WHAT HAPPENED TO ‘DEFENSIVE BORDERS’? In response to the Israeli settlement freeze, Secretary of State Clinton issued a statement outlining U.S. policy on Nov. 25: "We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements." In his address to AIPAC in 2008, Barack Obama stated that "any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders." The absence of any reference to "defensible borders" in Secretary Clinton's statement is thus both conspicuous and troubling, particularly because the administration has repeatedly refused to answer whether it considers itself bound by the 2004 Bush letter reassuring Israel of the "steadfast commitment" of the U.S. to defensible borders. Even Clinton's reference to "secure and recognized" borders is expressed simply as an Israeli "goal" rather than as a U.S. commitment. The Palestinians have already rejected offers of a state (after land swaps) on 92% of the West Bank (at Camp David), 97% (in the Clinton Parameters), and 100% (in Olmert's Annapolis Process offer). The borders they have in mind are not defensible ones, and the Obama administration appears to have deleted "defensible borders" as one of the guarantees of the process. (Commentary)


THE KIBBUTZ THAT IS SAVING AMERICAN SOLDIER’S LIVES. The Plasan Company at Kibbutz Sasa has positioned itself as the world leader in armour protection technology for vehicles, signing contracts worth millions with major clients, first and foremost the U.S. military. Plasan was in the right place at the right time with the right line of products. America's invasion of Iraq six years ago drove up global demand for armour protection for vehicles. "No company, not even the American giants, had what Plasan could deliver: ready-made, effective and proven solutions," a senior Israeli defence industry executive said. The plant's corridors are decorated with thank-you letters blown up to poster size. "Brian," a U.S. army sergeant fighting in Afghanistan, writes that not a single shot penetrated his vehicle's armour protection, including one that would have hit him in the head had it gone through the door. "American soldiers come up to us at exhibitions and tell me that they won't get into any vehicle that has not been armour-protected by Plasan. To date, there has not been a single soldier killed by fire while in a vehicle that we armour-protected," said one Plasan employee. (Ha'aretz)


HAMAS MARKS ONE YEAR SINCE WAR, BUT GAZANS STAY HOME. A meagre turnout at a well-publicized Hamas rally Sunday to mark a year since Israel's Gaza offensive appeared to reflect public discontent over the militant Islamic group's attempt to turn the occasion into a victory march. Only about 3,000 people milled around a square in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya, well below expectations, and other events during the day were also poorly attended. "Gaza was victorious with its steadfastness, its firmness and strength of faith," said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a televised speech. But a siren meant to call for a minute's silence was ignored as cars whizzed by and pedestrians kept walking. (AP/Washington Post)


GAZANS SUFFER, AND ISREL IS NOT THE REASON. For Hamas, the radical Islamic terrorist group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, the long-term pursuit of a political impossibility trumps even the slightest concern for the welfare of the group's 1.5 million "constituents." I have interviewed the leaders of Hamas many times over the years, and all of them offered one consistent refrain: We are patient. Our resistance will continue as long as it takes - even centuries - until we reach our goal, full control of Palestine. Of course, that includes the State of Israel. The majority of Gazans I have met want to live peaceful lives and provide for their children. Now, a growing number - half the population, according to recent polls - is trying to get out of Gaza to escape from Hamas control and the deprivation that comes from its rule. A year after the Israeli invasion of Gaza, it's time to stop blaming Israel for the desperate plight of Gaza's people. Now, without question, it's Hamas' fault. The writer, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is a professor of journalism at Stanford University. (Daily Alert)


ISRAEL SEEKS TO RESTORE DETERRENCE. Given the growing threats from Iranian-backed militant organizations both in Gaza and in Lebanon, some in Israel suggest that in the next war Israel will apply more force. "The next round will be different, but not in the way people think," said Giora Eiland, a retired major general and former chief of Israel's National Security Council. "The only way to be successful is to take much harsher action." Both the three-week campaign in Gaza, which ended on Jan. 18, and Israel's month-long war in 2006 against the Shiite Hizbullah in Lebanon have brought relative quiet to Israel's borders. Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, the chief of Israel's military intelligence, said the source of the quiet is Israeli deterrence, starting with the war in Lebanon and continuing with the Gaza operation. But in the military's assessment, the calm is temporary and fragile; Hamas and Hizbullah are said to be rearming, making another confrontation only a matter of time. Israel's objective, according to Gabriel Siboni, a retired colonel who runs the military program at the Institute for National Security Studies, is to shorten and intensify the period of fighting and to lengthen the period between rounds. Siboni said the idea was to inflict such damage that the other side would ask whether confrontation was worthwhile. (New York Times)


IN BETHLEHEM, PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS ARE SUFFERING UNDER MUSLIM INTOLERANCE. Yussuf Khoury, 23, a Palestinian Christian from Gaza, fled his birthplace just two years ago. He wasn't running away from Israelis, but from his Palestinian brethren. "Muslims tied to Hamas tried to take me twice," says Khoury, and he didn't want to find out what they'd do to him if they ever kidnapped him. In 2007, one year after the Hamas takeover, the owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore was abducted and murdered. Christian shops and schools have been firebombed. Little wonder that most of Khoury's Christian friends have also left Gaza. Khoury, now a student at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank, tells me that Muslims often stand in front of the gate of the college and read from the Quran to intimidate Christian students. Other Muslims like to roll out their prayer rugs right in Manger Square. Christians have only recently begun to talk about how Muslim gangs simply come and take possession of Christian-owned land while the Palestinian security services, almost exclusively Muslim, stand by. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


CHRISTIANS IN LANDS ACROSS MIDDLE EAST FACE UNCERTAINTY. The region that was Christianity's birthplace is witnessing an unprecedented modern-day exodus. Bethlehem's resident Christians have dwindled from four-fifths of the population since the Second World War to just a quarter today. In the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, Christian shops have been firebombed. In Egypt, a string of businesses owned by Coptic Christians were burned down in riots in the southern province of Qena last month. "Copts are in a continuous state of fear," said the diocesan bishop, Anba Kirillos. In Iraq, as many 600,000 of its once million-strong Christian community have fled abroad since 2003, while hundreds of thousands more have moved to safer areas in the north, abandoning once thriving Christian communities in Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Across the Middle East, a Christian population that stood at 20% a century ago has now sunk to under 5%. (DAILY ALERT - Telegraph-UK)


SECURITY OFFICIALS WARN AGAINST RELEASE OF TERRORISTS TO WEST BANK. As Israel's leaders on Monday discussed a proposed prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, senior defence officials said that a mass release of security prisoners to the West Bank would give Hamas a substantial boost and create major operational challenges and danger for the State of Israel. Hamas wants senior prisoners to return to the West Bank to try and rebuild the terrorist group's infrastructure. "A massive release to the West Bank could alter the balance," said one IDF officer, who noted that in recent weeks the army has been facing an increase in terrorist activity in the territories, mostly sporadic stonings, stabbing attempts and Molotov cocktail attacks. A report published last year by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs reported that out of the more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel since 1985, over 50% have returned to the path of terror. "In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded," the report said. For example, those freed in the Tannenbaum deal (in 2004) have since been responsible for the murder of at least of 35 Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)


WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A NUCLEAR IRAN. It should now be patently clear that the effort to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons has failed. For Tehran, the negotiations have been nothing more than one long stall - a ruse to buy time, conduct more tests, and hasten the day Iran becomes a nuclear power. At this moment, we appear headed toward learning to live with an Iranian bomb, so it is worth reflecting on what living with a nuclear Iran would mean for the U.S., the Middle East and the world. A nuclear Iran would be emboldened in its efforts to destabilize the Middle East and export its revolutionary ideology. This could lead to bolder interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, greater mischief in Lebanon and more aggressive support for Hamas and Hizbullah. Tehran also could incite Shia populations in the Gulf States, thus threatening the survival of moderate Arab governments. Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would likely start a nuclear cascade across the Middle East, as nations threatened by Iran question U.S. security guarantees and seek their own deterrent capability. Within a decade, we could see Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others seeking nuclear weapons to protect against Iranian aggression. Furthermore, Tehran already supplies dangerous weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas, and might share nuclear materials with radical extremists who would not hesitate to use them against the U.S., Israel and other allies. Rather than yield to the notion that the nuclear ambitions of Iran's current regime are unchangeable, we should redouble our efforts to bring about a change of heart in the regime through sanctions if possible; by other means if necessary. The writer served as secretary of defence fro m 1997 to 2001. (Washington Times)


NEW EU OFFICIAL CRITICIZES ISRAEL OVER ‘OCCUPATION’. Officials in Jerusalem harshly criticized the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, for her scathing remarks about the "Israeli occupation" in her maiden speech to MEPs in Strasbourg. They noted that she had not welcomed the settlement construction freeze, as had her European colleagues, and said that in the EU's view, "East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the West Bank." Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on Gaza, and reiterated that the EU opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence. (Ha'aretz)


A HANUKKAH MIRACLE FOR ISRAEL. Sixty years ago, a converted World War II Victory ship carrying 888 pregnant Holstein cows steamed across the Atlantic Ocean to help make Israel a "land of milk and honey." 200 cows gave birth at sea and only six died, said Morris Levy, the only veterinarian aboard. An armistice ending the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had been signed in March 1949. Ten months of battling six Arab states had depleted the nation's food supply. The native Syrian and Damascene cattle were not heavy milkers. Levy, now 90, received a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1943 from Auburn University veterinary school. At Sol and Ben Levinson's dairy farm near Williamsburg, Va., Levy met members of the Israeli Cattlemen's Association. The Israelis had $1 million to spend on livestock and the Levinsons recommended Levy to help them spend it wisely. Throughout the Midwest and Northeast, the Israelis bought heavy milkers and shipped them by rail to Newport News. The Levinsons recruited 42 Mennonite dairymen from Virginia and Pennsylvania to handle and milk the cattle. "They were overjoyed to be going to the land of Jesus," Levy said. Many Israeli dairy herds descend from the Holsteins Levy ably shepherded. (Washington Post)


NGO’S: HAMAS DISINTERS CHRISTIANS IN GAZA. Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world, and in 2009 more than 165,000 Christians will have been killed because of their faith, most of them in Muslim countries, according to a human rights group visiting Israel. "Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth," said Rev. Majed El Shafie, 32, an Egyptian-born Christian and President of One Free World International (OFWI), who heads a delegation of human rights activists, members of parliament from Canada and religious personalities visiting Israel for a conference on human rights and persecuted minorities at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. El Shafie said that some 200-300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world, 80% of whom lived in Muslim countries. (Jerusalem Post)


WITH GAZA CEASE-FIRE, SOUTH ISRAEL BLOSSOMS. The three-week Israeli campaign in Gaza launched on Dec. 27 drew harsh international condemnation and threats of war crimes prosecutions. But most Israelis see it as the only means they had of ending eight years of rocket attacks on Nahal Oz and other nearby towns and villages. Until less than a year ago, Nahal Oz was a place to stay away from or risk being hit by rockets from neighbouring Gaza. Since then, 10 new families have moved in. This used to be a place where few days passed without people having to dash to air-raid shelters. Now, it's a quiet village with open spaces, down-to-earth neighbours and affordable housing. The only thing heard from Gaza these days is calls to prayer at the mosques in Gaza City. (AP/Washington Post)


U.A. ARMY INSTALLS UNDERGROUND MONITORING SYSTEM ON GAZA-EGYPT BORDER. In recent months, U.S. army engineers have moved forward on a two-phase, multimillion-dollar project to stop the flow of weapons and money into Gaza from Egypt. The first stage includes the installation of below-ground, state-of-the-art sensors capable of detecting sound or movement. U.S. experts began the process about one year ago, and it is nearing completion. The sensors are about the size of a human fist, planted inside pipes 15 meters deep. While U.S. military engineers are responsible for monitoring the sensors, U.S. forces have kept the Israeli side informed about any detected movement, despite that the entire operation is conducted on Egyptian soil. Cairo is hesitant about the second stage of the project, the installation of a steel wall underneath the border. (Daily Alert - Maan News-PA)


HAMAS WARNS AGAINST PA COLLABORATION WITH CHRISTIANS. A group of Hamas prisoners held in Israel have published a study on Hamas websites entitled, "The Detention Philosophy of the Abbas-Dayton Security Apparatuses and Methods of Dealing with Them," based on their own personal experience and debriefings and interviews they conducted among their fellow Hamas members in jail. The 61-page document details the widespread efforts of Palestinian Authority groups to apprehend Hamas activists in the West Bank: surveillance, detentions, psychological warfare and interrogation methods, including temptations and torture (sometimes even to death). Between June 2007 and September 2009, according to the authors, there were 22,000 incidents initiated by the PA security f orces against Hamas groups in the West Bank. The PA forces are said to collaborate with Christians, such as American general Keith Dayton. The authors of the Hamas document refer to "the Abbas-Dayton security forces" and denounce the PA rule as "a Daytonian government." The writer is a Middle East scholar and a former adviser to the head of the Israel Security Agency. (Ha'aretz)


ISRAEL DOUBTS EGYPTIAN WALL WILL BLOCK GAZA TUNNELS. Egypt is currently building an underground metal wall that will reach a depth of 16 meters, as part of an effort to cut off smuggling tunnels used by Hamas to bring advanced weaponry into Gaza. Israeli officials said they doubted the wall would be effective, since most of the smuggling tunnels were dug to depths reaching over 30 meters and sometimes even 50 meters. While Egypt has slightly increased its counter-smuggling activity along the Gaza border, Israel believes Hamas is continuing to bring weapons into Gaza without difficulty. (Jerusalem Post)


WEST DOESN’T SUPPORT PALESTINIAN PRECONDITIONS FOR TALKS. The Palestinian Authority is starting to be portrayed as the side against peace. Two moves by Netanyahu managed to change the picture: First, his willingness to endorse a Palestinian state, and then the temporary settlement freeze. Israel made a move, so why is Abbas refusing to negotiate? He is being asked this by world leaders at a time when his PA continues to incite against Israel. While Israel is ready for negotiations, here and now, the Palestinians are presenting preconditions and are losing the West's support. Preconditions for talks with Israel? As if we never had Oslo, mutual recognition, and signed agreements? The Palestinians failed to realize that hatred for Israel does not equal sympathy for the Palestinians. They confused anti-Israel sen timents with pro-Palestinian sentiments. They failed to understand that many in the world hate Israel, but are using the Palestinians as the fig leaf for this hatred. The Obama administration is increasingly having reservations about them. (Ynet News)


ISRAEL’S RESPONSE TO THE EU FOREIGN MINISTERS STATEMENT. The statement by the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU ignores the primary obstacle to achieving a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians - the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table. In light of the extreme draft originally presented by the Swedish presidency at the start of discussions, Israel does welcome the fact that in the end the voices of the responsible and reasonable EU states prevailed, balancing and improving the text. We also welcome the recognition given to the measures and efforts taken by Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations;...to the recognition of the severity of the problem posed by Hamas' armaments; and to the EU's expression of commitment to the security of Israel and its full integration in the area. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


WANTED: A PALESTINIAN ‘PEACE-NOW’ MOVEMENT. Where are all the American, European and local non-governmental organizations that are supposed to use U.S. and EU taxpayers' money to promote peace, moderation and coexistence? When the Strings of Freedom Orchestra returned home to the refugee camp of Jenin in the northern West Bank, the musical director, Wafa Yunis, was fired and her studio apartment in the camp was sealed. The Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have been talking to Israel for more than fifteen years, accused Yunis of "exploiting the children for the purpose of normalizing ties with Israel." Those who are passionate about the Israeli-Arab conflict and would like to see an end to the violence and hatred should start searching for ways to encourage the emergence of a serious peace camp in the Wes t Bank and Gaza - one whose leaders and members would be able to stand up to both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)


ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENT FREEZE. On Nov. 25, Israel's government announced a 10-month construction freeze in the West Bank. "We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful peace negotiations," declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "and finally end the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel." The Obama administration praised the decision and recognized its significance. By contrast, Palestinian leaders rejected Israel's gesture as grossly insufficient. Twice - in 1948 and 1967 - the West Bank served as the staging ground for large-scale attacks against Israel. While defending itself, Israel captured the territory and reunited with its ancestral homeland: Haifa is not in the Bible, but Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho decidedly are. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushed to resettle their tribal land and widen Israel's borders, which at points were a mere eight miles wide. American policy-makers recognized Israel's need for defensible borders and, in November 1967, they supported UN Resolution 242, which did not call for withdrawals from "all the territories." Mr. Netanyahu has taken the initiative and demonstrated his commitment to peace. Now the Palestinians must match that dedication and seize this propitious moment. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)


WHEN ISLAMIST FOREIGN POLICIES HURT MUSLIMS. What is an Islamist foreign policy, exactly? Is it identifying with Muslims and their suffering, or is it identifying with anti-Western regimes even at the cost of Muslims' best interests? Turkey's foreign policy under Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan demonstrates that far from protecting Muslims and their interests, it is promoting a la carte morals - bashing the West and supporting anti-Western regimes, even when the latter hurt Muslims. Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan's AKP has dramatically changed Turkey's foreign policy. The party has let Ankara's ties with pro-Western Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel deteriorate and has started to ignore Europe. Meanwhile, the AKP has built ties with anti-Western states such as Sudan while making friends with Ankara's erstwhile adversaries, including Russia, Iran and Syria, and positioning itself as Hamas' patron. This is an ideological view of the world, guided not by religion but by a distorted premise that Islamist and anti-Western regimes are always right even when they are criminal, such as when they are killing Muslims. And in this view, Western states and non-Muslims are always wrong, even when they act in self-defence against Islamist regimes. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)


IDF FORCES IN WEST BANK UNCOVER THREE BOMBS. On Thursday, IDF forces disarmed two explosive devices near Beit El in the West Bank on a road marked for security forces' use only. A third explosive device was found near Beit Omer, just south of Gush Etzion, along with a set of IDF uniforms supposedly meant to be used as a disguise. "These incidents illustrate that there is still motivation to carry out terror attacks on the ground. They also stress the importance of allowing the military a free hand in this area," a military official said. According to military data, while attacks in the form of hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails are ongoing in the West Bank, the use of firearms and explosive devices has been rare in recent months. (Ynet News)


NOT EVERYONE IN THE MIDEAST WANTS PEACE. For more than half a century, Western politicians and diplomats have built upon a mirage: the belief that because we see peace as a benefit, everyone in the Middle East must see it that way, too. This assumption is mostly obviously false in regard to Hamas, which is fighting a jihad, a religious war. Its goal is the annihilation of Israel, an "infidel" nation occupying land Allah has endowed to the Muslims. A "two-state solution" or any other compromise is out of the question. Any agreement Abbas might strike with Israel, no matter how advantageous for average Palestinians, would be denounced by Hamas as an act of treachery and apostasy. So Abbas pockets any Israeli concessions the Americans can wring out of the Israelis while dismissing them as woefully insufficient; refuses to negotiate; but behind the scenes works with the Israelis on security and economic development. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies. (DAILY ALERT - Scripps News)


ISRAEL CONDEMNS UN ’PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY DAY’. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, condemned the organization's tradition of marking November 29, the date on which the UN approved its partition plan in 1947, as an occasion of "solidarity with the Palestinian people." Shalev told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the hostility towards Israel fostered by the UN event was harmful to peace negotiations in the region. "Do those in our region have the courage to say publicly that Israel is the legitimate nation-state of the Jewish people? Do the members of this body have the courage to confront Hamas and Hizbullah and all those for whom there is no two-state solution?" she asked. (Ynet News)


KNESSET SPEAKER: JERUSALEM WILL NEVER BE DIVIDED DESPITE EU PLAN. Knesset members from across the political spectrum condemned a plan by the EU that was reported on Tuesday to unilaterally declare Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. "Jerusalem must never be divided, because it would only enhance the conflict and not solve it," said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, whose family has lived in the capital for a century. "Splitting sovereignty would bring about complete chaos," he said, adding that Israel had proven that adherents of Judaism, Islam and Christianity could live together in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)


FOREIGN MINISTRY WARNS EU: DON’T DECLARE JERUSALEM PALESTINIAN CAPITAL. Sweden's attempts to insert language into an EU resolution on the Middle East that would recognize eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state harms European efforts to play a significant part in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, the Israel Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. The statement followed a Ha'aretz report that the Swedes were pushing a resolution to be discussed at a monthly meeting of EU ministers next week in Brussels that would officially call for the division of Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministry said that after the significant steps that Israel has taken to enable the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians - a reference to the recent moratorium on new housing starts in the West Bank - "the Europeans should be pressuring the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table. These types of moves being led by Sweden bring about the opposite result." (Jerusalem Post)


THE ARABS HAVE STOPPED APPLAUDING. • In the Arab-Islamic world, Barack Obama has come down to earth. He has not made the world anew, history did not bend to his will, the Indians and Pakistanis have been told that the matter of Kashmir is theirs to resolve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same intractable clash of two irreconcilable nationalisms, and the theocrats in Iran have not "unclenched their fist," nor have they abandoned their nuclear quest. • Obama's election has not drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is endemic to this region, an alibi and a scapegoat for nations, and their rulers, unwilling to break out of the grip of political autocracy and economic failure. It predated the presidency of George W. Bush and rages on during the Obama presidency. • In an effort to resolve the fight between Arab and Jew over the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, the Obama diplomacy had made a settlement freeze its starting point, when this was precisely the wrong place to begin. Israel has given up settlements before at the altar of peace - recall the historical accommodation with Egypt a quarter century ago. • The right course would have set the question of settlements aside as it took up the broader challenge of radicalism in the region - the menace and swagger of Iran, the arsenal of Hamas and Hizbullah, the refusal of the Arab order of power to embrace in broad daylight the cause of peace with Israel. (Wall Street Journal)


HALF-TRUTHS DIM CHANCES FOR RENEWING MIDEAST TALKS. As Palestinian officials like to point out, trained Palestinian security forces have been keeping order in West Bank cities for more than a year and claim to have successfully ended violence. The Israeli military begs to differ. Yes, its officers say, the Palestinian forces are better trained than in the past, and yes, they have worked seriously in their new roles. But without nightly Israeli raids into Palestinian cities, the violence would never have stopped. "Last night we carried out between 15 and 20 actions," noted a top Israeli commander, speaking of the West Bank raids in a recent interview. "That was a fairly typical night. It's like throwing a blanket on a fire. If we stop for a minute, we will go backwards very quickly. We call it cutting the grass." And, Israeli officials note, there is still Gaza, ruled by the Islamists of Hamas who remain dedicated to Israel's destruction. Since PA officials dare not even set foot there, it is hard to credit their claim to have dismantled terror networks. (New York Times)


IRANIAN PILGRIMS IN MECCA CHANT ‘DEATH TO AMERICA, DEATH TO ISRAEL’ Thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America, death to Israel" inside a huge tent on Thursday during the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Ayatollah Muhammed Rishari, the representative of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: "We need all Muslims, Sunni and Shiite, to be unified and focus on important issues: Al-Aqsa (mosque in Jerusalem), the occupation of Palestine, the problems in Iraq, the Afghan occupation, and the fighting between brothers in Yemen. We need to be purified from all infidels." Faisal, 52, a Palestinian pilgrim from Israel, said he was praying for "all Musl ims to be unified soon to liberate Al-Aqsa and Palestine." (DAILY ALERT - AFP)


MORATORIUM PROVES SETTLEMENTS HAVE NEVER BEEN OBSTACLE TO PEACE. Israel's settlement moratorium proves that the settlements have never been an obstacle to peace, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Thursday. "This is only a limited window of opportunity. It will be sufficient to demonstrate whether the Palestinians are serious about peace or just serial excuse-givers. The gaze of the international community will now turn to the Palestinians and to the Arab world, something that the Palestinians in particular have fought hard to prevent for the last eight months." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL’S GAMBLE IN A PRISONER SWAP. Israel and Hamas are trying to broker a deal that would end the 3 1/2-year captivity of Gilad Shalit, reportedly in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. In Israel, the politicians and the military want to show that Israel will leave no stone unturned to ensure that any soldier is returned home. o However, the Israel Security Agency believes that if many Palestinian prisoners are released, this is bound to increase the number of terror threats. Moreover, it will enable Hamas to claim that they too will not leave a stone unturned until those who perpetrate violence are released, and by doing so gain new recruits. o Israeli policymakers are looking at the impact of the deal on the prospects of peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas and how Hamas will use a Shalit deal to reshape the Palestinian internal balance of power. (New York Times)


STUDY: NEFESH B’NEFESH IMMIGRANTS HAVE AIDED ISRAEL’S ECONOMY. According to a study released Monday, the 23,000 immigrants who came to Israel since 2002 with the assistance of Nefesh B'Nefesh have generated government revenues of NIS 989 million, while they cost the state an estimated NIS 528 million, the study states. Thus, the net financial contribution of the group's immigrants to Israel's economy is NIS 461 million. The impact they've had on the local tourism industry - by attracting visitors to Israel - is thus far estimated at NIS 347 million. Taken together with their personal savings, "the overall positive financial impact of Nefesh B'Nefesh on the Israeli economy exceeds NIS 1 billion." (Ha'aretz)


MAKING ISRAEL DISAPPEAR. • "In the world inhabited by Palestinian children there is no Israel," says Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch in Jerusalem. • The anti-Israeli content of Palestinian textbooks has been a longstanding concern for anyone who yearns for a permanent political settlement, but surely those books have improved since Yasser Arafat's death in 2004. Not really, says Marcus. If anything, he says, they devote more space than ever to depicting conflict with Israel as a solemn religious duty aimed at liberating a Muslim land. • Remember, we're talking about textbooks chosen by the Palestinian government led by the allegedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas, not the overtly jihadist Hamas. The PA media are full of similar Islamist references that offer no room for compromise, and that honor terrorists and suicide bombers as national heroes. • No less ominous is what Marcus describes as the PA's "infrastructure of hate," the relentless depiction of Jews as evil - as conspirators spreading AIDS, for example, or undermining the foundations of the Al-Aqsa mosque. • Naturally, Jews poisoned Yasser Arafat, too - or at least that is what children are told. In a TV tribute to Arafat earlier this month, one youngster unconsciously presented the essence of this paranoid vision: "He died from poisoning by the Jews. Well, I don't know what he died from, but I know it was by the Jews." (DAILY ALERT - Denver Post)


Muslim Countries Seek Blasphemy Ban. Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to ban blasphemy that puts them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West. Such a treaty would require countries to limit free speech if it risks seriously offending religious believers. "Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "I strongly disagree." The U.S. is worried by the Islamic Conference campaign. Behind the scenes it has been lobbying hard to quash the proposal, dispatching a senior U. S. diplomat to Geneva last month for talks described as akin to trench warfare. (DAILY ALERT - AP)


ANOTHER UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WON’T MEAN PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. The Palestinian Authority is reportedly seeking international support for issuing another unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). This would not be the first declaration of "independence" the Palestinians have issued. In 1948, the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini declared the independence of Palestine. In 1988, the Palestinian National Council issued a declaration of a state of Palestine. The Palestinians did not attain independence in 1948 or in 1988 and are unlikely to attain independence now if the PA goes ahead with another UDI. Over 100 states recognized "Palestine" in 1988. However, it lacks some of the most essential elements of statehood including effective control over its territory. The EU and the U.S. have cautioned Abbas from prematurely issuing a UDI. And their support is crucial. (Guardian-UK)


THE IMPLICATIONS OF LONG-RANGE HAMAS ROCKETS. The IDF recently monitored Hamas' launch of a 60-km-range Iranian rocket from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea. A rocket with such a range can reach the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv as well as targets across much of southern Israel. According to Amos Yadlin, IDF director of military intelligence, Hamas now has "dozens" of rockets with a 60-km range. Hamas' new rocket capabilities must also be seen in the context of Hizbullah's acquisition of rockets with a 300-km range. In a possible two-front war, this means that most of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, would be within rocket range. From Israel's standpoint, the threats to its large population centres will likely make the government more willing to deal decisively with a revamped threat from Hamas. This would probably mean a comprehensive air and ground offensive throughout Gaza - one that would far exceed the scope of last winter's Gaza operation. The writer is a defence fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy).


HARD EVIDENCE ABOUT MAJ. HASAN. Hasan had been in direct correspondence with a notorious preacher of violence, Anwar al-Awlaki, whose enthusiasm for the teachings and actions of al-Qaeda has long been known. Hasan bought weapons well in advance of a murderous assault on unarmed soldiers. As he unleashed his volleys, he yelled the universal cry of jihad, "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" He had, in spoken and written communications, demonstrated a fascination with the concept of suicide martyrdom. He seems to have been especially obsessed with the Quranic injunction that forbids devout Muslims to make alliances with Christians and Jews. I do not say that all Muslims are terrorists, but I have noticed that an alarmingly high proportion of terrorists are Muslim. No doubt he came in for a taunt or two, but if you want to avoid that, then don't express contempt for your fellow soldiers while in uniform. Black Americans used to be segregated. Jewish recruits were mercilessly hazed, as were men or women who looked as if they might be gay. Did any of them ever come up with an act of mass murder as a response? (DAILY ALERT - Slate)


SWITZERLAND, SWEDEN, DENMARK NETHERLANDS Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark AND NETHERLANDS FUND RADICAL ANTI-ISRAEL NGO’S The NGO Development Center (NDC) has distributed $6 million to some of the most radical NGOs on behalf of the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark. Many of the recipients employ "apartheid" rhetoric, promote "war crimes" cases against Israeli officials, and support the Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. NDC "facilitated" and funded the "Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct" which demands that Palestinian groups reject "any normalization activities with the occupier." ( DAILY ALERT - NGO Monitor)


DICTATORSHIPS PROTECT EACH OTHER AT UN. Former deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky said in an interview: The Goldstone report is part of the continuing war by the UN and dictatorial states within the UN to delegitimize the State of Israel. As a human rights activist who is in continuous contact with organizations and activists throughout the world, I can say with authority that we in Israel have the strongest democratic institutions in the world. The UN has a miserable record of defending human rights. What has it done to advance human rights in dictatorships like Egypt, Syria, or Jordan? Why has the UN never denounced the killing in Chechnya, Darfur, or China? UN representatives have admitted that there is an agreement between the Arab states and Russia that neither will deal with the dictatorships of the other. So what is left, except Israel? During all the years of its existence, the UN has denounced human rights violations by Israel more than by all the world's dictatorships put together. This is because dictatorships won't criticize other dictatorships. (Daily Alert - Maariv Weekend-Hebrew, 13Nov09)


PALESTINIANS REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE FOR A PALESTINIAN STATE. After nearly ten months of U.S. diplomacy, the Middle East peace process appears to be stalled and no negotiations are on the horizon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to return to peace talks without preconditions, but Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said a settlement freeze needed to be in place before high-level negotiations could begin. Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that for a generation Palestinians have asked America to convince Israel to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state. Now Palestinians are refusing to come back to such talks. Satloff predicts it could take years to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians since other foreign policy priorities are likely to seize t he attention of President Obama. (Daily Alert - VOA)


WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT GAZA MOSQUE? The Goldstone report accuses Israel of an air strike on the Maqadmah mosque in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza on January 3, 2009, which caused the deaths of "at least 15 Palestinians." During a confrontation at Brandeis University on Nov. 5, 2009, with Amb. Dore Gold, Judge Richard Goldstone presented the incident as a salient example of Israel's policy of deliberately targeting innocent civilians. What really happened at the Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque, named for one of the heads of Hamas' military-terrorist wing? If the commission had examined the names of the Palestinians killed at the Maqadmah mosque, they would have discovered the membership of many of them in terrorist organizations. Seven of the 15 Palestinians killed at the mosque were members of terrorist organizations who had participated in fighting the IDF, most of them members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, and a few from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It was reported that one of them, Ahmed Abu Ita of the al-Qassam Brigades, had gone to the Maqadmah mosque to meet "friends," i.e., other armed terrorist operatives. The mosques in Gaza are engaged in a "suicide bombing competition" to determine which one bred the greatest number of bombers. The dubious title is held, apparently, by the Al-Khufla al-Rashidoun mosque in Jabaliya (not far from the Maqadmah mosque), which for years has been called the "fortress of the suicide bombers." (Ynet News)


U.S. SILENT IN THE FACE OF UN ISRAEL-BASHERS. The U.S. stood disgracefully silent last week as the UN General Assembly debated a resolution endorsing the stacked investigation that accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity in the Gaza conflict. No exercise of American moral authority took place during the debate. The Goldstone report was not merely "deeply flawed" or "excessively negative" or filled with "overreaching recommendations," as the U.S. said. The report, commissioned by the anti-Semitic Human Rights Council, a body populated by the world's worst human rights abusers, was illegitimate at its root, filled with specious assertions of fact and based on constructions of international law never before seen and never to be seen again. In other words, it was a monumental frame-up. The sponsors wanted to find Israel guilty for pursuing Hamas in Gaza after Hamas had fired more than 7,000 rockets into Israel with hardly a peep from the international community. (DAILY ALERT - New York Daily News)


ISRAEL VIEWS U.S. TALKS AS POSITIVE. Although the details of Monday's talks between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama continued to be shrouded in secrecy, the prime minister Tuesday said the atmosphere "was very open and very warm." "The discussions dealt with the complex of issues vital for Israel's security and our joint efforts to advance the peace process. We discussed these issues in detail, in a practical way and out of friendship. I really appreciated the professional and positive approach I discovered." Referring to other meetings he held on his trip, Netanyahu said, "There was a great understanding among Jewish leaders and in the Senate that we want to advance peace and that we are taking practical measures to do so, while we have real security needs that the U.S. is prepared to he lp with." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL PLANNING CELL PHONE ROCKET ALERTS. Within two years, the IDF Home Front Command will install a rocket alert system in Israel that will be able to calculate the precise location of an impact zone, and alert residents in an affected neighbourhood via their cell phones, Col. Dr. Chilik Soffer said Thursday. "There are 1,260 communities in Israel. There is no longer a need to set off a nationwide alert," he said. (Jerusalem Post)


"NOBODY WANTS PEACE AS MUCH AS ISRAELIS”. "Nobody wants peace more than the people of Israel, the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu's media adviser, told Israel Radio Monday in response to a column by Thomas Friedman. "Netanyahu is calling on the Palestinians to talk peace night and day," Hefetz said, while "the Palestinian side...is setting preconditions that have been unheard of in 16 years." (Jerusalem Post)


THE HAUL: 320 TONS OF KATYUSHAS, OTHER ROCKETS, SHELLS AND BULLETS. The IDF issued photos showing that the Katyusha rockets discovered last week by UNIFIL troops in Lebanon are of the same make as the rockets seized by the Navy from the Francop cargo ship Wednesday. The final weight of the cache was 320 tons and included 9,000 mortar shells, thousands of 107-mm. Katyusha rockets that have a range of 15 kilometers, some 600 Russian-made 122-mm. rockets with a 40-km. range and hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikov bullets. Most of the weaponry appeared to have come from the Far East and Russia, a senior officer said, while some of it was made in Iran. Most of it appeared to have been manufactured in the past few years. Defense officials Thursday said Egypt had failed to properly inspect the Iranian containers as they sat waiting to be loaded onto the Francop at Diametta Port. The containers were clearly marked as belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), a company known to assist in illegal arms trafficking to Hizbullah. "UN Security Council Resolution 1803 explicitly asks countries to board and inspect IRISL ships and containers," one official said. "The Egyptians could have done more." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL COMPLAINS TO UN OVER HIZBULLAH ARMS SHIPMENT. Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev complained to the UN on Thursday about what she said was an Iranian attempt to skirt a UN arms embargo and supply weapons to Hizbullah. Israeli officials said on Wednesday that naval commandos had seized a ship carrying hundreds of tons of Iranian-supplied arms, including rockets, to the Shi'ite Muslim group. "These grave violations constitute a threat to peace and security, as well as non-compliance with international legal obligations," Shalev said in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The weapons - concealed, wrapped and declared as civilian cargo in the ship's manifest - were hidden among hundreds of other containers aboard the ship that originated from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Shalev wrote. "Israel...requests the Security Council to take the appropriate action in view of these constant violations and to further investigate this complaint," she said. (DAILY ALERT - Reuters)


ISRAEL ACCUSES CHAVEZ OF TURNING VENEZUELA INTO AN IRANIAN OUTPOST Israeli Foreign Affairs Vice-Minister Danny Ayalon accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of having turned Venezuela into an "Iranian outpost in the hemisphere." "The scope of the Iranian regime does not end in the Middle East. It is global, and also reaches Africa and Latin America," Ayalon said during a briefing to diplomats and journalists at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. In Latin America, "most countries are not only aware" of the "threat posed by the infiltration of Iran" in the region but "they are also concerned" about it, he said. (DAILY ALERT - El Universal-Venezuela)


OBAMA IS LEARNING FROM THE IDF. Israel's critics in the U.S. portray it as a strategic burden. They argue that during the Cold War the Israel Defence Forces gave Americans useful information on Soviet weapons systems used by Arab armies, but the Soviet Union collapsed and the value Israel offered to U.S. national security evaporated with it. These critics are wrong in a big way: The U.S. military effort against al-Qaeda and the Taliban is based on a doctrine developed by Israel. The IDF was a global leader in targeting terrorists from the air. After 9/11 the Americans simply copied Israel's methods, foreign sources say. Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs), armed with missiles, started being used to kill terrorists, first in Yemen and later in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to the New America Foundation, between taking office in January and early October, the Obama administration authorized 42 UCAV strikes. Bush authorized 40 such attacks during his three final years in office. Six senior Taliban and al-Qaeda figures were killed in Obama-ordered operations, as were some 450 others. Judge Goldstone would be advised to note that a quarter of those killed were civilians, while the rest were low-grade fighters. The targeted killing three months ago of Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, also killed 11 civilians, much like the Israeli bombing that killed Salah Shehadeh along with his relatives and neighbours in Gaza in 2002. (Ha'aretz)


WRITING JEWS OUT OF JERUSALEM’S HISTORIY. • The statements and actions of a number of Muslim clerics based in Israel, Palestinian politicians and even foreign governments are indicative of a fundamental lack of tolerance for the religious beliefs of the Jewish people. While Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told foreign ambassadors that the recent riots in Jerusalem were due to "an assault by extremist religious settlers on the Temple Mount compound," not one shred of evidence has been presented to back up the accusations, the reason being that there simply is none. • Inventing wild myths about Jewish designs on Muslim holy places can only harm any prospects for the normalization of ties between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbours. • The notion that Jews seeking to visit, or even pray at, their holiest place of worship (the Temple Mount) should be seen as a provocation or desecration is disturbing. Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are an indelible part of the Jewish national consciousness. • An insidious campaign is afoot, one that rewrites history by arguing that there never was any Jewish temple at the site, thereby seeking to delegitimize any connection that Israel and the Jewish people may have to it and, by extension, to the land as a whole. • The failure to acknowledge the connection the Jewish people have to Jerusalem is symptomatic of a problem which goes to the heart of the political conflict; that the Palestinian body politic has never reconciled itself to the fact that the Jewish people have deep-rooted historical ties to the land and are not foreign invaders who wandered in. • If there is ever to be any political accommodation between the two sides, Palestinian and Muslim leaders must desist from the incitement against Israel and the delegitimization of the Jewish people's connection to the land. (Guardian-UK)


NEW ISRAELI SYSTEM SAVES WATER BY SEALING LEAKS. The World Bank estimates that 88 billion liters of treated water is lost from leaking urban pipelines every day from what is called "background leakage" - small cracks that drip water continuously. Indeed, background leakage is so pervasive that water suppliers accept 3,500 liters of water per km. of pipe per day as the minimum achievable loss. Now an Israeli company called Curapipe has developed a system that aims to seal leaks cheaply with only a small disruption to the water supply. Curapipe's system works together with the system commonly used to clean urban water mains, sealing cracks. The system may also be suitable for sealing leaks in oil and gas pipelines. (Economist-UK)


ANTISEMITISM IN FRANCE – continued: "So I call on you, whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or merely a person with the capacity and desire to distinguish decency from depravity, to do - at least - these three simple things: First, care enough to stay informed. Don't ever let yourself become deluded into thinking that this is not your fight. I remind you of what Pastor Niemöller said in World War II: 'First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.' Second, boycott France and French products. Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred. So boycott their wines and their perfumes. Boycott their clothes and their foodstuffs. Boycott their movies. Definitely boycott their shores. If we are resolved we can exert amazing pressure and, whatever else we may know about the French, we most certainly know that they are like a cobweb in a hurricane in the face of well-directed pressure. Third, send this along to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Think of all of the people of good conscience that you know and let them know that you - and the people that you care - about need their help. The number one bestselling book in France is....'September 11: The Frightening Fraud' which argues that no plane ever hit the Pentagon! (Eastern Daylight Time)


ANTISEMITISM IN FRANCE – Part 1. We received the following news: Once again, the real news in France is conveniently not being reported as it should. To give you an idea of what's going on in that country where there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims and about 600,000 Jews, here is an E-mail that came from a Jew living in France. Please read! "Will the world say nothing - again - as it did in Hitler's time?" He writes: "I AM A JEW -- therefore I am forwarding this to everyone on all my e-mail lists. I will not sit back and do nothing. Nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France . In Lyon , a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier , the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourgand Marseilles ; so was a Jewish school in Creteil - all recently. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, in Paris , the words 'Dirty Jew' were painted. In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months. According to the Police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents PER DAY in the past 30 days. Walls in Jewish neighbourhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming 'Jews to the gas chambers' and 'Death to the Jews.' A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop (and, of course, the butcher) inToulouse, France . A Jewish couple in their 20's were beaten up by five men in Villeurbanne , France (the woman was pregnant). A Jewish school was broken into and vandalized in Sarcelles , France . This was just in the past week."


THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN TURKEY: A SURFACING SUBMARINE. Why is Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) so upset with Israel? The AKP, rooted in Turkey's own Muslim Brotherhood movement, has always hated Israel, and now that the AKP is comfortably in charge in Turkey, it will oppose Israel with any means available as well as promote other aspects of the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood's agenda. We are witnessing the Muslim's Brotherhood take on foreign policy, highlighted by its approach to Turkish-Israeli ties. After seven years of vehement anti-Israeli rhetoric, the Turkish public has now embraced the AKP's position against Israel and the party is comfortably chipping away at the foundations of Turkish-Israeli ties, something it has always wanted to do. Today, it is Israel; tomorrow it is EU accession and cooperation with the U.S. Turkey's Muslim Brothers have played a smart game indeed, changing the colour of their vessel, then sailing deep and surfacing only when the waters were calm and clear. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Daily Alert)


WHY ARE THE LAWS OF WAR APPLIED ONLY TO ISRAEL? • Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler believes that the current laws of war are sufficient, but what really needs to be changed is their selective application to Israel alone. Instead of trying to change the laws of war, Israel and its friends should work to change the principles and procedures of the UN itself, which displays a constant country-specific indictment of Israel. • "You can't have a situation where you have special sessions targeting Israel and the rest of the world has immunity. You can't have a situation where Israel alone is excluded from the regional deliberative groups and therefore cannot participate in the drafting of resolutions....The source of the problem [is] the singling out of one member state for differential and discriminatory treatment," Cotler told the Post last week. • "During the Gaza operation and before it, Hamas committed several war crimes and crimes against humanity. You don't need to create a whole new law of war to be able to hold Hamas responsible. Goldstone did not address most of the existing laws of war with respect to Hamas, like the Genocide Convention, probably the most important of the treaties, which expressly prohibits, under article 3, incitement to genocide. Hamas' charter serves as an example of incitement to genocide and a standing violation of the Genocide Convention. Did Goldstone deal with that? No. Did he mention the charter? No. Does he talk about the violation? No." • Cotler believes that even if Israel managed to amend the laws of war, very little would change if selective prosecution and selective singling out of Israel continued. "The military people talk a lot about asymmetric warfare, but it's all there in terms of the laws of war. The laws of war are very expansive and comprehensive. The basic thing is [that] what you need is equality before the law. Israel, like any other state, is responsible for any violation of humanitarian law, but that's the point: like any other state. It's not the issue that Israel shouldn't be held responsible; it's that other states aren't being held accountable. It's not that standards shouldn't be applied to Israel. They should be applied to Israel, but they're not being applied to anybody else. It's not that there aren't any rules for international monitoring - there are, but they're only applied to Israel." • "In international law, Israel has emerged as a Jew among the nations. It's treated in the international arena [the same way] anti-Jewishness would stereotype the Jews as a minority in any Diaspora country." (Jerusalem Post)


POLL: AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL REMAINS SOLID According to a new nationwide survey of American attitudes released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Monday: 67% see Israel as a strong, loyal U.S. ally. By a 3-1 ratio, the American people express more sympathy with Israel than with the Palestinians. 64% of Americans believe that Israel is serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. 53% believe leaders of the Arab world will continue to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, even if Israel stops all further construction in settlements. 56% believe a Palestinian state must not be established until the Palestinians end the violence and accept Israel's legitimacy. In addition, 83% believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and 54% support U.S. military action to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, up from 47% in 2007. (Reuters)


NETANYAHU: UN REPORT GIVES TERRORISTS A NEW WEAPON AGAINST DEMOCRACIES h Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview published Saturday: The so-called human rights commission accuses Israel that legitimately defended itself against Hamas, of war crimes. Mind you, Hamas didn't commit just one type of war crime. It committed four. First, they called for the destruction of Israel, which under the UN Charter is considered a war crime - incitement to genocide; secondly, they fired deliberately on civilians; third, they hid behind civilians; and fourth, they've been holding our captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, without access to the Red Cross, for three years. - And who gets accused of criminal behaviour at the end of the day? Israel - that sent thousands of text messages and made tens of thousands of cellular phone calls to Palestinian civilians [to warn them to evacuate]. This inversion of justice is patently absurd.... What the Goldstone report actually accuses Israel of is deliberately targeting civilians, which is patently false. - This gives terrorist regimes a new weapon against democracies....It allows them to attack entire cities with weapons of mass terror and get away with it simply because they fire the rockets from populated areas. - There has yet to be a Palestinian leader who actually turns to his people and says - it's over....We recognize that Israel is the Jewish state just as we ask the Israelis to recognize the Palestinian state. - The Arabs fought wars and terror campaigns in the 1920s, '30s and '40s against any Jewish state, and then they rejected the partition. Our presence in the territories is not the cause of the conflict but one of its results....The cause is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state at any point. (Washington Post)


CHINESE JEWISH DESCENDANTS START A NEW LIFE IN ISRAEL. Seven young Chinese men wearing kippot arrived in Israel on Tuesday via Uzbekistan to make aliya, descendants of the Jewish community of Kaifeng. Shavei Israel organization chairman Michael Freund said he hoped this group's arrival and absorption would serve as a pilot and, if successful, would open the door to bringing more potential immigrants from China. "Kaifeng's Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, and it is very moving to see the remnants of this community returning to their roots," he said. At its peak during the Middle Ages, Kaifeng Jewry numbered about 5,000, and the community lasted until the middle of the 19th century. Hundreds of people in Kaifeng still cling to their identity as descendants of the city's Jewish community and, in recent years, a growing number have begun to express an interest in studying Jewish history and culture. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CALLS GOLDSTONE REPORT ‘DISAGREEBLE’. The UN Human Rights Council and its recent Goldstone report are either biased or mistaken in some of their fundamental accusations against Israel, according to Jessica Montell, director of the Israel human rights group B'Tselem. "There's no question that the HRC, which mandated the Goldstone [mission], has an inappropriate, disproportionate fixation with Israel," she said, adding that the Council was "a political body made up of diplomats, not human rights experts, which means that the powerful states are never going to come under scrutiny the way the powerless will. So China, Russia and the U.S. will never have commissions of inquiry, regardless of how their crimes rank relative to Israeli crimes." Furthermore, the Goldstone report is "disagreeable" and mistaken in some of its gravest accusations against Israel, she believes. These include the claim that Israel intentionally targeted the civilian population rather than Hamas, and the "weak, hesitant way that the report mentions Hamas' strategy of using civilians [in combat]." (Jerusalem Post)


GOODS FLOOD GAZA’S TUNNELS, TURNING BORDER In a stadium in Rafah, Gaza, thousands of motorcycles were lined up on display, ranging in price from $2,000 to $10,000. At Nijma market, refrigerators, flat-screen televisions, microwaves, air-conditioners, generators and ovens filled the tents. Some Gazans have even purchased cars smuggled in through the tunnels from Egypt. There are more tunnels now than ever, and Rafah has turned into a shopping mecca. (New York Times)


HAMAS SEEKING TO MAKE PALESTINIAN SOCIETY MORE ISLAMIST. It began with a rash of unusually assertive police patrols. Armed Hamas officers stopped men from sitting shirtless on the beach, broke up groups of unmarried men and women, and ordered shopkeepers not to display lingerie on mannequins in their windows. Then came intense pressure on parents to dress their daughters more conservatively for the new school term. Last week police began enforcing a new decree banning women from riding on motorbikes. To many it feels like a new wave of enforcement in what is already a devoutly Muslim society. As part of a new "virtue" campaign, posters decry the trend for young women to wear their headscarf along with tight jeans and recommend a fuller head covering, counselling: "The right hijab is your way to heaven." However, while Gaza is socially conservative, many Palestinians object to being commanded to follow a particular social code. (Guardian-UK)


GERMAN FIRM FIGHTS FOR ISRAEL’S SECURITY. The journalistic ethos of the Axel Springer publishing house - Europe's largest media conglomerate - is governed by a set of principles spelled out in the employment contract of each journalist, one of which advocates "the support of the State of Israel and its existence and reconciliation between Germans and Jews." Dr. Mathias Dopfner, CEO of the Axel Springer AG media empire and a self-described "non-Jewish Zionist," explained that Springer "clearly said that the Holocaust cannot be compensated, but in order to find a new self-definition, Germany has to support from now on the State of Israel and its people." "Israel and Europe should have an understanding of absolutely common interests in the defence of democracy and the values of the fre e Western world," Dopfner told the Post. "Israel is the bridgehead of democracy in the Middle East. So it is in the interests of Europe to support it and to strengthen it. We share the same cultural roots and we share the same security interests and foreign policy interests." (Jerusalem Post)


THE UN SIDES WITH TERRORISTS. Suppose a UN investigation team found that the U.S. had committed war crimes in its response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The report finds that while al-Qaeda may have been culpable for the attacks, America was equally to blame - if not more so - for the civilian deaths caused during Operation Enduring Freedom. The UN instructs the U.S. to conduct an internal investigation and punish the perpetrators, or face action from the International Criminal Court. This is the framework established by the Goldstone Commission Report. - Much of the report was cut and pasted from unsubstantiated and suspect reports from nongovernmental organizations with openly anti-Israel sentiments. Some of the "witnesses" interviewed by the mission were disguised Hamas officials. - Even more troublingly is the report's ignoring of the differences between Israel, a sovereign state with a professional armed forces governed by strict policies to limit civilian deaths during the conduct of war, and Hamas, a terrorist organization. After the conflict, Israel conducted some 100 investigations into reports of misconduct by its troops. - There is no moral equality between Hamas and Israel any more than there is between al-Qaeda and the U.S. (Washington Times)


GOLDSTONE REPORT TO BE WITH US FOR A LONG TIME. If the UN Human Rights Council sends the Goldstone report to the Security Council, it is widely expected that the U.S. would veto any resolution to refer it to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). The likely scenario is that the issue will then be taken up by the General Assembly, which, because of its automatic anti-Israel majority, will send it to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ), the body that issued a decision against Israel's construction of the security fence in 2004. Though it does not have the jurisdiction to issue criminal indictments, a negative ruling by the ICJ could give a strong tail wind to various groups in countries where there is universal jurisdiction, and where it is possible to get local authorities t o prosecute Israelis. The conventional wisdom for the past three years is that the only way Abbas will be able to gain the upper hand from Hamas among the Palestinian public is for there to be a diplomatic process that can improve the situation for the Palestinians. But if the Goldstone report deep-freezes the diplomatic process, Hamas could very well end up the biggest beneficiary. (Jerusalem Post)


ANTI-JEWISH RUMORS OVER THE TEMPLE MOUNT LEAD REPEATEDLY TO PALESTINIAN RIOTS. Rumours that Jews were about to seize the Temple Mount led to inflammatory sermons in mosques, followed by massive Arab riots - in August 1929. More than 105 Jews were killed by Arabs; not a single Arab was killed by a Jew. The exact same thing happened - albeit with far fewer casualties - in 1996, 2000, 2009, and at several points in between. Last month, the visit of a French tourist group set off wild rumours that Jews were going to seize the Temple Mount. Passions were inflamed by Islamic clerics who were appointees of the Palestinian Authority and organized by Fatah, Hamas, and Hizb al-Tahrir. Again, days of rioting were set off. In 2000, a brief tour of the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon - he merely walked through for about an hour, looked around, and then left - was the rationale used to set off an intifada that lasted five years and cost several thousand lives. The salient fact is that 80 years after the 1929 riots, the same scenario has prevailed of demonization and lies about Jews, deliberately inflamed by Arab political and religious forces, which led to Arab violence. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Centre and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. (Rubin Report)


TURKISH TV PORTRAYS IDF SOLDIERS AS MURDERERS. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday instructed the Foreign Ministry to protest to Turkey over a new television drama airing on the state-sponsored television channel TRT1 that depicts Israel Defence Forces soldiers as brutal murderers. The show depicts multiple images of the IDF brutalizing the Palestinian population in Gaza by shooting children, kicking elderly people on the ground, and lining up Palestinians to be shot by a firing squad. "Broadcasting this series is incitement of the most severe kind, and it is done under government sponsorship," Lieberman said. (Ha'aretz)


HAMAS ATTEMPTS TO SMUGGLE LONGER-RANGE ROCKETS INTO GAZA. Iran is apparently concentrating on smuggling longer-range rockets into Gaza, like their Fajr-5. This rocket is as big as a telephone poll, has a range of 75 km., and could reach Tel Aviv and most of central Israel. But the Fajr-5 can be moved through the smuggling tunnels to Gaza only if broken down into 8-10 sections and then reassembled on the other end. The Fajr-5 carries a 200-pound warhead and is only effective if aimed at a large urban area. That means that the most likely victims will be civilians. Israel would certainly go into Gaza if a Fajr ever landed in Tel Aviv. Firing a few Fajr-5s into Israel, and then getting blasted by Israel, gives one pause. But Iran is supplying Hamas with much of the cash that keeps the organization alive. So Hamas is trying to replace the 2,000 rockets it lost in the recent war (including 1,400 destroyed on the ground). Iran is also smuggling in anti-aircraft missiles (like the SA-7/18 types), to be used against Israeli helicopters. These are easier to get through the tunnels, but the Israelis have equipped their helicopters and low flying fighters with countermeasures. (DAILY ALERT)


CONCLUSIONS ABOUT ISRAEL’S GUILT IN GAZA WERE VOICED WELL IN ADVANCE OF UN ‘FACT-FINDING’ MISSION. The Goldstone report indicates that, in practice, a democratic state confronted with terrorist attacks against its citizens must do nothing, effectively ruling that there are no legitimate means by which states may counter the terrorist techniques evolved by groups such as Hamas. The Goldstone mission was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, which has passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel in the three years since its founding, out of a total of 25 resolutions passed by the Council. Yet the Council, which includes paragons of human rights values such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Cuba, currently has nothing to say about the 400,000 deaths in Darfur for which Sudan is responsible, or the 1,000,000 displaced civilians in Somalia. The UN had absolutely nothing to say during the years when 12,000 Hamas rockets - more than 7,000 since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 - landed on houses, streets, hospitals and schools, making a specialty of targeting the morning school-going period. The Goldstone mission contained members who had clearly voiced their conclusions about Israel's guilt well in advance. The mission did not ask its witnesses any questions relating to Hamas terrorist activity, the storage of weaponry in civilian areas or the launching of attacks from those areas. Overall, the worst feature of the Goldstone report is the moral equation it makes between a democratic state seeking to put an end to attacks against its citizens, and the terrorist group responsible for those attacks. The motives and intentions of Israel are treated as inherently suspect, and its own scrutiny and judicial mechanisms treated as flawed and inadequate. At the same time, Hamas' history of aggression is ignored, and its charter, calling for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel, similarly ignored. The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland. (DAILY ALERT - Irish Independent)


INCITEMENT OVER JERUSALEM FAILS TO IGNITE WEST BANK. The extraordinary incitement by the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Hamas, various Muslim leaders throughout the Arab world and Al Jazeera failed to rally the Palestinian masses on Friday to "defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque" against the Jews. Clashes with Israeli security forces began, as expected, in the areas around Jerusalem. But sound management of the security forces' response and complete apathy on the part of the Palestinian public brought an end to the demonstrations. Despite calls to engulf the area in flames, there were hardly any injuries and no ripple effect throughout the West Bank. The residents of the West Bank are tired of violent confrontations, no less when their living conditions are improving. In addition, there has been a lack of leadership and no one out there is capable of organizing demonstrations at more than one place at the same time. (Ha'aretz)


SETTLEMENT ISSUE NO LONGER U.S.-ISRAEL FLASHPOINT: President Obama's low approval rating among Israelis must improve for the Israeli-Arab peace process to advance, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told the Washington Hudson Institute think tank Thursday. Citing polls showing that just 4% of Israelis believed Obama is pro-Israel, he said that if the Israeli public didn't trust the Obama administration, it would be unwilling to take the risks necessary for a peace deal. At the same time, Oren said there is no "crisis" in U.S.-Israel relations. "There were certainly points where there could be significant friction," he said. "Much of this friction was reduced through extensive cooperation and communication between these two governments." "The settlement issue as a major, major flashpoint is gone," he maintained. "They have made significant progress on the idea of a time-limited freeze that would not really impact Jerusalem and that would provide for a certain amount of natural growth construction," he reported. (Jerusalem Post)


DEEP DENIAL: WHY THE HOLOCAUST STILL MATTERS. In his recent speech to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused in his opening remarks on the Holocaust. "One-third of all Jews perished in the great conflagration of the Holocaust," Netanyahu reminded the delegates. "Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own." He went on to assail President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world's premier Holocaust denier, who had addressed the same assembly the previous day, as well as those ambassadors who did not walk out on him. "Have you no shame?" Netanyahu upbraided them. "Have you no decency?" Recognizing the murder of six million Jews more than six decades ago is, in fact, vital for understanding the supreme dangers posed to six million Jews in Israel today by a nuclear Iran and by the Goldstone Report. Reasserting the factuality of the Holocaust is a prerequisite for peace. Israel and its citizen defence forces represent the most palpable means for redressing the Jews' inability to defend themselves that led to the Holocaust. Where Ahmadinejad leaves off, the Goldstone Report persists. Instead of probing Hamas' deliberate effort to maximize Israeli civilian casualties by firing more than 7,000 missiles at Israeli towns, the judges interviewed handpicked Hamas witnesses; several of them senior commanders disguised as civilians, and uncritically accepted their testimony. Israel will, of course, continue to defend its citizens. No amount of vitriol will compel Israel onto a course of self-destruction. But having twice withdrawn unilaterally to recognized borders and received only onslaughts in return, and having suffered censure for protecting themselves from that aggression, Israelis will understandably recoil from additional retreats that will leave them vulnerable. Israelis, moreover, will not withdraw from any territory liable to become staging grounds for terrorist groups empowered by international agencies and convinced of their ability to murder Israelis with impunity. By reaffirming Israel's right to safeguard its citizens, Prime Minister Netanyahu has demarcated the only path to peace. - Michael B. Oren (New Republic- DAILY ALERT) The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United States.


TEMPLE MOUNT IS KEY TO ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE. Generations of Palestinians, "educated" by Yasser Arafat and company, have been taught not to believe there ever was a Solomon's Temple. Textbooks and Palestinian media all repeat the self-delusionary canard denying any historic Jewish continuity or legitimacy in the Holy Land. President Bill Clinton was reportedly shocked when Arafat called the Western Wall - the Jewish people's holiest place - "a Muslim shrine" and the Palestinian leader's chief negotiator at the Camp David peace talks denied the ruins of Solomon's temple lay beneath the Dome of the Rock. The current violence and rabble-rousing by the Palestinians won't make it any easier for President Obama, but the first thing he must do is admonish the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the legitimacy of the Jewish people. There can be no peace in the Holy Land without the Arab and Muslim world acknowledging what their Holy Book and ancestors recognized as the historic link of the Jewish people to its land and its holy sites. Unless and until that happens, there will be no peace in our time. (Jerusalem Post)


THOUSANDS OF CHRISTIANS MARCH IN JERUSALEM FOR ISRAEL. Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world marched through the streets of Jerusalem on Tuesday, chanting their support for Israel and praying for peace in the Holy Land. Marching under dozens of national banners, the pilgrims made their way from a park near parliament to the gates of the Old City. Many said the annual pilgrimage, organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, represented fulfillment of a biblical prophecy that all nations would gather in Jerusalem for Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles - which Jews celebrate this week. (DAILY ALERT - AFP)


RUMORS OF AHMADINEJAD’S JEWISH ROOTS ARE FALSE. The London Daily Telegraph claimed last week that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's previous surname was Sabourjian which "derives from weaver of the sabour, the name for the Jewish prayer shawl in Persia." However, Professor David Yeroshalmi of Tel Aviv University's Center for Iranian Studies says: "There is no such meaning for the word 'sabour' in any of the Persian Jewish dialects, nor does it mean Jewish prayer shawl in Persian. Also, the name Sabourjian is not a well-known Jewish name." (DAILY ALERT - Guardian-UK)


HAMAS TO HOUSE HOMELESS ALONG GAZA BORDER. Israel's security services are concerned over Hamas' new strategy to erect trailers for those made homeless in the Gaza war just a few hundred meters from the security fence. The new trailers are to serve as cover for tunnels to be dug under the border with Israel to serve as hiding places for terrorists and explosives. Hamas Minister of Public Works Yosef Almansi told the Gaza newspaper Falastin that he was giving priority to housing near the security fence in order to make it more difficult for the IDF to act in the area in the future. A senior Israeli defence official said: "The Hamas government has announced its intention to use the population in Gaza living along the border as a human shield against IDF operations . Hamas plans to use the homes as cover for the construction of attack tunnels." Another security official said: "Construction of this type is designed to serve as a greenhouse for hostile attacks." (Maariv-Hebrew/Jerusalem Post)


JUDGING ISRAEL. What kind of country would construct high walls, ditches, blockades and checkpoints and use sophisticated surveillance and armed border patrols to keep two people divided? The U.S. is building a 2,000-mile fortress with Mexico. Israel's still incomplete 300-mile divide between itself and its Palestinian "neighbours" is puny in comparison. Both work. As the U.S. Department of Justice reported, after we increased border security, alien arrests fell to 25-year lows near San Diego. Crime rates fell more than 40% in border towns like Nogales, Ariz. Our enhanced, beefed-up divide was originally a Clinton administration initiative. Imagine what we would build - or do - if instead of trying to take a job, those on the other side were trying to take our lives. Imagine what we would do if people 10 miles away lobbed rockets each day at our children and "taught" their children with textbooks that have maps that omit our country. Imagine what we would do if instead of suffering one terrorist attack since 2001, almost 20,000 were attempted against our people. Viewed in this light, I ask, what took Israel so long? (DAILY ALERT - Chicago Tribune)


THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF GAZA. Reliable sources confirm the growing dominance of Islam in Gaza. A new "Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" security force, which operates under the command of the Ministry of the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), has been tasked with enforcing Islamic codes of behaviour. Its members patrol beaches, parks and public areas, ensuring proper Islamic modesty. One man wearing shorts while sitting on his own balcony in southern Gaza was advised that this must not happen again. Rules ban men from bathing topless, and women from laughing or smiling while bathing. A special all-female unit within the police numbering 100-150 officers has been created to enforce female modesty. Every mosque now has an individual who functions as a kind of political commissar on behalf of the authorities. His task is to observe the prayer habits of all members of the mosque, and to intervene and offer help where insufficient devotion is diagnosed. These developments do not represent any Hamas master plan for the creation of an Islamic republic. Rather, they are taking place because of grass-roots agitation and insistence on the part of ultra-religious elements both within Hamas and outside it. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)


POSSIBILITY OF A NUCLEAR-ARMED IRAN ALARMS ARABS. Arab governments are growing increasingly anxious not only with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran but also with the more immediate threat that Iran will destabilize the region if the West presses too hard. "I think the gulf states are well advised now to develop strategies on the assumption that Iran is about to become a nuclear power," said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates University. "Iran is forcing everyone in the region now into an arms race." Writing in Al Quds Al Arabi, editor Abdel-Beri Atwan said: "The Arab regimes and the gulf ones in particular, will find themselves part of a new alliance against Iran alongside Israel." Atwan said Gulf States were taking measures to try to persuade Russia and China to stop supporting Iran. He said Saudi Arabia had offered to purchase billions of dollars of weapons from Russia if it agreed not to sell Iran sophisticated missiles. Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Centre in the United Arab Emirates, said: "The region can live with a limited retaliation from Iran better than living with a permanent nuclear deterrent. I favour getting the job done now instead of living the rest of my life with a nuclear hegemony in the region that Iran would like to impose." (New York Times)


A FARCICAL ATTEMPT TO PAINT ISRAEL BLACK. The Goldstone report's lack of credibility has not gone unnoticed in all quarters. Canada, Japan and the EU all refused to support Justice Richard Goldstone's mission from the start. Even Switzerland, which has often lavished red-carpet treatment on tyrants, acknowledged that the anti-Israel bigotry of Goldstone's team made it unsupportable. Mary Robinson, the former Irish President and a fierce critic of Israel, described Goldstone's mandate as "guided not by human rights but by politics." It is no surprise, therefore, that the report wilfully ignores the context of Israel's Gaza operation. Israeli civilians were battered for eight years by thousands of missiles from Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, hoping the missiles would stop. Instead, the attacks increased, escalating further when Hamas seized power in a brutal coup in 2007. With a million Israelis under fire, and Hamas' range increasing, Israel did what any democratic state would do. It defended its citizens. The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. (Times-UK)


Iran's test Monday of its Shahab-3 and Sajil missiles has given the country a fresh opportunity to fine-tune missiles that can reach Israel, US forces in the Middle East, and even the southeastern part of Europe. Iran has successfully tested these missiles in the past. But ballistic missile systems are difficult to perfect, and every firing teaches something to their developers. "Anytime you successfully test a system it shows you have just a little bit more mastery over it," says Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. Iran conducted three rounds of missile tests, beginning last Sunday. The drills come at a time when tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have been heightened by disclosures of a secret Iranian uranium enrichment facility. On Monday, Tehran capped the tests with successful launches of upgraded versions of the Shahab-3 and Sajil, according to Iranian state television. Both missiles can fly around 1,200 miles. "Iranian missiles are able to target any place that threatens Iran," said Abdollah Araqi, a top Revolutionary Guard commander, according to Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency. The Shahab-3 is the older of the two systems. Iran has already deployed it in small numbers. It is based on North Korea's liquid-fueled (and notoriously inaccurate) No Dong intermediate-range weapon. Iran has tinkered with the Shahab over the years, stretching its fuel tank within the missile body to increase its range. But some western experts believe Iranian scientists have reached the Shahab-3's improvement limit. The Sajil is a different story. It is solid-fueled, meaning it would be easier to transport and hide, and could be erected and launched more quickly than any Shahab. Moreover, it bears little outward resemblance to any foreign missile – meaning it may be of indigenous design. "Solid fuel missiles are better military weapons," says Mr. Thielmann, who served as proliferation expert with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the State Department before joining the Arms Control Association. Iran successfully launched a Sajil variant for the first time only last year. The tests, plus revelations about the new uranium-enrichment plant near Qom, give greater urgency to a key meeting Thursday between Iran and the six major powers trying to stop its suspected nuclear weapons program. (The Christian Science Monitor)


MIDEAST PEACE PROCESS MUST BE EVOLUTIONARY, NOT REVOLUTIONARY. The lesson of Oslo, Camp David and Annapolis is clear-cut: Even the most moderate Palestinian leadership is not prepared to accept Israel's most far-reaching peace proposal. In 16 years of a painstaking and exhausting peace process, the Palestinians never agreed to a single concession on a core issue. Their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to agree to demilitarize a Palestinian state or to give up their demand for the return of refugees to Israel has blocked peace in the past, is blocking peace in the present, and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. As of now, there is no genuine Palestinian partner for the partition of the country. The lesson the incumbent president should learn from these resounding flops is there's no room for revolutions in the Middle East. This region must be given evolutionary, and not revolutionary, treatment - a long and thorough chipping away that will gradually change Palestinian society. (Ha'aretz)


PALESTINIAN LEADERS DENY JERUSALEM’S PAST. Sheik Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, says that Jews have no history in the city of Jerusalem: They have never lived there and the Temple never existed. His claims would be laughable if they weren't so common among Palestinians. As President Obama gears up to propose yet another plan for Israeli-Arab peace, he would do well to notice that top Palestinian intellectual and political leaders deny basic truths. Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism, mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible. Three times a day, religious Jews face toward the city when they pray. At Jewish weddings, the couple shatters a glass to acknowledge Jerusalem's still unfulfilled redemption. The Koran itself refers to Solomon's Temple as a "great place of prayer" and the first Muslims referred to Jerusalem as the "City of the Temple." In 1924 the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem published a booklet stating that the Temple Mount's "identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." Palestinian leaders insist that Jews are transplants in the region, nothing more than white European colonialists. These sentiments are echoed in Palestinian primary-school textbooks, preached at mosques, and printed in official newspapers. The Palestinian leadership is stating, in full voice, that Israel has no right to its most basic historical and religious legacy. This is no foundation for "peace talks." (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


ISRAEL TO THE UN: THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE NOT FOREIGN CONQUERORS IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Thursday: Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500-years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland. Yesterday, the man [Ahmadinejad] who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honour to your countries. The Iranian regime is fuelled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago. The struggle against this fanaticism pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death. If the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed. The greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. A recent UN report on Gaza falsely equated the terrorists with those they targeted. For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities while not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian-backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. All of Israel wants peace. If the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples - a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it. We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers. We recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity. But we don't want another Gaza, another Iranian-backed terror base, abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometres from Tel Aviv. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except that handful of powers that could endanger Israel. (Prime Minister's Office)


SUPREME COURT REJECTS PETITION AGAINST CITY OF DAVID EXCAVATIONS IN JERUSALEM. The Israel Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition against the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) submitted by residents of the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, concerning excavations at the City of David archaeological park. The IAA claimed that the residents were being "incited by other figures whose considerations are political," and maintained that the excavations are "exposing Jerusalem's magnificent past, in all of the periods." "These finds are of utmost importance to the Jewish people in particular and world culture in general," the IAA said. Justice Edna Arbel, who issued Monday's court ruling, said: "The petitioners did not argue that any damage had been caused to their houses, and the respondents explained that the activity on the land was indeed underground, but did not extend as far as the houses of the petitioners." (Jerusalem Post)


PRESIDENT OBAMA IS LEARNING WHY ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACEMAKING ISN’T EASY.President Obama and his aides assumed that Israelis and Arab governments would welcome an aggressive effort by the new U.S. president to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. As a practical matter, that hasn't proved true. Netanyahu's government would prefer to bolster Abbas' government economically before beginning final peace talks; Abbas himself has been preoccupied with consolidating his own authority and gaining the upper hand over the rival Hamas movement. Leading Arab states such as Saudi Arabia appear - like Israel - much more concerned with how the Obama administration will handle the threat of Iran. The administration also concluded, wrongly, that obtaining an unconditional Israeli settlement freeze was an essential first step. In fact settlements are no longer a strategic obstacle to peace; as a practical matter, most of the construction is in areas that will not be part of a Palestinian state. The administration's inflexible stance led to an unwinnable confrontation with Netanyahu, turned Israeli public opinion against Obama, and prompted Palestinians to harden their own position. The compromise now being discussed between Washington and Jerusalem will differ little from past deals. (Washington Post)


ISRAEL STRENGTHENS ITS MISSILE DEFENSES. As it pushes for international action against Iran's nuclear program, Israel is steadily assembling one of the world's most advanced missile defense systems, a multi-layered collection of weapons meant to guard against a variety of threats, partly financed by the U.S. and incorporating advanced American radar and other technology. Centered on the Arrow 2 anti-missile system, which has been deployed, the project is being extended to include a longer-range Arrow 3, the David's Sling interceptor designed to hit lower- and slower-flying cruise missiles, and the Iron Dome system intended to destroy Grads, Katyushas, Kassams and other shorter-range projectiles fired from Gaza and southern Lebanon. Israel "has something to stabilize the situation: the knowledg e that an attack will fail," said Uzi Rubin, who ran Israel's missile shield program in the 1990s. Iran, he said, now cannot be assured of a successful first strike against Israel, while groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon may find one of their favored tactics undermined. Iran "is radical, but radical does not mean irrational," said Rubin. "They want to change the world, not commit suicide." (Washington Post)


ISRAELS GAZA VINDICATION. When it was launched last December, Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip looked to most people in Washington to be risky, counterproductive and doomed to futility. But today, the three-week operation is generally regarded by the country's military and political elite as a success. Between April 2001 and the end of 2008, 4,246 rockets and 4,180 mortar shells were fired into Israel from Gaza, killing 14 Israelis, wounding more than 400 and making life in southern Israel intolerable. During what was supposed to be a cease-fire during the last half of 2008, 362 rockets and shells landed. Since April there have been just over two dozen rocket and mortar strikes. No one has been seriously injured, and life in the Israeli town of Sderot and the area around it has returned almost to normal. Hamas remains in power and unmoved in its refusal to recognize Israel. It is still holding an Israeli soldier who was abducted in 2006. It is still smuggling material for weapons through tunnels under the Egyptian border and, if it chose to, could resume rocket attacks on Israel at any time. However, Israel has bought itself a stretch of relative peace with Hamas, just as its 2006 invasion of Lebanon has produced three years of quiet on that front. "They will never change their ideology of destroying Israel," a senior government official told me last week. "But you can deter them if they are convinced you are not afraid of fighting a war." As for the Goldstone report, the heat it briefly produced last week will quickly dissipate; the panel was discredited from the outset because of its appointment by the grotesquely politicized UN Human Rights Council. (Washington Post)


GOLDSTONE REPORT: A CHALLENGE TO DEMOCRACIES FIGHTING TERROR. The report published by the Goldstone Commission presents a major challenge to democracies forced to act against terrorist groups. It fails to consider the mode of operation of terrorist organizations which deliberately endanger civilians and make urban areas their battlefield of choice. It makes no reference to the recruitment and exploitation of children and the smuggling of weapons, and ignores clear evidence of the abuse of mosques, ambulances, hospitals and residences. At the same time it places unrealistic and unworkable demands on any state seeking to protect its civilians from terrorist attacks. Its simplistic and impractical approach to the complex challenge of confronting terrorism effectively creates a presumption of guilt for state forces confronting terrorists in all contexts. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


ISRAEL, THE LAND OF MILK AND GOURMET HONEY. The biblical description of Israel as "a land flowing with milk and honey" is particularly true around Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that began on Friday at sunset. Symbolizing a sweet new year, honey is an obligatory fixture at the holiday meal and in the following month Israelis consume an impressive 40%, or 1,500 tons, of the honey they eat annually, according to government figures. "People are buying boutique honey straight from the bee keepers," says Shai Spector, a honey producer from Kfar Ruth who offers 11 different varieties. To create specialty honeys, Spector trucks bee hives around the country, setting them in orchards or groves as the trees blossom to ensure the dominant characteristics that come from each kind of flower. "Each honey has its own distinct taste, aroma and colour," Spector said. (AFP)


UN INVESTIGATION OF ISRAEL DISCREDITS ITSELF AND UNDERCUTS HUMAN RIGHTS. The report commissioned by the notorious UN Human Rights Council is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. In effect, it actually was. Members were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see. The group was eager to find or manufacture "evidence" to support what the Human Rights Council itself had directed them to find, namely that Israel committed "grave violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip." This conclusion was reached before any investigation. The lowest blow and the worst canard is the claim that the Israeli judicial system "has major structural flaws that make the system inconsistent with international standards." This is a direct attack on the Israeli Supreme Court by a lawyer who knows full well that there is no country in the world that has a judicial system that demands more accountability than the Israeli system does. There is no judicial system in the world that takes more seriously its responsibility to bring its military into compliance with international law. The report is not intended to establish general principles of international law, applicable to all nations. It is directed at one nation and one nation only: the Jew among nations - Israel. (Hudson Institute New York)


ISRAEL: BIASED GOLDSTONE REPORT GIVES SUPPORT TO TERROR. Israeli officials were particularly stunned that the Goldstone Commission Report summarily rejected the legal worth of Israel's own judicial bodies, in a country where the High Court of Justice can stop a battle in mid-stream, as happened in Jenin in 2002. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy said Tuesday: "Israel has examined itself in the light of day in innumerable investigations and a robust system of independent courts. We have nothing to be ashamed of, and don't need lessons in morality from a committee established by Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Somalia." Israel is "nauseated and furious about a report that did not surprise us in its imbalance, but did surprise us in the lack of any real pretence to balance." "The immediate message of this report is: Terror pays. It says that terrorists, who attack Jews, unlike terrorists who attack Americans, Spaniards, or other Arabs, will earn the protection of the UN." (Jerusalem Post)


CAN THE U.S. REVIVE THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS? President Obama's efforts to revive the Middle East peace process are bound to fail because of the unbridgeable divide separating Israel's and Palestine's political goals. The major problem is that the two-headed Palestinian national movement is averse to sharing Palestine with the Jews and endorsing a solution based on two states for two peoples. Hamas, which won the Palestinian national elections in 2006, assures the believers that "Islam will destroy Israel." It repeatedly compares Israel to the medieval Crusader kingdoms and states that its end will be identical. Fatah's head, Mahmoud Abbas, in effect continues to promote the same rejectionist message. He publicly hails, to propitiate Washington, "the two-state solution," but when pressed declines to endorse it. Yes, one state for Palestinian Arabs and another for whoever lives in Israel, but not a "Jewish state." He seems to be hoping that Israel's 20% Arab minority will overtake the Jews demographically; or that Israel will accede to Palestinian demands to allow the return of refugees, turning Israel into an Arab-majority state. (Guardian-UK)


PALESTINIAN CHILDREN TAUGHT HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM IN SCHOOL. Palestinian refugee camp committees complained to the UN that a proposed change to the Gaza school curriculum "confirms the Holocaust and raises sympathy for Jews." The camp committees said they "categorically refuse to let our children be taught this lie created by the Jews and intensified by their media." Children in Gaza are raised on a diet of unreasoning, bitter hatred against Jews, the better to inspire them to grow up to be radicals, terrorists and suicide bombers. Learning about the Holocaust might introduce more beneficial emotions, like empathy, understanding and compassion. Start down that road, and who knows where it could lead. Peace, perhaps. (Washington Times)


JEWISH LEADERS LOBBY CONGRESS FOR IRAN SANCTIONS. Several hundred Jewish leaders and activists headed for Washington Thursday to urge Congress to pass a sanctions bill to pressure Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear capabilities that threaten Israel. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and other groups are part of the advocacy day. "A government that has so little regard for human life, truth and human rights as does the current Iranian regime must not be entrusted to possess the most powerful weapons known to humankind," the organizers said in a statement. (Jerusalem Post)


TEL AVIV TIFF AT TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL. "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages" observes an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel's biggest city marks its 100th anniversary. While the UN awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago, the subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement. Anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel's biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; "Israel Apartheid Week" for high-minded student activists; public employee union locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays). What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China's human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its "friendship" links with Volgograd because of Russia's political sins? Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target. (DAILY ALERT - Toronto Star)


HOW OBAMA HOPES TO RESTART MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS. The Administration is hoping to announce the resumption of final-status negotiations over a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians later this month. "If Israel says, 'We'll put a moratorium on settlement activity, except for some exceptions,' it's something the Obama Administration achieves that their predecessors haven't," says Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group. Furthermore, the Administration's efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian front may be shaped by U.S. priorities elsewhere in the Middle East - namely, getting Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions. Washington's prospects for securing Arab cooperation on Iran are improved if Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are underway. But the threat of withholding Arab cooperation on Iran in th e absence of a settlement freeze is not entirely credible, because Arab regimes have as much to fear from a nuclear armed Iran as does the U.S. So Obama is likely to call the Arab-Palestinian bluff with the best deal he can get from Israel. More than six months after starting work on reviving the peace process, the White House needs to get past talking about talks and get to the business of negotiation. (TIME)


HAMAS OFFICIAL: WE SHOULD NOT DELUDE OURSELVES THAT WE WON THE WAR. Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad wrote in a July 1, 2009, article on paltoday.com that the Arabs and Palestinians must stop depicting their defeats as victories. "We really want victory over Israel - to defeat this hateful occupation and see it in retreat, under siege, and obliterated - but we want the facts and figures to speak for themselves." "When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, reaching into the depth of the capital Beirut, and afterwards expelling the PLO, down to the last of its soldiers (as the entire world watched the ships carrying the fighters into exile) - we called it victory." "When [Israel] impudently and arrogantly dared to invade Lebanon once again, in 2006, and destroyed infrastructure and forced Hizbullah to sign an agreement undertaking not to fire missiles into northern Israel (which it has also honoured) - we called this victory." "When [Israel] challenged the entire world and razed Gaza to the ground,...sowing in it destruction and ruin (just like in the 2006 Lebanon war), we called it victory." "The important question is how to defeat Israel. We all desire, and long with all our hearts, to see Israel beaten, destroyed, and humiliated. We all want the nightmare removed - but the important question (that has bedevilled us for 60 years) is - how? It makes no sense for us to continue to entertain ourselves with hopes of endless future victories." (MEMRI)


WHY IS PALESTINIAN RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE IMPORTANT? Prof. Shimon Shamir says: "It is not our concern if Egypt defines itself as Islamic, Arab, African or pharaonic. We recognize Egypt as a political entity." Based on this premise, Shamir makes the case that we are not to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Yet the analogy is not valid. Israel has never called into question the existence of the Egyptian political entity. On the other hand, the Palestinians, through their rejection of the UN Partition Plan, refused to recognize the Jewish state and embarked on a war to destroy it. This is, after all, the root of the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinian narrative is based on the rejection of the existence of a Jewish nation state in any part of the territory they call Palestine. If you declared war against the Jewish state, does not the signing of a peace treaty with that state obligate you to accept it? This does not mean the Palestinians are asked to accept the Zionist narrative, but it is incumbent upon them to alter their narrative, which rules out the existence of a Jewish state. This is exactly what Israel did at Camp David and Oslo. Under the terms of binding international agreements, Israel committed itself to recognizing "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab nation." Menachem Begin was the first to do this. This is not tantamount to relinquishing the Zionist narrative; it is a willingness to accept the legitimacy of a competing narrative and to seek a compromise. We only ask of the Palestinians that which we ourselves have done in the past. The ferociously negative response of the Palestinians was an expression of a deep, internal ideological truth that to this day refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish people's right to self-determination. Peace is made between enemies. The Palestinians fought the Jewish state, and if they truly and sincerely wish to forge peace, they must be willing to come to terms with the Jewish state, and to do so explicitly, without stuttering. (Ha’aretz)The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, is a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


NOTES FROM THE FATAH CONVENTION. Among those attending the Fatah Convention in Bethlehem was Khaled Abu Asba, who took part in a notorious attack in 1978 in which an Israeli commuter bus was hijacked and 37 Israeli civilians were killed, including 12 children. At the Fatah conference, former PA Prime Minister Abu Ala welcomed Abu Asba and referred to him as one of the heroes of the Palestinian people. A huge banner in the conference hall showed a boy in a military uniform, toting a Kalashnikov assault rifle. A leaflet passed out among delegates was headlined: "Until the Zionist entity is wiped out." A resolution approved by the assembly stated that Fatah will not give up the armed struggle until all the descendants of those claiming to be of Palestinian Arab origin can live inside Israel. Another resolution decreed that placing both east and west Jerusalem under Palestinian control is a "red line" that is non-negotiable. Zakariya Zubeidi, one of the commanders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was asked by a Palestinian journalist about the continuing military training the U.S. is supplying to the PA. Zubeidi smiled and said: "I am happy. In case there is a future war, we will have some people who will be well trained." Fatah spokesman Fahmi Al-Za'arir stated: "The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are the jewel in Fatah's crown. We must...maintain them in a state of alert." Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades activist Kifah Radaydeh said the PA would resume violence against Israel when Fatah is "capable." "It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine." (DAILY ALERT /TomGrossMedia.com)


WHY WON’T OBAMA TALK TO ISRAEL? President Obama has spoken to Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Russians and Africans, but he hasn't bothered to speak directly to Israelis. All they see is American pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to freeze settlements, a request that's been interpreted in Israel as political arm-twisting meant to please the Arab street at Israel's expense This policy of ignoring Israel carries a price. Though Mr. Obama has succeeded in prodding Mr. Netanyahu to accept the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, he has failed to induce Israel to impose a freeze on settlements. In fact, he has failed even to stir debate about the merits of one: no Israeli political figure has stood up to Mr. Netanyahu and begged him to support Mr. Obama; not even the Israeli left has adopted Mr. Obama as its icon. Mr. Obama's quest for diplomacy has appeared to Israelis as dangerous American naïveté. The president offered a hand to the Iranians, and got nothing, merely giving them more time to advance their nuclear program. And he failed to move Arab governments to take steps to normalize relations with Israel. Mr. Obama seems to have confused American Jews with Israelis. We are close emotionally and politically, but we are different. We speak Hebrew and not English; we live in the Middle East and have separate historical narratives. Mr. Obama's stop at Buchenwald and his strong rejection of Holocaust denial, immediately after his Cairo speech, appealed to American Jews but fell flat in Israel. Here we are taught that Zionist determination and struggle - not guilt over the Holocaust - brought Jews a homeland. In the past decade, repeated peace negotiations and diplomatic statements have indicated that the "settlement blocs" will remain in Israeli hands under any two-state solution. Why, then, insist on a total freeze everywhere? And why deny with such force the existence of previous understandings over limited settlement construction? There is simply too much evidence proving that such an understanding existed. To Israelis, the claim undermined Mr. Obama's credibility. (NEW YORK TIMES)


WHY THE ISLAMIC WORLD WON’T RECOGNIZE A JEWISH STATE. The Islamic world is ideologically incapable of according legitimacy to the State of Israel for deep-seated religious, nationalistic and historical reasons. According to Islam, the Jewish religion was invalidated by the birth of Christianity, which in turn was invalidated by the arrival of Islam. Islam's basic approach is not that it came to the world to exist alongside other religions as equal among equals, but to replace them. Jews are perceived in the Islamic world as members of a religion without an ethnic or national basis. Thus, in Iraq, there are Arab Iraqi Muslims, Arab Iraqi Christians and Arab Iraqi Jews, all members of the Arab nation. From an Islamic perspective, a French Jew is a member of the French nation. How can one recognize Israel as the "State of the Jewish People" - an ethnic group that does not really exist? Palestine was conquered during the period of Khalif Omar bin al-Khattab in the third decade of the seventh century. This placed Palestine within the group of countries which were under Islamic rule, like Spain, Sicily and part of the Balkans, and which must be returned to the bosom of Islam. Khalif Omar declared Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, as Waqf (holy endowment) land, consecrated for all Muslim generations forever. So how can the Jews demand that Muslims recognize the Jewish conquest of the land of Palestine which is holy to Muslims alone? The writer, a research associate at the BESA Center, is a 25-year veteran of IDF Military Intelligence. (DAILY ALERT - BESA Centre/Bar-Ilan University)


HAMAS SUSPENDS ROCKET FIRE AT ISRAEL, SHIFTS TO PUBLIC RELATIONS. Seven months after Israel's military campaign in Gaza to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities, Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through public relations, aiming to build what Hamas leaders call a "culture of resistance." Hamas leader Ayman Taha explained: "The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break." Increasingly, people are questioning the value of the rockets, not because they hit civilians but because they are seen as relatively ineffective. In June, just two rockets were fired from Gaza, one of the lowest monthly tallies since the firing began in 2002. A play currently seen nightly in Gaza City called "The Women of Gaza and the Patience of Job" includes a satirical scene in which a Hamas fighter describes a fellow fighter who made the Israelis quake in their boots: "He hit Tel Aviv!" From the audience emerges a dismissive laugh, for it knows how meaningless such boasting proved over the years. The show's writer, Said al-Bettar, said he wrote the scene to make the point that "We were the victims of a big lie." (DAILY ALERT /New York Times)


WHAT THE U.S. PRESIDENT NEEDS TO HEAR. Whenever American Jewish leaders are invited to the White House to talk about Israel - as 16 were on Monday - the prime purpose of the invitation is not to give them an opportunity to sway the leader of the free world, though their views may be genuinely sought, but for the administration to diminish the prospect of them lobbying against the president's policies. We're not suggesting that Obama is substantively less pro-Israel than most of his predecessors. But we are concerned over his refusal to embrace the 1967-plus strategy enunciated by his predecessor, at a time when his administration is demanding a freeze even to Israeli construction in Jerusalem areas captured in 1967. If the administration feels it faces no countervailing pressure, it will go on d eepening the erroneous perception that settlements are the obstacle to peace. This alienates Israel's majority, which is willing to make painful territorial concessions, yet believes that ill-tempered calls for an unconditional freeze everywhere only encourage Palestinian intransigence. Pro-Israel Americans should caution Obama not to lose the Israeli "street" as he seeks favor with the Arab one. (Jerusalem Post)


MUSLIM DOUBLE STANDARDS. This week, more than 100 Muslims have died and thousands more have been arrested in China. Yet not a peep of protest has been heard on the streets of Cairo, Karachi or Tehran. Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, it seems, is too busy imprisoning and herding Iranian Muslims to jail to hear the outcry in Xinxiang. This is not the first time the so-called ummah has shrugged off the massacre of fellow Muslims. The genocide of Darfuri Black Muslims at the hands of the Arab janjaweed militia and the Sudanese government has passed unnoticed by the larger Islamic world. Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy mused: If Israel invaded western China, maybe the rest of the Muslim world would wake up. We Muslims need to wake up to an ethical challenge. It is immoral for us to stay silent when Muslim-on-Muslim violence takes place, but yell at the top of our lungs when the victims suffer at the hands of non-Muslims. This is a double standard that the Koran prohibits. The writer is author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. (DAILY ALERT - National Post-Canada)


We would like to inform our readers that during the summer months the ‘DAILY JOURNAL’ will only be posted once a week as ‘WEEKEND-JOURNAL’. Should something extraordinary happen then we will inform our friends via mail.


IS ‘TOUGH LOVE’ FOR ISRAEL IN AMERICA’S BEST INTEREST? Certain opinion leaders in Washington and New York have begun to speak with shining eyes about the need to administer a dose of tough love to Israel: to train it, wean it, set boundaries for it. To force it against its will to do what is good for it. The results can be seen almost every day on television screens: diplomacy comprised of public reprimands. Even as it bows and scrapes to Saudi Arabia and is scrupulously careful of Iran's honour, the new United States humiliates Israel. But the question the White House ought to be asking itself is whether riding roughshod over Israel serves its goals. The answer is unequivocal: no. Already, Israel's public humiliation is hurting America. It is making even moderate Arabs unwilling to contribute anything to advancing the diplomatic process. And without a significant Arab contribution, there will be no diplomatic process. A continued tough love policy toward Israel is liable to do damage that is far more serious - and irreversible. Without a strong Israel, a Middle East peace can neither be established nor survive. Without a strong Israel, the Middle East will go up in flames. Therefore, instead of playing games taken out of a basic training manual, Americans and Israelis must work in harmony. They must think outside the box and come up with a creative solution, based on listening to each other and mutual respect. They must jointly advance a genuine regional peace. The time has come to replace tough love with sensible, grown-up love. (Ha'aretz)


PEACE DOESN’T COME THROUGH WITHDRAWAL. Arabs will not decrease violence to allow Israel an honorary withdrawal from the West Bank. Just like the Jewish fighters haunted the British in Palestine in 1947, Arabs will continue killing Jews even if Israel evacuates Gaza and the West Bank. Diplomats cannot understand why Arabs keep on killing Jews even in the face of diplomatic surrender. Simple: Arabs correctly view their victory as the product of fighting rather than diplomacy. Add their hatred of Jewish occupiers, and Arabs will continue killing the Jews until the last Jew leaves their land—which is not limited to the West Bank. The peace process only prompts the Arabs to kill the retreating enemy. Arab mujahedeen similarly flocked to Afghanistan after the Soviets announced their withdrawal. The Golan Heights show how simple the peace process really is. The hotly contested Golans are the safest part of Israel. No terrorists cross from Syria. Sneaking through the hapless peacekeepers is not a big deal. The desire to confront Israel is there: recall the constant stream of guerrillas from Egypt during the cease-fire. Syria has the necessary prerequisites for guerrilla warfare with Israel: strong intelligence, zealots, small arms, and Hezbollah and Hamas expertise. Yet Syria refrains from sending guerrillas into Israel because it fears Israeli reprisals. Israel attacked Syrian aircraft on several occasions during the cease-fire, and overall proved capable and willing to take the war into Syria. Thus, Syria distances itself from guerrilla activity. IDF mapped hundreds of buildings used by Hamas, PIJ, Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and other factions. Aggressively destroying them will go a long way toward pacifying the terrorist nest. Extroverted and passionate Arabs recall urban Azeris rather than Muslim highlanders. Eager to establish their social stannding but unable to do so by rational means, Arabs resort to heated arguments, bullying, and spontaneous violence. They are not quiet, thorough, and dispassionate killers like the highlander Muslims. Arabs fight fiercely at first only, and only for a short time. Countered with cruel force or ignored, they cease. Concessions—mini-victories—prop up their pride and they push to continue. Counter-intuitive as that may sound, concessions lead to no peace. Historically, too, peace negotiations between nations have commenced near the war’s end. Negotiations during the war embolden the aggressor and encourage him to persist in violence. (Posted by Obadiah Shoher On June 29, 2009).


WHAT A SETTLEMENT FREEZE WOULD DO. Barack Obama might want to reflect on how his push for a freeze is being seen among mainstream Israelis - those who want a peace deal. They wonder why there is no withering campaign to pressure Abbas into insisting that a Fatah-Hamas unity government explicitly accept the Quartet's principles. Netanyahu articulated the consensus position of the Israeli body politic: "Palestine" must be demilitarized so that we don't wake up to find Iranian Revolutionary Guards overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport; that in a region which includes two dozen Muslim states, the Palestinians need to give up the "right of return" and accept Israel as the Jewish state; that Israel cannot agree to pull back to the hard-to-defend 1949 Armistice Lines. Would a temporary settlement freeze bring us any closer to peace? More likely, it would encourage the Palestinians to dig in their heels. (Jerusalem Post)


END THE SPAT WITH ISRAEL. The upheaval in Iran offers the Obama administration a chance to creep away from the corner into which it has painted itself in the Arab-Israeli peace process. President Obama began with a broad strategy of simultaneously pressing Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states to take concrete steps toward peace. But that broad front narrowed to a single point: a standoff with the Israeli government over whether "natural growth" would be allowed in Jewish settlements outside Israel's 1967 borders. But, starting with a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in May, the administration made the mistake of insisting that an Israeli settlement "freeze" must mean a total stop to all construction in the West Bank and even East Jerusalem. This absolutist position is a loser for three reasons. First, it has allowed Palestinian and Arab leaders to withhold the steps they were asked for; they claim to be waiting for the settlement "freeze" even as they quietly savor a rare public battle between Israel and the U.S. Second, the administration's objective is unobtainable. No Israeli government has ever agreed to an unconditional freeze, and no coalition could be assembled from the current parliament to impose one. Finally, the extraction of a freeze is unnecessary. Both the PA and Arab governments have gone along with previous U.S.-Israeli deals by which construction was to be limited to inside the periphery of settlements near Israel - since everyone knows those areas will be annexed to Israel in a final settlement. Before the 2007 Annapolis conference, Saudi Arabia and other Arab participants agreed to what one former senior official called "the Google Earth test"; if the settlements did not visibly expand, that was good enough. (Washington Post)


TWO YEARS ON, HAMAS’ HAND IN GAZA WEIGHS HEAVILY. Hamas marked the second anniversary of its take-over of Gaza this week, but there were no victory parades, no jubilation and no great words - just growing anger, despair and hopelessness among many Palestinians. "Not everything deserves to be celebrated," says Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' deputy foreign minister. Gaza in June 2009 looks like a police state. Armed Hamas men keep each residential block under their scrutiny. Complaints about unscrupulous behaviour by Hamas people can fill pages. A young man reports how Hamas first beat him up and then shot apart all four tires of his car, because he was listening to a Fatah song. A common intimidation method used by Hamas is knee-capping, where victims are shot from close range in the knees, crippling them. (DPA)


PALESTINIANS WANT TO BUILD SETTLEMENTS. The last thing that Abu Mohammed al-Najjar wants is for Israel to succumb to U.S. pressure and halt construction in the West Bank settlements. Freezing construction would be a disaster not only for him and his family, but for thousands of other Palestinians working in settlements in the West Bank. More than 12,000 Palestinians are employed by both Jewish and Arab contractors building new homes in the settlements. "We're talking about thousands of families in the West Bank that rely on this work as their sole source of income," a Palestinian official in Ramallah admitted. Jawdat Uwaisat, 44, said that he and his colleagues working for Israelis earn almost three times what they would receive doing the same work for Palestinian construction companies. He said eve n Palestinian supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are employed in settlements. "When people want to feed their children, they don't think twice." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL SEEKS RECOGNITION AS JEWISH HOMELAND. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that a final peace will require Palestinian recognition of Israel as the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people. Netanyahu's advisers say it is an effort to push the peace process beyond diplomacy and toward reconciliation. "If there is no recognition that the Jewish people exist, that the Jewish people emerged from this land, then you have no end of conflict," said Michael B. Oren, Israel's new ambassador to Washington. Oren and others said it is wrong to think of the demand as negotiable once peace talks begin. Rather, Oren said, Netanyahu intends it as a "super-core issue," which would need to be addressed for him to set aside a lifetime's conviction that a Palestinian state would undermine Israel's security. (Washington Post)


The next Daily Journal will be posted tomorrow!


ISRAEL: CHANGE IN IRAN COULD BRING PEACEFUL TIES. Peaceful relations between Israel and Iran would be possible if new leadership took power in Tehran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the German newspaper Bild. "There is no conflict between the Iranian people and the people of Israel and under a different regime the friendly relations that prevailed in the past could be restored." "What we have seen in Iran is a powerful desire on the part of the Iranian people to be free." Netanyahu also said, "We want to live peacefully next to the Palestinians and we don't want to govern them. We want them to have all the powers to govern themselves - except those handful of powers that could threaten Israel....We don't want to have another Iran next to our borders." (Reuters)


ISRAEL: NO FOREIGN TROOPS IN PA TERRITORY. The international guarantees Israel is seeking to ensure that a future Palestinian state remains demilitarized does not mean the introduction of foreign forces, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday. Expanding on his speech last week, Netanyahu said that Israel wanted international acceptance of the principle that it could take the actions it thought necessary to ensure the future state's demilitarization. Israel wanted to avoid a situation wherein it would withdraw from territory to be demilitarized, the Palestinians would violate that agreement, and then Israel would be blamed for going back into the Palestinian territories to destroy weapons. "I don't understand why for self-determination the Palestinians need Kassam and Grad rockets," Netanyahu said. "I understand they need a strong police and security apparatus, and we encourage that, but do they need tanks, artillery or rockets?" Regarding the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, Netanyahu said this was necessary to ensure that any agreement reached would put an end to all Palestinian claims on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)


A PALESTINIAN CHOICE. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a detailed speech in which he hailed President Obama's "desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region." He said he was "willing to meet" with Arab leaders "at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut and in Jerusalem as well" to make peace. He invited Arab entrepreneurs to "assist the Palestinians and us to give the economy a jump-start." He committed his government to all of Israel's international agreements. He said "we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements." "In my vision of peace," he said, "there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighbourly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbour’s security and existence." To this, the Palestinian reaction was to say the speech was "worthless," "nothing but a hoax," that it had "destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution," and that Mr. Netanyahu was "a liar and a crook." And that was the reaction among the Palestinian moderates. The transformation of the Gaza Strip into an armed and hostile Hamas enclave is evidence enough of why any future Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized. Nor should the thought of Israel as a Jewish state be controversial: That's how it was conceived by the UN resolution that helped bring it into existence, and that's how it was recognized by Harry Truman minutes after it declared independence. For too long the Palestinians have practiced a kind of fantasy politics, in which all right was on their side, concession was dishonour, and mistakes never had consequences. Mr. Netanyahu's speech now offers them the choice between fantasy and statehood. Judging from early reactions, they're choosing wrongly again. (Wall Street Journal)


OVER TO YOU, MR. ABBAS. Netanyahu emphatically espoused the vision of a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, precisely as the new American president would have wished, and reaffirmed that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land. But Israel could countenance Palestinian statehood only if, philosophically, the Palestinians publicly acknowledged Israel's essence as the homeland of the Jewish nation and, practically, if Palestine were demilitarized. This was a classic display of Netanyahu's longstanding insistence on reciprocity. You want Israel to support statehood for the Palestinians? he was saying to the Americans. Well, then, give me the guarantees that their independence will not come at the expense of ours. Netanyahu at a nuanced stroke lobbed the peacemaking ball back into the Palestinian court. (Jerusalem Post)


HAMAS REJECTS CARER PLEA TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL. After meeting former President Jimmy Carter in Gaza on Tuesday, Ahmed Youssef, the deputy Hamas foreign minister, said Wednesday that "Recognizing Israel is completely unacceptable." Youssef said the other two international conditions - renouncing violence and accepting past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians - are irrelevant. According to Hamas ideology, there is no room for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East. The militant group has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, killing hundreds. Carter's meeting was itself unusual since the U.S., EU and Israel consider Hamas a terror group and refuse to deal with it directly. (AP/Washington Post)


DIE PALÄSTINENSER HABEN DIE WAHL. Das Wall Street Journal kommentiert in seiner heutigen Ausgabe die Reaktion der Palästinenser auf die Bar-Ilan-Rede Binyamin Netanyahus. „Nach dem gewöhnlichen Lauf der Dinge in der Nahostpolitik könnte man den Aufruf eines israelischen ‚Hardliner’-Ministerpräsidenten zum Einfrieren neuer Siedlungsbautätigkeiten und seinen Vorschlag von unmittelbaren Verhandlungen zur Schaffung eines palästinensischen Staates als Durchbruch betrachten, insbesondere auf Seiten derer, die sich laut zu ihrem Glauben an den Frieden bekennen. Aber so laufen die Dinge nicht für Binyamin Netanyahu.“ „Die palästinensische Reaktion bestand darin, zu sagen, dass die Rede ‚wertlos’ sei, ‚nichts als ein Schwindel’, dass sie ‚alle Friedensinitiativen und [Chancen für eine Lösung] zerstört’ habe und Netanyahu ein ‚Lügner und Betrüger’ sei. Und dies war die Reaktion der palästinensischen Gemäßigten. Nur die Hamas und die Huffington Post waren vernichtender.“ „Was die Palästinenser angeht, haben sie zu lange eine Art von Phantasiepolitik betrieben, bei der alles Recht auf ihrer Seite war, jedwedes Zugeständnis unehrenhaft, und Fehler nie Konsequenzen hatten. Es hat ihnen viel eingebracht. Netanyahus Rede bietet ihnen die Wahl zwischen Phantasie und Staatlichkeit. Ihren ersten Reaktionen nach zu urteilen, haben sie sich abermals für das Falsche entscheiden. (The Wall Street Journal, 18.06.09)


MOSSAD: RIOTS IN IRAN WILL DIE DOWN, IRANIAN NUCLEAR BOMB BY 2014. Mossad chief Meir Dagan on Tuesday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that the riots in Iran over the election results will die out in a few days rather than escalate into a revolution. He said that while the reformist candidate Mousavi is perceived internationally as a moderate, "it is important to remember that he is the one who began Iran's nuclear program when he was prime minister." The Mossad believed that Iran would have its first nuclear bomb ready for action in 2014, "if the project continues at the present rate and is not interrupted." He said that if international sanctions were sufficiently harsh, they could stop Iran's nuclear program. (Ha'aretz)


BEHIND THE PA’S HYSTERICAL REACTION TO NETANYAHU’S SPEECH. The Palestinian Authority leadership's hysterical, hasty and clearly miscalculated response to Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech is likely to boomerang because it makes the Palestinians appear as "peace rejectionists." Even before he completed his speech, several PA officials and spokesmen used every available platform to declare their total rejection of Netanyahu's ideas. The harsh response of the PA is the direct result of high hopes that its leaders have pinned on the Obama administration. Reports about a looming crisis between the U.S. and Netanyahu, combined with Obama's conciliatory approach toward the Arab and Muslim worlds, had created the impression that the Israeli government had no choice but to accept all the Palestinian demands. The fact that Netanyahu is even prepared to talk about a Palestinian state is in itself a major achievement. So what if the future state of Palestine doesn't have an army and an air force? Why would Palestine need tanks and warplanes? Don't the Palestinians already have enough security forces and armed militias? Don't they already have enough ammunition and rockets? (Jerusalem Post)


NETANYAHU OFFERS OBAMA ROOM TO MANEUVER. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave U.S. President Obama a narrow opening for pursuing Middle East peace on Sunday by offering a highly qualified endorsement for a demilitarized Palestinian state. "In terms of the concern that President Obama had about the need to promote a two-state solution, Netanyahu has said things now that...President Obama will be able to work with," said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. He said a demilitarized Palestinian state was very similar to the non-militarized state put forward by President Clinton during negotiations toward the end of his administration. "Netanyahu took a major stride by making clear that the issue is no longer his refusal to accept a Palestinian state but rather the very shape of the state," said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institution for Near East Policy. (Reuters)


GAZANS INCREASINGLY FRUSTRATED WITH HAMAS’ HARD-LINE POLICIES. Nearly six months after the fighting with Israel, Gazans are growing increasingly restless under Hamas rule. Many privately complain that Hamas' hard-line approach with both Israel and the rival Palestinian party, Fatah, has intensified their suffering. According to a poll conducted by the West Bank-based Bir Zeit University in May, just 23% of Palestinians in Gaza would vote for Hamas in a new parliamentary election, as opposed to to 37% for Fatah. "People who voted for Hamas did not know their real policies. And if they knew the consequences of these policies, they wouldn't have voted for them," says Abu Khaled, a Gaza City shop owner. (Christian Science Monitor)


ISRAEL TO OUTLINE CONDITIONS FOR PALESTINIAN STATE. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will accept the notion of a Palestinian state under strict conditions, Israeli officials and Americans briefed on the Israeli leader's thinking said Thursday. Mr. Netanyahu will deliver a major speech Sunday setting Israeli parameters for recognizing Palestinian sovereignty. The officials said Mr. Netanyahu will emphasize Palestinian obligations under the Roadmap - a three-phase process for negotiations initiated by the George W. Bush administration, which so far has not been followed. The conditions he is expected to put forward include: Any Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without an air force, full-fledged army or heavy weapons. Palestinians may not sign treaties with powers hostile to Israel. A Palestinian state must allow Israeli civilian and military aircraft unfettered access to Palestinian airspace, allow Israel to retain control of the airwaves and to station Israeli troops on a future state's eastern and southern borders. (Washington Times)


HOW TO ANSWER OBAMA. If Benjamin Netanyahu says no to Obama, he would be playing into the hands of those who want Obama to deal with the settlements rather than with the centrifuges. But Netanyahu cannot say yes to Obama, either. If he says yes, the United States could start up immediately a powerful bulldozer to push Israel to the June 4, 1967 borders. If he says yes, Israel would not be able to ensure its vital security interests in the West Bank. If he says yes, an armed Palestinian state, whose missile batteries would prevent the Israel Air Force from launching its planes, would be declared in a short time. If Netanyahu says yes, Israel would be pushed into a hopeless, risky undertaking that would undermine its stability. President Obama and his partners would endanger Israel's future, not from malice but from pure, noble intentions. (Ha'aretz)


HAMAS STEALS DONATED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT, CONVERTS AMBULANCES TO MILITARY VEHICLES The Palestinian Health Ministry stated that during the Gaza war, Hamas militias raided 46 ambulances donated by Arab states, removed the medical equipment that they contained, and used them as military vehicles to arrest civilians, after painting the ambulances black, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported on May 20. (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)


GIB TALK OF A TWO-STATE SOLUTION. President Obama's speech in Cairo illustrates his commitment to a major outreach to the Muslim and Arab worlds. But it is dangerous to court new friends if you risk doing it at the expense of old friends, in this case the long-standing friendship between Israel and America. Mahmoud Abbas is the Palestinian leader who rejected the most generous ever outline for Palestinian statehood put forward by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He survives only because of massive economic aid from the West and massive support on security from Israel. His Fatah is so unpopular that, if elections were held today and the votes properly counted, it is probable that Hamas would win a majority. There is much glib talk of "a two-state solution," but who would g overn a Palestinian state? Abbas and Fatah are chronically weak; Hamas is strong and has not diminished its radical objective of obliterating Israel. So there is no "two-state solution" if one of the two sovereign states is intent on destroying the other. The conventional "two-state" formula is a problem masquerading as a solution. (New York Daily News)


SETTLEMENTS ARE NO THREAT. As one looks out from Rimonim, a Jewish settlement in the heart of the West Bank, the most telling fact is what one does not see. Over the miles of rolling hills, there is not an Arab village, building, home or even a herd of sheep to be seen. The scene is the same at other Jewish settlements as well. Palestinian propaganda has for years purveyed the myth of Israeli settlements choking Palestinian communities the way residential developments have encroached upon rural America. Yet, in reality, nothing like this exists in the largely unsettled expanses of the West Bank. Even the group Peace Now concedes that Israeli settlements - mostly bedroom communities of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv - occupy less than 3% of the West Bank. More than 98% of Palestinians already live under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and there is no shortage of land there for Palestinian expansion. (DAILY ALERT - Baltimore Sun)


USING NEW LANGUAGE, PRESIDENT SHOWS UNDERSTANDING FOR BOTH SIDES IN MIDDLE EAST. There was no mention of "terrorists" or "terrorism," just "violent extremists." In an Arab capital, he spoke of America's "unbreakable" bond with Israel and condemned anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, an apparent repudiation of the anti-Israeli rhetoric that periodically emanates from Iran. Yet he also seemed to draw equivalence between Jewish and Palestinian suffering. The president said: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Not since Jimmy Carter has a U.S. president in his own voice declared the settlements to be illegal, but Obama tiptoed very close to the line. Obama deftly referred to a "Jewish homeland," slightly different from Israel's demands that it be considered a Jewish state. (Washington Post)


ISRAEL’S REACTION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SPEECH IN CAIRO. The government of Israel expresses its hope that this important speech in Cairo will indeed lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world and Israel. We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East. Israel is committed to peace and will make every effort to expand the circle of peace while protecting its interests, especially its national security. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)




UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HAS DIFFERENT RULES FOR ISRAEL, SRI LANKA. The UN Human Rights Council voted to affirm Sri Lanka's right, justifiably, to self-defence from terror attacks launched against its citizens and territory by the Tamil Tigers. Indeed, the council went further, "condemning all attacks that the LTTE launched on the civilian population and its practice of using civilians as human shields." Why, then, when Israel seeks to do the same - protect its citizens and territory from rocket and terror attacks launched from Gaza - does the very same council accuse Israel of being a "genocidal empire?" We are not disagreeing with the UNHRC's assessment of Sri Lanka's actions. Even more than Hamas and its jihadi brothers-in-arms, the Tigers were enthusiastic suicide bombers. Our question is merely: Why such a double standard when it comes to Israel? (DAILY ALERT / National Post-Canada)


OBAMA: U.S. NEEDS TO BE ’HONEST’ WITH ISRAEL. In an interview Monday, President Obama said: "I don't think that we have to change strong U.S. support for Israel. I think that we do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace. And that's going to require, from my view, a two-state solution that is going to require that each side - the Israelis and Palestinians - meet their obligations. I've said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements, including natural growth, is part of those obligations. I've said to the Palestinians that their continued progress on security and ending the incitement that, I think, understandably makes the Israelis so concerned, that those obligations have to be met." "Part of being a good friend is being honest. And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative - not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests." (National Public Radio)


ISRAEL WON’T FREEZE SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION FOR NATURAL GROWTH. Israel will not freeze settlement construction for natural growth, despite intense pressure from the Obama administration to do so. In addition, in Prime Minister Netanyahu's view, there is no reason housing cannot be built inside major settlement blocs. Defence Minister Barak will discuss the matter this week during a visit to the U.S. Barak has made it clear that he, too, feels it is illogical and impossible to completely stop all construction in the settlements. Israel has made clear to the Americans that it will build in a way that will not impinge on the Palestinians - meaning that construction will be within the designated boundaries of the settlements and there will be no expropriation of new land. The current sense in Jerusalem is that if the U.S. does not honour its previous understandings with Israel, then it has little right to demand that Israel live up to commitments it made in the past. (Jerusalem Post)


IS OBAMA LOOKING FOR A FIGHT OVER ‘NATURAL GROWTH’? "A 'settlement freeze' would not help Palestinians face today's problems or prepare for tomorrow's challenges," Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under former President George Bush, wrote in April in the Washington Post. "The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel's new government," he wrote. The question is why the U.S. is looking for this fight. As Netanyahu told a visiting Congressional delegation on Wednesday, there is a need to find a way with the U.S. administration to enable "normal life" in the settlements to continue. (Jerusalem Post)


THE TRUTH IS A PRECONDITION FOR PEACE. The Palestinians teach their people that no Jewish kingdom ever existed in the land they call Palestine and that there was never a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. For most Palestinians, these are "facts" learned in school and taken for granted. This is not merely an "alternative narrative." This false story helps explain the Palestinian refusal to make peace, because so long as Palestinians think the Jews were never here before, they will see Jews as a foreign colonial implant with no claim to the land. Modern Israel's claim depends on the Jews' historic connection to the territory. Without this history, the Jews would indeed be foreign invaders, not a people returning home. Denial of the Jews' connection to the land is much more important than Holocaust denial. Israel's claim to the land has nothing to do with the Holocaust. The international decision that Palestine should be a Jewish homeland was made by the League of Nations a generation before the Holocaust. Israeli diplomats should call on the U.S. to end the Palestinians' denial of history. There are plenty of Muslim sources that can be used to teach the facts. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL CONCERNED ABOUT UNIFIL’S FATE AFTER LEBANON ELECTIONS. Israel is concerned that if Hizbullah wins the upcoming elections in Lebanon, some European members of UNIFIL will consider downsizing their participation in the force or completely withdrawing their personnel. Defence officials have also expressed concern with American plans to supply advanced military platforms to the Lebanese armed forces. Senior defence officials warned that if Hizbullah formed the next government, the weapons would fall into the group's hands. The assessment in Israel is that Hizbullah will win the June 7 election, but even if it doesn't, it will continue to control Lebanon. Hizbullah has received hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Iran for its military program, and also obtains military hardware from other countries through Iranian and Syrian financing and logistics. Israel in 2009 is facing threats on five fronts: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Global Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL SEEKS DISCUSSIONS WITH PA WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS. In an interview with David Frost for Al-Jazeera English television on May 23, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said: "Mr. Netanyahu really came forward with a good faith approach of immediate negotiations with the Palestinians, with Mahmoud Abbas. By the way, we have requested a meeting with Abbas, but to no avail so far. But we have said we are ready to start without any preconditions....We are willing to start on a very intensive, multi-track approach, whereby there will be a security track, an economic track and also a political track." "We are very willing to work and help the Palestinians to build capacity so far as the security situation permits. Our policy i s to open up everything, to really have a free flow and really bring the economic level and all other aspects of life in the West Bank up to par to Israelis." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


ISRAEL’S FORGOTTEN RIGHTS IN JERUSALEM. When the actual talks with the Palestinians are launched, Israel will have to avoid making the basic diplomatic mistake that previous governments have made in defining Israel's primary interests - especially when it comes to Jerusalem. For most of the past two decades, an asymmetry could be observed in how the two parties handled their struggle in the diplomatic sphere. While the Palestinians maintained that their goal was to achieve a Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem, most Israeli declarations sufficed with general statements that the goal is peace, or peace and security. Whereas Israel presented an abstract goal, the Palestinians spoke about a clear and well-defined purpose. As a rule, the side that presents clear objectives is the triumphant one in any political conflict. Little wonder, then, that the contemporary diplomatic discourse is focusing on the Palestinian narrative, and Israel's arguments have been swept aside. This process comes despite the fact that Israel's claims rest on a broad base, and have in the past received solid international recognition, especially when it comes to Jerusalem. Two Israeli governments that proposed to divide Jerusalem never reached a final agreement. Israel need not be bound to the protocols of a failed negotiation. To protect Jerusalem, Israeli diplomacy must re-establish the unification of the city as a clear national goal, and not abandon the subject of Jerusalem exclusively to Palestinian spokespeople. The writer heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and was the Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Daily Alert - Ha'aretz)


WHAT CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES ARE THE PALESTINIANS WILLING TO UNDERTAKE? In a briefing with Israeli reporters after meeting Obama, Netanyahu said it was particularly ingenuous for the world to demand that Israel fulfill its Roadmap obligation calling for a complete freeze on settlements, while giving the Palestinians a pass on their major obligation to uproot the terrorist infrastructure. If the world expected Israeli concessions on settlements, as per the Roadmap, it would have to ensure that the Palestinians fulfilled their part of the Roadmap, including uprooting the terrorist infrastructure - something that right now seems impossible, considering Hamas' control of Gaza. Fix that, Netanyahu is saying, and then talk to Jerusalem about a settlement freeze. Indeed, Uzi Arad, a top Ne tanyahu aide and the head of the National Security Council, intimated as much when he responded to a question about what confidence-building measures Israel would make toward the Palestinians. His reply: "What confidence-building measures are they willing to undertake?" (Jerusalem Post)


SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT A PALESTINIAN STATE. Should not the establishment of a Palestinian state - which the Europeans so strongly promote - adhere to the European Union's 1993 Copenhagen Political Criteria for new members, which states, "Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities"? Clearly a Palestinian Authority state will not even remotely meet such criteria. What moral justification is there, then, for forcing a vulnerable Israel, threatened by an irredentist Palestinian state, to help establish it when a powerful EU refuses to take much smaller risks in the case of Turkey? Until Oslo, relatively free economic interaction between Isra el and the Palestinian Arabs resulted in spectacular economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza. This created an informal peace process that greatly improved Arab life and promoted a Palestinian civil society committed to peace. The argument that the Arabs seek the restoration of "stolen Palestinian lands" is sheer fabrication. The area of the former British Mandate of Palestine was for centuries under the Ottomans an empty, deserted land. It was so desolate that a national Palestinian Arab state never existed there. Only after Jewish pioneers, in the second half of the nineteenth century, miraculously revived it did the Arabs start identifying themselves as Palestinians. The claim that "illegal settlements" are an obstacle to peace is absurd too. Jewish settlements occupy less than 4% of the West Bank territory, mostly constructed on deserted government land. The reason the Arabs want them removed is that their radical leadership cannot tole rate any Jews living among them. The writer is president of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Forbes)


THE BATTLE FOR JERUSALEM. The emperor Vespasian must be rolling over in his grave. Some 19 centuries after the nefarious Roman ruler sent his legions to pillage Jerusalem under the command of his son Titus, the city once again serves as the united capital of a sovereign Jewish state. Friday marks 42 years on the Hebrew calendar since that wonderful day back in 1967 when Israel liberated the Old City and proudly raised the blue-and-white over the Temple Mount. Yet it is hard not to escape the gnawing feeling that with each passing year, the reunified city of Jerusalem is increasingly coming under siege. Most of the world is demanding that we "share" or "internationalize" the city, and criticize even the most mundane of governmental actions regarding Jerusalem. Where else in the world do es the enforcement of local building codes generate such condemnation? It is a sign of how obsessed the international community has become with twisting our collective arm to redivide the city in order to make way for a Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Post)


WHY NETANYAHU AND OBAMA GOT ALONG SWIMMINGLY – THIS TIME. Not since President Jimmy Carter's standoff against Prime Minister Menachem Begin in July 1977 had there been so much misplaced angst about a looming fight between the U.S. and Israel. That meeting turned out better than expected (the two went on with Anwar Sadat to forge an Egyptian-Israeli peace), and this one did as well. Having watched the U.S.-Israel movie many times, I see a rhythm, an ebb and flow, especially at the start of two new administrations. Neither side has fully formed its approach to the core questions of Iran and Arab-Israeli peace. Obama also has no stake in fighting with Israel and its supporters - not at this point in his presidency, at least. The fact is the president is a politician; he knows how h ard this issue is. If you're an American president, you don't argue with Israel because you're frustrated or to make nice to the Arabs; you press the Israelis in order to reach an agreement that makes you and America look good. It's got to be really worth it. All of this requires a strategy, and Obama doesn't have one yet. With Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran still behaving badly, Israel will never stand alone as the sole object of criticism. (New York Daily News)


WHEN IS A PALESTINIAN STATE REALLY A STATE? The Israeli prime minister is willing to cede land, and flatly says he has no desire for Israel to govern Palestinians any longer. The problem, in his mind, is that people are throwing around the word "state" too freely and allowing for too many assumptions about what that word means. Being a state means running your own affairs, picking your own leaders, and having your own economic system - none of which Netanyahu appears to have any problem with when it comes to the Palestinians. But when people say "state," Netanyahu worries, they also are implying a self-governing unit that can raise an army, acquire weapons from abroad and control its own borders. And those aspects of statehood, the Israeli leader argues, are non-starters for Israelis. (Wall Street Journal) Observations:


MIDDLE EAST REQUIRES PRAGMATIC REALISM. If they are to gain peace, prosperity and eventually their own homeland, the Palestinian people need a more credible, pragmatic leadership than the fanatics of Hamas. Their leadership in Gaza renders any prospect of a Palestinian state nonsense at present. Nor does the incompetent Fatah regime of Mahmoud Abbas on the West Bank have much to offer a complex, demanding process. A dose of scepticism on Netanyahu's part about a two-state solution is understandable. In 2000, the Clinton administration brokered a deal in which then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was offering a deal that would have set up an independent state in all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank and territory from Israel proper to compensate for the remaining 5%. But then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat, unwilling to be seen as the Palestinian leader to give up the struggle against Israel rejected the offer. Palestinians responded with a four-year suicide-bombing campaign against Israeli civilians. In the last analysis, it is doubtful whether the Palestinians are sufficiently mature enough to put their need of a homeland ahead of their unjust armed struggle against Israel's right to exist. (DAILY ALERT – FRA: The Australian)


JORDAN KING TELLS NETANYAHU OF CONCERNS OVER HAMAS, HIZBULLAH, AND IRAN. Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday, officials at the prime minister's office confirmed that King Abdullah had expressed concern over the growing power of extremist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as the Iranian nuclear threat. Jordan "doesn't want a Hamastan in the (West Bank), and a nuclear Iran is a problem for Jordan as well as Israel," one official said. Netanyahu told Abdullah that he was "aware of the need to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and I intend to focus the talks on political, security and financial issues." (Ynet News)


PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON: TWO STATE SOLUTION WILL LEAD TO THE COLLAPSE OF ISRAEL. PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki told ANB TV on May 7: "Even Ahmadinejad, leader of the rejectionists throughout the region, said he supports a two-state solution....With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made - just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status....If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward." (Daily Alert - MEMRI)


WEST BANK TV STATION BROADCASTS REAL NEWS. TV is commercial, secular station broadcasting from Ramallah in the West Bank. The station's director, Muamar Orabi, says, "There is another land in Palestine, different from the one portrayed on other Arab TV stations. We like to focus on internal political news, cultural events, and success stories." In other words, Orabi's station tries to make the case that Palestinians have a life apart from their interminable conflict with Israel. Wattan is now the most popular station in the West Bank and Gaza because it defies the Arab political orthodoxy that says every consideration of life is less important than the struggle against Israel. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas may put up a pleasant enough face to the West, but he is no more willing to take criticism than other Arab kings, dictators and potentates. A few months ago, when Wattan TV aired a piece on the corruption that is endemic to the Palestinian government, Orabi said, Abbas' agents arrested him along with several other staff members. (San Francisco Chronicle)


CHRISTIANS IN MIDEAST LOSING NUMBERS AND INFLUENCE. Christians used to be a vital force in the Middle East. They dominated Lebanon and filled top jobs in the Palestinian movement. In Egypt, they were wealthy beyond their number. In Iraq, they packed the universities and professions. But as Pope Benedict XVI wends his way across the Holy Land this week, he is addressing a dwindling and threatened Christian population driven to emigration by political violence, lack of economic opportunity and the rise of radical Islam. A region that a century ago was 20% Christian is about 5% today and dropping. In Lebanon, Christians now amount to a quarter of the population. A century ago there were millions of Christians in what is today Turkey; now there are 150,000. In Bethlehem, Christians now make up barely a third of the population after centuries of being 80%. Of the 1.4 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, nearly half have fled. (New York Times)


HACKERS SABOTAGE ARAB-LANGUAGE ISRAELI WEBSITE. Infoelarab.org - an Arab-language website dedicated to presenting Western and Israeli news stories to the Arab world - was hacked on Sunday by a group signing off as "Gaza lovers." The site, edited by former ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, was reduced to a black screen featuring an Arab terrorist brandishing a weapon and an abusive paragraph in broken Hebrew referring to the site staff as "children of monkeys and pigs." "One of the aspects of confrontations between Israel and the Arab world is also on the level of ideas....[The hackers] don't accept criticism or other opinions. We live in a completely different society where everything is free, where self-criticism [appears] in the press," said Mazel. "But we must try to [facilitate] dialogue and we are doing it." (Jerusalem Post)


GOOD NEWS FOR ISRAEL IN THE DIPLOMATIC WORLD. There is good news in the diplomatic world surrounding Israel. The strategic alliance between Egypt and Israel has never been as strong. The Egyptians see the Middle Eastern jungle as it is and understand that, in this jungle, Israel is a sister. If Israel is harmed, Egypt will be hit. If Israel is hit, President Hosni Mubarak's Egypt will be lost. That's why Israel and Egypt worked in coordination during the Gaza operation. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf emirates, many royal families know they are living on the slopes of a volcano. If the right rope bridge is tossed at them, they will be happy to cross the river. Another piece of good news is Quartet envoy Tony Blair who understands that the way to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is from the bottom up. Not to force a Geneva-style piece of paper on both sides, but to build a down-to-earth process that will shape a different economic, diplomatic and security reality. (Ha'aretz)


THE HAMAS –PEACE GAMBIT.The New York Times conducted a five-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters. Hamas is offering a peace plan with a two-state solution. Except the offer is not a peace but a truce that expires after 10 years. Meaning that after Israel has fatally weakened itself by settling millions of hostile Arab refugees in its midst, and after a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to eight miles wide - Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is reluctant to agree to a Palestinian state before he knows what kind of state it will be. That elementary prudence should be shared by any one who's been sentient the last three years. The Palestinians already have a state, an independent territory with not an Israeli settler or soldier living on it. It's called Gaza - a terror base, Islamist in nature, Iranian-allied, militant and aggressive, that has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli civilians. If this is what a West Bank state is going to be, it would be madness for Israel or America to accept such a two-state solution. Which is why Netanyahu insists that the PA first build institutions - social, economic and military - to anchor a state that could actually carry out its responsibilities to keep the peace. (Washington Post)


ISLAMISTS SAY POPE’S MIDEAST VISIT PROVOCATIVE. Jordanian Islamist leaders on Thursday condemned Pope Benedict's visit to the Middle East, saying it was provocative because he has not apologized for offending comments implying Islam was violent and irrational in a 2006 speech in Regensburg. The pope arrives in Jordan on Friday on the first leg of a tour including Israel and the Palestinian territories. The outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir Party issued a statement urging Jordanian authorities to withdraw their invitation. "All Muslims should raise their voices high to say that anyone who insults our Prophet is not welcome on this land in any way," said the radical party, which seeks to unite Muslims into a pan-Islamic state. (Reuters/Washington Post)


BREAKING FAITH WITH ISRAEL. Will the U.S. sell out its strongest ally in the Middle East to cosy up to its worst enemy? America treats Israel and Iran differently because they are fundamentally different. Israel is a dependable U.S. ally and a free liberal democracy. Iran is a long-standing enemy of the U.S., is directly or indirectly responsible via Iraqi insurgents and others for more deaths of U.S. service members than any country since the Vietnam War. Its people suffer under an oppressive theocracy. We approve of an Israeli nuclear force for the same reason we approve of a British, French or American nuclear force: We know it will serve peaceful purposes. We oppose an Iranian nuclear force for the same reason we oppose a North Korean nuclear force: We know it will not serve a peaceful purpose. Any attempt to establish parity between Israel and Iran on the nuclear issue is dangerous and naive. Pressing Israel to make its suspected nuclear arsenal into a bargaining chip only weakens our allies without defaming our foes. (Washington Times)


SECRET U.S.-ISRAEL NUCLEAR ACCORD IN JEOPARDY. President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials say. For the past 40 years, Israel and the U.S. have kept quiet about an Israeli nuclear arsenal that is now estimated at 80 to 200 weapons. Israel has promised not to test nuclear weapons while the U.S. has not pressed Israel to sign the nuclear NPT, which permits only five countries - the U.S., France, Britain, China and Russia - to have nuclear arms. The accord was forged at a summit between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Nixon on Sept. 25, 1969, and commits both the U.S. and Israel never to acknowledge in public Israel's nuclear arsenal. Israeli defence doctrine considers the nuclear arsenal to be a strategic deterrent against extinction. (Washington Times)


The next edition of ’Daily Journal’ will be posted tomorrow, 07.05.2009.


MISSILE DEFENSE FORCES PREPARE FOR IRANIAN THREAT. Air Force reservists who operate the Arrow and Patriot missile defence systems have begun spending one day a week on duty to sharpen their skills, amid fears that in a conflict with Iran, dozens of long-range missiles would be fired at Israel. "We are preparing for barrages, split warheads and other surprises and therefore we need to retain a high operational level by everyone, including reservists," a top IAF officer said. The scenarios that are drilled include the firing of large barrages at Israel from different countries at once, and the need for the operator to decide which missile to intercept first and at what stage of its flight. Meanwhile, the French newspaper L'Express reported Sunday tha t Israeli fighter jets recently conducted a drill above the Strait of Gibraltar, some 3,000 km. from Israel, included a mid-air refueling drill. (Jerusalem Post)


ON RECONCILIATION WITH THE PALESTINIANS – AN INTERVIEW WITH HISTORIAN BENNY MORRIS. In his new book, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict, Benny Morris, a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University, argues that the Palestinian national movement has never in fact reconciled itself to Israel's existence as a Jewish state. "Morris is a one-man microcosm of what many Israeli Jews of the Labor-Zionist strain have undergone in the past decade," says David B. Green, opinion editor at Ha'aretz's English edition. "They recognize that we're not on the verge of peace, that this conflict may not be resolvable, and that they were naive to think that was the case." Morris's optimism was shattered in 2000 when Yasir Arafat re jected Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton's two-state proposals. "Not only did they say no, but they launched a terroristic and guerrilla war against both the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and Israel itself, suggesting that they are not just after the territories but want to drive the Jews out of Palestine," Morris says. Referring to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, he said, "The moment Israel pulled out from a chunk of Arab territory, as the Arabs have always been demanding, it turned into a base for rocket attacks." "Talk to any Palestinian; they don't know about the Jewish past, and Jewish suffering doesn't interest them," he says. "They believe that Jews have no legitimate right [to] be here. That belief underlines their vision that Palestine must be all Arab and must be regained by them down the road." "The peace camp has been tragically undermined by Arab recalcitrance. When an Israeli politician campaigns on a plan to broker a two-state solution, the Israeli public is no longer interested because they know the other side doesn't want it. So they vote for Netanyahu or someone else who speaks in terms of conflict management rather than solutions." On Iran, Morris says: "Iran is building atomic weapons at least in part - maybe in large part - because it intends to use them. The people there are religious fanatics....Israel is under existential threat, and that is how Israel's military and political leaders must see the situation." (DAILY ALERT / Foreign Policy)


YEMEN’S JEWS UNEASY AS MUSLIM HOSTILITY GROWS. Yemen's remaining Jews, estimated to number 250 to 400, are feeling new and sometimes violent pressure from Yemeni Muslims. "There is hardly a mosque sermon that's free of bigotry. The government's own political rhetoric marginalizes the Jews, and civil society is too weak to protect them," says Mansour Hayel, a Muslim Yemeni and human rights activist. Washington Post)


ISRAEL: PA RECOGNITION OF JEWISH STATE ‘CRUCIAL’ FOR RECONCILIATION. The Foreign Ministry said Monday that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was "crucial" for reconciliation between the two sides after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Israeli calls to do so. "Recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the historic reconciliation process between Israel and the Palestinians," the ministry said in a statement. "The sooner the Palestinians internalize this basic and essential fact, peace between the two peoples will progress and come to fruition." (Ha'aretz)


ABBAS REJECTS CALLING ISRAEL A JEWISH STATE. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday dismissed a demand by Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiators have long refused to recognize Israel's Jewish character. In an attempt to bolster the Palestinian argument, Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide and veteran negotiator, on Monday produced a copy of a letter signed by President Harry S Truman on May 14, 1948. In its original form, it recognizes the provisional government of the new Jewish state, but the typed words "Jewish state" in the second paragraph have been crossed out and replaced with the handwritten "State of Israel." Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Erekat was misinterpreting the American president’s intention. The Truman letter had been prepared hours before Israel declared its independence, before the new country had chosen its name. It was later corrected by a Truman adviser, Clark M. Clifford, after the declaration of independence in order to call the country by its name, not to deny its Jewish character. (New York Times)


ISRAEL REMEMBRANCE DAY BEGAN YESTERDAY EVENING. Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars began yesterday evening, April 27, at 8 p.m. with a moment of national silence heralded by a one-minute siren. On this day the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. On Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., ceremonies will commence at 43 IDF military cemeteries located throughout the country following a two-minute siren blast. Israel's flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, is placed on each and every grave of those who fell in Israel's battles. A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the Land of Israel since 1860. In t he past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces have been killed in the service of the state. The commemoration ends on Tuesday evening, April 28, with the celebration of Israel's 61st Independence Day. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: TIME TO STOP SPEAKING IN SLOGANS. The international community has to "stop speaking in slogans" if it really wants to help the new Israeli government work toward a solution to the Palestinian conflict and help bring stability to the Middle East, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday in an interview. Slogans like "occupation," "settlements," "land for peace" and "two-state solution" were both overly simplistic and ignored the root causes of the ongoing conflict, he said. The fact was that the Palestinian issue was "deadlocked" despite the best efforts of a series of Israeli governments. "Israel has proved its good intentions, our desire for peace," he said. The biggest obstacle to any comprehensive solution, he said, "is not Israel. It is not the Palestinians. It's the Iranians." Nonetheless, Lieberman stressed that Israel did not regard stopping Iran as a precondition for Israeli efforts to make progress with the Palestinians. Quite the reverse, he said. "No, we must start with the Palestinian issues because it's our interest to resolve this problem." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER TO EU: “PEACE IS IN ISRAEL’S INTEREST NO LESS THAN IT IS IN EUROPE’S INTEREST: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told visiting Czech Premier Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, "Peace is in Israel's interest no less than it is in Europe's interest, and there's no need to make the upgrade in relations with Israel conditional on progress on the peace process." When Topolanek brought up the issue of construction in West Bank settlements, Netanyahu responded, "If Israelis can't build homes in the West Bank, then Palestinians shouldn't be allowed to either." "I have no plans to build new settlements, but if someone wants to build a new home [in an existing one], I don't think there's a problem." He characterized the West Bank as "disputed territory" over which negotiations must be held. (Daily Alert - Ha'aretz)


ISRAELIS IN EUROP WARNED OF HIZBULLAH KIDNAP THREAT. Israel's defense establishment has issued a warning to several Israeli business people working in Europe to return to Israel due to a strong possibility that Hizbullah will attempt to kidnap an Israeli national abroad in order to avenge the death of its military commander, Imad Mughniyeh. Since Mughniyeh's death, several Hizbullah attempts to carry out revenge attacks have been foiled. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


ISRAEL THANKS GENEVA BOYKOTTERS. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter of gratitude to the states that boycotted the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva this week. He also praised the countries whose representatives walked out during Iranian President Ahmadinejad's speech. The states that boycotted the conference, in addition to Israel, are the U.S., Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The states whose representatives walked out during Ahmadinejad's speech are Austria, Ireland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Greece, Luxemburg, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Czech Republic, France, Cyprus, Romania, and Sweden. (Ynet News)


NETANYAHU: RECOGNIZE ISRAEL AS THE NATIONAL STATE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday: "I would like to set one thing straight in advance simply because it has been in the media incorrectly today. We insist that the Palestinians - in any diplomatic settlement with us - will recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. The entire international community demands that we recognize the principle of two states for two peoples and we are discovering that this is two states but not for two peoples but two states for one people, or two states for a people-and-a-half. That is to say, there is no doubt that we are being asked to recognize the Palestinian state as the national state for the Palestinian people, but...the Palestinians have no intention of recognizing the national state of the Jewish people." "We have no intention of ruling over the Palestinians. We want for them to rule themselves, except for those powers that could threaten our security and our existence. But there is no doubt that we insist that they recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. We have never conditioned the start and existence of talks on advance agreement about this, but neither can we see progress on a future settlement without their agreement to this condition." (Prime Minister's Office)


ISRAEL’S DUBIOUS IRISH VISITOR. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams recently journeyed to "Palestine," there to meet and make friends with Fatah and Hamas party members. It reconnected Sinn Fein with its revolutionary Marxist roots, reminding the party faithful of its proud history of military collaboration with those intent on the destruction of the Jewish state. Sinn Fein's military wing, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, was funded by the Libyan government and shared training facilities with the Palestine Liberation Organization. During the recent Gaza conflict, Sinn Fein was unapologetic in calling for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli goods and services. This is in stark and sad contrast to the com radeship between Zionists and the founders of the Irish nationalist movement. Eamon de Valera, a leader of the Easter 1916 "rebellion" against British rule, Sinn Fein's president from 1917 to 1926 and later President of the Irish Republic, was actually hidden from his British pursuers in Dublin by Yitzhak Herzog, later the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, who had himself supported Irish independence. (Daily Alert /Jewish Chronicle-UK)


HOLY LAND HIKES REVEAL ISRAEL’S BEAUTY. The trail up Mount Tabor climbs through a pine forest carpeted with wildflowers, the call to prayer from an Arab village below mingling with the echoes of church bells from a monastery at the summit. To hike through the Holy Land is to wander a landscape of astonishing natural beauty. From the 1,311 foot summit, the rolling green hills and farmsteads of northern Israel stretch off toward the grey mountains of Syria and Lebanon, a landscape steeped in history. It was here that the Jewish prophetess Deborah inspired the defeat of a Canaanite army in the Book of Judges. "It's amazing to be hiking out here and someone takes out a Bible and says 'This happened right here'," said Warren Zauer, who moved to Israel from Australia. "For a lot of Israelis hiking around the country is a mitzvah, it's like an obligation," said Jerry Unterman, an American-born Jewish Studies professor. "It goes all the way back to Abraham. God told Abraham: 'Walk the land.'" The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel has clearly marked thousands of miles of trails and produced accurate maps. The Israel Trail, completed in 1995, runs nearly the entire length of the country north to south - 580 miles, 933 km. - takes around six weeks to complete, and draws thousands of walkers each year. (DAILY ALERT / AFP)


DOVISH PERES THREATENS ISRAELI ISRAELI STRIKE ON IRAN. Israeli President Shimon Peres issued an unusually aggressive threat to strike Iran if Tehran fail to respond positively to US President Barack Obama's offer to hold bilateral talks over the Islamic Republic's defiant nuclear program. Peres said he hopes Obama is able to work the matter out diplomatically, but that if all else fails, Israel will strike at the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He refused to go into detail about specific plans to carry out an air raid on Iran's nuclear facilities, but reports over the past two years indicate that Israel has been practicing such a raid for some time. In related news, the New York Police Department confirmed to local Jewish leaders last week that it has put plans in place to secure and protect Jewish community centres and synagogues against Muslims in case Israel decides to bomb Iran. (ISRAEL TODAY)


IDF TIGHTENS BORDERS WITH EGYPT AND JORDAN The IDF has beefed up forces along Israel's borders with Egypt and Jordan out of concern that terror cells currently operating in the Sinai Peninsula will infiltrate into Israel, defence officials said Wednesday. Special forces were deployed along the borders and were laying ambushes to catch terror cells that might try to infiltrate into Israel and particularly Eilat. Egypt has also beefed up its forces along the border with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)


HAMAS NEVER ACCEPTED A TWO-STATE SOLUTION. In a Monday op-ed in the New York Times, Paul McGeough wrote: "Over the long term, Hamas accepts the concept of two states in the Levant, which arguably puts [Hamas leader Khalid] Meshaal's terrorist movement closer to Washington than Netanyahu is - he now proposes only 'economic peace' between Jews and Palestinians." I'm mystified as to what led McGeough to conclude that Hamas accepts the two-state solution over the long term, or what led the Times' editors to let this factually incorrect line run. Hamas has indicated support for a long-term cease-fire with Israel, but at every turn has made clear that its ultimate goal is conquest of all of historic Palestine, even if it takes 100 years. ; Netanyahu didn't try to kill Meshaal in the 1990s because he didn't like Meshaal; he did so because Meshaal was the leader of a terrorist group carrying out suicide bombings in Israeli malls, buses and hotels. Meshaal's main objection to Netanyahu isn't personal; it's because he's the leader of an entity, Israel that he's sworn to destroy. (DAILY ALERT / JTA)


JERUSALEM MAYOR: IF ARABS CAN LIVE IN JEWISH NEIGHBOURHOODS WHY CAN’T JEWS LIVE IN ARAB NEIGHBOURHOODS? During Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's recent visit to the U.S., Maariv headlined a story: "Barkat Enables Jewish Building in Eastern Jerusalem." After hearing about it, the mayor didn't quite understand the controversy. From his perspective, Jews are permitted to live in any section of Jerusalem. "The Israel Supreme Court has ruled that in the State of Israel and in Jerusalem in particular, Arabs may live in Jewish neighborhoods," he said last week. "Arabs live in the [Jewish] French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem and the Supreme Court approved this. I'm adopting the perspective of the Supreme Court. Jews are also allowed to live in any part of the city, including the eastern part. It is their democratic, Jewish, and ideological right to live wherever th ey want." Mayor Barkat heads a coalition that includes 30 of the 31 members of the Jerusalem City Council. (DAILY ALERT - Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 8Apr09)


PÅ PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD PROTESTS TORONTO EXHIBIT OF DEAD SEA SCROLLS. Beginning in June, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto will host a six-month exhibit of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, organized in co-operation with the Israel Antiquities Authority. But top Palestinian officials this week declared the exhibit a violation of international law and called on Canada to cancel the show. A letter of protest sent this week to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was signed by Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Written mainly in Hebrew, and partly in Aramaic and Greek, the scrolls include about 200 portions of the Jewish Bible. (DAILY ALERT - Toronto Star)


The next edition of ’Daily Journal’ will be posted on Tuesday 14th of April, 2009.


THE SETTLEMENT FREEZE FALLACY. Will Israel's new government face American demands for a settlement freeze? If so, we are headed for a needless confrontation with the Netanyahu cabinet. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live beyond the "green line." Those settlements exist, and there is no point in debating whether it was right to build them. President Bush largely resolved the issue of the major settlement blocs in a 2004 letter to Sharon. He stated a truth that Palestinians have come to recognize: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Most settlement activity is in those major blocs that it is widely understood Israel will keep. Those settlements are becoming more populated, not geographically larger. Most settlement expansion occurs in ways that do not much affect Palestinian life. Settlement activity is not diminishing the territory of a future Palestinian entity. In fact, the emphasis on a "settlement freeze" draws attention from the progress that's needed to lay the foundation for full Palestinian self-rule - building a thriving economy and fighting terrorism through reliable security forces. The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the U.S. and Israel's new government. That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it. The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser overseeing Near East and North African affairs in the George W. Bush administration. (Washington Post)


ARAB LEAGUE’S SELECTIVE SILENCE. At last week's Arab League summit in Qatar, Arab leaders disagreed so profoundly on how to deal with Iran that they passed over this key question in silence. But they did find common ground on condemning the indictment of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur. They expressed solidarity with Bashir and rejected what Syria's President Bashar Assad called the court's "fabricated accusations," while four million Muslim men, women, and children in Darfur were at risk of perishing because the Sudanese tyrant chased international aid organizations from the region. (DAILY ALERT / Boston Globe)


WHAT TO SPEAK WITH HAMAS ABOUT. Recently, more and more voices have been heard saying that the only way to reach an Israeli-Palestinian accord is by talking to Hamas. The question is what to talk to Hamas about. I believe we must talk to Hamas about what is written in their founding covenant. The prologue to the covenant states that Hamas' aim is a war - not against Israel or Zionism but against the Jewish people, since the Jews, and not merely Israel and Zionism, are the enemies of Islam. Compared with what is written in the Hamas covenant, Austria's Joerg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France are moderates. If a movement like this were to come out of Europe, no one would even imagine proposing that negotiations be held with it. (Ha'aretz)


STUDY CITES DRAMATIC RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN EUROPE. The number of anti-Semitic incidences in Europe in the first three months of this year exceeds the total number of such occurrences during all of 2008, according to a report issued by the European Jewish Congress. The report cites the reaction to January's IDF operation in Gaza as one of the key triggers of anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish communities in Europe. "Public opinion links Israel with the local Jewish community, which turns us into enemies," said Rony Smolar, the head of the Jewish community in Finland. (Ha'aretz)


HAMAS POLICEMEN IN GAZA DOUBLED AS TERRORISTS. Hamas and human rights organizations often include policemen and other internal security servicemen killed during the Gaza operation in the civilian death toll, though the claim has no factual basis. An in-depth examination of Hamas-associated media shows that many casualties portrayed as policemen were at the same time operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing. The Hamas police published a list of 232 internal security servicemen killed in the operation. There was no clear distinction between internal security servicemen and Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives. (DAILY ALLERT - Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)


THE ROADMAP LEADS TO A TWO-STATE SOLUTION. Lieberman intends to "act exactly" according to the letter of the Roadmap. "I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses...and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement.... We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four - dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority....We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side." Given that the formal name of the Roadmap is "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," I confess myself puzzled by the news reports declaring that Lieberman has pronounced the end of the two-state solution. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (FrontPageMagazine- DAILY ALERT)


The next edition of ’Daily Journal’ will be posted on Friday 3rd of April, 2009.


DISTANCING AMERICA FROM ISRAEL. With Benjamin Netanyahu set to be sworn in as Israel's prime minister, Western capitals are in a dither about the irrelevant question of Israel's commitment to the vaunted "two-state solution." The "solution" - based on President George W. Bush's vision of a democratic Palestine living peacefully next door to Israel - has no relevance to the world as it is now: Palestine is further from developing a viable democracy than it was when W. set forth the idea. Questions of Netanyahu's commitment to the idea are just a new club for those in Washington who think that distancing America from Israel will somehow solve U.S. problems with the larger Muslim world. EU leaders last week announced that Israel's hopes of an upgrade in economic and diplomatic ties with the EU a re all but doomed unless the new Jerusalem government declares support for the two-state solution. What makes all this absurd, of course, is that Israel isn't the problem. The outgoing Israeli government was fully committed to Bush's vision. Livni, its foreign minister, endlessly negotiated with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to establish a Palestinian state. But Abbas' hold on power has been failing fast, while the absolutists of Hamas - who won't even pretend to want peace with Israel - are on the rise. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government has "gone further in the peace negotiations than any previous government." But the Palestinian leadership's "weakness and lack of courage" derailed the negotiations. (New York Post)


AHMADINEJAD, ASSAD BELIEVE BALANCE OF POWER TURNING AGAINST ISRAEL. The top leaders of Syria and Iran believe that the regional balance of power is tilting in favour of the Muslim nations at Israel's expense. In a telephone conversation, the Iranian and Syrian presidents said Israel and its allies are getting "weaker" and instead the tide is turning in favour of regional Muslim nations, the Iranian Presidential Office said on Friday. According to Mehr News Agency, President Ahmadinejad said, "the enemies of regional peace are losing ground, but the formidable alliance of friendly countries like Iran and Syria is getting more powerful." Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad also insisted that regional developments "are turning in favour of Muslim countries and to the detriment of the Zionist regime and its allies." (DAILY ALERT - KUNA-Kuwait)


WHAT THE KORAN SAYS ABOUT THE LAND OF ISRAEL. The foundation text of Islam, the Koran, recognizes the special link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Cairo-trained British imam Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Husseini says, "You will find very clearly that the traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. There is no Islamic counterclaim to the land anywhere in the traditional corpus of commentary." One classic commentator of the Koran, Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838-923), describes the verse in the Koran (5:21), "O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has decreed for you," as "a narrative from God...concerning the saying of Moses...to his community from among t he children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the Holy Land." "No fundamentalist, no matter how hard they try, can overrule the existing tradition to say there is, in fact, an Islamic counterclaim to Eretz Yisrael," Dr. Al-Husseini says. (Jewish Chronicle-Uk / DAILY ALERT)


SOLDIERS TELL OF ASSISTING PALESTINIANS IN GAZA. Israeli soldiers have described the humane measures taken by the army to assist Palestinian civilians during Israel's Gaza operation. Nina Klevipsky, 24, who served as a supervisor in a Home Front Command medical control room, helped coordinate several airlifts of wounded Palestinian civilians to Israeli hospitals during the operation. She added that she viewed with skepticism the recent allegations of the targeting of civilians by IDF soldiers. On Wednesday, an IDF source said the claims had been found to be categorically untrue by official army investigations which would soon be released to the public. "I did not believe a word of these accounts. I know the soldiers who go in. I know how they operate, what values they received at home and in the army. There is no way such orders could have gone out," Klevispsky said. "I have full faith in the army. I do a month of reserves every year. If for a second I thought these were the procedures, I would not show up to serve. I serve in a moral army - my job is to save lives, not harm them," she added. Amir Golan, a 25-year-old medic who entered Gaza with his reserve Givati unit during the incursion, said there was never any hostility towards Palestinian civilians among members of his unit. "I think the general spirit was that we were there to protect our homes from rocket fire," he said. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL’S LONG ARM. Israel does not take official responsibility for operations deep in enemy territory, yet if they are attributed to Israel by the international media it responds with silence and a wink. This was the case with the bombing of the Syrian reactor in September 2007 and with the "strange accident" at a Syrian missile factory. The same happened when Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh died and when a Syrian general named Suleiman, who was involved in the nuclear project and in coordination with Iran and Hizbullah, was mysteriously assassinated. Sudan has become one of the favourite smuggling routes for Iranian intelligence, with arms from Revolutionary Guard bases going through Sudan to Egypt and then reaching Gaza. (Ynet News)


NETANYAHU WILL PUSH FOR ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN PEACE. Israel's incoming Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday promised to resume peace talks with the Palestinians after he takes office, saying his government will be a "partner for peace." Netanyahu said that peace is a "common and enduring goal for all Israelis and Israeli governments, mine included. This means I will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority for peace." "I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security, for the rapid development of the Palestinian economy," he said. Netanyahu said his economic development plan for the Palestinians is not a substitute for political negotiations. "It's a complement to them," he said, calling a strong economy a "strong foundation for peace." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


LAND OF OPPORTUNITY. Israel is home to 4,000 high-tech companies and more than 100 venture-capital funds. Innovations developed in the country include the Pentium chip (Intel), voicemail (Comverse), instant messaging (Mirabilis, Ubique), firewalls (Checkpoint) and the "video pill," which allows doctors to study your insides without the need for invasive surgery. Almost 70 Israeli companies are traded on NASDAQ. Israel has the world's highest ratio of PhDs per capita, the highest ratio of engineers and scientists and some of the world's best research universities. Israel's main qualification for entrepreneurialism is its status as an embattled Jewish state in a sea of Arab hostility. The Israeli army not only works hard to keep the country at the cutting edge of technology, it also trains young Israelis in the virtues of teamwork and improvisation. It is strikingly common for young Israelis to start businesses with friends that they met in the army. Add to that a high tolerance of risk, born of a long history and an ever-present danger of attack, and you have the makings of an entrepreneurial firecracker. (DAILY ALERT - Economist-UK)


DURBAN II: NEW STRATEGY NEEDED.Faced with a growing number of countries declaring they would not participate in another anti-Semitic conference, the organizers of the UN's controversial Durban Review Conference scheduled for April 21 in Geneva suddenly changed the text. The hate language, attacks on Israel, and attempts to restrict free speech and give Islam a preferred status were removed. Should governments now agree to participate on the basis of the revised document? Or is this a diplomatic sleight of hand - a temporary change in language used to bring an end to the revolt of the democratic delegations? When the conference begins, Libya and Iran, with the support of Egypt, Syria, Cuba, and the rest, are expected to use their majority to restore terms like "apartheid" and Israeli "genocide." Western leaders who are incli ned to declare victory and participate in the conference must first insure that, at the first sign of restoring the hate-filled language, they will all walk out together, including every member of the European Union. The writer is the executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the political science department at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post – DAILY ALERT)


MAYOR’S VISION OF A UNIFIED JERUSALEM. Nir Barkat, elected three months ago as mayor of Jerusalem, is a self-made high-tech millionaire who refuses a salary from the city. Barkat will explain his ideas for Jerusalem during an eight-day tour of half a dozen U.S. cities, starting in Florida on Monday. For him, Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and indivisible capital. All religions must be free to worship in it, but it must never be divided. When asked his view of dividing the city so that it can serve as the capital of both Israel and a future state of Palestine, he says, "Like in business, sometimes there is one clear, simple solution to a big problem that seems obvious to everyone and is absolutely wrong." (New York Times)


‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’JUSTICE ON GAZA. On March 16, 2009, a group of 16 self-described experts on "international justice and reconciliation of conflict" called for the establishment of "a UN Commission" to conduct an "independent and impartial investigation" of war crime allegations stemming from the Gaza conflict. Only a group as skewed against Israel as this one is would regard the UN as capable of conducting an "independent and impartial investigation" of anything involving Israel. No commission could credibly investigate Israel's actions unless it first set out with clarity what it believes Israel should have done and could have done under international law to prevent Hamas rockets from continuing to target a million Israeli civilians. Let the international community, led by the so-called experts who signed this letter, first decide what the appropriate response is for democracies faced with attacks on its civilians by terrorists who hide behind their own civilians. Only after it is first decided, in a neutral manner, what rules of self-defence should apply to all democracies faced with terrorism by those who hide behind civilians, could an independent body then credibly apply these standards to the actions of a particular country. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINIAN DECISION TO CUT TREATMENT IN ISRAELI HOSPITALS ENDANGERS PATIENTS. The Palestinian government, angered by Israel's offensive against Gaza militants, decided in January to stop paying Israeli hospitals to treat Palestinian patients, a decision that has cut hundreds of people off from proper medical care. For years, Palestinians and patients from the wider Arab world have regularly been referred to hospitals in Israel for diseases their own hospitals could not treat. Israel promotes its treatment of Palestinians and employment of Arab doctors as a small beacon of coexistence. Fathi Abu Moughli, the Palestinian minister of health, acknowledged that the edict aimed to deny Israel a "propaganda" campaign that improves its world image. But Palestinian patients and their Israeli doctors say the measure puts hundreds at risk. "There are kids who simply disappeared in the middle of chemotherapy," said Dr. Amos Toren, head of Sheba Medical Center's Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department. "As far as they are concerned, it's a death sentence." (AP/DAILY ALERT)


DAHLAN: FATAH NEVER RECOGNIZED ISRAEL. Former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan, in an interview on the PA's Palestine TV on Tuesday, called on Hamas not to recognize Israel's right to exist, pointing out that Fatah had never recognized it. Dahlan was recently appointed as a special adviser to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. "For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist," Dahlan said. "We acknowledge that the PLO did recognize Israel's right to exist, but we [in Fatah] are not bound by it." Dahlan also boasted that "the Palestinian Authority under [Arafat] targeted collaborators [with Israel] ten times more than Hamas." (Jerusalem Post)


BIN LADEN CALLS FOR JIHAD TO ’LIBERATE’ JORDAN AND PALESTINE. In a recording posted on Islamist websites Saturday entitled "Practical steps to liberate Palestine," al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said, "The valuable and rare opportunity for those who sincerely want to free (Jerusalem) is to support the mujahideen in Iraq with everything they need to free the country." He added that Jordan would be the next country to be liberated, giving militants access to the West Bank. He also charged that "some Arab leaders have plotted with the Zionist-crusader coalition against our (Muslim) people, these (Arab countries) the United States calls the moderate states." (Reuters)


CALLS IN EGYPT TO REVIEW OR ABOLISH PEACE TREATY WITH ISRAEL. Anti-Israel activists in Egypt are demanding to review or even abolish the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. "In view of the enormous changes which have occurred over the past 30 years, Egypt has the right under international law to demand the treaty be revised," said Hazem Allam, a professor of international law at Ain Shams University in Cairo. In his opinion, one clause for revision is the one restricting the level of the Egyptian military in Sinai. "Egypt can demand an increased military and police presence in Sinai to protect its land," argued Allam. Helmi Shaarawi, who heads the Center of Arab and African Research at Cairo University, favors suspension of the treaty. In fact, Egyptian courts are presently hearing five lawsuits p ushing for scrapping the treaty with Israel. "All the options should be considered in order to ensure that this treaty will not continue to harm Egypt's interests," said Shaarawi. (Gulf News-UAE / DAILY ALERT)


RUSSIAN ANALYST WARNS OF IRAN MISSILE AND NUCLEAR THREAT. Russia and the West would be making a big mistake if they ignored or underestimated the potential missile and nuclear threat coming from Iran, a Russian military expert said on Thursday. "Iran is actively working on a missile development program....They will most likely be able to threaten the whole of Europe," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces. "Iran has long abandoned outdated missile technologies and is capable of producing sophisticated missile systems," Dvorkin said. Commenting on the Iranian nuclear program, Dvorkin said, "The real threat is that Iran, which is already ignoring all resolutions and sanctions issued by the UN Security Council, will be practically 'untouchable' after acquiring nuclear-power status, and will be able to expand its support of terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hizbullah." (RIA Novosti-Russia / DAILY ALERT)


ISRAEL SAYS NUCLEAR-FREE MIDDLE EAST NEEDS PEACE FIRST. Meir Itzhaki, the Israeli representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said Thursday that ongoing threats against his country, and the fact that states were actively engaged in proliferation and support of terrorism, did not allow for the establishment at this time of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. While Israel supported the idea of a non-conventional weapons-free region "eventually...we would need peace, reconciliation and the recognition of every state's right to live in peace," he said. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur / DAILY ALERT)


HISTORY’S OLDEST HATRED. Anti-Semitism is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" was coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred - though hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with being Semitic. In their classic study of anti-Semitism, Why the Jews?, Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager write: "Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as 'racists.' Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless cosmopolitans and ethnic chauvinists. Jews who assimilate have been called a 'fifth column,' while those who stay together spark hatred for remaining separate." Many Jews are no saints, but the paranoid frenzy that is anti-Semitism is not explained by what Jews do, but by what they are. They are the object of anti-Semitism, not its cause. (Boston Globe / DAILY ALERT)


IRAN: DRONES DISRUPTED SATELLITE LAUNCH. Hostile unmanned aerial vehicles overflew Iran last month and disrupted the communications systems at the launch site of a missile carrying Iran's first satellite to space, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said that the disruptions caused a delay of the launch for several hours as the drones flew at very high altitude and used sophisticated electronic equipment to jam ground-based systems. Meir Javedanfar, an expert on Iran, said Monday, "The intelligence war against Iran is intensifying and becoming more public. It seems that the aim is not only to foil Iran's military development but also to embarrass the leadership." (Ha'aretz)


DIASPORA JEWS LEARN IN ISRAEL HOW TO PROTECT COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS. Representatives of Jewish communities throughout the world are coming to Israel for courses in security to learn how to protect synagogues and schools, in the wake of a rise in anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews in many places. Another course in public institution security concluded two weeks ago, attended by tens of representatives of Jewish communities. A European Jewish official explained that the course did not involve self-defence or weapons training, but rather the internal security of institutions, checking identification papers, and learning about types of threats. The principal problem is not with embassies or organizations such as the Jewish Agency and the JDC, which have advanced security systems, but with t he smaller organizations. (Maariv-Hebrew)


CAN WE GIVE TO GAZA WITHOUT GIVING TO HAMAS? If stuffing billions worth of aid into the Palestinian territories could end Islamist terrorism out of Gaza, it might be worth the money. The broad aim of the donors' conference in Sharm el-Sheikh was to bypass the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who control Gaza, and shovel resources for strictly humanitarian uses into the enclave "in coordination with" the Palestinian Authority, run by Fatah, Hamas' rival, based in the West Bank. This is despite a record which suggests that decades of aid to the Palestinians have fostered not peace but continuing violence. The likelier scenario is that this new multibillion-dollar wave of aid will boost Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and hostile in its principles to Western democracy. As long as Gaza is controlled by Hama s, any aid funneled into the enclave is one dollar less that Hamas might be impelled to spend on upkeep of its turf, and one dollar more available for terrorist activities. The writer is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Forbes /DAILY ALERT)


U.S. RIGHTS REPORT NAMES AND SHAMES MIDEAST STATES The U.S. State Department's human rights report for 2008, released Wednesday, singled out Egypt, Iran, Libya and Syria in the Middle East for jailing rights activists because of their beliefs. "Along with greater access to information through the Internet and satellite television came greater restrictions on media, including Internet bloggers," the report said, naming Egypt and Iran. The report said Iran also intensified its crackdown on dissent "through arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and secret trials that occasionally end in executions." In addition, "Iranian women's rights activists were harassed, abused, arrested, and accused of 'endangering national security' for participating in peaceful protests and demanding equal treatment under Iranian law." Nations continued to restrict religious freedoms, the report said, citing members of the Bahai faith detained in Iran and Saudi Arabia barring public worship other than Sunni Islam. Furthermore, Syria in 2008 "continued to violate citizens' privacy rights and to impose significant restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association, in an atmosphere of government impunity and corruption." (AFP/ DAILY ALERT)


EU COUNTRIES SIDE WITH U.S., ISRAEL AND DURBAN II. EU countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a UN conference on racism. Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva: "The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us." References to Israel in the current draft conclusion for the so-called Durban II conference are unacceptable, Verhagen said. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy voiced similar concerns. (AP/DAILY ALERT)


OBAMA’S INTELLIGENCE PICK LINKED TO SAUDI ARABIA. The Obama administration on Thursday named as chairman of the National Intelligence Council a veteran former diplomat who heads a think tank that has received major financing from Saudi Arabia. Chas W. Freeman Jr. served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War. Since 1997, Freeman has been president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a Washington think tank. In 2007, he accepted a $1 million donation from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. MEPC Vice President Anne Joyce said the council aims to further U.S.-Arab relations and widen the range of debate in Washington from what the group sees as an excessively pro-Israel focus. In his new position Freeman will oversee production of nation al intelligence estimates. (Washington Times)


CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE APOINTED AS U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COUNCIL CHAIRMAN National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair announced Thursday he had selected Chas Freeman to head his council of advisers, deflecting the concerns of Israel supporters who question whether Freeman will undermine U.S. policy in the Mideast. Statements that Freeman made over the last three decades on U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East and Iran's threat to the international community have prompted some to question his objectivity in a role that requires it. For example, in October 2007, Freeman said the U.S. has "abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel's efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations." (FOX News/ DAILY ALERT)


U.S. TO BOYCOTT ‘DURBAN II’ UN RACISM CONFERENCE. The Obama administration said Friday that the U.S. will boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel. The conference is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 meeting in the South African city of Durban. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism - the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state - to racism. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the closing statement under consideration mirrored the 2001 draft and was unacceptable. "As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, nor will we participate in a conference based on this text." At the same time, he said the U.S. would participate as an observer in meetings of the UN Human Rights Council, a body that was shunned by the Bush administration for anti-Israel statements and failing to act on abuses in Sudan and other states. (AP/Washington Post)


DID ISRAEL’S GAZA OFFENSIVE ACHIEVE ITS GOAL? Three rockets fell last Thursday in the area around Gaza, reminders that Israel is still far from its declared goal in its Gaza operation. If Israel can enshrine the operation in a long-term agreement, the war will be remembered as a success. But fears are mounting that the operation's military achievements are dissipating. Because in Gaza the enemy was less determined than in Lebanon, Israel's move first appeared to be a victory. Only when the IDF left could the results of the war be seen as limited, with almost daily attacks near the fence, a continuing "drizzle" of rockets and information on renewed arms smuggling. Hamas is still waiting for another crowning achievement: if abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is released for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. (Ha'aretz)


A SOLAR DREAM FROM ISRAELI KIBBUTZIM. With both sun and land in abundance, a band of new-age socialists envisages turning the desert into a vast solar power plant. The first 5-megawatt field at Kibbutz Ketura is expected to be up and running by early next year. "Within five years we'll have 200 megawatts of photovoltaic fields on more than a dozen kibbutzim in southern Israel," predicts Yosef Abramowitz, president and founder of Arava Power Co. Israel's Defense Ministry is becoming a proponent of alternative energy partly because the recent military operations in Gaza underscored the vulnerability of Israel's large power plants, two of which were in range of Hamas rockets. Solar isn't the only alternative energy being considered. Ketura began growing algae for use as a food additive and potential fuel source. The kibbutz has signed an agreement with Boston-based GreenFuel Technologies to develop algae strains for use in producing biofuel. (BusinessWeek / DAILY ALERT)


IRAN’S UNCIVIL TREATMENT OF ITS JEWISH CITIZENS. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen believes the 25,000 Jews remaining in Iran are living happily and securely under the most repressive and anti-Semitic regime in the world. The State Department's most recent annual report on international religious freedom paints a picture of Jewish life in Iran that is at odds with Cohen's description. The report says Iran's Jews live in "a threatening atmosphere" and suffer "officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education and housing." Government pressure resulted in the shutdown of the Jewish community's newspaper, and "officially sanctioned anti-Semitic propaganda" permeates "official statements, media outlets, publications and books." Three-quarters of Iran's Jews have emigrated in t he 30 years since the Khomeini revolution. The writer is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. (Jerusalem Post)


LIBYA’S QADAFI SAYS ISRAEL BEHIND DARFUR WAR Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the current African Union president, on Tuesday accused "foreign forces" including Israel of being behind the Darfur conflict. Gaddafi urged the International Criminal Court to stop its proceedings against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over allegations that he masterminded genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. "We discovered that some of the main leaders of the Darfur rebels have opened offices in Tel Aviv and hold meetings with the military there," Gaddafi said, according to the Libyan state news agency Jana. (Reuters / Daily Alert)


THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS. As a Middle East way station for terrorists, Syria can't be ignored. Candidate Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to engage Syria in contrast to President Bush's attempt to isolate it. Now a limited engagement has begun as Obama gave a nod of approval for trips last week to Syria by the heads of the Senate and House foreign affairs committees. The U.S. has tried soft diplomacy before with Syria, under President Clinton and pre-9/11 Bush. Both attempts revealed a Damascus unwilling to give up ties with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah, or to end its dark influence in Lebanon. The Assad regime, based on the rule of the minority Alawite tribe, needs the economic benefits of those ties and a perception of external threats to control internal dissent. (Christian Science Monitor / Daily Alert)


DURBAN II DRAFT DOCUMENT ‘GETTING WORSE’. The draft document for the UN anti-racism conference, dubbed Durban II, is problematic both for Israel and Western democracies in general, Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Roni Leshno Yaar said Sunday. The initial draft of the Durban II text, posted on the UN Web site, speaks of "laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territories" and a "contemporary form of apartheid." In the last week, the Palestinians tried to introduce language into the document regarding the 2004 advisory ruling by the International Court of Justice at The Hague against the security barrier, said Leshno Yaar. The Americans were present but did not appear to have made improvement in the document, which he said "is getting worse every day." (Jerusalem Post)


SYRIA GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER? The investigation into the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri is nearing its end and a trial in international court looms. Insiders say the trail of evidence leads, ultimately, to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But the investigators now fear that Western concerns about regional stability will prevent the naming of the biggest names. The bomb that killed Hariri killed 21 people and injured 220 more. It set dozens of cars on fire and knocked down several buildings. A report to the UN about the assassination revealed that three months before Hariri's death, his security detail had been mysteriously reduced from 40 to eight; that six anonymously purchased mobile phones were used on the day of the attack to keep the bomber informed of Hariri's movements and to provide intelligence on the three possible routes that Hariri could take from the parliament building to his home; that the suicide truck moved into position one minute and 49 seconds before Hariri's convoy passed by; and that the truck itself had been stolen in 2004 in Sagamihara City, Japan. The killers appeared to be sophisticated, politically connected, and well-funded: clearly this was not the work of a lone extremist or a fringe group. It bore the hallmarks of a government-sponsored assassination. (Atlantic Monthly / DAILY ALERT)


ONE MONTH AFTER THE GAZA WAR. A month after the Gaza war, Palestinians have fired nearly 50 rockets and mortars at civilian targets in the Gaza periphery. Defence Minister Ehud Barak says Hamas took a heavy beating in the war and that the Gaza-Israel border is on the verge of a long period of quiet. He sees the daily dribble of rocket fire as a pathetic attempt by Hamas to show it's still around, while Hamas keeps saying how close the sides are to a new 18-month lull. The view in the Israeli Cabinet and among the top brass of the Israel Defence Forces is that the war transformed Israeli deterrence vis-à-vis Hamas and in the region as a whole. In the war, Hamas' elaborate defence strategy against an Israeli incursion collapsed. The web of tunnels and booby-trapped buildings proved ineffectual, and in the fighting many Hamas fighters and field commanders were killed with minimal Israeli losses. The IDF estimate is that Hamas needs a long period of quiet to rebuild devastated military and civilian infrastructures. (JTA/DAILY ALERT)


LET’S SEE THE ’CRITICISM’ OF ISRAEL FOR THE ANTI-SEMITISM IT REALLY IS. The hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, campuses, newspapers, radios and televisions is a discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in - the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, modernity of outlook, tolerance, and truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue. But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. In the matter of Israel and the Palestinians, England has been heading towards a dictatorship of the one-minded for a long time; we seem now to have attained it. &nbs p; What do we think we are doing when we call the Israelis Nazis and liken Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto? In the early 1940s some 100,000 Jews and Romanis died of engineered starvation and disease in the Warsaw Ghetto, another quarter of a million were transported to the death camps. Don't mistake me: every Palestinian killed in Gaza is a Palestinian too many, but there is not the remotest similarity, either in intention or in deed, between Gaza and Warsaw. Berating Jews with their own history is the latest species of Holocaust denial. Anyone with scant knowledge of the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations would assume that Jews descended on the country as from a clear blue sky; that they had no prior association with the land other than in religious fantasy and through some scarce remembered genealogical affiliation. They make little or nothing of the Jews' unbroken connection with the country going back to the Arab conquest more than a thousand year s before, the piety felt for the land, or the waves of idealistic immigration which long predated the post-Holocaust influx. (Independent-UK/ Daily Alert)


LIVNI TO US: DON’T PARTICIPATE IN ‘DURBAN II’. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told visiting leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday that Israel must give up part of its land "in order to remain a Jewish and democratic state." "Israel is fighting for existence not only because it's the only democracy in the Middle East, but also because it's the only Jewish state in the world." She also said Israel must take the initiative and come forward with its own peace plan to head off international programs. "Any plan put on the table will not be in our interest," she said. She appealed to the U.S. not to participate in the UN-sponsored Durban II anti-racism conference, set to be held in Geneva this April, which is expected to be an anti-Israel forum. "Israel expects the free world not to participate in Durban II," she said. The Conference of Presidents comprises 51 member organizations representing virtually all political and religious streams of America Jewry; from the Orthodox Union to the Union of Reform Judaism, as well as the American Friends of Likud and the local branches of Peace Now. (Ha'aretz)


OLMERT LEGT GRUNDSTEIN FÜR NEUE ORTSCHAFTEN IM SÜDEN. Ministerpräsident Ehud Olmert flog gestern mit einem Hubschrauber der Luftwaffe in den Süden Israels, um dort das Gebiet zu besuchen, wo neue Ortschaften für die aus dem Gazastreifen und Nordsamaria evakuierten Siedler errichtet werden sollen. Dort legte er für das erste Haus, das gebaut werden wird, einen Grundstein. Der Flug war wegen des stürmischen Wetters unangenehm, denn der Hubschrauber und dessen Passagiere wurden von starken Winden ordentlich durchgeschüttelt, sodass viele der Journalisten und Begleiter Olmerts sich übergaben. Der einzige der den Flug als recht gut empfand, war Olmert selbst, dem trotz Durchgeschütteltwerden nicht übel geworden war. (Israel Heute)


IDF: ONLY 3 – NOT 40 – NONCOMBATANTS KILLED NEAR UN SCHOOL DURING GAZA WAR. The most emblematic distortion of the death toll in the Gaza war relates to the deaths near the UN school in Jabalya on Jan. 6. Palestinian medical officials claimed that some 40 Palestinians, many of them women and children, were killed at the school by IDF shells. These claims sparked condemnation from the UN, widespread allegations of a "massacre" against Israel and escalated international political demands for an urgent end to the fighting. The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) reported on Sunday, after careful checking, that the Palestinian death toll in that incident - which involved Israel returning fire against Hamas gunmen outside the school fac ility - caused 12 fatalities, nine gunmen and three noncombatants. (Jerusalem Post)


POPE TELLS JEWS HOLOCAUST DENIAL IS ‘INTOLERABLE’. Pope Benedict, trying to defuse a controversy over a bishop who denies the Holocaust, said Thursday in Vatican City that "any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable," especially if it comes from a clergyman. The pope told Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: "The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah (Holocaust) was a crime against humanity. This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures." The pope also confirmed that he was planning to visit Israel, the first visit by a pope since John Paul visited in 2000. (Reuters)


AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI: GAZA VICTORY OF PALESTINIANS AGAINST ISRAEL A ’MIRACLE’. "What really happened in Gaza was truly like a miracle," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, noted in a meeting with visiting Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdallah. The Supreme Leader again congratulated Palestinians on their victory over the Zionist regime's army. Khamenei went on to say that the Zionist regime's collapse has already begun. He reminded Palestinian resistance leaders that, as on the battleground, the Palestinians must insist on their political position to "force the enemy to retreat." He expressed hope for a complete liberation of Palestinian lands and said he "strongly believes that the final victory will come in the not-too-distant future" if the resistance continues at this pace. For his part, Ramadan Abdallah thanked Iran for its help to Pales tinians, especially during the recent war in Gaza. He said the victory over the Zionist regime's army was a "great strategic development" and promised "final victory" by the Palestinians. (DAILY ALERT: Tehran Times-Iran)


PALESTINIAN ACTIONS HAVE REDUCED ISRAELI SOCIETY’S HOPE FOR PEACE. On innumerable occasions over the last 15 years, since the signing of the Oslo accords, Israel has been warned by both the well-meaning and the patronizing that it had better watch its steps, lest it radicalize the Palestinians. What we didn't hear much of during this period were entreaties to the Palestinians not to take actions that would radicalize Israeli society, that would rob it of hope, that would push it to despair of ever reaching a peace agreement in the region. Palestinian suicide bombing attacks, rockets, and kidnapping of soldiers over the last 15 years have transformed Israeli society. The country has gone from believing in the 1990s that it had reached safe shores to believing in 2009 that no matter what it does - be it negotiating a peace deal based on ceding some 95% of the territories, or unilaterally evacuating settlements - it will not be accepted in the region. Everyone has been so concerned over the years about what reaction Israel's actions would generate among the Palestinians, that they overlooked the degree to which Palestinian and Israeli Arab actions have caused a reaction among the Israeli public. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINIANS STOP PAYING ISRAELI HOSPITALS FOR GAZA AND WEST BANK PATIENTS. The PA has stopped paying for scores of Palestinian patients being treated in Israeli hospitals. Palestinians whose children were being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem say they have been instructed by Palestinian health officials to place them in facilities in the West Bank, Jordan or Egypt. "We have been bombarded by frantic parents. This is a political decision taken on the backs of patients," said Dr. Michael Weintraub, director of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah. The Palestinian health minister, Fathi Abu Moghli, said he was examining the entire referral procedure because he had no desire to see the wounded from the Gaza war receive Israeli care. An Israeli clinic set up on the Israeli-Gaza border the day the war ended h as already closed since both Hamas and the PA boycotted it. Dr. Abu Moghli said that with 24 hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank, there was no reason for so many Palestinian patients to go to Israeli facilities, which he said were much more expensive and contributed to a culture of dependency. Dr. Weintraub said that if patients "live 10 minutes from Hadassah, they will do everything they can to get admitted. And we are happy to take them. There are no politics in our wards. Twenty percent of our patients are Palestinians, and we have one common enemy: cancer. The rest is immaterial." (New York Times – Daily Alert)


UN HALTS AID TO GAZA IN DISPUTE WITH HAMAS. The UN aid agency that serves more than half the residents of the Gaza Strip suspended humanitarian shipments on Friday, accusing Hamas of confiscating UN material for the second time in a week. The UN Relief and Works Agency said Hamas seized 10 trucks filled with rice and flour. Earlier in the week, the agency had accused Hamas of confiscating blankets and food from a UN warehouse. In a statement from New York, the world body said the suspension would remain in place "until the aid is returned and the agency is given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts." John Ging, head of the relief agency in Gaza, said Hamas' actions had "crossed a red line." "We're not going to bring aid in here and let it be hijacked by Hamas or anyone else." (Washington Post)


THERE MAY BE THE WILL BUT NOT NECESSARILY THE WAY. Sheridan Barack Obama will not end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Israel cannot do a deal unless a credible Palestinian leadership can put an end to serious terrorism, especially cross-border rocket launches, and will accept that such a settlement is the end of Palestinian territorial claims, and unless the Arab world recognizes Israel and makes peace with it as a Jewish state. These conditions cannot be met. In Israel's recent operation in Gaza, the cost in innocent Palestinian lives was heavy and tragic, and the fault for this rests entirely with Hamas, the terrorist death cult that rules Gaza. I do not believe a single story of Israeli war crimes or atrocities in Gaza. There is no evidence of any such story beyond Palestinian eye-witness accounts and on countless previous occasions these accounts have been fabricated. Remember the reports of the so-called massacre in the West Bank town of Jenin in 2002, reports buttressed by eye-witness accounts? Did you know that it never took place, as later international investigations acknowledged? Even in this recent Gaza operation, remember the outrage at the Israeli rocket fire on the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp? Now it turns out no Israeli munitions ever hit the school. The Israelis are among the most disciplined troops in the world and go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas has engaged in countless atrocities against Palestinians it doesn't like. It has murdered many Fatah men, but the media subjects this behaviour to very little scrutiny. Hamas is somehow accepted as just a force of nature, not held morally responsible for its actions. (The Australian)


FROM OUR FRIENDS BOAZ AND RINA – THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS. As I am sure you are all aware, Israel has general elections next week and they are probably the most significant elections yet. There are four major players in the elections, two major players Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu and two minor players Ehud Barak and Yvette Liebermann. For those who don’t know, I will give a brief summary of the people and their parties and then lets see what the implications are. Tzipi Livni – Kadima Party: Kadima (it means to go forward – they don’t say to where!) The Kadima party was born just prior to the disengagement from the Gaza Strip by Ariel Sharon. He bolted from the Likud party taking with him his choice of supporters. There were a fair amount that joined him from Labor as well. Kadima could be described as a centre right party. After Ehud Olmert’s financial debacle, Tzipi Livni was voted in as Kadima’s new leader under a shroud of doubt as to the legitimacy of the primary elections. Tzipi Livni has been involved in Israeli politics since 1999 prior to which she served for two years working for the Mossad. Kadima is generally considered a secular party. Her leadership qualities are good and she has proved to be a person able to stand up to international political pressure. She has a clean record in comparison to many other Israeli politicians currently being indicted here in Israel for corruption, bribery an other heinous crimes. She is pro a two state solution with the Palestinians as well as pro the division of Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu – Likud (it literally means consolidation – again they do not say of what!) Netanyahu has a long and checkered political career. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1988. The Likud has been the county’s leadership party more than any of the other parties. Likud is a traditional right wing party. They enjoy support from some of the religious organizations that are predominantly Zionist. Netanyahu’s biggest problem is his credibility with the Israeli public. He is a good public speaker in Hebrew as well as in English but fails to make good on just about anything he promises during elections. His stand on Jerusalem and the two state proposal are unknown. He has spoken out in favor of and against. It depends who he is speaking to. He would make a good foreign minister or minister of finance. When he last held the ministry of finance he introduced a lot of unpopular reforms that have proved to have been very good decisions for the country in the long run. Ehud Barak – Labor The labor party is all but washed up. They are loosing support daily in the polls as their frontline leadership is weak. Ehud Barak was previously Prime Minister and his lack of ability to deal with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat showed up his weakness as an international leader. His showing however in the latest Gaza operation showed him to be a fine military coordinator. Granted the chief of staff, Gabi Askenazi, is one of the finest military commanders Israel has ever had and he was spoon feeding Barak and the rest of the security cabinet. There are quite a few members of the Likud that could admirably fill Ehud Barak’s shoes should he not be required to continue his current position. The person that comes to mind as an admirable replacement is Moshe Alon of the Likud party. Labor is a secular party. They are strongly supported by the ‘peace now’ movement. They are very keen to surrender Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and probably also Tel Aviv in the hope of winning the hearts of the Palestinian people. The party is expected to loose a substantial amount of seats in the upcoming elections. They will loose to Kadima more than they would loose to Likud Yvette Liebermann – Israel our home Liebermann is an immigrant from Russia. He initial power base was built upon support from new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He is a very tough and uncompromising leader. Because of his hard line stance against appeasing the Arabs or conceding any land to them, he has come under a lot of criticism from other ends of the political spectrum. He holds strong Zionistic and social views. He has a lot of support from religious Zionists as well. A strange phenomena is happening in these last few days leading up to the elections. A huge number of supporters are leaving the Likud party and throwing their vote in with Liebermann. More and more Israelis are supporting Liebermann as he is not prepared to discuss the division of Jerusalem, two separate states or the return of any land. These upcoming elections are not being contested along traditional Israeli lines. There are in fact very few issues that are dividing the Israeli voting population. The biggest of these is the division of Jerusalem and the concession of land to the Palestinians. The other is security. Essentially the Chief of Staff is not a politically appointed position. He will stay regardless of who comes into power. It is not a secret that Ashkenazi, the incumbent Chief of Staff, does not get on well with Barak. If Likud win the elections, I would think that Alon (Likud) would replace Barak as minister of defense. If Kadima win Barak will probably stay. The race between Likud and Kadima is very close. Likud was well ahead in the polls until during the last week Netanyahu blundered with silly statements in a few of his public meetings. It has cost him dearly and he has lost a lot of votes to Liebermann. Liebermann is the trump card in these elections. He could be a good sobering influence in a Likud coalition even though he is perceived to be a hard liner. Should Kadima win the elections we can start counting down the days to the division of Jerusalem and the return of the Golan Heights. This is a situation that the average Israel is dreading. We cannot allow this to happen. As hard as it is for me to admit, I hope that the Likud win the election but at this stage it could go either way. A Likud government with a Liebermann, coalition and a few other minor parties to make up the majority needed is Israel’s best hope for stability. A centre right government however does have it’s own set of drawbacks! Our neighbors, in particular Lebanon and Syria are not going to take kindly to a rightest government but this is what the Israeli public appear to want. Needless to say, the Hamas will open up the front from Gaza with everything they have following the announcement of a Likud victory. We would have to be very naïve to think that Israel is in for an easy 2009! We value your prayers for the Land and for our safety. Many of you may not yet know to what an extent your faithfulness has impacted the lives of so many in the Land . Whether it be the prayers of the faithful or the financial help of the generous to help those in need, the Almighty sees and rewards you accordingly. Our prayer is that we would accept our elected leader as the Almighty’s appointed person for this time. We remain obedient and subservient to those that the Almighty has placed in authority over us.


TEACHING TOTS TERROR: HAMAS TV PROMOTES CULTURE OF DEATH FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN. Once more, Hamas' TV channel has perverted children's programming by sending a cuddly character to death as a recruiting tool for jihad. There is no mistaking the Al Aqsa TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" for "Sesame Street." Its death rate is stomach-turning. Farfur, the mouse, was beaten to death by an Israeli policeman. Nahul, the bee, died when an Israeli blockade prevented him from getting to the hospital. And now Assud, the bunny, who once vowed to "finish off the Jews and eat them," has died in the Israeli bombing of Gaza. After Assud dies, his friend Saraa wails: "Don't die, Assud. Victory is near. The soldiers of the Pioneers of Tomorrow will grow up. O, Palestine, we will liberate your soil, Allah willing. We will liberate it from the filth of the Zionists. We will purify it with the soldiers of the Pioneers of Tomorrow." What hope can there be as long as Hamas steeps the most innocent of the Palestinians in a culture of death? (New York Daily News)


SOUTH AFRICAN DOCK WORKERS WON’T UNLOAD ISRAELI GOODS. South African dock workers won't unload ships carrying goods from Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians, Randall Howard, general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, said Wednesday. In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: "If these people think that by refusing to unload shipments from Israel they are promoting peace, they should go back to school because they have misread the situation in the Middle East big time." (AP/Washington Post)


Hamas Chief Urges Iran Students to Help Liberate Jerusalem. Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal urged students at the University of Tehran on Monday to join in helping to liberate Jerusalem. "We are fully preparing ourselves to liberate all of Palestine, retake Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and secure the return of all Palestinians," he said. (AFP)


ISRAEL: LEGITIMIZING HAMAS WILL HARM PEACE TALKS. If the international community engaged and legitimized Hamas, "this would ruin Israel's ability to conduct wide-ranging, comprehensive negotiations with the Palestinian Authority" and Mahmoud Abbas, Israel Foreign Ministry Dir.-Gen. Aharon Abramovich said Monday at the Herzliya Conference. "It is in Israel's interest to renew negotiations with the PA," and not with Hamas, he said. In recent years, the Quartet of the EU, UN, Russia and the U.S. have demanded as a precondition for speaking to Hamas that it forswear violence, accept previous agreements between Israel and the PA, and recognize Israel. According to Dr. Oded Eran, director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, "If the international community drops the Quartet preconditions s o it can talk with Hamas, it will very quickly discover that it doesn't have a whole lot to talk about." "The Arab peace initiative itself doesn't meet the minimal demands of Hamas, so where can these talks possibly go?" (Jerusalem Post)


DIMINISHING THE HOLOCAUST. • The lessons of the Holocaust risk losing their value if the tragedy of the Holocaust is invoked to fit every case of moral outrage. No recent event makes this more clear than the inflammatory misuse of Holocaust comparisons to describe the conflict in Gaza, in a dual demonizing indictment. • On the one hand, Jews are blamed for perpetrating a Holocaust on the Palestinians, as in the appalling statement of Norwegian diplomat Trine Lilleng that "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany;" and on the other hand, crowds are incited to another Holocaust against the Jews, as in the chants of protesters who scream "Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!" • Consider the simultaneous humanitarian crises in the world that were largely ignored during the war in Gaza. Darfur continued to be beset by genocide. Mass rape was being used as a weapon of war in the Congo. In Zimbabwe, a disastrous cholera epidemic was afflicting tens of thousands. Anarchy reigned in Somalia; systemic repression endured in North Korea, and political prisoners were being executed in Iran. • Meanwhile, Israel unilaterally halted its fighting in the middle of the day to allow humanitarian supplies to flow to Palestinians, and it warned civilians - by dropping leaflets and by phone - when attacks in their vicinity were coming. • The comparison between Israel's action against Hamas - a terrorist group sworn to destroy Israel - and the Nazi Holocaust is as false as it is obscene. I say this not as a proponent of Israel, but as a voice for Holocaust remembrance. The writer is a member of the Canadian Parliament and a former justice minister. (Irwin Cotler - Montreal Gazette)


GAZANS DESCRIBE BEING USED AS HUMAN SHIELDS BY HAMAS. Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. The official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reported Tuesday: "The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town Sderot, a fact that turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights....One family member, Hadi (age 22), said: 'You can't say anything to the resistance [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs.'" (Palestinian Media Watch)


ACCOUNT OF ISRAELI ATTACK ON GAZA SCHOOL DOESN’T HOLD UP TO SCRUTINY. Most people remember the headlines: "Israeli Strike Kills Dozens at UN School." On Jan. 6, mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces reportedly killed 43 civilians at the UNRWA school where they had taken refuge in Jabalya in Gaza. But the story was not quite accurate. Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. Those who died in the incident were all outside, on the street. Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate. There was no Israeli shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers. (Globe and Mail-Canada)


ISRAEL CONDEMNS HAMAS MORAL ACROBATICS. Prime Minister Olmert told the Cabinet Sunday: "With the typical moral acrobatics," the terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, "and their supporters are trying to turn the attacker into the attacked and vice-versa. The undeniable truth is that for eight years, hundreds of thousands of residents of the State of Israel, who live in the south, were the unceasing targets of brutal, deliberate and planned rocket fire that was intentionally designed to hit civilians, including children and their parents." "Now, as a result of unavoidable self-defense actions during which - to our regret - civilians were also hit, they are trying to turn what happened on its face and stick IDF soldiers and commanders - and not those who initiated the terrorism and turned it into a way of life against the residents of the State of Israel for many years - with the responsibility for this. The State of Israel did everything in order to avoid hitting civilians. I do not know of any military that is more moral, fair and sensitive to civilians' lives than the IDF." In many instances "IDF soldiers and their commanders refrained from carrying out actions or diverted bombs lest innocents among the enemy be hit. This was also done when terrorists that threatened our soldiers were intentionally shooting at them from among civilian population concentrations and were using them as human shields against an Israeli response. This has been the policy of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations over the years - to fight to the last drop of Gaza civilians' blood." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


HAMAS SAYS ABBAS MUST END ITS PEACE WITH ISRAEL. The Palestinian Authority must end its peace talks and security coordination with Israel if it ever expects to reconcile with Hamas, Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, said Sunday. Hamdan also vowed that Hamas will continue to bring in arms to Gaza. To aid in reconstructing Gaza, Arab officials are looking to heal the rift between the Palestinians and bring them once more under a unity government. "It's time for us to talk about a reconciliation based on a resistance program to liberate the territory and regain rights," Hamdan said. On Friday, French President Sarkozy ordered a frigate deployed immediately to the waters off Gaza in an effort to fight arms smuggling. On Sunday, the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command warned that France's participation in a maritime blockade of Gaza's coast would "make it an enemy of our people...and make its interests, wherever they are, subject to direct targeting by our Muslim nation." (AP/Fox News)


THE GEORGE MITCHELL APPOINTMENT: THE TACTICS OF ’SYMMETRICAL NEGOTIATIONS’ MAY NOT WORK IN ’ASSYMETRIC CONFLICTS. The Middle East that Senator George Mitchell will confront today is much changed from the one he wrestled with eight years ago as chairman of the committee to investigate the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The 2001 Mitchell Report was issued before the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack, prior to the capture of two weapons-laden ships bound for Gaza, and before Hamas' coup in Gaza. Hamas' alliance with Iran and its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood mark it as an enemy of moderate Arab regimes. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


CAN THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S FATAH FORCES RETAKE GAZA? It is widely believed that the PA in Ramallah only pays the salaries of civil service employees in Gaza to encourage them to stay at home to avoid working with Hamas. However, PA Prime Minister Fayyad also pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement, as well as to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists. The U.S. must avoid the temptation of once again blindly relying on Fatah as the sole security and reconstruction subcontractor for Gaza. The Obama administration must implement tough and verifiable directives to facilitate internal Palestinian housecleaning: no militias, good governance, complete accountability, full transparency, effectiveness, and zero tolerance for corruption, gangsterism, and terror within PA ranks. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


ISRAEL’S OPERATION IN GAZA. Israel made several tangible gains during the Gaza campaign. Israel has sharply degraded Hamas' ability to fire rockets at Israeli cities. Israel sustained far fewer fatalities and injuries than it did in the 2006 war with Hizbullah. Much of this decrease in casualties resulted from Hamas' inability to offer serious opposition on the ground - a fact that will make it difficult for the organization to credibly claim that it defended Gaza, let alone scored a victory. Another Israeli achievement is a fresh international focus on the tunnel network between the Egyptian Sinai and Gaza. The issue of border security has become increasingly important for Israel since one million Israelis are now within rocket range of Gaza. The Obama administration must follow up, work with allies, and make sure that verbal commitments to stop arms smuggling are transformed into reality. Failure by Egypt to act could lead Israel to occupy the southern edge of Gaza, where the tunnels are located. The moment seems right to consider an added mission for the U.S.-led Multinational Forces Organization (MFO) in the Sinai, created after the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The MFO could be enlisted to halt weapons smuggling on the few roads traversing the Sinai. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


ADVICE FOR THE NEW MIDDLE EAST ENVOY. George Mitchell is the U.S. special envoy to Israel for peace talks. Mitchell has been very clear that there is no purpose in negotiations with parties which don't want peace. The delirium of Palestinian politics is a stark fact. Many Palestinians and most in the Palestinian leadership believe they can whittle Israel down to size without they themselves having to whittle down their ambitions. This delirium also translates into the assumption that losing a military confrontation or, in fact, a war has no consequences. One of the questions that Mitchell must address first is whether Hamas is really fooling when it says it seeks the elimination of the Jewish state and, secondly, whether Fatah is really willing to live with a Jewish state. I'm afraid that a truthful evaluation is likely to disappoint him. (New Republic)


HAMAS TAKES CONTROL OF ALL GAZA TUNNELS. Hamas has seized control of all the smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor in southern Gaza and has been moving in additional arms since the Gaza operation ended Sunday. The tunnels in Rafah are usually run by local Palestinian clans. Hamas' decision to take control enables it to decide what is smuggled in and to give priority to weapons and explosives. On Thursday, Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, was in Cairo for talks about kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and the new anti-smuggling mechanism set up with the Egyptians. The system consists of three layers - intelligence cooperation, obstacles in Sinai, and deployment of new tunnel-detection technology along the border. (Jerusalem Post)


THEY’R ALL WITH GAZA… WHO IS WITH HAMAS? The protests around the world demonstrate support for the people of Gaza; not one banner showed support for the Hamas movement. Any human being that hopes for peace cannot support a movement that targets civilians, and this is what happened in Gaza when Hamas "purged" Gaza of all of its political opponents. Many say that the Hamas leadership - that admits its rejection of the peace process - has played a key role in destroying any hopes for peace when it began suicide operations in April 1994. These operations were one of the main reasons behind the construction of the Israeli security wall. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)


ARAB STATES FEAR MUSLIM MILITANCY MORE THAN THEY DISLIKE ISRAEL. Egypt's secular, military leaders have been struggling with the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1920s. Militant Islam remains one of the most clear and present dangers to President Hosni Mubarak's rule. The links between Hamas and "the Brothers" are strong, deep and long-standing. Gaza abuts Egypt and in the eyes of many the Palestinian movement is little more than the "North Sinai Branch" of the Muslim Brotherhood. So just as Cairo needs to keep "the Brothers" in check, it also has an interest in seeing Hamas weakened. (Telegraph-UK)


U.S. NAVY SEARCHES SUSPECTED ARMS-SMUGGLING SHIP. The U.S. navy intercepted and searched an Iranian-owned ship in the Red Sea that officials feared was carrying arms to Hamas. The ship was boarded and searched with the consent of the vessel's crew on Monday and Tuesday, said an official. The search turned up ammunition that included artillery shells; and since Hamas is not known to use artillery, officials are now uncertain of the intended recipient. The vessel was allowed to continue its voyage after the search. (AP)


GAZA DOCTOR: HAMAS EXAGGERATED GAZA DEATH TOLL – 600 KILLED, MOSTLY FIGHTERS, NOT 1,300. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra Thursday quoted a doctor at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City saying that, despite Hamas and UN claims, most of those killed in Gaza were young men who were members of terror groups. "The number of deaths was between 500-600...most were young men between 17 and 23 who were recruited into the ranks of Hamas, which sent them to be slaughtered," he said. Journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi confirmed that only 600 people were killed, and not 1,300 as was widely reported, based on hospital visits and discussions with families of the victims. "It was strange that the non-governmental organizations, including Western ones, repeated the number without checking, but the truth will come to light in the end," said the doctor. "It's like what happened in Jenin in 2002," he said. "At the beginning they spoke of 500 dead; afterwards it was clear there were only 54 dead, at least 45 of them fighters." (Maariv-Hebrew)


HAMAS INTERCEPTS HUMANITARIAN AID IN GAZA. A Fatah official said that on Monday night alone, Hamas gunmen intercepted 12 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that had been donated by the Jordanian government to Palestinians in Gaza. The trucks were on their way to UNRWA headquarters when Hamas gunmen stopped them and confiscated their contents. Jordanian authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had seized the trucks shortly after they entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Last week Fatah activists and eyewitnesses claimed that Hamas had confiscated fuel and food that was en route to hospitals and schools housing thousands of Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)


HAMAS FIRES MORTARS AT BORDER CROSSINGS, BLOCKING AID. Hamas is intentionally harming humanitarian aid transferred from Israel by firing mortars at the Karni, Kissufim and Kerem Shalom crossings, the IDF liaison office for Gaza said. Palestinians fired eight mortar shells from central Gaza on Tuesday and the Israel Air Force responded to the shelling. Military sources said a harsh aerial response can be expected if the cross-border attacks continue. The Palestinians also fired light weapons into Israel on Tuesday near the Kissufim crossing and also set off an explosive charge. (Ha'aretz)


GAZA HAS BEEN HIT HARD, BUT WHAT HAS CHANGED? by Tim Butcher. I knew Gaza well, so after the cease-fire I was able to see for myself. It was clear that bombing targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged but, in most cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt. For the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites did not make any great difference. The same can be said for the mindset of many of Gaza's residents. So steeped is the Gazan mindset in the narrative of victimhood that there was no internally-focused groundswell of anger at what had happened. For 60 years Palestinians in Gaza have dwelled on victimhood, a s upplicant people grown dependent on foreign aid and reliant on the role Israel plays as the scapegoat for all ills. What many Gazans find most amazing is the ratio of Israeli war dead to Palestinian. For each of the 13 Israelis (three civilians and ten soldiers) who died during the Gaza operation, more than a hundred Palestinians died. (Telegraph-UK)


GAZANS HAVE HAD ENOUGH – UNTIL NEXT TIME. For Hamas, the ability to fire rockets up to 40 km into Israel was a progression in tactics from the suicide attacks that were a hallmark of the second intifada (uprising) against Israel that began in 2000. But given the amount of death and destruction Israel has wrought on Hamas and Gaza as a result of the rockets, even those who initially backed the tactic are now questioning it. "I have always been a supporter of rockets and all forms of resistance," said Aziz, a taxi driver. "But maybe Hamas needs to renew martyrdom operations instead," he said, referring to suicide attacks. Hassan, a father of five, said there was little point in firing rockets if they were not effective. "Rockets - I think this issue needs to be stopped for sometime and restudied," he said. "Once we have a missile that can reach the heart of Te l Aviv and blow up a building, maybe they can resume fire." (Reuters)


NATURAL GAS DISCOVERED OFF ISRAELI COAST. A U.S.-Israeli exploration group said on Sunday it has discovered more than 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, 90 km from Haifa, with the potential to meet Israel's gas needs for well over a decade. "If it turns out in a few weeks that the indicators received in recent days are true, then we are talking about the biggest find in Israel's history," said National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer. Analysts estimated the natural gas was worth about $26 billion and will be sold starting in 2013. (Reuters)


FROM OUR GAZA-CORRESPONDENT, BOAZ, - TELT SYNAGOGER OVER HELE HAZA. My condition continues to improve each day. I am still a bit drowsy, the antibiotics I’m on are quite potent. Other than that, all I can say is “Chai Adonai” Adonai lives! As the cease fire takes effect, or doesn’t, I was looking at facts that I could use to summarize the last three weeks. As one who considers himself a fair strategist, I find myself being contrary to some of the popular commentators. I do not believe that Israel is giving up in the face of victory but rather playing out a very delicate end game that any experienced chess player or hunter might understand. We should not underestimate Hamas’ ability as a fighting force. I understand that by having called a unilateral ceasefire, Israel is sending a clear yet subtle message to the world that we are not the aggressor and will justify our going for the jugular in the end play. It is as in Scripture, we have surrounded the city and in keeping with the Word, we are offering them peace. Everyone knows the outcome whatever their decision may be. There are disproportionate differences in the numbers of dead and injured on both sides. Any military analyst will tell you that the highest risk of casualty exists when an invader goes into a closed urban area. This because the incumbent has a greater home ground knowledge and therefore and advantage that outweighs most technological aids that the invader may have. This not to say that Hamas do not have hi tech weaponry, they have plenty, but the advantage is significantly reduced. The expectation of every Israeli was that at the start of the ground offensive our casualties would sky rocket, as they did in the second Lebanon War, but they did not! I started asking myself why it is that our Nation, chosen by the Creator to be the Light to the world, and apparently not doing such a good job of our calling at all, are being protected in such a divine way. The answer I found in the six words of probably one the best known Scriptures in the world “Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad”. In English “Hear Israel, Adonai is our Elohim, Adonai is One”. This was the Scripture that Messiah used to answer when in the Gospel of Mark He was asked about the greatest of all the commandments. There are mobile tent synagogues all over the Gaza Strip. Three times a day men are praying, calling out to their Creator and Savior. When a soldier calls out in prayer, this most powerful declaration, who or what can come against him? Nothing, He has the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob going before him! We are seeing all the words of the Psalms and the Prophets coming true before our very eyes. Rina and I have felt for a long time that the Father is doing a new thing. I was never quite sure what it was but now I am. The young and not so young men of Israel are returning in vast numbers. We call it ‘teshuva’ repentance.. A heart cry, when one comes to the proportional reality of the way things were intended to be. I believe we are seeing the prophecy of Joel (read through it again, it is short and powerful) being fulfilled before our eyes. This is a great day and we should all rejoice. I truly believe that the ‘Tikkun’ (repair) of the Nation of Israel has begun. The Palestinians when displaying their grief cry out for revenge in sorrow and in rage but when the Israelis are shown on television after having lost loved ones they display deep sorrow but no anger, no call for revenge, but a simple acceptance. Israel understands that redemption has a price. I have inserted a few pictures of our beloved soldiers, true heroes, each and everyone of them knows the danger but they also know from where their help comes. Join them in saying: “Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad – Amen


WHEN THE GAZA DUST SETTLES. Once the immediate crisis comes to an end, the Obama-Clinton team will face a choice in how to fulfill the new president's commitment to invest heavily and early in the Arab-Israeli peace process. On the Israeli-Palestinian track, there are two principal schools of thought, reflected in two sets of studies produced by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a joint effort by the Council on Foreign Relations/Brookings Institution. The Washington Institute studies call for a combined top-down/bottom-up approach toward strengthening the Palestinian Authority and enhancing prospects for Israeli-PA negotiations; the relevant chapter in the CFR/Brookings study calls for findings ways the U.S. can engage Hamas. It is important to recognize that these are "either/or" options. It is not possible to engage Hamas and build up the PA at the same time. Engaging Hamas would undermine whatever popular support remains for the Mahmoud Abbas-Salam Fayad government, bring an abrupt end to the Dayton (U.S. security coordinator, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton) effort to "train and equip" PA security forces, compel Egypt and Jordan to change course in terms of their own approach toward the PA, and buoy radical actors from Gaza to Beirut to Tehran. Given both personnel choices and strategic imperatives, it is unlikely that the Obama-Clinton team will choose to engage Hamas. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


TO DETER OR TO DEFEAT HAMAS. It does not seem likely that a terrorist organization could be deterred from pursuing its aims. Terrorist organizations do not generally own substantial assets that are vulnerable to attack, and striking them seems to increase their support from their fanatical fans. Their leaders, if killed, are quickly replaced by others. Al-Qaeda cannot be deterred; it has to be defeated. Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, cannot be deterred. It attaches no value to life, whether Muslim or Jewish. Israel is concerned over the loss of life in Gaza during the current round of fighting, but Hamas is not. If a cease-fire is established before Hamas' rocket capability has been eliminated, the group will be seen as the victor. If rockets cease falling, it will be clear who won this conflict. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times. (Ha'aretz)


CLINTON TALKS OF ENGAGEMENT WITH IRAN. During her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Obama administration will seek to engage directly with Iran in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear program and become "a constructive regional actor," underscoring a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy from the Bush administration. Clinton said that Obama's team is "very open to looking to a positive, effective way of engaging with Iran." She acknowledged that the effort represents a gamble and insisted that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to Obama. (Washington Post)


FATAH CRACKS DOWN ON HAMAS IN WEST BANK. Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces have stepped up their crackdown on Hamas supporters and figures in the West Bank since the beginning of Israel's Gaza operation, Palestinians said Thursday. The latest anti-Hamas measures, which are being carried out in coordination with the IDF and under the supervision of U.S. security experts, are designed to foil any attempt to overthrow the PA. Israeli security officials praised Abbas' forces for employing an "iron-fist" policy against Hamas since the beginning of the military offensive. In the past three weeks, dozens of Hamas supporters have been detained or summoned for investigation by the PA's Preventive Security Force and General Intelligence Service. The PA-controlled media continues to blame Hamas for the "mas sacres" in Gaza. Several Fatah-controlled news websites carried reports about how Hamas militiamen were stealing fuel and food in Gaza. They also mocked the Hamas leaders for abandoning their constituents by going underground. PA officials in Ramallah said on Thursday they had evidence that Iran and Syria were pushing Hamas to continue fighting Israel. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL FOCUSED ON WAR AIMS IN GAZA. Israel's war aims, such as restoring Israel's military deterrence and badly damaging Hamas' armed capacity, have already been achieved, Israeli analysts and officials say. Others, such as stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel and preventing the Islamist movement from rearming, are still incomplete. Much will depend on the exact terms of a cease-fire agreement that Egypt is mediating. "We don't know yet if the Egyptians will take it upon themselves to block the Philadelphi crossing, or whether Hamas is willing to make a commitment to the Egyptians that there will be a cease-fire for many years," said former Mossad chief Danny Yatom. "Our information...is that Hamas has over-played its hand, that it has alienated large sections of the Palestinian street," said Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev. "On the day after this crisis is over, when the dust settles, Hamas will be facing a very serious problem with the Palestini an people, specifically the population of Gaza." Shmuel Sandler, a professor at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said, "What's even more amazing is that the Arab states basically want Hamas to be hit because they see a threat in the ideas of Hamas to their own regimes." (Reuters)


ISRAEL PUSHES FOR CHANGES TO HAMAS TRUCE TERMS. Israel has rebuffed some of the conditions set by Hamas for a cease-fire, Israeli and Western sources said on Friday. Israel had objected to putting a time limit on the truce. Hamas proposed a 12-month agreement that could later be extended. "A time limit on any period of quiet is a mistake," a senior Israeli source said. "We saw that when the previous calm ran out of time, it was just an excuse for some to escalate the violence." (Reuters and Daily Alert).


HAMAS IS A WAR CRIMES ‘CASE STUDY’ • The fighting tactics and ideology of Hamas are a "case study par excellence" of a systematic violation of international humanitarian law, according to Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister and a leading expert in international law. • "First, the deliberate targeting of civilians is in and of itself a war crime," he noted, referring to the Hamas rockets fired at southern towns for eight years. • "A second war crime is when Hamas attacks [from within] civilian areas and civilian structures, whether it be an apartment building, a mosque or a hospital, in order to be immune from a response from Israel....Civilians are protected persons, and civilian areas are protected areas. Any use of a civilian infrastructure to launch bombs is itself a war crime." • Third, "the misuse and abuse of humanitarian symbols for purposes of launching attacks is called the perfidy principle. For example, using an ambulance to transport fighters or weapons or disguising oneself as a doctor in a hospital, or using a UN logo or flag, are war crimes." • The fourth violation "is the prohibition in the Fourth Geneva Convention and international jurisprudence against the direct and public incitement to genocide. The Hamas covenant itself is a standing incitement to genocide." • The fifth crime relates to the scope of the attack on civilians, which upgrades the violation to a crime against humanity. "When you deliberately hit civilians not infrequently but in a systematic, widespread attack, that's defined in the treaty of the International Criminal Court and international humanitarian law as a crime against humanity." • The final war crime for which Hamas is responsible is the recruitment of children into armed conflict. • "When Israel responds and civilians are killed because Israel is targeting an area from which rockets were launched, then it is Hamas which bears responsibility for the deaths, and not Israel, according to international law." (Jerusalem Post)


HAMAS AGREES ‘IN PRINCIPLE’ TO EGYPTIAN CEASE-FIRE PROPOSAL. Hamas representatives to talks with Egypt announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. They also demanded several clarifications. The agreement includes the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in the form of its renewed presence at the Rafah crossing with Egypt (as a condition for its reopening). Gazans are angry at Hamas leaders for dragging the Strip into an unnecessary and poorly considered war. There's no doubt that when the war does end, Hamas will claim victory. But the destruction in Gaza will tell a different story. (Ha'aretz)


OBAMA: WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO INVOLVE SYRIA AND ENGAGE IRAN. Asked about the Middle East stalemate, Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Thursday: "We are gonna start on day one. Hillary Clinton, in her testimony during her confirmation hearing, expressed my views and the views of the administration that we can't delay.... We're gonna have to take a regional approach. We're gonna have to involve Syria in discussions. We're gonna have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before. We've gotta have a clear bottom line that Israel's security is paramount. But that also we have to create a two-state solution where people can live side by side in peace." (CBS News) ”For when they say, ’Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them… and they shall not escape!” (2.Thess.5:3)


FROM OUR ‘GAZA’-CORRESPONDENT. TIME OF NEGOTIATION. Today is the day that the first of the diplomatic efforts are being put forward. In what has been leaked to the press, I do not think that Israel will accept the offer. Hamas seem to be happy going back to the situation as it was before the operation. They are not wanting to have any monitoring of weapons but most of all they are not prepared to consider a permanent solution. They have put forward a ‘tadiyah’ for a year which in their terms has nothing to do with disarming. The number of dead has risen above the 1000 mark and the Hamas are claiming that half of these are civilians. I found this an interesting claim and started going back over the footage that has come out of the Gaza Strip. I noticed, without exception, that those manning the guns were all dressed in civilian clothes! The reason for this is obvious as it will be impossible to differentiate between fighters and civilians under these circumstances. If they stopped using children as shields and kept their children inside instead of letting them run around in the streets, the instance of child casualties would be a lot less. The Hamas have spent years building tunnels underneath their homes in the hope of using these against us. If they had spent the same money defensive measures instead of offensive measures there would also be a substantial decrease in casualties. This time of negotiation for Israel is critical. We need to make sure that a few basic requirements are met and that there be no compromising them. 1: That the Hamas looses its ability to rearm itself, hopefully this will entail a surrender. 2: That Israel or one of our allies controls the Philadelphi route. 3: That progress is made toward a peaceful coexistence between us and 4: the most important, the release of Gilad Shalit.


FROM OUR ‘GAZA’-KORRESPONDENT: IS WAR JUSTIFIED? There is almost a total news blackout in the Gaza Strip. At the moment there are a lot of soldiers in Gaza, both regular standing army and the reserve forces. There is not much time left to achieve the objectives that the army set out to do. The international pressure is very strong although subtle. America is on the brink of the inauguration of Barak Obama and Israel is facing general elections. All the concerned parties are very wary of what they say in public for fear of offending future supporters. Is war justified? This probably is one of the hardest moral questions that human beings have to ask themselves. Do we have the right to take the life of an enemy? I wrote on this in one of my earlier letters but I would like to take another look at the subject. Deut. 20:10 When you come near a city to fight against it, then shout peace to it. Deut. 20:11 And it shall be, if it makes the answer of peace and opens to you, then all the people found in it shall be forced labourers to you, and they shall serve you. Deut. 20:12 But if it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it. Deut. 20:13 And when YHVH your God has delivered it into your hands, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword. I see here the issue of a perfect balance of justice and mercy. We are first to seek a peaceful solution and I really do believe that Israel has tried to do just this for the past eight years. I must add that there is the issue of bad leadership within the Israeli political system but by and large we have been trying to negotiate with the Hamas. As Hamas did not want direct negotiation with us it was always done through mediators. Just to dwell on a very tender point, as many of you know I was the security officer at the Kibbutz the night that Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. At this time we do not know his fate. We trust and pray that he is still alive and in a good mental state. Who knows what his captors may have down to him in the three years that he has been in captivity. The Hamas have not allowed the International Red Cross to visit him and this is in contravention of international law. So in answer to the question, I do think that war is justified when all other options of dialogue have failed but we have to consider the innocent. In Gaza it has been almost impossible to ensure the safety of the civilians as the Hamas are using the civilians as human shields as well as storing their arms and ammunition in schools and private homes. We hope and pray that this conflict will end soon and that we may somehow live in peace with our Gazan neighbours.


EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT DAILY: HAMAS, SYRIA, IRAN – THE NEW AXIS OF EVIL. The editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, who is also an Egyptian MP, wrote a series for the paper titled "Hamas, Damascus, Iran - The New Axis of Evil." Ibrahim stated that Iran and Syria had conspired to keep the Palestinian problem unresolved and to take advantage of it to promote their interests in the region. He argued that Hamas was a tyrannical religious movement which was pushing its people towards catastrophe by preferring Syria's and Iran's interests to those of the Palestinians. (MEMRI)


In a Friday sermon that aired on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV on April 11, 2008, Yunis Al-Astal, Hamas MP and cleric, told worshipers that Rome, "the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital," would soon be conquered by Islam, just as Constantinople was. It then, he said, would become "an advance post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe." (See transcript) • Ahmad Bahr, acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, from Hamas, delivered a sermon that aired on Sudan TV on April 13, 2007: "Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one....Defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them." (See transcript) • Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita told Al-Aqsa TV on July 13, 2008: "The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land." (MEMRI)


HAMAS: VICTORY OVER ISRAEL ‘CLOSER THAN EVER’ "We can assure our people that victory is now closer than ever," Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said in a statement in Gaza on Monday. (AFP)


HAMAS RAIDS AID TRUCKS, SELS SUPPLIES Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINAINS: IDF FIRST SENDS DOGS INTO GAZA HOMES. M., a Jabalya resident, describes how Israeli soldiers clear a built-up area for terrorists: "The army moves very slowly. The tanks approach houses, then they send the dogs. If it's a three-story home, they send three dogs: The dogs have a camera on one leg and a walkie-talkie on the other. That's how the dogs transmit what is in the house. Then the tanks advance up to the doorway." (Ha'aretz)


IDF DISCOVERS HAMAS BOOBY-TRAP-MAP. A map depicting Hamas plans on how to hurt IDF soldiers in Gaza was discovered by paratroopers in the al-Atatra neighborhood Thursday. The map showed where entrances to civilian homes were booby-trapped, and explosive devices were planted near gas stations, Chief IDF Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen. Yuval Halamish explained. The map describes the type of explosive device planted at each site, and also marked sharpshooters' stations. (Ynet News)


OUTRAGE IN ITALY AT CALL TO BOYCOTT JEWS Italian politicians reacted with outrage Thursday to a proposal by a union calling for a boycott of Jewish-owned shops in Rome to protest Israel's offensive in Gaza. The FLAICA-CUB union, which claims to represent thousands of workers in shops and malls, said it would promote a boycott of businesses "tied to the Roman Jewish community" and would focus on clothing stores. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno "firmly condemned" the initiative, saying it was reminiscent of the boycotts against Jewish shops organized by the Fascist regime as part of its anti-Semitic policies in the 1930s. In a show of support, he went shopping in a Jewish-owned clothing store. (AP/International Herald Tribune)


IRAN’S PRESIDENT HAS MUCH AT STAKE IN GAZA OUTCOME. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has a lot at stake in the outcome of the fighting in Gaza. Western governments accuse Tehran of funneling cash and weapons to Hamas. If Hamas manages to bog down Israeli troops, Tehran stands to gain. If Israel delivers a crushing blow to Hamas, Iranian officials could see one of their most effective irritants against Washington and Israel significantly degraded. "I don't think the Iranian government is happy with the situation," said one Tehran-based political analyst. "To them Hamas is one of their deterrents. This is one of the things they threaten the West with." (Wall Street Journal)


INDONESIA: PROTESTERS SEAL OFF SYNAGOGUE AMID PRO-PALÆSTINIAN PROTESTS. As Israel's offensive in Gaza continues, massive anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies have been taking place across Indonesia. Muslim protesters also sealed off a Jewish synagogue in Surabaya, East Java, and have threatened to boycott American products. (AKI/Jakarta Post-Indonesia)


PROPORTION RUBBISH. "Proportionality" against an enemy out to exterminate your country is folly and possibly suicidal. Effective deterrence means certainty both that a response will be made and that it will be very painful, so painful that the aggressor will be unwilling to repeat his offense. The 2006 Lebanon War was widely considered in Israel to have been a failure. But there haven't been many rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon since that cease-fire. At the time, a Hizbullah leader was quoted as saying that had he known what Israel's response was going to be, he would never have mounted the original attack. That's the attitude Israel wants to generate in Hamas. (Boston Herald)


DID THE U.S. BETRAY ISRAEL AT THE UN? The Security Council Thursday agreed on a resolution calling on Israel to stand down against Hamas while leaving the rocket-firing terror brigade well-positioned to continue its reign of indiscriminate terror. The language of the ceasefire resolution - which does not even mention Hamas by name - leaves America's staunchest ally isolated and on the defensive in a decidedly hostile region. Israel is fighting in pure self-defense to stop Hamas from firing the missiles that endanger the lives of a million Israelis, to disarm Hamas and to prevent Hamas from restocking its arsenal. (New York Daily News)


WHY THE ISRAELI PEOPLE HAVE FINALLY HAD ENOUGH. The conventional dinner party wisdom which we've had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza. Contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint. Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough. Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism. The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda. We need to start standing shoulder to shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery. To do otherwise is moral cowardice of the most repugnant kind. (Independent-Ireland)


THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT IS OVER. The Arab world is beset by a new conflict which takes up much of its attention and resources: the radical Islamist challenge to Arab nationalist regimes. In every country, the conflict is waged, sometimes violently, at other times through propaganda battles and electoral maneuvers. The Palestinians, too, fought among themselves along these lines. After winning an election victory and then making a deal for a coalition government, Hamas turned o n its nationalist rivals and drove them out of Gaza by force. Every Arab state is battling Hamas' friends inside its own borders. In Lebanon, Hizbullah Shia Islamists bully Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze rivals. Bloody civil wars between Islamists and nationalists erupted in Algeria and Egypt; terrorist campaigns swept Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Finally, the Arab states face a powerful Iranian-Syrian axis whose clients include Hizbullah, Hamas and Iraqi insurgents. This is a danger far exceeding the largely fabricated one from Israel, and Arab rulers know it. (Ottawa Citizen)


A SEVERE BLOW TO HAMAS. The last few days we have been travelling and what was evident is the change of the nature of the people in the South. Traditionally the people in the South have always been laid back and easy going but of late there is a very strong spirit of fear among the people. While we were in Be’er Sheva, we were sent to bomb shelters three times within an hour and a half. It is indeed a strange feeling to have to abandon your vehicle in the middle of the road and run for cover! In the supermarket you leave your cart and go to the bomb shelter. Fortunately most shops have bomb shelters, one may describe then as ‘intimate’ as we discover that you can squeeze 100 people into a place designed for 20! The IDF started yesterday to embed the 10,000 reserve soldiers that have called up. These are all very experienced veterans and will contribute significantly toward the victory which I believe is immanent. It dawned on me today that we are in fact fighting two wars, one a military war and the second a political war. Israel has always been notoriously good at fighting military wars and just as bad at dealing with the propaganda war. As we sift through the little bits of information that is coming out of the Gaza Strip we attempt to piece together an accurate picture of what is going on at the front line. It appears the Hamas’ ability to fight has been dealt a severe blow. The rocket attack has been curtailed although not stopped completely. The war is being fought at very close quarters and in tunnels that have been dug underneath the city. As an ex combat soldier I cannot begin to imagine a more hostile environment in which to wage a war. Your prayers are being answered! The Israeli casualties are completely disproportionate to those of the Hamas and well below anyone’s expectations knowing the given theatre of battle. Thank you so much to the faithful that have been spending so many unselfish hours on their knees interceding and petitioning the Father for the safety of our soldiers and the Children of Israel. Public morale is high. Those men that have not been called up are willing to be called. Although we do have some anti-war demonstrations from the ‘peace camp’, the general feeling on the street is that this is a war that we have to win. We have an opportunity to change the situation. Many internationals are beginning to see this as well. The Egyptians who the Father calls ‘My people’ have been instrumental in brining this about. It all changed when Hamas refused to meet with them to discuss a possible cease fire. Although Israel has intimated that she is not ready to compromise at this stage, it is prudent to have a prominent position on the diplomatic front. Thank you too, to the people that have given towards the cost of helping the people that have been displaced in this time. As the government pays for damage to physical property during a time of war, these funds are being used toward the cost of feeding theses people at this time. Many of those that have been displaced have also been moved from their place of employment so are without income at this stage. Anyone who feels that they would like to help can do so through our website www.shefaisrael.com Blessings to you all In His service Boaz and Rina


IDF DISCOVERS HAMAS BOOBY-TRAP MAP. Chief intelligence officer displays colour-coded map of al-Atatra neighbourhood used by terrorists to record locations of explosive devices, sharpshooters A map depicting Hamas' best-laid plans on how to hurt IDF soldiers in Gaza was discovered by paratroopers in al-Atatra neighbourhood Thursday. The map was translated on the scene and helped the troops in subsequent operations. Chief IDF Intelligence Officer Brigadier-General Yuval Halamish explained that Hamas had divided the neighbourhood into a number of areas distinguished by landmarks such as mosques, gas stations, and fuel depots. MAP FOUND BY PARATROOPERS. "You can see that the neighbourhood was divided into three areas of fighting, according to colour, and inside the terrorists spread out a number of posts, planted explosive devices, and posted sharpshooters," he said. "Hamas makes cynical use of civilian homes, the entrances of which were booby-trapped in order to hurt IDF soldiers." Explosive devices were also planted near gas stations despite the immediate danger to civilians, Halamish added. He said the layout had been thoroughly planned in preparation for a ground operation. The map consists of precise drawings of all homes in the neighbourhood as well as a colour-coded key drawn in the top left-hand corner, which describes the type of explosive device planted at each site. Sharpshooters' stations were also marked. Halamish also described Hamas' use of dolls in order to attract the attention of soldiers, and presented a picture of a doll placed at the entrance to a home. He said the doll was intended to draw soldiers to it so that an attack could be executed, following which the terrorists could kidnap their victims.


FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT NEAR GAZA WE HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING. Day thirteen saw the Nation mourn another two brave men that gave their lives that we may live in peace in the Land. Our prayers and sympathies go out to their families and may the memories of the lost loved ones forever be blessed. For the first time in a long while, the world opinion to what is going on in Israel is unpredictable. Could this be that things in the world around us are changing? It is not that Israel is getting new enemies but rather that we seem to be finding new allies. The current president of the European Union has been speaking out openly in support of Israel. The French Prime Minister (the French have kept a very cool relationship with Israel for some time now) has come out in support of Israel. However support for Israel has not brought about open condemnation for the Islamic militant extremists. I would love to hear some new voices not only supporting Israel but it would help to balance the situation if we heard some open condemnation against them. If Hamas agree to a ‘Hudna’ (don’t shoot me, I’ve gone to get more bullets) or a ‘Tadiya’ (Give me a break, I haven’t slept properly in weeks), they are still capable of accessing additional weapons and this is something that cannot be allowed to happen. For the time that an agreement is reached (and I do not think that Israel will push for it until we are ready) it will be a good few days before the fighting stops. If Israel continues the way they are going and use the 15000 reserve soldiers that have just finished their refresher training, I think it could all be over within 10 days. This is of course just my own opinion from having observed Israel in action in the past. For once Ehud Olmert deserves some credit for the way in which he is handling the war. This because he has nothing to lose as he will not be standing in the upcoming elections.


FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT NEAR GAZA. Day 12 has been a dramatic day with many innuendoes being flirted by the press, both Hebrew and international. Yesterday marked a milestone as Israel agreed to stop the fighting between the hours of 13:00 and 16:00 so that the Palestinians could go out to buy food and supplies. I wonder whether Hizbullah or Hamas would do the same, I doubt it. It was interesting to note that the Al Jazeera reporter made a point of saying that Israel started firing again at 6 minutes to four. What an insinuation! Of course no mention that the break was in for he benefit of the civilians. Another important issue is that the so called Philidelphi route, known to have had in excess of 300 operating tunnels from Rafiah in Gaza to Rafiah in Egypt, was yesterday targeted heavily buy the Israeli Air Force. As many of these tunnels are house to house, it is necessary to destroy these houses in order to deal with the problem. Hours before the air attack started, the IAF dropped pamphlets warning the Palestinians to leave their homes before the bombing and that the ground forces would follow the air attack. The tunnel business is estimated to be worth in excess of $10,000 a day in ‘usage revenues’ and were known to supply not only arms and ammunition but also live stock, food and fuel. We have not yet had confirmation of the entry of the army to Rafiah in Gaza but I am sure that they are there. The strategic importance of controlling the smugglers paradise goes without saying. A new development, at the time of writing, the north has also started to come under rocket fire. At this stage the Hizbullah deny their involvement. Press reporters and defense analysts at this time think that it is a faction of Lebanese Palestinians that are sympathizers with the Gaza cause. Retaliation to these actions could braw Hizbullah into the conflict so the reponse will have to be very measured and extremely accurate. At this stage there have been two waves of attacks, three or four injured with many being treated for shock. This is a new avenue for those who choose specific prayer. The range of the Grad (Katusha) rocket means that the whole of the Jezreel Valley including the cities of Haifa, Nahariya, Mettula, Kiryat Shmona and Afula are all possible targets.. As we go forward into a day that only the Almighty knows the outcome of, let us place our trust in Him and enjoy every last minute of it. Remember, fear in not from Him. Lets see the bucket half full and not half empty. Psa 18:2 YHVH is my strength, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock; I will trust in Him; He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower. May you all feel the presence of the Almighty in a special way today Boaz and Rina.


THE CLOCK IS TICKING TOWARDS THE KHOMEINIST NUCLEAR BOMB. Iran is a "short distance" from securing all it needs to make a nuclear warhead. This is the conclusion of a long-awaited report prepared for the French National Assembly in the last days of 2008. Prepared by a number of leading French experts, the report asserts that Iran will be an effective member of the nuclear club by the end of 2011 at the latest. (Asharq Alawsat-UK) “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble. The name of the God of Jacob defend thee! … Send thee help from the sanctuary and strengthen thee out of Zion. (Psalm 20:1-2)


TERROR IN TURKEY FOR ISRAELI BASKETBALL TEAM. Moments before the start of a Eurocup encounter between the Israeli Bnei Hasharon basketball team and Turk Telekom in Ankara Tuesday, Turkish fans shouting "Death to the Jews," threw bottles at the Israeli players and stormed the court, forcing the Israelis to flee to the locker room. (Jerusalem Post)


VENEZUELA EXPELS ISRAELI ENVOY OVER GAZA. Venezuela has expelled the Israeli ambassador and all embassy personnel in response to Israel's military offensive in Gaza. (Ynet News)


HAMAS EXECUTES SIX SUSPECTED COLLABORATORS. Six Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed in the past two days by Hamas security officers in Jabalya. Among the dead were three brothers executed on the street. (Ynet News)


RICE TO UN: NEW ARRANGEMENTS IN GAZA MUST END ROCKET ATTACKS ON ISRAEL. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the UN Security Council on Tuesday: • The ongoing attacks against Israel and the decision that Hamas made not to respect the previous period of calm shows us that when this ends there must be new arrangements in place, not a return to the status quo ante. It is imperative that any ceasefire is durable and sustainable, and that it ensures the safety and security of Israelis and Palestinians alike. • Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lived under the daily threat of rocket attack, and frankly, no country, none of our countries, would have been willing to tolerate such a circumstance. Moreover, the people of Gaza watched as insecurity and lawlessness increased and as their living conditions grew more dire because of Hamas' actions which began with the illegal coup against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. • A ceasefire that returns to those circumstances is unacceptable and it will not last. We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security. This would begin a period of true calm that includes an end to rocket, mortar, and other attacks on Israelis, and allows for the cessation of Israel's military offensive. And it must include also an end to the smuggling into Gaza and a reopening of crossings so that Palestinians can benefit from humanitarian goods and basic supplies. • We must find a way, with the consent and full cooperation of likeminded governments, to prevent any arms or explosives from entering Gaza, and the tunnel systems that have allowed rearmament of Hamas must be prevented from reopening. • Our goal must be the stabilization and normalization of life in Gaza. This will require a principled resolution of the political challenges in Gaza that re-establishes ultimately the Palestinian Authority's legitimate control and facilitates the normal operation of all crossings. • We need very much to find a solution to this problem in the short term. But it really must be a solution this time that does not allow Hamas to use Gaza as a launching pad against Israeli cities. It has to be a solution that does not allow the rearmament of Hamas. And it must be a solution that finds a way to open crossings so that Palestinians in Gaza can have a normal life.


SYNAGOGUE SET ALIGHT DURING RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN LONDON. The number of anti-Semitic attacks in London has risen sharply following Israel's land assault in Gaza, Jewish community groups said Tuesday. An arson attack on the synagogue in Brondesbury took place on Sunday night, while anti-Semitic graffiti appeared in Jewish areas across London. (Evening Standard-UK) OUTRAGE AFTER ATTACK ON FRENCH SYNAGOGUE. French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Tuesday described as "stupid and revolting" an anti-Semitic attack in which a car was sent hurtling against the gates of a synagogue in the city of Toulouse and then set on fire. (DPA)


NO SIGN OF THIRD INTIFADA. Fewer than 100 people showed up on Monday in Nablus for a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza. The lack of interest was not for lack of support for Hamas, but there is no sign of a third intifada, or uprising, despite Hamas' call for one. People also said they were intimidated by the Palestinian security forces of Mr. Abbas and his appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad - forces subsidized by the U.S. and trained by Jordan - which have cracked down on a series of demonstrations. The same newly organized police forces that are providing better security in the West Bank are trying to repress popular anger over Gaza. (New York Times)


EGYPTS MUBARAK TO EU: HAMAS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO WIN IN GAZA. Hamas must not be allowed to win its conflict with the IDF, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told a delegation of European foreign ministers Monday. Mubarak said Hamas "must not be allowed to emerge from the fighting with the upper hand." Regarding Israel's demand that Egypt halt arms smuggling from its territory into Gaza as part of any cease-fire agreement, Mubarak denied that any such smuggling takes place. He insisted that the weapons arrive not via tunnels from Sinai, but in barrels thrown overboard from ships passing near Gaza's coast. (Ha'aretz)


GAZA ROCKET SLAMS DEEPTEST YET INTO ISRAEL. Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket the deepest yet into Israel Tuesday, wounding a 3-month-old baby in the town of Gedera, about 45 km (28 miles) from Gaza. (AFP) GAZA ROCKET STRIKES EMPTY KINDERGARTEN IN ASHDOD. Over 40 Kassam and Grad rockets were fired Monday from Gaza at Israel, striking Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, Kiryat Malakhi, near Ofakim, Netivot and Beersheba. One of the rockets exploded in a kindergarten in Ashdod, causing extensive damage to the structure. (Ha'aretz)


THREE ISRAELI SOLDIERS KILLED. Shalom to the whole House of Israel, Although writing about bad news is not easy, I always have fun thinking of how I am going to address you each morning. Today, I thought the One New Man, the whole house, would be fitting! Day eleven saw the nightmare of every commander, being hit by friendly fire. The field commander, Avi Peled, whom I know personally was one of the injured but still oversaw the evacuation of his injured men before he would allow them to treat him. There were three soldiers killed in the incident and some that are listed as critical. We pray for their complete healing. I was sent a article that was published in the Washington Post. I have edited it a bit for content but it gives a very good insight into the Hamas mindset and will help us to understand the conflict better.


ARTICLE FROM WASHINGTON POST. Hamas has only one grievance: Israel's very existence. Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons. -- Associated Press, Dec. 27 Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people. This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel. For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom). At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers. That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza. What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly. The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it.. Israel's very existence. Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world's opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire -- exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel. Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror. Hamas's rejection of an extension of its often-violated six-month cease-fire (during which the rockets never stopped, just were less frequent) gave Israel a rare opportunity to establish the norm it should have insisted upon three years ago: no rockets, no mortar fire, no kidnapping, no acts of war. As the U.S. government has officially stated: a sustainable and enduring cease-fire. If this fighting ends with anything less than that, Israel will have lost yet another war. The question is whether Israel still retains the nerve -- and the moral self-assurance -- to win.


VITAL STASTICS. On Dec. 27, Israel began "Operation Cast Lead" to stop Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza from continuing its years-long campaign of attacking Israeli civilians with thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars. Following are facts and figures to help you relate to Israel's defensive efforts in Gaza: Iran-backed Hamas Rocket, Mortar Attacks and Nuclear Developments 9,400+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since 2003. [1] 3,200+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in 2008 alone. [2] 6,500+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. [3] 543+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israeli territory during the ceasefire from June 19 to Dec. 19, 2008. [4] 28 deaths caused by rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel since 2001. The dead include Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers. Since the ceasefire ended, Iran-backed Palestinian groups in Gaza fired rockets and mortars that killed an Israeli-Arab construction worker and a mother of four who was seeking shelter in a bus station as a rocket warning siren sounded. [5] 1,000+ people in Israel injured from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since 2001, including Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers. Since the ceasefire, 44 Israelis have been injured and 200 have been treated for shock. [6] 20,000 Hamas troops Israel is targeting as part of "Operation Cast Lead." [7] 750,000 number of Israeli civilians Hamas is targeting and can reach. [8] 15 seconds Israelis have to get to a bomb shelter once a warning siren has sounded. [9] 8 years that Israel has been hit by rockets and mortars from Gaza [10] 3 mosques in Gaza used as weapons, ammunitions and explosives depots that were struck by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the operation in Gaza. [11] 4 UN Security Council resolutions passed since 2006 to try to stop Iran from enriching uranium. [12] 5,000+ number of centrifuges operating in Iran to enrich uranium, the material used to produce a nuclear weapon. [13] Israel's Humanitarian Aid to Gaza 179 truckloads of humanitarian aid that have been delivered through Israeli crossings into Gaza since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, including basic food commodities, medication, medical supplies, donations of governments and blood units. 106 additional truckloads of humanitarian expected to arrive in Gaza on Jan. 31 [14] 6,500 tons of aid transported into Gaza at the request of international organizations, the Palestinian Authority and various governments since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. The World Food Program informed Israel that it will cease shipment of food to Gaza because warehouses are at full capacity, with enough food to last two weeks. [15] What Israel Gave Up in Hopes of Peace - Gaza Withdrawal Aug. 2005 100% proportion of the Gaza Strip evacuated and handed over to the Palestinians. [16] 300 square miles of the West Bank evacuated. [17] 21 Israeli settlements uprooted in the Gaza Strip. [18] 4 Israeli settlements uprooted in the West Bank. [19] 48 graves uprooted in Gaza's former Gush Katif Cemetery, including six graves of area residents murdered by terrorists. [20] 9,000 approximate number of Israelis, including 1,700 families, who lived in Gaza and the northern West Bank. All of them were moved out as part of the withdrawal. [21] 38 synagogues dismantled in the Gaza Strip. [22] 5,000 school-age children who had to find new schools. [23] 42 daycare centers that were closed in the Gaza Strip. [24] 36 kindergartens that were closed in the Gaza Strip. [25] 7 elementary schools that were closed in the Gaza Strip. [26] 3 high schools that were closed in the Gaza Strip. [27] 320 mobile homes, ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to serve as temporary housing for settlers. [28] 45,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen who participated in the Gaza withdrawal. [29] $1.7 billion the approximate cost to the Israeli government for the withdrawal initiative. [30] 166 Israeli farmers who were moved out of Gaza. [31] 800 cows, which comprised the second largest dairy farm in Israel, moved out of Gaza's Gush Katif community. [32] $120 million value of flowers and produce exported annually from Gush Katif and lost following the evacuation. [33] 1 zoo, the "Katifari," that housed hundreds of animals and was moved. [34] 10,000 people who were employed in agriculture and related industries in Gush Katif, including 5,000 Palestinians. [35] 60% proportion of Israel's cherry tomato exports that came from the Gaza Strip. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza extinguished this economic resource. [36] 3.5 million square meters (almost 1,000 acres) of greenhouses abandoned in Gaza. [37] 70 percentage of Israel's organic produce grown in Gaza – another economic resource lost in the evacuation. [38] 60 percentage of herbs exported from Israel that came from Gush Katif. [39] 15 percentage of Israel agricultural exports that originated in Gaza – exports lost following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. [40] $360,000 expected average compensation amount Israel expected to pay to relocate each family. [41] $870 million approximate cost for Israel to facilitate the resettlement of former West Bank and Gaza residents elsewhere in the country. [42] $500 million amount of money Israel's security establishment spent to relocate Israel Defense Forces bases outside the Gaza Strip and build new border crossing facilities. [43] After Israel's evacuation from Gaza… 430,000 West Bank Palestinians able to move freely within and between Palestinian-controlled areas. [44] 1 Israeli remaining in Gaza. Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit was abducted from Israel on June 25, 2006 by Hamas in a bloody cross-border raid in which the terrorists also killed two IDF soldiers and wounded four others. [45] 1.2 million Arabs who remained full and legal citizens of Israel. All Israeli citizens – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – have freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to vote. [46] 1.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip many of them in Palestinian Authority-controlled refugee camps, who live under their own leaders. [47] 820,000 Jewish refugees forced to flee without their belongings from Arab countries between 1947 and 1949, and who have never been compensated by Arab governments for their losses. [48] 650,000 Arab refugees who left Israel from 1947-1949 and still need Palestinian leaders who will end terrorism and the culture of hate. [49] Israel's withdrawal from four northern West Bank settlements created an area more than twice the size of Gaza's 140 square miles under Palestinian control and devoid of any Israeli presence. [50]


HAMAS MOVES AGAINST FATAH ‘COLLABORATORS’. Hamas has placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they might exploit the current IDF operation to regain control of Gaza. Fatah officials in Ramallah said Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs, while others had their hands broken. Sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had "executed" more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in Hamas security installations. The decision to kill the suspected collaborators was taken out of fear that Israel might try to rescue them. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL INTERRUPTS HAMAS RADIO, TV BROADCASTS IN GAZA. Hamas on Saturday accused Israel of interrupting its radio and television broadcasts in Gaza. A broadcast on Al-Aqsa television was interrupted with an image of a ringing phone that no one was answering. "Hamas leaders are hiding and they are leaving you on the front line," says a voice in Arabic. On Friday, Hamas' political supremo Khaled Meshaal was calling on Palestinians to rise up against Israel when his picture suddenly disappeared from the Al-Aqsa TV broadcast. "Hamas has misled you and abandoned you," a man's voice said in Arabic. "If you call any leader of Hamas, nobody will answer." A broadcast on Al-Aqsa radio was interrupted with a man's voice speaking in Arabic: "Hamas leaders are lying to yo u and they are hiding in hospitals. Launching rockets puts civilians in danger."


SON OF HAMAS LEADER GIVES GLIMPSE INTO TERROR ORGANIZATION. Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, says the organization betrays the Palestinian cause and tortures its own members. Yousef said he was indoctrinated at an early age to use violence to challenge Israel. He became the leader of the radical Islamic Youth Movement that celebrated suicide bombings and recruited young men to the cause. Now 30, Yousef has sought asylum in the U.S. (FOX News)


POLICEMEN KILLED IN GAZA WERE ‘IZZ AL-DIN AL-QUASSAM MEMBERS. Rashid Thabet, writing for a website identified with Hamas (Palestine-info.info, 29Dec08), praised the policemen killed in the initial Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, stating that nearly all of them were 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam [Hamas military wing] members who by day carried out security missions and by night engaged in jihad and attacks. (MEMRI)


HUNDREDS OF HAMAS MEMBERS TRAINED IN ROCKET LAUNCHING IN DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN. Hundreds of Hamas members were sent for training in Damascus and Tehran to learn to launch Katyusha and Grad 2 rockets, a former head of security in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza told Le Figaro.


BUSH: ” WE SEEK SECURITY AND PEACE FOR OUR ALLIES, THE FREE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL”. In a radio address Saturday, President Bush said: "This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas - a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction. Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup, and since then has imported thousands of guns and rockets and mortars. Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, but Hamas routinely violated that ceasefire by launching rockets into Israel. On December 19th, Hamas announced an end to the ceasefire and soon unleashed a barrage of rockets and mortars that deliberately targeted innocent Israelis - an act of terror that is opposed by the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, President Abbas." "In response to these attacks on their people, the leaders of Israel have launched military operations on Hamas positions in Gaza. As a part of their strategy, Hamas terrorists often hide within the civilian population, which puts innocent Palestinians at risk." "Another one-way ceasefire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice - there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end." "America's objectives in the Middle East will remain clear: We seek security and peace for our allies, the free people of Israel. For the Palestinian people, we seek a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state that serves its citizens and respects its neighbors." (White House)


GAZA BLOGGER PLEADS WITH HAMAS TO STOP ROCKET ATTACKS ON ISRAEL. Few bloggers are reporting from Gaza itself because of the lack of electricity, but Ramzy, a young teacher in Gaza, has made a podcast on a n independent student website in which he pleads with Hamas to stop its rocket attacks on Israel to prevent further loss of life. "I'm not Hamas, I'm not Fatah, I just care about my people....This stubbornness will lead to more Palestinian casualties and deaths in Gaza. We are the big losers here, the Palestinian people, not Hamas or Israel," Ramzy says. He says the huge imbalance of power in favor of Israel means Hamas must cease hostilities. "I call on Hamas to get out...to spare people's lives here. Hamas should really consider giving up for the sake of the people being killed." Ramzy criticizes the president of the Hamas government for saying Hamas will not give up at a time when so many Palestinians are losing their lives. (Guardian-UK)


A BRIDGE OF PRAYER. As Messianic believers we are of course much concerned in the further development of the actual situation in Israel and the Middle East. The state of event at this time may well provoke anti-Semitic disturbances in other parts of the world. That’s the reason why we – in Beit Sar Shalom – together with our Messianic fellowships have decided to build a bridge of prayer for peace in Israel. Instead of getting anxious or using angry words, we would rather turn in prayer and intercession to the God of Israel in the name of Jesus. The Lord God knows for sure better than we or any politician what may be the right solution to this conflict. In the following three weeks we would on a daily basis at 09.00 and 21.00 hours (German time) be connected in prayer for the peace of Israel. This specific timetable may be the best for people in other continents to connect with us in a determined prayer for peace. I hope that the present situation in Israel is not indifferent for any of you. That’s why I’d ask you to join us in prayer. Jesus, the Messiah Israel’s and the Prince of Peace says: “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask it shall be done for them by My Father, which is in heaven (Matt.18:19). Prayer works! Let us therefore in the next three weeks be connected in prayer every day at 09.00 and 21.00 hours for the peace of Israel. (Wladimir Pikman, leader of Beit Sar Shalom). P.S.: Please speak about this daily Bridge of Peace to others, so that much intercession will make the bridge strong. If you have any questions or comments in regard to our initiative: Please contact us: office@BeitSarShalom.org


REPORT FROM OUR FRIENDS BOAZ AND RINA: Bad weather sees two things happening. 1: It does not suit a ground force entry. The conditions are very cold and wet. It does not prohibit an entry but commanders would prefer to operate under better conditions. 2: Under cloud cover the Hamas are sending rockets without us being able to identify the launching sites. Katusha rockets reached Be’er Sheva which is 40km (25ml) away. This means that they have the ability to hit all the major cities in the South of Israel. It appears that with the call up of another 2500 reserve soldiers, Israel is amassing more force than that went into Lebanon a few years ago. This may be an attempt to deter the enemy but it could also be as a result of intelligence information confirming the need for the additional force We pray for intervention. Whether it be on the ground or from above. We would hope for the latter. Bless you all for your continued prayers. Our country and our Nation need these prayers at the moment.

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Updated: 01. januar 2010 13:49:08.