zaterdag 31 mei 2008

Kuntar zweert 'de strijd' voort te zetten na zijn vrijlating

Nog een argument tegen een gevangenenruil. Uiteraard geldt voor iedere gevangene dat je niet weet wat hij na vrijlating zal doen, maar iemand die in het verleden heeft bewezen graag Joodse kinderen te vermoorden, en belooft die praktijk weer op te pakken, zou niet vrij moeten worden gelaten. Vandaar dat de straf voor zulke misdaden in Israël levenslang is.

Kuntar vows to return to Jihad
Lebanese terrorist, who may be freed by Israel as part of prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, promises Nasrallah he will continue engaging in terror after his release
Roni Shaked YNET
Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, whom Israel has agreed to free as part of a possible prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, has vowed to continue engaging in terror after his release.

Kuntar, who was jailed in the Hadarim Prison in the Sharon region 29 years ago, after murdering the Haran family members and two police officers during a terror attack on the northern city of Nahariya, made the promise in a letter to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

The letter was first published in the Palestinian Authority's official daily newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida and was revealed by the Palestinian Media Watch.

"My dear and respectable master and commander," Kuntar wrote in the letter to Nasrallah. "Peace be with you and with our shahids (martyrs).

"I give you my promise and oath that my only place will be in the fighting front soaked with the sweat of your giving and with the blood of the shahids, the dearest people, and that I will continue your way until we reach a full victory. I send my best wishes and promise of renewed loyalty to you, sir, and to all the Jihad fighters."

Meanwhile Thursday, Kuntar said that Israel and Hizbullah were on the verge of signing an agreement to exchange prisoners that Hizbullah has preconditioned on his release.

Kuntar's statements were made through his attorney, Yaman Zidan, in an interview with the United Arab Emirates-based al-Halij daily. Kuntar said he had the utmost confidence that Nasrallah would invest every effort in securing the release of as many prisoners as possible from Israeli jails.

Zidan added that after Kuntar is set free, "vital information that has never been disclosed will be released." The attorney provided no further details.

Four additional Hizbullah terrorists, who were taken prisoners during the Second Lebanon War, are jailed in Israel and may be released as part of a prisoner swap deal.

Another prisoner, Israeli citizen Nissim Nasser, who immigrated to the Jewish state from Lebanon and was convicted of delivering information to Hizbullah, is expected to be returned to Lebanon on Sunday.

Nasser finished serving his jail sentence last month and has been held in prison since then as a bargaining chip. The State decided to deport him with the help of the Red Cross and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon after his lawyer, Attorney Smadar Ben-Natan, threatened to petition the High Court of Justice.

Smadar Peri and Roee Nahmias contributed to this report

vrijdag 30 mei 2008

Volgende week gevangenenruil tussen Israël en Hezbollah?

Kleine correcties op het vorige bericht: Ron Arad werd niet vermist sinds 1987 maar sinds 1986; hij was navigator in een IAF vliegtuig. Kuntar vermoordde in 1979 geen gezin van 4, maar een vader, dochter en 2 politieagenten. Het andere dochtertje stikte toen haar moeder haar mond dichthield om te voorkomen dat zij hun schuilplaats verraadde...
Ook Yossi Beilin is voor het principe dat alleen levende gevangenen voor nog levende soldaten worden uitgewisseld.


Last update - 03:23 28/05/2008      
Hezbollah spy to be released next week
Israel will release convicted Hezbollah spy Nassim Nasser from administrative detention and return him to Lebanon on Sunday, as an unofficial first step in a prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israel has not formally said that Nasser's release is part of the deal, in which Hezbollah is expected to free Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the two Israeli reservists whose July 2006 abduction sparked the Second Lebanon War. In exchange for the two reservists, Israel will release six Lebanese prisoners and return the bodies of 10 Hezbollah militants.

Israeli officials think the relatively low price Israel is expected to pay for Regev and Goldwasser appears to indicate that they are no longer alive.
Nasser, a Lebanese citizen reportedly born to a Shi'ite Muslim father and Jewish mother, was sentenced in 2002 to six years in prison for spying for Hezbollah. He finished serving his sentence early this year, but he was subsequently held in administrative detention, apparently so that he could be used as a bargaining chip in a deal for the release of Regev and Goldwasser.

Nasser's lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said she has been notified that her client, who received Israeli citizenship after moving to Israel but has since had his citizenship revoked, would be deported to Lebanon on Sunday. He will be returned via the Rosh Hanikra crossing, with the assistance of the Red Cross and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

Nasser's release is slated to be followed by that of Samir Kuntar, who murdered the Haran family in Nahariya 29 years ago, and four Hezbollah operatives captured by the IDF during the Second Lebanon War.

Lebanese television stations reported yesterday that Israel has agreed to release Kuntar without receiving information from Hezbollah about the fate of Ron Arad, an Israeli navigator who went missing over Lebanon in 1986. Israel said in 2004, as part of the second phase of a deal that secured the release of captured Israeli businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum, that it would not release Kuntar without receiving information on Arad. Israeli intelligence officials said that since then, Hezbollah has made a significant effort to find the place in Lebanon where it thinks Arad is buried, but has produced no results.

It may be that Hezbollah will attempt to fulfill its commitment to provide information on Arad in exchange for Kuntar's release by providing Israel with the details of its efforts to locate Arad. An Israeli concession on this matter requires a cabinet decision.

Officials involved in similar deals in the past told Haaretz the prisoner swap might still take weeks, or even months. Even if Israel and Hezbollah have agreed on the prisoner exchange - a report that Israel has not officially confirmed - there are still many technical matters that need to be resolved, including the details of how and when the exchange will take place.

Several political and military officials have said there is no reason to give Hezbollah live prisoners in exchange for dead soldiers' bodies, but that nonetheless appears to be the formula. Defense officials said the number of Lebanese prisoners slated to be released is relatively low and that the deal is a reasonable price to pay to close the outstanding issues from the Second Lebanon War.

MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz-Yahad) is calling on Israel not to free Kuntar, or any other prisoner with blood on his hands, if Regev and Goldwasser are dead.

"The principle must always be the living for the living and the dead for the dead," Beilin said. "I don't think we need to give live detainees in exchange for prisoners who are not alive."

Israel has previously released living prisoners in exchange for dead bodies. In 1998 Israel freed 60 detainees in exchange for the body of naval commando fighter Itamar Iliya, who was killed in Lebanon in September 1997. Beilin said he fiercely objected to that deal as well, which he said set the precedent for such swaps.

Gevangenenruil: lichamen voor lichamen - levens voor levens

Aaron Lerner slaat de spijker op zijn kop in onderstaand commentaar.
De kans dat de in 2006 door Hezbollah ontvoerde soldaten nog leven wordt klein geacht. Toch lijkt Israël bereid om 5 Libanese gevangenen, waaronder een terrorist (Samir Kuntar) die vier keer levenslang heeft gekregen voor het koelbloedig vermoorden van 4 leden van een Israëlisch gezin, inclusief kinderen, vrij te laten in ruil voor de soldaten - of hun lichamen.
Hezbollah weigert uitsluitsel te geven over het feit of ze nog leven, en waarschijnlijk blijkt dit pas op het moment dat zij - of hun lichamen - aan Israël worden overgedragen. Israël zou uitsluitsel hierover als voorwaarde voor verdere onderhandelingen moeten stellen, en Kuntar alleen vrijlaten wanneer zij nog leven, of zelfs helemaal niet, want oorspronkelijk zou hij alleen worden vrijgelaten in ruil voor informatie over de sinds 1987 vermiste Ron Arad.

Weekly Commentary: Bodies for bodies - lives for lives

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 29 May 2008

It is intuitive.

Yes. And it is painful.

But it is a policy that would ultimately both save lives and put an end to the torturously nightmarish situation of uncertainty that the families of our captured soldiers frequently endure.

Bodies for bodies.

Lives for lives.

No exceptions.

If you are planning to capture an Israeli to swap you damn well better make sure he doesn't die during the operation or later in captivity.

The kind of operation that unavoidably wounded IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev as they were taken captive in July 2006 would not have been carried out in the first place if the terrorists knew they were taking a big risk that their efforts would ultimately only yield a body swap.

The nation's hearts go out to the families of the POW/MIA's, but the families of future kidnapping targets also have rights.

Trading live terrorists for bodies could very well mean the unnecessary death of future targets.

Yes.  The nation has an obligation to return its soldiers - both living and dead.

But its obligation to prevent future unnecessary deaths takes precedence.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

donderdag 29 mei 2008

Haaretz poll: 70 procent Israëli's gelooft Olmert niet

Lees ook Ami Isseroff's commentaar: Ehud Olmert's $150,000 misunderstanding

Haaretz poll: 70 percent of Israelis don't believe Olmert
By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 11:14  28/05/2008

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has lost the trust of his party and more importantly, the public's trust, in the latest corruption affair under which he is being investigated.

In a survey conducted Tuesday night, after key witness Morris Talansky delivered his testimony, 70 percent of those polled said they do not believe Olmert's version that the money he received from the American businessman went only for his election campaigns.

What is even worse for him, 51 percent of his own party's voters don't believe him either.

Olmert's lawyers are right: According to the law, it is not at all clear whether there is something illegal in Olmert's dealings with his own private bank, the "Talansky Bank."

It is certainly worth waiting for the cross examination on July 17. It is likely to reveal contradictions about the sums of money, or to refute a story or two like the luxurious family vacation in Italy, which Olmert's attorneys claim never happened.

But no cross examination, no matter how brilliant and effective it may be, will save the politician Ehud Olmert. It will not polish his image nor remove the stench rising from the description of his relationship with Talansky. It will never return Olmert to the days before the investigation.

Publicly, Olmert is finished. There is no going back. Talansky's initial testimony Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court will forever hover like a toxic cloud over the prime minster, wherever he goes - until he finally goes.

That is the small difference between a newspaper headline and testimony under oath in court.

The suspicions against Ariel Sharon in the Greek Island and Cyril Kern affairs were no less serious, maybe even more so. But the Sharon investigations never reached the courtroom. And, in any case, people were willing to forgive Sharon for anything.

His heir, Olmert, is now considered politically dead. In the political arena and in his party, Kadima, he no longer counts. So what are they counting? The money hidden in the envelopes that he took, according to Talansky, well after the primary elections ended.

The story that unfolded Tuesday in the Jerusalem courtroom was a guide to the good life, Olmert-style: luxury suites, fountain pens, cigars, first-class flights and the fixer who paid for it all.

In the best possible light, Olmert is a crass hedonist. In the worst, there are various crimes hiding inside the story, which the prosecution will decide on, when it is ready. No one was ever forced out of office for hedonism, but what makes the situation unbearable is the cash, the green bills that passed from Talansky to Olmert for such a long time without being reported, without accounting and without a trace - except for what was written in Shula Zaken's diaries.

It is hard to say whether Tuesday's testimony will have immediate political effects. It is likely that it won't. Ehud Barak does not intend to quit the government in the foreseeable future, and Tzipi Livni will not quit. They will leave Olmert twisting in the wind.

Olmert's confidantes asked Tuesday what was the difference between his case and that of Benjamin Netanyahu's pleasure trips to London and Paris, which were also paid for with huge sums by various millionaires. Why, asked Olmert's friends, did Bibi get out of it cheaply, while Olmert is being pursued by the prosecution?

Sooner or later, when Olmert will be a former prime minister, he will sit at home and wonder why he needed all this disgusting trouble. But it will be too late.

Nieuw PA battalion voor Westoever

De laatste maanden wordt er intensiever samengewerkt tussen Israël en veiligheidstroepen van de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Dit biedt nieuwe kansen en hoop voor de toekomst, maar er kleven ook risico's aan. In hoeverre zullen deze troepen echt bereid zijn om de eigen extremisten aan te pakken? Zij worden door veel Palestijnen als martelaren gezien die voor het vaderland en legitieme Palestijnse rechten strijden. Anderzijds weet en ziet de PA dat men zo meer van Israël gedaan krijgt dan door aanslagen. Zal het pragmatisme de boventoon blijven voeren?

New PA battalion to deploy in W. Bank

A battalion of some 600 Palestinian soldiers will return to the West Bank on Wednesday for possible deployment in Tulkarm or Kalkilya after completing training in Jordan.

The decision on where the new battalion would be stationed, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday, would be up to the IDF and based on the performance of another battalion that was allowed to take over security control in the Jenin area last month. The Jenin plan, formulated by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, is part of a test to see if Palestinian Authority forces can enforce law and order and curb terrorism.

Under the plan, restrictions on the movement of Palestinian businessmen in the Jenin area have been eased.

Until a final decision is made on their deployment, the 600 soldiers returning from Jordan will take up positions in Jericho.

Officials also said that starting on Sunday, a third Palestinian battalion is slated to travel to Jordan for training conducted by American contractors under the supervision of the US security coordinator to the region, Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.

On Tuesday, the head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tibon met with PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein a-Sheikh at his office in Ramallah. It was the first time in recent years that a coordination meeting took place in the city.
The IDF officers urged Sheikh to order the PA battalion in Jenin to take more action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The officials said that while the battalion was doing an effective job at enforcing the law and closing down Hamas charities, it had yet to begin actually confronting the terrorists.

Under the Jenin plan, the IDF retains operational freedom in the area but works more closely with the PA and tries to coordinate its operations with local Palestinian commanders.

Sheikh reiterated a Palestinian request, which had been conveyed recently to Israel by Dayton and rejected, for body armor and night-vision goggles, as well as electronic systems that the PA wanted to use to set up a military-style communications network. On Tuesday, the IDF officers said they would review the request.

Egyptische politie ontdekt 500 kg TNT bij Rafah

Dit is waarschijnlijk het topje van de ijsberg, gezien de continue verbetering van het bereik van de qassam- en gradraketten, en de waarschuwingen van de Israëlische veiligheidsdienst wat betreft Hamas' opbouw van een guerrilla leger. Egypte en Israël zouden opening van de grens afhankelijk moeten maken van een einde aan de wapensmokkel, niet van de vraag of er een gevangenenruil komt waarin Shalit wordt vrijgelaten.

Egyptian police uncover 500 kg TNT near Rafah
TNT was hidden in 10 bags near border crossing. Egyptian police also discover various weapons from around 30 years ago hidden in central Sinai village
Associated Press
Published: 05.27.08, 19:20
Despite talks of a truce, the Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza continue their attempts of smuggling various weapons through Egypt into the Strip. An Egyptian security official says police have uncovered a cache containing 500 kilograms of TNT hidden in 10 sacks near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The official said the TNT was found in a deserted area 500 meters away from the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Police also found a second weapons cache Tuesday in Qudaima village in central Sinai. It contained a few packets of TNT and weapons left over from Egypt's wars with Israel, including mortar shells and rockets.

During the past few years the Palestinians have made many attempts to smuggle weapons through tunnels underneath the border between Gaza and Egypt. Recently Egyptian police have become more involved in tracking down these weapons, and have made many discoveries of such weapons, intended for the use of terrorists in the Strip.

In March police discovered 500 kilograms of TNT and 40 land mines. An Egyptian official said they discovered the weapons in two separate areas close to the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian police also discovered six tunnels that had been used to smuggle arms between Sinai and Gaza, and destroyed them. The tunnels had been dug beneath agricultural and settled areas.

dinsdag 27 mei 2008

Risiko's en kansen voor Israël door Hezbollah's gegroeide invloed

Een interessante analyse. Het volgende is waarschijnlijk wishful thinking:

Beyond this, one may speculate that Hizbollah's taking control of Lebanon will bring about a new awareness on the part of various international elements of the "Iranian threat." To date, the concerns of the international community regarding Iran have focused on its intention to develop nuclear capabilities. Hizbollah's taking control of Lebanon would bring the danger inherent in Iran into sharper relief, not only regarding the nuclear question but also vis-à-vis the stability of other pro-Western regimes in the region, chief among them Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf states. Such a development might very well match the interests of the State of Israel.

Dat dacht ik ook toen Hezbollah met hulp van Iran bleek tienduizenden raketten te hebben, en zuid-Libanon in een grote bunker had veranderd. Dat dacht ik zeker toen men twee Israëlische soldaten had gekidnapt, 8 gedood, en die raketten begon af te vuren op Israëlische burgers. Ik dacht het toen Achmadinejad zijn Holocaust-onkennings-conferentie organiseerde, toen duidelijk werd dat Iran Hamas traint en van wapens voorziet, toen Hezbollah de Libanese politiek lamlegde en weigerde met de vorige presidentskandidaten in te stemmen, toen de ene na de andere politicus of journalist die anti-Syrisch was werd geliquideerd, etc. etc.

Hezbollah heeft met zijn veto recht inmiddels practisch de controle over Libanon, een 'compromis' dat ze mede door haar recente machtsvertoon in Beiroet heeft afgedwongen, maar tot nu toe is van dat nieuwe bewustzijn nog niet veel gebleken. De Veiligheidsraad gaf officieel haar goedkeuring aan de deal en bedankte Qatar voor zijn bemiddelende rol.
Als mensen een bepaald gevaar of probleem niet willen zien, zijn ze in staat om lang de andere kant op te blijven kijken.


Hizbollah's Increased Strength: Risks and Opportunities for Israel
INSS Insight No. 57, May 26, 2008
Shalom, Zaki

One tangible aftermath of the Second Lebanon War and the agreement that concluded it is an increase in Hizbollah's strength. In fact, this agreement increases the possibility of Hizbollah's taking over all or large parts of Lebanon, which entails severe dangers for Israel. For Hizbollah, war against Israel is a supreme goal, and it has indeed inflicted many significant casualties. It is responsible for a long list of terrorist attacks against Israel and Jewish targets, including two atrocities in Argentina. Hizbollah also attacked American and French forces stationed in Lebanon, which prompted their hurried withdrawal.

     Israel's decision to withdraw from southern Lebanon in May 2000 has been attributed, and with much justification, to the years-long difficult war imposed by Hizbollah. This war cost Israel heavy casualties, and is what finally led to the growing public protest against the Israeli presence in southern Lebanon. According to many, this withdrawal strengthened the Palestinians' belief that exerting heavy pressure on Israel through terrorist attacks would lead to further withdrawals and represented a significant cause for the outbreak of the intifada in late September 2000.   

    Since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbollah has succeeded in rehabilitating its forces to a great extent. According to various reports, Hizbollah today has tens of thousands of missiles, some of them long range, and is capable of inflicting very serious damaged deep into Israel. Thus, the risks involved in Hizbollah taking control of Lebanon are quite apparent. Less apparent are the pluses that may emerge from this process.

Since its establishment Israel has maintained that any country that shelters terrorists who attack Israel is responsible for their activities. Israel, according to this principle, does not have to pursue a terrorist organization staging operations against it from the territory of a sovereign state. Rather, it is up to the sovereign state in which the organization operates to do so. If hostile actions are taken against Israel, the country harboring the terrorist organizations is accountable and must pay the price. The goal is to prompt the country itself to take the requisite steps to stop the attacks.

In practice, particularly in the Lebanese context, Israel has found it difficult to realize this doctrine fully. For many years Lebanon has been ruled by moderate, pro-West leaders. This leadership views Hizbollah as a bitter and hostile rival, and it too is interested in clipping the organization's wings. At the same time, Lebanese leaders are afraid of a confrontation, and in practice allow Hizbollah to operate against Israel in a "bloodletting" effort, while stressing their inability to restrain the organization. When Israel responds against Lebanon, the Lebanese leadership uses its good relations with Western countries, in particular the United States and the moderate Arab countries, to exert pressure on Israel not to harm it.

This phenomenon was evidenced in prominent fashion on July 12, 2006. In a Cabinet discussion held after the serious consequences of that day's Hizbollah operation became clear, then-Chief of Staff Dan Halutz proposed attacking infrastructure installations in Lebanon, including electric plants, oil refineries, and water sources. His suggestion was supported by a number of ministers. However, the senior political echelon, and in particular the prime minister, defense minister, and minister of foreign affairs, vetoed the idea. The reason: unequivocal clarifications received by Israel that very same day from senior levels in the American administration and the British government to the effect that Israel must refrain from damaging Lebanese targets because this might undermine the stability of the pro-Western government headed by Fouad Siniora. Consequently, the proposal was shelved.

We lack adequate tools to assess whether that proposal, if implemented, would have generated an essentially different outcome from the events of July-August 2006. Nonetheless, it is clear that an American-British veto of this option stemmed from the fact that the official government in Lebanon was pro-Western and enjoyed the support of the United States. The fact that Israel was not able to exercise the option to attack Lebanon represents a significant constraint on Israel's freedom to maneuver.

Should Hizbollah in fact take control of Lebanon, Israel's options of maneuvering vis-à-vis Hizbollah are significantly increased. It will become clear to all sides that no international element will get involved to protect Hizbollah from Israeli attacks. Obviously, this does not mean that Israel would necessarily attack Lebanon's infrastructure should Hizbollah cast down the gauntlet. Beyond international constraints, the Israeli leadership also has to contend with a set of legal and normative, value-based constraints and restrictions that would make it very difficult indeed for Israel to take steps against civilian infrastructure. This has become clear in Israel's refraining from damaging the electrical and fuel infrastructures of the Gaza Strip under Hamas control. At the same time, there is no doubt that Hizbollah's taking control of Lebanon would expand Israel's ability to maneuver vis-à-vis Lebanon in case of another armed conflict, at least from the international perspective.

From Israel's own perspective, Hizbollah is first and foremost a body representing a military threat against Israel. However, Hizbollah is also a powerful body with economic and financial assets, and an organization with far-reaching political ambitions. Therefore, in any military confrontation with Israel, if Hizbollah holds the reins of leadership it would conclude that there is nothing stopping Israel from severely damaging its assets. The very awareness of this fact, i.e., that there would not be anyone trying to delimit Israel's scope of action in terms of damaging Lebanon, may cause it to refrain from a confrontation with Israel.

Beyond this, one may speculate that Hizbollah's taking control of Lebanon will bring about a new awareness on the part of various international elements of the "Iranian threat." To date, the concerns of the international community regarding Iran have focused on its intention to develop nuclear capabilities. Hizbollah's taking control of Lebanon would bring the danger inherent in Iran into sharper relief, not only regarding the nuclear question but also vis-à-vis the stability of other pro-Western regimes in the region, chief among them Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf states. Such a development might very well match the interests of the State of Israel.

UNRWA: een Barriere voor Vrede

UNRWA is onderdeel van het probleem, niet van de oplossing. Naast ondergenoemde bezwaren houdt UNRWA het irreële verlangen naar terugkeer naar Israël in stand, en dit is een van de belangrijkste redenen dat men projecten voor permanente huisvesting voor de vluchtelingen afwijst als dit buiten Israël zal plaatsvinden. Een terugkeer van alle vluchtelingen en hun nakomelingen (circa 5 miljoen) betekent uiteraard het einde van Israël, en is dus tegenstrijdig met de ook door de Palestijnse Autoriteit en de VN geaccepteerde tweestatenoplossing.

UNRWA: Barrier to Peace
Jonathan Spyer

Perspectives Papers No. 44, May 27, 2008

Executive Summary: The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) was created under the jurisdiction of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with the unique responsibility of solely aiding the Palestinians. Due to this special status, the UNRWA perpetuates, rather than resolves, the Palestinian refugee issue, and therefore serves as a major obstacle toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like no other UN body, UNRWA's definition of refugees includes not only the refugees themselves, but also their descendents. Moreover, refugees keep their status even if they have gained citizenship. UNRWA employs teachers affiliated with Hamas and allows the dissemination of Hamas messages in its schools. The Hamas coup in Gaza of July 2007 has resulted in a Hamas takeover of UNRWA facilities there. Therefore, UNRWA's activities require urgent action. The Agency should be dissolved and its services transferred to more appropriate administering organizations.


Millions of refugees worldwide - over 130 million since the end of World War II - have come under the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which aims to resettle and rehabilitate refugees. On December 8, 1949, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 302, establishing an agency dedicated solely to "direct relief and works programs" for the Palestinian Arab refugees - UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency) - making it a unique body.

UNRWA exists in order to perpetuate, rather than to resolve, the Palestinian refugee issue.  No Palestinian has ever lost his or her refugee status. There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are citizens of Jordan, for example - yet as far as UNRWA is concerned they are still refugees, eligible for aid.  UNRWA, over the past 60 years, has transformed itself into a central vehicle for the perpetuation of the refugee problem, and into a major obstacle for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Problem of Definition

When UNRWA first began counting refugees in 1948, it did so in a way without precedent - seeking to maximize the number of those defined as refugees. UNRWA counts every descendant of the original refugees as a refugee themselves - leading to an increase of 400 percent in the number since 1948.
This was a politically motivated definition to imply that either Palestinians would remain refugees forever or until the day that they returned in a triumph to a Palestinian Arab state that included the territory where Israel existed. If they built lives elsewhere, even after many generations - decades or centuries - they still remained officially refugees. In contrast to other situations around the world, other refugees only retained that status until they found permanent homes elsewhere, presumably as citizens of other countries.

Moreover, refugee status was based solely on the applicant's word. Even UNRWA admitted its figures were inflated in a 1998 Report of the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (July 1997-30 June 1998): "UNRWA registration figures are based on information voluntarily supplied by refugees primarily for the purpose of obtaining access to Agency services and hence cannot be considered statistically valid demographic data."

Fostering Conflict

In October 2004, then UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Hansen publicly admitted for the first time that Hamas members were on the UNWRA payroll, adding, "I don't see that as a crime. Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another." Consequently, taxpayers' money in countries where Hamas was legally defined as a terrorist organization, like the United States and Canada, was being illegally used to fund Hamas-controlled activities.

Hanson's view that Hamas was a normal political organization whose doctrines did not interfere with the governance and education of Palestinians remains the position of UNRWA. This has been so even when Hamas has committed violence against other Palestinians. After the organization seized Gaza by force in July 2007, UNRWA immediately indicated to Hamas that it was eager to get back to providing its services. Nothing was changed in its procedure or performance after the takeover.

A graphic demonstration of this issue was the death of Awad al-Qiq in May 2008. Qiq had a long career as a science teacher in an UNRWA school and had been promoted to run its Rafah Prep Boys School. He was also the leading bombmaker for Islamic Jihad. He was killed while supervising a factory to make rockets and other weapons for use against Israel, located a short distance from the school. Qiq was thus simultaneously building weapons for attacking Israeli civilians while indoctrinating his students to do the same. Islamic Jihad did not need to pay him a salary for his terrorist activities. The UN and the American taxpayer were already doing so.

The increasing numbers of UNRWA teachers who openly identify with radical groups have created a teachers' bloc that ensures the election of members of Hamas and individuals committed to Islamist ideologies. Using classrooms as a place to spread their radical messages, these teachers have also gravitated to local Palestinian elections. Thus, UNRWA's education system has become a springboard for the political activities of Hamas. For example, Minister of Interior and Civil Affairs Minister Saeed Siyam of Hamas, was a teacher in UNRWA schools in Gaza from 1980 to 2003. He then became a member of UNRWA's Arab Employees Union, and has headed the Teachers Sector Committee. Other notable Hamas graduates of the UNRWA education system include Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, the former Hamas chief.

Fostering Dependency

UNRWA's budget has been supported by many countries of which the United States and Western countries have been the largest contributors. In 1990, UNRWA's annual budget was over $292 million, and by 2000 it had increased to $365 million. Despite this seemingly significant rise, however, actual allocations among the various refugee camps has decreased - compounded by a very high birth rate and burgeoning camp populations. Refugees were discouraged from moving out and had the incentive of being on welfare if they remained.

Per capita spending among refugees in camps thus declined from $200 in services per year per refugee in the 1970s to about $70 currently. This situation has been most evident in Lebanon, where the government provides little if any additional assistance to the Palestinians.

UNRWA provides jobs to a large number of Palestinians (it has a full time staff of 23,000). While the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) avoid employing locals who are also recipients of agency services, UNRWA does not make this distinction. UNRWA thus keeps a large population of refugees and their descendants in a permanent state of welfare dependency, financed by the western taxpayer. In so doing, it acts as a barrier to attempts to make the refugees into productive citizens. Bureaucracies have a tendency to become self-perpetuating.  In the case of UNRWA, this tendency is exacerbated by the fact that the organization's raison d'etre is the preserving of a refugee problem, rather than finding a solution for it.


The UN erred when it created a UN body devoted exclusively to one refugee population and with a modus operandi contradicting that of all other relief institutions.

Four steps are required to bring the international approach to the Palestinian refugee issue in line with standard practice on similar situations.

First, UNRWA itself should be dissolved. Second, the services UNRWA currently provides should be transferred to other UN agencies, notably the UNHCR, which have a long experience with such programs. Third, responsibility for normal social services should be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. A large portion of the UNRWA staff should be transferred to that governmental authority. Fourth, donors should use the maximum amount of oversight to ensure transparency and accountability.

Jonathan Spyer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

BESA Perspectives is published through the generosity of the Littauer Foundation.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

IDF overweegt bufferzone rond Gazastrook

Opgepast journalisten en andere critici: het betreft hier een plan voor een bufferzone in Israël:
According to the plan, some of the crossings would be cancelled and others moved slightly east and into Israel in order to create a buffer zone between the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the crossings.
De reden hiervoor, en voor de veelvuldige sluiting van de grensovergangen, is niet Zionistische wreedheid maar Palestijnse aanvallen:
Meanwhile on Monday, the Erez crossing remained closed. According to Palestinian officials around 200,000 people in northern Gaza still don't have running water or power due to last Thursday's truck bomb explosion.
A Gaza electric company spokesman said Monday that there has not been any power since Islamic Jihad detonated the truck bomb, cutting two of the seven major power lines that come in from Israel. The IDF says it is trying to fix the lines.

Israël probeert te repareren wat Hamas en Islamitische Jihad kapot maken, terwijl men ondertussen onder vuur ligt van de Qassam en Grad raketten. Maar dat hoor je zelden op het nieuws.

IDF considers Gaza Strip buffer zone

In an effort to minimize chances of successful terrorist attacks against Israel, the IDF is drawing up plans to move the Gaza crossings away from Israel's border, defense officials said Monday.

There are currently four crossings into Gaza - Karni, Erez, Kerem Shalom and Sufa, all of which straddle the tense Israeli-Gaza border.

Plans to move the crossings and reduce them in number began last month, shortly after Palestinians perpetrated a car bombing against the Kerem Shalom crossing in which 11 soldiers were wounded.

Last Thursday, a truck laden with four tons of explosives blew up on the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing, causing extensive damages but no Israeli casualties. The plan to move the crossings several kilometers deeper into Israel is being coordinated by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i, together with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, and the Shin Bet.

"We want to create a sterile area between the crossings that would reduce the risk of car bombs and other attacks against the crossings," said a defense official working on the project.

According to the plan, some of the crossings would be cancelled and others moved slightly east and into Israel in order to create a buffer zone between the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the crossings.

The project could cost several hundred million shekels. As the plan could be implemented in the coming months, Vilna'i has ordered the Defense Ministry to refrain from investing the several million shekels needed to fix Kerem Shalom, which has been closed since the attack last month.

Officials are also considering building conveyer belts to transfer supplies across the buffer zone and into Gaza. This method is already used at Karni to transfer wheat and other cereals.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Erez crossing remained closed. According to Palestinian officials around 200,000 people in northern Gaza still don't have running water or power due to last Thursday's truck bomb explosion.

A Gaza electric company spokesman said Monday that there has not been any power since Islamic Jihad detonated the truck bomb, cutting two of the seven major power lines that come in from Israel. The IDF says it is trying to fix the lines.

Palestinian Authority security officials said Monday that Egypt has beefed up security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip to foil any attempt by Hamas to breach the border.

According to the officials, the Egyptian move came in the wake of threats made by Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal during his visit to Iran last weekend. Mashaal told reporters in Teheran that Hamas was "determined" to lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and would not hesitate to use all methods to achieve its goal.

Following the threats, the Egyptians also issued a warning to Hamas against breaching the border for the second time since the beginning of the year. Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt after Hamas militiamen blew up large parts of the barrier between them along the Egyptian border.
"The Egyptians have made it clear to Hamas that they won't allow a repetition of the incident that took place earlier this year when Egypt's sovereignty was flagrantly violated," a PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. "The warning was delivered to Hamas late Sunday." An Egyptian diplomat confirmed that his country has issued a warning to Hamas.

The diplomat told the Post that Egypt was concerned about Mashaal's threats and would not tolerate another violation of its sovereignty. "Egypt won't permit anyone to harm its national interests," he said. "If in the past we were patient, this time we would be forced to take severe measures to defend our interests."
Eyewitnesses in the Gaza Strip said Egypt had increased the number of their border guards and security patrols along the border in the past 24 hours in anticipation of any trouble.

Some Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said the Egyptians are planning to hold another round of talks with representatives of the movement in the coming days in a final bid to achieve a cease-fire with Israel.

The officials said that Israel's refusal to accept Hamas's demands for a cease-fire were the main reason behind the failure of the cease-fire talks so far.
Hamas is demanding that the Rafah border crossing be reopened immediately after the two sides reach an agreement on a cease-fire - a demand that has been rejected by Israel.

"The talks are going no where," said a senior Hamas official. "We are evolving in a vicious cycle because Israel does not appear to be interested in a truce at this stage." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the results of last week's talks in Cairo between a senior Hamas delegation and Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman were not encouraging.

"Israel wants a free truce," he claimed. "They don't want to pay a price, especially with regards to lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip. Our position is that a truce should lead to the lifting of the siege and an end to the Israeli aggression." The Hamas officials said that their movement was preparing for the possibility that Israel would launch a massive military attack on the Gaza Strip as soon as the Egyptians officially declare the failure of their efforts to achieve a cease-fire. They believe that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may consider such action as a means of diverting attention from the police inquiry into his financial dealings.

AP contributed to this report.

Wapenstilstand in Gazastrook lijkt nog ver weg

As a counterweight to the views of the Shin Bet chief, however, it is worth recalling that Hezbollah has an arsenal of rockets that can reach targets throughout the northern two-thirds of the country - yet Israel is not embarking on a military operation against the extremist Lebanese group.
Naarmate Hezbollah zich steeds verder en openlijker bewapent terwijl UNIFIL ernaar staat te kijken maar dit zelfs maar weigert te rapporteren, komt een nieuwe oorlog met Israël dichterbij. Een verschil met Hamas is dat Hezbollah momenteel geen raketten afschiet op Israëlische steden. Een belangrijker argument tegen deze vergelijking is echter dat het erg genoeg is dat Hezbollah het merendeel van Israël kan beschieten, en Israël zeker niet zit te wachten op een tweede vijand die dat ook kan.

Last update - 07:54 26/05/2008

The Gaza front / Truce looks farther away

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents

An incident last week that received little attention at the time is now impacting on Egypt's cease-fire initiative in the Gaza Strip. The attack on the Erez crossing last Thursday, which caused no Israeli casualties, quickly disappeared from the media headlines. But the defense establishment has a very different view of the incident, which involved a truck laden with several tons of explosives and driven by an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber. According to the defense establishment, only its correct deployment of its forces prevented the attack from succeeding.

Both the Shin Bet security service and the army see this incident as a "near miss" that raises many questions about the future. Both concluded from it that Hamas, which is in charge in the Strip, is sufficiently confident to initiate showcase attacks against Israel even when it is holding indirect talks on a tahadiyeh (truce). A similar attack against the Kerem Shalom crossing a month ago resulted in injuries to 11 Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

The attempt on Erez, in parallel with the continuous rocket attacks on communities bordering the Gaza Strip, may serve as grounds for the Israel Defense Forces to intensify its operations against Hamas even as Egypt is trying to mediate a truce. Those supporting such escalation argue that without it, Israel will enter the tahadiyeh from a position of weakness, which will only encourage provocations by militant Palestinian groups.

Thus the cease-fire that appeared relatively near at the Sharm al-Sheikh conference last week is now a little further away.

There are also other reasons for this, of which one is the vast distance between the parties' positions regarding the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. For the time being, Hamas is rejecting Israel's demand that significant progress be achieved in the talks on Shalit as part of the cease-fire negotiations. Moreover, Hamas is demanding an immediate lifting of the blockade on the Strip, which Israel would like to see lifted only gradually, conditional on progress in the Shalit deal and on compliance with the truce.

But senior Hamas officials say that Shalit is not the obstacle to the tahadiyeh, since Israel has not made his release a condition of the deal.

It is also impossible to ignore the implications for the cease-fire talks of the political instability in Israel that has been sparked by the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Two Kadima ministers, Haim Ramon and Meir Sheetrit, have flanked Olmert on the right by calling on him not to negotiate with Hamas. Moreover, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet yesterday that Hamas has rockets capable of striking as far as Ashdod and Kiryat Gat. He also did not hide his opinion that at the end of the day, a military operation will be necessary in order to remove the rocket threat on Israel from the Strip.

As a counterweight to the views of the Shin Bet chief, however, it is worth recalling that Hezbollah has an arsenal of rockets that can reach targets throughout the northern two-thirds of the country - yet Israel is not embarking on a military operation against the extremist Lebanese group.

Other relevant factors include Israel's wish to avoid diplomatic friction with Egypt, which a rejection of its mediation efforts might cause, and its desire to acquire the broadest possible international support for any large-scale military operation in Gaza.

But even the tahadiyeh's supporters in the cabinet only talk about it in terms of a lull - a bit of breathing room. They say it is very possible that in a few months, it will still be necessary to carry out a major operation in the Gaza Strip. But for now, they argue, the wise move is to buy some time - inter alia, due to regional developments that range from the talks with Syria to the debate within the Bush administration over how to deal with Iran.

In response to the dual threat posed by rockets and truck bombs, the IDF has begun evacuating noncombat soldiers to safer locations. That decision has evoked a bitter response from civilians in communities near Gaza, as it has fed their suspicions that the state attributes greater importance to the lives of soldiers - whose job is to protect civilians - than to the lives of the civilians themselves.

UNIFIL negeert overtredingen VN resolutie door Hezbollah

According to the Security Council resolution, which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, armed Hezbollah militants are not supposed to be present south of the Litani river.
Sterker nog, volgens deze resolutie mag alleen het Libanese leger wapens dragen, en moeten alle andere groeperingen worden ontwapend. Dit is overeenkomstig eerdere akkoorden die tussen de Libanese facties zijn gesloten.
Aanvankelijk droeg Hezbllah nog niet openlijk wapens in zuid-Libanon, maar nu doet men niet eens meer zijn best dit te verhullen. Men weet dat UNIFIL toch niks doet, en nu dus zelfs geen foto's meer maakt of incidenten rapporteert.  
Strugger said that "the situation south of the Litani River is calm. Hezbollah is a social group that runs many charity organizations."
De situatie is rustig omdat niemand Hezbollah confronteert, en het rustig door kan gaan met de opbouw van een indrukwekkend wapenarsenaal voor de volgende confrontatie met Israël of met andere Libanese groeperingen.
Dit is een van de vele zaken, die de media hier nauwelijks interesseert. Als er een volgende oorlog met Israël uitbreekt, is immers duidelijk wie de agressor is en de arme onschuldige Libanezen naar de steentijd bombardeert.

Israel: UNIFIL is ignoring Hezbollah violations in south Lebanon
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 11:02 26/05/2008

Israel has submitted a complaint to United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon against the commander of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) General Claudio Graziono and UNIFIL official Milosh Strugger for giving interviews to the Lebanese press in which they ignored violations of UN resolution 1701.

According to the Security Council resolution, which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, armed Hezbollah militants are not supposed to be present south of the Litani river.

In their interviews to the Lebanese media, both Graziono and Strugger spoke of UNIFIL's success in southern Lebanon. Graziono said that the only violations of the resolution were by Israel, who have continued to conduct flyovers in Lebanese air space.

Strugger said that "the situation south of the Litani River is calm. Hezbollah is a social group that runs many charity organizations."

Israel is also concerned about the new instructions that were given to UNIFIL troops following recent incidents in which UNIFIL soldiers managed to take photos of armed Hezbollah militants. In some of these instances, Hezbollah managed to grab hold of the photography equipment. UNIFIL now instructs its soldiers not to take pictures of Hezbollah.

According to Forign Ministry officials, Graziono is totally ignoring Israel's claims that the Hezbollah have an armed

Gevangenenruil Israël met Hezbollah op komst - Hamas volgt?

Dit is een van de argumenten tegen een gevangenenruil met Hamas en Hezbollah:
The release of Kuntar and other Lebanese prisoners would boost Hizbullah's standing in Lebanon, particularly after the recent wave of violence in Beirut.
Hizbullah, Arab political analysts said Monday, is desperately in need of improving its image following allegations that its fighters acted like gangsters when they captured large parts of the Lebanese capital.
Similarly, a prisoner exchange with Hamas would bolster the movement's standing among the Palestinians, the analysts noted. They said that the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners, including some from the rival Fatah faction, would certainly earn Hamas more points on the Palestinian street.
Wat is Israëls belang in het vergroten van de populariteit van Hamas en Hezbollah?? Dit is een perfecte aansporing om meer soldaten te ontvoeren, zodat meer van dergelijke gevangenendeals kunnen worden gesloten. Dit gaat ten koste van de democratisch gekozen en gematigdere partijen in Libanon en de Palestijnse gebieden.
Abbas, Hamas meet in surprise move

Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST May. 26, 2008

In a surprise move, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met late Monday night with a senior Hamas delegation in his office in Ramallah.
The unexpected meeting came amid reports about an impending prisoner exchange between Hizbullah and Israel.

The meeting focused on the reported deal and efforts to achieve a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israel.

PA and Hamas officials expressed hope that the prisoner exchange would pave the way for a similar deal between Israel and Hamas. However, they refused to say whether the meeting between Abbas and the Hamas delegation was linked to the deal between Israel and Hizbullah.

"We welcome the news about a breakthrough in the talks between Israel and Hizbullah, especially with regards to the release of [Lebanese prisoner] Samir Kuntar," said a senior PA official in Abbas's office. "We hope that this would lead to the release of [kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl.] Gilad Schalit and Palestinian prisoners."

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip refused to say whether the case of Schalit was part of the deal between Hizbullah and Israel.

But according to a senior Hamas official, "Hamas wants to close the case of Schalit as soon as possible." He said that Hamas has made "real concessions" regarding the case of Schalit and was now prepared to exchange him for fewer than 400 Palestinian prisoners.

The Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post that a cease-fire with Israel would pave the way for a prisoner exchange between the two parties. "We have told the Egyptians that we will be more flexible on the case of Schalit once Israel accepts the truce proposal and stops its military aggression," he said.

Both the PA and Hamas officials expressed disappointment over reports that Hizbullah had not demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in the latest talks. The release of Kuntar and other Lebanese prisoners would boost Hizbullah's standing in Lebanon, particularly after the recent wave of violence in Beirut.

Hizbullah, Arab political analysts said Monday, is desperately in need of improving its image following allegations that its fighters acted like gangsters when they captured large parts of the Lebanese capital.

Similarly, a prisoner exchange with Hamas would bolster the movement's standing among the Palestinians, the analysts noted. They said that the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners, including some from the rival Fatah faction, would certainly earn Hamas more points on the Palestinian street.

The Hamas officials who met with Abbas on Monday told him that they were keen on mending fences with his Fatah faction in the same way the warring Lebanese factions solved their differences earlier this week in Qatar. They also told him that Hamas supports Egypt's efforts to achieve a cease-fire with Israel.

The Hamas delegation was led by former deputy prime minister Nasser Eddin Shaer and Sheikh Hamed Bitawi, a senior religious scholar who was recently released from Israeli prison. The two, along with four other Hamas figures, are also reported to have relayed a message to Abbas from Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Syria expressing their desire to end the ongoing dispute with Fatah.

Norman Finkelstein solidair met Hezbollah

Norman Finkelstein geldt als een belangrijke denker en criticus van Israël, en spreekt geregeld op anti-Israël bijeenkomsten, zoals onlangs nog in Rotterdam, georganiseerd door de SP in samenwerking met lokale pro-Palestina groepen. Afgelopen vrijdag werd hem de toegang tot Israël geweigerd, omdat hij contacten met 'vijandige elementen' in Libanon zou hebben. Hij heeft inderdaad recentlijk Hezbollah bezocht en verklaarde zich solidair met deze religieuze extremisten die Israël willen vernietigen.
In een recent interview op de website van NRC Handelsblad beweerde Finkelstein dat hij niet voor of tegen Israël is maar voor vrede. Dit is de fabel die alle antizionisten ons wijs maken, en met succes vanwege het gewillige oor dat ze in de media krijgen. Ondertussen sympatiseert Finkelstein openlijk met Hezbollah en wenst hij Israël een nederlaag toe.
January 20, 2008
MEMRI Clip No. 1676

American Political Scientist Norman Finkelstein: "Israel Has to Suffer a Defeat"

Following are excerpts from an interview with American Political Scientist Norman Finkelstein, which aired on Future TV on January 20, 2008. The questions were posed in Arabic, and Finkelstein's responses are in English.
Norman Finkelstein: I was of course happy to meet the Hizbullah people, because it is a point of view that is rarely heard in the United States. I have no problem saying that I do want to express solidarity with them, and I am not going to be a coward of a hypocrite about it. I don't care about Hizbullah as a political organization. I don't know much about their politics, and anyhow, it's irrelevant. I don't live in Lebanon. It's a choice that the Lebanese have to make: Who they want to be their leaders, who they want to represent them. But there is a fundamental principle. People have the right to defend their country from foreign occupiers, and people have the right to defend their country from invaders who are destroying their country. That to me is a very basic, elementary and uncomplicated question.
My parents went through World War II. Now, Stalin's regime was not exactly a bed of roses. It was a ruthless and brutal regime, and many people perished. But who didn't support the Soviet Union when they defeated the Nazis? Who didn't support the Red Army? In all the countries of Europe which were occupied – who gets all the honors? The resistance. The Communist resistance – it was brutal, it was ruthless. The Communists were not... It wasn't a bed of roses, but you respect them. You respect them because they resisted the foreign occupiers of their country. If I am going to honor the Communists during World War II, even through I probably would not have done very well under their regimes... If I'm going to honor them, I am going to honor the Hizbullah. They show courage, and they show discipline. I respect that.
Interviewer: That is an accurate description of the situation before 2000, but after 2000, the Israelis withdrew from South Lebanon. There was a rift within Lebanon between the Lebanese political players on the issue of the future of the weapons and the issue of the resistance. This rift, which has taken place... You are now taking sides. After all, you are saying that you are only visiting Lebanon, but you don't see the ramification of the July war for the people.
Norman Finkelstein: Listen, if you want to close your eyes and believe it was all over in May 2000, you can do so. You can play that game. But the reality was – and everyone understood it – that the Israeli attitude was: We are going to knock out Hizbullah. They began planning for a new war right after they were forced to leave in 2000. They found their excuse, their pretext, in July 2006, but there is no question among rational people that Israel was never going to let the Hizbullah victory go by. They were determined to teach their...
Interviewer: The war could have been avoided.
Norman Finkelstein: It could not have been avoided. There is no way that the United States and Israel are going to tolerate any resistance in the Arab world. If you want to pretend it can be avoided, you can play that game. But serious people, clear-headed people, knew there was going to be a war sooner or later.
Do you think there is not going to be another war? Do you think Israel is going to allow that defeat in July 2006? Do you want to pretend it is Hizbullah that is causing the trouble? No, there will be another war, and the destruction will probably be ten times worse – maybe even more – than July 2006, because Israel is determined, with the United States, to put the Arabs in their place and to keep them in their place. Now, how can I not respect those who say no to that? You know, during the Spanish Civil War there was a famous woman – they called her "La Pasionaria" – Dolores Ibárruri, from the Spanish Republic. She famously said: "It's better to die on your feet than to walk crawling on your knees."
Interviewer: But that is up to the Lebanese people in its entirety.
Norman Finkelstein: I totally agree. I am not telling you what to do with your lives, and if you'd rather live crawling on your feet, I could respect that. I could respect that. People want to live. How can I deny you that right? But then, how can I not respect those who say they would rather die on their feet? How can I not respect that?
Israel and the United States are attacking, because they will not allow any military resistance to their control of the region. That's the problem. If Hizbullah laid down its arms, and said: "We will do whatever the Americans say," you wouldn't have a war – that's true, but you would also be the slaves of the Americans. I have to respect those who refuse to be slaves.
Interviewer: Is there no other way than military resistance?
Norman Finkelstein: I don't believe there is another way. I wish there were another way. Who wants war? Who wants destruction? Even Hitler didn't want war. He would much prefer to have accomplished his aims peacefully, if he could. So I am not saying that I want it, but I honestly don't see another way, unless you choose to be their slaves – and many people here have chosen that. I can't really say... I can understand it – you want to live. I can't really say I respect it. You know, so many dead, so much destruction... Before the bodies are even buried, before the buildings are even rebuilt, the person who is responsible for it all – you can't wait to welcome him. You can't wait to roll out the red carpet. I can't respect that.
In that respect, I like the Jews much more. I like their attitude. Do you know what the Jewish attitude is? Never to forgive, never to forget. I agree with that. Who roll out the red carpet less than two years after your whole country was destroyed by them? The Secretary of State said it was the birth pangs of a new Middle East. That's the statement of a freak. A human freak would compare the birth of a child with the destruction of a country, and yet, there are people here who are so anxious to welcome her. They are trying to figure out what the Americans are thinking. They can't wait for their banquets. How can anyone respect that? I respect the Jews a thousand times more - never to forgive, never to forget. All the death and all the destruction – and you can't wait to welcome him.
Interviewer: Norman...
Norman Finkelstein: It's disgusting!
Who the hell cares if Bush is coming?
Interviewer: But you say there will be another war.
Norman Finkelstein: You should have declared him persona non grata. He's not welcome here. He destroyed your country. He was responsible for the war. You know full well that resolution could have been passed three weeks earlier. He destroys your country, and you can't wait to greet him. You have no self-respect. How can you expect other people to respect Arabs, if you show no respect for yourselves?
If the Lebanese people overwhelmingly vote to let the Americans and Israelis have their way, I guess you have to accept that. I could see that. I couldn't possibly say that they don't have the right to make that choice. Listen, in Nazi-occupied Europe, you have to remember, most of the populations made the choice to live under the Nazis. All this talk about a French Resistance is just a joke – it never happened. The French Resistance... About 20% of the French population read the Resistance's newspaper. There were maybe 10% of the French who resisted. The rest said: "Don't resist," because the Nazis were ruthless. You resist – four hundred are killed for each soldier who's killed. That's how the Nazis operated. So most of the French said, like you: "We want to live." "Don't resist." But now I have to ask you, in retrospect: Who do we honor? Do we honor those who say: "Let us live," or do we honor those who said: "Let's resist"?
Leaders come last. There will be a leader who comes to power in Israel, who is willing to make the concessions, after the conditions have been created – namely, Israel has to suffer a defeat.

maandag 26 mei 2008

Israël stuurt humanitaire hulp voor slachtoffers aardbeving China

De brede internationale kritiek op de Chinese regering betreffende haar beleid inzake mensenrechten, de bezetting van Tibet en de steun aan enkele van de ergste dictatoriale regimes (Birma, Soedan, Noord-Korea en Iran), betekent uiteraard niet dat er niet even wereldwijd compassie is met de slachtoffers van de recente aardbeving en bereidheid China te hulp te schieten. Ook Israël levert hierin haar bijdrage.

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:  On 19 May Israel Television Channel 2 News reported that Israel provided, at China's request, detailed satellite imagery of areas hit by the recent earthquake in China to facilitate damage assessment and rescue and recovery planning.]

Israel sends humanitarian aid to Chinese earthquake victims
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated the aid effort, funded by Israel Corporation and philanthropists from Los Angeles, to bring medical equipment, clothing, tents and water purification kits from Israel to earthquake victims in China.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
May 25, 2008

On Sunday, May 25, 2008, an Israeli plane took off for the city of Chengdu with humanitarian aid for victims of the earthquake that struck the Sichuan province in southwestern China last week.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which coordinated the aid effort, collected more than one and a half million dollars, a million of which were donated by Israel Corporation, headed by Idan Ofer, and its subsidiaries, and half a million by Jewish philanthropists Diane and Gilford Glazer, through the United Israel Appeal.

The plane carried about 90 tons of medicines and medical equipment, water purification kits, generators, tents, sleeping bags, and clothing intended for the earthquake survivors.

The aid comes in addition to money transferred by the Israeli embassy in Beijing to the Chinese Red Cross at the beginning of last week, to be used for immediate evacuations, and a shipment of sleeping bags and blankets that arrived in China on Thursday, 22 May.

As soon as the extent of the disaster became known, the Israeli embassy in Beijing turned to the local Foreign Ministry and offered help in the form of Israeli evacuation and rescue teams and a field hospital. The Chinese government thanked the embassy staff for the offer but at this stage preferred help with acquiring basic equipment to house the hundreds of thousands of survivors left homeless.

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, together with representatives from Israel Corporation and the Chairman of UIA, Avi Pozner, presented the aid shipment to the Chinese ambassador to Israel at a special ceremony that took place Sunday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport.

At the ceremony, FM Livni said, "What Israel is doing this morning is the minimum that we can do to express the warm relations between Israel and China. As soon as the disaster occurred, we turned to the Chinese and asked what we could do. In coordination with them, we are sending a plane with aid this morning, which is the least that we can do. We concentrated on items essential to evacuation and rescue operations. Israel's willingness to help out wherever a disaster occurs is an expression of the humanitarian side of Israel's relations with the rest of the states in the world.
We would like to thank the Israel Corporation and the United Israel Appeal."

FM Livni also told the Chinese ambassador that the aid shipment did not include just packages but also the sincere feelings of the Israeli people.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Rezso Kastner gerehabiliteerd als redder Joden van de Holocaust

Antizionisten zoals Lenni Brenner en antisemieten hebben Rudolf Kastner als voorbeeld aangehaald van Zionistische collaboratie met de nazi's, terwijl de goede man een held was zoals Oskar Schindler.
Anti-zionisten beweren graag dat de Zionisten met de nazi's collaboreerden en dat de Holocaust hen wel goed uitkwam: over de ruggen van de Europese Joden konden zij zo hun Joodse staat stichten, waar anders geen steun voor zou zijn geweest. Voor deze walgelijke aantijgingen moet de waarheid flink worden verdraaid, zoals in het geval van Kastner.
Wouter & Ratna

Kastner, Demon of anti-Zionists and Revisionist Zionists, turns out to be a saint

Rudolf (Rezso) Kastner was villified by revisionist Zionists who wanted to prove that the Zionist executive had collaborated with the Nazis. They found an ignorant American, Ben Hecht, who believed their fabrication, and wrote a mendacious book accusing Kastner and the Zionists of selling out the Jews of Europe. Anti-Zionists and anti-Semites took up the cause, and it has since become a staple of neo-Nazi hate literature.
Kastner himself was murdered by fanatics inspired by the right-wing demagoguery.  It was all a fabrication. The man was a hero, murdered because of the machinations of depraved and power hungry fools.
The blood of thy brother....
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 20:11 23/05/2008
By Reuters
History has not been kind to Rezso Kasztner.
He saved more Jews from death in the Holocaust than any other Jew. His reward was the accusation that he sold his soul to the devil and assassination by Jewish extremists.
But Kasztner's reputation may be about to be restored, more than 60 years after he negotiated a "blood for money" deal with an armed, drunk and often ranting Adolph Eichmann to save Jewish lives in exchange for cash, jewels and trucks.
Two new books about Kasztner have been published and a documentary film is being prepared for distribution later this year. All paint him as a hidden hero of the Holocaust, a man who risked his life in countless bargaining sessions with the Nazis.
During World War II, he negotiated a train to carry almost almost 1,700 Hungarian Jews to safety in Switzerland, while he stayed behind to continue negotiating.
Later in the war, he also accompanied an SS officer on visits to concentration camps to tell commandants to stop the killings, saving up to 100,000 Jews according to some experts.
At that point, it was clear that Germany was on the verge of losing the war and there would be trials afterward. SS Col. Kurt Becher took Kasztner along possibly because he wanted a Jewish witness to his good deed.
Anna Porter, whose book "Kasztner's Train" draws on seven years of research, scores of interviews and previously unknown papers, says that it is time to honor Kasztner and to dismiss the many accusations against him.
The second book, German literature professor Ladislaus Lob's "Dealing with Satan: Rezso Kasztner's Daring Rescue Mission," is part reexamination of Kasztner and part memoir.
Lob was 11 years old when he escaped with his father on Kasztner's train to Switzerland from the Bergen-Belsen camp.
At the time, Kasztner was an obscure official of a minor Zionist committee but who had links with Jewish rescue groups in the United States, Turkey and Switzerland.
"He was a nobody who had muscled his way into the negotiations," said filmmaker Gaylen Ross. "He was just a member of a small group of Zionists." Ross' upcoming film has the working title of "The Persecution and Assassination of Dr Israel Kasztner."
After the war, Kasztner and his family emigrated to Israel.
Complaints against him surfaced along with a scathing book by American screenwriter and journalist Ben Hecht. Hecht painted Kasztner as a Nazi collaborator who withheld key information from the Allies, stuffed the train with his own relatives and charged for the seats.
Kasztner had saved 19 of his relatives by getting them seats on the train but 100 other relatives died in Auschwitz.
As for making money off the train, 150 people paid for tickets and that was enough to cover the costs of the other, poorer Jews.
In 1952 he was accused of collaborating with the Nazis by Machiel Grunwald, an elderly pamphleteer.
The Israeli government sued Grunwald for libel but the trial proved to be an all-out attack on Kasztner, with the lone judge ruling that he had made a deal with the devil.
The verdict was overturned in 1957 but by then it was too late. Kasztner had been assassinated outside his home by three extremists, his reputation already dead in the courtroom.
Holocaust author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel says of Kasztner, "I followed his trial and I think he wanted to help but he chose the wrong method."
Ross, the filmmaker, likened Kasztner to the Rorschach inkblot test, a psychological evaluation in which patients are asked to interpret inkblot patterns.
"For me, Kasztner is a Rorschach test. People put on him what they feel," Ross said.
First and foremost, there is the guilt felt by the survivors for having lived while others died and then there are the moral questions of dealing with the Nazis and of buying Jewish lives for cash, Ross said.
Jews questioned the motives of other Jews, forgetting that the Holocaust was a crime against humanity perpetrated by the Nazis, not Jews, Ross said.
For Porter, the Kasztner story is how his acts of bravery could be so fiercely debated even though they equaled those of righteous Gentiles Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg.
"He wanted to be seen as a savior of Jews and he was essentially a good man. Schindler called him the most fearless person he knew," Porter said.