Monday, October 31, 2011

UNESCO Has Accepted Palestine...And US Follows Through

JE Dyer notes that apparently, with the acceptance of a Palestinian pseudo-state, all eyes are on Obama to see if he will follow through  to withhold funds from UNESCO. The thing is, despite statues going back to 1990, there really is little holding the Obama administration back from ignoring Congress and maintaining the UNESCO funding.

Going one step further, Elder of Ziyon examines the statutes themselves and finds that if UNESCO gives Palestinians member status below regular status, Congressional statutes do not come into play.

Bottom line, does anyone seriously expect the Obama administration that has been so hesitant to take follow through on other threats to suddenly take action which, as Elder of Zion notes, will put the US in violation of its UN treaty obligations.

Maybe they should. AFP
reports the State Department announced it is withholding its scheduled $60 million payment to UNESCO.

Jonathan Tobin writes that the US threat was driven more by fear of embarrassment than by defending Israel.

In any case, Obama will again claim it is acting as friend of Israel.

Blogged from my Android

Is Hamas On It's Way Out?

Khaled Abu Toameh writes that Hamas's days as the darling of Iran and Syria are over.

Hamas failed to come out clearly in support of Syria's Assad and his brutal crackdown on unarmed protesters. As result, Iran and Syria are backing the competition--Islamic Jihad.

Already, Islamic Jihad's leaders ate welcome in capitals around the Islamic world--including in Egypt, where is not particularly welcome to begin with.

Islamic Jihad is asserting itself by launching its own rockets at Israel, putting Hamas in the position of appearing to be more sympathetic to Israel--exactly the position Hamas has accused Fatah of taking.

Things are so bad that Hamas members are defecting.

The deal for the release of Gilad Shalit also plays a role. While it may have strengthed Hams, that may have driven Hamas's competition in Islamic Jihad to do something to assert themselves.

Thus the current increase in rockets being fired from Gaza.

In the Middle East too, no good deed goes unpunished.

Blogged from my Android

Barry Rubin: Ah, The Good Old Days When Turkey Liked Israel and the NY Times Liked Me; Now: Turkish Rulers’ Ambitions Take a Hit

By Barry Rubin

Yes, there was a time not so long ago when Turkey wasn’t ruled by Islamists and the New York Times wasn’t ruled by far leftists.

Turkey has just had a major earthquake. Israel offered help; the Turkish government refused. Yet it was Israel’s generous help at the time that was the breakthrough event for the close relationship between these two countries.

This is from the 1999 New York Times:

”Israelis are absolutely obsessed with the earthquake,” said Barry Rubin, an Israeli scholar who has written extensively about the Turkish-Israeli relationship.

”There’s a psychological as well as a political reason for this,” Mr. Rubin said. ”Jews and Turks have historically been thought of as outsiders, especially in Europe. They are two peoples who are extremely conscious of who their friends are. But even though I’ve been following this subject for 10 years, I’m amazed at how many messages I’ve received since the earthquake. Israelis want to know what they can do to help, and Turks want to say how grateful they are.”

There’s a story behind this quote.
Continue reading Ah, The Good Old Days When Turkey Liked Israel and the NY Times Liked Me; Now: Turkish Rulers’ Ambitions Take a Hit

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reportsand now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media

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Mideast Media Sampler 10/31/2011

From DG:
1) Cease-fire?

Today the New York Times reports After Attacks, Efforts to Restore Truce Between Israel and Groups in Gaza. "Groups?" How descriptive is that? Is the New York Times incapable of using the word "terrorists?" The report includes the boilerplate:
Hamas has largely maintained the fragile cease-fire that went into effect after Israel ended its three-week military offensive in Gaza in early 2009. The smaller factions in Gaza are less committed, but are under pressure from Hamas to comply. 
Earlier we learn:
The Israeli military fired on what it said was a terrorist squad in southern Gaza preparing to fire rockets at Israel on Sunday afternoon. Gaza security officials said one Palestinian militant was killed and another was seriously wounded. Both, it said, were members of the armed wing of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 
Notice the qualification of the Israeli claim, "what it said."

Barry Rubin: King Abdallah of Jordan on How No One Trusts Obama's Government

This article was published in The Daily Caller. This version has some small improvements.

By Barry Rubin

Earlier this week, The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth interviewed King Abdallah of Jordan. Here’s how King Abdallah responded to Weymouth’s question, “Do you and other leaders in this area believe you cannot rely on the U.S.?"

He replied:

"I think everybody is wary of dealing with the West....Looking at how quickly people turned their backs on [Egyptian President Husni] Mubarak, I would say that most people are going to try and go their own way. I think there is going to be less coordination with the West and therefore a chance of more misunderstandings."

This is devastating.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Palestinian Group Proves ANYBODY Can Call Themselves A Human Rights Group

Rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians continue--resulting in the death of an Israeli father of four:

Mideast Media Sampler 10/30/2011

From DG:
1) Hamas: committed to the ceasefire  
Yesterday, there was renewed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. This time there were injuries and a fatality. Israel retaliated killing five of the terrorists. There are numerous aspects of this news that can be manipulated in reporting. The New York Times adds a different distortion in Israeli Drone Strike Kills Militants in Southern Gaza by Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner. Repeating an unsupported assertion mentioned earlier in the article, Akram and Kershner conclude:
Hamas is largely committed to the fragile cease-fire that first came into effect after Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza that ended in January 2009. Smaller groups like Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees are not.

Arlene Kushner Rebuts Congressman Ackerman's Pro-Obama Letter

From Arlene Kushner:

October 30, 2011
Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat) 
"Response to a Letter" 
This posting will have a slightly different format, as it is, quite literally, a response to a letter. 
The letter is from Congressman Gary Ackerman (NY-5th), sent to fellow Jews (how many and whom I cannot say) for the High Holidays.  Congressman Ackerman is the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East. 
The letter circulated and came finally into the computer of a friend, with an introduction about how good it is to know the facts.  I thank that friend -- who was not well pleased by the Congressman's message -- for sending it on to me, so that I might respond to those who received that letter along with her.  
The core of my response -- with some additional comments -- follows here, as it may be useful to some of my readers, who have either seen Ackerman's letter or the arguments it advances.  Beneath it, the original letter. 
The letter from Congressman Ackerman, below, has come to my attention and I believe that in the interests of truth it is important to respond.   
Congressman Ackerman lists a good number of things that Obama has ostensibly done that show that he is not anti-Israel.  But there are a few fallacies built into his argument. 

"Palestine Papers" Refute Abbas Claim He Negotiated With Olmert In Good Faith

Abbas claims that when he met with then-Prime Minister Olmert, peace between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel was almost at hand.

But is Abbas telling the truth?

Abbas claims in an interview that if only Olmert had stayed in office, he and Olmert could have come to an agreement:
Abbas also contended that he and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were "very, very close" to reaching a peace agreement in 2008, before the Israeli leader left office under a cloud of corruption allegations.

"It was a very good opportunity," he said. "If he stayed two, three months, I believe that time we could have concluded an agreement."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Video: Latma On The Release Of Terrorists For Gilad Shalit

Latma is back from vacation--and in this video have 2 skits about the deal to bring Gilad Shalit home.

Barry Rubin: Out of Tune in Tunisia: What’s Really Going on There and Throughout the Arab World

By Barry Rubin

Let’s step back, keep an open mind, avoid stereotypes and preconceptions, and ask: What is the current political situation in Tunisia? Simple. The Islamists aren’t ready for the concern. They are just tuning up. Still, they’ve handed out programs so we should know what’s going to be played at the concert.

First and foremost, let’s remember that Tunisia is not going to become a radical Islamist state within the next year. The whole revolution in the Islamist revolution is the understanding—learned largely from Turkey—that the movement can operate by stealth, one step at a time, winning elections, taking over institutions, and only emerging fully at the end of that process.

This does not prove they are moderate; it proves that they are smart. And you know what that proves about those gullible enough to be taken in by the trickery.

Remember what happened with Communism. Karl Marx started by proclaiming that the Communists disdained to conceal their aims and the next thing you know they are all wearing costumes labeled “agrarian reformers,” “progressives,” and moderates.

NYC Threatens To Shut Down Segregated Orthodox Jewish Bus Line

At issue is the B110 bus, which runs through the heavily Orthodox Jewish sections of Brooklyn
The bus requires that women sit in the back.

Now New York City wants to close the Orthodox bus line for requiring men and women to sit separately:
The city is now threatening to shut down the route if the carrier, Private Transportation Corporation, doesn’t stop its practice of segregating passengers based on sex.

Interview: Caroline Glick Talks About Latma And Israel

This week, Caroline Glick gave an interview with the Jewish Press about Latma and Israel
"We Want To Break The Leftist Monopoly On Public Discourse In Israel":
An Interview With Political Analyst Caroline Glick

By: Sara Lehmann

Laughter really is the best medicine. Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, has found humor and satire to be valuable tools in making the case for a strong Israel. Her latest venture to that end is Latma, the Hebrew-language media satire website Glick created and edits.

The non-profit Latma is Glick's newest platform for her staunchly nationalistic defense of Israel, promoted in her biweekly syndicated columns for the Jerusalem Post and in articles in The Jewish Press, The Wall Street Journal, National Review and Moment magazine, among others. Glick also is a frequent guest on Fox News, MSNBC and Israeli television.

Glick is currently in the U.S. to raise awareness of Latma

The Jewish Press: How effective has Latma been since you started it?

Barry Rubin: Senator John McCain (Ignorantly) Backs Islamist-Dominated Syrian Opposition Leaders

By Barry Rubin

Also you can read Barry Rubin's new article, Is Libya An Islamist State?

I’ve warned that the Obama Administration, through the Islamist Turkish government, has produced a majority Islamist leadership. Let me emphasize this point: the Syrian people didn’t chose this exile leadership, the American president and his colleagues did. And in my articles I warned that support would soon pour in from Westerners who had no idea they were promoting a ftuture anti-American Islamist Syria

It is vital to understand that Syria is different from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. A revolutionary Islamist regime is not inevitable. There are plenty of moderates and those non-Muslims or non-Arabs loyal first and foremost to their own community (Druze, Christians, Kurds, tribes, and even potentially Alawites) who don’t want Islamism. That’s why this disaster is avoidable and all the more strategic sin on the Obama Administration for making an unnecessary catastrophe more likely.

In historical terms, it would be as if the Western powers helped create and back a Communist-dominated opposition council in pre-revolutionary Russia even though the Bolsheviks weren’t in the majority.

Mideast Media Sampler 10/28/2011

From DG:
1) A brief history of prisoner releases

While the trade of 1047 Palestinian prisoners wasn't, strictly speaking, a prisoner release, Ethan Bronner of the New York Times wrote, when he reported that a deal had been reached:

He said he had told his negotiators to hold the talks “under the guidelines important to Israel: the need to bring Gilad home and the need to keep Israel’s citizens safe.”

For Palestinians, the plight of thousands of their sons in Israeli prisons has been equally traumatic, and the possibility of their release drew enormous attention. 
First of all the equivalence between Shalit and the Palestinians released is outrageous.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Arlene Kushner On The Quartet's Failure--To Bring Pals To The Table, To See They Couldn't

From Arlene Kushner:

October 27, 2011
"No Surprises" 
Negotiators representing the Quartet parties -- the US, the UN, the EU, and Russia -- along with Quartet Envoy Tony Blair have now met separately with an Israeli team headed by Yitzhak Molcho, and a PA team headed by Saeb Erekat. 
And guess what?  There was no breakthrough.  The PA is holding to its line of no talks unless Israel freezes all building beyond the Green Line and agrees to that '67 line as the "term of reference" for negotiations. 
Israel's response is negative on both scores (see more below).

Israel Isolated? Israel Has Friends--And Turkey Is Being Left Out In The Cold

Omri Ceren writes that Israel-Cyprus Military Exercises Show Turkey is Increasingly Isolated, based on an article that those exercises themselves may be a not so subtle message to Turkey, which has tried to impose itself into the deep-sea drilling in the Mediterranean:
The exercises are particularly noteworthy in light of a rumored incident over Cypriot airspace, where Israeli and Turkish planes may or may not have almost had an “aerial encounter.” If there are to be incidents in the area as American influence precipitously declines, the signal is presumably being sent–Cyprus and Israel will be on one side and Turkey will be on the other. Israel and Cyprus’s newly forged ties are in line with recent moves made by Athens and Sofia to solidify their mutual defense interests with Israel.
More to the point, it's beginning to seem as if Turkey just can't get along with anybody these days:

Video: Report On The Syrian Underground

A news team from Channel 4 in Great Britain did an investigative report on the Syrian underground:

Video: Hamas Does The Math--"6 Zionist Soldiers = 6,000 Prisoners"

If there was supposed to be any kind of lesson that Hamas was supposed to have learned, it apparently is of the New Math variety--the kind that seems to only apply in the Middle East, and only when dealing with Israel:

Mideast Media Sampler 10/27/2011

From DG:

3 interview edition 

1) The 2nd generation dictator club
Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post interviewed King Abdullah of Jordan

Does that mean you have talked to President Assad?
I spoke to Bashar al-Assad twice in the springtime. . . . Basically, they were not interested in listening to our advice. They basically told us that there are a bunch of thugs in Syria and they had everything under control. A couple of times I have felt that I should reach out to him, but I really don’t know what to say. I think he does have reform in his soul but I don’t think that type of regime allows for any potential reformist. 
He didn't know what to say?

Egyptian Regime Used Ilan Grapel To Placate Their People

After all, they have no Republicans.

Who is to blame for the economic crisis that engulfs the world economies?

If you listen to Occupy Wall Street, the culprits are Wall Street, Capitalists, and those in league with them.
And, of course, the government.

In this regard, Hezi Sternlicht has an opinion piece on Israel Hayom On human nature and the world economy:

Video: Media Equates Release Of Gilad Shalit And Palestinian Terrorists

Because they are dealing with Israel, the media feels free to compare a soldier defending his country with terrorists who murder children.

This video highlights the discrepancies and outright biases of the media which puts Gilad Shalit and terrorists on an equal footing.

Why Christianity Is Outpacing Islam--And The Implications

Around the globe Christianity is growing and mutating in ways that observers in the West tend not to see. Tumultuous conflicts within Christianity will leave a mark deeper than Islam's on the century ahead.
Philip Jenkins, The Next Christianity

Between the weakening of the Church after the rash of sexual scandals on the one hand and the resurgence of Islam on the other, the global predominance and outright dominance of Islam is a new reality that the world will have to come to grips with.

Or maybe not.

Maybe that is the old Christianity you're thinking of.

Philip Jenkins writes about The Next Christianity, the resurgent Christianity that is outpacing Islam--perhaps even in global politics:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Arlene Kushner On The Issue Of Rebuilding The Mughrabi Gate Bridge

From Arlene Kushner:

October 26, 2011
"National Integrity" 
When I speak of integrity, I am referring to soundness, state of being whole.
For Israel as a nation, this applies to a great many situations.  We have a regrettable and maddening tendency to turn ourselves into a veritable pretzel -- as we seek to disprove a charge against or to satisfy demands leveled at us -- rather than remaining true to what we know we are. 
My reason for raising this now is because the issue of the rebuilding of the Mughrabi Gate bridge has come to the fore once again.

Spengler On Iran And Turkey: Rising Dreams Of Glory And Falling Fertility Rates

David Goldman, who writes a column as "Spengler", has written a new book, How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), addressing concerns about global shifts in power and influence.

Along the way, Spengler argues that while dangerous, radical Muslims have overstated their case for subjugating the West.

In the introduction to her interview with Spengler, Ruth King writes:

Israel Sends Rescue Teams To Help With Turkey's Earthquake--Along With Iran And IHH

Immediately after news of the earthquake disaster in Turkey, the Israel government made preparations to extend emergency assistance. On August 17, Israel Air Force planes airlifted the Israeli team, comprising 250 persons, as well as sophisticated rescue equipment and rescue dogs. The Israeli team began almost immediately to work at several locations, in coordination with the Turkish government.

On August 18, an additional IAF plane was sent to Turkey, carrying the staff and equipment for a field hospital, which will comprise two hospital wards for adults and children, an isolation room, an operating room, an X-ray laboratory, two clinics, and medical equipment.

The Search and Rescue team of the IDF Home Front Command, established in its present form in 1984, performs search and rescue operations in Israel and abroad, in both routine and emergency situations.
Israeli Aid for Turkish Earthquake Victims

The above is from the website of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The above is also from August 1999.

And now Israel will be helping out Turkey once again

Obama New Settlement Policy Copies The Bush Deal Obama Denied Existed

It may be that Obama has changed his policy regarding the Israeli "settlements":
PLO official Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that the US had not officially informed the Palestinian leadership of any proposal to partially freeze settlement building.

The Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Tuesday that the US had made an offer to the Israeli government and the PA suggesting Israel halt the construction of new neighborhoods but could continue building in existing settlements on occupied Palestinian land, apparently to cope with natural growth.
If accurate, this would be good news--because it would mean that instead of pursuing his failed policy that led to the breakdown in peace talks, Obama is now pursuing the policy he should have established in the first place: incorporating the policy already established by Bush and agreed to by Ariel Sharon.

Barry Rubin: Tunisia: The “Moderate” Islamists Make a Radical Revolution

By Barry Rubin

After the torch-light red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

–T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”

Let’s be 100 percent clear here: In theory there might be such a thing as a moderate who wants more Islamic influence in political life—I can think of some very tiny groups that might be able to claim that distinction—but the party that won the Tunisian election is definitely not in that category and the same applies to the significant Islamist forces in Libya and Egypt, too.

Conference: Jewish Perspectives On Public Health, Sunday November 6th

From the YU Medical Ethics Society website:

At this year's Medical Ethics Society conference, participants will be provided with the broad medical and legal foundation needed to understand public health issues. They will also be exposed to the social issues surrounding these challenges as they relate to society as a whole and to the Jewish community in particular.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No One Expects The Palestinian Negotiating Team!

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
Monty Python, The Spanish Inquisition

We all know that Abbas is fond of demanding preconditions before even sitting down at the negotiating table--one of the reasons that he has spent so very little time sitting down and talking face to face with Netanyahu.

But wait--how many preconditions do the Palestinian Arabs have?

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor Addresses UN On The Real Middle East

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor addressing the United Nations Security Council is a pleasure to see in action--illustrating that Israel is not the only issue in the Middle East that is in dire need of being addressed.
Watch the video below.
There is a transcript afterwards.

The Failure Of Obama's Mideast Foreign Policy--In 9 Muslim Countries

Investor's Business Daily has an overview of the failures of Obama's Middle East foreign policy--as reflected in the events in 9 Muslim countries:
• Iraq: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked the U.S. to pack up and leave, and Obama, hoping to shore up support with the anti-war left, agreed. Now, after more than 4,000 killed, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, Iraq will be left with no significant continuing U.S. presence.

"The tide of war is receding," Obama says. Really? A new poll shows 73% of Iraqis fear a U.S. withdrawal will let Iran destabilize Iraq. It looks almost as if the U.S. is handing Iraq over to Iran — despite Clinton's empty vow to "stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq."

Hebrew Gains Something In Transliteration

When my daughter was around 6 years old, she was in the car singing something along the lines of:
"Bringing lots of nachas--Kibbud Av V'Em (honoring your father and mother)"
Not knowing when to leave well enough alone, I asked her what "nachas" meant.

Barry Rubin: Welcome to the Islamist Middle East and It’s Not Going to be Moderate

By Barry Rubin
Ladies and gentlemen, liberals and conservatives, Obama-lovers and Obama-haters, no matter what your race, creed, gender, national origin, or level of unpaid college loans, two things should be clear to all of you:

First, to describe the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy as a disaster–I cannot think of a bigger, deadlier mess created by any U.S. foreign policy in the last century–is an understatement.

Second, the dominant analysis being used by the media, academia, and the talking heads on television has been proven dangerously wrong.

I won’t review all the evidence here, but it amounts to a retreat for moderates, allies of the West, and American interests coupled with an advanced for revolutionary Islamists.
Continue reading Welcome to the Islamist Middle East and It’s Not Going to be Moderate

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reportsand now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media

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Hezbollah: Syrian Regime Is Winning The War Against The Uprising

Of course, how much of that evaluation is nothing more than wishful thinking--that is anyone's guess.

In any case, Hezbollah head Nasrallah claims to have every confidence that Syrian President Assad has matters well in hand:
The embattled Syrian regime is largely “out of the danger zone” despite a 7-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said Monday.

Is The ADL-AJC National Pledge For Unity On Israel An Vttempt To Muzzle Criticism Of The Obama Administration?

The ADL and AJC have joined together to create The ADL-AJC National Pledge For Unity On Israel:
In an ever-changing world, the enduring friendship between the United States and Israel has been a constant, supported overwhelmingly by the American people since the founding of the Jewish State. Americans from across the political spectrum consistently identify with and care deeply about Israel.

America’s friendship with Israel is an emotional, moral and strategic bond that has always transcended politics. Support for Israel has never been merely a plank in a Republican or Democratic Party or candidate’s platform. It is a core American policy that serves our nation’s most fundamental national interests. Indeed, for the past six decades, every American President and Congressional leaders in both parties have championed the shared values and outlook that bind the two nations.

This broad bipartisan backing has been vital to America’s interests and to Israel’s security throughout decades of war and a constant struggle for survival. We salute the long line of American leaders who have moved beyond their often bitter policy differences over issues of the day to stand shoulder to shoulder together on the side of a strong and enduring U.S.-Israel relationship.

The Jewish community has had a strong interest in ensuring that American support for Israel is one of the critical strategic issues that unites rather than divides parties and officials. U.S. – Israel friendship should never be used as a political wedge issue.

Barry Rubin: Will Libya Be A Radical Islamist State?

This article is modified from Barry Rubin's piece in the Daily Caller based on new information.

By Barry Rubin

During the Cold War's early years of the 1950s and 1960s , U.S. policy backed Saudi Arabia and other traditionalist regimes to counter the radical,anti-Western nationalist forces that seemed set to conquer the region. The radicals generally dominated Egypt, Iraq, and Syria from the mid-1950s, while the more pious Muslim regimes included Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies, Libya and Jordan.

That strategy made sense. The argument was that pious Muslims would never be Communists and that the monarchies were indeed horrified by the overthrow of kings to set up radical republics. While there were some radical Islamist forces then--the Muslim Brotherhood, the networks organized by the former Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Hussaini, and in Pakistan--they were quite weak in comparison to these two blocs.

But that was a long time ago. Today, the threat is revolutionary Islamism, not Communism, and the cure is either traditionalism, moderate nationalism, communal nationalism, or liberal democratic thinking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sanctions Haven't Stopped Iran--But They Seem To Have Stopped Wikileaks

At least temporarily.

Al Jazeera is reporting that Wikileaks is hard pressed for funds:
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has announced that financial problems may lead to the closure of the whistleblowing website at the end of the year.

The website revealed on Monday that it would stop publishing for the moment in order to focus on making money, explaining that the blockade imposed by financial companies including Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal left it with no choice.

"If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the new year,'' Assange said in a statement.
It's not as if the decline of Wikileaks has been sudden.

Barry Rubin: The Insanity of the Middle East: A Handy Guide

This article by Barry Rubin is reposted with permission:

The Insanity of the Middle East: A Handy Guide

By Barry Rubin 
Every day in the Middle East, terrible things take place. The worst are the material acts of violence and oppression. The second-worst are the lies and distortions of truth that help ensure things don’t get better. Every day in the West, the lies are echoed, amplified, and invented. This also helps ensure things don’t get better in the Middle East and that they do get worse in the West. 
Now I’ve found, from the most unexpected place, a single sentence, an ancient proverb, that explains it all. It comes from the Navahos and it goes like this: 
You cannot awaken someone who pretends to be sleeping.

As The Hotspots In The Middle East Increase, Israeli Bedrooms Remain The Answer

Here's your final exam question in Middle Eastern studies:

A mass of Coptic Christians marches through Cairo to protest the military government's failure to protect them from Muslim radicals. They are attacked by stone-throwing, club-wielding rowdies. Armed forces security personnel intervene, and the Copts fight it out with the soldiers, with two dozen dead and scores injured on both sides. Who is to blame?

The full credit answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu, for building apartments in Jerusalem. If that's not what you wrote, don't blame me if you can't get a job at the New York Times.
Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many, Spengler, October 12, 2011

Just why is it assumed that resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is going to bring peace and stability to the region? Maybe it's just nothing more than the elegant simplicity of the solution.

After all, instead of having to get your hands dirty with all of those conflicts going on in the Middle East--and that is even without taking into account the revolutions resulting from the "Arab Spring"--all you have to do is solve one problem.

Mideast Media Sampler 10/24/2011

From DG:
1) Some say ...

A number of AP dispatches on Yahoo! News have the following sentence:
Some say they want to put their violent pasts behind them and move on with their lives, now that the celebrations marking their release have faded.
My guess is that many more feel like this (thanks to DG and CAMERA)
Older and grayer than the 20-year-old who was sentenced to life in prison for murder, Abu Amrin was one of 477 Palestinian convicts released Tuesday in the first step of a 1,027-for-1 exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. About 80 miles away in a coastal Israeli city north of Tel Aviv, embittered father Zeev Rapp, 66, sat at home and watched the television in disgust. In 1992, Abu Amrin stabbed Rapp's daughter Helena, 15, in the heart as she was on her way to school. Now he was walking free with other smiling prisoners, flashing victory signs and kissing the ground. ...
The remarks from the stage and elsewhere included no signs of regret.

Video: How POW's Are Treated In Islam--And The Reality Of How Gilad Shalit Was Treated

Hamas bragged that they treated Gilad Shalit well--in accordance with the tenets of Islam.
Here is a video claiming to describe how Islam dictates prisoners of war are treated

Barry Rubin: Obama’s Foreign Policy: Manchurian Candidate or Keystone Kop?

By Barry Rubin
Virtually since the day President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, I’ve been reporting in great detail on his disastrous Middle East policy. I believe nobody in the world has written more thoroughly documented words and provided more factually based analysis explaining why this policy is so bad than me.

And so I am often asked whether I believe this situation is caused by a deliberate, conscious effort to destroy U.S. interests, subvert Israel’s existence, and promote anti-American Islamists on the part of the president and his closest colleagues.

No, I answer, it is the result of ignorance, incompetence, and a ridiculous ideological approach that has nothing to do with reality. But, I add, it certainly says something that the policy is so bad that it makes people think that deliberate treason is a credible explanation.

Recently, an expert I respect who likes my work asked me the following:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Arlene Kushner On Behind The Scenes Of The Release Of Gilad Shalit

From Arlene Kushner

October 23, 2011
"The Broader Context" 
Theories abound as to why Netanyahu agreed to the Shalit trade now.  The decision was undoubtedly "over-determined."  As is often the case in life, many different converging factors played into it.  Some -- for example, that he wanted to lift the morale of the nation, or that it was politically advantageous to appeal to the populist spirit of those doing the tent protests -- I prefer to pass by, although they may have played into the decision in some relatively minor fashion.  
A few ideas, however, merit a closer look:

Barry Rubin: SCOOP: Obama Administration Does it Again! Empowers Largely Islamist Leadership for Syrian Revolution

By Barry Rubin
The leadership of the Syrian revolution, or at least those recognized as such by the United States and the European Union, has released the names of 19 of the 29 members of the General Secretariat and five members of the Presidential Council. A lot of research should be done on the individuals, but let’s do a quick ethnic and political analysis based on this information.

But first let me give you my analysis: I believe that the Turkish Islamist regime deliberately helped produce a Syrian leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood-controlled than was necessary. Since Turkey’s government was empowered to do this by the Obama administration, the White House is responsible for this extremely dangerous situation. It is a blunder or a betrayal — in effect, the motive and cause don’t matter — of the greatest dimensions. The Obama administration may “only” have paved the way for the triumph of Islamist regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia — we don’t yet know the final result — but it has been actively involved in helping promote an (avoidable) Islamist revolution in Syria.

Arlene Kushner On Rethinking The Shalit Exchange And How It Came About

From Arlene Kushner:

October 21, 2011
A familiar but necessary refrain of mine: Shabbat is early and time for this posting is limited.  But I -- along with many others! -- carry the consequences of the Shalit trade heavily on my heart.  There are things that must be said, with continuation as necessary after Shabbat.
As it is, there are those outside of Israel who are still celebrating the holiday and will not see this until after Shabbat in any event.
There is no one, but no one, who is not glad to see Gilad alive and free.  That is, as an issue separate from how his freedom was achieved. He came out in much better shape than had been expected -- which makes it clear not that Hamas has become humanitarian, but that they understood his worth to them in a trade.  He has handled  himself with intelligence, including in the horrendous interview to which he was subjected in Egypt. 
May he heal in soul and body, and go on to live a meaningful and full life.  He should never be begrudged this, now that he is out.
My empathy for his parents, however, and in particular his father, Noam Shalit, is considerably less. 

Slideshow For Digital Diplomats: Defending Israel Against Claims of Excessive Force

From Honest Reporting: Defending Israel Against Claims of Excessive Force
Our first series of videos focused on teaching people how to be effective advocates for Israel. Feedback from the thousands who enrolled in the program convinced us to follow up by looking at several core issues with greater depth.

The new series will consist of slide shows that illustrate the problems and how we can all contribute to solving them. Slide shows allow us to present powerful information in an entertaining and visually stimulating way while giving the viewers complete control over the pace of the information. You can move backwards or forwards as you wish without losing the thread of the message.

Our first slide show examines Israel’s media image as an aggressor using excessive force against the Palestinians.

Barry Rubin: What Gaddafi’s Death Teaches the Middle East…And Should Teach the West

By Barry Rubin
What can we learn from the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Qadhafi? First, we should note that he is the second Arab dictator to die in the last decade, the first being the Iraqi Saddam Hussein. Both met their demise due to direct Western intervention.

There are three lessons for the region:

1. To get rid of a dictator, you need either Western intervention or the support of the armed forces.

Consider this simple list:
Dictatorships overthrown with Western forces taking the lead: Iraq, Libya

Dictatorships overthrown with the backing of the army: Egypt, Tunisia

Failed revolutions when these two factors are lacking: Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photos: The Palestinian Victims The Media Ignores

We are all familiar with the Arab children, victims of the wars and attacks started by their governments against Israel--the media sees to that:

But the media is not quite as relentless in pushing the pictures of the other Arab children, victims of their government's cruelty, in front of our eyes:

Video: Latma--Tawil Fadiha's Succot Greeting And A Message From An Oxford Professor

This video was produced before Sukkot, so it does not deal with Gilad Shalit's release.
But just wait till next week!

Mideast Media Sampler 10/19/2011

From DG:
1) Bell Pottinger Rosenthal Collins and Abramson

There's a surprisingly good editorial in the New York Times today, Gilad Shalit's Release:
One has to ask: If Hamas can negotiate with Israel — and not demand preconditions to talks — why won’t the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority negotiate seriously without preconditions with Israel, which the PA relies on for a significant portion of its budget?
The editorial correctly notes that it is PA President Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to negotiate. Implicitly it shows that Abbas, by continually demanding a freeze to resume negotiations isn't interested in peace. Okay, that isn't what was really in the New York Times editorial. This is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Human Rights Groups Equate Murderers And Terrorists With Gilad Shalit

October 18 2011
Jason Edelstein
NGO Monitor
JERUSALEM - In conjunction with the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claiming a human rights mandate immorally equated Shalit's situation with that of more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists and convicted murderers. Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, president of human rights watchdog NGO Monitor, welcomed Shalit's release while noting that this episode further exposes the moral bankruptcy of international human rights mechanisms.

"Throughout the five years of Shalit's captivity in Gaza, during which every human rights obligation was blatantly violated, NGOs failed to implement consistent, sustained campaigns to secure his release," Steinberg stated. "Over the last week, these same NGOs, many of whom receive hundreds of thousands of Euros annually from the EU and European governments, welcomed the release of mass murderers responsible for the deaths of more than 550 Israelis."

Jewish National Fund: Plant A FREE Tree In Honor Of Gilad Shalit

Special offer from the Jewish National Fund:
Celebrate Gilad Shalit’s release and plant a tree for FREE in his honor.
Show the world what Israel stands for: hope, freedom, democracy, and the sanctity of human life.

Video: After Over Five Years--Gilad Shalit Reunites With His Family

Videos and pictures of Gilad Shalit are being restricted, but here is another video from the IDF of Gilad Shalit reuniting with his family:

Barry Rubin: The Simplest Thing in the World to Understand: Why There Isn't Israel-Palestinian Peace

The following post by Barry Rubin is reprinted with permission:

By Barry Rubin

Media, "experts," and governments finds it very hard to understand an amazing phenomena. No matter what they offer to the Palestinian Authority (PA)--even if it includes money, concessions, and steps toward statehood--the PA says "no."

I wouldn't even bother to write this since the answer seems so simple but a lot of people who are paid to deal with this stuff don't get it. So let me elucidate: 
The PA wants everything, an independent state on all the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem with no restrictions, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no serious security guarantees, no limits on militarization, no agreement that this means an end of the conflict, no insistence that Palestinian refugees be resettled in the state o Palestine, and nothing to prevent them from pursuing a second stage of wiping Israel off the map entirely.

Now, one could say that it is common for people to want everything and to give nothing in exchange but certain factors--missing in this case--push toward compromise. These factors include:

Video: Gilad Shalit's Reception After Arriving In Israel

This short clip of Gilad Shalit's return home comes from the IDF:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ray Cook's Tales Of Succot--True Tales About The Sukkah

From Ray Cook's blog: Tales of Succot
*Readers’ warning: some of these tales have been ever so slightly embellished for comic effect.

Well, this is a first for me: blogging from my succah.

Succot is just about my favourite festival. To any outsider the rituals of Succot (or Succos if you like) seem strange to say the least and give rise to many an amusing incident.

If you are not familiar with the festival please see the information at the end of this blog.

Succahs take many shapes and forms. Ours, as you can see on the right, is made of a metal frame and canvas walls with the roof made from bamboo slats. Other building and roofing materials are available.

A succah is a temporary dwelling but some people have permanent structures which are used for other purposes during the rest of the year. One such structure is my rabbi’s garden shed:

The Tale of the Rabbi’s Succah
My rabbi’s succah is a converted garden shed which can seat a surprising number of people. The roof has been specially adapted so that, using a cantilevered pulley system, it splits in two like the Space Shuttle’s payload bay and is then tied down to reveal the ‘schach’, the roof covering, which is straw thatch but must be sufficiently ‘porous’ to allow starlight to penetrate.

Some years ago, with the succah roof fully opened to a clear autumnal sky, the rabbi’s doorbell rang.

Arlene Kushner On The Release Of Terrorists For Gilad Shalit

From Arlene Kushner:

October 17, 2011
Who doesn't remember the horrendous, the breathtakingly obscene lynching in Ramallah in 2000 of two IDF soldiers who had lost their way?  The picture of one of the lynchers, showing his bloodied hands, was seared in the consciousness of all of us:
The Palestinian Arab in that picture was Abed al-Aziz Salaha.  I neglected to mention yesterday that he is one of the terrorists who is now scheduled to be released. 

Mideast Media Sampler 10/17/2011

From DG:
1) She keeps the home fires burning

The LA Times has a touching story about Raeda Omjamal, who awaits the return of her husband Rawhi Mushtaha, one of the 1027 prisoners whom Israel plans to release in the deal to gain the release of hostage, Gilad Shalit.

Shurat HaDin Launches Student Hotline To Combat Anti-Israel Hostilities On US Campuses

October 17, 2011

(New York) Jewish civil rights group Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center has launched the “Campus Hotline,” a manned telephone switchboard to assist university students in the United States who are subjected to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks at their schools. Students and faculty are being encouraged to call the Campus Hotline at (718) 907-9258 to report to Shurat HaDin any incidents of anti-Semitism, discrimination, intimidation or harassment arising from anti-Israel activities on American college or university campuses. Shurat HaDin is also soliciting information and updates via the Hotline on BDS (the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to delegitimize Israel) activities on campus and organized efforts to provide support for terrorist organizations.

Israeli President Shimon Peres On Pardons: "I Neither Forgive Nor Forget"--But He DID Forget!

Avi Mayer tweeted yesterday about a report in Israel on Channel 2:
Peres will write "I neither forgive nor forget" on the file of each Palestinian prisoner pardoned in Shalit deal.
I don't know whether to be angered at such a statement or to respect the apparent sentiment behind it--but I do know that this is not the first time Peres has said this, holding his nose while signing pardons for murderers of innocent Israeli citizens.

Peres did the same thing when he signed the pardon for child murderer Samri Kuntar when Israel exchanged him, with others for the dead bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev:

Tocqueville Predicted Antisemitism At Occupy Wall Street

There has already been documentation of antisemitism at Occupy Wall Street in New York--now there are videos of more of the same in Chicago and LA.

Actually, in Chicago Palestinian Arabs are taking advantage of the situation, where Occupy Chicago Joins Destroy Israel Anti-war Peace March

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why Does Amnesty International Pal Around With Terrorist Supporters, But Want Bush Extradited?

Amnesty International wants George Bush arrested for War Crimes :
Amnesty International today urged Canadian authorities to arrest and either prosecute or extradite former US President George W. Bush for his role in torture, ahead of his expected visit to Canada on 20 October.

“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former President Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Is The Exchange For Shalit A Sign Hamas Is In Trouble?

A joke circulating the territory posits that the reason Hamas's armed wing, Al Qassam Brigades, has stopped firing rockets at Israel is that the fighters' jeeps lack air conditioning. Residents tell stories of Hamas officials who used to drive modest cars now sporting luxury vehicles, and Gazans like Mr. Gamar, the gas station owner, complain the government is reaching into their pockets in every way it can.
Hamas popularity hits a new low after opposing UN statehood bid, Christian Science Monitor

Daniel Cohen writes that there are 4 pressure points being felt by Hamas and that is Why Shalit Coming Home means Hamas is in Trouble:
1) Diminishing popular support
2) Losing headquarters in Damascus
3) Key Al-Qaeda assassinations have weakened terror worldwide
4) The Iranian regime is on thin ice
Read the whole thing for details.

Italy's Il Foglio also attempts to explain why Israel and Hamas agreed to an exchange to free Gilad Shalit now.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon of the Emet m'Tsiyon blog translates and summarizes the post:

Mideast Media Sampler 10/16/2011

From DG:
1) Closer to free

In 2003 Thomas Friedman wrote The Reality Principle which began:
Have you noticed how often Israel kills a Hamas activist and the victim is described by Israelis as ''a senior Hamas official'' or a ''key operative''? This has led me to wonder: How many senior Hamas officials could there be? We're not talking about I.B.M. here. We're talking about a ragtag terrorist group. By now Israel should have killed off the entire Hamas leadership twice. Unless what is happening is something else, something I call Palestinian math: Israel kills one Hamas operative and three others volunteer to take his place, in which case what Israel is doing is actually self-destructive.
Four years later Elder of Ziyon celebrated a great anniversary:

Video: Emergency Committee For Israel On Hate At Occupy Wall Street

The Emergency Committee for Israel has come out with a new ad, addressing the antisemitism of "Occupy Wall Street"--the same "Occupy Wall Street" being opportunistically praised by politicians, including Obama:

Barry Rubin: The Middle East Today: Ha, Ha, Ha! Stop! It’s Too Funny! I Can’t Take It Any More!

By Barry Rubin
There’s a saying that goes something like this: When things are bad, a Jew cries. When they get even worse, a Jew cries more. And when they even get worse, a Jew laughs. As indelicate as this may seem, the current situation makes me want to laugh.

That’s so because things are more ridiculous than they are scary. As the advice and claims of others get increasingly absurd, you have no desire to listen to them. You just have to do what you know is right and stop having any doubts about it precisely because the arguments on the other side are just so historically inaccurate, factually false,.and illogical.

For those joining the story late–a group that seems to include Western politicians, media and academic “experts”–here’s a little background. In 1993, Israel made an agreement with the PLO to try to achieve peace. It turned over the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank to a Palestinian government. Israel accepted the establishment of large security forces, the supply of guns, and the transfer of billions of dollars of aid.

Israel made major offers of territory and concessions to Syria and the Palestinian Authority in 2000, after almost a decade of negotiation. The other side rejected those compromise solutions. The Palestinian leadership instead launched a five-year-long war of terrorism. They lost. Then Israel was attacked by Hizballah. The world intervened and made promises to Israel. These were broken. Then Israel was attacked by Hamas. It defended itself. Again it won, but the world rushed in to save Hamas and to condemn Israel.

Of course, you can say that Israel did mean things and didn’t keep every commitment it made. Yet any balanced and honest assessment has to acknowledge the basic accuracy of the preceding summary. And any that doesn’t is basically worthless as a guide to policy or education.

Now, what are the latest developments? Well, let’s see:

Petition To Remove Sbarro Massacre Terrorist From The List Of Terrorists To Be Freed

Here is the text of the petition:
Remove Ahlam Tamimi from the list of terrorists to be freed

Background (Preamble):
The government of Israel has agreed (October 2011) to a transaction with the Hamas terrorist regime for the release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, held hostage for more than five years.

In exchange, Israel is asked to release more than one thousand prisoners, all of them terrorists, many of them convicted murderers who have been sentenced to multi terms of life imprisonment. The list is long, but one terrorist in particular - a woman of 31 - stands out. Her name is Ahlam Tamimi and she is serving 16 life terms for a massacre which she engineered and helped to carry out.

We are asking that her name be removed from the long list of terrorists to be freed. She represents less than one tenth of one percent of the Hamas demands. Tamimi should remain in prison for the remainder of her days.


Role Of Terrorist To Be Released For Gilad Shalit Is Being Misreported

Israel Matzav has the list of the terrorists who are going to be freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit--among them:
The list contains includes Walid Anajas, who was convicted for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002. Twelve civilians were murdered and 54 injured in the attack.

Also on the list is Nasser Yataima, convicted of planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 were wounded.
Another terrorist scheduled to be released is Ahlam Tamimi, who was involved in the Sbarro massacre.
The problem is that McClatchy is misreporting Tamimi's role in the Sbarro massacre:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Barry Rubin: The Iran Terror Plot Crisis: Big Trouble for Obama

By Barry Rubin
Remember that Hillary Clinton ad about it being the early morning hours and the phone’s ringing in the White House? Well it’s arrived in real life, and the phone is — or isn’t — going to be answered by Barack Obama. And the question is: What are you going to do about the dramatic announcement of an Iranian plot to attack targets in Washington, D.C.?

True, it’s a bizarre story about Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Mexican drug lords. But, after all, the United States was impelled a step toward entering World War One by the Zimmerman Note in which German agents sought to entice Mexico to go to war against the United States.

Vice President Joe Biden has said that “nothing has been taken off the table” when it comes to the U.S. response. The Saudis, who are famous for keeping a low profile and trying to avoid problems — often through money — are openly livid. They’re basically saying something along the lines of, “We told you so.” They tried and gave up because they didn’t get U.S. or Western help. Will anything change now?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Now You Can Go To MeetGilad.Com To Welcome Gilad Shalit Home!

Back in April I wrote about, a campaign started by Andre Oboler, author of the article We Need A Revolution.

When the campaign began, Meet Gilad allowed you to leave your own message to Gilad Shalit--along with messages to various international bodies who should be doing more for Gilad.

And now Gilad Shalit will be coming home--and you can help welcome him:

HonestReporting Interview With Ruben Salvadori Who Exposes Anti-Israel Media Bias

Last week I wrote about Ruben Salvadori, whose work clearly and visually reveals the media's anti-Israel bias.

Now, HonestReporting has an interview with Salvadori about his work on the media--EXPOSED: Photographer Reveals Market, Not Truth, Behind Conflict Images:
Your video describes the characteristics of the ideal photo for editors. Can you elaborate on that? How does that influence the content of the photos?

More precisely, my project describes the characteristics of the ideal photo for the Media market, which goes from the one who produces the image, all the way to the viewer. What we (photojournalists, editors, public) expect form a photograph is a dramatic shot, which simplifies complicated concepts in one single frame. In order to break down a complex situation in just one photo, we are forced to use stereotypes.

The Media has no time, everything has to be immediate, and stereotypes do the job. But the main focus of my project is the fact that the market expects us to produce dramatic images. It’s a very competitive market in which we constantly compare our work to the other professionals’ and therefore produce images that are good according to the taste of other photographers, not of the general public.

Video: Latma's Media Succot Song And Jamil And Awad Read Israeli Papers

Latma's pre-Sukkot video.
No, they do not address the issue of the release of Gilad Shalit.

Shalit Agreement Shows Moral Failure of International Human Rights Frameworks

October 12, 2011
Jason Edelstein
NGO Monitor
Shalit Agreement Shows Moral Failure of International Human Rights Frameworks
JERUSALEM - While welcoming the agreement to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as an important humanitarian act, Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, president of human rights watchdog NGO Monitor, noted that this episode further exposes the moral bankruptcy of international human rights mechanisms.

Mideast Media Sampler 10/12/2011

From DG:
1) Saving Sgt. Shalit
Yesterday PM Netanyahu announced that a deal had been reached to exchange Sgt Gilad Shalit (promoted from Corporal during his captivity) for over 1000 security prisoners. In announcing the deal PM Netanyahu said:

Today, I bring a proposal to the Government for a deal that will bring Gilad Shalit home alive and well; bring him home to his parents Aviva and Noam, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Zvi, and the entire people of Israel. Two and a half years ago, when the government was formed, I took upon myself, as my first priority, to bring Gilad home to his people, to his family - to bring him home safe and sound.
At the time, Gilad was already held in captivity for two and a half years, with no visits from the Red Cross, with no visits at all, and we did not know what state he was in. The first step I took, and we approved it here in the Government, was to get a video recording of Gilad, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it. We saw that he was functioning, physically, mentally and cognitively. We saw that he was functioning well. We knew that he was healthy and that he was alive. I regarded that tape as an insurance policy, because it obliged the Hamas before the international community to safeguard him, to keep him alive and maintain his health. But that was obviously only the first step. The most important mission that we had was more challenging - to actually bring Gilad home. To that end we held long and tough negotiations through the German mediator. These negotiations were based on a framework outlined by the previous government. They were long and exhausting and despite all our efforts, a deal was not reached.