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Monday, October 31, 2011

Goldstone - yes, Goldstone - defends Israel from "apartheid" slander

From the New York Times, an op-ed by Richard Goldstone, author of the infamous Goldstone Report that slandered Israel:
THE Palestinian Authority’s request for full United Nations membership has put hope for any two-state solution under increasing pressure. The need for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians has never been greater. So it is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.

One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues “apartheid” policies. In Cape Town starting on Saturday, a London-based nongovernmental organization called the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will hold a “hearing” on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.

While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.

I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system, under which human beings characterized as black had no rights to vote, hold political office, use “white” toilets or beaches, marry whites, live in whites-only areas or even be there without a “pass.” Blacks critically injured in car accidents were left to bleed to death if there was no “black” ambulance to rush them to a “black” hospital. “White” hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.

In assessing the accusation that Israel pursues apartheid policies, which are by definition primarily about race or ethnicity, it is important first to distinguish between the situations in Israel, where Arabs are citizens, and in West Bank areas that remain under Israeli control in the absence of a peace agreement.

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

To be sure, there is more de facto separation between Jewish and Arab populations than Israelis should accept. Much of it is chosen by the communities themselves. Some results from discrimination. But it is not apartheid, which consciously enshrines separation as an ideal. In Israel, equal rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court.

The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.” This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there. South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.

But until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed. As things stand, attacks from one side are met by counterattacks from the other. And the deep disputes, claims and counterclaims are only hardened when the offensive analogy of “apartheid” is invoked.

Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an “apartheid wall” and disparate treatment on West Bank roads. While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to reroute it to minimize unreasonable hardship. Road restrictions get more intrusive after violent attacks and are ameliorated when the threat is reduced.

Of course, the Palestinian people have national aspirations and human rights that all must respect. But those who conflate the situations in Israel and the West Bank and liken both to the old South Africa do a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace.

Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and the West Bank cannot be simplified to a narrative of Jewish discrimination. There is hostility and suspicion on both sides. Israel, unique among democracies, has been in a state of war with many of its neighbors who refuse to accept its existence. Even some Israeli Arabs, because they are citizens of Israel, have at times come under suspicion from other Arabs as a result of that longstanding enmity.

The mutual recognition and protection of the human dignity of all people is indispensable to bringing an end to hatred and anger. The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony.
As night follows day, we can expect the rabid anti-Israel Left who embraced Goldstone as their messiah two years ago will issue vicious condemnations of this piece, and charge Goldstone with being a tool of the Zionist lobby, tomorrow.

But as bad as the Goldstone Report was - and its flaws were so numerous as to border on the malicious - it was not in the same league as the anti-Zionist Left who routinely accuse Israel of "apartheid." These people are not interested in facts or in arguments. They are inherently dishonest and their interest in the truth is nil. They have one purpose and one purpose only - to destroy Israel. It is mindless hate.

And it is a shame that their lies have gained such currency that someone like Goldstone even feels compelled to answer them.

If I had to do some armchair psychology, my guess is that he saw people used his report in ways he never intended, mostly people who didn't even bother to read it themselves. Very possibly, he did not want to be associated with such haters who pretended he was one of them, sort of like Benny Morris after his early works on Israel's history.

More on the Palestinian Arab culture of martyrdom, plus two more posters

This is a followup to my previous post discussing whether it is accurate to describe Palestinian Arab support for terrorism as an example of its culture.

In 2008, Palestine Media Watch gave lots of evidence that the (secular) Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency would routinely use the word "martyrs" in its English language articles describing the death of terrorists.

In response, Ma'an said, "in the Palestinian cultural/religious tradition, the martyrdom aspect is significantly different from the Judeo-Christian understanding. Those who die as martyrs may be defending their wives or their property, not necessarily engaging in the Western notion of a holy crusade. The PMW interpretation, while undoubtedly held by some religious individuals, is not necessarily the general interpretation of these terms."

So Ma'an is saying that it is merely following the Palestinian Arab cultural (not religious) tradition when referring to people killed by Israelis as "martyrs" in Arabic. But if they died directly because of a terror act, does this Palestinian Arab cultural tradition still allow them to be called "martyrs"?

Let's look at a Ma'an article to find out.

On January 18, an Al Qassam Martyr's Brigades member killed while he was engaged in a "jihad mission." Not defending his family, not minding his own business, but engaged in a purely offensive mission, and he appears to have accidentally killed himself while performing his jihad.

And Ma'an in Arabic called him a "martyr" both in the headline and in the article.

If you believe Ma'an, when Palestinian Arabs glorify terrorist acts, it is cultural.

But you don't even have to go that far to see how Palestinian Arab culture glorifies terrorism. All you have to do is look at the songs and dances at the annual Palestinian Cultural Festival!

In 2010, a dance troupe held rifles and danced to the idea of dying, using lyrics like
He who offers his blood doesn't care if his blood flows upon the ground.
As the weapon of the revolution is in my hand, so my presence will be forced [upon Israel].
My weapon has emerged.
My weapon has emerged
And in attendance was the PA Minister of - you guessed it - Culture. The dance was shown multiple times on Palestinian Arab TV.

And in September of this year, at another edition of this cultural festival, singers sang:
He sacrificed his life for the land.
They wrapped him in white cloth with a flower.
He shouted and said: "How sweet is Martyrdom."
Meeting his Lord was his choice.
He adorned his land with the purest blood.
Tears for him are [tears of] joy. [His] mother makes sounds of joy.
[The Martyr] a groom and his wedding - Martyrdom and heroism.
Oh hero, rest in peace, do not worry.

So for anyone who thought my first poster was offensive - here are two more:







Another UNESCO poster, and a discussion of culture


A blog-friend was offended by my last poster (which said "Palestinian culture.") It led to a spirited debate on Twitter over whether it is fair, or bigoted, to say that "Palestinian culture" can be symbolized by a bus bomber.

(Others wildly misinterpreted the poster as saying I was calling all Palestinian Arabs suicide bombers, which is ridiculous.)

My contention is that it was an accurate caption, although posters force me to be more brief (and therefore open to misinterpretation.) I regard posters a a form of political cartoon, where a point is often made by using exaggeration.

Nevertheless, there wasn't much exaggeration here.

One of Wikipedia's definitions of culture is:

The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group

The word "culture" perfectly describes the Palestinian Arab attitude of support towards "resistance." And, yes, that means terrorism. From the political leaders on down, you will not find many significant Palestinian Arab voices who are actively against political violence for moral reasons - only for pragmatic reasons.

How many examples have I given over the years, of schools and camps and town squares named for terrorists? Not terrorists who turned into political leaders, but people who were nothing but terrorists. If Palestinian Arab culture found these people abhorrent, where are the op-eds and protests against them?

Samir Kuntar is a hero among Palestinian Arabs If there are any who find him to be a monster, they certainly aren't making themselves heard.

And poll after poll has shown that Palestinian Arabs support terrorism. The number has gone down in recent years when the questions were asked in the abstract, but when specific terror attacks were mentioned (like the massacre at Mercaz HaRav) the percentages were overwhelmingly pro-terror.

Just last week, Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas' kidnapping of Gilad Shalit - not technically an act of terrorism, but a violation of multiple Geneva Conventions - was a "good thing," and he agreed that armed "resistance" was a necessity for negotiations. How many Palestinian Arabs would disagree with this?

It is a culture that glorifies terror attacks, where masked terrorists are cheered, where killers are feted, where no distinction is made between prisoners who have done no violent crime and those who have been instrumental in mass murder - they are all heroes.

No doubt there are other facets to Palestinian Arab culture. They have plays, art, crafts, clothing and books that have nothing to do with terrorism. But to deny that glorifying terror is part of today's Palestinian Arab culture is to deny reality.

Wishful thinking will not make this ugly truth go away. It is a serious problem in today's Palestinian Arab society, and pointing out that PalArabs are friendly when you visit Ramallah does not lessen the immensity of the problem.

And I think there is a solution. But that is for another post.

Iranophobia-palooza!

I first noticed the term "Iranophobia" last year, but in recent weeks Iran has been using the term a lot more:

October 13:
"The repeat of ineffective and stupid methods by hapless and distracted policy-makers in the West (to spread) Iranophobia will again bear no result," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an army base in the western city of Kermanshah, the official IRNA news agency reported.

October 25:
US and Europe Seek to Promote Iranophobia

October 28:
'US using Iranophobia to shield Israel'

October 29:
Iran's top investment official says despite the West promoting Iranophobia, the country's foreign direct investment (FDI) index has seen a 124 percent growth in the past two years.

I think there is a great merit in engaging in Iranophobia - the fear of Iran - since Iran is literally threatening the world with destruction. Iranophobia is a healthy and normal reaction to the idea of an unstable nuclear Islamist state headed by irrational people who are consumed with hate and obsessed with destroying their enemies and turning the world into an Islamist 'ummah.

What is interesting, though, is the seeming conscious use of the term by Iran. It appears to me that they see how Westerners are scared of accusations of "Islamophobia" and will react to that charge by overcompensating and overlooking Islamist dangers. They want to create that same dynamic - hoping that the West will vigorously deny this charge of "Iranophobia", because it sounds vaguely racist, and therefore will bend over backwards to distance themselves from anything that seems slightly "Iranophobic."

The irony, of course, is that Iran is rabidly Ziophobic, yet few would consider that term an epithet. That is a very sad commentary on the world today.

"Palestine" at UNESCO: The Poster

Well, they didn't invent falafel...

UPDATE: If you want to see my exhaustive defense of why this poster is accurate, see this and this.

Abbas: "I am against terror (wink, wink)"

From MEMRI, from an interview with Mahmoud Abbas on Egypt's Dream TV:
Interviewer: "Don't you think that it was the resistance that managed to liberate a thousand prisoners?

"Negotiations must always be accompanied by a measure of force. There can be no negotiations without resistance. This has been shown by the experience of people – in Ireland and all countries."

Mahmoud Abbas: "That's true, but our circumstances are different. We are not able to wage military resistance.

"Hamas kidnapped – or rather, captured – a soldier, and managed to keep him for five years, and that is a good thing.

"We don't deny it. On the contrary, it’s a good thing that on a small strip of land, 40 × 7 kilometers, they were able to keep him and hide him." [...]

You see, the "moderate" Abbas that the West sees is against terrorism and "armed resistance." But he knows quite well that there is always the Al Aqsa Brigades, Al Quds Brigades or Al Qassam Brigades who are willing to do the dirty work of actually killing Jews, and he applauds them. The terror groups do what he wishes them to do, but he can claim that he is personally against such actions (at this time, of course.)

And the Western media swallows the myth of a moderate Palestinian Arab leader whole, mostly because they want to believe in it so darn much.

By the way, did you notice that Abbas never condemned the murder of Moshe Ami in Ashkelon, killed by a Grad rocket on Saturday?

(h/t CHA)

This IsReal (video)

Nice short film by Matthew Brown.



A road trip straight through Israel. Had no idea what the complexities and diversity of the cultures were, but I got deeper and deeper, seeing all walks of life living together in this amazing land. The conglomerate of things happening in that tiny, but EPIC country (it's smaller than New Jersey!) packed a punch like a bustling beehive. I was overwhelmed and totally let Israel envelope me. I bonded with every flavor of person there... they were all Israeli. They were all beautiful people. (By the way, the title isn't spelled wrong, lol...read it again ;)

Shot with the 7D and edited with Sony Vegas
I edited this video with a fever, kidney infection, and $4 headphones! LOL.
Music by the amazing John Adams (Harmonielehre_ Part III - Meister)
I have got to get myself a new digital SLR - the quality of the videos made with these cameras is fantastic.

(h/t DM)

What will happen next with UNESCO?

As was obvious, UNESCO voted to admit a fictitious state:
Palestinians won a crucial vote to enter UNESCO as a full member on Monday, scoring a symbolic victory in their battle for statehood ahead of a similar vote at the UN General Assembly in New York.

"The general assembly decides to admit Palestine as a member of UNESCO," said the resolution adopted by 107 countries, with 14 voting against and 52 abstaining.

"This vote will help erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people," Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told the assembly as the vote took place.

France, which had voiced serious doubts about the motion, approved it along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India.

Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany voted against, while Japan and Britain abstained.

The United States and Israel are set now to withdraw their funding from the UN cultural body, while other UN agencies may have to debate the thorny issue.
So will US funds be stopped? HuffPo wrote up what looks like a comprehensive description of the legal issues involved.

Back in the earliest days of the peace process, when Congress was not entirely behind White House efforts related to Madrid (and subsequently Oslo), Congress passed a number of pieces of legislation intended to block normalization of Palestinian relations and activities in the international community. These included the following provision of law -- which notably does not include authority for the president to waive the requirements of the law, even in cases where vital U.S. national security interests are at stake.

22 USC 287e as amended by PL 101-246

MEMBERSHIP OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION IN UNITED NATIONS
AGENCIES.

(a) PROHIBITION- No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.

(b) TRANSFER OR REPROGRAMMING- Funds subject to the prohibition contained in subsection (a) which would be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof (but for that prohibition) are authorized to remain available until expended and may be reprogrammed or transferred to any other account of the Department of State or the Agency for International Development to carry out the general purposes for which such funds were authorized.

A few observations are in order.

First, if UNESCO were to upgrade the PLO's status, but not to a point that gave the PLO equal status (in terms of rights/privileges) to member states, 22 USC 287e would not apply.

Second, even if UNESCO were to upgrade the PLO's status to the same as a member State, Congress is not simply the helpless victim of a law passed 21 years ago during a much different era. If members of 112th Congress wanted to, they could pass new legislation to amend this 22 USC 287e to avoid a cut-off in funds.

Third, the chances of the 112th Congress amending 22 USC 287e to avoid a crisis at the UN are low to non-existent, despite the fact that cutting off funding to UNESCO and other UN agencies would clearly be detrimental to U.S. interests.

...Fifth, even if UNESCO and the Palestinians were to come to some agreement on an upgrade of status short of a status comparable to a member state (thus avoiding sanctions under 22 USC 287e), Congress would likely act to strengthen U.S. law to ensure that even in such a case, U.S. sanctions would apply....

And finally, it should be emphasized that the U.S. funding for UNESCO that is at issue here includes funding from the United States' assessed contributions to the UN, as opposed to voluntary contributions to UNESCO. This means that if Congress and the White House determine that under the current (or some future) law, funding to UNESCO (or later on WIPO, or the IAEA) must be cut off due to that organization's treatment of the Palestinians, the U.S. will not only be removing itself from participation in a key international body, but will be in violation of its treaty obligations with respect to UN funding.
I cannot imagine that the White House will not find a way around this, but it is a stickier situation than it first appeared.

UPDATE: The US announced it stopped funding UNESCO:
The United States said on Monday it had stopped funding UNESCO, the UN cultural agency, following its vote to grant the Palestinians full membership.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the United States had no choice but to halt funding because of longstanding US law, saying Washington would not make a planned $60 million transfer that was due in November. (Reuters)

Jordanians plan to sue Netanyahu

From Ammon News:
Jordanian farmers from the Jordan Valley intend to file a lawsuit against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in international courts over the fires Israel reportedly sets ablaze at the borders with Jordan, causing major damages to Jordanian border farms.

Head of the Jordan Valley Farmers' Union Adnan Khaddam said that the farmers also intend to file lawsuits against Israeli Ambassador in Amman Danial Nevo over the fires that Israeli authorities regularly set ablaze at border regions with Jordan.

Khaddam said that farmers are seeking financial compensation for damages to their farms and equipment as a result of the repeated fires, Assabeel daily newspaper reported.

The latest fire was occurred last Friday in the border Manshiyyeh region, which extended to over 15 dunums burning over 90 citrus trees and woodland areas, and damaged irrigation infrastructure of Jordanian farms in the border region.

Khaddam added that most of the fires in the past several years were caused by light bombs fired by the Israeli army to monitor the borders, and to detonate mines and burn weeds off wire fences of border patrol sites, citing "security reasons, border patrol, and preventing smuggling."

Jordanian farmers have repeatedly complained about the fires which extend to Jordanian farms and cause major damages. The Jordanian government had also voiced objection over the fires and the material damages caused to Jordanian farms, yet Israel continues to refuse to compensate Jordanian farmers, UPI reported.
I don't know where the Manshiyyeh region is. Practically the entire border between Israel and Jordan is the Jordan river and the Dead Sea, so while I suppose it is possible for burning embers to go across the water and start fires, this seems strange.

Jordan says Hamas will not move to Amman

From Ammon News:
The leadership of the Hamas, including the political bureau, will not move to settle in Amman, Minister of State for Media Affairs Rakan Majali said on Sunday.

Majali, who is also government spokesperson, denied reports that Hamas' political bureau would move its offices from Damascus to Amman, explaining that discussions are underway to have "a normal relationship between Jordan and Hamas, just like other Palestinian factions."

"Jordan deals with Hamas in a positive way, just like other factions, we respect Hamas and recognize its importance and presence in Gaza and respect what it represents," Majali added.

The Minister explained that what is proposed is dialogue and meetings just like our relations with other movements, "the difference here is that Hamas is a big organization, and I hope that this is not misunderstood to be at the expense of Jordan's relationship with the Palestinian Authority."

Jordan's ongoing relations with the PA are "official," because it represents the awaited Palestinian state, "and our relationship with the PA is ongoing."

Regarding normalized relations between Jordan and Hamas, Majali expressed that this means that Hamas officials may visit Jordan, meet with Jordanian officials, "but the idea of moving the political bureau to Amman is not proposed in the meantime," noting that the option was not proposed by Hamas either.
Others in Jordan believe that the entire idea to move Hamas' headquarters to Amman is an American plot! Here's part of an unhinged op-ed from yesterday - written by a Jordanian Palestinian Arab:
Hamas is being ejected from Syria and it’s also being rejected and denied a foothold by other countries in the region. Because of that, Jordan and its leadership are at the receiving end of very vicious arm twisting, threatening and blackmailing by the U.S. and some corrupt Arab governments to force it to host HAMAS on its territory.

I am extremely opposed to any Palestinian political presence in Jordan under any name. Just as much, I am also opposing any political meddling-if there is any- by Jordan in Palestine. Giving our special relationship, all this can be changed once we, the Palestinians, liberate Palestine. Until then, Jordan must be protected from the sick designs of the Zionists and their sponsors who are hell bent on turning Jordan into a battle ground for Palestinian factions and their backers. In Hamas case its Hezbollah and Iran who will end up getting a foothold In Jordan. In the PA case, it’s ironically, Israel and the US which already have a foothold in Jordan.

Islamic Jihad mother happy that her fifth son is "entering Paradise"

The Islamic Jihad website Saraya has an article about Khansa Fatima Sheikh Khalil, a Gaza mother who has had five of her terrorist sons killed "in martyrdom."

She is looking forward to joining her sons in paradise.

The article says that she did not cry for more than five minutes upon news of her son Ahmad's death on Saturday.

She expressed joy and praised Allah for what happened, and expressed hope that her sons are all accepted into Paradise where they would be, presumably, happily screwing a bunch of virgins for eternity.

Khalil also expressed her fervent wish that Islamic Jihad continue to create Jewish widows and orphans. She called on Allah to grant success to the "resistance" and to defeat the Jews for "our land."

She has two more sons left, as well as two daughters. Ahmed also leaves behind three wives.

One of Ahmad's remaining brothers said "we always expected him to be killed."

You see? Terrorist families are just like everyone else. You just have to understand their culture, and show empathy for them.

Nice shooting! Ten terrorists dead, no civilians

Since Gaza terror groups decided that they no longer had to restrain themselves from shooting rockets, Israel's record has been 10 dead terrorists and no dead civilians. Nine of the terrorists were from Islamic Jihad and one from DFLP.

The official PA Wafa news agency has had many articles on the IDF airstrikes, and zero about the barrage of rockets from Gaza aimed at residential areas in Israel (with the exception of one story about the Israeli civilian fatality.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Voodoo Palestinian Arab economics and The Guardian (correction)

The Palestinian Authority came out with a paper last month that attempts to place a dollar value of how much the "occupation" costs the Palestinian Arab economy.

I haven't had time to go through the whole thing, but the one section I skipped to shows a serious mathematical error that results in an error of, oh, about 4400%.

Here is their entire chapter on fruit trees, with some very questionable assumptions to begin with:

The Urbanization Monitoring department at the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem estimates that about 2.5 million trees have been uprooted since 1967. The Israeli policy of uprooting trees has been executed for a number of reasons, including the construction of Israeli settlements, the construction of the separation wall, and settlements infrastructure; all of which exclusively benefits the settler population.

Besides representing an irreparable loss to an inherent part of the Palestinians’ land, Israel’s policy of tree uprooting also creates a grave economic damage for the Palestinian people. The vast majority of the uprooted trees have been fruit bearing trees in their highly productive period of life; thus the uprooting has deprived Palestinians of a valuable source of income.

The annual loss for the Palestinian economy is given by the foregone value of the trees’ economic production. ARIJ estimates that around one third of the 2.5 million uprooted trees were olive trees and the remaining consist of other types of fruit trees, including around 34,000 palm trees.

The average annual productivity of one olive tree is about 70 kg (Agriculture department of ARIJ), with olive production being valued at ex farm price of USD 1.103 per kilo, which is an estimate on the basis of data from PCBS (2009b).

Therefore:
The cost of uprooted olive trees/year = 2.5 million x 0.33 x 70 kg /tree x $1.103/kg = USD 55,133,602

The other fruit trees are estimated to have an average annual production of around USD 50, with the exception of palm trees which yield an average production value of USD 70 (data from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture). Therefore the total production value of these trees is USD 85,713,333 million.

Considering that there is very little intermediate consumption in the production of rain-fed fruit trees, we estimate that the gross value added is around 98% of the production value, so the total forgone value added as a result of uprooted trees by the Israelis is equivalent to USD 138 million per year.
See the error?

Even if you believe the absurd number of 2.5 million trees destroyed, of which over 830,000 were being actively cultivated, and of which the "vast majority" are in their prime productive years...

And even if you ignore the trees that Israel has compensated Palestinian Arab farmers for under various circumstances....

And even if you ignore the new trees that have been planted, not all of which would have been planted had there been no "occupation" to begin with....

And even if the other assumptions given are 100% accurate (I confess I know nothing about the "gross value added" paragraph)....

The paper is taking the total number of 2.5 million trees allegedly destroyed since 1967 and calculating the cost as if it is an annual cost!

Which means that even if the other questionable assumptions are 100% true, you must divide the $138 million figure by the 44 years of Israeli control. the real annual cost of those missing trees is $3 million, not $138 million!

$3 million dollars a year is barely a blip even in the Palestinian Arab economy. They get more than that amount in international aid every day. Arafat used to send his wife over seven times that amount of money annually.

If this is the quality of statistics that the PA is pushing out into the world, then perhaps some people who really understand economics and accounting should be taking a second look at their other figures. It would be difficult to believe that this was a mere oversight; rather in the zeal to inflate the amount of money that Israel is supposedly costing the PA we can expect lots of "mistakes" like this - of course, in only one direction.

If I could find an error this egregious by only glancing at the report, imagine what a real auditor could do with it.

Oh, and I found this report from a link in an article by Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian. Obviously that newspaper does not have the ability to look at anything that is anti-Israel with a critical eye at all, no matter how obvious the errors.

UPDATE: Joe from Australia notes my own error. If the total number of trees destroyed is 2.5 million, and none of them have ever been replaced over the past 44 years, then the annual amount of the loss would be a large number annually this year and going forward. Again, the assumptions are ridiculous, but I made a mistake in my own calculations, which is why I am not an accountant :)

Why no protests against the Harlem Globetrotters?

The Harlem Globetrotters played over the weekend in a country that has discriminated against its Palestinian population for over sixty years. Hundreds of thousands of this country's residents are barred from becoming citizens, from buying land, from taking up many types of jobs and even from leaving the wretched, impoverished ghettos they live in. The general population despises their Palestinian Arab minority and would love to ethnically cleanse them if they could.

But no one called for the basketball entertainers to boycott this country and to highlight the nation's official policy of discrimination against Palestinian Arabs.

Why not?

UNRWA just can't avoid blaming Israel

I have noted that the Hamas-dominated teachers' union in Gaza has declared it would go on strike this week to protest UNRWA's suspension of its leader for being politically linked to Hamas. Hamas regards UNRWA as its last major rival in Gaza to be defeated and placed under submission to the self-proclaimed "Islamic Resistance Movement," after Hamas has destroyed or co-opted Fatah and many other militant groups,  independent unions and NGOs.

Hamas has attacked UNRWA summer camps, it has waged a lengthy war of words about UNRWA's curriculum, and it has even confiscated UNRWA humanitarian aid.

Yet UNRWA's spokesman will never say a negative word against Hamas.

Here's his latest unbelievable statement, after weeks of silence about this Hamas escalation against UNRWA:
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness called for the union to stop the strike action.

"UNRWA appeals to the staff union in Gaza not to drag some 219,000 innocent children into their escalating campaign of industrial action," he said in a statement received by Ma'an.

"The children of Gaza, living under the Israeli blockade and the constant threat of military action have suffered enough.

"Along with the parents of Gaza and all those who believe in a dignified future for the next generation, we appeal to the union to call off the strike which is damaging the education of our children in 243 UNRWA schools."
Yes, yet again, UNRWA studiously avoids saying a single thing against the Gaza government that has constantly attacked it - and instead says that Israel is the real enemy.

As if Israel is the one that has a problem with UNRWA teaching liberal values and upholding policies to distance its employees from terror groups.

More reports that Abbas plans to dissolve the PA

As I was the first one to report in English last week, afterwards confirmed by Ma'ariv, there is more evidence that Mahmoud Abbas plans to dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

From Asharq al-Awsat:
Despite a number of denials by members of Fatah Movement regarding Israeli press reports that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas intends on dissolving the Palestinian Authority [PA], sources have stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that President Abbas intends on reverting the situation in the Palestinian territories to what it had been before the creation of the PA in 1994, which means handing over the management affairs of the West Bank to the administration of the Israeli occupation, which means, in other words, dissolving the PA.
Asharq Al-Awsat has learned from a high-ranking Palestinian source that Abbas has recently sent two messages that include this idea to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and the US Administration. This has been confirmed by a source of the Fatah Central Committee, but the difference between the two sources is that the first speaks about written correspondence while the second talks about verbal exchanges.

However, the two sources agreed on the identities of the conveyers of the these two messages since the message to Israel was conveyed by Hussein al-Sheikh, member of Fatah Central Committee and the official in charge of civil affairs in the PA who is responsible for coordination with the Israeli Civil Administration. As for the message to the United States, it was conveyed by Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator and member of Fatah Central Committee.

According to the high-ranking source, this is an important, serious, sudden step, which President Abbas spoke about, and it will be revealed within a month (which means soon after the Security Council votes on the UN membership request for the state of Palestine, the discussion on which is scheduled to start on 11 November). Abbas spoke about this step in an interview with an Egyptian satellite channels a few days ago, and repeated it in his speech at the Revolutionary Council of Fatah Movement, which began its meetings in Ramallah last Wednesday night and concluded yesterday with a joint-final statement.

During his visit to New York to submit the application of Palestine to the United Nations last September, Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat that actually a National Authority [PA] does not exist and he is not going to accept to carry out the tasks of a head of municipality.

The contents of these messages are the same, according to the two sources who differed on some words, since the Fatah source said that the two messages do not at all include the phrase of dissolving the PA "because we are against dissolving the PA, which we consider a national achievement, but they speak about the collapse of the PA, and the occupation [authority] assuming its role." The Fatah source added that "Hussein al-Sheikh informed the Israelis to prepare themselves to receive these administrations and what they handed over to us (which means after Oslo Accords) because we do not work for them"

The source added: "Hussein al-Sheikh told the Israelis that we are going to return the 3,000 rifles that you allowed for us (in reference to halting the security coordination)." The official said that "this talk in this way means that the PA does not exist, and therefore, let the occupation authority return to shoulder its responsibilities in the Palestinian territories."
Some Arabic-language analysts predict that a new intifada will inevitably break out if the PA is dissolved, which is probably true. Also remember that the single biggest employer in the West Bank is the PA, with some 170,000 jobs. Take that away and all of the economic and lifestyle gains that Palestinian Arabs have enjoyed since Oslo will disappear, and unemployment will skyrocket.

Will the Palestinian Arabs in Area A, who now enjoy essentially all the benefits of a state, be happy with this?

Can you imagine Kurdish leaders  in Iraqi Kurdistan dissolving their autonomous region in order to gamble their people's lives to gain a UN seat?

What this all comes down to is more proof, as if  more were needed, that the welfare of the Palestinian Arab people has never been a priority for any of their so-called "leaders." They are willing to throw all of their gains away for their own twisted senses of "honor" and "justice." They are anxious to use their own people's lives as pawns on the off chance that by doing so they can hurt Israel. The very concept of compromise with the Jewish state is so unthinkable that they prefer to choose an all-or-nothing scenario that is guaranteed to end up disastrous. And the ones who will be hurt the most are their own people.

It is a truly sick mentality, but one that the West refuses to notice.

Yet it is exactly now that Western leaders must stand up and publicly shame Abbas for even considering the idea. Now is the time for ordinary Palestinian Arabs to undergo their own "spring" where they tell their unelected leaders to stop playing stupid political games with their lives.

(h/t CHA)

Abbas, look in the mirror (poster)

From Ha'aretz:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday in an interview with Channel 2 that the Arab world erred in rejecting the United Nations' 1947 plan to partition Palestine into a Palestinian and a Jewish state.

The Palestinian and Arab refusal to accept a UN plan to partition the then-British-controlled mandate of Palestine sparked widespread fighting, then Arab military intervention after Israel declared independence the following year. The Arabs lost the war.

"It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Channel 2.
Yet Abbas is just as rejectionist as the Palestinian Arab leaders were in 1947, as he has rejected offers of peace that would end the conflict - and today keeps adding pre-conditions before even talking to Israel.

So while hindsight is 20/20, Abbas cannot learn the obvious lessons:


It's amazing that Arab leaders keep claiming that time is on their side, and only realize that their intransigence has set their cause further behind decades after the fact.  

And one only has to read the many articles in the 1950s and 1960s where Arab leaders say that Israel is not viable, that it cannot succeed economically, that all they need to do is wait - to see that nothing has changed.

EoZ poster sighting at Columbia U

From The Forward:
Pro-Palestinian student activists are planning a national conference this month that they hope will bring new coordination and potency to the anti-Israel movement on campus.

The group Students for Justice in Palestine is already one of the most active pro-Palestinian groups at North American universities, but its diffuse chapters share no formal organizational ties. That could change this month, as student members try to unite into a more cohesive national group.

“SJP’s have decided to form their own national body to make sure students are at the forefront of deciding what the student movement is pursuing and how it pursues it, rather than off-campus organizations,” said Yaman Salahi, a student at Yale Law School and member of the ad hoc national committee that has organized the event.
From The Silent Majority:
The Anti-Israel Conference, unopposed, was held ON campus at Columbia University.

Of course, the conference isn’t the first time these students were fed such a heavy dose of racism.

But, we were pleased to see a counter-protest outside the campus gate.

Some protesters came independently, alerted by e-mails or social media. Others were members of groups such as Americans for a Safe Israel, Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam, Amcha-Coalition for Jewish Concerns, National Council on Jewish Affairs, and Liberals for Israel. Among the many signs they held up to passers-by were "Occupy Columbia With Truth and Justice, not Lies and Anti-Israel Incitement".
Among the photos in the article we can see a counter-protester holding up one of my posters:


And they didn't even crop out my name:

The Cynical Arab has a much harsher piece about the counter-protesters, and specifically quotes mine (he also has photos of it.)

The original poster can be found here. (h/t CHA)

(h/t Ian)

Assad warns against Western intervention in Syria

From the Sunday Telegraph:
In his first interview with a Western journalist since Syria's seven-month uprising began, President Assad told The Sunday Telegraph that intervention against his regime could cause "another Afghanistan".

Western countries "are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely," he said. "But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different.

"Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?

"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region."
Assad chose his interviewer, Andrew Gilligan, skillfully, as the actual interview is filled with praise for the ruthless mass murderer - and it resembles the infamous Vogue puff piece inthe Assads in a number of ways:

When you go to see an Arab ruler, you expect vast, over-the-top palaces, battalions of guards, ring after ring of security checks and massive, deadening protocol. You expect to wait hours in return for a few stilted minutes in a gilded reception room, surrounded by officials, flunkies and state TV cameras. You expect a monologue, not a conversation. Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, was quite different.

We sat, just the three of us, on leather sofas in Assad’s small study. The president was wearing jeans. It was Friday, the main protest day in Syria: the first Friday since the death of Colonel Gaddafi had sunk in. But the man at the centre of it all, the man they wanted to destroy, looked pretty relaxed.

On Thursday night, the beginning of the Muslim weekend, Damascus’s Old City was heaving with people having a good time. Men and women were mixing freely. Alcohol was widely available. A pair of Christian Orthodox priests, in their long cassocks, walked through the crowded alleys, and small Christian shrines were tucked away in the corners. The regime is successfully pushing the message that all this is at risk. “I don’t like Assad, but I am worried that what follows could be worse,” said one of the partygoers. On Wednesday, Damascus witnessed a large pro-Assad demonstration: Western journalists who observed it say that the participants did not appear to have been coerced.

Assad himself could not be further from a ranting, Gaddafi-like Arab dictator. His English is perfect — he lived for two years in London, where he met his wife. In conversation he was open, even at times frank. “Many mistakes,” he admitted, had been made by the security forces – though no one, it seems, has been brought to book for them. He could both make, and take, a joke. A former president of the Syrian Computer Society, he sometimes explained things in computer terms.

Comparing Syria’s leadership with that of a Western country, he said, was like comparing a Mac with a PC. “Both computers do the same job, but they don’t understand each other,” he said. “You need to translate. If you want to analyse me as the East, you cannot analyse me through the Western operating system, or culture. You have to translate according to my operating system, or culture.” That’s the inner nerd in you speaking, I said, and he laughed out loud. I can’t imagine too many other Arab leaders you could get away with calling a nerd.

Assad lives in a relatively small house in a normal – albeit guarded – street. He believes that his modest lifestyle is another component of his appeal. “There is a legitimacy according to elections and there is popular legitimacy,” he said. “If you do not have popular legitimacy, whether you are elected or not you will be removed – look at all the coups we had.

“The first component of popular legitimacy is your personal life. It is very important how you live. I live a normal life. I drive my own car, we have neighbours, I take my kids to school. That’s why I am popular. It is very important to live this way – that is the Syrian style.”

That might not amount to much against the pile of corpses in Homs, Hama, and elsewhere, but from conversations with residents in Damascus at least, it does in fact seem to make Assad somewhat better esteemed by his own people than many other Arab rulers.
Wow, sounds like a really hard-hitting interview!

It doesn't even appear that Gilligan asked Assad to deny whether he threatened to shoot hundreds of missiles at Tel Aviv if Western forces intervene in Syria's bloodbath. I mean, he was so polite in his modest study, why ask something that might dampen the mood on the same day that 40 people were murdered by his soldiers?

Was this interview arranged by another PR firm hired by Assad to burnish his image? Or is Gilligan just that much of a fan of Arab despots?

See also Nir Rosen - in Al Jazeera - describe how the Alawite minority in Syria holds all the political and military power.

(h/t Yoel)

"The West is hijacking the Arab spring - to the benefit of Islamists"

When writers like Barry Rubin warn about the dangers of Islamism in the context of the "Arab Spring," the mainstream media tends to marginalize it and the Left dismisses it as right-wing paranoia and anti-Arab racism.

Which makes this article by Raghida Dergham so vitally important. Not only because she is an Arab woman, but also because it was published in both the pan-Arab Dar al Hayat newspaper and in Al Arabiya:

While the West speaks of the necessity of accepting the results of the democratic process, in terms of Islamists coming to power in the Arab region, there are increased suspicions regarding the goals pursued by the West in its new policy of rapprochement with the Islamist movement, in what is a striking effort at undermining modern, secular and liberal movements. The three North African countries in which revolutions of change have taken place, are witnessing a transitional process that is noteworthy, not just in domestic and local terms, but also in terms of the roles played by foreign forces, both regional and international.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is trying to hijack the youth’s revolution with the help of the West. This is while bearing in mind that Egypt is considered to be the “command center” for the Muslim Brotherhood’s network in different Arab countries. The followers of the Ennahda in Tunisia are wrapping their message with moderation as they prepare to hijack the democracy that Tunisia’s youth dream of, while being met by applause and encouragement from the West in the name of the “fairness” of the electoral process. Libya, where the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) is in a “marriage of convenience” with Islamist rebels, has become a hub of extremism and lawlessness, with a plethora of military aid being collected by an assortment of armed Islamists who aim to exclude others from power. In Yemen, where a struggle for power rages on, a war is taking place between extremism and a harsher and more violent brand of extremism, with so-called “moderate Islam” in the middle as a means of salvation, even as the latter’s ideology remains neither modern nor liberal, and is rather lacking when it comes to the fundamentals of democracy and equality. In Syria, where the battle for freedom is at its most difficult phase, the youths of the revolution fear what could very much be under discussion behind the scenes between the West and the Islamist movements, in terms of collaboration and of strengthening the Islamists’ hold on power, in a clear bid to hijack the revolution of a youth that aspires to freedom in its every sense, not to yet another brand of tyranny and authoritarianism.

Yet despite increasing talk and concern over the unnatural relationship between the West and Islamist movements in the Arab region, there is growing insistence among the region’s enlightened and modern youths that they will not allow this relationship to direct their lives and dictate their course. It would thus be more logical for the West to listen carefully to what is happening at the youths’ scene, as well as on the traditional secularist and modernist scenes, and to realize the danger of what it is doing for these elements and the road to change brought about by the Arab Spring.

The obsession of some Westerners with the so-called “Turkish model” of “moderate Islam,” able to rule with discipline and democracy, seems naïve, essentially because of its assumption that such a model can automatically be applied on the Arab scene, without carefully considering the different background and conditions that exist in Turkey and the Arab countries. There is also some naivety in assuming than the “Iranian model” of religious autocratic rule that oppresses people, forbids pluralism and turns power into tyranny, can be excluded as a possibility.
The New York Times would never dream of publishing such seeming heresy - yet the secular Arab press is anxious to.

The entire article is a must-read.

(h/t JW)

A small victory

Last week I discovered that a Ma'an story claiming that an 11-year old boy was released after five months in an Israeli prison, which was copied and retweeted on anti-Israel sites, was not true.

The real story was that a 17 year old stone-thrower was imprisoned for 4 months before being released.

After I brought it to their attention, Ma'an corrected the story. (In Arabic, they corrected the age but still refer to him multiple times as a "child.")

The unanswered question is whether a Ma'an reporter was physically there during his release. The article claims that "Israeli forces tried to forbid people who were waiting for the child near the checkpoint from welcoming him and tried to remove Palestinian flags that were on cars near the checkpoint." But if the reporter, who presumably knows the difference between an 11 year old child and a 17-year old, was not there, then how was this information obtained? The article doesn't say "witnesses said" or anything like that.

Nevertheless, it is a very small victory in the war against the huge amount of misinformation out there.

Saudi prince ups reward for kidnapping Israeli soldier to $1 million

From YNet:
Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud declared Saturday he would give $900,000 to whoever abducts an Israeli soldier in order to be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

In an interview with Saudi TV, bin Talal stressed that his offer was in response to a similar offer made by a Saudi cleric who earlier this week said he would give $100,000 to anyone who would kidnap an Israeli soldier.

"Al-Qarni offered $100,000 to whoever abducts (an Israeli soldier) and I say to him – I sympathize with you and am offering $900,000 to put the figure at $1 million," he said.

Prince Khaled is the third son of Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi King's brother.
Peninsula Online adds:
Prince Khaled, originally quoted by the Palestinian network Al Wattan TV, said, “Al Qarni offered $100,000 for whoever kidnaps a soldier, then (unnamed Israeli groups) offered $1m to kill Al Qarni, and now I’m saying to Al Qarni that I’m supporting you by offering another $900,000, which will make it a million for whoever kidnaps a soldier,”
He doesn't name the group that supposedly offered a million dollars to kill al Qarni. My guess is that it never happened, or some teen on Facebook wrote it where it got picked up and exaggerated in Arabic media.

Either way, this means that Saudi Arabia is officially supporting the violation of the Geneva Conventions against taking hostages

Shouldn't someone be asking Saudi officials about this?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The hypocrisy of the Israeli Left, perfectly captured

I noted an absurd Ha'aretz op-ed by Alon Idan the other day where he said, among other things:
The Shalit deal is, in fact, a public display of Israel's racist price index. The ceremony occurs every few years, and the index is designed to update the market values of the region's various races. As of October 2011, in the Israeli market, the price of one Jew equals 1,027 Arabs. And the price increases every day.
But a few months ago, during Shalit's fifth anniversary in captivity, here is what Idan wrote:
Shalit will not be freed because, contrary to conventional wisdom, the push for his release is not nonpartisan; it is part of a struggle that falls along classic political lines.

Suffice it to look at reality itself - Gilad Shalit is still in captivity.... The seeming gap between the public's desire to "pay any price" for Shalit's freedom and the government's opposition to doing so is deceptive. The fact that the situation has not changed means there isn't really a gap, that pressure isn't really being exerted from below - and if it is, it's not strong enough to break the ruling paradigm.

The absence of such pressure is no accident. It faithfully reflects the fact that the issue fall along classic political lines: the left is in favor of releasing Shalit, the right is against it, and the center says it's in favor but acts against it.
Besides how obviously wrong he was about how the right were indeed the ones that freed Shalit, Idan is identifying the desire to free Shalit "at any price" with the Left that he is a part of.

But when Israel does release Shalit for 1027 prisoners, he deems that to prove Israel's racism!

So by the calculus of his later article, the Israeli Left must be racist, since in his words they would have been willing to release many, many more prisoners to get Shalit back!

As usual, the anti-Zionist Left will twist whatever facts they can to make a political point, consistency be damned.

(h/t Guillermo)

Ashkelon father killed in rocket barrage; PIJ video of new multiple launcher

Some 24 rockets (update: 35) were launched towards civilian areas in Israel this evening, killing Moshe Ami from Ashkelon. He was a father of four.



Islamic Jihad, via their Palestine Today website, is bragging that they are using a new kind of multiple rocket launcher. Here's the video they posted:


Will the UN continue to call these "home made rockets"?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend open thread

Don't forget to put in your nominations for the 2011 Hasby Awards.

I was a little surprised not to see anyone nominate Bibi's speech at the UN - or, even more so, his speech to Obama.

So think about any other interesting hasbara events that may have happened this year, and nominate them!

Have a good weekend!

Latest Latma

Meanwhile, in Syria...

From Al Arabiya today:
As many as 37 people have been killed when security forces opened fire at demonstrators on Friday, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists as protesters called for nationwide rallies to demand the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria to protect civilians.
From CNN Thursday:
Three children were among 25 people reported killed Thursday in Syria, an opposition group reported, in the apparent latest round of violence to rattle the turbulent Middle Eastern nation.
From AP Monday:
Syrian security forces killed at least six people in the restive central city of Homs on Monday, while government troops clashed with gunmen believed to be defectors from the military in several parts of the country, killing five including a Syrian soldier, activists said.

I wonder when the Occupy Wall Street people will add this to their ever-growing, amorphous list of issues.

Does this mean Israel values Arabs twice as much as Jews?

From Al Masry Al Youm:
Alleged Israeli spy Ilan Grapel, who was released Thursday in a prisoner exchange deal between Egypt and Israel, thanked Egyptian authorities for treating him well during his four months of detention.

Grapel was returned to Israel on Thursday night in exchange for 25 Egyptians held in Israeli prisons. He crossed into Israel from the Egyptian border town of Taba.

Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin who has been detained in Egypt for nearly a decade accused of spying for Israel, will be released sometime in the next few days in another swap deal, a representative of his family in Israel told the Voice of Israel radio station Thursday evening.

Yitzhak Molcho, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief negotiator for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Yoel Hasson informed the Tarabin family's representative that Ouda will be released in exchange for 60 Egyptians currently detained in Israel on charges related to Israeli national security.
By the brilliant logic of Deborah Orr and Alon Idan, subconscious racists who believe that only Israelis decide the terms of prisoner deals and that Arabs have no ability to influence the parameters, they have to admit that this is proof that Israel values the lives of its Arab citizens over twice as much as her Jewish citizens.

Hamas apologist thrilled with Islamist victory in Tunisia

From Ma'an:
Tunisia's main Islamist party Ennahda was officially declared winner of the national vote on Thursday, the first election of the Arab Spring.

Prominent Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh lauded the democratic vote, and said Ennahda's victory demonstrated the "resilience and tenacity of Islam" in the nation where the moderate Islamist group was banned before its January revolution.

Amayreh, writing for Hamas-affiliated news site Palestinian Information Center, said Tunisia can be "a model to be followed and emulated throughout the Arab world."

Ma'an fails to mention that Amayreh is a virulent anti-semite, liar and nutcase .

Nevertheless, it is useful to read exactly what Amayreh wrote that Ma'an ignored, and read between the lines of what he desires to see in Tunisia:

We Muslims are not against true democracy, a significant, accumulative human experience which can't be dismissed lightly. None the less, we are convinced a million per cent that Islam is inherently superior to democracy.

...With all due respect to the committed believers in western democracy, we Muslims don't believe in this way of thinking because peoples and nations ought to be answerable to values that are higher and more sublime than simple majorities.

Muslims in particular ought to seek Islamic democracy where human rights and civil liberties are guaranteed while general moral values of society are preserved and encouraged. Thus moral vices shouldn't be accorded the same freedoms as moral virtues.
Meaning, Islamic law is far more important than the "simple majority" will of the people.

Amayreh pointedly ignores the fact that while the Ennahda party won a plurality, it did not win the majority - nor can it put together a majority coalition with only Islamist groups. It will need to partner with some hated secularists. So his concept of "true democracy" seems to indicate that when Islamists win less than half the vote, they can impose their will on the "simple majority." I doubt that he would be as happy with coalition politics if somehow the secular parties of Tunisia could put together a larger coalition than the Islamists.

Amayreh's - and Hamas' - concept of "Islamic democracy" is one where democracy is only useful as long as it pushes an Islamic agenda. If not, then it is illegitimate.

Which means that "Islamic democracy" has nothing to do with democracy.

Ma'ariv reports of Abbas plan to dissolve PA

I reported Wednesday that there were rumors that Mahmoud Abbas might announce that he would dissolve the Palestinian Authority if he doesn't get his state, in the Palestinian Arab version of a temper tantrum.

Ma'ariv is quoting a senior Palestinian Arab official as saying that the PA has created detailed plans in case it decides to do just that.

According to the article, Abbas requested a contingency plan be drawn up on how to transfer various responsibilities from the PA to Israel, starting with health, education and tourism and ending with security.

There is an interesting subtext here. Many Israelis have said publicly that "occupation" is a disaster for Israel and that it would ultimately result in the destruction of the state. Abbas is not threatening Israel with war or terror; he is threatening it with the fear that Israeli liberals have instilled in some parts of Israeli society.

If an Israeli government would simply say that it is willing to accept the responsibilities of controlling the territories, then this entire plan would blow up.

Israel's leaders could go beyond that, mentioning that it would be nice for Israelis to be able to go shopping in Nablus and Ramallah again - as they did before the first intifada. It would help the economy of Arab communities in the territories. More Arabs could be employed in Jewish communities.

Whether or not this is true, calling Abbas' bluff publicly would be the fastest way to kill it. There is no way that Palestinian Arabs would accept their leader saying that he will do something Israel likes.


Arab lives really are cheaper - to Arabs

Ha'aretz publishes a ridiculously anti-Israel piece by Alon Idan that mirrors Deborah Orr's absurd, antisemitic Guardian article.

Idan writes:

The fact is, the release of one Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners is not normal; certainly it does not represent an inferior love felt by a Palestinian mother for her son compared to an Israeli mother.

As it turns out, such price lists and equations reflect the Israeli consciousness and what's inside. In the Israeli consciousness, the relation between the life of a Palestinian and the value of a Jewish Israeli is derived with mathematical certainty, 1:1,027, meaning that an Israeli life is as important as that of 1,027 Palestinians. This equation derives from the way we, not Hamas, view reality: 1,027 Palestinians are worth one Jewish life not because the Palestinians minimize the importance of their own lives, but because we diminish the value of their lives. This is a mirror image of the prejudice we Israelis harbor and which has enabled the immoral activities we have sponsored for dozens of years.

The equation inherent in Gilad Shalit's release is a trivial by-product of market economics that features the price of a Jew and the price of an Arab, according to how these values are rated by the wealthy buy-side, the Israelis. This is the capitalism seen in the cottage cheese controversy, only this time it features human beings. Its racist foundations are exploited by the oppressed side to gain bargaining power.

The Shalit deal is, in fact, a public display of Israel's racist price index. The ceremony occurs every few years, and the index is designed to update the market values of the region's various races. As of October 2011, in the Israeli market, the price of one Jew equals 1,027 Arabs. And the price increases every day.
In Idan's crazy mind, Israel is happy to exchange more and more terrorists in every such deal because it regards their lives as worthless anyway. It has nothing to do whatsoever with the value that Israel places on her own people; it is only about racism.

Beyond that truly insane logic, Idan is willfully overlooking the simple fact that, by any yardstick, Palestinian Arabs do not value their own lives as much as Israelis do. And this is not a racist statement - it is provable.


  • Why else would they demand to trade 1000 Arab prisoners for 1 Israeli to begin with?
  • Why else would they be killing their own civilians (as they were in Gaza in 2006) by the hundreds?
  • Why else would they produce TV shows encouraging their children to want to die?
  • Why else would they celebrate whenever they kill Jewish civilians in Israel, while no Jews celebrate the death of Arab civilians?
  • Why do they teach Palestinian Arab mothers to rejoice when their sons die while killing Jews?
  • Why does the Palestinian Arab culture even consider the idea of honor killings to somehow be less reprehensible than murder?


In fact, the one nation that seems to care the most about Arab lives is Israel. Israel spends enormous effort and money to minimize civilian deaths in its operations, and the ratio of civilians to militants killed in Cast Lead, about 1:1, is far lower than in any war ever waged by Arabs - and indeed lower than any war waged by Western nations as well. Israel literally spends millions on smart bombs that they can and do divert at the last second if they see a civilian, rather than just aiming and firing and hoping for the best. In Jenin, Israel recklessly risked its own soldiers lives to minimize Arab civilian deaths. Israel continued to provide medical services to Palestinian Arabs even after their terror leaders in Gaza took advantage of that fact by sending a female suicide bomber to blow up the hospital she was being treated at. Israel spends thousands of man-hours painstakingly investigating the deaths of Arab civilians killed during conflict, and punishes soldiers who are reckless with the lives of Arabs - something you simply will not see on the Arab side of the conflict.

So yes, Mr. Idan, I am afraid that Palestinian Arab lives really are cheaper to Arabs than they are to Israelis - by any measure.

(part of this was written in a 2006 post. See also this 2005 post on the same topic, as well as this Israellycool post today.)

(h/t Avram P)

The amazing time-traveling stone thrower

Ma'an reports:
Israeli authorities released on Tuesday Omar Jaradat, 11, from Saeer village north of Hebron after five months in the Israeli prison Ofer. He also paid a 5,000-shekel fine.

Israeli forces tried to forbid people who were waiting for the child near the checkpoint from welcoming him and tried to remove Palestinian flags that were on cars near the checkpoint.

The released prisoner spoke of harsh conditions inside the jails. He said that as winter approaches, there are few clothes for the prisoners and the authorities prevent families from providing them.
Naturally, the idea of an eleven year old kid being in jail for five months was too delicious for the anti-Israel crowd to resist. You can find tweets and articles about the poor kid.

So where were the headlines when he was put in jail to begin with?

From PCHR, last June:
At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Sa’ir village, northeast of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to the family of ‘Omar Mahmoud Jaradat, 17, and arrested him.

The Arabic version of the report also says he was 17, and was arrested for throwing stones.

A Ma'an Arabic article from last July quotes the Prisoners Society as saying that Jaradat was 17 at the time of his arrest as well.

I found a forum from his hometown congratulating him on his release, but it just calls him "young."

And this YouTube video slideshow of lots of photos of someone with his name was uploaded a few weeks after his arrest, so it may very well be a tribute to him as a prisoner.

This Omar Jaradat is not 11.


So how did a 17 year old turn into an 11 year old, in both the Arabic and English versions of Ma'an? Moreover, both versions imply that a reporter was there during the release - is it possible a reporter doesn't know the difference between an 11 year old and a 17 year old?

(Ma'an's editor tells me he will check this out and correct the article if he finds that the innocent 11 year old is in fact 17 or 18 now. As of seven hours later, there is no correction.)

UPDATE: Here's a different YouTube video made in September showing pictures of "the captive Omar Jaradat and his friends" with photos of a teenager along with Saddam Hussein, Arafat, guns and other interesting items.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Half a cheer - Ilan Grapel is in Israel



I'm glad he is out of Egypt, but I cannot find it in myself to be so happy that a stupid kid who was yelling anti-American slogans in Egypt is being treated with any honor.


He's an idiot whose misguided idealism and naivete cost Israel, the country he loves, a great deal.

I'm more worried about Egypt taking the next Grapel hostage than Hamas trying to find another Shalit.

UNRWA teachers' strikes in Gaza resume

The conflict between the Hamas-dominated teachers' union and UNRWA has resumed after a short period of time to celebrate the arrival of terrorists in the territory.

The union announced a teachers' strike next week from Sunday to Thursday, and there were more protests today.

As usual, UNRWA's website ignores the issue.

The major demand by the union is to be able to openly associate with terror groups. Their president was suspended from his job by UNRWA because of his open ties to Hamas, and the teachers are demanding he get his job back.

As I mentioned earlier this month, this is turning into a much larger issue, as Hamas is challenging UNRWA altogether because it is forced to adhere to a bare minimum of ethical behavior by its major Western donors. Hamas has challenged and defeated every potential rival in Gaza, and UNRWA - which is avowedly non-political although of course it has no problem insulting Israel at every opportunity - is the one major player that is still nominally independent of Hamas.

Iranian expelled from chess tournament for refusing to play an Israeli

From NYT:
One of Iran’s top grandmasters was expelled from an international chess tournament on Tuesday after he refused to play a match against an Israeli opponent, the director of the tournament said.

The Iranian, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, was scheduled to play Ehud Shachar in the fourth round of the Corsica Masters, a pairing determined by computer. The director, Léo Battesti, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Maghami had asked him to change the pairing, but was told that doing so would violate tournament rules. Mr. Maghami then failed to appear at the scheduled time to play Mr. Shachar.

Mr. Battesti said Mr. Maghami should have told him beforehand that he would object to playing an Israeli. Given that five of the 186 players in the tournament were Israelis, the likelihood that he would face one during the tournament’s nine rounds was “99 percent,” Mr. Battesti said. “I told him, you cannot involve your rules in my tournament,” he said.
Jeffrey Goldberg links to Battesti's statement:
Iranian grandmaster Ehsan Gahem Maghami informed me of his refusal to play against his fourth round opponent, Israeli Fide Master Ehud Shachar. I told Mr. Gahem Maghami that as an organizer of a international sporting competition I could not accede to his request to change the pairings, so that he could play against another player. The presence of five Israeli players in this tournament was known to all participants since Saturday, October 22. It honors our competition, as does the presence of Iranian players and those from about thirty other nationalities. The motto of our Federation is gens una sumus, we are developing in Corsica an awareness of the positive aspects of the chess sport on our youth. Being complicit to any form of segregation would be unworthy, and in total contradiction with the foundations of our sporting activities. So regretfully I have to exclude the player who unfortunately has stuck to his choice, in spite of my entreaties. I regret it, but I could not shirk our responsabilities.
Since this is turning into a regular news story, and it is clear that no Iranian is going to participate in any match with an Israeli out of fear of retribution by his nation, perhaps it is time to ban Iran from sporting competitions altogether until it renounces this pretty-much official policy.

Free e-book: RAND analysis of Lebanon, Gaza wars

The RAND Corporation has released a 400 page e-book, Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting it Right in Gaza, by Benjamin S. Lambeth.

I have only skimmed it but it appears to be a tremendous work of research. Lambeth has written other works, primarily about air campaigns.

He had access to many IDF and IAF officials in researching this.

Here are parts of a review by the Israel Defense website. Unfortunately, the website truncated the review.

Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah: “Learning from Lebanon and Getting it Right in Gaza,” the new book from Dr. Benjamin Lambeth, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, is a major contribution to the understanding of the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and the Gaza campaign of 2008-2009. ‏

It fulfills all the criteria for military-academic research and I believe it will undoubtedly serve as a springboard for further research in the field. ‏Dr. Lambeth presents his readers with a vast amount of information on the war, explains the key issues, and offers a balanced, tempered criticism. ‏The opening chapters describe the main combat operations, air power acheivements, central issues, and some sections of the Winograd Commission’s Final Report.

The material here is rather well known to most Israelis who are interested in the war and its concequences, but nevertheless, it is of great value to the target audience: foreign military persons, scholars, and politicians. ‏These chapters are certainly objective although one senses the author’s great sympathy toward Israel, the IDF, and the Israeli Air Force (IAF). ‏

A particular chapter deals with Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 through January 2009. The author carefully describes the preparations and particularly, the encouragement for cooperation between the air and ground forces. The campaign is also depicted accurately and in painstaking detail, beginning with the aerial attack that lasted six days, followed by the ineffective ground fighting, and later the ceasefire. ‏ I must admit that Lambeth’s conclusion that Operation Cast Lead was a success is puzzling. He completely identifies with the Israeli consensus that the lessons of the Second Lebanon

War had been learned and implemented; and that warfighting skills had vastly improved at the outcome of the campaign. Furthermore, the study goes to great lengths to exonerate Israel of any moral misconduct during the campaign. In my opinon both issues are open to debate. ‏The last chapter and the conclusions are the most important.

A basic approach toward the Second Lebanon War is the main factor for its radically different assessments—mainly between those who were responsible for the strategic decision-making, and those who meticoulusly study the war. ‏The first appraoch examined the war as an independent clash, and came to a balanced conclusion that, although far from a success story, Israel had made some important acheivements. ‏

The other approach compared it to previous successful wars, campaigns, and operations in Lebanon; beginning with Operation “Litani” (1978), through the First Lebanon War (1982), and finally, “Operation of Accountability” (1994). The Second Lebanon War is considered a resounding failure for its insignificant political and military achievements. Dr. Lambeth prefered the former approach.

‏The author bravely criticizes some of the military issues in the two wars. He denounces the critics who claim that Dan Halutz, then-chief of staff, was unsuited for his role, and outlines his experience, abilities, and suitability for the position. Dr. Lambeth argues that the decision for an aerial attack stemmed from the fact that, no one in the government wanted a ground operation that might incur many casualties. ‏He strongly condemns, and rightly so, the effects-based strategy (borrowed from the US by IAF and IDF ground forces), that caused considerable damage to the IAF’s aerial strategy. Commanders like Gal Hirsh (91st Division Commander) and Dan Halutz (Chief of Staff) always “pay the price,” whereas General Staff officers (who play a decisive role in modern wars) evade responsibility for their decisions and the consequences of their errors.
It looks like a very worthwhile read if you are a military junkie.

(h/t Yoel)