Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Times of Israel today:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rang in the New Year Monday night by declaring that 2013 would be the year that saw Palestinian independence.
April, 2010:
Citing Mahatma Gandhi, Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad has said his people would not tolerate injustice after enduring decades of Israeli occupation and predicted an independent Palestinian state by August 2011.
December 31, 2001:
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has predicted that 2002 will bring independence to the Palestinians.

Mr Arafat delivered his year-end speech on Palestinian television after thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip took to the streets to hold rallies and to bury those killed a day earlier in confrontations with Israeli troops.

The Palestinian leader has made similar forecasts for the past several years, when ongoing peace negotiations with Israel offered the prospect of a resolution to decades of conflict in the Middle East.
May, 1996:
Arafat also predicted that an independent Palestinian state would be created by the end of this century, saying, "It is coming. No one can hide the sun with his fingers."

  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Let's see:

Zionist international banking cartel controls the US economy:

The United States impending financial crisis - dubbed “fiscal cliff” - is nothing more than political theater to keep Americans subordinate, an analyst tells Press TV.
Zionist regime practising Nazi-style occupation policies

Many of Israel’s dominant political parties espouse [Nazi] goals for Zionism, which many observers believe take a page from the Nazi playbook when it comes to expansion not only in the occupied territories of Palestine but beyond to the Golan Heights of Syria, southern Lebanon, Sinai, eastern Libya, northern Iraq, and even further afield.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said on Saturday that the US and Zionist regime are behind the Syrian crisis.
Zionists, Saudis exacerbate Shia-Sunni divide
The United States along with Israel have partnered with Saudi Arabia to spread division among Muslims in the Middle East, a prominent political analyst tells Press TV.
Nice to see everything is normal!
  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • ,
Life in Gaza, from the Gaza NGO Safety Office:

18 DEC, 0900hrs: Massive demos. will be organized at 1000hrs near UNSCO office, GC, in support of Pal. prisoners. NGO staff advised to avoid the area.

20 DEC, 1000hrs: A sit-in will be organized at 1100hrs in front of UNSCO office, GC. NGO staff advised to avoid the area.

26 DEC, 0900hrs: Palestinian prisoners Association will organize a demo. at 1100hrs in front of UNDP office in GC in support of Pal. prisoners. NGO staff advised to avoid the area.

30 DEC, 1100hrs: A demo. is to be organized in front of UNSCO office, GC, in solidarity with Pal. prisoners. NGO staff advised to avoid area.

31 DEC, 0845hrs: Islamic Jihad will organize a demo. on 1000hrs starting from Palestine Square through Omar Al Mokhtar Street toward ICRC office, GC, in support of Pal. prisoners. NGO staff advised to avoid the area.

31 DEC, 1100hrs: Fatah supporters are holding a demo. starting from Al Azhar University toward Al Saraya compound, GC. NGO staff advised to avoid the area.
If the protests are so peaceful, what are the NGO staff - people who are there to help Gazans - afraid of?
  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ian:

Barry Rubin: A Paradox of U.S. Middle East Policy: The Friend Who Acts like an Enemy is an Enemy
"Yet given the current situation, especially in the Middle East, a realistic policy would make the enemies’ list seem too long and discouraging. In political and diplomatic terms that means the truth will be covered up. The important question is: How far does a country have to go, how futile and even counterproductive do the pay-offs have to be, before it is no longer treated as a friend."

Saturday people, Sunday people
“Saturday People, Sunday People” is the title of a new, mesmerizing book by Lela Gilbert, an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute and author of 60 books, including several on the widespread persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, a phenomenon that is reaching epidemic proportions with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

What Do Abbas's Latest Threats Really Mean? by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Why doesn't Abbas consider the possibility of handing the "keys" to another Palestinian? Abbas apparently believes that if he cannot lead the Palestinian Authority no one else should — that if he comes down, then the entire Palestinian Authority should also collapse. A changing of the guard is something that the US and the EU, the major funders of Abbas and his associates, could play a major role in bringing about."

Two-thirds of Israelis support peace with Palestinians that ensures security, polls find
"The public’s support of a peace agreement surged when the plan was upgraded to include certain “perks”, such as a defense alliance with the US, a demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza, the construction of a strong security fence along the border, and a pan-Arab readiness to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. Both polls found that in those cases, over 75% of Israelis would be highly supportive of an agreement with the Palestinians."

Miracle Saves Baby from Rock-Throwing Terrorist
A rock-throwing Arab teen nearly killed a baby Sunday morning when the huge rock he hurled at the car crashed a few inches from the infant.

BBC Watch: BBC confuses armistice lines with borders yet again
"The BBC’s claim that a return to a “pre-1967 border” would “give Damascus control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee” is therefore inaccurate as the only border in existence prior to 1967 was the one agreed upon in 1923 by France and Britain which left access to the lake within the borders of Mandate Palestine."

CAMERA: Pat Buchanan Rants Against "Wolves" Opposing Hagel, Cites E 1 Canard
"Buchanan's latest rantings against "neocons" and "bellicose" Israelis and the "wolves" who want to throw Hagel overboard are a reminder that Buckley's moral leadership is sorely needed today."

French paper to publish comic book life of Muhammad
French magazine infamous for publishing Prophet Muhammad cartoons plans to release illustrated biography of Islam's founder

Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator
Because this is what his writing actually looks like.

PMW: Official PA daily: Be’er Sheva is a Palestinian city
“Palestinian Media Watch has reported in the past that the PA daily presents many Israeli cities and sites as parts of "Palestine." Lod, Acre, Tiberias, and even Tel Aviv have all been presented as "Palestinian" or "occupied" cities, as have places like Mount Carmel and Mount Meron.”

Australia's Grand Mufti meets Hamas
"AUSTRALIA'S Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed has met with the hierarchy of Hamas, the Palestinian party listed by the Gillard government as a terrorist organisation.
Dr Mohamed, who has been styled as a moderate since taking the top Australian Muslim post, last week expressed his happiness at being in Gaza, describing it as the land of pride and martyrdom."

Al-Qaeda puts gold bounty on head of Jewish US ambassador in Yemen
Terror group also offers some $23,000 to anyone who kills an American soldier

UN envoy estimates 100,000 Syrians could die in upcoming year
The ongoing war is ‘very, very bad’ Lakhdar Brahimi says, warning that the ‘situation is deteriorating’

Iran says Patriot batteries in Turkey meant to protect Israel
Tehran claims NATO-backed anti-missile system not being used to shield Turkey from Syrian civil war
“Iranian military officials believe that the reason for deploying NATO’s Patriot missiles in Turkey is to prevent Iran from responding to the Zionist regime [of Israel] if it attacked Iran,” spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in Ankara Saturday, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV."

Libya church blast kills two Egyptians: embassy
An explosion rocked a Christian Coptic church near the western Libyan city of Misrata on Sunday, killing two people and wounding two others, all of them Egyptians, an Egyptian diplomat told AFP.

Preaching the gospel of liberalism to the Jordanian street
"Mudar Zahran, one of the leaders of his country’s burgeoning Dignity Revolution, says spring is in the air. And, he claims, a post-Hashemite Jordan will have huge implications for the Palestinians, who may be forced to choose — Western-style secular democracy or a government led by the likes of Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal "

CNN: IDF Use of Twitter One of “Top 12 Tech Stories of 2012″
"CNN ranked Israel’s use of micro-blogging site Twitter during the Jewish state’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense on its list of the “Top 12 Tech Stories in 2012,” for revolutionizing how involved parties communicate with each other during wartime."

Israel Launches Natural Gas Platform in Coveted Tamar Gas Field
“Natural gas will not only make electricity production more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper, it is a giant step toward freeing us from dependence on foreign energy sources, especially Arab oil,” said Israeli Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau."

UN Watch: Moynihan’s Moment: the historic 1975 U.N. speech in response to “Zionism is Racism”
"On the occasion of the acclaimed new book “Moynihan’s Moment” by McGill University historian Gil Troy, we feature the historic 1975 speech delivered right after the U.N. declared that “Zionism is racism.” The resolution was repealed in 1991, but its spirit tragically lives on in the form of the U.N.’s enduring obsession with condemning Israel."

Plus, from Zvi:

The Shalom Hospital staff are "a light unto the nations" - restoring light, one pair of eyes at a time.
American President Barack Obama’s step-grandmother underwent emergency eye surgery in an Israeli-run hospital in Equatorial Guinea last week.
Sarah Onyango Obama, the president’s [grand]father’s third wife, lives in the remote Kenyan village of Nyang’oma Kogelo and suffered from an unspecified optical ailment.
Guinean Health Minister Tomas Mecheba Fernandez escorted the First Step-Grandmother to the hospital in advance of her surgery by a team of Israeli doctors.
The procedure was successful and Obama is making a full recovery, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.
“All of Africa is talking about your hospital and of the fact that you don’t need to fly to Europe to get medical treatment,” said an enthusiastic Obama following her operation.The Shalom Hospital, located in the Guinean capital city of Malabo, was founded by Israeli entrepreneurs Yardena Ovadya and Ariyeh Horesh and is serviced by over 100 Israeli doctors, nurses and staff. The hospital provides medical treatment for underprivileged residents of Equatorial Guinea and other neighboring African countries.
Sarah Onyango Obama is, incidentally, a Muslim. Those Israelis really "hate Muslims", eh?
It is wonderful to read about Mrs. Obama's joy and her enthusiasm for Shalom Hospital. It is also wonderful to see that this was an occasion for Guinea's health minister to pay an official visit to the hospital and meet the Israeli doctors. This example of pure good news stands in stark contrast to the mindless hatred radiating from the ANC in South Africa, which has officially endorsed Bigotry and Double Standards and which has thereby officially raised the stakes in the campaign to obliterate Israel.
Jordanian civilians living near the border with Syria reported heavy clashes between the Jordanian and Syrian armies late Saturday night, during which the Syrian army allegedly crossed the border and used attack helicopters.
ROME (AP) — Rita Levi-Montalcini, a biologist who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, died at her home in Rome on Sunday. She was 103 and had worked well into her final years.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, announcing her death in a statement, called it a great loss “for all of humanity.” He praised her as someone who represented “civic conscience, culture and the spirit of research of our time.”
Italy’s so-called “Lady of the Cells,” a Jew who lived through anti-Semitic discrimination and the Nazi invasion, became one of her country’s leading scientists and shared the Nobel medicine prize in 1986 with American biochemist Stanley Cohen for their groundbreaking research carried out in the United States. Her research increased the understanding of many conditions, including tumors, developmental malformations, and senile dementia.
Dr. Levi-Montalcini conducted some of her early research at home while hiding from the Nazis. In 1947, she was invited to the US, where she remained for 20 years before returning home to become director of the laboratory of cell biology of the National Council of Scientific Research in Rome. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1986, together with her collaborator Stanley Cohen. She was one of Italy's most admired women.
Dr. Levi-Montalcini visited Israel's Technion early in 2012 as a show of support for Israel against those who would promote BDS in Europe.
Ms. Levi-Montalcini remained actively involved in scientific research until the end of her life.
The world is much poorer for the loss of this remarkable woman, but her life and work have been a blessing for all humankind.
  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
The semi-official Fatah newspaper Palestine Press reports that Palestinian Arab leaders are blaming the US for the fact that Arab nations are not fulfilling their monetary pledges to the PA.

According to this bizarre logic, the US was so upset at the Arab support for the UN vote to upgrade the status of "Palestine" to a non-member state that it has been punishing Arab nations for their vote. This in turn is forcing the Arab nations to renege on their promises to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the PA.

They quote Deputy Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abdel Rahim Mallouh, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, as saying that there is American pressure exerted on the Arab countries to create a "siege" of the Palestinian Authority and to choke the Palestinian people financially.

Ahmad Assaf, spokesman for Fatah, says that Arab leaders were supposed to visit Ramallah to pledge their financial support to the PA but changed their minds, and he has heard that this was because of pressure from the United States. He says that Arab nations have not sent any money over for two months.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Front and member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Dr. Wasel Abu Yousef, claims that the US and Israel are imposing an economic blockade on the "Palestinian state," and prevented the Arab countries and donor countries from supporting the Palestinians financially, saying that these countries bowed to U.S. pressure. And that the US supports Israel building homes in the West Bank.

None of them have quite explained why Arab nations have been reneging on their pledges to the PA for years before the UN vote. Now that they can find a way to blame the US, they can pretend that their Arab brethren give a damn about their cause, despite all evidence to the contrary.

The funny thing is that even their Arab friends are not willing to tell them, straight out, that the decisions of Palestinian Arab leaders themselves is what has led to the disillusionment by their Arab brethren. They could have accepted peace plans in the past but instead started a terror war against Israel which paved the way for Hamas' ascendancy among their people.

The Arab leaders see things quite clearly, and they do not want to throw more money into a leadership that has zero ability to lead.

  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Egyptian media have been in a non-stop uproar since Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian said last week that Jews who lived in Egypt should be allowed to return in the context of allowing Israel to become a Palestinian Arab state.

People from politicians to football coaches have been criticizing Erian for even considering allowing Jews into Egypt. The leader of the Salafist Nour party said his statements were "not acceptable for any sane person."

Erian tried to clarify his comments. he said that in ten years, after the "libration of Palestine," there will be no Israel anymore, and Israeli Jews would have no place to live. He is claiming his remarks were in that context. Erian added that he said his statements to help bring peace; as Jews leaving Israel would allow room for Palestinian Arabs to move there.

He also said that Nasser didn't expel the Jews but that they left on their own after the 1956 war.

As far as the criticism that a return of Jews to Egypt would open up the nation to potential lawsuits of billions of dollars for Jews whose property was confiscated, Erian replied that (of course) the West would bankroll the return of Jews to Egypt and pay all of the potential legal claims.

  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Al Arabiya:
A nun sounded the alarm that the Syrian conflict was becoming sectarian when she said that a Christian man was beheaded by Syrian rebels in the northern town of Ras al-Ayn on the Turkish border, and his body was fed to dogs, a British newspaper reported Monday.

Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix speaking from her sanctuary in Lebanon said the newlywed taxi driver, Andrei Arbashe, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that the rebels fighting against beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad were behaving like bandits, The Daily Mail reported.

The 38-year-old Arbashe, who was soon to be a father, was found headless by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs, Sister Agnes-Miriam, who is mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, added.

“His only crime was his brother criticized the rebels, accused them of acting like bandits, which is what they are.”

...The 60-year-old nun condemned Britain and the West for supporting anti-Assad fighters in spite of growing evidence showing human rights violations committed by them. She listed murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery as rising crimes.

“The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,” Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. “They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.”
I forget - are we supporting the cut-throat genocidal dictator or the Islamist beheaders?
  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Mahmoud Abbas' latest empty threat to dissolve the PA as a pathetic attempt to strengthen his negotiating position has boomeranged on him.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' "political bureau," responded to the threat today by saying that if Abbas is so unwilling to lead, Hamas is more than ready to take over the onerous job of leadership.

Marzouk asked, "Why would [Abbas] want to hand power over to Netanyahu?" He said that if he would give control to Hamas then there would be a successful "reconciliation" (with Hamas controlling all of the PalArab territories). He also noted that while Abbas was saying this, Hamas was basking its its "victory" over Israel.

Abbas showed yet again that his leadership abilities are nil, and his pathetic attempt to use threats as a substitute for leadership is only helping his political rivals who will inevitably succeed him.

  • Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
UNRWA stands for the "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East."

In the early days of UNRWA in the 1950s, a large part of its mandate was to work with Middle Eastern nations to find jobs for the refugees, the "Works" part of its title. UNRWA worked on some projects to build roads in Jordan and to create and market small handicrafts in 1950; and in 1953 they created a farming cooperative in Jordan for the refugees. In general, however, Arab nations did not support these works programs because they did not want to do anything to make the Palestinian Arab population permanent residents in their countries.

The refugees themselves also showed little interest in the programs because they were already getting free housing, medical aid, food and education from UNRWA.

By the late 1950s, UNRWA all but abandoned their attempts at finding decent, honorable work for the refugees, and the "W" in its name became anachronistic.

However, one accidental works program has become a "success," and that is employment at UNRWA itself.

Some 99% of UNRWA employees are Palestinian Arabs themselves, meaning that UNRWA employs about 29,000 Palestinian Arabs. The employees and their families do not regard these jobs as normal work; rather they regard them as yet another entitlement that the West owes them.

Which is why when UNRWA announced it would not be renewing the contracts of some workers, the camps are in a virtual uprising.

As Ma'an reports today:
Popular committee heads in West Bank refugee camps on Sunday threatened more protests against the UN agency giving services to the camps.

They wrote to UNRWA operations director Felipe Sanchez over the cutbacks which the UN agency says is necessary due to a drop in aid.

Protests have blocked off UNRWA facilities in the West Bank several times in recent weeks, after the agency announced it is unable to renew the contracts of 114 employees.

The popular committee chiefs wrote to Sanchez: "Dialogue is the shortest ways to solve the current problem and in case you insist on your policy of turning your back to refugees, we will announce a whole strike in all camps."

UNRWA says the layoffs are the "best possible choice."

"We wanted to avoid harming our services as a result of budget limitations," the agency said in a statement last week.
UNRWA had a choice of what to do with its budget shortfall - cut off services or let some employees go. They chose, reasonably, to keep the same level of service and to trim some of the fat.

But the Palestinian Arabs are not only willing to engage in violent protests to keep the jobs of a small number of people - they are willing to ensure that the services themselves are disrupted!

To be sure, they have protested just as vehemently when there were even mere rumors of service cutbacks in the past. However, the degree of these protests over some hundred jobs shows that Palestinian Arabs not only regard free food, shelter and medicine as their right, but employment as well.

UNRWA has managed to create a third and fourth generation of people in "refugee camps" whose sense of entitlement is supreme. It is the ultimate welfare state. The idea that people should work hard to succeed is utterly foreign to people who only find a sense of urgency when they protest that they deserve more.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ian:

Protesting E1 is not grounded in Judaism
"These rabbis are transposing western liberal political philosophy onto Judaism. Their ideas are not rooted in Torah, but in modern political thinking. Another Palestinian state in the West Bank could pose a mortal danger to Israel. The removal of Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon and Gaza has created two terrorist regimes. Israeli citizens have suffered three short wars due to these concessions. Unless there is a total change in the culture and aspirations of the Palestinians there is a grave risk that a state in the West Bank could be a staging area for attacks into Israel’s heartland. Instead of missiles in Ashkelon, they will fall on Tel Aviv. Jewish Law is clear, when it comes to pikuach nefesh – endangering life – we cannot take chances.”

CAMERA: CAMERA Top Ten MidEast Media Mangles of 2012
"Every day, Israel is assailed with false accusations from the media. And every day, CAMERA is on the front lines in the battle for accuracy and fairness.This year, our researchers and analysts tackled many of the worst offenders. Among them, our…"

BBC Watch: BBC fails to report on UN resolution to subject more minorities to violence in Syria
“Notably ignored by the BBC is the fact that on December 18th – when no fewer than nine anti-Israel resolutions were passed in one day – one of those resolutions called for the Golan
Heights to be returned “forthwith” to Syrian control.
As the Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, noted:
At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling and logically absurd.

Abbas Makes It Official: All of Israel is Palestine
The Fatah party, headed by Abbas, has made official what it has been saying more quietly and adopts a new logo: All of Israel as Palestine.
"The logo marks the 48th anniversary of the founding of Fatah by Yasser Arafat and includes a map with the PA flag and a map of Israel that appears to be a depiction of the black and white checkered kefiyah, a symbol of the violent intifada, and the slogan “the state and victory."

UK-based Arab HR group accuses PA of abuse
From 2007-2011, the PA detained 13,271 Palestinians, and tortured 96% of them resulting in six deaths, report says.
"An Arab human rights group based in London accused the Palestinian Authority of inhumane practices and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in a scathing report published on Friday.
The Arab Organization for Human Rights has put the primary blame for the human rights abuses on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and called on the UN, Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take urgent action."

IDF nabs Palestinian policeman in Hebron, after twice failing to arrest him
"The IDF arrested a Palestinian policeman outside Hebron on Friday — finally catching a wanted man it had failed twice previously to arrest.
Firas Abu Aziza, 27, was detained at a checkpoint near Yatta, a village outside Hebron. It was not immediately clear why he had been sought.
Aziza had escaped the army’s first attempt to catch him. A second effort, in Hebron on December 6, ended in clashes with some 250 Palestinians during which an IDF soldier was punched in the face. "
Nine succumb to swine flu in the West Bank
PA Health Ministry says 187 people have contracted the disease in recent weeks; Israel monitoring situation

Hezbollah's cocaine Jihad
Faced with dwindling Iranian funding, Shiite terror group partners with Mexican drug cartels; uses millions of dollars in drug money to support weapon acquisition habit
"The US' concern about the smuggling tunnels increased exponentially in 2009, when a Department of Homeland Security wiretap derived a recording of Professor Abdallah Nafisi, a Kuwaiti clergyman and a known al-Qaeda recruiter, boasting about the ease by which nonconventional warfare and weapons of mass destruction can be smuggled into the US, through the Mexican drug tunnels.
"Ten pounds of anthrax in a medium-size suitcase, carried by a Jihad warrior through the tunnels can kill 300,000 Americans in one hour," he said. "It will make 9/11 look like peanuts. There's no need for plans… Just one courageous man, to spread this confetti on the White House lawn. Then we will really be able to celebrate."

Report: 150 Corpses Found in Syrian School Alleged massacre took place in Deir Baalba. Twenty said dead in Aleppo.
At least 150 charred corpses were found Saturday in Deir Baalba in Homs, Syria, according to a report by the Shaam Network that was quoted in Al Arabiya.

Athens put Israel 1st in line to buy up Greece’s infrastructure
The further Erdoğan pushes Israel away, the closer Athens is to Jerusalem.
"In recent months, top Greek officials visited Israel to find investors. They met with a number of top Israeli business leaders and presented the various opportunities to invest in and own Greek infrastructure.
These meetings have already led to a number of signed deals. Israeli mega-corp Elbit won a tender to buy the old Athens airport, and a number of hotels were purchased by Israelis in hopes of boosting Israeli tourism to Greece. An Israeli company is also in talks to buy Greece’s national oil company."

Spain eyes Israeli port security technology
Madrid, Jerusalem sign deal meant to promote maritime port projects
"A collaboration with the ports of Spain will promote the development of strategic projects, which will help cement Ashdod Port's leading status among the maritime ports of the Middle East," Gideon Siterman, chairman of the Ashdod Port's board of directors, said in a statemen."

Parkinson’s treatment may boost creativity
An Israeli neurologist compiled studies on patients who suddenly started drawing, sculpting or writing while on dopamine-stimulating drugs.
"Israeli neurologist Dr. Rivka Inzelberg noticed for years that patients taking dopamine-stimulating medication to control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease didn’t bring her the customary box of chocolates at holiday time. Instead they brought drawings, sculptures or poems they’d created despite never having been artistically inclined before."
  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Der Spiegel has a report on a buried Christian empire in Yemen. But it also mentions some tantalizing facts about the Jews at the time:
The social structure in Zafar also appeared to be unique. The city had a large Jewish community, as evidenced by a seal with a Torah niche. Hebrew inscriptions were discovered. Zafar's residents also included Christians, who built a church there in 354 AD. Arabs who worshipped old idols lived in the alleys.

But this peaceful, multicultural community soon came to an end, as tensions began to mount in the 5th century, and Arabia was transformed into a front.

The Byzantine Empire, bristling with weapons, operated in the west, and its vassals kept making inroads toward the desert. They were accompanied by Christian missionaries, who brought the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the shepherds on the edge of the Rub' al Khali, the sand desert that makes up much of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.

These Sacred Heart imperialists confronted the Persian realm of the Sassanids, with its archers and armies of bearded soldiers clad in heavy metal armor. The Jews, who lived by the tens of thousands in the oases, were to some extent aligned with this power.

It was a confrontation between east and west, and everyone was forced to choose a side.

This also applied to Zafar. To stop the advance of Christianity, individual Arab kings initially converted to Judaism. The entire ruling class of the realm eventually followed suit. From then on, people were given names like Yehuda and Yussuf.

Then they took up arms. In approximately 520 AD, they attacked the Christian colony of Najran, where there were churches and monasteries. Countless Christians were slaughtered. The shocking news traveled all the way to Europe.
I had never heard of this, but found an old article in Midstream that went into more detail:
The Jews became especially numerous and powerful in the southern part of Arabia (notably in Yemen), a rich and fertile land of incense and spices and a way station on the routes to Africa, India, and the Orient. This was the Arabia Felix ("happy land") of the classical geographers, a region, its inhabitants boasted, "the very dust of which was gold, and whose men were the healthiest, and whose women gave birth without pain." Unlike their brethren in the Hejaz, the Jews of Arabia Felix lived without racial or political cohesion, scattered among the Arabs. Many families wandered about as nomads or were engaged in growing spices. Others had settled as merchants in the ports of the area, at the time centers of world trade, from which goods from India and Persia were trans-shipped to Egypt and Byzantium.

The Jews of southern Arabia differed from the native tribes in one respect only -- their religion. They clung unswervingly to it, observing the dietary laws, honoring the Sabbath, and celebrating the holidays of their people. They communicated with the Jews of Palestine and, even after the end of the Patriarchate in 429 CE, willingly subordinated themselves to the sages in Tiberias, whence they received, as well as from the Babylonian academies, religious instruction ind interpretations of the Bible.

Although living among a pagan population, the Jews of Yemen enjoyed great prestige among their Arab neighbors. A somewhat similar situation existed in the Hejaz where Arab tales have preserved the memory of many Jewish heroes and poets. The common Arab phrase, "Faithful as Samuel," for example, is a reference to a Jew, Samuel ibn Adiya, who won proverbial renown for his honesty, high principles, and courage. Some of the principal tribes of the Arabian Peninsula proudly traced to statements in the Bible their origins and kinship to the Jews. The northern tribes of the Hejaz regarded Ishmael, son of Abraham and half-brother to Isaac, as their ancestor; the southern tribes of the peninsula considered themselves the descendants of Joktan, younger son of Eber, and a great grandson of Shem. (Gen. 10:26-29, and Chron. 1:19,20) Living in such congenial surroundings, the Jews enjoyed complete freedom, and, being subjected to no restraints, were thus able to defend their religious opinions without fear and to communicate them with impunity to their pagan neighbors. Under these circumstances, it was scarcely surprising that many sheikhs developed an interest in Judaism and became converts. When a sheikh became a Jew, his whole clan usually followed him.

Especially remarkable in the history of Arab-Jewish relations is the story of the conversion to Judaism of several kings of Himyar. The Himyarites, a powerful tribe, gradually expanded their territory by defeating the inhabitants of neighboring entities (Sabea, Raidan, Hadramut, and Yamnat) to form a viable independent kingdom approximating in its boundaries to present-day Yemen. At the height of its power, the Himyarite kingdom dominated the entire Arabian Peninsula.

About the year 500 CE, the King of Himyar, Abu-Kariba Assad, undertook a military expedition into northern Arabia in an effort to eliminate Byzantine influence. The Byzantine emperors had long eyed the Arabian Peninsula as a region in which to extend their influence, thereby to control the lucrative spice trade and the route to India. Without actually staging a conquest of the region, the Byzantines hoped to establish a protectorate over the pagan Arabs by converting them to Christianity. The cross would then bear commercial advantages as it did in Ethiopia. The Byzantines had made some progress in northern Arabia but had met with little success in Himyar.

Abu-Kariba's forces reached Yathrib and, meeting no resistance and not expecting any treachery from the inhabitants, they passed through the city, leaving a son of the king behind as governor. Scarcely had Abu-Kariba proceeded farther, when he received news that the people of Yathrib had killed his son. Smitten with grief; he turned back in order to wreak bloody vengeance on the perfidious city. After cutting down the palm trees from which the inhabitants derived their main income, Abu-Kariba laid siege to the city. The Jews of Yathrib fought side by side with Arab friends and fellow inhabitants to defend their town and harried the besiegers with sudden sallies. The siege was about to drag on when Abu-Kariba suddenly fell severely ill. Two Jewish scholars in Yathrib, Kaab and Assad by name, hearing of their enemy's misfortune, called on the king in his camp, and used their knowledge of medicine to restore him to health. While attending the king, they pleaded with him to lift the siege and make peace. The sages' appeal persuaded Abu-Kariba; he called off his attack and also embraced Judaism along with his entire army. At his insistence, the two Jewish savants accompanied the Himyarite king back to his capital and there converted many of his subjects. The conversions, however, were not total, and there remained as many pagans as Jews in the land.

And then this:
It seems the conversion of Dhu-Nuwas did not go uncontested. Hints of this resistance can be found in a fantastic story related by the ninth-century Muslim historian al-Tabari. He writes that when the Himyarite king returned to his capital after becoming a Jew, some of the townspeople shut the gates, would not let him in, and prepared to rebel against him for having abandoned the faith of his ancestors. However; Dhu-Nuwas was able to prove to them that the religion of the Jews was the true faith.

It appears that in the capital, there was a cave in which a person who did not speak the truth would die immediately upon entering. His body would burst into flames and be totally consumed. According to al-Tabari, idols and their priests, as well as Jewish sages with scrolls of the Torah were then brought into the cave; the fire destroyed the idols and the priests, but did not touch the Jews at all.

With its elements of magic removed, al-Tabari's tale touched on a real incident. In 517, the enthronement of a Jewish king led Christians to seize a major town of the Himyarite kingdom. After mustering an army, Dhu-Nuwas inflicted a costly defeat on the rebels, taking many prisoners, and destroying their church.

As a zealous advocate of Judaism, Dhu-Nuwas carried out some rash acts that eventually involved him in difficulties and brought misfortune to him, his kingdom, and the Jews of Himyar.

Thus, on learning of the sad plight of Jewish communities in the Byzantine Empire, he resolved to force the Christian emperor to stop persecuting his Jewish subjects and to treat them justly. To accomplish this objective, Dhu-Nuwas ordered several Christian merchants who had come to his capital on business to be seized and executed. News of this high-handed deed soon reached Byzantium. A challenge of this sort could not go unpunished, but the Byzantine emperor, Justin I, was embroiled in a war with the Persians and a Samaritan revolt in Palestine. He decided, therefore, to write to the Christian king of Ethiopia, who was a good deal closer to Himyar, to act as Christendom's avenger. The Ethiopian king was more than anxious to oblige the emperor's request.

In 518, when Ethiopian troops landed in Himyar, Dhu-Nuwas's forces soundly defeated the invaders. Flushed with success, he now saw himself as the champion of Arabian Jewry. It has been suggested by some scholars that Dhu-Nuwas's ultimate objective was the creation of a Jewish empire stretching from Eretz Israel to Himyar.

... The Negus of Ethiopia had put together and equipped a powerful army, and the Byzantine emperor had provided his ally with the necessary fleet to transport the troops to Himyar. Dhu-Nuwas took measures to prevent the landing of the Ethiopian army by barring the most likely invasion points with chains. His efforts, however, proved fruitless, and the Ethiopian troops were able to disembark near Tafara on the Red Sea coast. Asbaha had taken steps to inform the Christian Arabs of the region of his plans, and they attacked the Himyarites as Dhu-Nuwas deployed his army to meet the invasion force of the Ethiopians. In the ensuing battle, the Jewish king fell back on his faithful, courageous cavalry to repel the invaders, but they were overwhelmed by the larger army of the enemy. The capital of Dhu-Nuwas fell into the hands of the enemy, along with his wife, and all the treasures of his kingdom. Realizing that all was lost, and unwilling to be taken 'alive, the impetuous king charged his steed over a great rock jutting over the sea. The waves swept his body out to sea. So died the last Jewish king of Himyar.

The victorious Ethiopians overran Himyar. With fire and sword they raged through the land, plundering and massacring its inhabitants. They especially singled out the Jews for their killing spree; they considered it an atoning sacrifice for the Christian martyrs of Najran.

The Ethiopian occupation stimulated new resistance, as the Jews fought on from the mountains of eastern Himyar. Although the invaders were able to hold on to Tafara and the coastal area along the Red Sea, Hadramut, and the ports along the Arabia Sea held out and remained in Jewish hands. With the help of the Persians, the Jews gradually drove out the Ethiopians from everywhere except their Red Sea base. In the decades preceding the rise of Islam, the struggle for control of southern Arabia seesawed between Persia, the Byzantine Empire, and Ethiopia.

In 717, Yemen came under Muslim rule.
My guess is that the "conversion" was no more permanent than that of the Khazars a few centuries later. It is certainly an interesting piece of Jewish history, though.

(h/t Marten)
  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
On November 17, I published the news that  Mahmoud Sadallah,  cradled by the Egyptian premier, reported as a victim of an Israeli airstrike in the photo caption at The Mirror, was in fact killed by a Hamas rocket.

On November 23, the Mirror quietly deleted the article without any admission that it made a mistake. As I said then:
Instead of admitting the mistake, the Daily Mirror consigned the article to the proverbial "bit-bucket." It simply erased the article and pretended that it never made the mistake to begin with.

Puts your faith back into journalism, doesn't it?

It always amazes me that major, reputable media act with such immaturity when faced with their mistakes. They don't realize simple psychology: properly issuing corrections does not detract from their reputation, it enhances it.
Finally, on the day after Christmas when news readership is at an annual low, the Mirror issued a correction:
On 16 November we reported that the Egyptian Prime Minister kissed a Palestinian boy who had been killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. We would like to make clear that the cause of the boy's death is unknown.

The Egyptian PM claimed that the boy died in an Israeli airstrike but many others have claimed he died as a result of a Hamas rocket. We are happy to set the record straight.
They sure sound happy, don't they?

Notice that they wrote that the cause of the boy's death is unknown even after Human Rights Watch admitted that it was in fact a Hamas rocket that killed him.

(h/t Emet)

  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Excerpts from a lengthy report in Ha'aretz:

A year ago, for the first time, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel postal service established a post office in the village of Isawiyah, which lies below Mount Scopus, within the municipal boundaries. Along with the opening of the new branch − part of a plan to improve postal services in East Jerusalem − the village streets were given names and the houses received numbers. These developments followed a petition to the High Court of Justice, submitted by residents with the aid of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. But the municipality could not find a site for the post office, since most of the buildings in the village were illegal structures, so their future was thus in question.

Finally, a site for the post office was improvised between the support pillars of the neighborhood sports center.

However, on the night before the scheduled festive dedication of the new branch, which the mayor was to attend, the site was torched and slogans against normalization and collaboration with the municipality were scrawled on the walls.

“In the morning I get an urgent call from the residents,” Tsachar says. “They say: ‘Don’t ask − people tried to burn down the place.’ When I got there I found 20-30 people milling around and cursing: ‘Look what the sons-of-bitches did.’ I told them it was not a problem, because the structure was made of iron. ‘It’s just scorched a little. We can clean it up and go ahead with the ceremony,’ I told them. They organized and cleaned it up, and to this day the post office is operating just fine.”

Barkat showed up that day as scheduled to dedicate the site. His convoy was subjected to some stone-throwing on the way, but the local mukhtar, Darwish Darwish, joined a group of villagers who positioned themselves near the car to protect the mayor and the other officials.

The story of Isawiyah’s post office is a microcosm of the contrasting trends unfolding in East Jerusalem. Along with the nationalist radicalization, widespread support for Hamas and violent clashes reported in the media, far-reaching changes are taking place among the local Palestinians. These processes can be described as “Israelization,” “normalization” or just plain adaptation. The Israeli authorities, with the Jerusalem Municipality at the forefront, are encouraging and in some cases fomenting this process, and displaying surprising bureaucratic flexibility along the way.

Examples of this trend are legion. They include: increasing numbers of applications for an Israeli ID card; more high-school students taking the Israeli matriculation exams; greater numbers enrolling in Israeli academic institutions; a decline in the birthrate; more requests for building permits; a rising number of East Jerusalem youth volunteering for national service; a higher level of satisfaction according to polls of residents; a revolution in the approach to health services; a survey showing that in a final settlement more East Jerusalem Palestinians would prefer to remain under Israeli rule, and so on.

But dry statistics tell only a small part of the story; other elements are not quantifiable. For example, there is the pronounced presence of Palestinians in the center of West Jerusalem, in malls, on the light-rail train and in the open shopping area in Mamilla, adjacent to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. These people are not street cleaners or dishwashers, but consumers and salespeople. Another phenomenon is the growing cooperation between merchants in the Old City and the municipality.

Everyone involved in developments in East Jerusalem agrees that a tectonic shift is occurring, the likes of which has not been known since the city came under Israeli rule in 1967. Opinion is divided about the source of the change. Some believe it sprang from below, propelled by the Palestinians’ feelings of despair and their belief that an independent state is not likely to come into being. Others think it is due to a revised approach to the eastern part of the city by Israeli authorities, spearheaded by the municipality. Everyone mentions the separation barrier, which abruptly cut off Jerusalem from its natural hinterland − the cities and villages of the West Bank − as a factor that compelled the Palestinians in Al Quds ‏(“the holy sanctuary”) to look westward, toward the Jews.

The huge light-rail project, which cuts across the city and greatly facilitates access from the eastern neighborhoods to the city center, is also contributing to the transformation. Most of these changes are occurring below the radar of the Israeli public, but their consequences could be dramatic, particularly with regard to the possibility of dividing Jerusalem − and the country. It is very possible that Jerusalem has already chosen the binational solution.

1. Education

Three months after Israel captured East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, the new school year began. The government, which by then had already annexed the eastern part of the city, sought to implement the Israeli curriculum in its public schools. However, the teachers, parents and principals adamantly refused. They launched a strike that became the symbol of the struggle by the Arabs of East Jerusalem against Israeli attempts to normalize the occupation. The strike persisted for two full years, until Israel finally capitulated and agreed to allow the Arab schools in Jerusalem to continue teaching according to the Jordanian curriculum. In time, that was superseded by the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians view that victory as a milestone in their resistance to Israel’s annexationist thrust. However, the triumph has begun to erode of late. Increasing numbers of parents now want their children to obtain an Israeli matriculation certificate, and more and more high-school graduates are attending special colleges that prepare them to enter the Israeli academic world. At present, there are three schools in East Jerusalem geared toward Israeli matriculation, while in others special programs are being launched with the same aim.

A school in Sur Baher, for example, initiated a track for Israeli matriculation last year. The school expected about 15 students to register, but 100 signed up − and the number is likely to grow in the years ahead.

2. Housing and water

There are hardly any water meters in East Jerusalem, because most of the homes were built without a permit, and it is prohibited to supply water or install a meter in an illegal structure. About two years ago, again after an appeal by ACRI, the municipal water corporation, Hagihon, came up with a creative legal solution. Instead of calling it a “water meter,” it’s now called a “control device.”

The change of name made it possible to circumvent the law and install water meters and a water supply system in thousands of homes − and to start charging for the service. About 10,000 of the devices have been installed in the past two years. Hagihon has also received hundreds of requests from families that want to disconnect from the Palestinian water network, which still supplies water to some of the northern sections of East Jerusalem, and tap into the Israeli grid. The reason: The water supply by the Palestinian company is sometimes erratic.

“We received so many requests from residents to be connected to the Israeli system,” Tsachar, the mayor’s adviser, says. “Let’s say I am an incorrigible Palestinian nationalist, but I also want to shower. What can I do? In that case, [asking to be supplied with] Israeli water is legitimate and pragmatic, and it will also be available all the time. I can fly a Palestinian flag next to the water container on the roof, but I would rather get the water on a regular basis. Now think about the ‘tower and stockade’ settlements [of the 1930s and 1940s]. Do you think they would have said, ‘We will not build a tower but will hook up to the Jordanian network, because it’s more practical’? Obviously not. So there is a process underway here. It’s something that cannot be ignored.”

The matter of issuing building permits provides another example of the authorities’ administrative flexibility in East Jerusalem. The main problem is that most residents cannot get a building permit because they do not have documents attesting to their ownership of property. To solve this problem, the municipality devised the so-called “Barkat procedure.”

“The problem is that if you don’t have confirmation of land ownership, the whole judicial system is stuck,” says Barkat. “We therefore created a mechanism in which the mukhtars, community directorate and municipality meet, and if they reach the conclusion that there is no reason not to believe someone who says the land is his, he gets a temporary permit.

After 20 years, if no one else claims ownership, it becomes permanent. This is a city in which legal creativity is a must. I would rather be right and smart than right and dumb.”

Among the achievements Barkat lists: investments in infrastructure and transportation, planning of neighborhoods, building of schools and more. To illustrate the altered perception on the Palestinian side, he recalls the events surrounding the city-sponsored Festival of Light in the Old City and the behavior of the merchants there. The festival, which focuses on sculptures and performances relating to the theme of light, was held for the third time this year.

“The first year we had a pilot program, only in the Jewish Quarter, and 100,000 people showed up,” Barkat says. “In the second year we held it in the Jewish Quarter and the Christian Quarter, and 200,000 people came. This year it was in all the quarters and there were 300,000 visitors. At first the merchants were afraid to open up for the event, because they got threats. But then they saw that one store opened and then another, and before you knew it they were all open. Everyone made a killing and people got used to the idea.”

3. Health

[I]n one area, the gap between the Jews in the west and their neighbors in the east has almost closed: public health. The past decade witnessed something of a mini-revolution in this sphere in Jerusalem. Until about 15 years ago, the Arabs of East Jerusalem were severely disadvantaged in terms of health care, mainly when it came to the health maintenance organizations. There were few clinics, physicians were unqualified, services were lacking. In the wake of the enactment of the National Health Law, which rewards the HMOs according to the number of members they have and their upgrading of various medical indices − none other than Leumit HMO, which is identified with the Revisionist Zionist movement − decided to enter the market in the eastern city. A major draw was the fact that the East Jerusalem population is young.

Around the same time, whether by chance or not, the Leumit logo also underwent a transformation: The long-time Star of David morphed into a flower. Within a few years, unbridled competition broke out between HMOs in the eastern city, which are run by local concessionaires − for the most part physicians, but in some cases businessmen.

The competition and privatization generated protests by organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights and ACRI. Their concern was that there was substandard supervision by the HMOs and a preference for making a profit instead of improving medical care. In the end, the process brought about a situation in which almost every neighborhood now has a number of clinics that boast advanced equipment. Following a number of cases in which ambulance drivers refused to enter Arab neighborhoods, some of the clinics now have their own forward ER units. In some cases the residents get free transportation to the clinics, free subscriptions to health clubs or free dental care, to ensure that they don’t switch to a rival HMO. ....

Prof. Yosef Frost, director of the Jerusalem district of Clalit, describes the health developments in East Jerusalem over the past few years as an international record.

“Take the quality indices, which are objective and universal, and examine the quality of medical service,” he says. “Four years ago, the indices were extremely low, whereas now they are almost equal to the Israeli national average. Some of the clinics in East Jerusalem are the leaders in the whole district; I could easily put them in the center of Tel Aviv.”

According to Frost, the health quality indices in East Jerusalem rose from a grade of 74 in 2009 to 87 today. That is the same grade the clinics in West Jerusalem receive, and just one point below the national average of Clalit clinics.

4. ID cards

... Interior Ministry data show that several hundred Palestinians from East Jerusalem received Israeli citizenship in each of the past few years. Lawyers who are involved in this process say the queue of applicants is getting longer all the time.

“The shame barrier has fallen,” says attorney Amnon Mazar, who specializes in applications for citizenship. “People have reached the conclusion that the PA will not be their salvation and that Israel is a cornucopia. So they do it for their personal benefit. People who obtain Israeli citizenship are no longer necessarily considered traitors to their nation. It’s the trend. They don’t feel they have anything to be ashamed of.”

The fall of the shame barrier was also discernible in a survey conducted among East Jerusalem residents by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy − an independent think tank − last January. The results were dramatic. One question was, “In the event of a permanent two-state solution, which state would you prefer to live in?” No fewer than 35 percent of the respondents chose Israel, 30 percent opted for Palestine and 35 percent refused to answer.

“It was a surprise,” admits Dr. David Pollock, who conducted the survey. “We thought people would not want to say or admit it, but they did. You can see from the large number of people who declined to answer that it is a highly sensitive issue. So I would say that these figures are the minimum.”
Ha'aretz, being Ha'aretz, quotes Meretz politicians about how it is awful that Jerusalem is being united, which for some bizarre reason they claim kills the two-state solution.

(h/t Anne, Yoel)
  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Fox News:
A single Syrian missile strike on a bakery near Hama killed more than 60 innocent civilians last week, so how did Israel manage to fire more than 1,500 high powered missiles into densely-populated Gaza in November, with the total loss of 161 lives, of which 90 have been acknowledged by Hamas itself as active combatants? [I don't think Hamas has directly acknowledged that number of combatants yet, but pro-Hamas sources have documented far more militants killed than the numbers given by Gaza organizations -EoZ]

The numbers speak for themselves, but very little credit has so far been given by foreign governments, NGOs, and the international media for the care taken by the Israeli military to avoid collateral damage during its recent vicious engagement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters.

‘Major G,' the chief instructing officer of the Israeli UAV (Drone) School, spoke exclusively to on condition of anonymity about Israel’s hi-tech drone capabilities, his military’s terms of engaging the enemy, and aspects of his direct role in the recent Gaza conflict in which Israel strongly contends most non-combatant deaths were as a result of Palestinian civilians being routinely used as human shields by Hamas.

“Drones (UAVs – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), play a very important and essential role in the protection of the State of Israel,” ‘Major G’ explained. “The great advantage of the drone is the ability to stay in the air for up to 40 hours at a time above the relevant area to perform ISR missions - Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.”

Once a drone identifies a target, its operator is then responsible for setting in motion a sometimes dizzyingly fast chain of events that may result in a missile strike taking place.

“Using commercial apertures and video cameras, we have the ability to work with both daytime and night time infrared images. My Heron1 drone does only ISR, but I have the ability to designate a target to another aircraft. This capability is very important because I am able to stay above and investigate the target for a long time, clear it of uninvolved civilians, and only when there is a clear path of fire do I call for the F16 or Apache helicopter,” said ‘Major G.’

Critics of Israel’s actions invariably suggest a lack of concern about collateral damage when air strikes are used, but ‘Major G’ revealed in detail how a drone operator sitting somewhere in Israel can clear a target on the ground in Gaza of innocent civilians.

“In a lot of cases we have regular houses where in the basement there is a lot of ammunition, bombs and missiles. The house is populated sometimes with the families having willingly cooperated with the Hamas, and in other cases they don’t have any choice; Hamas forces this on them. In cases where there are people inside a house or building we never strike the target without prior warning. We make phone calls, send leaflet flier warnings, and sometimes use a technique called ‘Knock On the Roof,’ where we fire very, very small, very precise tiny bombs onto the edge of the roof and then they (the family) know that the attack is about to begin and everybody can go outside.”

But even the best intelligence and prior warnings cannot always prevent civilian casualties caught up in the fog of war, as happened in the widely reported case of the Dalou family in Gaza, nine of whom were killed by a single Israeli missile strike. asked the Israel Defense Force for an official explanation on the loss of life at the Dalou house and received the following statement:

“The IDF targets only terror related sites based on carefully collected intelligence. All possible precautions were taken as the civilians in Gaza were not targets in this operation. The Dalou residence was known to the IDF intelligence as a hideout of a senior militant operative in Hamas' rocket launching infrastructure. While the IDF regrets the loss of life on both sides, the responsibility ultimately lies with terror operatives who use the civil population as human shields when using civilian buildings as hideouts, or to store weaponry.”

The latter part of the IDF statement has been backed up by Human Rights Watch, which also slammed the Palestinians for randomly attacking densely populated civilian areas in Israel.

“Unlike during previous fighting, armed groups seem to have fired many rockets from underground tunnels, opening a hatch to launch the munition,” HRW stated in its Dec. 24 report.

One of the first points stressed by ‘Major G’ is that the background to many missiles strikes is extensive surveillance and monitoring by various branches of the military and intelligence services for weeks, months, or even years prior to the moment of the strike. Although he didn’t discuss the specific case of Ahmed Jabari, this was evident in the strike that killed the high ranking Hamas terrorist mastermind, the spark that finally ignited November’s hostilities.

“Since the Second Lebanon War, we have developed a new technique called TCT; Time Critical Targets, targets that have a very short lifespan, 'Major G' said. "We (drones) find them, gather enough intelligence to confirm that this is actually a terrorist, then call for another aircraft to perform the attack.”

The Jabari case was one example of the TCT policy, and ‘Major G’ gave a very rare insight into another. “As another example from the latest Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza, we had intelligence that told us that Hamas terrorists were about to launch missiles. We scanned the area and then saw two people running away right after the launch. A basement (trap) door had closed behind them and nothing was left to be seen (of the missile launch site). This was very complicated because I didn’t know if the people running away actually performed the launch, so we turned immediately to other people who were able to check this out with verified intelligence to confirm that these were indeed the suspects. We called the helicopter and he performed the attack. All this process took less than a minute.”

Looking back on the Gaza conflict, ‘Major G’ summed up his view of how his drone unit and the IDF as a whole had performed.

“We managed to achieve all of our objectives,” he said. Nevertheless, there are always things that we can learn...and do better the next time. Our former Chief-of-Staff, Gabi Askenazi, said, “The military can be for two things; either preparing for a war, or being at war. We are prepared for every kind of scenario.”
Interestingly, Hamas' Palestine Times quoted this report extensively today.
  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
Caminos de Sefarad ("Routes of Sepharad"), a website about Jewish history in Spain. (h/t Ken)

Richard Landes of The Augean Stables uncovers a fascinating 2001 article about Osama Bin Laden's recruitment video and how effective it was in manipulating emotions.

Fatah managed to agree with Hamas on a venue for its celebrations in Gaza, to be held January 4th. This is the 48th anniversary of Fatah's first terror attack, although Ma'an keeps pretending it is the anniversary of Fatah's founding, which was actually in the 1950s.

A Palestinian man who was killed in Syria on Friday was a senior figure in Hamas' armed wing, rebels and Hamas officials said Saturday.

TOI has "My mom and dad, the would-be Zionist plane hijackers."
Anat Kutznetzov-Zalmanson’s parents hijacked a plane, and she wants the world to know about it.

Sylva Zalmanson and Eduard Kuznetzov’s only real crime was that they wanted to leave the USSR and live freely as Jews in Israel.

To their daughter, a filmmaker, they are heroes who jumpstarted the movement to free Soviet Jewry, not the criminals the Soviet government made them out to be, sentencing one to death and the other to years of hard labor.
Thieves stole computers in Gaza - from UNRWA.

Here is an English translation of a video by Naftali Bennett, whose party, Jewish Home, in latest polls is closing in on Labor to be the second-largest party in Israel: (h/t Ian)

  • Sunday, December 30, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
The leader of the ruling "moderate" Ennahda Islamist party in Tunisia issued a fatwa to give 80 lashes for anyone who "spreads rumors without evidence."

Rashid Al-Ghannushi made his statement on Friday.

He was referring to recent Tunisian news reports criticizing Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abu Salam. According to the reports, started on social media, Salam had been repeatedly staying in a luxury Sheraton hotel with a woman who was not his wife, and he was charging the government for the hotel room. The Tunisian media has dubbed this "Sheratongate."

Salam, after initially denying the rumor, changed his tune on Saturday after hotel receipts were produced. He then said that the woman was his cousin and that he sometimes stayed late at work and found it more convenient to go to a nearby hotel in Tunis then to commute home, and that all of the expenses were transparent. The Foreign Ministry that he leads also issued a statement also claiming that he did nothing wrong.

(h/t Lachlan)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

  • Saturday, December 29, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Martin Peretz - an appreciation?
"In his article, Peretz took on the propaganda claims against Israel one by one and discredited them. Among other things, he said that Israel is not a colonialist state; there is no similarity whatsoever between the US war in Vietnam, which as a self-proclaimed radical he opposed, and Israel; the creation of Israel was not sponsored by imperialist powers; Nasser is not a socialist.
Peretz excoriated the Third World and Communist countries for their failure to recognize the Arab threat to Israel's existence, calling their behavior "disgusting."

Secrets of the Iron Dome, revealed
Although he couldn’t give too much away, the CEO of Israel’s mPrest, Natan Barak, presented a fascinating overview about his company’s technology, which is at the heart of the short-range missile defense system
“One of the results of the recent Operation Pillar of Defense operation against Gaza rocket-launching terrorists was the enhanced reputation of Israeli hi-tech, thanks to the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system. People in Israel – and around the world – looked on in awe as Israeli anti-missile missiles plucked attacking rockets out of the sky, effectively vaporizing them before they could fall, whole or in parts, over populated areas.”

Iron Dome stopped 421 Hamas rockets
“The cost to operate Israel's Iron Dome rocket-intercepting system during Operation Pillar of Defense last month was about $27 million, an official said.
Israeli officials said the Iron Dome's five batteries had a kill rate of about 86 percent for the 421 rockets fired that would have hit populated areas, the Washington Post reported. Altogether there were more than 1,500 rockets fired at Israel.”

Golan Heights Residents: Israel is Ignoring Ongoing Bombing, Shooting from Syria
"A report from Israel’s Channel 10 quotes one resident as saying, “The Syrians shoot at us yet the state is silent.” The report also describes how one member of the community had their window blown out, and it quotes another resident who says, quite simply, “We want the quiet back.”

Tom Friedman: Confused and Clearly Hostile to Israel by Ed Koch
“In his December 13 column, Tom Friedman made one of his worst statements, showing his strong bias against Israel: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile, but because they are confused.”
Friedman has not apologized for these outrageous remarks, stating only that he regretted the words and should have chosen other terms. I suggest that it is Tom Friedman who is confused. I don’t believe even if he did apologize that the apology means anything and, in most cases, such apologies are simply an effort to end the discussion.”

Haaretz Resurrects the Khazar Jews Theory by Dore Gold
"Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the advocates of the theory tying the origins of European Jewry to the Khazar kingdom have persisted. In many cases over the last few decades, it appears that they are motivated mainly by a hostile political agenda that aims to advance the delegitimization of the Jewish state, rather than by any hard, new evidence that they have been able to marshal to date."

CIF Watch: Guardian falsely claims that “almost no” construction materials have entered Gaza
"Such facts and figures regarding construction materials entering Gaza completely contradict Harriet Sherwood’s claim that all, or “almost all”, construction materials have been banned from entering Gaza over the last two years."

Will the Guardian report on war crimes committed by Hamas?
"No, it’s not significant that HRW occasionally takes a detour from it’s egregiously disproportionate criticism of Israel to acknowledge the painfully obvious about the contempt for human life routinely displayed by the Palestinian extremists who currently rule Gaza.
The only question is whether the Guardian’s Israel correspondent will deem the Palestinians’ violation of Israeli human rights newsworthy."

BBC Watch: The BBC’s unhealthy reliance on information from medics in Gaza
"It is unacceptable that a complaint from a BBC audience member should be dismissed on the grounds that the information provided came from “Palestinian medics” when members of that group – often employed by Hamas – have been known to exploit deaths and injuries for the sake of propaganda.
The BBC needs to acknowledge the fact that information from such sources cannot automatically be classed as reliable and that independent verification is imperative for the health of the BBC’s reputation as an accurate and impartial source."

What Does ‘Mildly Islamist’ Mean?
"The Economist, amongst many others, loves to refer to Recep Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, and his Justice and Development Party, as “mildly Islamist”. He has steered Turkey to new levels of economic prosperity. He has completely overturned the Attaturk secular model of Turkish society and he has turned Turkey into an Islamic State. What I wonder does “mildly” anything mean? Is “mildly” a compliment or a condemnation of compromising mediocrity?"

Syrian Regime Firing Iranian-Made Missiles at Rebels
The Syrian regime this week fired at least two Iranian-made, short-range ballistic missiles at rebels, U.S. military officials say.
"According to the officials, the regime used Fateh A-110 missiles which are more accurate than the older Scud variants that Syrian government forces have used in recent weeks.
The Fateh trades range for accuracy. It can travel about 125 miles, while the Scud can go about 185 miles. But the Fateh has a "circular error probable" or - CEP - of 330 feet, while the Scud's CEP is 1,480 feet. CEP is defined as the radius of a circle in which half of a missile's lethal payload falls and is the standard measure of a missile's accuracy."

Brotherhood’s Shater seeks ‘total control’ of media: Egypt’s opposition group
"Egypt’s opposition group, the Popular Front, said on Wednesday that it had laid hands on a leaked document signed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy chairman Khairat al-Shater in which he urged the government to claim “total control of the media.”
Shater, who was the Brotherhood’s main presidential candidate before he was disquieted by the election committee, reportedly also called for shutting down TV channels owned by opposition groups."

Egypt’s envoy to Lebanon: Cairo will work with Hezbollah, ‘a real political and military force’
Arab nation’s relations with the Islamic group have been strained largely due to the former’s peace accord with Israel; policy shift would be a drastic change from the Mubarak era

Egypt stepping up security in Sinai ahead of New Year’s influx
Thousands of European tourists expected to vacation in Red Sea resort area

Feminine side of Israeli hi-tech is all business
Shefa Weinstein, a female American immigrant working in an overwhelmingly Israeli male world, is doing exactly what she wants – with lots of support from the people around her

Apple’s Annual Best App List Picks Two Israeli Apps
"Any.Do, an Israeli task-management application, was chosen in the in Intuitive Touch category, and GroupShot, a photo-editing application by the Israeli company Macadamia, was picked in the Photo & Video Magic category."
  • Saturday, December 29, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Egypt Independent:

Islamist-led Egypt allowed building materials into Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Saturday for the first time since Hamas seized control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007, an Egyptian border official said.

It was part of a shipment of building materials donated by the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, which has pledged $400 million to finance reconstruction in Gaza. The Islamist group Hamas has run Gaza since driving out its rivals in the Palestinian Authority.

Cairo has restricted the use of Rafah crossing to travellers and medical relief, giving rise to extensive smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border.

The border official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while the Egyptian authorities had agreed to allow the Qatari-donated material into Gaza, the shipment did not mark the start of the full opening of the crossing sought by Hamas.

An official in Gaza's Hamas government said it was a positive step. "We hope that Egypt will open this crossing permanently for goods so our people can meet their needs," said Ehab al-Ghsain, head of the Hamas government media office.

Ghsain said: "Rafah had been closed for goods for so many years and we always hoped such a policy would change, without exempting the Israeli occupation from their responsibilities. Israel must end the closure and reopen all crossings with Gaza."
But Israel is also allowing more building materials into Gaza:
Israel will for the first time in five years, authorize entry of construction materials into Gaza, as part of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

"Starting Sunday, up to 20 trucks carrying building materials will enter Gaza on a daily basis, via the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Palestinian official Raed Fattouh to AFP.
Is it worth allowing Hamas to more easily build underground military bunkers if they keep their end of the cease-fire? December has still not seen a single rocket or mortar land in Israel from Gaza.

And Hamas was managing to get all the cement it needed for the past five years through the tunnels anyway.

The accomplishment of a real cease fire - the first true cease fire since Israel withdrew from Gaza - is no small thing. But one month isn't that long either. If it stretches into years, then this might be worth it. But the best scenario is for Egypt to take over responsibility for imports and exports from Gaza, and let the Gaza economy become integrated with Egypt's.


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