Friday, January 10, 2014

From Ian:

Israel kills fewest innocents but takes most heat
Professor Richard Falk is a top UN official. Recently he declared that Israel wreaks carnage upon the Palestinians, harboring what he termed "genocidal intent." If we want to understand the relationship between the industry of lies and the discourse of human rights, we could do worse than examine the case of this bad man, perhaps a Jew, who is an embodiment of this link.
Let us gauge the genocide claim. In 2013, 36 Palestinians were killed, according to the human rights organization B'Tselem. At least 30 of those were either involved in clashes with IDF soldiers or were members of terrorist organizations. Only a few innocents were killed. The death of each one of them is to be deeply regretted. Yet one should add that there isn't another conflict in the world where the fatality rate among civilians is as low as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In other conflicts it is estimated that between 60 and 90 percent of fatalities are innocents. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are a minority.
IDF Blog: After Mortars Fired from Gaza, Israel Air Force Targets Terrorists, Terror Site
After mortars were fired from Gaza at Israel, the IDF targeted terrorists during their final preparations to launch rockets toward Israel early Thursday morning (January 9). No damage or injuries were reported among the soldiers.
WATCH as the IAF targets a Gazan terrorist site preparing to launch rockets:

Charles Krauthammer: How to fight academic bigotry
Which makes obvious that the ASA boycott has nothing to do with human rights. It’s an exercise in radical chic, giving marginalized academics a frisson of pretend anti-colonialism, seasoned with a dose of edgy anti-Semitism.
And don’t tell me this is merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination.
And discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.

Academic boycotters blame “Israel Lobby” money for negative reaction
Several of most prominent promoters of the American Studies Association academic boycott of Israel attended a bizarre “redwashing” panel discussion in Beirut, at which they tried to delegitimize the Jewish people’s indigenous history in Israel and connection to other indigenous peoples. I’ll have much more on that insidious conference in another post, but for now you can read the posts by Jeffrey Goldberg and Prof. Jonathan Marks.
These academic boycotters gave an interview to The Daily Star of Lebanon that is very revealing. They played upon classic anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish money controlling the press in trying to minimize the overwhelming rejection of the academic boycott throughout most of academia.
U.S.-Israeli Prof. Slams MLA Conference as Assault on Academic Freedom (INTERVIEW)
In a revealing interview with The Algemeiner, Ilan Troen, Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and Professor Emeritus at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said the core accusation of the MLA resolution which condemns Israel for restricting foreign scholars from visiting the Palestinian territories is “simply not true.”
Ironically, he said, the main voice behind the MLA resolution is Omar Barghouti, a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, who was born in Qatar, received a Masters in electrical engineering from Columbia University, in New York, and graduate degree in Ethics from Tel Aviv University, where a petition, with 184,000 signatures, was presented to expel him for his work denigrating Israel. But the president of the school refused to do so, on the basis of academic freedom.
The MLA’s Top Five BDS Blunders This Week
The Modern Language Association (MLA) has blundered repeatedly over its treatment of Israel in the run-up to its annual conference this week. Technically the 30,000 member association is not contemplating a resolution to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel (BDS) per se at this week’s upcoming confab. Instead it is debating a halfway measure that insiders observe is intended to be a stepping-stone to worse actions. But it is doing so in a way that should embarrass every one of its members. This is not just a mistake. This is five blunders rolled into one.
MLA Panel Discusses Israel Boycott
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of the boycott itself, this development is terrifying. What’s on display in Chicago today is the new model for intellectual discussion and debate in American academia: begin a debate about boycotting academics from another country by boycotting anyone who disagrees with the boycotters. While this Stalinist style of discourse may be familiar to academics in North Korea, it has nothing to do with the free exchange of ideas on which American universities pride themselves. This level of hostility to open discourse and critical inquiry has no place in institutions of higher learning in a free society, regardless of the subject being discussed.
Jerusalem cannot be sacrificed for peace
Jerusalem is not another dark terrorist release deal, nor is it even Oslo A or Oslo B. It has been the subject of Jewish yearning from time immemorial. All past and future generations should voice their opinion about the fact it is being discussed, but due to technical constraints Regev is suggesting settling for the Knesset's approval. What's so terrible about that? Who says Regev is more ridiculous than the MKs who believe in the possibility of peace with a guy like Abbas? (h/t NormanF)
John Kerry goes home with three “No’s”
President Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, should be given a top international award when he leaves office – an award for irrepressible optimism in the face of brutal reality.
The responses he received to his unpublicised “framework document” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians were reminiscent of the Arab League’s “three no’s” issued following the 1967 Six Day War with Israel.
Back then, the League swore themselves to “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiation with Israel”. Attitudes have relaxed a bit since (well, some), but John Kerry has discovered that feelings about peace with Israel run high and strong among America’s Middle Eastern Arab allies.
Kerry Frustrated by PA Refusal to Recognize Israel as Jewish State
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is getting frustrated by Palestinian Authority leaders who are refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, creating the most significant philosophical hurdle in the peace talks, according to The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, citing an unnamed PA official.
“The Americans have made it very clear that [recognition of Israel as a Jewish state] is their position,” the PA official told the Telegraph. “They talk about it in meetings with our side and make an issue out of it. We have made it very clear that we are not going to sign any agreement that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.”
US denies Kerry pressing Arab League to recognize Israel as Jewish state
Kerry met the kings of both countries on Sunday, and is scheduled to meet in Paris in the coming days with representatives of the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to update them on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as part of his continued efforts to drum up wide Arab support for the negotiations.
“It would not be accurate to say there was an attempt to change the Arab Peace Initiative,” Psaki said.
Despite persistent questioning on the matter, Psaki would not say whether the US would like to see a change on this matter in the Arab league plan.
‘Kerry threatens to cut PA aid if no peace deal signed’
Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the US had implied it would stop giving financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and would not be able to prevent Israeli expansion of West Bank settlements, if a framework for a long-lasting accord was not agreed upon, Maariv reported.
According to the Israeli daily, Khaled accused Kerry of committing political blackmail by pressuring Palestinians to make concessions.
Israel wants the Jordan Valley in case Jordan’s king falls
I have not read anyone talk about it, but Israel’s demand to maintain the Jordan Valley as a wall against security breaches from the east only makes sense if you assume there will be new threats in the future. At the moment, Israel and Jordan have a strong security-based relationship for unspoken reasons: Jordan fears the fall of Fatah; Israel fears the fall of King Hussein.
Poll: 53.5% mistrust Kerry as impartial peace talks' mediator
According to the poll, held Wednesday among 500 Jewish Israelis ages 18 and over, 53.5 percent do not trust Kerry in that respect. Some 19.8% of those polled said Kerry is an unbiased mediator, and 26.7% said they had no opinion on the matter.
The poll further sought to discern the public's opinion on a recent proposal, brought up as part of the negotiations on a framework peace deal, suggesting that Israel withdraw its security forces from the Jordan Valley, and found that 69.8% oppose such a move, while only 14.3% support it. Some 15.9% of those polled said they had no opinion on the matter.
Hamas Releases Fatah Prisoners in Reconciliation Gesture
“The release of these condemned men comes as part of the prime minister's decisions to strengthen national reconciliation,” Hamas interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told reporters.
“More positive steps will follow,” he added, without elaborating.
The releases came two days after Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh reached out to Fatah, saying that those of its members who had fled Gaza when the Islamists seized the territory in 2007 would be allowed to return, except for those accused of killing Hamas members.
The Middle East’s Disappearing Borders
The article is among a recent crop of stories that have taken the Obama administration’s triumphant declarations of success against al-Qaeda from the category of “wishful thinking” to “punch line.” Al-Qaeda does not seem to be on the run, and the wider world of jihadism seems to be thriving as well. In the Middle East and North Africa, terrorists are doing the chasing, not the retreating. But in fact there is reason to believe there is more happening here than the normal ebb and flow of terrorism in a region that is no stranger to it. The most damaging story to the Obama administration’s narrative came yesterday from CNN’s Peter Bergen:
From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.
Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.
Amid turmoil, ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’ prepares comeback
Private broadcaster CBC suspended the show, called “The Program” in Arabic, last fall after the season’s first episode, which was highly critical of the military and the nationalist fervor gripping the nation after the popularly backed overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
With a military-backed interim government in place and sensitivities high, Youssef says his team of writers and comedians face a tough challenge. But they are not planning to hold back.
Egyptian courts convict 113 over pro-Mursi protests
Thursday's rulings included three-year prison terms for 63 people in a single case, one of the biggest mass sentencings to date. The judge fined each of them 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($7,200). He set a bail of 5,000 pounds which allows them to avoid prison while they appeal the verdict.
The case related to protests in Cairo in late November.
In a separate case, another 24 Brotherhood supporters were also sentenced to three years in prison, with labor, over clashes around the same time in a different part of Cairo.
Despite claims, Iranians didn’t hack Israeli aviation system
Iranian hackers did not compromise the Israel Airports Authority, despite claims by the Islamic Cyber Resistance Group that it was able to hack into databases controlling air routes for Israeli and foreign airlines, said Israeli Internet expert Tal Pavel.
“It’s just another example of Iranian psychological warfare by the Iranians,” he told The Times of Israel. “There is nothing for anyone to worry about from these people.”
Iran, Russia negotiating big oil-for-goods deal
Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month that would let Iran lift oil exports substantially, in defiance of Western sanctions that helped force Tehran to agree a preliminary deal to end its nuclear program.
Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
UAE frees American jailed for YouTube parody video
An American citizen was released from jail in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday after serving nine months for posting a parody video on YouTube, his family said.
Shezanne Cassim, 29, was sentenced to a year in prison last month over a 20-minute "mockumentary" video which poked fun at young Emirati men who imitate US hip hop culture. (an update on this EOZ story)


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