Special Dispatch-Palestinian Authority/Reform Project
June 29, 2007
Leading Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish on the Events in Gaza
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On June 17, 2007, renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish published his reflections on the internecine fighting in Gaza in the London daily Al-Hayat. Darwish is known both for his literary output and for his political activism; he was a member of the PLO Central Committee from 1987 until 1993, when he resigned in protest of the Oslo Accords.
The following are excerpts:(1)
"Did we have to fall from towering heights and see our blood on our hands, in order to grasp that we are not angels, as we used to believe? Did we also have to expose all our faults before everybody, so that our true nature should not remain virginal? How much did we lie when we said: 'We are an exception.' That you believe yourself is worse than to lie to another. To be friendly with those who hate us and cruel to those who love us – that is the baseness of one who aggrandizes himself and the arrogance of the lowly.
"Oh Past: Do not change us as we get farther from you. Oh Future: Do not ask us: 'Who are you? And what do you expect from me?' Because we too do not know. Oh Present: We have borne little, for we are but insufferable passers-by.
"Identity is that which we bequeath, and not that which is bequeathed us. What we invent and not what we recollect. Identity is the false mirror, which we should break whenever the image pleases us.
"He wore a mask, took courage, and murdered his mother, because she was an easy prey for him, and because a woman soldier stopped him and exposed her breasts to him, saying: 'Does your mother have such as these?'
"Were it not for shame and darkness, I would visit Gaza, without knowing the way to the house of the new Abu Sufyan, nor the name of the new prophet. And had not Muhammad been the Seal of the Prophets, each tribe would have had a prophet, and each Companion would have had a militia.
"June has astounded us on its fortieth anniversary. If we do not find one to defeat us again, we defeat ourselves with our own hands, lest we forget.
"No matter how much you look into my eyes, you would not find my sight there. Disgrace has snatched it away. My heart does not belong to me, nor to another. It has come to do without me, [but] without becoming a stone.
"Does he who cries over the corpse of his brother 'Allahu Akbar' – does he know that he is an infidel, because he sees Allah in his own image, smaller than a normal human being? The prisoner who aspires to inherit the prison concealed a smile of victory from the camera, but he did not succeed in suppressing the joy which spilled out of his eyes. Perhaps because the hasty text was more powerful than the actor. What do we need Narcissus for, so long as we are Palestinians, and so long as we do not know the difference between a mosque (jami') and a university (jami'a), because they both come from the same root. What do we need a state for, as long as it and [the passing] days have the same destiny?
"A sign on the door of a nightclub: Welcome Palestinians returning from battle. Entrance is free, and our wine does not intoxicate...
"'Me and the stranger against my cousin; me and my cousin against my brother; and me and my sheikh against myself.'(2) This is lesson number one in the new national education under the vaults of obscurity.
"Who will enter Paradise first? He who died by the bullets of the enemy, or he who died by the bullets of a brother? Some sages say: Sometimes your enemy is one born of your own mother.
"The fundamentalists do not make me angry, for they are believers in their own way. But I am angered by their secular supporters and by their atheist supporters who believe but in one religion – their own pictures on television.
"Someone asked me: Will a hungry guard defend a house whose owner traveled to spend his summer vacation on the French or Italian Riveria – whichever one of them. I said: He will not guard. He asked me: Does me + me = two? I said: You and you is less than one.
"I am not ashamed of my identity, because it is still [a work] in progress. I am, however, ashamed of some of the things mentioned in Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomena.(3)
"You are, from now on, another."
(1) Al-Hayat (London), June 17, 2007.
(2) This is an ironic inversion of a common Arab saying: "Me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousin against a stranger."
(3) The Prolegomena (Al-Muqaddima) is a work by Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) that analyzes Arab history and society.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Search previous MEMRI publications at http://www.memri.org
vrijdag 29 juni 2007
Leidende Palestijnse dichter Mahmoud Darwish over de gebeurtenissen in Gaza
Special Dispatch-Palestinian Authority/Reform Project
The Truth About Syria (by Barry Rubin)
THE TRUTH ABOUT SYRIA
by Barry Rubin
June 8, 2007
Barry Rubin is an FPRI senior fellow, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) journal, and author of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2007). This essay is based on his BookTalk for FPRI held May 31, at which copies of his book were sold by Joseph Fox Bookshop, 1724 Sansom St., Philadelphia (www.foxbookshop.com), where the book is also available.
Negotiating with Syria, as advocated by so many in the United States--including many members of Congress--can produce nothing positive. The problem is not so much "talking" to Syria, in a manner equivalent to a date. The real issue is that the West is looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship. But that is foreclosed by the real interests of the Assad regime and its very structure.
We should begin by discarding the idea that "talking" is a risk-free proposition. The Syrian regime and its apologists, along with well-intentioned but poorly informed people, advocate making concessions to get talks started and keep them going to prove Western good intentions. How, they say, could Syria negotiate while under investigation by the UN for the murder of popular Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's in 2005? How can it be asked to stop instability in Lebanon unless it is given power there? While the talking process is beset by these questions, Syria need not act with restraint because there are no preconditions.
And which of Syria's desired items can negotiators offer without further destabilizing the region? Should they force Lebanon once again to be a Syrian colony? Implant a government Syria likes in Iraq? Give the regime money so it can better pursue its ambitions? Hand it all the Golan Heights plus a slice of Israeli territory without Syria making full and permanent peace with Israel? To illustrate just what mere "talking gets us, a fully frank U.S.-Syrian dialogue over Iraq's future would go something like this:
American negotiator: "So, President Bashar, what kind of Iraq would you like?"
Bashar: "An Iraq that would be anti-American, dominated by Iran, supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, ready to fight the Arab-Israeli conflict forever, dominated by the Sunni minority holding down the Shia-Kurdish majority or an Islamist state, and not too democratic, so as to avoid giving my own people a bad example."
It won't do much good for the American negotiator to say, "I'm sure we can work something out if we only talk about it."
Similarly, the regime will not soften its enmity to an independent Lebanon or Israel under any circumstances because it needs to control the former and fight the latter in order to retain popular support at home. Thus, the issues on which it has grievances cannot be resolved because its own actions and inflexibly maximalist demands are the very factors blocking a solution.
Syria has been brilliant at creating and maintaining such Catch-22 situations, where the only way to "solve" a problem is to buy Syrian "cooperation" with deals that would make things worse. Over decades, Syria has perfected how to act first as an arsonist, then the fireman who would put out the fire only on condition that the burning property be given to him. This was how Syria fomented terrorism in Lebanon against Western peacekeeping forces in the early 1980s, driving them out and then offering to stabilize Lebanon by controlling it completely. The same approach was applied to the Palestinians, post-Saddam Iraq, and to Lebanon again.
Lebanon was indeed the masterpiece of this political genre. Thus, Syrian Minister of Information Muhsin Bilal explained, "How can we be asked to disarm Hezbollah [since] we're out of Lebanon?" (2006) But what if Syria was allowed to return to Lebanon in force, would it then clamp down on Hizballah? Well, on another occasion, Bilal was asked, "Will you be using your influence to persuade Hezbollah to disarm, or not?" His response: "Why on earth should we?" (2005) In fact, Hezbollah is the main element in Syria's plan to recapture Lebanon entirely. If the West wants a stable Lebanon or to avoid more Lebanon-Israel wars it has to battle Syria, not make a deal with it.
To deal with Syria, the West needs to form a realistic assessment of Bashar, the regime, and the country. Syria is a weak and fragile entity, dependent largely on oil income and European commerce. The regime has flourished to the degree it has from enjoying a free ride, a lack of pressure except for American economic sanctions.
The traditional realpolitik way to handle such problems is not to propitiate aggressors and beg them to make a deal on their terms, but to pressure and deter them. To do so requires credibility and patience, to demonstrate that the West will not cave in or be worn down to surrender. In Syria's case, that country must be denied assets and isolated, and its endeavors frustrated. This requires the use of everything in the foreign policy arsenal from trade sanctions, to counter-alliances, serious criticism, and covert operations.
Likewise, Syrians must be shown that their leaders are a failure and can offer neither lasting glory nor material gains. The regime must be contained until it crumbles or retreats. This can be a long process, but it is ultimately a less costly one than the alternatives. And yet, recently, a lot of Americans have been dropping in on Assad. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress visited Damascus, flattered their hosts, and called for talks. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice broke the previous U.S. government boycott by meeting her Syrian counterpart.
What has happened since then shows this approach to be totally wrong. As demonstrated in the state-controlled Syrian media, the regime took all the calls in America for U. S. concessions as a victory, as proof that it could continue its policies.
Syria's democrats have been treated with special harshness even as the Syrian government calls for new relationships with the West. Mamoun Homsi is a courageous pro-democracy activist who had been one of the few independent members of Syria's puppet parliament. In March 2002 he was thrown out of the legislature and sentenced to five years in prison. As he was dragged off to jail, Homsi shouted, "This is a badge of honor to me and others like me. Long live the people!" Released in 2006, Homsi immediately left the country, saying there was no possibility of changing the regime by reform and that any criticism would bring more imprisonment. He wrote Pelosi a letter urging her not to visit Syria as such a step would only strengthen the regime. In late May, the government seized all of his assets in the country, leaving his family destitute.
Kamal Labwani, head of Syria's Liberal Democratic Gathering, visited the United States in 2005, meeting with human rights groups and visiting the White House. He told the Americans he saw that he would be arrested once he got back home. Sure enough, the Syrian police grabbed him at Damascus airport in November 2005. But he was not tried. After all, the regime reasoned, perhaps the United States might get even tougher with Syria if it repressed a man who had just been a White House guest. Last week, confident that the current administration and its presumed Democratic successors were caving in, the government sentenced Labwani to life imprisonment, "kindly" commuted to 12 years with hard labor. The charge? "Inciting a foreign state to attack Syria."
Anwar al-Bunni, a lawyer and another brave dissident, knew what held back Syria from crushing any dissent. Back in 2003 he explained, "The government's fear that it will be next on America's 'regime change' list may make it wary of committing gross violations of human rights. . . . Some of us say that it is only because of what America did in Iraq, the fright it gave our rulers, that we reformers stand a chance here."
Bunni was proven right. Once Syria no longer had any fear, the regime sentenced him to five years' imprisonment. Two more democratic activists, one of them Michel Kilo, a journalist who most clearly expressed the hope of peaceful change in Syria, will be sentenced soon.
The White House condemned the sentencing of Labwani and Bunni, and credible information that they were tortured in prison, in an eight-line-long press release. No doubt, Syria is not intimidated.
Damascus knows that it can continue helping insurgents next door kill Americans and murder Iraqis. The regime understands that it can continue to sponsor terrorism against Israel and Lebanon. It has a good hope of escaping indictment in the investigation of its involvement in the murder of Hariri.
Those who call for engaging Syria and giving it concessions are only helping the worst dictatorship in the Arab world and the leading Arab sponsor of terrorism in the post-9/11 world. Syria is the main partner of radical Islamist Iran, which is now seizing American-Iranian hostages. In May, Iran arrested on trumped-up spying charges Haleh Esfandiari, director of Middle East programs for the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. and an American citizen. Her boss is former Congressman Lee Hamilton, co-sponsor of the Iraq Study Group report that called for engagement with Syria and Iran.
The lessons about these regimes' extremist behavior should be clear by now.
When someone extends its hand in offered friendship, they interpret this as hands raised in surrender.
Nederlandse bloembollen naar Gaza geëxporteerd
Onze bloembollen komen overal.
Een humanitaire crisis in Gaza is afgewend, geeft de VN nu ook toe, omdat ondanks de (dreiging van) aanslagen grote hoeveelheden humanitaire hulp de Gazastrook in konden. De angst dat Israël 1,5 miljoen mensen zou laten omkomen van de honger is onjuist gebleken. Een voorspelling: dit zal ook in de toekomst niet gebeuren, evenmin als afsluiting van water en electriciteit die door Israël worden geleverd.
Uiteraard is het feit dat ruim een miljoen van de Gazanen afhankelijk is van hulp, geen gezonde en duurzame situatie.
Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2007 22:24
First commercial shipment of goods since Hamas takeover heads into Gaza
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
Some one million flower bulbs, the first commercial shipment of goods to enter Gaza since Hamas took over, have made their way to greenhouses in Rafah over the last two days, Israeli officials said. It was a joint effort of the Israeli and Dutch governments, Shlomo Dror, coordinator of government activities in the territories, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
The bulbs, part of an overall 3.5 million shipment, had to go in now or the farmers were in danger of losing a season of growth, Dror added.
Aside from the bulbs, Israel has focused on securing the flow of humanitarian assistance into the beleaguered area given that the main commercial passageway at Karni has been closed since June 12 when Hamas took over Gaza. Technical and security issues have kept Israel from opening Karni.
The crossing at Rafah, which borders Egypt and Gaza has also been closed since the takeover. The crossing at Erez has only been open for limited pedestrian traffic and medical emergencies.
On June 19, Israel opened a secondary passage for goods at Kerem Shalom.
It closed briefly on June 23 after a mortar attack, but has been open since then despite continued attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Dror.
Israel also opened an additional secondary passage at Sufa on June 22, which has remained in operation throughout the week.
On Wednesday, according to the UN and Israel, close to 100 trucks of staples, including milk, chlorine and animal feed entered Gaza through these passages.
"Our operations are proceeding in spite of the difficult situation," said Kevin Kennedy, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories. 1.1 million of the 1.4 million people in Gaza are dependent on basic staples of flour, rice, sugar, lentils and powdered milk that are handed out to them by the United Nations.
But even as the UN is relieved that it has been able to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, it has expressed concern over the continued closure of Karni and the impact that this has on the crippled Gaza economy.
"We do not want to increase an aid dependency situation in Gaza," said Kennedy.
A report released by the UN's World Food Programme showed that supplies were still low in Gaza, with wheat stockpiled for only 9 days, sugar for 3, rice for 15 and oil for 14.
According to the report, food supplies in stores are scarce, in part because wealthier people in Gaza are buying them up to stockpile at home. The report also said that prices of staples have risen dramatically. The price of flour is 34 percent higher than it was a month ago, powdered milk has risen by 30% and rice by 20%.
Een schaduw op de Mensenrechten in de VN
Er is iets mis met de mensenrechtenbeweging, zo betoogt Jackson Diehl, vanwege het uitblijven van enige substantiële kritiek op de gang van zaken in de nieuwe VN Mensenrechtenraad. De opstelling van de 8 leden van de Europese Unie in deze raad is ronduit teleurstellend.
A Shadow on the Human Rights Movement
By Jackson Diehl
Monday, June 25, 2007; Page A19
Where does the global human rights movement stand in the seventh year of the 21st century? If the first year of the United Nations Human Rights Council is any indication, it's grown sick and cynical -- partly because of the fecklessness and flexible morality of some of the very governments and groups that claim to be most committed to democratic values.
At a session in Geneva last week, the council -- established a year ago in an attempt to reform the U.N. Human Rights Commission -- listened to reports by special envoys appointed by its predecessor condemning the governments of Cuba and Belarus. It then abolished the jobs of both "rapporteurs" in a post-midnight maneuver orchestrated by its chairman, who announced a "consensus" in spite of loud objections by the ambassador from Canada that there was no such accord.
While ending the scrutiny of those dictatorships, the council chose to establish one permanent and special agenda item: the "human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories." In other words, Israel (or "Palestine," in the council's terminology), alone among the nations of the world, will be subjected to continual and open-ended examination. That's in keeping with the record of the council's first year: Eleven resolutions were directed at the Jewish state. None criticized any other government.
Genocide in Sudan, child slavery and religious persecution in China, mass repression in Zimbabwe and Burma, state-sponsored murder in Syria and Russia -- and, for that matter, suicide bombings by Arab terrorist movements -- will not receive systematic attention from the world body charged with monitoring human rights. That is reserved only for Israel, a democratic country that has been guilty of human rights violations but also has been under sustained assault from terrorists and governments openly committed to its extinction.
The old human rights commission, which was disparaged by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan for casting "a shadow on the United Nations system as a whole," frequently issued unbalanced condemnations of Israel but also typically adopted half a dozen resolutions a year aimed at the worst human rights abusers. For the new council, Israel is the only target. Eighteen of the 19 states dubbed "the worst of the worst" by the monitoring group Freedom House (Israel is not on the list) were ignored by the council in its first year. One mission was dispatched to examine the situation in Darfur. When it returned with a report criticizing the Sudanese government, the council refused to endorse it or accept its recommendations.
The regime of Gen. Omar al-Bashir, which is responsible for at least 200,000 deaths in Darfur, didn't just escape any censure. Sudan was a co-sponsor on behalf of the Arab League of the latest condemnations of Israel, adopted last week.
This record is far darker than Kofi Annan's "shadow." You'd think it would be intolerable to the democratic states that sit on the council. Sadly, it's not. Several of them -- India, South Africa, Indonesia -- have regularly supported the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement in their assaults on Israel and defense of Cuba, Belarus and Sudan. The council's chairman, who rammed through last week's decisions without a vote, is a diplomat from Mexico.
The European Union includes countries holding eight of the council's 47 seats. It has made no serious effort to focus the council's attention on the world's worst human rights violators. According to a report by the independent group UN Watch, the European Union "has for the most part abandoned initiating any country-specific resolutions." At one point before last week's meeting, the European Union threatened to quit the council, effectively killing it. Yet when the meeting ended, Europe's representative, Ambassador Michael Steiner of Germany, said that while the package of procedural decisions singling out Israel "is certainly not ideal . . . we have a basis we can work with."
What about Western human rights groups -- surely they cannot accept such a travesty of human rights advocacy? In fact, they can. While critical of the council, New York-based Human Rights Watch said its procedural decisions "lay a foundation for its future work." Global advocacy director Peggy Hicks told me that the council's focus on Israel was in part appropriate, because of last year's war in Lebanon, and was in part caused by Israel itself, because of its refusal to cooperate with missions the council dispatched. (Sudan also refused to cooperate but was not rebuked.) Hicks said she counted only nine condemnations, not 11.
Never mind how you count them: Is there a point at which a vicious and unfounded campaign to delegitimize one country -- which happens to be populated mostly by Jews -- makes it unconscionable to collaborate with the body that conducts it? "That could happen, but I don't think we're anywhere near there," Hicks said.
That's the human rights movement, seven years into a century that's off to a bad start.
Familie van gevangen Israëlische soldaat vroeg teken van leven via Noorwegen
Speaking by phone on Tuesday, the father also said that when it comes to the Israeli government, it was not a question of insufficient interest. "There is interest," he said, "but to my regret, there have been no results, so it doesn't help us."
Israël heeft aangeboden om 1.400 gevangenen vrij te laten voor Shalit, waaronder ook mensen met bloed aan hun handen, maar de lijst die Hamas Israël had overhandigd was een beetje teveel van het goede. Uiteraard zou iedere gevangenendeal waarin een royaal aantal gevangenen wordt vrijgelaten een enorme overwinning voor Hamas betekenen, dat zo gedaan krijgt wat Abbas op vreedzame wijze niet lukte. Dit zal haar polulariteit onder de Palestijnen verder vergroten.
De tape zal de druk op de Israëlische regering vergroten om nog verder te gaan: één van haar eigen soldaten die medische hulp nodig heeft en in een ondergrondse kerker ligt te rotten, dat is onverteerbaar. Na de succesvolle en gemakkelijke overname door Hamas van de Gazastrook zou een dergelijke deal - om een understatement te gebruiken - een verkeerd signaal zijn. Met dank aan Noorwegen en Yossi Beilin zal Hamas mogelijk binnenkort zijn tweede grote overwinning tegemoet zien.
New York Times
Family of a Captured Israeli Soldier Gets Word to Hamas, via Norway
By ISABEL KERSHNER
JERUSALEM, June 26 — Two weeks before Monday's release of an audiotape of a captured Israeli soldier in Gaza, his father set in motion a request to Hamas, the Islamic militant group holding the soldier, for some sign that the young man was alive.
Hamas released an audiotape that it said was of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured a year ago.
Seeking new channels of communication after a year with no word from the soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, his father, Noam Shalit, sought the assistance of Norway, the only European country to maintain ties with Hamas leaders, according to someone involved in the mediation.
In mid-June, Mr. Shalit traveled to Norway with Yossi Beilin, the head of the leftist Meretz Party in Israel, and met with Jonas Gahr Store, the Norwegian foreign minister, a spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry confirmed. A few days later, Sven Sevje, the Norwegian special envoy to the Middle East, met with the Hamas political chief, Khaled Meshal, in Damascus, Syria, on behalf of the Shalit family.
In the meeting with Mr. Meshal, the Norwegian envoy requested that either a Norwegian official or a representative of the Red Cross be allowed to visit Corporal Shalit in Gaza.
The request was denied, but Mr. Meshal said the Israeli soldier was in good health and promised to help produce a sign of life.
Mr. Shalit and Mr. Beilin both refused to comment on the meetings because of the delicacy of the case, but the individual involved in the mediation efforts and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman have confirmed the details.
In the audiotape, released on the anniversary of Corporal Shalit's capture in a cross-border raid by Hamas and two other militant factions, the Israeli soldier says he is being held by the Qassam Brigades of Hamas. He says he regrets the "lack of interest by the Israeli government and the army," and the lack of a "positive answer" to his captors' demands.
Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of prisoners from Israeli jails in return for Corporal Shalit.
Noam Shalit said the voice on the tape sounded like his son's, but added that the text had clearly been dictated.
Speaking by phone on Tuesday, the father also said that when it comes to the Israeli government, it was not a question of insufficient interest.
"There is interest," he said, "but to my regret, there have been no results, so it doesn't help us."
The audiotape, which was first posted on a pro-Hamas Web site, raised questions about Corporal Shalit's health. On the tape, Corporal Shalit says that his health is deteriorating and that he is in need of "extended hospitalization."
On Tuesday, a Hamas official in Gaza, Osama al-Mezeini, told Islamic Jihad Radio that Corporal Shalit had not yet completely recovered from injuries he sustained during his capture, and that he needed better medical care. Mr. Mezeini said the soldier was being held in isolation in a location that did not provide adequate sanitary conditions for a wounded man.
Those statements contradict what Mr. Meshal told the Norwegian envoy, and could be a sign that the captors are trying to exert pressure as a catalyst for negotiations.
Israel, the United States and the European Union consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, and refuse any dealings with it. But Norway, which is not a European Union member, maintains contact with Hamas and Israel.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bjorn Jahnsen, said of the Shalit capture, "We raise the issue forcefully with anyone we speak to and we have contacts with all the groups."
But Mr. Jahnsen emphasized that Norway was not playing a major role in mediation efforts on Corporal Shalit's behalf; the main player in that regard, he said, is still Egypt.
Under Egypt's mediation efforts, Mr. Mezeini serves as the primary Hamas contact for Cairo. But the talks have stalled in recent months, partly as a result of fierce fighting among the Palestinian factions in Gaza and the escalation of hostilities in May between Hamas and other groups and Israel.
The Shalit issue has been further complicated by Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza and its routing of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah forces there less than two weeks ago. Egypt has transferred its diplomatic mission from Gaza to the West Bank, removed its security delegation from Gaza, and lined up in support of President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah.
Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, has promised that negotiations for Corporal Shalit's release will start again as soon as the situation in Gaza calms down, Israel Radio reported.
Representatives of the so-called quartet — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — met at the United States Consulate in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the first time since the Hamas takeover of Gaza. No statements were made after the meeting, which was attended by C. David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
woensdag 27 juni 2007
VN speech Herzog over Zionisme maakt geschiedenis
Herzog speech on Zionism makes history
(VIDEO) Former president's UN speech gainst decision to define Zionism as racism, chosen by team of British historians to be included in book on speeches that changed the world
Ynet Published: 06.26.07, 08:31 / Israel News
VIDEO - Thirty-two years after it was delivered before the UN Security Council, former president Chaim Herzog's speech on Zionism was chosen as one of the most important speeches in history by a team of British historians.
The speech will be included in the new edition of the book Speeches that Changed the World, set to be published in August.
On November 10, 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379, which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Following the resolution's adoption, Herzog, then Israel's ambassador to the UN, took the podium and delivered an address that is considered to this day one of the most important speeches in the history of Israeli diplomacy.
Herzog said that the resolution was, "another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society." He ended his statement, while holding a copy of the resolution in his hand, with the words: "For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such."
As he concluded his speech, he tore the document in half.
The speech was chosen for the book by a group pf historians and researchers headed by Simon Sebag-Montefiore. "This is one pf the most important speeches in history in terms of the struggle against anti-Semitism," he explained.
The book will also include the speeches of Martin Luther King ("I Have a Dream"), Winston Churchill ("Blood, Sweat and Tears"), Nelson Mandela ("Free at Last") and John F. Kennedy ("Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, Ask What You Can Do for Your Country").
Minister Isaac Herzog, the former president's son, said that the family was moved by the decision to include the speech in the book, a decision that conveys respect to Israel "and true appreciation to one of its greatest spokespeople."
Betselem: de gijzeling van Gilad Shalit is een oorlogsmisdaad
B'Tselem: Holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage is a war crime
25 June 2007
On the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, states that he must be released immediately. The organization says that the circumstances of his capture and the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is a hostage.
International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met.
Furthermore, hostage-taking is considered a war crime and all those involved bear individual criminal liability.
Hamas, which de-facto controls the security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, bears the responsibility to act to release Shalit immediately and unconditionally. Until he is released, those holding him must grant him humane treatment and allow representatives of the ICRC to visit him. The fact that Shalit's right to these visits has been denied constitutes a blatant violation of international law, says B'Tselem.
For additional information: B'Tselem Communications Director, Sarit
Tunnel vanuit Gazastrook voor aanval op Erez grensovergang
"... The reason for the closure are attempts by militants to carry out attacks against the facilities at the crossing, including shootings and mortar attacks. Israel said it hoped goods could be transfered via other crossings.
A large explosive device was uncovered close to Kerem Shalom yesterday, in the southern Gaza Strip."
Op het moment gaat de meeste humanitaire hulp via de Sufa grenspost, maar ook daar dreigt gevaar van aanslagen. Voorzover de Gazastrook een gevangenis is, zoals veelvuldig wordt beweerd, is het er op zijn minst gedeeltelijk een van eigen makelij.
"During periods of calm, when the Karni crossing was open to the Palestinians, the flower export business flourished."
Nederland financiert een bloemen exportbedrijf in de Gazastrook. Misschien wordt het tijd dat men zijn verontwaardiging naar Hamas, dat met aanslagen en ander geweld de Palestijnse economie om zeep helpt, eens wat duidelijker laat horen.
Security sources: Tunnel being dug for attack on Erez crossing
By Avi Issacharoff Last update - 06:31 27/06/2007
Militants in the Gaza Strip are digging a tunnel toward the Erez crossing in order to carry out an attack there, security sources said Tuesday.
It is still unclear whether the purpose of the tunnel is for an attack that will result in the abduction of Israelis, or to plant a massive bomb in order to bring about the collapse of the Erez crossing.
The Erez crossing serves as the entry point for the personnel of the various aid and international organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. In addition, it is used to transfer medical supplies to the Strip. There have been many efforts to carry out attacks at the crossing.
Meanwhile, the Kerem Shalom crossing that had been opened in the Gaza Strip in order to allow humanitarian assistance to flow into the Strip during the present internal conflict has been closed for two days.
The reason for the closure are attempts by militants to carry out attacks against the facilities at the crossing, including shootings and mortar attacks. Israel said it hoped goods could be transfered via other crossings.
A large explosive device was uncovered close to Kerem Shalom yesterday, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Sufa crossing operative
The Sufa crossing is still functioning. However intelligence reports have warned that it is also a possible target for terrorist attacks and it is uncertain how much longer it will remain open for traffic.
Some 80 trucks of food supplies crossed through Sufa into Gaza yesterday, providing the Strip with much more than the minimum daily requirements.
The shipment also included 600,000 plants for use by farmers in greenhouses in the Gaza Strip.
Another crossing that has been closed down recently, and which is used for much of the Palestinian exports, is the Karni crossing.
In spite the closures, an Israeli security official expressed optimism yesterday by saying that "we will find a way of transferring goods even without the Karni crossing."
During periods of calm, when the Karni crossing was open to the Palestinians, the flower export business flourished.
VN rapport: Libanees-Syrische grens volledig poreus
Last update - 22:13 26/06/2007
UN report: Lebanon-Syria border completely porous
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Lebanon's border with Syria is open to smuggling of weapons and other goods, according to a special report submitted to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.
Border controls are insufficient even at official crossings, claimed the report that probed Lebanese entry points but did not inspect those on Syria's side of the border.
"As a result [of the lack of inspection] vehicles, including passengers and their cargo, pass freely," the report said.
The probe recommended improving cooperation between the two countries in order to curb smuggling of arms and other goods.
UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larson recently warned the Security Council of similar allegations.
The inquiry was carried out between May 27 and June 15 at four border crossings currently in operation, a point of entry set to open in the future, seaports and Beirut's airport.
Areas along the border where smuggling activity is suspected were also inspected.
During their investigation, UN inspectors met with four Lebanese security forces representatives.
Lebanese Army patrols along the border are ineffective, the probe concluded.
The investigation revealed that Lebanon's security forces lack training for carrying out anti-smuggling missions and its deployment is not aimed at stemming such activity.
"The lookout points and checkpoints are spread out according to traditional military doctrine and their aim is to provide territorial defense, not check smuggling," the report read.
Ontvoerders BBC journalist: we zullen hem als een schaap slachten
BBC journalist captors make fresh death threat
Kidnappers of Alan Johnston threaten to kill him 'like a lamb' unless Britain, Jordan release Muslim prisoners
The Palestinian extremists claiming to hold kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston on Tuesday threatened to kill their hostage 'like a lamb' unless Britain and Jordan release Muslim prisoners.
In a statement emailed to AFP, the Army of Islam demanded the release of Iraqi woman, Sajida Al Rishawi, who has been sentenced to death in Jordan over triple hotel attacks in Amman that killed 60 people.
It also demanded the release of Islamist Abu Mohammed Al Maqdissi -- held in Jordan since July 2005 -- and the Palestinian-born radical cleric Abu Qatada once fingered as the Al Qaeda spiritual guide in Europe and held in Britain.
'Our demands are known to all, release the three hostages, Sajida, the Palestinian Abu Qatada and Abu Mohammed Al Maqdissi. There will be no compromise, he (Johnston) will either stay in captivity for 1,000 or be slaughtered like a lamb,' the group said.
The chilling threat came just two days after the British journalist appeared in a grim new video, saying he was wearing a bomb-belt that his Gaza captors will detonate if there is any attempt to rescue him.
Johnston, an award winning journalist who was the only Western reporter still based permanently in the Gaza Strip when he was snatched at gunpoint on March 12 has been held in captivity for 105 days.
maandag 25 juni 2007
Hamas en Fatah achter de maskers
Behind the Masks
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
New York Times
June 20, 2007
Every war has THE picture that captures its essence, and the Palestinian civil war in Gaza is no exception. My nominee would be the photograph of a Hamas fighter in Gaza, lounging in a senior Fatah official's office over which he has just taken control. The masked Hamas fighter in jeans is relaxing in an ornate chair, holding a rifle in one hand and speaking - through the opening in his mask - on a telephone in the other. It has the weird feel of a Gap ad for Halloween.
In his essay on this page yesterday, Fouad Ajami described the two sides of the Palestinian civil war as "the masked men of Fatah" and "masked men of Hamas." Indeed, the fact that masks were worn by the fighters on both sides is one of the unique things about this civil war - and it raises, for me, two questions. First, why were both the Hamas and Fatah fighters wearing ski masks? And two, where do you buy a ski mask in Gaza?
Oscar Wilde said: "Give a man a mask and he'll tell you the truth." So what truth does it tell us when fighters on both sides in this civil war (and in Iraq's) are wearing masks?
The first answer is habit. Hamas fighters always wore masks when confronting Israel, so that Israel could not identify them for retribution. On June 16, though, Reuters quoted a Hamas spokesman as saying masks should not be worn in the intra-Palestinian war. "Wearing masks should only be near the borders and in fighting the Zionist enemy, not in the streets and near people's homes," said Khaled Abu Hilal.
But certain habits, especially bad ones, die hard - and they can end up warping your own society as much as your enemy's. You can see what's happened here: If it's O.K. to wear masks when confronting the Jews, it eventually becomes O.K. to wear masks when confronting other Palestinians. If it becomes O.K. to use suicide bombers against the Jews, it eventually becomes O.K. to use suicide bombers against other Muslims. What goes around comes around.
Beyond old habits, though, there is also some new shame. These masks are worn by fighters who not only wish to shield themselves from Israel's gaze, but also from the gaze of their parents, friends and neighbors.
After generations of Arabs highlighting the justice and nobility of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, there was surely an element of shame that Palestinian brothers were killing brothers, throwing each other off rooftops, dragging each other from hospital beds and generally ripping apart Palestinian society in a naked power struggle. There was nothing noble about this fight, which is why, I would guess, many wanted to wear masks. The mask both protects you against shame and liberates you to kill your brothers - and their children.
Putting on a mask is also a way to gain power and enhance masculinity. People in black masks are always more frightening - not only physically, but because their sheer anonymity suggests that they answer to no one and no laws. In our society, it's usually only burglars, rapists or Ku Klux Klansmen who wear masks - either to terrorize others or make it easier to break the law. The mask literally says: "I don't play by the rules. Be afraid, be very afraid."
Think of how relieved you'd be to be captured in war by someone in a uniform and how frightened you'd be to be captured by someone in a mask. But given the breakdown in society we see in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas, that may be a luxury. Wars against masked men and gangs - whose true identities, agendas, rules and aspirations are never clear - will be the norm.
"These masks are the uniforms of the new armies of the 21st century and the new kind of violence," which in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza "no longer distinguishes between war against the stranger and war against members of your own society," argued political theorist Yaron Ezrahi. "Just as this new violence doesn't have a front, it doesn't have a face. It doesn't have boundaries."
That is why these masks announce one more thing: These young men do not report to anyone above them. They have no ranks. No leader can ever be sure of their allegiance. Every masked man is a general, and every militia is a cross between a self-funded criminal gang and a modern army.
Get used to it. In today's environment, where the big divide is between the world of order and the world of disorder, you can expect to see a lot more confrontations between armies in uniforms and helmets and armies in blue jeans and masks.
Bezoek aan Hamas gedetineerden in Nablus
"When Ma'an's correspondents entered the security services' prison in Nablus, they said they were struck by the dire conditions of the prison. Ma'an's correspondents expressed concern for the psychological health of the detainees."
Ma'an visits Hamas detainees in Nablus
Date: 23 / 06 / 2007 Time: 18:43
Nablus - Ma'an - The venue for the Palestinian security services' compound in Nablus is a multi-storey building, dating back to the Jordanian era. The Palestinian security services were given the building by the Israeli authorities in 1996.
Since then, the building has been attacked several times in Israeli ground and air strikes during incursions in Nablus. The security services prepared the building in 48 hours to cope with the state of emergency declared by President Mahmoud Abbas in response to Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip.
"We treat detainees well"
The director of Force 17, or the presidential guards, in the northern West Bank, Major General Ali Abu Turk, denied that Hamas detainees are maltreated.
He said, "I challenge anyone to prove that a single finger has been laid on one prisoner or that they were not given a chance to talk to their families, or that they were not visited by medical staff twice a day."
Abu Turk alleged that three Hamas-affiliated militants were arrested after they launched an armed assault on the security services in Nablus, in the services' eastern district building. The accused were pursued and arrested.
Abu Turk also claimed that Hamas transferred munitions between Asira ash Shamalia village, north of Nablus, and Nablus city centre. He also said that Hamas cut the power supply to Talluza village, northwest of Nablus.
"The detention of Hamas militants is preventive and intended to stop the conflict spreading from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. We hold them according to the law, since we belong to the same people and when one party loses, we all lose," said Abu Turk.
"The security services have arrested 41 people. Ten were released after they were found innocent and proven to not be in possession of arms," said Abu Turk. He added, "They also signed a formal document stating that they were not affiliated to Hamas and condemn the actions of Hamas in the Gaza Strip."
Abu Turk denied that the security services have confiscated Hamas' weapons in Nablus.
When Ma'an's correspondents entered the security services' prison in Nablus, they said they were struck by the dire conditions of the prison. Ma'an's correspondents expressed concern for the psychological health of the detainees.
Another Hamas prisoner, Hilal Libbada, was apprehended eight days ago, our correspondents said he was lacklustre and withdrawn. He was asked about his situation, "I am fine," he said. He was asked whether he received food and drink and he replied simply "yes."
When asked what he was accused of, he said "affiliation to Hamas and conducting illegal acts." Ma'an's correspondents reported that he then looked at the prison's guard and became muted. After that he only said that he and others were against what took place in Gaza because "we are all brothers".
Another detained youth, Ala', spoke to Ma'an. He said that he owned a supermarket. He was apprehended five days ago on charge of Hamas-affiliation. He denied being beaten or tortured and asserted that he receives enough food and is permitted to pray on Friday at mass worship. He expressed hope that he will be released and reunited with his family.
Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of conducting a massive apprehension campaign against its members and maltreating Hamas-affiliates in detention.
Israël levert via kleine grensovergangen voedsel en medicijnen aan Gazastrook
De grensovergangen blijven gesloten voor export vanuit de Gazastrook, zowel om veiligheidsredenen als ook als onderdeel van de boycot door Israël van de Hamas-regering in Gaza.
Israel to use small crossings to get aid to Gaza
24 Jun 2007 15:51:08 GMT
By Adam Entous
JERUSALEM, June 24 (Reuters) - Israel will use two small border passages, not the main Karni crossing that is Gaza's economic lifeline, to bring in basic supplies, officials said on Sunday, citing security concerns with Hamas in control of the territory.
The Israeli officials said their plans would allow around 3,000 tonnes of emergency food and medicine to enter the Gaza Strip through two small
border passages five days per week.
Israel believes this amount, even without reopening Karni, will be enough to avert a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished coastal strip.
Some aid groups said the plan may head off a food shortage, but cautioned that the closure of Karni would cripple the moribund Gaza economy. Karni is the only functioning passage for Palestinian exports from the territory, which is home to 1.5 million people.
Israel wants to isolate Hamas economically, diplomatically and militarily in the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist group seized control more than a week ago, while allowing funds and goods to flow to President Mahmoud Abbas's emergency administration in the occupied West Bank.
Worried Gazans have been stocking up on essentials, fearing the border crossings with Israel will remain shut.
The vast concrete and steel border post at Karni, Gaza's entry and exit point for virtually all goods, was a centrepiece of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to revive the long-stalled peace process after Israel pulled out of the strip two years ago.
Citing security concerns and Israel's policy of boycotting Hamas, an official with Israel's Airports Authority, which oversees the crossings, said, "We don't see any reason at the moment to open Karni".
Instead, the official said, Israel plans to use the much smaller Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossings, both under direct Israeli control.
Under the Israeli aid plan, 3,000 tonnes of food and medicine -- the equivalent of some 50 trucks carrying two loads each -- will enter through Kerem Shalom and Sufa every Sunday to Thursday. On Fridays, 1,500 tonnes of supplies will cross into Gaza through Kerem Shalom.
"That's what we, together with the international organisations, understand the Gaza Strip needs. In case they need more, we will transfer more," the Airport Authority official said.
Shlomo Dror, spokesman for Israel's coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said the Israeli plan, once fully implemented, will "mean we are far from a humanitarian crisis."
Israel will not deal with Hamas directly because the group has refused to recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals with the Jewish state.
Israel controls the land crossings between Gaza and Israel, as well as Gaza's air space and territorial waters. Israel does not allow the crossing of people or goods by sea or air.
Hamas onthult geheime documenten over samenwerking Fatah met CIA en Shin Beth
Interessant is de vraag waarom Hamas deze zaken openbaar heeft gemaakt. Als het allemaal zou kloppen, zou het dan niet handiger voor ze zijn als hun vijanden niet weten dat zij al hun namen en plannen nu kennen? En als het niet klopt, dan komt dat waarschijnlijk snel genoeg aan het licht en verliest Hamas aan geloofwaardigheid.
Hamas revealed secret documents and the shin Biet described it as "treasure"
23 June 2007 Website of Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades - the armed branch of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas)
Islamic resistance movement Hamas revealed yesterday secret documents and records. The documents affirmed that the preventive security and the intelligence services were cooperating with the Zionist entity. also they were weaving conspiracies on some Arab and Islamic countries.
Dr. Khalil Al Hayya, the member of the political leadership of Hamas and deputy in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said at a press conference held yesterday evening in Gaza "The movement had serious files and recordings will be arranged and classified as a prelude to revealed on a Truth investigating committee".
He added "these files are full with complete information about Hamas leadership and Hamas members. And not just Hamas members but they collect information to the Zionist army on every thing related to the resistance and their men".
Al Hayya said "some these files delivered to the American intelligence (CIA) and to the Zionist intelligence about Arab and Islamic countries".
Also Al Hayya revealed that some documents approved that the two services put sensitive listening devices in the house of president Yaser Arafat and the house of Mahmoud Abbas.
He revealed that when the Zionist entity released 100 million dollars, demanded the Palestinian Authority to send 2500 weapons and 5.2 million bullets in the West Bank. He said, "This document is written in Mohammed Dahlan's diary."
Al Hayya said that the documents appeared that these services' mission is chasing the mujahideen. He said "we found every call was the mujahideen done". All the documents and records was transferred to the Zionist intelligence.
Also some documents revealed the place of the tunnels which prepared to resist the Zionist invasions. Al Hayya added that the preventive security draw a solid to sheik Ismail Haniya house to assassinate him.
Finally, Al Hayya said that Hamas didn't want to reveal these scandals and secrets but the arrogance of the traitors force the movement to do that.
Palestijnse inlichtingendienst: Iran hielp Hamas bij coup in Gaza
Iran assisted Hamas' takeover in Gaza, intelligence chief claims
Date: 24 / 06 / 2007 Time: 15:17
Ramallah - Ma'an - Hamas political and military leaders held meetings in Syria to prepare for the military takeover of the Gaza Strip, the deputy chief of the Palestinian intelligence service, Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Tirawi, claimed on Sunday.
He also accused Iran of assisting Hamas with training and funding prior to the Gaza takeover and warned that Hamas has caches of weapons in the West Bank which are intended for "a military revolution" against Fatah.
In a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tirawi fiercely criticized Hamas, describing them as "mutineers."
"The current stage has revealed the real face of the mutineers who never believed in the Palestinian national agreement and independence," Tirawi said. "They also refused to join the Palestine Liberation Organisation and aborted the first Palestinian uprising when they created an opposite program to that of the Palestinian forces, simply because their program contradicted the Palestinian national program."
Maj. Gen. Tirawi also accused Hamas of "treachery," saying that Hamas saw the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections as an opportunity to overcome the Palestinian national program.
Having won the elections but then failed to govern the Palestinian territories single-handedly, Hamas was forced to follow the path of dialogue, Tirawi said.
Tirawi also accused Hamas of carrying out a series of assassinations against members of the Palestinian security services and the Fatah movement. The deputy intelligence chief then challenged Hamas to prove that the Palestinian security services were involved in any single assassination attempt against Hamas members.
Responding to the declarations of Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya, Tirawi said, "The rebels want to distort the patriotic Palestinian security services' members, who do not need Hamas' praise despite the fact that Hamas used to applaud them during the elections time so as to get their support."
On Friday evening, Al Hayya accused the security services of collaborating and cooperating against Hamas with the Israel and the US, in addition to many other countries.
He accused the security services, who are considered loyal to Fatah, of not only spying on the Hamas movement, "but also on Arab countries and officials, including ministers and strategic sites".
Tirawi also addressed Hamas' alleged assassination attempt of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and its goals. He said: "We challenge Hamas to prove that the video cassette which proved Hamas' involvement in an attempt to assassinate the Palestinian president was fabricated. The aim of that assassination was to take advantage of the Palestinian law which reads that the speaker of the PLC, who is a Hamas leader, becomes the president once the president is absent."
Tirawi admitted that the security services failed, and that they are learning from their mistakes. Besides, he added, the security services were not given orders to attack. They were only defending themselves, he said.
With regards to the investigation committee, he said that the committee is authorized to summon anyone to testify, including President Abbas himself.
Tirawi stated several examples to prove that Fatah has always adhered to national unity and rejected inter-Palestinian fighting. He recalled an incident between the late president, Yasser Arafat, and a president of an Arab state who asked Arafat to get rid of the Iraqi-affiliated "Rejection Front", and Arafat refused.
Tirawi also claimed that the late Hamas leader, Imad 'Aqil, who was believed to have been assassinated by Israel, was in fact assassinated by a Hamas-affiliated imam of a mosque.
Tirawi also narrated an anecdote implying that Hamas members also "collaborated" with Israel. He said that the brother of a Hamas spokesperson, called Mushher Al-Masri, came to the West Bank with the aim of carrying out a bombing operation inside Israel. However, his brother, the Hamas spokesman, told the Palestinian security services to send him back to the Gaza Strip.
Tirawi also assured that the Palestinian intelligence agency is an information body, not a military one. The agency includes only a limited number of armed men, Tirawi said, who are used only to defend their bases if they come under attack.
He added, "We are responsible for our people in Gaza and the West Bank, and we have to protect all civilians."
He also called on Fatah's main armed wing, the Al Aqsa Brigades, to join the security forces in maintaining law and order through the security institutions. He assured that any lawbreakers would be pursued and punished.
In the case of the Hamas prisoners being held in Fatah prisons, Tirawi said that this issue would be ended soon. However, he added that anyone who has weapons which are intended for destruction or killing would be punished.
Tirawi also alleged that Hamas has weapons which are intended for "a military revolution" against Fatah. In order to prevent such a situation, the security services will declare a state of emergency, Tirawi said.
At the end of the press conference, Tirawi also slammed Iran for assisting Hamas with training and funding prior to the Gaza takeover. He also alleged that some Arab parties trained members of Hamas' armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, in their military bases.
Beleid Olmert mede gevolg van mislukte strategieën van Barak en Sharon
Legacy of failure
Olmert's policies due in large part to failed strategies of previous leaders
Joshua L. Gleis Published: 06.24.07, 08:45 / Israel Opinion
As Ehud Barak takes over as minister of defense, and another intervention in Gaza appears looming on the horizon, discussions of the failures of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continue almost unabated.
Whether it is the Second Lebanon War or the firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli cities, negative opinion towards the embattled prime minister seems to near no end. Indeed, Israeli society's collective memory seems quite short-sighted. While there is no doubt that Olmert has made many mistakes during his time in office, one should not forget that his policies are due in large part to the failed strategies of previous Israeli leaders.
Blaming Olmert for all that is wrong in Israeli society today would be like blaming Lyndon Johnson for all the failures of the Vietnam War. Just as history has shown that John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon share some of the responsibility for America's actions in Vietnam, so too must we recall the failures of former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak in securing the Jewish State.
The initial findings of the Winograd Commission only superficially broached the subject of the troubled policies of Barak and Sharon vis-à-vis the buildup of Hizballah on the northern border.
And while the UN painstakingly certified that Israel had withdrawn from every inch of Lebanese territory, its UNIFIL forces did nothing more than watch and videotape Hizballah launch cross-border raids.
Barak's campaign promise
Three main reasons account for the inaction on the part of the Israeli government. The first reason was that the nation was simply not willing to go back into Lebanon to prevent a Hizbullah buildup the withdrawal was wildly popular, and once the decision to depart was made, only a major escalation would have forced the IDF back into Lebanon. It is for that reason that Israel's response to the kidnapping of three of its soldiers in October of 2000 only months after the initial May withdrawal could be described as negligible at best. The bodies of the soldiers were only retrieved after a grossly disproportional exchange of forces years later.
The second reason for Israel's inaction was that the Lebanese withdrawal was the fulfillment of a Barak campaign promise, and thus the ordering of forces back into Lebanon shortly after the withdrawal had taken place would have shown Barak as having made a mistake not something a politician is easily ready to accept.
Finally, there is the realization that the international community simply would not have tolerated Israel reengaging in a full-scale assault into Lebanon or Syria because of their failure to weigh in on Hizbullah.
Sharon's lackluster response
As we fast forward a few years to the summer of 2006, we found these were the predicaments that the militarily inexperienced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert found himself facing when he began his term in office. Only this time around the Israeli public was tired of sitting still and itching to defend itself. And thus Olmert, along with his even less experienced then-minister of defense, were left to deal on multiple fronts with what his predecessors two highly decorated and skilled soldiers failed to mollify. And thus we find ourselves in the situation we are in today.
Withdrawing from insurgencies is never easy, but making the decision to reengage in an insurgency is even more difficult. While Olmert made many mistakes thus far in his term in office, his inability to quell violence that should have been addressed by previous administrations long ago needs to be understood in the proper context.
Joshua L Gleis is a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard University and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His research explores how to more effectively withdraw from insurgencies.
Rabbijn: noem je kinderen niet 'Herzl'
Rabbi: Don't name your kids 'Herzl'
Rabbi Avraham Yosef, son of Shas' spiritual leader, rules that children may not be named after the founder of Zionism, whom he defines as 'evil'
Neta Sela Published: 06.22.07, 19:34 / Israel Jewish Scene
A person's name may not be changed under any circumstances, unless it is either "Herzl" or "Nimrod," in which case it must be changed, Rabbi Avraham Yosef ruled this week.
During a radio show on which he replies to halachic questions, the rabbi, son of Shas' spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, was asked by a listener whether names should be changed if, for instance, the bride and her mother-in-law share the same name.
The rabbi answered that a name must never be changed, though another name can be added to the first name, unless one carries the name of "an evil, indecent figure" like Herzl, the founder of Zionism, or the biblical Nimrod. "One must be careful not to name his children by these names," Yosef stressed.
The rabbi's ruling, and his statement that Herzl was an evil person, is surprising in light of the fact that Yosef serves as the chief rabbi of the city of Holon on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate an institution that is affiliated with the State of Israel.
Furthermore, his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is the leader of a political party that is very much involved in the public life of the state.
Rushdie en Islam (by Irshad Manji)
Voor wie het nieuws gemist heeft:
De controverse rond de Britse schrijver Salman Rushdie laait internationaal weer hoog op. Rushdie werd vorig weekend door de Britse koningin Elizabeth geridderd.
Dat was tegen het zere been van vele moslims. In India en Pakistan gingen duizenden gisteren de straat op en ook in Londen werd gedemonstreerd.
Demonstranten in Pakistan eisten de dood van Rushdie en een handelsboycot met Groot-Brittannië. Deze moslims zijn woedend omdat de Britse koningin Elizabeth een "afvallige" een adellijke titel heeft geschonken.
De Iraanse ayatollah Khomeiny vaardigde in 1989 naar aanleiding van het verschijnen van De Duivelsverzen een fatwah uit, waarin opgeroepen werd Rushdie te vermoorden. De in India geboren auteur moest onderduiken en verscheen jarenlang niet in het openbaar. Na het vellen van het doodvonnis liepen ook mensen die openlijk voor Rushdie stelling namen gevaar. In 1991 bijvoorbeeld werd de Japanse vertaler van The Satanic Verses vermoord en in 1993 raakte Rushdies Noorse uitgever gewond bij een aanslag.
In 1998 nam Iran formeel afstand van het doodvonnis. Daarop besloot Rushdie weer aan het publieke leven deel te nemen. Nu heeft de prominente Iraanse geestelijke Khatami laten weten dat het doodvonnis tegen Rushdie nog steeds van kracht is.
Iran reageerde al eerder uitermate geïrriteerd op het besluit van Groot-Brittannië om Salman Rushdie te ridderen. Hij is de schrijver van het in moslimogen godslasterlijke boek De Duivelsverzen (origineel: The Satanic Verses). "Het eren van één van de meeste gehate personen in de islamitische wereld is een duidelijk voorbeeld van de anti-moslimhouding van hoge Britse functionarissen", liet het Iraanse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken in een reactie weten. Het feit dat Londen een "afvallige" een adelijke titel schenkt, past in een traditie van het beledigen van islamitische heiligdommen door westerse landen als Groot-Brittannië, heet het verder in de verklaring.
Tot zover de NOS website. Helaas nemen nog veel te weinig moslims stelling tegen deze middeleeuwse barbarij. Hieronder één zo'n moedige vrouw. Wie volgt?
Irshad Manji: Islam the problem
GROWING up in Vancouver, I attended an Islamic school every Saturday. There, I learned that Jews can't be trusted because they worship "moolah, not Allah", meaning money, not God. According to my teacher, every last Jew is consumed with business.
But looking around my neighbourhood, I noticed that most of the new business signs featured Asian languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi and plenty of Urdu. Not Hebrew, Urdu, which is spoken throughout Pakistan.
That reality check made me ask: What if my religious school isn't educating me? What if it's indoctrinating me?
I'm reminded of this question thanks to the news that Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses and 10 other works of fiction, will be knighted by the Queen.
On Monday, Pakistan's religious affairs minister said that because Rushdie had blasphemed Islam with provocative literature, it was understandable that angry Muslims would commit suicide bombings over his knighthood.
Members of parliament, as well as the Pakistani Government, amplified the condemnation of Britain, feeding cries of offence to Muslim sensibilities from Europe to Asia.
As a Muslim, you better believe I'm offended - by these absurd reactions.
I'm offended that it is not the first time honours from the West have met with vitriol and violence. In 1979, Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam became the first Muslim to win the Nobel Prize in science. He began his acceptance speech with a verse from the Koran.
Salam's country ought to have celebrated him. Instead, rioters tried to prevent him from re-entering the country. Parliament even declared him a non-Muslim because he belonged to a religious minority. His name continues to be controversial, invoked by state authorities in hushed tones.
I'm offended that every year, there are more women killed in Pakistan for allegedly violating their family's honour than there are detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Muslims have rightly denounced the mistreatment of Gitmo prisoners. But where's our outrage over the murder of many more Muslims at the hands of our own?
I'm offended that in April, mullahs at an extreme mosque in Pakistan issued a fatwa against hugging.
The country's female tourism minister had embraced - or, depending on the account you follow, accepted a congratulatory pat from - her skydiving instructor after she successfully jumped in a French fundraiser for the victims of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. Clerics announced her act of touching another man to be "a great sin" and demanded she be fired.
I'm offended by their fatwa proclaiming that women should stay at home and remain covered at all times.
I'm offended that they've bullied music store owners and video vendors into closing up shop.
I'm offended that the Government tiptoes around their craziness because these clerics threaten suicide attacks if confronted.
I'm offended that on Sunday, at least 35 Muslims in Kabul were blown to bits by other Muslims and on Tuesday, 80 more in Baghdad by Islamic "insurgents", with no official statement from Pakistan to deplore these assaults on fellow believers.
I'm offended that amid the internecine carnage, a professed atheist named Salman Rushdie tops the to-do list.
Above all, I'm offended that so many other Muslims are not offended enough to demonstrate widely against God's self-appointed ambassadors. We complain to the world that Islam is being exploited by fundamentalists, yet when reckoning with the opportunity to resist their clamour en masse, we fall curiously silent.
In a battle between flaming fundamentalists and mute moderates, who do you think is going to win?
I'm not saying that standing up to intimidation is easy. This past spring, the Muslim world made it that much more difficult.
A 56-member council of Islamic countries pushed the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution against the "defamation of religion". Pakistan led the charge. Focused on Islam rather than on faith in general, the resolution allows repressive regimes to squelch freedom of conscience further - and to do so in the guise of international law.
On occasion, though, the people of Pakistan show that they don't have to be muzzled by clerics and politicians.
Last year, civil society groups vocally challenged a set of anti-female laws, three decades old and supposedly based on the Koran. Their religiously respectful approach prompted even mullahs to hint that these laws are man-made, not God-given. This month, too, Pakistanis forced their Government to lift restrictions on the press. No wonder my own book, translated into Urdu and posted on my website, is being downloaded in droves. Religious authorities won't let it be sold in the markets. But they can't stop Pakistanis - or other Muslims - from satiating a genuine hunger for ideas.
In that spirit, it's high time to ban hypocrisy under the banner of Islam. Rushdie is not the problem. Muslims are.
After all, the very first bounty on Rushdie's head was worth $US2 million. It rose to $US 2.5 million.
Then came higher reward numbers. The chief benefactor, Iran's government, claimed that the money had been profitably invested. Looks like Jews are not the only people handy at business.
Irshad Manji is creator of the new documentary Faith Without Fear. She is author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith (Random House Australia).