JUNE 24, 2013 11:15 AM
Author: Zach Pontz
Israeli tourists in Bulgaria were shocked by the prevalence of Nazi kitsch on sale during a recent visit to the beach resort of Nesebar, Israel's Channel 2 reported Monday.
Perhaps even more startling was the response of one of the shop owners selling items such as Hitler mugs, wristwatches with swastikas, and an alarm clock with a picture of Hitler on its face: "There are people who want to buy the products, otherwise we would not sell them. We sell to those who want them, those who don't, don't have to buy them."
According to Channel 2, there was a confrontation between some of the tourists who tried to call the authorities and the shop owners, who felt that their livelihood was under threat.
One tourist told Channel 2 that a shop owner even refused to sell him the alarm clock after learning that he was Israeli. Another Israeli tourist voiced his regret, saying that the trip to Bulgaria was pleasant, Nesebar beautiful, but that he couldn't in good conscience return knowing he'd be supporting a town that sells such items.
Norway opposes sanctions against Israel, former PM says
Norway opposes sanctions against Israel, former PM says
Netanyahu is sincere about a two-state solution and strong enough to reach a peace agreement despite internal opposition, according to Kjell Magne Bondevik
June 20, 2013, 4:17 am
Norway is unlikely to boycott or sanction Israel or even implement a labeling regime for settlement products, the country's former prime minister said Wednesday. This although Oslo is reputed to be among the most anti-Israel governments in Europe.
"Some ministers have spoken out in favor [of sanctions] but the government's policy is not sanctions and boycott. So I don't think that will be Norwegian policy," Kjell Magne Bondevik told The Times of Israel.
Bondevik, Norway's prime minister from 1997 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2005, is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who he believes is sincere about peace with the Palestinians on Thursday. The two leaders know each from Netanyahu's first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999.
In 2012, the European Union agreed in principle to label Israeli goods originating beyond the Green Line. In April, foreign ministers of 13 EU countries Spain, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta signed a letter reaffirming their support for labeling products originating in Israeli settlements. This month, Germany considered one of Israel's strongest allies on the continent also expressed support for the introduction of a labeling scheme.
EU diplomats have repeatedly stated that the labeling issue is meant to improve consumer protection, but Jerusalem understands it as punishment for a perceived obstinacy in the peace process.
In addition to the labeling issue, the EU and a few European countries have subtly threatened Israel with further sanctions if it continues to build beyond the Green Line, especially in the controversial E1 area connecting Jerusalem to Ma'aleh Adumim. About six months ago, the EU foreign ministers said they will "closely monitor the situation [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] and its broader implications, and act accordingly."
Bondevik said he believes that Oslo which is not a member of the EU will not join the European chorus and threaten punitive measures to force Israel to move in the peace process.
"I don't think that any sort of sanctions and boycotts will help. I prefer the use of political means and that window of opportunity that is open now with the engagement from the US and the Arab League," he said, referring to efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the peace process and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
A "combination" of Kerry's shuttle diplomacy plus the fact that the Arab League recently reissued its 11-year-old peace proposal and for the first time mentioned the possibility of mutually agreed land swaps "could be helpful, because a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians also requires support from the Arab countries," he said on the sideline of the President's Conference in Jerusalem.
Bondevik, who is also the founder and president of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, acknowledged that Netanyahu used to staunchly oppose a two-state solution. However, he said, Netanyahu is sincere today when he professes to agree, in principle, to the creation of Palestinian state, the former prime minister said.
"I do think he means it," Bondevik added. "Because he is not the first prime minister who has changed. Ariel Sharon changed. And I knew him very well, he was the very first sitting Israeli prime minister ever recognizing the right for the Palestinians to have their independent state."
Netanyahu "has changed and I take it seriously, as other former prime ministers changed," Bondevik, 65, continued. "Maybe when they become prime minister they really see the reality [with different] eyes and that it is in the long-term security interest of Israel to have peace with their closest neighbors."
Bondevik said he agreed with Netanyahu's statement Tuesday night that peace requires a strong Israel.
"Israel is strong for the time being, Bibi is a strong prime minister," he said, using Netanyahu's nickname.
Bondevik, a member of the centrist Christian Democratic Party, said he is aware that some senior members of Israel's current government are staunchly opposed to a two-state solution. Yet if the chance for a peace agreement came up, Netanyahu would be able to push it through, he assessed. "It's up to the prime minister. If Bibi makes a decision to go for a negotiated agreement I think he's that strong that Likud will follow him, and then they have the majority."
Pro-Israel groups often accuse Norway of one being unfairly biased toward the Palestinians. "The degree of anti-Israelism in Norway today on the state level, in the media, in the trade unions and at the universities, colleges and schools is unprecedented in modern Norwegian history," a prominent Norwegian historian and self-described "social pundit," Hanne Nabintu Herland, said last year at a lecture in Jerusalem. "The powerful individuals that have pushed for these negative and biased attitudes in Norway are today responsible for creating a politically-correct hatred towards Israel."
At the time, Norway's deputy head of mission in Tel Aviv, Vebjørn Dysvik, rejected these claims yet admitted ordinary Norwegians have a mainly negative view of Israel. Initially, Oslo was a staunch supporter of the Jewish state, he said. But in the 1970s and 1980s, things changed: Israel captured and occupied the West Bank and, in 1978, invaded south Lebanon. "The occupation of the Palestinians is the defining factor in the relationship between Norway and Israel," Dysvik said.
On Wednesday, Bondevik said Oslo has no preference in the Middle East conflict. "The official Norwegian view still is balanced we see both sides," he said. "I have always looked upon myself as a friend of Israel, but on the other hand you can also be friends with the Palestinians."
From The Daily Mail: The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda. Much of this was already known - see this post from last year.
Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief for 15 years before he became the Soviet premier, sent hundreds of agents and thousands of copies of propaganda literature to Muslim countries.
'By 1972,' according to the book, 'Andropov's disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that Israel and the United States intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom.'
'According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a petri dish in which the KGB community could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought.'
Those claims come from former Romanian Lt. Gen Ion Mihail Pacepa and University of Mississippi law professor Ronald Rychlak.
In their book, titled Disinformation, Pacepa spills the secrets he kept for decades as head of Romania's spy apparatus and secret police, the DIE, before he secured political asylum in the U.S. in 1978.
Andropov began his leadership of the KGB just months before the 1967 Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis, in which Israel humiliated the key Soviet allies Syria and Egypt. And he decided to settle the score by training Palestinian militants to hijack El Al airplanes and bomb sites in Jerusalem.
But more shocking, Andropov commissioned the first Arabic translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian-forged 1905 propaganda book that alleged Jews were plotting to take over Europe - and were being aided by the United States.
I have also noted that a 1968 PLO document that created a blueprint for destroying Israel that seems to be mostly in place even today has all the hallmarks of being originally drafted by the Soviets.
From The Daily Mail:
The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda.
Much of this was already known - see this post from last year.