zaterdag 3 mei 2008

Rosner's Blog: Praten met Hamas heeft geen zin

"Je sluit geen vrede met je vrienden, maar met je vijanden", zo luidt een bekend cliché. Maar in de geschiedenis waren die vijanden meestal eerst verslagen of op zijn minst ernstig verzwakt, voordat het mogelijk was vrede te sluiten. Een beweging of partij geeft zijn doelen niet zomaar op. De pogingen van Carter, en velen in het zogenaamde 'realistische kamp', om Israël met Hamas te laten praten zonder aan Hamas voorwaarden te stellen zoals het accepteren van Israëls bestaanrecht, speelt Hamas in de kaart. Ook het staakt-het-vuren dat nu in de maak is, zal Hamas legitimeren en versterken, zowel moreel als militair.
Posted: May 02, 2008
Rosner's Blog
There's no moral virtue in talking to one's enemies
My frequent readers already know what I think about the latest visit of Jimmy Carter to the Middle East. Last week I wrote this:

The choice of those who still continue to insist on the need to listen to Carter is based on lies - it is possible to ignore him, protest his manipulative tricks, and still continue to work for true peace between Israel and the Arabs. There is no contradiction.

A couple of days ago, though, I wrote another piece on Carter for
Slate, essentially analyzing his latest OpEd published in the New York Times. You can read it in full on Slate, or a couple of paragraphs here:

How Carter is helping Hamas

In his op-ed, two reasons emerged for the necessity of such talks, but Carter, misleadingly, turned them into one.

The first is that "Hamas [is] steadily gaining popularity." That's the let's-just-deal-with-reality argument: Hamas is strong, Hamas makes the rules, and we have to talk to the party in power. The second is "there can be no peace with Palestinians divided." That's the what-we're-trying-to-do-here-is-help-make-peace argument. Presumably, Carter is not in the business of sabotaging the peace talks being conducted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas or undermining his efforts to rebuild a moderate, democratic Palestinian Authority. It just looks that way.

It is no accident that in Carter's version, these two arguments are mushed together and left unrecognizable. Carter is a calculating diplomat, and he knows his way around land mines. He needs the arguments to be confusingly entangled, because neither can stand on its own feet. Helping the cause of peace by engaging a party that expresses no interest in a two-state solution makes no sense. Talking to a villain because he is strong while giving up on the possibility of moderates being able to overcome their difficulties is a despairingly defeatist goal.

"This policy" Carter argues, "makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies." The hope of eventual moderation is another easy argument made by proponents of engagement, who fail to recognize that in some cases, moderation is not a reasonable expectation. Here, Carter is guilty not only of miscalculation but of hubris. He apparently believes that by the force of his personality and powers of persuasion, he can make Hamas change a deeply rooted ideology. Unfortunately, he can't.

There's no moral virtue in talking to one's enemies. Engagement is a tool, but so are disengagement and isolation. Both are effective, if used wisely; both can be damaging if used in haste. Talking to one's enemies is a tool - as is complaining about one's reluctance to talk to one's enemies. This is the tool now being used by Hamas and Syria - assisted by Carter - as they try to escape and counter the isolation being applied to them. Making the case for engagement helps them achieve their strategic goal.


Zipporah Porath over Israëls Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog in 1948

De brieven van Zipporah Porat, die in Jeruzalem leefde tijdens Israëls onafhankelijkheidsoorlog en de gewonden verpleegde, zijn een broodnodig tegenwicht tegen alle eenzijdige verhalen van Palestijnse vluchtelingen die 'zomaar' uit hun huizen werden gejaagd door die gemene Zionisten.

You can read many of Zipporah's letters here:

And you can buy the book, send email to:
Zipporah Porath, zip(at) (Israel)
or call Tel/Fax: 972-3-635-1835.

Lipstick at the front line, letters to the home crowd

By Daphna Berman

It was February 1948 when Zipporah Porath arrived at Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street, moments after three car bombs had exploded in an attack that killed more than 50 people and fueled already seething tensions in the city. She had just completed a medic's course and was eager to help, but when guards heard her speak English - "the language of the enemy" - they wouldn't let her pass into the scene of the attack. It took some arguing and stubbornness until she was finally allowed in and soon after, Porath took out her lipstick, drew a red Star of David on a doorway and established a makeshift first aid station putting her, as she recalled this week, "in business." That night, Porath wrote to her parents about her transformation into an Israeli. "From then on, I was one of them," she recalled this week. "Instead of saying 'them,' it became 'we.'"

Porath, who lives in Ganei Tikvah, is currently in her 80s, though she won't divulge her age now or when she first arrived at the Haifa port as a young and idealistic Zionist from Brooklyn. A student at the Hebrew University, she was inducted into the Haganah in December 1947, despite pleas from her family to return home before the war. Five other Americans were inducted at the same time, with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in another. She recalls giggling the whole way home out of excitement and nervousness. "It was clear no one would hand us the state on a silver platter, but I didn't know what that would mean," she said. "With the tension mounting, I could either pack up and go home or join in defending Jerusalem. I couldn't just sit on the sidelines."

And so as a medic, she served during the siege of Jerusalem, volunteering with various missions and traveling to the center of the city amid rubble and sniper fire to pick up rationed food. She was also on the first United Nations - accompanied convoy of wounded from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in June 1948, soothing amputees on the convoy along rocky and rugged terrain, with no morphine and little more than a smile.

During that period, she said her alarm clock - a staple many of the American students brought with them - made her particularly popular among Haganah soldiers who needed to wake up at all hours of the night for their training or patrols. Throughout the siege, she continued to write letters she had no way of sending.

'This is now my home'

The letters were later discovered at her parents' home in 1987 and have since been published in English and Hebrew, under the title Letters from Jerusalem: 1947-1948. In the last letter of the collection, she wrote to her parents: "I can't believe this year. So much has happened, but the most important thing by far is the birth of the State. I've been a part of it and it will forever be a part of me. I guess that means I am telling you that I intend to see this war through and then remain on, whatever happens. This is now my home."

Porath has since told her story hundreds of times. She knows her narrative nearly by heart and doesn't take well to questions that disturb it. And now is an especially busy period for her, when she gives interviews and talks to groups-though she tells her story throughout the year to synagogue missions or Hadassah groups as well. "This was the most important period of my life and the most meaningful as a Zionist," she said. "In the last years, it has become the focus of my life. I see it as a very important mission, especially for young people who were born into a state and know very little about how it came into being."

IDF niet verantwoordelijk voor dood familie Beit Hanoun

Het zal de media weinig kunnen schelen, maar uit onderzoek van het Israëlische leger blijkt dat men niet verantwoordelijk is voor de dood van een Palestijnse familie in Beit Hanoun.
Hier is een voorbeeld van hoe Hamas vanuit burgergebied opereert:

This is how Abu Rajah, a resident of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, described how Hamas gunmen take over apartment buildings when Israeli forces approach the area::

"Scores of masked men rushed to the area. Most of them carried large bags full of weapons. They invaded our apartment buildings and demanded that the resident leave.  In response the women asked the gunmen to distance themselves from the buildings and children.  The atmosphere became tense and some of the residents were beaten by the gunmen, who were mostly from Hamas. In the end most of the residents left the buildings.  We left the buildings in their hands.   They brought sandbags into our bedrooms and living room. They set up heavy machine guns in the windows and planted large explosive devices in the sidewalks. "
Fatah website as quoted by Maariv correspondent Amit Cohen - 1 May 2008.

Het is een mirakel waarom de media weigeren te zien en te rapporteren wat zelfs de Palestijnen zelf vertellen, en hoe zij Hamas de hand boven het hoofd blijven houden.


Friday, May 2, 2008 The Jerusalem Post

'Beit Hanun family not killed by IDF'

A blast in northern Gaza that killed a Palestinian mother and her four children on Monday was not caused by the Israeli Air Force, a probe into the explosion conducted by the IDF Southern Command concluded on Friday.

Col. Shai Alkilai from the Southern Command conducted the probe over the last few days under orders from OC Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Elazar Shkedi.

The blast under investigation occurred Monday morning in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun, when according to Palestinians, an IDF tank shell hit the home of the Abu Meatak family, as the mother Miyasar was preparing breakfast for her children. She was killed together with the four children.

According to the findings of the probe four terrorists were spotted carrying weaponry and explosives on their backs. The IAF fire was on target and only hit the armed terrorists. As a result there occurred secondary explosions which destroyed the home and killed the mother and her children.

The IDF probe ruled out the possibility that the family was hit by IDF fire. The IDF probe also revealed that the secondary explosion was far greater than the type of explosion caused by the initial IDF bombing and the munitions it had used.

The IDF said that it was unfortunate that innocent people were killed in the incident, but stressed that the blame lay with Hamas which operated from populated areas, using civilians as human shields.

vrijdag 2 mei 2008

Benjamin Pogrund over Israel: "Why we are here"

In een eerdere post schreef ik dat vandaag (2 mei) Holocaust Remembrance Day zou zijn. Dat had ik blijkbaar verkeerd overgenomen van een kalender op internet: het was woensdagavond en donderdag..
Voor een verduidelijking van de relatie tussen de Holocaust en het stichten van Israël, zie Ami Isseroff's commentaar: Holocaust, Israel, Zionism
The foundation of Israel was born out of the Holocaust. For me, the fact that murderous antisemitism still exists more than justifies the Jewish state
Benjamin Pogrund

May 1, 2008 2:00 PM
The sirens went off throughout Israel at 10am today. They wailed for two long minutes. In cities, towns and villages, people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stood still and silent. Cars and buses stopped, on city streets and on highways.

It was the annual observance of the Day of the Holocaust, Yom Ha'Shoah, to remember the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Last night, television and radio stations were shut down. Restaurants and cafes were closed. The streets were deserted.
One television channel was open. Until the early hours of this morning I watched the rescreening of the brilliant, harrowing BBC documentary Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution, produced by Laurence Rees.

As anyone who has seen the series knows, it raises more questions than it can answer: how so many people, and from the land of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Goethe and Schiller at that, were capable of inflicting such cruelty and death on Jews (and for that matter, on Gypsies and three million Russian prisoners of war who were regarded as subhuman).
I was born and grew up in South Africa. My family escaped the Holocaust. But aunts and uncles and cousins who had remained behind in Lithuania, from where my parents came in the 1920s, perished.

The sirens, and the reminder of what happened during my lifetime, confirmed my awareness of why I live in Israel. I want to contribute towards ensuring that Jews have a haven in this world, so that no Holocaust can ever again befall us. I want a state to stand up for the rights of Jews wherever they might be threatened. I want a state that can tell the antisemites in the world, whether they are nakedly so, crypto- or whatever, to go to hell. It's as rudimentary as that.

I am sorry that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 created so much loss and suffering for Palestinians. There were no angels on either side, just as there aren't now. Israel came into being through the UN. Jews accepted partition and Arabs didn't. The conflict continues to this day.

I want peace between Jews and Arabs. We cannot unscramble the omelette of 1948, but we can and must work to heal and to end Arab anger and deprivation.

Israel's accomplishments in 60 years are astonishing. It is not a perfect society: it has problems of education and problems related to minority groups and immigrants and corruption which are common to many other countries, and it has unique problems in terms of the conflict with Palestinians, unending armed vigilance and care for Holocaust survivors.
No doubt this expression of my feelings will bring into the open those readers of the Comment is free who rant at every mention of Israel. They cannot abide the existence of a Jewish state, and a proud and successful one at that, and they are not open to rational arguments. Our survival is the best answer.

IMRA: leven IDF soldaten moet voorop staan in Gaza operatie

Voor het geval het staakt-het-vuren er niet van komt, is hieronder het advies van IMRA voor het IDF optreden tegen de terroristen.
Weekly Commentary: False morality handicaps IDF Planning for Gaza
Dr. Aaron Lerner (IMRA) - Date:  May l, 2008

This is how Abu Rajah, a resident of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, described how Hamas gunmen take over apartment buildings when Israeli forces approach the area::

"Scores of masked men rushed to the area. Most of them carried large bags full of weapons. They invaded our apartment buildings and demanded that the resident leave.  In response the women asked the gunmen to distance themselves from the buildings and children.  The atmosphere became tense and some of the residents were beaten by the gunmen, who were mostly from Hamas. In the end most of the residents left the buildings.  We left the buildings in their hands.   They brought sandbags into our bedrooms and living room. They set up heavy machine guns in the windows and planted large explosive devices in the sidewalks. "
Fatah website as quoted by Maariv correspondent Amit Cohen - 1 May 2008.

What is the operative message for Israeli policy makers from this report?

Clearly, from an operational standpoint, the message is that the gunmen in Gaza are transforming civilian locations into dangerous military positions whose elimination and/or neutralization is required in order to insure the safety and efficacy of the IDF forces operating in the area.

The Palestinian civilians certainly have every right to complain and protest that Palestinian gunmen commandeer their properties.

But this is not Israel's problem.

This is an internal Palestinian problem.


Israel's problem is dealing with the gunmen and the military positions they occupy. That these military positions were previously civilian apartment buildings makes them no less dangerous.

As Israel prepares plans for a massive operation in the Gaza Strip it is imperative that this be understood.

Unfortunately, there are indications that a distorted PC mentality may still have a heavy influence in the IDF.

Yesterday Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz reported that Col. Shai Alkilai, who was appointed by OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen.Yoav Galant to investigate the cause of Monday's explosion in northern Gaza that killed a mother and her four children, is looking into whether IDF commanders took into account the possibility that the terrorist duo was carrying large bombs - that could cause damage to nearby homes - when the decision was made to target them from the air.

IDF forces were operating in the area at the time.

The terrorists intended to use those bombs to kill IDF soldiers at the very first opportunity.

Col. Alkilai's line of inquiry sends the wrong message to the commanders in the field and a disturbing message to the combat forces and their families regarding the apparent value placed on the lives of IDF soldiers.

This is no time for vague positions that only serve to embolden and strengthen the terrorists.

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

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Staakt-het-vuren in de maak?

Officiëel onderhandelt Israël niet met Hamas, maar via Egyptische bemiddeling zou er toch een staakt-het-vuren kunnen komen binnenkort:
According to top Israeli defense officials, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is leaning toward accepting the cease-fire offer. Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman is expected to visit Israel in the coming days to present the offer to Israel and to hear its response. He will likely meet with Barak as well as with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

On Wednesday, a dozen small Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, gave their consent to the cease-fire proposal during a meeting with Egyptian officials in Cairo. Last week, Hamas said it would accept a six-month Gaza-first cease-fire, and dropped an earlier demand that the truce also include the West Bank.
Zes maanden? De afgelopen jaren is er geen maand voorbij gegaan zonder Palestijnse raketten op Israël, ondanks zogenaamde 'staakt-het-vuren's. Hamas hielt zich daar zogenaamd een tijdlang aan, maar applaudiseerde wel als de 'Volksverzetscomités' of Islamitische Jihad hun terreur voortzetten.

Cease-fire will be boost for Schalit release, says official
yaakov katz and herb keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

Israel's expected acceptance of a Cairo-brokered cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip will "significantly" expedite the release of kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit, a top official involved in the negotiations told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

According to the official, while Schalit's release was being negotiated on a second, parallel track to the cease-fire talks, Israel's agreement to a truce in Gaza would "open doors" with Hamas and have an impact on the talks concerning a prisoner swap in exchange for the soldier abducted in June 2006.

The Post has also learned that a clause in the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which has already been accepted by Hamas, is the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai according to the terms of the 2005 agreement reached by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Hamas, according to the deal, would not be allowed to maintain a presence at the crossing.

Based on the 2005 agreement, European monitors would deploy at the crossing and assist Palestinian Authority officers from the Force 17 Presidential Guard - loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas - in running the border terminal.

"The acceptance of the terms of the deal will enable the PA to deploy in Rafah and essentially return to Gaza for the first time since Hamas took over last June," the official said.

According to top Israeli defense officials, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is leaning toward accepting the cease-fire offer. Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman is expected to visit Israel in the coming days to present the offer to Israel and to hear its response. He will likely meet with Barak as well as with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

On Wednesday, a dozen small Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, gave their consent to the cease-fire proposal during a meeting with Egyptian officials in Cairo. Last week, Hamas said it would accept a six-month Gaza-first cease-fire, and dropped an earlier demand that the truce also include the West Bank.

On Wednesday, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem made it clear that if Egypt and Hamas were waiting for a formal and public Israeli acceptance of the cease-fire agreement, they would be waiting in vain. However, a careful reading of the statement the government put out on the matter shows an Israeli readiness to accept the deal.

"We are not in any way referring specifically to what went on in Cairo," Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said in a carefully worded statement. "We don't need words, but rather tangible steps."

Regev said the government's goal was "calm in the South, and for calm to be sustainable it has to embody three vital elements: the total absence of hostile fire from Gaza, the end of terrorist attacks and the complete end of arms transfers into Gaza."

This was a marked change in tone for the Prime Minister's Office, which previously had largely dismissed the Egyptian-Hamas talks as little more than an attempt by Hamas to buy time so it could reorganize and re-arm.

Regev said that if the three conditions were met in Gaza tomorrow, there would be calm there tomorrow.

When asked whether the IDF would stop operations in the West Bank if there were quiet in Gaza, Regev said that if there were quiet in Gaza, Israel would stop operations in Gaza, not in the West Bank.
One diplomatic source said that the third condition, ending the arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip, made Egypt a party to the deal and placed a greater responsibility on it to do more to end the smuggling.
Even though Suleiman is expected here next week to inform Israel of the arrangements, and even though the Defense Ministry's Amos Gilad has been a frequent visitor in Cairo over the last few months, the Prime Minister's Office continues to say that Israel is not negotiating with Hamas, either directly or indirectly. This is widely viewed as an attempt by Israel to keep other countries from feeling that if Israel were concluding a deal with Hamas through Egyptian mediation, then they too can begin engaging with Hamas.

Diplomatic officials said it was no coincidence that this agreement was being finalized on the eve of Rice's visit to the region - she is scheduled to arrive on Saturday night - and a little more than a week before US President George W. Bush visit here.

Bush is expected to arrive on May 13, and after taking part in Independence Day ceremonies here and then go on to Saudi Arabia to mark 75 years of US-Saudi ties. From there he is scheduled to go to Egypt. Cairo, according to diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, was certainly eager to broker the cease-fire deal with Hamas before Bush visited, to win US favor.

But while Bush will likely praise Egypt for its role, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Wednesday criticized Egypt for its handling of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

"A problematic terror state has risen that is built on the Hizbullah model," Dichter said during a security cabinet meeting. "There is ongoing weapons smuggling of worrying quantity and quality from Egypt, and this terror state is getting legitimacy from Egypt and maybe even more than that."

Since the start of the year, 900 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, the minister told the ministers.

Israel was transferring fuel to the Gaza Strip, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i reported, but the Palestinians were not picking it up at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal.

Olmert, meanwhile, raised the issue of Egypt's attempt to broker a truce with Hamas but said it wasn't appropriate to expand on the issue since Barak was not present.

Olmert criticized Barak's absence, saying, "It would have been fitting for him to take part in a ministerial discussion about security issues."

Barak missed the meeting because he was at a Golani Brigade training exercise on the Golan. At the end of the drill, Barak told the soldiers: "My gut feeling is to respond immediately and with all our strength to every attack from the Gaza Strip."

"However," he continued, "We must act with the proper judgment and at the correct time."

donderdag 1 mei 2008

Abbas een man van vrede?

Ik blijf graag geloven in de kans op vrede tussen Israël en de Palestijnen, maar artikelen als onderstaande maken het me zwaar. Abbas heeft toch zeer frequent ongepaste uitspraken (dat is eufemistisch bedoeld) gedaan, en de opiniepeilingen over steun voor het terrorisme stemmen ook niet gerust.
The Myth of Palestinian Moderation
By Michael Freund

Even for a president prone to misusing the English language, George W. Bush outdid himself last week.

Sitting next to Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, Bush gushed and swooned over the visiting Palestinian leader, describing him in terms usually reserved for heroes and saints.

"The president is a man of peace," Bush assured the gaggle of reporters who were present. "He's a man of vision. He rejects the idea of using violence to achieve objectives, which distinguishes him from other people in the region."

While Bush's grammar may have been uncommonly accurate that day, his description of Abbas was anything but. For even a cursory glance at some of the Palestinian president's outbursts in recent months reveal a man wholly undeserving of such praise.

On March 1, Abbas had the gall to insult the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis when he declared that Israel's counter-terror operations in Gaza were "worse than the Holocaust" (Jerusalem Post, March 2).

And in an interview with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur on February 28, Abbas boasted that he had been the first Palestinian to fire a bullet at Israel after the birth of the PLO in 1965.

This ostensible "man of peace" then took pride in the fact that his Fatah movement had trained Hizbullah terrorists, and he did not rule out a return to the "armed struggle" against Israel in the future.
And just two weeks ago, Abbas was planning to confer the Al-Quds Mark of Honor, the PLO's highest award, to two female Palestinian terrorists who took part in the killing of Israelis (Israel Radio, April 16). The event was cancelled only after it was publicized widely in the media.

Need we also mention the Palestinian president's refusal late last year to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state"?

THIS OF course puts the lie to Bush's stubborn embrace of Abbas as a reasonable and judicious leader that can be counted on to forge a peace deal. If anything, the Palestinian president has repeatedly shown himself to be an intemperate hot-head.

Nonetheless, that doesn't seem to stop Washington and much of the media from bestowing upon him the coveted title of a "moderate" leader that Israel can do business with.

"Abbas's moderate and Western-backed government rules the West Bank," the Associated Press (April 25) helpfully explained in a recent report. According to Reuters (April 24), Abbas is "a pro-Western moderate," while Agence France-Presse referred to him on Monday as "moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas," as though the appellation "moderate" was an integral part of his title.

All of this shameful fawning on the Palestinian thug-in-chief raises a simple, yet rarely-asked, question: why is there such a widespread insistence on deluding the public into thinking that Abbas is a "moderate" leader who epitomizes the majority of Palestinians?

The issue is more than academic. In fact, it goes directly to the core of current US and Israeli government policy.

After all, the entire intellectual basis for the notion of granting the Palestinians a state rests on the dubious assumption that a majority of them are actually reasonable, peace-loving people.
Too bad that all the available evidence appears to indicate otherwise.

Last week, for example, the Palestinian-run Jerusalem Media and Communications Center published the results of a survey revealing that a majority of Palestinians (50.7%) support suicide-bombing attacks against Israeli civilians.

This was in line with previous polls, which have consistently shown overwhelming Palestinian backing for anti-Israel terror.

Indeed, just last month, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that an astonishing 84% of Palestinians supported the gruesome execution-style murder of 8 Israeli teens by a Palestinian terrorist at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

And by a margin of 64% to 33%, or nearly two to one, Palestinians were in favor of continued rocket attacks against Israeli towns and cities.

THESE COLD, hard facts present supporters of the peace process with a major problem, if only because they confirm that the very idea of Palestinian moderation is a myth. It is a figment of the imagination, a flight of fantasy that bears little resemblance to reality.

After all, it is not as if a tiny minority of Palestinians support the murder of Jews. The bulk of them do. And wishing it were otherwise simply doesn't make it so.

So let's stop fooling ourselves. Giving the Palestinians a state when a majority of them want us dead is both reckless and irresponsible.

It is a recipe for disaster, and will only serve to create yet another radical, terror-sponsoring state in the region.

And let's cease calling Mahmoud Abbas a "moderate." Anyone who refuses to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state," makes a mockery of the Holocaust, and threatens a return to violence, is certainly not deserving of such a characterization.

Instead, let's call Abbas what he really is. For if he looks like an extremist, sounds like an extremist, and acts like an extremist, chances are that he is one.

And more importantly, let's start treating him as such.

Hamas: "Holocaust was Zionistisch plan om gehandicapte Joden te doden"

Zijn dit dezelfde lieden met wie Israël over vrede c.q. een staakt-het-vuren zou moeten onderhandelen?
April 30, 2008
Palestinian Media Watch

Hamas Holocaust perversion:
Jews planned Holocaust to kill handicapped Jews
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch:

Jewish leaders planned the Holocaust to kill "disabled and handicapped" Jews to avoid having to care for them, according to a Hamas TV educational program. As much of the world prepared to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Hamas TV presented its latest sinister twist on Holocaust denial.

The Hamas TV educational program, broadcast last week, taught that the murder of Jews in the Holocaust was a Zionist plot with two goals:

1- To eliminate "disabled and handicapped" Jews by sending them to death camps, so they would not be a burden on the future state of Israel.
2- At the same time, the Holocaust served to make "the Jews seem persecuted" so they could "benefit from international sympathy."

Amin Dabur, head of the Palestinian "Center for Strategic Research" explained that "the Israeli Holocaust - the whole thing was a joke, and part of the perfect show that [Zionist leader and future Israeli prime minister] Ben Gurion put on." The "young energetic and able" were sent to Israel, while the handicapped were sent "so there would be a Holocaust."

click here to see video

The following is the transcript,

Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) April 18 2008

"The disabled and handicapped are a heavy burden on the state," said the terrorist leader, Ben Gurion. [Zionist leader - Israel's first PM]

The Satanic Jews thought up an evil plot [the Holocaust] to be rid of the burden of the disabled and handicapped, in twisted criminal ways.
[Picture: Holocaust death camp, dead bodies]

While they accuse the Nazis or others so the Jews would seem persecuted, and try to benefit from international sympathy. They were the first to invent the methods of evil and oppression."

Amin Dabur, head of the Palestinian "Center for Strategic Research":
"About the Israeli Holocaust, the whole thing was a joke and part of the perfect show that Ben Gurion put on, who focused on strong and energetic youth [for Israel], while the rest- the disabled, the handicapped, and people with special needs, they were sent to [to die]- if it can be proven historically. They were sent [to die] so there would be a holocaust, so Israel could "play" it for world sympathy."

Narrator: "The alleged numbers of Jews [killed in the Holocaust] were merely for propaganda."

Toespraak Shimon Peres bij de openingsceremonie van Holocaust Remembrance Day 2008

President Shimon Peres's 30.4.08 Address at the Opening Ceremony of Holocaust Heroes' and Martyrs' Remembrance Day 2008, at Yad Vashem

Jerusalem, April 30th, 2008



63 years have passed since the end of the most destructive, bloody war mankind has ever known - World War II.

Victory over Nazi Germany restored the values of the human race, and saved Europe from sinking into an age of darkness and destruction.

The racist madness of Nazi Germany cost sixty million people their lives. Six million Jews, a third of the entire Jewish people, were wiped out by that satanic machine.  They were annihilated simply because they were Jewish.  Their blood will never cease to cry out from the soil of Europe, most of which was conquered by the Nazis.

I have been a believer all my life, but that doesn't help me to understand what happened.  To this day, I am unable to comprehend how young, educated Germans could aim their rifles at a pregnant woman, shoot her in cold blood, rip the hair off her head, pull out her teeth and then go away to eat and rest, only to return and shoot a day-old baby.  Nothing has the power to drown out the cries of babies shot in cold blood.

Occasionally a madman makes his appearance. But how could it happen, I ask myself, that an entire nation could elect a madman, prostrate itself before his sadism and demagoguery, give him the title of "Chancellor", and shower him with acclaim? How does a nation not rise up at the sight of murderers rampaging through its streets, the sight of army tanks moving forward relentlessly and mercilessly, bent on destroying erstwhile neighbors and friends.

I find it hard to understand how other countries stood by, blinded and paralyzed in the face of this viper.  Some of them even signed agreements with the Devil himself, joined his ranks and fought in his armies.

My heart trembles when I am reminded that Hitler could have developed nuclear weapons too.  A genocidal leader with weapons of mass-destruction - what would have remained of our world then?

It is not easy for us to compose ourselves, and perhaps we shouldn't.  The passage of time does not necessarily calm us.  The poet's words about truth rising from the grave ring in my ears, and my heart vibrates with the memory of six million brothers and sisters, buried in a graveyard the likes of which have never been seen, nor will never be seen again.  They live within every one of us.

"What I have lost is mine forever", wrote Rachel.

I also ask myself what would have happened to the Jewish people if we would have had the powerful country we have today in the time of Hitler. We could have done things that others refrained from doing.

It's possible that we were late in establishing a state, and paid a heavy price - for in history, one mustn't hesitate.  But we did rise again, and gathered in our people.  We returned to our Homeland, we resurrected our language, and we opened our gates to Holocaust survivors.  We fended off seven military attacks and two intifadas designed to defeat us.  We also signed two peace agreements.  We began to tap the hidden potential we discovered within ourselves.  While the shadow of death still hovered, new life started to take hold.

We established an army that knows how to win, and is capable of defending a peace-seeking nation.  We proved that our spirit was not broken.  The catastrophe of the Holocaust did not destroy our ability to establish a just way of life.  The Holocaust demanded a supreme effort on our part.  Even after our blood had been spilled, we succeeded in becoming first in the world - in agriculture, medicine, and self-defense.

We will not forget, we will not cover up, and we will not stop asking ourselves anew each morning, what we can do so that what happened will never happen again.  And we will remember - history has taught us to be vigilant. We must cultivate both our spiritual and physical power. We have to strengthen our position, with the power of justice and justifiable power. We need to seek out friends in this world, and to demand that they keep their eyes open and recognize imminent danger, rather than offer comfort after the fact.

What is expected of us, we will bear on our shoulders.  What is expected of the world should be acted upon without delay.  If the countries of the world had not delayed, and would have identified the Nazi threat in time, they could have prevented Hitler from murdering tens of millions of people.  They could have prevented war from breaking out.

We stand here today with tears in our eyes, and yet we will not immerse ourselves in our tears.  Only a strong country is entitled to mourn its children.  Only a nation that believes in itself can commemorate them in a fitting manner.
Only a state with deterrence power, with an army worthy of its reputation, bent on peace, can ensure that the memory of those who perished will never be obliterated.

We shall pray together. We will say Kaddish in their memory.  And we will sound the notes of "Hatikvah" for the generations to come.

May their memory be blessed.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Enquete Israëlische tieners over antisemitisme

Een enquete onder Israëlische tieners over antisemitisme, ter gelegenheid van Holocaust Remembrance Day aanstaande vrijdag en Onafhankelijkheidsdag volgende week donderdag.
Question: Is a second Holocaust possible?
Teenagers: No 59% A certain possibility 30% Real possibility 9%
Adults:  No 61% A certain possibility 24% Real possibility 11%

Question: Is Israel under a threat of destruction?
Teenagers: No 16% A certain threat 52% Serious threat 30%
Adults: No 19% A certain threat 39% Serious threat 38%

Survey: Israeli Teens Don't Fear Another Holocaust, But Do Believe Israel Is Under An Existential Threat

Full poll results:

Jerusalem, April 30, 2008 . On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel's 60th anniversary, a new survey of Israeli teenagers issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that most do not believe another Holocaust against the Jewish people could take place. But a majority thinks Israel is under "serious threat" of destruction.

The telephone survey of 500 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 conducted in late March also queried their feelings about traveling to Poland to learn about the Holocaust by visiting historic sites and former Nazi concentration camps.  The poll found that while the trip had a profound impact on the vast majority of teens who participated, those who opted not to go cited "a lack of finances" and "lack of interest."

A growing number of Israeli youth -- 30% -- believe that "Israel is under a serious threat of destruction" compared to 24% in 2007, while 52% said they believe "Israel is under "a certain threat of destruction," a slight decline from 59% in 2007.

On the question of whether "a second Holocaust of the Jewish people is possible or not," 9% said there was a real possibility, compared to 6% in 2007; 30% said there was a certain possibility, and 59% said a second Holocaust was not possible.

While most teens still relate to anti-Semitism as an historic event, there was a significant increase in awareness of contemporary anti-Semitic manifestations, to include current issues such as "Iran, Arabs and terror" -- 27%, compared to 9% in 2007.

"Israeli teenagers understand anti-Semitism in the context of history and not as something they might encounter in their daily lives.  Yet there is a growing awareness of contemporary anti-Semitism and threats to Israel's existence," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "As the YouTube generation, they are much more aware of attacks on Jews and the Jewish State."

The survey findings were released in Jerusalem by ADL's Israel Office as a follow-up to a 2007 survey on Anti-Semitism Awareness Among Teenagers in Israel.

    Among the main survey findings were:

91% of teenagers have an awareness of global anti-Semitism.
69% believe that Israel should react to any cases of anti-Semitism around the world.
Teenagers are less likely than adults to perceive foreign criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.
80% have never encountered anti-Semitism.  The average Israeli teen says they only have a small or reasonable amount of knowledge and tools to react in the face of anti-Semitism.
Schools by far are the major source of awareness of anti-Semitism, but half of those polled said they should be learning more.
Two-thirds said they plan to participate in a trip to Poland, but less than 10% actually go; More than 70% of those said that the journey strengthened their ties to the Jewish people.
30% said they had no awareness of acts against Jewish institutions in Israel. Of those who did, half saw them as anti-Semitic attacks, while the rest saw it as vandalism, acts to gain attention, or adjustment problems. Those who visited Poland were more likely not to see them as anti-Semitic acts.

Survey Highlights

When asked, "What comes to your mind when you hear the term 'anti-Semitism?'" close to 50 associations were given. The most common answers included: Holocaust (32%), Nazis (26%), Germany (17%), Iran (14%), hatred of Jews (13%), infinite hatred (10%), Jews (9%), racism (8%), Hitler (8%), Arabs (7%), France (4%), and terror (2%).

The poll found that 65% of teenagers said school was their source of knowledge about anti-Semitism, down from 76% in 2007.  Thirty-nine percent (39%) cited TV programs, 19% cited the Internet, 25% cited newspapers, and 11% cited parents.

Nearly half (48%) of teenagers polled said they saw criticism of Israel as being anti-Semitic, up from 43% in 2007.

When asked, "How should Israel react to manifestations of anti-Semitism?,"
24% said react only in very severe cases, 69% said react in any case, and 6% said not to react in any case.  These results were consistent with the 2007 poll.

The poll found that 66% of 16 year olds and 63% of 15 year olds said they planned to participate in a journey to Poland. But when they reach the age of 17, when most trips take place, only 40% said they plan to go and only 17% actually participated.

Among 17 year olds who don't go to Poland, 31% said it was due to finances, 17% said it was out of fear, 15% cited bad timing, 11% cited lack of interest, and 3% said it was for ideological reasons.

About the Survey

ADL commissioned Market Watch to conduct the 2008 Research Into Anti-Semitism Awareness Among Israeli Teenagers & Adults survey.  Telephone interviews were conducted among 500 randomly chosen teenagers between the ages of 15-17 (inclusive) on March 27-28 2008.  The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.  A similar survey was conducted in March 2007. A parallel survey of Jewish adults was also conducted for comparison purposes.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

"Syrië zal haar band met Iran niet verbreken voor vrede met Israël"

"It would be naive to think Syria will neglect or abandon its strategic alliances that do not stem from the Arab-Israeli conflict," the analyst, Dr. Samir Taqi, said in an interview with Al-Manar television.
De band met Iran heeft wel van alles te maken met het conflict, want samen steunen Syrië en Iran de Hezbollah en Hamas.

Top Syrian emissary: We won't sever ties with Iran for peace with Israel
By Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
Last update - 11:52 30/04/2008

Syria will not sever ties with Iran and Hezbollah even as part of a possible peace agreement with Israel, a senior Syrian analyst who is handling the government's contacts as it relates to the peace process said on Tuesday.

"It would be naive to think Syria will neglect or abandon its strategic alliances that do not stem from the Arab-Israeli conflict," the analyst, Dr. Samir Taqi, said in an interview with Al-Manar television.

When asked why Syria elected to trumpet messages from Israel and relayed by Turkey of Jerusalem's willingness to cede the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, Taqi replied that the intent behind the media campaign was "to solidify the right" of Syria to the strategic plateau it lost as a result of the Six-Day War.

As such, Taqi sought to emphasize that he is personally not involved in the recent developments, but is rather providing commentary on the matter.

Israeli officials told Haaretz Taqi was very close to decision-makers in Damascus and enjoyed the confidence of the Turkish government. People who know Taqi personally said yesterday they believed he was very well-connected to the Syrian intelligence services.

Taqi served for years as an adviser to the previous Syrian president, Hafez Assad. In recent years he received the official title of adviser to the prime minister, and heads the Center of Oriental Studies, a political think tank.

Prior to taking up his advisory posts, Taqi, who is a Christian, was a cardiac surgeon, who studied medicine in London. In recent years he has has frequently met with journalists and academics to discuss political issues.

Last year, the Turks welcomed Taqi's visit to northern Cyprus at the head of an unofficial Syrian delegation, when he met with with the foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. His act aroused the ire of Greek Cypriots, who oppose recognition of the Turkish part of the island as an independent state, which only Ankara recognizes.

Haaretz has learned that Taqi was the bearer of Israel's main message to Syrian President Bashar Assad more than a week ago, following his visit to Ankara. Taqi's principal contact in Ankara is Ahmet Davutoglu, a close associate of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Taqi, in an interview broadcast on Saturday on Al Jazeera, spoke from Damascus and said Syria was interested in moving ahead in talks with Israel even during the present American administration. He said now was the time to prepare for for the pre-negotiation phase, to declare intentions and points of view, until the parties reach the point at which the Americans would be prepared to intervene.

woensdag 30 april 2008

PCHR - Palestijnse militaire rechtbank veroordeelt 'collaborateur' ter dood

Een Palestijnse veiligheidsofficier die het Israëlische leger geholpen heeft om 4 terroristen uit te schakelen, is door de militaire rechtbank van de PA ter dood veroordeeld.
Dat klinkt bizar. De PA heeft geen leger, dus wat moeten ze überhaupt met een militaire rechtbank?
De PA wordt geacht het Palestijnse terrorisme te bestrijden, en krijgt daartoe geld en wapens van de internationale gemeenschap. Ze horen daartoe ook met Israël samen te werken - pardon, te 'collaboreren', en beklagen zich als het IDF zelf de Palestijnse gebieden intrekt om terroristen op te pakken zonder overleg met hen.
Het IDF heeft dan ook weinig vertrouwen in de Palestijnse veiligheidsdiensten. De leden daarvan collaboreren soms liever met de terroristen dan met het IDF.
Zelfs het PCHR vindt dat collaborateurs bestraft moeten worden:
"Affirms that the prosecution of collaborators is a right and duty of the PNA since these collaborators are an occupation tool participating in the implementation of war crimes against Palestinian civilians."
Deze Palestijnse burgers waren wel terroristen.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release
Ref: 38/2008
Date: 28 April 2008
Time: 11:30 GMT

Palestinian Military Court Sentences Emad Sa'ed to Death
PCHR Calls upon President Abbas to reject the Ruling, and Calls for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Palestinian Law
PCHR is extremely concerned over the passing of a death sentence against Emad Mahmoud Sa'ed Sa'ed (25 from Yatta) by the High Military Court of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) that convened in the Governmental Compound "Muqata'a" in Hebron this morning. The Court sentenced Sa'ed to death by firing squad for treason and collaborating with the Israeli occupation. The Centre calls upon President Mahmoud Abbas not to sign this cruel and inhumane sentence, and to stop its implementation.

At approximately 10:00 on Monday, 28 April 2008, the High Military Court convened with Lt. Colonel Ahmad Abu Dayya as Chief Judge and Major Muman Fanoun and Captain Fadi Hejazi as panel judges. The Chief Military Prosecutor Major Issa Amr and Military Prosecutor First Lt. Hani El-Hieh prosecuted the case. At the end of the session, the Court sentenced Emad Mahmoud Sa'ed Sa'ed (25) to death by firing squad for treason and collaborating with the Israeli occupation.

The decision stated, "It was proven to the Court the guilt of the suspect Emad Sa'ed, who is a security officer, of the crime of treason and collaboration with the Israeli occupation as part of a network headed by his uncle in the Yatta area. The defendant provided information to his father. And this information, according to the defendant's testimony, led to the martyrdom of 4 persons wanted to the occupation forces, the demolition of a house, and the arrest of a number of wanted persons. The Court based its decision on Article 131 of the Palestinian Military Penal Code for the Year 1979, and decided unanimously to sentence Sgt. Emad Sa'ed to death by firing squad." The defendant was arrested on 7 August 2007 by the Palestinian Military Intelligence.
It is noted that this is the second death sentence issued by this Court in less than a month. The High Military Court convened in Jenin on 6 April sentenced Tha'er Mahmoud Husni Ermeilat (23) from Thanaba east of Tulkarm to death by firing squad. He was convicted of murdering Ala Ayesh Mubarak (20) from Tulkarm refugee camp on 22 October 2006.
PCHR is extremely concerned over the continued utilization of the death penalty in the PNA, and:
- Calls upon the PNA to announce a moratorium on the use of this form of punishment that violates international human rights standards, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the UN Convention against Torture (1984).

- Calls upon President Mahmoud Abbas not to sign this cruel and inhumane sentence, and to stop its implementation.

- Affirms that the prosecution of collaborators is a right and duty of the PNA since these collaborators are an occupation tool participating in the implementation of war crimes against Palestinian civilians. However, this does not necessitate the implementation of the death penalty.

- Points that abolishing the death penalty does imply leniency towards dangerous criminals, who must be subjected to deterring punishment while preserving our humanity.

- Affirms the unconstitutionality of the Palestinian Military Penal Code for the Year 1979 since it was not passed by the PNA and was not submitted to the PLC for approval.

- Calls upon the PNA to review all legislation relative to the death penalty, especially the Law No. 74 for the Year 1936 effective in the Gaza Strip and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 for the Year 1960 effective in the West Bank. The Centre calls for passing a unified penal code that conforms with international human rights standards, especially those pertaining to the death penalty.

Public Document
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 82824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip.
E-mail:, Webpage
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3 Palestijnen ontsnapt uit gevangenis Jericho

Dit is niet de eerste keer en een reden voor Israëls wantrouwen naar de Palestijnse Autoriteit.
Volgens het ene bericht waren de 3 ontsnapte gevangenen lid van de Volksverzetscomité's uit Gaza, volgens het andere waren ze van Fatah en uit de Westoever.
Twee zouden 'politieke' gevangenen zijn (maar wel van een gewapende brigade?) en één zat op criminele gronden vast.

3 wanted Palestinians escape from Palestinian prison in Jericho

Ali Waked - YNET
Published: 04.28.08, 11:33,7340,L-3536755,00.html

Three wanted members of the Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' military wing, have escaped from the Palestinian Authority prison in the West Bank city of Jericho.

The three were arrested over their activities against Israel. Palestinian security forces are searching the area.


Three Palestinian escape Occupied West Bank jail
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Daily Star (Lebanon)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
JERICHO: Three Palestinians, including two members of an armed group mostly confined to the Gaza Strip, escaped from an Occupied West Bank prison overnight, Palestinian security officials said on Monday. Two of the men, Nidal Awdi Malash and Mohammed Yusef Sobh, were members of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), according to a security official who asked to remain anonymous. The third man, Hani Ezzat Halawa, was being held on criminal charges, the official added. Jericho police chief Qaid Khaled Abu Kamel confirmed the three had escaped but refused to provide details about their identities. "People escape from prisons all over the world. We are investigating," he said. - AFP


Apr 28, 2008 12:41 | Updated Apr 28, 2008 13:28
Three Palestinian prisoners escape from PA jail in Jericho

Three Palestinian convicts escaped Monday morning from a PA-controlled prison in the West Bank city of Jericho, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported.
The three are Fatah members Hani Halawe from Nablus, Nidal Malash from Bethlehem and Mahmoud Sabah from Jenin. Malash and Sabah are political prisoners.
The commander of Palestinian security forces in Jenin told Ma'an that his forces were searching for the fugitives.
According to assessments, the three escaped to protest their living conditions.
There were reports that a fourth prisoner may have also escaped in the jailbreak.


Three prisoners escape from PA prison in Jericho
Date: 28 / 04 / 2008  Time:  12:51   
Ma'an News
Jericho – Ma'an – Three prisoners escaped from a Palestinian Authority prison in the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources identified the escapees as Hani Halawa from the city of Nablus, who was detained on criminal charges, Nida Malash from Bethlehem, imprisoned on political charges, and Mahmoud Mustafa from Jenin, also a political prisoner.

A commander in the Palestinian national security forces in Jericho told Ma'an's reporter that the security services are combing the area searching for the escapees.

dinsdag 29 april 2008

Hoe premier Olmert met fallout van Syrische kernreactor omgaat

Een interessante link tussen de onthullingen in de VS over de nucleaire reactor die Syrië met hulp van Noord-Korea bouwde en die in september door Israël werd gebombardeerd, en de recente overtures van Olmert richting Damascus. Het aanbod dat Olmert zou hebben gedaan om de Golan terug te geven aan Syrië blijft vaag en duister, maar het bombarderen van de Syrische reactor was een heldere statement, en de beste zet die Olmert tijdens zijn verder nogal desastreuze regeerperiode heeft gedaan...


Jerusalem Post / Updated Apr 27, 2008 9:55
Analyze This: How PM is handling Tibnah fallout

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then the photograph presented to the US Congress on Thursday showing the head of the Syrian nuclear commission standing next to the director of North Korea's Yongbyon reactor ably sums up the following explication of roughly that length.

If anyone was wondering how it is that two such significant developments concerning Syria should break at exactly the same time - the latest revelations about the Israeli attack last September on a alleged Syrian nuclear facility being built with North Korean aid and the recent exchange of messages between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad in which the former supposedly agreed to return the Golan to Damascus in a peace deal - the sight of these particular Syrian and North Korean officials grinning like idiots into the camera lens offers up a very compelling explanation.

Of course, there were other close-up photographs taken of the Syrian reactor at Tibnah presented to Congress that serve as even more damning evidence that the Koreans were helping Damascus build a reactor that was shortly to go on-line - but none as embarrassingly personal as that shot. Just as eye-opening as the content of the photos, if not more so, is the fact that they were reportedly supplied, or even taken, by an Israeli agent at the facility.

If authentic - and despite Syrian denials, there is little reason to doubt it given the other evidence presented by the CIA to Congress last week - these photos are part of one of most impressive intelligence coups pulled off by Israel against Syria since the Eli Cohen affair of the 1960s. Coming soon after the Damascus assassination in February of Hizbullah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, their presentation in public represents tremendous international embarrassment for the Assad regime. Heads will surely roll in Damascus, maybe literally, if they haven't already.

No wonder Israeli sources have been saying for weeks the Olmert government preferred that Congress not hold this hearing, fearing that the exposure of this material might so rattle Damascus it could push it into a some kind of retaliatory military venture against Israel.

Perhaps it also sheds light on recent developments in the Israeli-Syrian relationship, in particular the exchange of messages between Olmert and Assad via the Turkish government, in which the prime minister supposedly signaled to his Syrian counterpart his willingness for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Having that bit of information also leak out to the media last week conveniently provides Assad with at least some of the face-saving and media distraction he surely wanted right now to counter the news out of Washington.

This is not to say that Jerusalem's Golan offer was either insincere, or only a cynical ploy to reduce tensions with Syria at a time when they might have reached a breaking point. After all, it is reasonable to assume that Olmert would be willing to go at least as far as his coalition partner, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, did in the then-Labor prime minister's own negotiations with the Syrians over the Golan eight years ago. Maybe even a tiny drop further - meaning Syrian access to Lake Kinneret, given the right overall formula.

There are, though, several reasons why Olmert could make such an offer at this time, secure in the knowledge that it is unlikely to lead to an actual agreement that would be politically problematic for him to implement any time soon.

One, the conditions placed on that offer - that Syria break its ties to Hamas and Hizbullah, and move out of Iran's orbit - are probably too difficult for Assad to swallow at this juncture. And two, moving forward on the Israel-Syria axis will likely have to wait for the Bush administration, angry at Damascus for reasons related to Iraq, to vacate the White House early next year.

Nor can Olmert realistically expect any Golan deal to find sufficient support within his own government, or even in his own Kadima Party. Indeed, perhaps anticipating negative public reaction to the disclosure of his Damascus exchange, the PM conveniently arranged a nice little Pessah vacation on the Golan just when this news broke, in case anyone was worrying he might be in too much of a rush to give it back to the Syrians.

It is that kind of nice little PR touch that once again demonstrates what a politician-to-his-very-bones Olmert is. But the presentation made in Washington on Thursday proves something else, too. Whatever other mistakes this prime minister has made, it is clear he was absolutely right in ordering a strike on the Tibnah facility last autumn despite the tremendous risks this entailed.

The evidence presented in Washington makes it clear this reactor was in the very latest stages of development and posed a very imminent threat in the form of the enriched plutonium it could have produced to power nuclear weapons.

What's more, according to US sources Olmert went ahead and did so despite hesitations in Washington over whether diplomatic pressures should first be brought to bear on Damascus. How anyone in the Bush administration can possibly believe that after the Iraq WMDs fiasco it could credibly make a case against the Syrian nuclear program that would get any international support is almost beyond comprehension.

One only has to look at the laughably absurd reaction this weekend by International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei - in which he chose not to criticize Syria for violating the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty it had signed, but instead took aim at Israel for "undermining the due process of verification"(!) - to understand that Jerusalem had no choice but to act fast and on its own.

And act Olmert did. Even many who criticized Menachem Begin back in 1981 when he ordered the strike on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor now concede in retrospect that he made the right decision. So it should now be, at least in this country, regarding this much-maligned (and not unjustifiably so) prime minister, who in giving the green light for September's operation made a heroic contribution to the security of this country, and of the region. In recent weeks he has shown himself equally adept at conducting damage control regarding this critical matter. While fallout from Tibnah will undoubtedly continue to drift our way in the coming weeks and months, in the coming years we should all sleep more soundly knowing that somewhere out there in the Syrian hinterlands, Damascus's nuclear dreams lay buried for the time being under the desert sands.

Dry Bones:Golan Promise

Dat Israël de héle Golan hoogvlakte aan Syrië zou 'teruggeven' lijkt moeilijk denkbaar. Behalve dat het een aantrekkelijk vakantiegebied is voor veel Israëli's, is het tevens zeer strategisch gelegen, met het Meer van Galilea/Tiberias/Kinneret - Israëls voornaamste zoetwaterbron - aan haar voeten en uitkijkend op noord-Israël.
De grenzen hier werden in 1920 pas getrokken tussen de Britse en Franse mandaatgebieden, waarna de Britten in 1923 nog een stuk Golan aan Frans Syrië overdroegen. Tijdens Israëls Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog van 1948/1949 veroverde Syrië er nog een stukje bij, waarmee het toegang tot het meer kreeg. In 1967 werd de hoogvlakte door Israël ingenomen en in 1981 geannexeerd. Een smal strookje (waaronder de ruines van Quneitra) was na de Yom Kippoer Oorlog aan Syrië teruggegeven in 1974.
Barak bood tijdens vredesbesprekingen in 1999/2000 aan de hele Golan terug te geven, behalve het smalle strookje langs het meer dat Syrië in 1948 had veroverd. Hierop zouden de onderhandelingen zijn stukgelopen. Olmert doet er goed aan niet meer te bieden dan Barak, althans totdat de Syriërs in Finnen veranderen (met Sint Juttemis dus)....

Golan Promise (1981)

1981 Dry Bones cartoon - Reagan is surprised by a previous U.S. Presidential commitment to Israel on the Golan Heights..
With all the talk about Israel giving the Golan Heights back to Syria "in exchange for peace" I decided to search the Dry Bones archives for cartoons about the Golan and about Israeli "concessions for peace".

I was shocked to discover a fact that everyone (your faithful servant included) has forgotten. Following the 1973 Egyptian Yom Kippur War surprise attack on Israel, the Israelis pushed the Egyptian invading force out of Sinai.

In the ensuing "search for peace", America put heavy pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Egyptian Oil fields in Sinai.

What I (in 2008), and apparently President Ronald Reagan (in 1981) forgot was that Israel had received something tangible from the Americans in return for the unilateral withdrawal from the oil fields:

"the tangible benefit for Israel from its agreement to a unilateral withdrawal from the Egyptian oil fields was a presidential letter from President Ford concerning the vital importance of Israel holding on to the Golan Heights, which Israel had taken from Syria in 1967 following 19 years of Syrian shelling on Israel's northern communities from the towering Golan Heights, and Syria's incessant attacks from the Golan on the Sea of the Galilee – Israel's only fresh water resource, from where Israel's National Water Carrier pumps water to the whole country." -more
In the letter, Gerald Ford, 38th President of the U.S. gave an assurance that
"The U.S. will support the position that an overall settlement with Syria in the framework of a peace agreement must assure Israel's security from attack from the Golan Heights. The U.S. further supports the position that a just and lasting peace, which remains our objective, must be acceptable to both sides. The U.S. has not developed a final position on the borders. Should it do so it will give great weight to Israel's position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights." -more

Zeven Palestijnse doden bij gevecht tussen Israël en terroristen

Twee verschillende berichten over hetzelfde tragische voorval. Wie heeft er gelijk?
Duidelijk is in elk geval dat het de terroristen zijn die de burgerbevolking in gevaar brengen door vanuit dicht bevolkt gebied aanvallen op Israël uit te voeren, zich er te verschuilen en er explosieven op te slaan.


During IDF operation this morning in northern Gaza, the IDF targeted from the air two Palestinian gunmen who were approaching the soldiers while carrying large bags on their backs. A big explosion erupted on the scene, following the attack against the two, indicating the presence of bombs and explosives in the gunmen's bags. As a result of this big explosion, extensive damage was caused to a house that was near the gunmen and uninvolved civilians were hit. The IDF Spokesperson wishes to stress that the responsibility for the injuring and killing of uninvolved civilians lies with the terrorist organization Hamas, which operates within civilian population, using them as human shields and risking their lives by keeping bombs and explosives near them.

Associated Press/ April 28, 2008

Israeli strike kills 7 Palestinians

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli tank shell slammed into a tiny Gaza Strip home Monday during a skirmish with gunmen, killing a Palestinian woman and four of her children as they prepared to sit down for breakfast, officials and relatives said.

The new violence threatened to hobble Egyptian attempts to bring a cease-fire to the area.

A militant and an unidentified man were also killed in fighting in Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza border town Palestinian militants frequently use to fire rockets and mortars at southern Israel.

Palestinian medics identified the dead children as sisters Rudina and Hana Abu Meatak, ages 6 and 3; and their brothers 4-year-old Saleh and 15-month-old Mousad. Their mother, Miyasar, was in her late 30s. Her two older children were critically wounded in the strike, the officials said.

The Israeli military said forces entered the town early Monday after gunmen approached a border patrol. During ensuing clashes between gunmen and Israeli forces, tank shells were fired, and one struck the Abu Meatak home.

The force of the blast scattered clothes and other household items outside the two-room home. A single white children's shoe, flattened by the explosion, lay on the ground near a blue pair of shorts covered in sand. A green baby chair also sat outside, one end bent by the force of the blast.

A large crowd of people gathered outside, milling about as rescue crews cleaned up the debris and washed away bloodstains in the sand.

"What a black day. They killed my family," said Ahmad Abu Meatak, father of the children, wailing outside the local hospital where the bodies were taken. Abu Meatak, dressed in a traditional Arab white robe and headcovering, said he was on his way to a nearby market to shop when the tank shell hit.

Beit Hanoun farmer Omar Abdel Nabi said he was driving his tractor in a nearby field when two or three explosions shook the ground.

"People were screaming that a tank shell landed in the next street," he told The Associated Press. "I carried two people covered in blood out of a house."

The children were taken to a local hospital morgue, where family members stood over the bodies, wailing and flailing their hands in the air.

"I feel sick. I want to throw up the blood that is boiling inside me, into the face of the occupation," said Ibrahim Abu Meatak, the children's 24-year-old half-brother. He said Miyasar Meatak was fixing breakfast for the family when the tank shell struck.

Israeli officials said they were investigating the incident, but made clear that they held Gaza's Hamas rulers responsible for the bloodshed. Israel says Hamas permits militants to carry out attacks from residential areas, putting civilians at risk when Israel strikes back.

"We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a tour of an Israeli weapons factory. "The army is acting, and will continue to act, against Hamas, including inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas is also responsible, by way of its activity within the civilian population, for part of the casualties among uninvolved civilians."

The Israeli army frequently operates in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian militants, who have fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel since the Hamas militant group took control of Gaza last June. Militants claimed to have fired rockets at Israel before the Abu Meatak house was hit.

In recent weeks, militants have also tried to infiltrate the border at least four times.

Despite the sporadic clashes and border attacks, Hamas has indicated it is willing to accept a cease-fire with Israel, mediated by Egypt. But Monday's violence may throw fragile cease-fire efforts into disarray.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-ruled Gaza, accused Israel of striving "to ruin any regional and international efforts to end the siege and halt aggression."

Gunmen fired rockets at a crossing Israel shares with the Gaza Strip shortly after the tank shell strike. And a Hamas-allied militant group warned revenge. "The blood of the children will not be spilled in vain," said Abu Mujahed of the Popular Resistance Committees.

Despite the threat, he said the group would send a delegation to Egypt on Monday to discuss the current truce offer.

Last week, Hamas said it is ready for a six-month truce. Israel has dismissed the offer, saying Hamas wants to use the lull to rearm after sustaining heavy losses in recent fighting. Officials also say Hamas must control smaller armed groups, like the PRC and Islamic Jihad.

While battling Hamas in Gaza, Israel has been conducting peace talks with the rival Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Hamas is not a party to those talks.

Abbas condemned the Gaza shelling, saying it would make peace negotiations with Israel even more difficult. "We emphasize the need to achieve calm and keep our people away from the agony of war and destruction," Abbas said.

The sides hope to reach a peace deal by the end of the year, though Abbas complained after a trip to the White House last week that he was growing pessimistic about the lack of progress in negotiations.

Early Monday, the Israeli army lifted its closure of Palestinian territories, imposed for 10 days over the Jewish Passover holiday.

Israel routinely bars Palestinians from entering during Jewish holidays, seen them as a time of high risk of militant attacks.
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maandag 28 april 2008

Noord-Koreanen mogelijk omgekomen in september bij Israëlische luchtaanval Syrië

De ontkenning van Syrië dat het om een nuclaire installatie ging wordt steeds ongeloofwaardiger.
De vraag is natuurlijk wel hoe Japan weet dat die Noord-Koreanen zijn omgekomen.

Het is allemaal hoogst geheimzinnig, wat niet zo vreemd is als het een geheime nucleaire installatie betrof.

Reuters / April 28, 2008
N.Koreans may have died in Israel raid in Syria: NHK

TOKYO (Reuters) - Ten North Koreans helping build a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria may have died in an Israeli air raid last September, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said on Monday, citing South Korean intelligence officials.

The report follows the release of photographs by the United States last week of what it said was a Syrian nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium built with North Korean help.

Israel destroyed the suspected reactor in a September 6 air strike.

NHK said the dead included officials of the North Korea's communist party unit that exports weapons and military technology and members of the North Korean military unit which made nuclear facilities in the country.

Two or three North Koreans survived the air strike but it is not clear what happened to them afterwards, NHK reported.

Syria has denied the U.S. charge as "a fantasy."

Pyongyang has been reluctant to discuss any transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, notably Syria, as well as to account for its suspected pursuit of uranium enrichment.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota)

Nieuwe aanval Hezbollah op Israël is kwestie van tijd

Hezbollah maakt zich op voor een nieuwe ronde tegen Israël, onder het toeziend oog van de VN troepenmacht in Zuid-Libanon. Je kunt je afvragen waarom die troepenmacht er überhaupt zit, en waarom zoveel landen deze klucht meespelen en er geld aan uitgeven.
In verschillende incidenten met gewapende Hezbollah strijders is men ze snel uit de weg gegaan, en zweeg men over het gebeurde, in de hoop dat het niet uit zou komen. Als alleen Israël het zegt, wordt het immers toch niet geloofd of serieus genomen, zo weet men bij UNIFIL ook. Wanneer er een nieuwe oorlog uitbreekt, en Libanon wederom wordt gebombardeerd, dan is het duidelijk wie daaraan schuldig is en ter verantwoording moet worden geroepen. 


Haaretz / Last update - 10:37 27/04/2008

Report: Hezbollah man says new attack on Israel is question of 'when, not if'

Two years after the Second Lebanon War, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization has bolstered its recruitment efforts at an unprecedented rate in preparation for a fresh war with Israel, The Guardian reported Sunday.

The report quoted an unnamed Hezbollah fighter as saying: "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah [Hezbollah chief] commands us" to attack.

According to the report, the Islamist group has of late been sending "hundreds, if not thousands" of recruits to training camps in Lebanon, Syria and Iran in ancticipation of conflict with Israel.

"The villages in the south are empty of men," an international official was quoted as saying. "They are all gone, training in Bekaa, Syria and Iran."

Israel and the Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in the summer of 2006, sparked by the militant group's cross-border raid and abduction of two Israel Defense Forces reservists.

During the conflict, Hezbollah launched some 4,000 rockets at northern Israel and was said to have thousands more in its reserves. The numbers of casualties on both sides have been disputed, particularly in terms of the Islamist group's loss of manpower.

Meanwhile, the UN reported last month that Hezbollah is rearming and has an arsenal including 10,000 long-range rockets and 20,000 short-range rockets in southern Lebanon.

A resurgence of Hezbollah fighters has been encountered recently in southern Lebanon, despite an international ban on the Islamist group's presence in the contentious area.

Hezbollah militants warded off members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) last month when the peacekeepers discovered a truck carrying weapons and ammunition belonging to the Lebanon-based guerilla group.

The incident was the first time that UNIFIL forces were confronted by armed Hezbollah men south of Lebanon's Litani River, an area which Security Council resolution 1701 prohibits Hezbollah from entering.

Israel has expressed dissatisfaction with the way resolution is being implemented, particularly in the way Hezbollah has been permitted to reinforce its position south of the Litani and to continue smuggling weapons from Syria and Iran.

UNIFIL houdt info over Hezbollah achter voor Veiligheidsraad

Het is helaas niet de eerste keer dat een internationale troepenmacht niet effectief is en de VN zich niet aan afspraken houdt tegenover Israël. De VN kent een lange geschiedenis van eenzijdige acties, stellingnames en beleid tegen Israël en ten voordele van haar vijanden. Het is dan ook niet vreemd dat Israël op zijn beurt weinig vertrouwen meer heeft in de VN. Toch geldt zij als het hoogste en meest geëigende lichaam om bij conflicten te bemiddelen, en ook wat betreft de problemen in Gaza wordt de VN soms als deel van een oplossing genoemd. Maar dan moet wel van een echt neutrale positie sprake zijn, van een krachtig mandaat en een instantie die bereid is de troepenmacht aan haar mandaat te houden. Misschien kan de Veiligheidsraad UNIFIL tot de orde roepen en een koerswijziging afdwingen, maar dit lijkt vooralsnog wishful thinking.


Israel: UNIFIL hiding info about Hezbollah from Security Council

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 08:16 28/04/2008

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is intentionally concealing information about Hezbollah activities south of the Litani River in Lebanon to avoid conflict with the group, senior sources in Jerusalem have said. In the last six months there have been at least four cases in which UNIFIL soldiers identified armed Hezbollah operatives, but did nothing and did not submit full reports on the incidents to the UN Security Council.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry are reportedly very angry about UNIFIL's actions in recent months, especially about the fact that its commander, Major General Claudio Graziano, is said to be leniently interpreting his mission, as assigned by Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Senior IDF officials said recently behind closed doors that Graziano is "presenting half-truths so as to avoid embarrassment and conflict with Hezbollah," and that Resolution 1701 has been increasingly eroded in recent months.

A senior government source in Jerusalem said that, "There is an attempt by various factors in the UN to mislead the Security Council and whitewash everything having to do with the strengthening of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon." The source also said, "The policy of cover-ups and whitewashing will not last long and, hopefully, now that the concealing of information has been revealed, things will change."

Israeli anger reached boiling point over a week ago after the release of a new report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with regard to another Lebanon-related Security Council resolution, 1559. The report briefly mentioned an incident at the beginning of March in which UNIFIL soldiers encountered unidentified armed men, and included no additional details. Officials in Israel, familiar with the incident, reportedly were aware that the Security Council had not been apprised of numerous details of the incident.

A day after the release of the report, Haaretz revealed that the incident described in the report had actually been a clash between UNIFIL and armed Hezbollah activists. The latter, driving a truck full of explosives, threatened the Italian UNIFIL battalion with weapons. Instead of using force as required by their mandate, the UN soldiers abandoned the site. A diplomatic source at the UN told Haaretz that senior officials in UNIFIL and in the UN Secretariat brought heavy pressure to bear to have the incident erased from the report or at least to blur it.

When the incident was made public, UNIFIL was forced to admit that it had indeed occurred and to request Lebanon's assistance in investigating it. UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane said that during the incident, which took place near the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, five armed men had threatened UNIFIL troops. Bouziane said the identity of the armed men was uncertain.

A day later, a second report was transmitted to the Security Council on the matter, this time including all the details. However, the report stated that this was the first incident of its kind. According to a security source in Israel, this was a misrepresentation; he said that in fact there had been many similar incidents in the past. A response from UNIFIL with regard to Israel's claims was unobtainable.