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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 28, 2002

Since the media seems incapable of humanizing the Israeli victims of Palestinian terror, Walk for Israel has the faces and stories of all 699 killed.

Moscow points to Grozny's Arab tie

Terrorist acts targeting Grozny are being financed by unnamed Arab countries, Moscow's leading anti-espionage agent says.

Pentagon orders navy to have carriers, assault vessels ready to sail for Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon has ordered the U.S. navy to prepare two aircraft carriers and two amphibious assault vessels for possible action in Iraq, defence officials said Friday.

The orders, sent in the last two days, require the navy to have the vessels ready to sail to the seas around Iraq within 96 hours after a certain date, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. They declined to specify that date.

The ships and their escorts of cruisers, destroyers and submarines, would bring a powerful military force to the region, adding several warships, scores of strike aircraft and roughly 2,500 marines to the forces in the region.
Inside Sur Baher :
Who is more representative of Jerusalem Arabs today - clan leaders welcomed by their neighbors, or Islamic Jihadists plotting the murder of Jews?
Jerusalem Diaries
A letter from the Patriarch, to Arafat, wishing him success in his fight against Israel the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

copy of letter found at gabrielle goldwater's reports
An Arab writer, no doubt Palestinian, safe and with a job in Jordan, remarks idiotically that Israel may have won "the so-called war" in '67 but that things are less and less secure for Israel. Somehow, he fails to note that Palestinian life and its economy and its future are much worse than they were two years ago, thanks to the control over the Arabs by crazed militants.
Another year in the life span of the Arab-Israeli conflict

Israel razes militant's home after attack

see post below for cause of retaliation.
Served time in Israel and deported to America. Same charge again: funding Hamas.
Milwaukee man who served time for funding terrorists arrested

Its about time

Catholicism is beginning to embrace Judaism

YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI says "generations of persecution have conditioned Jews to see the Vatican as an enemy. It is time for Jews to recognize how much the Church has changed and to take yes for an answer."

He recounts on entering a monastery in Poland filled with young men,
Their eager smiles tried to reassure me: We are desperate to learn about the missing Jewish piece of our being. For two hours they asked me all those questions forbidden under communism and now not just possible but urgent - about Hassidism and Zionism and the Jewish contemplative tradition. And with the concern of those who themselves lived in a difficult geography, they wanted to know how Israel could survive surrounded by enemies.

When I asked them about Jozef Cardinal Glemp, the head of the Polish church who was inciting anti-Semitism in his defense of the Auschwitz convent, one monk replied delicately: "We think he doesn't always know what he's saying."

Since that transformative encounter, my connection with Christian communities, especially in Israel, has intensified. I discovered remarkable groups living among us and working to deepen the Christian world's relationship with the Jewish people. And as Christians this week celebrate the birth of their faith in this land, Israeli Jews have an opportunity to learn about that largely invisible Christian presence.

Few Israelis, for example, know about the Beatitudes, an international community of monks and nuns who pray in Hebrew and celebrate Jewish holidays. They even fast on Yom Kippur, embodying the New Testament's insistence that Christians are a branch grafted onto the olive tree of Israel. Few Israelis know about the Sisters of Sion, which began as an order praying for the conversion of Jews to Christianity and which has now in effect reversed its "mission" and is helping bring Judaic teachings to the Church. Or the Urfeld Circle, which links German Catholics and Israeli kibbutzniks in ongoing dialogue. Or "Bat Kol," a Catholic group whose name is taken from the talmudic expression for a heavenly voice, and which brings theology students from around the world to Jerusalem to study the weekly Torah cycle, complete with rabbinic commentaries.

These groups are only the most prominent expression of the theological transformation occurring within much of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church. In recent decades, the Church has not only neutralized its traditional teaching of contempt toward Judaism and the Jewish people, but effectively reversed it, no longer seeing the Jews as cursed but blessed.

When the pope made his pilgrimage to the Western Wall in March 2000, the media focused on the apology for anti-Semitism contained in the note he placed between the stones. But the real story was the wording of that message: The pope referred to the Jews as "the people of the covenant," repudiating 2,000 years of supersessionism, Christianity's insistence that the blessings of the covenant were no longer valid for the "old Israel" and had been usurped by the Church. Now, though, the Church was reversing one of its seminal doctrines and insisting that two parallel covenants could coexist, one for Christians, one for Jews.

The shift is hardly confined to obscure doctrine. Its message is regularly preached in Catholic churches and taught in Catholic schools and seminaries, creating the potential, as one monk in Jerusalem said to me, for the transformation of the Church from the central point of hatred for the Jews to the central point of love for them.

One concrete result is the repudiation of Catholic missionizing toward Jews.

Though the process began after the Holocaust, the suspension of missionary activity was at first unspoken: The Church understood the vulgarity of missionizing among a survivor people, but lacked a coherent theological justification for its restraint. Now, though, increasing voices within the Church are making the non-missionizing policy theologically explicit. For if God's covenant with the Jews has never been revoked, then the survival of the Jewish people as an independent entity must be part of His plan.

And a remarkable document on Christian-Jewish relations recently issued by an American group of interdenominational Christian scholars states: "In view of our conviction that Jews are in an eternal covenant with God, we renounce missionary efforts directed at converting Jews. If Jews, who do not share our faith in Christ, are in a saving covenant with God, then Christians need new ways of understanding the universal significance of Christ."

Together, these revolutionary changes form the most extraordinary religious story of our time: the process of healing humanity's deepest religious wound. No religion has ever challenged its own negative theology toward another faith as profoundly as have Catholicism and parts of Protestantism.

Surely no religion has had a greater need to atone. But the capacity of Christianity for teshuva - the Hebrew word invoked by the Catholic Church in describing its process of reconciliation with the Jews - says much for its spiritual integrity and vitality. .

After decades of relentless Christian self-examination of their theology of contempt, it's time for Jewish soul-searching as well. The rabbinic ban on even stepping inside a church may have made sense at a time when Jews were a vulnerable minority resisting a voracious and triumphalist Christianity; it is offensive when Jews are once again a sovereign people living in its own land - and responsible for the first time for a Christian minority.

That is only the most glaring example of an embedded Jewish hostility to Christianity. Of course there is no comparison between the historical consequences of Christian and Jewish contempt for each other's faiths; and Jewish anti-Christianity was an expression of psychological self-defense. But no longer. Creating a healthy Israeli Judaism freed from ghettoization depends in part on creating a new Jewish relationship with Christianity. More.
This is great news. We must come together in brotherly love rather than sibling rivalry. We have much in common and little to divide us.

December 27, 2002

PA Desecration of Holy Places
Whenever anyone tells you that the Palestinian Authority can take care of the area's religious sites, show them these. It turns out that the PA's brashness even puts mosques in danger.

The Palestinian Authority's War Against Jews and Christians from ZOA
Desecration Of The Holy Mount by David Zev Harris
The desecration of Joseph's Tomb from the IDF
Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land by Bob Tyrell
Gamla, in an open letter to President Bush, includes an account of the PLO destrying a church in Lebanon.
just in via DEBKA File
In second terrorist attack Friday night, car bomb explodes without hurting anyone in downtown Jerusalem on Monbaz Street near Russian compound.

Injured Palestinian found nearby claimed he was bomber

Four Israelis shot dead, 8 injured - some seriously - when Palestinian gunmen burst Friday night into dining hall of Ot`niel Torah seminary south of Hebron, opening fire and lobbing grenades. Soldiers tackled attackers, killed one in firefight, second later.
Arafat/Sharon dialogue - could it be?

Debka reports that such a dialogue is proceeding with a chance of success depending on outcome of Iraqi War. The details sound like a wish list for Israel.

What is the Israeli prime minister offering? DEBKAfile’s sources reveal some highlights of the still ongoing dialogue.

1. A Palestinian state consisting of West Bank Areas A and B. Israel would keep as sovereign territory Areas C plus around 10 percent of the land as well as the Jordan Rift Valley. The Palestinian state would thus rise on little more than 50 percent of the West Bank, leaving Israel just short of half.

2. Israel would likewise retain control of the main latitudinal highways running through the West Bank from the Israeli border in the West to the Jordan River in the East.

3. All the West Bank settlements, like the Jewish communities along these routes, such as Yitzhar and Tapuach, will remain in place under Israeli sovereignty.

3. A second road network would be tunneled underground at right angles to the first, providing territorial continuity between Palestinian locations under full Palestinian authority

4. This peace settlement would be implemented over 10 years. It would be contingent on the Palestinians calling off in the first stage all terrorist activity against Israel, disbanding the militias engaged in terror - including the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the Hamas and the Jihad Islami and expunging all forms of anti-Israel agitation and incitement from Palestinian education programs and mass media.

5. Jerusalem is not under discussion. As far as Sharon is concerned Jerusalem’s fate is non-negotiable and the city will continue to be the undivided capital of Israel.

Bush and Sharon both seem to believe that this secret interchange can end positively, encouraged mainly by the fact that Arafat has not vetoed the Israeli proposals out of hand and has in fact sent Abu Mazen back with some of his own. They are:

1. The Palestinians must have 65 percent of the West Bank.

2. The West Bank’s lateral routes must also come under Palestinian sovereignty, but may be leased out to Israel for 25 years together with the roadside settlements.

3. The transitional period must be cut down from ten to two years.

4. Like Sharon, Arafat has not raised the Jerusalem issue. Abu Mazen is working on a compromise formula for transferring Temple Mount and some of Jerusalem’s Arab districts to Jordanian control. A joint Palestinian-Jordanian authority would be set up as a formality.
It must be Christmas. Even Ha'aretz is reporting on it.
"A Palestinian state is not my life's dream, but it's the only realistic way of achieving peace," he told Nissim Mishal. Okay, when he sits down for private talks to soften up his ministers, he'll say he was talking about a plan in stages, and it's not tomorrow, and it won't apply to all the territories, and so on and so forth. A certain amount of charlatanism, as the old saying goes, is essential for effective government.

But just hearing those words about a state for the Palestinians coming out of Sharon's mouth is nothing short of electrifying. His associates says it's not a campaign slogan, but a plan that he and the Bush administration have been cooking up for a long time - for the day after the war on Iraq.
But, hold on. Abu Mazen denies everything.

Israpundit posted a piece on the American Library Association's anti-Israel bias. I recalled that sometime ago a piece appeared in which the ALA made a charge against Israel that was refuted. See for yourself what ALA has been up to.

Library group throws the book
at destruction of Palestinian libraries

Students demanding that Iran allow for two-state solution in ME Iranian Students' Movement:
'Leave Palestine Alone, Think About Us!'

Are the Left, idiotarians.

The other day I was talking with a knowledgeable Israeli who was irked by my reference to the Left as being idiotarians. Her point being that the Right should not disparage the Left as being idiots, appeasers, stupid or blind because they include many smart people. And therefore the Right should respect the opinions of the Left even though it disagrees with them.

It got me to thinking whether the Right has given the Left a bum rap.

I think it is fair to say that the Left in Israel wants to better Barak’s offer and the Right wants to reduce it. The Left also wants unilateral withdrawal which the Right eschews.

If this is not appeasement by the Left, what is it?

It could be motivated by the belief that;

a) the Palestinians were dispossessed and were victims of an injustice and therefore Israel has the duty to redress the historic wrong.
b) it is morally wrong to occupy another people and therefore Israel must withdraw
c) time is not on Israel’s side and the sooner we cut a deal the better
d) Israel can’t ignore world opinion
e) withdrawal is better for Israel economically and militarily then the status quo.
f) there is no military solution
g) the Palestinians are entitled to a state.

All these reasons to my mind have value and reasonable people can hold such opinions.

So why do I, or other people on the right, consider the Left, idiotarians. While there are those on the left who are concerned with the “poor Palestinians”, the majority want to do what is best for Israel. What is best for Israel is to achieve peace and security. In fact you can’t have one with out the other.

Now the Right is of the opinion that Israel must not make any other withdrawals until the pig can fly which is never. Or in other words until the Palestinians are ready for compromise and are trustworthy which may not be never, but which will take a long time.

The Left is recommending withdrawal in the belief that it will be better for Israel because the world will like them better, the Palestinians will have less to be upset about, that Israel will no longer be occupiers, that Israel would be better able to defend itself and there will be less to feel guilty about. Even if all this were true, would it bring us any closer to peace and security? I think not. It brings to mind a Yiddish expression “Es vet dir gournisht helfen.” Translated it means “It will help you not at all.”.

As I see it the Left does not contend itself with arguing that withdrawal will make Israel more secure. They know they would be on shaky ground so they give collateral reasons why withdrawal is appropriate. Since peace and security are a life and death issue, there should be no collateral reasons given. The whole debate should be on achieving this singular goal.

Given the history of Arab rejection, hostility, untrustworthiness, duplicity and deception without exception, and given the axiom that to reward aggression and terror is to invite more of it, can anyone argue that to try to make a deal one more time or to believe that if a deal is struck that it won’t once again be violated or to withdraw unilaterally in order to achieve peace and security is at all supportable, reasonable or rational.

The Right thinks not and therefore considers those who suggest it “idiotarians.”

Powerful piece on current world-wide anti-semitism by David Mammet'If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem': The Power of Blunt Nostalgia

December 26, 2002

Speaking of Shinui...

Imshin discussed this article in Haaretz by Ari Shavit extensively. (Scroll up for a follow-up). The article is about Yosef (Tomy) Lapid. If you don’t know who Lapid is, the article and Imshin’s comments are a good primer, although I agree with Imshin that Shavit is biased against Lapid. Also, for the record, I have been Lapid’s fan for years – not that I think that he is without fault.

Anyway, all this got me thinking again about something I wrote a while back, and that is the role religion plays in Israeli society, especially in its politics. I wrote then that the biggest second problem Israel faces is the conflict that exists between the secular and the ultra-orthodox segments of its population. When I wrote this, I was talking about Israel I knew for 16 years, until 12 years ago. What I failed to take into account is something that mostly happened after I left. What happened is that the demographics of the ultra-orthodox (“haredi”) community have changed significantly. While some 15-20 years ago most “haredim” were ashkenazi, i.e. Jews of European descent, this is becoming less and less true.

Mizrahim, i.e. Jews of Middle-Eastern descent, have always been more religiously observant than ashkenazim. Many of them also have been in a cultural, and thus economical disadvantage in a country founded and initially developed by European Jews. Naturally, there were people clever enough to realize a political gold mine when they saw one. Thus Tami was born in the 80ies, to be later replaced by Shas, which has since held all Israeli governments by its balls, just like their ashkenazi predecessors used to do, beginning with Ben-Gurion’s first government.

The way it works is very simple. Shas appeals to people who are poor and poorly educated. Many of them are religious anyway, or their parents are, so they “find God again” quite easily, and with God they also find the solutions to their problems. You know this scenario well from the US. The big difference is that here the churches get their money from donations by private citizens and organizations. In Israel the yeshivas run by Shas and its rabbis are financed by Israeli taxpayers, most of whom are secular. One of the ways they do this is by demanding from the government support for families with many children (yeah, “Think Of The Children” – yet again), while on the other hand encouraging those same families to have even more children, because the Torah says so. Talk about a demographic bomb.

Now, the interesting twist in all this is that historically there were two major conflicts within the Israeli society (in addition to Left vs. Right, vis-à-vis Arab aggression): Religious vs. Secular, and Ashkenazi vs. Sefaradi. The Shas phenomenon merged the two. What we actually see now is West vs. East in its larger context: Modernity vs. Backwardness. Now, before Mr. Paine jumps in and says: “Aha, I told you so!”, let me just say that I can in no way equate Judaism with Islam, not even with its most peaceful form. Farthermore, this is not so much about religion, as is about culture, of which religion is only a part.

All the usual attributes of backwardness are there: subjugation of women, lack of work ethic, rejection of any secular education - even a vocational one – come to mind. On the bright side: no inherent violence, imperialism, or tribal feuding. But still, not the kind of culture I want to live in.

So, it turns out, Israel has to fight this war on two fronts. On one of them it has to fight not only on its own behalf, but also on behalf of the entire Western world, although with very little support from it. On the other it has to fight only for itself, and entirely on its own. And it has to win on both fronts to survive.

(Crossposted here).

Israelis launch bloody raids into West Bank

Once beyond title, you discover that most of the Palestinians killed were Hamas and armed.
Latest Poll on Elections

The latest Haaretz Poll says as follows:

Party: Seats in Knesset

Likud: 35
Labor: 22
Shinui: 15
Shas: 8
Agudat Yisrael: 7
National Union: 7
Meretz: 7
National Religious Party: 3
Arab Parties: 10
Yisraeli B'Aliyah: 4
One Nation: 2

Why? Winds of war halt Likud slide

So, the scandal hasn't hurt Likud as badly as may have been feared.

Still, the high number for Shinui is problematic, especially for the religious. Shinui is a bitterly anti-religious party, and its leader, Tommy Lapid is a dangerous hate-monger.

Hatred in Canada

This editorial in the JPost sums up a lot of stuff that's been going on in Canada.

Nightline Sanitizes Roots of Terror

Jerusalem Post article.

Insight Into Israeli Politics

Politics and double standards

The recent voting scandals in both Likud and Labor party elections suggest something rotten in the State of Israel. The way the press covers the scandals suggests something more rotten still.

Liar, Liar


Among Palestinians, [Saib Erekat] the 46-year-old Jericho boss and chief PA negotiator is the single most widely quoted person in the English-language press, with 11,382 citations since 1988....Erekat gets kid-glove treatment from ordinarily hard-fisted reporters: an admiring 1998 Wall Street Journal profile reads like a memo on why he should succeed Yasser Arafat. On TV, he remains the go-to man for all the major networks. That he was chief mouthpiece of the Jenin massacre myth, bandying about figures of 500 Palestinian deaths as though it were incontrovertible fact, hasn't noticeably dimmed his credibility. Especially, it would seem, at The New York Times, where Erekat's byline appeared last week under an op-ed called "Saving the Two-State Solution."

America’s Travel Plans

It looks for certain that America is on the road to Bagdad, but do its travel plans include following the European Road Map to Palestine.

This is part of a larger question. Is America, in pursuit of “peace” in the Middle East, going to force the Palestinians or the Israelis to make the major concessions needed? Which is part of an even larger question. Is America, in pursuing its own interests, going to appease or confront its erstwhile “partners” and enemies? And finally, what is America’s global strategy?

Webster’s Dictionary defines fascism as “a system of government, characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, the retention of private ownership as the means of production under centralized governmental control, forcible suppression of the opposition, belligerent nationalism and racism and glorification of war”. Communism, although it negated private property, was fascist in all other ways. Islamism in no different. The people are nothing and the state is everything. The people are lead to believe that the goals of the dictators are good for the people yet in reality they are only good for the dictators and the people suffer.

America is now under attack, both covert and overt, by Islamists who are just plain fascists. Throughout the Twentieth Century, much of the Arab World lay comfortably in bed with the Nazis and the Communists. They were allies with Germany during the Second World War and with the USSR during the Cold War. Now they are the leading fascists and they are embracing the melody, “Whatever was good enough for Hitler, is good enough for me.” This is nowhere more evident than in their control of the media and the use of the “big lie” to vilify the Jews and the Americans and to de-legitimize Israel.

This threat exceeds the threat of Nazism and Communism because it is not just an external threat but also an internal one as well and one armed with WMD. Just after the end of World War II, America overreacted to the internal threat posed by Communists in their midst and McCarthyism was born. Unfortunately, America is now under reacting to the internal threat posed by Islamists, which is aimed at the body and the soul. This is due to the legacy of McCarthyism. Just as the legacy of Vietnam stole American resolve to defend American interests abroad for decades after, McCarthyism likewise stole our resolve to protect ourselves at home. The Universities and the Administration are infused and dominated by people who have grown up in the shadows of McCarthyism and Vietnam and are unprepared or unwilling to protect us. They are against war, against profiling, against restrictive immigration policies, against strengthening law enforcement, against anything that smacks of protecting the national interest at the expense of individual rights.

This attack is made more threatening because our natural allies, the Europeans, and to a lesser extent the Russians, are not “with us” as Bush would put it but in fact, against us. After 9/11, NATO, according to its Charter, accepted the attack on America as an attack on all the member states of NATO, but where are they today. Running for cover. But they are also guilty of commission.

The EU support of the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular is no different from the USSR support, during the Cold War, of any and all groups and countries that would rise up against the US. As Bush has proclaimed, you cannot support the terrorists and not suffer their fate. Yet the EU continues to provide political and financial support to Arafat and the PA knowing full well that such support enables the use of terror against Israel. Germany is the biggest supplier of contraband to the Iraqis. France, Britain and Russia, to name a few, all trade with Iran and assist in its attempt to gain a nuclear capability with the means to deliver it. Syrian President Assad was invited to London to visit the Queen. The EU has not yet banned Hamas or Hezbollah. Make no mistake, the EU is playing the Palestinian Card to gain influence in the Middle East at the expense of America. It is more of a threat to American interests now, than Russia or China.

The irony is that any gains the EU might achieve will be short lived. It is like winning the battle and losing the war. Notwithstanding all the appeasement and kowtowing, the EU is still threatened daily by terrorist attacks and by the relentless forces of Islamization. In fact, the more it appeases terrorists, the more it encourages them. The Muslims within its borders resist assimilation, are responsible for a higher proportion of crime than their numbers warrant and are a drain on its welfare system. In a few decades Europe will not be recognizable. Rather than aligning themselves with America against Islamization, they align themselves with the Arabs who support terror against America and Israel. Who would have imagined it?

What about the really big picture? The Islamists’ challenge is not the only thing for America to concern itself with. A new world order is in the making. What should and can America do to make it compatible with American interests? What are America’s travel plans in this regard. Europe is starting to assert itself. Europe is long on know how and short on resources. They are looking to the oil rich Arabs to gain influence, markets and a secure oil supply. Russia could potentially be a partner given their abundance of raw materials, good knowledge base and large oil reserves. Russia may have a fight with Chechnya and other Islamic Republics to the south, but they do not have a fight with Arabs and court them assiduously. The one impediment to cutting the umbilical cord to the US is that EU does not have the military strength to protect itself at home and abroad. They are accordingly working toward a new world order that shackles America and eschews force yet at the same time they depend on America to defend them. Russia on the other hand needs American capital.

When America makes its travel plans, it must remember that there is another road under construction and it runs through Israel, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and India. The EU has rejected Israel and Turkey while America embraces them. Both countries are drawing closer and closer together. Iran appears on the brink of another revolution that will see a separation of Mosque and State. Polls have shown the Iranians to be pro-American. The Afghan war secured American influence in the Caucasus where they are now entrenched. Finally, India is subject to the same Islamic terror that Israel is subject to and this makes them natural allies. It wasn’t long ago that India was in the Soviet orbit but now they have recognized Israel diplomatically and are working closely with them economically, culturally and militarily. It is a major challenge for America to be friendly with both Pakistan and India and with both the Arab world and Israel. So far America has not succeeded in this task and there is no signs that they will abandon the attempt of succeed in it.

So what should America’s road map to peace and security be?

America must lead rather than follow. The more America shows a willingness to talk, build coalitions, make deals and refrain from unilateral action, the more it encourages its enemies to hang tough and up the anti and the more it worries its friends that it doesn’t have the necessary resolve. The friends naturally hedge their bets.

America must realize that Israel is an extension of itself. To force Israel to be restrained or to withdraw, or to make concessions is to undermine their own war on terror. America cannot expect to sacrifice Israel on the alter of appeasement and not create expectations that America too will also exercise restraint, withdraw and make concessions in order to appease. They are joined at the hip. A withdrawal by Israel is a withdrawal by America.

America should stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the War on Terror. It should say “no“ to a second Palestinian state under present conditions and “yes” to moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Israel should be named the first member of the coalition against Iraq and the devil be damned. America should stop being ashamed of their Israeli cousins. It must announce to the world, that Israel and America are one and indivisible. Above all, it should make clear that it will not sell Israel out in any way shape or form. This resolve will accomplish more for American interests than continuing the path of appeasement.

Bush’s great defining speeches have set out the road map for the US. He should make certain that there are no detours and that no mixed messages are entertained or expressed.

The World must know that the American travel plans are made in the USA.

The saddest Christmas ever

This headline, or variations on it, has been making the rounds the last few days. Nice PR ploy by those same folks who brought us the "Jenin massacre." Only this time, they've managed to orchestrate a real live tragedy. And then blamed it, of course, on Israel.

So let's review how we arrived at the situation where there is no joy in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, 2002. Bethlehem was once a thriving town with a population that was upwards of 50% Christian. It had a robust tourist industry, with pilgrims flocking from all over the world at all times of the year, but never so many as at Christmas. (And, by the way, Christmas is traditionally celebrated on three different days in Bethlehem -- December 25 by Roman Catholics and Protestants, January 6 by the Greek and Russian Orthodox and January 18 by the Armenians.)

There are a number of reasons why the Christian population of Bethlehem (and, indeed, of Judea and Samaria generally) has been shrinking dramatically. But the reasons have nothing to do with Israel's "occupation." In fact, the exodus began long ago. Many left under Jordanian occupation. The exodus continued after 1967 but seems to have stepped up more since Oslo. In an article entitled "The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas," David Raab provided one view:

Between the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords until the 1995 transfer of Bethlehem to the PA, Palestinian Christians lobbied Israel against the transfer. The late Christian mayor, Elias Freij, warned that it would result in Bethlehem becoming a town with churches, but no Christians. He lobbied Israel to include Bethlehem in the boundaries of Greater Jerusalem, as was the Jordanian practice until 1967.[fn]

In December 1997, The Times of London reported: "Life in (PA ruled) Bethlehem has become insufferable for many members of the dwindling Christian minorities. Increasing Muslim-Christian tensions have left some Christians reluctant to celebrate Christmas in the town at the heart of the story of Christ's birth."[fn] The situation has become so desperate for Christians that, "during his visit to Bethlehem, Pope John Paul II felt it necessary to urge Palestinian Christians already in March 2000: 'Do not be afraid to preserve your Christian heritage and Christian presence in Bethlehem.'"[fn]

More recently, on July 17, 2000, upon realizing that then Prime Minister Barak was contemplating repartitioning Jerusalem, the leaders of the Greek-Orthodox, Latin and Armenian Churches sent a letter to him, President Clinton, and Chairman Arafat, demanding to be consulted before such action was undertaken. Barak's proposal also triggered a flood of requests for Israeli I.D. cards by thousands of East Jerusalem Arabs. (This plus the fact that Israel's own Christian population is actually growing refute any claim that emigration is a result of Israel's treatment of Christians.)

Here's a different point of view, which claims that Christian emigration has more to do with "subtle demographics" than with Christian/Muslim tensions. But, again, not because of the "occupation."

Nevertheless, under Israeli rule from 1967 to 1994 and under the PA from 1995 to 1999, Christmas in Bethlehem remained a moving and joyful event. There was tension, there were checkpoints, but the show went on. So what happened? What we're hearing is that Israel "reoccupied" the city, leading to economic devastation, fear, loss of tourism, loss of livelihood. But what we're not hearing is that all this is due to a precipitating event, a war launched against Israel in September 2000, without which none of this devastation need have occurred. What we're not hearing is that due to this same precipitating event, the celebrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Haifa are also subdued, tourism all over Israel has also disappeared, Israelis have also lost their jobs and their livelihood but, worse, they've lost their lives as they go about their daily activities. Shopping, eating, riding a bus, coming out of synagogue. And what we're not hearing is that PA sponsored terrorists have cynically used Bethlehem to lauch their murderous rampages because they know exactly what impact any effort to curtail their activities there will have.

If there was no joy in Bethlehem yesterday, it's because those who currently rule there have decided there's to be no joy and have done everything within their power to assure that their decision was implemented. Let's please get this part of the story straight, at least.

[cross-posted at In Context]

Under this name several radical Palestinian Islamic factions were active from 1979 on in the Territories, mainly under the influence of the Iranian Islamic revolution and the growing Islamic militancy in the region. A useful summary of terror groups, leadership, and terror incidents.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
B'nai Brith charges EU ignores Palestinian channel of aid to terrorists

HERB KEINON reported in The Jerusalem Post thatThe B'nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem released a 23-page report Wednesday that claims the EU has deliberately turned a blind eye to the alleged misuse of donated funds by the Palestinian Authority.

The report, based on previously published material, documents allegations of PA corruption and the diversion of donor funds to pay for terrorism. It is entitled "The Palestinian Authority: Where Does the Money Go?" was written by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the New York-based Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law.

The report is being used by B'nai Brith Europe to lobby the European Parliament to support the establishment of an official inquiry by the European Commission into the use of EU money to fund terrorism. A minimum of 157 signatures out of the 626-member parliament are needed to establish such and inquiry. So far, some 130 parliamentarians have signed the request.

According to the report, "despite EU attempts to refute and downplay allegations, the EU aid money was used to fund terrorism". PA documents found by the IDF clearly show that the PA diverted international aid to fund its terrorist activities.

"Since we already know that the EU did not closely monitor the use of the money, if even a single dollar went to finance terror, the donor countries are guilty of aiding terrorism."

An EU official Wednesday denied the allegations in the report, saying "they have been made repeatedly in the past, and each time found to be untrue."

According to the report, the PA uses various illicit methods to skim money from donated funds and promote terrorism.

The methods include:

need $60 million per month for salaries, when in fact only some $40.5 million is needed.

Using an exchange rate of NIS 7 to the dollar, when the rate was much higher. The difference, according to the report, was pocketed by the PA.

Deducting a mandatory Fatah membership fee of 1.5-2% of salaries paid to all PA security personnel.

Paying the salaries of Fatah terrorists

EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, in response to a question by a European parliamentarian about the allegations of misuse of he funds, said he wanted an inquiry into the matter like "a hole in the head."

Patten argued that such a probe would undermine moderates inside the PA and ruin any chance of halting the violence.

"An inquiry would make it enormously difficult to continue providing aid," Patten told a meeting of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee last month. "We have insisted on reform since we began the administrative assistance in 2001.

"If we sunder relations with the Palestinian Authority, it will be very difficult to claim that the EU is playing any kind of role in the Middle East region."

Canada waffles on terror Distinction Without a Difference

This will surprise you

The richest one percent are on the left according to an editorial in the Washington Times.

So much for Republicans being the party of the wealthy.

According to a new study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, that moniker more appropriately belongs to the Democrats. "Republicans raised more than Democrats from individuals who contributed small and medium amounts of money during the 2002 election cycle," the report notes, "but Democrats far outpaced Republicans among deep-pocketed givers." Among donors who gave more than $200 but less than $1,000, Republicans enjoyed a substantial $68 million to $44 million edge over Democrats. The margin was closer among those individuals who gave $1,000 or more: The GOP took in $317 million, compared to the Democrats' $307 million.

But among the fabulously wealthy, the Democrats cleaned house. Donors of $10,000 or more gave $140 million to Democrats, while only $111 million went to Republicans. Among those individuals who gave $100,000 or more, the Democrats raised $72 million compared to the Republicans' $34 million. And when it comes to the millionaires' club -- those kicking in $1 million or more -- the Democratic Party skunked the GOP, $36 million to $3 million. Needless to say, despite the near-parity in overall amounts -- $384 million to the Republicans vs. $350 million to the Democrats -- the number of individual donors to the GOP exceeded those to the Democratic Party by more than 40 percent. More.

December 25, 2002

The story behind the story

Mort Zuckerman in the Jewish World Review writes about Who finances the fanatics?

The terrorist assault by suicidal Muslim fanatics stunned the nation and its leaders. To this day the fallout plagues America and the West. No, we're not talking 9/11. The date was Nov. 20, 1979. The place? Saudi Arabia. About 500 fundamentalists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and took 6,000 pilgrims hostage. It took two weeks for security forces to retake the mosque. Hundreds of pilgrims died. Sixty-three rebels were captured and beheaded.

The siege was a devastating blow to the House of Saud. It mocked their role as guardian of Islam's holy places and forced them to defend their religious legitimacy from the charge that they had failed to reject the self-indulgent temptations of western life. Saudi leaders were distressed. They understood the deep attachment of their people to their puritanical variant of Islam, Wahhabism. Once aroused, this was a force that could topple the regime. Their response? Co-opt the ideology of the Wahhabists and give Wahhabi clerics more control over the social, economic, and educational life of the kingdom. Even worse, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs was given billions of dollars to export Wahhabism to the Muslim world. It financed fundamentalist religious schools known as madrasahs in Pakistan and built Wahhabist-oriented mosques from the Balkans to Indonesia to America, where 60 percent are Wahhabi-funded.

The result was the emergence of a militant form of Islam that today pervades much of the Muslim world. Wahhabism has effectively replaced communism as the root of anti-Western ideology. The Wahhabi lobby reminds one of the old Kremlin-style propaganda in its paranoid delusions, but it is far more pernicious, an unending stream of the most vicious anti-American, antisemitic bigotry.

Much of the funding for this toxic effluent comes from the wealthiest Saudis, through what they call "charities." Their purpose has been to fund the extremists in exchange for their promise not to direct their wrath against Saudi interests. The Saudi deflection of Wahhabism onto the world outside was clever, but it came at a price-the nourishment of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups hostile to the West.

A sea of Saudi money supports al Qaeda, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and other radical groups around the Muslim world. Canadian intelligence estimates that Saudi-based charities alone funnel between $1 million and $2 million a month to al Qaeda. In a recent report, the Council on Foreign Relations noted that "individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."

Osama bin Laden grew up in a culture that fostered the belief that the very existence of the West is an affront to Islam. Bin Laden sees his destiny as uniting all Muslim lands and re-establishing the original caliphate of a millennium ago. In this messianic view, the U.S.-led forces that remained in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War a decade ago are a violation of Islam's sanctuary-and further proof of the corruption of the House of Saud.

All this raises grave questions about the future of U.S.-Saudi relations. For years, America's easy access to Saudi oil was guaranteed by its protection of the kingdom from foreign threat. For America, the deal has had costs unrelated to providing protection. We have been seen as backing a corrupt, authoritarian regime even as we have become targets of Islamic fanatics fanning out of Saudi Arabia, funded by Saudis.

The Saudi regime was slow to awake to this problem, illuminated most recently by an Arabian night's tale involving the wife of the influential Saudi ambassador to Washington. Briefly, Princess Haifa authorized checks in excess of $100,000. The money, the princess said, was to have gone to pay medical expenses of a woman she had never met; somehow, however, much of it wound up in the hands of a man who helped two of the hijackers who piloted United Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Saudi authorities deny any ties to terrorists.

But this re-emphasized the danger of unaccountable Saudi petrodollars sent out to charities in the rest of the world without control and little concern for what happens outside the kingdom. Pressure is growing on the House of Saud to end its Faustian bargain with fanaticism. The Saudis, in response, have announced measures to provide more oversight of money going into charities directly or through their banks. So far, so good.

The Saudis must realize that President Bush sees 9/11 as a wake-up call. He has turned those events into the mission of his presidency, really, the mission of his life. He will not shrink from putting pressure on anyone who does not disown and delegitimize extremists who kill. The Saudis so far have avoided finding themselves in the terrorists' cross hairs. They will truly regret it if they get into the cross hairs of America.

Ted Belman

Did you know

apropos to the cost of the War

The US consumed 20 million barrels of oil per day in 2000.

This equals 7.3 billion barrels per year.

Assuming that with US control of Iraqi oil and increased production there, the price per barrel could stabilize at $2.00 less per barrel than otherwise. This would save the American economy $15 billion per year.

The losers would be the oil exporting nations and the winners the importing nations including the EU and Japan. One other loser would be the oil industry that profits from higher prices.

The US oil producers would not be able to compete as much because of its higher cost base. Therefore they will have to be compensated with oil leases in Iraq.

Think about it.

Syria, Iran, Lebanon should be issued ultimatum against these murderers. Of course if U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq, those countries are easy targets. Hezbollah Slams U.S. Threatened Action against It ‘In Good Time’
Some things to keep in mind

As always Victor Hansen in the National Review has a lot to say. "Lest we forget why we have been fighting the al Qaeda terrorists and are now ready to invade Iraq, we should remember some basic facts about the present war

What is its immediate cause?

About a year and a half ago, Middle Eastern terrorists — at a time of peace and without provocation — simply murdered 3,000 Americans. They blew up four airliners together with their crews and passengers, toppled the World Trade Center, and attacked the Pentagon. In addition, they caused billions of dollars in damage to the American economy, threw millions out of work, and forever changed the daily lives of an entire country and of much of the world besides.

Why did they attack us in such a manner?

Our enemies struck at icons of American economic and military power and used terror in lieu of conventional weapons and tactics. Knowing they could not defeat the United States military or appeal for support to the American people, they thought to create a climate of horror and fear to further their own political agendas. Perhaps we were supposed to quietly withdraw our troops from the Middle East, insist on concessions for Yasser Arafat, and grant de facto spheres of influence to al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. Yet just as the fundamentalists gave us no thanks for saving Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, and Somalia, so too they would have looked at such dispensation as decadent compassion and been emboldened rather than appreciative.

What do they really want?

It is hard to tell, inasmuch as their grandiose schemes are as illogical as Hitler's — but no less dangerous. But if we take them at their word, their Middle East would look something like the Taliban's Afghanistan or the mullahs' Iran — a vast tribal, patriarchal, and theocratic society on a continental scale. It would be run by zealots and religious extremists who would institute a medieval sort of Islamic law, even as the leaders themselves, like Ottoman grandees of old, would continue to be parasitic on the West — importing their own eyeglasses, medicines, videos, and electronic technology. Politically, they would hope to expand on the model of Iranian theocracy and terror, using vast oil revenues to buy missiles and eventually components for nuclear weapons — first to obliterate Israel, then to either blackmail or attack us.

Over 300 million in the Middle East live under regimes that are corrupt and tribal, dysfunctional autocracies without elections or the rule of law. With rising populations and failing economies, despots can only defer reform by using their state-run presses to vent tension against those more successful, such as Israel and the West. Hating the Jews is old stuff for the weak and envious, and so apparently is despising the country that gives you Star Wars, 757s, and vaccinations.

So who are we really at war with?

We fight first the terrorist nucleus, and so must hunt all of them down in a global chase where there is little quarter asked for or given. Further, radical regimes that in the past have harbored terrorists, stockpiled frightening weapons, and are either openly or covertly aiding al Qaeda must be confronted to change or be vanquished.

Who is winning?

It is not even close so far. After little more than a year, and at a cost of fewer than 100 American casualties, al Qaeda is about half ruined. The Taliban is gone. Iraq is terrified. And equally awful regimes like those in Syria, Iran, and Libya are apprehensive precisely because they know they are guilty of spreading murder and mayhem against Western innocents. We know where the terrorists thrive — in outlaw states like an Afghanistan, Somalia, or Sudan, theocracies like Iran, or dictatorships like Iraq. When those regimes are either gone or reformed, the world of our enemies shrinks.

Iraq first, then Southwest Asia

Pepe Escobar in Asia Times writes from an anti-US position on this subject. I have extracted certain paragraphs that indicate what the anti-US crowd believes and put them in itallics. I have added a few comments not in itallics.

An Islamic scholar born in Egypt tells Asia Times Online that as soon as US Secretary of State Colin Powell, a living portrait of moderation, pronounced the deadly magic words "material breach", the Arab world had to swallow its bitter impotence and admit that war against Iraq was practically inevitable. The American strategy has been extremely efficient: it relies on the fact the US cannot be criticized because it is following the UN. This is one more splendid paradox coming from an administration that has boycotted the most consensual UN decisions - those regarding the International Court of Justice, global warming, children's rights and the banning of nuclear tests.

He's right about that.

George W Bush doesn't mince words as far as his new world order is concerned. Critics of the war all agree that Bush may not know much about the world outside Texas, but he knows something about oil: his family has been in this business for two generations. He also knows the war will mobilize more than 100,000 troops, will cost between US$100 billion and $200 billion, depending on the scenario, and afterwards will require maintaining 50,000 troops in Iraq, at a cost of $18 billion a year, perhaps for decades.

These costs are probably exagerated.

In exchange, the Bush administration may control the production and pricing system of oil in the world markets. Iraq, which was producing no more than 1.6 million barrels a day until a few months ago, and now is barely producing 500,000, could produce 3 million, 5 million or even 10 million barrels a day. George W Bush has a vision of a world where the highest values in his moral scale - open markets and cheap gas - are explicitly guaranteed by the US Marines.

He is wrong about Bush's highest values but he is right about the opportunity to control prices. And don't think that the US won't recover its costs somehow.

Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University, is one of the few to draw the relevant conclusions: "The West is ready to impose a punitive peace on Third World countries, especially Muslim countries. It is even capable of giving an appearance of legitimacy to these hate measures by their vote at the UN."

Get rid of these guys.

Few outside the US are being fooled - as Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America know, Washington hawks have scant respect for the UN. It is widely recognized that the US, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, would never say a single word about the state of Israel's illegal colonization and slow-burning ethnic cleansing policies in Palestine - practices widely condemned by UN member states.

They never let up with their lies. There is no illegal colonization going on.

Frustrated UN diplomats have been reaffirming off the record that Resolution 1441, the way it was voted on November 8, is a blank check for war and nothing but a convenient instrument of American policy. No matter what it does, Iraq is condemned in advance.

The process has nothing to do with Iraq's disarmament and everything to do with "regime change" - which specialists in international law like Falk define as a direct interference in a country's sovereignty and its people's right to self-determination.

It has three objectives; disarmament, regime change and a change throught the M.E. By the way, what kind of right to self determination do the Iraqis have with Hussein in power.

Washington is actively sponsoring post-Saddam Iraq. During the recent, highly-publicized Iraqi opposition meeting in London, says the respected Al Hayat newspaper, the American delegate Zalmay Khalilzad - the man who according to Afghans stole the Loya Jirga from King Zahir Shah - actually threatened the 300 participants. He said "Washington could name a military governor after the fall of Saddam Hussein if the conference finished without an agreement".

For the London-based Palestinian paper Al Quds Al Arabi - one of the only pan-Arab papers to escape Saudi control - the meeting was organized by the US to fulfill its own interests: "They got what they wanted: a political cover for their military objectives." For Al Quds Al Arabi, the main beneficiaries are "the pro-Iranian Shi'ites and the Kurds. This assures the 'Shi'ite-Kurd coalition' a big influence over the nomination of members of the provisional [Iraqi] government, scheduled for January 15." Arab diplomats fear that by playing up ethnic and religious components, the US will be forcing post-Saddam Iraq to lose its Arab character.

The best Arab observers have no doubt that Saddam Hussein will do everything in his power to make the Americans pay a tremendous price for the invasion. American military planners know the urban guerrilla scenario is very much on the cards: a Fortress Baghdad heavily protected by Saddam's elite Special Republican Guard plus the two regiments of the Republican Guard, in a 21st century remake of the Siege of Stalingrad.

American foreign policy is now dominated by three vectors: the post-Cold War policy to prevent the resurgence of any rival power comparable to the USSR; the global war against terrorism, encompassing states that support terrorism, and states that have decided to acquire weapons of mass destruction; and the echoes and reverberations of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

These three vectors converge at an intersection of the Chinese, Indian, Slavic and Arab worlds - what American strategists (but not yet tourist guidebooks) define as Southwest Asia.

As if any confirmation were needed, General Tommy Franks - who managed the war against the Taliban and will manage the war against Iraq - has stressed time and time again that American forces will stay in Afghanistan for a long time. There are roughly 8,000 American troops in Afghanistan at the moment. They remain practically all the time in cantonment mode, because they have no access to valuable information to guide them on the trail of Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.

To make matters worse, in the Pashtun belt, the Americans are faced with a jihad against foreign invaders launched last August, a jihad with a strong rear-guard base in Pakistani territory. As Asia Times Online has reported from the spot, Pashtuns on both sides of the volatile and porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border are unanimously enraged by the US. Afghanistan remains totally insecure. Warlords rule the provinces. Hamid Karzai's government is dominated by Uzbeks, Tajiks and, on a smaller scale, Hazaras. It is so fragile that Karzai, according to local jokes, cannot rule even over his own chair. And once again, predictably, Afghanistan has disappeared from the media radar.

The "smoking out" of Taliban and al-Qaeda and the capture of their chiefs and commanders has been a failure. The New Afghan War became a Pakistani war. President General Pervez Musharraf's decision to totally align himself with the US was not much help to Washington. The best illustration is what happened in the Pakistani elections on October 10: the President's party - the Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam - won in some places, but the religious parties united in the Muttahidda Majlis-e-Aman (MMA) won a massive victory in the ultra-sensitive Pashtun-dominated regions, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan.

The vice-president of the MMA, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, has said he wants to eliminate US air bases in Pakistan and wants the country out of the coalition to fight terrorism. The regions controlled by the MMA are bound to be subjected to Sharia (Islamic law), with no interference of Western culture. Militants in most of the groups composing the MMA - especially the young - are in fact basically the same people that fought under a Taliban or an al-Qaeda banner last year and are still engaging in anti-US jihad on both sides of the border.

While the attack on Afghanastan simply redistributed the al-Queda forces and enraged the Islamofascist, it did consolidate US influence in meaningful ways throughout the area as indicated in what follows.

As the US war on terror translates into a massively powerful war machine, the US has extended the battlefield way beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now there are more air and ground forces in Diego Garcia - located in the heart of the Indian Ocean. There are at least 200 US "advisors" in Yemen, where, not by an accident, a precise hit from a drone smashed a vehicle transporting six alleged al-Qaeda members. There are US Special Forces in Djibouti, in the ultra-sensitive horn of Africa - where soon there will be a full American headquarters. The agenda is only superficially related to the pursuit of terrorist groups in north Africa. It is directly related to the replacement of American bases in Saudi Arabia, as it is almost certain (though not yet an irreversible decision) that the Saudis will not authorize their use in the upcoming Iraqi invasion.

What the US is really interested in is Southwest Asia: Iran and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The Bush administration and the Putin government are playing a very complex chess game. Putin is sacrificing positions now to gain a later advantage. The Americans have already attacked Russian interests on four sides. The US torpedoed the 1972 ABM treaty which forbids space missile defense. NATO expanded east to former Soviet satellites - and now incorporates three former Soviet republics: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. A crucial pipeline carrying a substantial part of the Caspian oil wealth runs from Baku in Azerbaijan to Ceyhan in Turkey, south of the Caucasus, thus totally bypassing Russia. And the US signed with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan - and is negotiating with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - agreements to create American air bases in these former Soviet republics' territories. These developments form the basis of a long-term American military presence in the heart of Southwest Asia.

The Bush administration may start its new war against Iraq - but the war in fact is against Iran. Iran is an official member of the Axis of Evil. Washington has conveniently forgotten that only one year ago, during the New Afghan War, Iran was actually an ally of the US as it helped, financed and armed the Hazaras, who were part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.

European diplomats suggest the heart of the matter is how the regime in Tehran is perceived in Washington. There may exist an understanding of the Iranian regime as a concert of multiple and clashing centers of decision. But Washington hawks have only two preoccupations. They know the regime is under the power of Velayat-e-Faqih - Islamic jurisprudence. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directs the army, the security services, the Guardians of the Revolution, the paramilitary forces, the institutions of the judiciary, the imams who recite the Friday prayers all over the country, and also the media. So in the view of Washington hawks, President Khatami simply cannot reform the regime.

Strategically, Iran is important because - as Israeli intelligence has been alerting - Iran could have a nuclear bomb before 2005. Washington hawks figure that if the Shah's regime wanted to become a nuclear power, it need be no different for the Islamic regime. The ayatollahs indeed fear total encirclement of Iran. They know that Iraq was trying to become nuclear, that Israel and Pakistan are nuclear powers, and that now the US is an unwanted neighbor.

European diplomats speculate that Iran could have three options: it could continue trying to acquire fissile material and missile launchers, while waiting for external threats to justify the pursuit of a nuclear arsenal. It could engage in a secret program to build nuclear weapons - just like Israel did. Or it could explode a nuclear device - just like India and Pakistan did. There's one factor common to these three options: they are all anathema for Washington. For the US, it's out of the question for Iran to become a very important regional power, and nor does the US want to become engaged in an automatic nuclear guarantee to the Gulf monarchies. So Iran risks sooner or later becoming a victim of the American doctrine of preemptive action.

The parallels with Afghanistan are striking. The US intervention in Afghanistan completely destabilized Pakistan - and a few dangerous after-effects are already noticeable. The US intervention in Iraq could completely destabilize Iran. It's absolutely certain that Iran will not help mortal enemy Saddam Hussein. But the fact is the US already has a substantial military presence in the Gulf, Pakistan, Central Asia and Turkey. Add Iraq, and Iran will be encircled. The Islamic regime may inevitably react by forcefully aiding the anti-US jihadis in Afghanistan as well as the anti-Musharraf parties in Pakistan. Iran could also try to seduce Iraq's 60 percent of Shi'ites to prevent the next Iraqi state from being a totally American concoction (as the Arab press is convinced it will be). It's fair to imagine that under these circumstances the war against terrorism will acquire a totally new dimension.

Given how the masses in Iran object to the Mullahs andd the shiites in Iraq object to Hussein, I doubt that the Iraqi shiites want any part of the Mullahs.

The logic of war for the moment seems to be favoring American political, economic and strategic designs. Moscow's interests seem to be threatened - in terms of loss of influence - and so seem Beijing's in the longer run - in terms of access to energy sources. The potential for trouble is immense - but so is the potential for a peaceful Southwest Asia ruled by a new concert of powers: the US, China, Russia and India. This may not be an Axis of Good, as compared to the current Axis of Evil, but it could certainly be an Axis of the World.

The stupid detractors of Israel often blabber on about a Jewish state when in fact there is tolerance for all faiths. Those badmouthing Israel ought turn some attention to some Arab countries, where in fact that which upsets them is really true.
A Saudi Christmas Is a Hidden Affair

Time to Expose the Mullahs

Students are protesting in Tehran by the thousands. But this is not an equal fight. The ruling clerics have the money and the power

Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek writes:

What country in the Middle East supports a flourishing terrorist network and is steadily acquiring weapons of mass destruction? If you said Iraq, you’re one letter off. It’s Iran, which the State Department has long branded “the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

LAST WEEK WASHINGTON produced satellite photographs to demonstrate that Iran was “actively working on a nuclear-weapons program.” Why is a state with vast oil and natural-gas reserves investing so heavily in nuclear power? (The only other oil state that said it needed nuclear reactors was ... Iraq.) It would be like Saudi Arabia’s building windmills. Iran is also a vigorous exporter of Islamic fundamentalism. For two decades now Tehran has funded radical Islamic movements, scholars and centers around the world. At its worst Iran is Iraq plus Saudi Arabia, all in one country.

And yet many observers look at Iran and see it as the most hopeful place in the Middle East. They point out that it holds elections, has a reformist president, and its women have more political rights than in many Arab countries. But Iran’s democracy is a sham. The president, Mohammed Khatami, is a figurehead, allowed to give high-minded speeches and do little else. Almost three quarters of the way through his reign, he has accomplished virtually nothing by way of political reform. In some ways Iran is more closed today than it was when he was elected in 1997. For example, more than 80 reformist newspapers have been shut down in the last few years.

The fundamental mistake people make about today’s Iran is to assume that the reformers—who speak in tones that the West can understand—wield power. There have always been such figures. The first president of the Islamic republic was Abolhassan Bani Sadr, a Paris-educated liberal. He lasted a year. Iran is a theocracy; the reformers and moderates are window dressing. Real power rests with a tiny clerical establishment.

That power is now under serious challenge. Students are protesting in Tehran by the thousands. The middle classes have expressed their disgust with the regime by voting in every recent election for the most anti-regime candidate on the ballot. Most important, leading clerics are criticizing the regime and distancing themselves from it. A brave professor, Hashem Aghajari, has dared the regime to execute him for is “crime”—which was to advocate publicly the separation of mosque and state. But this is not an equal fight. The mullahs have all the money and power.

The clerics have created a network of supporters and enforcers who keep things tightly under control. There are several shadowy gangs of thugs—the largest of them a Hitler Youth-type group called the Basij—that go around terrorizing people. They operate above and beyond the law, breaking up demonstrations, even those that have been approved by local authorities. Then there is the secret police. One of the ironies of Iran today is that the mullahs came to power riding a wave of fear over the shah’s dreaded Savak. But the only institution of the old regime that has been maintained, indeed fortified, has been the Savak, now called the Savama.

Despite having run the economy into the ground, there is a powerful minority in Iran that has greatly benefited from the revolution. The clerics use their oil loot to keep happy a cadre of religious leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, student revolutionaries and Army officers. These people will not suddenly mellow into liberal democrats because they watch students protesting. The mullahs must be pushed.

The strategy for reforming Iran will have to be quite different from that for Iraq. Iraq requires a hard (military) strategy, Iran a soft (political) one. The most hopeful aspect of Iran’s tragedy is that it has dimmed the allure of Islamic politics. Iranians now have a visceral disgust with clerics in power, a backlash that is more likely to produce the separation of mosque and state than scholarly writings about an Islamic reformation. Washington should make a major effort to publicize the mullahs’ greed. It can obtain—from Switzerland, Luxembourg, wherever—the hard evidence that will show Iranians that their sainted leaders are as corrupt as Africa’s worst tin-pot tyrants. Iranians already suspect this, but they cannot know the extent of the damage.

Washington should also fund the satellite-television stations, many beaming out of Los Angeles, that have become manna for information-starved Iranians. Most of their programs are not particularly political, but news, entertainment, fashion—all harmless windows into the modern world—are the slow killers of a closed society. Many of these stations are struggling for lack of money. Small sums could make a big difference.

Gilles Kepel, France’s leading scholar of the Middle East, was in Tehran recently. At a dinner party an Iranian woman came up to him in utter exasperation and said, “Can you believe that those peasants in Afghanistan have been liberated and we have to keep wearing this ridiculous higab [veil]?” The lady might have to wait. Unlike Afghanistan, Iran will have to liberate itself. But we can help

The Bush administration has yet to come fully behind the students or demand regime change. They are still saying that Iran must change itself and are looking to the impotent reformers to do it. After naming Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, Bush seems to have laid off. The reason is that he is looking for cooperation in the fight against Iraq. But there is no way that Iran will have any say in Iraq politics because 65% of Iraq population are Shiites and this is the predominant strain in Iran. Iran and Saudi Arabia must be neutered and Bush knows this.

Much of the world wrongfully assumes a Palestinian state is already nearly in place. What evidence for this? Premature Palestine
A recent post at this site suggested that Polanski's film The Pianist is an outstanding Holocaust film. Here, an interview with the film's maker, Roman Polanski

All roads lead to Roman Polanski

A Muslim relgious leader calls for arms, not peace, and says the Islamic nation must acquire nuclear weaponry.

found through Gabrille Goldwater's Reports see, too, from an Arabic source (in English):,14183,355197,00.html
Buried down in this text, you will find an explanation why the Israeli military has "visited" Bethlehem. 'Saddest Christmas Ever' in Bethlehem

December 24, 2002

Librarians Against Israel

Librarians Against Israel

To be sure, the overwhelming majority of the ALA [American Library Association]`s membership does not seek the Jewish state`s obliteration. But a hardcore group of haters, especially within the ALA-SRRT [Social Responsibilities Round Table], works with obsessive determination to bring that about. And these Israel-bashers have been pushing their agenda since the mid-1980`s.

Sometimes resisting, but more often caving in to the will of the haters, the ALA Council has passed a horrendous series of edicts which in turn are distributed to the PLO, the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, foreign governments, and other national and international entities in order to maximize the harm to Israel.
"Gentleman's" agreement at the UN

When it comes to Jews or the Jewish state, UN Charter
equality goes out the door, says lawyer ANNE BAYEFSKY

Anne Bayefsky is an international lawyer and professor of political science at York University. She is a member of the governing board of the Geneva-based UN Watch.
This year's General Assembly, which ended on Friday, marked a new low in United Nations bias against Jews and the Jewish state. The three resolutions passed in its final days are a disturbing commentary.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Palestinian children. This brings the number of resolutions on the human rights of children to three: one on the rights of the child, one on the "girl child," and one on Palestinian children -- the only children in the world subject to the specific concern of a General Assembly resolution.

With its automatic majority on the Palestinian side of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the General Assembly is able to generate large numbers of resolutions critical only of Israel. The resolution focusing only on Palestinian children, however, is a historic first, and it increases the number of General Assembly resolutions directed annually at Israel to 20. Human-rights situations in the rest of the world drew only six country-specific resolutions this year. There were no resolutions on human rights in such countries as Syria, Saudi Arabia or China.

The draft version of the resolution on Palestinian children was adopted on Nov. 15 by the General Assembly's Third Committee (which deals with social, cultural and humanitarian affairs), in the same week that a Palestinian gunman broke into a home on an Israeli kibbutz and shot to death two children -- Noam, 4, and Matan, 5 -- while their mother, Revital Ohayon, tried to hide them under her body. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility.

In the past two years, Palestinian terrorists have repeatedly targeted Israeli children. On April 27, gunmen broke into a home west of Hebron, found five-year-old Danielle Shefi hiding under her parents' bed and shot her in the head. On May 9, 2001, Israeli students Kobi Mandell, 13, and Yossi Ish-Ran, 14, were stoned to death and their bodies mutilated in a cave south of Jerusalem. Palestinian suicide bombers have directed attacks at places where children gather, such as buses, discos and pizza parlours.

More than 100 Israeli children have been murdered and 900 wounded or maimed in the past two years alone. The General Assembly resolution, however, neither expressed concern nor made any mention of Israeli children.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ellen Margrethe Loj, the Danish ambassador to the UN, apologized to the General Assembly for abstaining instead of voting in favour, saying EU states preferred resolutions on country-specific situations to be dealt with under a different agenda item. Only Israel, the United States, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau voted against the resolution. Canada abstained.

Also missing from the resolution billed to help Palestinian children:

Any reference to the Palestinian Authority's practice of encouraging Palestinian children to participate in the armed conflict, and the Palestinian media's appeal to children to glorify and emulate suicide bombers;

The endemic anti-Semitism in Palestinian children's textbooks used in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency;

The use of Palestinian children as human shields by terrorists operating from densely populated civilian areas.

Also on Wednesday, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on racism, capping a two-month negotiation over the inclusion of the word "anti-Semitism." For the past four years, a racism resolution has included "anti-Semitism" as a specific subject of study of the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This year, the reference to anti-Semitism as part of the rapporteur's mandate was deleted. Only the United States, Israel and Palau voted against the resolution. Canada abstained.

Ironically, the deletion was due not only to the 130 developing nations that removed "anti-Semitism" from this year's draft to begin with, but also to the EU. Behind closed doors, Arab states indicated they might accept the word's retention as a matter of specific study of the UN special rapporteur, so long as "anti-Arab" discrimination was also included. The United States and Israel had no objection, but the EU refused -- the same EU that claims to be protecting Arab interests against U.S. hegemony.

On Dec. 13, the Security Council passed a resolution on the Nov. 28 terrorist attacks in Kenya directed at Israelis. Those attacks involved a suicide bombing at a hotel operated by, and catering to, Israelis, and a missile attack on an Israeli civilian airplane. In the case of October's hostage-taking crisis in Moscow, the Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the terrorist attack within 24 hours. In the case of the bombing in Bali, also in October, the Security Council adopted a resolution within 48 hours. But it took the council two weeks of intensive negotiation to adopt the resolution concerning the attacks in Kenya.

The struggle behind the scenes during those two weeks occurred over references to Israel and Israeli victims. The original draft circulated by the United States, for example, read: "Condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist bomb attack against Kenyan and Israeli civilians." The final version omits the reference to "Israeli civilians" and reads, "Condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist bomb attack at the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, and the attempted missile attack on Arkia Israeli Airlines Flight 582."

In addition, while the Security Council resolutions on the Bali and Russian attacks urge co-operation with the Indonesian and Russian authorities in their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, the reference to co-operation with "Israeli authorities" was left out of the Kenya resolution.

In theory, the UN Charter proclaims the equality of all persons, and of all nations large and small. When the victims are Jews or the Jewish state, UN practice is quite different.
No wonder Israel doesn't want international observers, the Quartet's road map and the UN's investigations.

In my opinion voting against the resolutions is important but it also gives a message of tolerance.. It is time that the US to say the treatment of Israel by the UN is unacceptable and that it must change. They should impose consequences such as no dues paying, no cooperation, UN boycott etc. But this state of affairs should not be tolerated.

It is nearly a cliche by now to note the demographics of Israelis to Arabs in the Middle East, esp. among Palestinians. But take a look at Islamic demographics world-wide. Scary? Islamization of the world by the year 2501
Globalization of Islam's militantsOutsiders are nourishing Islam among Cambodians
When will CBC finally use the 'T' word?

Norman Spector, Canada's former ambassador to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, served as deputy minister to former B.C. premier Bill Bennett and as chief of staff to Brian Mulroney writes to Peter Mansbridge and the CBC.
I'm writing as a friend, and as a friend of the CBC. I've been thinking about your Mideast coverage, but the timing never seemed right to send this letter. After hearing Chief David Ahenakew praise Hitler and the Holocaust, that time has now come. You wouldn't know it from most of the coverage from Toronto, but Ahenakew was not just addressing events that took place more than 50 years ago.

Jews caused the Second World War, he believes; by "killing people in Arab countries" they will cause a third. No context. No mention of Hamas bombers who kill themselves and murder Israeli civilians.

New York Times reporters, though not yours, routinely explain that Hamas's goal is not to end the occupation, but to eliminate the Jewish state. For months, I've been weighing CBC arguments against labelling them "terrorists." When that position erupted into a personal attack on Neil Macdonald (whose tough but fair reporting while in Ottawa I highly respected), I decided to hold off writing to you. More recently, the issue became embroiled in the war of words between the CBC and Israel Asper, another target of Ahenakew's paranoia. With media convergence shrinking the outlets open to minority views such as mine, one does not lightly tread into this minefield. So I waited and watched.

Here's how I see it. Your reporters have not been known to question whether the Sept. 11 attacks were anything other than terrorism; nor has any disputed that the murderers of Aussies, Britons and two Canadians in Bali were terrorists. So, when our government listed Hamas as a terrorist organization, I thought the CBC had an opportunity to change tack. Nothing doing. Apparently, it's still for impressionable young viewers to make up their minds whether they'd prefer to join the Boy Scouts or an organization that's illegal in Canada and blows up babies in Jerusalem.

More recently, Human Rights Watch concluded that such attacks rise to the level of "crimes against humanity." The organization added that nothing could justify them, not even the occupation or settlements that figure so prominently on CBC. Therefore, I fully expected to hear the "T" word pass through CBC lips, when men in orange vests next flashed across my Television screen, meticulously scraping body tissue off bloody sidewalks. Fat chance. But hope sprang anew in recent weeks, as I observed Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham prepare his flip-flop on Hezbollah. That organization, too, wishes to eliminate Israel. Though Hezbollah claims to be resisting occupation, the UN notes that Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon is "complete."

Peter, the decision to list both its military and political wings was inevitable, once the Americans added Hezbollah to their "A-team" of terrorists. Yet, your journalists would question this shift in Canadian policy.

I also appreciate everyone is proud of Neil Macdonald's disclosure that Hezbollah's Sheik Nasrallah may not have threatened to take "martyrdom" operations beyond the Mideast. I, for one, hope he got it right. If the alleged statement were behind our government's policy change, it would mean Canada believes it's one thing when Israelis are murdered, and "terrorism" when Aussies are.

Reluctantly, I've concluded this double standard of morality infuses CBC reporting. Last week, even the UN Security Council, for the first time in its history, condemned an attack on Israelis as terrorism. Yet Canada's national broadcaster did not use the term in reporting on the bombing of the hotel in Kenya, or the missiles fired at an Israeli passenger jet.

The vote in the Security Council was 14-1, with only Syria dissenting. Its policy toward Israel was expressed last year by President Bashar al-Assad. Greeting the Pope, he accused the Jewish state of "trying to kill religions in the same way (they) betrayed Jesus Christ."

Peter, I know this is not company you'd wish to keep. I also know you would not want to encourage the view, expressed by another of your reporters, that "the latest in a series of pressure tactics" by the "Jewish lobby" lay behind the decision to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Judging from my e-mail, that kind of language in reports on the Mideast can only serve to encourage David Ahenakew and his ilk in their demented view of the world.
The CBC thinks if they were to call them terrorists they would be taking Israel's side. They aren't concerned though that by not calling them terrorists they are taking the terrorists' side. With respect, to call them terrorist is to take the side of morality. Terrorism is not acceptable. Period.

A site worth exploring. Distinguishes what many religions have in common and how militant Islam differs. You Exposing militant "Islam"
Eleven articlesMiddle East News Roundup

Secretary of State Colin Powell is host for Friday's meeting on the Mideast with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and leaders of the European Union, including senior diplomat Javier Solana. Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian in Gaza after he shot at Israeli soldiers and threw grenades at them Saturday, Israeli military sources said. Palestinian Cabinet ministers on Sunday postponed elections scheduled for Jan. 20, blaming Israeli occupation of their towns. West Bank The Palestinian Cabinet on Sunday postponed elections set for next month, blaming the continuing Israeli military occupation of West Bank towns. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has said an international peace plan for the Middle East will fail unless there is a change in the Palestinian leadership. Representatives from the quartet of mediators in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict say a blueprint for a peace deal is not ready yet.
The Prince of Darkness--Arafat--mouths platitudes again (see post below for obverse statements) Arafat Slams U.S. in Christmas Speech, Saudi Arabia Urges World to Restrain Israel
Poor innocent guys! No doubt on their way to a bomb factory. Typical Arab media headline. Israelis Kill Hamas and Fatah Men in Cold Blood
Good News!
A predictable Arafat response and other news items Peace plan gets cool reception