Israel Lobby and Jew-Zionist conspiracy now aligned with left
Jewish power drove Sotomayor pick, racists say
Deze blog is bedoeld voor commentaren over het Israëlisch-Palestijnse conflict en de berichtgeving en discussie hierover in Nederland.
Jewish power drove Sotomayor pick, racists say
US President Barack Obama, while saying for a second time on Monday that there was "positive movement" in Netanyahu's speech, called once again at a press conference in the White House, alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for a "cessation of settlements."
"And there is a tendency to try to parse exactly what this means," Obama said, "but I think the parties on the ground understand that if you have a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorized as illegal, that's going to be an impediment to progress."
Leave aside for now the famously accomplished speaker Barack Obama's sudden inability to distinguish between nouns and verbs, first apparent in his Cairo speech where he said that "It is time for these settlements to stop" stop doing what? and yet again when he calls for a "cessation of settlements" and opposes a "continuation" of them.
Let's go from the abstract to the concrete and talk about settlements.
Kfar Etzion is a 'settlement': it is east of the 1949 armistice line which is also called the 'Green Line'. Here is an excerpt from something I wrote about it last December ("No room for Jews"):
One of the places that the Palestinians do not wish to compromise on is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Part of the Palestine Mandate from 1917 to 1948, and the Ottoman empire before that, it was purchased from local Arabs and settled by Yemenite Jews in 1927. They lived there on and off (they were driven out several times by Arab riots) until 1948 when the invading Jordanian army overran it and executed all but four of its defenders. All of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made Jew-free by the Jordanians, who illegally occupied the area until 1967, when the kibbutz was reestablished.
So what I am asking Obama to explain is exactly how is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion illegal?
And consider another 'settlement', the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Jews had lived there from biblical times, but here is how it became free of Jews in 1948:
In 1948 during the Arab-Israeli War, its population of about 2,000 Jews was besieged, and forced to leave en masse. Colonel Abdullah el-Tal, local commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion, with whom Mordechai Weingarten negotiated the surrender terms, described the destruction of the Jewish Quarter, in his Memoirs (Cairo, 1959):
" The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion . I knew that the Jewish Quarter was densely populated with Jews who caused their fighters a good deal of interference and difficulty . I embarked, therefore, on the shelling of the Quarter with mortars, creating harassment and destruction . Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become their graveyard. Death and destruction reigned over it . As the dawn of Friday, May 28, 1948, was about to break, the Jewish Quarter emerged convulsed in a black cloud - a cloud of death and agony."
How can it be that it is in Obama's view illegal for Jews to live in the ancient Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem?
In general, how is it that the 19-year Jordanian and Egyptian occupation managed to transform parts of Mandatory Palestine into places like Saudi Arabia, where Jews are forbidden to live?
Explain this, Mr. Obama. And while you're at it, explain the significance since it is obviously not an accident of your strange and ungrammatical way of talking about settlements.
-- Vic Rosenthal
[TEHRAN BUREAU] Much has been said about the outcome of the Iranian presidential election, which took place last Friday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that the vote counting was honest. The reformists' supporters hotly dispute that. Extra ammunition has been provided to those who believe that the President was the true victor by the results of a poll taken by the Center for Public Opinion and the New American Foundation between from May 11-20, 2009, asking 1001 Iranians living in Iran for whom they would vote.
According to the poll, 34% of the respondents said that they would vote for the President, while 14% said that they would vote for the main reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister.
So, who is right?
There is much evidence to support those who believe that the vote counting was fraudulent.
Let us begin with the American poll. According to the poll, 77% of the respondents said that they want the Supreme Leader to be elected directly by the people; 74% favor full inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities to ensure that it will not be used for non-peaceful purposes; 77% favor normal trade with, and full recognition by the United States; 68% favor Iran's government to help the U.S. in Iraq, and 52% favor recognition of Israel in return for U.S. recognition and open trade. Who espouses such policies? The reformists, not President Ahmadinejad.
90% of the respondents thought that the economy should be the top priority of their government. How has Mr. Ahmadinejad's economic performance been (aside from distributing cash among the poor in the last month of the campaign)? Dismal! Unemployment, inflation, and the costs of housing, fuel, and food have all skyrocketed since 2005.
Then, why is it that, while agreeing overwhelmingly with what the reformists advocate, a plurality of the respondents said that they would vote for the President? The answer lies in the Iranian culture. Iranians are notoriously secretive about their political opinions when they talk to strangers, especially when they are called over the phone. In a country where social and political repression has increased dramatically under Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people are terrified by the possible consequences of honest answers, especially with respect to their preferred candidate.
Moreover, the poll was finished on May 20, and that was just before the campaigns were taking off. There was a dramatic increase in the support for Mr. Mousavi (as well as Mr. Mahdi Karroubi, the 2nd reformist candidate) only in the last three weeks of the election.
Let us now take a look at the historical trends. In the first round of the 2005 election there were four candidates who belonged to the reformist/pragmatic camp, namely, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Messrs Karroubi, Mostafa Moeen and Mohsen Mehralizadeh. Together, they collected 57% of the votes cast. Internal polls by the reformists in the last days of the election had indicated that Mr. Mousavi would receive about the same percentage of the vote, plus another 17% for Mr. Karroubi, but the two supposedly received only 35% of the votes. This is against the historical trends in Iran. Let me explain.
In 2005 about 63% of the eligible voters cast their votes, which is typical turnout for Iranian presidential elections. In last Friday's elections, 82% of the eligible voters voted. Based on the historical trends we know that dramatic increases in voting participation benefit the reformists almost exclusively, because a surge in participation is usually due to the fact that liberal-minded Iranians who are not happy with the political system and, therefore, do not always vote, have decided to participate.
For example, in 1997, 80% of the voters cast their votes and elected Mohammad Khatami in a landslide; and in 2000 their votes reflected a reformist-dominated 6th Majles (parliament).
Another good piece of evidence for this claim is that, all the political groups that had boycotted the 2005 elections, but had declared that they would vote this time — that is, most, if not all, of the additional 19% — supported one of the two reformist candidates.
Let us take up another fact regarding elections trends in Iran. 45% of Iran's population is made of ethnic minorities. For example, the Azeri population makes up about 24% of the population. Ethnic minorities always vote overwhelmingly for one of their own, if a viable candidate of their own is running in the election. An example is the votes that Mr. Mehralizadeh, an Azeri, received in 2005 which were almost exclusively by the Azeri population. The votes that Dr. Ali Larijani, a conservative and the present Speaker of the Majles, received in the 2005 presidential election were mostly from the Mazandaran province, his birth place. Mr. Mousavi is an Azeri, and was greeted by huge rallies everywhere he went in the Azerbaijan province and spoke Turkish (the language of the Azeri people). Why should this election be any different? Was Mr. Mousavi unable to defeat Mr. Ahmadinejad even in his home turf?
Likewise, Mr. Karroubi is a Lur, and he received the overwhelming votes of the Luri people, as well as a significant fraction of the Kurdish vote in the 2005 election (the Kurds constitute 7% of the population). At that time, he received a little over 17% of the votes. Many of the groups that had boycotted the 2005 election had declared their support for Mr. Karroubi. So, what is the explanation for the dramatic drop in his vote to only about 280,000 votes this time?
It is often said that Mr. Ahmadinejad is popular in the poor rural areas of Iran. Assuming that it is true, only 35% of the population lives in such areas. So, even if Mr. Ahmadinejad were able to attract an overwhelming 80% of these votes, that could still account for no more 1/3 of the votes that he supposedly received. In addition, even in smaller towns Messrs Mousavi was always greeted by huge crowds.
The day after the election some Iranian university students plotted the total numbers of votes that Messrs Ahmadinejad and Mousavi had supposedly received at every stage of the vote counting against each other. The graph charted an almost perfect straight line, implying that at every stage of vote counting, the President's votes were always about twice that of Mr. Mousavi's. In an article on Tehranbureau.com I pointed out that this was impossible to maintain at all stages of counting, due to all the social, cultural, and political factors that I point to above; I stand by it. The people who made up those numbers basically used a Ponzi scheme for vote counting, since they always maintained a big and constant "return" for those who voted for Mr. Ahmadinejad!
There are other indications that the election was rigged. How did the Fars News Agency, whose budget is provided by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, know only one hour after voting had ended that Mr. Ahmadinejad had been re-elected by 64% of the votes (which is also the final official number)? How did Mr. Ahmadinejad himself know that, when he also announced the same almost at the same time?
Mr. Abolfazl Fateh, an aid to Mr. Mousavi, has said that Mr. Mousavi wrote a letter to the Supreme Leader to complain about all the irregularities that had been reported to his campaign headquarters. Mr. Fateh took the letter to the Supreme Leader's office, and arrived there just one hour after the voting had ended. But, he has said that the people working in that office gave him the distinct impression that the "game" was over and Mr. Ahmadinejad had been re-elected. How did they know that?
The famed Iranian movie director, Mr. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who has been a spokesman for Mr. Mousavi, also stated in an interview that in the early hours after the election, the Interior Ministry that supervises the elections had called Mr. Mousavi's campaign to inform them that they would be declared the victor and should therefor prepare their victory statement without boasting too much, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad's supporters. But, then, Mr. Mousavi's campaign center was ransacked by the security agents, and suddenly everyhting changed.
Based on overwhelming evidence, there is but one conclusion: The election was rigged, and the official results are bogus.
EU document scraps Quartet demands
In what is perceived in Jerusalem as a mistaken effort to give Hamas room to maneuver, the EU's 27 foreign ministers, in a statement issued Monday, did not call, as in the past, for Hamas to forswear terrorism, recognize Israel or accept previous PLO agreements with Israel.
Government sources in Jerusalem said France led the efforts to keep what has become known as the Quartet's three conditions on Hamas from being included in the European Council's conclusions on the Middle East peace process.
Instead, the statement said the foreign ministers expressed "continued encouragement for inter-Palestinian reconciliation behind [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and support for the mediation efforts by Egypt and the Arab League."
The foreign ministers called "on all Palestinians to find common ground, based on nonviolence, in order to facilitate reconstruction in Gaza and the organization of elections."
The move to keep the three conditions out of the resolutions comes amid mounting concern in Jerusalem that Europe is slowly moving away from the three conditions on Hamas, which have been adopted both by the Quartet and the UN Security Council.
According to diplomatic sources, the French were trying to give Hamas "a way out," and felt that if the conditions were not always mentioned every statement, it might give the Islamist organization a chance to soften its positions and perhaps give a boost to Egyptian-brokered talks between Fatah and Hamas.
The European foreign ministers issued another statement regarding Israel on Tuesday, this one following the EU Association meeting the day before with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which they essentially said the decision from last year to upgrade ties with Israel would remain in place, but that no steps toward implementing it would be taken at this point.
In December, the EU's foreign ministers approved a significant upgrade in the union's relationship with Israel, including a political upgrade that would include ad hoc summit meetings between Israel's prime minister and all EU heads of government, something that has never taken place before. It also called for Israel's foreign minister to meet with all 27 EU foreign ministers three times a year, the inclusion of Israel in EU peacekeeping forces and for an EU commitment to help Israel better integrate into UN agencies. The upgrade would also enable Israeli participation in a wide variety of EU programs that are currently closed to it.
But, as one senior European diplomatic official said on Tuesday, the upgrade remained in the "in-box," and would not move forward until the EU was satisfied with Israeli progress on the peace process - something not currently the case.
The upgrade was essentially frozen during Operation Cast Lead, and has stayed in that state ever since.
Nevertheless, one senior Israeli diplomatic official noted that the EU foreign ministers did not decide to scrap the upgrade decision, as was being advocated by Belgium and Luxembourg, but rather to drag their feet in its implementation. The Arab countries have for months been lobbying against the upgrade.
"Despite efforts of some countries to cancel what was already agreed upon, their efforts did not succeed," the official said. "Europe repeated its commitment to the upgrade, and we will continue to work toward implementing it, hopefully in the near future."
A 22-year-old Palestinian woman, who says she became an informer for Israel to earn money that would get her out of prostitution, is going to prison for life. Others convicted of collaboration with Israel by West Bank courts sit on death row.
Such draconian sentences reflect the loathing Palestinian society has for collaborators, even small-time informants or those blackmailed by Israeli intelligence agents into cooperating.
Yet the harsh treatment of collaborators also highlights the complex realities of life in the West Bank, where a US-backed Palestinian government works increasingly closely with Israeli security forces against a common enemy, Hamas. Israel has overall security control in the West Bank.
Such security coordination is unpopular among Palestinians. Some say collaborators have been made into scapegoats to deflect attention from the coordination between Israeli and Palestinian forces, which is aimed at preventing a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
Palestinian officials say the information they share with Israel helps keep residents safe, while individuals selling information are betraying their country.
"There's no authority that should allow its people to collaborate," said Saleh Abdul Jawad, a Palestinian political scientist.
In the most recent case Monday, a military tribunal in a security compound in the West Bank town of Jenin sentenced 22-year-old Taghreed - her last name was not released - to a life term of hard labor.
The dark-skinned, portly woman, wearing a lace headscarf and blue jeans, remained calm while the sentence was announced. She refused to speak to reporters and none of her family attended the trial, indicating they had washed their hands of her.
The scene played out in a hastily assembled courtroom of plastic chairs, benches and a Palestinian flag.
Earlier, Taghreed had told the court that she turned informer after she left her husband, who had forced her to work as a prostitute and thus turned her into an outcast. The information the woman sold was low-level - nothing that led to arrests by the Israelis, according to military prosecutor Raed Dalbah.
Since 1994, when the Palestinian Authority was established after the Oslo Accords, at least 35 suspected informers were sentenced to death, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Two defendants were executed by firing squad in Gaza several years ago.
Seventeen alleged informers, both those on death row and those still awaiting trial, were killed in vigilante-style shootings by Palestinians during Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza in January.
It is mostly the vulnerable, like Taghreed, who ultimately become Israeli snoops, often providing information to Israeli intelligence in exchange for money and to access key services like medical care and permits to work in Israel, said Ran Yaron of Physicians for Human Rights, which studies the issue.
They are nonetheless widely despised for helping Israel.
"If I was the judge, I would shoot her on the spot," said a guard outside the courtroom, spitting on the ground to emphasize his disgust at Taghreed.
In the past two years alone, West Bank tribunals have convicted seven people of collaboration, including Taghreed. She was the only one not sentenced to death, though the executions were not carried out.
During the two Palestinian intifadas, vigilante gunmen often killed suspected collaborators, at times with crowds looking on. After Israel withdrew from parts of the West Bank in the 1990s, it relocated hundreds of collaborators to Israel to protect them from retribution.
Palestinian human rights activists say they oppose the death penalty on principle, but most have not rushed to the defense of collaborators.
"We do not think there should be a death sentence," said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and human rights advocate. "The punishment has to fit the crime. The crime, in the popular imagination, is the most unconscionable crime. It is a betrayal of everything that people hold sacred."
ICRC to Hamas: Let us visit Schalit
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) criticized Hamas on Thursday for its continued refusal to allow the organization's representatives to visit captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, as well as its refusal to allow him contact with his family throughout three years of captivity.
In a statement issued Thursday, the ICRC stated: "Since [Gilad Schalit's] capture in June 2006, the ICRC has repeatedly asked Hamas to allow the exchange of Red Cross messages between Gilad Schalit and his family. The most recent requests were made at the highest level, but these and all others have been refused."
"Repeated requests by the ICRC to visit Gilad Shalit to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment have also been refused," the organization said.
"We welcome the fact that yesterday former US president Jimmy Carter handed Hamas a letter from Gilad Schalit's family to him," said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. "However, this cannot replace the regular and unconditional contacts with his family that Gilad Schalit is entitled to under international humanitarian law. The ICRC regrets that in his case political considerations are judged more important than the simple humanitarian gesture of allowing a captive to be in touch with his family after three years of separation."
Mégevand-Roggo added that the people holding Schalit were entirely responsible for ensuring that his treatment and living conditions are humane and dignified.
In its statement, the ICRC said that it has held several meetings with Schalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, to brief them on its efforts regarding their 22-year-old son.
"We share their concerns. Despite the lack of progress so far we will continue to press for family contacts for [Schalit] and for ICRC access to him," said Mégevand-Roggo.
Jun. 17, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah gave a talk to Arab students at Haifa University on Wednesday, while Jewish students were not allowed into the lecture hall.
The Jewish students expressed their outrage at how the hard-line sheikh was let into the campus, but the university said it couldn't prevent Salah's entrance, saying that they had their hands tied.
"We didn't invite him, but in the end, for legal reasons, we had to let him in," said the university in a statement.
The head of the extremist northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which denies Israel's legitimacy, holds Israeli citizenship.
During Wednesday's lecture, Salah - who has served a two-year sentence for a series of security offenses, including financing Hamas activities - said that Jerusalem was an "Arab, Muslim and Palestinian issue alone."
In March, Jerusalem police arrested the fiery leader for assaulting police officers at an illegal east Jerusalem gathering.
In January 2008, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz filed an indictment against Salah, charging him with incitement to violence and racism in a speech he made protesting the archeological dig carried out at the Old City's Mughrabi Gate. During his sermon in Jerusalem's Wadi Joz neighborhood on February 16, 2007, Salah urged supporters to start a third intifada in order to "save al-Aksa Mosque, free Jerusalem and end the occupation."
Salah's speech also attacked Jews, saying, "They want to build their temple at a time when our blood is on their clothes, on their doorsteps, in their food and in their drinks. Our blood has passed from one 'general terrorist' to another 'general terrorist.'" He also said, "We are not those who ate bread dipped in children's blood."
The Palestinian Authority leadership's hysterical, hasty and clearly miscalculated response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday night is likely to boomerang because it makes the Palestinians appear as "peace rejectionists."
The PA, perhaps, has every right to be angry with Netanyahu's statements. However, its leaders should have been more careful in choosing the right words to express their sentiments.
Even before he completed his speech, several PA officials and spokesmen used every available platform to declare their total rejection of Netanyahu's ideas, especially with regards to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Some went as far as hurling personal insults at Netanyahu, branding him a liar, a fraud and a swindler. Others hinted at the possibility that, in the wake of his strategy, the Palestinians would now have to resort to another intifada.
PA representatives are now saying that Netanyahu "cannot even dream of finding one Palestinian to talk to."
One senior official in Ramallah announced shortly after the prime minister finished his address that the Palestinians won't resume peace talks with Israel for at least a thousand years.
The harsh response of the PA is the direct result of high hopes that its leaders have pinned on the administration of US President Barack Obama.
Reports about a looming crisis between the administration and Netanyahu over the future of the Middle East peace process, combined with Obama's conciliatory approach toward the Arab and Muslim worlds, created the impression in Ramallah that the Israeli government had no choice but to accept all the Palestinian demands.
Briefing reporters on the eve of Netanyahu's speech, some of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's top aides predicted that, in the wake of increased US pressure, Netanyahu would be forced to give in, freezing settlement construction and accepting the two-state solution.
That's why most of these aides expressed surprise when they heard the prime minister's uncompromising position on most of the sticking issues.
By completely rejecting Netanyahu's offer of a demilitarized state and his demand to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the PA leadership has climbed a high tree from which it will find it difficult to climb down.
As in previous cases, this leadership has chosen to look at the empty half of the glass.
The fact that Netanyahu is even prepared to talk about a Palestinian state is in itself a major achievement. And so what if the future state of Palestine doesn't have an army and an air force? Why would Palestine need tanks and warplanes? Don't the Palestinians already have enough security forces and armed militias? Don't they already have enough ammunition and rockets?
The future state of Palestine will have to invest in government institutions and infrastructure instead of weapons. The Palestinians need jobs and good government more than they need an army and tanks.
True, Netanyahu's speech does not fulfill the entire aspirations of the Palestinians. But it would have been wiser for the PA leadership to also look at some of the positive elements in the speech, such as Netanyahu's acceptance of the idea of a Palestinian state.
Whether Palestine would be demilitarized or not is an issue that the two sides could always continue to discuss through negotiations. But the PA leadership has chosen to say no to this idea, thus playing into the hands of those who have long been arguing that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
When Yasser Arafat back accepted the "Gaza-Jericho First" formula, he knew that he would subsequently receive more territory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through negotiations.
Netanyahu has outsmarted the PA leaders in Ramallah by dragging them into the debate over Israel's Jewish character - a demand that the Palestinians have also totally and vehemently rejected.
If anyone has reason to be worried about Israel's desire to be a Jewish state, it's the 1.4 million Arab citizens of the state. But this is an issue that should be solved through dialogue between the Israeli establishment and the Arab citizens. The Palestinians, after all, are fighting for separation from Israel, while the Israeli Arabs are fighting for integration.
It's also unclear why PA representatives are surprised to hear about the demilitarized state and Israel's Jewish character. Former US president Bill Clinton also mentioned the idea of creating a demilitarized state for the Palestinians, as did all of Netanyahu's predecessors. And the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is also not new.
Had the PA leadership responded positively to any of Netanyahu's offers, or at least used a less harsh tone in rejecting the entire speech, it's highly likely that they would have triggered a political crisis in Israel - one that would have even threatened the prime minister's coalition. PA leaders and officials should have taken into account the fact that a majority of Israelis - according to recent public opinion polls - favor the two-state solution, regardless of Netanyahu's stance on the issue.