Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Job Market For Orthodox Jewish Women In Kosher Supervision

Jewish Blogmeister has an interesting post on the developing job market for Orthodox Jewish women in kosher supervision as Mashgichim:
Orthodox Jewish Women generally have different considerations to take into account when seeking a career or employment. Many will try to find jobs that are family friendly, allowing them time to care of their children and as well as help with religious holiday preparations. For the longest time these jobs examples would be wig stylist, teachers and more recently speech therapy, OT, PT etc.. A new job market is opening up that could prove to be another opportunity for Jewish Orthodox women: Kosher Supervisor AKA Mashgiach
Read the whole thing--including why women may do a better job in Hashgacha.

He links to an article on the website of The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires:
As the kosher food industry continues to swell, so does the number of female kosher supervisors. And now they are receiving professional recognition.

The first known training course for mashgichot will be held this fall in Baltimore. Organized by the Star-K kosher certification agency, the weeklong seminar is aimed at women supervisors in the food service industry. It will include an overview of proper procedures, an analysis of kosher laws and policies, and field trips to working kitchens.

Mashgichim have enjoyed this kind of professional support for years, but women have had to train themselves.
The program is aimed at women who are already mashgichot:

Women’s Mashgicha Conference -- Star-K is planning a two-day training program in our corporate office for women currently employed as mashgichos worldwide. The curriculum will include kashrus procedures, insect checking and visits to food service establishments. This program is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2009, if there is sufficient interest. Please contact our office at 410-484-4110 or star-k@star-k.org.
Though the course is designed for women already in the field, it is an indication of the growing number of women who are involved in kosher supervision--and the respect they get for their work.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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If Obama Is Such A Fan Of The New Deal, He Should Leave Israeli Settlements Alone

When not being compared to Lincoln, Obama is often compared to FDR:
President-elect Barack Obama added sweep and meat to his economic agenda on Saturday, pledging the largest new investment in roads and bridges since President Dwight D. Eisenhower built the Interstate system in the late 1950s, and tying his key initiatives – education, energy, health care –back to jobs in a package that has the makings of a smaller and modern version of FDR's New Deal marriage of job creation with infrastructure upgrades. [emphasis added]
That being the case, one would think that he would see how the Israeli settlements have a 'New Deal' effect and leave matters be--because among those who are most eager to build those settlements are Palestinian Arabs:
The last thing that Abu Mohammed al-Najjar wants is for Israel to succumb to US and European pressure and halt construction in the West Bank settlements.

As far as the 58-year-old laborer is concerned, freezing the construction would be a disaster not only for him and his family, but for thousands of other Palestinians working in various settlements in the West Bank.

Of course, this does not mean that they support Israel's policy of construction in the settlements. But for them, it's simply a matter of being able to support their families.
And this is no small part of the Palestinian economy either:
The phenomenon of Palestinians building new homes for Jewish settlers is not new. In fact, Palestinian laborers have been working in the construction business from the first day the settlements began in the West Bank.

Today, Palestinian Authority officials estimate, more than 12,000 Palestinians are employed by both Jewish and Arab contractors building new homes in the settlements.
The most interesting part of the story is that the Palestinian leaders understand the situation better than Obama. While we read stories about Palestinians accused as collaborators with Israel being tortured or killed, Palestinian Arab who work on building Israeli settlements are allowed to do so:
He and most of the laborers interviewed by the Post over the past week said they had never come under pressure from fellow Palestinians to stay away from work in the settlements.

"If they want us to leave our work, they should offer us an alternative," Abu Sharikheh said. "We don't come to work in the settlements for ideological reasons or because we support the settlement movement. We come here because our Palestinian and Arab governments haven't done anything to provide us with better jobs."

Back in Ma'aleh Adumim, most of the Palestinian laborers said they had no problem revealing their identities.

"We're not doing anything wrong," explained Ibrahim Abu Tair, a 42-year-old father of eight from the village of Um Tuba, southwest of Jerusalem. "We're not collaborators and we're not terrorists. We just want to work."

He said that during the first intifada, which began at the end of 1987, some Palestinian groups tried to stop Palestinians from heading to work in the settlements.

"In the beginning there were threats and physical assaults on some workers," he noted. "But the leaders of the intifada later realized that depriving the laborers of their livelihood would have a boomerang effect on the Palestinians. That's why they allowed the workers to go to the settlements."

Even today the PA does not object to Palestinians working in settlements, although its representatives say they would like to see the Palestinians work elsewhere.

"We can't tell the workers to stay at home without providing them with solutions," admitted a Palestinian official in Ramallah. "We're talking about thousands of families in the West Bank that rely on this work as their sole source of income."
Economics is a great equalizer, and an indication that Netanyahu's statements about the priority of economic rehabilitation over creating a second Palestinian state makes sense--especially considering that some of those Palestinian workers are members of Hamas:
He [Jawdat Uwaisat] added that even Palestinians known as supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are employed as construction workers in settlements.

"I know some people from Hamas who work as construction laborers in Ariel," he said. "When people want to feed their children, they don't think twice."

While most of the laborers told the Post that they were opposed to the settlements, they nevertheless stressed that they would continue to show up for work every day.
Of course, the fact that the job pays well helps:
He said that he and his colleagues working for Israelis earn almost three times what they would receive doing the same work for Palestinian construction companies.

"The Palestinian employers pay us NIS 100 to NIS 150 a day," Uwaisat said. "The Israeli companies, by contrast, pay NIS 350 to NIS 450 a day. That's why many of us prefer to work for Israeli companies, even if the construction is in the settlements."
Pursuing Obama's demand for freezing the settlements will only do to the Palestinian economy what is already being done to the economy in the US.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Obama Is Not First President To Test His 'Meddle' In Israel

Many have commented on the fact that as opposed to his laid-back policy towards Iran in the aftermath of the elections there, Obama exhibits no such hesitation when it comes to Israel.

However, truth be told--Obama is not the first to try to manipulate Israeli affairs. Actually, while Obama is trying to pressure Israel to freeze the settlements, there is no more talk about how Obama is trying to manipulate Israeli politics and force the fall of Netanyahu's coalition.

The same came not be said of previous US presidents.

Caroline Glick traces the history of US Presidents who meddled in Israeli affairs and lists instances of interference to varying degrees.
o George H. W. Bush helped get Yitzhak Rabin elected 1992 by undermining Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir--refusing to provide Israel with $10 billion in loan guarantees to enable the absorption of one million Jews from the former Soviet Union.

o In 1996, Bill Clinton came to Israel and actively campaigned for Peres, but in the end it was the Palestinian terrorism that instead secured Netanyahu's win over Peres.

o In the 1999 elections, Clinton sent Bob Schrum, James Carville and Stanley Greenberg to Israel to manage Barak's campaign against Netanyahu.

o And the Bush administration, after refraining from getting involved in the Israeli elections in 2001 and 2003:

made it self-evident that it wants a Kadima victory and is willing to do a great deal to ensure that such a victory comes about. Since Sharon's second stroke two weeks ago, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have made it clear that in Sharon's absence they want Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to form the next government.
Not unexpectedly, US leaders do not have a monopoly on interfering in Israel's internal affairs.
In an article in 2002, Caroline Glick wrote about--
o money that the EU gave to Yossi Beilin's Economic Cooperation Foundation

o money that the EU gave to Rabbis for Human Rights, "which recently participated in organizing delegations of foreign activists who were brought here to stand in front of IDF tanks and attempt to force their way through IDF roadblocks."

o the Norwegian government being one of the chief contributors to the Shimon Peres Center for Peace, whose operation is the main subject of Glick's article.
And the European meddling continues--these days even French President Sarkozy can't resist getting in his two cents:
The French president reportedly told Netanyahu that while he usually scheduled talks with Israel's top foreign envoys on visit to Paris he could not bring himself to meet with Lieberman. According to Channel Two, this statement was accompanied by disparaging hand gestures.
Sarkozy then advised Netanyahu to fire Lieberman and bring former foreign minister Tzipi Livni back into the coalition, according to the report. [emphasis added]
Meanwhile, Obama is trying his luck in Honduras. After commenting on the legality of Israel's settlements, Obama is now applying his knowledge of international law to Honduras. Allahpundit gives the background:
In a nutshell, Zelaya wanted another term as president so he decided to hold a popular referendum on whether he should be eligible. Minor problem: The Honduran constitution can’t be amended by popular referendum so the country’s supreme court ordered the vote canceled. Zelaya tried to go ahead with it anyway. Literally every other arm of the Honduran government — judiciary, legislature, military — was against him, to the point where the troops who arrested him this morning were evidently acting on a court order. Why such strong, unified opposition? According to one retired Honduran general cited by Fausta, it’s because Zelaya’s a Chavez stooge and him staying on would mean “Chavez would eventually be running Honduras by proxy.” [emphasis added]
Despite the backing of that country's supreme court and congress, Obama has insisted that the coup is illegal--reminiscent of the US position on the settlements, which also have the backing of legal experts.

Allahpundit suggests a reason for Obama's insistence that the Honduras coup is not legal
I can’t see any reason for a strong reaction from the United States here except as a way for The One to prove he’s different from all the other yanqui presidents in the past.
Now that Obama has strengthened ties with the Arab world by showing his willingness to pressure Israel, is he now working on strengthening US ties with Chavez and his friends in Central America ?

Who's next--Taiwan?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Monday, June 29, 2009

In 2005, Daniel Kurtzer Admitted There Was An Agreement On Settlements

In an op-ed in The Washington Post on June 14th, Daniel Kurtzer, former US ambassador to Israel wrote in The Settlement Facts
Today, Israel maintains that three events -- namely, draft understandings discussed in 2003 between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley; President George W. Bush's April 14, 2004, letter to Sharon; and an April 14 letter from Sharon adviser Dov Weissglas to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- constitute a formal understanding in which the United States accepted continuing Israeli building within the "construction line" of settlements. The problem is that there was no such understanding. [emphasis added]
In regards to President Bush's letter, Kurtzer explains:
President Bush's 2004 letter conveyed U.S. support of an agreed outcome of negotiations in which Israel would retain "existing major Israeli population centers" in the West Bank "on the basis of mutually agreed changes . . . ." One of the key provisions of this letter was that U.S. support for Israel's retaining some settlements was predicated on there being an "agreed outcome" of negotiations. Despite Israel's contention that this letter allowed it to continue building in the large settlement blocs of Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion, the letter did not convey any U.S. support for or understanding of Israeli settlement activities in these or other areas in the run-up to a peace agreement. [emphasis added]
That is now. But back on March 25, 2005--in an interview with Israel Television Channel Ten while he was ambassador--Kurtzer said something different:
QUESTION: So President Bush is willing to leave settlement blocs in Israeli sovereignty in the future agreement just as Clinton was?

AMBASSADOR KURTZER: He said it clearly in the letter of last April - I can
say it again to the people of Israel. The President remains committed to
what he said in that letter: That in a negotiation on final status, the
outcome is going to mean that Israeli major population areas in our view
should remain within the State of Israel....

I believe there is full understanding between the Prime Minister and the
President and between the Prime Minister's office and his advisors and the
President's office and the President's advisors. Our discussions with the
Prime Minister, with Dov Weissglas, Shalom Turgeman, with all of the
officials who are associated with the Prime Minister's office have been very
clear and quite specific and that is what allowed us last April to reach a
very specific understanding that was then incorporated in a letter that the
President signed and was able to make public. So, I do not believe there are
any misunderstandings between us.

QUESTION: So, when Dov Weissglas says it is about Maale Adumim, about Ariel,
about all the big settlement blocs, it is okay, you stand behind this thing
he said.

AMBASSADOR KURTZER: The Government of Israel is going to make its
statements, the American government will make its statements. When we reach
understandings as we do have understandings, these are incorporated in
documents such as this letter. That letter remains the President's policy,

... I think it is critically important, particularly now, the Prime Minister
is about to go to Washington again, to understand that the United States and
Israel do not have misunderstandings with respect to U.S. commitments. Those
commitments are very, very firm with respect to these Israeli major
population centers, our expectation that Israel is not going to be going
back to the 1967 lines. This is the President's policy. This President has
been very determined in having consistent and sure policy throughout his
time in office. That is the reality, that is the truth.
Steve Rosen writes in Obama Mideast Monitor about the background to the conflicting op-eds by Elliott Abrams and Daniel Kurtzer. Rosen notes that Kurtzer--
confirmed to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post in April 2008, that he had opposed accepting an April 2004 letter from Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, reconfirming U.S.-Israeli understandings that restrictions on the growth of settlements would be made "within the agreed principles of settlement activities," which would include "a better definition of the construction line of settlements" on the West Bank. Weissglas also confirmed that a U.S.-Israeli team would "jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements." Kessler reported, "Daniel Kurtzer, then the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said he argued at the time against accepting the Weissglas letter. 'I thought it was a really bad idea,' he said. 'It would legitimize the settlements, and it gave them a blank check.' But the White House did accept the Weissglas letter. In the end, Kurtzer said the White House never followed up with the plan to define construction lines. 'Washington lost interest in it when it became clear it would not be easy to do,' he said.

So these dueling op-eds by Kurtzer and Abrams are a continuation of a policy war withing the Bush Administration, a war that Kurtzer lost at the time but is trying to win now. [emphasis added]

The Obama administration really should heed the advice of the Washington Post this morning, and stop pushing on the issue of the settlements. At the very least, it will allow the administration to stop contradicting itself.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Washington Post: Forget About The Settlement Freeze

The Washington Post has come out--strongly--against the freezing of Israeli settlements. Interestingly, legal reasons are not mentioned. Instead, Jackson Diehl attacks the US insistence on a freeze based on pragmatic reasons. Bottom line, the idea is a loser:
This absolutist position is a loser for three reasons. First, it has allowed Palestinian and Arab leaders to withhold the steps they were asked for; they claim to be waiting for the settlement "freeze" even as they quietly savor a rare public battle between Israel and the United States. Second, the administration's objective -- whatever its merits -- is unobtainable. No Israeli government has ever agreed to an unconditional freeze, and no coalition could be assembled from the current parliament to impose one.

Finally, the extraction of a freeze from Netanyahu is, as a practical matter, unnecessary. While further settlement expansion needs to be curbed, both the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have gone along with previous U.S.-Israeli deals by which construction was to be limited to inside the periphery of settlements near Israel -- since everyone knows those areas will be annexed to Israel in a final settlement. Before the 2007 Annapolis peace conference organized by the Bush administration, Saudi Arabia and other Arab participants agreed to what one former senior official called "the Google Earth test"; if the settlements did not visibly expand, that was good enough.
According to Diehl, the policy made sense at first in order to establish believability with the Arab world by applying pressure on Israel. But having done that, there is nothing to gain by continuing to push the issue--and the crisis in Iran is Obama's opportunity to move away from that issue. Even if, instead of dropping the issue altogether, some sort of compromise is reached with Netanyahu, Obama now risks looking like he caved.

Diehl concludes:
The best course nevertheless lies in striking a quick deal with the left-leaning Barak this week under cover of the tumult in Tehran. The administration could then return to doing what it intended to do all along: press Palestinians as well as Israelis, friendly Arab governments and not-so-friendly Iranian clients such as Syria to take tangible steps toward a regional settlement. Such movement would be the perfect complement to the cause of change in Iran; how foolish it would be to squander it over a handful of Israeli apartment houses.
Read the whole thing.

Of course, whether Obama intended all along to press Abbas and the PA as well remains to be seen. Diehl himself makes mention of "the disarray of the Palestinian camp." But the fact remains that this editorial is important for taking a stand against Obama.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who Is In Breach Of International Law: Israel--Or The US?

Caroline Glick makes a compelling case that not only is Israel not in breach of signed agreements--or international law--on the issue of settlements, the US is breach of both international and domestic law.

On the issue of Israeli settlements and international law, Glick makes a number of points:
  • Israel has never signed an agreement whereby a Jewish community can be characterized as "illegal," and therefore has no legal obligation to forbid their expansion

  • Both former prime minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff Dov Weisglass and former president George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams have gone on record that when Sharon agreed to limit the building of Jewish communities in the West Bank--not including Jerusalem--in accordance with the Road Map, he did so based on explicit understandings with the Bush administration.

  • The approval of the Road Map was a cabinet decision--not an international agreement. Therefore, the Israeli government has no legal obligation to advance it, and can legally abrogate Israel's acceptance of the Road Map by calling for another vote.

  • The Road Map does not have the force of international law: Glick writes "Although it was adopted by the Security Council, it was not adopted as an internationally binding document under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Consequently, Israel has no international legal obligation to end Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem."

  • As a signatory to the 1976 International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits all forms of discrimination against people on the basis of religion and nationality, Israel cannot discriminate specifically against Jews who wish to build homes on legally controlled lands in Judea and Samaria. The convention is a binding treaty, which trumps the Road Map, which is non-binding.

  • In response to the claim that Jewish communities located beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal because of the Fourth Geneva Convention from 1949, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its population to the occupied territory--there has long been a dispute among legal authorities if this applies to the West Bank. Even assuming that it is applicable, Prof. Avi Bell from Bar-Ilan University Law School explains that "The Fourth Geneva Convention does not purport to limit in any way what individual Jews may or may not do on their legally held property or where they may or may not choose to live."
On the other hand, Caroline Glick demonstrates how the policy of the Obama administration towards the Palestinian Arabs is itself in violation of both international and domestic US law.

The key is the UN Security Council binding Resolution 1373, passed by authority of Chapter VII. It commits all UN member states:
  • to "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts."

  • to "deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts or provide safe haven" to those that do.
In light of the stipulations of UN Resolution 1373, a number of actions of the Obama administration become questionable according to international law:
  • In 1995, the US State Department put Hamas on its list of terrorist groups--and the actions taken by the Obama administration thus put the US in breach of both international and US law. Since the US has or is in the process of transferring $300 million to Gaza through USAID, which based on past experience has ended up in the hands of Hamas--the transfer of these funds constitute indirect assistance to Hamas and are prohibited by Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • The US pressure on Israel to open passages between it and Gaza and limit travel restrictions--putting Israel at risk of facilitating the movement of Hamas terrorists and thereby supporting them is also a breach of Resolution 1373, which states that all states must "prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border controls."

  • The US is pressuring Israel to allow cement to be imported into Gaza to rebuild the Hamas infrastructure and transfer money into Hamas-controlled banks while the Obama administration has pledged $900 million to rebuild Gaza. In addition, Dan Diker reported in a study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad has admitted that the US-financed PA continues to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists. All of this is in violation of Resolution 1373 which requires all states to "ensure that any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetuation of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts is brought to justice."

  • Obama's apparent attempt to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian government including Hamas legitimizes that terrorist group and would both aid a designated terrorist organization and help provide it with a safe haven, in violation of Resolution 1373

  • By meeting with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is suspected of providing material support to Hizbullah--a designated terrorist organization, Obama was arguably illegally providing indirect assistance to Hizbullah, which is in breach of Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • US military assistance to the Lebanese military, which has been shown to be influenced by Hizbullah is also possibly in breach of Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook wrote in The Jerusalem Post last month that the US is financing the construction of a Palestinian computer center--which is named for Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 bus bombing on Israel's coastal highway in which 37 civilians, including 12 children and US citizen Gail Rubin, were murdered--yet the 2008 US Foreign Operations Bill bars US assistance to the Palestinians from being used "for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit or have committed acts of terrorism."
Glick concludes:
Obama, the former law professor, never tires of invoking international law. And yet, when one considers his policies toward Israel on the one hand, and his policies toward illegal terrorist organizations on the other, it is clear that Obama's respect for international law is mere rhetoric. True champions of law in both Israel and the US should demand an end to his administration's contempt for the US's actual - rather than imaginary - legal obligations.
It is time to hold Obama accountable for his claims about international law.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Iran: The Beginning Of Radical Islam--And Its End?

In For Radical Islam, the End Begins, Joshua Muravchik finds that current events were foreshadowed by a poll taken last year:
Last year, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that from 2002 to 2008, the proportion of respondents saying that suicide bombing was sometimes or often justified dropped from 74 percent to 32 percent in Lebanon, from 33 percent to 5 percent in Pakistan, from 43 percent to 25 percent in Jordan and from 26 percent to 11 percent in Indonesia. As a food stand operator in Jakarta put it: "People are less supportive of terrorist attacks because we know what terrorism does, we're afraid of attacks."
Muravchik sees the results of the poll reflected in events that even predate the poll--starting with Morocco and Jordan in 2007, Pakistan in 2008 and then this year in the elections in Indonesia, Kuwait and of course Lebanon.

So how does Iran compare--especially in light of the increasing control that the Iranian regime has been able to exercise over the protests? Muravchik writes that success is not measured only in terms of continued protests:
Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of "Death to the dictator!"

"Even if they manage to hang on for a month or a couple of years, they've shed the blood of their people," says Egyptian publisher and columnist Hisham Kassem. "It's over."

The downfall or discrediting of the regime in Tehran would deal a body blow to global Islamism which, despite its deep intellectual roots, first achieved real influence politically with the Iranian revolution of 1979. And it would also represent just the most recent -- and most dramatic -- in a string of setbacks for radical Islam. Election outcomes over the past two years have completely undone the momentum that Islamists had achieved with their strong showing at the polls in Egypt in 2005 and Palestine in 2006.
Read the whole thing.

That of course is an ambitious goal, and one that is not even close to being achieved. Nevertheless, it is a goal that is worth the attention of the West--more so than how many children Israelis are allowed to have in the settlements.

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Protests In Iran Continue To Ebb And Flow, But Where's Mousavi? (3 Updates)

Gateway Pundit continues to be one of the best aggregators of news about the protests in Iran. Today, he has a post about more protests in Iran.

This comes as the Iranian regime has taken ever harsher measures to take the steam out of the protests:
The Iranian government has seized and detained several hundred activists, journalists and students across the nation, in one of the most extensive crackdowns on key dissidents since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Even as unprecedented protests broke out on the streets after the June 12 disputed presidential election, the most stinging backlash from authorities has come away from the crowds through roundups and targeted arrests, according to witnesses and human rights organizations. They say plainclothes security agents have also put dozens of the country's most experienced pro-reform leaders behind bars.
Apparently, in addition to the protesters themselves, Mousavi has been targeted and has been effectively muzzled:
[Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami's] call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran’s largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation’s increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.

Mousavi said he would seek official permission for any future rallies, effectively ending his role in street protests organized by supporters who insist he — not hard-line incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — won the June 12 election. And an aide said Mousavi’s Web site, his primary means of staying in touch with supporters, was taken down by unknown hackers.

...Mousavi, meanwhile, has sent mixed signals to supporters, asking them not to break the law while pledging not to drop his challenge.

...Iranian officials have seized documents and computers from a political party that had backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the June 12 presidential election, a newspaper reported on Saturday, AFP reported.

...Mousavi’s campaign manager Ghorban Behzadian-Nejad has also been detained since Wednesday, the website of Etemad Melli party said. [emphasis added]
And yet, despite the obvious dangers, the protests continue--albeit on a smaller scale. Gateway Pundit reports that today there was a protest of some 7,000 in Tehran [note: Al Jazeera says its 3,000]--and it was brutally put down.

Gateway Pundit also notes reports of other 6 separate protests.

Ideally, we all wanted a quick definitive result from the protests--an unrealistic expectation. The explosion of protests is no more definitive than the current success of the regime in curtailing them.

As Instapundit keeps pointing out: Democratization is a process, not an event.

Ed Morrissey writes:
The mullahs may have momentarily succeeded in repressing the street demonstrations and open defiance of the regime, but they lost their legitimacy over the last two weeks, and they know it. That’s why they’re trying so desperately to frame the Brits for the protests [link], in an attempt to discredit them. But when millions of people face off against the armed forces of a dictatorship, it’s usually at least the beginning of the end for the tyrants. And as we’ve been saying, this stopped being about Mousavi after the first few days of the crisis.
This is still not over.

UPDATE: In Mousavi, Out--Abe Greenwald writes about what the next step needs to be:
With the protests breaking away from the personality of Mousavi and with Mousavi’s getting reabsorbed into the corrupt theocracy, it’s more important than ever that the U.S. make clear its support for Iran’s citizens. We are, after all, aligned with them against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. This should now be easier for our president to articulate, as it no longer means endorsing Mousavi by default
UPDATE II: And Jennifer Rubin has a suggestion, if Obama is ready to go beyond just words:
There is a petroleum sanctions measure gaining sponsors in Congress. And now might be a good time to assess whether Iran is in compliance with those international norms the president is fond of citing. If it is not, is he prepared to take economic and diplomatic action against the mullahs?
UPDATE III: Here's another idea:
A bipartisan pair of senators is pushing for international restrictions on electronic equipment sold to Iran, citing reports that the government has monitored citizens’ communications after the country’s disputed elections.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to request that the European Union curb all telecommunications equipment German and Finnish companies, Siemens and Nokia, sell to Iran.
So what are we waiting for?!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Demilitarized State? Palestinian State vs. Pre-WWII Germany

In Demilitarized Palestinian State?, Prof. MK Arieh Eldad reacts to Netanyahu's Bar Ilan speech--specifically Netanyahu's acceptance of the two-state solution that would result in a Palestinian state. Bibi accepted the idea conditionally, one of the conditions being that the state would be demilitarized.

Prof. Eldad does not find this reassuring:
The more I listened to this and said to myself that there is no such thing, I was reminded of something quite bothersome. Was there once such a state? And then one of my friends reminded me there had been.
"It will be forbidden to Germany to maintain or build fortifications... in this territory (West of the Rhine).... It is forbidden for Germany to maintain an army.... the German army will not include more than seven infantry divisions.... It is forbidden for Germany to import or export tanks or any other military hardware.... The German naval forces will be limited and are not to include submarines. The armed forces of Germany will not include any air forces.... In the political realm, Germany is forbidden to enter into any treaty with Austria."
So it was written and sealed in the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, as part of the Paris Peace Conference following the First World War. Essentially, Germany became a demilitarized state and was also limited from a political perspective.

So what happened? Did the "demilitarized" status prevent the Second World War and, worst of all, the destruction of European Jewry?

By 1922, an agreement between Russia and Germany had been signed in the Italian city of Rapallo. The agreement was open and met the terms of the Versailles Treaty, but the conference that prepared it was secret; and there, Soviet Russia and Germany agreed on joint establishment of weapons factories, poison gas and ammunition. German army officers were sent to Russia to be trained in the use of weapons that were forbidden to be maintained in Germany. In Germany, civilian factories were refurbished into arms factories, funded, as it were, by private individuals, not the state.
In a previous post, I wrote about an article by Prof. Louis Rene Beres that explained that there is no way to legally enforce the demilitarization of a Palestinian state--even if they agree to it beforehand.

Prof. Eldad points out that there is no way to prevent the demilitarization of a Palestinian state politically either:
The lesson being that there is no political power that can prevent a sovereign state from doing whatever it wants.

Whoever recognizes the right of his enemy to establish a state in his homeland has abandoned all principle.

Netanyahu knows that if ever a Palestinian state should, Heaven forbid, be established, Israel will not be able to declare war on it if it should choose, for instance, to sign an international tourism agreement with Cyprus or a transfer-of-technology agreement with Iran. If pipes are manufactured in Tulkarm, Israel will not be able to start a war that can be justified in the eyes of the world if steel cutters turn the pipes into Kassam rockets. Since nothing other than Israeli force could possibly preserve demilitarization, Netanyahu is deceiving the people of Israel and promising them something that cannot be delivered.
He concludes:
But all of the above is not the main thing. The main thing is that Netanyahu has recognized the right of Arabs to establish a sovereign state in our homeland. None of his conditions and reservations can hide this abomination. Whoever recognizes the right of his enemy to establish a state in his homeland has abandoned all principle and all that is left to do is argue over the price.
Is Netanyahu counting on the conditions he stated to stall movement towards the two-state solution he has now accepted? If so, how long till the Palestinian Arabs realize the conditions are meaningless and call his bluff?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Video: Suspected Hizbullah Collaborator: There Is No 'Palestinian Nation'

Prof MK Arieh Eldad writes:
...these words were spoken by former MK Dr. Azmi Bishara in an interview with Yaron London several years ago. Bishara is a leader of Israeli Arab citizens who openly identify with the enemy, and who was forced to flee Israel under suspicion of aiding Hizbullah in wartime.

"I don't think there's a Palestinian nation. There's an Arab nation. I don't think there's a Palestinian nation. That's a colonial invention. Since when were there Palestinians? I think there's only an Arab nation. Until the end of the 19th century, Palestine was the southern part of Greater Syria."
Somebody tell Obama.

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It's Not Over: After A Lull, Mousavi Comes Out Swinging (Updated)

After indications that the protests were lessening, Mousavi speaks out:
After days of relative quiet, the candidate defeated in Iran's disputed presidential election launched a broadside Thursday against the nation's leadership, an indication that the country's political rift is far from over.

In his statement, Mir-Hossein Mousavi issued a rare attack on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accusing him of not acting in the interests of the country, and said Iran had suffered a dramatic change for the worse.

Mousavi's forceful remarks appeared to show that the former prime minister is willing to risk his standing as a pillar of the Islamic Republic to take on Iran's powerful leadership. And they seemed aimed at securing his position at the head of a broad movement seeking change.

He also slammed state-controlled broadcasters, which have intensified a media blitz against him and his supporters with allegations that unrest over the June 12 election was instigated by Iran's international foes. And he pledged to pursue his quest to have President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection annulled.
What is new in Mousavi's statement is that beyond disputing the results of the election and making accusations of fraud--is that he is openly attacking Khamenei:
Though the cleric is usually considered beyond public reproach, Mousavi seemed more than willing to confront Khamenei, who broke with tradition by openly taking sides in factional political rows.

"The leadership's support to the government under normal circumstances is helpful," Mousavi said. "However, if the leadership and the president are the same, it will not be in the interests of the country."

He also challenged the fact that Khamenei, while insisting that those who question the vote results should pursue legal means of recourse, had closed off most avenues for doing that and shuttered news outlets critical of the election.
Read the whole thing.

Apparently Michael Ledeen's evaluation is correct:
Some are asking whether the insurrection/revolution is losing steam. It is a legitimate question, especially in a world of famously short attention spans. It does not apply to the fighters in Iran, for whom life is no longer doled out in six-minute bytes. For them, the big issue is winning, and the immediate issue is getting through the day. And then the night. They are looking for various ways of fighting, since direct confrontation, at least at the moment, has limited appeal. Thus we see the hit-and-run attacks about which Eli Lake wrote this morning in the Washington Times [link], and which the Guardian links to.

There are many things we do not see, and which we would not see even if the regime weren’t trying to isolate Iran from the world. We still don’t know whether, as widely rumored, Rafsanjani has obtained the signatures of many senior clerics, calling for either the replacement of Khamenei or the abolition of the position of supreme leader (which would be the end of the Islamic Republic). If he has such a document, what will he do with it? Hard to know or even to guess.

Mousavi: instead of shrinking into the background he is becoming more aggressive and more outspoken. And he is winning some important allies, such as Tehran mayor Qalibaf, who has come out for peaceful demonstrations.
At least in regards to that last point, we know that Ledeen is right.
So was Yogi Berra: It ain't over till it's over.

UPDATE: In its update for June 25, niacINsight reports that Congressman Eric Cantor is asking for hearings:
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi today asking for joint hearings on the situation in Iran.
I know that you share our deep concern about the growing violence and brutality in Iran. Unfortunately, it has become clear that the cleric-backed Iranian regime has decided to end the public demonstrations through violent oppression.

Today, I am asking you to call on House committees to hold joint hearings on the situation in Iran, the policies of the United States towards Iran, and any need for changes in our policy
Read the whole thing.
niacINsight has a copy of Cantor's letter [PDF]

Among the people Cantor wants to hear testimony from is Secretary of the Treasury Geithner on immediate economic sanctions that can be imposed on Iran.

If successful, Cantor will push the US beyond what many see as Obama's tepid response to events in Iran.

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Video: This Mac Takes Off--Literally

I am not a fan of Macintosh computers, but I definitely want one of these.
The video is in French, but it kind of speaks for itself.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Director/Writer Of "The Stoning of Soraya M." Answers Questions On Facebook 4pm Today

From an email:
Dear Fans and Supporters:
We are pleased to announce a unique opportunity between the up-coming theatrical release of the The Stoning of Soraya M. and social media giant FACEBOOK- the first time a film has been featured in such a way on the site.

Please join us Thursday (6/25) at 4pm PST for this unprecedented event where writer/director Cyrus Nowrasteh will field YOUR questions regarding his latest film.

Based on a true story, The Stoning of Soraya M. stars Shohreh Aghdashloo in the heroic role of Zahra, an Iranian woman caught in a deadly conspiracy. When a journalist is stranded in her remote village, she takes a bold chance to reveal what the villagers will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

Please log onto: http://apps.facebook.com/spinnio/

RSVP on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=96252118100

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Official Movie Site: www.thestoning.com
Facebook: facebook.com/thestoningofsorayam
Twitter: Twitter.com/Mpowerpictures

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7 Things Obama Could Give Israel To Make It Willingly Freeze Settlements

In his post on the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog, Professor Mitchell Bard writes that if Obama is serious about the settlement freeze, he should use incentives instead of pressure. Briefly, here are the 7 suggestions Prof. Bard offers:
1) Set a deadline for eliminating Iran's nuclear facilities. If the U.S. takes out Iran's capability, then Israel has no more existential threat to worry about and does not have to take risks to do the job itself.

2) Sign a formal defense treaty with Israel.

3) Admit Israel to NATO.

4) Offer a generous compensation package to relocate settlers inside Israel.

5) Pressure the Arabs to purchase the land from the settlers.

6) Provide Israel with a large number of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

7) Finance the Red-Dead water project, which involves building a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
Read the details.

Of course, no one can seriously expect this to happen.
For Obama to offer a real incentive to Israel might ease Israel-US tensions, but would upset the Arabs--and upsetting Obama's plan to strengthen US-Arab relations.

But it does make a swell wishlist.

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If Ahmadinejad Is Able To Put Down The Protests--This Is Why (3 Updates)

Is the Iran regime beginning to succeed in squelching the protests? That is the implication of Andrew Sullivan's post:
Despite the tweets below, so far there's no sign of the rally hoped for yesterday. It may be that the violence - and the ability of the junta to prevent any large crowds gathering - has prevented it from happening. The frequency of tweets has also decreased as the junta slowly strangles the ability of Iranians to communicate with one another
If the regime is successful, it will be because Ahmadinejad has put together an organization that would make Chicago politics proud:
Mr. Ahmadinejad has filled crucial ministries and other top posts with close friends and allies who have spread ideological and operational support for him nationwide. These analysts estimate that he has replaced 10,000 government employees to cement his loyalists through the bureaucracies, so that his allies run the organizations responsible for both the contested election returns and the official organs that have endorsed them.

“There is a whole political establishment that emerged with Ahmadinejad, which is now determined to hold on to power undemocratically,” said one American-based Iran analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of his work in Iran. “Their ability to resist the outcome of the election means they have a broad base as a political establishment.” [emphasis added]
With his influence so firmly entrenched, Ahmadinejad is actually not that much different than any other dictator intent on holding onto power indefinitely:
Mr. Ahmadinejad has also changed all 30 of the country’s governors, all the city managers and even third- and fourth-level civil servants in important ministries like the Interior Ministry. It was Interior that announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the June 12 election with just 5 percent of the votes counted, analysts pointed out, and it is the Intelligence Ministry that has been rounding up scores of supporters of the reform candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, and other dissidents.
No wonder Chavez and Ahmadinejad get along so well together--imagine the stories they must tell each other!

UPDATE: If this account is accurate, it would be one more reason why the protests are in trouble:
State media on Wednesday said that Mohsen Rezaie, one of three presidential candidates who had disputed the June 12 polls, was withdrawing his complaints to authorities. Mr. Rezaie, a former commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards military force, made waves when he entered the race. The hard-line conservative was seen as targeting Mr. Ahmadinejad's core constituency, challenging the incumbent by charging economic mismanagement and foreign-policy adventurism. But Mr. Rezaie garnered less than 2% of the vote, according to official results.

He initially joined with former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi immediately after the vote in alleging widespread vote-rigging. The three candidates registered more than 600 allegations of irregularities.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Rezaie was quoted as citing national security in dropping his complaint filed with the Guardian Council, a top clerical review board that oversees elections. He also said there was too little time to probe the complaints thoroughly.

...Mr. Rezaie's background, and his initial willingness to stand with Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi in challenging the vote, lent the opposition a sense that it was representing a broad swath of Iran's political spectrum.

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Hope Fades but Anger Is Alive as Iran's Rulers Crack Down, does not paint an optimistic picture. It has interviews with a number of protesters and contrasts their original hopes with their reaction to the realities.

UPDATE: The Lede offers an explanation for today's quiet, despite the fact there was supposed to be another protest today:

Update | 3:12 p.m. An Iranian-American reader of The Lede who has been writing to us from Tehran says that Enghelab Square in central Tehran “today was real quiet.” According to messages posted online on Wednesday night, Enghelab was to have been the site of a protest on Thursday. Our reader notes that the city was possibly quiet on Thursday “today and tomorrow is the concur [national exam] — the huge test that every kid takes at the end of high school.”

We'll find out soon enought if that is the reason--though it's a stretch to say high school students have been the backbone of the protests.

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If You Thought The US Was Too Quiet About Iran--Where's The UN?

Claudia Rosett has noticed:
Iran's regime is already in gross violation of a series of U.N. sanctions over a nuclear program the U.N. Security Council deems a threat to international peace. The same regime has now loosed its security apparatus of trained thugs and snipers on Iranians who have been, in huge numbers, demanding their basic rights. Surely top U.N. officials such as Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon should be leading the charge for liberty and justice, with the strongest possible criticism and measures against the Iranian regime.
So what has the UN done?
On June 15, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was "closely following the situation" and had "taken note of the instruction by the religious leaders that there should be an investigation into this issue."

On June 16, He said he had "taken note ... very closely following ... just seeing how the situation will develop."

And it is not as if Ban did not have the opportunity to make a difference:
He sent a message to a meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was attending as an observer, having briefly decamped from the upheaval that his own Ayatollah-blessed, irregularity-fraught "re-election" had sparked in Iran.

To this gathering in Russia, where Ahmadinejad posed for the cameras among a lineup of heads of state, Ban dispatched a message full of buzzwords about poverty, climate change and "combined commitment to a peaceful and prosperous common future." He made no mention of the "situation" in Iran. [emphasis added]
Even after the violence in Iran was obvious, and the world discovered who Neda Agha-Soltan was, Ban was too busy to comment--busy in Birmingham, England, accepting an award at a Rotary International Convention.

On June 22, during the regular noon press briefing:
Ban's spokeswoman, Michele Montas, delivered a long list of announcements, replete with notices of assorted public service awards, and of the demise of a man who served from 1976 to 1981 as the spokesman for former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. There was nothing on Iran.
When asked afterwards if Ban had anything to say about what was happening in Iran, Montas said he was working on a statement.

When that statement finally materialized, it was all of one paragraph, "attributable to the Secretary General." In reaction to the violence unleashed against the protesters, the best that Ban could muster was that he was following the situation with "growing concern," and was "dismayed" by the violence.

Imagine: there actually is a leader who has managed to come out with a response more tepid than Obama.

Other than Ban, what are the other agencies in the UN doing?

Rosett runs down the list--

U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay was quoted as having "expressed concern" and noted that "the legal basis of the arrests that have been taking place, especially those of human rights defenders and political activists, is not clear." No word on the shooting of the protesters.

In the Security Council, "according to a Western diplomat connected with the Security Council, 'Iran is not being discussed at the council right now.'"

The General Assembly is led by the current president of the Assembly is Nicaragua's Miguel D'Escoto Brockman, who is a former Sandinista and a friend of Tehran, who made a trip there paid for by Iran.

Read the whole thing.

If in the end, the protesters achieve any kind of success--it will due entirely to their own actions.
At this point, the US and the UN offer nothing.

More at Memeorandum

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On 3rd Anniversay of Gilad Shalit's Kidnapping--Obama Has Also Exchanged For Hostages

Today, it is 3 years since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas. Although the terrorists have withstood all attempts to rescue Shalit, there has been a price--for Gazans:
There is probably no house in Gaza that has not felt the price of the kidnapping. Since Shalit was abducted, more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and thousands more injured; more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed; and the border crossings into Gaza have been closed.

Nevertheless, Hamas is not budging. It continues to demand all 450 of the prisoners on its list, including the planners of major suicide bombings since 1993.

The Haaretz article suggests that the reason that Hamas has not compromised in its demands is that it has worked itself into a corner:

After the kidnapping, Hamas promised to obtain the release of masses of prisoners, and before Operation Cast Lead last December, it promised to get the border crossings reopened. But so far, it has yet to do either. Thus a compromise on Shalit might appear as a surrender to Israel.
Netanyahu, for his part, has kept this issue from becoming the kind of public story that it was during Olmert's term--perhaps because it seems unlikely that there is any way to obtain Gilad Shalit's release without releasing terrorists.

At least Netanyahu did not make a major issue of this during his campaign.
The same cannot be said of Obama.

During his before the Knesset last year, Bush said:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
At the time, Obama claimed that Bush was directing his comments to him and responded:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack.

...George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally, Israel. [emphasis added]
In point of fact, Obama has not only engaged with terrorists--he has released terrorists.
Andy McCarthy writes:
The story of this deal with the devil traces back to May 31, 2007. At the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad that day, the Asaib al-Haq network kidnapped five British civilians: an information-technology expert named Peter Moore and his four contract bodyguards. The civilians pleaded for the British government to engineer their safe return. British, American, and Iraqi forces were unsuccessful in numerous rescue attempts.

Asaib al-Haq operatives told Iraqi-government officials that they would release the Brits in exchange for the Qazali brothers and Daqduq. The Bush administration refused. The Times of London has reported that the Americans gave the British request respectful consideration but declined to approve it absent an Iraqi commitment to prosecute the terrorists. The Iraqis refused. Mohammad al-Sa’ady, an adviser to Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, rationalized the decision to take no action against the murderers of Americans who died fighting for Iraqis this way: “We pointed out that Qais Qazali has a problem with the Americans. He doesn’t have a problem with us. He is not wanted for crimes against Iraqis.”

By contrast, President Obama was persuaded to free Laith Qazali outright, just as Obama previously had authorized the outright release to Britain of the al-Qaeda terrorist Binyam Mohammed [link], who had plotted with “dirty bomber” José Padilla to commit post-9/11 mass-murder attacks in American cities. And although the administration has attempted to pass off Laith Qazali’s release as a necessary compromise of American national interests for the purportedly greater good of Iraqi reconciliation, the camouflage is thin indeed. Transparently, the terrorist has been freed as a quid pro quo for the release of British hostages.
However, as terrorists tend to do, they changed their demands after Qazali was released. They did, however, release 2 of the hostages--in a way sadly reminiscent of the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser:
The terrorists did, however, release two of their British hostages, or, to be precise, their corpses: Jason Creswell of Glasgow and Jason Swindlehurst of Lancashire had been dead for weeks, perhaps longer, when their remains were turned over to the British embassy in Iraq.
Like Israel, the US used to have a policy of not dealing with terrorists; like Israel, the US has now changed that policy. The arguments against such a policy are familiar--as are the results, as events in Israel testify.

One can sympathize with the kind of decision that Obama made and the considerations that went into deciding what to do. Yet, by making a public display of what he promised he would never consider, Obama set himself for extra criticism--aside from the dangers in setting terrorists free.

Perhaps that is the difference between a seasoned politician like Netanayahu and a merely clever one like Obama.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Gilad Shalit Was Kidnapped Three Years Ago Today

A request from Gilad Shalit's father:
The father of Gilad Shalit urged fellow Israelis on Thursday to think of his son's plight in Hamas captivity, three years after the soldier was snatched from an Israel Defense Forces post by Gaza militants.

"My request today, June 25, 2009, is for every person in the country, man and woman, young and old, to close their eyes for three minutes. Three minutes only, and to wait until these minutes are over, and in this time for everyone to try to think of what my son Gilad is going through," Noam Shalit told Army Radio.
Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran Regime Cracks Down Hard On Protesters

It started with confirmed reports:
Security forces wielding clubs and firing weapons beat back demonstrators who flocked to a Tehran square Wednesday to continue protests, with one witness saying security forces beat people like “animals.”

At least two trusted sources described wild and violent conditions at a part of Tehran where protesters had planned to demonstrate.

“They were waiting for us,” the source said. “They all have guns and riot uniforms. It was like a mouse trap.”

“I see many people with broken arms, legs, heads — blood everywhere — pepper gas like war,” the source said.
Gateway Pundit, who is also has extensive coverage of the protests in Iran, links to Iranian blogger Saeed Valadbaygi--who is liveblogging the protests in Baharestan.

Ed Morrissey has a video from CNN with a description of what is happening.

Also check out liveblogging at The Lede

David Hazony writes:
It was only a few days ago when the popular uprising was waxing, that I could say with a straight face that Western leaders might be doing the right thing in showing restraint. The concern was then about discrediting the revolution inside Iran by seeming to confirm the accusation that it was a U.S. conspiracy.

Well, it’s certainly starting to look like I was wrong. Convinced that the protesters did not have the world on their side, the Mullahs have now unleashed total violence and horror on their own people. Fewer and fewer reports are escaping the hell, and the silencing of our sources inside Iran, one by one, suggests something far worse than the few dozen dead and few hundred arrested that the official news agencies are reporting.

Is it too late for massive Western pressure to make a difference? Is there any chance of it now? [emphasis added]

What is needed now is more than just an improved selection of emotive words.

More at Memeorandum

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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Is Israel Caving On The Settlements?

Haaretz is claiming that Israel is ready to compromise on the issue of settlement expansion:
Israel is considering enacting a temporary freeze on settlement construction, excluding projects already underway, if the United States agrees to continued construction for natural growth once the freeze ends, an Israeli government source has told Haaretz.

U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell has been conducting low-profile talks with Israel in a bid to reach an agreement on the settlement issue, the government official said.

Mitchell was due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris on Friday, but Netanyahu postponed the meeting and sent Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Washington for talks, the source said.

Barak believes that any progress on both the Palestinian and the regional peace tracks will render the settlement issue considerably less important, the government official said.
Wow! I forgot there was a Palestinian track!
(Does Obama know?)

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Obama On The Move: Another Terrorist State--Another Dialogue Partner

If you think that word that Obama wants to open talks with Hamas and drop preconditions is just a rumor, take a look at whom Obama is talking to now:
U.S. President Barack Obama is resuming diplomatic ties with Syria after a four-year hiatus as he aims for a regional peace in the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar Assad has conditioned peace with Israel on its regaining sovereignty of the strategic Golan Heights. Slightly more than half of the population on the Golan comprises Jews, and most of the remainder are Druze.

Israeli Foreign Minister spokesman Andy David told Israel National News Wednesday morning that the move by the U.S. is part of President Obama’s policies of “talking with the enemy” and that the issue of the Golan Heights is not a top American priority.
Besides being the enemy of Israel, Syria is suspected in the assassination of anti-Syrian Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Syria helped Iraq against the US by allowing it to move WMD into its country.

The end result is the absurd last paragraph of the article:
Syria remains on the American list of states that support terror, but relations between the two countries have been closer since President Obama took office in January.
Obviously, if Obama can talk to Syria, he will have no problem talking to Hamas either.
The only country in the Middle East that Obama seems to have a problem with is Israel.

(Come to think of it, if Obama can invite Iranian diplomats to a barbeque at the same time Iranian protesters are being shot in the street (will they go out for ice cream afterwards?), opening dialogue with Syria is no problem).

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The Israeli Settlements: Whose Land Is It Anyway?

According to the Washington Post, it all seems very cut and dried:
Thirty years ago, the State Department legal adviser issued an opinion in response to an inquiry from Congress: The establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories "is inconsistent with international law."

The opinion cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power "shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel has insisted that the Geneva Convention does not apply to settlers and broadly contests assertions of the settlements' illegality.

Despite the passage of time, the legal opinion, issued during the Carter administration, has never been revoked or revised...

..."As far as I know, I don't think it has ever been rescinded or challenged by any legal officer of the United States government," said Herbert J. Hansel, the former legal adviser who wrote the opinion. "Ronald Reagan expressed his opinion. But whatever you think of him, he was obviously not a lawyer. It still stands as the only definitive opinion of the U.S. government from a legal standpoint."
Unfortunately, the article is incomplete insofar as it fails to provide the other side of the argument. While the article mentions in passing that Israel does not believe the Geneva Convention is applicable to the issue of the settlements, at no point does the article address the basic question: "why not?"

The complete text of Hansell's opinion is available online [PDF; see paragraph 84]. Among the sources he refers to is Julius Stone--the author of 27 books on jurisprudence and international law who was Challis Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Sydney from 1942 to 1972. Hansell quotes from Stone's book, Israel and Palestine: An Assault on the Law of Nations, in the context of the limitations placed upon the occupying power, particularly that
the Occupant’s acts will not have legal effect, although they may in fact be unchallengeable until the territory is liberated. He is not entitled to treat the country as his own territory or its inhabitants as his own subjects...
However, in that very same book Stone himself writes that the attempt to claim Israel's settlements illegal is a "subversion. . . of basic international law principles."

Stone addressed this issue in another book, International Law and The Arab-Israel Conflict. An extract of the book is available online [PDF].

Stone describes there Israel's rights vis-a-vis the West Bank:
International law, therefore, gives a triple underpinning to Israel's claim that she is under no obligation to hand back automatically the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan or anyone else. In the first place, these lands never legally belonged to Jordan [because its grabbing the land in 1948 was never recognized]. Second, even if they had, Israel's own present control is lawful [because Israel fought a defensive war], and she is entitled to negotiate the extent and the terms of her withdrawal. Third, international law would not in such circumstances require the automatic handing back of territory even to an aggressor who was the former sovereign. It requires the extent and conditions of the handing back to be negotiated between the parties.
The crux of Hansell's argument is
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, 6 UST 3516, provides, in paragraph 6:
’The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own
civilian population into the territory it occupies’.
Paragraph 6 appears to apply by its terms to any transfer by an occupying power of parts of its civilian population, whatever the objective and whether involuntary or voluntary.
Hansell also addresses the fact that Egypt's and Jordan's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank had no legal standing:
It has been suggested that the principles of belligerent occupation, including Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention, may not apply in the West Bank and Gaza because Jordan and Egypt were not the respective legitimate sovereigns of these territories. However, those principles appear applicable whether or not Jordan and Egypt possessed legitimate sovereign rights in respect of those territories. Protecting the reversionary interest of an ousted sovereign is not their sole or essential purpose; the paramount purposes are protecting the civilian population of an occupied territory and reserving permanent territorial changes, if
any, until settlement of the conflict.
Stone does in fact differ with Hansell on the relevance of Jordan's illegal control of the West Bank and put forward the argument that the language of Article 2 specifically states that the Convention applies--
“to cases of … occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, by another such Party”.
The implication is that the Convention would not apply where the "High Contracting Party" has no actual claim to the territory.

While Hansell dismisses the argument, claiming the intent is focus on the civilian population, Stone also examines the context of the Geneva Convention:
It is clear that in the drafting history, Article 49 as a whole was directed against the heinous practice of the Nazi regime during the Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II, of forcibly transporting populations of which it wished to rid itself, into or out of occupied territories for the purpose of liquidating them with minimum disturbance of its metropolitan territory, or to provide slave labour or for other inhumane purposes.
[whereas]...Israel's position in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is merely that of an occupying power...
Hansell does note this argument and claims there is no reason to limit the Convention to mass population transfers.

However, there is an issue that Hansell does not address--he sidesteps the issue of who has title to the conquered territory. Is Hansell seriously suggesting that the land should automatically be returned to the country that took it illegally? Every limitation that he cites as applying to Israel as an occupying power should apply equally to Jordan--and more.

Stone quotes What Weight to Conquest? by Professor Stephen Schwebel--an American jurist and expert on international law who served at various positions in the U.S. Department of State, Legal Adviser Office and was a member of the UN International Law Commission. He was elected to the International Court of Justice in and was re-elected twice, and served as the President of the Court. Schwebel writes that the UN Charter--
makes necessary a vital distinction “between aggressive conquest and defensive conquest, between the taking of territory legally held and the taking of territory illegally held”:
“Those distinctions may be summarized as follows:

a) A state acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defence may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defence.

b) As a condition of its withdrawal from such territory, that state may require the institution of security measures reasonably designed to ensure that that territory shall not again be used to mount a threat or use force against it of such a nature as to justify exercise of self-defence.

c) Where the prior holder of the territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.”
Again, Hansell never addresses this key issue of who has the better title to the territory--and today, as per the Peace Treaty of 1994, Jordan has already relinquished any claim of sovereignty over the West Bank--which is why Israel has also argued that the change in the situation necessitates a reevaluation.

The point is not that these are all of the arguments that can be marshaled on either side.
The point is that the issues are complex--and they are not being fully addressed.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Israel Job-Interview Fair-2009 Coming to a Computer Near You

From an email:
Israel Job-Interview Fair- 2009 Coming to a Computer Near YOU! Register now.

Making Aliyah this Summer? Still Looking for a job in Israel ?
Join the On-Line Job Interview Fair starting July 12th
First - Learn how to write a Resume/CV from the comfort of your own home via Webcast direct from Israel (July 12, 2009 10am EST 17:00 Israel Time)

Second - Send us your resume/CV for correction after the July 12th Webcast. We will correct it and send it back to you as well as forward it to the participating employers

- A Participating employer will review your resume. We will send your resume to all employers who are looking to fill a position they have open based on the qualifications you put down on your resume. In essence we present the employer your resume/CV for you! Please make sure your resume/CV reflects the position(s) you are looking for.

- IF the employer thinks your resume is a good match to their open position(s), than they will invite you to an on-line interview live from Israel.
YOU MUST BE INVITED BY THE EMPLOYER TO HAVE AN INTERVIEW. If you do not receive an invite from an employer that means that the participating employers have found someone else for their open jobs and your resume/CV will be put on file.
This Job/Interview Fair is by
Your resume/CV is critical to your success!


Please sign up NOW! Go to www.oujobs.com

Srulie Rosner
OU Job Board

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Ramallah And Jenin: Formerly Terrorist Strongholds--Now Developing Economic And Cultural Centers

In Bombs in Gaza, Parties in Ramallah, Rinat Malkes wrote last summer about the amazing turnaround in Ramallah:
While the Palestinian political world remains in turmoil, the West Bank still struggles for normality — and achieves it, but only selectively. While northern West Bank cities like Nablus and Jenin remain tense, in the heart of Palestine the city of Ramallah seems more effervescent than ever — full of tourists, crowded coffee shops, and active daily life even as the headlines spell trouble; it is as if the city is in a strange quiet before a storm.

The violent escalation over the past week may challenge Palestinian and Israeli analysts who are currently asking themselves whether the situation can deteriorate even more, but the news doesn’t seem to bother Ramallah’s citizens. Many new and trendy Western-style coffee shops and restaurants have opened this summer, tourists came back to the streets around al-Manara Square, and despite the price index high of 10.20% during the first quarter of the year, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, commerce is buzzing.

It’s easy to notice a huge variety of languages, cultures, and Western faces among the crowded tables of Cafe de la Paix, next to Ramallah’s city hall. Pilgrims, foreign NGOs’ personnel, journalists, and Palestinians from other West Bank cities have found a perfect place to spend some quality leisure time. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing.

Now, a year later, it seems that Jenin is catching up:
The skies lit up over Jenin last month, and it wasn't tracer bullets or flash bombs but celebratory fireworks, set off to mark the occasion of the opening of Hirbawi Home Center, a new luxury establishment on the city's outskirts.

The five-story building near the Jalame checkpoint cost $5 million to build, says its owner, and it is filled with deluxe, foreign-made products seen mostly in the pages of newspaper supplements.

This shopping opportunity is intended to interest the upper crust of Jenin, and while some might think the proposition suggests financial suicide, the profit forecasts for the project have been so favorable the owner plans to open four more shops in the West Bank and one in Jordan.
Considering the commonly accepted image of the West Bank, one would assume that there is no demand for the luxury items that Hirbawi Home Center is offering--but the truth is that the demand for those luxuries exists and so do the means of acquiring them.
This may not sound like the familiar description of the occupied territories - the impoverished Palestinian village or the overcrowded refugee camp, a population sustaining itself on international aid. But it turns out that quite a few Palestinians consider a plasma screen, a surround sound stereo and comfortable chairs to be fairly essential items.

Here, on the fifth floor of the Jenin operation, overlooking the fields separating Israel from Jenin, are the in-demand electric gadgets: enormous TV screens, vacuum cleaners, espresso machines, and the list goes on and on. [CEO Ziad] Turabi points out that some products are only available in Home Center shops. "This is an espresso machine that grinds the coffee beans," he says. "People want more and more of these products. They ask for the finest quality." Most of the products on sale are imported through the port of Ashdod. "We have exclusive deals with quite a few brands," says Turabi. "They'll only market their products at Home Center."

..."We've been working for a few months now and every day had been like opening day. We are very pleased, and the profits have been very satisfying so far. Don't worry, we're not going to lose, and we truly believe that. It's true that Jenin is like a big village and wealthy people here are few. Everyone told us to start off with Ramallah. But I came here a few months ago and ran some profit estimates."
Read the whole thing.

The face of the West Bank is changing--albeit very slowly, and with lots of external help. The West Bank still does not have the infrastructure to exist as an independent state, but it is not the impoverished and overpopulated hellhole that Palestinian apologists claim.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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