zaterdag 13 juni 2009

Jimmy Carter ontvangt Palestijnse prijs op de Westoever

Jimmy Carter is "al jaren verliefd op het Palestijnse volk" - Wat een slijmjurk!
Hij riep de Palestijnen verder op te stoppen met elkaar te bevechten, maar ook te stoppen met geweld tegen Israel en het bestaansrecht van Israel te accepteren.
Het 'recht op terugkeer' van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen scheen hij ook niet te steunen. Blijkbaar was hij geinspireerd geraakt door de toespraak van Obama in Cairo, naar wie hij ook verwees. Normaliter hoor je Carter immers alleen over wat de Israeli's zouden moeten doen.
Last update - 22:44 13/06/2009     
In West Bank, Carter speaks of his love for the Palestinians 
By The Associated Press
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was honored by the Palestinian government Saturday and pledged to support the Palestinians' campaign for independence to the end of his days.
In his acceptance speech, Carter urged the Palestinians to end their internal divisions and stop persecuting their rivals.
He was referring to the growing rift between the Islamic militant Hamas group, which controls Gaza, and Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in charge of the West Bank. Each side has been cracking down on the other's supporters, particularly since Hamas violently overran Gaza two years ago.
Carter met with Hamas' exiled leadership in Syria on Thursday and is to head to Gaza on Sunday, after meeting with Israeli officials. Carter has said peace between Israel and the Palestinians is impossible without involving Hamas, but reiterated in Syria that he was not representing the Obama administration.
Hamas is being shunned by most of the international community, including the U.S., for refusing to recognize Israel or renounce violence, though Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has said repeatedly in recent weeks that his group wants to be part of a Mideast solution.
In the West Bank, Carter was awarded the Palestine International Award for Excellence and Creativity. Previous recipients included two former international envoys, James Wolfensohn and Peter Hansen.
Carter brokered the Israeli-Egypt peace accord of 1979 and several years ago wrote a book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that is sharply critical of Israeli policies in the occupied territories.
"I have been in love with the Palestinian people for many years," he said Saturday, adding that this is a feeling shared by members of his family.
"I have two great-grandsons that are rapidly learning about the people here and the anguish and suffering and deprivation of human rights that you have experienced ever since 1948," he said.
Referring to President Barack Obama's call for an Israeli settlement freeze, Carter said that "in the future, I am sure, he will call for the dismantling of the settlements that exist."
But he noted that Obama also called for an end to violence against Israelis and for Arab acceptance of Israelis' right to their own nation. Carter said such acceptance is painful for displaced Palestinians, but that there has to be an accommodation in the political world.
Carter, 85, pledged his assistance, "as long as I live, to win your freedom, your independence, your sovereignty and a good life." 

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Egypte gaat eindelijk Israelische romans uitgeven

"Because we can't deal directly with Israeli publishers, which would cause a scandal in Egypt and the Arab world, we decided to negotiate with European publishing houses," he said.

Ondanks een vredesovereenkomst sinds 30 jaar wordt Israel nog steeds geboycot in Egypte. In die periode werden slechts 2 Israelische boeken vertaald en uitgegeven. De Egyptische cultuurminister Faruq Hosni heeft nu toestemming gegeven voor uitgaves van onder meer Oz en Grossman, waarschijnlijk om de weerstand tegen zijn nominatie voor de hoogste UNESCO-post te verminderen. Het hoeft niet te verbazen als achter de schermen met Israel is afgesproken dat in ruil voor het toestaan van meer vertalingen van Israelische boeken, Israel haar verzet tegen die benoeming heeft gestaakt. Daar zit dan een paar weken tussen zodat het verband niet zo direct opvalt.

Agence Frqance Presse / June 11, 2009
Egypt to publish Israeli novels for first time

CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt will publish Arabic translations of novels by renowned Israeli writers Amos Oz and David Grossman for the first time, a culture ministry official told AFP on Thursday.

"I hope to have signed an agreement with their English and French publishers by early July, without going via the Israeli publishers," said Gaber Asfur, head of the centre for translations, which is part of the culture ministry.

Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, whose bid to become the next director general of UNESCO has suffered setbacks because of comments he made about burning Israeli books, gave the project the green light, he said.

Only two Israeli books, Iraqi-born Eli Amir's novel "Yasmin" and a collection of poetry by Druze writer Naim Araidi, have been published in Arabic in Egypt, by a small private publishing house.

Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel, but it has since rejected cultural normalisation in protest at Israel's continued occupation of Arab land and its treatment of the Palestinians.

"In Egypt, we feel you can't dance and sing together when you see the bloody daily attacks against the Palestinian people," Hosni has said, adding that "once there is peace, it will be an entirely different matter."

Alaa Aswani, who wrote the renowned "Yacoubian Building" which was turned into a successful film, has also refused to have his book translated into Hebrew because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Asfur explained the choice of publishers. "Because we can't deal directly with Israeli publishers, which would cause a scandal in Egypt and the Arab world, we decided to negotiate with European publishing houses," he said.

Asfur said he was looking at publishing short stories by Oz, Grossman's "The Yellow Wind" about Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as works by so-called new historians Tom Segev and Avi Shlaim.

Copyright - © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Mousavi gearresteerd in Iran, nadat Achmadinejad tot winnaar is uitgeroepen

Verkiezingsfraude schijnt niet ongewoon te zijn in Iran. Het is dan ook goed mogelijk dat hervormer Mir Hossein Mousavi meer stemmen haalde dan Achmadinejad.
Ook na de vorige verkiezingen in 2005 waren er beschuldigingen van fraude. De Raad van Hoeders gelastte toen per steekproef een hertelling van 100 stembussen, waaruit geen fraude zou zijn gebleken. Gezien de grote onrust die nu is ontstaan, lijkt het waarschijnlijk dat de Raad ook nu een aantal stembussen zal laten hertellen. Door het ontbreken van democratische controle-mechanismen blijft echter onzeker hoe betrouwbaar die hertellingen zijn...
Last update - 21:42 13/06/2009     
Report: Defeated Ahmadinejad rival arrested in Iran
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was arrested Saturday shortly after he was defeated at the polls by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an unofficial source reported.
According to the source, the presidential hopeful was arrested en route to the home of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that were a number of contradictory reports from Iran on Saturday, in a large part due to the heavy restrictions imposed on the media in the Islamic Republic, in particular on foreign reporters.

It was also reported that former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani resigned from all of his official positions in protest against the results of the election, which Mousavi denounced as rigged.
Supporters of Mousavi, the main election challenger to Ahmadinejad, earlier clashed with police Saturday as authorities declared that the hard-line Iranian president was re-elected in a landslide. Opponents responded with the most serious unrest in the capital in a decade and charges that the result was the work of a dictatorship.
Khamenei closed the door on any chance he could use his limitless powers to intervene in the disputes from Friday's election. In a message on state TV, he urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, calling the result a divine assessment.
But Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has rejected the result as rigged and urged his supporters to resist a government of lies and dictatorship.

The clashes in central Tehran were the more serious disturbances in the capital since student-led protests in 1999 and showed the potential for the showdown over the vote to spill over into further violence and challenges to the Islamic establishment.
Several hundred demonstrators - many wearing the trademark green colors of Mousavi's campaign - chanted the government lied to the people and gathered near the Interior Ministry as the final count was announced. It gave 62.6 percent of the vote to Ahmadinejad and 33.75 to Mousavi, who served as prime minister in the 1980s and has become the hero of a youth-driven movement seeking greater liberties and a gentler face for Iran abroad.
The turnout was a record 85 percent of Iran's 46.2 million eligible voters. Two other candidates received only a fraction of the vote.
Protesters set fire to tires outside the Interior Ministry and anti-riot police fought back with clubs and smashed cars. An Associated Press photographer saw a plainclothes security official beating a woman with his truncheon.
In another main street of Tehran, some 300 young people blocked the avenue by forming a human chain and chanted Ahmadi, shame on you. Leave the government alone.
Mousavi's campaign headquarters urged people to show restraint.
Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli, who supervised the elections and heads the nation's police forces, warned people not to join any unauthorized gatherings. Earlier, the powerful Revolutionary Guard said it would not tolerate any challenges by Mousavi's green movement - the color adopted by Mousavi's campaign.
"I'm warning that I won't surrender to this manipulation," said a statement on Mousavi's Web site. "The outcome of what we've seen from the performance of officials ... is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran's sacred system and governance of lies and dictatorship."
He warned people won't respect those who take power through fraud.
"I'm warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade. The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardize the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny," Mousavi said in a statement made available to Reuters.
The headline on one of Mousavi's Web sites read: "I won't give in to this dangerous manipulation."
It was even unclear how many Iranians were even aware of Mousavi's claims of fraud. Communications disruptions began in the later hours of voting Friday - suggesting an information clampdown. State television and radio only broadcast the Interior Ministry's vote count and not Mousavi's midnight press conference.
Nationwide, the text messaging system remained down Saturday and several pro-Mousavi Web sites were blocked or difficult to access. Text messaging is frequently used by many Iranians - especially young Mousavi supporters - to spread election news.
At Tehran University - the site of the last major anti-regime unrest in Tehran in 1999 - the academic year was winding down and there was no sign of pro-Mousavi crowds. But university exams, scheduled to begin Saturday, were postponed until next month around the country.
The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Ahmadinejad plans a public address later Saturday in Tehran.
Even before the count began, Mousavi declared himself definitely the winner based on all indications from all over Iran. He accused the government of manipulating the people's vote to keep Ahmadinejad in power and suggested the reformist camp would stand up to challenge the results.
"It is our duty to defend people's votes. There is no turning back," Mousavi said, alleging widespread irregularities.
Mousavi's backers were stunned at the Interior Ministry's results after widespread predictions of a close race - or even a slight edge to Mousavi. Many Iranians went to the people because they wanted to bring change.
"Almost everybody I know voted for Mousavi but Ahmadinejad is being declared the winner. The government announcement is nothing but widespread fraud. It is very, very disappointing. I'll never ever again vote in Iran," said Mousavi supporter Nasser Amiri, a hospital clerk in Tehran.
Bringing any showdown into the streets would certainly face a swift backlash from security forces. The political chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard cautioned Wednesday it would crush any revolution against the Islamic regime by Mousavi's green movement.
The Revolutionary Guard is directly under the control of the ruling clerics and has vast influence in every corner of the country through a network of volunteer militias.
In Tehran, several Ahmadinejad supporters cruised the streets waving Iranian flags out of car windows and shouting "Mousavi is dead!"
Mousavi appealed directly to Iran's supreme leader, Khamenei, to intervene and stop what he said were violations of the law. Khamenei holds ultimate political authority in Iran. "I hope the leader's foresight will bring this to a good end," Mousavi said.
Iran does not allow international election monitors. During the 2005 election, when Ahmadinejad won the presidency, there were some allegations of vote rigging from losers, but the claims were never investigated.
The outcome will not sharply alter Iran's main policies or sway major decisions, such as possible talks with Washington or nuclear policies. Those crucial issues rest with the ruling clerics headed by the unelected Khamenei.
But the election focused on what the office can influence: boosting Iran's sinking economy, pressing for greater media and political freedoms, and being Iran's main envoy to the world.
Before the vote count, President Barack Obama said the robust debate during the campaign suggests a possibility of change in Iran, which is under intense international pressure over its nuclear program. There has been no comment from Washington since Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. 

Afshin Ellian over verkiezingen Iran

Uit zijn blog op Elsevier:

Weblog Afshin Ellian

Verkiezingen Iran zijn een riskante affaire

donderdag 11 juni 2009 10:23


In Iran is een groot conflict gaande met een onvoorspelbare, mogelijk gewelddadige uitkomst. 

Morgen kiezen de Iraniërs hun tiende president. Kiezen? Uit honderden kandidaten mogen er slechts vier deelnemen aan de verkiezingen.

Uiteraard staat ook de betrouwbaarheid van de verkiezingen niet vast. Daarom scandeerden duizenden mensen de afgelopen dagen in Teheran: 'Als Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (de zittende president) wint, is er sprake van bedrog'. Eigenlijk stellen de presidentsverkiezingen niet zo veel voor. Geestelijke leider Khamenei zorgt dat het volk een president krijgt. Maar toch zijn de verkiezingen een extreem riskante affaire.

Wie zijn de kandidaten? De huidige president is uiteraard één van de kandidaten. Mohsen Reza'i, oud-opperbevelhebber van de Revolutionaire Garde, is ook kandidaat. Dan is er Mir Hossein Mousavi, premier gedurende de oorlog tussen Irak en Iran, kandidaat namens de hervormingsgezinde beweging.

Hij vertegenwoordigt de fractie van de oud-president Khatami. De vierde kandidaat is een mullah: Mehdi Karoubi was ooit voorzitter van het Iraanse parlement. Ook hij wil worden gezien als een hervormingsgezinde politicus.

Machtige figuur
Alle kandidaten komen uit het regime zelf. Maar welke machtige figuur gaat schuil achter Mousavi en Karoubi? Ali Akbar Hachemi Rafsandjani (75). Rafsandjani is de tweede man van Iran. Hij is oud-president, oud-voorzitter van het parlement en is voorzitter van het parlement dat de Iraanse leider mag aanwijzen.

Aan Rafsandjani kleven twee zaken: hij is medeverantwoordelijk voor de massa-executies uit de jaren tachtig en hij is symbool voor de economische maffia. Die bestaat uit mensen die met hulp van Rafsandjani miljarden hebben verdiend aan corruptie en niet terugbetaalde overheidsleningen.

Van imam Khomeini's kameraden zijn er nog twee belangrijke figuren over: Khamenei, de leider, en Rafsandjani.

Voor de eerste keer zijn op de Iraanse tv debatten uitgezonden tussen de kandidaten. Mousavi is de grootste opponent van de huidige president.

Hij beschuldigt Ahmadinedjad van verschillende zaken. De president is een avonturier op het gebied van internationale betrekkingen. De president laat zich op internationaal niveau vernederen. De president handelt op basis van zijn emoties en de president is ver verwijderd van een rationeel buitenlands- en binnenlandsbeleid.

Dat brengt Mousavi tot deze conclusie: Ahmadinejad is onbekwaam.

Hoe verdedigt Ahmadinedjad zich?

De president richt zich tot de beschermheer van zijn tegenstanders, namelijk Rafsandjani. Hij opende een genadeloze aanval op Rafsandjani: hij is corrupt en zijn familie is verrijkt met overheidsgeld.

Ook zou Rafsandjani een brief hebben geschreven aan de koning van een Golfstaat met de mededeling dat Ahmadinjad niet langer dan zes maanden aan de macht zal blijven. Dit is eigenlijk landverraad.

De huidige Iraanse president verdedigde zijn buitenlandbeleid met  een verwijzing naar Obama's beleid: 'De Amerikaanse regering wil onze staat niet langer omverwerpen. En de nucleaire en militaire capaciteit van Iran is nooit zo hoog geweest. De Amerikanen zijn nu ineens aardig voor ons omdat ik een hard en duidelijk beleid heb gevoerd.'

In de straten van Teheran lopen de gemoederen hoog op tussen de voor- en tegenstanders van Ahmadinejad.

Rafsandjani heeft gisteren een brief geschreven aan de leider Khamenei. Hij vergeleek de huidige president met Bani Sadr, de eerste president van Iran die door Khomeini werd afgezet.

Rafsandjani refereert aan die gebeurtenissen en verlangt van Khamenei om in voetsporen van Khomeini een einde te maken aan Ahamdinejads Fitna (beproeving). Geert heeft niet voor niets zijn film Fitna genoemd.

Hoe nu verder? Eigenlijk is het buitengewoon vreemd dat Rafsandjani niet al eerder is uitgeschakeld. Het is algemeen bekend dat hij niet populair is bij Khamenei.

De Iraanse politieke leiding verkeert in een grote crisis. Khamenei kan voor vrijdag, de dag van de verkiezingen, niets meer doen. Maar daarna moet hij één van de kemphanen uitschakelen.

Dit alles kan ernstig uit de hand lopen en zelfs tot gewelddadige conflicten leiden in de steden van Iran. In de regio wordt gehoopt dat Iran in een burgeroorlog terecht komt. Ik betwijfel of dit gaat gebeuren. Wel zullen er koppen, veel koppen rollen. En daarmee zal het regime zichzelf aan het wankelen brengen.

P.S. Ten slotte wil ik jullie, lieve lezers bedanken voor jullie vriendelijke en oprechte woorden naar aanleiding van mijn vorige blog.

Winnaar verkiezingen Iran zal op buitenlands terrein hoogstens retoriek aanpassen

De vorige Iraanse hervormer stapte in 2005 gefrustreerd op. De marges in de Iraanse politiek zijn smal, want de eigenlijke macht rust bij de Ayatollahs en de Raad van Hoeders van de islamitische revolutie, die ook bepalen welke kandidaten aan de verkiezingen mogen deelnemen.
Last update - 01:03 12/06/2009
ANALYSIS / All Iran candidates will bolster Hamas, Hezbollah ties
By Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz Correspondent

One winner has already been declared in the Iranian elections: The Internet, used by more than 23 million Iranians, or 34 percent of the population. But that figure alone cannot be used to determine which of the four candidates will win. At the very most, one can assume most Web users will vote for reformist candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi or Mehdi Karroubi, rather than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Mohsen Rezeai.

Although the presidential race is based mostly on the individual skills of the candidates, their agendas and public record are no less important. The candidates have almost insignificant differences on issues of core interest to the West and Israel. All of the candidates have said they are willing to hold a dialogue with the U.S., but say it would be gradual and depend on U.S. policy. Even Ahmadinejad has expressed his willingness to talk to the U.S.

This does not mean the Islamic Republic would be willing to talk with Israel, which all candidates agree is responsible for the conflict in the Middle East. But only Ahmadinejad has denied Israel's right to exist and the Holocaust.

There is a consensus in Iran regarding the right to seek nuclear technology for peaceful use. U.S. President Barack Obama's recognition that Iran has the right to develop a nuclear program for peaceful ends may create support for Ahmadinejad, who is considered a nuclear crusader who has bent Washington's will.

Iranian foreign relations are dictated by supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who has given U.S. overtures a cold shoulder so far. But the Iranian president can, at least on the surface, set the tone of the relationship, which is why the elections are important. Iran is not expected to change its ambitions to expand its influence in the Middle East and Central Asia, regardless of who wins. Its ties with Syria will not cool, its influence in Iraq will not diminish and its support for Hamas, Hezbollah and countries like Sudan and Algeria will deepen. What might change is its perception. If Mousavi or Karroubi are elected, Tehran's rhetoric will tone down. A reformist president will make it easier for Obama to justify his new policy toward Iraq. But ties between the U.S. and Iran may improve even if Ahmadinejad is reelected.

Achmadinejad staat op 69% nadat een derde stemmen is geteld

Nadat 35% van de stemmen zijn geteld...


Last update - 00:29 13/06/2009
Iran's Ahmadinejad wins 69 percent of vote in early election tally
By News Agencies
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was ahead with almost 69 percent of the votes in Friday's presidential election, after 35 percent of the ballot boxes had been counted, election commission figures showed.

Ahmadinejad's main challenger, moderate former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, had nearly 29 percent of the votes cast, according to the commission which is part of the Interior Ministry.

Earlier Friday, Iran's IRNA news agency announced that Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a nationwide election after the polls closed Friday. The official count is still not ready, but supporters of the two front-runners, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, have claimed victory.
Mousavi said at a Tehran press conference that he was the clear winner of the votes but accused the government of having made numerous legal violations.

Iranians packed polling stations from boutique-lined streets in north Tehran to conservative bastions in the countryside Friday with a choice that has left the nation divided and on edge: keeping hard-line President Ahmadinejad in power or electing a reformist who favors greater freedoms and improved ties with the United States.

Turnout was massive and could break records. Crowds formed quickly at many voting sites in areas considered both strongholds for Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, who served as Iran's prime minister in the 1980s and has become the surprise hero of a powerful youth-driven movement.

"I hope to defeat Ahmadinejad today," said Mahnaz Mottaghi, 23, after casting her ballot at a mosque in central Tehran.

Outside the same polling station, 29-year-old Abbas Rezai said he, his wife and his sister-in-law all voted for Ahmadinejad.

"We will have him as a president for another term, for sure," he said.

Voting was extended by six hours to midnight (1930 GMT, 3:30 p.m. EDT) to allow those still in line time to cast ballots.

Highly charged atmosphere, blistering recriminations

The fiery, month-long campaign unleashed passions and tensions. The mass rallies, polished campaign slogans, savvy Internet outreach and televised
debates more closely resembled Western elections than the scripted campaigns in most other Middle Eastern countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Iran's robust debate leading up to elections shows change is possible there, and it could boost U.S. efforts to engage Tehran's leadership.

In a sign of the bitterness from the campaign, the Interior Ministry - which oversees voting - said all rallies or political gatherings would be banned until after the announcement of results, expected Saturday.

In the only violent episode to be reported, a campaign organizer for Mousavi said about a dozen Ahmadinejad supporters attacked one of his campaign offices in Tehran with tear gas.

No one was injured, and police quickly dispersed the group, said Saeed Shariati, head of Mousavi's youth cyber campaign. There was no independent confirmation of the attack.

The cyber campaign ran several Web sites and Facebook pages supporting Mousavi. Authorities blocked at least three of them Friday.

The highly charged atmosphere brought blistering recriminations against Ahmadinejad - whom Mousavi said was moving Iran to a dictatorship - and a
stunning warning from the ruling establishment. The political chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard warned Wednesday it would crush any revolution against the Islamic system by Mousavi's green movement - the signature color of his campaign.

The outcome will not sharply alter Iran's main policies or sway high-level decisions, such as possible talks with Washington. Those crucial policies are all directly controlled by the ruling clerics headed by the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But Mousavi has offered hopes of more freedoms at home. If elected, he could try to end crackdowns on liberal media and bloggers and push for Iran to embrace Obama's offer of dialogue after a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze. He favors talks with world powers over Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and others fear is aimed at making weapons. Iran says it only seeks reactors for electricity.

Iranians around the world also voted. In Dubai, home to an estimated 200,000 Iranians, the streets around the polling station at the Iranian consulate were jammed with voters overwhelmingly favoring Mousavi.

"He is our Obama," said Maliki Zadehamid, a 39-year-old exporter.

With the race too close to call, a top election official predicted turnout could surpass the nearly 80 percent in the election 12 years ago that brought President Mohammad Khatami to power and began the pro-reform movement.

A strong turnout could boost Mousavi. He is counting on under-30s, who account for about a third of Iran's 46.2 million eligible voters.

In Tehran's affluent northern districts - strongly backing Mousavi - voters waited for up to an hour to cast ballots. Mahdi Hosseini, a university student, blasted the firebrand Ahmadinejad for degrading Iran's image in the eyes of the world.

Ahmadinejad brought Iran international condemnation by repeatedly questioning the Holocaust.

In the conservative city of Qom, home to seminaries and shrines, hundreds of clerics and women dressed in long black robes waited to vote in a long line outside a mosque. Ahmadinejad's campaign has heavily courted his base of working-class families and tradition-minded voters with promises of more government aid and resistance to Western pressures over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

There were no reports of serious problems at the polls. But a top Mousavi aide, Ali Reza Beheshti, said some polling stations in northwestern and southern provinces ran out of ballots, claiming it was a deliberate attempt by the government to keep people from voting.

Iran's elections are considered generally fair, but the country does not allow international monitors. The ruling clerics, however, put their stamp on the elections from the very beginning by deciding who can run. More than 470 people sought to join the presidential race, but only Ahmadinejad and three rivals were cleared.

During the 2005 election, there were some allegations of vote rigging from losers, but the claims were never investigated.

After casting his vote in the white ballot box, the Supreme Leader Khamenei urged Iranians to remain calm.

"As far as I see and hear, passion and motivation is very high among people," Khamenei told reporters. "If some intend to create tension, this will harm people," he added.

After voting at a mosque on Friday in eastern Tehran, Ahmadinejad commented on the high turnout.

Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli said reports to election officials indicate an unprecedented turnout will be recorded in the country's election history, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Mousavi voted with his wife at a mosque in Tehran's southern outskirts.

In the southeastern city of Zahedan - where a bomb blamed on Sunni militants killed at least 25 people at a Shiite mosque last month - there were no reports of tensions. The bombed mosque was used as a polling station.

The race will go to a runoff on June 19 if no candidate receives a simple majority of more than 50 percent of the votes cast. Much depends on how many votes are siphoned off by the two other candidates: conservative former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei and moderate former parliament speaker Mahdi Karroubi.

Joods-Amerikaanse vredeslobby: Zionisten tegen Israel?

J-Street is een soort linkse afsplitsing van de Amerikaanse pro-Israel lobbygroep AIPAC. AIPAC zou teveel op de veiligheid van Israel hameren en zich niet inzetten voor een vredesakkoord met de Palestijnen. Aangezien ook AIPAC tegenwoordig uitdrukkelijk voor een tweestatenoplossing pleit, is de vraag wat het verschil nog is tussen beiden?
Nou, J-Street pleit bijvoorbeeld voor praten met Hamas en Iran en tegen sancties, en is daarentegen voor stevige druk op Netanyahu om meer concessies te doen.
Dat men Israels optreden in Gaza even fout vond als de terreur van Hamas, leverde J-Street en consorten een hoop kritiek op, evenals de steun voor het zeer omstreden toneelstukje "Seven Jewish Children", dat door velen als ronduit antisemitisch wordt beoordeeld. Het wordt dan moeilijk zo'n lobbygroep nog als 'vriend van Israel' te beschouwen.

Candidly Speaking: Bogus 'Zionist' Israel-bashers

Jun. 9, 2009


It is ironic that many of the disconcerting themes relating to Israel in US President Barack Obama's Cairo speech replicated those widely promoted for months by a noisy minority of radical American Jews. These "Israel bashers" now proudly proclaim that the new language being employed by Obama "echoes the vocabulary we use."

On the eve of Binyamin Netanyahu's arrival in Washington, a full page advertisement inserted by the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) appeared in The New York Times. Instead of the customary welcome message to a visiting prime minister or expressions of solidarity, it urged Obama to press Israel to make further unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, assuring him that in the event of a confrontation, he would enjoy the backing of most American Jews because "they are not Israelis living in exile." IPF's Washington director, M.J Rosenberg, issued a call to neutralize "the minority of Jews falsely" purporting to present the Jewish community as "blind supporters" of the Israeli government.

ISRAEL POLICY FORUM is only one of a cluster of radical left-wing organizations that have the chutzpa to describe themselves as lovers of Israel and even "Zionists," while actively lobbying the Obama administration to pressure Israel. They deviously sugarcoat their anti-Israeli campaigns by comparing themselves to parents whose children are drug addicts requiring "tough love" to force them to change their dangerous habits.These sentiments were effectively replicated in Obama's Cairo speech.

They were joined in April last year by J Street, a new group initially funded by the Jewish tycoon George Soros who had achieved notoriety for demonizing successive Israeli governments irrespective of their political leanings.

J Street and another radical group, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, proudly announced that they had succeeded in persuading 11,000 of their members to bombard the White House with e-mails urging Obama to stand firm against Netanyahu.

During the Gaza offensive, J Street condemned the action against Hamas as "disproportionate." Refusing to "pick a side" and identify "who was right and who was wrong," it applied moral equivalency to both parties proclaiming that "we recognize that neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right and wrong... While there is nothing 'right' in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing 'right' in punishing a million and a half already suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists amongst them."

J Street also opposes Israel's efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Despite the fact that Israelis of all political opinions are united on this issue, J Street members were e-mailed and urged to actively lobby against a bipartisan congressional resolution calling for tougher sanctions to be applied against Iran.

The radical groups also resurrected the bogus anti-Semitic charge of "dual loyalties," warning Jews that by continued "blind" support of Israel, they risked alienating the American public and would be condemned for displaying greater loyalty toward Israel than the US. They were almost hysterical in their condemnation of Jews who exercised their rights to protest against the proposed appointment of the fiercely anti-Israel Charles Freeman to head the National Security Agency. IPF spokesmen went so far as to explicitly state that being an anti-Israeli fanatic was insufficient grounds for barring a person from assuming a senior administration role.

If there was any doubt about J Street, its endorsement of the British anti-Semitic play Seven Jewish Children, effectively a contemporary blood libel, placed it squarely in the camp of those seeking to demonize the Jewish state. It justified its support on the grounds that the play would promote "rigorous intellectual engagement and civil debate on which our community prides itself."

J Street and IPF also seek to slander and undermine AIPAC, the highly effective pro-Israel lobby group, depicting it as an extreme right-wing and hawkish body although it has consistently promoted the policies of all Israeli governments, including the dovish administrations preceding Netanyahu.

IN AN ENVIRONMENT in which global anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel are beginning to make inroads into the United States, the potential of such radical groups to destabilize the standing of Israel should not be underestimated.

Never before has the Jewish community faced a situation in which organizations presenting themselves as Zionists shamelessly lobby their president to pressure the democratically elected government of the Jewish state to make concessions which could have life and death implications for its citizens.

Not that anti-Jewish Jews are a new phenomenon. Jewish communists were bitterly opposed to the campaign to liberate Soviet Jewry and defended state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. But they were marginalized and regarded as pariahs by the Jewish community.

The problem in the US is that the established Jewish leaders decided to ignore these organizations, mistakenly believing that confrontations would be construed as attempts to restrict freedom of expression and would transform the radicals into martyrs.

But the issue of freedom of expression is a red herring. Any Jew is entitled to express his beliefs, no matter how nauseating or deviant such views may appear to the majority. That certainly applies to those arguing in favor or in opposition to settlements. Surely the red lines are being crossed when, as distinct from expressing views, American based organizations claiming to "love" Israel aggressively lobby the US government to pressure it to make concessions that could place lives at risk. To tolerate such groups within the framework of the Jewish community provides them with an aura of respectability to which they are not entitled. Alas, today some of these groups already attend administration briefings on a par with the recognized mainstream organizations.

Furthermore, failure to confront these Israel bashers has already provided the general media with grounds to suggest that American Jewish support of Israel is collapsing. That has certainly encouraged the Obama administration to intensify its pressure on the Netanyahu government. It may also cause some weak-kneed Jews to distance themselves from Israel to avoid confronting a popular American president.

There are even ominous mutterings predicting a possible replay of what transpired during World War II, when fearing a confrontation and bedazzled by president Franklin Roosevelt, Jewish leaders lacked the courage to protest against the indifference of the US government to the Nazi extermination of the Jews.

Now, as never before, when the beleaguered State of Israel confronts Iran, potentially one of the greatest existential threats since its creation, the support of American Jews is crucial.

A united Jewish community should marginalize the anti-Israeli radicals and urge Obama (who received 80 percent of its votes) to stand by commitments made to Israel by previous US administrations in the same manner as the Netanyahu government is obliged to adhere to undertakings made by previous Israeli governments. A strong Jewish stand in this direction could effectively tip the balance in averting a catastrophic major rift between the US and Israel.


vrijdag 12 juni 2009

Obama over het recht op kernwapens van Iran

Als je er even over nadenkt, is het inderdaad een nogal vreemde uitspraak van Obama:
"No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons."
Vreemd dat dit zo weinig mensen is opgevallen.


Obama accidently abrogates America's right to oppose Iran's nuclear weapons
By Barry Rubin

"No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons." Thus spoke President Barack Obama in his Cairo speech. After a pause for contemplation, I respond, "Why the Hell not?"

Indeed this statement—like many in the speech (though there are some good ones, too) is so disastrous in its implications that the mind is boggled. A re-boggle occurs when things like this are allowed to pass by among people who should know better as acceptable or even as brilliant statesmanship.

Consider all the things wrong with Obama's sentence:

First, a nation, especially a great power, should certainly decide whether it wants certain nations to hold nuclear weapons. In effect, he sabotaged the United States by saying that it has no right to seek to deny Iran nuclear weapons. So why should there be any sanctions at all? He may not have intended it—but to attribute major policy statements of the president of the United States to ignorance is no compliment—but he said it.

Second, does this mean that a single nation can ally with other nations to pick and choose? After all, despite mythology, the previous Bush administration was extremely multilateral in its policy toward Iran's nuclear weapons. It actually delegated the diplomacy to Britain, France, and Germany who tried but failed completely. So is Obama implying that if you get a UN resolution then that's ok?

Third, it is horrifyingly a repeal of any counter-proliferation policy. The United States thus has no right to pick and choose against North Korea, or Cuba, or Venezuela or just about anyone else from having nuclear weapons.

Yet, of course, Obama is committed to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, isn't he? So how can one reconcile this contradiction?

Such statements, which transcend specific declared policies, are signs of an ideology that abdicates America's leadership role in the world, abandoning everything we should have learned from the 1930s and seemed to have learned since December 7, 1941. Obama says, in effect, that America is not moral or wise enough to tell others what they should do (except Israel, of course). Forget about George W. Bush, this is a betrayal of everything Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton believed and practiced.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton must be spinning in her limousine seat.

Is America a free, successful, democratic country whose stances for freedom and decency give it a right as a "single nation" to fight regimes and movements which are murderous, dictatorial, and brutal?
Well, it's all relative, isn't it (and this is an undercurrent in Obama's world view)? How dare we say that the United States is "better" as a society and government than that which prevails in Iran or Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or North Korea? Doesn't America have its sins? (Yes, but they are far smaller in recent decades and it has worked hard to correct them.)

What, one might ask, does a "single nation" have the right to do, assuming that the nation is the United States? Answer: apologize, listen, and show respect for others.

Incredibly destructive change you can believe in. Yes we can…demolish the influence of the United States, the greatest hope for peace, stability, and progress among the best elements in the world.
Now the greatest hope is either that Obama learns better, he is persuaded by more knowledgeable members of the administration, or November 2012, whichever comes first.

Of course, there is an element of exaggeration in what I've written here. But it is shocking how accurate it is nonetheless. Ignorance, inexperience, and an extremely destructive ideology are very much present.

Here's the best responce of all to Obama's Cairo speech. It comes in private conversation with an Arab Muslim whose country is ruled by a dictatorship:

"We don't want Obama to act like a Muslim or Arab," he said, "We want him to act like an American."

Netanyahu houdt zondag toespraak over Routekaart naar Vrede

Zal hij het zeggen of niet? Zal hij de magische woorden 'Palestijnse staat' uitspreken? Terwijl iedereen daarop wacht, schijnt niemand het een probleem te vinden dat Abbas blijft weigeren de magische woorden 'Joodse staat' uit te spreken, met de flauwe smoes dat Israel zelf moet weten hoe het zich noemt en hij daarmee de Arabieren in Israel zou afvallen.
Volgens dit artikel zal Netanjahoe geen bevriezing van de nederzettingen aankondigen, maar wel met een compromis komen.
Sources close to Netanyahu maintain that he will try to reach a tacit understanding with U.S. President Barack Obama on the suspension of construction for a specific period of time.
Dat betekent dat hij in feite doet wat de VS willen, maar voor een bepaalde tijd waarbinnen men dan waarschijnlijk ook stappen van de Palestijnen verwacht. Deze flexibele opstelling is een grote vooruitgang.
Last update - 07:32 11/06/2009       
Netanyahu's speech: Yes to road map, no to settlement freeze
By Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce in his foreign policy speech scheduled for Sunday the adoption of the road map and the "two-state solution" for settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to sources close to the prime minister. The sources said the speech will "revolve around the road map."
Netanyahu will present a few conditions for the implementation of the road map, above all a Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. He will also demand that the future Palestinian state be demilitarized.
The prime minister will propose the immediate renewal of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the basis of a formula that will allow for self-government as long as the Palestinians do not endanger Israel.
In the speech at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, Netanyahu will discuss at length the opportunity that has been created for cooperation between Israel and the Arab states in light of shared concerns about Iran's nuclear program.
Netanyahu will propose a regional process in which Arab states will initiate the normalization of ties with Israel, in parallel to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The final draft of the speech will only be completed over the weekend.
President Shimon Peres is to meet with Netanyahu today to persuade him to adopt more moderate views regarding the Palestinians. Netanyahu is also to submit a draft of the speech to Defense Minister Ehud Barak tomorrow.
In his speech Sunday, at a bastion of Israel's national-religious movement, Netanyahu will declare that the settlements in the West Bank are not an obstacle to peace.
In recent days Netanyahu has asked his aides to collect data on the settlements. Sources close to the prime minister said Netanyahu will not announce during his speech a freeze on construction in the settlements, as the United States has insisted Israel must do.
Channel 2 news reported Wednesday that Netanyahu has evaluated a number of ways of freezing settlement construction, including issuing a temporary (several months) hold on new construction starts in return for reciprocal measures on the part of the Palestinians and Arab states. Another option is declaring a freeze on construction in Jerusalem, or in the settlement blocs, but these are not expected to be mentioned in the speech.
Sources close to Netanyahu maintain that he will try to reach a tacit understanding with U.S. President Barack Obama on the suspension of construction for a specific period of time.
The differences in the positions of Israel and the U.S. on building in in the settlements narrowed in the wake of talks between U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell and Netanyahu Tuesday. The prime minister and his aides presented a proposal to break down the issue of natural growth in the settlements according to various types of construction, such as new building, the expansion of existing structures and the construction of public housing.
A Jerusalem source said the talks, which lasted about four hours, "resulted in a great deal of progress," as a result of the more flexible proposals put forth by Netanyahu on the settlements.
A senior Washington source confirmed that progress had been achieved, but stressed that "our position on the need to cease settlement construction has not been altered at all. The talks were good and we will continue in a few days."
The Prime Minister's Bureau refused to comment.

Zeven Joodse kinderen

Ook in Nederland is dit korte toneelstuk opgevoerd. Het roept inderdaad discussie op, en de setting is interessant: Joodse ouders die met elkaar praten over wat ze hun kinderen wel en niet moeten vertellen over Israel en het conflict, maar het gaat weer eens alleen over (vermeende) Israelische wandaden en hoe de ouders daarmee worstelen. Daarbij wordt een karikatuur gemaakt van Israel en de geschiedenis. Het vreemde is, dat dit soort dingen altijd alleen worden gemaakt over Israel. De Arabieren en Palestijnen hebben blijkbaar geen kritiek en zelfreflectie nodig, hun daden dienen niet kritisch tegen het licht te worden gehouden, zij kunnen hun kinderen zonder problemen in de ogen kijken en over het land, het conflict en het verleden vertellen...

Racist "Peace" promotion

Following is the English part of a message circulated by Gush Shalom, promoting the anti-Semitic play Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill. The showing of the play is sponsored by the Jewish women for peace coalition. The message of the play is that Jewish parents are murderers, and that they lie to their children about their murder activities. Jews believe they are "chosen" people according to the play and cover up their theft of Arab land. Jews come on Aliya and tell their children lies about Israel and so on.
This play is surely no less racist than Geert Wilders' film about Islam, yet WIlders' film is generally shunned and no "peace" groups would ever sponsor it. How can we excuse the fact that these groups, Gush Shalom and the "Coalition of Women for Peace" get money to promote peace and understanding, and instead promote racist incitement?
A sample of the dialogue:

Tell her it's the land God gave us

Dont tell her religion

Tell her her great great great great lots of greats grandad lived there

Dont tell her he was driven out

Tell her, of course tell her, tell her everyone was driven out and the country is waiting

for us to come home

Dont tell her she doesnt belong here


Tell her about Jerusalem.


Dont tell her who used to live in this house

No but dont tell her her great great grandfather used to live in this house

No but dont tell her Arabs used to sleep in her bedroom


Tell her again this is our promised land.

Dont tell her they said it was a land without people


Tell her it's not the water for their fields

Dont tell her anything about water.

Dont tell her about the bulldozer

Dont tell her not to look at the bulldozer

Dont tell her it was knocking the house down

Tell her it's a building site


Dont tell her how many of them have been killed

Tell her the Hamas fighters have been killed

Tell her they're terrorists

Tell her they're filth


Dont tell her about the family of dead girls

Tell her you cant believe what you see on television

Tell her we killed the babies by mistake

Dont tell her anything about the army

Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldnt she know? tell her there's dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she's got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I'm not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they cant talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her we wont stop killing them till we're safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they're animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldnt care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I dont care if the world hates us, tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it's not her.

Coalition of Women for Peace invites you to the play
Seven Jewish Children (A Play for Gaza)
Play by: Caryl Churchill
From English: Shimon Levy, Uri Shani

Thursday, 11.6.09, 7 pm, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

The play has been translated into Hebrew and will be performed in Tel Aviv directed by Samieh Jabbarin - a Palestinian political prisoner. The Tel Aviv staging of Caryl Churchill's short play - written in record time by the highly esteemed British play-write in the midst of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza last winter will protest the two year anniversary of the Siege of Gaza and 42 years since the 1967 occupation.

Tell her it's a game
Tell her it's serious
But dont frighten her
Dont tell her they'll kill her

Actresses: Sarah von Schwartze, Gabby Eldor, Samah Wakim and others

Director: Samieh Jabbarin

Initiative: Tamara Schreiber and Rachel Avileah
Artistic Designer: Anisa Ashkar
Music: Deerar Kalash (Saxophone)
Production: Inna Michaeli, Lana Khaskia, Eilat Maoz
Special Thanks to: Adi Maoz, Raja Zoubi Omri

The play was first staged in English on February 6th 2009 in the Royal Court Theater in London

Caryl Churchill (1938) is a British feminist and anti-capitalist playwright who has written dozens of plays including: Top Girls, Owners, Cloud Nine and Far Away.

Spectatorship is free. According to the terms of copyright, all contributions will be donated to MAP – Medical Aid for Palestinians, which supplies humanitarian aid and advocates for policy change in Britain.


VS met $ 55.000.000 grootste donateur van UNRWA

Naast al haar goede en noodzakelijke werk voor de vluchtelingen heeft UNRWA ook een politieke agenda: het steunt het zogenaamde 'recht op terugkeer' van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen en hun nakomelingen, en voert geen projecten uit die gericht zijn op permanente huisvesting van de vluchtelingen. In educatieve activiteiten van UNRWA komt dit ook tot uitdrukking.
UNRWA wordt bijna geheel door Palestijnen gerund, waaronder ook aanhangers van Hamas, en woordvoerders van UNRWA staan bekend om hun anti-Israelische uitspraken. Begrijpelijk misschien als je dagelijks in de vluchtelingenkampen werkt, maar daarmee diskwalificeert UNRWA zich als onpartijdige instantie die objectieve informatie geeft.

U.S. Government Contributes $55 million to UNRWA
Date : 10/6/2009   Time : 15:43

RAMALLAH, June 10, 2009 (WAFA - PLO news agency)- The U.S Government made, at the bi-annual meeting in Amman of the Advisory Commission (AdCom) for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the U.S. Head of Delegation to the AdCom,  Liana Brooks-Rubin announced, a contribution of $55.3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)'s General Fund, bringing the total 2009 U.S. contribution to UNRWA to $154.5 million.

During her announcement, Brooks-Rubin commented that "The United States remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian conditions facing Palestinian refugees."  She noted that "The United States is a strong supporter of UNRWA, the primary provider of health care, education, housing, and humanitarian assistance to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.  The assistance is a key factor contributing to stability in the region."

UNRWA Commissioner General Abu Zayd thanked the U.S. government for its $55 million contribution in response to its extraordinary appeal to donors this year saying, "we are immensely grateful to the United States government for its generous and prompt contribution.  It is a fine example of the American commitment to supporting UNRWA and improving the daily lives of Palestine refugees throughout the region."

The American contribution to UNRWA's General Fund will allow the Agency to deliver health, education, and relief services to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the region.  The $154.5 million that the U.S. has already contributed to UNRWA  in 2009 includes $116 million for UNRWA's General Fund supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria; and $38.5 million for UNRWA's 2009 West Bank and Gaza emergency activities.

Of the U.S. contribution, $195,000 will go towards educational field trips to the United States for UNRWA students in Gaza and another $250,000 to assist herding communities at risk of displacement in the West Bank. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State approved a grant of $535,000 to support the reconstruction of the UNRWA Health Clinic in Jenin refugee camp.

The United States is UNRWA's largest bilateral donor.  In 2008, the United States provided $184.7 million to UNRWA, including $99.9 million to its General Fund, and  $84.8 million to its Emergency Appeals in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon.

Bewaker gedood bij aanval neonazi in Holocaust museum VS

Dit was een extremist en een extreem voorval, maar er zijn helaas genoeg mensen met dergelijke walgelijke ideeën.
Hoe de man door de zware beveiliging kwam is overigens een raadsel.

Neo-Nazi opens fire at U.S. Holocaust Museum
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies

An elderly white supremacist opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum early Wednesday afternoon, gravely wounding a security guard before two other officers returned fire.

The assailant and his victim were both hospitalized. Police named the gunman as James Von Brunn, an 89-year-old linked a Web site advocating
anti-government and anti-Jewish sentiments. A law enforcement official said Von Brunn's vehicle was found near the Washington, D.C. museum and tested for explosives.

The assailant was in critical condition, said Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty. Police chief Kathy Lanier said the gunman appeared to have acted alone.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter told CNN a third person was hurt after being cut by broken glass.

The museum normally has a heavy security presence with guards positioned both inside and outside. All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.

It was not immediately known whether the gunman made it through the detectors before opening fire. He was engaged by security guards immediately after entering the door, Police chief Lanier said.

The museum, located just off the National Mall near the Washington Monument, is a popular tourist attraction. It draws about 1.7 million visitors each year.

Roads surrounding the museum were closed just after the attack.

U.S. President Barack Obama said immediately following the incident that he was saddened by the attack and concerned for the health of the wounded guard.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters he gave Obama the facts as they were known at the time, shortly after shots were fired. The White House is receiving regular updates from the FBI, Homeland Security Council and the Situation Room, said Gibbs.

The Embassy of Israel release a statement following the incident saying it was "shocked and saddened by today's shooting incident at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The Embassy of Israel condemns this attack and is closely following the situation."

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

"That today's shooting at the United States Holocaust Museum should take place at a site expressly created to teach the world about the destruction and devastation brought about by human evil deepens the resonance of this terrible act."

Washington Mayor Fenty called the attack "an extremely isolated incident."

"In these days and times you never know when someone is going to grab a gun and use it in an inappropriate way as was done today," he said.

Stephanie Geraghty, 28, who had been visiting the museum, said the shooter appeared to be a white male carrying a silver gun.

"I heard the first shot, it sounded like something had been dropped from the upper stories down," she told Reuters. "The next two came really fast - bam bam. At that point everyone took off, chaos, running."

A woman whose teenaged daughter was visiting the museum at the time of the shooting said that the children heard several gunshots before they were evacuated from the building.

Sandy Perkins says her daughter, Abigail, called her shortly after the shooting and said some of her friends were very shaken, but otherwise were fine.

The teens did not see where the shots were coming from before they were safely evacuated to buses outside the museum.

Von Brunn being investigated as the prime suspect in the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, according to unnamed law enforcement agents, but officials have declined to publicly confirm him as their suspect.

According to Joseph Persichini, assistant director in charge of the Washington FBI field office, authorities have dispatched people to a suspect's home to check his computer. He said they are investigating this as a possible hate crime or domestic terrorism.

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book called Kill the Best Gentile.

In 1983, Von Brunn was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun.

At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.

On his Web site, Von Brunn says he was a PT boat captain in the U.S. Navy.

Last update - 16:19 11/06/2009
Holocaust Museum: No words to express our grief and shock 
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies

The United States Holocaust Museum Director on Thursday expressed her shock at the fatal shooting that took place at the museum the day before, saying "obviously, there are no words to express our grief and shock."

Sara Bloomfield described Stephen T. Johns, the security guard killed when a neo-Nazi opened fire in the museum as "a great friend who greeted us every day with a wonderful smile - and he will be missed."

The Museum will be closed Thursday in tribute to Johns; Holocaust Museum director Sara Bloomfield said that flags at the museum have been lowered to half-staff in honor of the slain.

Johns, who is African-American and a 1988 graduate of Crossland High School in Maryland, worked for Wackenhut Services Inc., which has contracted security services at the museum since 2002, according to a company statement. Johns had been posted at the museum since joining the firm in 2003. The museum has about 70 officers and supervisors on the force.

U.S. President Barack Obama and others commended the work of Johns and the other guards.

"We have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance," Obama said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time."

Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty also had words of praise.

"The men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line to ensure our safety are truly heroes, and I am deeply saddened that this senseless act of violence threatened the safety of our community," Fenty said in a statement.

The security guard died of his wounds in hospital a few hours after the attack and the assailant was listed in critical condition.

Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the gunman was engaged by security guards immediately after entering the door with a rifle. The second he stepped into the building he began firing.

donderdag 11 juni 2009

Barak roept Netanjahoe op de tweestatenoplossing te omarmen

Het beleid van de Arbeidspartij voor dummies?
When we [in Israel] said we are not taking any options off the table, it's like a hint that we are also considering other things, without talking about them, and we mean it. But because there are cameras and recording equipment here, I cannot say any more than that."
Barak durft de term "tweestatenoplossing" in elk geval wel in de mond te nemen en steunt de initiatieven van Obama. Zelfs de extremist Lieberman is voor een tweestatenoplossing. Het wachten is op een duidelijke uitspraak van Netanjahoe....

Barak urges PM to endorse 2 states

Jun. 10, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to publicly embrace the Road Map and accept US President Barack Obama's Middle East peace initiative.

Speaking to junior high school students in the Knesset, Barak said that Labor had joined the coalition based on the understanding that Netanyahu was committed to previous agreements and would see it as his duty to promote the peace process.

He told the children he hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would say "things that will allow us to continue on the path laid down by Obama," during a major policy address the prime minister is due to give on Sunday.

"You know the government is made up of several parties. Our party, the Labor party, joined the government, among other reasons, because we agreed that this government will abide by all agreements made by previous governments. That's why we think we should clearly state that we commend President Obama's initiative, that we are committed to the Road Map and that we want two states for two peoples, all this without compromising on our security concerns."

Barak also referred to Obama's recent speech to the Arab world from Cairo. "We may not like every word and maybe if one of you or me would have written it, we would have written it in a way which emphasizes our place here in Israel and in history…. But it was still a speech made in Cairo and intended for the Arab world, and it was important because he still told them important things about our place here and about the need to abandon the path of violence and make peace."

Moving on to the Iranian nuclear issue, Barak said it was "a very serious threat, and all indicators show they are building a nuclear weapon, they are trying to hide it by saying they only want to build power plants. It is their right to claim this, but it is a bit of a funny claim when they have a lot of oil and produce some three million oil barrels a day. They hide their [nuclear] program behind a civilian program and that's why it's very hard to prove [they are building nuclear weapons].

"Now the Obama administration said it wants to talk to the Iranians, try a 'good' approach, as they say. We can't tell them, 'Don't do it,' but we say we believe this dialogue should be short and to the point and that they shouldn't let the Iranians fool them and string them along. When we [in Israel] said we are not taking any options off the table, it's like a hint that we are also considering other things, without talking about them, and we mean it. But because there are cameras and recording equipment here, I cannot say any more than that."

On Tuesday, after meeting with Obama's Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Barak said Israel should cooperate with the US president in seeking an all-inclusive regional accord.

Barak called Obama's efforts to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict "an exceptional opportunity," and said it would be right for Israel to adequately consider its path and properly navigate inside this series of challenges and opportunities."

"It would not be right for Israel to get in the way of American efforts to form a Palestinian state according to the vision of two states for two peoples," Barak said.

Europese Joden bezorgd om winst extreemrechts bij verkiezingen EP

De winst van extreem rechtse en nationalistische partijen, waaronder de PVV, is inderdaad zorgelijk en ook beangstigend. Dat Wilders het voor Israel zegt op te nemen doet daar niks aan af. Het Israel dat hij als ideaalbeeld heeft is een Israel waarin de meeste Joden waarschijnlijk niet willen wonen.

Jews: Far-right gains in Europe alarming

Jun. 9, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST


Jewish groups across Europe reacted to far-right gains in the European parliamentary elections by urging the EU on Tuesday to do more to tackle racism and intolerance.

The European Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish communities across Europe, said winning seats in the European Parliament based on "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic platforms" pointed to an erosion of tolerance.

Results of voting for a new European Union assembly showed that far-right parties in the Netherlands, Britain, Austria, Hungary, Denmark and Romania posted significant victories.

In a statement, the Paris-based Jewish Congress called that a "clarion call" for the EU to tackle racism and intolerance through legislation and dialogue.

"Europeans of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religions are looking to our elected officials to unite, rather than divide us," it said.

The congress also said the victory of groups using racist and xenophobic platforms "belies a disturbing acquiescence of government to this type of incitement and a need for immediate action and education."

It said it was troubled by the fact that far-right forces did better than in the last EU assembly elections in 2004 and that they were scattered across the 27-nation EU.

"The success of such rabid groups as The Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party in Austria... the British National Party, and Jobbik in Hungary, among others, will sadly only serve to embolden those who espouse the dangerous concepts of extreme nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia," the congress said.

It urged the European Parliament and the European Commission, the EU executive, to work for effective anti-racism legislation.

VS willen binnen 2 jaar oplossing Israelisch-Palestijns conflict

Onlangs nog verijdelde Fatah een zelfmoordaanslag van Hamas tegen haar politiemacht op de Westoever. Beide partijen hebben tientallen, zo niet honderden leden van de ander gearresteerd. Maar tegen Egypte zeggen ze allebei dat ze hun conflict op willen lossen. Of dat voor 7 juli gaat lukken is zeer twijfelachtig. Voor wie denkt dat deze inter-Palestijnse strijd een zionistisch plot is: deze strijd gaat terug tot de jaren '30 van de vorige eeuw en de grote Arabische opstand van 1936-1939, waarin de radikale Husseini clan het gematigdere leiderschap voor een groot deel vermoordde.

U.S. Plan to End Palestinian/Israeli Conflict within Two Years- Egyptian Sources
Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive
By Salaah jum'ah in Cairo and Saleh al Naeimi in Gaza

Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that during the Egyptian delegation's visit to Washington on 26 May, the US briefed Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu el Gheit, on what Egyptian sources described as "a plan to end the Palestinian /Israeli conflict within two years on the basis of a two state solution." Washington then called for a swift response from the Arab side.

The source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that "the US officials also informed the Egyptian delegation that they had notified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the plan during his recent visit to Washington, and they had called on him to provide a response within six weeks."

The source added that the Egyptian political leadership sensed that Obama was extremely serious [about achieving peace in the Middle East], and that the only obstacle to this is the inter-Palestinian division. Egypt therefore has decided to consult with a number of Arab leaders in order to heal the Palestinian rift as soon as possible. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has assigned the task of ending the Palestinian division to Egyptian Intelligence Minister General Omar Suleiman, who informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the situation. Abbas then sent a high-level delegation headed by former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to Cairo. Egypt also asked Hamas leader Khalid Mishal to attend inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, in order to put a timetable in place with regards ending inter-Palestinian division so that the Arabs are ready to enter negotiations [to end the Palestinian - Israeli conflict].

An emergency meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers is also scheduled to take place on 17 June whose main agenda will be to provide support to Egyptian efforts to end the inter-Palestinian division.

A high ranking Egyptian official revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that "Egyptian Intelligence chief, Minister Omar Suleiman is set to meet a Hamas delegation.led by Khalid Mishal in Cairo today." He added that this was "part of the Egyptian efforts to end the inter-Palestinian division, in order to pave the way for political the political process."

The source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that "Egypt will continue to consult and communicate with all Palestinian factions and groups over the coming stage, in the context of maintaining the momentum on issues of [Palestinian] national dialogue, creating a final agreement on Palestinian reconciliation [to be announced] in Cairo on 7 July, which will pave the way for the political process."

For his part, deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that communication between his movement and Egypt are currently underway at the highest level with regards to resuming [Palestinian] national dialogue, and discussing the contentious issues between the Palestinian factions. During a visit to a Palestinian school where secondary school exams are currently underway throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh spoke of his hope that the talks would put an end to inter-Palestinian division, especially following the events of Qalqilya [where armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah resulted in six fatalities].

Hamas announced that its delegation would be made up of members of both the Syrian and Gazan branches of the movement, and would be led by Khalid Mishal. The delegation is due to meet with Egyptian intelligence Chief General Omar Suleiman in the Egyptian capital later today.

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said "the delegation will discuss the recent deaths of resistance the security apparatus in the West Bank, as well as the issue of [Palestinian] dialogue." He added that along with Khalid Mishal "the movement's delegation is made up of Deputy Chairman Mousa Abu Marzook, Eyad Abu al-Nasr, as well as two members of the political bureau of the Gaza branch." Taha expected the meeting between General Suleiman and the Hamas delegation to take place later today.

Taha also denied that Hamas had threatened to withdraw from participating in the meeting. He said that Hamas's position with regards to this is yet to be resolved, but should the [Fatah affiliated] security apparatus continue to attack the resistance, whether by arrest or assassination, then Hamas would withdraw.

A Fatah delegation led by Ahmed Qurei, and including the leader of the Fatah parliamentary bloc Azzam al-Ahmed, visited Cairo on Sunday and met with General Omar Suleiman where they discussed ways to end the Palestinian division, as well as addressing issues that emerged recently as a result of tension between Hamas and Fatah.

Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, renewed his support of Egypt's efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation. In a press statement, Moussa described these efforts as being vital to the Palestinians, and said that the Palestinian factions have a responsibility to reconcile quickly, especially in light of the clear international developments with regards to the Arab - Israeli conflict.

The Egyptian source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that "Egypt is keen on ending the division as quickly as possible in light of the new US political discourse on achieving peace in the region, and President Obama's assurances of starting up the peace process as soon as possible in order to achieve a Palestinian state."
The Hamas delegation is comprised of Mousa Abu Marzook and Mohamed Nasr from the Syrian branch of Hamas, and Mahmoud al-Zahar and Nizar Awadallah of the Gaza branch. The delegation is led by exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mishal.

A senior Fatah official revealed that Cairo will invite Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo over the coming days in order to resolve inter-Palestinian division before 5 July. All factions will then be invited to endorse the outcome of the dialogue which will be announced to the public on 7 July.

The official added "The three remaining issues on the Palestinian dialogue agenda are; the electoral system, the formation of the joint [Palestinian] security force, and the formation of the [political] factional committee which will be led by President Mahmoud Abbas."

Gay Pride in Israel

Hoewel er in Israel ook wel verzet tegen is, hebben homo's er relatief veel vrijheden, en is hun positie vergelijkbaar met die in Westerse landen. Onder de Palestijnse Autoriteit en zeker onder Hamas is dat wel anders. Dat is een van de dingen die het zo vreemd maakt dat progressieven zo met de Palestijnen sympathiseren. Hetzelfde geldt voor vrouwenrechten, rechten van (religieuze) minderheden en dissidenten, vrijheid van meningsuiting etc. Hamas is een bijzonder reactionaire beweging, waarin een kleine groep autoritaire mannen het voor het zeggen heeft.
One of the most interesting and unfathomable phenomena of Israel hate, next to anti-Zionist Jews, are groups like "Queers for Palestine." When they are Jewish as well, it is really disconcerting. It is highly recommended to those people to hold a gay pride parade in Gaza city. Go on. I dare you. Israel's record on gay rights is outstanding, but it hasn't earned it much support from the gay community. The effort described below sounds good, but it takes for granted that gay people know about the situation of gay rights or lack of them in Arab society and particularly in Hamas controlled Gaza. Evidently they do not.
Gay pride being used to promote Israel abroad
Jun. 7, 2009
A group of prominent gay opinion-shapers from around the world are to visit Israel to grapple with the country's sexuality issues on a five-day seminar centering around Tel Aviv's gay pride parade, scheduled for Friday.
iPride, a project created by international Israel advocacy organization Stand With Us, will begin on Wednesday and focus on showing participants a side to Israel that does not revolve around "conflict" in the traditional military sense.
Instead, the group will hear from speakers discussing the issue of sexuality within Israeli institutions such as government, the IDF and Israeli film, and discover more about Israel's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The event will bring together around 15 magazine editors, reporters, academics and activists from Harvard, Berlin, the UK, Spain and Italy, including Queer Eye for the Straight Guy presenter Brian Kelly. Speakers at the seminar will include influential figures from Israel's LGBT community, such as Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz and movie producer and Kochav Nolad ("A Star is Born") TV judge Gal Uchovsky.
The idea is to improve Israel's image across the globe, according to Noa Meir, coordinator of iPride. Meir is participating in the Stand With Us fellowship program, which recruits 20 people on the Tel Aviv University campus and 150 students from around Israel in an effort to groom the country's future leaders.
"We decided to improve Israel's image through the gay community in Israel; we found that the issue is not familiar around the world," said Meir, whose team members are all heterosexual.
Although the event deliberately avoids the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the idea for the project was partly inspired by reactions to Operation Cast Lead - specifically one incident in San Francisco which saw a gay group identifying with the Palestinian cause and publicly calling to "free the gays in Israel."
"We know that gays around the world are liberal usually and they tend to identify with the Palestinians," explained Meir, "and we find it a bit ironic because you can't really be gay in the Palestinian territories."
However, Meir stressed that iPride reaches beyond the conflict and instead looks at being gay in Israel, "for better or for worse."
The group is being taken to Jerusalem next Sunday, for example, to examine the controversy that sexuality issues arouse in the capital.
A panel discussion will be held there that will debate whether an annual gay pride parade should take place in the holy city.
"Our mission is education and we want to work with different communities and populations in order to talk about issues that matter to them, and relate them to the Israel that we know and love," said Michael Dickson, director of the international Stand With Us office in Israel.
"We're glad to have the opportunity to do what hasn't been done enough, which is to reach out to the gay community and have them see, hear and experience Israel for themselves."
iPride has received some opposition however, though not from the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Foreign Ministry, the Tel Aviv University Student Union or the National Union of Israeli Students, which all support the seminar through cooperation or sponsorship, but from some of the Tel Aviv transgender community.
Meir and her fellowship team invited some transgender figures to sit on a panel, but the offer was not just refused, but condemned, though Meir is uncertain why. More recently, however, one transgender individual has agreed to represent that community in the Jerusalem debate.
During the seminar, the group will also attend Israel's 11th Gay Pride Parade, tour Tel Aviv's gay nightlife spots and Jerusalem's Old City. The tours and discussions are all due to be featured in a documentary about iPride, hosted by Brian Kelly for Channel 4 in the UK.
"We're hoping to show that Israel is a liberal country, a multicultural, pluralistic country," emphasized Meir. "That is a side of Israel we are very proud of and that we think should be shown around the world.
"Unfortunately it's a side that doesn't get enough attention… As far as a lot of people are concerned, Israel is Gaza and the West Bank and tanks, and they don't see the beautiful culture and the liberal side."