zaterdag 17 mei 2008

Voor de onbekende Bedoein in het IDF...

Voor Israëlische Arabieren kan het dubbel gevaarlijk zijn om in het IDF te dienen. Niet alleen vanwege terroristische aanslagen op soldaten, maar ook omdat zij vaak als verraders of collaborateurs worden gezien, waardoor ook hun familie bedreigd kan worden.


My brother, Beduin tracker
Last Wednesday, Remembrance Day, I had the honor of speaking on behalf of the UJC at a memorial ceremony in Jerusalem for Israel's 22,437 fallen. I would like to share those words with you:

It is a sad reality in our region that the wars do not stop for one moment. Sometimes they are at a higher intensity, sometimes at a lower one, but soldiers fall all the time, and the pain and grief are deep.

Since last Remembrance Day another 132 families have joined the "bereaved family" of the State of Israel. Among the soldiers who fell over the past year were three non-Jewish soldiers: First Sgt. Sayef Bisan from the Druse village of Jatt, Sgt. Menhash Albaniat, from the Beduin settlement of Kuseife, and a third soldier, whose name we do not know and whose picture we have never seen. All that appeared in the newspaper was a silhouette.

The Beduin tracker fell in a terrorist ambush next to the fence dividing Gaza and Israel, alongside his Jewish comrades; he had volunteered for service in the IDF.

We do not differentiate between the blood of fallen soldiers, whether Jews or non-Jews, but it struck me that although it is known who this soldier is and where he came from, for the Israeli public, he is an Unknown Soldier. His family requested that neither his name, nor his picture, nor even where he lived be published. All we know is that he left behind two wives and seven children, and that on the day he fell he was supposed to become engaged for the third time. No doubt, his family feared that they may be harmed in some way.

BEDUIN TRACKERS go ahead of patrols. They are the first out there, and they are the first to be injured or killed. They are aware of the danger; but nonetheless, they serve - voluntarily. No one can replace them. No one can identify the tracks and signs over the hundreds of kilometers of dirt roads along Israel's borders the way they do. It takes trained and experienced eyes, and this is what the Beduin trackers have been doing better than anyone else, generation after generation.

We frequently speak of the "covenant" between us, the Jews, and them, the Druse and Beduin. It is a pledge between those who are destined to live together in this country and give up their lives for it.

But these people hear very little from us about the covenant of life, the covenant between people who are supposed to build their lives alongside one another.

The Beduin tracker who fell on the Israel-Gaza border lived in an unrecognized village. Tomorrow, bulldozers could come to demolish his house, leaving his two wives and seven children homeless.

On this day, we must think of him, of his friends and also of ourselves, and we must promise to cultivate solidarity and mutual commitment - ours and theirs - not just in order to die for our country, but to live for it, together.

Thank you my brother, Beduin tracker.

The writer is senior vice president and director-general of UJC Israel and a former IDF spokesman.

J-Street: mythes over mythes over pro-Israël zijn

Net als 'gezond' en 'goed voor de lijn' is 'pro-Israël' een betekenisloze slogan geworden die critici van Israël geregeld gebruiken om beschuldigingen van eenzijdigheid en vijandigheid ten opzichte van Israël te pareren. Ik geloof dat zelfs Van Agt zich weleens een kritische vriend van Israël heeft genoemd, en heb je niet het meest aan kritische vrienden? 
De onlangs in de VS opgerichte progressieve Joodse lobby 'J-Street' lijkt meer kritisch dan vriend. De mythes die zij verkondigt over Israël en wat 'pro-Israël' eigenlijk inhoudt, door Ami Isseroff hieronder trefzeker onderuit gehaald, zijn zeer herkenbaar.

In 5 Myths on Who's Really 'Pro-Israel' , J-Street's Ben-Ami makes a case for a dovish "pro-Israel" stand, citing "myths" about being pro-Israel. Not everything he writes is wrong, but he creates a few myths of his own:
Hamas won the most recent Palestinian national elections in a landslide. Do we seriously think that it can be erased from the political landscape simply by assassinations and sanctions?
Hamas did not win in a landslide, since they did not win the popular vote. Hamas is in power in Gaza by virtue of a coup. No, we do not seriously think Hamas can be erased just by assassinations and sanctions. Like Nazism, elimination of Hamasism requires more decisive action. But it is a myth to think we can "negotiate" "peace" with Hamas, just as it was a myth to think one could negotiate peace with Hitler.
Some more myths about being pro-Israel:
Myth: Just because Jews do something, it is pro-Israel
Ben-Ami tells us that not all Jews choose political candidates because those candidates are pro-Israel:

This urban legend has somehow become a tenet of American Politics 101, which is why politicians work so hard to earn the pro-Israel label in the first place. But it's a self-serving fable, cultivated by a tiny minority of politically conservative American Jews who actually are single-issue voters. Most Jewish voters make their political choices the way other Americans do: based on their views on the full spectrum of domestic and foreign policy issues.

The logic escapes me. What are you trying to tell us? If most American Jews are not pro-Israel, does that legitimize their stands as being "pro-Israel" just because they are Jews? Is J-Street a "Jewish" lobby or an Israel lobby? Those are two different things.  If Ben-Ami is pro-Israel, then why is he insisting on telling US politicians that they don't have to worry about the Jewish vote on Israel, since Jews "make their choices the way other Americans do?" The observation is true in part. One job of a group that is "pro-Israel" is precisely to marshall Jewish support for Israel, which is not automatic. Apparently, Ben-Ami disqualified himself and J-Street from that role, as he insisting on telling American politicians that Jews don't support Israel, a stand that he thinks is somehow pro-Israel.
Myth:  Negotiating ("Engaging") with terrorists and genocidal despots can bring peace.
Ben-Ami insists on negotiations with Hamas and Iran:
 Precisely because Hamas and Iran represent the most worrisome strategic challenges to Israel, responsible friends of Israel who'd like to see it live in security for its next 60 years should be engaging with them to search for alternatives to war
He needs to study the case of Chamberlain and Hitler.
Myth: A pro-Israel group can focus exclusively on pressuring Israel to make concessions.
A group that has no support program for Isaeli policies, and focuses only on persuading the US government to pressure Israel into making concessions  cannot be considered a pro-Israel lobby for obvious reasons.
Myth: Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah are good for Israel.
Hardly. Must we cozy up to a corrupt group of people who insist, in Arabic, that their ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel? Abbas may be a negotiating partner or a peace partner and a lesser evil than Hamas, but we should not have illusions about Abbas and Fatah. Our relations with Fatah and Abbas should be correct. We don't need to be punishing Palestinians, but we need to defend ourselves and we don't need to be helping them undermine Israeli positions.
Myth: Undermining Abbas by negotiating with Hamas can advance peace
J-Street wants to negotiate with Hamas while at the same time supporting a peace process. J-Street should remember that Abbas and Fatah are the only peace partners for all their faults. Negotiating with Hamas and legitimizing Hamas will ruin the standing of Fatah and is suicide for the peace process. If you make a deal with Hamas, Abbas goes away and you have no partner.
Myth: The United States had a leading role in peace diplomacy in the Middle East
Ben-Ami tells us:
The best gift that Israel's friends here could give this gallant, embattled democracy on its milestone birthday would be returning the United States to its leading role in active diplomacy to end the conflicts in the Middle East -- and help a secure, thriving Israel find a permanent, accepted home among the community of nations.
The US has no leading role to return to. The Israeli-Egyptian peace was the product of an initiative by Anwar Sadat and Israeli reciprocation. After the Israelis and Egyptians prepared the ground, the Americans were brought in and were somewhat reluctant. The peace with Jordan was a Jordanian and Israeli initiative. The United States was asked to give pro-forma blessing and money, and to get a photo-op. The negotiations with Palestinians that led to the Oslo DOP were an Israeli and Palestinian initiative. America has played a role, but never a leading role. It could never accomplish anything that the sides did not already want. When the Oslo process fell apart and the Palestinians began attacking Israel, America demonstrated that it is worthless as a guarantor of peace because it did not do anything to stop the terror. Worse, it prevented Israel from doing anything. If America wants to have a "leading role" in peace, it has to be ready to demonstrate that it will stand behind the solutions it has brokered. In this respect, America has a "perfect" record and so does the UN - they have always imposed solutions, and then Israel paid the price for the "solutions." This has been true since the partition plan and the internationalization of Jerusalem, right up to and including the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and participation of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. Both of the last were done at the behest of the Americans (Israel wanted to remove only some of the settlements) and resulted in the mess that exists today. Practically speaking, there can be no peace as long as Hamas rules Gaza. Is J-Street going to get the US to root out Hamas?  
Myth: All Zionists who oppose J-Street and negotiations with Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah are neocon troglodytes who think John Hagee is wonderful
Ben Ami wrote:
Are Israel and American Jewry really so desperate that we must cozy up to people whose messianic dreams entail having us all killed or converted to Christianity? Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, and his ilk believe that Israel dare not cede any territory in the quest for peace, claiming that the Bible promised all of the holy land to the Jews.
A minor point - Hagee does not, as a matter of fact, believe in conversion of the Jews, so Ben-Ami created another myth right there. Don't confuse him with the facts. Not everyone agrees with Hagee's presence at an AIPAC meeting, which was not appropriate, but Hagee is not Ahmadinejad or Hamas. Are Jewish progressives really so desperate that we must cozy up to Hamas? Or are Zionists so secure that they can reject the hand of friendship from anyone? If mighty America can accept reactionary Saudi Arabia as an ally, how can the tiny Zionist movement reject the friendship of John Hagee and Christian Zionists? Are they really worse than Salafi Muslim fanatics? We do not have to agree with everything Hagee says about Catholics, territories and theology, but we can politely accept his support and work with him on the issues that are important to us. Can we say the same about Hamas or Iran?
Ami Isseroff

Duits schuldgevoel en de Joodse Staat

Wat voor Duitsland geldt, geldt in grote lijnen ook voor andere Europese landen. Wij moeten Israël niet steunen uit schuldgevoel voor het verleden, maar omdat de Joodse staat bestaansrecht heeft en vanwege gemeenschappelijke waarden en belangen.

German War Guilt and the Jewish State

May 14, 2008; Page A19

As Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary there is no denying that the Jewish state has an image problem in Europe.

Opinion polls in the U.S. consistently show that a majority of Americans are sympathetic to Israel. But the situation is the reverse on the other side of the Atlantic. It's particularly bad in Germany. In a British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) survey last month, for example, Germans were among the Europeans with the least favorable views of Israel, second only to Spain. Even the respondents in the United Arab Emirates had a more positive perception of the Jewish state than Germans did.

[A 'Special' Relationship]
Associated Press Photo/Baz Ratner - Angela Merkel visits the
Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, January 2006.

This may be surprising, given that Berlin is considered one of Israel's more reliable allies in Europe. Successive German governments have justified the "special" relationship with Israel by pointing to the countries' "special" history. In light of the Holocaust, Germany seems to have no choice but to support the Jewish state. Former Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer advocated this policy of "historical responsibility" as effortlessly as Christian-Democratic Chancellor Angela Merkel does.

But guilt is an unhealthy basis for a relationship; it easily turns into resentment. This may help explain why so many Germans – 30% according to last year's survey by Bertelsmann Foundation – are eager to compare Israel to fascist Germany. If it were true that Israelis are modern-day Nazis, there would be less reason to feel guilty about the real Nazis.

Historical obligations also tend to have a statute of limitations. Postwar Germans may reasonably reject any special obligations to Israel as a result of crimes committed before they were born.

This brings us to the fundamental problem with Berlin's Israel policy. It implies that had there been no Holocaust, Israel would have no right to exist or, at least would have no reason to expect Germany's support. Israel's detractors take this argument one step further, claiming it was immoral to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East to atone for European crimes.

In 1922, long before the Holocaust, Winston Churchill debunked the idea that Israel could be justified only as reparation for past atrocities when he said, "The Jews are in Palestine by right and not by sufferance." Europe and Germany should thus be able to support Israel not just because of past wrongs committed against Jews, but because of Jews' inalienable right to a state in their ancestral homeland.

Israel's right to exist doesn't mean Germans must automatically back it. There has to be a special bond between nations to prompt support. Such alliances are usually forged around common interests and values. As the Mideast's most vibrant democracy, Israel should qualify for a truly "special relationship."

But unlike Americans, Germans rarely argue that Israel deserves solidarity as a Western ally. Americans generally see Israel as a fellow democracy under attack. But in Germany and much of Europe, Israel is often seen as a human-rights violator.

What explains this difference in perceptions? The U.S. media are not that much better in presenting a balanced view of the Middle East than their European counterparts. More likely, Americans are simply less disposed to believe the worst of Israel.

A key factor is Americans' appreciation of their Judeo-Christian heritage. While this is a common term in the U.S., it is a novel concept in Europe. Only recently has it found its way into the vocabulary of a few conservative Germans. Ms. Merkel and colleagues from Poland and Italy wanted to add a reference to the Continent's Judeo-Christian heritage to Europe's proposed constitution. The idea was rejected as too divisive.

But the term does not just cover the moral standards shared by Judaism and Christianity. Its meaning goes beyond matters of faith. It describes the fact that next to the Greco-Roman heritage, the Judeo-Christian tradition is the other main pillar of Western civilization. Acknowledging this fact helps Americans view Jews as part of that civilization and the Jewish state as part of the broader Western alliance.

In post-Christian Europe and Germany, this realization is largely missing. Moses's law, the foundation for Western legal codes and moral values, is hardly acknowledged on the Continent. Jews are more often seen as having contributed to Western civilization, rather than being an integral part of it, thanks to the role they played as a nation. Jews – often viewed as some kind of guest contributors – thus remain strangers in Europe, as does the Jewish state. And one can be inclined to believe bad things about strangers.

Given the similar threats Europe and Israel face from Islamic terror and a nuclear Iran, an alliance between them would seem natural. But as long as Europe's public considers Israel more as part of the problem than as part of the solution, any alliance will suffer. It's time for German and European officials to make the real case for Israel – that of solidarity with an embattled ally.


Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.

Write to Daniel Schwammenthal at

Hat tip: Israel News

Pioniers van Morgen noemt Tel Aviv een Palestijnse stad

Nog meer verzoenende woorden van Hamas.


MEMRI Special Dispatch Series - No. 1928
May 14, 2008No. 1928

Grandfather of Hamas TV Bunny Assud Insists Tel Aviv Was a Palestinian City

Following is an excerpt from the Hamas children's show "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 9, 2008:
To view this clip, visit .

"[Tel Aviv] Was Called Tel Al-Rabi', But the Zionists and Jews Hebraicized the Name to 'Tel Aviv'"
Assud the Bunny: "Grandpa, where did you live? In what city?"

Grandpa: "We used to live in the most beautiful place in Palestine."

Assud: "Where?"

Grandpa: "My dear, you've never seen such a place. I used to live in Tel Al-Rabi' [the Arab word for 'spring,' which is 'aviv' in Hebrew]. What a beautiful place. My God, when I recall Tel Al-Rabi', which the Zionists have called..."

Assud: "There's no such place called Tel Al-Rabi'. What's the matter, Grandpa? Have you gone senile?"

Grandpa: "I'm not senile. My head is working just fine. How can you say I'm senile? This place was called Tel Al-Rabi', but the Zionists and Jews Hebraicized the name to 'Tel Aviv.' Where did this 'Tel Aviv' come from? It has been Tel Al-Rabi' for generations, on the land of Palestine, right next to Yafa. How can you say I've gone senile? I know this. My head still works just fine. Are you trying to confuse me? I'm not senile yet. I have documents and proof. I have all the papers here. The documents are right here with me. How can you say I'm senile? I have all the documents with me. Here they are. Everything is here, from the days of the British and even before. This is our land, as well as the fields, the trees, and the houses. I can even show you the key. You're calling me senile? I have proof."

"It's the Fault of the School Curricula, Which Did Not Teach Us That Tel Aviv Is In Fact Tel Al-Rabi'"

Assud: "Forgive me, Grandpa, it's not our fault. It's the fault of the school curricula, which did not teach us that Tel Aviv is in fact Tel Al-Rabi', and vice versa."

Grandpa: "No, my dear, take it from me. I know, and I have the papers and the land deeds. The name Tel Al-Rabi' has been forged by the Jews and Hebraicized to 'Tel Aviv.' They invented all these names. 'Ashdod' is, in fact, Isdud. 'Ashkelon' is, in fact, Al-Majdal. Where did they get these names? Al-Sab' is called 'Beer Sheva'! It's all a lie. There are all pseudonyms. Yafa, Al-Lydd, Al-Ramla, Al-Sab' - they changed all these names and Hebraicized them, and now they say: That's Tel Al-Rabi'? There is no such thing. It's Tel Aviv. It's all a lie. All these names were Hebraicized by the Jews."

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Israël draagt beveiliging Jenin over aan Palestijnen

Jenin staat bekend als een basis voor Palestijnse terroristen, dus laten we hopen dat dit goed gaat. Het grootste probleem mijns inziens is dat veel van Abbas' veiligheidstroepen ideologisch geheel achter de 'gewapende strijd' tegen Israël staan en niet erg gemotiveerd zijn om hun broeders op te pakken of te 'verraden'.
Bij een soortgelijk experiment in Nablus werd Israël internationaal streng veroordeeld voor het oppakken van terroristen en het onschadelijk maken van in hun bezit zijnde explosieven, terwijl de Palestijnse veiligheidsdiensten, die hier duidelijk verstek hadden laten gaan, vrijuit gingen. Als de Palestijnse veiligheidstroepen wel mensen arresteerden, zijn die de laatste tijd geregeld 'ontsnapt' of werden snel weer op vrije voeten gesteld.
Misschien moet Israël bij dit soort dingen vantevoren de eis stellen dat, als er iets mis gaat, haar kant van het verhaal ook serieus genomen wordt.

Israel to transfer security in Jenin area to Palestinians
By Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents
Last update - 05:23 14/05/2008

Israel and the Palestinians have been discussing an almost complete transfer of security responsibility the Palestinian Authority security forces in order to turn the area into a "model region" - where Israeli presence is almost non-existent.

Sources in the Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that talks on the new security arrangements were underway with American mediation and that of Quartet representative Tony Blair.

On Tuesday Blair presented several measures to ease life for the Palestinians in the West Bank, to which Israel and the PA had agreed ahead of the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush, who arrives in Israel Wednesday.

According to the arrangements being formulated, which are to be implemented in the coming months, the PA will be responsible for security in the area north and east of Tul Karm, including Jenin, an area equal in size to the Gaza Strip. The plan calls for full Palestinian control from 6 A.M. to midnight and joint control with the Israelis during the night.

Israel will still be able to enter Jenin and its environs to act against "ticking bombs," that is, someone who has knowledge of a terror attack to be carried out. In other cases, Israel will transfer the names of wanted men to the PA security forces, and if the PA forces do not arrest those wanted, the IDF will be able to do so.

In talks with the Palestinians, Blair and the American generals made clear that the PA would have to operate not only against Hamas, but also against all terrorists, including those who are part of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades of the Fatah movement.

The Palestinian force in the northern West Bank will include more than 1,000 police personnel, most of who were trained by the U.S. in Jordan. More that 600 personnel are due to arrive in July, to join the more than 500 men who were recently stationed in Jenin and its environs.

New prison, new court

To strengthen the PA, Israel has agreed to the construction of a new prison in Jenin to replace the one Israel destroyed in the second intifada. Israel also approved four new police stations for the area. The PA will also open a new court in Jenin. Israel has also agreed to remove roadblocks in the northern West Bank to ease the movement of Palestinian vehicles into Jenin and to Nablus and the Jordan Valley, in keeping with security considerations.

On the economic front, Blair announced at a press conference Tuesday in Jerusalem that Israel has agreed to allocate a frequency range that would enable a second Palestinian cell-phone operator. Blair said the range would be 2.4 Megahertz for now, but that Israel was going to commit in writing within six to eight months to double the frequency range.

Israel had delayed its approval of the frequency range for some time, among other reasons, because of objections from the Shin Bet security service and the army. Blair said the move would contribute to the improvement of the Palestinian economy, as the PA stood to earn more than $350 million from license fees. He also said the cellular operator would be investing more than $700 million over the next 10 years, creating some 750 new jobs.

A new industrial area is also to be built by the end of the year at Jalameh, north of Jenin, which is to be funded by the German government.

Israel also agreed to give work permits in Israel to about 1,000 laborers and some 300 merchants from Jenin.

Reevaluating demolition orders

Israel will also be reevaluating about 1,000 demolition orders for illegally built Palestinian homes, and will allow Palestinian customs officers to be stationed at the Allenby Bridge as a prelude to the establishment of a Palestinian border administration.

The commander of the Palestinian security forces in the Jenin area, Brigadier General Suleiman Imran, on Tuesday said that his forces are already operating against armed men in the area, including villages under Israeli security control. "There will be no weapons in this sector that do not belong to the PA. Only the law will rule," he said.

Imran said his men were operating in the area from Jalameh in the north, down to but not including Nablus in the south, and to the Green Line in the west. He said the coming days would see a widening of the operation to the Far'a refugee camp in the east, near the Jordan Valley. However, he added, so far no agreement had been reached that Israel would stop making arrests in the area. "The matter of security responsibility is in the hands of Israel for the present, but the parties are discussing it," Imran said.

People in Jenin said the PA forces in Jenin had been able recently to reduce crime in the city, and that armed men are now rarely seen there or the surrounding villages.
Blair initially raised the idea to make the Jenin area a model for PA security control a few months ago, in an attempt to show the residents of the West Bank a meaningful change on the ground. In his talks with the Israelis and the Palestinians, Blair said only such a move would significantly move ahead negotiations on the core issues of the final-status agreement. Blair initially proposed the arrangement for Hebron, but given the tensions and sensitivities in that city, Israel suggested Jenin instead.

Blair discussed the initiative in a series of meetings with the U.S. mediators, generals James Jones and Keith Dayton, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, as well as at a number of three-way meetings. As far as is known, Barak and the IDF brass have expressed their support for the plan now being formulated.

Discussions on the new arrangements are taking into consideration lessons learned from the previous transfer of security responsibility to the Palestinians, in Nablus a few months ago. One of the conclusions was that the Nablus transfer was not particularly successful because clear and agreed-on rules of coordination between the IDF and the Palestinian security forces were not set.


*** Balanced Middle East News ***
Subscribe - mail to

MewBkd - Background & analysis -
mail to

News Letter -  our commentary -
mail to

vrijdag 16 mei 2008

Nakba protesten leiden tot rellen

"On this occasion, the occasion of the Nakba, we reiterate that we will never recognize the raping enemy. We will never recognize Israel. We will never recognize Israel," al-Zahar told a cheering audience.

"Our lands are not for sale or for trade, and the right of resistance is holy," he said.

"Israel is going to disappear one day and the Palestinian people will remain to fully liberate all their occupied lands," he told the conference, entitled "Sixty years since the Nakba - the return is imminent."

Wat aan het bovenstaande is niet duidelijk? Hamas spreekt niet alleen in woorden, maar ook in daden


Palestinians clash with IDF troops during Nakba protests

Last update - 16:30 14/05/2008
By Agencies and Haaretz Service

Marking the 60th anniversary of what Israelis call independence but Palestinians call the "Nakba" (or the "Catastrophe"), hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Wednesday at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

Some six people were reported injured at the Qalandiyah checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, as the protesters threw stones at IDF troops, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, soldiers used tear gas to disperse a small crowd of protesters approaching an IDF checkpoint on the town's edge.

Clashes also erupted at a number of other checkpoints, including Abu Dis and Shuafat, to the east and north-east of Jerusalem, and Hawara, near Nablus.

Local leaders called on Palestinian refugees to stage a symbolic march to the homes they, their parents, or grandparents lost 60 years ago in what is now Israel.

Hundreds of residents of camps in Lebanon were also seen protesting near Israel's northern border, waving Palestinian and United Nations flags.

Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its May 14, 1948 independence declaration last week, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar date. Israel is hosting another round of festivities at the Presidential Conference this week, and has been joined by dozens of foreign leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush.

Palestinians will hold more events marking the Nakba on Thursday.

Meanwhile, parents of Arab children at a joint Arab-Jewish elementary school in Jerusalem on Wednesday protested the removal of Palestinian flags at the school, which had been hung up to mark the Nakba. The flags were taken down ahead of a visit by U.S. First Lady Laura Bush.

"This school teaches our children about mutual respect and cooperation. Over the course of two weeks, Israeli flags were hung proudly. It hurts me that my daughter was forced to witness her flag being hidden," said one mother.

Last week, Israeli flags were hung throughout the school in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary.

According to parents, the flags and symbols were placed in storage and they were told that only colorful drawings would be hung on the bulletin boards.

In Gaza, the ruling Islamic militant Hamas wants supporters to march toward a main passenger crossing with Israel. Gaza has been virtually sealed since the violent Hamas takeover a year ago.

Arab students at Israeli universities in Haifa and Jerusalem were planning Nakba marches. In Jerusalem, artists were planning to exhibit 3,000 figurines, meant to represent Palestinian refugees.

During the 1948 War of Independence, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were uprooted and scattered across the region. Along with their descendants, they now make up about 4.5 million, according to United Nations figures.

Commemorations are meant to direct attention to the unresolved plight of Palestinian refugees, and to encourage young Palestinians to learn their history, activists said. The fate of refugees is a key issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which resumed earlier this year, but have yielded little progress.

Plans include flying thousands of black balloons in a show of mourning, rallies in the West Bank and Gaza and the screening of films about Palestinian history.

In Gaza, meanwhile, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told a conference commemorating the Nakba that his radical Islamic movement would "never" recognize Israel, which he said will one day "disappear."

"On this occasion, the occasion of the Nakba, we reiterate that we will never recognize the raping enemy. We will never recognize Israel. We will never recognize Israel," al-Zahar told a cheering audience.

"Our lands are not for sale or for trade, and the right of resistance is holy," he said.

"Israel is going to disappear one day and the Palestinian people will remain to fully liberate all their occupied lands," he told the conference, entitled "Sixty years since the Nakba - the return is imminent."

"The day of liberation and return is coming very soon," al-Zahar said. "We are good readers of reality and the powers of war and destruction are not terrifying us."

Bush arrived in Israel to much fanfare on Wednesday for a 48-hour visit in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary. The visit is his second in four months.

Regarding Bush's visit, Zahar said, "There is no welcome for Bush in the Holy Land. There is no welcome for hypocrite presidents who are defiling our land."

*** Balanced Middle East News ***
Subscribe - mail to

MewBkd - Background & analysis -
mail to

News Letter -  our commentary -
mail to

Terughoudende reaktie Israël verwacht

De raketaanval op Ashkelon waarbij 15 mensen gewond raakten, was niet toevallig, maar goed voorbereid en getimed. Hamas wilde zowel aan Bush als aan Israël laten zien dat ze rekening met Hamas moeten houden, en dat Hamas Israëls voorwaarden voor een staakt-het-vuren niet zal accepteren. Bovendien weet Hamas dat Israëls handen momenteel erg gebonden zijn en het dus geen grootschalige operatie hoeft te vrezen. 
Israël zal Hamas op gepaste wijze moeten duidelijk maken dat het een staakt-het-vuren minder nodig heeft dan Hamas.

Restrained response expected
Retaliation for Ashkelon attack will come soon but IDF won't be using its full force
Ron Ben Yishai Published: 05.15.08, 01:05,7340,L-3543556,00.html

Hamas prepared itself well for the Grad rocket attack on the mall in Ashkelon that wounded 15 Israelis and left dozens more suffering from anxiety. Three days ago already, Hamas started to target Ashkelon, and as it turns out the fire was not coincidental. It appears Hamas was preparing to welcome President Bush with an impressive rocket attack, and therefore it prepared thoroughly. The Israeli response is expected to be immediate, although it will not be in full force.

By analyzing the events of the last few days, we can see that rocket cells test-fired several upgraded Qassams (that simulate Grad rockets) from the Beit Lahia area at southern Ashkelon. The Qassams missed, but every strike was more accurate than the previous ones. Three days later, with some help from the Israeli media as well as their own observations, the Palestinians were able to come up with the right firing angle.

On Wednesday, they took one of the roughly 200 Grad rockets they possess out of the warehouse and fired it with lethal precision, based on the firing data of previous days, at the Ashkelon mall. These 122 millimeter Katyusha rockets, which are known as Grads, are not very accurate, yet the mall was a large enough target. And as opposed to the Qassams, whose warheads contain roughly seven kilos (16 pounds) of explosives, the Iranian Grad's warhead contains more than 20 kilos (44 pounds) of industrial explosives, which enabled it to penetrate the mall's thick walls and cement ceiling. The Rocket's heavy weight and its relatively long flight time further boosted its penetration capability.

This isn't the first time Hamas welcomes foreign leaders, both Western and Arab, with rocket barrages. This was the case every time we saw a summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. This is what Hizbullah used to do in the 1990s - typical practice for radical Islamic groups, particularly in relation to regional meetings with the participation of the president of the United States, the "Great Satan."

The objective of Wednesday's attack, as was the case in the past, was to undertake a strategic provocation that conveys the message that Hamas is not scared and is in fact the true power in the region - and hence, any regional move that does not take Hamas into account is doomed for failure, because the group has the power to light up the area.

Another objective was to steal the show and direct all attention at Hamas and its demands. Such attack not only scores prestige points for Hamas on the Palestinian street, but also wins it special appreciation from its patron, Iran. Through the Iranian Grad fired by Hamas, Iran makes it clear to the Americans that they will have to take Tehran into consideration with any step they take in any corner of the Middle East

Hamas' message: Truce on our terms
The attack on Ashkelon had another objective: Forcing Israel to agree to a ceasefire in line with all the terms agreed upon by Hamas and Egypt. The rocket strike was Hamas' response, on the ground, to the terms presented by Israel Monday night to Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman. Hamas is unwilling to tie the release of Gilad Shalit to the lull agreement and is unwilling to obligate to end arms smuggling and the process of building its military strength.

If Israel is unwilling to accept Hamas' terms, it will see Grad attacks on Ashkelon, Hamas says, and we'll see who breaks first. Seemingly this is a gamble on the part of Hamas, which fears a large-scale Israeli operation. However, the organization estimates, and apparently rightfully so, that it can push Israel a bit more before it truly decides to realize its threat and embark on a major Gaza operation.

Hamas estimates that as long as President Bush and other leaders are in Israel, the Israeli government would not respond with a fierce military operation. Israel faces a complicated dilemma: Should the IDF embark on a wide-scale Gaza operation at this time, the international show of support could turn into a footnote on the media front. Israel needs this show of support mostly in order to enlist international support for the struggle against Iranian nukes. On the other hand, should Israel not respond immediately, Hamas may continue to launch lethal rockets for a few more days at least. That is, strategic long-term considerations clash with immediate tactical considerations.

Israel still wishes to secure a lull in line with the terms it presented, and therefore it will escalate its operations gradually to press Hamas. In the next few days we will likely see intensive maneuvers from the air and on the ground against Hamas' leadership and the group's infrastructure. Southern residents should take this into account - they must assume that a Qassam or mortar shell barrage could land at any moment in the coming days and conduct themselves accordingly.

De 3 nee's van Hamas

Afzweren van geweld, erkennen van Israël (liefst als Joodse staat!), en accepteren van eerdere verdragen van de PA met Israël, dat zijn de 3 eisen die aan Hamas zijn gesteld om de boycot op te heffen en hen als gesprekspartner te accepteren. Zoals de Arabische Liga in 1967 in Kartoem, is het antwoord van Hamas nu 3 keer nee.
Israël is verdoemd en de Palestijnen zullen al hun rechten herwinnen, inclusief het zogenaamde 'recht op terugkeer'. Hamas leider Maghmoud Zahar drukte zich poëtisch uit bij de herdenking van de 'Nakba', de catastrofe die de stichting van Israël volgens de Palestijnen was:
"We will not surrender to cheap blackmail regardless of the consequences. We will protect the land with our bare bodies because we are its indigenous inhabitants who will serve it and water it with our blood."
Wordt het misschien zo zoetjes aan eens tijd om deze mensen te zien als wat ze zijn, en niet te beschouwen als 'vrijheidsstrijders' die Israël wel zullen erkennen, van geweld afzien en zich neerleggen bij een compromis als Israël maar meer toegeeft?
Wouter & Ratna
Zahhar and Al-Hindi: "No recognition of Israel; no giving up the right of return"
Date: 14 / 05 / 2008  Time:  15:38
Gaza - Ma'an – Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar demanded the recognition of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the importance of 'not recognizing Israel' in light of the dispossession of the Palestinians.

Zahhar was speaking at the beginning of a conference marking the 60th year of Palestinian exile in Gaza. He said that Israel "is doomed" and that Palestinians will win their rights, including the right to return, through resistance.

Zahhar harshly criticized US President George Bush's visit to Israel this week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the county's founding.

He said that Palestinian land "is not for sale" and the right of return is sacred. He also said that the resistance will erase the Israeli occupation as it had done to other empires.

Zahhar called on the Arab states to support the Palestinian people.

With regard to Palestinian prisoners, Zahhar said in a message, "We will not surrender to cheap blackmail regardless of the consequences. We will protect the land with our bare bodies because we are its indigenous inhabitants who will serve it and water it with our blood."

The Vice President of the Gaza conference, Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Al-Hindi said, "The Palestinian people will not beg for a ceasefire and they can bear double suffering than the occupation can. This heavily-armed entity can't endure a small confrontation with resistance fighters."

Commenting on Bush's visit to Israel, Al-Hindi said, "At these moments, the one responsible for killing thousands of innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan came to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of Israel. This is the anniversary of killing and displacing the Palestinian people and planting that entity in the heart of the Arab nation over the debris of Palestine and its people."

He added, "The US president will stand up in the Israeli Knesset tomorrow to distribute awards and pledges. He will deny the right of return of Palestinian refugees. He will reject removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank. He will talk about Jerusalem as the united capital of Israeli occupation."

Inwoner Abu Gosh: "De Britten wilden dat wij elkaar zouden uitmoorden"

Tussen alle verhalen over de oorlog tussen de Joden en de Palestijnse Arabieren in 1948, is hier een opvallend ander verhaal, van de 74-jarige Israëlische Arabier Said Jabr.
Helaas is het op weinig plaatsen zo verlopen...

Times Online - May 10, 2008

'The British wanted us to kill each other'
The old British Army base, a small sandstone fort, stands abandoned on a hill in Abu Ghosh, an Arab village just southwest of Jerusalem. Said Jabr was 14 when the British pulled out.
"It was on the 14th or 15th of May. I remember exactly that the British commander came to Ali Saleh, the village mukhtar (elder), and said they were going to leave and warned us to be ready," he recalled from his family home in Abu Ghosh. "Thirty-five armed villagers walked into the base to take command. But the British commander went at the same time to the kibbutz and told them the same thing.
"The British left one tank in front of the army base. Then a few tanks driven by the Haganah (the fledgling Jewish army) drove up and surrounded the army base. But we had great relations with the local kibbutzim – we believe in friendship and protecting a neighbour's property, no matter who they are – and the leaders of the kibbutzim. . . came to the village. They met the mukhtar, drank coffee and reached an agreement that the villagers would leave the base and the Haganah would take over. The British commander was waiting in the remaining tank to see what would happen. He saw the Abu Ghosh villagers leaving the base and shaking hands with the Haganah members, and he said, 'F****** Arabs'. Our impression was that he wanted us to kill each other. Thank God the people from both sides resolved the issue peacefully."
Mr Jabr proudly displays the Hebrew shield he was awarded by the kibbutz. It shows two hands shaking – a token of thanks and friendship.

donderdag 15 mei 2008

'1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War' (Benny Morris)

Een ieder die Benny Morris als 'bewijs' gebruikt om te betogen dat de vlucht en verdrijving van de Palestijnen in 1948 een vorm van etnische zuivering is, als bewijs dat niet de Arabische weigering Joodse zelfbeschikking te accepteren, maar Joods/Israëlisch expansionisme de oorzaak van het conflict is, dat niet een diep geworteld en religieus gefundeerd antisemitisme maar seculier nationalisme en terecht verzet tegen imperialisme de kern van de Arabische positie vormt, moet Benny Morris' nieuwe boek '1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war' lezen. Hieronder een fragment.
NB: voor een review zie "Jihad, 1948"
For many years, Benny Morris's work was seen as blaming Israel for the 1948 flight of the Palestinian refugees. Excerpts from his books were quoted selectively by Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim and others to "prove" his point. Morris did not object or take issue with this view until a few years ago. His actual work in fact, was always careful to just avoid pointing the finger of blame unequivocally, and on each page of his various books, you can find conclusions that appear to contradict other conclusions. He also quoted Ben Gurion and others out of context and selectively, as if to prove the point that Israeli leaders were contemplating transfer, and he gave undue weight to the opinions of Joseph Weitz, a transfer advocate, which were not accepted policies.
Now he tells a very different story.
Ami Isseroff

An excerpt from Benny Morris's new book, '1948'

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
By Benny Morris / Yale University Press / £19.99

'The Palestine problem is still in its infancy. The preface ended with the [end of the] Mandate and Chapter One began [in November 1947]... Do not miss [the 'next installment']!" recommended the British consul general in Jerusalem midway through the 1948 War.

"Chapter One," the first war between Israel and the Arabs, was the culmination of developments and a conflict that had begun in the 1880s, when the first Zionist settlers landed on the shores of the Holy Land, their arrival and burgeoning presence increasingly resented by the local Arab population. Over the following decades, the Arabs continuously inveighed, first with the Ottoman rulers, and then with their British successors, against the Zionist influx and ambitions, and they repeatedly attacked the new settlers, initially in individual acts of banditry and terrorism and then in growingly massive outbreaks, which at first resembled nothing more than European pogroms.

The Zionists saw their enterprise and aspirations as legitimate, indeed, as supremely moral: the Jewish people, oppressed and murdered in Christendom and in the Islamic lands, was bent on saving itself by returning to its ancient land and there reestablishing its self-determination and sovereignty. But the Arab inhabitants, supported by the surrounding, awakening Arab world, decried the influx as an aggressive invasion by colonialist, infidel aliens; it had to be resisted. The culminating assault on the Yishuv in 1947-1949 was a natural result of this posture of antagonism and resistance.

David Ben-Gurion well understood these contradictory perspectives. As he told his colleagues, against the backdrop of the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939: "We must see the situation for what it is. On the security front, we are those attacked and who are on the defensive. But in the political field we are the attackers and the Arabs are those defending themselves. They are living in the country and own the land, the village. We live in the Diaspora and want only to immigrate [to Palestine] and gain possession of [lirkosh] the land from them." Years later, after the establishment of Israel, he expatiated on the Arab perspective in a conversation with the Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann: "I don't understand your optimism... Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?"

To be sure, while mentioning "God," Ben-Gurion - a child of Eastern European social democracy and nationalism who knew no Arabic (though, as prime minister, he found time to study ancient Greek, to read Plato in the original, and Spanish, to read Don Quixote) - had failed fully to appreciate the depth of the Arabs' abhorrence of the Zionist-Jewish presence in Palestine, an abhorrence anchored in centuries of Islamic Judeophobia with deep religious and historical roots. The Jewish rejection of the Prophet Muhammad is embedded in the Qur'an and is etched in the psyche of those brought up on its suras. As the Muslim Brotherhood put it in 1948: "Jews are the historic enemies of Muslims and carry the greatest hatred for the nation of Muhammad."

Such thinking characterized the Arab world, where the overwhelming majority of the population were, and remain, believers. In 1943, when President Franklin Roosevelt sent out feelers about a negotiated settlement of the Palestine problem, King Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia responded that he was "prepared to receive anyone of any religion except (repeat except) a Jew." A few weeks earlier, Ibn Sa'ud had explained, in a letter to Roosevelt: "Palestine... has been an Arab country since the dawn of history and... was never inhabited by the Jews for more than a period of time, during which their history in the land was full of murder and cruelty... [There is] religious hostility... between the Muslims and the Jews from the beginning of Islam... which arose from the treacherous conduct of the Jews towards Islam and the Muslims and their prophet." Jews were seen as unclean; indeed, even those who had contact with them were seen as beyond the pale. In late 1947 the Al-Azhar University 'ulema, major authorities in the Islamic world, issued a fatwa that anyone dealing with "the Jews," commercially or economically (such as by "buying their produce"), "is a sinner and criminal... who will be regarded as an apostate to Islam, he will be separated from his spouse. It is prohibited to be in contact with him."

This anti-Semitic mindset was not restricted to Wahhabi chieftains or fundamentalist imams. Samir Rifahi, Jordan's prime minister, in 1947 told visiting newsmen, "The Jews are a people to be feared... Give them another 25 years and they will be all over the Middle East, in our country and Syria and Lebanon, in Iraq and Egypt... They were responsible for starting the two world wars... Yes, I have read and studied, and I know they were behind Hitler at the beginning of his movement."

The 1948 War, to be sure, was a milestone in a contest between two national movements over a piece of territory. But it was also - if only because that is how many if not most Arabs saw it (and see it today) - part of a more general, global struggle between the Islamic East and the West, in which the Land of Israel/Palestine figured, and still figures, as a major battlefront. The Yishuv saw itself, and was universally seen by the Muslim Arab world, as an embodiment and outpost of the European "West." The assault of 1947-1948 was an expression of the Islamic Arabs' rejection of the West and its values as well as a reaction to what it saw as a European colonialist encroachment against sacred Islamic soil. There was no understanding (or tolerance) of Zionism as a national liberation movement of another people. And, aptly, the course of the war reflected the civilizational disparity, in which a Western society, deploying superior organizational and technological skills, overcame a coalition of infinitely larger Islamic Arab societies.

Historians have tended to ignore or dismiss, as so much hot air, the jihadi rhetoric and flourishes that accompanied the two-stage assault on the Yishuv and the constant references in the prevailing Arab discourse to that earlier bout of Islamic battle for the Holy Land, against the Crusaders. This is a mistake. The 1948 War, from the Arabs' perspective, was a war of religion as much as, if not more than, a nationalist war over territory. Put another way, the territory was sacred: its violation by infidels was sufficient grounds for launching a holy war and its conquest or reconquest, a divinely ordained necessity. In the months before the invasion of 15 May 1948, King 'Abdullah, the most moderate of the coalition leaders, repeatedly spoke of "saving" the holy places. As the day of invasion approached, his focus on Jerusalem, according to Alec Kirkbride, grew increasingly obsessive. "In our souls," wrote the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, "Palestine occupies a spiritual holy place which is above abstract nationalist feelings. In it we have the blessed breeze of Jerusalem and the blessings of the Prophets and their disciples."

The evidence is abundant and clear that many, if not most, in the Arab world viewed the war essentially as a holy war. To fight for Palestine was the "inescapable obligation on every Muslim," declared the Muslim Brotherhood in 1938. Indeed, the battle was of such an order of holiness that in 1948 one Islamic jurist ruled that believers should forgo the hajj and spend the money thus saved on the jihad in Palestine. In April 1948, the mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Muhammad Mahawif, issued a fatwa positing jihad in Palestine as the duty of all Muslims. The Jews, he said, intended "to take over... all the lands of Islam." Martyrdom for Palestine conjured up, for Muslim Brothers, "the memories of the Battle of Badr... as well as the early Islamic jihad for spreading Islam and Salah al-Din's [Saladin's] liberation of Palestine" from the Crusaders. Jihad for Palestine was seen in prophetic-apocalyptic terms, as embodied in the following hadith periodically quoted at the time: "The day of resurrection does not come until Muslims fight against Jews, until the Jews hide behind trees and stones and until the trees and stones shout out: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"

The jihadi impulse underscored both popular and governmental responses in the Arab world to the UN partition resolution and was central to the mobilization of the "street" and the governments for the successive onslaughts of November-December 1947 and May-June 1948. The mosques, mullahs, and 'ulema all played a pivotal role in the process. Even Christian Arabs appear to have adopted the jihadi discourse. Matiel Mughannam, the Lebanese-born Christian who headed the AHC-affiliated Arab Women's Organization in Palestine, told an interviewer early in the civil war: "The UN decision has united all Arabs, as they have never been united before, not even against the Crusaders... [A Jewish state] has no chance to survive now that the 'holy war' has been declared. All the Jews will eventually be massacred." The Islamic fervor stoked by the hostilities seems to have encompassed all or almost all Arabs: "No Muslim can contemplate the holy places falling into Jewish hands," reported Kirkbride from Amman. "Even the Prime Minister [Tawfiq Abul Huda]... who is by far the steadiest and most sensible Arab here, gets excited on the subject."

Nor did this impulse evaporate with the Arab defeat. On the contrary. On 12 December 1948 the 'ulema of Al-Azhar reissued their call for jihad, specifically addressing "the Arab Kings, Presidents of Arab Republics,... and leaders of public opinion." It was, ruled the council, "necessary to liberate Palestine from the Zionist bands... and to return the inhabitants driven from their homes." The Arab armies had "fought victoriously" (sic) "in the conviction that they were fulfilling a sacred religious duty." The 'ulema condemned King 'Abdullah for sowing discord in Arab ranks: "Damnation would be the lot of those who, after warning, did not follow the way of the believers," concluded the 'ulema.

The immediate trigger of the 1948 War was the November 1947 UN partition resolution. The Zionist movement, except for its fringes, accepted the proposal. Most lamented the imperative of giving up the historic heartland of Judaism, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), with East Jerusalem's Old City and Temple Mount at its core; and many were troubled by the inclusion in the prospective Jewish state of a large Arab minority. But the movement, with Ben-Gurion and Weizmann at the helm, said "yes."

The Palestinian Arabs, along with the rest of the Arab world, said a flat "no" - as they had in 1937, when the Peel Commission had earlier proposed a two-state solution. The Arabs refused to accept the establishment of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. And, consistently with that "no," the Palestinian Arabs, in November-December 1947, and the Arab states in May 1948, launched hostilities to scupper the resolution's implementation. Many Palestinians may have been unenthusiastic about going to war - but to war they went. They may have been badly led and poorly organized; the war may have been haphazardly unleashed; and many able-bodied males may have avoided service. But Palestinian Arab society went to war, and no Palestinian leader publicly raised his voice in protest or dissent.

The Arab war aim, in both stages of the hostilities, was, at a minimum, to abort the emergence of a Jewish state or to destroy it at inception. The Arab states hoped to accomplish this by conquering all or large parts of the territory allotted to the Jews by the United Nations. And some Arab leaders spoke of driving the Jews into the sea and ridding Palestine "of the Zionist plague." The struggle, as the Arabs saw it, was about the fate of Palestine/the Land of Israel, all of it, not over this or that part of the country. But, in public, official Arab spokesmen often said that the aim of the May 1948 invasion was to "save" Palestine or "save the Palestinians," definitions more agreeable to Western ears.

The picture of Arab aims was always more complex than Zionist historiography subsequently made out. The chief cause of this complexity was that fly-in-the-ointment, King 'Abdullah. Jordan's ruler, a pragmatist, was generally skeptical of the Arabs' ability to defeat, let alone destroy, the Yishuv, and fashioned his war aim accordingly: to seize the Arab-populated West Bank, preferably including East Jerusalem. No doubt, had his army been larger and Zionist resistance weaker, he would have headed for Tel Aviv and Haifa; after all, for years he had tried to persuade the Zionist leaders to agree to Jordanian sovereignty over all of Palestine, with the Jews to receive merely a small, autonomous zone (which he called a "republic") within his expanded kingdom. But, come 1948, he understood the balance of forces: the Jews were simply too powerful and too resolute, and their passion for self-determination was not to be denied.


Israëls ondergang zou slecht nieuws zijn voor Europa

Niet alleen in Nederland zijn de doemdenkers en de antizionisten tijdens Israëls 60ste verjaardag royaal vertegenwoordigd in de kolommen van kranten en tijdschriften. Mark Steyn geeft ze scherpzinnig antwoord...

Be Careful What You Wish For
Israel's doom would be bad news for Europe.

By Mark Steyn

Almost everywhere I went last week — TV, radio, speeches — I was asked about the 60th anniversary of the Israeli state. I don't recall being asked about Israel quite so much on its 50th anniversary, which as a general rule is a much bigger deal than the 60th. But these days friends and enemies alike smell weakness at the heart of the Zionist Entity. Assuming President Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic fancies don't come to pass, Israel will surely make it to its 70th birthday. But a lot of folks don't fancy its prospects for its 80th and beyond. See the Atlantic Monthly cover story: "Is Israel Finished?" Also the cover story in Canada's leading news magazine, Maclean's, which dispenses with the question mark: "Why Israel Can't Survive."

Why? By most measures, the Jewish state is a great success story. The modern Middle East is the misbegotten progeny of the British and French colonial map-makers of 1922. All the nation states in that neck of the woods date back a mere 60 or 70 years — Iraq to the Thirties, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel to the Forties. The only difference is that Israel has made a go of it. Would I rather there were more countries like Israel, or more like Syria? I don't find that a hard question to answer. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East (Iraq may yet prove a second) and its Arab citizens enjoy more rights than they would living under any of the kleptocrat kings and psychotic dictators who otherwise infest the region. On a tiny strip of land narrower at its narrowest point than many American townships, Israel has built a modern economy with a GDP per capita just shy of $30,000 — and within striking distance of the European Union average. If you object that that's because it's uniquely blessed by Uncle Sam, well, for the past 30 years the second largest recipient of U.S. aid has been Egypt: Their GDP per capita is $5,000, and America has nothing to show for its investment other than one-time pilot Mohammed Atta coming at you through the office window.

Jewish success against the odds is nothing new. "Aaron Lazarus the Jew," wrote Anthony Hope in his all but unknown prequel to The Prisoner Of Zenda, "had made a great business of it, and had spent his savings in buying up the better part of the street; but" — and for Jews there's always a `but' — "since Jews then might hold no property…"

Ah, right. Like the Jewish merchants in old Europe who were tolerated as leaseholders but could never be full property owners, the Israelis are regarded as operating a uniquely conditional sovereignty. Jimmy Carter, just returned from his squalid suck-up junket to Hamas, is merely the latest Western sophisticate to pronounce triumphantly that he has secured the usual (off-the-record, highly qualified, never to be translated into Arabic, and instantly denied) commitment from the Jews' enemies acknowledging Israel's "right to exist." Well, whoop-de-doo. Would you enter negotiations on such a basis?

Since Israel marked its half-century, the "right to exist" is now routinely denied not just in Gaza and Ramallah and the region's presidential palaces but on every European and Canadian college campus. During the Lebanese incursion of 2006, Matthew Parris wrote in the Times of London: "The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast. My opinion - held not passionately but with little personal doubt — is that there is no point in arguing about whether the state of Israel should have been established where and when it was" — which lets you know how he would argue it if minded to. Richard Cohen in The Washington Post was more straightforward: "Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself." Cohen and Parris, two famously moderate voices in the leading newspapers of two of the least anti-Israeli capital cities in the West, have nevertheless internalized the same logic as Ahmadinejad: Israel should not be where it is. Whether it's a "stain of shame" or just a "mistake" is the merest detail.

Aaron Lazarus and every other "European Jew" of his time would have had a mirthless chuckle over Cohen's designation. The Jews lived in Europe for centuries, but without ever being accepted as "European": To enjoy their belated acceptance as Europeans, they had to move to the Middle East. Reviled on the Continent as sinister rootless cosmopolitans with no conventional national allegiance, they built a conventional nation state, and now they're reviled for that, too. The "oldest hatred" didn't get that way without an ability to adapt.

The Western intellectuals who promote "Israeli Apartheid Week" at this time each year are laying the groundwork for the next stage of Zionist delegitimization. The talk of a "two-state solution" will fade. In the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, Jews are barely a majority. Gaza has one of the highest birth rates on the planet: The median age is 15.8 years. Its population is not just literally exploding, at Israeli checkpoints, but also doing so in the less incendiary but demographically decisive sense.

Arabs will soon be demanding one democratic state — Jews and Muslims — from Jordan to the sea. And even those who understand that this will mean the death of Israel will find themselves so confounded by the multicultural pieties of their own lands they'll be unable to argue against it. Contemporary Europeans are not exactly known for their moral courage: The reports one hears of schools quietly dropping the Holocaust from their classrooms because it offends their growing numbers of Muslim students suggest that even the pretense of "evenhandedness" in the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" will be long gone a decade hence.

The joke, of course, is that Israel, despite its demographic challenge, still enjoys a birth rate twice that of the European average. All the reasons for Israel's doom apply to Europe with bells on. And, unlike much of the rest of the west, Israel has the advantage of living on the front line of the existential challenge. "I have a premonition that will not leave me," wrote Eric Hoffer, America's great longshoreman philosopher, after the '67 war. "As it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us."

Indeed. So happy 60th birthday. And here's to many more.

© 2008 Mark Steyn

2 Indonesiërs over obstakels voor Israëlisch-Palestijnse vrede

2 Indonesische stemmen voor vrede - mogen zij gehoord worden.

The Obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian Peace
By Abdurrahman WAHID and Abdul A'LA
Wall Street Journal
May 10, 2008; Page A11

The prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a far-reaching impact not only upon the lives of those who dwell in the Holy Land, but upon virtually every nation and community on earth. On a daily basis, self-interested parties are callously manipulating the most basic values of humanity and religion in order to advance their personal or political interests. Sectarianism, violence, arrogance and deception are constantly subverting the fundamental values of life, and turning religious principles upon their heads.

This horrific process demands that every moral human being, religious community and nation throughout the world contemplate this tragedy and offer assistance, however small, to help resolve the profound human crisis in the Holy Land. Peace is both a process and a goal that the world can neither morally nor practically afford to push off into the future yet again.

We must develop and implement concrete strategies to resolve the conflict, while inspiring hope that peace can actually be achieved. The problem is that the various obstacles to peace seem nearly impossible to eliminate. These obstacles are rendered even more severe by the fact that both major parties in the conflict harbor groups absolutely convinced of the correctness of their mutually exclusive views and agendas. Such groups reject not only the rights, but the very existence, of the other side.

The corrosive effect of this phenomenon is the evocation and rationalization of the use of violence, either through terrorism or militarism. Prejudiced views on both sides, not only by those directly engaged in the conflict, but by their allies as well, further stoke the flames of hatred and violence.

These prejudices contaminate public discourse throughout the world, and are constantly exploited by Middle Eastern regimes that fuel anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic emotions for political purposes, while displaying little or no actual concern for the well-being of the Palestinians themselves.

Under such conditions, it is nearly impossible for sincere dialogue even to occur, much less to develop or flourish. Instead, the cycle of violence breeds a hardening of mutual hatred.

The Palestinian side routinely condemns its enemy as a colonial power whose entire population is demonized as "imperialists," while the Israeli side brands its political opponents as terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers.

For six decades, the peace process has been conducted primarily by self-interested political players who cannot penetrate to the heart of the underlying problems, much less resolve them. This gives rise to deeply cynical views on the part of certain groups on both sides, who view the peace process as absurd, its goals unobtainable, and continued violence better than compromise.

Yet the difficulties that have swamped every Israeli-Palestinian peace process to date do not mean that achieving peace is impossible. Rather, they point to the need for a new and more holistic path to peace in the Middle East. This path would mobilize the populations of Israel and Palestine toward this goal, with the active encouragement and support of the rest of the world.

The December 2007 visit to Israel and Palestine by a group of Indonesian ulama from the world's two largest Muslim organizations - LibForAll Foundation and the Indonesian Peace Delegation - represents one such effort, and the first step in a larger, systematic process. Conducted under the joint aegis of LibForAll Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, members of the group consistently observed that the silent majorities on both sides of the conflict sincerely desire an end to the cycle of violence, and peace for themselves and their children. This is remarkable, given the decades of incitement to hatred and violence in Palestinian mosques, schools and mass media, and a political culture that eschews compromise.

It is tragic that the voice of the people - full of an honest and sincere longing for peace - should be drowned out by violence and the narrow interests of politicians and extremists on both sides. We have a responsibility to amplify the voices of the innocent who pay with their blood and sorrow the price of others' ambitions and hatred.

We must also strengthen and facilitate the people's efforts to pressure their political elites - in a manner that is focused, intense and vocal, yet simultaneously civilized - to create a just and lasting peace.

Palestinians and Israelis need the world's support to create a new reality, in which the highest values of religion and humanity are restored to their proper dignity. We must also help Muslim populations - not only in Palestine, but throughout the Arab world - to rise to embrace a profoundly spiritual and tolerant understanding of Islam, and a humanistic attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that acknowledges the legacy of suffering on all sides. Such an attitude is a necessary precondition for recognizing Israel's unique history and right to exist, while truly advancing the interests of Palestinians as well.

Last year's LibForAll/Indonesian Peace mission to Israel and Palestine was designed to initiate such a process. After the religious leaders who participated returned to Indonesia, they faced intense condemnation from Muslim extremists, who accused them of having betrayed their Palestinian brethren and embarrassed Indonesia's Muslim community. Yet there is nothing shameful about working to realize the highest values of religion - which God intended to serve as a blessing, and not a curse, to all of humanity.

Although the obstacles to peace in the Holy Land may appear insurmountable, it is the responsibility of religious leaders on all sides to attempt the impossible, and to accept whatever threats, slander and stigma may follow.
Mr. Wahid is the former president of Indonesia and co-founder of LibForAll Foundation. Mr. A'la is an associate dean of graduate studies at Sunan Ampel Islamic State University in Surabaya, Indonesia.

Hamas prijst raketaanval op Ashkelon

Hamas en Islamitische Jihad hebben ook wat te vieren. Zionistische babies en kinderen vermoorden is een ware 'heldendaad'.


Document: Hamas statement: "Blessed be the Qassam Brigades bombardment of Ashkelon"

The following official statement was reported on an official Hamas website
as translated by Google:

2008-05-14 2008-05-14 0805-39 0805-39
Blessed be the Qassam Brigades bombardment of Ashkelon

And stresses it a natural response to the crimes of occupation and aggression
(Fight them with their hands and God will punish them and insist on Ikhozhm and cured the people believing)

Military statement issued by the Martyr Brigades, Izz al-Din al-Qassam

T. Park Martyr Brigades, Izz al-Din al-Qassam brothers in the Mujahedeen Brigades, Jihad Jibril, the martyr - the military wing of the Popular Front-General Command - quality operations of the bombing of the city of Ashkelon south of occupied Palestine rocket type "locusts" evening approved today, Wednesday, 14/05/2008, which resulting in dozens of casualties in the ranks of the Zionists due to strike the missile trade center in the city center.

The Qassam Brigades, the process and the bombing is blessed natural response to the continuous Zionist crime against our people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which did not stop for one moment and not so martyred five of our people today in Jabaliya and Khan Younis.

We Martyr Brigades, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades as to congratulate our brothers in the Martyr Brigades, Jihad Jibril, this process; told warn the Zionist enemy to commit any folly in the Gaza Strip and the escalation of aggression which means more operations more sudden and quality that bedevil the occupation and balkanization of harsh and painful lessons.

God is great, and victory of the mujahideen
It is a jihad victory or martyrdom,,,
Martyr Brigades, Izz al-Din al-Qassam
M. approved 14/05/2008

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Gewonden door Palestijnse raket op winkelcentrum Ashkelon

Vraag: waarom zagen we op TV geen beelden van de Israëlische baby die door de raket is gewond? Na Israëlische aanvallen in Gaza gaan beelden die niets aan de verbeelding overlaten, gepaard met wanhopig schreeuwende moeders, de wereld rond.
Antwoord: deze beelden worden niet uitgezonden, want uit respect voor de slachtoffers en nabestaanden is het verboden om ze herkenbaar in beeld te brengen.
Vraag 2: waarom vuurt Islamitische Jihad juist de afgelopen dagen zoveel raketten af, terwijl men al heeft ingestemd met een staakt-het-vuren?
Antwoord: tijdens de festiviteiten vanwege 60 jaar Israël en het bezoek van Bush aan Israël, staat Israël onder zware druk om geen vergeldingsacties uit te voeren. Verder is het natuurlijk een mooi geschenk voor het jubileum, en maakt het nog eens duidelijk wat een deel van de Palestijnen voor heeft met Israël en de Joden.

Last update - 20:22 14/05/2008

Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon mall; several people hurt

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, apparently a Katyusha-type rocket, exploded in a shopping center in the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday, wounding at least ten people.

According to preliminary reports, three of the injured were in serious condition, two were in moderate condition and at least eleven suffered minor wounds.

A woman and her young daughter were seriously wounded, along with another child, said Leah Malul of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. The eight-year-old girl and the woman, both suffering from severe head trauma, were transferred to a hospital in central Israel for further treatment due to the seriousness of their condition.

Witnesses told Israeli radio stations that the rocket caused considerable damage. Rescue service director Eli Bean said at least two people were trapped under the rubble.

The rocket hit the third floor of the Hutzot mall. A clinic which takes up part of the floor took the brunt of the hit. A hospital official said two children were brought to the emergency room.

The Hutzot shopping center is frequented by an average of 10,000 people daily.

Ashkelon residents at the scene reported that there had been no warning siren to alert the shoppers of the incoming rocket. Military sources said that the siren system meant to alert residents of incoming strikes had been turned off in recent days after an unusually high number of false alarms that caused unnecessary panic among the residents of the town. The sources said that the decision to turn off the sirens was made in coordination with security and government bodies.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said its fighters launched the rocket, one of an almost daily pattern of militant attacks from the Palestinian enclave.

The homemade rockets militants usually fire at Israel do not have enough range to reach Ashkelon. Instead, militants use Grad-type Katyusha rockets to hit the city of 100,000, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Gaza-Israel border.

The rocket attack came as U.S. President George W. Bush wrapped up talks in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Referring to the earlier attacks, Olmert blamed the militant Islamic Hamas rulers of Gaza.

Speaking before learning of the attack on Ashkelon, Olmert said that "we will not be able to tolerate continuous attacks on innocent civilians. We hope we will not have to act against Hamas in other ways with the military power that Israel hasn't yet started to use in a serious manner in order to stop it."

Casualties have mounted recently from the daily rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli communities outside Gaza. Two Israeli civilians were killed during the last week.