.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jerusalem Day: Videos

Today is Yom Yerushalayim, the day to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem after the artificial splitting of the city for 19 long years from 1948-1967.

JCPA came out with a brilliant video showing the history of Jerusalem in 5 minutes, highlighting how only under Jewish rule has it been truly a place for freedom of religion.


Not nearly as good, but I made a video a couple of years ago comparing how important Jerusalem is in Jewish and Muslim culture:



Last year, Aish HaTorah put together their own nice tribute for Yom Yerushalayim:

Administrivia/open thread

The blog has broken its previous record for pageviews this month, with over 169,000 pageviews and 120,000 unique pageviews.

In the past 12 months I have over 1.3 million pageviews. My Alexa rank has gone up to 139,878 out of all websites in the world, up from around 210,000 in December. That's pretty good.

I am getting so many emails with suggestions for posts that I cannot possibly post them all. When I can, I put them in linkdumps, but there are really a lot to go through, so my apologies if I cannot acknowledge them all. As it is, I am only skimming the comments because there are so many and I don't have enough time.

But I'm working on how to live without sleep altogether. When I succeed, then I'll have a little bit more time to spend on the blog...

I made it to the finals of the Pro-Israel Blog-Off at Israellycool. The final voting will probably be the week of June 12th since next week is the holiday of Shavuot. My opponent for the final is Israel Muse

I can enter any post from the past six months for the final. I intended to make a video but unfortunately I will not have the time to do it as well as I want to, so I apologize for those who voted for me on that basis :)

Since I don't like to submit old posts, right now I am leaning to submitting the audio post of my lecture on How to Be a Media-Savvy Advocate of Israel that I gave last week. My second choice is my post also last week on Bursting Liberal Assumptions About the Peace Process. Since I've been swinging for the fences in my submissions in the first three rounds, I think I will again, even if it means that the judges must listen to me for 65 minutes!

If you think I should change my mind, I'm open to other opinions.

The winner, based on a combination of votes and judges' opinions, gets an iPad.

When the voting begins, I'll remind you all to vote. Repeatedly. Because, let's face it, who doesn't want an iPad?


And here's an open thread for your enjoyment and edification....


Video: Who do the territories belong to?

Well done and accurate, now with English translation in the comments.

Why are there so many Egyptian birth defects?

Al Masry al-Youm interviews doctors who list the three major reasons why Egyptian babies have a high number of birth defects.

Number three is economic conditions, that make it difficult for women to get proper pre-natal care.

Number two is pollution, such as contamination of water sources or living near factories that emit dangerous byproducts.

But the major reason for birth defects is inbreeding.

Some 35-40% of Egyptians marry their own cousins, according to the article. And they are not alone.

This 2005 study says:

One distinctive feature of Arab families is the relatively high rate of marriage between relatives (in particular, between cousins), a practice known as consanguinity. Marriage between relatives is particularly high in Sudan, Libya, and Saudi Arabia, where 40 percent to 50 percent of ever-married women ages 15 to 49 are wed to their first cousins. These consanguineous marriages are not necessarily arranged marriages; they may well reflect the wishes of the marrying partners. But marriage between close relatives can jeopardize the health of their offspring, as can marriage among families with a history of genetic diseases. 
A 1997 study in the UAE found:
The consanguinity rate in the UAE has increased from 39% to 50.5% in one generation.

Israeli Arabs have high rates of consanguineous marriages as well.

This is a major health crisis in the Arab world that falls under the radar.

The sad part is that this is a problem that is relatively easy to fix. Yet none of the people we see so often who pretend to love the Arabs so much seem to care when Arab problems cannot be blamed on Israel.

"Free Software Foundation" founder cancels Israel lectures

From Thinq.co.uk:

Open sourcerer and president of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, has cancelled a bunch of lectures and public appearances he was due to make in Israel, since he'd tacked them on to a visit he is to make to the Occupied Territories paid for by Palestinians.

Stallman was had booked himself in to speak at Haifa University, Tel Aviv University and Shenkar College in July when he also has engagements in the Occupied Territories as part of a trip paid for by Palestinian organisations.

When they found out about Stallman's other engagements his Palestinian paymasters threatened to pull the funding, which in turn lead Stallman to cancel his Israeli dates.

Stallman wrote:
"The funds for my travel to Israel are coming from Palestinians who invited me to give talks for them. They are unhappy that I offered to give talks at Israeli universities, and say they won't buy the tickets if I'm going to do that. So I can go, and cancel these speeches, or not go, and cancel these speeches.

"I think it is best if I go, and give the speeches they originally invited me to give."

"I am sorry for the disappointment this will cause."
My initial thought was that some Israeli university should offer to pay for the trip without any strings attached, so Stallman - who writes so extensively on freedom in relation to software - would understand what "freedom" really means.

It wouldn't work. Apparently, Stallman is a complete idiot as far as Israel is concerned.

Part of his website has something called "political notes" where we are treated to such gems as:

Egypt has opened the Rafah border crossing for people, but not for goods.
This will help Palestinians who want to leave Gaza for medical treatment; Israel will no longer be able to kill them by blocking their exit.
Does Stallman really believe that Israeli policy is to kill Palestinian Arabs by blocking their ability to leave? In fact, does Stallman believe that Israel has had any say in the border between Gaza and Egypt in recent years?

He repeatedly and approvingly quotes Uri Avnery and MJ Rosenberg, quotes ridiculous news sources saying that Israel shot artillery at the Malaysian "aid" ship without any skepticism, and in short fully believes every anti-Israel statement anyone makes without having the intellectual honesty to check both sides of the story.

These notes mention Israel hundreds of times but as far as I can tell only gives voice to anti-Zionist opinion. I don't see a single mention of the Itamar massacre, while he notes cases of tear gas canisters hitting "peaceful" protesters with slingshots and boulders and Molotov cocktails. No mentions of Qassam rockets this year, but in 2006 he wrote:
Considering that Qassam missiles are almost totally ineffective, Israeli policy resembles that of a grown man who shoots children that try to stab him with crayons.
Brilliant analogy there, Stallman. Why should Israel care about rockets that only occasionally kill people? Just smile and laugh - they are nothing but crayons!

Go speak to the Palestinian Arabs - you deserve each other.

(h/t Silke)

Iranian diplomat accused of spying against Egypt

I edited this from stories in Bikya Masr, Ya Libnan and Al Masry al Youm:
An Iranian diplomat working at the Iran mission in Cairo was detained on Saturday, security sources told Bikya Masr. The diplomat, Qassem Hosseini, was taken in for questioning after a tip-off led investigators to the Iranian diplomat’s villa in Maadi. Early reports said that Hosseini was being held for “passing information” from the mission in Cairo back to his headquarters in Tehran.

Security sources confirmed that Hosseini was arrested and interrogated.

“The state security prosecutor detained and questioned Qassem Hosseini after the Foreign Ministry confirmed he is an Iranian diplomat,” Aly Hassan, a judicial analyst with the justice ministry said.

The Egyptian Supreme State Security Court prosecutor, Taher El Khouli, accused Hosseini of attempting to organize an espionage network in Egypt while working at the Iranian mission in Cairo. The Iranian diplomat is being called an “undercover operative” by the prosecutor, who also said that investigators found spying devices in his home, which are banned in Egypt.

The prosecutor’s office reported that Qassem Hosseini became active in collecting intelligence during the 18-day revolution which ousted Egypt’s president and authoritarian regime from power. The diplomat “took advantage of the security vacuum” surrounding the uprising, El Khouli told reporters. Egyptian investigators followed Hosseini for several weeks and found that he had violated diplomatic procedure and protocols.
Egyptian security officers found documents, a computer and spying devices banned in Egypt at Husseini’s apartment, a security official told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday.
The investigation also revealed that al-Husseini had asked his sources to offer Iranian financial backing to popular Egyptian political organizations and movements in order to strengthen ties with them.
In late April of this year, Kuwait and Bahrain expelled several Iranian diplomats after a court verdict in Kuwait linked Iranian diplomats with a spy ring operating in Kuwait. The diplomats were accused of having direct connections with the espionage network while also reporting back to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Tweeters and bloggers overwhelmingly pro-Israel after Obama, Bibi speeches

From the Pew Research Center's Journalism.org:
By almost a 3-to-1 margin, bloggers and users of Twitter and Facebook expressed strong support for Israel over the Palestinians in the week following President Obama's May 19 address on the Middle East, according to an analysis of social media conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Many of those expressing support also took President Obama to task for suggesting that peace in the region would best be achieved by creating a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

Only a small percentage of the conversation was neutral as most users shared strong opinions about the difficult issues involved in the peace process.

In the seven days following Obama's speech, fully 55% of the conversation on blogs on the issue has been in favor of Israel and opposed to a move to the 1967 borders, while 19% has been in favor of the Palestinians and the creation of an independent state. About a quarter, 27%, was neutral.

On Twitter and Facebook, the tone of conversation was similar with 60% pro-Israel compared to 20% pro-Palestinian and 20% neutral.

These are the results of a special edition of the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, utilizing computer technology from Crimson Hexagon. Based on more than 48,000 blog posts and 430,000 posts on Twitter or Facebook, this report goes beyond the normal methodology of PEJ's index of new media to look at the specific themes and tone of the online conversation related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The pro-Israeli tone of conversation also stayed relatively constant throughout the week examined. On blogs, the ratio of support for Israel over the Palestinians was virtually the same on May 19, the day of Obama's speech (55% to 19%), as it was on May 25 (54% to 20%).

On Twitter and Facebook, there was a small change over time away from the pro-Israel position, but not enough to see a significant change in the overall makeup of the conversation. On May 19, 62% of the discussion was pro-Israel compared to 20% pro-Palestinian, while a week later the makeup was 54% to 23%.
You're welcome :)

(h/t Zvi)

IAEA notes Iranian nuke weapons program; Saudis to build 16 nuclear reactors

The nuclear arms race in the Middle East is in full swing.

From the NYT last week:

The world’s global nuclear inspection agency, frustrated by Iran’s refusal to answer questions, revealed for the first time on Tuesday that it possesses evidence that Tehran has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts said could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear weapon.

The disclosure by the International Atomic Energy Agency was buried inside a nine-page report on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program.

The agency gave some details in Tuesday’s report on work that was apparently done on how to trigger a nuclear device, dating back to late 2003.

“The agency has not described these experiments to this detail before,” said Olli Heinonen, the agency’s former chief inspector.

The disclosure about the atomic trigger centered on a rare material — uranium deuteride, a form of the element made with deuterium, or heavy hydrogen. Nuclear experts say China and Pakistan appear to have used the material as a kind of atomic sparkplug.

The report said it had asked Iran about evidence of “experiments involving the explosive compression of uranium deuteride to produce a short burst of neutrons” — the speeding particles that split atoms in two in a surge of nuclear energy. In a bomb, an initial burst of neutrons is needed to help initiate a rapid chain reaction.

Harold M. Agnew, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory, said the compression of uranium deuteride suggested work on an atomic trigger.

“I don’t know of any peaceful uses,” he said in an interview.

Tuesday’s report also gave fresh charges on the design of missile warheads. Documentary evidence, it said, suggested that Iran had conducted “studies involving the removal of the conventional high explosive payload from the warhead of the Shahab-3 missile and replace it with a spherical nuclear payload.”

The Shahab-3 is one of Iran’s deadliest weapons, standing 56 feet tall. In parades, Iran has draped them with banners reading, “Wipe Israel off the map.”
Today, Al Arabiya reports that Saudi Arabia si planning to build no less than 16 nuclear reactors by 2030. The estimated cost is $300 billion. The official reason is "energy security" so as not to be dependent on oil...which it controls.

The Saudi move almost certainly reflects the regimes' own nervousness at the potential that Iran will have nuclear weapons.

But the West has sanctions against Iran, so the problem will take care of itself, no doubt.

(The IAEA report also noted that Iran seems to have recovered from Stuxnet.)

(h//t Serious Black)

Newest nutty Egyptian rumor: Mossad tried to grab Mubarak from hospital

Popular Egyptian daily Rose el-Youssef has spun a new conspiracy theory to rival the one from yesterday (which also originated there) about the Mossad grabbing Egyptians' email and contact lists via online TV viewing software.

This one says that last Friday, the Mossad almost grabbed Hosni Mubarak from his hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The overly detailed theory says that the plan was masterminded by fugitive Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem, and that helicopters had been deployed last Friday by the Mossad from Eilat to enable the snatch, that they would enter the hospital with guns blazing while Egypt's security was busy in Cairo for the latest Tahrir Square protests there, and that Mubarak would be disguised with a wig (since no one would consider the gunfire at his hospital has anything to do with him.)

I'm not sure why this brilliant plan was foiled, but I'm sure that Egyptian cunning and intelligence had something to do with it.

Intra-Hamas battles continue

From The Economist:
ALL is not well in the camp of Hamas, the Palestinians’ Islamist faction that rules the Gaza Strip. No sooner had its leader in exile, Khaled Meshal (pictured), declared his readiness for Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinians’ more moderate Fatah faction, to relaunch negotiations with Israel, than one of Hamas’s leaders in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, said Mr Abbas did not speak for the Palestinians: “Our programme is against negotiations in this way because they are a waste of time.”

Formally Mr Meshal, who is based in Syria’s capital, Damascus, speaks for Hamas. But with turmoil there and uncertainty over the policy of Egypt towards the Palestinians—it has said it will open its border crossing to Gaza—Mr Meshal and his exiled coterie have looked homeless and weak. And Hamas leaders in Gaza say they are keen to see the movement’s centre of gravity shift back home. “The main headquarters of the Hamas movement is in the occupied lands,” says Mr Zahar. “Its real weight is there.”

Rival visions have worsened the row. Whereas Mr Meshal relies on diplomatic and foreign ties for his influence, Hamas leaders in Gaza depend more on their own resources. Mr Meshal looks to reconciliation with Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement as a means to regain a national role, and has long sought a place in the Palestinians’ umbrella body, the Palestine Liberation Organisation. But Hamas leaders in Gaza think they already have a big enough platform.

Depending more on friends outside Palestine, Mr Meshal faces pressure from Islamist movements elsewhere in the Arab world to show a more conciliatory face. Hamas’s harsh de facto one-party state in Gaza clashes with the idea of an enlightened democratic movement that sister Islamist groups seek to portray.
This has been a simmering issue in the Arabic media for over a week now.

Today, Mahmoud Zahar refused to go to Damascus to participate in a meeting of Hamas' political movement, even though he is a member of that body.

(The Economist article fails badly in trying to portray Meshal as some sort of a liberal reformer. The fact that he embraces a short-term tactical rapprochement with Fatah to further his goal of destroying Israel hardly makes him the peaceful maverick that the Economist tries to turn him into.)

The "unity" farce continues....

Video of Egyptian judoka refusing to shake hands with Israeli

From JPost:
Arik Ze’evi is on the verge of qualifying for his fourth straight Olympic Games after winning a gold medal at the Grand Slam event in Moscow on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Israeli defeated Cyrille Maret of France in the final of the under-100-kilogram competition after beating 2009 world champion Maxim Rakov in the semis.

Ze’evi’s achievement was marred by a slight controversy when Egyptian Ramadan Darwish refused to shake his hand and quickly walked away at the end of their quarterfinal bout.

The referee ordered Darwish back onto the floor, but the Egyptian still wouldn’t shake Ze’evi’s hand and left swiftly after giving the traditional bow.



(h/t Joel)

Work accidents! 5 new martyrs in "paradise"!

From Ma'an :
Three men were killed Tuesday in an explosion at a resistance training ground in the southern Gaza Strip.

Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Mujahid told Ma'an that three men affiliated with the group were killed in a blast at the Abu Ataya training ground in Tel Sultan, west of Rafah. 
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion but the Israeli military said it was not responsible. 
Abu Mujahid identified those killed as Younis Abu An-Naja, Ramzi Abu Harb, and Mahmoud Al-Arqan.

On Friday, two fighters affiliated with Hamas were killed in an explosion in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

If you like to gaze at an image of a 'sploded fighter, you can see it at the Hamas Al Qassam website, which improbably claims:
Israeli occupation intellegence services push its collaborators to plant ground mines inside the training camps of the Palestinian resistance factions to cause a state of insecurity and fear in the Strip.

Virtual candy all around to celebrate the latest holy jihadists entering the next world, and being sorely disappointed at their reception!

(I cannot find verification of the Friday explosion anywhere, so I'm not sure where Ma'an got that from.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dehumanizing checkpoint photos

Here are more horrid photos of Palestinian Arabs being forced to wait for hours at dehumanizing checkpoints. 


A Palestinian boy sleeps on the ground as he waits with his family to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip May 29, 2011. 

Palestinian children wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip May 29, 2011

Hold on...they aren't being forced to wait by Israelis? Then forget what I wrote above.

These are photos of how wonderful Egypt is for allowing Palestinian Arabs to enter their country!

Saudi vice squad wonders why Saudi girls run away from home

From Arab News:

Most runaway Saudi girls — 51.4 percent — are aged 16 to 20, according to a study conducted by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia).

“Those in the age group of 21 to 25 came second among Saudi women who run away from their homes. They constituted 38.5 percent,” the study said.

The team studied the reasons why girls ran away from their homes and how to deal with them and help them integrate into society.

The study highlighted the efforts of the commission to confront the problem and reduce its complications by conducting seminars and lectures and distributing pamphlets.

The study emphasized the need for the presence of Haia officials at supermarkets and other public places to protect girls from falling prey people who exploit them.

“The Haia conducted this study in order to find out the reasons behind the phenomenon of runaway girls and how to solve it with the support of departments concerned,” an official statement said
Yet the article doesn't mention a single reason why Saudi girls run away from home - even though that was the entire point of the study.

Could it be that the Saudi implementation of Shari'a law - as embodied by the Hai'a themselves - has something to do with it?

Nah, that's crazy talk.

Iranian ayatollah confirms obligation to kill Israeli children

From the website of Ayatollah Misbah Yazdi - in English:

Question 1: Some people say that martyrdom operations are considered suicide and that they are haram because they contradict Islam. They quote ahadith such as this one by Imam Ja'afar As-Sadeq(a.s.): "A Muslim may fight and get killed [by the enemy] but will never shed his own blood" and ayat such as "Do not kill yourselves, for Allah is compassionate towards you. Whoever does so, in transgression and wrongfully, We shall roast in a fire, and that is an easy matter for Allah" (An-Nisaa 4:29-30). They say this even about the martyrdom operations against the military targets such as the ones used by Hizbollah Lebanon or the ones used by the Iranian Army against Saddam's army (as I was told). The question, are martyrdom operations where a person detonate himself into the army of the enemy haram? Is it suicide? Why or why not? Please answer this question as there is lots of discussion and confusion about this issue.

Question 2: Now about targeting civilians in the Zionist state, some people say that according to the teaching of Ahlul Bayt(a.s.) and the Quran it is haram to target civilians in any case. They also say that Israelis are civilians like any other people while others believe they are settlers and usurpers not civilians. Are the operations done by Hamas and Al-Jihad against Israelis "civilians" haram? Why or why not? How about the Israeli children killed in such attacks? If it is not haram, what is the answer to those who quote the hadith about not targerting non combatants.

Question 3: About civilians in general. Given the fact that there are mass destruction weapons and that it is not always easy to prevent civilians' death in wars like at the old times, what would be the ruling about attacks that unintentionally kill civilians in wars (as in the case of the Iran-Iraq war)? Also, say we live in a Muslim country, and there is another country which attacked one of our cities with nuclear weapons and wiped it out. Then this country announced it will destroy our cities one by one using nuclear weapons. Supposing that country had all their nuclear weapons in one of their cities, would it be ok for the Muslim country to attack this city and destroy the nuclear weapons there before they are used to annihilate the Muslims even though that would mean lead to the death of the enemies' civilians in that city. This is supposing that this is the only way to protect the Muslims' life?
With Du'a for Allah to protect the Ayatollah

Answer:
1. It is regrettable that the propaganda of the enemies of Islam has influenced the Muslim `Ummah so much that Muslims instead of planning for the uprooting of the Zionist regime and its arrogant supporters have occupied themselves with questioning and discussing the legitimacy of the Palestinians' self-defence which is carried out under the most oppressive conditions imaginable. For sure, when protecting Islam and the Muslim `Ummah depends on martyrdom operations, it not only is allowed, but even is an obligation (wajib) as many of the Shi'ah great scholars and Maraje', including Ayatullah Safi Golpayegani and Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani, have clearly announced in their fatwas. Consider the rewayah from the prophet of Allah (SA) who said: "Whoever is killed in defence of his belongings, he/she is Shahid." (Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, v.15, p.121)

2. Muslims should not attack those civilians of the occupied territories who have announced their opposition to their government's vicious crimes, except for situations in which they are used as human shields and fighting the aggressors depends on attacking those civilians.

3. In the case of conflict between two Muslim nations, Muslims should assist the oppressed against the oppressor. But before the war is waged, initiating attacks for the purpose of prevention depends on a permission from Valyy-i Faqih.

With prayers for your success.
Answer #2 indicates that Israeli children must be killed according to Yazdi's version of Islamic law.

Yazdi is the director of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qum.

(h/t Memri)

Egyptians freak over Israeli online TV software

There is an Israeli company called "Online TV Software" that, for a fee, allows you to watch thousands of satellite channels on your PC.

This is no big deal; there are lots of similar services.

However, Egyptians are freaking out upon finding out that the software was actually based out of Israel, and now Arabic media has stories about how the Mossad is using this software to monitor Egyptian Internet users.

Their main evidence was their "discovery" (which is trivial) that the IP address of the website is in Ramat Gan, Israel.

Arabic media described the software this way:

Within minutes after installing the program, the Mossad receives details of Egyptians through their computers inside their homes - their e-mail addresses, correspondence, telephone and personal uses of the computers, and the private information about hobbies and whether they are educated or a lover of adult movies and who they correspond with, and what are their personal views and whether they are politically active.
The software is not specifically marketed to Egyptians. The main webpage is in French.

Now it is possible that the program does include spyware to help determine some of these things - there are lots of such programs out there - but the evidence that the Mossad is behind this is, literally, zero. Why would the Mossad base such a company out of Israel if they want to hide this?

Some Egyptian who knows a tiny amount about computers did a geolocate of the IP address and found that the company was Israeli, he freaked out and contacted a newspaper, and now the paranoia has taken over.

Report: Lebanese army stopped a rocket attack last week

From the Daily Star Lebanon, in an article about last week's attack on UNIFIL forces in Lebanon which wounded six:
Before Friday, the most recent attack against UNIFIL personnel was on Jan. 8, 2008, when a road side bomb exploded on the coastal highway near Rmeileh beside a jeep carrying Irish soldiers, lightly wounding two of them. The bomb consisted of 10 kg of explosive buried about 15 cm underground beside the median strip and was detonated by remote control, according to investigators.

Friday’s bombing of the Italian convoy took place just 20 m from where the Irish were attacked in 2008. Investigators are still examining the remains of the explosive charge, although initial reports suggest it was of a similar size to the 2008 bomb.

There are other similarities between the two incidents besides the location and size of the bomb. Hours before the Irish were hit in 2008, two 107mm Katyusha rockets were fired from south Lebanon and struck the Israeli border settlement of Shelomi. It was the second rocket attack against Israel since the 2006 war.

Last week, the Lebanese Army caught a militant planning to fire rockets from somewhere near Hasbaya, just outside UNIFIL’s area of operations, according to security sources. The claim remains unconfirmed and the army released no statement on the alleged arrest of the militant.
The claim was repeated in the As-Safir newspaper as reported by Palestine Today.

Everything is political - even blood

Palestine Press Agency reports that Egyptians are donating blood through the "Palestine Embassy" to "support the steadfastness of the people of Jerusalem."

Somehow, I don't think they mean the Jews of Jerusalem.

Is there a particular reason why Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem are in need of blood? Is there a shortage we have not been told about?

Or are there any activities planned in the coming days - for example, "Naksa Day" on June 5 - where it is expected that Arabs will be in need of blood?

Of course this is hardly the first time that blood is used to score political points.

"Aid" ships to Gaza usually are claimed to contain blood or blood platelets, even though no one has claimed that there is any shortage of blood in Gaza.

In 2009, Hamas refused to accept blood from Israel after Operation Cast Lead/Operation Oil Stain.

In late 2008, Jordan's King Abdullah and his wife donated blood for Gaza as well. How did it get delivered? Through Israel?

In 2001, Yasir Arafat staged a fake donation of his own blood to counteract the videos of Palestinian Arabs celebrating the 9/11 murders of thousands of Americans.

As with everything else, blood is used cynically by Israel-haters and by the Arab world to score political points more than to actually help people.

Muslim Islamicization of Jerusalem - in 1872 (updated)

Sheikh Yusuf Juma Salma, the Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, has once again accused Israel of "Judaizing" Jerusalem. One of his complaints was that there was an official Israeli government function in the Tower of David last week, and there happens to have once been a mosque there (in fact, the tower itself was built as a minaret.) So even though it is open to the public, with a museum and lots of events, when the Israeli government does something there it is of course sacrilegious.

One of the permanent exhibitions at the Tower of David museum is a remarkably detailed model of Jerusalem as it looked in 1872. The museum describes it this way:
A one of a kind model created in 1872 by Hungarian pilgrim Stephen Illes. The model depicts Jerusalem as it was in Illes’ time and is unique both for its many details and for the fact that it documents the city’s appearance prior to the significant changes it underwent in the 20th century. For example, the model immortalizes the Jewish Quarter before it was destroyed in 1948.

The model was first displayed in 1873 in the Ottoman pavilion at the World’s Fair in Vienna. At the demand of Ottoman authorities, the model included some deliberate distortions such as the disproportionately large minarets. From Vienna, the model traveled to various European cities and was purchased in 1878, by community leaders in Geneva. It was on display at the city’s Salle de la Réformation for some 40 years.

Forgotten for 64 years in the attic of the Geneva Public and University Library, it was rediscovered in 1984 in a comprehensive research project conducted by Moti Yair, a student at the Hebrew University.

In 1985, the model was transferred to Jerusalem and restored. It is now exhibited on permanent loan at the Tower of David Museum.

The museum page shows part of the model, that includes the Hurva and Nissan Bek synagogues whose domes visually dominated the Jewish Quarter. Here is what they really looked like in a photo from 1931:


And here is what they looked like in Illes' model, modified to make the Ottoman authorities happy:


Note the minaret next to the Hurva - a minaret that simply was never there! (UPDATE: It is there, but much, much smaller.)

The entire purpose was to make the Hurva look like a mosque, and to have a taller Muslim minaret placed next to it. In fact, given that the Jewish Quarter is on a hill, the dome of the Hurva was higher than the Dome of the Rock, a fact that Muslims could not stomach.

So it is very amusing that a Muslim leader is claiming that Israel is distorting the history of Jerusalem when we can see that Muslims have been trying to strip Jerusalem of its Jewish character since even before Zionism started as a political movement!

A UN resolution to recognize "Palestine" would be illegal (JCPA)

From JCPA:

May 25, 2011

His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
1st Avenue & 44th St.
New York, NY 10017



Excellency,

Re: The Proposed General Assembly Resolution to Recognize a Palestinian State "within 1967 Borders" - An Illegal Action

We, the undersigned, attorneys from across the world who are involved in general matters of international law, as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, appeal to you to use your influence and authority among the member states of the UN, with a view to preventing the adoption of the resolution that the Palestinian delegation intends to table at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, to recognize a Palestinian state "within the 1967 borders."

By all standards and criteria, such a resolution, if adopted, would be in stark violation of all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as contravening UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and those other resolutions based thereon.

Our reasoning is as follows:
1. The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the U.S. Congress.

2. Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly, the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 650,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem reside there legitimately.

3. "The 1967 borders" do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 Armistice Agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the Armistice Demarcation Lines, clearly stated that these lines "are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto." Accordingly, they cannot be accepted or declared to be the international boundaries of a Palestinian state.

4. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) called upon the parties to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and specifically stressed the need to negotiate in order to achieve "secure and recognized boundaries."

5. The Palestinian proposal, in attempting to unilaterally change the status of the territory and determine the "1967 borders" as its recognized borders, in addition to running squarely against Resolutions 242 and 338, would be a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the parties undertook to negotiate the issue of borders and not act to change the status of the territories pending outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

6. The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the "Oslo Accords" in the full knowledge that Israel's settlements existed in the areas, and that settlements would be one of the issues to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. Furthermore, the Oslo Accords impose no limitation on Israel's settlement activity in those areas that the Palestinians agreed would continue to be under Israel's jurisdiction and control pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

7. While the Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the PLO, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt, and Norway. It is thus inconceivable that such witnesses, including first and foremost the UN, would now give license to a measure in the UN aimed at violating this agreement and undermining major resolutions of the Security Council.

8. While the UN has maintained a persistent policy of non-recognition of Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a negotiated solution, despite Israel's historic rights to the city, it is inconceivable that the UN would now recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, the borders of which would include eastern Jerusalem. This would represent the ultimate in hypocrisy, double standards, and discrimination, as well as an utter disregard of the rights of Israel and the Jewish People.

9. Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel's sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action.

Excellency,

It appears to be patently clear to all that the Palestinian exercise, aimed at advancing their political claims, represents a cynical abuse of the UN Organization and of the members of the General Assembly. Its aim is to bypass the negotiation process called for by the Security Council.

Regrettably, this abuse of the UN and its integrity, in addition to undermining international law, has the potential to derail the Middle East peace process.

We trust that you will use your authority to protect the UN and its integrity from this abuse, and act to prevent any affirmation or recognition of this dangerous Palestinian initiative.



Signed by jurists and international lawyers
Signatures can be seen in the Hebrew version of the letter.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Egypt op-ed debunks Egyptian stereotypes about Israel

A rare voice of relative reason in The Daily News Egypt:
While anti-Israeli attitudes are not uncommon in Egypt, they are becoming more virulent after the revolution so much so that 54 percent of Egyptians prefer annulling the peace treaty with Israel, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.

The point of interest here is not to morally judge these attitudes, but to examine whether or not their underlying assumptions are logically justified. Three myths about Israel appear to continue dominating Egyptian public opinion:

1. Israel works to weaken Egypt
Common among conspiracy theorists in Egypt is the notion that Israel wants an Egypt that is weakened, divided, and torn by sectarian violence. Deputy Prime Minister Yehia El-Gamal stands out in expressing this notion while in office, though a considerable number of intellectuals and former high-level officials do not hide their belief in it. Typifying this view is the editor of the state-owned daily Al-Ahram who argued that Israel supports the counter-revolution forces in Egypt, citing the rumor that Israeli former chief of military intelligence confirmed his success in sowing seeds of division within Egyptian society.

In fact, a stable Egypt is in Israel’s interest. A divided Egypt might turn into another Iran, where organized Islamists took over a shattered state after a democracy-seeking uprising. Alternatively, it might turn into another Lebanon, where state weakness allows actors like Hezbollah to attack Israel at will. Would Israel be interested in creating a similar situation in which Jihadists join Hamas and operate from Egypt? Of course not.

At best, a chaotic Egypt might turn into a Mexico (or a Pakistan?) where another weak state fails to stop cross-border illegal immigration, drug and weapons trafficking. Thousands of African illegal immigrants enter Israeli territory from Sinai each year, despite measures taken by Egyptian authorities. Skyrocketing numbers of African infiltrators, drugs, let alone explosives, would reach Israel in case the Egyptian government loses control, or is domestically too busy to control borders.

None of these scenarios are good for Israel, and therefore it would certainly be interested not in undermining Egypt, but rather in an in-control, stable government in Cairo to keep the peace, and maintain order on the southern border.

2. Israel wants to occupy Egypt
The conventional view that Israel plans to occupy Egypt or re-occupy Sinai is part of a broader myth that Israel’s long-term strategic objective, out of Jewish religious beliefs, is to rule from the Nile to the Euphrates. Alleged “evidence” maintains that over the Knesset’s entrance hangs a map asserting that “the Land of Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates,” and that the Israeli flag’s two horizontal blue lines represent the Nile and the Euphrates rivers. Yet the truth is that there is no such a map in the Knesset, and the lines in Israel’s flag are derived from the design of the traditional Jewish prayer shawl.

The “Greater Israel” claim is as true as the contention that Muslims plan to establish a world-ruling Islamic caliphate. Some ultra-extremists might want to, but the vast majority does not even think of it. First, it would take a fairly insane Israeli leadership to bear the massive military and economic burden of invading a country of Egypt’s scale. Note that occupational experiences have exhausted Israel in areas as small as the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon, and even the West Bank. Second, paradoxically, this claim contradicts another generally accepted view by the Egyptian public asserting that Israel is militarily superior and enjoys full, unconditional US support. Why, if this really is the case, has Israel not attempted an invasion? The answer is simple: Israel is satisfied with the current status-quo — in which, it perceives, Israel is the one deterring its neighbors and not vice versa — and is not interested in a territorial expansion that would go far beyond its capabilities.

3. Israel is all-powerful
Most Egyptians apparently believe that the premises of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, displayed in an Egyptian TV series titled “A Horseman without a Horse” in 2002, are true. Within this framework, obviously inflated notions — such as that Israel exploited agricultural cooperation with Egypt to either cultivate cancer-causing products in Egyptian soil or export these products to Egypt, and that the Mossad stood behind the December 2010 fatal shark attacks to hit tourism in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts — are easily accepted. Notwithstanding that such allegations have no factual or logical grounds, no one stops to ask why should an Israel facing serious security challenges (Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.) busy itself with that kind of stuff.

On a larger scale, Israel, or the Jewish people (as people hardly distinguish between Jews and Israelis), is viewed as a mighty force that rules the world through Jewish communities. It follows that any Israeli (or Jewish) economic or cultural activity in Egypt is seen as part of a “grand plan” to penetrate the society and gradually pervade all walks of life. While the Israel lobby in the US and elsewhere is truly powerful, the claim that the Jewish state controls the world provides, unfortunately, a tool to cover up one’s own failures than a realistic proof.

That these misconceptions are shared by a large part of the Egyptian public, which in a representative democracy will significantly influence the foreign policy agenda, is disappointing. That is because the revolution against the old regime has not yet removed old myths which deny the public opinion credible and informed judgments, regardless of whether a democratic Egypt would see in Israel a friend or a foe.


Amr Yossef is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo

(h/t Callie)

Hamas opening a terror shrine

From YNet:

The Hamas government decided to open the home of its former spiritual leader and founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated in 2004, to visitors.

A Hamas official announced the decision will allow visitors to learn more about Yassin's "Jihadist career" as well as his activities against the "Israeli occupation."

"The goal is to commemorate his image in a place which saw him devote his life to the distribution of Islam," the official remarked.

In little, tiny, bloody pieces blown apart by bomb vests.

Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh gave his blessing to the project, saying: "It will help us revive the memory of the Sheikh amongst the Arab and Islamic population."

Visitors will be able to see the many pictures hanging in Yassin's living room, including photos with such leaders as Former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
It will be fun and instructive to see how many Arab leaders, or writers, or pundits, publicly show disgust at the idea of such a museum.

Because we are always told that the majority of Palestinian Arabs want peace and abhor terror. So certainly we'll be seeing lots of angry op-eds and statements by the peaceful Fatah faction that the West loves.

Certainly Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath will speak up and voice their displeasure. After all, they are respected and honored leaders and diplomats. I'm sure we'll be hearing their outrage.

Any minute now.

Syrians burned photos of Nasrallah (video)

An editorial in Asharq al-Awsat:

The Syrian people quickly responded to the calls made a few days ago by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for the demonstrators to stand with the Syrian regime "of resistance", and the popular Syrian response to this was to burn pictures of Nasrallah on what was dubbed the "Friday of the Guardians of the Homeland."

This is not the first response of its kind from the Syrian protestors, indeed a slogan that was previously being chanted by the Syrian demonstrators was "No to Iran, No to Hezbollah…we want somebody who is God-fearing!" This means that Hezbollah, and its leadership's reading of the Syrian uprising has been wrong, as has been their reading of all other events in the region. It is clear that Nasrallah's reading of the situation in Syria was wrong, for just a few days after he came out to call on the Syrian people to "preserve their country" and maintain al-Assad's "regime of resistance", the Syrian people came out to burn his picture!
Here's video:


When are we going to see similar videos coming out of Lebanon?

If the world supports the Arab Spring, shouldn't Jordan become Palestine?

I linked last week to an article by Victor Shikhman pointing out that the Arab Spring should have important consequences for Jordan:

The real question, in light of the Arab Spring, and the mass uprisings which we are told are driven by the universal human urge towards democracy and freedom, isn't whether Jordan is Palestine, or even whether it could be Palestine. The real questions are whether Jordan should be Palestine, and whether Jordan will be Palestine. Is this not the most moral, just and inevitable outcome for an overwhelming majority ruled, against its will, by a minority? We should consider the possibility.

Apparently, a new movement led by Jordanians is aiming to do exactly that. From IsraelSeen, in an interview with Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian dissident:

Were the Hashemites not ruling the eastern part of Palestine then the Palestinians already would have had a country for sixty years and nobody would have pressured Israel to give away its land. Yet this is not the case and the Hashemites are ruling the place and constantly telling the Palestinians they are merely refugees.

However, the world will only change its views on the location of the future Palestinian state if it wakes up to the problem of Jordanian apartheid. This is something my colleagues and I are constantly trying to do. As much as we can we’re telling the world that the Palestinian majority in Jordan is oppressed and discriminated against. Yet I am stunned by how little interest the world, the International Criminal Court, the US and other Western governments show in our rights. I believe they are more interested in bashing the “evil Jews” in Israel rather than securing our rights. Anti-Semitism has surely made a well-groomed comeback.

Jordan is a vicious apartheid state; how come there is no Jordanian Apartheid week in the UK or the US?

His party, the New Jordan Party, recently wrote to Secretary of State Clinton about Jordan's discrimination against and demonizing of Palestinian Arab residents of that country.

The problem is that both the Jordanian protesters and the Hashemite government hate Palestinian Jordanians, and the majority Palestinian Jordanians are not willing to speak upfor fear of more persecution.

Yet if the West truly cares about getting rid of Arab dictatorships with minority rule, then shouldn't there be more talk about Palestinian Arabs gaining a proportionate amount of political power in Jordan?

Saudi vice squad installs "morality machines"

From Arab News:

The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) has adopted a high-tech method to improve the moral standards of the general public.

The method — Tawasul (interaction) — involves installing a number of electronic devices that deliver audio and video messages containing advice and moral lessons.

“The Tawasul machines are being installed at public squares, markets and selected education establishments in all provinces in the Kingdom,” said Director General of Awareness and Instruction Department at the General Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Muhammad Al-Eidy in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency.

The digital messages produced by the Haia would reach a large spectrum of the people in this way, Al-Eidy said. Haia will also send text messages to those who want them, he added.

“The move comes as part of the commission to make use of the potentials of the advanced technology to boost public awareness on good conduct and moral principles,” he said.

He said Haia chief Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Humayen asked him to send sufficient number of machines to varying locations so that all sections of society have access to the facility, he said.

“The Tawasul project is being launched with more than 100 machines in its first stage and more will be coming in future,” he said.
Maybe version 2 will be able to administer lashes when it observes immoral behavior.

(h/t Folderol)

Hundreds of women raped in Libya

From AP:
At first, the responses to the questionnaire about the trauma of the war in Libya were predictable, if tragic: 10,000 people suffering post-traumatic stress, 4,000 children with psychological problems. Then came the unexpected: 259 women said they had been raped by militiamen loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.

Dr. Seham Sergewa had been working with children traumatized by the fighting in Libya but soon found herself being approached by troubled mothers who felt they could trust her with their dark secret.

The first victim came forward two months ago, followed by two more. All were mothers of children the London-trained child psychologist was treating, and all described how they were raped by militiamen fighting to keep Qaddafi in power.

Dr. Sergewa decided to add a question about rape to the survey she was distributing to Libyans living in refugee camps after being driven from their homes. The main purpose was to try to determine how children were faring in the war; she suspected many were suffering from PTSD.

To her surprise, 259 women came forward with accounts of rape. They all said the same thing.

"We found 10,000 people with PTSD, 4,000 children suffering psychological problems and 259 raped women," she said, adding that she believes the number of rape victims is many times higher but that woman are afraid to report the attacks.

The women said they had been raped by Qaddafi's militias in numerous cities and towns: Benghazi, Tobruk, Brega, Bayda and Ajdabiya (where the initial three mothers hail from) and Saloum in the east; and Misrata in the west.

Some just said they had been raped. Some did not sign their names; some just used their initials. But some felt compelled to share the horrific details of their ordeals on the back of the questionnaire.

Reading from the scribbled Arabic on the back of one survey, Dr. Sergewa described one woman's attack in Misrata in March, while it was still occupied by Qaddafi's forces.

"First they tied my husband up," the woman wrote. "Then they raped me in front of my husband and my husband's brother. Then they killed my husband."

Another woman in Misrata said she was raped in front of her four children after Qaddafi fighters burned down her home.

PA economy seriously screwed up by NGOs

I recently posted a couple of articles about how NGO money, poured into the Palestinian Arab territories, has been counter-productive.

Another article, written by a businessman who is trying to build a real business in the PA-controlled areas, sheds light on the problem from his perspective:

Due to the enormous amounts of donor funds provided as “development aid,” many NGOs are able to lure educated and professional Palestinians by offering salaries that are three to four times higher than what the local private sector can afford. This causes labour costs to rise significantly, and directly undermines the local private sector’s ability to recruit educated professionals and build an autonomous Palestinian economy.

When Palestinian businesses do hire employees, they are forced to offer exaggerated salaries that reduce overall capital returns and hinder Palestine’s competitiveness in attracting investments. Limiting private investment stifles Palestine’s economic growth and reduces government tax revenue that can otherwise be utilized to fund the public services currently provided by NGOs.

This dynamic compromises the “non-profit” status of NGOs, which receive all the tax benefits of charitable organizations. This means that, for NGOs, offering high salaries is the equivalent of a business distributing profits among its employees. If Palestinian businesses were to triple the salaries of their employees and offer “hazard pay” for their locally stationed expatriates, as NGOs do, they could surely arrange their income statements to report zero profit. Would private businesses then become non-profit organizations? Could they receive tax exemptions? Clearly, the answer is no. The private sector cannot flourish in an environment where it is forced to compete with the financial prowess of donor governments. This is an example of a much greater problem that has enormous implications for Palestinians.

Today, international aid accounts for 30 per cent of Palestinian gross domestic product (GDP), with a large number of educated and professional Palestinians flocking towards NGOs and donor-sponsored projects, thus further exacerbating Palestinian donor dependency.

To complicate matters, international aid is highly political, and is provided in the interests of a donor states’ foreign policy rather than due to a genuine interest in helping Palestinians. Palestinians saw the detrimental effects of this donor dependency when they elected their own government in a free and fair election only to have donor states boycott them because of whom they elected. The international community turned off the tap of donor aid, leaving roughly 150,000 Palestinians who were employed by the Palestinian Authority and NGOs helpless without income. Only the employees of the private sector continued to receive paycheques and maintain their independence regardless of how they exercised their right to vote.
Interestingly, this businessman has no problem with a terror organization being part of the government. He believes, perversely, that such a move could help Palestinian Arab self-sufficiency:
The recent Hamas-Fatah agreement could cause a repeat of the donor boycott that took place in 2006. It may, however, also prove to be another example of how the private sector can play a vital role in empowering people in developing nations while liberating them from the shackles of foreign-donor dependency.
The problems of a Hamas government do not exist for him. He just wants to get rid of the NGOs sucking out his ability to make money.

Which shows, from a Palestinian Arab perspective, the choice is not to make real peace with Israel or not. It is to choose between staying a welfare state while pretending to be against terror, or officially embracing terror and becoming more economically self-sufficient.

By the way, there are plenty of NGOs who support Hamas - and they are proud of it.

(h/t Anne)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Syria update: 13 year old tortured to death

A horrific video is going around  Arabic sites showing the dead, tortured body of a 14-year old Syrian boy named Hamza al-Khatib. (Warning: very gruesome.)

Some 8 protesters were killed on Friday and there are reports that Iran is sending trainers and advisers to Syria to help stop the demonstrations.

Now Lebanon is reporting that Syrian opposition leaders in Lebanon are being kidnapped and presumably forced into Syrian jails.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekend links

Daniel Gordis speaks to J-Street: "In the tent or out?"

Krauthammer: What Obama Did to Israel

Is Obama a Zionist Agent? (Toameh)

Saudi Arabia gets a pass (Adam Daifallah)

Canada's Harper blocks mention of "1967 borders" in G8 statement

"Jordan Isn't Palestine, But It Could Be" (Victor Shikhman)

Followup on the Saudi woman driver: she's in jail for another ten days at least, and has a sick son

Egypt strips citizenship from Coptic Christian man. "According to the lawyer handling the case against him, Sadek is guilty of insulting Islam, supporting Judaism and “calling for the killing of Arabs.” Additionally, the Egyptian court is upset over his call for the United States and Israel to get involved in the nation’s internal affairs.

And everyone's been sending this around - for good reason:


(h/t Serious Black, Mike, Menachem, Ed, jzaik)

Israel's deaf-blind theater troupe touches audiences


This is Zionism.

The YouTube page has links where you can download performances.

(h/t Mike)

Terrorist who stabbed a rabbi to death gets monthly salary from the PA

Remember how people said that Hamas would become more moderate when they became part of a government?

Hamas' AlQassam.ps site put up an article today about Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed Fallit, who has been in an Israeli prison for 19 years. In May 1992, Rabbi Shimon Biran was ambushed and stabbed in the back by the terrorist, near Kfar Darom. The article praises him for stabbing a civilian and then talks about how difficult his time in prison has been.

Apparently, glorifying terrorists is still in style with the new, improved, moderate Hamas.

By the way, Fallit has been getting a monthly salary since 1994, courtesy of the Palestinian Authority - and your tax dollars. As PalWatch reported last week:

In 2004, the PA defined by law exactly who would be considered a prisoner as "anyone imprisoned in the occupation's [Israel's] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation."

The PA's Ministry for Prisoner Affairs said Thursday that its policy had always been to pay salaries to prisoners and their families "regardless of their political affiliations."

The ministry said it was unaware of any new law concerning salaries of prisoners and their families. It said, however, that the PA government had in recent years taken a number of decisions to raise the salaries of the prisoners and their family members.

The ministry pointed out that the PA had been paying salaries to prisoners since its establishment in 1994.

Good analysis of the Netanyahu/Obama drama from JPost

Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post has a thought provoking article that discusses, from a diplomatic perspective, why things happened the way they did over the past eight days.

He gives fairly reasonable answers to the questions:

Why did Obama surprise Netanyahu with a speech that clearly stated the 1967 lines as the negotiation baseline?

Why did Netanyahu choose to pick a fight with Obama, issuing an extremely tough response to the president’s Mideast speech?

Why, after issuing this response, did Netanyahu feel the need to cross swords with Obama when they issued joint statements after their Friday meeting?

Why did Obama decide to speak before AIPAC, and why did he say what he said?

Why was Netanyahu’s speech to Congress important, especially since he did not chart any radically new course?

Read the whole thing.



To that last question, I will add another answer.

Bibi's speech was not only important diplomatically, but also by its effect on the entire discourse around the Arab/Israeli conflict.

His speech changed the discussion from one that is framed in a pro-Arab way ("the settlements are the main obstacle to peace") to one that is more accurate, that is, that Israel is never going to compromise on its security, regardless of what people want. Changing the framework in this way has resulted in reporters and pundits being forced to change their arguments. It has, in short, moved the goalposts and re-awakened people to hearing Israel's viewpoint after years of nonstop pro-Arab rhetoric that invaded mainstream news media.

I don't know how long this will last, but that is not a small achievement.

(h/t Russell)

Latest Latma (5/27/11)

UNIFIL member killed, 4 injured in Lebanese blast

From AFP:
An Italian peacekeeper was killed and four wounded, one gravely, in an explosion targeting a UN patrol in south Lebanon on Friday, ANSA news agency reported, citing defence ministry sources.
Contacted by AFP, a defence ministry spokesman in Rome said: "I can confirm the attack but as the rescue is still under way I do not have a very clear idea of the situation. In principle we have one fallen and one gravely injured."
Other sources are saying two were killed.

JPost notes:
The explosion happened on the UN's International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, when peacekeepers killed in missions across the world are commemorated by their colleagues.
Must be Israel's fault. Probably rage at Netanyahu's speeches.

Why is BDS silent on Microsoft?

From Time in March:

Microsoft's "Kinect" hands-free motion control peripheral for the Xbox 360 has been confirmed by Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device ever.

Kinect "sold through an average of 133,333 units per day, for a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days on sale," says Guinness. The "sold through" part is especially important as sell-through denotes products actually purchased by customers—not just shipments to retail stores.

Guinness also points out that Kinect sales eclipsed "both the iPhone and the iPad for the equivalent periods after launch."

 More than 10 million XBox Kinects have been sold.

The Kinect was designed by a company in Israel that sold it to Microsoft.

So why are we not hearing from BDSers to boycott Microsoft, or at least the XBox and Kinect?

After all, company size shouldn't matter. Isn't this a question of morality?

(Well, yes, it is, but not in the way the BDSers pretend it is....)

Arab Spring: new Nazi party in Egypt

From Al Masry al Youm:

A group of Egyptians have announced their intent to establish a Nazi party with "a contemporary frame of reference," an independent Egyptian news website said on Wednesday.

Al-Badeel, a leftist news portal, quoted founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying the party would bring together prominent figures from the Egyptian society. The party’s founding deputy is a former military official.

The party believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully, Abdel Sattar said, adding that preparations are underway to choose the most competent person to represent the party.

The Nazi party operated secretly under former President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime prevented party leaders from carrying out their activities freely.

Although Al-Masry Al-Youm could not verify the news reported by Al-Badeel, two Facebook pages have appeared recently under the title of "the Egyptian Nazi Party".

I found a few Facebook pages, with lots of videos and photos and (predictable) anti-semitism. Here are two logos I saw:


They might be fringe, and they might be small, but I am not seeing any outrage in Egypt.

(h/t Elder of Lobby)

Is Israel booby-trapping Hamas weapons?

Firas Press quotes Israeli media today as saying that Hamas is fearful that some of the weapons it is receiving are actually booby-trapped or otherwise tampered with by Israel.

According to the story, Israel passes weapons to Bedouin in the Sinai who in turn smuggle them to Gaza. The Popular Front claims to have received weapons that were tampered with.

I don't know if it is true, but it is a great idea, isn't it?

They should add tracking systems as well.

Bad anti-Israel folk-singer tries again

Last year a self-styled "folk singer" named David Rovics put out a truly horrible song that made the Mavi Marmara terrorists sound like heroes. It turns out he has an entire library of anti-Israel songs, each one written and sung worse than the next.

He has a new song now because Netanyahu's speech really burned him up. It is so bad, it is funny.


I wrote my own folk song in response to last year's Rovics train wreck that is much better, and I even made a video of my own where the singer, in the same faux-singing style of Rovics, sings almost as badly as Rovics does.

So because it is Friday, here once again is the video and lyrics of my quickly written folk-song masterpiece, The Pawns of the Middle East:



In 1948 their leaders abandoned them

The rich Arabs packed up and went to Lebanon
Their confident leaders told them to get out of the way
So the Jews could be slaughtered and then they'll be back to stay

But that's not what happened. Their fighters didn't fight.
Wild rumors scared them, and most then joined the flight
They ended up in Egypt, Syria, Jordan
The Palestinian Arabs thought they'd start over again

They thought that they'd be welcomed by the Arabs who said that they loved them
But they were placed in giant camps, and had to stay in tents
They thought that they were all Arabs, but they were only that in name
The other Arabs didn't want them to remind them of their shame

Chorus:
Decade after decade, the Arabs let them down
They treated them like animals, and just used them as pawns
They thought that their problem was that they didn't have a state
But the real problem was that they were taught only to hate.

They wanted jobs, they wanted land, they wanted to fit in
Their hosts only wanted the millions given by the UN
They kept them stuck in camps, in disgusting misery
They did everything possible to ensure they'd never be free.

The Arab states passed laws to let them know where they stand
They couldn't work in certain jobs, couldn't own any land
They had no choice, no rights, no control over their fate
And they raised a generation who was taught nothing but hate.

Chorus

Jordan never gave them an inch of "historic Palestine"
The entire world had no problem. They thought that this was fine.
The only land that Arabs would allow them to receive
Was the land that would be left over when they forced the Jews to leave.

Their new leaders taught terror, for them not to be so meek
Jordan slaughtered thousands of them in a matter of just weeks
And so it went, year after year, kept in dire straits
400,000 of them got kicked out of Kuwait

Decade after decade, the Arabs let them down
They treated them like animals, and just used them as pawns
They thought that their problem was that they didn't have a state
But the real problem was that they were taught only to hate.


I made this song a "video response" to Rovics on YouTube, but somehow I doubt that he'll approve it. In fact, I predict that he'll complain to YouTube about mine and try to get it taken down.