Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Truth About Mary Poppins

I guess I have a one track mind. The first thing I thought was how easy it is to take selected facts and spin them into something very different.

[Hat Tip: Hot Air]

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Is Israel Responsible For the Nuclear Arms Race In The Middle East?

Dr. Mitchel Bard explains why the answer is 'no'.
MYTH #279

"Israel’s presumed nuclear capability is stoking an arms race."


Israel is widely believed to have developed a nuclear weapon in the late 1960s. Despite U.S. fears at the time that this would provoke a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, this did not happen. Now, however, it appears many nations are interested in pursuing a nuclear capability, but it is in response to what they see as the danger posed by Iran’s nuclear program, not Israel’s.

The only Muslim nation that currently has a nuclear capability is Pakistan. The decision by Pakistan to build the “Islamic bomb” had nothing to do with Israel; it was a response to the development of the bomb by its neighbor and rival India.

Iran began its secret development of nuclear weapons nearly two decades ago, but that decision was also unrelated to Israel. Iran’s principal concern was to counterbalance what Iranians viewed as the dangerous nuclear ambitions of their rival in Baghdad. Israel had long been Iran’s ally and even the paranoid mullahs in Tehran knew Israel had no hostile intentions toward the Islamic Republic. Iran is now determined to build a bomb to achieve regional domination over the Arab states.

The focus on the belligerent rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has led many to wrongly assume that he is the driving force behind the Iranian nuclear effort, but the program was initiated long before his election. For Iranians, the drive for a bomb is a function of their nationalistic belief that they have just as much right to nuclear weapons as any other nation, so it is a mistake to believe that a difference of opinion exists between pro-Western Iranians in the opposition and the Islamists currently in power.

Some Arab leaders, notably Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, may have believed that the only way they could ultimately achieve their goal of destroying Israel, given their belief in Israel’s nuclear arsenal, was to have bombs of their own, but neither leader seemed primarily motivated by Israel’s capability. Hussein knew he had little to fear from Israel and was more interested in developing a weapon that would give him an advantage over Iran and help establish Iraq as a regional power. The same is true for Libya, which was for many years interested in a nuclear weapon because its megalomaniacal leader believed it would make his country a superpower.

In recent months, as tensions with Iran have escalated, several Arab countries suddenly announced their interest in nuclear power. Like the Iranians, they all publicly claim their interest is solely in the peaceful purpose of electrical generation. After more than 30 years of living with Israel’s assumed arsenal, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia did not suddenly decide they needed nuclear energy.1 Since Jordan and Egypt have peace treaties with Israel and the other Arab states have no dispute with Israel, their motivation is more likely to have come from the fear of a nuclear Iran.

If Iran’s nuclear program is not stopped, it is clear the arms race in the Middle East will be on and the proliferation of nuclear weapons will become a far more serious danger.

1 See, for example, “Egypt to build nuclear power plants,” AP, (October 29, 2007); “Analysis: Yemen, Jordan hope for nuclear,” UPI, (October 1, 2007); “Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear,” [London] Times Online, (November 4, 2006).
This article can be found at The Jewish Virtual Library

See also Mitchell Bard's blog
Source: Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard.

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Hanan Ashrawi Is Depressed For Good Reason

According to Hanan Ashrawi:
Palestinians are experiencing "one of the most difficult phases in our history," said Hanan Ashrawi, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and an active voice in the Mideast peace process.
Putting aside just how very short that history actually is, Lisa Schiffren at The Corner writes that this is more than just an issue of poverty.
As De Gaulle said, decades ago about another failure to thrive case, "Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be…" For a while you could say that about the Palestinian state. For a shorter, more problematic while, the Palestinian state looked pretty inevitable — despite leadership that kept passing up each real opportunity to begin the hard work. But now that sense of inevitability has faded, and "Palestine" has become never-never land. Ashrawi is depressed for good reason: with each passing day of Hamas-Fatah infighting, failure to build infrastructure or institute any kind of rule of law, the magnitude of self destructiveness in the pyches of would be Palestinian leaders becomes more obvious, and the possibility of a real state shrinks.
Of course, just as world leaders have never allowed Israel to reap the rewards of victory in the wars forced upon her, they will never stop pushing for the creation of a state for Palestinian Arabs. Just as the Arabs never had to deal with the consequences of the losses in their wars, the Palestinian Arabs will never be held accountable for their complete inability to maintain a state.

That is why the Palestinian Arabs--as with the Arab/Muslim world as a whole--will never change.

And Israel is being forced to live with those consequences.

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Mearsheimer & Walt and The Rise of Judeocentrism

Jonathan Rosenblum asks: Mearsheimer and Walt may be many things--but are they outright Anti-Semites?
Stupid, Yes; but is it Anti-Semitic

Part II [Read Part I here]

At the end of last week’s cliffhanger, we promised to answer this week the question: Is Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book The Israel Lobby anti-Semitic? But we have changed our minds. First of all, outside the pages of Yated Ne’eman, anti-Semite is not such a big insult anymore. Jews are not on the official list of “endangered minorities.” Moslems are, however, despite there being more than a billion of them worldwide.

Point out that Moslems pose a significant threat to virtually every Western democracy, and you might find yourself hauled before the European Court of Justice for actionable Islamophobia. But Jews are pretty much fair game.

Anti-Semites today are, in any event, generally careful to stress that they are merely anti-Israel. And even if they talk about “the Jews,” they always have a fallback position: We meant the Jewish establishment. Very rarely is anything to be gained by accusing someone of being an anti-Semite. And the charge, once made, usually ends with the accuser thrust into the role of the accused for having attempted to stifle legitimate debate with charges of anti-Semitism.

So let us just say, following Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Republic, that Walt-Mearsheimer are peculiarly Judaeocentric. They have geneology on the brain.
Thus they feel it important to inform readers that Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is married to a Jew and his children are being raised as Jews (whatever that might mean), by way of explaining his inclusion in the pro-Israeli lobby. Timothy Rutten (not a terribly Jewish-sounding name) reviewing the book in the Los Angeles Times, noted some unpleasant odors wafting from its pages: “[R]eaders are treated to an explication of the religious affiliations of various Bush administration officials that reads like it was inspired by the Nuremberg Laws. The fact of the matter is, however, that the figure most responsible for pushing the attack on Iraq – Vice President Dick Cheney – is not Jewish, nor even ideologically neo-conservative. He is a card-carrying member of the oil industry elite, however, and names like Halliburton and ExxonMobile never seem to make their way into these pages.”

David Remmick, editor of New Yorker, noted that Walt-Mearsheimer have undertaken to provide Americans distraught about the war in Iraq with a scapegoat: the Israel lobby. “They conclude that the United States was, in fact, tricked into a disastrous war in Iraq by a domestic Fifth Column and that the ranks of that subversive formation are filled with Jews, their friends and willing dupes.” Remmick labels the book “sinister.”

No doubt the two professors have Jewish friends, perhaps even many of them. (That itself should have alerted to them to the weakness in their working premise that American Jews are all enlisted in the Israel lobby, and that they are far and away the most influential element of that lobby.) But as one friend who attended a book signing by Mearsheimer put it, they have certainly made the world a happier place for unabashed anti-Semites. Ex-Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, for instance, was in ecstasy over The Israel Lobby, which he claims confirms everything he has been saying for years.

Walt-Mearsheimer may not be anti-Semites, but they have written, in the words of Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations, “a book anti-Semites will love.” Jeffrey Goldberg made a foray into, and discovered that purchasers of the book were also likely to purchase other works with names like The Power of Israel in the United States; Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History; They Dare Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, and, of course, Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.

The very concept of a Israel lobby has unpleasant associations with all the various alleged Jewish cabals in history, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The accusation of Jews secretly wielding power on behalf of their co-religionists in other lands and to the detriment of their home country is an ancient one. And sadly Walt-Mearsheimer’s treatment of the Israel lobby does not prove itself to have sufficient analytical rigor or explanatory power to free it from those historical associations.

Mead clears Walt-Mearsheimer of the charge of being anti-Semites, but acknowledges that they have done “what anti-Semites have always done: they overstate the power of Jews. . . . [T]he picture they paint calls up some of the ugliest stereotypes of anti-Semitic discourse. The Zionist octopus they conjure – stirring up the Iraq war, manipulating both U.S. political parties, shaping the media, punishing the courageous minority of professors and politicians who dare to tell the truth – is depressingly familiar.”

For one thing, they grossly overestimate the power of the “lobby” to bring American policy into congruence with Israel’s bidding. Thus the various sales of the most advanced armaments to Saudi Arabia, which aroused great anxiety in Israel, are scarcely mentioned. Nor are the pressures brought to bear on Israel by Henry Kissinger to spare the Egyptian Third Army in 1973 or the American arms embargo at the outset of the Yom Kippur War or Israel’s failure to secure Jonathan Pollard’s release. Walt-Mearsheimer do not compare the power of pro-Israel groups with that of other powerful lobbies, like the NRA or the farm lobby, which has managed to maintain high farm subsidies with virtually no debate for over half a century, despite the enormous daily cost to American consumers.

The evidence that they cite to prove the existence of an all-powerful Israel lobby is frequently laughable. They take at face value, for instance, AIPAC’s self-serving claims of its own influence because it supports their case of an all-powerful Israel lobby. They obsess over the pro-Israel money Hillary Clinton raised for her 2006 Senate campaign, without noting that it was less than 1% of the total, and less than one-tenth of that contributed by lawyers and law firms.

Moreover, the Israeli lobby in their treatment is highly amorphous concept. With respect to their treatment of the Iraq War, their focus is almost exclusively on a small group of Jews – Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby – who in Walt-Mearsheimer’s view are virtually card-carrying Likud party members. In the process, they turn the president, vice president, secretary of defense, and secretary of state into mere ciphers helplessly manipulated by their Jewish subalterns. That portrayal, as Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out in The New Republic, echoes “the ancient idea . . . that Jews, operating in the shadows, manipulate gentile leaders to unknowingly advance Jewish interests.”

If the Israel lobby is synonymous with neo-conservatives, however, the vast majority of American Jews are not part of the Israel lobby. No group in the United States opposed the war in Iraq in higher percentages than American Jews. Nor are most American Jews supportive of Israeli settlements or the Likud. They loved Bill Clinton, and they supported both the Oslo process and the last failed attempt to rescue it at Camp David.

But when Walt-Mearsheimer expand the definition of the Israel lobby to include everything from Michael Lerner’s Tikkun to the Zionist Organization of America, they quickly descend into incoherence. The organizations, individuals, and newspapers – including remarkably The New York Times – that they lump together under the rubric the Israel lobby are at bitter loggerheads over virtually every aspect of internal Israeli policy and over American foreign policy as well, including American policy to Israel.

How can one assess the strength of the lobby, when every possible American policy is identified with the lobby, from Bill Clinton’s approach at Camp David to President Bush’s subsequent rejection of the Clinton approach in favor of a long period of benign neglect towards Middle East peacemaking? Mead tartly observes: True, the Israel lobby always wins, but only in the way that a person who bets on every square always wins at roulette.

If supporting Israel’s right to exist – about the only point upon which most American Jews agree – constitutes membership in the Israel lobby, then almost every American belongs, including Walt-Mearsheimer, who assure their readers that they support Israel’s right to exist.

ONE OF THE REASONS that Walt-Mearsheimer are so convinced that only the existence of a super-powerful Israel lobby can explain the allegedly “uncritical and unconditional support” for Israel from the American government is that they take such a low view of Israel. In their view, there is no plausible strategic or moral argument that can be advanced in favor of U.S. support for Israel. It beggars belief that their fellow Americans could possibly support Israel to the extent they do absent the manipulation of the lobby. For that reason, they consistently downplay Christian support for Israel and its significance on American foreign policy.

But how, then, do they explain that some of the strongest support for Israel in the U.S. Congress comes from rural states in which there are few Jews and The New York Times is not the paper of record? How can they explain that Republicans, according to every poll, support Israel at higher rates than Democrats, though Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and contribute to Democrats.

Of course, the picture they paint of Israel rivals in its one-sided presentation that of Jimmy Carter, to whom Mearsheimer has served as an advisor. Whenever there are two possible interpretations, Walt-Mearsheimer invariably adopt the one unfavorable to Israel, no matter how wildly implausible. They believe, for instance, that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip to bring about a Hamas takeover and with it an end the “peace process.” A perfect example, no doubt, of the diabolical cleverness of the Jews.

Walt-Mearsheimer, like Carter, reject the account of former president Bill Clinton, Dennis Ross, and just about everybody who present at Camp David and subsequently at Taba, of what Israel offered. They accept the Palestinian claim that they were offered non-contiguous Bantustans. Yet they offer no explanation for their rejection of Clinton’s account. (They do manage to quote a Palestinian participant who commented of Ross’s participation that he felt he was negotiating with two Israeli teams – one sitting with an Israeli flag and the other sitting with an American flag.)

Again like Carter, Walt-Mearsheimer consistently downplay or ignore Palestinian terrorism in analyzing Israeli policy decisions. They write, for instance, that the impact of terrorism on the Israeli economy has been minimal. That statement is roughly on par with saying that 9/11 had minimal impact on the United States, as evidenced by the fact that the Dow-Jones is higher today than at the time of the attack.

The settlements are portrayed as the major source of Arab animosity towards Israel. But no mention is made of the Arab League’s “three no’s” at Khartoum, in response to Israel’s offer to return the territories after the Six Day War. Walt-Mearsheimer even deny that the Arabs sought to destroy Israeli in 1967, despite the chanting mobs in Cairo and Damascus calling of the blood of the Jews.

And when they do mention terrorism at all, they invariably treat it as the only alternative left to downtrodden Palestinians. It never occurs to them that the Palestinians could have done what Ben-Gurion did in 1948 – i.e., accept the state offered to them and show their worthiness of statehood. Nor does it occur to them that the Palestinians bear any responsibility for their own situation, and that the tens of billions of dollars in aid showered upon them by the international community could have been used to build a decent Palestinian society rather than padding the bank accounts of Arafat and his cronies and maintaining massive security forces.

Walt-Mearsheimer’s undisguised distaste for Israel comes through in their statement that it is “impossible to argue that the United States took the side of Israel [against Hezbollah] “because it was the morally correct policy choice.” Impossible to make such an argument? Why? Did Israel cross the Lebanese border and kidnap Hezbollah fighters? Did it fire unprovoked on Lebanese cities? Their statement is a curious one for another reason as well. As self-professed realists, surely they can understand the United States’ vital interest in the defeat of Iran’s leading proxy.

In Walt-Mearsheimer’s telling, there is no significant threat to the United States today that would not disappear if Israel were to disappear tomorrow – not Islamic jihad, not a nuclear Iran. A world without Israel would be a virtual Elysium. Ira Stoll remarked drily in the New York Sun that a reader of Walt-Mearsheimer could gain the impression that Osama bin Laden would return to the family construction business if it were not for Israel.

Walt-Mearsheimer point to Europe as an exampled of the more “balanced” view of Israel that would prevail in America were it not for the nefarious Israel lobby. That would be the Europe in which it is commonplace to describe Israel as having engaged in genocide against the Palestinians since 1967, despite the rapid Palestinian population growth, decline in infant mortality, dramatic increase in life expectancy, and jump in literacy under Israeli rule, the Europe in which polls list Israel as the greatest threat to the world peace.

Walt-Mearsheimer lament the absence of truth-telling journalists in America like Patrick Seale, Hafez al-Assad’s court biographer, and Robert Fiske, who has of late lent his name to various conspiracy theories as to who was really behind 9/11.

EVEN IF WALT-MEARSHEIMER are not anti-Semites, they are certainly anti-anti anti-Semites. In the manner of the anti anti-Communists of the ‘50s, who viewed the excesses of the anti-Communists as far more threatening than Communism itself, they worry more about those who focus on anti-Semitism than about anti-Semitism itself. In their view, Jews complain far too much about anti-Semitism and blow its extent out of all proportion.

They systematically downplay the alleged threats to both Israel and Jews, as part of their rhetorical strategy. For if Jews overstate the threats they face, does that not suggest that they do so deliberately in order to immunize themselves to criticism and silence their critics.

Walt-Mearsheimer, for instance, claim that Ahmadinejad never threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map. In their telling, he simply expressed the hope that Israel will gently disappear from the pages of history. Jeffrey Goldberg points out that among the media outlets describing Ahmadinejad as having called for Israel’s destruction are Al Jazeera and the official Iranian broadcast service, neither of which are known to be under Zionist control. And Ahmadinejad’s personal website quotes him predicting that the new wave of confrontations in Palestine would soon wipe Israel away.

Walt-Mearsheimer similarly minimize European anti-Semitism, and attribute most of what there is to understandable Moslem anger over Israeli actions. But a British parliamentary report on anti-Semitism in England found that anti-Jewish incitement had reached crisis levels. And the author of that report wrote recently, “Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference. The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous.”

The rate of French Jews leaving their native land for Israel has doubled in recent years in response to a long string of violent anti-Semitic incidents. Perhaps French Jews are being hysterical (though they have a considerably closer view of the scene than Walt-Mearsheimer), but they are not making up their fears. People do not generally flee their homes in order to gain a debating advantage over their adversaries.

Part of the reason that Walt-Mearsheimer do not perceive the rising anti-Semitism in Europe is due to their stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the routine European equation of Israel with Nazi Germany and Israeli leaders with Hitler does not strike one as off-the-wall, then there is no reason to consider Israel to be the victim of a double-standard deriving from anti-Semitism.

Walt-Mearsheimer’s intent is to confront Jews with the tar baby problem: The more they seek to confront their accusers the more ammunition they provide for the charge that they are stifling all debate. That tactic, as Mead notes, is also of ancient provenance: “The authors also end up adopting a widely used tactic that has a special history in anti-Semitic literature. When anti-Semitic writers and politician make vicious attacks, Jews are in a double bind: refrain from responding with outrage and the charge becomes accepted as fact, express utter loathing at the charge and give anti-Semite the opportunity to pose as the victims of a slander campaign by venomous Jews.”

The best-seller status of The Israel Lobby and Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is the best proof, if any were needed, that there exists no Israel lobby in America capable of stifling debate on Israel. But by prophylactically predicting that Jews will attempt to silence them and others like them with the charge of anti-Semitism, Walt-Mearsheimer have written, in Goldberg’s words, a “book [that] is not an act of scholarship, but an act of intimidation.”

The proper question is not: Are Walt-Mearsheimer anti-Semites? But rather: What difference would it make if they were?
You can read all of Jonathan Rosenblum's articles on Jewish Media Resources.

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Is Israel The Boston Red Sox of The Western World?

Following the logic of Pat Sajak, maybe:
It's important to understand the necessity to baseball's health of having a team we all love to hate. When the Yankees went into prolonged funks from the mid-60's to the mid 70's and again in the pre-Joe Torre era of the late 80's and early 90's, it was not a good thing for the sport. Attendance and interest suffered when mediocrity reigned in The Bronx.

It might seem strange to hate a team that spent so many decades enduring heartbreak, but those days are obviously over.

Sorry, Red Sox Nation, but success has its downside. Your team is no longer the sentimental favorite. They are the champions once again, and their future looks brighter than that of their arch-rival's. So revel in it, and rub the visiting teams' noses in it (even the home teams' when you can buy out their tickets), but somebody has to be the bad guy.'s you.
The days when Israel was the underdog are long over. The success of Jews as a people and Israel as a nation is noted passing in the media, but for the most part the media is busy writing about the suffering of Palestinian Arabs--brought about by their corrupt elected leadership which fires rockets at Israel and whines at the prospect of the consequences.

But if making the Boston Red Sox into the bad boys of baseball is good for baseball, just what purpose does it serve to paint Israel as the 'bad boy' of the Western World--other than provide fodder for the newspapers to save their sinking circulation?

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Gaza Boys Choir

Let's hear it for the boys:
Hamas militants have launched a new weapon in their struggle with Israel: a troupe of honey-voiced singers known as Protectors of the Homeland.
I wonder if they do weddings?
In a show of strength in the face of deepening crisis in Gaza since Hamas took over in June, the organization sponsored a mass wedding last Thursday.

The group ceremony brought together 100 grooms, who celebrated without their brides in observance of Islamic law.
Rev. Moon was not in attendance.

I suppose the wedding is Hamas' solution to Palestinian internecine murder.

[Hat tip: Hot Air Headlines]

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"Bad News" Is Contagious--And You Can Spread It Too!

Following in the footsteps of Bad News from The Netherlands and Bad News from Finland comes Bad News from Britain:
News coverage from Israel is often distorted if measured against the 'Code of Ethics' guidelines of journalism. The origins of “bad news” about a country thus lie with numerous foreign media. This project exposes one of many methods used.

This project is based on "Bad News from the Netherlands".
“Bad News from the Netherlands” has raised major international interest since it appeared on the web in October 2007. Many thanks are due to all those who have contributed news, ideas and financing. Support us to expand this project.

Act against the biased media: start a “bad news” blog about another country. If you want to use this layout, please contact us at the e-mail address below.
Check it out!

[Hat tip: Media Backspin]

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Egypt's Got Game!

Imagine if there was no peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
Video games loosely based on historic wars are nothing new. But the recently released “October War,” which invites children to “fight the Israeli Air Force starting from Swais [sic] til Barliv [sic] Line,” offers a new twist to the genre: it is available exclusively on the Anwar Sadat website’s “Kids Corner,” thus making it the first war-themed video game to be released on the official website of a former head-of-state. Indeed, dedicated gamers will be disappointed to find that the Harry S. Truman Library’s kids page lacks similarly inappropriate atomic bomb video games, while other typically dry former head-of-state websites won’t even arouse their curiosity.
What else would you expect from the website of a Nobel Prize winner?

Speaking of Nobel Prize winners, for real excitement, there is Jimmy Carter's Diplomacy Challenge, featuring challenges like this:

But be careful how you choose, lest you encounter the dreaded...


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Those Who Oppose The War In Iraq Should Oppose The Peace Summit Too

You would think that it would be natural for opponents of the Iraq war to be on board with President Bush for the Middle East peace negotiations between Israel and the PA. After all, one is all about conducting a war, while the other is all about negotiating peace. But the declared reasons for the opposition to Iraq should to apply to opposition to the Annapolis summit as well.

David Frum writes
Many of those who opposed the Iraq war on principle will favor these negotiations on principle. Yet the central error of the Iraq war - launching a huge venturing without adequate preparation or proper appreciation of the risks of failure - is the same error stalking these new negotiations.
Negotiating a final peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs does seem easy as compared to victory in Iraq, but then again attaining peace between Israel and the Palestinians has always appeared deceptively easy and attainable. This is because Israel has always been the 'reasonable' one that can be cajoled and manipulated into making concessions that are not necessarily in her best interests, all in the name of turning that last corner to get the Arabs--and now the Palestinians--to agree to a settlement.

There are no parties in Iraq that are in the back pocket of the US anywhere near the degree that Israel is perceived to be--And that is Israel's weakness.

It does seem odd that Bush's opponents--both on Capitol Hill and in the media--complain about the weakness of Prime Minister Maliki, but are silent about Abbas. They will complain about the loyalties of various Iraqi parties, yet have no problem with Fatah terrorists under Abbas. Much is made of the Iraqi constitution, but no one talks about how the Fatah Charter still declares its goal to destroy Israel. The murder of Iraqi leaders gets media attention, but the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Olmer is merely noted in passing.

Much could be made of all this by critics--at the expense of President Bush, who is behind Condoleezza Rice's current efforts. But negotiations and diplomacy get a free pass; in war, the body count is plastered all over the TV.

Of course, if the Arab world--and the Arab Palestinians--had to deal with the consequences of the wars they started without being allowed retries, there might already be peace in the Middle East.

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What Palestinians Sing While Peace Prospects Burn

Palestinian Media Watch has posted on YouTube the song appearing on Fatah-controlled TV while preparations are supposedly being made for the Annapolis summit.

PMW reminds us that Abbas worked closely with Arafat, and is emulating his tactic of saying one thing in English while saying something totally different in Arabic:
Arafat's Palestinian Authority was notorious for this duplicity. It signaled its real beliefs and intentions only in Arabic, while in English it said what the West and Israel needed to hear to sustain what is widely recognized today as a deceptive peace process. Arafat was successful, with Israel repeatedly giving in to his demands. Israel paid dearly for its trust in Arafat's English pronouncements, with more than 1,000 killed and tens of thousands wounded in the Palestinian Authority-led terror war.

Today's leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was Arafat's right hand man and partner during the first duplicity period. To Israel and the U.S. in English, he is talking peace. To his people in Arabic, through his TV and schoolbooks [Click for PMW report on PA schoolbooks], he is promoting hatred and promising the destruction of Israel. Is Abbas following Arafat's successful duplicity tactic? It is incumbent upon Israel and the world to verify this before going further.
Someone better, because Condoleeza Rice doesn't seem to be.

Here are the lyrics:
Oh mother, they destroyed our house
The house of my brother and my neighbor [2X]
Do not be angry, oh mother, we got more stones [2X]
We are Palestinians, we are not terrorists [2X]

We have the right, oh mother, we want to bring our home back
Hand in hand, and arm in arm, we will protect your land, Palestine
We will pray in Al-Aqsa and the [Church] of the Nativity, Islam and Christians
We will liberate [Palestine] the Land of Religions.
And we will build Jerusalem of the homelands.
We are the sons of glory, oh mother …

We are Palestinians we are not terrorists
We are the students of freedom we are not terrorists

Oh Arab, oh noble son, your blood is in my blood and your business is my business
Peace will be achieved through unity, oh my brother and cousin
The land is Arab in history and identity
Palestine is Arab in history and identity
We will live in peace, oh mother, and our lives will not be wasted

Oh mother, they destroyed our house
The house of my brother and my neighbor [2X]
Do not be angry, oh mother, our rocks increased [in number]

From Jerusalem and Acre, from Haifa and Jericho and Gaza and Ramallah [2X]
From Bethlehem and Jaffa, from Be’er Sheva and Ramla, [2X]
from Nablus to the Galilee, from Tiberias to Hebron [2x]

[Images of all these Israeli cities are broadcast]
[PA TV, October 23, 2007]
Note the line in the song: "We will live in peace, oh mother..."
Peace here does not mean to live together in harmony--it means peace as in "to be left in peace".

The aim remains to get rid of Israel.

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Iranian Jews Speak Out!

"I can tell you, based both on personal experience and on what I hear from friends, that there are places [in Iran] where Muslims have already divided among themselves the homes and property of their Jewish neighbors. They say that if there will be a war, the first thing they will do is slaughter the Jews."
Iranian Jew interviewed in Yedioth Ahronoth

I am extremely grateful to "Twilight Experiment" who emailed me about an article in the October 3rd edition of Yedioth Ahronoth by Ariela Ringel Hoffman entitled "Between the Hammer and the Devil". I am also thankful to Yedioth Ahronoth for being so quick to respond and email me a PDF of the article.

Some highlights of the article:

  • According to Hoffman, between the years 2000 and 2007--approximately 1,200 Jews arrived from Iran. In 2000: 384, 2001: 207, and year by year the numbers have diminished. However, while 65 Jews arrived from Iran in 2006, thus far this year 77 have arrived.

  • This is despite The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, of which Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein is president, which guarantees a grant of $10,000 to each Iranian Jew who comes to Israel. Efforts are being made to put together a package of incentives to entice them further.

  • Yossi Shraga, Director of Middle East immigration at the Jewish Agency, there are between 25,000 and 28,000 Jews now living in Iran--though the Iranians themselves put the number much higher: 100,000. Either way, averaging 100 Jews from Iran per year is a minuscule amount.

  • Hoffman describes the situation as a conflict between fear of life in Iran and the ability to adapt and lead a normal life there; between the worry of leaving everything behind and the desire to lead a new life in Israel.

  • According to Jeff Kaye, an official of the Jewish Agency, there good reason to worry about the fate of the Jews of Iran--the same reasons that pushed Israel to bring Jews out of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq to Israel or the US exist also in Iran.

  • One Iranian Jew interviewed by Hoffman said that Jews in Iran know they are sitting on a powder keg--at least half of them think that either Israel or the US will attack Iran's nuclear reactors. And when they do, the Jews of Iran will pay the price. Even without encouragement from the government, the Iranians on the street will take it out on the Jews.

  • Another Iranian Jew tells Hoffman that it was not the threat of war that brought him to Israel, but the desire to live as a Jew. "There, it is difficult to keep Mitzvot, to keep Kosher, to pray and to learn about Judaism. On Shabbat the children have to go to school--everything there is more difficult.

  • He continues, saying that it is the Israeli government that Iran hates--and not the Israelis themselves. He believes that things are better than they were 10 years ago--when there was a water fountain in the marketplace in Tehran with 2 faucets: one for Muslims and one for Jews. If a Jew dared to drink from the faucet for Muslims he would be beaten up. Today it is different.

  • Another Iranian Jew shows Hoffman his passport. On the last page--as will all Iranian passports--it reads:
  • Another Iranian Jew describes how most of his friends at the university were Muslims--some of whom expressed the wish to visit Israel. He draws a distinction between the Iranian on the street and those in the university, where instructors openly question Iran's need for a nuclear reactor. He believes that Anti-Semitism is something encountered only on the street, where calling someone a Jew is the equivalent to someone in Israel calling someone a Nazi. Yet he admits that Jews cannot hold government posts.

  • Hoffman reports that the economic situation of Jews in Iran is good relative to the rest of the population, and has in fact improved during the last few years--even while the poverty level has increased.

  • In Iran, the Internet is censured. Soon after a new site pops up, the authorities find out about it and it is blocked. Likewise, families watch CNN--until the government comes around and takes down their TV antenna. In previous years there was a punishment too, but no more. One of her interviewees tells Hoffman that he has a friend, a lawyer, who was involved in the compensation when 60 died from an explosion--but the explosion was never reported on the news.

  • Despite the small size of the Jewish community in Iran and the difficulty in finding a shidduch, intermarriage is relatively rare.

  • In Iran, serving in the army is mandatory. Many Jews avoid service by paying someone off--something that is not limited to the Jews alone. One who ended up serving in the army recounts how the Iranians who served were religious and treated him like someone impure, and gave him the hardest jobs. Though service is for 24 months, after 20 months he got disgusted and deserted.
Hoffman concludes:
The problem is that the Iranian Jews don't want to leave, I say to him [Yossi Shraga]. That is true, he says--they may not say it, but that does not free us. This is similar to the situation the Jews faced in Europe before the rise of the Nazis. Jews have the tendency, says Shraga, to believe that everything will turn out all right. But back then, there was no Jewish state, no government. Today there is, and we will not be able to forgive ourselves if something happens.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad and Israpundit.

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What The Post-Bush Era Will Bring For Israel

Itamar Rabinovich, Israel's ambassador to the United States from 1993-1996, writes about an open letter sent to President Bush on October 10, published in the November 8 issue of The New York Review of Books: Failure Risks Devastating Consequences on the importance of the upcoming conference at Annapolis.

The authors of the letter include Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor in the administration of former president Jimmy Carter; Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor of former president George H. Bush; and Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

You get the idea.

Rabinowich sees the the implications of the letter as stretching beyond this year--into the next presidential administration:
The importance of this letter must be sought in two other contexts. The first is the effort to shape the American agenda on "the day after" the presidential elections. This is not the only attempt. Think tanks and other organizations are preparing reports of their own, with all of them aspiring to repeat the extraordinary success of the 1976 Brookings report that was adopted by the Carter administration as its Middle East policy. The day after the elections will see an increase in the efforts to convince the new president, whoever he or she may be, that there is no better way to shake off Bush's legacy than by bringing about a far-reaching change in the Middle East policy of the United States.

Another context is the continuing erosion of Israel's standing in the United States. This does not manifest itself in public opinion polls and in votes in Congress, but rather in the loss of the "moral horizon," the change that has occurred in the standing of Israel, which used to be regarded as an attractive and just state. A clear expression of this is the recent reception of Jimmy Carter's book and of the book written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the Israeli lobby, which not only expressed criticism of Israel's policy but also questioned its legitimacy. Despite the criticism to which they have been subjected, these books are making waves and their authors are appearing throughout the United States. The "letter of the eight" is another link in this chain. [emphasis added]
After all, it will probably be easier to change strategies in dealing with Israel than with Iraq. In Iraq, there has clearly been major improvement there--as attested to by the sudden relative silence of the media on the day to day action there. When it comes to Israel though, there is never a shortage of ideas, usually starting with how much Israel should be forced to give up.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

4 Rallies For Jerusalem In The US

Defending Jerusalem Rallies

- Oct 25, 2007
Defending Jerusalem Coalition

In an 'emergency' meeting held Sunday on what to do about the Olmert Government's illegal and immoral attempt to divide Jerusalem, a new group was formed called: "Defending Jerusalem Coalition".

Bob Kunst, Pres., of Shalom International, 305-864-5110 and Doug Miller, Vice-Pres of Americans For A Safe Israel, 305-951-6977, will be spokespersons.

We agreed to do the following and have secured the police permits for each event already.
1. To Rally to "Defend Jerusalem" on Sunday, October 28, 2007 from Noon to 2 P.M. at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami, 5th St. and Biscayne Blvd. Everyone needs to reach out to every caring person who supports Israel and wants a united Jerusalem to show your visibility at this event and to let your networks know as well.

2. To Rally to "Defend Jerusalem" on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, from Noon to 2 P.M., in Nashville, Tenn., where the United Jewish General Assembly of 3000 delegates will be meeting at the Gaylord Operaland Hotel Resort and Convention Center. We will be there to rally on the corner of Music Valley Drive and McGavock Pike the closest the police will allow us to get to the convention. Please join with us if you will be in Nashville.

3. To Rally to "Defend Jerusalem" on Sunday, November 25, 2007 from Noon to 2 P.M. at the "Torch of Friendship", 5th St. and Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami, Fla.

4. To "Rally" at the "Middle East Summit", Nov. 26-27, from 11 AM to 2 P.M. at Gate 1 of Annapolis Naval Academy, at King George and Randall. Rabbi Weisblum of Knesset Israel, 1125 Spa St., in Annapolis, has offered us both Kosher food and also a place for prayer in the Shul. If you are going to join us here we need to know the numbers to give to the Rabbi, so please contact us immediately.
To divide Jerusalem is to divide the Jewish community and make everyone, including the diaspora even more vulnerable to attack, discrimination and isolation. We cannot allow this.

If you understand this crisis and need to act, please join us on these dates and if you can help in other ways and have additional suggestions we are happy to work with you, locally, nationally and internationally and suggest that folks in every community speak out on these dates as well and let your voices be heard. Silence at this time will only make matters worse.

Jerusalem belongs to every Jew in the world and every Jew murdered for being Jewish. Mr. Olmert has no authority or mandate to divide it and to betray us all for a phony peace that is non-existant. An Israel without a united Jerusalem as it’s capital is not the State of Israel.

Please take our urgent plea to your hearts and make this difference.

Yours in Shalom,
Bob Kunst
Pres., Shalom International
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Remembering Rabin--And Ignoring What He Said

The ZOA website notes that the memorial page on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin links to key speeches he made, but omits any link to the text of his last speech in the Knesset, in which he rejects the idea of creating an independent Palestinian state as well as making any dangerous territorial concessions.

ZOA raises the following points [emphasis in the original]:
  • Rabin ruled out a fully sovereign Palestinian state: "We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”

  • Rabin ruled out a total withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and thus a return to the pre-June 1967 borders: "The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”

  • Rabin ruled out withdrawing form the Jordan Valley: “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”

  • Rabin ruled out uprooting settlement blocs, like the Gush Katif bloc in Gaza (which was subsequently uprooted by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon): “The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

  • Rabin ruled out removing any settlement before coming to a full peace agreement with the Palestinians: “I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.”

  • Rabin insisted on Israel retaining full security control of the borders with Egypt and Jordan, contrary to Israel’s relinquishment of the Philadelphia Corridor on the border with Egypt: “The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, remains in our hands.”
The reason why the link to this speech was left may be obvious.
What is not so obvious is why Olmert is ignoring Rabin's advice.

Read Rabin's speech.

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Prospects for Success of an International Conference

An analysis by Dr. Mitchell Bard, based on an overview of a history of past conferences.
Fact Sheet: Prospects for Success of an International Conference

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to make the planned international conference in Annapolis a success and move the parties closer to peace. Israeli leaders never want to miss an opportunity for peace so Olmert has agreed to attend the meeting even though he knows the prospects for success are remote.

The Bush Administration is pushing for an agreement because it has come under constant criticism for failing to be more actively engaged in peacemaking, because State Department Arabists believe the fallacious argument of Arab allies that forcing Israel’s capitulation to their demands will improve America’s standing in the region, and because achieving a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians offers a potential way of salvaging the president’s legacy. Many people also believe that the likelihood of greater violence and instability increases in the absence of negotiations. Unfortunately, the conditions on the ground give little reason for optimism and the administration’s initiative faces a number of seemingly intractable obstacles.

The foremost problem is the weakness of Abbas. He is president in name only. He does not control the Gaza Strip and has only tenuous control over parts of the West Bank. Assuming he has the best of intentions, it is impossible for Abbas to implement any agreement he would sign. He has shown little interest in preventing terrorists from trying to attack Israel from the West Bank and no power to stop Kassam rockets from being launched from Gaza. He also has little support from the people or the armed factions that rule parts of the territories by mob law.

Furthermore, the contentious final status issues remain no closer to resolution today than when the Oslo accords were signed 14 years ago. Abbas has shown no willingness to compromise on settlements, borders, Jerusalem or refug ees. The continuing irredentism of the Palestinians remains the greatest single obstacle to peace.

Israelis are also reluctant to make new concessions to the Palestinians after the experience with disengagement. Had the Palestinians spent the last two years creating the infrastructure of a state in Gaza, resettling refugees from camps to permanent housing, stopped weapons smuggling and halted all terror and rocket fire, Israelis would have been open to additional territorial compromises in the West Bank. Since none of those positive steps occurred, few Israelis are willing now to risk giving up more land without ironclad guarantees of security.

Olmert has repeatedly expressed a willingness to give up territory in the West Bank, however, the current governing coalition, and Olmert’s low level of public support since the war with Hezbollah, makes it difficult for him to offer concessions without evidence that Abbas can deliver on any promises that he makes. The Israeli public has repeatedly shown itself to be responsive when an Arab leader demonstrates by word and deed a commitment to peace, and would likely support compromises that are currently unpopular if the Palestinians took serious steps to build confidence, such as releasing kidnaped soldier Gilad Shalit, stopping the rocket fire from Gaza and preventing attempted terrorist infiltrations from the West Bank. In the absence of such steps, along with far more conciliatory rhetoric, Israelis will not support major changes in the status quo.

The Palestinians could also help their cause if they called upon the other Arab countries to take positive steps. In particular, the Saudis should be told the only way to be relevant to the peace process is to recognize Israel and engage in direct talks. The Egyptians need to stop the smuggling of arms and cash into Gaza that is strengthening Hamas and further undermining Abbas. Jordan and Egypt, in turn, need to lean on the Palestinians to give up their maximal demands. Despite the recent tensions with Syria, a peace agreement has been on the table for several years and remains unfulfilled only because President Bashar Assad rejects the formula of exchanging peace and security for the Golan Heights.

The final obstacle to progress toward peace is the forum planned for the negotiations. The Bush Administration’s decision to convene an international conference in the hope of achieving an agreement represents a return to the consistently unsuccessful approach favored by the UN, State Department officials and former president Jimmy Carter.

The precedents for the success and failure of negotiations were established as early as 1949 when Ralphe Bunche insisted that the Arabs negotiate armistice agreements with Israel one at a time. This approach resulted in the signing of accords between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon ov er a five-month period. By contrast, the UN’s Palestinian Conciliation Commission tried to transform these armistice agreements into peace treaties at a conference in Lausanne. The mediators in Switzerland tried to pressure Israel into drastic territorial concessions and the Arabs and Jews never met face to face. The result was a reuniting of the Arab League coalition and the stiffening of Arab opposition to any compromise.

Almost 30 years later, President Carter was intent on repeating this mistake. Few people remember that the stimulus to Anwar Sadat’s momentous decision to go to Jerusalem – the psychological and political breakthrough that made peace between Israel and Egypt possible – was Sadat’s conviction that Carter’s desire to hold a conference was such a bad idea it would be impossible for him to achieve Egypt’s goal of regaining the Sinai from Israel.

The problem with an international conference is that the Arab participants have an incentive to stake out the most extreme positions. None of them can show a willingness to compromise that might be interpreted by their friends and rivals as weakening the collective effort to force Israel to capitulate to their demands. In Sadat’s case, he knew the Syrians would never make peace with Israel and he did not want to allow them a veto over his intention to negotiate an agreement. He, therefore, went behind Carter’s back to negotiate directly with the Israelis. Carter’s conference never convened anyway, in large measure because of Syrian obstinance.

The scenario that Sadat feared was played out in 1991 when the administration of George H.W. Bush pressured Israel to go to an international conference in Madrid. Prior to the meeting, Israel was asked to take confidence-building measures, and it did by releasing 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, instituting reforms in Gaza and reopening a West Bank university. Simultaneously, Secretary of State James Baker called on the Arab states to end their boycott of Israel and support the rescinding of the odious “Zionism is racism” resolution at the UN, but they refused and insisted that Israel withdraw from the disputed territories without offering anything in return.

The Madrid conference went forward and was considered a great accomplishment by many because the Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Israelis were in the same room (the Saudis refused to come just weeks after U.S. forces saved their kingdom from Saddam Hussein). Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir gave a conciliatory speech, holding out an olive branch to his neighbors. Each of the Arab leaders then proceeded to saw the branch into dust with bellicose speeches that offered no prospect of compromise or coexistence. The conference ended without any agreements and the State Department approach was superceded two years later by the Oslo negotiations, which again were done behind the back of U.S. officials. Those face-to-face talks produced a formula for peacemaking that would have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state had the Palestinians fulfilled the promises they made.

Olmert is very familiar with this history. He was the health minister at the time of the Madrid conference. At that time, he had called for immediate negotiations to achieve peace with all the Arab nations as well as the Palestinians. He remains committed to that vision. As Sadat and, later, Jordan’s King Hussein discovered, Israel is forthcoming when it has American support and is confident of the intentions of its interlocutors. Israel cannot be pressured to accept conditions that undermine its security.
Read all Fact Sheets

Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who lectures frequently on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is also the director of the Jewish Virtual Library.

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Increased Donations To Palestinian Authority Correlates With Increased Terrorism

Check out The Muqata, who has a post--with graphs--based on a report from CAMERA based on the period from 2000 to 2007 that shows that as foreign aid to the PA increases--so too do the murders they commit.

Muqata notes: "In 2007 they received the most money ever."

Read the whole thing.

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Nachum Segal Interviews Malcolm Hoenlein

From the JM in the AM site:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in live from Jerusalem for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum and Malcolm opened this week's interview with an update on the status of Jewish communities in California in light of the on-going fires destroying many homes and communities. They also discussed the Holy Land Foundation trial that recently ended in a hung jury and what it may mean in the greater picture. Nachum and Malcolm covered several other topics including: an assassination attempt this past summer by Al Aqsa Brigade on Prime Minister Olmert, the constant missile attacks on S'derot from Gaza, Iranian involvement in Egypt and Gaza, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's comments regarding Israel, reports of a Lebanese air strike on Israel, U.S. sanctions against Iran, and MUCH more. Click the link above to listen.
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How Many Men Does It Take To Police The West Bank?

If you answered 60,000--you were off by 30,000. The police force in the West Bank is being cut in half. And therein lies a problem:
[Businessman Abdel Karim] Darwish warned that the dismissal of thousands of policemen could have serious repercussions on the Palestinians.

Unemployed policemen, especially those who are young, might find a new home with other hostile Palestinian groups, he said, referring to Hamas. He added that the best solution would be to ask the Gulf countries to absorb many of the unemployed policemen.

According to the new PA plan, all policemen over the age of 45 would be forced into retirement. In addition, thousands of men and women whose names appear on the payroll of the security forces but don't do any work would be fired immediately. [emphasis added]
Unemployed policemen might joint "other" hostile groups? Considering what the Palestinian police actually do, that of course is accurate. That being the case, why would Karim think that other countries--who are not nearly as supportive of Palestinian Arabs as they themselves out to be--want to absorb terrorists into their police force?

More importantly, why now of all times is Abbas doing this at a time when the discontent and increased instability that is going to result can only further cast doubt on the Annapolis summit?

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

OU: Nach Yomi Online

From an email I received.
Nach is for every Jew; make it yours with Nach Yomi online

Log on every day to study one chapter a day with us at You'll complete all of Nach in just over two years. Written synopses and audio shiurim will be posted online at starting November 1, 2007. You can print out a calendar of the Nach Yomi cycle in PDF format here at or request a hard copy at

Information about how to download shiurim to iPods or other MP3 players can be found at

Nach is for every Jew; make it yours with Nach Yomi online at We look forward to learning with you!

For more information about OU Shiurim please go to
Srulie Rosner (

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OU Job Board

I received this via email:
There are over 1000 Active jobs on the OU Job Board. What are you
waiting for?

Change your life forever.

Please go to and view the over 1000 active jobs that are waiting for YOU on the OU Job Board.

This is a free service brought to you by the Orthodox Union. Look around, find the job that fits you and send the employer your resume. Need to update,review or write your resume, join our partners at OU ParnossahWorks program and let FEGS in New York, Jewish Vocational Services in New Jersey, Metro West, Detroit, Los Angeles help you. See the additional hundreds of jobs they have.

Post your resume and get seen by over 200 active employers in your area! Also posting your resume gets you first call on our upcoming Job Fairs and work shop seminars all held FREE OF CHARGE

Let us help you turn your life around forever-get a new job Meet new contacts

Help spread the word! Tell your friends or sponsor a job. Contact me at

Srulie Michael Rosner
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Haveil Havalim #138 Is Up!

This week Soccer Dad is hosting Haveil Havalim #138.
What better way to start off your week of blogging.

Next week, October 21, your host will be Esser Agaroth

Don't forget--you can submit entries to Haveil Havalim using the submission form at BlogCarnival,where you can also find past posts and future hosts.

You can email Soccer Dad (dhgerstman at hotmail dot com) if you'd like to host an upcoming edition.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Judging Condoleezza Rice By The Company She Keeps

"Secretary Rice means to do some serious damage before she leaves office,"

You combine all these diplomats and politicians together and you have a recipe for disaster:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has sought the advice of former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton ahead of a planned Middle East peace parley scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, in November or December.

...The State Department also reported that Rice has recently conferred with former UN Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, as well as her predecessors James Baker, Henry Kissinger, and Madeline Albright.
It's like a political "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"--with the worst possible lifelines.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

3 Problems With Dividing Jerusalem

For all the talk about the possibility of Olmert agreeing to divide up Jerusalem, there are formidable hurdles.

1. Despite the attempts to label Israel an apartheid state, the fact remains that Jerusalem Arabs are not necessarily crazy about the idea of being governed by Abbas:
Signals that Israel may be willing to cede parts of Jerusalem to a new Palestinian state are prompting soul-searching among the city's Palestinian residents, many of whom are less than eager for an end to Israeli rule.

Some 250,000 people could find themselves under Palestinian rule for the first time in decades if the idea goes forward, trading familiar freedoms and social benefits for an uncertain future under the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Especially worrying, many say, is uncertainty about the PA's ability to provide security in the face of the challenge to its rule by Hamas — the radical Islamist group that already runs a competing government in the Gaza Strip.
2. The very idea of making a clean divide in Jerusalem between the Arab and Jewish sections is more reflective of propaganda than reality:
Meron Benvenisti, a historian and writer who is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said that the patchwork of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed in the area captured in 1967 makes it impossible to simply divide the city between Israel and a proposed Palestinian state.

"In this city the egg has been so scrambled that it cannot be restored. It is scrambled already," Benvenisti told Israel Television. "This talk may be good for the Americans or for internal Israeli debate, but on the ground, take a look and see, how can you do it? You can't."
3. The whole idea of putting Abbas and the PA in control of any part of Jerusalem should conjure up images of pre-1967 Jerusalem under the control of Jordan. Under the PA, the very security of Jerusalem would be in doubt:
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president, has a stern warning for the religious faithful. "Taking the holy sites of Jerusalem which are presently protected and secure and putting them under the uncertainty of Palestinian rule or of some poorly defined special regime for the holy basin is to put their future in great doubt."
The fact that Olmert was once the mayor of Jerusalem merely adds to the surreal nature of the whole idea.

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Letter From the RCA on the Annapolis Summit

Rabbinical Statement in advance of the Israeli-PA Negotiations at Annapolis MD

The Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001

October 22, 2007

In advance of the forthcoming Annapolis conference, the Rabbinical Council of America, consisting of almost 1000 rabbis, respectfully urges the American sponsors of this conference to consider the following:

It is obvious that the State of Israel remains a small island of freedom in the Middle East, and is America's only reliable ally in that region. Any harm that comes to Israel will redound to the detriment of the United States as well. Any pressures on Israel to adopt positions that are fundamentally harmful to her interests will teach terrorists - and their proxies - that their modus operandi always reaps ultimate rewards.

The Palestinian Authority is an unreliable Peace Partner

· It is equally obvious that the Palestinian Authority (the PA) is a singularly unreliable entity.

· It has proved unable to stop the daily shelling of Israeli town and
it has done nothing to stop terror.

· Its schools continue to teach children to hate Israel, and to hope for the day that Israel will be destroyed.

· It crumbled completely in the face of the terrorist Hamas organization, and even handed over to Hamas arms that were supplied to the PA by America.

The PA's weakness is demonstrated in the continuous Kassam attacks on Sderot since the Gaza disengagement and the resulting Hamas ascendancy in Gaza. We are concerned that an IDF withdrawal from the West Bank or the division of Jerusalem would result in a similar Hamas takeover, and an ensuing barrage of Kassam rockets throughout the heartland of Israel, including major population centers and its capital, Jerusalem.

The PA under Abbas remains as corrupt as it was under Arafat. It does not have the backing of its own people, and is either unwilling or unable to live up to any promises it makes.

Given America's previous painful experience with the PA, America must not be gulled by the facade of smiles and lip service to peace. To make concrete concessions in exchange for the verbal commitments of such a "peace partner" poses a mortal danger to the future of Israel. Only solid evidence of a sustained and profound change in PA attitudes and actions can serve as a basis for serious negotiations.


We respectfully remind the American sponsors that Jerusalem is not merely a piece of territory. Since Biblical times Jerusalem has been and remains central to Jewish faith and practice. For Jews it is in fact the "holy city" par excellence. To barter even parts of its sovereignty away, or to weaken its Jewish character in exchange for some ephemeral pledges of "peace" from an unreliable PA, poses a severe threat to the very soul and morale of the Jewish State. An undivided Jerusalem is a statement of strength and faith and thus a guarantor of peace. A divided Jerusalem is surrender to weakness which will ultimately become a festering sore that will create misery in the region.

The countries of the Middle East respect strength. A show of vacillation and weakness in support of Israel will give a green light to anti-American interests. A show of resolve and strength by the USA in support of Israel's integrity will buttress hopes for a lasting peace in the region.

(Hat tip: Israel Commentary)

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Watcher of Weasels: The Council Has Spoken!

The results for this week are in at the Watcher of Weasels. This week, one of my posts was nominated for consideration (thanks to Soccer Dad), though it did not win. Lot's of interesting posts to read.
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The MSM's Rush Limbaugh Horror Story by Bookworm Room, and Resistance Is Futile by Michael Yon. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. There was actually a three-way tie in the non-council category this week... very good posts all around, but I ultimately cast my lot with Michael Yon. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
VotesCouncil link
3 1/3The MSM's Rush Limbaugh Horror Story
Bookworm Room
1An Inconvenient Demographic Truth
Big Lizards
1Walking Back the Cat x 2
Soccer Dad
2/3An LA Times Love Letter To Che Guevara
‘Okie’ on the Lam
2/3DC Coughs Up a War On Terror Win
Cheat Seeking Missiles
2/3Cold Civil War
Rhymes With Right
2/3News Journal Writer Falls Prey to Media Matters
The Colossus of Rhodey
1/3Kill the Messenger! Or Is the Message Already Dead?
Right Wing Nut House

VotesNon-council link
2 1/3Resistance Is Futile
Michael Yon
1 1/3The Niggers of Palestine
Daled Amos
1 1/3The Massacre at Karsaz Bridge: Analysis of the Bhutto Blast (Part 2)
The Pakistan Policy Blog
1Thompson Gets Immigration Right
2/3Dummycrats, Dhimmicrats, Democrats
Dr. Sanity
2/3The Inevitability of Neoconservatism
By Benjamin Kerstein
2/3Can We Please Define 'Racism'?
American Thinker
2/3When Mediocrity Attacks!
Protein Wisdom
2/3President Who?
Classical Values
1/3Raid Revelation
National Review Online
1/3Police Deny Reports of Randi Rhodes Mugging
Watching the Watchers

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Reflections On The New Reform Siddur

There are significant changes in the new Reform siddur.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

That the unveiling of a new Reform prayer book didn’t elicit applause from the Orthodox world was hardly surprising. Despite media hailings of the movement’s new liturgical offering as a turn toward Jewish tradition, the new prayer book, “Mishkan T’filah,” still pointedly omits vital elements of traditional Jewish prayer (indeed of the Torah) that its editors found discomfiting.

The essence of the Jewish religious heritage does not change; the very premise of Reform theology (and, as has become increasingly evident, Conservative theology no less) is that Judaism can be redefined according to the wishes of contemporary Jews. As a Reform leader once candidly explained, he examines each mitzvah and asks himself, “Do I feel commanded [to heed it]?”

Still and all, some encouragement may lie in the fact that a movement rejective of Judaism’s heart has even subtly and tepidly reclaimed an element of the Judaism of the ages. The Kotzker Rebbe, it is told, once asked: Who is more worthy, someone on the 49th level of spiritual accomplishment or on the 1st? His answer: “It depends on the direction in which each is heading.”

And for all the new Reform prayer book’s profound faults – and those of the theology that produced it – it seems to signal a change in direction.
Take the book’s very formatting. If Marshall McLuhan was right that there is message in the medium, Mishkan T’filah immediately telegraphs its distinction from earlier Reform prayer books. Unlike its predecessors, it includes the word “siddur” on its cover. It not only includes a Hebrew text but opens and reads from right to left. (The left side of each open pair of pages offers modernistic comments on the Hebrew to the right, recalling – to me, at least – King Solomon’s words: “The heart of the wise one is to his right” [Ecclesiastes, 10:2].)

But even those inclined to dismiss such changes as mere window dressing might note the amendments made – after years of sometimes contentious disagreement among the prayer book’s editors – to the actual Reform liturgy itself.

For instance, in utter affront to the Reform movement’s longstanding rejection of the concept of techiyat hameitim, or “resurrection of the dead,” Mishkan T’filah offers the option of reciting the blessing acknowledging that essential Jewish belief.

In a nod to (forgive the pun) die-hard Reform “traditionalists” (a word rather turned on its head in this context), Mishkan T’filah still suggests that the phrase “He Who gives life to the dead” be understood as “a powerful metaphor.” But – and, again, small changes can hold larger significance – the editors’ note adds that the resurrection of the dead “may be taken literally” as well.

It is easy to glibly dismiss that concession. With sociologists predicting that American Jews least connected to Jewish belief and observance (a group that includes the majority of the million-plus who identify as Reform Jews) are headed for Jewish extinction, it would seem Panglossian to see an editorial change in a prayer book as a harbinger of hope.

But I can’t help but imagine an astute Reform worshipper motivated to indeed ponder the kind of techiyat hameitim we witness daily, like decaying organic matter fertilizing the soil, spurring dormant seeds to unfold into plants and trees. And then being stirred further to consider the relationship between such everyday “quickening of the dead” and the ultimate one that the Torah teaches lies, for those who merit it, at the end of history.

As the deep Jewish scholar and thinker Rabbi E.E. Dessler wrote, the only reason we consider the germination of a seed to be natural and resurrection of the dead miraculous is because we are accustomed to the former but not the latter. What we choose to call the “laws of nature,” he explains, are not inherently “sensible”; they simply are what they are: G-d’s will.

We can describe how a plant grows, how its genes code for the stages of that process, even the workings of the atomic structure underlying its DNA. But why any of that should work the way it does is ultimately answerable only with: “Because, well, that’s just the way it is.” Or, from Judaism’s perspective: because G-d has so willed it. And, notes Rabbi Dessler, He can no less easily will things that strike us as incredible.

The editors of the new Reform prayer book may insist that its users needn’t subscribe to the Jewish belief that the righteous will one day rise from their graves. But their inclusion of the blessing of resurrection, however they may have sought to soften it, reflects unquestionably the deep stirrings of Jews alienated from our eternal beliefs groping uneasily toward their acceptance.

It may be naive to imagine that changes in the Reform prayer book hold out hope that Reform-affiliated Jews might yet come to consider returning to the fullness of the Jewish religious tradition.

But I’m not willing to consider a million-plus fellow Jews as nothing more than a desiccated limb of the Jewish people, hopelessly destined to wither and fall away.

Not only because there are encouragingly many once-distant-from-Judaism Jews living fully Torah-observant lives today.

But because I believe in techiyat hameitim.

[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

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Some Things That Condoleezza Rice Has Forgotten About The Civil Rights Movement

The Personal Becomes Political: The Attitudinal Prism of Condoleezza Rice
by Dr. Joel Fishman

Last week in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, articulated some of her personal views which ultimately found their way into the press. For Dr. Rice the struggle of the Palestinians is analogous to that of the Afro-Americans for civil rights and she identifies with the Palestinians. She recalled what it meant to travel in segregated buses as a little girl in Alabama. She also compared the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to Reverend Martin Luther King, because, in her mind, both were committed to peace. According to reporter Aluf Benn, Rice views Abbas as committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence and, like Martin Luther King, opposed to terror and violence (Haaretz, October 16, 2007). Independently, David Bedein reported Rice's statements in The Bulletin (Philadelphia, October 17, 2007).

While this juxtaposition of the Afro-American campaign for civil rights and the Palestinian (armed) struggle seems strange, by using methods of political analysis it is possible to appreciate the significance of this type of information. Condoleezza Rice has given us the "Attitudinal Prism" of her decision-making process. Political scientists Gabriel Almond and G. Bingham Powell defined the term and explained its importance: "Men choose among alternative paths in accordance with their perception of the world in which they must act. The lens through which that setting is filtered may … be called the Attitudinal Prism. The content of that which they perceive is the Image. Together these constitute the Psychological Environment, the framework of choice, decision, and action. In foreign policy, as in all politics, the prism is shaped by three interacting variables—political culture, historical legacy, and the personality traits of the decision-makers."
It is clear that Rice personally considers that the Palestinians have a strong moral case and that Israel does not. Furthermore, she bases her views on her personal experience, drawing upon an analogy from the memories of her own childhood, particularly her identification with the Afro-American struggle for civil rights. According to Almond and Powell's analytical criteria, such attitudes are critically important because they become part of the decision-making process.

The problem is that Rice has adopted an incorrect analogy. Mahmoud Abbas was never a man of peace. It certainly would be a positive step forward if Rice could deal with the facts on their own merits and try to grasp why the Palestinians have reached their present situation. She should also face the fact that the Palestinians could have done much better had they refrained from launching the Second Armed Uprising in 2000.

Returning to the civil rights struggle, Condoleezza Rice's statements reveal that in her quest for a simple analogy, she forgot the one group that proved its friendship for the Afro-Americans. American Jewry unreservedly supported the civil rights struggle through participation and financial contributions. No other group in America demonstrated its commitment to social justice, as did American Jewry and its representative institutions. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a personal friend of Martin Luther King and marched with him. The Secretary of State should not forget that Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were martyrs for her people's cause, real martyrs – not to be confused with the terrorist murderers who blow up innocent civilians in public buses. The Afro-Americans did not win their campaign for civil rights on their own. They needed allies in Americans society, and the American Jewish community stood by them.

Further, Rice has overlooked a fundamental but not obvious, historical fact: Israel gave the world the idea that that all men are equal, because God created all men in His image. Israel also gave the world the principle that all men are equal under law. "One law and one ordinance shall be both for you and for the stranger that sojourns with you" (Numbers 15:16). This rule is called "isonomia". In Against Apion, written between 96-100 C.E., Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian, states that Moses "the Lawgiver" established this rule three thousand years previously, long before the Greeks (and well before the birth of the other two monotheistic religions). Josephus adds: "…. Persons who have espoused the cause of order and law – one law for all – and been the first to introduce them, may fairly be admitted to be more civilized and virtuously disposed than those who lead lawless and disorderly lives." (Against Apion II: 15, 151).

Josephus' statement explains why today many Palestinian Arab residents of Jerusalem stubbornly insist on remaining under Israeli rule. They prefer equality under law – even if they do not particularly care for the Jewish state. Israel's laws and legal system are still superior. And one should not forget that, if it were not for Moses "the Lawgiver," there could not have been a civil rights movement or a Reverend Martin Luther King.

Condoleezza Rice's Attitudinal Prism reveals a perception of the current situation which is limited by her personal experience and hopelessly superficial. It also lacks an awareness of history. Such perceptions, based on a false and oversimplified analogy, prevent the Secretary of State from seeing the facts objectively and dealing fairly, which are the prerequisites of statesmanship.
Dr. Joel Fishman is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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