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Monday, January 31, 2011

Hasbara 2.0 - why the Israel haters are winning today

Since it was frustrating trying to figure out what to post here and what to post at my NewsRealBlog gig, I decided to start to document my ideas about Hasbara 2.0 that I spoke about in December.

So I will be running a continuing series on hasbara there.

The first installment, an introduction, is up now.

Check it out!

"Israel shocked at Obama's 'betrayal' of Mubarak"

From Reuters:
If Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday.

Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel's President Shimon Peres is not a minister.

"We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak," he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. "I don't say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East."

Newspaper columnists were far more blunt.

One comment by Aviad Pohoryles in the daily Maariv was entitled "A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam." It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive, smug, and insular diplomacy heedless of the risks.

Who is advising them, he asked, "to fuel the mob raging in the streets of Egypt and to demand the head of the person who five minutes ago was the bold ally of the president ... an almost lone voice of sanity in a Middle East?"

"The politically correct diplomacy of American presidents throughout the generations ... is painfully naive."

"The question is, do we think Obama is reliable or not," said an Israeli official, who declined to be named.

"Right now it doesn't look so. That is a question resonating across the region not just in Israel."

Writing in Haaretz, Ari Shavit said Obama had betrayed "a moderate Egyptian president who remained loyal to the United States, promoted stability and encouraged moderation."

To win popular Arab opinion, Obama was risking America's status as a superpower and reliable ally.

"Throughout Asia, Africa and South America, leaders are now looking at what is going on between Washington and Cairo. Everyone grasps the message: "America's word is worthless ... America has lost it."
Although perhaps the quoted Israelis are being slightly too generous to a despot, the larger point is very important: If Middle East leaders, especially Arab leaders, do not believe that the US is behind them anymore, then the idea of a domino effect of Arab regimes being replaced by potentially much worse Islamist regimes becomes much closer to reality.

Not only that, but if Arab leaders no longer perceive the US as protecting them, they will seek another country for them to orbit. Like, say, Iran.

No one is saying that it is easy for the US to publicly support a dictator whose country is now seemingly against him. But now the US is not acting like a leader at all.

Here is one possible idea that would be true to both democratic ideals and minimize the chances for an Islamist takeover of Egypt.

The US should pressure Mubarak to embark on a five-year program of increasing freedoms. Get rid of the "state of emergency" that Egypt has been under since 1967 and start to implement a concrete plan of action to open up Egypt to the marketplace of ideas - with a specific timetable.

Only after five years of freedom can one even hope for an electorate that can sort through the alternatives intelligently. It would also take that long for new political parties to have the chance to grow and get organized, gain supporters and money.

Then the real elections can take place, in a new, democratic Egypt, where no one is afraid that their words can get them killed.

Rushing into uncharted waters now has disaster written all over it. This is a vacuum that the US can fill if it acts skillfully and forcefully. But is there the will?

(h/t Zach N)

UNRWA report on Pal. poverty in Lebanon flies under the radar

On December 31, UNRWA released a major report that goes into detail of the poverty and unemployment for Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon.

Here are some important parts:


  • 6.6% are extremely poor i.e they cannot meet their essential daily food needs (compared to 1.7% amongst Lebanese).
  • 66.4% of Palestine refugees in Lebanon are poor i.e cannot meet their basic food and nonfood needs (compared to 35% amongst Lebanese).
  • 56% of Palestinians are jobless
  • 38% of the working age population are employed
  • 2/3 of Palestinians employed in elementary occupations (like street vendors, work in construction, agriculture) are poor
  • Of the 425,000 Lebanese "refugees" registered with UNRWA since 1948, only 260,000-280,000 currently reside in Lebanon. The difference is apparently from some 200,000 who have fled Lebanon, mostly for Europe. 

Lebanese vehemently oppose the naturalization of Palestinians into Lebanese. Such Tawteen (naturalization) is also strongly rejected by the Palestinians, who insist on their right to return to Palestine. The Lebanese position on return to Palestine is sometimes used to justify discriminatory policies against the Palestinian refugees, and their legal status even after 60 years remains that of foreigners. This has resulted in restrictive policies with regard to the social, economic, and civil rights of the Palestinians (Hanafi & Tiltnes 2008)

Tawteen is the scarecrow that has been used within sections of Lebanese society to generate public phobia against according civil rights to Palestinians. Indeed through editorials in key Lebanese newspapers (alNahar, al-Akhbar, al-Safīr, and L’Orient-Le Jour), Lebanese political groups accuse each other of promoting Tawteen, an act tantamount to treason. For instance, the front-page headline of the Lebanese daily al-Akhbār, read on 2 July 2007 “The program of al-Barid Camp reconstruction is the beginning of Tawteen”. Others (including religious authorities) consider the mere talk of the Palestinians’ right to work as being the first step towards Tawteen. Any debate about civil and economic rights starts by affirming that the objective should not be Tawteen, to the point that initiatives on according long-term rights to Palestinians come to be substituted with short-term interventions on humanitarian or security grounds.

We discuss below that the recent changes in labor regulations are no exception to this pattern. The only common ground between the various Lebanese political parties is the use of Tawteen as taboo. Throughout this debate the individual Palestinian is invisible. The deployment of bio-politics by humanitarian organizations (regarding Palestinians as bodies to be fed and sheltered without political existence) is one end of the spectrum and the Tawteen discourse is the other end. For those participating in such a discourse, the Palestinians are mere figures, demographic artifacts and a transient political mass waiting for return. Between humanitarian discourse in the zones of emergency on the one hand, and the Tawteen discourse on the other, the rights-based and entitlement approach for the Palestinians as individuals and collectives, as refugees but also as citizen-refugees with civil and economic rights, as well as the right to the city, is lost.

Accounts from Palestinian camp dwellers in Lebanon show that they refer to themselves as the “forgotten people”, feeling that they live in a hostile environment where basic human rights, including the right to work, have no effective means of representation or protection.
The part about how naturalization is strongly rejected by Lebanese Palestinians is a lie, as I have documented that every time a loophole opened up in Lebanese naturalization laws to allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens, tens of thousands of them rushed to do so. Not only that, but the authors know it to be a lie because they mention one of those circumstances in footnote 18, saying "There were supposedly at least 25,000 Palestinians, the majority Christian, among those who received Lebanese citizenship in 1994. S. Haddad, “Sectarian Attitudes as a Function of the Palestinian Presence in Lebanon,” Arab Studies Quarterly 22 (2000), pp.81-100)"

Even with its flaws, this document is important in that it details exactly how there is endemic discrimination against Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon and the horrid results.

Yet I cannot find any UNRWA press release that summarizes the findings or any public calls to action.

It is almost like UNRWA wants to bury this report for fear of making waves. They only mentioned it peripherally as part of a list of January accomplishments but it never received its own press release, very strange for a report of over 100 pages.

(The paper indirectly damns the Palestinian Authority for not doing something about Palestinian Arabs in camps in the West Bank. It points out that only in the West Bank and Lebanon is there a significant difference in poverty rates between PalArabs living in the camps and living outside, and it attributes this to the fact that only in Lebanon and under the PA are the camps "closed" and not integrated with surrounding towns. This is not the case in Syria and Jordan, where the camps are more like suburbs. In Lebanon, of course, there is also societal discrimination against Palestinian Arabs which partially account for their unemployment and therefore poverty, but the idea that the PA is keeping the Palestinian Arabs who are in camps on a lower social status is something that requires further study - and UNRWA sure won't do it.)

Today's Jew-hatred courtesy of Google News and Veterans Today

At this time, the most anti-semitic site (by far) that is indexed on Google News is called "Veterans Today." (Sorry, I won't link to this trash. But it is easy enough to find.)

Here's a taste of today's entry:

The uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen are the inevitable results of the J-factor, which destroys everything. As I was told by a Saudi army general many years ago, all Arab countries are secretly controlled by Israel, including his own. (I hadn’t known back then that the Saudi “royal family” are themselves descendants of converts to Islam from Judaism and my partner didn’t tell me.) It is Jewish control of Arab countries that was the exact reason the Russian Jews were forced into the region following WWI: to destabilize Arabs and eventually control their huge oil resources....

The word “Jew” has become just as odious in the public mind as “kike,” and just as taboo. Jews dislike the use of the word by non-Jews. Jews behave as if they are guilty of something and try to avoid being named in public what they are. They prefer to be called “Jewish,” and that word itself should be spoken softly and reverently. Gentiles, not wishing to offend, obliged them for several decades after World War II for only one reason, and that was the Holocaust (the H-factor). The Jewish position was, if you use the word “Jew” or are disrespectful to us in any way, we assume you harbor sympathies with what the Nazis of Germany did to us. Disrespect would be in tying us to organized crime or to Communism or to any form of disloyalty.
Just as we used to do with the previous record holder of anti-semitism on Google News (The People's Voice) it is time to complain to Google about this site.

The offensive URL is http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/01/31/76001/ .

Hamas has no problem with movie theatres. Well, maybe a little.

From Ma'an Arabic:

The Minister of Culture in Gaza, Dr. Osama al-Issawi, said that his ministry does not have any objection to the reopening of cinemas in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that there has not been any application to the Ministry to open one so far.

Al-Issawi said in a press statement, "We believe that art is part of the basis of any society, and we encourage arts festivals and special film festivals. We do not have any objection to the reopening of any cinemas."

Then comes the but...

He stressed that [any cinema] should be under the monitoring and control of his ministry to maintain the customs and morals and traditions of Palestinian society.
Which means that al-Issawi wants all movies to be shown in Gaza to look like this classic:

All of Gaza's movie theatres closed in 1987 during the first intifada, and many were burned down.

The Muslim Brotherhood, 1948 (John Roy Carlson)

Last July I linked to some writings by the amazing John Roy Carlson. (Unfortunately, the Google Books link no longer shows large portions of the book I screen-captured.)

Here is a description of the "Moslem Brotherhood" in Egypt that Carlson wrote in 1948, published in the Palestine Post, as part of a larger article about Egypt altogether.



The article goes on to describe Al Azhar University, and ends with the ominous and prophetic words, "The Jew, if left to his own resources in Egypt, is doomed to pogrom and persecution."

Interesting blog traffic points to pic of ElBaradei's daughter

The most popular post in my blog over the past few days has not been one of my new posts, but a post from September.

The people viewing that post are finding it from a Google image search for "ElBaradei daughter." (And Google's algorithm for guessing search terms shows that a lot of people are also searching for "ElBaradei daughter swimsuit.")

The September post mentioned that Mohamemd El-Baradei was complaining that Egyptian media was trying to discredit him by publishing pictures of his daughter in a swimsuit and apparently drinking alcohol.

I cannot say why so many people are now doing searches for this image. Is it Muslim Brotherhood supporters who do not want to partner with El Baradei? Is it from El Baradei supporters who want to to discredit the MB? Is it from Mubarak supporters trying to tarnish El Baradei's reputation? I cannot really tell; most of the searches seem to be coming from Europe with a high percentage from German Google.

Headlines from Egyptian media

Tahrir Square protesters say they plan to march Friday to the presidential palace in Heliopolis unless the army makes its stance clear.

Youth-led groups issued a statement calling for all Egyptians to march on the palace, the People's Assembly and the television building, in what they are calling the "Friday of Departure."

They say the army must choose which side they are on: That of the people, or the regime.
---
Al Jazeera reports that six of its reporters have been arrested in Cairo.

The Egyptian government on Sunday forced Al Jazeera's Cairo offices to close and suspended its correspondents' accreditations.

The reporters, who were arrested from their hotel rooms, believe they were arrested on the pretext of reporting without permission.

Dan Nolan, one of the reporters arrested, tweeted that he was being held at an army checkpoint outside the Hilton hotel in Cairo.
---
250,000 protesters in Tahrir Square today, including thousands from trade unions.
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Egyptian actor Omar Sharif calls on Mubarak to step down.
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Egypt stopped all its rail services today. Speculation is that part of the reason is to stop escaping prisoners from getting too far....or perhaps to limit the number of people who can attend the major demonstrations.

Whew!

In the first round of the Pro-Israel Blog Off contest, I had chosen a cartoon to compete against articles by my competition, especially an excellent article called Zionist Football by Life Through My Eyes.

Part of my strategy was based on knowing that one of the judges was Yaakov Kirschen, the cartoonist who makes Dry Bones. (Who is not only brilliant but handsome too, just like the other wise and impartial judges. :) )

In the reader votes, which make up 35% of the total score, I was trounced by 20 percentage points. So I spent much of the week wondering if I'd even make it to the second round.

But the judges liked my entry best, and I ended up winning the round.

This week you can vote on the second part of the first round, with three great blogs competing: CiFWatch, Huffington Post Monitor and Divest This!


Morning links

Here is a great interview with Michael Oren from The Daily Caller.

Israel released a video showing that a Jewish resident of the territories shot a Palestinian Arab youth only after repeatedly being stoned by him.

No More Lies shows that while some Egyptian protesters seem to want genuine democracy, others seem to be motivated by hate for Israel.

Bicom analyzed the "Palestine Papers" released so far, and - surprise! - came up with the same conclusions I did, that Al Jazeera and the Guardian are misrepresenting the published materials.

Challah Hu Akbar sums up an interesting story where J Street falsely claimed to be going on a Birthright trip. Some branches still have the lies on their websites.

Iran is claiming to have caught spies based on the website meant to find information about missing Israeli soldier Ron Arad.

Amnesty supports a confessed Hezbollah spy

From TheJC:

Amnesty International has put out a Press Notice "urging the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of Palestinian human rights activists" "after a veteran Palestinian campaigner was jailed for nine years earlier today and given an additional one-year suspended sentence. Ameer Makhoul, a longstanding Palestinian activist, was convicted on various counts of having contact with enemies of Israel and espionage after a plea bargain agreement at his trial. He was originally charged with an even more serious offense, "assisting an enemy in war", which could have carried a life sentence, but that was dropped by the prosecution when he agreed to a plea bargain."
........
"Ameer Makhoul is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment."
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/digest_info.php?id=3112#head
The truth is here: "On October 27, 2010 Haaretz reported that Ameer Makhoul, the director of Israeli-Arab NGO Ittijah, “confess[ed] to charges of spying, contact with a foreign agent and giving information to the enemy.” Makhoul, as head of Ittijah, has a background of anti-Israel activities characterized by demonisation and hate rhetoric. For example, an Ittijah email during the Gaza war claimed, “the IDF is turning Gaza into kind of an extermination camp, in the full sense of the word and with the full historical relativity.”
Amnesty International in London has had a succession of Israel-bashing speakers such as Ben White. I have offered them Ruvi Ziegler - an Israeli lawyer studying in Oxford who is an expert on the security fence - but they have stonewalled.
Shame on Amnesty International for its Israel-bashing biased agenda.
A Hebrew article shows that he passed on the names of six potential spies for Hezbollah as well as other information that was encrypted - showing that he had something to hide in his "innocent contacts."

But when someone hates Israel and pretends to care about "human rights,"  it appears that Amnesty will automatically side with him, no matter who it is.

The other "Palestine Papers" from AFP: Did Obama harden the Palestinian Arab position?

From AFP:
Palestinian delegates to 2010 peace talks rejected out of hand Israel's demand to hold on to swathes of West Bank settlements, documents given to AFP on Saturday show.
A discussion paper prepared by the Palestinian side and made available to AFP on condition of anonymity challenges the Israeli assumption that the large blocs of adjacent enclaves where most settlers live would be annexed to Israel in a deal to set up an independent Palestinian state.
The document, dated May 2010, also shoots down a reported Israeli proposal that the Palestinian state take over some Arab villages currently within Israel in exchange.
"We will not entertain swapping Palestinians on either side of the 1967 border," it said.
"Nor will we engage in land swap discussions that use so-called settlement blocs as the point of reference, let alone accept such areas' wholesale annexation."
The document was one of several given to AFP in the wake of publication of documents by television channel Al-Jazeera, which purported to show Palestinian officials prepared to make sweeping concessions to Israel at talks in September 2010.
They restate long-standing Palestinian positions on the sensitive issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The files released by Al-Jazeera contain minutes of discussions between Israel, the United States and Palestinians, in which Palestinian negotiators offered to cede large parts of east Jerusalem to the Jewish state and conceded that only limited numbers of Palestinian refugees would be able to return home.
The documents obtained by AFP on Saturday say that "The Palestinian state must include adequate land within east Jerusalem for the city's own growth and development. East Jerusalem must also have meaningful territorial, economic and other links with the rest of Palestine."
The papers all carry the disclaimer: "This paper is for discussion purposes only, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
AFP is not making a copy of this paper available, as far as I can tell, so we have no idea whether the AFP papers aretalking points for before a meeting or minutes of the meeting afterwards, who the meeting was with (in May 2010 there were no peace talks going on, they only happened in September) and, of course, who leaked them.

But if we are to assume that the specific content of both Al Jazeera's and AFP's papers are true (forgetting the context and spin that Al Jazeera and the Guardian have given in misinterpreting the papers) then we can come to some interesting conclusions.

It shows that the Palestinian Arab negotiators were not nearly as serious about reaching an agreement in 2010 as they were in 2008.

Now, what changed between those two dates?

There was a new Israeli government  - and there was a new American administration.

Abbas became far more intransigent since Obama entered the White House because he could hardly act more flexible than the most powerful man on Earth was.

And almost certainly this AFP paper was for talks with America, not Israel. While it is difficult to know what Israeli peace proposals were at the time, we can safely assume that they still involved significant concessions if only because Netanyahu has repeated the mantra of "painful compromises for peace" - if he wasn't prepared to offer concessions, it makes no political sense to tell his supporters that they are coming.

Which indicates that it was the White House's actions that hardened the PLO's positions. Certainly it is what caused them to adopt a new strategy adding preconditions before peace talks could resume.

If these papers are true, (which is a big "if,") then the inescapable conclusion is that Obama's initial policy of leaning towards the Palestinian Arab position and publicly pressuring only Israel made peace a far more remote possibility than in was under the Bush administration.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ElderToons: Egypt's choice

Jewish boy kidnapped in Yemen

Moshe Ya'ish al-Nahari (1978 - December 11, 2008) was a Jewish Hebrew language teacher in Raydah, Yemen, who was killed by Abdul Aziz Yahya Al-Abdi, a Muslim Yemenite who accosted him near his home demanding that he convert to Islam. Al-Nahari's attacker subsequently boasted of the killing and the prosecution demanded the death penalty. The court ruled that the attacker was mentally unstable and ordered him to pay damages. In the subsequent appeals case, however, al-Abdi was sentenced to death.
With that background...

From Yemen Post (h/t Jawa Report):
A Yemeni Jewish child was kidnapped from Reda district in Amran province on Saturday, informed source told media outlets.

Yameen Ameran Al-Nahari, 8 years, disappeared while the Jewish community was practicing their religious rituals on the weekend.

Sources said that the kidnapping of the child targeted to pressure the Jewish community to forgive Abdul-Aziz Al-Abdi, who shot dead a Jewish fellow citizen, Mashaa Yehiya bin Yaeesh Al-Nahari, and accept his fine in which he will pay 5.5 million riyals.

Lately, a Yemeni court upheld a death sentence on a Muslim man after being accused of killing a Jewish citizen.
So a Jewish child was kidnapped to allow the murderer of a Jewish man to go free.

Sick.

By the way that imposing sounding figure of 5.5 million Yemeni rials is only equivalent to about $25,000.

Is Hamas about to crack down on Ma'an News Agency?

Once upon a time. Ma'an News Agency tried to build for itself a niche as a professional, Western-style news outlet for Palestinian Arabs.

Then, after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Ma'an started receiving threats from Hamas - and immediately it changed its coverage to stay away from anything negative about Hamas (unless Hamas denied a story from another source, in which case Ma'an would report the denial, but never the original story in context.)

Other Palestinian Arab journalists in Gaza were beaten and threatened not to report anything bad about Hamas, and for the most part, they obeyed.

Hamas kept a wary eye on Ma'an, occasionally paying "visits" to the agency to make sure that they were toeing the line.

That uneasy dance of Ma'an's self-censorship and Hamas' tolerance of the last Palestinian Arab media outlet in Gaza that was not explicitly pro-Hamas seems to have ended.

Palestine Times, a Hamas mouthpiece, just published an expose of sorts accusing Ma'an employees of Zionism,  belonging to Fatah, and of lying in stories about Hamas.

Just a guess, but I have a feeling that Ma'an's days in Gaza are numbered.

No new "Palestine Papers" since Wednesday

Why have The Guardian and Al Jazeera stopped releasing any new memos since Wednesday?

Sunday linkfest

Iran is very happy at the events in Egypt, claiming that it is a natural extension of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran and installed one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

The prisons in Egypt are emptying as prisoners are rioting and killing guards. Some reports say that thousands of prisoners are now roaming the country. The Muslim Brotherhood is celebrating the escape of its members. There are reports of "dozens of bodies" on the roads near one prison.

Thousands of Jordanians rallied on Friday after prayers demanding a new Prime Minister, and there were additional Islamist rallies on Saturday to support the anti-Mubarak riots in Egypt, warning all Arab leaders who are allied with the US that they will be toppled as well.

Leading Tunisian Islamists are streaming back to Tunisia from their exile in Europe.

Analysis about the events in Egypt from The Muqata, Barry Rubin, TNR.

Khaled Abu Toameh asks "Who are the real peace partners?"

Right after my proof that Amnesty International is inherently biased against Israel, a "human rights activist" that Amnesty praised as a "key human rights defender"  been sentenced to nine years in prison for spying for Hezbollah.

Also some delicious irony from Yaacov Lozowick concerning another "peace activist."

Southern Sudan vote results in: 98.83% chose to secede

From Al Arabiya:
Close to 99 percent of south Sudanese chose to secede from the north in a January 9-15 referendum, according to the first complete preliminary results published Sunday.

Updated figures published on the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission's website and accounting for 100 percent of ballots cast in both the north and the south gave secession an overwhelming 98.83 percent of the vote.

Early counting had put the outcome of the ballot beyond doubt only days after voting ended, with partial figures showing southern Sudan had comfortably secured a mandate to secede and become the world's newest nation.

According to the commission website, 3,851,994 votes were cast during an emotional week-long ballot that saw huge lines of dancing and praying voters form outside polling stations long before dawn on the first day of voting.

Five of the 10 states in Sudan's oil-producing south showed a 99.9 percent vote for separation and the lowest vote was 95.5 percent in favor in the western state of Bahr al-Ghazal which borders north Sudan.

Arab League "Conference to Support Jerusalem" postponed indefinitely

Late last year, Qatar undertook to host a "Conference to Support Jerusalem" in February 2011, which was advised at the end of the Arab League conference in Sirte last March.

Some 74 countries were invited to what was planned to be an anti-Israel hatefest.

The conference was meant to show that Jerusalem is not only a Palestinian Arab issue but a pan-Arab issue. Seminars scheduled included how the "Arab" Jebusites built the city and the ancient Israelites intruded, as well as how Israel is violating international law by buying buildings and having Jews live there.

Only last Sunday, plans for the conference were said to be "in full swing" in Qatar.

Today, it was announced that the conference was being postponed "indefinitely."

This appears to be Qatar's retaliation against the insults that the Palestinian Authority hurled at the Emir in wake of the "Palestine Papers" imbroglio.

What Hamas is doing in Egypt

Palestine Press Agency, which is rabidly anti-Hamas but whose reporting has generally panned out as true, is reporting exactly what Hamas is doing to take advantage of the chaos in Egypt:

Special units of the Qassam Brigades of Hamas infiltrated through the tunnels deployed on the border two days ago to the city of Rafah in Egypt and then to the towns of Sheikh Zuwaid and El-Arish to support the Sinai Bedouin attacking the centers of the Egyptian security; [the Bedouin represent] the strategic depth of the Hamas movement in the Sinai.

A number of cars in the Sinai are filled by Hamas with weapons smuggled [from Gaza to Egypt] through the tunnels: mortars, RPGs, and packages of homemade explosives, such as those used in the bombing of Alexandria, in addition to a number of hand grenades, and these are used against the security forces and supporting the Egyptian Sinai Bedouin in the eradication of the ruling system in Egypt.

A large amount of Hamas members in civilian clothes have already passed through the Rafah crossing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through to Cairo, with the help of bribed state security officers, where they seek cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to attack the Egyptian prisons, where there are Hamas prisoners. Hamas is a natural extension of the Muslim Brotherhood.

There is talk about an escape of prisoners, including Ayman Nofal [jailed by Egypt in 2008] and others, and Hamas expects to return its prisoners to the Gaza Strip by Monday.

Aa state of overwhelming joy prevails in the ranks of Hamas from the influx of news from Egypt along with cheers and fireworks about the success of its own power to break points of the Egyptian security and access to the heart of Cairo. Hamas considers events in Cairo to end the rule of President Mubarak of Egypt, which they describe as a traitor and they wish the fall of the corrupt system in order for the Brotherhood to ascend to power.

It is worth mentioning the escape of the Palestinian King of Tunnels, nicknamed The Mouse, from the prison of Al-Arish, and his escape to Gaza after bloody battles fought by the Special Unit of the Qassam Brigades in collaboration with the Bedouins of the Sinai against the security forces of Egypt. In addition the al-Qassam Brigades kidnapped 3 Egyptian soldiers who seem to have been freed at the border of the city of Rafah.

Related, from Ma'an:
Palestinian sources say 12 people including Bedouins and Egyptian police officers were killed Saturday in clashes in the Sinai Peninsula, in what appeared to be an attempt by tribes in the region to take control of the swath of land south of the Egypt-Gaza border.

Gunshots were heard in the Egyptian city of Rafah as Bedouins attempted to occupy the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. Rocket-propelled Grenades were fired at Egyptian soldiers, witnesses said, causing the near-total destruction of one home near the border area, and damage to a sector of the Gaza-Egypt border fence.

Gaza government police were said to have fixed the breach immediately, while eyewitnesses said police forces deployed across the border area on the Gaza side, in an apparent attempt to prevent Gaza residents from entering Egypt.

Armed groups attacked Egyptian police in the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid, set fire to one police station and were behind the slaying of one officer identified as 36-year-old Jum’a Hamid after he was abducted along with two others, security sources said.

Security officials also said Bedouins were behind an earlier attack on an Egyptian security checkpoint, where four officers were killed and four others injured. All were transported to hospital in Al-Arish. Four banks and several state buildings were also reportedly set ablaze and looted.
The two stories are not inconsistent.

PalArabs trying to prove Al Jazeera in cahoots with Israel

The pro-Fatah Palestine Press Agency has a story claiming that Al Jazeera apologized to Israel last Thursday for saying good things about arch-terrorist and baby-killer Samir Kuntar.

While Al-Jazeera did once apologize about its coverage of Kuntar's birthday party, it wasn't last Thursday - it was in 2008.

PalPress published this lie in order to add fuel to the conspiracy theory  that al-Jazeera published the "Palestine Papers" at Israel's behest.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

No Jews with kippahs allowed at Rutgers anti-Zionist event (updated)

From WND:
Rutgers University campus police tonight barred some 400 Jewish students and their supporters, including some Holocaust survivors, from attending what was billed as an anti-Zionist gathering at the state school tonight.

The student-sponsored event was announced with an open invitation campus-wide, and Rutgers policy is for all student activities to be open to the public.

However, when the sponsoring organizations of "Never Again for Anyone" saw they were outnumbered by Jewish students and their supporters by about 4-to-1, they asked campus policy to bar students wearing kippas – and eventually limited attendance to known supporters of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Americans for Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East Children's Alliance.

Pleas to university officials from the Jewish students and their supporters for access to the event went unheeded.

Rutgers campus police said they could not provide a statement as to why the public event would turn away 400 members of the public. One officer said they were called in late and weren't really sure what was going on.

When the Jewish students, led by Aaron Marcus, were denied entry, they gathered in the lobby and sang religious songs in Hebrew.

"We wanted to protest this event because as the children and grandchildren of victims of the Holocaust we believed it to be absolutely absurd to compare Israeli act of self defense to the viscous, systematic murder of millions of Jews, Catholics, Gays, Gypsies, Russians and others," Marcus said.

Members of the New Jersey branch of Young Americans for Freedom were in attendance to protest the discrimination against Jewish students.
UPDATELots of videos at Challah Hu Akbar.

Wikileaks: US had contact with Egyptian democratic activists

An interesting and somewhat timely Wikileaks cable released today, written in December 2008:

On December 23, April 6 activist XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 "Alliance of Youth Movements Summit," and with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional meetings. XXXXXXXXXXXX contended that the GOE will never undertake significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten plan for democratic transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that although SSIS recently released two April 6 activists, it also arrested three additional group members. We have pressed the MFA for the release of these April 6 activists. April 6's stated goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections is highly unrealistic, and is not supported by the mainstream opposition.

XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed satisfaction with the December 3-5 "Alliance of Youth Movements Summit" in New York, noting that he was able to meet activists from other countries and outline his movement's goals for democratic change in Egypt. He told us that the other activists at the summit were very supportive, and that some even offered to hold public demonstrations in support of Egyptian democracy in their countries, with XXXXXXXXXXXX as an invited guest. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he discussed with the other activists how April 6 members could more effectively evade harassment and surveillance from SSIS with technical upgrades, such as consistently alternating computer "simcards." However, XXXXXXXXXXXX lamented to us that because most April 6 members do not own computers, this tactic would be impossible to implement. XXXXXXXXXXXX was appreciative of the successful efforts by the Department and the summit organizers to protect his identity at the summit, and told us that his name was never mentioned publicly.

XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that SSIS detained and searched him at the Cairo Airport on December 18 upon his return from the U.S. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, SSIS found and confiscated two documents in his luggage: notes for his presentation at the summit that described April 6's demands for democratic transition in Egypt, and a schedule of his Capitol Hill meetings. XXXXXXXXXXXX described how the SSIS officer told him that State Security is compiling a file on him, and that the officer's superiors instructed him to file a report on XXXXXXXXXXXX's most recent activities.

XXXXXXXXXXXX described his Washington appointments as positive, saying that on the Hill he met with Rep. Edward Royce, a variety of House staff members, including from the offices of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Wolf (R-VA), and with two Senate staffers. XXXXXXXXXXXX also noted that he met with several think tank members. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Rep. Wolf's office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional hearing on House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in Egypt. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he is interested in attending, but conceded he is unsure whether he will have the funds to make the trip. He indicated to us that he has not been focusing on his work as a "fixer" for journalists, due to his preoccupation with his U.S. trip.

(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX described how he tried to convince his Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE to implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal
information about GOE officials' alleged "illegal" off-shore bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts of Zimbabwean President Mugabe's confidantes. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he wants to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe and that the GOE will never accept democratic reform. XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore charged the U.S. with "being responsible" for Mubarak's "crimes." He accused NGOs working on political and economic reform of living in a "fantasy world," and not recognizing that Mubarak -- "the head of the snake" -- must step aside to enable democracy to take root.

Hamas criminals escape Egyptian prison, make way to Gaza

Hamas members who have been arrested by Egypt have escaped from the El Arish prison in the riots, and some have made their way back to Gaza.

One particular prisoner, Mohammed Ramadan, known as "the Mouse", is reported to have made it to Gaza. He was known as being the "king of all tunnelers." He was arrested for running smuggling rings. It is unclear if he was smuggling weapons.

Hamas hooking up with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? (UPDATE)

From Stratfor, a report that they admit is unconfirmed:

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Security forces in plainclothes are engaged in destroying public property in order to give the impression that many protesters represent a public menace. The MB is meanwhile forming people’s committees to protect public property and also to coordinate demonstrators’ activities, including supplying them with food, beverages and first aid.
OlehGirl adds, based on tweets she's been monitoring:
The border between Gaza and Egypt has pretty much ceased to exist, at least as far as armed Hamas militants are concerned. Towns in the Sinai close to the Gaza border have been taken over by Muslim Brotherhood protesters, with Hamas militants from Gaza joining their ranks. The border, according to twitter updates and now more ‘official’ confirmation, is pretty much open season.

As of last evening I’ve been getting twitter reports that the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by local Beduins, have pretty much ousted Egyptian forces from villages such as El Arish along the Gaza/Egyptian border. For the last 8 hours, I’ve gotten twitter updates suggesting that Hamas men from Gaza have been freely crossing the border, now virtually open, to provide reinforcements to the Muslim Brotherhood.
So the US was pouring $1.5 billion into Egypt annually partially to stop stuff like this from happening.

As I wrote in the run-up to Egypt's elections last October:

Any way you look at it, Egyptians have no freedom and no democracy. But before free elections can be held, a few years of true freedom needs to come first, so the people can make truly informed decisions. This means freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, not to mention freedom of religion.

The government might be better than some of the alternatives but it is sacrificing freedom altogether, and the result is that all Egyptians are losing.
And now, the Muslim Brotherhood - which may be the only opposition party that is well organized enough to take full advantage of the chaos - is poised to use the banner of "freedom" to turn Egypt into an Islamist, theocratic nightmare - an even worse situation than it has been under.

UPDATE: A Firas Press article reminds us that the Egyptian army is restricted from some areas of the Sinai, including Rafah, under the Camp David accords - so Hamas can easily help along the anarchy.

Just in case you thought Al Jazeera had any credibility...(corrected)

From Al Jazeera:
According to sources in the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel is making preparations to welcome Hosni Mubarak into exile after Saudi Arabia rejected overtures.
(h/t Zach)

UPDATE: I hadn't noticed that this was from the crazy AlJazeera.com website, which is not associated with the satellite channel/network (aljazeera.net.) Thanks to the commenters who pointed that out.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Amnesty officially calls Turkel report a "whitewash" - with no proof

As a follow-up to this story I broke this morning, proving Amnesty's bias by condemning the Turkel Commission report before even reading it, Amnesty has written a more comprehensive critique of the Turkel report, this time explicitly calling it a "whitewash."

Of course, since Amnesty had already come to that conclusion before actually examining the report, we can rest assured that their objectivity in their analysis is equally flawed. Can it even enter one's mind that Amnesty would have issued a press release saying, "Sorry, we were wrong"?

And, of course, Amnesty's response falls short of proving anything close to what they are claiming:

Amnesty International has condemned the findings of an Israeli inquiry into last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as a “whitewash” which failed to account for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals.
The published  Turkel report indeed did not go into details on every death, and it explained why:
The detailed testimonies of the soldiers as well as their analysis can be found in an annex to the report. The Commission decided, while giving due consideration to article 539 A of the Military Justice Law 5715-1955, to privilege this annex pursuant to its authority under Article 11 to the Government’s decision of June 14, 2010, unless the government decides to lift this privilege. The Commission recommends that the Government will examine the possibility of making this annex public pursuant to its authority under law.
Amnesty seizes on this:

[The report] states that a detailed analysis of each incident, as well as the Israeli soldiers’ written testimonies on which this analysis was based, are contained in an unpublished annex to the report, which it recommends that the Israeli government “examine the possibility of making… public”. Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to do so without delay, so that it can be read by independent parties.
If the Turkel commission itself is recommending that the annex be made public, how can Amnesty accuse it of a whitewash? Clearly the investigators wanted to make their methods and result be as transparent as possible, and the observers did get a chance to see their methods - and approved them.

The fundamental problem that Amnesty has is not with the report itself, though, but the framework:
Significantly, [the commission] chose to base its analysis of the lawfulness of the actions taken against those who resisted the boarding of the ship on international humanitarian law, which governs armed conflict and allows much greater latitude for the use of lethal force. Amnesty International categorically rejects the application of this legal framework to the events concerned.
But Turkel goes into great detail on why they chose to base the report on international humanitarian law rather than human rights law as Amnesty demands:

Although there are schools of thought that largely favor extensive applicability of human rights law, this approach is not universally accepted. For example, neither Israel nor the United States agrees with a broad extra-territorial application of human rights law.796 The issue of
whether, or the degree to which, there is extra-territorial application of human rights law is particularly relevant to the enforcement of the Gaza naval blockade on May 31, 2010, since it took place on the high seas, outside the territory of the Israeli State.

Recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the Case of Medvedyev and Others v. France 797 that the interception of a vessel on the high seas by a French warship in a counter-drug law enforcement operation did engage human rights jurisdiction after "full and exclusive control" over the ship had been established. However, the judgment does not clarify exactly when the French armed forces were considered to have obtained "full and exclusive control" of the ship, especially since the litigation did not center on the boarding and overtaking of the ship,
but rather on the arrest and confinement of the crew to their cabins for a period of 13 days during the transit to France.

In the case at hand, it is difficult to see how Israel could be considered to have had “full and exclusive control” prior to taking control of the bridge of the flotilla vessels and the subsequent cessation of resistance. Further, even if Israeli forces were considered to have had such control over the Mavi Marmara prior to taking control of the bridge, the actions of the Israeli forces would still be governed by the lex specialisof international humanitarian law since the enforcement of a blockade is not a law enforcement mission. Therefore, the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Medvedyev case is of limited assistance in resolving the issue of extra-territorial application of human rights law during the enforcement of the Gaza blockade.

With respect to the enforcement of the blockade, the use of force is to be interpreted under the international humanitarian law framework,798 which permits attacks against combatants and civilians taking a direct part in hostilities. International humanitarian law is guided by the principle of distinction, which is an obligation to distinguish at all times between civilians and combatants. A civilian is any person who is not defined as a "combatant."799 Civilians enjoy a general protection against the dangers arising from military operations.800 Hence, when attacking a military objective, the attacking party must take all feasible precautions to avoid incidental (collateral) injury and death to civilians.801 Further, the expected incidental harm caused to civilians by an attack must not be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated (the "principle of proportionality").802 Civilians shall not be
the object of an attack unless, and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
803

Regarding the use of force, international humanitarian law treats combatants and civilians who take a direct part in hostilities differently than uninvolved civilians. Under international humanitarian law, the right to life is protected by prohibitions against indiscriminate attacks,
804 targeting individual civilians and the civilian population unless they take a direct part in
hostilities,805 causing superfluous or unnecessary suffering to combatants,806and targeting those who are hors de combat.807
This is only a part of Turkel's justification for the legal framework - arguments that Amnesty dismisses without putting forth any of its own legal arguments, effectively declaring Turkel wrong because they say so. In fact, Amnesty even goes into hyperbole, saying:
Effectively, the Commission argued that these activists could be shot dead lawfully whether or not they were posing a direct threat to the lives of IDF soldiers.
Turkel makes no such claim and his analysis of every bullet and paintball pellet shows that Amnesty's charge is baseless - if Turkel's frame of reference was that every IHH member could be killed legally, why bother investigating?

Amnesty throws in some more tendentious charges, such as that there is no evidence that Turkel had access to ballistics tests [there is no evidence that he didn't, either - must the report mention every activity done over five months?] all of which are designed to divert attention from the fact that the Turkel Commission's methods were transparent and observed by two highly qualified internationals who gave their unqualified stamp of approval on their methods.

Amnesty had a pre-determined idea of what the conclusion should be - that Israel was guilty - and no amount of evidence could ever change its mind. And as we saw, its conclusion really was pre-determined. As such, Amnesty's criticisms ring hollow, as an after-the-fact papering over of their own ignorance of the circumstances. Amnesty has proved its willingness to believe every piece of evidence that damns Israel and to question everything that exonerates her.

Some links for the weekend

Reuters Middle East Watch notes in which paragraph Reuters decides to put some context into a story.

Jonathan Tobin on why the Kadima peace talks failed.

MEMRI brings us a lovely Egyptian government newspaper item on when, exactly, the Jews will be destroyed. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Rick Richman on UNRWA in Gaza, echoing something I mentioned recently (h/t CHA)

A welcome development [pun intended] in Jerusalem on top of an old abandoned Arab village.

A joke from Conan O'Brien on Wednesday:
Egypt is in the second day of angry street protests. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling for calm.

Because nothing calms an enraged Arab country like a powerful woman ordering it around.

There are protests in Turkey, too

Still against the government, but against Islamist influence:
Students demonstrating against Turkey's Islamist-rooted conservative government on Thursday clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara.

Police dispersed about 100 students in Ankara with tear gas and water cannon, with students responding by pelting police with stones.

There was a similar confrontation in Istanbul where police also used batons to clear the students, television footage showed.

The two demonstrations targeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the students accuse of refusing to engage in a dialogue with them.
Students in Turkey have been staging demonstrations since November when 18 were sentenced to 15-month suspended sentences for demonstrating against Erdogan in 2008.

Several of the protests have been put down violently by police.

Reports: Colombia will not recognize "Palestine"

Firas Press quotes Israeli radio as saying that Colombia will not follow other South American countries in recognizing "Palestine."

The report said that the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, assured a reporterat the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that his country would not recognize a Palestinian state.

The President of Colombia spoke about his strong ties with Israel in all areas.

The eight South American countries that have recognized "Palestine," either mentioning its borders or not, are Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Guyana, and Uruguay, and Peru.

Amnesty proves it cannot be unbiased - Malcolm Smart must be fired

My latest article at NewsReal shows that Amnesty does not even need inconvenient things like "facts" and "proof" before accusing Israel's Turkel Commission of a "whitewash."

One can argue that other accusations of bias have no solid proof. But a press release from Amnesty slamming the report before they even read it shows, beyond any doubt, that Amnesty has an anti-Israel agenda, and it casts doubt on the methods used in every report Amnesty has ever written.

Read the whole thing.

Latest Latma (1/28/11)

I like this one.

Egypt cuts off Internet, and more on Day 4 of riots

Round-up of news from Egypt:
The Egyptian government has ordered internet providers to shut down all international connections to the internet. Renesys, an American company that specializes in the analysis of internet data routing estimated the shut down on Friday was unprecedented in the history of internet. The four Egyptian service providers—Links Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr—are for the moment off the air. The only exception to this block is Noor Group, which still is still providing all of its 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers. The reason why Noor Group has been immune to the block is unclear, but unconfirmed reports say it is because the provider is linked to the Egyptian stock market.

Every business, bank, internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office in Egypt is now cut off from the rest of the world. The government’s shut down all internet routes has wiped the country from the global map, and all of Egypt’s internet addresses are unreachable worldwide. According to the Renesys website, the situation Egypt’s Internet is facing now is incomparable in scale to the modest manipulation that took place in Tunisia. At 12:34 AM local time, the US agency observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to the Egyptian networks in the internet’s global routine table. The agency wrote on its website that it worries about the consequences of the large-scale shut down on the credit markets and in the streets.
After participating in a public prayer with 2000 people, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei and other protesters clashed with police in Giza.

ElBaradei and followers conducted the public prayer after finding Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen closed, according to Al Jazeera.

The controversial leader, who traveled to Egypt from Vienna Thursday, has offered to head an interim government.

Thousands of activists also clashed with security forces outside of Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo after Friday prayers, according to AFP.

Hundreds of security forces blocked traffic into downtown Tahrir Square, surrounding the area where 30,000 protesters gathered Tuesday to demand economic and political reform.

In a talk show on Thursday, prominent media personality Emad Adib said that a number of Egyptian businessmen had sent their money abroad after the eruption of Tuesday's anti-government demonstrations.

He also expected businessmen to leave the country and government officials to resign if the situation escalated.
In Suez, which has been ground zero for some of the most violent demonstrations, police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and petrol bombs into the early hours of Friday. Fires burned in the street, filling the air with smoke.

The city fire station was ablaze. Waves of protesters charged towards a police station deep into the night. Demonstrators dragged away their wounded comrades into alleys.

At another rally near Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, police used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters late at night. Cairo, normally vibrant on a Thursday night ahead of the weekend, was largely deserted, with shops and restaurants shut.
Curiously, I have been getting many hits, from IP addresses worldwide - but mostly from Germany - to my article from September about how Egyptian state media tried to smear ElBaradei by publishing photos from his daughter's Facebook page, with the photos. Hard to know whether the people coming are pro- or anti-ElBaradei.

Video of new tunnel that proves ancient Jewish connection to Temple

From Fox News:


I had read stories about the tunnel, but none emphasized that it proves the route of the main Jerusalem road at the time from the City of David to the Temple.

(h/t Solomonia)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Concordia U Jewish students terrorized (must see) (updated)

This is a chilling video. Although it was made some eight years ago, it appears that nothing has changed.



(h/t Elan Miller via Facebook)

UPDATE: The anti-Israel left, predictably, called the events here "Silencing pro-Palestinian voices." (h/t Ruthie)

Video of Arabs and leftists trying to provoke settlers

Today, near Susia, some Arabs brought their sheep over to graze in a field that belongs to Jews. They also brought along some anti-Israel activists, equipped with a video camera.

When the Jews asked them what was going on, the Arab women started to push the Jews. They targeted one Jew who was holding a stick, clearly hoping he would use it as a weapon. He didn't.

The Arabs were trying very hard to get the Jews to turn violent, but the Jews didn't even raise their voices.

And the leftists were videoing the entire incident.

Finally, frustrated, two Arabs threw stones directly at the Jews. One was injured.

When the police showed up, they arrested - the Jews!

But, luckily, the Jews also had a video camera as well and showed the police what really happened.

This was not the first time that this community was provoked to create an incident that the anti-Israel activists would use to prove that Jewish "settlers" are violent.

Here's the story in Hebrew, and the video.


(h/t O)

AFP's bias shines through

My latest article at NewsRealBlog fisks a single paragraph from an AFP story last week to show how biased the media is - even if it is subconscious.

Enjoy!

ElderToons: How the Guardian thinks


References:

Protests continue in Egypt; new protests in Yemen; Jordan next?

Headlines from Al Masry al Youm:
Clashes between police and protestors left one civilian dead and a young girl injured in the town of Sheikh Zowayed in the Sinai peninsula.

As hundreds of protesters fought with police, Mohamed Atef was shot in the head. By the time he arrived at the Sheikh Zowayed hospital he was already dead, according to a medial source. (This is the seventh fatality during the protests - EoZ.)

Security forces arrested a 23-year-old woman in Assiut Thursday for defiling an image of President Hosni Mubarak in front of the governorate's headquarters.

Surrounded by hundreds of riot police, nearly 200 protesters rallied at the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo, demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

"The people want to topple the regime!", and "Mubarak, Get lost!" were among the slogans chanted by protesters.

And in Yemen:
Two days after Yemen’s political opposition called for a national uprising against the leadership of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital city of Sanaa, calling for the removal of what they view as a persistently corrupt regime.

A crowd of men, wearing pink bandanas in support of Tunisia’s recent revolution, flooded the streets in four different locations in Sanaa. They waved Yemen’s red, white, and black flag and carried posters that read, “We’ve had enough suppression," "We’ve had enough corruption,” and “We are next” – written above a picture of the Tunisian flag.

“I am here today to express that we need a change in the president, that we refuse corruption, and that we are against constitutional changes that will allow the president to be president for life,” says Ali Al Hossany, an employee at Yemen’s education ministry.

And from the MEMRI blog:
The alliance of leftist and nationalist elements in Jordan, which is leading the demonstrations against price increases in the country for the past two weeks, has called on residents to participate in marches tomorrow, January 28, with the aim of bringing down the government.

Wikileaks adds some support to "Palestine Papers"

From a Wikileaks cable, July 2008, at the height of the negotiations between Kadima and Fatah that have been discussed in the "Palestine Papers:"
Saeb Erekat said the GOI and PA are working on all permanent status issues, noting that the two sides “are farther along than we were at Camp David or at Taba.” He said the negotiators will need President Abbas and PM Olmert to “make the hard political decisions.”

Erekat said the PA is committed to finishing a permanent status framework, defining solutions to all permanent status issues, by the end of 2008. He said he is committed to meeting Israeli security requirements, but wants to do so through a mutually-agreed third-party security force rather than an Israeli military presence in the future Palestinian state.
This is entirely consistent with what we have read in the parts of the "Palestine Papers" we've seen. It indicates that both sides were more flexible than they were in 2001.

The highlighted part hints at an intriguing idea: Mahmoud Abbas may have been purposefully kept out of the loop of the negotiations, allowing the PA negotiators a lot of latitude to find common ground but keeping plausible deniability and veto power if necessary. In this way he could maintain his public rejectionist rhetoric.


In that same cable we also see that
Fayyad said the PA feels unsupported by Arab states, despite their favorable rhetoric.
I've pointed this out for years - the Arab leaders' support for "Palestine" has never been sincere but largely rhetorical. This has only escalated since the Fatah/Hamas split, which Fayyad also touched on:
He argued that unless the PA regains control of Gaza’s crossings, “Gaza will be gone forever.”

Morning links

The Honest Reporting blog notes how the Guardian is pining for the good old days when Arafat was at his peak.

JCPA has an analysis of Al Jazeera's agenda in releasing the "Palestine Papers."

Yaacov Lozowick has an interesting "only in Jerusalem" anecdote.

Treppenwitz adds up what he is seeing in Lebanon, Egypt, and the PA, and it does not add up to good news for his little part of the world.

Robin Shepherd says "I told you so."

Al Jazeera continues to allege facts that aren't in the PalPapers

Whether or not the "Palestine Papers" truthfully reflect what happened in closed-door negotiations, what is clear is that The Guardian and Al Jazeera are reporting their own spin rather than facts.

"Electronic Intifada" founder and NYT darling Ali Abunimah writes in Al Jazeera:

PA lobbying blocked Shalit swap

The PA blocked potential prisoner swaps that would have freed thousands of Palestinians and Shalit.

Analysis of secret minutes of meetings between top Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials revealed in The Palestine Papers shows that strenuous PA lobbying likely torpedoed the deal in mid-2008 with the result that far fewer Palestinian prisoners have been released by Israel.
But he brings no proof to this. He points to memos that show that the PA was unhappy with Israel releasing Hamas prisoners for Shalit, saying that Hamas would be strengthened. Israel agrees that a swap would help Hamas politically but Livni continuously pushes back saying that they want Shalit and there is no way to avoid that unfortunate consequence. They go on to find ways to strengthen the PA simultaneously by releasing Fatah members from prison - which they even did.

Abunimah brings no memos that indicate that the PA's efforts stopped any Shalit deal. In fact, the very idea is absurd. Israel would never scuttle a deal to get Shalit back because of PA objections!

If one is to believe the spin given to the Palestine Papers by The Guardian and Al Jazeera, the PA had no power and Israel ran roughshod over every one of their requests. Yet now Al Jazeera is claiming that the PA had veto power over an issue that is hugely important to Israel and only peripherally related to the negotiations.

Abunimah writes his counter-factual screed to blame the PA for blocking the release of thousands of Hamas prisoners. Yet these same memos show that 198 were released just by the PA asking Israel to do so, and giving nothing in return. (Abunimah calls them "symbolic.")

The release of these papers proves what we have seen time and time again. Conspiracy theorists will spin their stories regardless of facts and common sense, and the PalPapers are simply a treasure trove of new data to be twisted to fit already-existing fantasies.

Abbas rewards family of terrorist

From Palestinian Media Watch:
Earlier this month a Palestinian terrorist attempted to attack an Israeli checkpoint. Carrying two pipe bombs, he ran towards the Israeli soldiers, screaming "Allahu Akbar" - "Allah is Greater" - and was shot and killed before he could detonate the bombs.

Yesterday Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas granted "the relatives of the Shahid" $2000:
"The governor of the Jenin district, Kadura Musa, has awarded a presidential grant to the family of the Shahid (Martyr), Khaldoun Najib Samoudy, during a visit that took place yesterday in the village of Al-Yamoun. The governor noted that the grant is financial aid in the amount of $2000 that the President [Mahmoud Abbas] is awarding to the relatives of the Shahid, who was recently killed as a Martyr at the Hamra checkpoint by the Israeli occupation forces."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Fatah) Jan. 25, 2011]

Syria blocking social networking sites

In 2007, Syria blocked access to the Facebook webpage by its citizens.

Now, in the wake of the Tunisia uprising, they are tightening the ban even more. From Reuters:
Syrian authorities have banned programmes that allow access to Facebook Chat from cellphones, tightening already severe restrictions on the Internet in the wake of the unrest in Tunisia, users said on Wednesday.

Nimbuzz and eBuddy, two programmes that allow access to Facebook Chat and other messaging programmes through a single interface, no longer work in Syria, they said.

"All indicators point downhill after the revolution in Tunisia. The policy of iron censorship has not changed," said Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Media and Freedom of Expression Centre, which the authorities closed three years ago.
And in Egypt:

Egyptians had complained Facebook and Twitter and other sites were being blocked and mobile networks disrupted. Egypt's government denied social media websites were disrupted, saying it respected freedom of expression.
Syrians can still access Facebook through proxy servers.

Iran publishes and promotes explicit anti-Semitism

The Muslim world has always insisted that it is not anti-semitic, simply anti-Zionist.

The current Iranian regime in particular has stressed this argument, using useful pawns like the New York Times' Roger Cohen to point to the Iranian Jewish community as proof it is not against Jews.

The Aladdin Project, an initiative to promote peace between Jews and Muslims, has demolished Iran's claims.

The Aladdin Project has catalogued more than 160 books with strongly anti-Semitic content published since 2005 and displayed in Tehran’s 23rd International Book Fair in May this year.
The books range from newer editions of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Holocaust denial literature to works that deal with alleged Jewish domination of world finance and U.S. politics. Many of the books have been brought out by the Iranian government, such as “Jews, Zionism, and the Holocaust,” a textbook published by Iran’s Ministry of Education for use in schools. “Death of a Myth: Views of President Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust” was put on display by the Office of the President.
While many of the anti-Semitic books were exhibited by privately-owned publishers, the government and state-affiliated institutions, such as the Political Studies and Research Institute (PSRI) and the Islamic Revolution Documentation Centre, remain the most prolific producers and exporters of anti-Semitic literature in Iran. Many of their books have been translated into Arabic and other languages of the Muslim world and sent to libraries and bookshops around the world.
Some of the books are translations of works by Western Holocaust deniers or neo-Nazis, almost invariably accompanied with lengthy commentaries by the translators. These included the new Persian translation of “My Awakening,” penned by American white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and works by Robert Faurisson, Roger Garaudy, Mark Weber, Fredrick Toben and Ernst Zundel.
While so many anti-Semitic books were exhibited at the fair, Iran's Writers Association said in a statement that a number of prominent Iranian publishing houses were not allowed to have a stand at the fair and books by a number of well-know Iranian authors were banned.
According to a Tehran-based conservative Web site, Tabnak, “special examiners of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance” combed through the exhibitors’ catalogues and banned many of the works, including “all books about the Holocaust”. Books denying the Holocaust, however, were clearly exempted from the ban.

The Aladdin Project published a list of the explicitly anti-semitic books at the fair, using only the publishers' descriptions, and showing only the ones that were written in Farsi, not Arabic.

Anti-Semitic-books-in-Tehran-Book-Fair-2010.xlsx
(h/t Alice W)

Gaddafi foundation reneges on UNRWA pledge

From UNRWA, August 9, 2010:
The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) and UNRWA have signed a $50 million agreement to rebuild 1250 refugee homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed when Israel launched its last devastating attack on Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009.
Isn't it heartwarming when Arabs step up to help out their fellow Arabs in Gaza?

Oops:
The media advisor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees, Adnan Abu Hasna, denied that the organization had received $50 million from the Gaddafi Charity Foundation.

Abu Hasna said in a press release, "So far, UNRWA received only $2 million of the total amount."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What it feels like to be murdered by an Arab

A must-read article in the Jerusalem Post:

The two women got out of the car with Wilson’s dog, Peanut, and walked a bit on the Israel Trail. They had wandered off the path to an overlook when suddenly two Arab men appeared and asked in Hebrew if they had any water.

“I was startled... so I answered in Hebrew, which was a mistake,” Wilson said. “I know what they were trying to do, they were trying to figure out if we were Jewish.”

The men gave her an uneasy feeling, so Wilson suggested they head back to the path. She walked in front of Luken and opened the blade of her pen knife.

“Suddenly, she screams, and as I turn around one of them pounces on me, the other one has already pounced on her,” Wilson recounted. “This is the moment I was so terrified.

This was the overwhelming moment of fear for me, this first part.”

She struggled with her attacker, who had pulled out a very long, serrated knife, and managing to stab him in the thigh with her pen knife.

It was this stab that later allowed forensics experts to collect DNA at the site and positively identify the attacker, the Shin Bet said.

“They didn’t stab us [at first], they were trying to quiet us down,” she said. “I have this overwhelming adrenaline of absolute terror.

I’m frozen for five minutes, I just don’t know what to do.

Somehow emotionally that moment passes and I’m able to think a little more clearly.”

Wilson switched tactics, showing her tour guide badge and saying that a bus full of tourists was about to come looking for them, offering the attackers all of their belongings.

She kept telling Luken, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.”

“I was talking crap, I didn’t have a plan,” she said.

Meanwhile, the attackers were on their cellphones, saying over and over in Arabic, “Where are you?!” coordinating with at least one other member of the terrorist cell who was in the getaway vehicle.

Twenty minutes had passed since the men first attacked Wilson and Luken. One of the men forced Wilson to take off her shoes and used the laces to bind the women’s hands behind their backs.

“Then there’s this moment, I’ll never forget this. He takes off my Star of David. He very gently bows my head, takes it off like a fiancé would. And he has this smirk on his face.”

Later, the man would stab Wilson in the very spot where her Star of David lay.
Read the whole thing.

(h/t aparatchik)

Conspiracy theory: Netanyahu released PalPapers to get Abbas killed

A great conspiracy theory is published as an op-ed in the pro-Fatah Palestine Press Agency.

The author argues that the release of the "Palestine Papers" must have been orchestrated by Bibi Netanyahu. Here's the bizarre thinking that leads the author to this conclusion.

Netanyahu is threatened by Abbas because Abbas is managing to build a nation on his own. Abbas is also a threat because Israel can no longer point to him and say that all Palestinian Arab leaders are terrorists, because Abbas has been doing his nation-building in a peaceful way. He is a Palestinian Gandhi, which is evidently Israel's worst nightmare. His peacefulness, and the recent diplomatic successes in getting South American nations to recognize "Palestine," is what drives Netanyahu crazy.

So Netanyahu wants him killed.

The best way to get Abbas killed is to get one of  his people to murder him, of course. And the way to do that is to tell Palestinian Arabs that Abbas is willing to compromise with Israel and is not being honest with them.

Israel therefore collaborated with Al Jazeera, which already has these faked papers in hand but was waiting for the right moment to release them. Their Israeli friend Bibi convinced them that now was the time, and they happily did as their Zionist masters demanded. Now he only has to wait for the inevitable assassination.

The perfect crime!

Of course, to believe this story, you must accept as a given that Arabs would naturally assassinate their leaders when they are perceived as being too conciliatory towards Israel.

ElderToons: Ethnic Cleansing

A small example of how Fatah does propaganda

Fatah newspapers have been furiously publishing articles supporting the Fatah leadership and attacking Al Jazeera.

One article in Al-Ahd shows a gimmick that we have seen even mainstream newspapers use in order to push forward propaganda as news. See if you can spot it:
The masses of refugees in camps in the West Bank confirmed their support for President Mahmoud Abbas and his policy aimed at the creation of state institutions through the establishment of a Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital.

A spokesman for the refugee camps in the West Bank, Imad Abu Simbel, said "All the services committees in the refugee camps and all the masses of refugees in the West Bank reaffirm their support for President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership under media attack waged by Al-Jazeera against the Palestinian leadership and the negotiating team."
Who is this "spokesman for the refugee camps"? He is, of course, a Fatah member! And one can rest assured that he didn't take a poll of the camps to see if the residents were happy or unhappy with the reported leaks. As the official (or maybe even unofficial, it doesn't matter) "spokesman" he has taken the right of speaking for the people - and saying whatever he wants.

This happens all the time, in one form or another. UNRWA documents from the 1950s would state authoritatively that the refugees did not want citizenship in their host countries, but they never commissioned a poll nor did they pro-actively go into people's homes to ask them. They would only deal with the "officials," those who were politically active to begin with and who would say the party line. And they wouldn't even entertain the thought that these self-appointed leaders' interests could be at odds with those of the people they pretend to represent.

The fact is that people who are interviewed by the media are to a large extent self-selecting and therefore they are, by definition, not representative of the people they claim to represent. This case with Abu Simbel is clear, but every interview in every news medium goes through a vetting process to ensure that the person will say what the interviewer wants them to say, otherwise their words get downplayed or ignored.