March 19, 2011

Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars into Israel: BBC

Hamas security personnel were among those wounded by Israeli shelling

Hamas security personnel were among those wounded by Israeli shelling

Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired dozens of missiles into southern Israel in what appears to be their heaviest such barrage in two years.

About 50 mortars were fired – two Israelis were hurt, Israel says.

Israeli tanks later shelled targets in the coastal strip, wounding at least five people, Palestinian officials say.

The Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, said it fired some of the mortars. Three days ago an Israeli air strike killed two of its members.

The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza says this seems to be an escalation – both in terms of the number of rockets fired from Gaza and the fact that Hamas said it was responsible.

Hamas’s military wing said it launched dozens of rockets, our correspondent reports.

Hamas and Israel have largely halted hostilities since the end of the Gaza war in January 2009, but skirmishes often break out around the border area.

Although members of Hamas’s military wing rarely carry out attacks, the Israeli military says it holds the group responsible for all militant activity in the Gaza Strip.

Israel lodges formal complaint with UN over barrage of Gaza mortars: Haaretz

In message to UN, Lieberman warns against supporting a future Palestinian ‘terrorist state who’s first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel.’

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel’s United Nations envoy to lodge a formal complaint with the organization after Israel was hit by over 50 mortars fired from Gaza on Saturday morning.

Two people were lightly wounded and a home was damaged by the mortars. Hamas has claimed responsibility for 10 of the mortars.

Lieberman, in a message to the UN, warned that a future Palestinian state would be a “terrorist state who’s first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel.”

The offensive from Gaza took place while “Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were talking about reunification,” Lieberman’s message said.

In the past week, there have been rallies in Hamas-ruled Gaza and Fatah-ruled West Bank calling for Palestinian reunification. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced two days ago that he intends to go to Gaza to end the more than three years of internal division between his Fatah party and Hamas.

Liberman wrote that the talk of reunification during the barrage of rockets shows that “the international support that the Palestinians are trying to garner would be support for the creation of a terrorist state.”

The Palestinians have been pressing leaders worldwide to recognize an independent Palestinian state, an issue they plan on bringing to a vote at September’s United Nations General Assembly.

Other Israeli officials also responded harshly to Saturday’s bombardment, with Kadima head Tzipi Livni saying that “the right way to contend with Hamas is with force.”

Likud MK Danny Danon said it was up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond harshly to the morning’s offensive.

IDF kills two Palestinian terrorists near Gaza border: Haaretz

IDF spokesman says soldiers identified terrorists and launched strike; Israel strikes Gaza after 50 mortars fired at Israel earlier Saturday.

IDF forces killed two Palestinian terrorists near the Gaza border on Saturday.

The IDF spokesperson said the terrorists were identified as nearing Israel’s border with Gaza so IDF armored forces launched a strike at the two Gazans, killing them both.

The attack comes after more than 50 mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel earlier Saturday, wounding two Israelis. Hamas claimed responsibility for 10 of the more than 50 mortars fired.

In response, IDF forces struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, wounding five Hamas security officers and a boy, Gaza medics reported.

Syria mourners call for revolt after deaths: The Independent

By Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters
Saturday, 19 March 2011
Thousands of mourners called on Saturday for “revolution” at the funeral of protesters killed by Syrian security forces, the boldest challenge to Syria’s rulers since uprisings began sweeping the Arab world.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas to disperse crowds in Deraa, a tribal region south of the capital where at least 10,000 people demonstrated on Saturday at the funeral of two protesters, among at least four who were killed on Friday.

“Revolution, revolution. Rise up Hauran,” chanted the mourners in Deraa, administrative capital of the strategic Hauran plateau, as they marched behind simple wood coffins of Wissam Ayyash and Mahmoud al-Jawabra.

“God, Syria, Freedom. Whoever kills his own people is a traitor,” they said. Some of the mourners exited a mosque and headed for the centre to protest.

The city was less tense by late afternoon after security forces dispersed most of the crowd and adopted less aggressive tactics than the previous day, residents said.

The two were killed when security forces opened fire on Friday on civilians taking part in a peaceful protest demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption in Syria, which has been ruled under emergency laws by President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party for nearly half a century.

A third man who was killed on Friday, Ayhem al-Hariri, was buried in a village near Deraa earlier on Saturday. A fourth protester, Adnan Akrad, died on Saturday from his wounds.

Secret police at the main funeral in Deraa arrested at least one mourner, activists said. Security was heavy in the city, especially around police stations.

The city of Deraa is home to thousands of displaced people from eastern Syria, where up to 1 million people have left their homes because of a water crisis over the past six years. Experts say state mismanagement of resources has worsened the crisis.

The Hauran region, once a Middle East bread basket, has also been affected by diminishing water levels, with yields per hectare falling by a quarter in Deraa last year.

Protests against Syria’s ruling elite, inspired by revolts in the Arab world, have gathered momentum this week after a silent protest in Damascus by 150 people demanding the release of thousands of political prisoners.

At least one activist from Deraa, Diana al-Jawabra, took part in the protest. She was arrested faces charges of weakening national morale, along with 32 jailed protesters, a lawyer said.

Jawabra, who is from a prominent tribe, was campaigning for the release of 15 schoolchildren arrested in Deraa this month after writing slogans on walls, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that swept their autocratic leaders from power.

Residents say the children’s arrests deepened feelings of repression and helped fuel the protests in Deraa, the biggest threat yet to the authority of Assad.

Assad said in a January interview Syria’s leadership was “very closely linked to the beliefs of the people” and there was no mass discontent.

“The leadership have given a clear signal that they are not in any hurry to embark on fundamental political reform,” said a diplomat in the Syrian capital.

In a move seen as an attempt to address the discontent, Assad issued a decree on Saturday lessening mandatory army conscription from 21 months to 18 months.

The long conscription period has generated discontent, especially among the youth who resent state tactics to bring them into service, such as random ID checking, and the withholding of food aid from families whose members escaped conscription.

Yemen opposition activists clash with police: Al Jazeera English

Security forces open fire in southern city of Aden, a day after emergency was declared following a bloody crackdown.
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2011

Yemen seethed with anger on Saturday as medics raised the death toll from a sniper attack on protesters to 52 [AFP]
Police have stormed a protest camp in southern Yemen where thousands are calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s longtime president.

Saturday’s raid was the latest attempt by security forces to quell growing unrest.

Protesters say police fired tear gas and live rounds in the southern port city of Aden, wounding three anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, two prominent members of Yemen’s ruling party resigned on Saturday in protest against the killing of the anti-government protesters a day before.

“I find myself compelled to submit my resignation … after the heinous massacre in Sanaa yesterday,” Nasr Taha Mustafa, head of the state news agency and a leading ruling party member, said.

While, Mohamed Saleh Qara’a, another party member, told Reuters he had quit because of the “completely unacceptable” violence.

Saleh declared on Friday a nationwide state of emergency after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests left at least 52 people dead and scores more wounded in the capital, Sanaa.

He said that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country’s National Security Council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last.

“The National Security Council announces a state of emergency across Yemen, and a curfew is set upon
armed people in all Yemeni provinces. And the security forces with the army will take responsibility for
stability,” he said.

He also expressed “sorrow for what happened in the university square” on Friday.

Sources told Al Jazeera the security forces opened fire in attempts to prevent protesters from marching out of the square where they were gathered. Medical sources said the death toll was likely to rise.

The attack came as thousands gathered across the country, continuing to demand that Saleh – the country’s ruler of 32 years – step down.

Al Jazeera correspondents in Sanaa reported that many protesters were shot in the head and neck; most of the injured were shot with live ammunition.

Medics at a nearby medical centre told Al Jazeera almost 200 people were injured; many were in critical condition. One medic called the attack a “massacre”.

Anti-government demonstrations were also held in other cities including Taiz, Ibb, Hodeidah, Aden, and Amran following Muslim midday prayers on Friday.

Government forces have previously used live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas on anti-regime rallies, in the government’s increasingly violent crackdown on protests.

Yemen, the Arabian peninsula state neighbouring Saudi Arabia, has been hit by weeks of protests set in motion by uprisings in North Africa that toppled long-serving leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and spread to the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Saleh has maintained a firm grip on power for over three decades and has scoffed at calls to step down, saying he will only do so when his current term of office expires in 2013.

Despite violence and threats, anti-government protesters refuse to cease demonstrating until Saleh’s removal.

 

NDP’s battle of the camel: Al Ahram Weekly

The image of Egypt’s former ruling party was further discredited after two of its MPs were arrested on charges of masterminding the now infamous camel battle against Tahrir protesters, Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Preliminary investigations indicate that the horse and camel attack was orchestrated by senior NDP members
Prosecution authorities on Sunday ordered that two former deputies of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) be remanded in custody pending an investigation into their roles in planning the notorious horse and camel attack on Tahrir Square democracy protesters on 2 February.

The two are Abdel-Nasser El-Gabri and Youssef Khattab, former NDP deputies in the People’s Assembly and Shura Council respectively, representing the district of Haram in Giza governorate. El-Gabri and Khattab have big ranches for breeding horses used by tourist riders around the Pyramids.

A fact-finding committee, set up by the Higher Council of the Armed Forces (HCAF), submitted a report to the prosecutor-general on Saturday, stating that the “battle of the camel” in Tahrir Square on 2 February was most likely orchestrated by some former NDP senior officials. According to the committee’s initial report, a preliminary investigation showed that “some NDP leaders in cooperation with former NDP MPs and police officers were involved in inciting dozens of thugs, horseback riders and owners of camels in the tourist area surrounding the Giza Pyramids to attack Tahrir Square protesters using bladed weapons to force them out and to retaliate for their attempts aimed at humiliating Mubarak and compelling him to resign from office.”

Many political analysts agree that the 2 February camel battle was a turning point in bringing about the downfall of Mubarak’s regime. On the night of 1 February, Mubarak delivered an emotional speech in which he stated he would resign from office in September and that he knew no other land than Egypt to live and die in.

Mubarak’s speech left a positive impact on most Egyptians, who were to be outraged the next day by some NDP senior officials and businessmen hiring thugs and horse and camel riders to battle pro-democracy demonstrators in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The attack sparked an anti-Mubarak backlash across Egypt, reinforcing the resolve of Tahrir protesters to step up their calls for ousting Mubarak.

The committee’s report indicated that the battle of the camel might have been launched under the orders of Gamal, the younger son of Mubarak who aimed to inherit power from his father, and Safwat El-Sherif, the NDP’s former secretary- general. Gamal Mubarak and El-Sherif, alongside four other senior NDP officials, were forced to resign from the party’s executive office on 5 February, or three days after the battle of the camel.

Prosecution officials indicated that El-Sherif could be summoned for interrogation on the charge of ordering El-Gabri and Khattab to organise the camel battle. As many as 26 thugs arrested two hours after the camel battle allegedly admitted that El-Gabri and Khattab had hired them to launch the attack for LE300 each.

NDP businessmen and labour activists close to Gamal Mubarak and El-Sherif also faced charges that they had roles in masterminding the camel battle. Among these are the two Giza NDP business tycoons: Ibrahim Kamel, a multi- millionaire with diverse investments in Egypt, Britain and Russia; and Mohamed Abul-Enein, the former chairman of parliament’s industry committee and board chairman of Cleopatra Group.

Worse, the fact-finding committee’s report stated that Aisha Abdel-Rahman, the former minister of manpower and Hussein Megawer, chairman of the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (GEFTU), were clearly implicated in carrying out the 2 February attacks. “They played a role in transporting truckloads of stones from South Cairo’s district of Maadi to be used by thugs to injure Tahrir Square protesters,” the report said, pointing accusing fingers at El-Sherif, stating that he gave Abdel-Rahman and Megawer direct orders in this respect.

The new revelations about the camel battle came to further discredit the NDP’s image in the eyes of the public.

On 12 March, Mohamed Ragab, NDP secretary-general, announced that the party had accepted the resignation of Gamal Mubarak, El-Sherif, Moufid Shehab, the NDP’s former assistant secretary- general, and Alieddin Hilal, the NDP’s former secretary for media affairs.

Ragab also announced that as many as 21 NDP members had been kicked out of the party. “All of those who currently face trial on corruption charges were fired from the party in a purge aimed at cleansing it of any corrupt elements,” Ragab said.

The list of those removed from the NDP includes business tycoons Ahmed Ezz, Mohamed Abul-Enein, Motaz Raslan, Shafiq El-Boghdadi; and former politicians and officials Habib El-Adli, former minister of interior; and Amr Asal, chairman of the Industrial Development Agency.

The flurry of resignations and oustings came on 10 March, just two days after four leading officials of the NDP’s newly-appointed executive office decided to resign from the party’s ranks, leaving it in complete tatters. These included Mohamed Abdellah, NDP secretary for media affairs; Mohamed Kamal, NDP secretary for indoctrination and training; Mohamed Heiba, NDP secretary for youth affairs; and Maged El-Sherbini, NDP secretary for membership affairs.

Abdellah told Al-Ahram Weekly that severe divisions had shaken the party in the last few days. “Many of the NDP’s members in provincial governorates,” said Abdellah, “refused to re-join the party’s ranks unless all of its leaders linked with Gamal Mubarak and Safwat El-Sherif were kicked out.”

Abdellah indicated that “in particular, the names of Mohamed Kamal and Mohamed Heiba were singled out as two former associates of Gamal Mubarak and Safwat El-Sherif, respectively. ”

The NDP’s one-month-old executive office has been in turmoil since the start of the youth revolution on 25 January. After Gamal Mubarak’s resignation, a new team including Hossam Badrawi, a businessman and a reformist political activist, was entrusted with heading the party’s secretariat general and Gamal Mubarak’s influential policies committee. Badrawi, however, decided to resign just a few hours before Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February.

As a result, a new team was appointed for leading the NDP’s executive office. It included Mohamed Ragab, the NDP’s former spokesman in the upper house of the Shura Council, as new secretary- general.

“At first I thought that the NDP could be resurrected but this proved to be quite impossible,” says Abdellah. He argued that the NDP was so discredited in the eyes of the public after many of its members, especially businessmen linked to Gamal Mubarak, were referred to trial. The 25 January Rev dolution’s youth strongly believe that the NDP could be used as a tool by the ousted Mubarak to launch a counter-revolution.

“I decided to resign primarily in response to the demands of public opinion and the 25 January Revolution that the NDP must be dissolved,” says Abdellah, a former president of Alexandria University. Abdellah argued that “Mubarak’s grave mistake was that he left the NDP and the state affairs in the hands of his son, thus sparking the outrage of millions of Egyptians, especially young people.”

The resignation of Abdellah and other NDP officials is a harsh blow to the NDP. Abdellah was one of the leaders who participated in founding the NDP in August in 1978 and was the first chairman of its office in Alexandria. There were high hopes that Abdellah, a trusted member could keep the NDP alive after ridding it of corrupt officials. Abdellah believes that the NDP has become almost dead and that “it is better for its good faces to form another party with another name.”

Meanwhile, there have been widespread calls to dissolve the NDP, which has ruled Egypt for more than 30 years, and strip it of its main offices in all governorates. On Sunday, Tarek El-Awadi, the newly appointed director of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, alleged that the land on which NDP headquarters is built, originally belonged to the museum and as such should be returned to it.

Several lawyers have also filed lawsuits, asking that NDP offices in provincial governorates should be sequestrated. Nabil Louka Bibawi, a Coptic member of the NDP, said NDP’s offices are either owned by the party itself or rented. “The rented ones could be given back to its owners while the ones owned by the NDP will be kept in the

US promoting arms trade mission organized by settlement firm: The Electronic Intifada

Jimmy Johnson, 18 March 2011

The United States Department of Commerce and the US embassy in Tel Aviv are co-promoting the Israel Unmanned Systems 2011 trade mission from 27 March to 1 April. Their partner — and the primary organizer — is Airlift, inc., an aerospace and consulting firm based in the settlement of Talpiot Mizrach (East Talpiot) in occupied East Jerusalem. This raises troubling questions about why Washington is promoting the Israeli arms trade and why it is doing so with a firm based in an illegal colony which explicitly contradicts official US policy as well as international law.

Airlift was founded in 2007 by Marc-Philippe Rudel, a French-Israeli electrical engineer and businessman, to “promote economic cooperation and the establishment of global partnerships.” The company brings foreign arms industry and military officials to Israel for arranged business-to-business meetings, specially tailored seminars, industry workshops and visits to major Israeli armament firms and research institutes. Airlift’s website states that its “offices are located in the heart of Jerusalem” but the address given puts them in occupied East Jerusalem. Airlift’s Spanish subsidiary, Airlift Iberia, was established in September 2010.

Though considered a mainstream Jerusalem neighborhood by most Israelis — including Rudel, judging by his activism in the secular liberal/centrist “Awakening in Jerusalem” movement — East Talpiot is unanimously considered an illegal settlement by the international community including the United Nations, the International Court of Justice and the US government whose pronouncements consistently oppose Israeli settlements. However, Washington regularly takes actions — such as the recent veto of a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements — to shield Israel from international condemnation and formerly contributed economic aid that was used directly for settlement infrastructure and construction. Promoting a trade mission with a firm based in a settlement points to the latter as being more representative of US policy, in spite of official pronouncements to the contrary. American sponsorship comes at a time when governments like Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are actively distancing themselves from settlement-related businesses. Requests for comment from the US State Department and Department of Commerce were not answered.

The trade mission’s program includes visits to the facilities of several Israeli arms manufacturers deeply involved in the occupation. Israel Aerospace Industries, Aeronautics Defense Systems, BlueBird Aero Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are all on the schedule for the visiting delegation as well as an “upscale” reception at the US embassy in Tel Aviv. There will also be panels on the market for unmanned systems (drones) and an optional tour on the last day through the occupied Old City of Jerusalem.

Israel is a world-leader in the design and export of unmanned systems, especially unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It also deploys them extensively in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and over Lebanon. This battlefield experience, the history of deployment in service of military occupation, is a key marketing aspect for the tools. The website for the trade mission notes, for example, that BlueBird Aero Systems is an “official supplier of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Israeli Air Force.”

There is already a history of partnerships between Israeli UAV manufacturers and American arms and aerospace firms, some of which pre-date Airlift’s founding. Boeing, AAI and General Dynamics have all signed marketing agreements to promote Aeronautics Defense Systems models in the US. General Dynamics also helps promote Elbit Systems models, and Advanced Ceramics Research and Cubic Advanced Tactical Systems formerly helped market Rafael’s now-discontinued Skylite drone. These firms and others are also engaged in research and development for their own production of UAVs. It is only the US arms industry’s UAVs, in fact, which compete with those from Israel.

This is also not Airlift’s first joint mission with the US Department of Commerce. In January 2010, they jointly organized and promoted the Israel Space 2010 Trade Mission which brought participants from Brazil, Belgium and the US to learn about and engage with many of the same arms manufacturers involved in the pending Unmanned Systems mission. Airlift regularly participates in trade and aerospace events promoted by the French, Brazilian, Canadian and other embassies. Rudel too is a consultant in charge of the aerospace industry sector for the Economic Mission of the Embassy of France.

The promoters are well aware that the same battlefield experience that gives Israeli UAVs a marketing edge is also a potential liability. A document from the 2010 Space Trade Mission available on the US Department of Commerce’s BuyUSA.gov website notes that “geo-political concerns” are “potential obstacles” to Israeli firms tapping international markets more successfully. A recent example of this was Brazil’s hesitancy in buying Israeli UAVs, as revealed by Wikileaks. The 2009 US diplomatic cable notes that Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim prepared arrangements to “prevent Brazil [from] having to buy UAVs from Israel, which had become politically sensitive” (15 January 2009 diplomatic cable, Wikileaks). With the increasing activity and popularity of the boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts aimed at ending the occupation, perhaps “potential obstacles” to future sales will prove more formidable.

Jimmy Johnson lives in Detroit and runs www.NegedNeshek.org, a news, data and analysis project researching Israeli arms exports. He can be reached at jimmy [at] negedneshek [dot] org.

The Proxy Battle in Bahrain: NYT

Andrea Bruce for The New York Times
CAIRO — King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has demonstrated one lesson learned from the course of pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East: The world may cheer when autocrats resign, but it picks carefully which autocrats to punish for opening fire on their citizens.
That cynical bit of realpolitik seems to have led the king to send troops last week over the causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, where they backed up a violent crackdown on unarmed protesters by Bahrain’s own security forces.

Before the Crackdown: Antigovernment protesters on Feb. 20 in Bahrain.

The move had immediate consequences for Middle East politics, and for American policy: It transformed Bahrain into the latest proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional dominance. And it called into question which model of stability and governance will prevail in the Middle East, and which Washington will help build: one based on consensus and hopes for democracy, or continued reliance on strongmen who intimidate opponents, sow fear and co-opt reformist forces while protecting American interests like ensuring access to oil and opposing Iran.

For Saudi Arabia, the issue in Bahrain is less whether Bahrain will attain popular rule than whether Iranian and Shiite influence will grow.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have sparred on many fronts since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 — a Shiite Muslim theocracy in Tehran versus a deeply conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy in Riyadh — in a struggle for supremacy in the world’s most oil-rich region. The animosity was evident in Saudi Arabia’s support for Iraq during its war with Iran, and it still shows in Iran’s backing for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Now, after a decade that seemed to tilt the regional balance toward Iran, Saudi Arabia decided that Bahrain was the place to put its thumb more heavily on the scale. It sent troops under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council to help crush pro-democracy demonstrations because most of the protesters were Shiites challenging a Sunni king.

“If the political opposition in Bahrain wins, Saudi loses in this regional context,” said Mustafa el-Labbad, director of Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “Saudi is regarding itself as the defender of Sunnis. And Iran is trying to defend Shiites in the region.”

The problem for the United States, however, is that Bahrain, at Saudi urging, chose to resolve its fears with force, rather than by addressing the protesters’ demands for democratic reform, as American officials had publicly encouraged.

And for that reason, the military deployment may now have a profound impact on the United States and its primary strategic interest in Bahrain, the Navy base it maintains there.

Because Washington did not ultimately support the protesters’ demands — as it came to do in Egypt and as it has now, very late in the game, come to back foreign intervention in Libya — many protesters believe that the Saudi troops were sent in with American complicity, or at least with an expectation of American acquiescence. So, among the protesters, who turned out by the tens of thousands, the crackdown may well yield animosity toward America and its Navy when events finally settle down.

One American expert in the Persian Gulf who advises policymakers in Washington said the Saudi king’s action was taken without regard for what might happen if it fails — if the violence leads only to more violence. The Saudi policy, he said, “is risky and could potentially draw us into conflicts we have not looked for.”

“What if the Bahrain venture fails, who will bail them out? It will have to be us.”

Saudi Arabia’s supporters acknowledge that this confrontation can escalate, but they tend to place the responsibility on Iran. “It can lead to that direct conflict if Iran were to interfere and use this as an excuse to interfere,” said Abdulaziz O. Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center, which is based in Dubai. “I hope Iran can understand that any interference will not be acceptable.”

MAD ISRAELIS section

Friday is a good day for mad Israelis – the weekend editions of all the papers are full of them, but especially so the robust Yedioth Ahronot, which has been moving so fast to the right it will soon hit the bumpers. Below I have collected only a few of those rancid fruits from that specific publication. This is where racism, nationalism, bad taste and sheer violence are mixed together with ‘the whole world is against us’ sentiment, into a toxic and vile melange, so beloved of the Israeli right. According to those weekend racists, the real victims in the Middle East are the settlers. It certainly makes the weekends special…

You will have to take my word that this is a small minority of the total. There is much more madness where this came from… Normally, one would never republish such racist and deluded twaddle, but I wanted to expose people in other countries toa little of the hate ration Israelis regularly consume, without thinking twice.

To separate them from other people on this website, I have coloured the names of the ‘contributors’ to this section in red.

End Palestinian game: YNet

Op-ed: Israel should make it clear that Abbas will pay heavy price for his two-faced game
Guy Bechor
There are naïve people among us who are impressed by Salam Fayyad’s and Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnations of the Itamar massacre. However, the time has come to understand that the current Palestinian Authority plays a much more sophisticated and dangerous game against Israel than Yasser Arafat’s PA.

Arafat played a two-faced game, engaging in both a diplomatic process vis-à-vis Israel and terror against it simultaneously. However, Abbas and Fayyad realized that terror against Israel in fact strengthens the Jewish State, both domestically and internationally. Hence, they shifted to a more refined game, engaging in both a diplomatic process vis-à-vis Israel as well as a de-legitimization campaign against it.

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is the one that manages an anti-Israel campaign in the United Nations, at other international forums, and in global public opinion. In September of this year, the PA also wants to force a Palestinian state upon Israel. Indeed, Abbas’ PA makes an effort to embarrass us at every opportunity and work against our very existence.

This de-legitimization is more dangerous than Hamas’ terror, so paradoxically Hamas rule in the Arab parts of Judea and Samaria is better for Israel than Abbas’ duplicitous game, as it would make clear to the world who the good and bad guys are in this story.

The time has come to put an end to this game. Those who engage in peace negotiations cannot at the same time work against the other side’s right to exist. That is, not only fail to recognize it, but undermine its existence, embarrass it, and insult it at every opportunity.

Israel keeps PA alive
The Palestinian Authority is currently being kept alive by Israel. Had it not been for the IDF’s presence in the West Bank and had it not been for the arrests of wanted suspects night after night, this Authority would no longer exist. Hamas would topple and eliminate it within a few days, as it did in Gaza in 2007.

At the time, Hamas activists threw down their Fatah “brethren” from high-rises to their death. Strangely, no international inquiry was established in the wake of that massacre, just like no commission of inquiry will be formed in the wake of massacres committed by authorities against their own people in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and so on and so forth throughout the Arab Middle East.

Israel must not accept the Palestinian Authority’s two-faced game, played at the Jewish State’s expense, while the latter keeps the PA alive only to be hit with insults and anti-Israel activity. We should also not wait until September for the PA’s international moves against Israel. The time has come to exert counter-pressure.

At this time we should already make it clear to Abbas that should his game of de-legitimization continue, Israel will change realities: It will fully withdraw from populated Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria and set a new boundary in the territories, even at the price of moving isolated settlements. The world shall laud this move, yet by undertaking this step Israel will leave Abbas and his comrades at the mercy of Hamas, which will not treat them as kindly as Israel does.

This should not just be a threat. The government must prepare to carry out this move, thereby putting an end to the Palestinian Authority’s existence. Hamas will finish the job, as it was able to do in Gaza.
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This warning should be presented to Abbas and Fayyad now. Should they continue to embarrass Israel and the United States and demand a unilateral state at the UN, they will pay an existential price. Even condemnations of a despicable massacre won’t help them.

The lesson of Purim: YNet

Op-ed: Our politicians must learn from Esther, not remain silent on Judea and Samaria
Yoel Meltzer

The recent events in Gilad Farm with the alleged firing of rubber bullets on Jewish citizens during the demolition of homes has caused many right-wing and nationalist politicians to forcefully condemn the police actions and claim that “red lines have been crossed.”

Although their criticism is understandable, the difficult question that needs to be asked is what would have been the reaction of the same politicians if the homes were destroyed without violence? Would they still have raised their voices in angry protest or would they have quietly and grudgingly accepted the demolitions?

This question takes on significance in light of the fact that just a few days before the events in Gilad Farm, the National Union submitted a bill that would have placed the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria under complete Israeli sovereignty rather than under the Defense Ministry’s jurisdiction. The implication of such a move is that it would remove these communities from being under the constant threat of demolitions and construction freezes.

In this instance, however, the same politicians who a few days later angrily cried about red lines being crossed in Gilad Farm chose to be quiet and did not support the bill. Although there is no doubt that they supported the gist of the bill, in the end various considerations such as “the time is not right” together with internal coalition pressure caused them to go against their conscience and remain silent.

Raw truth
This brings us to Purim. The turning point of the story is when Mordechai pleads with Esther to approach King Achashverosh in order to request his intervention in saving the Jewish people. Esther counters that she cannot since the king has not summoned her and approaching him without his invitation is likely to get her killed.

Unable to convince her, Mordechai tells Esther that if she continues to be silent and tragedy befalls the Jewish people, her position of royalty will not help her and she’ll perish together with the rest of the nation.

Mordechai then follows up this powerful message by telling Esther that perhaps it was specifically for the purpose of being in a position where she could help save the Jewish people that she was made Achashverosh’s queen in the first place. Hit with the raw truth, Esther overcomes her hesitation and proceeds to help save the Jewish people.

Time will never be right
The lesson should be clear. Those politicians who occasionally allow various considerations to stand in their way of publicly declaring their support for extending Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria should know that perhaps it was just for this reason that they were propelled into such key positions. Each one of them has been afforded the rare opportunity of having the influence to help save the Jewish people, in this case by publicly promoting Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as opposed to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.

Moreover, by understanding that they have been granted such an important mission, they should be stating their views constantly and not waiting for the occasional instance of excessive violence to make their voices heard.

What’s more, to continue claiming that the time is not yet right for the raising of such ideas is wishful thinking. The time will never be right! It is foolish to continue waiting as each day that goes by brings us that much closer to the existence of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria being a done deal.

One can only imagine what would have happened to the Jewish people had Esther remained quiet due to personal or political concerns.

When words lead to murder: YNet

Op-ed: Government’s first priority should be to fight local, global demonization of settlers
Yochanan Visser

When I saw my daughter crying while watching the news about the horrible murders in Itamar last Saturday night, I finally decided I had enough.

Enough of the barbaric “humans” who slaughter a four-month-old baby, but also enough of the relentless campaign that caused the death of three Jewish children and their parents.

I am not only talking here about the incitement in Palestinian society, but also about the national and international demonization campaign against Jews like me who are living in Judea, Samaria or in east Jerusalem.

“Settlers” are generally being treated only in one way; we are less than human beings. Our villages our branded” illegal” and in the end we ourselves have become “illegal beings.”

Last year during the launch of our public diplomacy project Missing Peace in Amsterdam, an Israeli journalist asked how an information desk run by a director living in the West Bank could be reliable. Get it? By living in Judea and Samaria one is automatically an unreliable outcast.

Do not think this is only the opinion of a leftist Israeli journalist, I know of plenty of European officials who think the same.

During a fact finding tour in the Gush Etzion area for Israelis a while ago, we visited several places where Palestinians and Jews are meeting or work together. After visiting a garage where 10 local Jews are working together with 10 Palestinians from Hebron, the participants started to complain about propaganda.

Thereafter we interviewed a Palestinian contractor in Efrat who talked about his 20-year relationship with the local Jews. When the guy said he liked to work in Efrat and bluntly stated that life had been much better before Oslo, someone even suggested he had been bribed. It simply could not be true that a Palestinian had a positive story to tell about “settlers.”

Several young people told me that a date came to an abrupt end when they revealed they were living on the West Bank. A friend who used to work for the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv saw his contract terminated when embassy staff found out he was living in Efrat. He received a letter in which he was told that he lived in the wrong place. These are only few examples of how incitement against Jews in the West Bank worked out.

Foreign media demonization
After the news broke about the Itamar murders we saw government officials issuing the usual calls for international condemnation of this barbaric act. On Sunday, the Israeli government declared that it would establish a special team that will monitor Palestinian incitement. Yet nothing has been said about the other source of incitement that caused the dehumanization of roughly half a million Jews.

Even on the day the five members of the Fogel family were buried, a large part of the foreign media continued its demonization campaign against the Jews living across the Green Line. The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that “five settlers” had been killed. The BBC buried the news in an article about new “settler homes” and Sky did not even report the news for 48 hours.

There are countless examples of the foreign media using only Palestinian sources for stories about “settlers.” Just last week it was widely reported that “6 Palestinians were shot in clashes with settlers.” Thanks to a well known Israeli blogger, in this case the truth came to light. The Palestinians initiated an attack on a Jew and were wounded in the ensuing clash with the IDF.

This kind of reporting has created the picture that all Jews in the West Bank are extremist criminals. The fact that the overwhelming majority of those people are working, studying and law-abiding citizens who managed to establish some of the finest communities in Israel is hardly known even in Israel.

The demonization campaign against Jews living across the green line should have been addressed a long time ago. Now the disease has spread to the state as a whole and threatens our very existence in this country. The Talmud in tractate Peah 1:1 states that Lashon HaRa (evil speech) is equivalent to murder. In this case, disinformation by large parts of the media led to de-legitimization and caused the demonization of a large part of Israeli society.

The events in Itamar on Shabbat proved that in such a climate eventually actual physical murder becomes the next step. That is why the government should give higher priority to countering the global dehumanization campaign against West Bank Jews than to the fight against Palestinian incitement.

Focus on Iran, not Israel: YNet

Op-ed: West should take Canada’s lead on human rights, press states that adopt true apartheid
Benjamin Weinthal

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford set the right tone with his announcement earlier this month that the city would withdraw more than $100,000 in public funds for the Toronto Gay Pride week events in late June, after anti-Israel group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid announced it would march in the annual pride parade.

“Taxpayers dollars should not go toward funding hate speech,” Ford said. His logic should also be extended to countries like Iran, whose governments practice gender, ethnic and religious segregation.

The month of March marks the annual arrival of Israel Apartheid Week, where activists cynically use the language of Apartheid to delegitimize Israel, the only country in the Middle East that guarantees the rights of minorities – including gays and lesbians – and the region’s only pluralist democracy.

That helps to explain why leading Canadian politicians have sharply criticized the hate festival events on college campuses. Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, recently said that “When a country is singled out in this way, it offends not only our sense of fairness, but also our core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

A few days earlier, liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff neatly captured the destructive energy of those who loathe Israel. “By portraying the Jewish state as criminal, by demonizing Israel and its supporters, and by targeting Jewish and Israeli students for abuse on our university campuses,” Ignatieff said, “the organizers and supporters of Israeli Apartheid Week tarnish our freedom of speech.”

Canada has long been ahead of the international human rights curve in recognizing the need to tackle the lethal repression of minority groups in the Muslim world, including anti-Semitism, and Iran’s calls to obliterate the Jewish state. In 2009, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, currently a Liberal Party member of parliament, introduced the Iran Accountability Act, an unprecedented piece of legislation tying economic sanctions to Iran’s human rights violations. The bill targeted the Iranian regime for failing to adhere to international human rights treaties and for its ongoing genocidal rhetoric against Israel.

This week, Cotler and the human rights subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development issued a motion condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s crackdown on Iran’s pro-democracy movement in February. The measure also chastised the Iranian regime for its summary execution of minorities and political dissidents, and called on Tehran to release ethnic Kurds, the seven imprisoned members of the Baha’i faith, and others who have been unjustly incarcerated.

US measures insufficient
Canada, like the United States and the EU, has imposed stringent energy sanctions on Iran, but as protest movements gain ground throughout the Middle East, it should ratchet up the pressure on the human rights front.

Across the Arab world, democracy movements are rapidly dislodging authoritarian regimes. Yet the nastier regimes, like that of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad – an ally of Iran’s rulers and their Lebanese proxy Hezbollah – are mobilizing their security forces to pulverize the opposition. The West now has an opportunity to join the cause of democracy in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, and stop the troika of revolutionary Islamic repression.

Canada has drawn an important legislative blueprint for human rights sanctions intended to improve the lives of dissidents and minority groups in Iran and the Muslim world. With Europe discussing the possibility of penalties against Iranian officials for their crimes against humanity, the time is ripe to follow Canada’s lead.

The Obama administration, to its credit, imposed precedent-setting human rights sanctions against 10 top Iranian government officials for committing or complicity in torture, rape, beatings, and unlawful detention. The sanctions aim to penalize only those Iranian elites responsible for crushing pro-democracy protests that have gone on since the rigged presidential election of June 2009. But the measures simply do not go far enough.

The opening salvo in a comprehensive human rights movement to end violence and bias against Iran’s dissidents and minority groups ought to originate from Canada, the Obama administration, the US Congress, and the EU together.

As Iranian democrats asked during the protests in mid-2009, “Obama: Are you with us or against us?”

At the time, Obama left the brave Iranian democrats out in the cold, leaving Iran to clamp down on them. As protests in Tehran once again began gathering momentum in February, the West faces the same question.
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Human rights sanctions will not solve all the problems of the Middle East, but Canada has shown that in pursuing them, it can breathe new life into struggling pro-democracy movements, and bring pressure on systems of true apartheid.

Abbas’ hate education: YNet

Op-ed: While speaking softly, Palestinian leader carries horrendous stick of hate education
Yoram Ettinger

The March 11, 2011 heinous stabbing to death of a Jewish family – while asleep on the eve of the Sabbath – including a three month old baby, a four year old toddler, an 11 year old child and their parents was carried out by graduates of Mahmoud Abbas’ hate education. This slaughter was not an anomalous phenomenon.

The slaughter was a derivative of the infrastructure of hate education and incitement via school text books, Abbas-controlled media and Abbas-controlled mosques. It was installed in 1994 by Abbas, then Arafat’s deputy, and perpetuated, since 2005, by Abbas, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. It is an extension of Palestinian incitement and terrorism, introduced by Haj Amin al-Husseini in the 1920s, and 1,400 years of Arab/Muslim hate-mongering and terrorism toward each other, but mostly against “the infidel.”

While speaking softly, Abbas carries a horrendous stick of hate education, which is largely funded by US foreign aid (over $2BN since 2007.) Since 1994, he has brainwashed Palestinian youth, producing manufacturing lines of hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists/suicide bombers.

One’s education is the most authentic reflection of one’s ideology, vision, goals and character.

According to Prof. Efraim Karsh, Head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies program at King’s College in London (Palestine Betrayed, Yale University Press, 2010, pp. 255-6), “For all their drastically different personalities and political styles, Arafat and Abbas are warp and woof of the same fabric: dogmatic PLO veterans who have never eschewed their commitment to Israel’s destruction and who have viewed the ‘peace process’ as the continuation by other means of their lifelong war…He (Abbas) described the proclamation of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vowed his unwavering refusal to ever accept this injustice…(There is) no fundamental difference between the ultimate goals of Hamas and the PLO vis-à-vis Israel: neither accepts the Jewish state’s right to exist and both are committed to its eventual destruction….”

On August 13, 2009, Abbas – who enrolled in KGB courses and coordinated PLO ties with the Communist Bloc – ratified the resolutions of Fatah’s 6th General Conference, which state (article 19):”The struggle shall not end until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.”

Honoring terrorists
Holocaust denial is promoted by Abbas’ school textbooks, such as Modern World History for tenth graders (p.83). Prof. Karsh notes that Abbas’ doctoral dissertation, submitted at the Moscow University, and published in 1984 in Amman, “endeavored to prove…the existence of a close ideological and political association between Zionism and Nazism…(that) fewer than a million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust, and that the Zionist movement played a role in their slaughter.” Hence, Mein Kampf and the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion are best sellers in the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas’ school textbooks reaffirm the founding document of the PLO, the Palestinian Covenant. It was compiled in June, 1964, aiming at the pre-1967 Israel. Two thirds of the Covenant is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State, as a prerequisite for the attainment of Palestinian goals.

Abbas and Salam Fayyad pay condolence visits – and authorize the transfer of monthly allowances – to families of suicide bombers. In February, 2011 they named a soccer tournament in honor of Wafa Idris, a suicide bomber. On January 16, 2010 they named a major square in El Bireh (in addition to two schools and a summer camp) in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, who commanded the March 11, 1978 massacre of 38 bus passengers on Israel’s coastal road.

The school textbooks of Abbas – who supervised the 1972 Munich Massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and the March 1973 murder of two US ambassadors in Sudan – idolize suicide-bombing, fuel anti-Semitism and repudiate Israel’s right to exist. For example, fifth grade Our Beautiful Language (pp. 26, 31, 32, 36, 70), tenth grade Grammar (pp. 30, 146) and Islamic Education (pp. 42-4, 48, 50) and tenth grade Modern World History (p.64).

On October 12, 2010 Abbas’ official TV channel heralded the terrorists who murdered six Israeli civilians in 1975 (Kfar Yuval) and 1980 (Misgav Am.) On January 29, 2010 Abbas’ official TV channel broadcast the weekly sermon, referring to Jews as “the enemies of Allah and humanity, modern day Nazis, who must be annihilated.”

Hate education is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has always been over the existence – and not over the size – of the Jewish State. Hate education on one hand, and peace negotiation on the other hand, constitute an oxymoron.

Japan and Germany were transformed from hateful to peaceful countries by uprooting regimes of hate education; not merely by condemning hate education. To ignore the centrality of hate education, is to reward and fuel terrorism at the expense of peace and Western democratic values.

 

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