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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Audio of the Herzog/Toynbee Debates

Last week, I posted an article from the Canadian Jewish Chronicle summarizing the 1961 debate on the morality of Israel between Arnold Toynbee and Dr. Yaacov Herzog.

An email correspondent managed to get a hold of the original audio of the debate. Now I am making it available on the Internet, in four parts.

Such a historic event should be available for everyone to hear.

(I've never used this audio service before, so I hope it works OK for everyone.)

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


    Get this widget |     Track details  | eSnips Social DNA    



    Get this widget |     Track details  | eSnips Social DNA    



    Get this widget |     Track details  | eSnips Social DNA    

(h/t Yair)

A proposed compromise on Spongebob




At least this way, he's a little more relevant, if harder to make out. (DoZ is too busy for me to get her to use her mad Photoshop skills and make this look better...)

"Rabbis for Human Rights" show where their loyalties lie

Here is the statement from "Rabbis for Human Rights:"

May God comfort the families of those murdered tonight, and also protect Palestinian families from attempts at revenge. There was already one attempt this evening, and security forces are protecting the family. In another location there is currently an attempt to uproot trees. If we hear of other such attempts we will try to send security forces to do their job. However, we also need volunteers who are willing to travel at anytime tonight if needed.
That's right - "Rabbis" for Human Rights spent a half of a sentence on four innocent murder victims, and 90% of their press release is concerned with potential reprisals against trees.

This, after Hamas announced that they are planning more attacks against Jews. Not a word about protecting those potential victims, or even acknowledging the possibility that the people that they are protecting might very well be themselves protecting current or potential murderers.

Apparently, they have forgotten the meaning of "human rights." Either that or they only think that some humans deserve rights.

These so called rabbis have forgotten a very basic concept in Judaism known by all fourth graders:  אם אין אני לי, מי לי. If I am not for myself, who is for me?

Sickening.

Al Arabiya reader reaction to the murders

Al Arabiya's coverage of the terror attack immediately drew many comments - over 150 so far.

The initial responses from Al Arabiya readers in Arabic to the murders were ecstatic. The first reaction said "Mubarak (blessed) to you," and many more said simply "God is great."

The vast majority were very approving of the murders. There were, however, a few exceptions.

Commenter 5, from the West Bank, threw in a cautionary note, saying that now Israel will make life for people in the West Bank harder. Commenter 19 and others took him to task for being against such a wonderful operation.

#22 is disappointed, saying at the rate of killing only 4 Israelis in four years, it would take thousands of years to "liberate Palestine."

#24 says that the Palestinian Arabs who are negotiating are wimps - "God bless Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

The next few were happy, saying Allahu Akbar.

#33 was actually critical, calling Hamas terrorists. #34 says that the murders only help Israel.

#50 was an Israeli Arab who pointed out that one of the victims was pregnant and that the terrorists do not deserve to live. #84 insulted her, saying that for her to speak like that she is no Arab, but a Jew.

#80 was against the murders - but it was signed "cute Jewish boy."

#92 chastised the commenters for celebrating the murder of innocent people. #148 insulted him, calling him a Zionist and a spokesman for the Armies of Zion, saying ti is impossible for any Arab to even think that way.

#102 was an Egyptian who said that the operation was stupid and counterproductive.

#104, named Ali (is that our Ali?) said to the other commenters "Shame on you for rejoicing over the murder of a pregnant woman....just like you rejoiced over Samir Kuntar murdering a 4 year old girl."

#108 also sarcastically said "Congratulations - you kill women." #113 asks in killing pregnant women is OK "according to our religion."

But most of them were very, very happy.

And Al Arabiya is one of the more moderate Arab newspapers.

Fayyad's fake condemnation

Salam Fayyad, that darling of the West who is the most moderate quasi-leader that Palestinian Arabs are ever likely to have, is following in the footsteps of Mahmoud Abbas and Yasir Arafat.

His condemnation of the terror attack is the same as those given by Abbas and Arafat over the years. Not a word about how the attack is evil, or immoral, or wrong. Instead:

"What happened tonight in Hebron was timed to coincide with the PLO's decision to engage in negotiations to end the occupation and achieve freedom and independence for our people," Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.

"We condemn this operation, which runs counter to Palestinian interests and against efforts of Palestinian leadership to mobilize international support for the rights of our people as well as with previously signed agreements," Fayyad told Ma'an shortly after the attack.
Killing Jewish civilians isn't inherently wrong, this moderate leader is saying. It is merely politically incorrect.

Should, at some other time, murdering pregnant women coincide with "Palestinian interests," it would be perfectly fine to do so.

This is one of the many reasons why a Palestinian Arab state would be a disaster for everyone. Their leaders are immoral to the core.

Spinning SpongeBob

My SpongeBob poll can be used as an object lesson on how the media can make any survey appear to support literally any position.

First, the facts. As of this writing, the poll results are:


Bring him back!
  55 (39%)
 
Nah, we don't need him.
  41 (29%)
 
Don't waste time. Work on a new design already!
  27 (19%)
 
Who?
  18 (12%)
 



The spin for pro-SpongeBob people:
By a commanding 10% margin, EoZ readers support the return of SpongeBob Squarepants to the Elder logo compared to those who oppose his return.
The spin for the anti-SpongeBob people:
In a recent survey carried out on the Elder of Ziyon blog, fully 61% of the respondents who voted refused to support bringing SpongeBob Squarepants back into the Elder logo. 
The spin for the new design people:
A great number of EoZ readers support a new design of the site. While neither the pro-SpongeBob nor anti-SpongeBob crowds were able to gain close to a  majority of the votes cast, the people who want a complete overhaul garnered some 60% of the non-partisan votes entered in the survey, and literally all of the non-partisan activists voted to redesign the site.
The spin for the don't know/don't care crowd:
In a lackadaisical survey carried out at the EoZ blog, no one managed to get very excited over the question of whether SpongeBob should return. None of the survey choices given managed to gather close to a majority of the votes, and many people were not familiar with the cartoon character in the first place. Most of EoZ's total daily readers didn't even bother to answer the question, making the entire dreary exercise moot.
All of these treatments are 100% true.

This is why, when you see survey results reported as news, you should try to get hold of the actual numbers.

(Right now I am leaning on bringing SpongeBob back, not only because of the votes but also because the pro-SBSP crowd were much more passionate in the comments.)

Terror attack in Kiryat Arba, 4 dead (updated)

From Ha'aretz:
Four Israelis were killed on Tuesday night when gunmen opened fire on their car at the entrance to Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, in the West Bank.

The attack occurred around 7:30 P.M. on Route 60. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Magen David Adom reported that the victims were two men aged 25 and 40 and two women, also aged 25 and 40. Channel 2 news reported that the victims were all members of the same family, and that one of the women was pregnant.
YNet says it was a well-planned ambush:
A Palestinian security official said that a Hamas cell is believed to be behind the lethal attacks. He noted that the last attack in the Hebron region, which left an Israeli police officer killed, was also the work of Hamas.
Ha'aretz Hebrew quotes a Magen Dovid adom paramedica as saying that he saw "a car riddled with dozens of bullets; inside were the four bodies and there was no chance to help them."

Haaretz:

The victims were all residents of the settlement of Beit Hagai in the southern Hebron Hills.
Beit Haggai was named for the initials of three yeshiva students who were killed in a terror attack in Kiryat Arba in 1980.

Hamas is not claiming responsibility at this time, but is saying that this is a "natural response to Israeli crimes."

Here is my essay on "natural responses" from 2008.

UPDATE: Israel Matzav says that it was a couple who left behind 7 children, plus two hitch-hikers.

UPDATE: 
"When we arrived on the scene, all four doors of the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road," Magen David Adom paramedic Guy Ronen told The Jerusalem Post. "We saw that the vital organs had been struck by a very large number of bullets, and that there was no chance of saving their lives," he added.
Backspin looks at the disgraceful way AP illustrates the story.

"Moderate" Arabs praise murders, proud that they are from the West Bank

Firas Press, which is oriented towards Fatah, so far has five comments on its story about the terror attack near Kiryat Arba.

All five are very happy about it.

Two of them are proud that the real resistance still exists in the West Bank (as opposed to those collaborators in Gaza.) It is sort of like rooting for a hometown sports team - which side can kill more Jews?

Others simply say "God is great."

A new one says that this must have been done by Netanyahu, because, in his logic, why have we not seen any terror attacks to defend Al Aqsa? Obviously this was staged by the Israelis.

Hamas praises murder of "four Zionist rapists"

The Al Qassam Brigades of Hams referred to the four civilians, including a pregnant woman, who were murdered near Kiryat Arba as "rapists."

They also praised the attack:
"Hamas praises the attack and regards it as a natural response to the crimes of the occupation," said Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, adding that the attack was proof "of a failure of security coordination" between Israel and the Palestinians.

UPDATE: I am told that the Arabic word has a double meaning, and can also mean "usurper."

Blogger/press conference with IDF spokesperson on attack

I just attended a bloggers conference with Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the IDF. She didn't shed too much new light on the attack.

She said, "An hour ago, we had a severe terroristic attack at Kiryat Arba - which is very close to Hebron. The info we have is that it was a civilian car. Four people that were sitting inside the car were killed, amongst them a pregnant woman. This is a very severe terroristic attack. In the past two or three years, the security situation in the WB was overall stable and this is such a vicious attack on civilians. We wish that this security situation will not deteriorate."

She noted that while it was the third terror attack in the West Bank this year, it was the first one against civilians. Things had been pretty calm in the area for a while, or, as she said, "the security situation had not deteriorated."

I asked if any of the roadblocks/checkpoints that had been removed recently would have helped. She sidestepped the question, saying that the IDF took orders to remove the roadblocks from the government, and that over 180 roadblocks had been removed over the past couple of years, noting that she could drive from Jerusalem to Hebron without stopping at a single checkpoint. The situation had been stable up until now.

The IDF had no information yet on who was responsible, what kind of weapons were used, nor did they confirm that reported scenario that the terrorists stayed to confirm their kills.

The security level was not raised in Israel in anticipation of any attack before the Washington talks begin; they raise the levels based on intelligence information and there was apparently no warning of this attack. There is increased security in the area now as they try to catch the murderers, but there has not been a general raising of security as a result of this attack.

(h/t MW for first paragraph)

US funds left-wing, anti-Netanyahu ad campaign

From the Jerusalem Post:
The Geneva Initiative unveiled a campaign partially funded by the USAID in which Palestinian leaders speak to the Israeli public in video clips, telling Israelis that there is a Palestinian partner for an agreement.

Thus far, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo and Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub have recorded short messages, all of which begin with a personal address to the Israeli public which includes the word “shalom” in Hebrew and conclude with “I am your partner. Are you my partner?”

Gadi Baltiansky, Geneva Initiative Israel director, explained that the campaign aims to counter the myth that there is no partner on the Palestinian side and to stir a debate as to whether the Netanyahu administration represents a partner for a two-state solution.

The Hebrew webpage for the ads is here.

As an op-ed in JTA says,
This political advocacy effort is aimed at convincing Israelis, in the words of Geneva Initiative head Gadi Baltiansky, “that there is a [Palestinian] partner -- that the problem is specifically with us.”

For the most part USAID, as its name suggests, has been involved primarily in projects related to Palestinian economic development, including parks and a sports facility in Tulkarem. An NGO-run advertising campaign marks a major shift in U.S. government policy. As in the case of NGO political campaigns funded by European governments, this process bypasses the elected Israeli leadership. Such direct interference in the internal affairs of other democracies is a blatant violation of international norms.

At the same time, the USAID funding is notable in that it is relatively transparent. While the USAID website makes no mention of this campaign, the Geneva Initiative released a statement about it: “The campaign is supported with the generous support of the American people through USAID.” News of the funding has been reported and criticized widely in the Israeli media.

...However, the transparency is partial, and the ads do not reference the U.S. government’s role and backing. Thus, Israelis hear Palestinian officials promoting peace without knowing that the message is brought to them courtesy of the U.S. administration, which has its own political interests. The absence of full public disclosure or congressional oversight for this unusual venture is problematic.
The US is funding an advertising campaign meant to make Israelis doubt the leadership abilities of the people they elected. The Geneva Initiative is far the the left of the mainstream Israeli public.

USAID is primarily meant to provide development and reconstruction assistance. To use it to fund a blatantly political program seems to go against its stated purpose.

It is notable that the Geneva Initiative claims:
The GI and our activities are designed to reinstill in the Israeli and Palestinian peoples the hope that it is possible to reach an agreement that will serve their respective national and personal interests and aspirations. We are committed to exposing each side's public to the message of the other – despite the technical and psychological barriers.
Yet I cannot find a single campaign they ever created or funded to convince the Palestinian Arabs to support a realistic peace with Israel. No public relations campaigns in the territories, no ads, nothing. Not a dollar is spent to influence Palestinian Arab public opinion.

It is even more interesting that the GI, as left-wing as they get, which is so keen to convince Israelis that Palestinian Arabs are such great peace partners, do not have a single Arab or Muslim organization listed as a "supporter" on their website. But trust us - they really are peace partners, even if they don't want to publicly be associated with the most dovish Israelis. That is probably only out of fear of being labeled "collaborators" and murdered in cold blood by their equally peaceful next door neighbors.

There is no problem with the GI coaching Saeb Erekat to lie about how peaceful he is. After all, lying is something he has a lot of experience in.  Only a month ago Erekat rejected the idea of talking with Israel. His intransigence is clear. And the GI may be hypocritical in its one-sided view of who is the intransigent party in the Middle East, but, again, that it their right.

If the Geneva Initiative wants to get Jibril Rajoub, who explicitly supports terror in Arabic, to make peaceful statements in English, they can pay him whatever they can afford.

However, US tax dollars are paying for political ads in Israel - and not just any political ads, but ads that are designed specifically to turn the Israeli public against their own government. That should be unacceptable from the point of view of  Americans as well as Israelis.

(h/t Jed for jogging my memory)

Heads up: Tehran to announce list of "Zionist companies" next week

From the Tehran Times:
The Iranian vice president for parliamentary affairs said here on Monday that the list of firms related to the occupying Palestinian regime will be published by next week for further sanctions against these companies.

The Mehr News Agency quoted Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Reza Mir-Tajeddini as saying that three years ago a plan was approved by the Majlis to intensify sanctions against the Zionist regime.

Following that, last week a list was prepared of multinational companies which are somehow related to this regime and sent to the foreign policy commission of the Majlis.

He said that after the Majlis and the administration check the list before publishing it.
I can save him some trouble. Here is a very partial list of Israeli companies listed by Wikipedia. There are lots more, of course:


Ahava
Aladdin Knowledge Systems Ltd.
Amdocs
Answers Corporation
Carmel Agrexco
Ceragon Networks
Cisco Systems Israel
Check Point Software Technologies
Coca Cola
Comverse Technology
D.B.S. Satellite Services (1998) Ltd.
dbMotion
ECI Telecom Ltd.
Elbit Systems Ltd.
Exanet Ltd.
Freescale Semiconductor
Google
Haaretz
Horizon Semiconductors
HP Scitex
HSBC Israel
IBM Haifa Labs
IDIT I.D.I. Technologies
IncrediMail Ltd
Intel Israel
Microsoft Israel
Mirabilis (company)
Mirs Communications Ltd.
M-Systems
Motorola Israel
NetManage
Newlog (a subsidiary of shipping magante Zim)
Nemesysco
NICE Systems Ltd.
Panorama Software
Paz Oil Company Ltd.
Precise Software
Rad Group
RAD Data Communications
Radcom
Radvision Ltd.
Radware
SAP Israel
SuperPharm
Tadiran
Tadiran Telecom Ltd.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Teva Naot
TNUVA Co-Op for Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Israel Ltd.
Tower Semiconductor
Trivnet
Verint Systems
Vigilant Technology
Visonic
VocalTec
Unilever Israel
Zend Technologies
Zenith Solar
Zim Integrated Shipping Services
Zoran Corporation

And while I cannot vouch for every one of these, this is the list from a Muslim anti-Israel website from 2008 of brands that must be boycotted because they are available in Israel:





Always glad to help the Islamic Republic! And make sure that your computers and nuclear plants have no hardware or software from Microsoft, IBM, Google, Intel, HP, Cisco or Motorola! (Or Linux, for that matter...)

Hamas complains that Egypt isn't allowing members through Rafah

Not only are the PA and Hamas restricting which Gazans can leave, but Egypt is as well.

Hamas accused Egypt of stopping Hamas members from traveling through Rafah en route to Saudi Arabia for Ramadan. They accused Egypt of collaborating with the PA to restrict the movement of Hamas members and leaders. They also said that Egypt tried to blame Saudi Arabia for the rejection of Hamas members.

It should be recalled that in the past, Hamas stopped Fatah members from going on the Hajj pilgrimage. Also, in 2007, Hamas used Hajj as an excuse to send terrorists to Iran for training.

Muslims freak over WJC meeting

The Muslims really have to scour the news to find things to seethe about.

The World Jewish Congress is having a Governing Board meeting in Jerusalem over the next three days. It is not a huge convention; only about 200 people are in attendance. While there are some prominent speakers, like Shimon Peres and Elie Wiesel, it did not get any major press.

But the Muslims noticed.

From the Qassam website, as well as others:
-The Islamic-Christian Front for defending Jerusalem (ICF) says the 14th World Jewish Congress (WJC), which is set to be held on Wednesday in Jerusalem, is a blatant provocation to the Arab and Islamic nation as a whole.

Dr. Hassan Khater, Secretary General of the ICF said: “Not only does the [Israeli] occupation not at all care about the feelings of Muslims in Palestine and the world, but now deliberately shows direct prejudice to the religious sentiments of the Palestinians and Muslims in general, as evidenced by the conference deliberately held during the holy month of Ramadan.”

“In these heavy days of black memories against Islamic holy sites, beginning with the forty first anniversary of the arson attack of Al-Aqsa, the sixteenth anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, the outrageous attack on the Ain Silwan mosque, and preventing worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa, even in the month of Ramadan, comes the brutal Zionist decision,” he added.

Brutal! How can Jews dare to meet in Jerusalem, when every day of the year is the anniversary of an outrage against Muslims! And Ramadan to boot!

Also, the Mufti of Jerusalem denounced the meeting, calling it "dangerous."

You can see the live video feed of the nefarious Jews plotting to take over the world. President Peres' speech is here.

Increase in PalArab murders in Ramadan

While the number of Palestinian Arab murders has gone significantly down this year compared to the past two years, the past five days have seen four murders (and one person killed in a tunnel collapse.)

On Friday, a man's body was found in an abandoned tunnel in Rafah.

On Saturday, a man was found stabbed to death in Gaza City.

On Sunday, a 15-year old boy was stabbed to death near Jenin.

And on Monday, a man was killed in the al-Bureij camp during a "clan clash."

Also during Ramadan a 12-year old girl was murdered, and a 62-year old woman was killed because she was thought to be a witch.

Nevertheless, the pace of violent deaths this year in the territories is a little less than half that of last year at this time.

YNet: New Hamas rockets can reach Tel Aviv

From YNet:

Hamas has completed a series of experiments on its advanced Fajar rocket, which has a range of almost 80 kilometers (roughly 50 miles) and can as far Kfar Saba, northeast of Tel Aviv, experts say.

In a few months, Hamas will be able to begin manufacturing the rockets, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.

The progress made by the Gaza group on the rocket front is huge, considering that Hamas' original Qassam rockets had a range of around 1.5 km (roughly 1 mile.)

The long-range rockets acquired by Hamas are of the Fajar-5 type, and it is believed that they arrived in the Strip via the Sinai peninsula.

Israel believes that the rockets were developed by scientists working for the organization and for research institutes located in Arab countries in the region that have been working non-stop to arm Hamas in Gaza.
Hezbollah had used Fajr-5 rockets in the 2006 Lebanon war.

Happy birthday Honest Reporting!

Here is a video where Honest Reporting re-visits the event that helped start that organization - the mis-captioning of a September 2000 newspaper photo to make it look like an Israeli border policeman was beating up an Arab, rather than saving the life of a Jew.

Since then, Honest Reporting and its blog Media Backspin has exposed countless cases of media bias and outright lies against Israel, always with meticulous research and transparency. HR, along with other media-aware organizations like Just Journalism and CAMERA, have certainly helped improve the fairness of coverage of the Middle East.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life Magazine looks at the Arab world, 1957

I thought that this was interesting, part of a much longer two-part article, from Life, April 1, 1957. Click to enlarge.

My comment to Juan Cole

Juan Cole writes in his blog:

The spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, made waves this week when he included in his blessing for Rosh Ha-Shana, the Jewish New Year, a prayer that a plague should strike the Palestinians and wipe them out, including Mahmoud Abbas. He said, “Let Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority] and all these evil folk perish from this world. May God smite them with plague, them and these Palestinians.”

I wrote a comment - we'll see if he publishes it:

It is amusing that Juan Cole, who famously defended Ahmadinejad by claiming that his statement to wipe Israel from the face of the earth was a mistranslation, relies on Yahoo to translate the words of Rabbi Yosef. YNet today gave a more accurate translation: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3945840,00.html

Yosef did not wish a plague on all Palestinians, only the ones who “persecute Israel.”

Since Cole cares so much about accurate translations, I trust that he will correct this and apologize.
This picture was taken in Iran in 2008. I guess the podium designer doesn't know Farsi as well as Cole does.


(h/t Dan)

The Great Spongebob Debate

Over the weekend, Elder Brother of Ziyon requested that I get rid of Spongebob Squarepants on the bottom of my blog logo.


His reasoning was that he often refers other people to the site, or he quotes it in message forums for various newspapers, and he thinks that it should look more serious in order to be taken more seriously. At this point in time, he says, EoZ has content and analysis that is as impressive as most major media sites and the picture of Spongebob detracts from what this site should be.

When I originally requested that the beautiful and talented Daughter of Ziyon design the logo, I specifically asked for Spongebob because I wanted to always remind myself as well as my readers that this is still a blog, and that I shouldn't take myself too seriously. (If I ever get to the point that I tell people that I am right because of what an expert I am and without giving any real proof, please shoot me.)

The blog has had the current layout for many years already; probably since 2007 or so. Since then my readership has increased dramatically, while the blog itself is a bit outdated in its design as well as slow to load. I've been wanting to do a major overhaul for a while; perhaps something like this test site I've been playing with off and on.

Yesterday I replaced the E with something more generic, and a couple of people noticed and requested that Spongebob, with any attendant copyright issues, return.

EBoZ's larger point is a good one, although with the name of the site as it is, I am not sure how seriously anyone could ever take it anyway unless they actually deign to read it.

Anyway, I decided to ask my readers whether  I should return to the old logo, keep the newer one, or forget about both of them and re-do the site already (not that the test site is what a new site would look like.)

The poll is on the right hand sidebar.

Let the great debate begin!

Story of a Mossad hit

On August 2, 2008, I quoted a Jordanian paper:
Well known sources informed Albawaba that General Mohammed Suleiman, an adviser to Syrian president Bashar al Assad, was assassinated on Friday. Suleiman also served as Syria's liaison officer to Lebanon's Hizbullah movement.

According to the sources, Suleiman was shot dead by a sniper in the Syrian port city of Tartous. They added the funeral service will be held on Sunday in Suleiman's home-town of Driekesh which is located less than 20 kilometers away from Tartous.

The sources told Albawaba the Syrian authorities have been making huge efforts to prevent the publication of the news regarding Suleiman's killing. It should be mentioned that on February 13, 2008 Imad Moughniyeh, the military commander of Hizbullah, was assassinated in Damascus.
I commented then:
Syria's formerly airtight grip on internal security seems to be unraveling.
My assumption that it was an internal Syrian hit was wrong.

From YNet, in a fascinating article that you really need to read about Israel's bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor:

On the evening of August 2, 2008, 11 months after the bombing of the reactor, a festive dinner was held on the terrace of a summer house in Rimal al-Zahabiya, north of the Syrian city of Tartous. The summer house was adjacent to the shore and had a magnificent view. The terrace overlooked the sea and served as a refuge from the summer's high humidity. The guests were close friends of the house's owner, General Mohammed Suleiman, who had traveled there for a weekend break.

Suleiman was President Assad's top aide on military and security matters. He was in charge of the reactor's construction and its security. Government circles in Damascus referred to him Assad's shadow. His office was located in the presidential palace, next to Assad's, and few knew him in Syria and abroad. While Suleiman's name was not mentioned in the media, Mossad and Western intelligence agencies knew him and his actions well. The 47-year-old Syrian was an engineering graduate of Damascus University. During his studies he befriended Basil Assad, then-President Hafez Assad's firstborn son and Bashar Assad's older brother. After Basil's death in a road accident, his father was sure to bring Suleiman close to himself and his heir. In 2000, Hafez Assad died and his son Bashar was elected president. With his rise to power, the young president made Suleiman his confidant and close advisor.

Suleiman played a unique role: He was a member of the Syrian research board, which dealt with the development of missiles, chemical and biological weapons and nuclear research and development. As part of his job, he was Syria's contact with North Korea. He coordinated the transfer of the reactor's parts to Syria and was in charge of security arrangements for the North Korean scientists and technicians involved in its construction. The reactor's bombing was a serious blow for Suleiman, but not a lethal one. After overcoming the initial shock, he began to plan the construction of an alternate reactor, for which a location had yet to be determined. Suleiman's new mission was much more complex and difficult than before, since he was now aware that he was on the Israeli and American intelligence agencies' radars.

Ahead of the next phase of his secret mission, Suleiman took a few days off and traveled to his summer home. A vacation and dinner with his friends was the best medicine for the pressure he was under. From his seat by the table he watched the waves lazily crawling up the shore. But what he didn't see, at a distance of some 150 meters (165 yards) from the terrace, was two figures waiting, motionless in the dark water. They reached this point from a far off distance in a ship that dropped them off some two 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Suleiman's house. From there they dived until they neared his home. The two were professional snipers, possessing a wealth of experience and nerves of steel. They carried their weapons in water-proof covers. When they reached the shore they immediately spotted Suleiman's house. The information they received from their country's intelligence agency was accurate. They identified the building and the terrace, scanned the people seated at the table and focused on their target: The general sitting opposite them, among his guests.

Around 9 pm the snipers returned to test their aim and range. They watched Suleiman, sitting on a chair at the center of the table surrounded by his friends. It was crowded around the table, which forced the snipers to reset their focus and aim at the host's head. They continued to hide in the water. Then the signal was given. The two emerged from the water to the shore, moved closer to the house, aimed their rifles and shot Suleiman simultaneously. The hit was lethal. His head was first jolted back and then collapsed forward on the table. Those present did not understand what had happened, because they didn't hear a sound – the rifles were equipped with silencers. Only after they noticed the blood flowing from Suleiman's head did they realize he had been shot. A commotion broke out on the terrace, which enabled the snipers to flee via a pre-planned escape route. The Sunday Times reported a slightly different version, saying the snipers were IDF Flotilla 13 commandoes who arrived in Tartous on a luxury yacht belonging to an Israeli businessman, carried out their mission, and vanished.
Sometimes, it really is the Mossad that assassinates major Arab figures.

What exactly did Ovadia Yosef say? (updated)

The initial reports over the weekend claimed that former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called for a genocide against all Palestinian Arabs, wishing the plague on Mahmoud Abbas and all other Palestinians.

The New York Times said
he described the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as “evil” and called on God to strike “these Ishmaelites and Palestinians with a plague; these evil haters of Israel.”

YNet originally reported and translated the sermon this way:
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Saturday night wished death on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his people, who he called "evil enemies of Israel."

During his weekly lesson, held at the synagogue near his house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har-Nof, the rabbi mentioned the blessing said at the Rosh Hashana feast that says, "May our enemies and adversaries be destroyed", and applied it to the current situation. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) and all those evil men – may they perish from this world. May God Almighty strike them and these Palestinians."

Today, however, YNet has changed the translation - after the entire world has already been convinced that Rabbi Yosef is a genocidal maniac.

Today's story says:
Ovadia, who heads the Shas religious party in Israel's ruling coalition, expressed hope in his weekly sermon Saturday that "all the evil people who hate Israel, like Abu Mazen (Abbas), perish from our world."

"May God strike them down with the plague along with all the evil Palestinians who persecute Israel," he said.
This is much different from what was originally reported. This is not a call for genocide; it is a call for God to strike down Israel's enemies - a much different story and very much in line with daily prayers.

Is this another case of an overzealous media mistranslating (or, in the case of Israel's anti-religious media, misreporting) the words of the religious?

I cannot find the text of the sermon online, so I can't say for sure, but it sure looks like the media again placed their own preconceived notions of Jewish "extremism" ahead of an accurate story.

UPDATE: My readers come through again! Ruchie via email sends a link to the video and the money quote:

אבו-מאזן וכל הרשעים האלה, שיאבדו מן העולם. יכה בהם הקדוש ברוך הוא מכת דבר, בהם ובפלסטינים האלה, רשעים צוררי ישראל

Her translation is:
Abu Mazen and all those villains, may they perish. May the Almighty strike them with the plague, them and those Palestinians, evil enemies of Israel.


With all due respect, I think that YNet's newer translation of  צוררי ישראל as "persecutors of Israel" is more accurate.

To engage in a little pilpul, if he meant all Palestinian Arabs he would have not used the word "those", in Hebrew האלה. I think that he was referring only to those who are the "enemies" in the sense that they are actively against Israel. It is hard to know without hearing the entire context.

UPDATE 2: Yeranen Yaakov looks at the context as well.

PA kids TV teach all Israeli cities are "occupied" (PMW)

Palestinian Media Watch shows a children's TV show, shown last week, that refers to a series of Israeli cities as "occupied."



TV host to girl: "You live in Jerusalem. Do you visit the 1948 occupied cities (Israeli cities)?"
Girl (Lujayn): "I’ve been to Hebron."
TV host: "No, Hebron is a city [in the Palestinian Authority] that we all can enter. The occupied cities – such as Lod, Ramle, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre (all Israeli cities) – have you visited them?"
Girl: “I’ve been to Haifa and Jaffa.”
TV host: "Tell us, are they beautiful?"
Girl: "Yes…"
TV host: "We hope all children of Palestine will be able to go to the occupied territories, which we don't know and have never been able to see. Personally, I have never been there."
Isn't it interesting that they do not refer to Hebron as "occupied," but Haifa is?

Hezbollah rejects call to remove arms from Beirut

For nearly a week, Lebanese politicians have been reacting to the fatal firefight between Hamas and al-Abbash in Beirut by calling for the elimination of arms in Beirut altogether.

Two groups disagree: Hezbollah and their allies in Amal.

Hezbollah first rejected the idea, saying that Beirut needs to be protected from that constant Israeli threat. Then they said that the only weapons that should be allowed in Beirut are "resistance weapons."

And guess who owns all the "resistance weapons"?

Those who still think that Hezbollah is acting for the good of all of Lebanon are delusional.

Arabs see that Abbas has no mandate for peace talks

From The National (UAE):

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, faces a crisis of credibility among his own people as he heads into direct talks with Israel in Washington this week.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates this than a rather awkward security crackdown Thursday in Ramallah, when leftist factions convened a meeting to protest against Mr Abbas’s decision to accept the US invitation to the talks. Security officials justified the actions of dozens of plainclothes security officers, who disrupted the meeting and prevented a press conference from being held, as a legal measure against an “illegal rally”.

But privately, Palestinian Authority officials expressed their dismay at what looked to most like an effort by security services to stifle dissent.

And dissent there is.

All Palestinian political factions, bar one, have denounced the direct talks, some in harsher language than others.

Only Fatah, Mr Abbas’s own group, supports direct talks. Even among its members, though, there are plenty of disapproving voices.

Ordinary Palestinians, as well as the political factions, feel they have little influence on the Palestinian leadership’s decisions. The Palestinian polity is broken. There is no functioning parliament. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are divided under the leaderships of rival factions. The PA government under Salam Fayyad was appointed by presidential decree and elections – presidential, parliamentary and municipal – have all been postponed indefinitely.

Even the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is chaired by Mr Abbas and represents Palestinian interests in international forums, including negotiations with Israel, was not properly consulted about the decision to go to direct talks. The US invitation to the talks was accepted, without a quorum as normally required by the PLO’s rules, at an emergency meeting of its executive committee.

The Palestinian leadership’s subsequent attempts to justify their decision to go to talks have also been clumsy.

“There is a real leadership crisis in the Palestinian arena,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst and a former legal adviser to the PLO, adding that it “is not responsive to the people it represents or even the factions it represents”.

“The direct talks will lead to direct failure,” Ms Buttu said. “Failure could lead to another intifada, but not necessarily one against Israel. This one might well be directed against the Palestinian Authority.
And the Quartet, including the US, is willfully blind to all of these issues that are not very far beneath the surface.

Salam Fayyad literally begs Arabs for money

Al Ahram has a sensationalist article that claims that in recent days, Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad has been "crying" and begging Arab countries to help prop up the finances of the PA.

As opposed to Fayyad's public speech last week where he confidently predicted the PA's full financial independence by the end of 2013, in private he has been intensely lobbying and begging members of the Arab League to pay up on their pledges, saying that the PA coffers are empty. The article says that he is writing letters to the Arab leaders with "blood and tears" in his desperation for cash.

The Arab League had pledged some $55 million monthly to the PA and has largely not paid up on those pledges.

Al Ahram also says that of the $500 million pledged in March to strengthen Arab and Muslim institutions in Jerusalem, not a dollar has ever materialized.

According to the article, the US and the EU have "closed off the taps" a few weeks ago in order to pressure the PA to agree to direct negotiations with Israel. I have not seen confirmation of that anywhere else.

Egypt finds 5 caches of explosives, weapons en route to Gaza

Over the weekend, Egyptian security forces discovered five separate caches of weapons, explosives and ammunition that were on their way to Gaza.

110 anti-aircraft missiles were found in one area, and 60 more in another. A third contained 100 kg of explosives. The others had ammunition, more explosives and weapons.

AP notices that Hamas and Fatah split worsening

A little late to the game, but at least the word is getting out:
The rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have clamped down harder on opponents and critics in recent months — deepening a nasty split that could prevent Palestinian statehood even if peace talks with Israel kicking off this week succeed against long odds.

New reports by Palestinian rights groups highlight a surprising symmetry in the abuse that the U.S.-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and his Iranian-supported rivals Hamas in Gaza inflict on each other.

Both governments carry out arbitrary arrests, ban rivals from travel, exclude them from civil service jobs and suppress opposition media, the rights groups say. Torture in both West Bank and Gaza lockups includes beatings and tying up detainees in painful positions.

Hamas and Abbas' Fatah organization have harassed each other ever since the Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. However, the crackdowns have become more sweeping in recent months as each aims to strengthen its grip on its respective territory.

The talks aim to create a Palestinian state, but it appears unlikely any deal could be implemented as long as the split persists, particularly if Hamas — shunned by Israel and the West as a terror organization — remains in charge in Gaza.
I've published lists of the "elephants in the room" - issues that make peace impossible yet are not being addressed by the sacred "peace process."

Number one has always been the fact that Hamas controls Gaza, representing nearly 40% of the Palestinian Arab population. The Hamas/Fatah split has only solidified over the years, and the formerly constant Arab headlines of an imminent agreement have all but disappeared. Yet no agreement can ignore Gaza, even the most anti-Hamas member of Fatah would not support a state without Gaza. The PA continues to pour more than half its budget into the Gaza black hole where their money indirectly supports Hamas but where they can pretend that they still have influence there.  (Some Israeli right-wingers base their new support of a one-state solution on the idea that Jews have a semi-comfortable majority in Israel and the West Bank, excluding Gaza.)

Furthermore, it is ironic that the enlightened, moderate, democratic PA employs methods against Hamas that would enrage the world if Israel would employ those exact same methods. As far as I can tell, no nation has threatened to withhold PA cash on the condition that it starts to treat its potential terrorists with more respect for human rights.Just another double-standard to add to the ever-growing list.

(h/t Backspin, which has another angle as well.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Abbas lies and threatens. No one notices.

Mahmoud Abbas made a speech on the eve of negotiations with Israel.

He said that the only reason he agreed to negotiations is because the Quartet publicly confirmed their statement from last March that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 lines, including East Jerusalem. In his words:
The statement confirmed all previous statements of the Quartet ... the statement underlined the need to end the occupation that took place in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and not to recognize the Israeli annexation [of any territory.]
The only problem is, that is not what the Quartet said. The statement did request that Israel not expand settlements and stop demolitions in "East Jerusalem," but it also emphasized:
[T]he status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties...
And nowhere did they say that the final settlement must be based on the 1967 (really 1949) armistice lines.

In short, Abbas is lying.


He also fails to mention the failure of the PA to hold on to its end of what the Quartet demanded from them - "make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism and to end incitement."

The PA court system remains in a shambles, and incitement has not gone down at all. Just this month we have seen a PA square named after a terrorist, a state funeral for another terrorists, a summer camp named after a third, publicly claim that Israel poisoned Arafat, and lots more listed at the Palestinian Media Watch site.

Beyond that, he also telegraphed exactly how the negotiations will go, with another probable lie:
I would like to point out here that our attitudes toward the settlements and their legitimacy and to the settlement expansion has not changed. I must say that today, frankly and clearly that we were informed by all parties, including the American sponsor of the negotiations before we agree to participate, that the Government of Israel alone will have to bear responsibility for these negotiations, and the possibility of total collapse and failure, in the event of continued settlement expansion in all its forms and manifestations in other parts of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
I find it very hard to believe that the US agreed that Israel would be held responsible if the PA walks away when the settlement freeze expires and Israel resumes building. Yet Abbas is saying, very plainly, that this is what he plans to do, and he is blaming Israel in advance.

If Abbas has no compunction making these lies on the eve of negotiations, why should anyone trust him during the negotiations themselves?

Saudi customs manage to confiscate 5195 books

Saudi customs officials are bragging that they have confiscated over 5000 books that were being smuggled into the Kingdom this year.

Most of them were religiously offensive, although some were merely politically offensive.

Good work!

Muslims in Scotland threaten shops that sell Israeli goods

From the Scotland Sunday Herald:
Asian shopkeepers in one of the biggest Muslim areas in Scotland are backing a boycott of Israeli produce.

In a move that has worried Jewish groups, Muslim families who own stores in Glasgow’s south side are refusing to stock Israeli goods in protest at Israel’s West Bank settlements and policy towards Palestinians.

Around 30 stores in Muslim communities in Pollokshields, Pollokshaws and Govanhill are supporting the drive and yesterday campaigners took to the streets to applaud shopkeepers who are no longer stocking Israeli products.

The campaigners, who toured stores handing out flyers to shoppers, say shops which continue to stock Israeli goods will be “named and shamed”.

Led by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al Aqsa Glasgow, many stores in the area are now displaying posters declaring “No Israeli Produce sold here”.
Imagine the outcry that would occur if a supermarket anywhere in the free world would proudly put up a sign saying "No Arab Products Sold Here."

And furthermore, imagine if shops that did sell Arab produce were publicly "named and shamed." There would be numerous left-wing cries of "McCarthyism" and "bigotry" and "thought police."

If Arab stores don't want to sell Israeli produce, of course that is their right. But a public campaign to pressure other stores to adhere to this boycott is a different matter, and it should not be covered in such an "evenhanded" way.

The Guardian quotes the Israeli ambassador to England, when he heard about a boycott of Israeli dates there:
"Israel will continue to successfully export dates, whilst others choose to export hate," he said. "We encourage Muslim shoppers to ignore this nonsense, and instead double the quantity they usually purchase, to help bring about a two-date solution."
Yet the Guardian's article helpfully linked to a website so that consumers would not accidentally buy Israeli dates. I guess it thinks hat helping consumers avoid buying Israeli goods is a public service.

Yummy Jews' Ear Juice!

From YNet:
The Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai recently was surprised to discover on the shelves of a local supermarket chain a canned beverage called "The Jew's Ear Juice."

The drink is made of a black mushroom which does resemble a wrinkled ear.

Israel's Consul-General in Shanghai Jackie Eldan stressed that this was not a case of anti-Semitism, as Judaism is considered in China a synonym of success.

According to Eldan, the juice's manufacturer must have thought that linking it to the Jewish ear would be profitable.
This beverage has actually been reviewed on a website:

Really, what sounds more appetizing than juice from a Jew's ear, especially "Quality Jew's ear selected from Changbai Mountain?"

I'm actually pretty nervous to try it. From the Chinese name, 黑木耳露 (Hei1 Mu4 Er3 Lu4), I know that it's wood ear juice. Wood ear (evidently a.k.a. Jew's ear) is a fungus that's pretty common in Chinese dishes, but I would never think about drinking it.

It's a nasty-looking thick semi-transparent cloudy brown liquid. It's smell is weird, like a mix between the apple vinegar drink and turkey gravy. It's a little thick and slimy, but the flavor is actually mild. The flavor isn't anything at all like the cooked wood ear that I'm used to eating.

It's so strange that it tastes like bland, bad, old apple cider, that I decided to check the ingredients. The Jew's Ear Juice is made of: pure water, black wood ear (Jew's ear), haw (Chinese hawthorn), big Chinese date, sugar, honey, sodium of citric acid, and stabilizer.
It all makes sense now, the strange appley flavor is coming from the haw. It does taste similar to hawthorne juice now that I think of it.

Well, the can says that if you drink the Jew's ear juice cold, it's clear and refreshing, but you can heat it up to make it more "densely" fragrant. I gotta try it.

Wow this stuff heats up fast. Granted, I only heated a little bit, but I think due to the thickness or sugar or something, it started boiling after about 20 seconds in the microwave.

They were right about the smell, it is definitely denser. The strange thing is that it now smells more like food, almost like spaghetti-o's. Believe it or not, Jew's ear juice actually tastes better hot. Maybe it's the thickness, but I think it's just that wood ear is usually served cold, and when the juice is hot it reminds me less that I'm drinking fungus juice.

As a special bonus it came with a Jew's Ear Juice Bottle Opener! What a great souvenir. I will be the hit of all the parties from now on.

*Update: Since I've gotten a lot of questions from readers as to what Jew's ear actually is, I found this beautiful picture of one by Jenny Downing. You can definitely see where this fungus gets the name "wood ear. "
(h/t Vicious Babushka)
UPDATE: A reminder from EBoZ that this is perhaps what was bothering this guy:

NYT's latest op-ed nonsense (updated)

A co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, who makes no bones about how he wants Israel to disappear, writes an op-ed in the New York Times.

It remains amazing that the "newspaper of record" can deign to publish such absurdities as this:

The United States insists that Hamas meet strict preconditions before it can take part in negotiations: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by agreements previously signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Hamas is not a member. These demands are unworkable. Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?
So according to Abunimah, for Israel to ask its negotiating partners to not demand its violent destruction is "unworkable"?

Abinimeh also tries to make a tortured analogy with Northern Ireland, as if the Irish ever demanded that Great Britain be utterly destroyed as part of their negotiating position.

Apparently, Abunimah thinks that Israel should be thrilled if Hamas is willing to negotiate the terms of Israel's destruction. Maybe they'll even be willing to wait a decade or two! Isn't that moderate?

(h/t Balfour St)

UPDATE: Zach in the comments notes that Abunimah has been the "go to" guy for the New York Times when they need an anti-Israel comment. How he has attained such stature is beyond me.

"Million dollar bill" in the UAE

Three years ago, a woman in a Wal-Mart in Georgia tried to purchase $1671.55 worth of merchandise - with a million dollar bill. She was hoping that the store would give her back $998,328.45 in change.

That same year, also in Georgia, a man tried to deposit a million dollar bill into a bank. As the article says, such a move "would raise eyebrows even in Dubai."

Well, the writer was probably right.

From the Gulf News:

Abu Dhabi Police have arrested a man for trying to exchange two $1-million bills at the UAE Central Bank.

Abu Dhabi Police said the confiscated $1-million bills were not real currency notes but had been used for decorative purposes by a group called the "International club for multi-millionaires" in the US.

Police said the 45-year-old African suspect convinced a European woman that the $1 million bills were genuine and could be exchanged at the UAE Central Bank. He also allegedly offered her 30 per cent commission on the two notes, for acting on his behalf, the police said.

When the woman approached the Central Bank, the department dealing with the counterfeit currency at the bank informed Abu Dhabi Police.

Police said the woman agreed to co-operate with the joint bank and police operation, in a bid to arrest the man.

She then convinced the suspect that the bills had already been exchanged, and arranged to meet him on the pretext of handing the money to him at a hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Police said they arrested the suspect during the meeting and that when interrogated he said he got the bills from a gold and diamond merchant in Belgium who had offered him 154 similar bills.

A parenthetical note in an article about cricket

Sometimes, hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

An blog entry in Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper says:

A British tabloid, The News of the World, gleefully revealed the sad truth that has haunted our nation for generations; that our international sporting ambassadors accepted bribes in exchange for altering/shaping their performance. Whether it was bowling a sequence of no-balls or playing out a maiden over, it’s blindingly apparent that they were all guilty. And no, we can’t blame this on a Zionist conspiracy, they don’t even play cricket.
It is an encouraging sign when a journalist in a Muslim country can joke about how his leaders reflexively blame all the country's problems on a "Zionist conspiracy." At least it is a small indication that the people don't always buy what their leaders are selling.

UPDATE: Tundra Tabloids quotes a Pakistani who is a lot less tolerant of Pakistan's hypocrisy. (h/t Paul)

Whatever happened to that "blockade buster" Algerian ship?

One and a half weeks ago there were a number of news stories - from the Israeli media, then picked up by UPI and others - about an Algerian ship that was supposedly heading to Gaza.

As I mentioned, those stories were wrong, and the ship was headed to El Arish where the aid would be unloaded and sent to Gaza via Rafah.

None of the media outlets that mentioned the supposedly blockade-busting ship seem to have noticed that it never reached Gaza, that there was no showdown at sea, and that the story disappeared.

Probably because stories of Arab countries sending aid via Rafah to Gaza are not news. I could find nothing about this ship when it landed in Egypt, but I was reminded of it when a group of Algerians announced a new aid convoy to go to Gaza via Rafah, with full cooperation of Egypt.

Since Ha'aretz, the Jerusalem Post and UPI aren't going to issue a correction, I just thought I'd do it for them.

What is the worst insult Fatah can hurl against Hamas?

Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf has come out with an attack on Hamas, something which happens with some regularity from Fatah.

But when Fatah insults Hamas, it is usually not because they are a bloodthirsty terrorist organization. Their problem with Hamas is that it is not terrorist enough against Israel.

In this case, Assaf is mocking Hamas for cooperating with the hated Zionist enemy and even, he charges, meeting with them to negotiate.

He claims that Hamas is negotiating provisional borders of a Palestinian Arab state with Israel and that Hamas has agreed to stop terror attacks to make its Zionist masters happy. Further, he claims that Hamas was following Israeli orders when it destroyed the mosque of the Jund al-Allah movement last year, killing 28 people. Similarly, a recent Hamas initiative to confiscate all illegal weapons in Gaza also serves Israeli interests, as does its de facto cease fire since the Gaza war.

Even though the Fatah-dominated PLO has sort of officially approved direct negotiations with Israel, it regularly castigates Hamas for allegedly doing what the PLO has been doing, off and on, for 17 years.

How can  any real sort of peace ever be expected when each side routinely insults the other by accusing them of being too peaceful?

WSJ sums up the Arab world's "dirty little secret"

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal:
As Israelis and Palestinians prepare to visit Washington next week to begin direct peace talks, it's worth recalling what refugees the Palestinians are—in Arab countries.

Last week, Lebanon's parliament amended a clause in a 1946 law that had been used to bar the 400,000 Palestinians living in the country from taking any but the most menial jobs. "I was born in Lebanon and I have never known Palestine," the AP quoted one 45-year-old Palestinian who works as a cab driver. "We want to live like Lebanese. We are human beings and we need civil rights."

The dirty little secret of the Arab world is that it has consistently treated Palestinians living in its midst with contempt and often violence. In 1970, Jordan expelled thousands of Palestinian militants after Yasser Arafat attempted a coup against King Hussein. In 1991, Kuwait expelled some 400,000 Palestinians working in the country as punishment for Arafat's support for Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.

For six decades, Palestinians have been forced by Arab governments to live in often squalid conditions so that they could serve as propaganda tools against Israel, even as millions of refugees elsewhere have been repatriated and absorbed by their host countries. This month's vote still falls short of giving Palestinian Lebanese the rights they deserve, including citizenship. But it's a reminder of the cynicism of so much Arab pro-Palestinian propaganda, and the credulity of those who fall for it.
It's nice to see at least some of the media finally start to wake up to the real issue.

(h/t Israel Matzav)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Arab columnist almost gets it right

Diana Mukkaled in Asharq al-Awsat writes:
Hamas police proceeded to close a water park in Gaza due to the presence of "degrading and unethical gender mixing" according to the justification reported in the news. Subsequent information about this incident revealed that the citizens who were removed from the water park, following the Hamas decisions, had just sat down to break their fast [during the holy month of Ramadan], and those evicted from this water park included a charity organization that looked after orphans.

The media in our region only briefly reported this news, mainly because we do not understand how breaking one's fast during Ramadan could be considered "degrading and unethical." What exactly is the criteria for this?

In any case, this news did not gain a lot of media attention in the Arab world. In fact, those media outlets that covered this story included it on the inside pages of their newspapers or as part of a news round-up, and that is when it was reported at all.

Yet the Gaza Water Park closure is not an isolated incident, in fact similar events occur routinely [in the Gaza Strip]. Only a few weeks ago, gunmen burned down a summer camp for children organized by UNRWA because young boys and girls would be mixing together, and there was a possibility of them swimming together.

Indeed, the siege imposed upon Gaza, and the continuing strain that this has had on its people, has not prevented Hamas from overseeing ‘public morals’. For example, Hamas ensures that women's clothing stores respect the principle of modesty with regards to the mannequins on display at the shop's entrances, with the shop's who fail to do so being subject to punishments. The hardships suffered by the people of Gaza has not prevented Hamas from ensuring that women do not smoke shisha in public places, or that men do not work in female clothing shops.

And who could forget how the Ministry of Education in Gaza banned the book ‘Speak, Bird, Speak Again’ which was a collection of Palestinian folk tales, saying that this contained "shameless sexual expressions?"

What is happening in Gaza is certainly far from an accident, or a miscalculation on the part of Hamas, and in fact this represents the essence of the Hamas movement and its true religious viewpoint. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip through force of arms, and it is impervious to being held to account for its actions. One cannot question its daily practices, or its oppression of the people of Gaza as Hamas practices tyranny in the name of resistance, and hides behind slogans.
Very good so far. But then she starts to veer off a little:
Hamas does not tire from changing the features of the Palestinian cause, and obscuring its humanitarian aspects by continuing to obscure and eradicate Palestine's secular history and reality.
Um, there isn't much of a secular history. There have been only two major Palestinian Arab leaders - the Mufti and Yasir Arafat. The Mufti used religious justifications for his hate, as did Hamas' spiritual forbearer Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. The only avowed secular leaders of the Palestinian Arabs were the terrorist leaders of the DFLP, PFLP and other Marxist parties.

Then she starts to veer off a lot:
Those who are united in support for Gaza and its people do not extend their solidarity towards the subsequent injustices inflicted upon the people of Gaza by Hamas, who have seized control of their lives.
Well, they sure are silent about those injustices, aren't they?
...What was inspiring with regards the Freedom Flotilla that came to challenge the Israeli blockade was that this also challenged the blockade that is being imposed by Hamas upon the lives of the people of Gaza.
How exactly did the flotilla people do a single thing - implicitly or explicitly - to challenge or weaken Hamas? On the contrary, they made very clear that they support the "freely elected government of Gaza" and their statements have made clear that if they are against any political figures in the territories, it is the PA. Previous ships and convoys have met with Hamas leaders and given them cash and gifts.

Mukkaled is doing a great job by pointing out how Hamas is oppressing Gazans, but she falls far short in not realizing who exactly it is that is propping up Hamas - the idiots who pretend to want to help the Gazans but are really only interested in the street cred and fame it gives them.

In fact, last month the Arabic version of that same paper had an op-ed by a playwright who discussed the poor quality of "aid" that was being delivered to Gaza by these same so-called "humanitarians":

"Last week, the doctors in Gaza who were in charge of receiving the medicines from the aid convoys... and of distributing them to the hospitals, announced that 70% of these medicines were months, or years, past their expiration dates. They also received Tamiflu pills – a medicine for swine flu, which has already passed through the region and the world – worth an estimated three million dollars (or 30 [million] – I do not remember exactly...). The same is true of the dialysis machines, which were useless. Another gift sent by one of the Arab countries was described as cruel. What was this gift? Shrouds. Yes, short shrouds of white cloth, 125 centimeters long. Was there ever a gift in such poor taste? The doctors added that they had given [the delegations] a list of 125 types of medicine that had run out in all of the [Gaza] hospitals, but they did not receive even one of these. Our problem now, [the doctors said,] is to find a garbage dump where we can dispose of or bury the spoiled cargo. We must get rid of it safely, so that it does not pose a threat to people or the environment.
"That was all the Gazan doctors said. I imagine that they took great pains to choose [neutral] words and not interpret what had happened. I am obliged to point out their courage in stating the truth about what happened, even if they withheld the names of those who had given them the shrouds, the [broken] machines and expired medicines... 70% of the medicines that reached the people of Gaza were expired! In an Arab pharmacy [anywhere else], if even a single bottle of medicine were found to be expired, its owner would be brought to trial!"
In no way do the flotilla fools help Gazans obtain any degree of freedom or salvation from Hamas rule.

Altogether, a solid B for Mukkaled.

(h/t Zvi)