zaterdag 7 maart 2009

Kunnen Joden nog in Europa leven?

Ik kan en mag er niet over oordelen, maar heb mij weleens afgevraagd waarom niet meer Joden naar Israel emigreren vanwege het groeiende en openlijker uitgedragen antisemitisme en antizionisme. Zelf blijft mij gelukkig de pijnlijke keuze bespaard tussen het land waar je bent opgegroeid en waar je familie en vrienden wonen en dat andere thuis, ver weg, omringd door Arabische staten met altijd de dreiging van oorlog en geweld, maar waar je opeens geen minderheid meer bent maar de norm en jouw taal, cultuur en religie alom aanwezig zijn.
Onderstaand opiniestuk lijkt wat zwaar aangezet, maar in Antwerpen zijn afgelopen week 4 Joden aangevallen in de Joodse wijk.

For increasingly helpless European Jews Israel is the solution, not the problem
Guy Bechor
Published:  03.06.09, 01:18 / Israel Opinion
It's hard to believe that this question is being asked gain, but sadly, after 70 years it has emerged nonetheless: Is there room for Jewish existence in Europe? Can Jews continue living as a proud community, in 2009, in that same continent with the terrible memories? The answer, in light of what has been materializing in the past few weeks – yet not only because of this – is negative.

A Jew can no longer walk the streets while displaying Jewish trademarks, or visit Jewish institutions that are not surrounded by police officers and guards; they must remain behind locks and bars, scared for their lives.

Meanwhile, those who hide any Jewish attributes and assimilate into society will continue to live – until they face an unpleasant situation with their colleagues, at school, or anywhere else in life.

In recent months I visited and spoke before several Jewish communities in European countries, including Turkey, France, and Britain – even before the Gaza operation. During the trip I saw with my own eyes the miserable Jewish existence. Yes, if they hide the Star of David and the unique dress, and if they agree that their synagogues will look like locked fortresses, like ghettos in fact, and if they are forced to experience threats on the street and hear about the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents – well, we can say that there is Jewish existence; scared, embarrassed, and submissive.

But what about feeling secure in their countries? There is none of that.

Anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon, with millions of Muslims sweeping the continent and turning the conflict with Israel and the Jews into a cause that enables them to reinforce their hold on Europe. The global economic crisis is being exploited in order to incite against the Jews and against the investment banks which the world enjoyed for half a century. Yet now, when we see losses, "Jewish money still rules the world," as the South African deputy foreign minister startlingly asserted.

The trend is growing across the world and it has nothing to do with Israel: Israel is the tool used in order to secure achievements. Israel is what the Jews used to be in the past.

When we see, in Turkey or Italy, Jewish-owned stores being marked so the locals refrain from buying there, what kind of future do the children of the 750,000 Jews in Western Europe have? You worked for a country that will always view you as foreigners. Following World War II, you made some countries rich, but now we see a quiet Jewish rally in the Swedish capital being banned because of fears of Muslims violence there. What kind of future do you have in this continent, which is becoming increasingly Muslim?

Today we have a state
And what is the difference between 1939 and 2009? Today, as opposed to the past, the Jews have a state; a successful and wealthy state that boasts a standard of living that approaches that of Europe. The per-capita gross domestic product in Britain was $39,000 in December (according to the British Economist,) compared to $29,000 in Israel.
Leave the continent that fondly recalls its anti-Semitism; we in Israel need you. The addition of hundreds of thousands of wealthy Jews will boost Israel, end the illusions of any Israeli Arabs who dream about a demographic victory, and make Israel's economic supremacy absolute. You, who will be arriving in Israel now, will turn it not into one of the world's 20 wealthiest countries - this has already been achieved – but rather, one of the 10 richest countries on the globe.
You have a homeland, so why should you agree to be second-class citizens? Why should you be scared to show that you are Jewish? Why should you be attacked at subway stations at night?

This is the big difference. Arrive here not only for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of your identity and for the sake of your children's future.

The Jewish community in Israel always grew during periods of persecution against Jews – after all, this is the objective of Zionism, and this way we revert to the simplest ideological basis of the national Jewish movement: Serving as a home for Jews who are persecuted around the world.

As opposed to what you have become accustomed to hearing from the global media, for you, the Jews of Europe, Israel is not the problem – rather, it's the solution.


donderdag 5 maart 2009

Bulldozer aanval in Jeruzalem verwondt politieagenten

Vorig jaar waren er ook al twee van dergelijke incidenten in Jeruzalem. Het is een kwestie van geluk dat de bulldozer de bus niet heeft getroffen, en de beide politie agenten slechts lichte verwondingen opliepen.

Jerusalem: Bulldozer plows into police vehicle; terrorist killed,7340,L-3681772,00.html
Tractor overturns police squad car on Menachem Begin Boulevard in the capital; misses nearby bus. Two officers injured, neutralize attacker
Ronen Medzini
Published:  03.05.09, 13:32
A tractor plowed into a police squad car on Menachem Begin Boulevard in Jerusalem on Thursday. The driver was apparently also trying to hit a bus parked nearby, but missed. The bus was empty at the time.
Two police officers were in the car when it was hit and both sustained mild injuries. Other police officers patrolling nearby shot the terrorist.
Magen David Adom emergency services were immediately dispatched to the area. The paramedics treated both the injured officers and the tractor driver, who reportedly sustained severe injuries.
One of the police officers and the terrorist were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. The other police officer was taken to the capital's Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The tractor driver was later pronounced dead.

According to the initial police investigation, the tractor driver "hammered into the police car, flipping it over and dragging it on the road. A second, Jerusalem Police tourism unit squad car was alerted to the attack and the officer and volunteer in it stepped out of the vehicle, the officer fired several shots at the terrorist and neutralized him.
"A second police officer who arrived at the scene, as well as the volunteer and a taxi driver who pulled over, all fired at the terrorist as well. The driver was critically injured, taken off the tractor and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died of his wounds."
Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham added that the driver "had an open Quran in the tractor" at the time of the attack.
Three schoolgirls who witnessed the events were treated for shock. "This was nothing short of a miracle," Haim Weingarten of Zaka (Disaster Victim Identification), told Ynet. "The terrorist was apparently aiming for the bus, but a power pole that had fallen on the road stopped it."
"I was about 100 yards away from (the attack) and I could see this tractor run amuck. It looked like to also hit a bus that was in the intersection. Then it seemed to turn and go after the police car," eyewitness Sunny Benyamini told Ynet.

"I saw the (police) car go backwards and forwards and then the policemen shot at the tractor. It came to a stop and many people around it jumped on it and overpowered the driver," he said.
MDA Director-General Eli Bin confirmed that "two police officers were treated at the scene and rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The terrorist was neutralized within minutes. The security forces and the emergency teams operated in an exemplary fashion," he added.

Thursday's tractor attack is the third of its kind in the capital: July of 2008 saw two such attacks – the first resulting in three people dead and 30 injured and the second resulting in 18 people injured. In both cases, the assailant was a resident of east Jerusalem.
Roi Mandel and Daniel Edelson contributed to this report 


Opnieuw checkpoint verwijderd op Westelijke Jordaanoever

Tegenstanders zullen zeggen 'te weinig te laat' en sommige kolonisten waarschuwen voor een vergrote kans op aanslagen vanwege het weghalen van checkpoints. Feit is in ieder geval dat er weer een checkpoint minder is en dat ook rond Bethlehem de situatie is verbeterd.

IDF Spokesperson March 5th, 2009
Additional Relief for the Palestinian Population in Judea and Samaria

A checkpoint in the Tulkarm area was removed yesterday as part of the ongoing relief plan implemented in the Judea and Samaria region.

The removal of the checkpoint is expected to significantly improve the freedom of movement and routine life of the Palestinian population in the Tulkarm region. The removal of the checkpoint will also allow free movement between the area and the Northern Samaria region. The free movement of goods is expected to significantly strengthen the economy in the area.

Another relief implemented recently regards the "Kiosk" crossing, located north east of Bethlehem, which is a crossing allowing pedestrian and vehicle passage between the Bethlehem area and the area of Abu Dis.  The crossing has been operating in its current form since February 23rd, significantly improving the movement in the city area and the Palestinian day-to-day life in the area.  "Kiosk" crossing has been under renovation for the past few months, during which three lanes were added to the crossing in addition to the two existing lanes. The central lane is used as a humanitarian route for the passage of emergency, security forces, and governmental vehicles serving the Palestinian population. As a part of the economy strengthening effort, over 400,000 tourists visited the city of Bethlehem during the first median of 2008, as opposed to 210,000 tourists during the first median of 2007.

Over 100 IDF checkpoints were removed in the past months in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. In addition, several major crossings were opened for free passage, improving the free movement of the Palestinian population.

The removal of the checkpoints and road blocks was decided upon following security assessments in the Central Command and as part of the relief plan authorized by the Minister of Defense and the IDF Chief of the General Staff, which has been implemented in recent months.

Wie niet wil luisteren, wordt geschoend

Een paar weken geleden deed oud ambassadeur in Saoedi-Arabië en bestuurslid van 'Stop de Bezetting' Jan Wijenberg zijn beklag over hoe de oppermachtige Israellobby haar tegenstanders monddood zou maken. Volgens hem heeft het CIDI zelfs een knokploeg in dienst om haar tegenstanders af te ranselen, en moet een ieder die Israel bekritiseert continu over zijn schouder kijken. Toch heb ik nog nooit vernomen van manifestaties of lezingen door het Palestina Komitee, Stop de Bezetting, UCP of wat voor pro-Palestijnse club dan ook die op een dergelijke wijze werd verstoord. Ik heb zelf weleens gefolderd bij een lezing van Van Agt, en een keer mocht ik een vraag stellen. Op een anti-Israel demonstratie tijdens de Gaza Oorlog waagde zich iemand met een Israelische vlag. Hij wilde een tegengeluid laten horen. Zo doe je dat. Of zelf wat organiseren, natuurlijk.
Bij ieder artikel van mij of iemand anders die het voor Israel opneemt dat in de krant verschijnt, vraagt een leger anti-Israel reaguurders zich af hoe de krant dergelijke leugens kan plaatsen. De enige reden die men weet te verzinnen is dat de almachtige Joodse lobby er aan de touwtjes trekt. Dat men ruimte geeft aan verschillende visies, en in het kader van de pluriformiteit op de vele anti-Israel stukken soms ook iemand van de andere kant laat reageren, komt niet bij ze op. De media zouden onder staatscontrole moeten komen en alleen nog maar anti-Israel stukken mogen plaatsen, zoals ook bijeenkomsten als die met de Israelische legerwoordvoerder Ron Eidenheit onmiddelijk verboden moeten worden. Verlangt men misschien terug naar een bepaalde zeer duistere periode in de Nederlandse geschiedenis? Voor een Joods geluid was toen in elk geval geen ruimte.
Wie niet wil luisteren, wordt geschoend
5 maart 2009 - Elma Drayer

Niet ver van mijn huis bevindt zich The College Hotel. Het zit in een klassiek negentiende-eeuws schoolgebouw, gerenoveerd in de jaren dat de euro's nog aan de bomen groeiden.

Het interieur is hippig bedoeld, het restaurant biedt aanstellerige gerechten, en de bediening is er niet al te vlot. Een doorsnee Amsterdams horecabedrijf, kortom. Alleen het terras in de ommuurde tuin, eerlijk is eerlijk, kan ik van harte aanbevelen.

Zondagavond 22 februari zou de Israëlische legerwoordvoerder Ron Edelheit in dit hotel een praatje houden, op uitnodiging van enkele Joodse organisaties. Onderwerp: 'Na de Gazaoorlog, wat nu'. Zo'n lezing is bij mijn weten toegestaan in Nederland. Salafistische imams, ultrarechtse evangelicals, extremistische dierenvrienden, groezelige new-ageprofeten, Israëlische legerwoordvoerders – zolang ze de grenzen van de wet respecteren, mogen ze gerust hun zegje komen doen.

Bij het Platform Stop de Aanval op Gaza denken ze daar héél anders over. Dit samenwerkingsverband van Milli Görüs, de Internationale Socialisten, het Nederlands Palestina Komitee, Een Ander Joods Geluid en nog zo'n vijfentwintig clubjes, gunt eigenlijk alleen gelijkgestemden het woord.

Het liefste zouden ze zien dat helemaal niemand luistert naar opvattingen die hun zelf onwelgevallig zijn. Daarom riepen ze op tot een 'picketactie' tegen deze „propagandabijeenkomst voor Israël en het Israëlische leger". Verzamelen zondagavond om zeven uur.

En sommigen ging die actie nog niet ver genoeg. Kort daarna verscheen er een bericht op de website Indymedia. Activistisch Nederland werd gemaand tot bellen, faxen en e-mailen naar genoemd hotel. Dat haalde immers iemand in huis „die oorlogsmisdaden wil goedpraten". Een modelbrief voor de directie werd er, heel handig, bijgeleverd: „U zult zich de woede op de hals halen van veel mensen die hun onvrede en boosheid zullen komen laten horen als de lezing in uw hotel doorgaat." En: „De publiciteit die deze bijeenkomst en het protest daartegen zal krijgen, kan het hotel toekomstige klanten gaan kosten."

Hoe reageerde The College Hotel op de stroom e-mails en telefoontjes die het ontving? Haalde het lachend de schouders op? Welnee. Het wist niet hoe snel het op de knieën moest gaan. Zaterdag ontvingen de actievoerders een nette e-mail ('Geachte heer of mevrouw') met de mededeling dat de lezing bij nader inzien „niet zal plaatsvinden in The College Hotel". Met vriendelijke groet, de directie.

De Joodse organisatoren moesten daarop de wijk nemen naar het nabijgelegen Apollohotel, waar ze kennelijk minder lafhartig zijn aangelegd. Uiteraard begaf ook het activistencircus zich die zondagavond daarheen.

En drie jonge leden van de Internationale Socialisten hadden nóg een troef. Ze mengden zich onder de bezoekers in de zaal en sloegen aan het schoenen. Dit splinternieuwe werkwoord verwijst naar een van oorsprong Arabisch actiemiddel dat zich sinds december in groeiende populariteit mag verheugen. Ook Ron Edelheit viel na enkele minuten spreektijd de eer te beurt. De drie daders werden door de politie aangehouden, maar kwamen dezelfde avond weer vrij. „Mona, Jelle en Bart, jullie zijn helden!!!!", jubelde een medekameraad.

En toen? Toen daalde de stilte neer. Zwichten voor intimidatie, een spreker belagen, we vinden het in 2009 blijkbaar volstrekt normaal. Nou ja, een geinig itempje in De Wereld Draait Door, wat Kamervragen van een backbencher – veel meer commotie heb ik in de dagen die volgden niet kunnen bespeuren.

Maar het terras van The College Hotel, kan ik melden, is intussen minimaal één vaste klant kwijtgeraakt.

© Trouw 2009, op dit artikel rust copyright.

Hezbollah zwaar gesubsidieerd door Iran

Terwijl er in Iran bittere armoede is en mensen zelfs een nier verkopen omdat ze de huur niet meer kunnen betalen, krijgt Hezbollah meer dan een half miljard dollar van Iran. Daarnaast wordt ook veel geld uitgegeven aan raketten voor Hamas die via de Golf, Soedan en Egypte naar de Gazastrook worden gesmokkeld, en keren Hamasleden geregeld met cashgeld terug uit Iran. Maar de strijd tegen de duivelse zionistische entiteit is dan ook veel belangrijker dan het welzijn van de Iraanse bevolking...

Business research facility asserts that majority of donations from Tehran in bid to shore-up terror organization ahead of elections in Lebanon. But funds also pouring in from other sources – in spite of economic crisis
Roee Nahmias
Published:  03.04.09, 00:37
Hizbullah's treasury has recently received no less than USD 1 billion. The bulk of the sum, some USD 600 million, was transferred to the Lebanese terror organization from Iran in a bid to strengthen the former's standing prior to the upcoming general elections in Lebanon this June.
The claim was made Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd. The institute, which deals in economic reviews regarding the Middle East and also monitors terror funding, released a report Tuesday evening detailing the massive increase to Hizbullah's finances.
According to its sources, Hizbullah is adamant to succeed in the coming elections and expand its power in the Lebanese parliament. All the better for the group if this were to come at the expense of their rivals, the anti-Syrian camp.
The report authored by IPR, which was founded by industry captain Muzi Wertheim and economics lecturer Dr. Gil Feiler, establishes that highest single contribution was made by Iran to Hizbullah.

Part of the delivery was made via high-ranking Iranian officials, and the details regarding the transfer were kept classified until recently as the Iranian election scene heats up and the opposition revealed the massive transfer of funds to Hizbullah.

The report says that after the Second Lebanon War, Iran sent Hizbullah USD 500 million in urgent monetary aid. News of the transfer drew the ire and criticism of Iranian moderates, who accused the regime of rashly giving away the money while ignoring the economic plight of Iranian citizens.

'Terror groups thriving during financial crisis'
But Iran is not alone. According to the Info-Prod report, Hizbullah received another bulk sum from a second Gulf nation – apparently Qatar.
Unconfirmed reports in the Gulf say that in recent weeks Qatar bestowed USD 300 million on Hizbullah. Qatar, it should be noted, is actively trying to buy influence in the Arab world using its gas revenue – putting it in direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which openly backs the anti-Hizbullah coalition.
An additional USD 100 million have been brought in since early 2009 following a fundraising tour conducted by Hizbullah envoys in the Gulf area, aiming mostly at private tycoons.
"It seems that the global financial crisis has been good for the Islamic terror organizations in terms of fund raising," explains Doron Peskin, head of research at Info-Prod.
"With the fall of Wall Street, investors in the Gulf were quick to withdraw their funds. Since local investment opportunities are limited, a lot of liquid wealth had accumulated there.
"Groups like Hizbullah, Al-Qaeda and Hamas are well aware of the opportunity at hand – and since 2008 they have stepped-up their fundraising efforts, particularly during the Hajj, after Eid Al-Adha."
The report cites Lebanese sources as confirming that Hizbullah is still funding the rehabilitation of southern Lebanon following the 2006 wars.

Peace Now nederzettingen info ontkend door minister Boim

Het nederzettingenbeleid en de informatie daarover is nogal ondoorzichtig, waardoor cijfers op verschillende manieren te interpreteren zijn. Onduidelijk is vaak of bepaalde plannen al zijn goedgekeurd, wie ze moet goedkeuren en wanneer ze zullen worden verwezenlijkt. Peace Now is een belangenorganisatie met een duidelijke agenda, maar het ministerie heeft er uiteraard belang bij de zaken als minder erg voor te stellen, ook vanwege de positie van bijvoorbeeld de VS wat betreft de nederzettingen.

Boim denies Peace Now settlement data
Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim (Kadima) on Wednesday attacked as "baseless" and "imaginary" a Peace Now report which said that 73,302 apartment units were in various stages of approval in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem.

He spoke to the Knesset plenum about the report at the request of MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), who was concerned by the large numbers revealed by Peace Now.

The matter was aired in the plenum on the same day that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had said to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that continued settlement activity was harming the peace process and preventing the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

If fully executed, the plans in the Peace Now report would double the population of Judea and Samaria and increase the number of Jewish residents in east Jerusalem.

Peace Now based its numbers on a government Web site which allows the user to check the building plans filed for any community in Judea and Samaria, as well as their current status.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said anyone could check the numbers on that Web site.

Still, Boim said the group had exaggerated the numbers. "If they got to 73,000, they must have put in additional numbers, otherwise I do not understand how they would calculate such a number," he told the Knesset.

He admitted that plans for a large number of potential housing units could in fact be found on that site, but said it would be a stretch to imagine that this meant there was any intention to execute them.

Whenever a building plan is filed for an area, even a small one, the site's building potential was also included, he said.

But that didn't mean there was any intention to actualize those plans, he added.

If anything, he said, the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made it more difficult to push forward construction projects in the settlements by insisting that his office had to sign off on them in addition to the Defense Ministry, which [must] approve all settlement construction.

He also took issue with the contention in the Peace Now report that 15,156 of the 73,302 housing units had already been approved. According to Peace Now, 8,950 had already been built.

Boim said that only 11,532 had been approved for construction and out of those, only 447 tenders had been issued this year for projects - in the settlements of Elkana, Ariel and Betar Illit.

MK Haim Oron (Meretz) took issue with Boim's numbers, which he contended didn't take into account the full number of projects which had been publicized in 2008, including a deal to build 50 houses in the settlement of Adam for the families who now live in the unauthorized Migron outpost.

Boim responded that he had been referring only to those tenders published by his office this year and had not included projects not requiring such tenders. The homes in Adam, for example, are still in the planning stages.

Paz-Pines later told the media that Boim was "averting his eyes and allowing his clerks to approve construction in Judea and Samaria."

He warned that the "Construction and Housing Minister was getting ready for settlement construction under [Prime Minister-designate Binyamin] Netanyahu's government."

Netanyahu krijgt het zwaar in Washington

Het valt vooral te hopen dat de VS zich niet milder gaat opstellen tegenover Hamas, en haar eisen aan Hamas niet zal laten varen of versoepelen. Ook valt te hopen dat de VS zich hard zal opstellen naar Iran toe, en geen atoomwapen van dit land zal accepteren.
Er is niks mis met meer druk op beide partijen om zich aan de Routekaart te houden, maar wanneer Israel gedwongen zou worden om gebieden aan de Palestijnse Autoriteit over te dragen zonder dat die in staat is daar de orde te handhaven, of vergaande concessies te doen zonder veiligheidsgaranties (bijvoorbeeld grenscontroles opgeven), is dat wel een probleem.
De hieronder genoemde 'dovish lobby' J Street heeft tot nu toe vooral opgeroepen tot meer druk op Israel, niet op de Palestijnen, en zou ik derhalve niet 'pro-Israel' willen noemen.

What Bibi faces in liberated Washington
By Gershom Gorenberg
Washington at the beginning of the Obama era has the feel of a city that has just been liberated from foreign occupation, or of a person who just snapped out of an inexplicable psychotic episode. The paranoia of the Bush days has passed. The world is no longer divided into children of light and children of darkness.
The standard assessment says that after his return to power, Benjamin Netanyahu will have a tense time when he visits Washington - just as he did during his first term when he faced a president who demanded that he advance a peace process. That assessment isn't quite right - because this time, Netanyahu is likely to have an even more tension-fraught time than he did in the 90s. In his new term, he won't be able to count on Congress as a counterweight to the administration in his relations with America.
During his first visit to Washington as prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu spoke before Congress to repeated applause. The part of his speech praising deregulation and tax cuts helped him by warming the hearts of the Republican majority. Today that economic approach is correctly seen as the cause of a worldwide disaster, and the Republicans are a defeated minority. Economic spin won't help Netanyahu build a responsible image.
More important, Congress' attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict has begun to shift. The conservative line of AIPAC, the veteran pro-Israel lobby, is no longer the only understanding of how to support Israel. The principle of two states for two peoples has become conventional wisdom on the Hill, as someone with a close knowledge of Congressional discussions of foreign policy recently told me. That's the same principle that Netanyahu refused to endorse during his talks with Tzipi Livni.
Rep. Gary Ackerman provided a clear sign of the change last month. Ackerman, a Jewish Democrat from New York, is chairman of House of Representatives' Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. In his opening statement at a subcommittee hearing, he warned of a downward spiral leading to the point where "the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is finally rendered impossible." He added, "The downward pressure comes from terrorism and the march of settlements and outposts, from the firing of rockets and the perpetration of settler pogroms." Ackerman hasn't been known in the past as a dove, notes another source who keeps close track of Israel-related activity in Congress. Today Ackerman isn't worried that criticizing Israel's policies in the territories will sound heretical.
To that, add Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry's visit to Gaza - a symbolic breach of the siege of the Strip. Kerry was the first member of Congress to visit Gaza since 2000. Afterward, when he asked Ehud Barak to explain why Israel was blocking shipments of pasta to the Strip, he didn't worry about being labeled anti-Israel if his intervention were publicized. And in just two days last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California signed more than 30 of her colleagues on to a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to expand efforts to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace.
One reason for the change is that AIPAC no longer has a monopoly on concern for Israel. J Street, the new, dovish pro-Israel lobby, pressed senators to sign Feinstein's letter. Members of Congress and their staffers have attended recent briefings held by the new lobby.
This isn't a sharp shift. When Barack Obama demands that Netanyahu freeze settlement construction or resume peace negotiations, a certain amount of protest might be heard from Congress, but it will be muffled protest, a low grumbling. Netanyahu's marketing skills and his fluent English won't rescue him from the basic contradiction between his positions and those of the new administration. In liberated Washington, neither will Congress save him.
The writer is the author of "The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977." He blogs at

woensdag 4 maart 2009

Israel schakelt Islamitische Jihad militant uit met luchtaanval Gazastrook

Een begin van een nieuwe escalatie?

IAF Gaza strike kills top Islamic Jihad militant
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
Last update - 23:41 04/03/2009

An Israel Air Force missile attack killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip after dark on Wednesday, and critically wounded another, Palestinian security and health officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the attack, saying the target was senior Islamic Jihad gunman Khaled Shalan, who was involved in firing rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas, said Shalan had overseen its rocket launches and other attacks on Israel from northern Gaza.

This is the second time since the end of Operation Cast Lead that the IDF has conducted targeted killings against Palestinian militants.

Palestinian security officials said the two militants jumped out of their car when they heard the IAF jet approaching. The Israeli aircraft fired a missile at them, critically wounding them. Palestinian health ministry official Moaiya Hassanain said another five bystanders were wounded.

Israel and Palestinian militants have traded sporadic fire across Gaza's border, challenging Egyptian efforts to consolidate a January 18 truce in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israel launched a 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and has generally responded to Palestinian rocket attacks since then with air strikes on suspected smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier.

Wednesday's air strike could signal a resumption of targeted killings against militant leaders.

On Tuesday, IAF jets bombed six tunnels in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt, and three more early Wednesday, in retaliation for Qassam rocket and mortar shell fire from the territory into Israel.

The IDF spokesperson's office said that secondary explosions could be seen when one of the tunnels was targeted, indicating the presence of ammunition inside it.

Gaza medical officials reported that seven people had been hurt in the attacks.

Hamas wapensmokkel stoppen is ook in belang Egypte

Bestrijden van de wapensmokkel via Egypte is ook in Egyptes belang, maar daar beschouwt men die tot nu toe als vooral een Israelisch probleem. Zolang de wapensmokkel doorgaat is een nieuwe Gaza oorlog slechts een kwestie van tijd, maar vooralsnog pakt Egypte dit niet voortvarend aan.

Hamas Arms Smuggling: Egypt's Challenge
By Yoram Cohen and Matthew Levitt
PolicyWatch #1484  March 2, 2009

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Egypt to attend an international conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. While the rehabilitation of Gaza is high on the international community's agenda, the implementation of any rebuilding project may be premature. Indeed, given Hamas's ongoing weapons smuggling into Gaza, Israel's mid-January unilateral ceasefire may be short-lived. Although the United States and Israel reached an agreement on January 16 to counter the smuggling, Egypt and Israel have yet to forge a similar understanding. The persistence of Hamas's arms smuggling almost ensures an eventual resumption of hostilities in Gaza.


The Gaza Strip has been home to smugglers from time immemorial, but Israel's 2005 unilateral disengagement and withdrawal created a new dynamic. In the aftermath of the replacement of Israeli soldiers along the Egyptian border by Palestinian Authority security forces, smuggling increased slightly. Following the collapse of the Palestinian unity government and the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, however, arms smuggling spiked dramatically -- whereas prior to Israel's disengagement approximately one ton of weapons was smuggled in each year, under Hamas's rule the figure has been closer to one hundred tons per year.
Hamas control of the Gaza-Egyptian border, combined with the ineffectiveness of Egyptian border security forces, opened the frontier to extensive smuggling activity. As a result, Hamas accelerated its military buildup, enabling the terrorist organization to better equip its troops with weapons and ammunition. Beyond small arms, Israeli intelligence estimates that some 250 tons of explosives, 80 tons of fertilizer, 4000 rocket-propelled grenades, and 1800 rockets were transported from Egypt to Gaza from September 2005 to December 2008. According to Israeli figures, from June 2007 to December 2008, Hamas increased not only the quantity but also the quality of its arsenal in Gaza, improving the performance of its improvised explosive devices and expanding the distance and payload capabilities of its Qassam rocket warheads.

Most small-range rockets fired from Gaza prior to and during the recent conflict were locally produced. However, over the past year, Hamas has acquired a formidable collection of imported 122 mm rockets -- longer-range rockets known as Grads -- brought in piecemeal through tunnels and reassembled in Gaza. These Grads, an Iranian-produced version of the Chinese-designed rocket, increase the reach of Hamas into Israel, making them a sought-after commodity and well worth the effort and expense of smuggling them all the way from Iran.

Smuggling Routes

According to Israeli assessments, the arms-smuggling network is directed by Hamas offices in Damascus and aided by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which provides the majority of the weaponry. The arms travel overland to Egypt, through a variety of routes that cross Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Africa and eventually meet in Sudan, where they are moved to Egypt's Sinai desert. After the materiel enters the Sinai, it is transferred into Gaza via tunnels underneath the "Philadelphia Corridor," the Gaza-Egypt border that runs through the city of Rafah. Less frequently, arms are moved to Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea: the weapons are deposited in waterproof barrels submerged below the surface and tied to buoys eventually retrieved by fishermen.

Why Recent Efforts Have Not Worked

Despite recent improvements to the countersmuggling effort in the Sinai, Egypt is averse to recognizing the severity of the issue. Egypt's approach to countering Hamas's extensive network of smuggling tunnels has been tentative, generally limited to exposing tunnel openings and seizing weapons arsenals inside the Sinai Peninsula. In most cases, following the exposure of a tunnel, Egyptian forces have either placed a guard at the mouth of the tunnel or blocked the tunnel entrance, rather than taking steps to demolish the tunnel completely. As such, smugglers have been able to employ these tunnels again after a short interval. When a tunnel entrance has been blocked, diggers typically cut a new access channel nearby and connect with the existing tunnel closer to the border. In addition, there is no evidence that Egyptian forces are taking steps to arrest and punish smugglers. These rings are rarely broken up, and in the absence of lengthy jail terms, there is little deterrence.

Moreover, cooperation between Egypt and Israel has been lacking. In mid-February, for example, Egypt announced it would not send a delegation to Israel as originally planned to discuss antismuggling and ceasefire negotiation efforts. Although Israel recognizes an effort is being made -- Israel Security Agency chief Yuval Diskin told the Israeli cabinet on February 15 that Egyptian actions are indeed combating arms smuggling -- Israeli officials note that the effort is, at best, "slow."
Finally, the United States has provided Egypt with various technological devices -- such as seismographic sensors -- to expose the tunnels, but Egyptian forces still require training to make full use of these tools.

What Could Work

It is imperative that Egypt recognize that arms smuggling is not just an Israeli issue but an Egyptian national security priority. The head of the Egyptian parliament's foreign relations committee said on December 3, 2008, that it would not allow an Islamic state on its northern border. If arms smuggling continues, however, such an outcome will become more likely. As such, Egypt needs to adopt a sustained and effective approach to its activities countering the movement of weapons from Sudan to the Sinai Peninsula, as well as the tunnels themselves. First, Egypt should close these tunnels for good rather than temporarily securing them. At the same time, Egyptian security forces should arrest smugglers, target their networks, and impose stricter penalties for these illegal activities. Finally, Egypt should better publicize these efforts in order to create a deterrent effect.

More effective bilateral cooperation between Israel and Egypt, with U.S. oversight and active involvement, should be initiated. Discussions between all three parties would go a long way toward increasing coordination and efforts to combat this threat. In this regard, the United States could play an important role as a watchdog, providing periodic reports on the effectiveness of Egyptian and Israeli action. Perhaps most importantly, the three countries' intelligence services should join forces and share information to successfully combat the Hamas weapons-smuggling networks.


Stemming the flow of arms into Gaza will enhance regional stability. Much of this weaponry is provided by Iran, and specifically by the IRGC, increasing Iran's regional influence while threatening the position of Fatah in Palestinian politics. Dealing effectively with these tunnel systems could curtail Iranian influence. Conversely, if Gaza remains a terror base -- a safe haven for extremists and global jihadists -- regional instability and Palestinian suffering will surely grow.
Yoram Cohen is currently a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. Previously, he held a variety of positions in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) [see  ], serving until recently as the organization's deputy director. Matthew Levitt is the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.

Een bezoek aan Gaza geeft een ander beeld dan de media

Er komt steeds meer informatie naar voren waaruit blijkt dat wat de media over Gaza berichtten niet klopt. Israel heeft de UNRWA school niet beschoten, maar bijna alle media namen deze lezing van het gebeurde zonder meer over. Er waren geen 40 doden gevallen bij beschietingen in de buurt van de school, maar 12, waarvan het merendeel Hamas strijders. Gaza blijkt niet aan puin geschoten, maar met name Hamas gebouwen zijn getroffen. En de Samouni familie werd waarschijnlijk niet door Israel vermoord. Zoals wel vaker blijken veel aantijgingen van Hamas niet te kloppen, maar ze heben hun werk al gedaan, en de media besteden geen aandacht meer aan de nieuwe feiten.

Zie ook: Onderzoek NOS berichtgeving over Israel en Gaza Oorlog (IMO Blog)

I'm a poet, an English Jew and a frequent visitor to Israel. Deeply disturbed by the reports of wanton slaughter and destruction during Operation Cast Lead, I felt I had to see for myself. I flew to Tel Aviv and on Wednesday, January 28, using my press card to cross the Erez checkpoint, I walked across the border into Gaza where I was met by my guide, a Palestinian journalist. He asked if I wanted to meet with Hamas officials. I explained that I'd come to bear witness to the damage and civilian suffering, not to talk politics. 

What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas' infrastructure. Does UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticize the surgical destruction of the explosives cache in the Imad Akhel Mosque, of the National Forces compound, of the Shi Jaya police station, of the Ministry of Prisoners? The Gazans I met weren't mourning the police state. Neither were they radicalized. As Hamas blackshirts menaced the street corners, I witnessed how passersby ignored them.
THERE WERE empty beds at Shifa Hospital and a threatening atmosphere. Hamas is reduced to wielding its unchallengeable authority from extensive air raid shelters which, together with the hospital, were built by Israel 30 years ago. Terrorized Gazans used doublespeak when they told me most of the alleged 5,500 wounded were being treated in Egypt and Jordan. They want it known that the figure is a lie, and showed me that the wounded weren't in Gaza. No evidence exists of their presence in foreign hospitals, or of how they might have gotten there.
From the mansions of the Abu Ayida family at Jebala Rayes to Tallel Howa (Gaza City's densest residential area), Gazans contradicted allegations that Israel had murderously attacked civilians. They told me again and again that both civilians and Hamas fighters had evacuated safely from areas of Hamas activity in response to Israeli telephone calls, leaflets and megaphone warnings.
Seeing Al-Fakhora made it impossible to understand how UN and press reports could ever have alleged that the UNWRA school had been hit by Israeli shells. The school, like most of Gaza, was visibly intact. I was shown where Hamas had been firing from nearby, and the Israeli missile's marks on the road outside the school were unmistakeable. When I met Mona al-Ashkor, one of the 40 people injured running toward Al-Fakhora - rather than inside it as widely and persistently reported - I was told that Israel had warned people not to take shelter in the school because Hamas was operating in the area, and that some people had ignored the warning because UNWRA previously told them that the school would be safe. Press reports that fatalities numbered 40 were denied.
I WAS TOLD stories at Samouni Street which contradicted each other, what I saw and later media accounts. Examples of these inconsistencies are that 24, 31, 34 or more members of the Fatah Samouni family had died. That all the deaths occurred when Israel bombed the safe building it had told 160 family members to shelter in; the safe building was pointed out to me but looked externally intact and washing was still hanging on a line on one of its balconies. That some left the safe building and were shot in another house. That one was shot when outside collecting firewood. That there was no resistance - but the top right hand window of the safe building (which appears in a BBC Panorama film Out of the Ruins" aired February 8) has a black mark above it - a sign I was shown all day of weaponry having been fired from inside. That victims were left bleeding for two or three days.
I saw large scoured craters and a buckled container which appeared to have been damaged by an internal impact (its external surfaces were undamaged). Media accounts of Samouni Street don't mention these possible indications of explosive caches (although the container is visible on media footage). The Samouni family's elder told me during a taped interview that he had a CD film of the killings. As far as I'm aware, no such film has been made public. He also told me that there are members of his family who have still not been found.
The media have manufactured and examined allegations that Israel committed a war crime against the Samounis without mentioning that the family are Fatah and that some of its members are still missing. They have not considered what might flow from those facts: that Hamas might have been active not only in the Samouni killings but in the exertion of force on the Samounis to accuse Israel.
THE GAZA I saw was societally intact. There were no homeless, walking wounded, hungry or underdressed people. The streets were busy, shops were hung with embroidered dresses and gigantic cooking pots, the markets were full of fresh meat and beautiful produce - the red radishes were bigger than grapefruits. Mothers accompanied by a 13-year-old boy told me they were bored of leaving home to sit on rubble all day to tell the press how they'd survived. Women graduates I met in Shijaya spoke of education as power as old men watched over them.
No one praised their government as they showed me the sites of tunnels where fighters had melted away. No one declared Hamas victorious for creating a forced civilian front line as they showed me the remains of booby trapped homes and schools.
From what I saw and was told in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead pinpointed a totalitarian regime's power bases and largely neutralized Hamas's plans to make Israel its tool for the sacrifice of civilian life.
Corroboration of my account may be found in tardy and piecemeal retractions of claims concerning the UNWRA school at Al-Fakhora; an isolated acknowledgment that Gaza is substantially intact by The New York Times; Internet media watch corrections; and the unresolved discrepancy between the alleged wounded and their unreported whereabouts.
The writer is a poet and freelance writer who lives in London. Her collection Boukhara was a 2008 Smith/Doorstop prize winner. She also translates the poetry of Semyon Lipkin, the Russian World War II poet.

Burgerlijk huwelijk in Israel: It's all about the money

In Nederland hebben we een homohuwelijk en discussies over de vraag of een ambtenaar mag weigeren dit te voltrekken, maar in Israel is het überhaupt niet mogelijk alleen voor de wet te trouwen - daarvoor moet je naar Cyprus. Yisrael Beiteinu wil dit veranderen en de alleenheerschappij van het rabbinaat in huwelijkse zaken doorbreken. Het is de vraag of dat gaat lukken, want Netanjahoe heeft ook de steun van de ultra orthodoxen nodig voor een coalitie, behalve wanneer Livni van gedachten verandert en toch met hem in zee wil.

Civil marriage issue is a non-issue - or is it?

Yair Lapid provides a supposed way out of the civil marriage controversy. What Lapid does not mention, is whether these unions that he conducts are recognized and recorded by the Ministry of Interior. The civil marriage legislation demanded by Avigdor Lieberman and the Yistral Beiteinu party might be a serious issue in forming a right-wing coalition government.
The actual stand of the rabbinical authorities is "no compromise" - not even for the meaningless idea of allowing non-Jews to marry in civil ceremony. The "Posek Hador" Rabbi Eliashiv, has ruled definitively that there must be no compromise whatever. However, Shas politicians, who are not known for their honesty, have agreed to sweep the issue under the rug.
Lapid mentions Maimonides. He will be glad to know that Maimonides himself attacked the elders of the community for money gouging, provoking the Maimonidean controversy that lasted until opponents provoked Christians into burning the works of Maimonides.
It is about money, and power of course. Moses not only married a gentile. He married an African, a "Schwartzeh" as the bigots would say.  And his sister Miriam rebuked him for it, and was punished by God for her racism according to the Bible. That is the short history of Jewish bigotry, which should have been finished forever then. - Ami Isseroff
Desire to maintain Rabbinate's monopoly on marriage stems from greed
Yair Lapid
Published:  03.02.09, 00:45 / Israel Opinion
"The problem with you," Rabbi Yona Metzger once told me, "is that you do not keep accurate records of the couples you marry. If you keep going like this, within two or three generations we won't know who's married to whom."

No problem, I told him. I will be glad to maintain such records. Moreover, I am willing to entrust them in your hands. You will receive everything in an orderly manner – the name of the bride, the name of the groom, the names of the parents; everything you need.

"Wonderful idea," the rabbi said with great excitement, "I'll give you a call and we'll discuss it." Ever since then I haven't heard from him, of course.

For years now I've been conducting the wedding ceremonies of couples who chose to avoid the Rabbinate, and for years now I've been trying to explain that this is not a demonstrative act. In every single one of the weddings I conducted, I spoke before the bride and groom arrived, and told the guests in attendance the same three statements: "We are not here today because we are against someone. We have no interest in arguing with anyone. According to Judaism, two witnesses are enough to render a marriage valid, and the person who conducts the ceremony does not have to be a rabbi. Moreover, King David was not married by a rabbi; therefore, the young couple is married in the eyes of God and man.
This is followed by all the Jewish rituals and blessings, as we thank God for creating love. This is a wonderful idea in my view. The thought that God did not only create the earth, and stones, and Shas Knesset members, but also the abstract things: Love, friendship, and joy.

And if someone thinks this wedding ceremony is invalid, they should not be counting on what I'm saying here – instead, open a copy of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, where one will find a detailed and thorough explanation of how to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony. You will discover all sorts of beautiful things written by Maimonides, but as you keep reading you will discover that one thing is missing there: Maimonides did not think that everything hinged on the arrival of a representative of the Rabbinate, who expects to receive an envelope containing dollars at the end of the event. According to Maimonides, those who conduct the ceremony are the couple, with a little help from their parents.

Now, you decide which authority on Jewish Law you prefer to listen to – Eli Yishai or Maimonides. Because before someone decides to zealously speak in praise of marriage "in accordance with the religion of Moses and Israel," one would do well to keep in mind that both Moses and Israel (that is, Jacob) married gentiles.

After all, it isn't Jewish Law that our rabbis are concerned with, but rather, they are concerned for their business. The Chief Rabbinate's offices cost us NIS 20 million (roughly $5 million) a year, and we spend NIS 350 million (approximately $90 million) on religious services (not including the funding granted to synagogues, religious councils, and rabbinical courts which are budgeted separately.) To this, add the NIS 600 (roughly $150) marriage license fee, and the giant and flourishing kosher-certificate industry at banquet halls – someone may even ask what exactly they're doing with all this money.
 This money is the only reason why they continue to abuse hundreds of thousands of people while showing rudeness and indifference, and without showing even a hint of the mercy that is the essence of Judaism.

After all, the famous "partnership covenant" is not designated for religious Jews in any case. Only 58% of Israeli couples get married in line with religious law. Nearly half the population – all of whom are Israeli citizens – do not belong to any category that is recognized by the Rabbinate. Aren't we responsible for their fate? Isn't it the State's job to provide them with a fair solution? And what do our rabbis know about themselves that makes them believe nobody would want to use them unless they are forced to do so?


Two personal clarifications on the same matter:
1. Every time this issue came up, quite a few couples turned to me and asked that I conduct their wedding ceremony. I thanked them, but in the past two years I only conduct the ceremonies of people who suffer from a mental disability or Down's Syndrome, as the Rabbinate refuses to marry them.
2. Just so nobody suspects me, heaven forbid, of promoting my personal business enterprise via a news website – this is not a business. I never took a penny from any couple I married. The very idea seems odd to me. The reward for a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.

Waarom in de Gaza Oorlog zo weinig gevangenen werden genomen

In de moderne en vooral guerrilla oorlogsvoering gaat het niet meer om het veroveren van land, maar het schade toebrengen aan of uitschakelen van de tegenstander, en daarin is Israel tijdens de Gaza Oorlog maar zeer matig geslaagd. Men heeft overigens wel een grote hoeveelheid explosieven en andere wapens vernietigd en ook enkele Hamas leiders gedood.
This answers, in part, one of the riddles of Operation Cast Lead - why so few Hamas terrorists were captured. It underlines some very serious failures. The object of a military operation is not to capture ground, but to neutralize and eliminate enemy forces, either by capturing them or killing them or causing mass desertions. Hamas was able to emerge from the operation with virtually all its forces intact and therefore Operation Cast Lead cannot be considered a tactical or strategic victory of the IDF.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 16:13 03/03/2009       
Which IDF unit captured more prisoners in Gaza and why?
By Amos Harel
Separate Israel Defense Forces units took vastly different numbers of Palestinian prisoners during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, internal IDF inquiries reveal.
Yet in the end, the army captured fewer than 200 Palestinians, most of whom were freed immediately after their preliminary interrogations in the field. Fewer than 30 Gazans, mostly Hamas members, were transferred to prisons in Israel for further investigation by the Shin Bet security service.
The Paratroops Brigade, which fought in the northwest part of the Gaza Strip, took 128 Palestinians prisoner during the hostilities. The Golani infantry brigade, which operated in the northeast sector of Gaza City as well as its Sajaiyeh quarter and the Jabalya refugee camp, arrested only 15 prisoners throughout the entire operation - or by some counts, even fewer: Since some of the prisoners were released almost immediately after being arrested, there is uncertainty about the final number.
Before the start of the operation, the IDF made preparations to accommodate thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including establishing camps for the captives on the Gaza border and even a new prison facility on a base in the south.
The low number of prisoners seems to reflect the way Hamas fought. Most Hamas members preferred to retreat when the IDF moved into Gaza City and hide in neighborhoods where the IDF was not operating. Most of those who nevertheless decided to seek a fight with the IDF were killed or wounded.
However, another explanation is related to the IDF's combat methods, which involved very heavy firepower.
A senior officer in the IDF's Southern Command said that "the differences in the numbers of prisoners stem from the differences between the sectors. The paratroopers waged a series of offensive actions in which they advanced along a front of several kilometers, surrounded Hamas forces and surprised them. Thus they also took more prisoners."
In contrast, he said, Golani conducted one initial offensive and was then engaged mainly in defending the territory it had seized against Hamas' attempts to regain it. "In that situation, you attack and kill whoever is advancing toward you. Therefore, they had fewer opportunities to take prisoners."
However, he added, Golani did discover 50 arms-smuggling tunnels and dozens of booby-trapped houses.
But an officer who served in Gaza, though not in the Paratroops Brigade, offered a different explanation. "To some extent, it depends on the commander's attitude," he said. "The paratroopers' approach was more disciplined and orderly than that of some of the other brigades."
This was also reflected, he said, in the fact that the paratroopers destroyed fewer houses and suffered fewer casualties - the latter being due to the fact that they were more careful about taking cover and wearing helmets. Other brigades, he explained, gave junior officers more leeway, whereas in the Paratroops, senior officers supervised their juniors more closely.

dinsdag 3 maart 2009

Britse museums weigeren boycot Israelische wetenschapstentoonstelling

Antizionisme neemt epidemisiche vormen aan in Europa. Dat Israelische wetenschappers juist bijdragen aan een betere wereld, en wetenschap nationale grenzen overschrijdt, wordt even vergeten.
Hopelijk houden de museums hun rechte rug als de onvermijdelijke bedreigingen volgen, waar een Amsterdams hotel onlangs aan toegaf....
Ratna & Wouter

The Jerusalem Post
Mar 3, 2009 15:29 | Updated Mar 3, 2009 21:28
UK museums won't boycott Israeli exhibition

Pro-Palestinian activists are expected to turn out in force Thursday at London and Manchester's Science Museums to demonstrate against a science day event for high school students that will look at the contribution of Israeli science to the world.

Organized by the Zionist Federation of the UK, some of Israel's leading scientists will talk to over 1,000 students, from an array of social and religious backgrounds, at Israel Science Day.

The 11th and 12th grade students will listen to lectures, presentations and take part in workshops with the Israeli scientists, who herald from all of Israel's leading universities.

An exhibition of innovative Israeli products that have impacted on the world will also be a part of the day.

The event is to raise awareness of the innovative and vital contribution of Israeli science to the lives of people around the world and to encourage students to study science subjects at university.

In a letter published in The Guardian newspaper last month, around 400 pro-Palestinian academics called for the museum to cancel the event as it promotes Israeli universities "whose research was used in the country's military campaign in Gaza" and are "complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza."

Signatories included Mona Baker, an Egyptian academic at Manchester University who fired two Israeli academic from the editorial board of her journal in 2002; Steven Rose, from the Open University, who was one of the first to promote the idea of a boycott of Israeli academia in 2002, and Jonathan Rosenhead, a London School of Economics academic who recently returned from a trip to Gaza with the Free Gaza movement, where he met with Hamas officials.

In a statement, the Science Museum said the event had been planned for nearly a year and has no political theme.

"It is aimed at all secondary schools, the majority of which are non-Jewish. Scientists speaking at the event include a marine biologist, a physicist who works on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, a nanotechnology expert, a water scientist and a geneticist," the statement said.

It continued by saying the museum stood by its decision to host the event: "The Science Museum is aware that a number of groups and individuals have publicly criticized the museum for holding this event. The museum is an apolitical organization and this is a scientific event sponsored by an organization from a country with which the UK has normal diplomatic relations.

"Having considered the issue very carefully, and while fully respecting the right for everyone to express their views, the Science Museum believes that not to proceed with the event would mean taking a political stand, which would be wholly inappropriate," the statement concluded.

Lior Ben Dor, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, said that "science transcends borders and continents and therefore, one does not need to be a great scientist to understand that the Israel bashers have crossed the border towards insanity."

A letter from leading Jewish and non-Jewish scientists opposing the call to cancel the event will be published in the Independent newspaper on Thursday.

Olmert wordt waarschijnlijk aangeklaagd in Talansky smeergeld affaire

Als Olmert binnenkort eindelijk is opgestapt, zullen weinigen in het buitenland zich nog interesseren voor zijn corruptie schandalen, maar het is bepaald slecht voor het imago van de Israëlische politiek. En dat imago houdt al niet over...

Mazuz announces intention to indict Olmert in Talansky affair
Rebecca Anna Stoil - THE JERUSALEM POST
An indictment may be on the way in one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's numerous criminal investigations, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced Sunday evening after a final review of the so-called "cash envelopes" affair with State Attorney Moshe Lador.

Mazuz informed Olmert's attorney he was considering charging the prime minister for a string of offenses stemming from the affair.

The announcement was a formality to allow Olmert the option of a hearing with Mazuz before the attorney-general makes a final decision. Justice Ministry officials said the indictments could include charges of fraud, bribery, violation of public confidence and receiving a goods fraudulently.

The cash envelopes affair, starring colorful New York businessman and charitable fund-raiser Morris Talansky, emerged early in 2008. In April, Mazuz decided that suspicions justified a criminal investigation into whether Olmert had received cash bribes when he was mayor of Jerusalem and a cabinet minister.

On Sunday, both Mazuz and Lador agreed to proceed with the case after reviewing the evidence gathered by the Israel Police's National Fraud Unit.

Justice Ministry officials described in detail the suspicions against the prime minister. His relationship with Talansky, they said, began in the early 1990s and was based on "what Talansky described as his identification with the policies that Olmert expressed and on the basis of Talansky's identifying Olmert as a promising key public and political figure."

Olmert, they alleged, "took advantage through the years of his status and his positions in a systematic and continuous way in order to receive support from Talansky in financial matters."

In 1993, investigators said, Olmert received funds from Talansky for his mayoral election campaign. Four years later, Talansky transferred NIS 140,500 into what allegedly was a personal account Olmert held jointly with his wife Aliza at a Bank Hapoalim branch in the capital. This marked the beginning of a steady stream of funds that crossed the Atlantic and found their way to Olmert, investigators said.

Olmert in turn allegedly acted as a go-between, writing letters of introduction between Talansky and wealthy potential business partners. The Justice Ministry alleged that Olmert "acted to hide the nature of his relationship with Talansky, including from the state comptroller."

But the prime minister's relations with Talansky were far from the only aspect of the affair that Mazuz believed were prosecutable. The Justice  Ministry also emphasized that Olmert allegedly maintained a "secret fund" managed by his former law partner Uri Messer.

That fund, it said, contained hundreds of thousands of dollars. Investigators said some of the money allegedly originated with Talansky, but were not sure about the rest.

The decision to proceed with the case came despite the fact that Talansky had yet to complete his police testimony. Although he had said he would speak with The Jerusalem Post regarding the allegations, he hung up without comment.

Justice Ministry officials also said that in the near future, the "Investments Center" affair - another one of the investigations plaguing the outgoing prime minister - was going to come up for final review regarding whether to file an indictment.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

Peace Now: Israel heeft plannen voor tienduizenden nieuwe huizen op Westoever

Als het rapport van Peace Now klopt, zou dit een ('natuurlijke'?) groei betekenen op een schaal als in de jaren '80 en '90. Het is nauwelijks denkbaar dat de VS dit zou toestaan, daar het de kansen op een overeenstemming met de Palestijnen en een vredesakkoord verder zou doen afnemen. En die kansen houden al niet over...

Last update - 11:58 02/03/2009       
Peace Now: Israel planning 73,300 new homes in West Bank
By Sara Miller, Haaretz Correspondent
A report by the Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now released Monday says that the government is planning to build more than 73,300 new housing units in the West Bank.
Peace Now estimates that if all of the units are built, it would mean a 100-percent increase in the total number of Israeli settlers. The report says that some settlements, including the two largest Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, would double in size.
According to the report, approval has already been granted for the construction of 15,000 housing units, while approval is pending for a further 58,000 units.
The report states that 5,722 of the planned housing units are in East Jerusalem, and some 9,000 units in total have already been built.

Peace Now says that a new right-wing government presents the danger of "expanding settlement growth at a rapid pace... with the clear intention of destroying the possibility of a two-state solution."
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of the rightist Likud party, tapped to form the new government after the February 10 elections, has expressed his opposition to a two-state solution. He also said that while a Likud government would not build new settlements, it would allow natural growth in existing ones.
But the Peace Now report says 17,000 units are planned for Gush Etzion, near Bethelehem, to be built outside existing settlements.
The report also states some 19,000 of the planned homes would be built beyond the route of the West Bank separation fence, including in Kiryat Arba in Hebron and Ariel.
In total, the report says, the planned West Bank homes account for 22 percent of housing units currently planned by the Housing Ministry.
MK Yaakov Katz of the right wing National Union on Monday welcomed the news that Israel is pushing ahead with construction in the West Bank.
"We will make every effort to realize the plans outlined by [Peace Now official Yariv] Oppenheimer," Katz told Army Radio on Monday. "I expect that, with God's help, this will all happen in the next few years, and there will be one state here."
National Union is pushing for increased settlement construction as part of a coalition deal with Netanyahu, and Katz is among those jostling for the post of Housing Minister.
Settlement expansion has long been a source of contention between Israel and the international community, in particular the U.S. The Obama administration is planning to put heavy pressure on the new Israeli government to freeze all settlement construction.

Israel dient klacht in bij Veiligheidsraad over Qassam raketten uit Gazastrook

Een nieuwe dag, nieuwe raketten op Ashkelon en Sderot, en een stapje dichter bij een nieuw Israelisch tegenoffensief.

Last update - 23:10 02/03/2009       
Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon, Israel files complaint with UN
By Anshel Pfeffer and Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service
Palestinian militants fired a rocket into the southern city of Ashkelon from the Gaza Strip Monday evening. No one was hurt and no damage was caused in the attack.
In light of the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza this week, the parents' association of the Ashkelon school system announced that they would shut down area schools, as the buildings are not properly fortified against rocket attacks.
The parents said that they would go to the schools and physically prevent students from entering the buildings, Israel Radio reported.
Meanwhile, Israel filed an official complaint with the United Nations on Monday over the continuing rocket fire.
"The government of Israel will continue to safeguard its citizens and will do everything in its power to ensure that the situation in the south will not go back to what it was before December 2008," read a letter submitted to the UN Security Council. "Israel will not endure and will respond in kind to attacks against its citizens."
On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a large-scale 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in efforts to bring an end to the ongoing rocket fire on Israel's southern communities. The operation ended with each side declaring a unilateral truce, but rockets have continued to trickle on Israel's southern communities, and Israel continued responding to the attacks. No formal cease-fire agreement has been reached, as of yet.
Monday evening's rocket attack came after at least 10 rockets fired into Israel, with one Qassam rocket, termed by experts as an "upgraded rocket," exploding in the yard of an Ashkelon school. Another 7 rockets were launched into Israel on Sunday, one of which struck a yard in Sderot. No one was hurt in any of the attacks.

Durban 2 conceptverklaring veroordeelt Israel

Durban 2 wordt dus geen haar beter dan Durban 1 en democratische rechtsstaten hebben er niks te zoeken. Laat Iran, Libië en de overige Arabische en Afrikaanse dictaturen Israel maar voor racisme veroordelen en van misdaden tegen de menselijkheid beschuldigen, maar zichzelf respecterende democratieën moeten daaraan op geen enkele manier meewerken of dit forum legitimiteit geven door hun aanwezigheid. Met de bestrijding van racisme heeft een en ander niets meer te maken, integendeel, waarmee de ware slachtoffers al die volken en minderheden zijn die daadwerkelijk rechteloos zijn maar waar geen haan naar kraait.

Last update - 19:17 02/03/2009       
Durban 2 draft statement: Israel's Palestinian policy is crime against humanity
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent
A draft of the closing statement prepared for the upcoming United Nations-sponsored conference against racism, dubbed Durban 2, states that Israel's policy in the Palestinian territories constitutes a "violation of international human rights, a crime against humanity and a contemporary form of apartheid."
The conference, to be held in Geneva next month, is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 conference in the South African city of Durban which was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that eight-day 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.
Israel, Canada and the U.S. have already announced that they will boycott the upcoming summit.
The draft statement, obtained by Haaretz, goes on to say that Israel's policy poses "a serious threat to international peace and security and violates the basic principles of international human rights law."
In the draft, the organizers of the UN summit express "deep concern" over Israel's practices of "racial discrimination against the Palestinian people as well as Syrian nationals of the occupied Syrian Golan and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories."
The draft accuses Israel of implementing collective punishment against the Palestinian people, as well as "torture, economic blockade, severe restriction of movement and arbitrary closure of their territories."
Furthermore, Israel is charged with perpetrating "a foreign occupation founded on settlements, laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territories," and is termed a "threat to international peace and security."
Finally, the draft calls on the international community to protect the Palestinian people against Israel's "racist" policies.


Dubbele standaards voor Yisrael Beiteinu en Hamas?

Het was iets minder erg dan in Groot-Brittannië, maar ook hier werd veel aandacht besteed aan de winst van Yisrael Beiteinu, en staken journalisten hun onvrede met de 'ruk naar rechts' in de Israëlische verkiezingen niet onder stoelen of banken, en ook hier werd Lieberman een racist en fascist genoemd. Het is inderdaad hoogst merkwaardig dat het daadwerkelijk racistische Hamas daarentegen vaak als redelijk en pragmatisch wordt voorgesteld.
Taking exception to making exceptions
When the media report a 'fascist' party in Israel, yet call Hamas 'pragmatic', we must ask what double standards are in operation
No one would deny that the outcome of the recent election in Israel was far from ideal. Commentators have rightly emphasised its lack of conclusiveness and the uncertainty this brings. Not to mention that it looks increasingly likely that the person with the most votes won't end up at the helm.
At the same time, by the way the results were reported in some sections of the media, you could be forgiven for thinking that Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party came in first, rather than third, and that it garnered 90% of the Israeli public's vote, rather than 12%. You could also be forgiven for thinking that the prospect of a Likud-led coalition ought to be as feared as the prospect of Armageddon. After all, Israel's Likud party, combined with Yisrael Beiteinu, is surely a recipe for the most extreme political force ever to emerge in that liberal haven that is the Middle East.
In any case, the outcome got a unanimous thumbs-down, with the Guardian even claiming that it threatened to ruin Obama's entire foreign policy in the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This caused me to cast my mind back to another election altogether – the Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006. Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in Gaza, leaving the international community to ponder how it was going to sit around the table with a party whose signature policy is indiscriminate suicide bombing in public places.
How did the media respond back then? Did editorials predict the end of all things good and bemoan the state of Palestinian politics? Not really. The Guardian, while somewhat apprehensive, said that the Hamas victory "may bring new opportunities to the immense task of building peace between two peoples who have been fighting for far too long in the same small country". The Independent was adamant that "The democratic voice of the Palestinian people has been heard. And now we must deal with the new reality." The Daily Telegraph's editorial was titled, "The west and Hamas must talk to each other" and opined, "there is much to be said for engaging with Hamas." Only the Times exhibited extreme caution, claiming that the outcome was, "a huge blow to the peace process".
So, when radicals come third in Israel, it puts everything in jeopardy and Israeli society 'has to take a hard look at itself" (Jonathan Freedland). But when extremists win by a landslide in Gaza, then there are still signs of hope; besides, the Palestinian people have spoken loud and clear and who are we in the west to question them?
I also noticed that journalists covering the Israeli election have seemed very concerned about Lieberman and his party being "fascist" and "racist". But this is not terminology I recall them applying three years ago to Hamas, which, unquestionably, has its fair share of fascists and racists. A case of such a journalist in point is Ali Abunimah: in his response to the Israeli election, he lambasted the "proto-fascist Yisrael Beiteinu" and its "racist" leader. And yet, if you scour his article from three years ago about Hamas' electoral victory, you won't find a single word critical of the group, let alone accusations of fascism or racism. The mainstream media followed a similar pattern, labelling Hamas merely as "hard line" (The Independent) and even "increasingly pragmatic" (Financial Times, January 27) in 2006.
This isn't the first time the media have demonstrated a blind spot for the true nature of Hamas. Just Journalism's report on coverage of the recent Gaza conflict shows that there is a disinclination to acknowledge Hamas' fundamentally illiberal and terrorist profile. For example, we are constantly assured by commentators that Hamas' Charter (stridently against peace, committed to Israel's destruction and against sharing land) no longer holds the relevance it once did and should not be cited to justify Israel's refusal to deal with the movement. However, after casting his vote in 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar vowed publicly, "[Hamas] will not change a single word in its covenant". And yet this choice quote did not find itself cherry-picked for the following day's editorials to demonstrate Hamas' blatant aversion to peace. Compare this with the dependable recounting of the Moldovan ex-bouncer's pledge to make life difficult for Israel's Arab population by demanding a "loyalty oath".
Even Peter Tatchell (hardly Israel's biggest fan) in his recent post here about Hamas totalitarianism, points out that "while progressive opinion is justifiably quick to condemn Israel, it is oddly silent when Palestinians are being persecuted by fellow Palestinians. Why the double standards?" Why indeed.