Monday, October 31, 2005

  • Monday, October 31, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Jerusalem Newswire, pictures from Hebron News:

The Taliban's 2001 destruction of ancient Buddhas and this year's alleged desecration of numerous Korans by American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba made international headlines and became incidents of global impact.

Friday's spiteful desecration of bibles and Jewish prayer books by “Palestinian” Muslims visiting the biblical Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, however, went virtually unnoticed.

Photographs taken by outraged members of Hebron's Jewish community and posted online showed the torn pages unceremoniously dumped behind the Gutnick Center, which stands in front of the compound built by King Herod over the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The official website of the Jewish Community of Hebron noted the desecration occurred on a day the site was closed to Jews to allow Muslim worshippers to mark the impending conclusion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Hebron News adds:
A Hebron spokesman issued the following statement:

It seems that military and political leaders are more concerned with "Arab sensitivity" as opposed to desecration of Jewish holy books. One can only imagine the response had Arabs discovered 'desecrated Korans' in the vicinity of Ma'arat HaMachpela. It should be remembered that an Israeli woman, Tatiana Soskin, was jailed for two years for 'desecrating' a Koran. It is unheard of that such a desecration should be left unpunished. We demand that Ma'arat HaMachpela be closed to Muslim worship until the culprits responsible for this crime are apprehended, tried and punished.
Hat tip to Israpundit.
  • Monday, October 31, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
There are now hundreds of articles from news sources on the Web talking about the fourth straight day of riots in France, and almost all of them bend over backwards to avoid mentioning that the rioters are Muslim. (There are a couple of elliptical references to "unease over tear gas in a mosque" or "meeting with the president of the Muslim community" without exactly explaining why.)

Can you imagine a similar situation involving the Amish or Mormons or Chassidim or Hindus that would not mention the religion of the rioters when they all have a religion in common?
  • Monday, October 31, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Something is not adding up....
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
IRAN has promised a reward of $10,000 (�5,600) to Islamic Jihad if the militant group launches rockets from the West Bank towards Tel Aviv, a senior Palestinian intelligence official said last week.

Speaking in his Ramallah office, the official produced a fat wad of $100 notes which he said had been confiscated from a pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad activist.

The money was said to have gone from Iran to Damascus, the Syrian capital, from where Ibrahim Shehadeh, Islamic Jihad’s head of overseas operations, transferred it to the West Bank.

So far, so good, although seeing anything pro-active from the PA in fighting rocket attacks is pretty rare. Then the article strays into things that are much harder to believe...

According to the intelligence official, the Palestinian Authority has located workshops where “Al-Quds” (Jerusalem) rockets are being made and has given their co-ordinates to the Israelis. “We understand they destroyed some of them,” he said.

So the PA knows where some of these "workshops" are and rather than go and blow them up themselves, they tell Israel to do it? In territory they consider theirs? This is stretching credibility quite a bit now.

Especially since the PA never hesitates to condemn Israel every time there is an airstrike against rockets and terrorists.

Israeli intelligence officials said that Iran was threatening the country on three fronts: through long-range missiles based in Lebanon; through terrorist networks around the world; and through the new arsenals of the West Bank.

Islamic Jihad is the only Palestinian group that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Based in Damascus, it has an annual budget of several million dollars — provided by Iran. Ramadan Shalah, its leader, has a PhD in economics from Durham University. The organisation’s military arm is the “Al-Quds Brigades”.

OK, now we are in lefty fantasy land. Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah Al Aqsa, and the many splinter groups all of a sudden no longer call for the destruction of Israel?

Fact checking at the Times seems to be nonexistent.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

  • Sunday, October 30, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
If the subject matter wasn't so serious, this stuff would be hilarious.
A morning daily said that harsh international reaction to remarks of the Iranian president against the 'Zionist regime' was a pre-staged scenario to put further pressures on Iran.

Commenting on the reactions of the world leaders to the speech of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Israeli regime, 'Iran News' said, "Some analysts believe this episode to have been a pre-coordinated move by Western media and governments to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic".

It added that the said analysts described the international community's reaction "as impolite and unprofessional".
Yes, the Iranians who rallied by the millions chanting "Death to Israel! Death to America!" are the arbiters of professionalism and politeness.

Meanwhile, Iran's Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel
declared that Zionism is synonymous with aggression, occupation, crime and injustice.
Let's do a quick reality check:

Number of Arabs killed by Israel since 1948: a generous guess would be 50,000, probably less
Number of Arabs killed by Iran during the Iran/Iraq war 1980-1988: 200,000-300,000

Friday, October 28, 2005

  • Friday, October 28, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
I've been very impressed with the IRIS Blog, which has become a one-stop shop for Israel news and commentary. Here is a typically excellent entry about media bias:

AP Sets Record for Most Bias Crammed into Smallest Space

Normally brevity is the rule for newspaper captions. There is a problem with this photo, however. A typical person would interpret this photo as "Iranian Children Raised on Diet of Violent Anti-Semitism." So the caption writer needed a little less than 1,000 words to attempt to undo it:

Iranian school boys shoot with their toy guns at an Israeli flag as it burns during an anti-Israeli rally marking 'Al-Quds Day' (Jerusalem Day), to support the Palestinian cause, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Tens of thousands of Iranians staged anti-Israel protests across the country Friday and repeated calls by their ultraconservative president who repeated the words of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran's Islamic revolution, by saying: 'Israel must be wiped off the map.'
"Toy guns"
Here are hundreds of examples of Muslim children brandishing what caption writers have implausibly labeled "toys." In one particularly humorous example, the caption writer claims that the obviously real gun is "unloaded."

"To Support the Palestinian Cause"
Lest you think they were motivated by the extermination of Jews or Israel as Iran's president explicitly declared yesterday, the caption claims they are actually simply in favor of a Palestinian state.

Calling for the extermination of an entire nation needs to be linked to campaigning for tax cuts, as this post documents.

"Who Repeated the Words of Khomeini"
This is the spin of the Iranian Foreign Minister, who dealt with the outrage against the president's call for Israel's extermination by claiming "that Ahmadinejad had merely quoted what the late leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said more than 26 years ago." A large number of news stories immediately followed suit and posted those words as fact without mentioning that it was Iranian spin. Here is a small sample.

  • Friday, October 28, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Another story that the mainstream media will not touch.
"The Christians here are perceived as easy prey," complains a prominent Christian businessman. "In recent years there has been an upsurge in the number of attacks on Christians in Bethlehem."

Muslim and Christian political leaders in the city strongly deny the existence of an organized anti-Christian campaign, insisting that the violence is mostly the result of "personally motivated" disputes that are unrelated to religion.

Yet off the record, many Christians in Bethlehem who were interviewed during the past week expressed deep concern over increased attacks by Muslims on members of their community. Moreover, most of them said that they were seriously considering moving to the US, Canada and Latin America, where many of their relatives already live.

Jihad, a Christian merchant from the nearby town of Beit Jala, who has been dealing in antique furniture for over 30 years, says he is planning to leave for good to Chile, where at least 80,000 of his townsfolk now live.
His friend, George, who used to own a souvenir shop, says he's planning to move next week to Peru, where his brothers and sisters have been living for the past 15 years. The two, who asked to be identified only by their first names, are extremely cautious when the issue of Muslim-Christian relations is raised. "It's true that there have been a number of cases of violence against Christians, but generally speaking the situation is not that bad," George stresses.

Other Christians in Beit Jala disagree. According to a local physician, the plight of the Christians has been aggravated over the past decade in general and since the outbreak of the intifada in particular. "After the Palestinian Authority arrived here in 1995, many Muslim families from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank have moved to Beit Jala," he says. "What's worrying is that some of them have illegally seized privately-owned lands. When one of the Christian owners refused to sell his land to a senior Palestinian security official, he was arrested for a number of days."

In another case, a 60-year-old Christian man was briefly detained by one of the Palestinian security forces because he had forbidden his daughter to date a Muslim security officer. Other Christians who tried to stop Fatah gunmen in Beit Jala from firing into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo in the first years of the intifada later reported that they had been beaten or threatened by the gunmen.

The same gunmen are also responsible for the rape and murder of two Christian teenage sisters from the Amr family. The assailants then claimed that the sisters had been murdered because they were "prostitutes" and had been "collaborating" with Israeli security forces - a claim that has been strongly denied by the victims' relatives and many residents of the town. "The gangsters murdered the two sisters so that they would not tell anyone about the rape," says a family member. "Some of the murderers were later killed by the Israeli army, but others are now living in Europe after they had sought refuge in the Church of Nativity. It's absurd that Muslim men who rape and murder Christian girls are given political asylum in Christian countries like Ireland, Spain and Italy."

Last week Beit Jala was once again the scene of religious tensions after a Christian woman complained that she had been harassed by Muslim men from the village of Beit Awwa in the Hebron area. "Such incidents have become a daily phenomenon," says Mary, who runs a small grocery in the town. "Many Christian families have sent their daughters abroad for fear they would come under attack by Muslim men."

Earlier this year tensions between Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem reached a peak after a Christian family complained that their 16-year-old daughter had been kidnapped by a Muslim man. Following the intervention of senior Palestinian officials and Muslim leaders, the girl was reunited with her family after spending a few days in a village near Hebron. With the help of American diplomats, the girl was flown immediately to the US to begin a new life with relatives and friends.

Some Christians point a finger at the foreign media and diplomatic missions in Israel, accusing them of ignoring their predicament for "political" reasons. "Although most of the foreign journalists and diplomats are Christians, they don't seem to pay enough attention to what's happening to the Christians in Bethlehem," says Bishara, a Christian tourist guide. "They're obviously afraid of damaging their relations with the Palestinian Authority."

While it's almost impossible to find a Christian who's prepared to go public in airing such grievances, Samir Qumsiyeh, a journalist from Beit Sahur, is a notable exception. Last month he was quoted by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera as saying that Christians were being subjected to rape, kidnapping, extortion and expropriation of land and property.

Qumsiyeh, who was not available this week for an interview because he was out of the country, heads a local TV station called Al-Mahd [Nativity]. In a daring step, Qumsiyeh drew up a list of 93 cases of anti-Christian violence between 2000 and 2004.

"This file is incomplete and it's not up-to-date," he told the Italian newspaper. "Look at the case of Rawan William Mansour, a 17-year-old girl from Bet Sahur. She was raped two years ago by four members of Fatah. Even though the family protested, none of the four was ever arrested. Because of the shame her family was forced to move to Jordan.

"Almost all 140 cases of expropriation of land in the last three years were committed by militant Islamic groups and members of the Palestinian police." Qumsiyeh said he was now preparing a book on the conditions of the Christian minority. "I will call it 'Racism in Action,'" he says. "The racism against us is gaining pace in staggering ways. In 1950 the Christian population in Bethlehem was 75%. Today we have hardly more than 12% Christians. If the situation continues, we won't be here any more in 20 years."
  • Friday, October 28, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Kabatiya, south of Jenin, Wednesday night to celebrate the suicide bombing in Hadera, which was carried out by local resident Hassan Abu Zeid.

Chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great), some 3,000 people, including Fatah and Islamic Jihad gunmen, converged on Abu Zeid's home to "congratulate" his family on the success of the attack, which killed five people and wounded more than 30.

They also called for more suicide attacks in Israel.

"With blood, with soul, we redeem Hassan," the crowd chanted. "Oh Jihad, Jihad, give us more [suicide] bombings. Oh [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, prepare more coffins."

Shortly after the attack, Islamic Jihad activists shouted through loudspeakers in the town that the suicide bomber was Abu Zeid, 26, a member of the organization's armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades. They said the attack was carried out to avenge the killing earlier this week of top Islamic Jihad operative Luai Sa'adi in Tulkarm.

Abu Zeid's mother, Um Hassan, said she was proud of her son for what he did. Her husband, Ahmed, a blacksmith who was later arrested by the IDF, greeted the well-wishers with tears in his eyes.

"I'm proud of my son and hope that he will enter heaven," the mother declared.

"We're all your sons," shouted one of the men as several women ululated in an expression of joy.

I'm sure that the counter-rally expressing hope of peace with Israel and an end to bombing Jews will attract at least that many people in every small Arab West Bank town, since the Palestinian Arabs are known for being so peaceful at heart - and "peace" protesters identify so strongly with the Palestinian cause.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

  • Thursday, October 27, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seems to have interesting company in his desire to wipe Israel off the map, as this article from the March, 29, 1939 Palestine Post explains.

People at the time didn't take the Nazi pronouncements seriously, either.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
By now most people have read of the comments from the Iranian president saying that Israel should be wiped off the map, along with the lukewarm reactions from Germany and France.

But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been busy with other comments lately as well. He ridiculed the West's response to Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying "At first, they made a lot of noise about it, but gradually they were made to sit down quietly” and insisting Iran:
...will resume work on the full nuclear fuel cycle, which includes uranium enrichment, adding that his government “seriously supported” the resumption of nuclear activities at the Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan “and will stand by this decision”.

“The Islamic Republic reached the conclusion that continuing the status quo was harmful to our national security”, he said.

“The more we retreated, the more they stepped forward, to the extent that Mohammad ElBaradei, the secretary general of the [International Atomic Energy] Agency [IAEA] recently told us, ‘They don’t want you to have nuclear technology’.”, Ahmadinejad said, referring to the now suspended negotiations between Iran and the European trio of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

“Why should we give in?” the ultra-Islamist president asked. “Where does it say in our laws that we have to beg the Europeans for our rights?”

Ahmadinejad expressed confidence that the West will be forced to retreat in the face of the Iranian regime’s uncompromising stance, and he indicated that his government was emboldened by what it perceived as the West’s “feeble” reaction.

“God willing, the West will accept our position since Iran’s political power in the world is very great and in certain regions unrivalled. We need the world but we have shown that we can achieve development without them”.

“The British asked us in New York not to bring up this matter. This shows the West is very susceptible to blows and more feeble than it pretends”, the hard-line President said, referring to meetings he had with British officials at the United Nations in September.

The hard-line president dismissed speculations of a military strike on Iran.

“If the West was capable of striking a blow at us, it would not inform us in advance. If you see that they are not hitting us, be sure that they are not capable of doing it, and will never be capable of doing it”.

The hard-line president added that the West was “very angry” at Iran, but “that doesn’t bother us. We say that they can take this anger with them to their graves”.

Ahmadinejad said the West was opposed to the very existence of the Islamic Republic. “If this [nuclear] problem is resolved, then they will bring up the issue of human rights. If the human rights issue is resolved, then they will probably bring up the issue of animal rights”.

“We told them that everything has now changed”, he said.

“As time goes by, we will continue to move up step by step and we will not back down. When we start the fuel cycle, no doubt, everything will become different”.
Also, note that his remarks calling for the genocide of Jews in Israel were spoken at a conference called "World Without Zionism." Guess what last year's conference was called?

Yup: World without America”.
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
That Palestinian economy must be doing great in order to be able to undertake such a project.
The Palestinian Authority, which in recent years has been facing a severe financial crisis, has decided to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in build a large and magnificent mausoleum for former PA chairman Yasser Arafat.

The new stately structure will replace the current burial site, which is located in the Mukata "presidential" compound in Ramallah. The project is financed by the PA Ministry of Finance, which has refused to reveal the costs. However, sources here estimated the cost of the project at over one million dollars.

Monday, October 24, 2005

  • Monday, October 24, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
The official Palestinian transcript of Mahmoud Abbas' Rose Garden photo-op with President Bush includes this howler of a quote from the Holocaust denier:
"In addition to withdrawal of the Israeli forces to positions prior to September 28, 2000, with the removal of the roadblocks, which unfortunately turned the lives of Palestinians into hardship, suffering, humiliation and also, there is a very important sensitive issue, which is the release of prisoners of freedom from Israeli jails."
Oh yes, people who managed to kill Jewish babies are heroes who should be released. A woman who tried to blow up the Israeli hospital that treated her as a humanitarian gesture is a "prisoner of freedom." The most depraved, sickening and racist people on the planet are those who are admired by the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

And President Bush replied:
"I strongly support your rejection of terror and your commitment to what you have called one authority, one law and one gun."
Someone buy this man a clue. He may understand Islamic terror better than almost all Democrats but he seems to have bought into the Palestinian narrative rather than realize that they are indistinguishable from every other Islamic terrorist who threatens every other country on the planet.

Much more in this excellent article by Bret Stephens.
  • Monday, October 24, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Rather than fight them, Palestinian officials have been negotiating deals with those behind a wave of kidnappings, and the lenience is worsening the chaos left behind after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, according to a senior Palestinian security official.

Citing the example set by Iraqi insurgents, gunmen are increasingly resorting to kidnappings to get jobs, break relatives out of jail or settle personal scores. Gaza and the West Bank suffered 31 abductions in August and 44 in September, according to official statistics.
The security official requested anonymity, saying he was afraid to go public in the dangerously charged atmosphere in Gaza. He complained that the readiness to negotiate with kidnappers was encouraging crime. In a further twist, many of those involved in kidnappings have ties to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group linked to Abbas' ruling Fatah movement.

Other hostage-takers even serve in the security forces.
  • Monday, October 24, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Zev at Israel Perspectives reminds us all that while people are debating whether the Hamas terrorists should participate in Palestinian Arab elections, the PLO charter that is still in effect today and on the "Palestinian National Authority" website is no less compromising.
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit. (Ze'ev: That would include all of present day Israel, as well as Jordan).

Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it...

Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution...

Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine... It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.

Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

Article 22: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress.

A very similar document, the "Fatah Constitution", is available on the Fatah website (remember, Mahmoud Abbas is the head of Fatah:)
Article (3) The Palestinian Revolution plays a leading role in liberating Palestine.

Article (4) The Palestinian struggle is part and parcel of the world-wide struggle against Zionism, colonialism and international imperialism.

Article (5) Liberating Palestine is a national obligation which necessities the materialistic and human support of the Arab Nation.

Article (6) UN projects, accords and reso, or those of any individual cowhich undermine the Palestinian people's right in their homeland are illegal and rejected.

Article (7) The Zionist Movement is racial, colonial and aggressive in ideology, goals, organisation and method.

Article (8) The Israeli existence in Palestine is a Zionist invasion with a colonial expansive base, and it is a natural ally to colonialism and international imperialism.

Article (9) Liberating Palestine and protecting its holy places is an Arab, religious and human obligation.

Article (12) Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.

Article (13) Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city, and protecting the citizens' legal and equal rights without any racial or religious discrimination.
(17) Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine.

Article (19) Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.

Article (22) Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine, as well as any project intended to liquidate the Palestinian case or impose any international mandate on its people.

Remember: These are the "moderates!" All members of the Palestinian Authority, including the ones who wear suits and show up on TV all the time, are also members of this organization, and not once have I heard one of them explicitly deny that they believe in these principles.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

  • Saturday, October 22, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Sick, twisted bastards.

Let's all hold our breath as the condemnations and criticisms come pouring in from the Arab world and the media.
Five wanted terror suspects have been arrested in overnight searches conducted by the IDF in a village north of Nablus in the early hours of Saturday.

In a house where the suspects were hiding 10 Kg (about 22 pounds) of explosives were found. An extensive search of the house revealed that the wife of one of the suspects had hidden a hand-grenade under the toddler she was holding in her arms.

The army confirmed that the suspects’ apprehension almost certainly deterred a deadly attack against Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The details of the operation were described in a briefing to Ynet by Lieutenant General Arik Khen: “A brigade was sent on an operation to arrest five wanted Palestinians affiliated with Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, following reports that they possess ammunitions. During our searches we found a suite case loaded with 10 Kg of explosives which was hidden in a wardrobe in the house of one of the suspects.”

General Khen described how the suspect’s wife suspiciously carried a baby, which prompted soldiers to search her. “We felt something wasn’t right. We demanded to search the baby and we found she was carrying a grenade that she attempted to hide under the baby,” he said.

“I can firmly confirm that an attack against soldiers and civilians has been thwarted. We are speaking about a large quantity of explosives found in three-storey building which was badly damaged when police sappers detonated the suitcase,” Khen said.

The IDF general added that “terror activities haven’t stopped a minute” saying that troops are on duty in Palestinian cities and villages everynight.

Eleven Hamas activists were arrested in the West Bank town of Hebron overnight Saturday.

UPDATE: Although YNet reported this around 9 AM EDT on Saturday, it has not been reported in any non-Israeli news source yet.

After all, dog bites man isn't news - the world expects Palestinians to have no regard for the lives of their children. Which is why they can get away with it.

UPDATE 2: AP picked up on the story, adding that the woman denies knowing there was a grenade in her jacket pocket. Not a trace of cynicism about her claim in that report by Ali Daraghmeh.

Friday, October 21, 2005

  • Friday, October 21, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
A welcome development, where Christian Zionists decided that the proper response to the ugly divestment drives from PCUSA and others is to increase investment in Israel rather than fight the people who use "divestment" to mask their Jew-hatred.
Jerusalem ( - Christian Zionists are teaming up to encourage greater investment in Israel. They're hoping to counteract a campaign by a pro-Palestinian group, which has encouraged Christian denominations in the USA to divest from Israel.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's is holding its annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem this week. The ICEJ -- in conjunction with the Brussels-based International Christian Chambers of Commerce (ICCC) and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce -- urged Christians to invest in Israel at a press conference on Thursday.

The weeklong ICEJ conference coincides with the Jewish holiday of Succoth. This year more than 5,500 Christians -- the largest number in the organization's 26-year history -- from more than 70 nations are attending the festival.

(Christian Zionists believe that the Bible promises the Land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance.)

The "invest in Israel" initiative comes at a time when a number of churches in the U.S. have chosen to divest. Rather than fight the divestment campaign by lobbying individual companies or churches, the ICEJ and the ICCC are taking a positive approach, said ICEJ Executive Director Malcolm Hedding.

"In light of the troubling church divestment campaign as well as the ongoing rebound in the Israeli economy, our ministry has committed to redoubling its efforts to promote Christian investment in Israel," Hedding said.

It is entirely possible that the "divestment" campaign will result in a net increase in investments in Israel.
  • Friday, October 21, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
A doozy:
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told Israeli television that Hamas' running in elections is tantamount to giving up weapons.

Erekat told Channel 2 television, "No one can use guns and no one can incite verbally and no one can use mosques. So the election law provides that those persons and those factions who run for elections must understand that only through peaceful means can they make changes."

Other recent quotes of note from the "doctor":
  • Friday, October 21, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Benny Morris reviews the Atlas of Palestine 1948 and finds (surprise, surprise) that the Palestinian author consistently lies. Considering that he is writing in The New Republic, his bluntness in calling the Palestinian author a liar is almost startling. And while Morris has contributed much to the Israeli left's revisionist history of Israel's birth, no one can claim that he is intellectually dishonest. Here are some large and significant excerpts of his review:
Atlases are never as neutral as they seem. Buried deep in this giant handsome atlas is a statement of purpose: "Firstly the obliteration of Palestine history and lost memory (place names, records, etc.) can be reversed and re-recorded.... This Atlas ... is a step in the right direction. Secondly, the reconstruction of the Palestinian landscape is quite feasible from [sic] physical point of view." The second point defines, if somewhat obscurely, the book's political goal, which is to delegitimate Zionism and Israel and to promote the re-Palestinization of Palestine/the Land of Israel, through a process that includes the return of the refugees and the dismantling of the Jewish state.

To recover Palestinian history and memory, Salman Abu Sitta, a former member of the Palestine National Council and a leading proponent of the return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel, attempts to re-create Palestine as it was before the Nakba (catastrophe, in Arabic), or the war of 1947-1949...

The book is divided in two: a hundred-page General Review, in which Abu Sitta narrates the historical background and the war of 1948 and describes aspects of the economy of British Mandate Palestine, bolstered by myriad tables and graphs; and then the Atlas itself, with almost three hundred pages of maps....

The maps are straightforward and scientific. Far less so is the historical and descriptive narrative that precedes them. Abu Sitta's narrative is unabashedly propagandistic and often factually wrong. His promotion of the Palestinian case is relentless and his vilification of Zionism and Israel merciless. And he does not shrink from chicanery and manipulation of the highest (or lowest) order. The devil is in the details, and when it comes to numbers Abu Sitta is quite a devil.

He is forever inflating and, correspondingly, deflating numbers--Arab and Jewish population figures, Arab and Jewish landholdings. The presumption seems to be that the fewer Jews or the less Jewish-owned land in Palestine at any given time, the less legitimate are the Jewish national claims. So on page eleven we find Abu Sitta asserting that the country's population in 1914-1915 consisted of 602,000 Muslims, 81,000 Christians, and 38,754 Jews. Past histories have asserted that there were between 60,000 and 85,000 Jews in Palestine at the time. Abu Sitta gives a reference for his "38,754"--page ten in Justin McCarthy's The Population of Palestine, a classic work on Palestine's demography during late Ottoman and British Mandate times. And, indeed, 38,754 appears in Table 1.4D in McCarthy. But then, on pages twenty-three and twenty-four, McCarthy re-calibrates the official Ottoman Government statistics, taking account of permanent "tourists," and so on--and concludes that "the total Jewish population of Palestine in 1914 was thus approximately 60,000."

Is this mistake a fluke? Did the Palestinian researcher simply overlook some relevant passages? I'm afraid not. The mendacity here is systematic. There are dozens of cases in which there is no correspondence between Abu Sitta's assertions in the text and the references that he purportedly bases them on. On page sixty, he tells us: "There were massacres in 1948 [at] al-Tira and Qazaza. In al-Tira old and infirm men and women were burnt alive by [Israelis] pouring gasoline over them." He refers us to his footnote 230: "About 30-50 old villagers were burnt alive. See Table 3.2." We turn to Table 3.2, which lists 205 alleged Israeli War Crimes, where it says, under the heading Tira--"28 al-Tira villagers who sought refuge in 'Ayn Ghazal burned alive there." The source for this is given as "[Walid] Khalidi, [All That Remains], 198, UNTSO." But in All That Remains, Khalidi's encyclopedic survey of the Arab villages depopulated and destroyed in 1948, it says this: "The Secretary General of the Arab League reported that 28 refugees from al-Tira were burned alive there in late July. But a United Nations observer [from UNTSO] visited the area on 28 July and found 'no evidence to support claims of a massacre,' according to UN Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte."

Abu Sitta practices a similar deceit in relation to the Arab al Samniyya tribe in western Galilee, Number 192 in Table 3.2: "30 Oct. 1948: Operation Hiram: emptied the village; extensive looting in and around the villages; several hundred taken as prisoners and several hundred killed." He again cites "Khalidi, pp. 5-6." (Note Abu Sitta's almost imperceptible switch from "village" to "villages," and his reference first to prisoners and then to "several hundred killed," implying, perhaps, a slaughter of POWs.) But a look at the relevant passage in Khalidi reveals a different picture. Khalidi writes, under "Arab al Samniyya":

Safsaf, some 25 kms. to the east of Arab al Samniyya ... fell before dawn on 29 October 1948; on 30 October it [Safsaf] was the scene of one of several massacres committed during the operation [Hiram] ... The following day, an Israeli army spokesman, quoted in The New York Times, said that several hundred of the area's defenders had been killed and another several hundred taken prisoner.

For Abu Sitta, this is proof of a massacre at Arab al Samniyya.

In general, Abu Sitta is eager to inflate the number of Jewish atrocities in 1948. (He never mentions Arab atrocities.) But his table of "205 [Jewish] War Crimes" (Table 3.2) mostly refers to the destruction of houses and Arab deaths in battle; only a fraction refer to real atrocities. And the list brims with hyperbole and errors. In Number 193, under "Azazma" (a Negev Bedouin tribe), he writes: "Jan. 1949, People were shot by machineguns and from helicopters"; but Israel possessed no helicopters. Though this is an atlas about 1948, the killing of British troops and alleged atrocities committed in the 1950s and even the 1960s are thrown in for good (or bad) measure, merely to inflate numbers.

Abu Sitta is similarly unreliable about landholdings. He asserts that "over 92 percent of the land held by Israel today was confiscated from Palestinians"; and that "Arabs and other non-Jews" owned 24,670,000 dunams, and the Jews 1,514,000 dunams, of Palestine's land surface. He cites the British Mandate government's classic Survey of Palestine, II, Table 2, page 566 as his source. But he doesn't tell his readers that the category "Arab and other non-Jewish" owners includes state lands, and that the Survey from 1946, and the Supplement to Survey of Palestine from 1947, state that only 5.2 million dunams were actually owned by Jews and Arabs. The rest (mostly in the Negev) was state land. Hence, in reality, Jews owned about 6 to 7 percent of Palestine's land surface, and the Arabs owned around 20 percent, and the rest was public or state-owned. And, given that no Palestinian Arab state was established, Israel was Mandate Palestine's successor state and heir to the state lands. Abu Sitta also fails to tell his readers that many if not most Palestinian notable families, including the Husseinis, Nashashibis, al Alamis, Dajanis, Abd al Hadis, and so on--the leaders of the Palestinian national movement--sold land to the Jews, and that the meagerness of Zionist purchases was largely dictated by a lack of funds, not by any Arab indisposition to sell.

For Abu Sitta, the story of Zionism, and of the Zionist-Arab conflict, begins with the Balfour Declaration of November 1917, when the British sold what he regards as the Palestinian Arab patrimony down the river. He makes no mention of the three-thousand-year connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel; of the pogroms in Russia in the early 1880s; or of Arab harassment--and occasional murder--of the Zionist settlers before 1917. He then nimbly flits over the mass Arab attacks (or pogroms) against the settlers in 1920, 1921, and 1929, calling them "clashes" and "incidents." In the last of these, unmentioned by Abu Sitta, 133 Jews were murdered, 66 of them defenseless ultra-orthodox Jews in Hebron knifed and axed by an Arab mob.

From reading this Atlas, the reader will not know that it was the Palestinian Arab onslaught on the Jewish community in Palestine in November to December 1947 that provoked Jewish counter-violence, which then triggered the Arab exodus; and that it was the follow-up invasion of the country by the armies of the surrounding Arab states in May to June 1948 that turned what might have been an ephemeral phenomenon into a still larger tragedy, consolidating and finalizing, as it were, the refugee status of the fleeing communities. Instead Abu Sitta tells a different story: first, that "the idea of population transfer had always been a major component of Zionist theory and practice"; and second, that the Jews may have danced deliriously in the streets on November 29, 1947, when the news broke of the U.N. General Assembly endorsement of partition, but in reality they always wanted and aimed for the creation of a Jewish state encompassing the whole of the Land of Israel and had always planned for the expulsion of the Arab inhabitants.

...The reader will come away from this Atlas believing that the Zionists in 1947-1949 unleashed a pre-planned campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against hapless Palestinian Arab villagers and townspeople, who were simply sitting at home embroidering folksy shirts.

As to the first assertion, Abu Sitta refers the reader (footnote forty-three) to works by the Israeli Arab historian Nur Masalha, who has indeed always argued that the Zionist movement, from the first, intended to expel the Arabs and pre-planned the 1948 expulsion. But the history of the idea of "transfer" among the Zionist leaders is more nuanced. ...More often and more consistently, from 1881-1947, the Zionist leaders spoke of overcoming the problem of the Arab majority by massive Jewish immigration, possibly coupled with partition, so that the area allotted for Jewish statehood would have a Jewish majority. "Transfer" was never adopted as the platform of the Zionist movement or of any of its main political parties. Nor did the Yishuv enter the 1948 war with a plan or policy of expulsion. Indeed, as late as March 24, 1948, Israel Galili, chief of the Haganah National Command, issued a secret blanket order to all units to abide, in their behavior toward the Arab communities inside the designated Jewish state areas, by the Zionist movement's long-standing policy of co-existence and mutual respect for life and property. Similarly, the powerful settlement executives, when planning in secret sessions from December 1947 to January 1948 the future rural development of the Jewish state, explicitly brushed aside all thought of transferring the Arab minority out of the Jewish state. The protocols of their deliberations are available and open to scholars, as is Galili's order--if only Palestinian historians and geographers would deign to visit the archives in their "research." (This Atlas parades several hundred footnotes, but none indicates that Abu Sitta ever visited an archive.)

As to the second assertion, that the Jews never really accepted partition, it is an outright falsehood. It is true that in 1937, in response to the Peel recommendations, the Zionist leadership, while formally accepting the principle of partition, was ambivalent, with Ben-Gurion secretly hoping that acceptance would enable the Zionists to take over all of Palestine, in stages, down the road. But in 1947, following the Holocaust, the mainstream of the Zionist movement was willing to take whatever history had to offer, and the Jewish Agency Executive, the Yishuv's "government," accepted the U.N. partition plan, and the enthusiasm of the dancing crowds in the streets was genuine. To undermine this picture, Abu Sitta trots out a series of contrary quotations by Ben-Gurion--but they are all from statements made or letters written in 1937-1938, in response to the Peel recommendations, in completely different circumstances. Abu Sitta does not tell his readers this, and implies that the statements were a response to the 1947 partition plan. This is chicanery.

But let us return to Abu Sitta's brief acknowledgements that a war--which for the Jewish community in Palestine was a war for survival--was actually going on in 1948. Here is his description of the war's beginning:

The UN recommendation to divide Palestine into two states heralded a new period of conflict and suffering in Palestine ... Palestinians declared a three-day general strike on December 2, 1947 in opposition to the plan, which they viewed as illegal and a further attempt to advance western interests in the region regardless of the cost to the native population. The day after the UN adopted Resolution 181 ... the Zionist leadership called upon all Jews in Palestine aged 17-25 to register for military service. David Ben-Gurion ... immediately put "Plan C" (Gimel), finalized in May 1946, into action.... Plan C ... aimed to put pressure on the local Palestinian population.... The [Jews] had 185,000 able-bodied males aged 16-50, mostly military trained.... The Palestinians had about 2,500 militia men.... They had old rifles, few machine guns, no artillery and no tanks ... no central command and no wireless communications. At best they were only able to mount defensive operations, rushing to a village after cries of help.... In December 1947, the Haganah attacked the Arab quarters in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa, killing 35 Arabs.... In the first three months of 1948, Jewish terrorists carried out numerous operations, blowing up buses and Palestinian homes. Even at this stage, early signs of ethnic cleansing became apparent.

This is a dishonest account. A more accurate description would go something like this: the U.N. General Assembly voted by more than a two-thirds majority in favor of partition and the establishment of Jewish and Arab states. The Palestinians and the Arab states rejected the resolution and vowed to prevent its implementation. Throughout the Arab world the cry went up for "jihad." On November 30, 1947, the day after the partition vote, Arab gunmen ambushed two Jewish buses near Petah Tikva, killing seven passengers and wounding others, and Arab snipers began firing from Jaffa into Tel Aviv's streets, killing a passerby and wounding others. These attacks marked the start of the war. The Arab Higher Committee, the Palestinian Arab community's "government," called for a general strike, in the course of which an Arab mob poured out of Jerusalem's Old City and looted and torched the New Commercial District. The civil war had begun.

The Jewish Agency hoped the violence would blow over, and for ten days the Haganah remained completely on the defensive. But with the British failing to suppress the disorganized Arab onslaught, the Haganah began to mobilize on December 9. The Haganah, a national organization with a unified command structure, had 35,000 members, and the two dissident organizations, the Irgun and the Lehi, had another 3,500 men between them. None had artillery or tanks. From then on, Haganah (and the Irgun and Lehi) units began to retaliate following Arab attacks. These reprisals, especially those by the dissident Irgun and Lehi organizations, which were often terroristic, contributed to the snowball effect and helped to widen the conflagration.

The Palestinian Arabs--owing to disunity and incompetence, not to goodwill or pacifism--had never managed to put together a national militia, or to arm themselves properly. Palestinian military power consisted of separate village militias, roving armed bands that attacked Jewish settlements and convoys, and then, from January 1948, four thousand troops, with artillery, of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), who infiltrated the country from Syria after being trained and armed by the Arab League. This hodgepodge of irregulars managed by late March 1948 to halt Jewish convoy traffic and to besiege, and to mortally threaten, isolated Jewish communities, notably Jerusalem. By then, tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews, fearing war's fury, had moved out of embattled or vulnerable urban and rural areas. For the Palestinians, this marked the start of the refugee exodus. (Incidentally, Plan C, never implemented, was defensive, and designed only to thwart Arab attacks on Jewish settlements and Jewish traffic.)

Between November 1947 and March 1948, the Jews remained strategically on the defensive, and did not conquer or destroy Arab villages. (There were two exceptions, Qisariya and Arab Sukrir.) Things changed radically in early April 1948: the Haganah, with its back to the wall, especially in Jerusalem and along the roads, and facing imminent invasion by the Arab states' armies, switched to the offensive, and within six weeks overran Arab areas, including Jaffa and (Arab) Haifa, and defeated the Palestinian militias, inducing chaos and mass flight. The Jewish militias in 1948 never "blew up buses" (except empty ones), as Abu Sitta says--but it is a nice propagandistic touch, given the reality of the past few years, in which Palestinian suicide bombers have frequently targeted crowded Jewish buses.

The figure 185,000 for Jewish troops at the start of 1948 is preposterous. The Israeli army, the IDF, at its maximal mobilization, reached 110,000 at the start of 1949. In truth, the forces in Palestine during the civil war half of 1948 (November 1947 to mid-May 1948), were more or less evenly matched in terms of armed manpower. The roughly eight hundred Arab villages and towns of Palestine had, between them, some 25,000 to 30,000 armed men (albeit with inadequate ammunition stockpiles). Add to this the reasonably well-armed roving bands and the ALA, and one gets a force about equal to the Haganah's. The Haganah probably had fewer arms, but they were better munitioned.

But the real difference lay in organization and mentality. The Jews were relatively well organized, and thought and acted like a nation. The Palestinians were not organized, and mostly acted out of a village-centered mentality: there was no national mobilization; each village fought alone, and fell alone, and those not engaged kept their distance from the trouble. The Palestinians had only themselves to blame for their poor preparation and performance in 1948.

As with the Palestinian onslaught on the Yishuv in November to December 1947, so with the onslaught of the Arab states' armies on Israel in mid-May 1948--we are treated to half-truths and downright lies. "None" of the Arab invading armies, Abu Sitta tells us, "had the intention to exceed the limits of the Arab state in the Partition Plan.... Syrian forces ... tried and failed to capture two Israeli settlements south of Tiberias.... The Arab Legion [Jordan's army] maintained defensive positions in the Old City of Jerusalem.... [The] Egyptian [Army] ... like the other Arab forces, at no point ... attempt[ed] to enter the designated Jewish state."

Some of what he says here is true: the Syrian Army did fail to take the kibbutzim Degania Aleph and Degania Bet on May 20; the Arab Legion did maintain "defensive positions" in the Old City. But really we are being treated to a big lie, which always contains small truths. The Syrian Army, after invading Israel and before being bested at the Deganias, conquered and destroyed two kibbutzim, Masada and Shaar Hagolan, on May 18, inside Israel; the Iraqi Army invaded Israeli territory and unsuccessfully assaulted Kibbutz Gesher and nearby positions before moving to the northern West Bank; and the Egyptian Army, while halting, or being forced by the IDF to halt, at Isdud (Ashdod) in early June 1948, invaded and conquered Israeli territory between the Gaza Strip and Beersheba and between Majdal (Ashkelon) and Beit Jibrin. Lastly, while the Jordanian Army did not invade Israeli territory, it did much more than take up "defensive positions" in the Old City of Jerusalem. It conquered, and razed, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and took up positions in Latrun, Lydda, and Ramle, blocking the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road and laying siege to the holy city. And on May 12- 14, before the pan-Arab invasion began, the Legion attacked and destroyed the settlements of the Etzion bloc.

In short, the neighboring Arab states (save for Lebanon) and Iraq simultaneously, on May 15, attacked Israel, its settlements, and its territory. One of their aims was to destroy, or at least to mortally wound, Israel, if not to eradicate the Yishuv. The documentary proof is abundant. The Arab armies' actions in mid-May speak louder than a thousand atlases. That the Arab armies were "ill-prepared" and incompetent does not diminish the fact of their aggression. And there can be little doubt that had the invading armies, including Jordan's, encountered no or weak resistance, they would have pushed on to Tel Aviv.

It is also well to recall, as Abu Sitta does not, that, as the Palestinians launched their war against the Yishuv, and as the Arab states with ever-increasing fervor between December 1947 and early May 1948 threatened to join them, most Zionists had one, or rather two, memories at the forefront of their minds: Hebron in 1929 and Europe in 1939-1945. Most were sure that, given half a chance, Arab mobs and gunmen would massacre them and their families, as they had done in Hebron in 1929, and re-enact a slaughter to rival the recently concluded catastrophe in Europe. Such things were hardly unimaginable. After all, none other than Azzam Pasha, the secretary general of the Arab League, had warned in mid-May that the pan-Arab invasion would resemble the Mongolian rape of Baghdad in 1258, when 800,000 people were allegedly slaughtered.

So the Yishuv was determined not to give the Arabs half a chance, and to do what was necessary to assure its survival. In April and early May, this required--as Ben-Gurion and the Haganah brass saw it, and who really can fault them?--the destruction of Arab militia bases along the main roads between the Yishuv's centers of population, and along its borders, which were about to be invaded by the Arab armies. This was a civil war between irregular militias, and the Arab villages were the Arab militias' bases (as the Jewish settlements were the Jewish militia's bases). This was the grim logic behind the Haganah's conquest and demolition of the Arab villages in its operations in the spring of 1948: either overpower the Arab forces or go under.

Abu Sitta's Atlas suffers from acute inflation of Arab refugee and village numbers. At one point he speaks of 935,000 refugees in 1948, though most historians would put the true number at around 700,000 (as did the U.N. in 1949). He also speaks of 530 Arab villages and "244 smaller villages" depopulated in 1948, though most historians, including Walid Khalidi, put the figure at around 400.

But it is not only modern history that suffers through Abu Sitta's efforts to blacken Zionism and enhance the Palestinian case; the ancients, too, are dragged in. Longevity enhances territorial claims. Hence Abu Sitta asserts (as do the Palestinian Authority textbooks used in Gaza and the West Bank) that the Palestinian Arabs are the direct descendants of the Canaanite tribes conquered and suppressed by the Israelites back in the Second Millennium B.C.E. He writes, regarding Jerusalem, that "during all periods of history [starting with the Canaanites of 5000 years ago], and in spite of [sic] succession of rulers, the bulk of [sic] population remained the same stock." Abu Sitta is here positing a genealogical link between the Canaanites and the Arabs, so as to further the Palestinians' territorial claims.

Now it is quite possible, indeed it is probable, that "Canaanite" genes passed down the ages through the successive ethnic groups that inhabited the country to the Arab invaders in the seventh century. But to say that Cannanites and Palestinian Arabs are of the "same stock" is stretching it. ...

But a common gene pool is only one element, and not the most significant element, of peoplehood. Far more important are a shared language and culture, a common history and historical consciousness, and, often, a common religion. And to say that the Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites in these respects is absurd. The Palestinians are Arabs, in their language, culture, religion, and history. Palestinians remember the battle of Ein Jalut and Saladin and the Crusades; they recall the glories of the Arab Middle Ages; some even lament the fall of Muslim Spain. But ask a Palestinian to name Canaanite or Philistine kings, and he will look at you as if you fell from Mars.

At the same time Abu Sitta does his best to dissociate the Jews from Palestine. He concedes that "the Jews occupied [Jerusalem] from about 1,000 BC to 586 BC, when it was conquered by the Persians [sic--it was the Babylonians]." But he then says that the Persians were followed by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Muslim Arabs, who conquered the city in 636 C.E. He omits any mention of the Jewish presence in, and rule over, parts of Palestine and Jerusalem between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries B.C.E. and between 586 B.C.E. and the fifth and sixth centuries C.E., and the place of Jerusalem--and the Land of Israel in general--in the Jewish national and religious imagination during the following fifteen centuries in the Diaspora.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

  • Thursday, October 20, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Oh, sorry, it is only Egypt doing these things. They're allowed to defend themselves against terror from other Arabs.

Never mind.
Egypt has started to build a security fence around the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh to try to stop attacks on the town, security officials say.

The officials said the fence would stretch for 20km (12 miles) and force vehicles wanting to enter the town to pass through one of four checkpoints.

More than 60 people were killed in July when suicide bombers launched attacks outside two hotels and a market.

A town resident told Reuters that one portion would cut off a nearby Bedouin settlement where many workers live.

  • Thursday, October 20, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
So this means that the number of concessions the PA has made towards peace remains at exactly zero. Same number as ten years ago; same number as ten years from now.

But the State Department never tires of asking Israel to keep on giving rewards to terrorists and terror-supporters.
On the eve of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Washington, the PA announced that it has no intention of disarming Hamas or other armed groups.

Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Thursday for talks with US President George W. Bush on the latest developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli disengagement. Sources close to Abbas said earlier this week that he would brief Bush on the PA's plan to confiscate "illegal" weapons that are in the hands of various factions and militias, including Hamas.

However, Abbas's national security advisor, Jibril Rajoub, denied on Tuesday that the PA was planning to disarm Hamas or any other armed group. "We haven't called for disarming anyone," Rajoub said. "There is no decision to collect [illegal] weapons and we haven't taken any steps in this direction."

Monday, October 17, 2005

  • Monday, October 17, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Enjoy the holiday! May the bees not bother you!

Image from The Holiday Spot.
  • Monday, October 17, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Arutz Sheva:
Peace Now has called on the Israeli government to remove a new community outpost set up by Gush Etzion residents in response to Sunday’s Arab attack which killed three Jews and wounded three others.

The group says the new outpost causes “friction” with the Arabs and “endangers IDF soldiers and settlers.”

The group’s leader, Yariv Oppenheimer, has called on Israel to stop its “anger” over the terrorist attack and fight terror by way of “cooperation” with the Palestinian Authority.

I did not see this quote in any other newspaper or in either the Israeli or American "Peace Now" sites, but as I was looking at those sites it struck me that I could not find a single position of that group that would not be wholeheartedly endorsed by Mahmoud Abbas.

Apparently their definition of "peace" does not include any requirements on the Palestinian Arab side of the conflict - demands are strictly for Israel, and the starry-eyed self-deluders are certain that Arabs will be naturally peaceful if Israel just gives them everything they want.

I wonder if they would ever consider asking Arabs not to be angry?
  • Monday, October 17, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon

Victims of Sunday's shooting attack at Gush Etzion junction laid to rest; Matat Rosenfeld-Adler, 21, married her husband Yisrael only two months ago. Her cousin Kineret Mendel, 23, was the first child born to the founders of the Carmel settlement and 14-year old Oz Ben-Meir was an outstanding athlete, and a navigational expert.

CNN International doesn't bother to mention that the victims were women and a child. The Boston Globe waits until paragraph 6 to mention the child; never mentions the young women victims. The Globe and Mail doesn't mention it, and neither does the Independent (UK).

The vast majority of the news coverage headlines Israel's mild response to the attacks, rather than the attacks themselves, as if the threat to "peace" is Israel's fault.

Once again, the media is showing a disgusting moral inversion about Israel.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

  • Sunday, October 16, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
How predictable is it that Palestinians will always "demand" more until there is no Israel left?
A terrorist group aligned with the Palestinian Authority, the Al Aksa Brigades has vowed to continue the armed struggle against Israel until it liberates “Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Galilee."

The declaration was made in response to an interview given by IDF Chief-of-Staff, Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, to a French newspaper. Halutz told the paper that the IDF was no longer targeting members of that terror group because it had joined up with the PA’s armed forces and was no longer involved in attacks against Israel.

Calling the Galilee, “occupied territory,” a spokesman for the Brigades said the organization would continue the armed struggle to liberate it.

And right after that brilliant analysis from Dan Halutz that the Fatah thugs were no longer terrorists, they killed 3 Israelis and wounded five more.

Friday, October 14, 2005

  • Friday, October 14, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon

Just remember, Mahmoud Abbas is the leader of Fatah.
On Wednesday, a Fatah gang kidnapped two Western journalists while they were traveling in a car near Khan Yunis.

The two, Jerusalem-based American correspondent Dion British photographer Adam Pletts, were on assignment for Knight Ridder newspapers when six gunmen seized them at gunpoint and forced them into a yellow Mercedes, which sped off toward Rafah.

The two were released unharmed later in the day. PA security sources said the kidnappers, who belong to a Fatah gang calling itself Black Panther, were demanding jobs and money.

PA Civil Police Chief Ala Hosni told reporters that the kidnappers were members of the al-Najjar family, one of the biggest clans in Khan Yunis. He said they wanted jobs in the Palestinian security forces and higher ranks for the clan's members who are already serving in these forces.

In another sign of growing lawlessness, a Palestinian man was killed and two others injured in armed clashes between rival Fatah gangs in the town of Kabatya near Jenin. The victim was identified as Ala Sabaneh, a policeman who was wanted by Israel for his role in terror activities. Residents said the gunmen were local members of rival factions of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
Meanwhile, other PA agencies don't want to get left behind in the terror game:
Israeli security personnel revealed that Arab terrorists, including a high ranking PA intelligence officer, threatened to kill a 14-year-old boy if he did not carry out a suicide bombing.

Wanted Tanzim terrorist Rabi'ah Abu Alil originally tried to employ the boy as a suicide bomber after he and his father quarreled over money. The boy refused, and was taken to an apartment by Abu Alil and another wanted Arab terrorist, Jamal Tirawi. Tirawi is also a high ranking Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence officer, the IDF said.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

  • Wednesday, October 12, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
If I offended you during this past year, I ask forgiveness.

I wish you all an easy fast.

May we all be sealed for a good year: a year of life, a year of peace, a year of prosperity, a year of unity for all Jews.
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Alongside the numerous documents posted on Islamist websites on how to prepare various types of explosives, 'An Encyclopedia for the Preparation of Nuclear Weapons' has recently appeared on such websites. The 'Encyclopedia' was posted on October 6, 2005 on the Islamist forum Al-Firdaws [1] ('Paradise'), by someone whose nom de guerre is Layth Al-Islam ('The Lion of Islam'). A link to a slightly different version appeared on October 9 in a Yahoo! discussion group called ' mujahedon.' [2]

The 'Encyclopedia,' which contains nine lessons in approximately 80 pages in Arabic, was published under the title 'The Nuclear Bomb of Jihad and the Way to Enrich Uranium' and was presented as 'a gift to the commander of the Jihad fighters, Sheikh Osama bin Laden, for the purpose of Jihad for the sake of Allah.'

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Arutz Sheva reports:
The PA demands the release from Israeli prison of Marwan Barghouti, accused of murdering 35 Israelis. So says PA official Saeb Erekat. Barghouti wants to run in the upcoming PA parliament elections.

Erekat told Army Radio today that the PA also demands the release of Hizbullah murderer Samir Kuntar. Kuntar and three other terrorists infiltrated into northern Israel by sea in 1979, abducted and murdered Danny Haran and his young daughter Einat, and killed policeman Eliyahu Shachar. Danny's 2-year-old daughter Yael was also killed in the attack.

The fact that the PA always demands the release of their murderous terrorist hero Barghouti is not surprising, because in the twisted world of Palestinian Arab terror supporters, he is seen as a potential leader.

But just once, I'd like to see the media ask some simple questions:

Why does the PA, supposedly trying to build a nation, want to see the release of those who killed children? Why are people who make such outrageous "demands," like Saeb Erekat, considered moderates who have no problem appearing on news talk shows as if they were respectable? Why does no reporter ask Erekat to explain his history of lies and terror support? Why, when the PA is supposedly trying to plan for its future as a peaceful member of the world community, does it place such a high priority on the release of murderers? Why, in Palestinian society, are baby-killers considered heroes worthy of emulation?

And are the PA's actions more consistent with an organization that is busy with nation-building or with an organization that is consumed with destroying another nation?
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Melanie Phillips prints Jerusalem Post quote of EU Parliamentary President Josep Borrell Fontelles:
The EU, which provides the Palestinian Authority with half of the $1 billion in European aid, is not an altruistic player in the Middle East, said Borrell. With its growing Muslim population, Europe is finding that violence in the Middle East leads to unrest within its own borders, he said. 'The conflict in the Middle East is dangerous for us. We are not just here, as the good guy who says, please do not fight between you. We need this conflict to be finished because of its impact on life in Europe. 'As European society faces the problem of xenophobia, it can destabilize our society,' said Borrell explaining that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuels anti-Semitism, 'Islamophobia,' and anti-globalization feelings.’

As Phillips points out, "In other words EU support for the Palestinians, which has played quantifiable part in legitimising terror and demonising its Israeli victim, was a kind of blood money, paid to appease a threat which, as is now all too apparent, has merely grown instead.".

Not to mention the incredible shortsightedness of such a policy, because of its ineffectiveness, its naivete and its ultimate outcome of supporting those who support terror.

(Links to the JPost site have been screwy this week, so I could not find the original article.)

  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Here is an Israeli who invented a revolutionary light armor made with ceramics that is useful for everything from bulletproof vests to protecting trucks, planes and helicopters from armor-piercing munitions.
With years of suicide bombings and roadside attacks providing 'real life' experience, the Light Improved Ballistic Armor (LIBA) invented by Dr. Michael Cohen at his company Mofet Etzion, has been proven to be highly effective at saving lives. So much so that the company has recently been awarded a contract to provide the armor for over 1000 US Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (EFV) - the army's main form of transportation in hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan.
LIBA is already being used on Marine vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Stryker and the Pandur.

"One of the biggest problems facing American troops now in Iraq is the issue of IEDs - improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs. The problem is the type of explosive is not very standard - every bomb maker adds his own input. As we know form suicide bus bombings, in addition to TNT, or mortar, items like nails are added to make it more devastating," said Taube.

"The LIBA is able to defend against this kind of threat. There aren't many kinds of armor - outside of 12 inch thick chunks of steel which are prohibitive due to weight - that can make that claim."

"What differentiates our armor from other types - and the main reason why Dr. Cohen's discovery is so important - is that he was able to discover armor that can stand up to armor piercing. With this feature, we have a special niche, and that's why General Dynamics became interested in us. As terrorists have developed more threats that can achieve a projectile that will pierce regular armor, everything's been pushed ahead. It's like musical chairs," he said.
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
The progressive Hamas movement can elevate women to high positions, if they have the right skills! No glass ceiling there!
Among the numerous people recently detained by security forces is a young woman from the Gaza Strip suspected of being Hamas' first female bomb maker.

Samar Sabih, 22, was sent by Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to train new explosive experts.

Hamas in Gaza is believed to have taught Sabih, of the Jabalyah refugee camp, how to make bombs.

A few months ago she submitted a request to the Israeli authorities asking them to let her live in Tul Karm so that she could marry her fiance, who lived there.

The defense establishment permitted her to do so, as she had no record of security breaches.

When Sabih arrived in Tul Karm, she married her fiance and contacted Hamas activists from Ramallah. Shin Bet sources said she gave bomb-making lessons to Ali Kadi, one of the organization's members who later took part in the abduction of Sasson Nuriel. Sabih also allegedly trained her husband to prepare explosives, so that he could replace her in training others if she were caught, the sources said.

Note also that it appears that the entire reason she got married to someone in the West Bank was just so that she could move there to help kill Jews.

Now, that's true love.
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
This is part of an interview of James Woolsey, former CIA director, from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He gives an interesting comparison between Wahhabism and Al Qaeda.

RFE/RL: What do you think of the impact of the Israel-Palestinian conflict on Muslim communities around the world and do you think it’s possible to reform Shari'a, or Islamic law?

Woolsey: I think the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has some importance but that in reality it is much further down the line of causes of the current support for terrorism and so forth that one sees in some parts of the Muslim, principally the Arab world, than people suggest. I think you could have an Israeli-Palestinian settlement tomorrow, and the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia would still be fanatically anti-Shi'ite, anti-Sufi, anti-Jewish, anti-democracy, anti-Christian, anti-female, anti-music and so would Al-Qaeda be. Indeed the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and the Islamists Jihadis such as Al-Qaeda pretty much agree except on one thing -- who should be in charge. Should power and respect be focused on one state, Saudi Arabia, or should it be the case that anyone who wants can go off on jihad flying airplanes into buildings in New York and the like. That somewhat mirrors the dispute in the 1930s between the Stalinists and the Trotskyites. The Wahhabis are sort of the Stalinists, they believe in allegiance to one state. The Islamist Jihadis such as Al-Qaeda are sort of like the Trotskyites believing in moving against revolution in all parts of the world now, but they are both totalitarian and that totalitarian movement is not going to go away just because there is a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I would say that the Wahhabis and the Islamist jihadis such as Al-Qaeda are not at all true representatives of Islam, we do not need to take their word for that any more than that the world needed to take the word of Torquemada in the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century that they were true representatives of Christianity -- they were not, they were totalitarian bastards. And the Wahhabis and Al-Qaeda are the modern equivalents.
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
A textbook case of how bigots can and do use political correctness as a cover for their hate.
A teacher working at an adult education center who has been told to stop wearing a Star of David because it 'provokes the many Muslim students at the school' in 2004 is now considering legal action against the ban, the Norwegian television network NRK has reported.

School head Kjell Gislefoss, said he thought that the Star of David can be seen to represent the State of Israel and is fearful of offending the school's Muslim students, citing immigrants from the Palestinian territories.

'The Star of David would be a symbol for one side in what is perhaps the world's most inflamed conflict at the moment.'

'Many have a traumatic past that they have escaped and then we feel that if they are going to learn Norwegian then they can't sit an at the same time be reminded of the things they have traveled from,' said Gislefoss.

But Telhaug has vowed to stand up for his right to wear the Star and has hired lawyers ahead of a possible legal battle.

Inge Telhaug told NRK that his right to freedom of speech was violated by the banning.

'I can't accept this. It is a small star, 16 millimeters (0.6 inches) that I have around my neck, usually under a T-shirt. I see it as my right to wear it,' Telhaug told NRK.

Telhaug, who is not Jewish, teaches the Norwegian language and culture to new immigrants at the school.

'I see it as the oldest religious symbol we have in our culture, because without Judaism there would be no Christianity,' he said.

The decision to ban the Jewish symbol from the school was slammed as 'unacceptable' by head of local Education Association, Heidi Hauge Uldal.

Norway's education minister, Kristin Clemet, said last year that she had no intention of banning the wearing of hijabs in Norwegian public schools.

'It is typically Norwegian clothing that has caused more problems in Norwegian schools,' she said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

  • Monday, October 10, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
As we are in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it seemed to me a good idea to post a list of primary sources of Jewish learning available on the Web in English and Hebrew. I am not interested in listing every site that has divrei Torah, as there are hundreds of them already - just places where you can find source material. It is listed on the sidebar as "Source Materials for Jewish Learning;" here is what I have so far:

If you have any other primary sources appropriate for learning, please let me know; I'll be happy to maintain this list.

G'mar chatimah tovah!
  • Monday, October 10, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
For a short time this afternoon, a thick cloud cover seemed to cleanly chop off the lower Manhattan skyline. Here's what it looked like:
  • Monday, October 10, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
I just added this link to my Reference section in the sidebar.

It is mind-boggling. Over 2700 separate worldwide Islamic terror incidents since 9/11 are documented there.
  • Monday, October 10, 2005
  • Elder of Ziyon
Sometimes I run into an article that defines a basic issue in such a way that it should be used as reference material. This is such an article. I decided to reproduce it whole, because the URL requires a (free) password, but a significant number of people find this blog by keyword searches and articles like this should be able to be found from search engines.

The UN’s Palestinian
Refugee Problem


In the aftermath of World War II, when it became apparent that millions of destitute refugees were not going to be attended to by existing organizations, the United Nations saw fit to establish an agency–the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)–to coordinate assistance to them. The UNHCR worked in accordance with the binding parameters and regulations of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in Geneva in 1951. In the decades that followed, as the problem of refugees increasingly took on a global dimension, the need arose for a global organization dedicated to their assistance. Thus did a relatively small and specialized agency expand into an organization with offices in over 100 countries, an annual budget of $1 billion, and the ability to provide both legal protection and emergency relief. Today, the UNHCR’s makeshift blue tents have become immediately recognizable symbols of humanitarian assistance to millions of displaced people around the world. Combined with measures such as monitoring national compliance with international refugee law, the UNHCR takes as its ultimate goal the attainment of long-term or “durable” solutions to refugee crises, such as voluntary repatriation or resettlement in countries of asylum or “third” countries. To date, the UNHCR has helped over 25 million people successfully restart their lives.

There is one group of refugees, however, for whom no durable solution has been found in the more than fifty years since their problems began: Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel in the period 1948-1949 as a result of its War of Independence. Originally numbering between 500,000 and 750,000 persons, there are today more than 4 million refugees, the majority of whom live in or near one of 59 camps in five areas, making for one of the world’s largest and most enduring refugee problems.1 There is no practicable solution to their situation in sight.

The plight of the Palestinian refugees is, at first glance, fairly surprising. Whereas the rest of the world’s refugees are the concern of the UNHCR, the Palestinians are the sole group of refugees with a UN agency dedicated exclusively to their care: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates independently of the Convention on refugees. The differences between the two agencies are striking: In addition to classifying Palestinian refugees by a distinct set of criteria, UNRWA, through an international aid package of several hundred millions of dollars a year, serves as the main provider of healthcare, education, relief, and social services for its client population–the sort of assistance UNHCR usually devolves to refugees’ countries of asylum. Moreover, while the UNHCR actively seeks durable solutions to refugee problems, UNRWA has declined to entertain any permanent solution for the Palestinian refugees, insisting instead on a politically unfeasible “return” to pre-1967 Israel.2

By operating outside the norms accepted by the international community, UNRWA has succeeded in perpetuating a growing refugee problem. By establishing its own definition of a “Palestinian refugee” and actively encouraging resettlement in Israel, UNRWA not only has failed to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue, but has also lost sight of its original humanitarian goals, subordinating them instead to the political aims of the Arab world. Moreover, by hiring from within its own client population, UNRWA has at best created a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with regard to terrorist activity in its midst, and at worst has become so enmeshed in the terrorist population as to be effectively held hostage by it. In the final analysis, UNRWA’s handling of the Palestinian refugee issue is both antagonistic to the achievement of peace in the Middle East and detrimental to the plight of the refugees themselves.

Given these failings, and in light of the existence of an entirely separate and far more successful UN strategy for dealing with refugees under the aegis of UNHCR, a serious reconsideration of the value of UNRWA’s continued existence seems in order.

UNRWA, the first UN agency charged with the task of aiding refugees, was established by General Assembly Resolution 302 on December 8, 1949. The agency was tasked with directing relief and works programs for the Palestinian Arab refugees of Israel’s War of Independence, who had fled into the neighboring Arab regions of Gaza (then under Egyptian control), Judea and Samaria (then controlled by Jordan), Jordan proper, Lebanon, and Syria.

From the outset, UNRWA was granted an extraordinary degree of autonomy, largely due to pressure from the UN’s Arab bloc. Unlike most other UN agencies, for instance, the appointment of UNRWA’s commissioner general does not require any approval or confirmation from the General Assembly, but is rather left to the discretion of the UN secretary general, in consultation with UNRWA’s ten-member Advisory Committee. In addition, UNRWA’s Advisory Committee wields no executive or operative authority.3 Bound by no existing statute or international compact, it was free to set its own definitions and guidelines–definitions which differ markedly from those used by UNHCR. Thus, it described “Palestinian refugees” as

persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.4

The use of this definition is remarkable in itself, not least because its very short residency requirement–just two years–allows the inclusion of a great number of people who had recently arrived in Palestine, and were thus newcomers to the region; indeed, many of the people who fled Israel at that time had only just arrived from neighboring Arab countries in search of work.

Contrast this with the definition provided by the UNHCR, established just two years later and charged with functioning within the parameters of the UN’s Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The UNHCR was bound by the Convention, the universal standard for refugee status and the only definition recognized by international law. In this version, a refugee is someone who

is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.5

By emphasizing “country of nationality or habitual residence,” the UNHCR clearly intends to exclude the kind of transients– for example, a new arrival to the area in question for the purpose of employment–embraced by UNRWA’s definition.

This is not the only way in which the two definitions differ. The UNRWA definition also encompasses many other persons who would otherwise be excluded by the UNHCR. The latter, for example, outlines in detail the conditions under which the status of “refugee” no longer applies, stating that formal refugee status shall cease to apply to any person who has

voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality; or having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily re-acquired it; or, he has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality; or… he can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of his nationality.6

By excluding people who have found legal protection from established states, or who have refused to do so when offered, UNHCR has sought to prevent expansion of the definition in ways that would encourage the improper use of UNHCR’s services for political ends. UNRWA, however, has done just the opposite: Not only has it declined to remove the status of refugee from those persons who no longer fit the original description, such as the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been granted full citizenship by Jordan, but it confers indefinitely the status of refugee upon a Palestinian refugee’s descendants, now entering the fourth generation. As the organization’s official website explains: “There are several groups and categories of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs): UNRWA-registered 1948 refugees and their descendants, unregistered 1948 refugees and their descendants, internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, and persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 war and their descendants.”7 When UNRWA was first conceived, it did not explicitly include the descendants of Palestinian refugees; however, as its refugee population entered the second generation, UNRWA relaxed the definition of the term “Palestinian refugee” altogether, explaining that “for the purposes of repatriation or compensation… the term ‘Palestinian refugee’ is used with a different, much less restrictive meaning as compared to UNRWA’s need-based definition.”8

Certainly, despite these distinctions in their respective definitions of a refugee, a strong case could have been made for enfolding UNRWA into UNHCR once the latter agency had been established. Indeed, once a broad-based refugee agency had been created, there would seem to be no reason for an additional UN agency charged with the task of assisting a specific group of refugees, with all the bureaucratic redundancy it implies, to continue. Once the UNHCR was created, however, Arab states insisted that Palestinian refugees receiving assistance from UNRWA be excluded from UNHCR’s mandate. As the UNHCR’s website explains, Arab states “feared that the non-political character of the work envisaged for the nascent UNHCR was not compatible with the highly politicized nature of the Palestinian question.”9 Since the Arab states would have had to consent to be signatories for the Convention to have achieved any effectiveness with regard to the Palestinian Arab refugees, the matter of an organizational merger never progressed very far. Ultimately, the Convention exempted those refugees who were under the protection of or receiving assistance from another UN agency. Thus was the anomalous situation of UNRWA firmly established: The sole international agency dedicated to a single group of refugees was permitted to continue independently, marching to the beat of its own drummer.

Whether UNRWA’s autonomy has been beneficial to the Palestinian refugees, however, is a separate question. As the UN acknowledged in its decision to undertake responsibility for the protection and assistance of refugees worldwide, the situation of the refugee involves profound suffering. Without a country to call their own, refugees are denied the basic social, economic, and political rights that most civilians take for granted, and without which a citizen’s ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life is nearly impossible. For this reason, the UN has always sought to end a person’s status as refugee as quickly as possible.

UNRWA’s handling of the Palestinian refugee issue, by contrast, has done just the opposite. For implicit in UNRWA’s decision to expand its already problematic definition of a Palestinian refugee to include a mounting number of descendants is the guarantee that the problem remains an ongoing, ever-growing, and thus ever-worsening one. For some Arab leaders, this may be precisely the idea: So long as the Palestinian refugee problem remains visible and acute, Israel remains a convenient scapegoat on which the region’s political, social, and economic ills may be blamed. Yet for the Palestinian Arabs who have remained refugees for decades, and for their children, brought into the circle of dependence, the fact of UNRWA’s granting special refugee status has for the most part made their situation only worse.

If the difference in the two agencies’ respective definitions of refugees seems indicative of different goals–one humanitarian and the other essentially political–their records over the last half century affirm this in a glaring fashion. Since the UNHCR’s establishment, it has always worked toward the achievement of two fundamental aims: The protection of refugees, which includes ensuring respect for a refugee’s basic human rights and disallowing the involuntary return of a refugee to a country where he fears persecution; and the resolution of refugee crises. This latter goal can be achieved through several methods, each of which depends on the specific circumstances of a given refugee population. Nonetheless, precluding the existence of prolonged refugee situations–for the sake of both the refugees themselves and their countries of asylum–has always been of supreme value to the UNHCR.

So, too, did the General Assembly resolution establishing UNRWA intend its mandate to be temporary: It sought “the alleviation of the conditions of starvation and distress among the Palestinian refugees” with “a view to the termination of international assistance for relief” at an early date.10 The provision of direct relief was originally set to end no later than December 1950; yet its mandate has been renewed by the General Assembly every few years, and its current term now runs through June 2008. This begs the question: If UNRWA was set up as a temporary agency, why is it still operating more than half a century later?

One reason, again, lies in its singular definition of a refugee: By conferring the status of refugee on descendants, UNRWA has ensured an ever-growing population in need of its services. Yet a more significant reason has to do with its policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: UNRWA refuses to consider any resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue other than that demanded by the Arab world–the “right of return” to Israel. As explained on its website, UNRWA claims its services to be necessary until repatriation, “as envisaged in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 1948,” is enacted.11 While the legitimacy and applicability of resolution 194, which states that refugees wishing to return to their original countries of residence under certain conditions should be permitted to do so, can be, and is, debated ad infinitum, the fact remains that by staunchly adhering to this resolution, and actively encouraging its beneficiaries to do the same, UNRWA is denying the Palestinian refugees the one thing that the UNHCR takes as its essential purpose for existence: An end to their unwanted status.

Now, it should be noted that by considering a permanent solution the ultimate goal of its agency, the UNHCR is not insensitive to refugees’ preferences. Certainly, the UNHCR recognizes that most refugees forced into exile would prefer to return to their countries of origin. The UNHCR thus encourages voluntary repatriation when conditions permit, such as the cessation of conflict. By providing transportation, financial incentives, and practical help, such as building materials and farming equipment, the UNHCR has successfully enabled the repatriation of such recent refugee populations as the Angolans, millions of whom fled their war-torn country for Namibia, Zambia, and Democratic Congo during the 1990s, and the Sri Lankans, some 300,000 of whom have been able to return to their towns and villages since a Norwegian-brokered truce between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels was enacted in 2002.12

When the threats that caused refugees to leave their homes in the first place do not disappear, however, the UNHCR looks to resettlement–whether in a refugee’s country of asylum, or a neutral, third country–as an alternative solution. Often, these two options are the only means of fulfilling the UNHCR’s stated goal of enabling refugees to restart their lives and, ultimately, of ending their status as refugees altogether.

The UNHCR’s record in the area of refugee resettlement is impressive: Since the early 1970s, the organization has undertaken several large-scale resettlement operations, each with successful results.13 In 1972, for instance, when President Idi Amin of Uganda expelled most of the country’s Asian minority, the UNHCR, along with several other international humanitarian organizations, resettled some 40,000 Ugandan Asian refugees in a matter of a few months to 25 countries. Likewise, following a military coup in Chile in 1973, refugees from neighboring countries found themselves faced with a hostile regime in their country of asylum. The UNHCR quickly established “safe havens,” or camps in which refugees who wished to leave the country could receive assistance and protection pending their departure to third countries of asylum. By the following year, thousands of refugees had been successfully resettled to 19 different countries.14

Nor is the Middle East a stranger to the policy of resettlement: In 1992, the UNHCR sought to resettle some 30,000 Iraqis from Saudi Arabia after efforts at voluntary repatriation and local integration were deemed a failure. Between 1992 and 1997, nearly 21,800 Iraqis had been accepted for resettlement; currently, almost all the Iraqi refugees have found new homes.15

For the Ugandan Asians, the Chileans, and the Iraqis, as well as many other populations for whom resettlement is the only option, the process may entail transporting refugees thousands of miles across the world, and helping them adapt to societies in which the culture, language, and social structure are dramatically different. Despite these obstacles, however, the overwhelming number of refugees, particularly young ones, successfully overcome such challenges in order to restart their lives in their new countries. It is remarkable, then, that the Palestinian Arab refugees–many of whom are currently residing in countries whose culture, language, and social structure are identical to their own–have never been offered resettlement as a durable solution to their situation in light of the political unfeasibility of a return to the State of Israel. Indeed, it is widely accepted among the international community–with the exception of the Arab nations–that an influx of over four million Palestinian refugees into Israel is neither a realistic nor an acceptable goal. For this reason, the resettlement of these Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries offers the only realistic hope for a resolution to their decades-long status as refugees.

While it is true that most of Israel’s neighboring Arab countries (with the notable exception of Jordan) have continually denied citizenship to Palestinian refugees and their descendants–many of whom have been born and raised in these countries–it is also true that UNRWA itself has at no point sought to promote resettlement among the refugee population; nor has it attempted to pressure Arab countries into complying with their responsibilities toward these refugees under international law. Instead, by insisting that “the Agency will continue to serve them [the Palestinian refugees] pending just settlement of the refugee problem,”16 UNRWA has taken up the Arab bloc’s mantra as its own, putting political considerations before humanitarian ones. While a “just settlement” could easily be interpreted to mean, as in the case of the rest of the world’s refugees, local integration or resettlement with an aim toward building a new, productive life, for UNRWA the phrase “just settlement” has consistently and solely been interpreted as repatriation to Israel–a solution which, for obvious demographic reasons, would in effect mean the end of the Jewish state, and which therefore is extremely unlikely to happen so long as Israel remains committed to its Jewish character. This has, in effect, ensured the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem indefinitely.

It should be noted here that the assimilation of Arabs who fled from Israel into surrounding Arab populations could have been readily accomplished; repatriation was, for many of the original refugees, not the only, or even desirable, course of action. Early reports, such as an article in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Hayat in 1959, claimed that the “refugees’ inclination–in spite of the noisy chorus all about them–is towards immediate integration,” and Emanuel Marx, writing in The Jerusalem Quarterly in the late 1970s, noted that by 1968, most of the refugees had found work, “were involved in the economy of the host country,” and “had become urbanized in the process.”17

Even today, UNRWA’s unrelenting approach stands in sharp contrast to the natural inclination of the Palestinian refugees to “get on with their lives.” In 1997, badil, a Palestinian non-governmental agency that promotes the right of return, released a report about the refugee camp of Balata in Nablus that expressed concern with UNRWA’s development programs and their potential impact on the right of return. According to the report, Musallam Abu Hilu of the Jerusalem Open University ventured the opinion that “it may well be that development programs have an adverse effect on the refugees’ demand for return; such programs might lead to gradual and unconscious refugee integration and resettlement.”18

Nonetheless, the goal of repatriation has been a cornerstone of UNRWA’s practices and policies. It was thus, in fact, that the Arab nations, when the mandate for UNRWA was drawn up, pushed through a reference to Paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), which states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date….”19 This single phrase has since been offered as the basis of the claim that the Palestinian Arab refugees have a right, often described as “inalienable,” to return to Israel. This reliance on a single clause of a resolution of the UN General Assembly–which as such has no binding status in international law–has been the basis of UNRWA’s consistent refusal over half a century to work towards the resolution of the refugees’ plight in their host countries, and instead to insist upon their so-called “right of return.” The insistence on resettlement within Israel, for example, has guided its policy of preserving pre-1948 communal structures and reinforcing the refugees’ collective attachments to their places of origin, in an effort to ensure the refugees’ lasting commitment to return. Almost immediately after its founding, for example, UNRWA established a register of refugees that assigned every family a number. This number included a five-digit code of origin in “pre-1948 Palestine.” As a report by badil describes it, “the village structure, as it existed prior to the 1948 war, has thus been preserved by virtue of the registration system.”20 Indeed, the Palestinian refugee camps, first established in 1955, were set up according to those villages left in 1948, with neighborhoods and even individual street names replicated, reinforcing the dream of return.21

The message of repatriation is reinforced in other ways as well. In the summer of 2000, for instance, bus tours were offered for the residents of the refugee camp at Deheishe so that they might visit the homes they left in Jerusalem in 1948. And in 2001, a Palestinian group called the Higher Committee for the Return of Refugees was permitted by UNRWA to enter its schools in order to sharpen students’ awareness of the “predicament of refugees” and to bolster “their sense of belonging to the homeland.”22 Thus, while UNHCR aims to encourage integration into one’s new country of residence, UNRWA strives to do just the opposite: To instill in Palestinian refugees a sense of impermanency, and to nurture their narrative of loss.

Finally, it should be noted that, over the years, groups of Palestinian refugees have been offered opportunities to move into permanent housing–opportunities that have almost always been thwarted. In 1985, for instance, Israel attempted to move refugees into 1,300 permanent housing units constructed near Nablus with the support of the Catholic Relief Organization–without, it must be stated, demanding that they relinquish the “right of return.” Yet the UN intervened to prevent such an occurrence.23 In response to Israel’s attempts to provide housing, a General Assembly resolution was passed asserting that:

measures to resettle Palestine refugees in the West Bank away from the homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right of return… [the GA] calls once again upon Israel to abandon its plans and to refrain from… any action that may lead to the removal and resettlement of Palestine refugees in the West Bank and from the destruction of their camps.24

Put simply, if UNHCR struggles to bring an immediate end to the plight of refugees through any means available, UNRWA’s entire efforts are geared towards a single “solution” which is both extremely unlikely ever to happen and not in the best interests of the refugees’ humanitarian needs. Rather it is in the interests of their political leaders’ aims.

The difference between the two organizations is felt also in the respective services they provide and the extent to which they are willing to place a burden of assistance on sovereign states. The UNHCR aims to provide basic material assistance only as necessary, and with the expectation that host or new countries of residence will cooperate as far as they are able in providing for refugee needs. The Convention states clearly that UNHCR is “charged with the task of supervising international conventions providing for the protection of refugees,”25 and the UNHCR website maintains that “UNHCR’s main role in pursuing international protection is to ensure that states are aware of, and act on, their obligations to protect refugees… and cannot be considered as a substitute for government responsibility.”26 UNRWA, by contrast, has been providing material assistance to Palestinian refugees for over fifty years in the form of “educational services, including general and higher education as well as vocational, technical and teacher education” and “a wide range of health services, including disease prevention and treatment, health protection and promotion and environmental and family health programs”–services far beyond the scope of “emergency relief” envisioned by UNHCR as a temporary measure on the road to self-sufficiency.27 Indeed, Palestinian Arabs provided for by UNRWA are the only refugees in the world to have guaranteed health care, primary education, and welfare benefits–as befitting a quasi-governmental body aimed at nurturing a people over the long haul rather than providing humanitarian relief. Not surprisingly, in the course of providing these services, UNRWA has developed an extensive bureaucracy–according to its website, UNRWA’s staff currently stands at 24,324 members28–with one staff person per 164 refugees (compared to one staff person per 2,803 refugees in UNHCR), and 99 dollars spent per refugee annually (compared with the UNHCR’s 64 dollars per refugee).29 The result is a kind of mutual dependence: The Palestinian community has become dependent on UNRWA’s services, support, and employment; and UNRWA has become dependent on its clients for its own survival and operational growth.

In short, by introducing broad parameters of inclusion, UNRWA has inflated the original numbers on its rolls; by declining to exempt those refugees who subsequently acquire citizenship elsewhere, it has sustained those large numbers over the years; and by counting successive generations, it has succeeded in indefinitely expanding the number of refugees. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, by encouraging the expectation of and desire for a “return” to Israel that is in all likelihood impossible, UNRWA has done a grave disservice to the refugees themselves–in effect, subordinating the humanitarian aims of refugee assistance to the political aims of Arab leaders. Unlike other refugees, who have been helped to regain some measure of autonomy, the Palestinian refugees remain mired in a sense of helplessness and frustration, condemned to an existence as stateless, displaced persons.

Of all the problems inherent in UNRWA’s policies, however, the practice of hiring from within its own client population is perhaps the thorniest. Of the approximately 24,000 persons in its employ, all but the roughly 100 “internationals” in executive positions are Palestinian Arabs, the vast majority of whom are themselves refugees.30

UNRWA claims that hiring refugees ensures a greater degree of sensitivity on the part of employees toward the problems facing their client base. Yet there is a general rule of thumb that it is not appropriate for an agency to do large-scale hiring of staff from the population it serves. No other UN agency does this; the UNHCR, for example, maintains by design a certain distance from its client base. The reason for this distance is clear: Employers who share the situation of their clients are vulnerable to conflicts of interest. UNRWA staff naturally share the passions and perceptions of their fellow refugees, and can easily be led to act on them inappropriately. In some cases, this means turning a blind eye to beneficiaries of UNRWA services engaged in terrorism; in others, it means outright involvement in terrorist activity itself.

Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence of such involvement. Incidents like the one on July 6, 2001 are not uncommon: The terrorist organization Hamas convened a conference in an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza with the full participation of school administrators and faculty. Students were addressed by Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who spoke about the “liberation of Jerusalem.” He was then joined by Saheil Alhinadi, UNRWA’s representative from the teachers’ sector, who praised the Hamas students who had carried out suicide attacks against Israelis in recent months. “The road to Palestine,” he orated, “passes through the blood of the fallen.”31

It is also common knowledge that Hamas-affiliated workers control the UNRWA union in Gaza.32 Within the teachers’ sector of the union, for example, all representatives are Hamas-affiliated, and Hamas candidates constitute the union’s entire executive committee, as well. Moreover, an organization called Islamic Bloc, ideologically similar to Hamas, has been charged with furthering the goals of Hamas within UNRWA schools; it prepares the next generation of Palestinians for the “liberation of Palestine” by organizing special events and distributing printed materials. Retired IDF colonel Yoni Fighel, a former military governor in the territories, explains how radical Islamic movements have come to dominate the refugee camps: “As long as UNRWA employees are members of Fatah, Hamas, or pelp [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine],” he says, “they are going to pursue the interests of their party within the framework of their job…. Who’s going to check up on them to see that they don’t? UNRWA? They are UNRWA.”33

The full extent of the terrorist infiltration in Palestinian refugee camps was revealed during the IDF’s Operation Defensive Shield, mounted in the spring of 2002 in response to an unprecedented wave of terror attacks inside Israel. The evidence gleaned from that operation is both irrefutable and damning: Hardly innocent residential areas, the UNRWA-run camps which the army entered were riddled with small-arms factories, explosives laboratories, Kassam-2 rocket manufacturing plants, and suicide-bombing cells. The camp in Jenin, site of the most intense fighting, provides the most dramatic example of the terrorist takeovers of UNRWA camps. A letter written by Fatah members in Jenin to Marwan Barghouti in September 2001 grants some insight into the situation:

Of all the districts, Jenin boasts the greatest number and the highest quality of fighters from Fatah and the other Islamic national factions. The refugee camp is rightly considered to be the center of events and the operational headquarters of all the factions in the Jenin area–it is, as the other side calls it, a hornets’ nest. The Jenin refugee camp is remarkable for the large number of fighting men taking initiatives in the cause of our people. Nothing will defeat them, and nothing fazes them. They are prepared to fight with everything they have. It is little wonder, therefore, that Jenin is known as the capital of the suicide martyrs.34

It should come as no surprise, then, that the IDF found a number of wanted terrorists hiding inside UNRWA schools; that a large number of youth clubs operated by UNRWA in the camps were discovered to be meeting places for terrorists; and that an official bureau of the Tanzim, or Fatah-affiliated, militia was established inside a building owned by UNRWA. UNRWA’s donors might be surprised to learn that funds intended for humanitarian relief sometimes end up serving the goals of Palestinian terror: In an interview with CNN in February 2002, PA Minister of Labor Ghassan Khatib remarked that every young man in UNRWA’s Balata refugee camp has his own personal weapon, since the local steering committee–an official UNRWA body–had voted that charitable donations received would be used for guns rather than food or other relief. UNRWA’s role in the terrorist activity of the Palestinian refugees is not only a passive one. Rather, UNRWA employees themselves sometimes engage in terrorism. According to the 2003 report by the United States General Accounting Office,35 for example, UNRWA employees were arrested and convicted by Israeli military courts of throwing firebombs at an Israeli public bus; possession of materials that could be used for explosives; and transferring chemicals to assist in bomb-making. Also, the IDF demonstrated that UNRWA ambulances have been used to transport terrorists and firearms in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, himself saw shahid (martyr) posters on the walls in the homes of UNRWA workers during a visit to Jenin in April 2002. “It was clear,” he said in a December 2003 interview, “that UNRWA workers were doubling as Hamas operatives.”36

Rather than confronting these problems, however, UNRWA has stonewalled. UNRWA’s then-deputy commissioner general Karen AbuZayd (she has since been promoted to commissioner-general), in response to the charge of terrorism in the camps, told The Jerusalem Report in August 2002 that “We just don’t see anything like this. These things are not visible to us.”37 And when recently retired commissioner general Peter Hansen submitted to the General Assembly his mandated annual report for the period of July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002–which covered the period during which Operation Defensive Shield occurred–he failed to mention, even in passing, what had been exposed regarding the terrorist apparatus in the Jenin camp. A little more than a year ago, in fact, Hansen, speaking at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, insisted that charges of terrorism are “all made up to delegitimize UNRWA’s work.”38 He did, however, admit in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll,” but added, “I don’t see that as a crime.”39 Others would disagree: Canada, like the United States and the European Union, lists Hamas as a terrorist organization, and makes no distinction between its “political” and “militant” factions.

Whether UNRWA is afraid to interfere with terrorist activity in its camps, or has become so entrenched in the terrorist infrastructure as to be effectively indistinguishable from it, the evidence is clear that an agency mandated to serve a humanitarian purpose has been drafted to further a militant political agenda. Yet complicity in terrorist activity is only the worst element of an entire UNRWA regime structurally aimed at advancing the Palestinian cause rather than relieving Palestinian suffering.

As its original, noble objectives have been lost, and its policies are now geared to perpetuating rather than solving the problem, one might rightfully wonder what positive value UNRWA’s continued existence may serve. The present situation, indeed, benefits no one: Not the UN, whose reputation as the guardian of international law and guarantor of international peace and security is tarnished by UNRWA’s links to terror; not Israel, whose hopes for peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbors are thwarted by UNRWA’s unswerving promotion of the “right of return”; and finally, not the Palestinian refugees themselves, who have been denied the opportunity to create new lives, and thus to break the cycle of dependence, frustrated hopes, and perpetual victimhood. In light of these facts, it seems clear that if one is to take seriously the standards of international law set out by the United Nations with respect to refugees, and the aims of its agencies in helping refugees around the world, one must also conclude that UNRWA is not only unhelpful to the Palestinian refugee issue, but in fact detrimental to it.

UNRWA has failed the Palestinian refugees. This failure is the product of half a century of overwhelming politicization of a humanitarian effort. Fortunately, another UN agency exists to deal with the problem of refugees, one with a successful record of resolving their problems around the world. Those nations interested in finding a genuine, viable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem–a sine qua non for peace in the Middle East–should be encouraged to support the end of UNRWA’s regime and the application of the policies of the UNHCR to the Palestinian refugee issue.


Arlene Kushner is the author of Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO (Pavilion, 2004) and has written reports on UNRWA for the Center for Near East Research.


1.The exact number of Palestinian Arabs who fled the region in the period 1948-1949 and the reasons for their flight remain an issue of much contention: Israel puts the number of refugees at approximately 550,000; Arabs claim it was 750,000 or more. UNRWA’s registry put the number at approximately 914,000 in 1950. The fact that more than 100,000 of those ultimately registered as “refugees” by UNRWA were indigents, migrants, and others in need of assistance, but not actually persons who had fled Israel, has further complicated the issue. For UNRWA’s historical statistics of registered refugee numbers by country, see:

2.“UNRWA’s Beneficiaries,” at

3.Emanuel Marx and Nitza Nachmias, “Dilemmas of Prolonged Humanitarian Aid Operations: The Case of UNRWA,” The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance (June 22, 2004), at

4.The term “Palestinian refugee” as used by UNRWA was never formally defined by the United Nations. The normative version of the UNRWA definition, described here, is applied to those Palestinian Arabs who took refuge in one of the countries where the UN provides relief.

5.Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Chapter I, Article 1A.

6.Convention, Chapter I, Article 1C.

7.UNRWA Overview, Frequently Asked Questions, “UNRWA’s Beneficiaries,” at

8.“UNRWA’s Beneficiaries.”

9.UNHCR, The State of the World’s Refugees: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action (Oxford: Oxford, 2004), ch. 1: “The Early Years,” box 1.2, at

10.United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV): Assistance to Palestine Refugees.

11.“UNRWA’s Beneficiaries.”

12.UNHCR, Helping Refugees: An Introduction to UNHCR, 2004, pp. 12-13, at

14.UNHCR Resettlement Handbook, ch. 1, “Resettlement: A Virtual Instrument of International Protection and an Element of Comprehensive Solutions,” November 1, 2004. Chapter 1, p. 9, at

16.UNRWA Overview, Frequently Asked Questions, History and Establishment of UNRWA, “UNRWA Assistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” at

17. Emanuel Marx, “Changes in Arab Refugee Camps,” The Jerusalem Quarterly (Summer 1978), p. 43.

19.United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), Palestine: Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator.

20.Terry M. Rempel, “The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and a Durable Solution for Palestinian Refugees,” badil Information and Discussion Brief no. 6 (July 2000), at

21.Jeannie O’Donnell, “Shu’fat Camp: Life on the Edge for Jerusalem Refugees,” The Jerusalem Quarterly File 6, 1999, at

22. Mohammed Daraghmeh, “Teaching the Refugee Issue at UNRWA,” The Jerusalem Times, June 22, 2001.

23.Israel launched a “build your own home” project in the 1970s that allotted a half dunam of land “to Palestinians who then financed the purchase of building materials and, usually with friends, erected a home. Israel provided the infrastructure: sewers, schools, etc. More than 11,000 camp dwellers were resettled... before PLO, using intimidation tactics, ended the program.” Israeli authorities contended that had the program been allowed to continue apace, “within eight years every camp resident could own a single-dwelling home in a clean and uncongested neighborhood.” Joel Bainerman, “Permanent Homes for Palestinian Refugees,” Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 1992.

24. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 40/165, Article J: Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank.

25.Convention, Preamble.

26. UNHCR Basic Facts, Protecting Refugees–Questions and Answers, at

27.Organization of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Secretary General’s Bulletin, Article 2.1(b).

29.Figures drawn from the respective agencies’ websites. UNRWA cites 4.1 million refugees, although in practice it attends to a smaller number than this; the UNHCR claims 17 million. UNRWA cites a budget of $408 million for the year, while the UNHCR budget is $1.1 billion.

31.“In the Second Ceremony for Exceptional Students Organized by the Islamic Bloc in Northern Gaza, Sheikh Yassin: The Current Palestinian Generation is the Generation of Liberation and the Struggle Continues Regardless of Our Sacrifices” [Arabic], Palestine Information Center, July 7, 2001, at www.palestine-info/arabic/palestoday/dailynews/2001/july01/7-7/details.htm.

32.In the 2003 elections for representatives of the UNRWA union in the Gaza Strip, Hamas-affiliated candidates–formally identified with the Islamic Bloc–gained 23 out of 27 seats. These victories made it possible for Hamas candidates to fully constitute the executive committee of the union. Hamas Scores Sweeping Victory in UNRWA Elections,” Palestine Information Center, June 10, 2003, at

33.Allison Kaplan Sommer, “UNRWA on Trial,” Reform Judaism (Winter 2002), p. 42.

34.Yagil Henkin, “Urban Warfare and the Lessons of Jenin,” Azure 15 (Summer 2003), p. 53; Ronen Bergman, Authority Given (Tel Aviv: Yediot Aharonot, 2002), p. 266. [Hebrew]

35.From the 2003 report of the US General Accounting Office, detailing an investigation of UNRWA operations.

36.Interview with the author, December 14, 2003. Gold was serving as a consultant to the IDF at the time.

37.Isabel Kershner, “The Refugees’ Choice?” The Jerusalem Report, August 12, 2002, pp. 24-26.

38.Peter Hansen, “The Response of Western Governments and the U.N. to the Humanitarian Crisis and Its Political Implications,” The Politics of Humanitarianism in the Occupied Territories, conference at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, April 20-21, 2004.

39.“Canada Looking at UN Agency over Palestinian Connection,” CBC News, October 3, 2004, at


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