued: ‘The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb.’” 

Gross adds that “even the right-wing Daily Telegraph ran headlines such as ‘Hundreds of victims “were buried by bulldozer in mass grave,”’” and cites Britain’s Guardian as saying in a lead editorial that “Israel’s actions in Jenin were ‘every bit as repellent’ as Osama bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11.”

Arafat’s Palestinian Authority PR operation had sold a massacre that wasn’t. Segments of the press eagerly bought it.

I GAINED a brief insight into some of this reporting one evening a couple of years later over a drink with the photographer who was in Jenin for British paper The Times. He told me of having been holed up in a house in Jenin with some colleagues. A dead donkey was nearby, slowly decomposing. Hard to believe, but in a classic case of mistaken groupthink, they chose to mistake it for the smell of bodies.

But that barely explains the vitriol that sections of the UK press poured on Israel at that time, and the alacrity with which they were prepared to believe and then report so colorfully on massacres and mass graves that simply did not exist, based on the testimony of one single witness – Kamal Anis.

The reserve paratrooper unit’s doctor articulated on Army Radio what many Israelis knew. He said, “Do you believe something as horrible as this could happen in front of a reserve Israeli army unit? Reserve soldiers would be on their cellphones in a second to every Israeli reporter and politician they could find.”

The IDF did not exactly cover itself in glory on the information front. Drafted into reserve duty during the operation as an officer in the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, I recall well the mistakes that were made. In particular, information was not coming in from the field.

Into the communications vacuum fell malreporting, based on stories of butchery from the Palestinian Authority.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office is a different organization today – professional, responsive and far better trained to respond quickly.

There are other changes as well: My own organization was founded during this period to ensure that the facts reached the press. One can only hope that 10 years on from the battle of Jenin, the media, too, is different; that journalists have learned the lessons of Jenin.

The writer is executive director of The Israel Project’s Israel office.