Monday, May 19, 2014

From Ian:

Chloé Valdary: "Nevertheless" - the Illness and the Remedy
I recognize that there are those who will still disagree with my position on this issue who say that it is “impossible” to seek alternative methods to negotiating with the PA because they are the lesser of the two evils. I seek to persuade the reader that this is not the case. It is also important to note, however, that the lesson of Zionism rejects the notion that anything is impossible.
There is nothing impossible for a people who have turned the desert into an oasis.
There is nothing impossible for a people who went to battle against seven conquering armies and defeated them all.
There is nothing impossible for a people who, with the help of the Almighty, crawled out from under the tyrannical clutches of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Germans, British and Arabs to fashion once more for themselves their glorious nation-state.
This people has accomplished wonders before. Surely, they can accomplish wonders again.
Khaled Abu Toameh: The New Palestinian "Journalists"
The attack on Issacharoff and his friend did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the campaign waged by some Palestinian journalists against their Israeli colleagues during the past year.
The campaign began last year when some 200 Palestinian journalists signed a petition calling on the Palestinian Authority leadership to ban Israeli newsmen from entering Palestinian territories.
In April 2013, Gatestone ran an article about the campaign against the Israeli journalists. The article was entitled, "Palestinian Journalists Declare War On Israeli Colleagues."
This item, however, was ignored by the mainstream media in the West and even by most Israeli media outlets.
Israeli journalists explained back then that they preferred not to report about the threats against them so as not to escalate tensions with their Palestinian colleagues.
Want Peace? Change UN’s Refugee Policy
One aspect of this problem is the sheer inconsistency of international standards with regards to different kinds of refugees. In 1948, the Palestinians were counting on defeating and/or wiping out the Jewish community in the Mandate and therefore rejected the UN partition resolution that would have created the independent Palestinian state they now clamor for. Were they treated like other groups whose leaders gambled on aggression and lost—the millions of Germans who were brutally forced out of their homes in Eastern Europe come to mind after 1945—the Palestinians would have been helped to find new homes in the rest of the Arab world. Instead they were kept in place to continue to fuel the war against the one Jewish state in the world. Significantly, the roughly equal numbers of Jews who fled or were forced to flee their homes in the Arab and Muslim world after 1948 were given no such sympathy or UN aid. Those refugees were resettled in Israel and the West by Jewish groups and are now ignored when talk turns to restitution for the Middle East conflict.
Aside from the double standard here, the net effect of this policy is that in doing so UNRWA is serving to fuel the conflict rather than to seek its solution. UNRWA’s manifold problems—including education programs that foment hate against Israel and employees who aid terrorists—are well known. But so long as the Palestinians believe they have the support of the world in their effort to undo the verdict of the war they launched in 1948, the millions who call themselves refugees will never give up their goal of eradicating Israel’s existence. During the last 15 years the Palestinians have rejected three offers of independence and peace from Israel as well as walking away from a fourth such initiative this year. It’s clear the leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not think they have the support of their people for any treaty that will recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist no matter where its borders are drawn.

A Nakba for every nation
The month of May had, with an interval of a few days, two milestones. On May 9, the world celebrated victory over the Germans in World War II, and on May 15, Nakba Day events were also held around the world.
The Allied victory over Germany did not end with outpourings of reconciliation, quite the reverse. Between 12 and 16 million ethnic Germans were expelled from central European states at the end of the war and in its aftermath. Between 600,000 and two million were killed during those expulsions, which included innumerable pogroms and massacres. MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship carrying refugees, was sunk in January 1945 by the Soviet navy, taking with it 9,500 souls, but who remembers? What is more, representatives of the vanquished and of the refugees were not invited to the May 9 celebrations - their narrative did not appear.
And yet those who celebrated this great victory over evil crossed lines less than a week later to remember the great injustice that befell the Palestinians. They never dreamed of honoring the German Nakba, only the Palestinian one.
Now and then there have been proposals to pay compensation to those exiled to Germany. The countries concerned, such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, rejected the idea outright. No one denied the brutal pogroms and expulsions. "If someone were to sue us", they made very clear, "we would demand the money from Germany as war damages." Time passed, the wounds festered, but there was no compensation, and certainly no return. The European Court of Human Rights would take up a suit brought by a deportee – and promptly reject it.
How Long is 90 Seconds?
You ever feel time is getting away from you? Well, I just lost 90 seconds. According to Israel’s Home Front Command, where previously I was told that I had 3 minutes to get to shelter in the event my area was attacked by missiles, the latest announcement says I now have 90 seconds.
What does that mean? Nothing really – I mean, they aren’t expecting a missile to hit here any time soon. My bomb shelter is on the main level of the house. It’s a nice size room we use as storage, a guest room, and an office. It’s right next to my bedroom, maybe 20-30 feet away. I could count the tiles and give you an exact amount, but it doesn’t really matter. My granddaughter could probably crawl there in 3 minutes. You can run there in seconds.
Even from upstairs, in the event of a siren, the two children who sleep upstairs could be down here in seconds…it isn’t the time. More than anything – it’s the concept. Three minutes is forever when the siren sounds. I know. I remember last winter. We walked to the bomb shelter – feeling silly. Would they really fire a missile at Jerusalem? It must be a mistake…as it was during the Gaza War in 2007.
Israel and US conduct joint missile defense drill
Israel and the United States began a joint anti-missile defense drill Sunday morning, measuring responses to potentially paralyzing rocket fire on the homefront.
The training exercise, carried out every two years and dubbed “Juniper Cobra,” tests the serviceability of certain active missile defense systems, Israel Radio reported.
The five-day drill — first held in 2001 — measures military responses to missile attacks. Roughly 1,000 American soldiers arrived in Israel to participate in the drill.
New bill would allow Jews to pray at Temple Mount
Knesset members from the Likud and Labor parties are set to push forward a new bill that would allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, a practice currently forbidden.
The Temple Mount compound, which holds the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site to Jews as the site of the two ancient Jewish temples.
By law, under arrangements Israel instituted after capturing the area in 1967, Jews are not allowed to pray at the site.
'Peace Run' Dealt a Blow After PA Insists: No Jews Allowed
A unique "Peace Run" initiated by an Australian extreme athlete to promote coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria was dealt a severe blow Sunday, after the Palestinian Authority objected to the presence of Jewish runners.
A group of six Israelis were asked to refrain from participating in Australian ultra marathon runner Pat Farmer's Peace Run, as it passed the Jewish communities of Eli and Shiloh in Samaria, north of Jerusalem. The group - which was organized by the Yesha Council in conjunction with Regavim - had coordinated with Farmer's team ahead of time to ensure that Jews and Palestinians could run together in a true show of coexistence.
However when Ari Briggs, director of Regavim - which advocates for Jewish land rights - arrived along with his group to participate they were asked to stop running after just one kilometer.
Apparently, the news had reached the Palestinian Olympic Committee in Ramallah, which threatened to pull out of the Peace Run if Farmer continued to run with the Jewish well-wishers. Although Farmer was "not happy" about the move, which essentially undermined his campaign, the Jewish group were "politely" asked not to participate.
Trains May be Exposed to Gaza Rockets, Video Shows
The video shows a train travelling from Ashkelon to Sderot, clearly exposed to rocket fire from the Gaza side of the border.
The video was filmed from Beit Hanoun and shows the train at a distance of just a few hundred meters from the position from which the video was taken.
The defense establishment is now trying to figure out how to prevent rockets or anti-tank missiles from being fired at trains.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in response, "The IDF has given its recommendations to the political echelon which will make the decisions on this issue.”
In 2011, 16-year-old Daniel Viflic died after being critically wounded in a Hamas missile attack on a school bus.
Meretz: It’s Racist To Reward Those Who Serve The Public (satire)
Parties on the left portion of Israel’s social spectrum are denouncing the Finance Ministry’s recent proposal to exempt from sales tax the first home purchase by anyone who has served in the army or civilian National Service, calling the idea inherently racist.
The vast majority of Israel’s Arab population does not perform either form of service, and Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On is calling the policy a blatant attempt to discriminate against an entire population for choosing not to serve the society it inhabits.
“This is a shameful, cynical attempt to deny equal rights to a full fifth of the population just because they face social and ideological pressures not to give anything back to the country in which they have citizenship,” she told reporters at a press conference Sunday morning. “It is downright racist to insist that citizenship carries duties as well as benefits.”
Swastikas, PLO Flag at Ancient Synagogue
About 200 people who visited the ancient Judean synagogue at Samoa, near Hevron, on Sunday, found spray-painted swastikas on the walls of the structure and PLO flags flying above them.
The visit marked 80 years since the start of archeological digs at the site, which are currently being carried out by the Herzog College and the Susia Field School.
About 350 people took part in a conference at the site, and 200 of them opted for a tour of the synagogue, in order to see the unique structure from up close and better understand the part it played in local Jewish history.
Har Hevron Regional Council Head Yochai Dimri said that it is “shocking to see a holy place desecrated in this way.”
Pope Will 'Recognize Palestine, Call to End Occupation'
Palestinian Authority (PA) and Arab Christian sources are already celebrating Pope Francis's visit to Israel starting next Sunday, saying his choice to begin the trip directly in PA-held Bethlehem is meant to "recognize Palestine" and "oppose the occupation."
"He is taking a helicopter directly from Jordan to Palestine - to Bethlehem. It's a kind of sign of recognizing Palestine," Father Jamal Khader of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem told AFP.
The claims that his trip will begin in a "recognition of Palestine" comes amid reports from February by Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, who said that the pope intends to define himself as the "Che Guevera of the Palestinians" and support their "struggle and rights" during his visit.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas, Fatah strike deal on ministers in new Palestinian unity government
Abu Marzouk said that the agreement was reached during last week’s discussions between the two parties in the Gaza Strip.
Representatives of the Fatah and Hamas said last week that they expect the unity government to be announced before the end of this month.
Hamas Boasts of Security Deal with Fatah, as PA Reconsiders Cooperation with Israel
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s Prime Minister in Gaza, boasted late last week that Hamas and Fatah have reached an agreement on combining the two organizations’ security forces.
The news site Ma’an reported:
“We agreed on all the details of the security file, we are committed to what we signed. We will not allow the return of security disorder to the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh said in a graduation ceremony in the besieged coastal enclave.
“We will not give up the weapon of resistance, and we will not forsake resistance,” Haniyeh added, stressing that Hamas “will not depart the position of manliness and dignity and will remain loyal soldiers of Palestine.”

Haniyeh’s boast further undermines Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s claim that the unity agreement “would remain under his political and ideological control, and that he would ensure that it recognized Israel, fulfilled binding Palestinian treaty obligations, and renounced violence.”
Gaza Rally for “Right of Return” Attended by UN Official
The idea that no compromise is possible on the right of return follows from a premise that the Palestinians were unjust victims of Israeli aggression. But as Israeli scholar Shlomo Avineri recently pointed out, that is a selective reading of history. The Nakba, Avineri writes, “was the tragic result of an Arab political decision to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in the portion of the Land of Israel that had been under the British Mandate.”
The presence of a United Nations official attending without protest an event effectively calling for an end to the state of Israel is troubling, but not surprising.
Algerian, Jordanian aid convoys reach Gaza Strip
Alaa el-Batta, a government official, told a news conference at the Rafah border crossing that a 14-member Algerian delegation brought medicines and medical equipment worth $2 million for the opening of an Algerian-sponsored hospital in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.
The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only border not controlled by Israel, has been mainly closed by Egyptian authorities since July, when Hamas’s ally, president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was toppled in Cairo.
Egypt only opens the crossing for humanitarian and other special cases.
Syria Death Toll Rises to 162,000
The pro-opposition, British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said losses among fighters on the government side were higher than those among pro-rebel groups, and estimated that at least 54,000 civilians had been killed since the conflict began.
It estimated 62,800 deaths among the army, pro-Assad Syrian militia, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and other foreign Shi’ite gunmen.
That compared with 42,700 people who had died on the rebel side, including fighters from al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, other Islamist brigades, and soldiers who defected from Assad’s army.
Kerry: “Raw Data” Indicates Syrian Regime Still Attacking Civilians with Chemical Weapons
Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday acknowledged that what he described as “raw data” – viewed by him as well as by other U.S. officials – indicated that “there may have been, as France has suggested, a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war.” The French had earlier alleged that they had evidence of at least 14 instances in which the Bashar al-Assad regime had deployed chlorine-filled chemical weapons against rebel-heavy areas. Human Rights Watch had been equally unequivocal in its assessment of the situation.
The Obama Presidency Descends Into Farce
We have now reached the farcical stage in the Obama presidency.
Does Secretary Kerry understand how much of a joke it is for him to threaten “consequences” if evidence of new chemical weapons by the Assad regime turns out to be true? Given the Obama administration’s track record on Syria–with “red lines” drawn and erased, with its refusal to arm opposition groups early on, with agreeing to negotiations that have empowered the Syrian regime–it is better that Mr. Kerry keep his mouth shut than to speak and provoke ridicule.
The president and his secretary of state’s words long ago were emptied of meaning. So please, for your sake and ours, give up on the bluster. It only makes a shameful situation worse.
Foreign Al-Qaeda Fighter in Syria: We Will Conquer Jerusalem, Rome, and Spain

Iran Throws Monkey Wrench Into Nuclear Deal
Iran has thrown up new roadblocks to reaching a deal with the P5+1 world powers over its illicit nuclear program.
Three days of negotiations in the fourth round of Geneva discussions ended Friday in arguments and confrontations when the Iranian team presented their country’s new “red lines,” diminishing any hope by the Obama administration to claim victory in its approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to reports from Iran.
Hossein Shariatmadari, a former torturer and now managing editor of the conservative newspaper Keyhan, the mouthpiece of the country’s supreme leader, in an Op-Ed published Saturday revealed details of the Geneva negotiations and congratulated the Iranian delegation for its steadfast demand that the country has a right to pursue nuclear development.
Libya Detains UN Observer for “Sorcery” and “Black Magic”
A United Nations observer at the trial of two of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons in Libya has been detained on suspicion of “black magic”.
Ahmed Ghanem, one of a three-strong UN team monitoring the case, was detained by security units on suspicion of occult practices.
A source at the prison said Ghanem, an Egyptian, was detained upon arrival to monitor the case after written material was found indicating possible “sorcery” or improper communications, and was later released.
A UN spokesman said it was seeking an explanation from the Libyan authorities.

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