Israel’s offer of expert help to nations suffering from the tsunami disaster greeted with rejection by Sri Lanka and greated with outright lies by the Vatican!
By Yoav Stern, Amnon Barzilai and Amos Harel
Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies
A 150-member Israeli aid delegation canceled its mission to Sri Lanka on Tuesday, after the country -one of the hardest hit in the Asian tsunami disaster - apparently refused to accept the Israeli team Israel Defense Forces officials said. However, the Sri Lankan president's military secretary sent a notice to the country's foreign and defense ministries Tuesday expressing support for the arrival of a 50-member Israeli delegation. "We are not opposed to a plane loaded with medical supplies, food and blankets that will be accompanied by a medical team comprised of 50 IDF people, as the Israeli Foreign Ministry requested in a letter," the military secretary said in the notice.
In any case, Israel is sending supplies at Sri Lanka's request, including 10,000 blankets contributed by the IDF, tents, nylon sheeting and water containers. The IDF Home Front Command is organizing aid preparations The Israeli humanitarian organization Latet ("To Give") is sending a separate aid package Tuesday. It is filling a jumbo jet with 18 tons of supplies worth $50,000, at Sri Lanka's request. The group is considering sending additional aid shortly.
Sri Lanka said on Tuesday the death toll from the tsunami had risen to about 18,700 people, including at least 200 foreign tourists. Sri Lankan military spokesman Daya Ratnayake said more than 1.5 million people had been displaced from their homes – around 7.5 percent of Sri Lanka's population. About 37,000 people were confirmed dead Tuesday in the wake of the tsunami that slammed into coasts from India to Indonesia two days before, with some estimates nearly doubling that toll.
The aid delegation that had been set to depart for Sri Lanka on Tuesday included medical teams and representatives of the IDF and Defense Ministry, who were planning to provide humanitarian assistance and participate in search-and-rescue operations.
The delegation was planning to assemble a medical facility comprised of specialist doctors, and set up emergency, internal medicine and pediatric departments, as well as laboratory and X-ray facilities in the southern part of Sri Lanka.
A far smaller team landed in Sri Lanka on Monday night, headed by four doctors from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem. The team was carrying medicine and baby food. The doctors - who specialize in rescue operations, trauma and pediatrics - were also checking the viability of setting up a field hospital in the area, and advised Israel to send a larger team, such as the one Sri Lanka rejected. "We will advise Israel and the Foreign Ministry... to send something more massive," said Dr. Avi Rivkind, director of Hadassah's trauma unit. "We will try to use our... broad experience in dealing with terror attacks and rescuing masses to help in
this disaster as well."
Israel is weighing the option of sending similar delegations to Thailand, where more than 1,400 people have died, and India, where more than 9,500 people have died or are feared dead, but has yet to make a final decision on the matter.
Health Ministry team leaves for Thailand
A Health Ministry contingent left for Thailand on Monday night to aid in the rescue efforts there after around 1,000 people, including tourists, were killed on the islands of Phuket and Phi Phi. The contingent includes doctors, nurses and four members of the IDF, Israel Radio reported.
Israel has also offered its assistance to India. Mofaz passed on the offer to Indian authorities through Israel's military attache Colonel Moshe Krawitz. Mofaz offered aid of two kinds - a search-and-rescue team from the Home Front Command, as well as consignments of food and medicine. A ZAKA rescue-and-recovery team left for the disaster areas Monday night armed with its equipment, including materials and tools for identifying bodies, as well as body bags. "We are waiting for any instruction," Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the director of the organization, said Monday.
Vatican raps Israel for 'denying disaster'
THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 29, 2004
The Vatican newspaper has denounced what it called a decision by the IDF to deny emergency help to disaster victims in Sri Lanka. Calling for "a radical and dramatic change of perspective" among people "too often preoccupied with making war," L'Osservatore Romano singled out Israeli military leaders for declining a request for emergency medical help.
Contrary to the Vatican report, an Israeli plane carrying 80 tons of food and medical supplies worth $100,000 was set to depart for Sri Lanka Wednesday morning. At the request of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, a team of some 150 Israeli medical and security personnel aborted their planned trip to the island nation Tuesday night. The Vatican paper observed that in what "should be a time for unconditional solidarity," some world leaders seem incapable of escaping a "small-minded approach that restricts their horizons." The fact that the devastation swept across different societies, cultures, and nations should help to reinforce the universal perspective, the paper suggested.
Jerusalem Post staff and agencies
A deliberately forgotten, but terribly important, bit of "Saudi" Arabian history
By Sy Frumkin
Graffiti for Intellectuals
Geography is probably the area where most changes occur and they are almost irreversible. Take the word "Palestinians". It didn't exist in its present meaning prior to the1960s. " Palestinians were the Jews who lived in British-ruled Palestine, while the Arabs was just that, Arabs.
For proof, pick up a copy of Uris’s "Exodus" or rent the movie; the Palestinian word is used only for Jews. Now it has changed. No matter how hard I try, I am forced to refer to Arabs in Israel and the West Bank as "Palestinians."
Probably the most significant geographic location that appears to have been forgotten by just about everyone is Saudi Arabia. In fact, for about a thousand years or more, before 1924, the peninsula where it is located wasn't known as Saudi Arabia, just Arabia (like in Lawrence of or sometimes, Hijaz.
The "Saudi" part of the country's name is less than 80 years old but it is so ingrained that we call the people who live there "Saudis", not just Arabs. This makes as much sense as calling Britons "Windsors" or, even more accurately, "Saxe-Coburg-Gothas" after the original name of the British royal family.
And this is why I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at the recent meeting between President George W. Bush and the Hashemite King of Jordan, Abdullah. I expect that the subject of Saudi Arabia was mentioned and l hope that King Abdullah said something about being the legitimate heir to the throne of Arabia that was seized by force and usurped by Saudi bandits.
This is a fascinating bit of history that might give us leverage to pressure our Saudi "allies" who have not been acting like very good friends lately. The Saudis apparently believe that we see them as essential and irreplaceable, that they are impervious to U.S. sanctions and that being a friend and financier to terrorists isn't an obstacle to being referred to by the U.S. as "our good ally."
Turkey fought on the side of Germany in World War I and. as a result, lost the Middle Eastern part of its empire to Britain and France. The Arabian Peninsula - Hajaz - was inhabited by a handful of wandering tribes. The largest and strongest tribe, the Hashemite, led by Shareef Husain, administered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Another tribal chieftain, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, headed a tribe that was centered on the village of Riyadh.
In 1921, Winston Churchill was appointed His Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State for Colonies and charged with bringing order out of Arabian chaos. In March of 1921, 35 Englishmen, one Englishwoman and 2 Arabs met in Cairo and parceled out the Middle East to interested parties: Syria was given to the French who soon split off the Lebanon province to create a safe haven for the Christian majority there; Palestine was made a mandate of the British; Mesopotamia was re-named Iraq and given as a kingdom to Husain's son Faisal under British control; the land next to Palestine and West of the Jordan river was named “Transjordan" and given to Husain's other son Abdullah; and the father. Shareef Husain was recognized as King of Hijaz.
Husain's Kingdom lasted just three years. In 1924, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, in a succession of bloody battles, took Mecca and Husain fled with almost a million in gold sovereigns. The Kingdom of Hijaz was dead; long live the nation and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!
Years passed. In 1948 (when Israel declared its State after the British had finally been forced out) the Emir of Transjordan, Abdullah, crossed the Jordan River with the British-trained Arab Legion, captured the West Bank of the Jordan and East Jerusalem from the new State of Israel, expelled all the Jews who lived there, and changed his country's name from Transjordan to Jordan and his title from Emir to King, (yet another linguistic change that has been forgotten by most.)
Soon after Abdullah was assassinated. His grandson Hussein became King until his death a few years ago. The throne was turned over to the current King, Shareef Husain's great-great-grandson Abdullah. King Faisal of Iraq, who was the only other descendent of Shareef Husain was assassinated in one of the bloody revolts that placed murderous rulers in charge of that country. In fact, the only rightful successor to the original King of Hijaz is Abdullah of Jordan.
I wonder if there is anyone in our State Department who is intelligent and courageous enough to hint to the Saudis that there is a pretender to their throne, whose legitimacy is beyond doubt, who has shown himself to be a friend of the West, who would try to bring the Middle East into the 21st century and who would have the support and sympathy of the U.S. and Europe. I wonder...
But, First, The Forward editorial of September 4, 1993
(Forward quote September 1993)
To pretend there are no dangers ahead along the path the Israeli government has chosen is to pay too small a compliment to the courage of the leaders of Israel. There are risks aplenty, and even catastrophic possibilities. The fact that the Accord recognizes and addresses many of these risks is a signal “accomplishment.
Prime Minister Rabin, the tough, blunt Sabra and military veteran who by backing the accord has put his full political authority on the line, says the risks involved to Israel in this agreement are “the minimum.” That’s because nothing at least in theory is irreversible. If a militant faction like the fundamentalist Hamas, perhaps in coalition with the nationalist left factions now camped in Syria seizes the autonomous institutions the PLO will now staff, Israel will intervene. That is a foregone conclusion. The test will be whether the world, particularly America, stands fast with Israel when this agreement is tested.
(What pathetic nonsense! And some us said so on the day the awful process began September, 1993) jsk
The Forward editorial of September 4, 1998
Well, one thing that can be said of Oslo in the five years since we offered that assessment in these columns is that the parties have certainly been put to the test. The Palestinian Arabs have defaulted on almost every obligation they’ve undertaken, from the vow to crack down on terrorism to the limits they accepted on their military forces to their promise to amend the Palestine National Covenant to the promise to cease hostile propaganda.
The Arab rejectionist factions have struck with deadly effect, killing more Jews in the five years since Oslo than in the five years before it. The Jewish rejectionist faction — here we speak of the extreme religious element — struck in the person of the assassin who felled Rabin. When, after nearly three years of tumult, the ordinary Jewish voter in Israel called for a slowdown in the pace of the peace process, if not an end to the process itself, its own democratic decision was mocked and spurned by the American administration.
And when the Jewish democracy has turned to America for support, it has found an administration that no longer sees itself as a simple ally, but rather a neutral party seeking to play what it calls honest broker between a democratic Israel and a dishonest Palestinian Arab leadership.
Our own faith in Israel’s democracy remains as strong as ever; it has given us the one kind of leader we can all follow, a democratically elected prime minister with a mandate crafted at the polls. In the event, Prime Minister Netanyahu for all the confusion about where he wants to go, has shown that when he gets a deal he can take to the Knesset, as in the case of Hebron, he can get it ratified with support on both sides of the aisle. Yet on the fifth anniversary of Oslo, the Likud leader will be taking not only the normal security precautions but will be wearing a bulletproof vest to protect against anti-Oslo assassins lurking within the Jewish polity.
Recently, at a small reception at a private home at Washington, President Clinton actually lectured a group of Jewish activists on the problems Mr. Netanyahu faces. Mr. Clinton seems to have assigned Secretary of State Albright to back off from her hectoring of the government in Jerusalem and to focus on terrorists who are making America their first target and on the problems in Russia and on his own political troubles. We’d like to think on this anniversary that with all the attention elsewhere, Israel and her neighbors will gain some ground and redeem the gamble that was taken five years ago.
(And the complete Israeli self-delusion, as exemplified by these Forward editorials, continue in the hands of Ariel Sharon and his self-blinded Cabinet and Knesset, to this awful moment another five years later. Absolutely nothing has changed, nothing has been learned while Israel rushes inexorably on to the final denouement. We can only pray that, once again, Hashem will save us.)
Jerome S. Kaufman
Caroline Glick, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 10, 2004
This week saw Arafat's heirs, PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian
Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath,
on a junket to Syria and Lebanon where they labored to shore up their base
of political support. In Syria, the Palestinian "moderates" met with dictator Bashar Assad and his underlings and agreed to coordinate their positions in future negotiations with Israel with him.
That base covered, they went to meetings with the senior terror chieftains
who make their homes in Damascus: Ahmed Jibril, head of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command; Nayef Hawatmeh, head of
the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Khaled Mashaal, head
of Hamas; and Ramadan Shalah, head of the Islamic Jihad. Reinforced from their meetings - where, according to Shaath, they discovered that between the "moderate" leaders and the arch terrorists, "There are no differences over the objectives" - the three went for visits in UN-run internment camps falsely referred to as Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon. There they promised that they will never give up the demand for the unlimited immigration of these foreign-born Arabs to Israel in the framework of a peace treaty.
At the same time as they were running around in the terrorist capitals of the Levant, the US announced that it would for the first time be providing the PA with $23.5 million in direct budgetary aid to make it easier for the Palestinians to conduct elections in which these three moderates will be elected.
Unfortunately, no one of any consequence seems to think it at all necessary
to call attention to the fact that in order for Abbas and his colleagues to shore up their legitimacy in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, they have moved to build alliances with the most overtly extreme and violent forces in the region. Even as the US is now openly admitting Syria's major role in leading and financing the terror war being perpetrated in Iraq, no one has cast aspersions at Western supported Palestinian leaders who just declared their fealty to Assad and his terrorist vassals.
At the same time, Israel has been awash this week with excitement and
enthusiasm over Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak's newfound adoration for
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Pharaoh Hosni's decision to release Azzam Azzam
from his dungeon, like his announced intention to begin to abide by his obligation to the Camp David peace treaty by returning his ambassador to
Israel sometime next year, have been taken as indications that Mubarak is now an ally of Israel. He can be trusted, we are told, to remilitarize the Sinai and control the border between Gaza and Egypt even though he is
responsible for his country's refusal to date to do anything to stop the
weapons smuggling into Gaza. He can be trusted to train Palestinian military forces even though the ones he trained in the last go-around went on to become senior terrorists in the now four-and-a-half-year-old Palestinian terror war.
No one in Israel this week saw fit to mention that the very day Azzam was
finally allowed to come home after eight years of politically motivated
persecution, it was announced that Iran had transferred Mustafa Hamza,
leader of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, to Egyptian custody. Hamza had been tried
and sentenced to death in absentia by Egyptian courts three times since 1992
and is believed to have masterminded the attempted assassination of Mubarak
in Ethiopia in 1995. Reports of the transfer noted that ever since Egypt hosted the Sharm e-Sheikh conference aimed at preventing Iraqi elections last month, Egyptian-Iranian relations have improved considerably to the point where they are considering reinstating full diplomatic ties.
Few in Israel, or in the US for that matter, are particularly interested in
analyzing what is happening with the Palestinians or the Egyptians today.
This is so because it is considered impolitic, not to mention extremist, to
point out anything that might cast doubt on the viability of Sharon's plan
to abandon Gaza and northern Samaria while expelling some 10,000 Israelis
from their homes, farms and communities.
Next week we will have the fifth annual Herzliya Conference. The conference
has become a centerpiece in Israel's national politics because the prime
minister has used his address there for the past two years to mark dramatic
shifts in his policies. Two years ago he shocked everyone by saying that he
supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. Last year he outlined his plan to withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria. Each time, it took several months for Sharon to ram his new strategic outlook down the throats of his
party members. But with the assistance of the press, this year, he is going
into the conference with his withdrawal plan firmly entrenched in the
received wisdom of our times.
Sharon's adoption of the Labor Party's cut-and-run strategy has had
catastrophic consequences for Israel's international standing. Because the
plan is being advanced by Sharon, who has been demonized by the
international Left as a war criminal, Israel's friends abroad have abandoned
the strategic wisdom of never rewarding terror that they bravely advocated
for decades and embraced the plan.
Pro-Israel writers and policymakers in the US like Charles Krauthammer,
William Safire and Abraham Sofaer have publicly lauded Sharon for his
"strategic wisdom" and have castigated as extremists those who insist that
the planned withdrawal will be devastating to Israel's national security.
Sharon's minions in the government like Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
have taken to threatening Israelis directly, arguing that if we oppose the
withdrawal we will receive Yossi Beilin's delusional Geneva Initiative,
which gives up the entire store to the PLO even as the US National Security
Council's point man on Israel, Elliott Abrams, reportedly told leading
American Jewish leftists that the White House views all Israeli communities
located to the east of the security fence as slated for destruction.
In an opinion column in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Sofaer, who as legal
adviser to the State Department during the Reagan administration arguably
did more than anyone to prevent international law from being used as a whip
to prevent nations from fighting international terrorism, argued that Sharon's withdrawal plan is the only option. Sofaer allows that "the Palestinians are far from ready to negotiate." The advantage of Sharon's plan therefore, is that it gets Israel out of an "untenable" position in Gaza. So faer compares the withdrawal from Gaza to Israel's May 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, arguing, "Today, the Lebanese-Israeli border is more secure than during occupation."
This is the sort of sophistry that friends of Israel like Sofaer would almost certainly never have entertained before Sharon adopted the plan. The fact of the matter is that today, Hizbullah forces in south Lebanon constitute a strategic threat to Israel.
Just this week the army reported that Hizbullah is developing unconventional
weapons. Last week the IDF deployed a battery of Patriot missiles to Haifa
to prevent Hizbullah drones, which can be armed with chemical and biological
weapons, from infiltrating Israel - again. Hizbullah's transformation from a
tactical challenge to a strategic threat has advanced unfettered over the
past four years because the IDF left Lebanon and stopped fighting Hizbullah.
The fact that since the withdrawal of IDF forces from Lebanon no soldiers
have been killed in Lebanon is a tautology, not proof that the move was wise. Aside from that, the IDF also reported this week that the majority of
Palestinian terror cells in Judea and Samaria that executed successful terror attacks in 2004 have been affiliated with Hizbullah. And so we disengaged from them in Lebanon only to fight them in Israel.
This week St.-Sgt. Nadav Kudinsky was killed in Gaza as he led forces in
uncovering a tunnel for transferring terrorists into Israel. How exactly will Israel be able to prevent such tunnels from becoming operational once IDF forces have left the area?
Will Egyptian or British forces fight Palestinian terrorists for us? Sofaer writes that "Israel's security would be threatened if Gaza is taken over by terrorists." Well, who else does he think will take it over when, in order to shore up domestic support, the likes of Abbas and Qurei and Shaath feel it necessary to bed down with the likes of Ahmed Jibril and Assad? What do Sofaer or any of Israel's other staunch supporters think Egypt, with fresh diplomatic ties with Teheran and new legitimacy in Israel because of Azzam's release, will do against these people when Mubarak's chief government-sponsored cleric Sheikh Tantawi this week extolled the legitimacy of the Sunni terrorists fighting Iraqi and coalition forces in Iraq?
The fact of the matter is that by fighting Palestinian terrorists on the ground in Gaza and along the Egyptian border and by controlling the air, land and sea entry points to Gaza, Israel is not in an untenable position. It is in a difficult position. But there can be no doubt that the threat won't go away if we turn our backs to it and call it untenable. As in Lebanon, it will grow all the more dangerous.
It is hard to dispute the strategic wisdom of a man with Sharon's military
credentials. But can we not at least entertain the notion that Sharon at 76,
embroiled in criminal investigations, may be past his prime? This is not the
time for debating Sharon's place of honor in Israel's history, which he more
than earned long ago. But we owe it to ourselves to coldly analyze the
strategic options with which we are faced, rather than simply saying that,
since Sharon has said his piece, all that is left for us to do is quietly follow along.
(a redaction of an article by Edwin Black appearing in Reform Judaism Nov. 2004)
How Iraq's 2,600-year-old Jewish community was decimated in one decade
Baghdad, June 22, 2004. Just days before the Coalition Provisional Authority is scheduled to return power to Iraqi control, four Iraqi Jews--two in their forties, two elderly--inconspicuously board a Royal Jordanian airplane to Amman. Their travel documents and $800 airline tickets suggest nothing out of the ordinary. But their journey is being closely monitored by HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which for more than a century has been rescuing beleaguered Jews throughout the world.With the exception of approximately eleven Jews who have not chosen to leave, these are the last vestiges of a 125,000-strong Jewish community whose ancestors flourished here for twenty-six centuries!
The dismantling of Iraqi Jewry, once the most established and affluent Jewish community in the Arab Middle East, began at 3 PM on June 1, 1941, some forty years before Saddam Hussein came to power. In Europe, the events of the next thirty-six hours would have been called a pogrom. Iraqi Jews called it the Farhud. Perhaps Farhud is best translated as violent dispossession.The Farhud was not a spontaneous outburst; it was the culmination of an anti-Jewish campaign rooted in an alliance between the Mufti of Jerusalem and Adolf Hitler.
After the Allies had defeated the Turks in the First World War, the British engineered a League of Nations mandate over Iraq. Faisal, who fought alongside Lawrence of Arabia, was rewarded with the monarchy and designated King of Iraq. Faisal died in 1933; he was succeeded by his son Ghazi, who died six years later; and the next in line for succession was Faisal's 4-year-old grandson. So London installed as Iraq's regent Abdul al-Ilah, himself a Hashemite prince from Saudi Arabia. This appointment stirred deep resentment among Iraq's Moslem masses, who viewed the British "infidels" as occupiers and anyone who cooperated with them as lackeys.
As resentment turned to armed resistance and terror, militants targeted the British, as well as anyone they deemed as collaborators--including many Jews who held top posts in commerce and civil service.Seizing on the growing discontent, the pro-Nazi cleric Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Arabs of Palestine, railed against the Jews, accusing them of being part of a Zionist plot to dominate the Middle East.
The Mufti--who was being sought by the British in Palestine on charges of terrorism--had slipped into Iraq on October 13, 1939, six weeks after the outbreak of World War II. In Iraq, he conspired with a group of pro-Nazi officers, the "Golden Square," to overthrow the Regent. The Mufti also entered into a secret pact with Germany, offering Iraq's precious oil in exchange for the destruction of the Jews of Palestine and the Reich's support of Arab national aspirations across the Middle East.
Hitler himself, anxious to thwart Britain's domination of the oil-rich Middle East and secure the oil needed to fuel his planned invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, went along with the idea even though the Nazis reviled the Arab race.On April 1, 1941, the Golden Square staged a coup, forcing the Regent to flee Iraq. British warplanes responded with a series of persistent bombardments against Golden Square forces. By May 31, invading British forces had taken up positions on the outskirts of Baghdad, awaiting the Regent's return the following day.
Just days before, the Mufti, broadcasting by radio, incited the people of Iraq against the Jews by accusing them of having intercepted telephone and telegraph transmissions and passing the information to the British Embassy--thus causing the defeat of the "Golden Square." All Jews, he declared, were spies.On June 1, 1941, the sight of Jews returning from the Baghdad airport to greet the returning Regent was all the excuse an Iraqi mob needed to unleash its vengeance.
The attack began as the Jewish delegation crossed the Al Khurr Bridge. Jews were murdered and mutilated in the streets; women were raped as their horrified families looked on; infants were killed in front of their parents. Violence quickly spread across the city and beyond, as the gangs looted and torched Jewish shops, burned down synagogues, and defiled their Torahs. A government commission later reported that at least 180 Jews had been killed and 240 wounded, 586 Jewish businesses pillaged, and 99 Jewish homes burned.
The Mufti's charge that the Iraqi Jews had pledged their loyalty to the Zionist cause was ironic, for the zeal that had led waves of European Jews to settle in Palestine had no parallel in the Arab world. In fact, Iraqi Jews were decidedly anti-Zionist in the 1920s and 1930s--so much so that no immigration representative, or shaliach, of the Jewish community in Palestine had been posted to Baghdad, and none was welcome.
One high Zionist official, Chaim Arlosoroff, put it plainly: "The Jews there live contented lives, they are involved in all branches of commerce and economy, and therefore have no thought of emigrating." To the Iraqi Jews, explained eminent Baghdad Jewish community leader Menahem S. Daniel, "any sympathy with the Zionist Movement is [seen as] nothing short of a betrayal of the Arab cause....Jews in this country hold indeed a conspicuous position. They form one-third of the population of the capital, hold the larger part of the commerce of the country and offer a higher standard of literacy than the Moslems....[The Iraqi Jew] is, moreover, beginning to give the Moslem...successful competition in government functions, which...may well risk to embitter feelings against him. In this delicate situation the Jew cannot maintain himself unless he gives proof of an unimpeachable loyalty to his country.
"The lesson of the Farhud was clear: the Jews of Iraq could no longer stand on their ancient history and their steadfast fealty to the nation. And so it was that on June 1, 1941 they woke up anti-Zionist, but by bedtime on June 2, Zionism and Jewish Palestine had become an option--perhaps their only option.In the weeks following the Farhud, hundreds of Jews disregarded assurances from the Regent and British authorities that pogroms would not recur and smuggled their families and their possessions out of the country. About 1,000 Jews also applied for visas to enter India. Many sought refuge in Palestine. But by October 1941, as the political climate stabilized, the older generation of Jews believed the worst was behind them.
The younger generation did not share their parents' optimism. Concluding that a horrible end was coming, they formed secret Zionist societies akin to the underground Jewish defense organizations in Nazi-overrun Europe. The first such group in Baghdad, Youth for Salvation, and its sister group in the south, the Committee of Free Jews, made contact with Zionist emigration emissaries in Palestine, who slipped into Iraq to train the youth in underground tactics and self-defense--including the use of firearms.
After the defeat of the Golden Square, the Mufti escaped to Nazi Germany, where he was accorded the personal protection of his host, SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Using Radio Berlin, he now called on Moslems throughout the Middle East to defeat the British and slaughter the Jews. In one fatwa he declared: "O Moslems! Proud Iraq has placed herself in the vanguard of this Holy Struggle....It is the duty of all Moslems to aid Iraq...and seek every means to fight the enemy....The English have committed unheard of barbarisms.... Bring all your weight to bear in helping Iraq that she may throw off the shame that torments her....Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases Allah, history and religion. This saves your honor."For the Iraqi government, the Mufti's diatribes created the perfect scapegoat for the nation's ills--the Jews.
Seeking to distract the public from Iraq's failures--no great industrial achievements to lift the spirits of the average Iraqi, no fair disbursement of the nation's oil wealth--Prime Minister Nuri Said allowed his censorship office to overlook libels against the Jews in the press and permitted the inciters of the Farhud to regain key government positions, especially within the police.
By 1942 Arab unity would coalesce around the notion that all Iraqi Jews were Zionists and therefore enemies of the state.During the remainder of the war years, anti-British and anti-Jewish hatred was everywhere palpable in Iraq. Typical of the mood, when the war film For Freedom was screened in Baghdad cinemas, audiences booed Churchill and cheered Hitler.The defeat of the Third Reich in 1945 only heightened hatred of Jews, as thousands of Holocaust survivors made their way to Palestine.
The situation grew even more precarious with the UN's decision in February 1947 to take up the question of partitioning Palestine. Iraq's newspapers warned that if "the Zionist entity" came into nationhood, no Iraqi government could control "the Arab Street" in Baghdad; indeed, the number of attacks on Jews intensified. Still, many Jews remained in denial. As one Jewish Agency emissary in Iraq observed: "No attention is paid to the frightful manifestations of hostility around them, which place all Jews on the verge of a volcano about to erupt."
On November 29, 1947, the UN voted 33 yes, 13 no, with 10 abstentions, to create two states in Palestine: one Arab, the other Jewish. In response--and using the pretense that every Iraqi Jew with money was secretly funding Palestine--the Iraqi government adopted Nazi confiscatory techniques. Whether wealthy or not, Jews were forced to pay exorbitant fines as punishment for trumped-up offenses.
In April 1948, a month before Israel declared its independence, Iraq shut down the Kirkuk-Haifa oil pipeline, thereby slashing its own oil royalties by half. It then joined other Arab countries in a military invasion of the new Jewish state. "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres," promised Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League.
Israel survived the war and signed a UN-negotiated armistice agreement with Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Only Iraq refused to sign, demanding "a second round."In its war on the Jews, the Iraqi government turned next to the statute books. On July 19, 1948, penal code Law 51 against anarchy, immorality, and communism was amended to include "Zionism." Though the word was never defined, anyone accused of "Zionism" would face up to seven years in prison. The police conducted sweeps of thousands of Jewish homes searching for "evidence" of Zionist activity.
In perhaps the greatest shock to the Jewish community since the Farhud, the wealthiest Jew in Iraq, Ford automobile importer Shafiq Ades, was accused of transporting cars to Israel, fined the equivalent of $20 million, and sentenced to death. On September 23, 1948, Ades was publicly hanged in Basra. His body was allowed to languish in the square for hours to be abused by the celebrating crowds. Many more arrests, confiscations, and executions followed. A quarter of all Iraqi Jews worked in transportation, administering the railways and ports, but in October 1948 most Jewish government civil service employees--an estimated 1,500--were summarily dismissed, crippling communications, railroads, ports, and other key infrastructure.
As the pressure mounted, the Zionist underground sought to establish an escape route through neighboring Iran. In late 1948, Israel's Mossad, the clandestine agency created to spirit Jews out of Europe during the Holocaust, entered into secret negotiations with Iranian Prime Minister Said Maragai and his aides, who, over time, received bribes totaling $450,000. On February 13, 1950, Maragai announced that his country would open its doors to Jews as a grand humanitarian gesture in keeping with its 6,000-year tradition of tolerance.
Soon, some 1,000 Jews per month were flowing into Iran, requiring the creation of refugee transit camps. One of the most overcrowded camps was in an Iranian cemetery. It was nicknamed "Hell."On March 3, 1950, to stem the flight of Jewish assets, Prime Minister Tawfig as-Suwaydi introduced a one-year amendment to Law 1, the Denaturalization Act. The amendment revoked the citizenship of any Jew who willingly left the country. All his assets would be frozen--though upon exit they could be drawn down to pay debts and obligations within Iraq. Once a Jew registered to emigrate, the decision was irrevocable, and the individual was required to leave within fifteen days.
The Iraqi leadership was stunned by what happened next. Government officials had anticipated that only the 7,000-10,000 most "undesirable Jews"--mainly those who had already been pauperized--would choose to leave the country. The wealthier Jews, they had surmised, would remain to protect their livelihoods and assets. They were wrong. Thousands of Jews, poor and rich, immediately registered to leave. Wave after wave of refugees joined the exodus, exiting via Iran.
The massive flow surprised the Mossad as well. Now they were working against time--they needed to rescue as many Jews as possible before Iraq changed its mind and closed its borders to Jews. The solution: an airlift. In the spring of 1950, the Mossad called in its most reliable partner for airlifting Jews--Alaska Airlines, whose president, James Wooten, had just months earlier been instrumental in rescuing the Jews of Yemen.For the Iraqi Jewish airlift, Wooten entered into a secret partnership with El Al. Together they created an American charter company, Near East Air Transport (NEAT). Only Mossad knew that NEAT was not strictly an Alaska Airlines venture. The goal: to fly out 40,000 Jews that first year, about a third of Iraqi Jewry. Flights would operate through Cyprus or proceed directly to Israel--if the route could be kept secret.
To secure charter rights in Iraq, NEAT needed an Iraqi partner, so it teamed up with Baghdad-based Iraq Tours, an operation chaired by none other than Iraqi Prime Minister Tawfig as-Suwaydi.On May 19, 1950, two C-54 Skymasters airlifted the first 175 Jews out of Iraq (code-named Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, after the prophets who, in the fifth century BCE, shepherded returning Jews to Israel after the Babylonian exile). Within days, some 30,000 modern-day Iraqi Jews had registered for the exodus at their synagogues. But only 7,000 had managed to complete the lengthy and redundant bureaucratic process of obtaining all the right forms, from all the right people, with all the right stamps, in all the right order. At the airport, the "lucky ones" were abused and humiliated by airport security workers. Rings were pulled from their hands and linings ripped from their hats, all in the search for valuables.
Life for those left in bureaucratic limbo became a nightmare. At the same time, Israel could barely absorb Iraqi Jews in such large numbers. Its fragile infrastructure was strained to the limit by the thousands of refugees who were also streaming in from war-ravaged Eastern Europe as well as other expelling Arab nations. In March 1951, newly re-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said realized that his 125,000 captive Jews could be turned into a demographic weapon against Israel. Said marshaled the passage of another anti-Jewish statute: Law 12, which permanently seized all the assets of Jews who had been denaturalized by the previous law. Israel's Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett vociferously condemned Iraq's extortion and state-sponsored theft as "robbery by force of law." "We have a reckoning to conduct with the Arab world," Sharett declared, vowing "the value of the Jewish property frozen in Iraq will be taken into account by us in calculating the sum of the compensation we have agreed to pay to Arabs who abandoned property in Israel."
Hoping that the Jewish state would crack beneath the economic burden of the mass rescue, Prime Minister Said demanded that Israel absorb 10,000 Iraqi Jewish refugees per month. He also set a deadline--May 31, 1951--after which no more exit visas would be issued. If Israel did not accept these stateless enemies at once, he warned, the concentration camps would be readied.Israel had no choice but to accelerate the rescue of Iraqi Jewry by as many as 15,000 per month. The number of flights increased day and night--twin engines, four engines, any craft available. The daily spectacle of forlorn Jews, clutching nothing but a bag and their clothes, being hustled into truck after truck, was cause for great jubilation on the streets of Baghdad. But the Jews were able to get out. Between January 1950 and December 1951, Israel airlifted, bussed, or otherwise smuggled out 119,788, all but a few thousand who were too elderly or too unconvinced to leave.
In mid-July 1979, Iraqi President al-Bakr announced his resignation for "health reasons." His right-hand man, Saddam Hussein, immediately assumed the presidency and launched a murderous assault on anyone he deemed disloyal. Jews were afraid to leave their homes. Their synagogues became surreptitious gathering places. The systematic pauperization placed many Jews on the brink of starvation.After each war with Israel, Baghdad's persecution of its dwindled Jewish community ratcheted up, and more and more terrified Iraqi Jews smuggled themselves out of Iraq and into Israel. The most recent of these exits was on June 22, 2004.
Today, about eleven Jews are all who remain of the once glorious Iraqi Jewish community--2,600 years in the making, but dismantled in a decade.
Edwin Black is author of the just-released Banking on Baghdad--Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (John Wiley & Sons), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, as well as the award-winning international bestsellers War Against the Weak, IBM and the Holocaust and The Transfer Agreement.
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe, December 19, 2004
My one-year-old hasn't built up much of a vocabulary yet -- "wow" and "hey" and "oh" are about the only words he's mastered. But they were all he needed the other night as we drove through Boston's Mission Hill section, gazing at the lavish Christmas displays lighting up so many front yards. On one block we saw Santas and reindeer and a giant polar bear ("Wow!"); on the next there was a beautiful nativity scene and dazzling lights made to look like fireworks ("Hey!"). Rooftops were trimmed with icicle lights, trees pulsed with color, and streets normally bland and unremarkable were lovely in their holiday glow.
I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.
Unfortunately, it isn't only nativity scenes and Santas that make an appearance every Christmas. The holiday season also heralds the annual return of Scrooge and the Grinch. Or, as they're known in Bellevue, Wash., these days, Sidney and Jennifer Stock.
The Stocks are atheists who want Bellevue's city council to remove the Christmas tree from the lobby of City Hall. Since "it is impossible for everybody's religious belief to be displayed and non-religious belief to be displayed," Sidney Stock told reporters last week, "no religious beliefs [should] be displayed."
Never mind that Christmas trees themselves have no religious significance. In Bellevue, as it happens, they don't even call it a Christmas tree. They call it a "giving tree," because its purpose is to stimulate gifts to the poor. In addition to tinsel and gold ribbon, the tree is hung with requests from needy families, and passersby are encouraged to help the less fortunate by making a donation. According to KOMO-TV in Seattle, the giving tree generates nearly $25,000 in contributions.
Most Americans, whatever their faith, would regard Bellevue's tree as a beautiful demonstration of true Christmas spirit. But to the Stocks, its presence on city property is a matter of "injustice and inequality." That is the voice of anti-religious fanaticism -- what Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the Orthodox Jewish founder of Toward Tradition, calls "secular fundamentalism."
Every year these fundamentalists renew their assault on Christmas and its Christian meaning. Sometimes they claim the Constitution bars any expression of religion in government venues (it doesn't). Or they speak of "sensitivity" to those of other faiths. Or they couch their censorship in the language of "tolerance" and "diversity." Or they simply oppose any reference to Christmas at all. One way or another they end up demanding that America's vast Christian majority keep its religious feelings to itself. It's an outrageous demand, and it leads to outrageous results:
(*) In Maplewood and South Orange, N.J., the school board has banned all Christmas carols, even instrumentals, from holiday concerts.
(*) In Denver, the city's annual Parade of Lights included German folk dancers, a gay and lesbian Indian group, and belly dancers -- but a Christian-themed float was banned because it would have included a message reading "Merry Christmas."
(*) In Southwest Florida, the rule against celebrating holidays is so rigid that one middle school principal told the Sarasota Herald Tribune: "You won't see any Christmas trees around here. We keep it generic."
(*) In New York City, official school board policy authorizes displays of "Christmas trees, menorahs, and the [Muslim] star and crescent" -- which it describes as "secular holiday symbol decorations" -- but prohibits depictions of the nativity.
(*) In Franklin, Mich., the annual Holly Day celebration has been renamed the Franklin Winter Festival. "Holly Day," the sponsors decided, sounded too Christmassy. "We wanted to try to make it more inclusive."
But there is nothing inclusive about silencing the 90 percent of Americans who celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christians, after all, have freedom of religion, too -- and that freedom shelters my faith no less than it does theirs. Christmas is a blessing for all Americans. May yours be filled with joy.
By Roy Marks, The Washington Times
Reading the press of late, you would think Director of Central intelligence Porter Goss’ move to replace senior staff at Langley is causing an intelligence “riot.” A daily litany of resignations is paraded about in un-attributed comments from “former officials” as sure proof that the walls are collapsing and that the nation is facing an intelligence catastrophe.
This is simply not the case. The disappointing cries of former office holders who forget that government employee lease but do not own their positions of trust — are embarrassing, to the leakers, and a continuing puzzlement to our friends overseas. With this effort to build his own team, Mr. Goss has taken the first steps on the long journey to true intelligence reform.
The sad truth is that American intelligence has been a backwater since the end of the Cold War more than a decade ago. Under the Clinton administration, one third of the intelligence community’s budget and personnel were cut and no structural reform was undertaken to deal with a new, very different, world. The Bush administration, overwhelmed by the day-to-day challenges of September 11, has finally been able to make its first best shot at reform.
Nevertheless, whether Congress succeeds in passing an intelligence reform bill or not, three fundamental challenges must still be met by Mr. Goss in order to create a new, sharper and more effective American intelligence apparatus for the 21st century.
The first challenge is how to handle the large influx of personnel being proposed for the spy world. The president has declared that the United States should add an additional 50 percent more personnel to both the field operatives and the headquarters analysts. This new, fresh blood will be a welcome addition to the fight against terrorism. However, it is crucial that both the operations and analytical sides that receive this comparatively large influx deploy some form of significant work force planning, a more robust matching of skills development and a sharper view of personnel deployment than in the past. Both directorates must move beyond the days when new staff were treated as their own “best’ personnel managers.
Former CIA director George Tenet was correct about one thing — it does take five years to develop a trained intelligence officer who truly understands his or her mission and work. The X-Box generation, however, is not going to tolerate the sloppy personnel practices of the past. New recruits should be encouraged and developed in adroit ways. Over the last decade, the military has been truly successful at developing a “corporate” military whose stunning victories in Afghanistan and Iraq stand witness to this work. The intelligence community should learn from the Pentagon success story
Second, the X-Box generation should not be stuffed into the same old bureaucratic structure at Langley. Both the operations directorate and the analytical directorate can ill afford to continue the same failed management paradigms that have brought us to this current sorry state. On the operations side, it is crucial that people be placed in the field as soon as possible after training. Moreover, they must be placed under imaginative “nonofficial” covers that move them away from any apparent connection with the government. If a silly deluded kid from California can manage to get into Osama Bin Laden’s training camp, a skilled operations officer with a good cover should be able to do the same.
On the analytical side, where so many of the recent intelligence failures have occurred, the entire system needs revamping. This directorate must become a looser organization that allows its analysts to more easily access the outside world. Too often today, the analysts are forced to re-invent the wheel out of a false concern over security. Moreover, analysts should have their material looked at through the looking glass of alternative analyses, where differing views are given more than lip service. Finally, analysts are being overwhelmed by information. It is incumbent to reach out to the private sector and find analytical tools that will help make their jobs easier.
The third challenge for Mr. Goss will be the toughest — improving Langley’s interactions with the new national security world in which it swims. The culture of secrecy runs deep at Langley. So does the culture of bureaucratic protectionism, in which the intelligence community engages in a game of hide the “intelligence ball” with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. While efforts by the President and Congress to restructure roles will have some positive impact, Langley must recognize that it must share information with law enforcement and the military in order to meet the security needs of the nation. The legal and bureaucratic barriers of the pre-September 11 days are for the most part gone. However, the attitude that outsiders cannot be trusted must stop.
Perhaps as Mr. Goss’ new leadership steps into place this will change as well.
These basic reforms will not be easy. Mistakes will be made along the way. Mr. Goss is going to be flying the plane and building it at the same time. However he has the support of a willing president with a mandate from the people to take on reform. Never has intelligence played a more important rule, on a daily basis, in protecting the American people from harm. Intelligence reform is not a short hike, but a long, complex journey.
Ron Marks, a former CIA officer served as intelligence counsel to Senators Bob Dole and Trent Lott.
(X – rated)
Clash of Ci vilizations in the Netherlands
By Arnaud de Bourchgrave, The Washington Times
Netherlands has long been Europe’s most permissive society— everything from window-shopping in Amsterdam for scantily clad hookers (5O to 80 Euros for 15 to 30 minutes) to hashish aroma in marijuana smoke-filled cafes. The government and the sex workers union protect some 30,000 women. The pimps are landlords and the aging prostitutes are quickly replaced with a steady influx from the former Soviet republics and East European countries
A Dutch brothel chain is suing the government for failing to green light the “Yum Yum Caviar Club” at Schiphol Airport “to cater to stressed travelers in transit.” The government responded that plans for an airport bordello were on hold pending new building and space in the departure areas. It was such Dutch tolerance, pragmatism and guilt about the country’s colonial past that allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Muslim Indonesia (a Dutch colony from the 17th century until World War II) to flood into tiny Holland. Today, Muslims are a majority among children under 14 in the Netherlands’ four largest cities.
There are 1 million Muslims (6 percent of the population) now living in Europe’s most crowded small country. Some 30,000 new Muslims arrive every year. They tend to live among themselves, with their own schools, mosques and restaurants. Most are horrified by what they view as sacrilegious in their own religion. Their imams speak no Dutch and know nothing of the Netherlands’ history and culture.
Western Europe as a whole gets about half a million new Muslims a year. Most make their way from sub-Sahara Africa and North Africa, illegal immigrants smuggled by boat to Spain and Italy where they are free to travel with impunity to the rest of Europe. Thus, Europe’s Muslim population has doubled to 20 million in the last 10 years.
The anti-Muslim backlash spawned far right-wing parties. Belgium’s highest court last week ruled the anti-immigration Flemish Bloc party-- the most popular political force in Dutch-speaking Flanders — will lose the government subsidies allocated to all parties, and is now forced to disband. It quickly renamed itself the Flemish Interest Party and toned down its inflammatory rhetoric.
Europe’s largest mosque is in Rotterdam, which is also Europe’s busiest port. Half the people there are of foreign origin. Unemployment among the Muslims is high. And the Dutch live-and-let-live permissiveness made this nation, a quarter of it below sea level and protected by 1,500 dikes, ideal breeding grounds for Muslim fundamentalism and the kind of extremism that spawned one of Osama bin Laden’s European fan clubs. But for years the government was in denial about Islamic extremism in what is otherwise a well-managed society.
Dutch Muslims, repelled by the freewheeling life style, sought solace with radical imams in the mosques. There men outnumber women. And women are relegated to a part of the mosque where they can be neither seen nor heard.
What Dutch filmmaker and columnist Theo Van Gogh saw as the shabby treatment of females throughout the Muslim community led him to produce documentaries that portrayed Muslim men as tormentors of women, especially their wives. One recent scathingly critical Van Gogh film carried the message that Islam promotes violence against women. Two weeks ago, Van Gogh, a grandnephew of the painter, was shot as he cycled to work. He managed to get up and stagger across the street to his building where he collapsed. The assailant followed him and slit his throat before pinning to his chest with a knife a five-page manifesto that called on Muslims to rise against the infidel enemies” in the West.
Dutch security authorities launched a nationwide manhunt for the murderer of the popular Van Gogh. A hand grenade injured four policemen as they went after two suspects in a working-class district of The Hague. Air space over the capital was closed for a day as Dutch Special Forces lay siege to a building and the two surrendered after a 14-hour standoff.
Ten others were arrested, including the prime suspect, a Muhammad Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch Moroccan, who was charged with murder and suspected links to an al Qaeda group. A two-time visitor to Saudi Arabia, he had doffed Western clothes in favor of Arab dress. Both Mr. Bouyeri and his close friend Samir Azzouz, 18, another Dutch Moroccan, moved between five apartments in an Amsterdam suburb favored by Islamist radicals. They were on Dutch intelligence’s terrorist watch list as they communicated with like-minded extremist cells throughout Western Europe.
Last year, Mr. Anouz was stopped in Ukraine and turned back as he made his way to Chechnya to fight the Russians. Released by the Dutch and then re-arrested because bomb-making equipment and detailed maps of public buildings were found with his fingerprints, he is in jail awaiting trial.
Tit-for-tat terrorism quickly followed Van Gogh’s assassination in widely scattered parts of the otherwise peaceful Netherlands. An arson attack against a Muslim school was followed in the same village of Uden by a Muslim attack against a primary school that was set ablaze and completely gutted. Then a small bomb damaged a Muslim school in Eindhoven. A score of mosques and churches were targeted by arson attacks in one week. Two young men were also arrested for putting a video on the Internet that promised 72 virgins in paradise for the “beheading” of Geert Wilders, a popular right-wing politician who decries the dangers of radical Islam Two years ago, Pim Fortuyn, a populist politician who called for a halt to immigration, by simply saying the Netherlands was “full,” was similarly gunned down.
Over the past year, the presence of 1,300 Dutch troops in Iraq triggered repeated threats from Muslim groups. Last summer, a last will and testament was found when an 18-year-old man of Moroccan-born parents was arrested for plotting terrorist attacks in the Netherlands. The list of targets included the Dutch parliament Schiphol and the nuclear reactor at Borssele. Floor plans of several public buildings were also found. The former student wrote in his will he wants his newborn son to live “in the spirit of jihad.”
Described by a police psychiatrist as “fearless and fatalistic,” the student “gradually fell under the spell of ideas about the oppression of Islam.” During the court hearing, his family remained seated as all present rose when the judge entered. The mother was covered in a head-to-toe chador in Muslim fundamentalist fashion. Islamist extremists even penetrated the Dutch intelligence service with a double agent. One officer was arrested last September. The government hastily drafted a Patriot Act-like law that enables it to strip citizens of their citizenship and deport them if they engage in extremist acts.
Could the Netherlands be a curtain raiser for a wider clash of civilizations in the old Continent? Hundreds of thousands of young Muslims in Europe are potential jihadists, according to European intelligence chiefs speaking not for publication. They have been warning their political masters about the tinderboxes that many Muslim communities have become. Jihadi volunteers are known to have left for Iraq from a number of Muslim slums on the outskirts of major European cities. Recruitment posters come on regular European and Arabic news programs — from the Abu Ghraib prison pictures to the battle of Fallujah.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International
By Wesley Pruden, Washington Times, December 19, 2004
We’re not supposed to notice the aroma
Kofi Annan is the perfect expression of the-United Nations: soft, suave, urbane, and a magnet for incompetence and corruption. The apologists for the U.N. are fond of saying that if the U.N. didn’t exist we would have to invent it. Just what this means is not meant to be clear. If Kofi Annan didn’t exist someone would have to invent him, too.
Mr. Annan, in fact, was invented, and by the very Americans the apologists loathe, when the stink of the BoutrousBoutrous Ghali administration finally became so overpowering that nearly everyone agreed that he had to go. His replacement had to satisfy the requirements of the Lilliputians of the Third World who are forever fantasizing about how to tie down Gulliver, and the Americans scrounged through what was available and came up with Mr. Annan, fresh from mismanaging the U.N. “peacekeeping” operations in Rwanda and Bosnia. Wherever Mr. Annan went, massacres followed. But he apologized nicely and that was that. The man and the hour had met.
Now there’s a fresh aroma hovering over the east side of Manhattan and it’s not the aroma of the usual effluvia of the city. We’re not supposed to notice, but there’s a lot we’re supposed to not notice. The growing scandal over the oil-for-food program - the scheme meant to enable Saddam Hussein to sell enough of his oil to buy food and medicines despite the sanctums imposed after the first Gulf war - engulfed first the usual suspects namely France, Germany and Russia.
Now the scandal threatens to lap over Mr. Annan’s own immediate family. His son, Kojo, appears to have been on the take from Saddam. Since Kofi himself, who has told several versions of what he knew and when he knew it, concedes that he was disappointed. It’s probably OK for the rest of us to be “disappointed.” We’re supposed to let it end there.
Crowded against the wall, Mr. Annan, the U.N. Secretariat and his apologists agreed to the outside investigation headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (and the former North American chairman of the Trilateral Commission). Several congressional committees, clothes pins securely fastened to noses, are trying to find out who got what from the oil-for-food scam.
U.N. employees and contractors have been gagged by the Secretariat and the Oil-for-Food program files have been locked away from prying eyes. But, only a few billion dollars are involved and somebody has to finance terrorism
What’s the big deal? Mr. Voicker’s writ includes both the criminal and civil. He cannot only investigate graft and mismanagement, but the evasions, deceptions and contradictions of the secretary-general himself over what his son took, and why, from the Swiss company hired to monitor the goods, allowed through the sanctions into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His investigation will be as thorough as he wants it to be. The congressional investigators are a sharp spur that Mr. Volcker may not want. The demand by Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a moderate Republican, that Kofi Annan resign now has discombobulated those in New York and Washington who wish Mr. Coleman had kept his mouth shut. They’re wary of saying so because what everyone wants to know is whether the White House is encouraging the cries for Mr. Annan to quit now.
President Bush pointedly declined to say nice things about him when he had a fine opportunity to do so. So did John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Sen. John McCain, trying to find something nice to say, said only that he, like Mr. Annan, is “disturbed” and he thinks there will be “plenty of time” later to decide “whether people should keep their jobs or not.”
The usual suspects are closing ranks behind Mr. Annan. The 191 ambassadors to the U.N., terrified at the thought that any Lilliputian should be deprived of his sweet life in America on someone else’s dime, gave Mr. Annan a standing ovation this week when he presented his “blueprint for U.N. reform” to the General Assembly. There was no appreciation of the irony of the moment, with the presentation of institutional reform by the man who may be in desperate need of personal reform himself.
Wesley Prudën is editor in chief of the Washington Times
Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs
Excerpted from his speeches to the Knesset - MFA Archive 1990-1999 - Oct 05, 1995. Complete transcriptions to be found at Website: Unity Coalition for Israel.
Members of Knesset,
The agreement before you is the continuation of the implementation of the agreements which were signed between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians. The first agreement which was brought to you was the Declaration of Principles, which was signed in Washington on 13 September 1993. The second agreement which was presented to you is called the Cairo Agreement, which was signed in Cairo on 4 May 1994. Both of these agreements were ratified by the Knesset. Both of the previous agreements, and the third which was submitted today, separately and together, give expression to the policy of the current Government, and to its path of promoting peace in the Middle East.
As is known, when we formed the Government, over three years ago, we said that we would aspire to reach a permanent solution to the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict. And today, this Government brings, in addition to the signing of the peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan -- which would not have been achieved without the agreement with the Palestinians -- a significant breakthrough in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and an attempt to put an end to decades of terrorism and blood.
We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, (see map of Mandate in download file below) and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines. And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:
A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.
D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif (GAZA) …
The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, remains in our hands. …
We are embarking upon a new path which could lead us to an era of peace, to the end of wars. That is our prayer. That is our hope. A happy New Year and may the members of Knesset and the entire house of Israel be inscribed for a good life.
(an excerpt of original article)
By David Bedein
Bureau Chief Israel Resource News Agency, Jerusalem, Israel
The Sharon Plan has become one of the most hotly debated news items in Israel and throughout the world. Yet, what is even more newsworthy, given the charged emotions that this debate has created, is the fact that very few people across the political spectrum in Israel, and even in the media and diplomatic corps represented in Israel, have bothered to read the Sharon Plan. Even though it is posted on the official web site of the Israeli Prime Minister, http://www.pmo.gov.il
Everyone thinks that it was only about Gaza. Indeed, people throughout Israel and throughout the world the world thought they were voting on was whether or not Israelis could continue to live in the Katif district of Gaza. Hence the term “disengagement”.
Why? The Sharon Plan is officially called the "Disengagement Plan", because, according to the preamble to clause 1, section 1, "Israel has come to the conclusion that there is currently no reliable Palestinian partner with which it can make progress in a bilateral peace process." The preamble goes on to say that "In order to break out of this stalemate, Israel is required to initiate moves not dependent on Palestinian cooperation. Israel is required to initiate moves not dependent on Palestinian cooperation. Accordingly, it has developed a plan of unilateral disengagement"
However, the Sharon Plan continues with a statement that seems to belie the preamble that the PLO is not a "reliable Palestinian partner" by stating that "the hope is that the Palestinians will take advantage of the opportunity created by the disengagement in order to break out of the cycle of violence and to reengage in a process of dialogue."
Since the majority of the Palestinians in Gaza, who live in the squalor of UN Arab refugee camps, are nurtured by the ideas of the "right of return" to liberate lands where their Arab villages existed in 1948, why would Israel's dismemberment of Katif communities that were established on lands where no Arab villages were lost in 1967 satisfy their political goals?
Yet another premise of the Sharon Plan is that "the process of disengagement will serve to dispel claims regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." If Israel is to annul its responsibility for the well being of the Palestinian population, why does the Sharon plan continue to obligate Israel to “provide water pipes, electricity, industrial zones, markets, employment and an industrial zone to sustain the Palestinian Arab economy of Gaza”?
Meanwhile, The Sharon Plan mandates that “other existing arrangements, such as those relating to water and the electro-magnetic sphere shall remain in force" while "economic arrangements currently in operation between Israel and the Palestinians shall, in the meantime, remain in force”. According to the Sharon Plan, these arrangements will include:
i. The entry of workers into Israel in accordance with the existing criteria.
ii. The entry and exit of goods between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel and abroad.
iii. The monetary regime.
iv. Tax and customs envelope arrangements.
v. Postal and telecommunications arrangements.
So there you have it – While the Sharon Plan is described as a "disengagement plan" does anything but disengage Israel from the Palestinian Arab population.
Meanwhile, the language of the Sharon plan intimates that the PLO will abandon its terror campaign. The plan says, "When", and not "if" "there is evidence from the Palestinian side of its willingness, capability and implementation in practice of the fight against terrorism and the institution of reform as required by the Road Map, it will be possible to return to the track of negotiation and dialogue."
On what basis does the Sharon plan have for any assumption that the PLO will "fight against terrorism" or institute any "reform"? There is no answer.
And when it comes to security issues in other areas, the Sharon plan promises to "evacuate an area in the Northern Samaria Area (the West Bank) including 4 villages and all military installations, and re-deploy outside the vacated area. The move will enable territorial contiguity for Palestinians in the Northern Samaria Area "while Israel will improve the transportation infrastructure in the West Bank in order to facilitate the contiguity of Palestinian transportation."?
Does this also mean that abandoned villages and military installations will be handed over to a PLO that is "not a reliable peace partner"? Once more, since the Sharon Plan defines the PLO as maintaining a state of war with Israel, why does the same Sharon Plan provide the PLO with the strategic assistance of "territorial contiguity"? No answer is given.
Meanwhile, the Sharon Plan mandates that the Gaza Strip "be demilitarized and shall be devoid of weaponry, the presence of which does not accord with the Israeli-Palestinian agreements." However, the Sharon Plan does not even allude to the fact that the PLO violated all previous agreements in this regard and refused to implement the agreement with Israel to have their personnel vetted by Israel.
Did Sharon experience amnesia and forget that the PLO increased against the Oslo agreement the size of the agreed upon security force from 9,000 in 1993 to more than 50,000 by 1995, ignoring protestations of the government of Israel? Meanwhile, The Sharon Plan that demilitarizes Gaza provides no process to disarm the PLO armed forces now in Gaza.
And what does the Sharon Plan mandate in terms of Israeli security? The Sharon Plan asserts that " Israel reserves its inherent right of self-defense, both preventive and reactive, including where necessary the use of force, in respect of threats emanating from the Gaza Strip." Incredibly, Israel's right to pursue terrorists into Gaza is not mentioned anywhere.
As far as the security situation in the West Bank is concerned, the Sharon Plan states that "upon completion of the evacuation of the Northern Samaria Area, no permanent Israeli military presence will remain in this area," while another section states that " Military Installations and Infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria will be dismantled and removed, with the exception of those which Israel decides to leave and transfer to another party . . ."
Does that mean that the PLO security forces, described in clause 1 of the Sharon Plan as "not a reliable peace partner," will now inherit Israel's abandoned IDF miltary bases? Why would Israel cede military installations to an entity with whom it is in a state of war?
The Sharon Plan also states that "In other areas of the West Bank, current security activity will continue" and that " . . . as circumstances permit, Israel will consider reducing such activity in Palestinian citiesâ€¦" and that "Israel will work to reduce the number of internal checkpoints throughout the West Bank."
So here we have a situation where Israel moves its forces out of cities and reduces checkpoints and is expected to maintain mobility to respond to the PLO terror war. Perhaps the most amazing issue of all is that clause five of the Sharon Plan mandates to provide "advice, assistance and training" to "the Palestinian security forces for the implementation of their obligations to combat terrorism and maintain public order, by American, British, Egyptian, Jordanian or other experts, as agreed with Israel."
The Sharon Plan ignores Israel's decade-long failed experience with security assistance that Israel facilitated for the PLO. The Sharon Plan ignores how military training facilitated by Israel and western countries for the PLO was abused to conduct a terror campaign against Israel in every part of the country for the past four years. The U.S. State Department trained Palestinian policemen for "security" who then used that training to kill Israelis.
The Sharon Plan goes on to say that "Israel will be willing to consider the possibility of the establishment of a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip, in accordance with arrangements to be agreed with Israel." Did Israel not try that already? And weren't guns and rockets smuggled in?
In terms of Israel's border area between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, (called the Philadelphi Route), the Sharon Plan only states that "Initially, Israel will continue to maintain a military presence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt" and that " . . . subsequently, the evacuation of this area will be considered. dependent, inter alia, on the security situation and the extent of cooperation with Egypt in establishing a reliable alternative arrangement." Why "initially" and "subsequently"? Does Israel expect that situation on the Egyptian border to change? Will Egypt not continue to allow weapons to be smuggled through tunnels on Egypt's frontier to help the PLO fight Israel?
Finally, The Sharon Plan envisions continued international support for the PLO, " in order to bring the Palestinians to implement in practice their obligations to combat terrorism and effect reforms, thus enabling the parties to return to the path of negotiation." And if the support for the PLO continues and the terror does not cease? What then? The Sharon Plan provides no answer.
So there you have it. The text of the Sharon Plan speaks for itself: Strengthening of the PLO, and no disengagement whatsoever. This is not a disengagement plan. This is a plan of hasty retreat that doesn't even include a request of the Palestine Authority to stop endorsing the murder of Jews from their own Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation shows.
What sanctions are listed if the PLO does not comply? Is this not worse than the Oslo Accords?
By Jerome S. Kaufman
Once again we received a very beautifully done expensive invitation to a Seeds of Peace social, fund-raising movie event in the Detroit area. Of note was that one of the corporate leadership chairs is Debbie Dingell, Vice Chair of the General Motors Foundation and wife of Dearborn Congressman John Dingell.
You may remember Seeds luminaries of the past: Adam Shapiro of Brooklyn who was program coordinator of Seeds for 4 years prior to marrying Seeds counselor Hawaida Affaf, an Arab girl from Roseville Michigan. They then went on to together found the organization, International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that regularly sends protestors into Israel to create TV photo-ops displaying Israeli brutality and Arab persecution. Just a few months ago the ISM was extremely successful. They sent over a young woman named Rachel Corie who in her dedication threw herself on to a pile of ruble surrounding demolished homes in Gaza that had contained underground tunnels used to smuggle in weapons from Egypt. It was a great photo-op for the cause - never mind an Israeli bulldozer killed the poor deluded girl inadvertently. The ISM objective was totally successful, nevertheless - giving the Israelis a nightmare in press coverage.
Besides the movie fundraiser, Seeds of Peace has made some tell-tale changes in the last year. The director of the whole operation is now Aaron Miller. You may remember Aaron Miller from the American State Department. He left State about the same time as his buddy Dennis Ross and falls within the same State Department rubric described by Eric Rozenman working for Moment magazine at the time. Ross was responsible for “shaping the Bush-Baker State Department into the least sympathetic American government toward Israel in that country’s 43 years.” Miller just last year had his buddy Dennis Ross as the featured speaker at the dedication of Seeds of Peace in Jerusalem. Thus, the tandem’s good deeds for the benefit of Israel continue.
Then we have an even more immediate and timely revelation. The co-community leadership award nominees, along with our own Florine Mark, are Tim and Fatimah Attalah. Particularly pertinent to the event is the quote of Tim Attalah in the Detroit News of November 12, 2004 - just a few weeks ago. Various local people were asked about the possibility of peace following the death of Yasser Arafat. Tim Attala, a lawyer in Dearborn of Palestinian descent and the current honoree of Seeds of Peace said, “ The obstacle to peace has never been Yasser Arafat. The obstacle to peace is the occupation of territory by the Israelis. It’s that simple. Anyone who said that Arafat was an obstacle to peace dodged the real issue of the conflict,” said Attala, a Muslim who is active in Seeds of Peace, an organization that unites Israeli and Palestinian youths to foster goodwill!”
“Unites to foster good will?” How is that? By embracing the philosophy of Tim Attala, Saeb Erekat, long time political spokesman for Yasser Arafat and also a director of Seeds of Peace or other Seeds directors - Congressmen John Dingell and John Conyers and former Congressman David Bonior - all respected members of the Arab Hall of Fame created to honor those Congressman voting most regularly for anti-Israel legislation; or by producing graduates like Adam Shapiro? Does anyone think any of the above would be part of an organization alien to his or her own basic beliefs? Do you think that politically savvy Debbie Dingell would be part of anything that harmed her husband’s political image among his very large Arab constituency?
But what about the Jews who are part of Seeds of Peace and continue to send in thousands of dollars? What about our own misguided Congressman of the Jews here in this area, Joe Knollenberg, who sponsors legislation that gave near a million dollars of US taxpayer money to this outrageous Arab propaganda machine? Does anyone but the naïve or misinformed believe that the objective of the above participants is to bring the kids together? Could it not rather be to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel and persuade the young impressionable and poorly directed Jewish kids that they are on “occupied Arab land” and must go back to New York or the killing fields of Europe from whence they all came?
Out of Control CIA officials used leaks during the election campaign to bash President Bush
By Robert Novak, The Washington Times, November 28, 2004
After President Bush nominated him to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), Rep. Porter Goss walked across the Capitol to meet with a senator he hardly knew and who had criticized him: John McCain. There he received advice confirming his determination to take a course that soon became the talk of Washington.
Mr. McCain told Mr. Goss the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a “dysfunctional organization. It has to be cleaned out?’ That is, the CIA does not perform its missions. Mr. McCain told Mr. Goss that as DCI, he must get rid of the old boys and bring in a new team at Langley. Moreover, Mr. McCain told me last week, “With CIA leaks intended to harm the re-election campaign of the president of the United States, it is not only dysfunctional but a rogue organization?”
Following a mandate from the president for what Mr. McCain advised, Mr. Goss is cleaning house. The reaction from the old boys confirms those harsh adjectives of “dysfunctional” and “rogue?’ The nation’s capital has become an echo chamber of anti-Goss invective with CIA officials painting a picture for selected reporters of a lightweight House member from Florida, a mere case officer at the CIA long ago, provoking high level resignations and dismantling a great intelligence service.
Veteran CIA-watchers such as Mr. McCain regard the Agency as anything but great and commend Mr. Goss for taking courageous steps that previous DCIs avoided. George Friedman, head of the Stratfor private intelligence service, refers to Mr. Goss’s housecleaning as “long overdue: That cleansing process has been inhibited by the ClAs fear factor as an extraordinary leak machine. Its efficiency was attested to when Mr. Goss appointed Michael V. Kostiw, recently staff director of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism, as the CIAs executive director. Before Mr. Kostiw could check in at Langley, the old boys leaked information that Mr. Kostiw was caught shoplifting in 1981 after 10 years as a CIA case officer. Mr. Kostiw then resigned the Agency’s third ranking post, though Mr. Goss retained him as special assistant. Mr. Kostiw’s treatment has enraged people who have known him during a long, successful career in Washington — including John McCain. The senator called Mr. Kostiw “one of the finest, most decent men I have ever met.” The story fed by Mr Goss’s enemies in the Agency is that dedicated career intelligence officers have been replaced by Capitol Hill hacks.
Their real fear is that Mr. Goss will put an end to the CIA running its own national security policy, which in the last campaign resulted in an overt attempt to defeat Mr. Bush for reelection (intensifying after George Tenet left as DCI).
I reported on Sept. 27 that Paul R. Pillar, the CIA’s national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, told a private dinner on the West Coast of secret, unheeded warnings to Mr. Bush about going to war. I learned of this because of leaks from people who attended, but many other senior Agency officials were covertly but effectively campaigning for Sen. John Kerry.
That effort seemed to include “Imperial Hubris” an anonymously published attack on Iraq War policy by CIA analyst Michael Scheuer. He has since left the Agency but he was still on the payroll when the CIA allowed the book to be published. The Washington Post on Election Day quoted Mr. Scheuer as saying CIA officials muzzled him in July only after they realized that he was really criticizing them, not the president. “As long as the book was being used to bash the president,” he said, “they gave me carte blanche to talk to the media. Traditional bipartisanship in intelligence has been the victim, with Democrats cheering the CIA Bush-bashing. Rep. Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, abandoned pretense of bipartisanship, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Senate committee’s vice chairman, never pretended. Both are attacking their former colleague who is now DCI.
Mr. McCain’s use of the word “rogue” carries historical implications. A long, debilitating time of troubles began for the CIA in 1973 after Sen. Frank Church called it “a rogue elephant” that is out of control causing trouble around the world. The current use of the word refers to the intelligence agency playing domestic politics, which is an even more disturbing aberration.
Robert Novak is a nationally syndicated columnist
By Morton Klein
(re-printed from the Detroit Jewish News of December 3, 2004)
Mahmoud Abbas, who has succeeded Yasser Arafat as chairman of the PLO, is no moderate. As co-founder with Arafat of the terrorist Fatah group and as Arafat’s number two-man in the PLO for more than 40 years, Abbas was the architect of numerous mass murder terrorist attacks against Jews.
As prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from April through September 2003, Abbas presided over the PA’s ongoing terrorist war against Israel. During that period, 78 Israelis were murdered and 489 wounded by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
Abbas told the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on March 3, 2003. that when he met with Hamas terror leaders. “We didn’t talk about a break in the armed struggle ... It is our right to resist. ‘The intifada must continue, and it is the right of the Palestinian People to resist and use all possible means in order to defend its presence and existence.”
Abbas said in Cairo on July 23, 2003 that, ‘cracking down on Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all. He offered cabinet positions to leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (NY Times, March 31, 2003; Israel Radio, March 31, 2003). He praised the Arab terrorists imprisoned by Israel as 'political prisoners' and 'heroes' and authorize a book denying that the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews.
Abbas’ attitude toward terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are on the U.S. terrorist list because they have murdered hundreds of Israelis and American, is already clear. Recently, he met with their leaders and invited them to take part in upcoming Palestinian Arab elections. Instead of dismantling and outlawing these terrorists, he is offering them a chance to gain power.
President Bush, in his June 24. 2002, speech about the Middle East, said that the Palestinian Arabs must “elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.” Mahmoud Abbas is not such a leader.
Morton A. Klein, National President, Zionist Organization of America
By Dan Diker
Mikor Rishon, http://www.makorrishon.co.il, November 19, 2004
If last Fridays White House Press conference between U.S. President George W. Bush and visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair is any indication of the U.S administration’s second term policy on the Palestinian track specifically and in the Middle East at large, critics of Bush and his “neo-con’s” - “democracy first" world view could be in for a rough time over the next four years.
The U.S. leader, looking confident as ever, gave his number one European ally an ideological bear hug declaring that he and Blair “share a vision of a free and peaceful democratic Middle East including a fully democratic Palestinian state’.
But Blair too reportedly raised some eyebrows as he emphasized that ‘only via two democratic states living side by side in which human rights and the rule of law are respected could a secure peace be achieved between Palestinians and Israelis.” One administration official observed that Blair arrived in Washington ready to pressure the President on Israel and left sounding just like the President. “An apparently stunned BBC anchor reportedly commented on air that the Bush Blair press conference seemed like “a neo-con love fest.”
According to one U.S. administration official with close ties to the White House, the success of the Bush Blair statement on the Middle East was no coincidence.
Twenty four hours earlier, the source emphasized, Bush met with Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky for what was described as an intensive 65 minute exchange of ideas about freedom, democracy and human rights as the moral architecture of both a reformed Middle East and a better world, Sharansky said earlier this week of his meeting with Bush, “There is one leader in the West who truly believes in the possibility of democracy in the Palestinian Authority as condition for change, and that is President George W. Bush”
Sharansky was in Washington as part of a U.S. tour for his just published book, “The Case for Democracy” which he wrote together with Israeli political analyst Ron Dermer, a close Sharansky advisor. Dermer was last week named Israeli Economic attaché in Israel’s Washington Embassy.
Sources say this was not an ordinary meeting normally set up via formal White House channels months in advance. According to Dermer, Bush’s advisors contacted Sharansky’s publisher and asked for a meeting with the visiting Minister last week after Bush had read much of Sharansky’s book at Camp David the previous weekend. When the President’s National Security Advisor Dr Condoleezza Rice discovered that Sharansky was scheduled to meet the President, she too booked the two Israeli authors for a thirty-five minute meeting at her office.
Dermer recalls seeing the book on Rice’s desk. Rice told him, “The president is already on page 210 of the 286 page book and that means I have got to read it too”.
While Bush’s meeting with Sharansky and co-author Dermer was reported briefly in Israel by Yediot Achronot and the Jerusalem Post, news coverage did not report the extent to which Bush was apparently deeply influenced by the meeting. According to both Sharansky and Dermer, the president showed an intuitive understanding of their books’ central thesis that freedom and democracy will overcome fear, terror tyranny in the Middle East as it has already happened in the former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Japan, fascist Italy, Turkey and other countries.
Dermer said following the meeting “Bush was impressed because Sharansky presented a fully developed idea in complete democratic reform as the pathway to creating lasting peace in the Middle East. Dermer said “Natan and I initially thought we were going in for a five minute photo op with the President, but it ended up being over an hour long meeting of the minds. The President was very warm and engaging’.
One U.S. administration official said that the meeting was between very like-minded individuals who are both viewed as rebels. According to the Jerusalem Post, Sharansky told Bush that ‘very few people in the world believe like you do in the ideal of democracy for all people. You are going against the flow, you are the world’s dissident”.
For his part, Sharansky’s is arguably the former Soviet Union’s most famous Jewish pro-democracy dissident who survived nine years of solitary confinement in Siberia for standing up for human rights before being freed and allowed to immigrate to Israel in 1986.
As a minister in the Sharon government, Sharansky is also identified with the Likud “Rebels” who are working to derail Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Sharansky has long believed and writes in “The Case for Democracy” that Israeli concessions should only be equal to the extent of Palestinians democracy. This was the platform of his own political party as early of 1996 and was heavily criticized by Israel’s right and left wing parties.
Dermer says that the Israeli left needs to understand that peace can’t be achieved with dictators and the Right needs to break away from the idea that Palestinian democracy is impossible to achieve.
Without revealing specifics of their meeting, both Sharansky and Dermer said that the President fully grasped the importance of freedom, democracy and human rights in Palestinian society as preconditions for moving forward on the “Road Map to peace”. Sharanksy said, that Bush accepted the claim that Palestinians can be motivated over time to improve their lives and to free themselves from the fear of Palestinian dictatorship that is dependent on institutionalized hatred of Israel in order to survive.
Sharansky also said that the President also understood what ‘The Case for Democracy” terms the “doublethink” strategies of fear societies by which public opinion, ostensibly backing tyrannical regimes, is supported by keeping the public too frightened to speak out against the very dictatorship that is oppressing them.
What specific stories jogged Bush’s memory? Dermer says Bush was particularly moved by the story in the book about the Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik. Amalrik predicted in 1969 that the Soviet Union would collapse due to the unsustainable burden of physically and psychologically controlling millions of its citizens. Bush reportedly recalled the “unforgettable image in the book of a soldier pointing a gun at a prisoner until the gun becomes too heavy, the soldier’s arms tire, and he is forced to lower his weapon and the prisoner escapes”. Dermer also expresses confidence that the principle will work in the Palestinian equation. “Once people’s lives are anchored in freedom they can never return to fear.” He said.
Is Bush as committed to Middle East Democracy in a second term? Dermer believes Bush is even more committed because now he has a clear mandate to implement his strongly held principles. This appears to be a very different President Bush than the second term U.S. president many believed would succumb to European pressure and force Israeli concessions.
Sharanskys book has also apparently made its mark on other administration officials. Prior to the Bush meeting, several of these officials were having lunch with Sharansky and suggested he emphasize to the President that he resist the temptation to run back to the Road Map too quickly in the face of European pressure to view the upcoming Palestinian elections as the ultimate fulfillment of Palestinian democracy. According to Sharansky, Bush told him that no outside pressure is going to throw him off course President Bush realizes he has a real opportunity now
Does the Bush meeting contain any political message for Prime Minister
Sharon? Sharansky says no. "I was invited by the President of the free world to share my book and my views on freedom. These are ideas I have held for years and they are no surprise to Arik."
1. You may be sending $$ to an organization with which you totally disagree. Example - New Israel Fund!
SUBJ: New Israel Fund Supports Anti-Israel School
Jos. Lerner of IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Jos Lerner reported on a so-called "School for Peace" in Israel that is supported by The New Israel Fund and that promotes anti-Israel sentiments.
This is the same New Israel Fund that once sponsored a touring theatrical group that performed anti-Israel, anti-Jewish skits in schools. Their skits inverted facts and turned history on its head, for example by portraying Jews
committing terrorist acts against Arabs. A tipoff to the nature of the tour group was their request that all Jewish and Israeli symbols be removed from the auditorium of the Boston-area Jewish day school in which the performance was
to be presented. (To his shame, the principal of the school acquiesced to this demand, stripping the room of its Israeli flag and Jewish articles.)
It would appear that a common theme of New Israel Fund projects is a denial of the Jewish character of Israel and the assumption that Arab minority citizens should not have to identify with the State.##
2. Child's Play
The International Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2004
Among 18 Palestinian Arab fugitives arrested on November 4, 2004 was Ahmed, Bintawi, a 15-year-old from Nablus, who had planned to launch a suicide attack in Israel. Bintawl’s arrest came three days after Amer al-Far, 16, from the-Askâr refugee camp near Nablus, blew himself up in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, killing three Israelis and injuring dozens. According to a Shin Bet report obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the use of children in attacks is now common among all the Palestinian terror organizations.
Since the outbreak of violence in September 2000, the number of Palestinian minors involved in tenor has escalated. Excluding Bintawi, 126 minors were involved in planned and executed terror acts since the beginning of 2004, with a total of 309 in the past four years.
Children as young as 11 years old are easily persuaded to join the conflict with assurances that they will gain respect in the next life. Terror organizations then distance the young recruits from their families and schools and subject them to religious and nationalistic indoctrination, the report says.
Besides being influenced by programs broadcast on Palestinian Authority television encouraging them to support jihad, children are taught in schools and summer camps, under the banner of Islam, to back resistance acts against Israel and identify with martyrs. Parents also permit their children to participate in mass rallies in the West Bank and Gaza organized by various tenor organizations. Children are often filmed carrying mock weapons or wearing explosive belts with bandannas tied around their heads, as if dressing up as martyrs.##