Saturday, January 31, 2009

J-Street Jammed

Shmuel Rosner blogs on J-Street

During the Gaza War, James Kirchick argued (correctly) that J Street — “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement” — can’t claim to represent a silent American Jewish majority:

. . . J Street has the right to its extreme leftist, capitulationist opinions, but it does not have the right to claim, as Ben-Ami once did, that it represents the “broad, sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews.” J Street doesn’t even represent the views of left-wing Israelis.

James later proved that there’s no basis to J Street’s alleged “broadness.” But for those who are not yet convinced, a poll was published yesterday by the Anti-Defamation League (The Marttila Communications Group, margin of error +/-4.9%) on “Jewish American Attitudes on the Gaza Crisis.”

The results: 81% of Jewish Americans believe that Hamas was responsible for the crisis (J Street was trying to lay the blame on both Israel and Hamas. As they put it, there were “elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide”). 94% sympathize more with Israel (J Street: “there is nothing to be gained from debating which injustice is greater or came first”). And most important: 79% believe that Israel’s use of force was appropriate (J Street: “there is nothing ‘right’ in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them”). Case closed.

Science or Alchemy?

I spotted an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune entitled "How words could end a war" and its authors champion intangible symbolic concessions, like an apology or recognition of a right to exist.

This seems to me almost infantile thinking, so empty and insignificant. It's like all you have to do to succeed in getting a girl into bed is to tell her you love her. Now, I am quite aware that happens, and it happens a lot, but it doesn't mean that it's just or correct or will all turn out for the best in most cases.

Here's the basis for their study:

...the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

Across the world, people believe that devotion to sacred or core values that incorporate moral beliefs - like the welfare of family and country, or commitment to religion and honor - are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Our studies, carried out with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, suggest that people will reject material compensation for dropping their commitment to sacred values and will defend those values regardless of the costs.

But they don't understand all the words:

For example, Mousa Abu Marzook (the deputy chairman of Hamas) said no when we proposed a trade-off for peace without granting a right of return. He became angry when we added in the idea of substantial American aid for rebuilding: "No, we do not sell ourselves for any amount."

But when we mentioned a potential Israeli apology for 1948, he brightened: "Yes, an apology is important, as a beginning. It's not enough, because our houses and land were taken away from us, and something has to be done about that." This suggested that progress on values might open the way for negotiations on material issues.

The authors, Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges, (see here for more bio info), while pointing out the fault line of Western approaches to the Arab-Israel conflict fall into the trap of not understanding thye understanding of the both sides to the hostility/animosity displayed.

Another example is Binyamin Netanyahu in their article:

We got a similar reaction from Benjamin Netanyahu, the hard-line former Israeli prime minister. We asked him whether he would seriously consider accepting a two-state solution following the 1967 borders if all major Palestinian factions, including Hamas, were to recognize the right of the Jewish people to an independent state. He answered, "O.K., but the Palestinians would have to show that they sincerely mean it, change their textbooks and anti-Semitic characterizations."
Bibi really doesn't believe, as most Israelis would agree, that this (sincerely mean it, change their textbooks and anti-Semitic characterizations) would ever come about and some of us think it's not enough. We do so belive because we've been through a lot of this before. Why would the Grand Mufti Haj Amin El-Husseini have aided Hitler to the extent of recruiting Bosnian Muslims into the Wehrmacht? Is antisemitism perhaps intrinsic to the Arab outlook on Jews or is it an instrument? But if an instrument, if what the Mufti did in World War II should be considered today, after all we know of the horro of Hitler, why should there still be antisemitic propaganda?

But the most ridiculous claim these two academics make is this:

Making these sorts of wholly intangible "symbolic" concessions, like an apology or recognition of a right to exist, simply doesn't compute on any utilitarian calculus. And yet the science says they may be the best way to start cutting the knot.
"Science"? What science?

Here's another take.

Background & Breakthrough (?) on That Human Shield Story

I'm copying this verbatim due to its importance:

7:33PM: This is not just another story of Hamas’ use of human shields as you will see in a minute.

Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a “fortress” by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. They told the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper that for years Hamas has used their property and homes for military installations from which to launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas.

The following are excerpts from the article from the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:

“The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins…

The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town Sderot, a fact that turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.

The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: “You can’t say anything to the resistance [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]

What makes this story even more interesting is the fact this family has the same name as the family that claimed Israeli soldiers killed its children in cold blood. And that family were also aligned with Fatah. In fact, in that story reported by The Independent:

The district is named Abed Rabbo after the clan who live in most of it.

Furthermore, Jabalya, the town mentioned in The Independent report, is on a hill overlooking Sderot, as is the “human shield” family mentioned in the PMW article.

So my question is are these the same families? If we are dealing with the same location, then chances are they at least from the same clan. And if members of the clan admit they were used as human shields by Hamas, then at the very least this shows why the IDF were on the lookout for terrorists.

It also begs the question as to why this information was not revealed by Khaled Abed Rabbo, the father of the dead children. In fact:

He is demanding a full inquiry and wants the chance to present his own evidence.

“Why do they come after us?” Khaled asked the Herald. “We are not militants here. We are not Hamas. We are just ordinary people.

If we are talking of the same clan, chances are Khaled would have been aware of the presence of Hamas terrorists using clan members as human shields. His family may also have been used in this way, and his children may have been killed by Hamas.

Spiegel Report Example

If you go here, you can see an English-language excerpt from the Speigel Report trumpeted by Yesh Din.

I searched for my home community.

I found it.

112. Name of settlement: Shiloh

Number of residents: 2011

Construction without approved plan:

1. The neighborhood of Shvut Rachel -- northeast of the approved plan. Detailed
plan number 205/2 that was approved for deposit but not yet published allows
the construction of 548 housing units (both in the neighborhood of Shvut
Rachel and in the settlement itself).

In fact most of the plan has already been realized in the neighborhood of Shvut Rachel (93 permanent buildings, 30 caravans and five public buildings) except for saturated building south of the neighborhood. The plan is in the boundary of state land and survey land except for an excess onto private land by nine caravans and two permanent buildings.

2. Northeast of the settlement, adjacent to plan number 205, leveling of 30 lots
for construction and a permanent building, exceeding state land.

3. Ground leveling for an industrial area south of the settlement while trespassing
onto private land.

4. An industrial building south of the settlement, next to the settlement access

A careful reading of this, and I have not yet checked any of the documents available to me so I cannot tell you if the numbers are correct or not, reveals:

a) "approved plan". This term is a simple bureaucratic procedure based on the decision made by the legal section of the relevant government office. Something not "approved" doesn't mean that an illegal act was done but that the final approval had not - as yet - been granted. Doing so does not invalidate the entire procedure.

b) "trespassing onto private land". In many cases in the past, and I have been out here, as a resident, for 28 years and more as an involved activist, when land is said to be "private", that is not always true. Claims are made and then need to be proven in court. The concept of "private land" is a bit nebulous when my neighbors are concerned. Are there deeds, tax records and other forms of proof or is it tradition or custom or land that belonged to someone else and somehow 'borrowed'.

c) "exceeding state land". Was the original map correct? If it is not "state land" it does not necessarily need to be "private land".

I know this may not seem the most solid explanation why Yesh Din's claims are not all they are supposed to be by Dror Etkes and Co. but I hope it provides a bit of background to the subject of land ownership.

On the Speigel Report on the Supposed "Settlements Built On private Land"

the Haaretz report [was defined] as “political” and “nothing new.” total, the settlements are built on 6 percent of the West Bank land, and that the issue of private land ownership is “complicated,” given the different administrations of the West Bank going back to the Ottoman Empire, the British mandate, Jordan and now Israel.

Israeli officials add that some Palestinians sold their land to Jews but cannot admit it for fear of being labeled collaborators, while others have no papers to prove ownership of the land they claim.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Did Anyone See Me on Al-Jazeera?

On Friday morning, I filmed an interview for Al-Jazeera on the Speigel Report for Al-Jazeera.

I found their site story here: Settlement data 'implicates Israel'

but haven't as yet located the film clip.

If anybody saw it, let me know. Or maybe I was too good and they decided I shouldn't be seen? Naw, they wouldn't do anything like that, would they?

A leaked report on Jewish settlements in the West Bank shows that the Israeli government was complicit in illegal construction on land owned by Palestinians, an Israeli human rights group says.

Yesh Din said on Friday that the classsified information, compiled by the Israeli defence ministry, would allow it to help Palestinians sue the Israeli government for damages.

Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's legal counsel, said the information was a "severe indictment" of Israel's military and government.

Israeli authorities are "systematically violating international law and the property rights of Palestinian residents," he said in a statement.

...The daily said the database showed that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure like roads, schools, synagogues, and even police stations was carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinians.

...Yesh Din said it would begin running advertisments in Palestinian newspapers to encourage people to take legal action, and will also offer legal counsel, the statement from the group said...

It's Written On Her, Er...Whatever

My grandmother always used to say to me, and my mother followed suit, 'you're guilty, it's written all over your face".

I thought about that when I spotted this picture of Amy Winehouse still on vacation somewhere.

I had to crop a bit but, you get the picture:

Not Yet, Anyway

Another act of internal subversion and treasonous behavior but since they're "leftists", it's acceptable:

Leftists drawing up 'blacklist' of officers who fought in Gaza

Israeli leftists have begun drawing up a "blacklist" of army officers involved in the recent operation in Gaza, in response to the military censor's decision to ban the publication of their names, pictures or other identifying details.

Until 10 days ago, the censor had permitted officers' names to be published. However, on orders from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, it then changed its policy for all officers below the rank of brigade commander, due to fears that any officer publicly identified as being involved in the operation could be vulnerable to prosecution overseas...

So far, the local blacklist contains the names of nine battalion commanders from the Golani and Paratroops brigades and the armored corps. However, defense officials fear that overseas leftist organizations will use the same technique to compile far more comprehensive lists, including junior officers and pilots.

As far as is known, there has been no cooperation in this effort between local and international activists.

As far as know, wink, wink.

Netanyahu - For The Record: No Evacuation/Dismantlement

Netanyahu: I'm not bound by Olmert pledges, won't evacuate settlements

Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he would not be bound by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's commitments to evacuate West Bank settlements and withdraw from the territories.

"I will not keep Olmert's commitments to withdraw and I won't evacuate settlements. Those understandings are invalid and unimportant," Netanyahu said.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tell Me This Isn't A Silly (Stupid?) Thought Process

U.S. envoy George Mitchell said on Thursday that opening the Gaza Strip to commercial goods would help to choke off the smuggling that Israel fears could replenish Hamas's weapons stocks.

But he said the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas must help to supervise the crossings, a demand that has been a major sticking point in Egyptian-brokered negotiations with the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers for a long-term ceasefire.

"To be successful in preventing the illicit traffic of arms into Gaza, there must be a mechanism to allow the flow of legal goods, and that should be with the participation of the Palestinian Authority," Mitchell said after meeting Abbas.

If I have that right, we're supposed to open the crossing wide and that will stop smuggling?

Smuggling goes on either because one can get a higher price for something or because it's illegal: like guns, bullets, mortars, rockets - you know, the "luxury goods".

So, it doesn't make a difference if the border is open for the smuggler unless, of course, with the border open, it'll be easier to get the war materiel in. More places to hide it.

For The Record: 60,000 vs. 13

George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's new Middle East envoy, was meeting Ehud Olmert, the incumbent Prime Minister, in Israel.

Mr Olmert was reported to have told the envoy that Israel would be willing to evacuate some 60,000 settlers in the West Bank and hand over much of east Jerusalem as part of any permanent peace arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.

But that policy would be thrown into doubt if Likud and Mr Netanyahu win.


Israel Police say they will question outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday for the 13th time over corruption allegations that forced him to resign.

Detectives are investigating suspicions that Olmert accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky and claimed false travel expenses before he became prime minister in 2006. Olmert denies any wrongdoing.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that Olmert would face questions for about two and a half hours on Jan.30 at his Jerusalem residence

Politically Incorrect Comment

I read that:-

Icelandic Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir would be the world's first openly gay leader if she becomes Prime Minister of Iceland, as is widely expected. Although Per-Kristian Foss served as acting Prime Minister in Norway very briefly in 2002, this represents the first time that a gay leader would assume the reins of a modern state. Sigurdardottir would also become the first female Prime Minister in Iceland's history.

Is that cool...or ice cold?

Melanie Phillips The UN

I met Melanie at the Jerusalem Conference and we exchanged brief pleasantries.

Here's her latest blog post.

Her 'bottom line', literally:

...people can now begin to get an inkling of the truth about UNRWA – that this supposedly impartial body supervising the tinderbox of Gaza is actually a major player in fuelling the murderous frenzy against Israel at the heart of the Middle East impasse.

The UN can never be the solution; it is the problem.

On Mitchell's Irish Success

Alex Massie was the Washington correspondent for the Scotsman, Alex Massie writes a blog for The Spectator. He lived in Dublin during the 1990s, asserts that

...the lessons of Northern Ireland cannot be easily applied to the Middle East-nor can Mitchell's Belfast template be readily transferred to Jerusalem.

There are some similarities...Sinn Fein and the Republican movement explicitly identified with the Palestinian cause, leaving the Unionists, for better or worse, to be associated with the Israelis. Both sides persuaded themselves that they, not their opponents, were the victims.

Mitchell's insight was to perceive that there could be no piecemeal deal. Instead there would have to be a grand bargain...This took years. When Mitchell arrived in Belfast the two parties would not even sit at the same table. Their discussions were relayed via a third party--Mitchell.

Mitchell was eventually able to persuade each party that it was unrealistic to suppose they could negotiate without giving ground. But the nature of what they were required to concede differed widely. Sinn Fein and the Republican movement acknowledged, for the first time, that not only did Northern Ireland exist as a political entity but that is also had a right to exist...In a similar fashion, it is hard to imagine Israelis being enthused by any putative recognition of their state's right to exist on the part of the Palestinians. That's the bare minimum they may feel like expecting.

...[what resulted was] the consequence of giving Sinn Fein the better end of the bargain. To Mitchell, the most important objective was keeping the Republicans on board. If replicated in the Middle East, this would be to pacify Hamas at all costs.

At the heart of the dilemma in northern Ireland was what came to be known as "constructive ambiguity": that is, the IRA signed on to an agreement that seemed to pledge them to disarm, but precious little pressure was put upon them to do so for fear that the IRA might wreck the agreement and return to war. The failure to hold Sinn Fein and the IRA to their commitments would eventually render the entire peace process hollow.

That wasn't Mitchell's concern, however. Throughout the process he was a patient, determined, cordial facilitator. A deal would be a deal. He overcame initial suspicion and was, in the end, regarded as a dogged, honest broker. There's no reason to suppose that he won't demonstrate similar qualities in his new role...

...Equally importantly, negotiations in Northern Ireland were the product of exhaustion. Most of the IRA leadership had realized there was no prospect of a military victory. They could not bomb "the Brits" out of Northern Ireland. Thirty years of paramilitary warfare had taken its toll: The Republican movement was tired and ready...But right now, in the immediate aftermath of the latest military engagements, that seems a dubious proposition...

And from a comment there:

The difference between the Northern Irish Peace Process and Middle East peace negotiations is even greater than acknowledged by Massie. By the time Mitchell had become fully engaged as a mediator, the IRA had declared a cease-fire, which essentially held throughout the process and afterward. Hamas is not ceasing its anti-Israeli "physical force" actions. Sinn Fein controlled the IRA and was the only radical faction standing in the way of peace. Hamas and the PLO now compete for the status of spokesman for the entire Palestinian movement, and there is no telling what further splinter groups may arise out of the cauldron of Palestinian discontent. On the other side, Israel is not analogous to the United Kingdom...Israel and Israeli territory is the whole game. Israel does not have to concede affairs in only one appendage of its territory to achieve peace, as London had. Israel requires recognition of its legitimacy and its territorial integrity to assent to a workable peace deal; there is no sense that Hamas, constitutionally committed to the exact opposite, is in any way prepared to do that. Thus, the circumstances are so different between these two situations that it is unhelpful to forecast the degree of Mitchell's likelihood of success based on Northern Ireland. Were that it was only so.

On The Human Shield Issue

I lot of people are upset at Israel for harming, injuring and killing civilians. Israel does not purposefully and with malice aforethought seek to specifically target civilians and tries not to.

And what does Hamas do?

Palestinian Media Watch asserts:

Gaza victims describe being used as human shields by Hamas

Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. They told the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper that for years Hamas has used their property and homes for military installations from which to launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas.

The following are excerpts from the article from the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:

"The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins...

The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town Sderot, a fact that turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.

The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: "You can't say anything to the resistance [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]

Loads of video clips and additional incidents here.

Yesha, Mitchell on Australia Media

US peace envoy arrives in Israel

AM - Thursday, 29 January , 2009 08:12:00

Reporter: Ben Knight

PETER CAVE: Barack Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has arrived in Israel...[and] Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports from Jerusalem:-

...George Mitchell's report formed part of the basis of the roadmap for peace which called on Palestinians to end violent attacks on Israel and for Israel to stop building in the settlements.

Clearly Palestinian attacks on Israel continue, and not just from Gaza.

But almost a decade after George Mitchell's last mission here, settlements are still expanding in the West Bank. A new report by the organisation Peace Now says at least 1500 structures were built in West Bank settlements last year; and that only four outposts - where settlers illegally set up caravans to claim new land - have been evacuated.

(Sound of car pulling up)

I'm on a hilltop near the Palestinian village of Sinjel [that's out by us in the Shiloh Bloc of communities] with Israeli Dror Etkes whose full-time job is keeping an eye on building in the settlements.

DROR ETKES: From here we can see about five, six, seven different outposts and another three, or four, five settlements.

BEN KNIGHT: And all of those outposts are illegal, according to Israeli law?

DROR ETKES: Well, it's even more complicated. [it sure is. all of them, except one, I think, are within the zoned plans deposited with various government ministries over the years] But the big part of construction also within the settlements is illegal according to Israeli law.

BEN KNIGHT: From where we're standing, we see a newly bulldozed road leading to an outpost, cutting straight across paddocks owned by the Arab village nearby. Yet Dror Etkes says the Israeli Government will do nothing.

DROR ETKES: The people who have done it know very well that they enjoy full impunity and nothing would happen to them. They know it simply because they have done very, very similar things in many, many other parts of the West Bank not too far away from here and nothing happened to them before.

BEN KNIGHT: George Mitchell is clearly no stranger to the settlement issue but the war in Gaza - which flared again just hours before his arrival - has already coloured his visit.

(Sound of person talking over loudspeaker)

I'm here outside the house of the Israeli President Shimon Peres where the settler movement has organised a truck with a big billboard on the back. It shows a picture of Tel Aviv and outside of that picture are poking the tail ends of three missiles. It's here for George Mitchell to see as he drives past and read the sign in English that says, "A Palestinian state, qassam missiles in all our cities".

DANNY DAYAN: The establishment of a Palestinian state is the potential problem and not the solution.

BEN KNIGHT: The settler council spokesman is Danny Dayan.

DANNY DAYAN: It will be a launching pad for further aggression against the state of Israel and I will think it will have catastrophic consequences for the world peace.

PETER CAVE: Israeli settler council spokesman Danny Dayan

ending Ben Knight's report.

Mitchell's "Ireland Peace" Credit Starts to Unravel

As reported in the NYT:

A long-awaited reconciliation plan for Northern Ireland provoked a wave of anger across the province on Wednesday — and in the House of Commons in London — with a provision for payments of about $16,800 to families of all of the 3,700 people killed during 30 years of sectarian violence, including paramilitaries killed by their own bombs.

A news conference accompanying the release of the plan in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, became the stage for an eruption of the anger and grief still burning among those who lost relatives in the sectarian violence. The struggle cast Protestant paramilitaries loyal to Britain against armed groups with roots in the Roman Catholic minority, including the Irish Republican Army, that campaigned for a united Ireland.

As the authors of the plan prepared to speak at a crowded Belfast hotel, Protestant hard-liners jumped up to shout insults and trade recriminations with others in the audience with links to the I.R.A. Those involved in the protests included men and women who lost relatives in the violence, or were wounded in the I.R.A. attacks that accounted for more than 60 percent of the deaths in the strife.

I can just imagine what the Arabs would do with this development.

If they had less than 4,000 victims, there's quadruple that, at least, here.

And who is identified of worthy of reconciliation payments here.

And is that enough money?

Oh my.


Dealing With Arab Aggression in 1956 - Caricature

Pics of the Yesha Council Float yesterday

As part of the anti-Mitchell campaign in particular and in general, of the anti-Pal. state effort, the Yesha Council drove from tel Aviv to Jerusalem a float demonstrating the inherent dangers of handing over territory to a terrorist structure:

that's Dani Dayan

Jimmy Carter's Revisionist History

Mike Evans helps out and corrects Jimmy Carter's misrepresentations of Menachem Begin.

From his op-ed in The Washinton Times of January 28, 2009

Carter refers to Jews again and again as "radicals," another word for terrorists. He called former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin a "radical" and then goes on to describe him as the "most notorious terrorist in the region." Of course, he said the British said that, not him...

It appears that Jimmy Carter is revising history. The Benjamin Netanyahu I know was attending college during the Camp David meetings. In fact, when I recommended him to Begin for a government job, the prime minister did not even know who Benjamin was. I have no idea how Carter was so aware of Benjamin Netanyahu's political ideology; he was selling furniture to help fund his schooling.

The former president writes that Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing … especially since Mr. Begin had given me a copy of the letter he wrote to Carter on Sept. 17, 1978. In the letter he wrote, "Dear Mr. President. … On the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the U.S. government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition."

The former president writes that Prime Minister Begin agreed to a freeze on building Jewish settlements. Begin told me he had not agreed to a total freeze; he only agreed not to build new settlements for three months, during the negotiations. Carter gives the impression that he and Begin were close friends by saying that Begin and Sadat visited him in Plains to reaffirm the personal commitments each had made to the other. I found that quite humorous; Mr. Begin told me he had refused to meet with Carter when the president traveled to Jerusalem. At that time, he was no longer prime minister but was outraged that Carter had misrepresented the events during their meetings.

Well Done Anti-Government Election Piece

It's in Hebrew but the message is simple:

Three (almost) leaders.

Three years in power.

Three military failures.

Numbers of dead, wounded.

Three kidnapped.

Hamas has more of a chance of remaining in power than these three.

No leadership - and one soldier still held captive.

Please, don't defend us - just go.

View it.

A Virgin Joke

Someone left a joke as an anonymous comment on a post, so let's repeat it, developed by me:

Arriving in Islamic Heaven, Janna, the suicide bomber is presented with his dream-come-true but finds out the female is not pretty, her eyes are really bad * and many body parts seem to be just hanging rather than being perky.

He starts to argue but is promptly informed that he misunderstood.

The promised sexual gift in the afterlife is actually one 70-year old virgin.



The Quran mentions a creature called houris that are created from light...There is a Hadith (a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, saws) that says each person recieves 72 houris, but it is a weak Hadith...The word hoor occurs in the Qur’an in no less than four different places: In Surah Dukhan chapter 44, verse 54 “Moreover, We shall join them to companions With beautiful, big and lustrous eyes.” [Al-Quran 44:54] In Surah Al-Tur chapter 52 verse 20 “...And We shall join them to companions, with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes.” [Al-Quran 52:20]

I Beg To Differ From Israel's NY Consul General

From the Consul's letter in today's NYTimes:

The government and people of Israel recognize the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own state living peacefully side by side with Israel. We refuse, however, to allow a Palestinian state to come into being at the expense of our homeland, the State of Israel.

Asaf Shariv
Consul General of Israel
New York

a. Is there a "Palestinian people" or Arabs who reside in a territory that some call "Palestine" (and exactly what are the boundaries of that "Palestine"?) and others the "Holy Land/Terra Sancta" and others, "Eretz-Yisrael/The Land of Israel" and what the League of Nations referred to as "the reconstituted Jewish national home".

b. Is it to be "side by side" or alongside or on both sides - and what are the implications of same?

c. Is it to be a "state" or another form of political existence, such as autonomy?

d. Is "expense" an immediate concern or a future one?

More later.

Poster For A Kabbalistic/Hasidic Tu B'Shvat

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So Odd of God To Choose...

Just found this May 5, 2007 article:

Beth El celebrates new rabbi

Rabbi Joshua Boettiger...will be welcomed to the community in a ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Bennington Museum.

...Boettiger said he appreciated being able to come into a community where the rabbi has been so well-regarded. However, he also said it was a little intimidating to follow a man who had served as rabbi for 12 years in his first pastorate.

...Boettiger, 33, is originally from the area of Amherst, Mass., but spent several years growing up in Northern California. He lives in Shaftsbury with his partner, Vanessa Grajwer, who is studying to be a rabbi...He graduated from Bard College in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., in 1996 and went on to a six-year program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He graduated last year, about two months before coming back to Bennington.

...While he said it was not part of his daily life growing up, Boettiger said he was proud of his family's ties to American history. On his father's side, Boettiger is the great-grandson of President Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt.

That Hamas Body Armor Advert

Found over at Pam of Atlas Shrugs

Is This Impotence, Or What?

Max Boot over at Contentions sent me here:

Mr. Gates, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee..."Let me just say both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al Qaeda wherever al Qaeda is and we will continue to pursue them," the defense chief said.

...Some U.S. efforts to contain Iran haven't stopped under the new president, as exemplified by an incident that straddled the Bush and Obama administrations.

In early January, U.S. military and intelligence officials began tracking the Monchegorsk, a Cypriot-flagged vessel chartered by Iran. The U.S. suspected the boat was ferrying weapons bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, according to a defense official.

The vessel further aroused American suspicion by taking "deceptive maneuvers" after leaving Iran, the official said.

On Jan. 19, the U.S.S. San Antonio approached the Monchegorsk in the Red Sea and asked its captain for permission to search the ship, which was granted. The following day, an armed group of Navy personnel boarded the vessel and found artillery shells, according to two defense officials.

The Navy personnel searched the vessel again Jan. 21 and found machine-gun rounds, fuses and other armaments, the officials said. The ship's paperwork showed the weapons were bound for Syria.

The defense officials said the shipments appeared to violate a United Nations resolution barring Iran from exporting many kinds of weaponry. The resolution doesn't allow for the seizure of banned Iranian armaments, however, so the U.S. allowed the ship to continue its voyage, the officials said. A spokesman for the Iranian mission to the U.N. declined to comment.

The first search of the vessel took place hours before Mr. Obama was sworn in as president, and he would almost certainly have been briefed about the pending operation. The second search took place after Mr. Obama's inaugural, and he could have stopped the operation if he had chosen to. The State Department declined to comment on the naval operation.


Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes

The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.

The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

Shiloh, Carter & Begin

A well-known incident, but, Shiloh being where I live, let's read it again:

Begin told me of a meeting with Carter during which he gave the president a list of cities in the United States with Bible names, i.e., Shiloh, Hebron and Bethel. He asked Carter, "Could you imagine the governor of Pennsylvania would proclaim that anyone could live in the city of Bethlehem, Pa., except Jews?" President Carter agreed that such a man, if he did such a thing, would be guilty of racism. Begin replied that he was governor of the state in which the original Bethlehem, and the original Jericho, and the original Shiloh were located. He asked me, "Did Carter expect me to say that everybody could live in those cities except Jews?" Could it be that Carter's ideals are formulated by the number of zeros before the decimal on the contributions to the Carter Center by oil-rich Gulf States? These same states do not now nor will they ever allow Jews to worship freely within their borders, no matter how much land Israel relinquishes.

Video Clips From Our Eilat Vacation

Two clips of the undersea coral gardens from the glass-bottomed boat:

and the return trip to Eilat from south down the coast:

Around Jerusalem Pics

The beginnings of the first major train station of the new light rail network that is killing us in Jerusalem, behind French Hill and bordering Road #1, opposite the Police HQ:

Bus stop sign in mangled English:

The Old Jerusalem Railway Station near where I work with the original English, Hebrew and Arabic carving in its facade on top:

Yesha Council Vs. Peace Now

The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza on Wednesday offered a tongue in cheek response to a Peace Now report that claimed settlement growth had risen 69 percent in 2008.

"Again we thank Peace Now, who are diverting the funds they are receiving from the European Union in order to document the most important Zionist enterprise of our age - the settlement project in Judea and Samaria," the settlers said, adding, however, that "some of the data is clearly inaccurate."

Settler leaders also rebuffed claims that they had taken advantage of the operation in Gaza in order to build new roads to outposts in the West Bank.

"All of Israel knows who took advantage of the war in order to demonstrate against IDF soldiers and who sent their boys to the front to sacrifice their lives in defending our country,"
they said.

We're Mad for MAD

Found here.

They're Woolly-Headed in Wales

Harry's Place sent me to this video found here (entitled "Three Arrested") of the most ridiculously misinformed lady:

"Thousands of years"?


A bit primitive that drumbeating, no?

Here We Go; There Barak Doesn't Go

Haaretz reports:

Last update - 10:48 28/01/2009

Gaza rocket hits Negev; IAF strikes Hamas tunnels after soldier killed

A rocket fired by militants in Gaza struck the western Negev on Wednesday morning, adding impetus to flare-up in violence that threatened to rupture a shaky cease-fire in the coastal strip. No one was wounded in the rocket attack, which came shortly after Israel Air Force warplanes pounded smuggling tunnels under Gaza's border with Egypt. The air strikes followed a bomb blast Tuesday along the Israel-Gaza border, in which an Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and three others were wounded.

Rafah residents began to flee their homes in panic as the Israeli aircraft struck three times, Hamas officials said.

and this:

13:22 Barak cancels trip to U.S. following flare-up in violence in the south (Haaretz)

And the Ynet report:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to cancel his trip to the United States, during which he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The decision came on the backdrop of events in the south.

Netanyahu Video Clips Of Remarks in Hebrew

At the Jerusalem Conference:

It's Reddish Pink Over Shiloh

More Pics From Today At The 6th Jerusalem Conference

That's (r-l) Eve Harow of Arutz 7 and her mother, Chana Givon, of Writing the Wrongs, Arlene Kushner of Arlene From Israel and Jeff Daub of ZOA-Israel.

and, on the right, is Sharon Katz of Voices

Is Bob Simon A Humiliation?

Eli Hertz from Myths & Facts, asks Bob Simon:

Who is Humiliating Whom?

Bob, you say Palestinian Arabs feel humiliated and harassed

Bob, in Israel, every Israeli is searched numerous times during the course of a single day. Israelis are asked to open their bags and purses for inspection...As a matter of routine, Israelis' car trunks are searched every time they enter a well-trafficked parking lot...

...These ordinary daily humiliations now extend to similar searches when Israelis go to weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. No one abroad talks about the humiliation Jews in Israel are subjected to...

...Bob, these ubiquitous security checks do not exist in Arab cities and towns in Israel (or, for that matter, in Judea and Samaria) because those places are not and never have been targets of Palestinian terrorism...

...Jewish schoolchildren in Israel are surrounded by perimeter fences, with armed guards at the schoolyard gates...Not one Arab village in Israel or the Territories has a perimeter fence around it. Guards are not required at Arabic shops, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, wedding halls or schools...

...Many Israeli motorists avoid major arteries that pass through Arab areas of Israel, while Arab citizens and Palestinians from the Territories continue to enter Jewish cities and go about their business without peril. Israelis are told, in effect, to disguise themselves when traveling abroad...Arabs who frequent Jewish cities and towns in Israel wear their traditional Arab headgear without fear of being attacked or harassed.

Bob, all this begs the question: Who are the victims and who are the victimizers? Who are the ones being harassed and humiliated? Palestinian Arabs or Israelis?

Violence Against Media Incident Clip - Archival

Just discovered this from an incident of five years ago, it seems.

Shelli Shternberg, a reporter for Channel 10 TV news here in Israel, was reporting froma site of terrorist violence in Jerusalem which must have been either in an Orthodox neighborhood or near a Yeshiva, and as she began her live delivery, she gets attacked from behind - and saved with help of bystanders.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The New, Third, Video Clip of The18 Against The "Two-State Solution"

See Ehud Barak Pack

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is to travel to Washington next week to discuss the implementation of a bilateral agreement to halt arms smuggling into Gaza, a senior official said on Saturday.

...Barak, who will leave on Tuesday, was to meet Secretary of Defence Robert Gates "to discuss the implementation of the Israeli-US memorandum of understanding" aimed at halting arms smuggling between Egypt and Gaza, he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Is this him packing?

Actually, he's going to get a photo op pic with Obama for his election campaign.

Look Who Is Hanging Around Her Husband's Office

B'tselem Ignores Its Own Murdered Field Worker

From the B'tselem site:

26 Jan. '09: Extra-judicial execution of alleged collaborators by Hamas

According to several media reports, since the start of the Israeli attack in Gaza, Hamas has executed an unknown number of residents of Gaza that it considered to be collaborators with Israel. According to these reports, some of those murdered were of people in Hamas detention centers, and others fled the central Gaza prison, which was bombed by Israel. The allegations of collaboration pertained to the passing of information to Israel, and to past collaboration with Israel.

In light of the current circumstances in the Gaza Strip, B’Tselem cannot investigate fully these reports, or provide the exact number of the people killed in these events, or their identity. However, international humanitarian law expressly prohibits any state or organization from performing extra-judicial executions.These acts are grave breaches of international law, and all those involved in carrying them out bear individual criminal responsibility for these actions.

No name. None.

The Jerusalem Post has it:

A Palestinian human rights activist and journalist who used to work for the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has been executed by Hamas on charges of "collaboration" with Israel, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said over the weekend.
Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip.

They identified the man as Haidar Ghanem, 46, of Rafah.

They pointed out that Ghanem, who was a field researcher for B'Tselem, had been sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority court in 2002 after being found guilty of passing on information to Israel that later resulted in the elimination of Fatah gunmen.

Ghanem, according to the Palestinians, was among dozens of suspected "collaborators" who were executed by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead.

"For He Knew Not..." - Forgive Him?

The head of an ultraconservative society is asking for forgiveness from Pope Benedict XVI for the claims by one of his bishops that no Jews were gassed in World War II.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, said his group doesn't share the views of Bishop Richard Williamson about what Fellay called the ''genocide'' of Jews by the Nazis.

He said he had forbidden Williamson from speaking out publicly about any historical or political questions from now on.

To forgive is divine but why must we all be so stupid?

An Acacia Tree

Shot these on our Eilat vacation opposite Mt. Shlomo, west of Eilat:

The tree has roots going down perhaps 20 meters and in a radius of 25 meters.

Silly Jewesses - As SFW As I Could Make It

From a rally a while ago:

that took place in Tel Aviv and these are the cropped pics of a group of anarchists females who had written on their rather exposed portions of their bodies that they were willing to screw for peace.

Oiy veis mir!

The Informative Al-Jazeera

Al-Jazeera is informative:

Describing the attack on the Israeli patrol, Tamer Mishal, Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from Gaza, said an anti-armour shell was fired from inside the territory at an Israeli tank near the area of Khan Younis.

"Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the grenade directly hit an Israeli jeep," he said.

That Farmer

LATimes reports:

The Israeli army reported that an "explosive device" was detonated Tuesday morning around 9 am, targeting an Israeli patrol along the border fence. One "non-commissioned officer" was killed and a second officer "seriously wounded," an army spokeswoman said. A third soldier was lightly wounded.

Israel immediately responded with tank fire and helicopter strikes, area residents say. One local farmer was reported killed, according to local medical sources.

That farmer, he wouldn't have been a "militant", would he?

Hamas Blames...Israel For Hamas' Killing of IDF Soldier

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a "lull" in fighting.

"The Zionists are responsible for any aggression," he said.

So, this is no lullaby.

Just A Wondering Thought

Ehud Barak has said:

"We hit Hamas hard [in Operation Cast Lead], but that does not mean it will disappear," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak during a Tuesday morning visit to soldiers stationed near Gaza. "There will be attacks occasionally."

In other words, what can we do?

Would it be acceptable, then, to say to the U.S.'s George Mitchell something like:

There will always be occasional establishment of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria because that is the Jewish homeland and Jews should be able to live there. Arabs live among Jews in Israel, why can't Jews live among Arabs?

Just wondering.

Hamas is An Abbreviation

Is Carter The Real Catastrophe?

Well, former President Jimmy Carter said yesterday that Israel will face a "catastrophe" unless it revives the Mideast peace process and establishes an independent Palestinian state.

To be exact:

"If we look toward a one-state solution, which seems to be the trend _ I hope not inexorable _ it would be a catastrophe for Israel, because there would be only three options in that case," Carter said.

One would be to expel large numbers of Palestinians, which he said would amount to "ethnic cleansing." [but ethnic cleansing of Jews is okay in that Jews must leave "Palestine", if it is established and worse, since the Arab population in Israel remains, the liberal Carter has created a homogeneous, uni-ethnic entity]

The second would be to deprive the Palestinians of equal voting rights, which he said would amount to "apartheid." ["amount" or is? there are perhaps 300,000 or more Jews that can't vote for the Knesset either as they are not citizens. maybe they could vote for the Jordanian Parliament, as Jordan is part of "Palestine", and some arrangement is feasible?]

The third would be to give the Palestinians equal voting rights, and therefore the majority, he said. [and if his demographic projections are correct, not that they are, in, say, 50 years will Arabs within Israel be a majority in any case? what then? then do we expell or limit enfranchisement?]

"And you would no longer have a Jewish state," Carter said. "The basic decisions would be made by the Palestinians, who would almost very likely vote in a bloc, whereas you would have some sharp divisions among the Israelis, because the Israelis always have different points of view." [you notice that? the Arabs are, what, monolithic?]

Carter spoke to The Associated Press as his new book, "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land," was released. [oh, he's making money off of our conflict?]

Map of the Yesha Area: Judea & Samaria

Dew Clouds in Shiloh Valley

EU Official Surprises

Surprise? A refreshing surprise.

EU commissioner hits out at Hamas on Gaza tour

JABALIA, Gaza Strip (AFP) — A senior EU official touring Gaza on Monday blasted the "abominable" destruction in the enclave and said its "terrorist" Hamas rulers bear overwhelming responsibility for the war.

"It is abominable, indescribable," Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told reporters in Gaza after touring some of the areas worst hit in Israel's deadly 22-day assault on the territory.

"At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," he said. "I intentionally say this here -- Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such.

"In order for the EU to relaunch a political dialogue with a minimal chance of succeeding and a chance of moving forward towards peace, Hamas must accept the two little conditions that were put to it -- one, the right of Israel to exist and two that it abandon the armed struggle, the terrorist dimension of its approach."

..."One cannot hold discussions with a terrorist movement which uses terrorism as a means," he said. "We cannot accept that the manner in which Hamas behaves be confused with resistance. When one kills innocent civilians, it is not resistance, it is terrorism," he told journalists in Gaza City.

Blasting the scale of destruction in Gaza, Michel said the European Union, the main donor to the Palestinians, was sick of paying for the same infrastructure that is destroyed over and over again.

"Public opinion is fed up to see that we are paying over and over again -- be it the (European) commission, the member states or the major donors -- for infrastructure that will be systematically destroyed," said Michel.

Their Headlines: His Words

From Salon site:

Netanyahu would let West Bank settlements expand
By MARK LAVIE Associated Press Writer

From the Yahoo News site:

Netanyahu would let West Bank settlements expand
By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press Writer Mark Lavie

From the Washington Times:

Netanyahu wants to let West Bank settlements grow

From AP:

Israel's Netanyahu: Existing settlements will grow

From Haaretz:

Netanyahu: Likud-led coalition wouldn't build new settlements
By Barak Ravid

From Reuters:

Israel's Netanyahu says won't build new settlements

What he actually said:

"I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank," Netanyahu was quoted as telling international Mideast envoy Tony Blair on Sunday. "But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements."

These aren't good headlines?:

Netanyahu Won't Choke Settlement Growth

Netanyahu: I Will Meet Settlement Growth Needs

Netanyahu: Settlement Growth Needs To Be Met

Netanyahu: Settlements Won't Be 'Choked', To Grow Naturally

Photos From The 6th Jerusalem Conference

The Jerusalem Conference opened last night.

We heard from Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon, Yedidyah Atlas, MKs Pines-Pza, Gilad Ardan and candidates Tzipi Hotobeli, Yaakov (Katzeleh) Katz and others.

Some of the scenes:

The podium:

The Rabbanit Shulamith Melamed (r.):

Baruch Gordon (l.):


Bobby Brown (r.) with Guma Aguiar (l.), sponsor of the Conference (and formerly, co-founder of Leor Energy LP, which was formed in 2003 as an East Texas/Deep Bossier wildcatter and sold in November to EnCana Corp.)

Yedidyah and Batya Atlas:

IBA's Steve Leibowitz (r.) and Ruthie Blum of the Jerusalem Post:

Ruthie Lieberman of Jaffe Strategies and her uncle, Prof. Eliezer Jaffe:

Shani Simkovitz from Gush Etzion (r.) and Ari Abramowitz:

My wife, Batya, and Rabbi Chaim Wasserman:

Ruchie Avital, silmultaneous translator extraordinaire:

A Letter-to-the-Editor That Wasn't Published

To the New York Times:

Kaveh Afrasiabi (Letter, Jan. 22) asserts a "growing apartheid-like cantonization of Arab areas manned by some 700 Israeli checkpoints" as well as "growing violence by vigilante Jewish settlers" as a troubling reality.

This past week, my neighbor, Moshe Avitan, who lives in the disputed territories, was shot in the head in a drive-by terror incident while traveling with his wife (both are civilians not soldiers) on a road that is not 'apartheid-like' because Arabs drive on it which allowed that Arab vigilante shooting. In addition, they made a successful escape due to the fact that a checkpoint was removed, one that was forced upon Israel by the outgoing Secretary of State last March.

Moreover, my living at Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood, where the Land of Israel was divided into tribal portions and where Samuel the Prophet was trained, has nothing to do with "Israel's neocolonial expansionism" whereas the Arab presence has everything to do with their conquest of the area in 638 CE and their centuries-long illegal occupation.

Yisrael Medad

CAMERA's Critique of Bob Simon's "60 Minutes" Program

In the January 25th episode of CBS's 60 Minutes, correspondent Bob Simon teamed up with Palestinian politician and partisan Mustafa Barghouti in a segment entitled "Is Peace Out of Reach," to promote the Palestinian view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which heaps blame on Israel and exculpates the Palestinians for lack of peace. He ignores the Palestinians' responsibility for their own situation and reduces everything to a two-dimensional, villain-and-victim scenario, with Israel cast in the role of villain and Palestinians in the part of victim.

To support this one-sided and extremely distorted view, CBS gives a welcoming platform to Palestinians and other harsh critics of Israel. The Israeli perspective, by contrast, is given a fraction of the time. And most of that time is devoted to an Israeli settler leader whose views represent neither the Israeli mainstream, the Israeli government or even most of the settlers.

But the program itself is much more lopsided than even the imbalance of speakers indicates, since correspondent Bob Simon — whose voice dominates the segment — clearly sides with the "blame Israel" chorus.

While parroting Palestinian talking points and accepting without challenge the most extreme Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda (e.g. the slur that Israel practices apartheid and that settlements are like "crusader fortresses"), Simon overlooks recent history and key events and at one point even heckles an Israeli soldier as if in a schoolyard argument. ("Have you lost your voice?," he contemptuously asks an Israeli soldier who is seemingly not authorized or prepared to speak with the press.)


The entire premise of Bob Simon's segment — that the key to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict lies entirely with the Israelis, who make peace impossible by building settlements in the West Bank — is false and devoid of connection to recent history.

Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled all of its settlements there. The Gaza disengagement, though, did not bring peace to Israel's south, but rather the opposite. What makes Simon think a similar withdrawal from areas closer to Israel' s major cities won't bring even more violence? And why does he also ignore reasonable Israeli concerns that if it withdrew from the West Bank "Hamas would take over the institutions and apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority within days"?

Simon also ignores the fact that the Palestinians were offered, in exchange for peace, a state eight years ago in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They not only failed to accept the peace offer, but chose a terror war against Israel instead. Had they accepted the offer, the Palestinians would have a state, settlements deep inside the West Bank would be gone, and, the hope was, Palestinian terrorism that fuels the conflict would be reined in. Instead, Palestinian terrorism prompted Israeli defensive measures, and thus changed the face of the West Bank.

They not only failed to accept the peace offer, but chose a terror war against Israel instead. Had they accepted the offer, the Palestinians would have a state, settlements deep inside the West Bank would be gone, and, the hope was, Palestinian terrorism that fuels the conflict would be reigned in. Instead, Palestinian terrorism prompted Israeli defensive measures, and thus changed the face of the West Bank.


Just as Simon ignores Israel's offer to dismantle settlements and create a Palestinian state, he also ignores the violence that followed Palestinian rejection of the offer. The words "terror," "terrorism" or "terrorist" do not appear even once in the transcript of the segment. Nor do the words "violence," "war," "gunmen," "militants," "attacker," or "suicide bombers."

The one reference to guns during the 60 Minutes segment, in fact, was Simon's assertion that "the Israelis," as opposed to the Palestinians, "have the guns." The one reference to "security" was Mustafa Barghouti's claim that most Israeli checkpoints cannot be justified by security concerns.

Although Simon ignores Palestinian violence against Israel, he nonetheless faults Israeli response to the violence. Stripped of its context, Israel's attempts to protect its civilians is framed as gratuitously causing inconvenience, oppression, and "humiliation" to Palestinians.

The security barrier (which Simon absurdly says Israel refers to as a "wall") is said to "appropriate" land and "separat[e] farmers from their land." But its essential purpose, to protect Israelis and prevent suicide bombers from reaching their targets, is ignored. Likewise, Simon describes checkpoints as "humiliating," and allows Barghouti to allege that they primarily exist "to block the movement of people from one place to another," but fails to reference the number of Palestinian attacks that they prevented, and fails to mention that, like the barrier, most checkpoints didn't exist before the Palestinians initiated their war of terror in late 2000.

(CAMERA recently examined incidents at one checkpoint, the Hawara over the course of one month, October 2008. on October 5, a Palestinian was stopped carrying a suspicious parcel containing two pipe bombs; on October 12, a female soldier prevented an attack when she discovered nine pipe bombs in the bags of three Palestinian traveling companions; on the following day, soldiers stopped a man who was trying to cross the checkpoint with explosive devices. He was shot and lightly wounded as he tried to escape in a get-away car; on October 15, soldiers confiscated a 10 cm knife from a man trying to pass through the checkpoint; a week later on October 22, the checkpoint was temporarily closed as a 17-year-old youth was detained with several firebombs and an explosive device. On October 25, a Palestinian youth was taken for questioning after soldiers found a pipe bomb in his bag.)


Likewise, Israel's periodic use of a strategically-located Palestinian home in Nablus owned by the Nassif family, which is discussed at length in the segment, can't be understood in a vacuum. After Simon and the Palestinian residents slam Israel for taking over the upper floors of the house on certain days, the CBS correspondent's paraphrasing of a brief statement by Israel — he said that "an army spokesperson told us the army uses the Nassif's house for important surveillance operations" — does little to explain Israel's concerns and rationale.

Israel sees Nablus as a continuing hotbed of terrorist efforts and the central district of the West Bank from which attempted attacks on Israel emanate. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, in 2007 the Hamas networks in Samaria, especially in the Nablus region, were defined by the Israel Security Agency as dangerous and working avidly to rehabilitate themselves after the damage done by Operation Defensive Shield. In 2007 a series of counterterrorist activities was directed against the networks including the detention of many operatives, some of them senior.

(See, e.g., here and here) The terrorist activity and murder of hundreds of Israelis in 2001-2003 has been dramatically diminished through a combination of the security barrier and intense, round-the-clock vigilance inside the West Bank. Because much of Nablus lies in a valley, Israel can survey the camps, casbah and city below from strategic hills, and this surveillance sometimes entails using private homes. IDF soldiers are instructed not to harm anyone or to damage property.

Even the BBC, which is not generally regarded as sympathetic to Israel, alerted its readers to Israel's position in a more journalistically responsible manner. In a piece about the house, a reporter notes:

Over the last six years, the Israeli army has made frequent incursions into the city, to arrest and kill militants. When it does, the soldiers often return to bang on Mr Nasif's door. ...

Nablus does have a history of militancy. In the past, perpetrators of bombings in which Israeli civilians were killed, came from the city.

Although those attacks have dramatically decreased in number over recent years, the army says that does not mean attacks are not still being planned. That is why it says it needs to keep on making its raids into Nablus.

In other words, unlike 60 Minutes, the BBC acknowledges that the murder of Israeli civilians, and Israel's attempts to act against potential killers, is an essential part of the story.


As with his discussion of the West Bank, Simon misleads viewers to present Palestinians in Jerusalem as blameless victims of Israeli oppression:

The army is evicting Arabs from their homes in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians hoped to make their capital. Outraged, Arabs tried to save their homes, but the Israelis have the guns. Israel demolished more than 100 Arab homes in the past year, ruling they'd been illegally built. Arabs say this is just another tactic to drive them out.

"Drive them out"? Under Israeli control, the Arab population of eastern Jerusalem has increased dramatically, and in fact grew much faster than the Jewish population of western Jerusalem. And Israel also demolishes illegal structures in western Jerusalem. Does this mean it is trying to "drive out" Jews from Jerusalem? And Palestinians themselves have also demolished illegal homes under their control. Would CBS take seriously allegations that the Palestinian Authority is trying to "drive out" Palestinians from Gaza because it demolished illegal building?


Simon abandoned all pretense of journalistic impartiality with prejudicial language that clearly echoed Palestinian allegations. For example, he talked of Israelis "slic[ing] up [land on which] Palestinians had hoped to establish their state"; of Palestinians having to "submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints"; of Israeli settlements "dominating the lowlands like crusader fortresses"; of Israeli soldiers who "corral" Palestinians as they requisition their houses for security reason. He similarly championed and emphasized the Palestinian spokesman's claims, as well, telling viewers "here's what [Barghouti] is up against"; and "Here's how they block Barghouti."

By contrast, he shows utter contempt toward an Israeli soldier, heckling him: "Why don't you tell us what you're doing here? Have you lost your voice?"

Moreover, Simon did much on his own to mislead viewers. Here is one typical statement by the correspondent:

Palestinians had hoped to establish their state here on the West Bank, an area the size of Delaware. But Israelis have sliced it up with scores of settlements and hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use. Palestinians have to drive or ride on the older roads. When they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank.

Here, in just a few seconds of monologue, Simon falsely asserted that there are "hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use" (in fact all Israelis, whether Jewish or Arab, Christian or Muslim, can use Israel's bypass roads, as can West Bank Palestinians who are believed to pose no threat to commuters); that Israelis prevented a Palestinian state because they "sliced ... up" the West Bank (in fact, as mentioned above, the lack of a Palestinian state is not because Israel "sliced up" — as Bob Simon and pro-Palestinian activists describe it — the West Bank, but because they rejected a state, started a terror war, and used territory abandon by Israel as a base for deadly attacks); and relayed the Palestinian view of checkpoints as "humiliating" while ignoring the fact that Palestinians' violent rejection of a state prompted most of the checkpoints).


Simon carefully chose his guests to bolster his points, guaranteeing a warped picture of the conflict to accompany a skewed narration.

Mustapha Barghouti is quoted and paraphrased more than any other guest and is given an unchallenged platform to level a variety of extreme charges. Referring to him only as a "former candidate for Palestinian president" Simon gives no hint that he is a long-time partisan whose statements are often patently false and propagandistic – notwithstanding his role as a PA legislator.

* Commenting on the death of arch-terrorist George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and mastermind of airplane bombings and hijackings, the Lod Airport massacre and the Entebbe hijacking, Barghouti praised the PFLP leader who he said left a legacy of "loyalty to the Palestinian cause in a very principled manner – honest, clean politics and great devotion to the Palestinian cause and to humanity." (Jerusalem Post Jan 29, 2008)

* On Dec 30 as the Gaza conflict erupted he stated on CNN that not a "single" Israeli had been killed since Dec 27, when in fact four had been killed.

* On CNN, he charged that Israel had broken the June 2008 cease-fire, when the Palestinians had broken it repeatedly by with the firing of rockets, mortars and light arms and with attempted infiltrations aimed at abducting Israelis.

* Barghouti's lies sometimes catch up with him as, for example, when the San Francisco Chronicle had to correct an absurd allegation he made that Israel's security barrier "was claiming 58% of the West Bank."

Barghouti and Simon lament that Barghouti cannot "ever" enter Jerusalem, implying he's barred because he moved away from the city. But Simon does not bother to investigate. Barghouti has been arrested several times for violating agreements not to engage in political electioneering in Jerusalem without a permit, and according to London's Independent (Jan. 8, 2005), he has deliberately "sought confrontations with the security forces as a tactic to gain badly needed publicity." Moreover, after an arrest in January 2006, he was ordered by Jerusalem police to stay out of Jerusalem for the next 30 days (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2006) -- not as Simon claims "forever." Apparently, the story is more complicated than the 60 Minutes host implies.

The Nassif family is granted almost as much time as Barghouti to give their view of events at their home overlooking Nablus, a sharp contrast with the ultra-brief paraphrased Israeli comment that "important surveillance operations" occur from the house.

Daniella Weiss, resident of the West Bank, is presented as a counterweight to Barghouti and voice for the settlement movement. Yet she represents the most extreme position of Israeli settler opinion, has sparred with settler leadership and advocates for illegal outposts – all of which are not positions of the vast majority of Israelis and Israeli settlers. Casting her comments as representative produces a highly distorted picture of settlements, ignoring the relevant legal, historical and religious issues.

Meron Benvenisti is identified as a supposedly "moderate" Israeli; but his stated views are far from moderate. He claims Israelis are not actually victims of Arab violence, but that "Jewish immigrants settled on the lands of Arab natives, met with violent resistance and responded as if they were the victims and the natives the aggressors" (The Nation, June 18, 2007). In the August 7, 2003 Ha'aretz, he wrote: "... the basic story here is not one of two national movements that are confronting each other; the basic story is that of natives and settlers." (Like Hamas extremists, he uses "settlers" here to refer to all Israelis, not just those living in the West Bank.)

He even claims Israel is worse in some respects than apartheid South Africa and he argues for a single binational state over the entirety of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip — a proposal far outside the Israeli political mainstream.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is very briefly interviewed, representing the official voice of Israel. She is only quoted discussing the possible need to remove settlements. If she commented on the need for checkpoints and other security measures or other context, it didn' t make it on the air.

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