Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Vienna Agreement Has Israelis Uneasy

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - The talks at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna ended in a draft agreement according to which Iran would transfer most of the uranium in its possession for enrichment outside its borders.

The fact that this refers to “most of the uranium” and not all of it, leaves a breach for a thief to slip through. Who can know for certain and who in Iran can force the regime to adhere to the Vienna agreement? The “small quantity” of uranium can be moved from one nuclear site to another and, at most by an optimistic forecast, the implementation of the agreement can somewhat delay the production of the doomsday weapon.

The news that Iran would hand over most of the low-grade enriched uranium in its possession for enrichment outside its borders was received by Israel as another Iranian victory, which would bring Tehran another step closer to the bomb.

It has not been lost on all Middle Eastern observers that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s strategic objective is to develop nuclear weapons in order to become a regional power that can dictate the course of events in the Middle East.

His regime is serious, determined and cunning and will not give up such a supreme objective just because the enlightened world demands that it honor a previous commitment, which was given when Iran joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Officially, Israel has refrained from commenting on reports about a possible agreement with Iran, but behind the scenes, Jerusalem is following developments with concern and suspicion.

Israeli officials consider such an agreement as no more than an Iranian tactical move to buy more time and relieve the pressure.

Israel does not believe that Iran will agree to the conditions that the U.S., Russia and France have set, and believes that it will continue its effort to become a nuclear superpower. Israelis have little trust in the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei, who is involved in the talks.

Evidence of this suspicion could be heard in the statements that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made yesterday during their meeting with Ms. Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Barak claimed that the superpowers must continue to keep track of Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.

“The Iranians have misled the West in the past,” Barak said, pointing out preparations must continue for the imposition of severe sanctions on the Ayatollahs’ regime if it should turn out within several months that the Iranians are not cooperating fully with the international community.

Mr. Barak suggested to Ms. Rice that no alternative, including a military attack, could be ruled out, even if an agreement should be signed in the end, but it is found that Iran has tricked the West once again.

Israeli officials also remind the world that a uranium-enrichment compound, which was discovered in Qom. This stems from the belief, which the U.S. intelligence community shares, that these installations are only part of a more comprehensive network that the Iranians are hiding.

Barak added, in any case, Israel is not taking any option off the table.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Museum Receives Horrifying Offer from Nazi Relative

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - The offices of Yad Vashem, the Israeli agency that memorializes the six million Jews murdered by their Nazis and their allies, received an extraordinary and even infuriating proposal recently. The grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the notorious commander of the Auschwitz death camp, offered to sell some of his grandfather’s personal effects to the museum.

The letter to the museum, which was sent several months ago and entitled “Rare objects, Auschwitz, Commander Hoess,” was short and succinct, saying: “These are several objects from the estate of Rudolf Hoess, the commander of Auschwitz: A massive, fireproof box with official insignia - a gift from Henrich Himmler, the commander of the SS, weighing 50 kilograms, a letter opener and folders, slides from Auschwitz that have never been seen publicly, letters from his period of imprisonment in Krakow. I would be very grateful for a brief answer. Sincerely, Reiner Hoess.”

The management of Yad Vashem responded with shock to the proposal and rejected it out of hand. The management of the museum expressed disgust over the desire of the criminal’s relative to profit from Holocaust memorabilia.

A high-ranking official of Yad Vashem said, “Here we must ask: did you murder and profit as well?” (The reference is to 1 Kings 21:19-INT)

However, museum officials told Rudolf Hoess’s grandson, Reiner, that he may donate the original items to the museum in order to commemorate the Nazi horror.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth last night, Mr. Hoess, 44, said the idea of selling the items to Yad Vashem came up following a conversation that he had with a friend, the grandson of Baldur von Schirach, who was the leader of the Nazi youth movement, the Hitler Youth.

“These items were in the family’s possession,” Hoess said in a telephone conversation.

“We knew about them, people outside the family knew about them for a long time as well. Quite a few organizations wanted to buy them from us, including well-known media such as Der Spiegel and the Axel Springer publishing company. In the wake of Mr. von Schirach’s recommendation, I thought that it would be appropriate to sell the items to Yad Vashem. I do not want these items to get into the wrong hands.”

We asked Mr. Hoess: “Would you be willing to donate the items to Yad Vashem?”

He answered, “That is a good question. I can’t make a decision like that on my own. My tendency is to agree to donate the items, but I will need to consult the rest of the family. We want the items to go to a museum that deals with history.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel Kept Out of Egyptian Cancer Conference

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - This week, Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, is hosting a major international conference on breast cancer.

The conference is to be held in Alexandria and great medical minds from all around the world are expected to take part in a march that is geared to raise public awareness about the deadly disease. But not all the great medical minds are welcome. The Egyptian health minister issued last-minute instructions not to include doctors from Israel in the conference.

The event is being organized by Dr. Susan G. Komen, an American doctor considered to be a leader in the war on breast cancer, who runs an agency that funds research, treatment and regional cooperative efforts.

Israeli physicians were supposed to attend the conference. They were to have shared with doctors from around the world Israel’s experience in coping with breast cancer.

But after all of the security arrangements had already been made and after they even had a meeting scheduled with Mrs. Mubarak, the cancellation came down.

Among the Israelis who were boycotted are members of the Tishkofet organization, which treats terminal patients. The organization is founded by Dr. Dvora Koren and her husband, Professor Ben Koren, an oncologist.

Dr. Dvora Koren told the Israeli media about the last-minute boycott.

“At the last minute we received a phone call from Egypt in which we were told that the Egyptian health minister had decided that we weren’t going to participate,” she said.

“It isn’t a security issue,” said Koren, “since the Egyptian authorities approved our arrival and the fact of the meeting at the conference with Suzanne Mubarak. At first, we’d planned on entering with foreign passports, but as soon as they realized that we were Israelis - along came the cancellation.”

What is ironic in this story is the attempt by senior Egyptian officials to praise the regional cooperation evinced in this conference, the boycott notwithstanding.

“This is an excellent example of cooperation among the various governments, survivors of the disease and the rest of the global community. This is proof of the world’s unity in the war on breast cancer,” said Dr. Muhammad Shaalem, who is the head of the Egyptian cancer association.

Israel, at least in the view of the people organizing the conference in Egypt, isn’t part of the global community.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are furious about the Egyptian decision.

“If the information is accurate,” said a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry “then, at issue is, without doubt, a very grave refusal by the regime in Egypt to grant visas.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: IAF Holds Joint Aerial Exercise with Italy

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - What did not work out with the Turks, worked out with the Italians: The Israeli Air Force (IAF) held a joint exercise last week with the Italian Air Force in the Sardinia area.

Twelve IAF planes took part in the exercise, which was planned several months ago, including five F-15i planes, five F-16i planes, a Boeing 707 refueling plane and a Hercules that flew teams and technical equipment.

In the exercise, the Israeli and Italian Air Forces practiced dogfights between the two armies. The exercise was held at the Decimomannu Air Base on Sardinia, which has an advanced system for documenting and studying aerial combat exercises, making it possible to examine the effectiveness of one’s combat doctrine after the exercise.

Israeli Air Force sources said that the exercise was held as part of the IAF’s readiness for coping with long-range threats, as well as keeping the IAF planes operational. The cooperation between Italy and Israel began about a decade ago and, since then, joint training is carried out from time to time by the two air forces.

The tendency in the Israeli Air Force in the recent period has been to expand the IAF’s participation in international exercises. This is with the aim of practicing long-range flights and battles against pilots from other countries, who employ different combat doctrines than the IDF.

For example, three months ago the IAF participated in the Red Flag exercise in the U.S., in which long sorties, refueling and dogfights were practiced. The exercise was declared a success by Israeli officials, and that Israeli pilots usually achieve good results in exercises of this kind.

In addition, the French weekly L’Express reported this past May that the IAF carried out an exercise over Gibraltar, at a distance of 3,800 kilometers from Israel. The report stated this showed Israel was practicing the possibility of a strike on Iran.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secrets of Beit Hanina: Salam Fayyad’s residence and former Hebrew University land

by Rhonda Spivak

In exploring East Jerusalem recently, I come upon a house watched over by a tall Palestinian security guard dressed in black, who would only say that he was guarding the house of someone ‘very important.’

It turns out that the house belongs to none other than Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who travels from there to his office in Ramallah everyday. Fayyad’s wife is a resident of Jerusalem. According to Ha’ aretz, neighbors reported that Fayyad has been living there full time only since last year after becoming the PA’s Prime Minister.

I contacted Danny Ben-Simon, director of the Israeli government press office to ask him whether Fayyad’s living in Beit Hanina undermines Israel’s claim of sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. He responded, “It is quite understood within the context of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, that there are going to be small ironies and this is one of negotiations, everyone has opening positions. We [the Israelis] have our opening positions. We don’t expect all of our opening positions are ones that will be finally agreed upon...”

When contacted, Kadima Knesset member, Otniel Schneller, an orthodox Jew, said, “When there will be negotiations over Jerusalem...if [Beit Hanina] becomes a Palestinian state, then Fayyad will continue to live there, and if not, he can live under Israeli sovereignty and be the Prime Minister of a Palestinian state. On our side [Israel’s], there is no apartheid.”

Prior to 1948, many Jews owned property in Beit Hanina. As Aryeh King, director of the Israel Land Fund, said, “Hundreds of dunams of land in Beit Hanina belonged to Shmuel Salant, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, and when the Jordanians had control over it [between 1948-1967], they built on it. Since ‘67, the land has been controlled by the Israeli government, and it has let Arabs build homes on it, many without permits...Today there is only one apartment building with Jews living in Beit Hanina”

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus once also owned land in Beit Hanina. But, in 2004, Hebrew University sold almost 96 dunams (24 acres) of land in Beit Hanina and the neighboring Shuafat to a Palestinian company owned by a Palestinian bank.

Schneller added that the fact that Fayyad lives in Beit Hanina, and Hebrew University sold its land there, “may in fact influence the final status of Beit Hanina.”

Schneller, who is a former secretary general of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria, also said, “Beit Hanina is not part of the heart of Jewish historical Jerusalem.” Theoretically, he noted, one day it could become part of Al Quds, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

“Over Beit Hanina, I am willing to compromise,” Shneller said.

Schneller differentiated between Beit Hanina and neighborhoods in the holy basin, such as the Old City, and Sheikk Jarrah. “The neighborhoods in the holy basin must always be under Israeli sovereignty, even if there are special municipal and other jurisdictional arrangements made for Arabs living in the holy basin,” he said.

However, Schneller doesn’t see any chance of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians in the near future as “Israel will insist on sovereignty over the holy basin in Jerusalem,” and, additionally, there are legitimate concerns “that a Palestinian state would become a terrorist state.”

In an interview, Robert Ilatov, Knesset member for Israel Beiteinu, said it was a mistake for Hebrew University to sell its land in Beit Hanina to Palestinians, not Jews. “We have made a lot of mistakes around Hebrew University. We should have been building all around it.”

He added, “the fact that Israel lets Salam Fayyad live in Beit Hanina only shows how liberal we Israelis are.”

Of course, if Beit Hanina ever fell under Palestinian sovereignty and became a terrorist base, the Hebrew University would become just like Sderot.

View the article at Israel Behind the News

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Report Charges Israel with War Crimes

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - The Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of war crimes in the course of Operation Cast Lead, was raised Thursday for discussion at the UN Human Rights Council, at the request of the Palestinian Authority.

Ahead of the discussion and the subsequent vote that will decide if the report will be adopted by the UN, Israel is getting into high gear.

Despite the low chances of obtaining a majority in Israel’s favor in the vote, politicians and diplomats are trying to influence a few countries in order to recruit them to Israel’s side.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week that the Israeli battle against the report is very difficult because of the majority against Israel in the UN and in a number of UN committees.

He says that this battle will preoccupy Israel in the coming years.

High-ranking government sources said that as of now, the chances of the Goldstone report not being adopted are very low and it appears that the Palestinians will succeed in obtaining a majority.

At the moment, Israel is focusing its public relations activity in the countries belonging to the European Union, the African states, Asia and South America.

As part of the Israeli PR campaign, the work was divided between four people: President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Each of them received a list with a number of heads of state with whom they will talk and ask them not to support the report.

Israel will warn that adopting the Goldstone report means ending the peace process, because Israel will not agree to wage a legal-diplomatic battle along with conducting a peace process.

“The Goldstone report will be part of the international discourse for a long time yet and will be a heavy burden on Israel in the international arena,” said a high-ranking Israeli source.

“We can cope with its ramifications but the problem is that it turns Israel into the defendant and makes the state into a leper. It’s not good for Israel when it is spoken about as if it is a country that commits war crimes.”

What particularly irks Israel is that Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are now aligned. The UN secretary general expressed his support for discussing the report at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: NATO Approves Israeli Inclusion in Naval Maneuvers

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - This week, NATO approved the Israel Navy’s active inclusion in a NATO force patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in the framework of the global war on terror. This is the first open inclusion of its kind between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and NATO on an operational basis and its timing is particularly important at present, after Turkey canceled the largest aerial exercise of the alliance, which was to have included the participation of the Israel Air Force. 

NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The force is comprised of 10 vessels of different kinds, backed by submarines and aircraft, which work to prevent naval acts of terrorism and arms smuggling. The naval force monitors suspicious ships and, when necessary, raids them. NATO also escorts ships of the alliance until they leave the Mediterranean Sea at the Straits of Gibraltar as there is intelligence information that the ships are at risk. The majority of the ships that make up the force are from the navies of the members of NATO who have a shore on the Mediterranean Sea - Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, but are also helped by more major navies of NATO in the region. 

Israel relayed a request to have an Israeli ship join the force over 
two years ago, but approval was delayed time after time, and Israel remained outside the multi-national force. The Israeli security establishment 
believed that the reason, among other things, was the diplomatic 
sensitivity created in wake of criticism of Israeli’s actions in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Cast Lead.

The news about the approval to join the special naval force was relayed to Israel Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer (Cheney) Marom in the course of his visit to the U.S. last week. Maj. Gen. Marom was there to take part in a global meeting of navy commanders. 

Sources in the Israeli security establishment affirm that the approval, given at this time, reflects NATO’s esteem for the Israel Navy’s capabilities under Marom’s command, to help prevent international acts of terror. 
 In the framework of this cooperation, an Israeli Navy officer was also stationed in the position of liaison at NATO’s naval headquarters in Naples, Italy. The decision to include a vessel, one of the Israel Navy’s most advanced missile boats that will join NATO’s active task force, is expected to be made soon. 

Mark of Esteem

The idea of having Israel join NATO had been raised occasionally in recent decades as part of the thinking about security guarantees for Israel - and no less, in order to acquire a sense of security and belonging to the world of its citizens - in the framework of a comprehensive arrangement in the Middle East. Today, this idea seems distant, as does a comprehensive arrangement. In Israel’s international situation today, with legitimacy for its military actions shrinking, the inclusion of an Israeli ship in the alliance’s naval police force is greeted as big news in Israel

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Fatah Party Reaches out to Hamas Terror Group

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - This week, Jamal Muheisin, a member of the Fatah’s Central Committee, told Ma’an, the Palestinian news agency, that the Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, has signed an Egyptian-backed deal for reconciliation with Hamas. Hamas is defined by Israel, the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Russia and Australia as an illegal terrorist organization.

Hamas spokespeople said the party’s senior leadership has also approved the document, although they have not yet declared this publicly.

Other Palestinian factions are expected to respond by Oct. 20, and a formal signing ceremony will take place after the Islamic Eid Al-Adha holiday at the end of November. Hamas confirmed this schedule. Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad will depart for Egypt at the beginning of the week to hand over the document, which he said was signed by Fatah’s supreme leader, President Mahmoud Abbas.

A Hamas official told the Ma’an news agency that the movement’s leaders have decided to sign the Egyptian proposal.

Ismail Al-Ashkar, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) confirmed to Ma’an that Egypt set out a timeline calling on other factions to sign the deal by Oct. 20, with a signing ceremony after Eid Al-Adha.

In a statement, Mr. Al-Ashkar also shed light on the details of the Egyptian plan. He confirmed that the document calls for a Joint National Committee in lieu of a unity government. The committee would include 16 members and would represent Fatah, Hamas, and the other factions, the official said. He said the committee’s role is to implement a national unity agreement, and does not have any “political obligations” outside of this goal.

A U.S. government spokesperson said, in response to the new Fatah-Hamas accord, it would support the next Palestinian government if it follows certain conditions.

“We certainly favor an effective Palestinian government, and we are certainly supportive of a reconciliation process,” State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said in a Washington press briefing.

“If you have a unity government that operates... on the basis of the principles that we’ve laid out, then we will be supportive of it,” Mr. Crowley stressed.

“We’ll be happy to work with whoever is in a Palestinian government that supports the principles,” he added.

Mr. Crowley was referring to the conditions of the international Quartet (the U.S., E.U., UN, and Russia), which stipulate that any Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce armed struggle.

That was the basis of the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord, which were hammered out between Israeli and Palestinian Fatah negotiators in Oslo, Norway on August 20, 1993 and signed on September 13, 1993 on the White House lawn by the two Fatah chieftains - Yassir Arafat and his protégé, Mahmoud Abbas, who has run the Palestinian Authority since Arafat died in November 2004.

Arafat and Mr. Abbas signed the agreement in the presence of President Clinton, the late Yitzhak Rabin and then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

However, the American government has consistently ignored the fact that the Fatah never ratified the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord. The Fatah executive committee met in special session on Oct. 6, 1993 to consider ratification of the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord. However, the Fatah would not ratify it, “for lack of a quorum” and has never ratified the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord.

Meanwhile, meeting in special session on April 24, 1996, the Palestine National Council considered cancellation of the PLO covenant, which defines the PLO purpose to destroy the state of Israel. Instead of canceling the PLO covenant, the PNC created a committee to consider changes in the PLO covenant. However, that committee has never met and the PLO covenant remains part and parcel of the Palestinian political reality. Yet, the American government acts as if the PLO cancelled its covenant, despite evidence to the contrary.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Underground Sensor tohelp Israel Fight Terrorists

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - The communal nightmare of the kibbutz and moshav agricultural villages near Gaza is that bands of terrorists will dig under their communities and conduct surprise infiltrations from underground.

To cope with that deadly scenario, Israel has developed an underground sensor designed to detect tunnel construction and operation.

Israel’s Spider Technologies Security has produced and delivered sensors designed to detect and track underground activity. Executives said the Israeli military as well as the U.S. government have been testing the system for underground and above-ground use.

“The most recent tests in the U.S. involve tunneling detection,” SpiderTech marketing director Elkana Pressler said. “The demonstrations have shown that the SpiderTech sensor can accurately identify underground activity even with intense surface noise, like car and truck traffic.”

SpiderTech, based in Lod, near Israel’s International Ben Gurion Airport, was also commencing field trials of its sensor network in Europe and South America.

One of the sensor systems, Tarantula, was said to comprise a network of SpiderTech’s proprietary seismic sensors based on novel seismic measurement components along with signal specially designed processing technology that could detect and classify the approach of people above ground as well as underground activity. The network horizontal architecture allows coverage of tens of kilometers over regular PC base control station.

In prototype testing, Tarantula, said to have a false alarm rate of below 10 percent, detected people at a distance of 20 feet and light vehicles at 80 feet.

The ranges of the cylindrical three-dimensional sensor -- each measuring 120 inches high x 80 inches in diameter and with a target positioning accuracy of up to five meters -- were about twice that of existing sensor technology systems.

“Since the system is designed as a multi-layer decision maker, the sensors have a very low rate of false alarms, thus, being extremely difficult to bypass and enhance any existing perimeter security solution,” SpiderTech said on Sept. 29.

SpiderTech has signed a collaboration agreement with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries for the producing and marketing of Tarantula - an effort that could result in contracts in 2010. Executives said Rada would focus on Western governments and militaries, particularly the United States. The system, which does not require a line of sight with targets, is within an on-going feasibility classified program by the U.S. Homeland Security and defense parties.

“We are currently focused on the high-end government market segment where our solution is urgently needed,” Pressler said. “We also intend to expand our offering and introduce a commercial product line, tailored for mini sites, portable stand alone solutions, home and residential protection.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Take the Fayyad Plan for What It Is

Take the Fayyad Plan for What It is

by David Bedein

In a Jerusalem Post article “In the land of miracles, let’s get real (Sept. 29),” Gershon Baskin describes Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad’s plan as “one of the most positive and optimistic developments of recent times.”

However, a reading of Fayad’s plan, entitled “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government (August 2009)” would seem to belie Baskin’s postulation.

While the preface to Mr. Fayad’s paper introduces a Palestinian state that would strive for “peace, security and stability in our region on the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Mr. Fayad’s 38-page position paper reads like a declaration of war, not of peace.

Mr. Fayad asserts that “Jerusalem” will be the Palestinian capital of the Palestinian state - not east Jerusalem.

In case anyone was wondering if Mr. Fayad had made a typographical error by not mentioning “east” Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, he repeats - 10 times - that he means Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem. He leaves nothing to the imagination, and writes that the Palestinian state will “protect Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state,” because he asserts that, “Jerusalem is our people’s religious, cultural, economic and political center. It is the Flower of Cities and Capital of Capitals. It cannot be anything but the eternal capital of the future Palestinian state. Jerusalem.”

Mr. Fayad goes on to claim that Jerusalem “is under threat” and that “the occupying authority is implementing a systematic plan to alter the city’s landmarks and its geographical and demographic character in order to forcibly create facts on the ground, ultimately separating it from its Palestinian surroundings and eradicating its Arab Palestinian heritage.” Mr. Fayad further claims that “Palestinian life in Jerusalem is under daily attack through systematic violations perpetrated by the occupation regime” and that “it is the right and the duty of all Palestinians to protect their land, reject the occupation and defy its measures,” adding that the Palestinian state “bears special responsibility for nurturing our people’s ability to persevere and protect their homeland.”

He adds that the Palestinian government will maintain its “unreserved commitment to defending the Arab character and status of Jerusalem.... The government will continue to do all that is possible to achieve this goal. The government will work with all organizations to preserve the landmarks of Jerusalem and its Arab Palestinian heritage, develop the city, and secure its contiguity with its Palestinian surroundings.”

Mr. Fayad frames Jerusalem as an illegal settlement, postulating that, “the occupying authority is pursuing its intensive settlement policy in and around Jerusalem.... The occupation regime has shut down our national institutions, neglected the development of Palestinian life, continued to demolish and evacuate Palestinian homes, and restricted access to sacred Christian and Islamic sites.”

He goes so far as to present a practical plan to Arabize Jerusalem: Maintaining Jerusalem as a top priority on the government’s agenda and “highlighting its predicament in the media. Launching programs to promote the steadfastness of Jerusalemites, including: Strengthen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, providing financial support to help them deliver services to citizens.”

He reassures his readers that a future Palestinian state would not be satisfied with Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as the national home for Palestinians, and says that the Palestinian government will continue to advocate for “Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 in particular,” which mandates that Palestinian refugees and their descendants have a right to return to the homes and villages that Palestinians left during the 1948 war and its aftermath.

Mr. Fayad reminds Palestinians that, “the refugee issue will remain under the jurisdiction of the PLO through its Department of Refugees’ Affairs... in a manner that does not exempt the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from its responsibilities.” In Mr. Fayad’s view, UNRWA will therefore continue to confine Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the indignity of refugee camps under the premise and promise of the “right of return.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Fayad expresses full support for Palestinians who have been convicted of murder and attempted murder, saying that, “the state also has an enduring obligation to care and provide for the martyrs, prisoners, orphans and all those harmed in the Palestinian struggle for independence.” He simply cannot understand why Palestinians convicted of capital crimes should be jailed.

He proclaims that “the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention camps in violation of international law and basic human rights is of great concern to all Palestinians,” and declares that “securing the freedom of all these heroic prisoners is an utmost Palestinian priority and it is a fundamental duty all Palestinians feel to honor their great sacrifices and end their suffering,” and demands the “freedom of all Palestinian detainees and prisoners and will continue to strive to secure their liberty.”

He further declares that the Palestinian state will be an Islamic state and will “promote awareness and understanding of the Islamic religion and culture and disseminate the concept of tolerance in the religion through developing and implementing programs of Shari’a education as derived from the science of the Holy Koran and Prophet’s heritage.”

In sum, the Palestinian prime minister concludes with a demand for a Palestinian state in the next two years, along the parameters that he has outlined - Jerusalem as the capital of an Islamic Shari’a state that will campaign for all convicts to be freed, for all refugees to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948.

It would be instructive to know whether Baskin even bothered to read the plan before calling it a “positive development.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Originally published in Maariv

by Ben Dror Yemini

There have been numerous reports in the past number of months about the flourishing economy under the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Various data demonstrate a significant rise in the GDP and the quality of life. Ramallah, the reports inform us, has Tel Aviv-style pubs. Cool. And Jenin, the city that achieved infamy because of the massacre that never occurred, has put on a new face with a new commercial center. Just like the Azrieli mall. And Zakariya Zubeidi, the guy who once used to be a wanted man, has changed his vocation.

But we’ve seen all this before.

In the 1990s a veritable fortune flowed into the Palestinians’ coffers. Every Palestinian received USD 1,330, as opposed to the Marshall Plan for the rehabilitation of Europe after World War II, which granted every European USD 272. In other words, four times as much. Yes, that much. That aid also contributed to an average growth rate of six percent between the years 1994-1999. Even Israel failed to achieve a growth rate of that sort in those years. What followed afterwards is well known. A particularly violent Intifada, which caused thousands of casualties and an economic breakdown. The Palestinians are still 30% away from the GDP per capita that they had a decade ago.

We all know the theory. “It’s the economy, stupid.” That might be a theory that applies to the West. But here in the East the story is a little different. Here the rules are different. In the competition between economic rationalism and religious incitement-the incitement wins. That didn’t begin this week. Nor did it begin nine years ago. That’s our history.

The Economy is of No Interest to Them

Jewish settlement brought in its wake economic prosperity. Cooperation would have led to shared prosperity. That isn’t what happened. Prosperity was an option. Incitement prevailed. Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler’s friend and protégé, turned the Zionist plot to seize control over the Temple Mount into the focal point of his incitement. This very same Husseini also joined forces with the Muslim Brotherhood while they were building their influence and strength in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the mother movement of both Hamas and the northern chapter of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Raed Salah. So that it is no coincidence that everyone, Husseini, Haniya and Salah, are all focused on el-Aksa Mosque.

They take no interest in the economy. They’re interested in incitement. They know that el-Aksa Mosque was once a focal point of rioting, just as it is a focal point of friction at present. That is where the masses throng to. Setting the fire is relatively easy. And when you pump the masses time and time again, as Sheikh Salah does, that the Zionists are seizing control of el-Aksa Mosque, the message gets through.

Israel Will be the First to Fall, Then Paris, Rome and London

Salah, say security officials, treads the line. He does not engage in hostile terrorist activity. He isn’t the one who established the terror cells. But he is the one who lays the emotional groundwork. He incites. He encourages. He inflames the passions. Ideologically, he is a Hamas man in every sense and form. He too advocates the establishment of an Islamic caliphate that will gradually seize control of the entire world. He wrote a series of articles about the revolution he yearns for. Israel, in its capacity as a Crusader castle, will be the first to fall. Then Paris, Rome and London will follow in its wake.

The prevailing discourse of rights has turned Salah into a person who enjoys immunity. In some Arab states he is a persona non grata. His requests to enter have been denied. After all, they don’t need another provocateur. But here he operates freely. Abets and incites. Lays the groundwork for subversive activity. Salah is a living reminder of the fact that democracy is not only the rule of rights, which are geared to protect minorities. Democracy is supposed to defend sometimes, only sometimes, the majority as well. Salah is protected. The majority has been left vulnerable. Democracy, and not only Israeli democracy, needs to do some soul-searching. Unless, that is, Salah and his ilk succeed in doing away with it before it manages to defend itself.

So that anyone who thinks that economic prosperity will ensure calm is deluding himself. All that is needed in order to bring about a renewed outburst is bitterness, incitement-which there is no lack of-as well as “continued construction” in the heart of Arab neighborhoods, or the seizure of more land, which is never evacuated, deep in the Arab population centers. That lethal combination of incitement, bitterness, provocateurs-mainly from the Palestinian side-exist at present as well.

We oughtn’t to be surprised if it explodes in our face.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Saudis Examine Major F-15 Purchase From US

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Saudi Arabia is the only Arab state contiguous to Israel to maintain a full state of war with Israel since 1948 without ever agreeing to any cease fire or peace treaty with the Jewish state. In the context of that war, the Saudi government has been negotiating for a new major order of the F-15 fighter jets from the United States.

Riyad, the capital of Saudi Arabia, has been discussing the procurement of up to 72 advanced F-15 fighters. The Saudi order could include the purchase of Boeing's latest stealth design for the F-15, known as the Silent Eagle.

The U.S. defense Web site “Buzz,” citing industry and defense sources, reported that the U.S. Defense Department would approve any Saudi request for the F-15. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which processes requests for major weapons procurement, has not confirmed the Saudi interest.

Boeing has reported interest by Israel and Saudi Arabia of the F-15 Silent Eagle, which remains in the design stage. The Silent Eagle was meant to comprise an F-15E platform modified to reduce its radar signature. The platform would also contain internal conformal fuel tanks.

Saudi Arabia has been operating about 150 F-15s, procured in deals with the United States in the 1970s and 1990s.

In 2008, Riyad received approval for Joint Direct Attack Munitions tail kits for the F-15 fleet.

Riyad has sought to modernize its F-15 fleet as well as bolster defense relations with the United States. The Saudis have also been preparing for the first deliveries of the Eurofighter Typhoon, a multi-role combat fighter, as part of an $8.9 billion deal with BAE Systems, a global defense, security and aerospace company.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Friday, October 9, 2009

Palestinian Arabs Riot In Jerusalem

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Throughout the past week, Palestinians used the loudspeaker system in Jerusalem mosques to call on Arab residents of Jerusalem to come en masse to Al-Aksa Mosque in order to protect it from “invading settlers.”

Sheikh Yousef Kardawi, considered to be one of the most important religious figures in the Muslim world, held a large press conference in Cairo. Sheikh Kardawi called on the masses to hold a “day of rage and a day of struggle for Al-Aksa so as to prevent the Jews from seizing control of the mosques.”

The rumor that Israel was going to expel Arabs from the Al-Aksa mosque spread like wildfire.

Jihad Abu Zaned, a resident of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency refugee camp of Shuafat, serves as a memberof the Palestinian Legislative Council on behalf of Fatah. She said: “It’s all only because of el-Aksa. Here, nobody asks or cares about Abu Mazen or Goldstone. El-Aksa is the focal point, just as it was in the previous Intifada. I think that the riots in Jerusalem are going to begin to spread to the West Bank cities.”

The rioting in the capital continued to worsen yesterday against the backdrop of the Palestinian Authority’s statement calling “to prevent Israel from Judaizing Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian Authority cabinet in Ramallah - often described as "moderate" - joined in the calls “to clash with Israel and with its plans, the purpose of which is to thwart every Palestinian effort to establish an independent state.” The Palestinian Authority charged that the background to the rioting was “Jews’ attempts to seize control of the Temple Mount.”

A high-ranking official in Palestinian Authority leader Abbas’s office said that the reason the strongly-worded statement was issued was the Palestinian Authority’s struggle against Hamas, which has been perceived for the time being as being behind the current wave of riots. “The Arab media have been covering the events on the Temple Mount extensively, and this issue has elicited a lot of interest in the Arab world,” said a high-ranking Israeli security official.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Aharon Franko accused Palestinian Arabs of being "ingrates.” “The police allowed numerous Muslim worshippers who arrived at the Temple Mount to hold Ramadan prayers, and everything was done with impeccable order. Now, during the Jewish holidays of [the Hebrew month of] Tishrei, they’re rioting.”

On Tuesday, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, a military police soldier was stabbed in the neck at the Shuafat roadblock. The soldier boarded a bus to conduct a routine security inspection among the passengers who were coming in from the nearby refugee camp. One of the passengers, a 16-year-old boy from the village Anata, stood up in his seat and stabbed the soldier in the neck. The assailant was arrested and was taken in for questioning. Magen David Adom medics treated the soldier and evacuated him in light to moderate condition to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. A witness at the scene, Danny Rotenberg of Magen David Adom Jerusalem said: “The paramedics stabilized the knife so that it shouldn’t move and damage additional blood vessels. The soldier, who was terribly frightened, was evacuated carefully.”

Undercover Agents Reveal: Riots Were Not Spontaneous

Riots in Jerusalem in recent days brought Israeli undercover troops back into action, and they were able to infiltrate the ranks of those planning the riots and to expose their plans. Undercover Border Police in Jerusalem successfully arrested dozens of the most senior rioters in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood near the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Unit combatants, along with another Border Police unit, established as a part of the lessons learned from the October 2000 riots, were able to penetrate the leadership of the rioters and bring about their arrest.

The undercover police in Jerusalem are comprised of experienced and well trained combat troops who are proficient in Arabic. Their job is to assimilate, disguised among the rioters - to tackle the prime inciters and arrest them, sometimes risking their lives.

These units operated in the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City. They were sent to gather intelligence and were able to document the mounds of rocks prepared by the rioters in advance inside the Al-Aksa Mosque, in several sites on the Temple Mount compound as well as in a few other locations in the Old City with the intent to attack police forces and worshippers at the Western Wall.

“The photos that we took and (what they) revealed left no room for doubt - this is an organized activity being planned by Muslim extremists, led by people of the northern faction of the Islamic Movement,” said a police source, adding that “Luckily, most of the Arab streets in Jerusalem were not swept by the provocations of these inciters.”

PA Seizing Control Of Jerusalem

The General Security Service, Israel’s national security agency, has been warning for a number of months about an expedited process in which the Palestinian Authority has taken control over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

At issue is their covert use of security forces in Jerusalem. One high-ranking Israeli security official said that the Palestinian Authority’s influence over the Palestinian street in Jerusalem was now more extensive than it was back in the Orient House’s heyday. Israel closed the Palestinian headquarters at the Orient House in August 2001.

A GSS position paper that was submitted to the top Israeli political leadership cited a deepening penetration of the Palestinian Authority into East Jerusalem, resulting in disquiet on the Palestinian street that could ultimately manifest itself in extensive rioting - as has occurred at present.

The most salient sign of the Palestinian Authority’s intervention in Jerusalem is the appointment of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs after he published his plan to establish an independent Palestinian state within two years.

The components of that plan included firm Palestinian control over Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem.

Ever since assuming ministerial responsibility for Jerusalem, Fayyad has channeled millions of dollars out of the Palestinian budget - donation funds-to bolster the Palestinian Authority’s economic infrastructure in Jerusalem. The money has been invested mainly in real estate-buying up property from Palestinian families that wanted to sell and construction in open areas.

Israeli security officials note that in addition to the influx of funds, the Palestinian Authority has also sent in a variety of security forces to operate in Jerusalem. It is now the case that security is enforced in large swathes of Jerusalem by Palestinian Authority forces.

Sheikh Arrested, Released And Expelled

Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was arrested and ordered to stay away from Jerusalem for thirty days. Salah was arrested for alleged incitement and sedition on the basis of the sharp statements about the Temple Mount in recent days.

Sheik Salah was arrested after meetings between the police chief, the state attorney and the commander of the Jerusalem District Police.

Franco said that “In recent weeks and months, we kept track of the suspect’s statements, some of which constituted incitement and insulted Israeli institutions of authority. As far as we’re concerned, he’s suspected of incitement, sedition and insulting state officials, which is against the law. These are based on statements that he made during sermons that he delivered during Friday prayers in mosques in Umm el-Fahm, Wadi Ara and in mosques in Jerusalem. There were also public statements by Sheikh Salah, such as the ones that were documented in the media, that contained enough to commit all three of the crimes for which he was arrested.”

The same officer added, “From the moment we realized that crimes had been committed, we decided to arrest him, even if this was done before the Friday on which, according to the warnings, there were supposed to be severe confrontations between extremists in the Arab sector and police officers in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.”

September Stats: An Increase In Violence

Is Palestinian terrorism gaining momentum? According to GSS statistics, approximately 95 terror attacks were carried out in the territories, as compared with 53 in August.

The GSS uses the term “terror attack” to describe any incident in which there is harm to people or to property, from stone-throwing to fire-bombing to rocket fire.

According to the report, the increase in terror attacks in the Gaza Strip was particularly prominent, with 45 terror attacks in September as compared with 19 in August. A sharp increase in rocket fire was also noted: during September, particularly in the second half of the month, 17 rockets were fired at Israel, as compared with two rockets in August.

In Judea and Samaria, 38 terror attacks were perpetrated: 12 in the Jerusalem sector, as compared with 32 in the West Bank, and two in Jerusalem during the month of August. Most of the terror attacks - 45 out of 50-consisted in the throwing of firebombs. There were also two shooting attacks, one of them in Jerusalem, and three incidents of stone-throwing or the throwing of other hard objects.

A decrease was actually noted in the number of wounded people. In September, two Israelis were wounded by terrorist activity, as compared with four in August.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: PLO Leaders Continue Threat of Armed Rebellion against Israel

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Senior leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) are threatening that they are preparing to turn their weapons against Israel, at a time when the American program to arm and train the Palestinians continues full speed.

Bassam Abu Sharif, a former senior advisor to late President Yasser Arafat, added his voice to a chorus of those raising the possibility of a third Intifada, or uprising against Israel. "The Palestinians are preparing themselves to carry out another Intifada of 
independence and freedom in response to Israeli violations, massacres and 
policies against the Palestinians and their land, against Jerusalem, the confiscation of land and the geographic separation of the Palestinian 
territories," said the former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) 
spokesperson in a press conference in Ramallah, Israel as reported by Maan, the Palestinian news agency.

Mr. Abu Sharif said Palestinians will not remain silent in the face of "Israeli 
violations" and the "failure" of peace talks.

"The Palestinians are working to establish a fully sovereign state on the 
land, sea and airspace in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, which has not been implemented since it was issued 42 years ago," he 
said, even though the UN security council resolution 242 says nothing about land, sea and air space.

Mr. Abu Sharif urged Hamas and Fatah movements to sideline their partisan 
interests for the sake of the Palestinian cause. In that spirit, PLO head Machmud Abbas reiterated his call to the Hamas terrorist organization to join the Palestinian Authority governing body.

The Bulletin asked the US consulate in Jerusalem for comment on the fact that Mr. Abbas was courting Hamas at a time when the United States has been training the Palestinian Authority to fight the Hamas. No comment from the United States consulate was forthcoming.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Phillies fan finally 'fesses '64 folly

by David Bedein

A common theme of Catholicism and Judaism involves the command to confess your sins.

While Catholics often confess their sins to their clerics, Jews confess their sins to the community at large.

With the news of the Phillies contending for the World Series reaching Jerusalem, the time has come for true confessions of a Phillies baseball fan from 1964, who may have wrought heavenly havoc on a team that was supposed to win the pennant that year, a scant 45 years ago.

Yes, the time has come to confess my sit, with my mitt and scorecard in hand, at the tender age of 14.

You see, I grew up in Philadelphia, a place where the Phillies never won. Prayers never helped.

1964 came, the year after my Bar Mitzvah, when our Rabbis taught us that it was now up to me to keep the commandments of God.

During that momentous year after my bar mitzvah, when our traditions have it that we pray as adults and that God listens intently to our prayers, the Phillies looked like they were going to win.

I put in a special prayer for the Phillies on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, 1964, reciting an incantation of the Phillies lineup and pitching rotation, adding special prayers for the Phillies bullpen when the Holy Ark was open for divine intercession.

It was on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, however, that I made a radical decision: to depart on a personal pilgrimage to Connie Mack Stadium.

The escape to the holy baseball grounds was well planned. Soon after I heard the Shofar Ram’s Horn being sounded to call for repentance, I quietly moved to the back of the schule, feigning a tummy ache to my little brother and sister.

I had five crisp one dollar bills that wouldn't jingle in my pocket, saved from my summer paper route, violating the Jewish tradition of not carrying money on the holiday.

I had thought of everything: My Phillies Hat was even in my Tallis Prayer shawl bag.

Like Moses who had just killed the Egyptian, I looked this way and that, and saw no one in my way from the men’s room exit, and left a place of worship to quietly ascend a PTC bus to 69th street and ascend even higher to the heights of the Market Street subway and then on to the Broad Street Subway.

Wearing my bar mitzvah suit, the destined arrival was Connie Mack Stadium, at 21st and Lehigh, in time great unreserved seats behind home plate.

I clutched my Machzor Rosh Hashanah prayer book together with my score card.

The Phillies were playing the hapless Mets.

In the Fifth inning, time of afternoon mincha prayers back at the synagogue, Frank Thomas, the Phillies much-needed right handed power whom they had recently acquired, was on first. Thomas suddenly sprinted to second base on an infield ground ball, sliding head first into second base, breaking his thumb. Sliding into second base? Hmm...That never happens...

The play by play by former Phillie Whiz Kid Center Fielder Richie Ashburn was very loud on a transistor radio near by. Richie announced that Thomas would be out for the season. Richie Ashburn was the Phillies star turned Phillies announcer who died in 1997. He had been a Whiz Kid in the last Phillies victory during the year of my birth in 1950 and seemed to represent the glorious past and promising present of the Phillies.

In the end, the Phillies lost that day. This was only a sign of things to come. On Yom Kippur, 12 games left in the left in the season. six and a half games ahead, the Phillies began a ten game losing streak and lost the pennant,
I made it back to synagogue for the concluding Maariv service at Overbrook Park Congregation... Or that is at least what I told my mother.

Everything that could go wrong in those ten days of judgement went wrong for the Phillies

Perhaps I had jinxed the Phillies, by leaving the synagogue the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

By Yom Kippur, there was no joy in Philly mudville.

I remember the great despondency when the Sukkot Feast of Tabernacles occurred in early October, when the Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford did not face our holy Phillies.

So I phoned a call in show on WCAU, then the CBS affiliate in Philly, to ask Richie Ashburn what had gone wrong.

Ashburn gave me an answer that I felt like a reproach for going to the ball game on second day Rosh Hashanah.

Richie said that a great lesson is never to be overconfident and not to do things that you shouldn't do.

He was referring to Phillie manager Gene Mauch overplaying his star pitchers, Jim Bunning and Chris Short, whom he played with only two days rest at the end of the season...

Yet, at age 14, coming into an age where I was supposed to observe God’s commandments, I thought that he was referring to my mistaken pilgrimage to Connie Mack stadium on a day that was supposed to be devoted to prayer.

Forgive me, dear Philly fans of yesteryear, if my shortsighted trek of 1964 may have angered God in some way.

Last year as dawn struck early in the morning of the new Hebrew month of Heshvan the holy city of Jerusalem, word came forth of a Phillies World Series Victory.

Phillie fanatics in the Holy Land promptly cited the traditional Hallel prayer of thanksgiving, that is reserved for the new month, and, of course, dedicated to thanking the Lord for bequeathing a victory to the Phillies, 44 years after the disaster that befell our fallen Phillies in 1964.

Was this a sign of Messiah? Will he be riding on a white donkey from the dugout in Cooperstown?

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Netanyahu Denounces the UN

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks on Thursday to the media:

“In the next 24 hours, a vote will take place in Geneva in the framework of the council known as the United Nations Human Rights Council. I remind you that in recent years, this council has made more decisions against Israel than against all other 180 countries in the world.”

The Israeli Prime Minister threatened that “if it should decide to forward what is known as the Goldstone report, 
it will strike a severe blow to three things:

“First of all, it will strike a severe blow to the war against terrorism since it will afford total legitimization to terrorists who fire upon civilians and who hide behind civilians. To those who - from international platforms, and using international law - attack and condemn the victim who legitimately defends himself, this is a mortal blow to the war on terrorism.
“Secondly, it will strike a mortal blow to the stature of the United Nations. It will return it to its darkest days, in which it could make the most absurd decisions, which would empty it of all substance and significance.

“Thirdly, and perhaps the most immediate and obvious of all, forwarding the 
decision of what is known as the Goldstone report, would strike a fatal blow 
to the peace process because Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied.”

The Israeli Prime Minister concluded his remarks by saying that “the decision on whether to forward this report which will impair both the struggle against terrorism and stature of the United Nations, and strike a mortal blow to the peace process.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: US Congressional Watchdog: Saudi Arabia: Remain Top Funders Of Al Qaida

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - The United States has determined that Saudi Arabia continues to be the leading source of funding to Al Qaida.

A report by Congress has concluded that Saudi Arabia has been sending funds to both Al Qaida and Taliban in what has helped finance the war against NATO in Afghanistan.

The report by the Government Accountability Office said the Saudi government did not appear to be involved in the funding.

"It is vital that the U.S. demand more from the Saudi government in

cutting off the money flow to the Islamist extremist network," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

GAO has determined that Riyad has failed to stop the flow of funds from individuals and charities to Al Qaida and Taliban. The report said the Saudi funding continued amid the kingdom's crackdown on Al Qaida and counter-insurgency to neighboring Yemen.

"They are a top source of funding for Al Qaida and associated terror groups, such as the Taliban," GAO said on Sept. 29.

The GAO said Saudis and other Gulf Arabs were the chief source of funding to Taliban. The report said couriers were transporting cash from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states to Afghanistan and Pakistan for Taliban.

The report also warned of Saudi Arabia's policy to rehabilitate Al Qaida insurgents. GAO reported a 20 percent recidivism rate of the 4,300 Al Qaida operatives who went through the re-education program.

"Saudi officials acknowledge such cases illustrate the difficulties

associated with assessing which participants should be released," GAO said.

The congressional watchdog recommended that the White House draft performance targets for Saudi Arabia in the war against Al Qaida. Over the last five years, several prominent of Congress have sought to link U.S. arms sales to Riyad to its commitment to block funding to Al Qaida.

This report was issued at exactly the same time that the current US Administration places all of its prestige behind the resumption of middle east peace talks, while ignoring the crucial role played by Saudi Arabia, which acts as the titular leader of the Arab League, remaining at war with Israel and positioning itself asthe major funder of Arab terrorist organizations.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Shocking Conclusions From Inquiry Over Gaza Expulsions

by David Bedein

An Israeli soldier keeps watch at a machine gun post atop a guard tower overlooking the Jewish settlement of Netzarim and surrounding Palestinian lands inside a small army base contiguous with the settlement, several kilometers inside the Gaza Strip on Oct. 26, 2003. An Israeli government commission has released a report criticizing the government for its handling of the last pullout of settlements from Gaza. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

JERUSALEM - Four years and two months have passed since Israel expelled Jews from their homes in the Katif district of Gaza and from Jewish communities in Northern Samaria, after which the government bulldozed their homes and property, an official Israel state commission of investigation nto the Israeli government's handing of these deported Jews has issued its interim report.

The Israeli government investigation commission has concluded that the Israeli prime minister must take all practical steps for immediate and decisive action. “The state’s handling of the evacuees was tainted with failures. The obligation and stated purposes of the Israeli government was not implemented, and not enough was done for the majority of the evacuees,” states the interim report, that was filed so to allow the government to meet its obligations. According to the commission, headed by retired Israeli justice Eliyahu Matza, the treatment of the evacuees ought to have been made a national undertaking. “The treatment of the evacuees ought to be again placed at the top our national priorities, in action and not merely in declarations. This is the duty of the state, that in an effort to advance political and defensive aims has harmed a wide public. The state must hasten, it is a matter of human rights, of common human decency, of Jewish ethics.”

According to the summary report, only 250 families have begun building their permanent home, of the 926 plots that were allocated to the expelled families. The report states that some of the evacuees cannot begin building “because they lack the ability to fund the construction, since their money has been spend on their daily outlays, due to having failed to find employment. This problem concerns between 100 and 250 families that are undergoing severe economic difficulties, and it is worsening as long as they continue to reside in transient housing facilities.”

The commission also noted the worsening employment levels: whereas before the evacuation unemployment was nearly nonexistent, unemployment today stands at 16.2 percent - twice the national level. “The evacuation has directly brought about the high unemployment levels. The state must intensify its efforts to solve the employment problem, and if need be also resort to unconventional solutions,” the commission stated. Former judge Matza added that the interim report does not note those responsible for the failure and that this would be undertaken in the final report: “the report concerns an ongoing event, not merely something of the past, and it is therefore very compact and pragmatic.”

Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said at the event of the report’s release that “beyond all disputes, those who have been paying the price so far are those who have been removed from their homes, and most of them have not yet found permanent housing.”

The context of this report is that the government of Israel did everything in its power in the initial stage of the expulsion process to reassure public opinion that the Jews who were expelled from their homes were being taken care of - despite the petition to the Israel High Court of Justice by a bipartisan group of sociologists who brought overwhelming date to the court that the government of Israel had no real plan for resettlement of people from 26 communities that were being decimated.

The Israeli government at the time, under the leadership of then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, hired a top flight PR agency that blared a commercial, every hour on the hour, that "there is a solution for everyone being relocated."

On August 20, 2005, in the midst of the expulsions. Sharon's top advisor, Dov Weisglass and then Housing Minister Yitzhak Hertzog made presentations to the Conference of Major American Jewish organizations, in which these Israeli officials assured that the people being expelled would all have homes waiting for them, with ample funds to support them. Following these reassurances, a number of American Jewish groups spread the word that every family expelled from Katif was going to receive a grant of $400,000. In addition, Israeli government minister Shimon Peres assured Israeli public opinion that the American government was granting $2 billion to cover the expulsion and resettlement costs.

The investigation has put to rest any notions spread by Weisglass and Hertzog that people expelled by Israel were taken care of, while Peres's assurance of $2 billion coming from the U.S. government never came to fruition.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Special Report: Assessment of US Military Aid to Fatah (The Center for Near East Policy Research)

Assessment of US Military Aid to Fatah

In March 2005, a US Security Coordinator Team was established in order to help the Palestinian Authority reorganize its security services.

The approach of the Team is being presented as markedly different from, and more effective than, prior international efforts to help the Palestinians transform the old Palestinian Liberation Organization militia into a professional force – a gendarmerie – that might serve a state. General Keith Dayton, who now holds the office of Coordinator and is striving to fulfill the mandate with which he has been charged, is on record as saying “What we have created are new men.”

This report takes a careful look at the development of this program and its import.

Click here for the full report in PDF format: Assessment of US Military Aid to Fatah