Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage comes to life in Israel (& BBC’s “Hamas” employee enters Gaza)

June 27, 2007

* BBC employee who is said to also be a Hamas member, enters Gaza to negotiate for Alan Johnston
* Israeli scientists have actually created the imaginary technology depicted by the 1966 science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine is reduced to microscopic size, injected into the bloodstream and is able to travel through the body to provide medical treatment
* Al-Qaeda joins Jimmy Carter in publicly backing Hamas
* Iran to launch 24-hour English-language propaganda channel next Monday



1. Israel lets one of BBC’s “Hamas” employees into Gaza to negotiate for Johnston
2. While others call for their boycott, Israeli scientists make breakthroughs
3. Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas
4. Hamas “more moderate”?
5. Iran to launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel
6. “New mini-robot can travel through the bloodstream” (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2007)
7. “Scientists develop ‘Fantastic Voyage’-like robot sub” (Jer. Post, June 26, 2007)
8. “Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas” (AP, June 25, 2007)
9. “Iran to launch 24-hour English-language channel” (Reuters, June 26. 2007)
10. “Israel lets Hamas member enter Gaza” (Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


The Jerusalem Post reports today that the Israeli government has overruled the opposition of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency and granted a request by the BBC that a Palestinian employee of the BBC – who is said to also be a Hamas member – enter the Gaza Strip in efforts to negotiate the release of abducted BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Simon Wilson, the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief, denied that any BBC staff are “members of Hamas,” although he failed to deny that the BBC employee in question is a close associate of senior Hamas officials.

The Shin Bet objected to the BBC request, saying that the BBC employee was indeed a member of Hamas, and perhaps even a terrorist operative.

Johnston was abducted by the Army of Islam terrorist group on March 12. Last night the group issued a statement saying “There is no discussion or bargaining in this issue – even if he will remain in captivity for 1,000 years or he is slaughtered like a sheep.”

For more on the suicide belt Johnston was forced to wear this week, see Abbas the moderate? Abbas as a leader? (June 25, 2007).

For years, there have been allegations that Palestinians employed as translators and fixers by the BBC in the Middle East have had close personal links to Palestinian terror groups.


While many academics elsewhere are spending their time demonizing Israeli academics and trying to boycott them, researchers at universities in tiny Israel are continuing to make scientific breakthroughs second only to researchers working in the much larger U.S.

The latest are scientists at the Technion working with researchers from the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, who announced yesterday that they have developed a miniature, remote-controlled robot that can move within the bloodstream.

The new robot, which is one millimeter wide, consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing it to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.

The robot is likely to be used in the future in treatments for a wide range of medical problems, including cancer and malignant tumors. Israeli scientists have already produced another kind of robot which is used in many hospitals around the world for performing spinal surgery.


Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, has followed former U.S. president Jimmy Carter in publicly announcing support for Hamas. (For more on Carter see here.)

Al-Zawahri delivered an Internet audio message calling on Muslims worldwide to send more weapons to Hamas.

The 25-minute tape, al-Zawahri’s seventh released this year, was posted on the same day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was hosting a summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan’s King Abdullah II also attended.


The BBC has now reported that al-Zawahri has called on Hamas “to unite with al-Qaeda.” But then the BBC news report added: “Hamas leaders, who espouse a more moderate brand of Islamist politics, have always shunned al-Qaeda advances.”

What does the BBC mean by “more moderate”? That Hamas is primarily interested in killing Jews whereas al-Qaeda is interested in killing Jews and Christians? By that standard, Hitler was also “more moderate” than al-Qaeda. Maybe the BBC ought to stop downplaying Hamas’s extremism.


Iran’s state broadcaster will launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel next week to rival dominant western services, a senior Iranian official said yesterday.

Teheran-based PRESS TV, staffed by both Iranians and foreigners, is scheduled to start broadcasting from Teheran next Monday, and will model its format on CNN and BBC World, Nader Rad, head of live programming, told Reuters. He said it would concentrate on news from “Palestine and Lebanon.” (i.e. where the Iranian-backed Islamic militias Hamas and Hizbullah operate from.)

Iran’s state broadcaster already runs the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and the Persian-language Jaam-e Jam.

Below, I attach articles on the stories above.

-- Tom Gross



New mini-robot can travel through the bloodstream
By Guy Griml
June 26, 2007

Scientists at the Technion University, teamed with a researcher from the College of Judea and Samaria, have developed a miniature robot that can move within the bloodstream.

Researchers the world wide have been trying to develop miniature, remote-controlled robots for minimally invasive medical treatments within the body.

“For the first time a miniature robot has been planned and constructed, that has the unique ability to crawl within the human body’s veins and arteries,” said Dr. Nir Shvalb of the College of Judea and Samaria yesterday.

“The robot will be able to crawl against the bloodstream with a force typical of blood vessels within the body without any problem, which has not been possible before.”

Oded Salomon, researcher at the medical robotics lab in the Technion’s engineering faculty, added that the miniaturization achievement is unprecedented, as is the ability to control the robot’s activity for unlimited periods of time, for any medical procedure.

For comparison, the diameter of a similar robot which researchers at Kyoto University developed is one centimeter. The Israeli robot’s diameter is one millimeter.

The new robot consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing the robot to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.

Blood vessels differ from each other in diameter, making it extremely important for the robot to possess the ability to be able to adjust accordingly.



Scientists develop ‘Fantastic Voyage’-like robot sub
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
The Jerusalem Post
June 26, 2007

Israeli scientists have actually created the imaginary technology depicted by the 1966 science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine is reduced to microscopic size, injected into the bloodstream and able to travel through the body to provide medical treatment.

A tiny “submarine” robot has been designed by Dr. Nir Schwalb of the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel and Oded Solomon of the mechanical engineering department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They say it has the unique ability to “crawl” through tubes with the width of human veins and arteries, even going against the flow of blood at the speed in which it passes through blood vessels.

It is too early to know what medical uses the robot will have, but they suggest the possibility of being involved in brachytherapy, in which cancer patients are exposed to short-distance adiotherapy from a source placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment. Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat localized prostate cancer and cancers of the head and neck. In addition, numerous robots could be used simultaneously to deal with a large number of metastases (malignant tumors spread through the body).

The researchers stress that the project is an “interesting development, but it has a long way to go before it is used in medicine.” Solomon says that the tiny robot could be controlled for an unlimited amount of time to carry out any necessary medical procedure. The power source is an external magnetic field created near the patient that does not cause any harm to humans but supplies an endless supply of power for it to function. The robot’s special structure enables it to move while being controlled by the operator using the magnetic field.

The researchers noted that scientists at Kyoto University in Japan are developing a robot to travel independently in the human body. However, they said that its size of one centimeter in diameter would not allow it to pass into human veins. The Israeli robot, however, was only one millimeter in diameter, they said.

“Medicine is going to be much more focused, and the need to reach an exact target will only increase,” say the Israeli researchers.

“The academic world is trying to create a robot that will be tiny enough to pass through the body and at the same time have navigational abilities for performing complex medical tasks,” added Prof. Moshe Shaham of the Technion, who is a participant in the research.

Shaham has already developed a robot for the Mazor company that today is used in many hospitals around the world for performing spinal surgery.

The Haifa/Ariel robot is built as a central structure with tiny arms that allow it to grab onto the insides of tubes. Any movement makes it possible to advance a bit, and its unique hair-like structure allows travel through many sizes of tubes. Blood vessels in the body are not uniform in their diameter size, so it is important that the robot can “hold on” inside various sized tubes, they said.

In Fantastic Voyage, a secret agent is recruited by a top-secret organization to join the crew of a submarine called Proteus. The crew and submarine are reduced to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of scientist Jan Benes, who defects to the West and goes into a coma after suffering a surgically inaccessible blood clot. They must reach the brain with a laser to melt the clot within an hour or the miniaturization effect will wear off. However, the voyage is undermined by one of the crew who is a saboteur and is prepared to risk everything to stop the mission.



Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas
The Associated Press
June 25, 2007

Al-Qaida’s deputy leader called on Muslims worldwide to back Hamas with weapons, money and attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests, urging the Palestinian militant group on Monday to unite with al-Qaida after its takeover of Gaza.

The Internet audio message from Ayman al-Zawahri, who is Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, marked a major shift by al-Qaida, which in the past criticized Hamas for joining a government with the U.S.-supported Fatah faction.

The audiotape appeared aimed at exploiting Hamas’ gains and could fuel fears among Arab countries that Hamas-run Gaza will become a breeding ground for armed extremists.

But Hamas appeared unconfortable Monday with al-Zawahri’s approach. The Palestinian group has been cool in the past to attempts to link it with al-Qaida, saying its conflict is with Israel and that it has no plans to attack targets abroad. Also, Hamas does not want to alienate powerful Arab countries, such as Egypt.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, a hardliner, distanced his group from the al-Qaida deputy’s comments, but stopped short of criticizing them.

“Hamas has its own program, regardless of the comments of this group or that group,” he said Monday. “In Hamas, we want to have good relations with all Arab and Muslim powers, regardless of how close or far away we are in our own programs.”

The audiotape was clearly made after Hamas’ takeover of Gaza earlier this month, marking a rapid response from al-Qaida’s top leadership to the events. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but it was posted on a Web forum where al-Zawahri has issued messages in the past.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Paris dfor diplomatic meetings, was asked whether the message portends an opening for Al-Qaida, which previously has not had a large following among Palestinians.

“Extremism in the Middle East, and unfortunately in the Palestinian territories continues,” Rice said, “and extremists link up with extremists.”

Al-Zawahri urged Hamas to implement Islamic law in Gaza, telling it, “Taking over power is not a goal but a means to implement God’s word on earth.”

“Unite with mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Palestine ... and with all mujahedeen in the world in the face of the upcoming attack where Egyptians and Saudis are expected to play part of it,” he added, suggesting that the two countries intend to attack Hamas to uproot its control of Gaza.

“Provide them (Hamas) with money, do your best to get it there, break the siege imposed on them by crusaders and Arab leader traitors,” al-Zawahri, who is Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, said, addressing Muslims around the world. “Facilitate weapons smuggling from neighboring countries.”

“We can support them by targeting the crusader and Zionist interests wherever we can,” al-Zawahri said.

The 25-minute tape, al-Zawahri’s seventh released this year, was posted on the same day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was hosting a summit in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheik as a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Along with Mubarak and Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are also attending the meeting.

Egypt in particular fears a Hamas-ruled Gaza could fuel extremism that could spill over the border onto its own territory.

In Monday’s tape, al-Zawahri called on Bedouins in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to help Hamas against the “repressive Egyptian regime.”

The Gaza-Egypt border is riddled with tunnels through which weapons and explosives have been smuggled in both direction. Egypt has accused militants among the Sinai’s Bedouin population of being behind three terror attacks on tourist resorts in the peninsula since 2004.



Iran to launch 24-hour English-language satellite news channel
June 26. 2007

Iran’s state broadcaster will launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel next week to rival dominant Western services, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday.

Tehran-based PRESS TV, staffed by both Iranians and foreigners, is scheduled to start broadcasting from Tehran on Monday, and will seek to compete against the likes of CNN and BBC World, Nader Rad, head of live programming, told Reuters.

“The news is mostly covered by the Western media. We would like to have a say in this,” Rad said. “They (Western outlets) don’t usually cover the whole story ... The news about Iraq does not cover all perspectives. The news about Palestine and Beirut is also like this.”

Rad said Britons and Americans were among those working for the new channel, some based in Tehran. PRESS TV had journalists in Washington, New York, London, Beirut and Damascus, and was planning to have staff in Baghdad and Cairo, he said.

The PRESS TV Web site ( said one of the goals was “to break the global media stranglehold of Western outlets.” It also said the channel wanted to “bridge cultural divisions.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly rails against the West for seeking to impose its policies on the rest of the world. Iran is embroiled in a row with the West which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

The Iranian channel faces an increasingly crowded field of English-language satellite channels after last year’s launch of Al Jazeera International by the Qatar-based broadcaster and France 24, which promised a “French vision”.

Iran’s state broadcaster already runs the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and the Persian-language Jaam-e Jam.

Officially ordinary Iranians cannot see any of these channels at home because satellite dishes are banned. In practice, the ban is only sporadically enforced and such dishes are plainly visible on rooftops in Tehran and elsewhere.

Rad said PRESS TV would carry news bulletins, talk shows and documentaries, some of which would be bought from abroad.

“It is a state-owned channel but it is not managed by the state. It has its own guidelines,” Rad said but would not give further details about editorial policy.



Israel lets Hamas member enter Gaza
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
June 27, 2007

Despite Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) opposition and per the request of the BBC, the coordinator of government activities allowed a Hamas member who works for the BBC to enter the Gaza Strip last week to assist in efforts to release kidnapped journalist Alan Johnston.

Defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that a week ago, a request came from the BBC asking that a Palestinian employee of the news company who is believed to be a close associate of senior Hamas officials be allowed to enter Gaza.

The employee, who lives in Gaza , had traveled to Egypt with his wife for medical reasons and the BBC told Israeli officials that they believed he could assist in negotiating Johnston’s release.

The Shin Bet objected to the BBC request, saying that the employee was actually a member of Hamas, and perhaps even a terrorist operative.

In the end, however, the Defense Ministry decided to allow him to to enter Israel from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and then to enter northern Gaza through the Erez crossing.

He was not able to enter Gaza directly from Egypt since the Rafah crossing was closed.

Johnston was abducted by the Army of Islam terrorist group on March 12.

On Monday, a videotape of Johnston wearing an explosives belt was released, with the journalist warning that his captors intend to detonate the belt if Hamas or anyone else attempted to free him by force.

“We did not want to be blamed for holding up Johnston’s release,” one official said, explaining the decision to allow the Hamas member into Gaza.

“If we had rejected the request the British would be able to use our decision as an excuse for why Johnston is not being released.”

The Palestinian entered Gaza , and after a few days informed his BBC employers that Johnston was not being held by Hamas and therefore the group had little influence over his captors, believed to be from the Army of Islam and members of the Durmush clan from the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip.

The decision to allow the BBC employee to enter Gaza was not the first time that Israel has bent its rules and allowed people believed to hold influence over Hamas into the Gaza Strip.

In April, Israel allowed a delegation of Arab diplomats and security officials from countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations - including Saudi Arabia - to enter Gaza on behalf of the British government.

BBC strongly denied that any of its employees were members of Hamas.

“We deny that our members are employees of Hamas,” Simon Wilson, Jerusalem’s BBC Bureau Chief told the Post.

Abbas the moderate? Abbas as a leader?

June 25, 2007

* “Investing in Abbas is like investing in the Titanic”

* This dispatch includes commentary regarding the wisdom of renewed western support for Fatah



1. Alan Johnston shown wearing suicide belt; Gilad Shalit’s year in captivity
2. Mideast summit today to bolster Abbas
3. Has the Holocaust revisionist changed his spots?
4. “Can you name a single thing he achieved in that time?”
5. Fatah faces enemy within as splinter group denounces the old guard
6. “Arabs losing faith in ‘the cause’” (By Youssef Ibrahim, NY Sun, June 21, 2007)
7. “More Middle East madness” (By Victor Davis Hanson, Townhall, June 21, 2007)
8. “Last chance for Abbas” (By Charles Krauthammer, Wash. Post, June 22, 2007)
9. “‘Tear down those camps!’” (By Saul Singer, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2007)
10. “40 years: The real stigma” (Asharq Al-Awsat, June 6, 2007)
11. “The Iranian pincer” (By Melanie Phillips, Spectator, June 21, 2007)
12. “Why Hamas won” (By Ralph Peters, NY Post, June 19, 2007)
13. “Fatah isn’t the answer” (By Michael Oren, W. St. Journal, June 20, 2007)
14. “Mahmoud Abbas is a fiction” (By Israel Harel, Ha’aretz, June 21, 2007)
15. “Brothers to the bitter end” (By Fouad Ajami, NY Times, June 19, 2007)
16. “Let Palestine split into two” (By Martin van Creveld, Forward, June 12, 2007)
17. “Two states of destruction” (By Cal Thomas, Townhall, June 19, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


A new video recording released today shows kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston wearing an apparent explosives belt of the type suicide bombers use and warning it will be detonated if an attempt is made to free him by force. The one-minute-42-second tape, called “Alan’s Appeal,” was posted on an Islamic website.

The video can be seen by clicking on the right hand side of this page.

Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza on March 12. His plight has generated an extraordinary amount of media attention.

By contrast the plight of the young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped from Israeli soil in an unprovoked act in the middle of the night in what much of the media continues to refer to as a “ceasefire” by Hamas, has not generated nearly as much publicity.

Today marks the first anniversary of Shalit’s kidnapping. He is 20 years old, and like Johnston is being held in Gaza.

New reports in the Israeli media say Shalit is being kept by Hamas in a room beneath a highly fortified building in Gaza that is booby-trapped. An Israeli television channel reported that the room is 15 meters below the surface and accessed by a ladder lined with explosives.

One wishes for the safe release of Shalit, Johnston and all other innocent kidnap victims as soon as possible.

For more on Johnston, see here and here.


Closing ranks against Hamas, Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders are holding a summit today in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan will “address ways to promote the moderate agenda and ways to go forward on the Israeli-Palestinian issues,” Olmert’s spokeswoman said.

The regional gathering is the biggest show of support yet for what the mainstream media keep on describing as “moderate” Palestinian President Abbas in his showdown with Hamas.

Abbas will ask Israel to remove West Bank checkpoints (thereby once again endangering the lives of Israelis) and to transfer Palestinian tax funds Israel froze after Hamas came to power last year. (Israel already agreed to this demand yesterday.)

Abbas last week branded Hamas “murderous terrorists”. The BBC, New York Times and others won’t go this far, even though new reports of the murder and mutilation taking place in Hamas-controlled Gaza are seeping out.

For example, Hamas have abused the corpses of those they have murdered. Witnesses at a Gaza hospital related how bodies have arrived without eyes while others had their tongues or fingers missing. Another practice Hamas are using is to put a gun near their victims’ ears and fired to make them go deaf.

Several Palestinian journalists have fled Gaza and others are not reporting this openly, for fear that they and their children will be killed. They say many in Gaza are longing for the days when Israel controlled Gaza and such mutilation and torture didn’t occur.

Here is the latest Press Release I just received from Oxfam – which was once a neutral, non-political and honest charity. It is titled “Oxfam condemns the caging of Gaza” (25 June 2007). Through the last month, Oxfam hasn’t had a single word to say about all the recent Hamas-Fatah atrocities.


I attach below a number of comment articles on the new situation since Olmert, Bush and others decided to wholeheartedly back Fatah over Hamas – even though Fatah is responsible for just as much terrorism as Hamas, both in its previous guise as the PLO, and since it formed the Palestinian Authority, under its various terror wings such as the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Tanzim.

Even if we give Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) the benefit of the doubt and believe that he has genuinely become a moderate – Abbas previously wrote a book propagating Holocaust revisionism (see Abu Mazen and the Holocaust, June 8, 2003) and helped organize the Munich Olympics massacre (see Abu Mazen and the Munich Olympics massacre, June 8, 2003) – thus far he has shown weakness as Palestinian president.


As Charles Krauthammer points out in the article below:

“Let’s remember who Abbas is. He appears well intentioned, but he is afflicted with near-disastrous weaknesses. He controls little. His troops in Gaza simply collapsed against the greatly outnumbered forces of Hamas. His authority in the West Bank is far from universal. He does not even control the various factions within Fatah.

“But the greater liability is his character. He is weak and indecisive. When he was Yasser Arafat’s deputy, Abbas was known to respond to being slapped down by his boss by simply disappearing for weeks in a sulk. During the battle for Gaza, he did not order his Fatah forces to return fire against the Hamas insurrection until the fight was essentially over. Remember, too, that after Arafat’s death Abbas ran the Palestinian Authority without a Hamas presence for more than a year. Can you name a single thing he achieved in that time?”

The articles below (most of which are written by subscribers to this email list) are worth reading in full if you have time, or at least skim-reading if you don’t. Please note that I do not agree with all the points made in them, but attach them as a counterweight to some of the nonsense being written about “moderate” Fatah in other newspapers.

Among the ideas put forth is the belief that the Palestinians are not ready for statehood, and won’t be for a very long time, and that the best way of solving the Israel/Palestinian impasse is for Jordan and Egypt to take control again – this time, legally – of most of the West Bank and of Gaza.


Having lost control of Gaza to Hamas, the secular Fatah movement has a new problem: a breakaway faction has emerged calling itself Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, or Fatah al-Yasser. They say they are a new version of Fatah purged of its corrupt, bloated West Bank leadership and spiced up with a stiff dose of Islam.

Also, one should note that the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports today that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, responsible for some of the worst terror attacks against Israel in recent years, are not being dissolved, as was agreed to in every single agreement Abbas has signed, such as the Road Map. Instead they are presently being assimilated into the Palestinian security services. These men are no lovers of peace. Many ordinary West Bank Palestinians say they are thugs who terrorize the ordinary population, executing people they don’t like in the street, looting from others, ransacking their homes, and so on, and that it will be a serious mistake for the international community to give money to a Palestinian security service with such criminals in it.

-- Tom Gross



Arabs losing faith in ‘the cause’
By Youssef Ibrahim
The New York Sun
June 21, 2007

Why is America trying to pour new money and more weapons into Palestinian Arab hands barely days after the Gaza debacle? It is an ill-considered policy, both premature and useless. The only sure result will be that warring gangs in the West Bank will use every new weapon to continue the mayhem and that the millions paid out won’t buy as much as a bottle of milk for Palestinian Arab civilians. Instead, the money will end up in the pockets and bank accounts of the same crooks who lost Gaza.

Indeed, why try to recreate a world that has just crumbled? America and Israel may want to wait for what may turn out to be a changing of the guard: Arab voices, both expert and popular, are rising in vociferous denunciations of the once sacrosanct Palestinian Arabs.

“It is idle to think that Gaza could be written off as a Hamas dominion while Fatah held its own in the towns of the West Bank,” Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies noted in a sobering analysis published Tuesday in the New York Times. [Full article below - TG] “The abdication and the anarchy have damaged both Palestinian realms. Nablus in the West Bank is no more amenable to reason than is Gaza; the writ of the pitiless preachers and gunmen is the norm in both places.”

While Mr. Ajami’s commentary is poised, there is no such thing:

“Palestinians today need to be left without a shred of a doubt” as to what other Arabs think of them, a widely read opinion commentator for the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mamoun Fandy, thundered on Monday. “We need to tell them the only thing they have proven over 50 years is that they are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters.”

While it could be argued that the overwhelming public outrage in Saudi Arabia reflects resentment over the collapse of the much-vaunted reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah – which was personally brokered by King Abdullah earlier this year in Mecca – the anger expressed across the Muslim Arab world reflects deep embarrassment at the discredit Hamas has brought, in the name of Islam, through its savagery against Fatah.

For its part, the Egyptian press has become unhinged, spewing vile denunciations of what is universally known as “the cause” – support for the Palestinian Arabs – and describing it as dead. Egypt’s government pulled its embassy out of Gaza on Tuesday.

Kuwaitis, who have harbored contempt for Palestinian Arabs ever since they allied themselves with Saddam Hussein’s occupation in 1990–91, also dropped all restraint. “Palestinians are neither a modernized nor a civilized people,” Ahmad Al Bughdadi wrote Monday in Al Siyassah, an influential Kuwaiti daily. “They are not statesmen. If what happened in Gaza is what they do without a state, what then shall they do when they get one?”

If there could be an editorial coup de grace, it surely was delivered by no less than Abdelbari Atwan, undoubtedly the Palestinian Arabs most influential and respected journalist and a familiar face on both Western and Arab television.

Writing in the London-based Al Quds International, his painfully felt commentary, “Yes, We Have Lost the World’s Respect,” argued that “the cause” may have lost its legitimacy: “Many, myself among them, find it difficult to speak of Israeli crimes against our people in view of what we have now done,” Mr. Atwan wrote. “I never thought the day would come when we would see Palestinians throwing other Palestinians from the tops of buildings to their death, Palestinians attacking other Palestinians to tear their bodies with knives, Palestinians stripping others naked to drag them through the streets.”

All of which suggests letting this Arab storm run its course: It may be a purging of the Arab mindset that creates new realities and opportunities.

For instance, throughout the Arab Gulf region, starting with Al-Jazeera of Qatar and Al-Arabiya of Saudi Arabia, the press has long been controlled by Palestinian Arabs practiced in spewing anti-Western and anti-American propaganda. But the Gaza conundrum has left them stymied, opening space for “local sentiments,” which differ markedly.

Instead of pouring good money after bad in the western part of the Arab world, it may be wiser for America to help foster the revolutionary new thinking unfolding in its East – perhaps by nudging along a propaganda purge among friendly Arab regimes.



More Middle East madness
By Victor Davis Hanson
June 21, 2007

“The Palestinian people will never forgive the Hamas gangs for looting the home of the Palestinian people’s great leader, Yasser Arafat.” So Palestinian Authority spokesman Abdel Rahman recently exclaimed. “This crime will remain a stain of disgrace on the forehead of Hamas and its despicable gangs.”

Looting? Crime? Despicable gangs?

Excuse me. For years, Palestinian Authority-sanctioned gangs shot and tortured dissidents, glorified suicide bombing against Israel and in general thwarted any hopes of various “peace processes.”

Of course, this kind of behavior isn’t limited to the Palestinian territories but is spread across the Middle East. The soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy in Iran is grotesque. Iraqis continue to discover innovative ways to extinguish each other. Syria assassinates democratic reformers in Lebanon. ABC News now reports that new teams of al-Qaida and Taliban suicide bombers have been ordered to the United States and Europe from Afghanistan.

Here’s why much of the region is so unhinged – and it’s not because of our policy in Palestine or our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

First, thanks to Western inventions and Chinese manufactured goods, Middle Easterners can now access the non-Muslim world cheaply and vicariously. To millions of Muslims, the planet appears – on the Internet, DVDs and satellite television – to be growing rich as most of their world stays poor.

Second, the Middle East either will not or cannot make the changes necessary to catch up with what they see in the rest of the world. Tribalism – loyalty only to kin rather than to society at large – impedes merit and thus progress. So does gender apartheid. Who knows how many would-be Margaret Thatchers or Sandra Day O’Connors remain veiled in the kitchen?

Religious fundamentalism translates into rote prayers in madrassas while those outside the Middle East master science and engineering. Without a transparent capitalist system – antithetical to both sharia (Muslim law) and state-run economies – initiative is never rewarded. Corruption is.

Meanwhile, mere discussion in much of the region of what is wrong can mean execution by a militia, government thug or religious vigilante.

So, Middle Easterners are left with the old frustration of wanting the good life of Western society but lacking either the ability or willingness to change the status quo to get it.

Instead, we get monotonous scapegoating. Blaming America or Israel – “Those sneaky Jews did it!” – has become a regional pastime.

And after the multifarious failures of Yasser Arafat, the Assads in Syria, Muammar Gaddafi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam Hussein and other corrupt autocrats, many have, predictably, retreated to fundamentalist extremism. Almost daily, some fundamentalist claims that the killing of Westerners is justified – because of a cartoon, a Papal paragraph or, most recently, British knighthood awarded to novelist Salman Rushdie. The terrorism of Osama bin Laden, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban is as much about nihilist rage as it is about blackmailing Western governments to grant concessions.

Meanwhile, millions of others simply flee the mess, immigrating to either Europe or the United States.

These reactions to failure often lead to circumstances that can defy logic.

The poor terrorists of Arafat’s old party, Fatah, seem to shriek that they have been out-terrorized by Hamas, and desperately con more Western aid to make up for what has been squandered or stolen.

Muslims flock to Europe to enjoy a level of freedom and opportunity long denied at home. But no sooner have many arrived than they castigate their adopted continent as decadent. The ungracious prefer intolerant sharia – denying to their own the very freedom of choice that was given to them by others.

Our response in America to this perennial Middle East temper tantrum?

In the last 20 years, we’ve sent billions in aid to the Arab world. We’ve saved Muslims from Bosnia to Kuwait. We’ve removed dangerous thugs in Afghanistan and Iraq, fostering democracies in their place. We’ve opened our borders to immigrants from the Middle East. We’ve paid billions of dollars in inflated oil prices. All the while, many in the West have wrongly blamed themselves for the conditions in the Middle East.

It’s past time for Middle Easterners to fix their own self-inflicted mess. In the meantime, the U.S. and its allies should help as we can – but first protect ourselves from them as we must.



Last chance for Abbas
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
June 22, 2007

Gaza is now run not by a conventional political party but by a movement that is revolutionary, Islamist and terrorist. Worse, Hamas is a client of Iran. Gaza now constitutes the farthest reach of the archipelago of Iranian proxies: Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mahdi Army (among others) in Iraq and the Alawite regime of Syria.

This Islamist mini-replica of the Comintern is at war not just with Israel but with the moderate Arab states, who finally woke up to this threat last summer when they denounced Hezbollah for provoking the Lebanon war with Israel. The fall of Gaza is particularly terrifying to Egypt because Hamas is so closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the chief Islamist threat to the secular-nationalist regime that has ruled Egypt since the revolution of 1952. Which is why Egypt has just invited Israeli, Jordanian and moderate Palestinian leaders to a summit next week – pointedly excluding and isolating Hamas.

The splitting of Palestine into two entities is nonetheless clarifying. Since Hamas won the parliamentary elections of January 2006, we’ve had to deal with the fiction of a supposedly unified Palestine ruled by an avowedly “unity” government of Fatah and Hamas. Now the muddle has undergone political hydrolysis, separating out the relatively pure elements: a Hamas-ruled Gaza and Fatah-ruled (for now) West Bank.

The policy implications are obvious. There is nothing to do with the self-proclaimed radical Islamist entity that is Gaza but to isolate it. No recognition, no aid (except humanitarian necessities through the United Nations), no diplomatic commerce.

Israel now has the opportunity to establish deterrence against unremitting rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli villages. Israel failed to do that after it evacuated Gaza in 2005, permitting the development of an unprecedented parasitism by willingly supplying food, water, electricity and gasoline to a territory that was actively waging hostilities against it.

With Hamas now clearly in charge, Israel should declare that it will tolerate no more rocket fire – that the next Qassam will be answered with a cutoff of gasoline shipments. This should bring road traffic in Gaza to a halt within days and make it increasingly difficult to ferry around missiles and launchers.

If that fails to concentrate the mind, the next step should be to cut off electricity. When the world wails, Israel should ask, what other country on Earth is expected to supply the very means for a declared enemy to attack it?

Regarding the West Bank, policy should be equally clear. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas represents moderation and should be helped as he tries to demonstrate both authority and success in running his part of Palestine.

But let’s remember who Abbas is. He appears well intentioned, but he is afflicted with near-disastrous weaknesses. He controls little. His troops in Gaza simply collapsed against the greatly outnumbered forces of Hamas. His authority in the West Bank is far from universal. He does not even control the various factions within Fatah.

But the greater liability is his character. He is weak and indecisive. When he was Yasser Arafat’s deputy, Abbas was known to respond to being slapped down by his boss by simply disappearing for weeks in a sulk. During the battle for Gaza, he did not order his Fatah forces to return fire against the Hamas insurrection until the fight was essentially over. Remember, too, that after Arafat’s death Abbas ran the Palestinian Authority without a Hamas presence for more than a year. Can you name a single thing he achieved in that time?

Moreover, his Fatah party is ideologically spent and widely discredited. Historian Michael Oren points out that the Palestinian Authority has received more per capita aid than did Europe under the Marshall Plan. This astonishing largess has disappeared into lavish villas for party bosses and guns for the multiple militias Arafat established.

The West is rushing to bolster Abbas. Israel will release hundreds of millions in tax revenue. The United States and the European Union will be pouring in aid. All praise Abbas as a cross between Anwar Sadat and Simσn Bolνvar. Fine. We have no choice but to support him. But before we give him the moon, we should insist upon reasonable benchmarks of both moderation and good governance – exactly what we failed to do during the Oslo process. Abbas needs to demonstrate his ability to run a clean administration and to engage Israel in day-to-day negotiations to alleviate the conditions of life on the ground.

Abbas is not Hamas. But despite the geographical advantages, he does not represent the second coming, either. We can prop him up only so much. In the end, the only one who can make a success of the West Bank is Abbas himself. This is his chance. His last chance.



“Tear down those camps!”
By Saul Singer
The Jerusalem Post
June 21, 2007

June 12 was the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s “tear down this wall!” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. On the popular blog Power Line, Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson describes how he drafted that line after meeting with Berliners whose raw anger at the scar crossing their city surprised him. He also recounts the pitched battle waged by the US foreign policy bureaucracy to remove those key words from the draft speech.

Robinson writes, “[They claimed] the draft was naive. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts ... no fewer than seven. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.”

“The day the President arrived in Berlin, State and NSC submitted yet another alternate draft. Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the President told [Ken] Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. ‘The boys at State are going to kill me,’ he said, ‘but it’s the right thing to do.’”

Minutes later, Reagan called out to the Soviet leader, “if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Two years later the wall was broken into a million pieces, along with the Soviet Union itself.

On Sunday, another anniversary arrives, this time of one of the most pivotal speeches of the Bush presidency. On June 24, 2002, Bush called on “the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.”

Though we do not yet have the history of how this speech was written, we can imagine that Bush showed considerable determination in going directly opposite to the conventional wisdom of the time – including massive pressure from Tony Blair – to impose some new initiative on then-besieged Israel. As The New York Times reported days before the speech, the internal policy debate was over “how strongly to endorse an interim Palestinian state.”

Instead, Bush, for first time, linked Palestinian statehood not to Israeli behavior but to Palestinians embracing democracy and rejecting terror. The result was immediate and dramatic.

Europe, while not backing Bush on the need to oust Yasser Arafat, came part way with the demand for a Palestinian prime minister who would ostensibly usurp Arafat’s powers. The ensuing “road map,” though a somewhat twisted version of Bush’s speech, kept the critical notion of ending terrorism before negotiations could begin. Israel, meanwhile, was free to defend itself against the ongoing Palestinian suicide bombing onslaught, which was increasingly blamed on Arafat, not Israeli intransigence.

Now Bush is reportedly considering commemorating his 2002 speech with another landmark address on the Middle East. The timing, just after the Hamas’s “Six Day War” against Fatah in Gaza, is propitious. What should Bush say?

First, he should reiterate the linkage between Palestinian statehood, building democracy and rejecting terrorism. Though Hamas now wraps itself in the mantle of democracy, its barbaric behavior and its choice of war and terrorism – after campaigning for “Change and Reform” – amounts to a hijacking of Palestinian democracy.

Next he should challenge Fatah to take advantage of this golden opportunity. Just as Hamas now has no one to hide behind and must be held responsible for any attacks from Gaza, so Fatah must be held accountable for building a peaceful, law-abiding Palestinian state. Unfettered by Hamas, Fatah must now take real steps toward peace with Israel.

This will bring Bush to the nub that will make history. The most powerful way for Bush to call on the soon to be aid-flush Fatahland to hold up its end of the bargain is to dismantle the core symbol of the rejection of Israel’s right to exist: refugee camps.

For 60 years, the Arab world has, as Bush said in 2002, treated the Palestinians “as pawns in the Middle East conflict ... held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come.” The refugees have been cruelly shaped into a living, suffering dagger aimed at Israel’s heart.

What is striking is how calculated this strategy has been. Egyptian foreign minister Muhammad Salah al-Din made no bones about it as early as October, 1949: “It is well-known and understood that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of the Homeland and not as slaves. With a greater clarity, they mean the liquidation of the State of Israel.”

Former UNRWA official Ralph Galloway was equally blunt in August 1958: “The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”

Bush should call for an end to this travesty. If Mahmoud Abbas really believes in a two-state solution, he must stop telling Palestinians they will “return” to a land most have never seen. He must say that the “right of return” can only be actualized in a state alongside Israel, not in its stead.

According to UNRWA, it is managing eight “refugee camps” in Gaza and 20 in the West Bank. If Palestinians are truly going to live in a future Palestine and not in Israel, then why are they not being settled now? How is it possible to be a Palestinian “refugee” inside Palestine – unless “Palestine” actually means Israel itself?

The Arab states, for their part, should be called upon to offer citizenship to Palestinians who have lived for years in their countries and do not want to move to a Palestinian state (as Jordan has done). If they do not, they are playing into the hands of the Hamas-Hizbullah-Iran jihadi front that is fighting peace with Israel with all its might. Is this what these states want?

Palestinian refugee camps are as cruel an invention as the Berlin Wall and as central an obstacle to resolving the conflict that they embody. Reagan in 1987 and Bush in 2002 illustrated the power of honest words, however “unrealistic” they may seem at the time, to shape history.

Bush should call on Palestinians and the Arab world to “tear down those camps!”



40 years: The real stigma
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed (the general manager of Al-Arabiya TV)
Asharq Al-Awsat (a leading pan-Arab daily newspaper)
June 6, 2007

(Excerpt only)

“Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people”.

“… Even some Arabs and Palestinians intentionally turn a blind eye to the issue so as not to expose abuses. What is happening in Lebanon’s Nahr al Bared camp today is just one such example where battles have raised an overwhelming number of questions: who are these people? How long have they lived in the camp and how? What are their rights? The answers can be found on the UNRWA’s website. Tens of thousands of people crammed in undignified houses, where many of them were born and have lived for five decades”.

“Some Arab countries ‘hosting’ refugees ban them from leaving [camps], from occupying a large number of positions and deny them any other legal rights. Some of them have to jump over walls and sneak out to complete their chores or to breathe and experience the outside world” … How can we talk about the liberation of Palestine, which we simply associate with stolen land, a desecrated mosque and a powerful enemy, while we do not allow Palestinians to settle down, earn a living or travel like all other human beings?

Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60 year-old camps only signify our inhumanity and double standards. Israel can claim that it treats the Palestinians better than their Arab brothers do. It gives citizenship to the Palestinians of 1948 as well as the right to work and the right to lead a somewhat normal life, although they are treated as second-class citizens.

The complete article is available at:



The Iranian pincer
By Melanie Phillips
The Spectator (London)
June 21, 2007

Britain gazes upon the butchery in Gaza and is shocked. Shocked! How could the Palestinians be behaving in this way, it wails?

The Palestinian butchery of blowing Israelis to bits by human bomb or rocket attacks leaves Britain unmoved. The videos of lisping Palestinian toddlers being taught to sing about murdering the Jews elicits barely a shrug. After all, these are brutal Israeli occupiers who deserve all they get, right? Whereas the Palestinians are the good guys, the helpless victims, the people who only want a state of their own.

Well, now the lie is sickeningly exposed for all to see. Palestinians throwing each other off the tops of tall buildings. Churches ransacked and Bibles burned. Hospital patients being treated for their injuries gunned down in those same hospitals.

Astoundingly, there are those who blame Israel, America and Europe for causing this carnage by refusing to recognise Hamas and imposing ‘punishing sanctions’ against it.

Decent, rational people, however, can see that that this is a struggle for mastery between people who have brutalised themselves. Those who turn their own children into human bombs will behave in the same depraved way towards each other.

As for the ‘punishing sanctions’, the aid going into Gaza since these were imposed has actually doubled. If the Gazans are now going hungry, it’s because the money has been siphoned off to line their leaders’ pockets or to buy weapons.

Undoubtedly, a humanitarian disaster now looms. But the claim that Israel controls access to Gaza is untrue. Hamas now controls its border with Egypt. Aid should therefore be funnelled through Egypt, which should be held responsible with Hamas for its safe passage.

Why should Israel be expected to supply aid to those who will merely redouble their rocket and human bomb attacks on it (but whom it continues to treat, nevertheless, in its own hospitals)? Of what other country has such a truly suicidal response to those waging war upon it ever been expected?

Unreality, however, begets ever deeper unreality. It’s not just that the Palestinians have divided themselves into two ‘states’. It is quickly becoming accepted that there are two different sets of people: Hamas who are beyond the pale, and Fatah with whom we can do business.

Thus America and Israel are now busily shoring up the Fatah end of the Palestinian pantomime horse, President Mahmoud Abbas. But how deluded is this?

After all, Abbas hardly moved a muscle against Hamas in Gaza; indeed, he has always said plainly that he would never fight them. With his 40,000 armed men, he could have crushed them. He chose not to do so.

And the idea that Fatah is ‘moderate’ is ludicrous. Its militias have been heavily involved in recent attacks against Israel, to whose destruction – whatever weasel words Abbas may use for credulous western consumption – it remains committed.

But when in a hole, the Americans continue to dig. Their renewed aid to Fatah will undoubtedly fuel yet more of the corruption that helped bring Hamas to power. Worse still, although the weapons they showered upon Abbas to help him defeat Hamas have now fallen into its hands, they will continue to arm him – even though if Hamas captures the West Bank, it will capture those weapons too.

The reason for this deluded approach is the fundamentally flawed western belief that the ‘two state solution’ will end the Middle East impasse. The fact is that the ‘two state solution’ has been on offer since 1922. That was when Britain gave away to the Arabs three quarters of Mandatory Palestine – within all of which it was bound by international agreement to re-establish the Jews in their ancestral national home – creating the Hashemite kingdom of Trans-Jordan. Jordan therefore is the Arab state of Palestine.

Ever since, different configurations of the ‘two-state solution’ have been repeatedly offered, only to be met by Arab attempts to drive the Jews out. The belief that creating a Palestine state will end this 90-year trauma is therefore as much of a fantasy as finding a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This continued delusion is further preventing the west from grasping that the war against Israel is merely one front in a far bigger war against the free world, in which Iran is the major player. Iran now controls Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and is wreaking havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The true significance of Hamastan, therefore, is that it strengthens Iran still further in its 28-year jihad against the west. And since Hamas is now an Iranian proxy, its agenda is transparently no longer a Palestinian state but the Islamist onslaught upon the whole free world.

Yet in Britain, elements within the Foreign Office and intelligence establishment are pushing ‘engagement’ with Hamas, even though its agenda is totally non-negotiable. Its Charter doesn’t merely commit it to eradicating Israel, but is a declaration of war against the entire Jewish people, with demented Nazi-style ravings about the world Jewish conspiracy. It would be as suicidal and immoral to ‘engage’ with such a body as it was to advocate the appeasement of Hitler.

Israel is now in an appalling position. It must do everything possible to avoid re-occupying Gaza, although it may have no alternative if the rocket fire from there escalates. It is trapped by an Iranian pincer movement in Gaza and Lebanon, from where two rockets were fired on Monday at northern Israel. So much for UNIFIL. Iran’s satrapy Syria, meanwhile, is making ominous preparations for war. So Israel could soon face war on three fronts from the Iran/Syria axis.

That axis, though, does not just threaten Israel and the west but much of the Arab world too. Egypt now has the nightmare of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran on its doorstep in Gaza, and Jordan is eyeing the same prospect on the West Bank.

Abbas is patently incapable of stopping Hamas. So a new dynamic is being created. Long-term, the solution lies in Jordan and Egypt exercising their own self-interest. A Jordan-West Bank confederation is now being floated; the same logic would mean Egypt re-occupying Gaza.

Despite the fact that this idea would take us back 40 years, it has certain attractions. Order would be restored by Jordan and Egypt which, unlike Israel, would tackle Hamas with a vigour from which our own principled multiculturalists would not dream of demurring.

The Palestinians would be in the state they were given in 1922. The Arab world would finally take responsibility for a tragedy they themselves created. The Iranian pincer would be broken.

One thing threatens to scupper this. It is the US/UK axis of appeasement, the fateful union of British cynicism with America’s catastrophic loss of nerve. No wonder Iran is on a roll. With such serial strategic stupidity and cravenness by the west, how can it lose?



Why Hamas won
By Ralph Peters
The New York Post
June 19, 2007

Hamas won its shut-out victory in Gaza with alarming ease. And the reason Hamas won is even more alarming: Fanaticism trumps numbers.

You’ll hear no end of explanations for the terrorist triumph: Hamas was backed by Iran; Gaza is Hamas’ base of support; some Fatah units ran out of ammunition...

All true. And all secondary factors.

Fatah’s security forces in Gaza outnumbered the Hamas gunmen. Fatah had stockpiles of weapons and military gear (now in Hamas’ arsenal). Fatah even had the quiet backing of Israel and America.

And Fatah folded like a pup tent in a tornado.

Hamas won because its fighters are religious fanatics ready to die for their cause. Fatah runs an armed employment agency under the banner of Palestinian nationalism. Most of the latter’s security men are on the payroll because relatives or ward pols got them jobs. And they want to stay alive to collect their wages.

The result was predictable. Our government pretended otherwise. Now hairs should be standing up on the backs of thousands of necks, from the White House to the Green Zone.

Yes, Iraq is more complex than Gaza. But once you pierce the surface turbulence and look deep, the similarities are chilling: Iraq’s security forces do include true patriots – but most of the troops and cops just want a job, or were ordered to join up by a sheik or a mullah, or are gathering guns until their faction calls.

The al-Qaeda-in-Iraq terrorists, the core members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the hard-line Sunni ghazis are willing to die for the victory of their faction and their faith. They believe they’re doing Allah’s will. It gives them a strength we rush to explain away.

The raw numbers suggest that Iraq’s fanatics don’t stand a chance. The government has a far greater numerical advantage than did Fatah. But numbers often mislead analysts during insurgencies: Iraq’s government wouldn’t last a week without U.S. troops.

The lesson from Gaza is that such wars are neither waged nor won by the majority of the population. A tiny fraction of the populace, armed and determined, can destroy a fragile government and seize power.

Polls showing that most Iraqis “want peace” and don’t support the extremists only deceive us (because we want to be deceived). It wouldn’t matter if 99 percent of the Iraqis loved us like free falafel, if we’re unwilling to annihilate the fraction of 1 percent of the population with the weapons and will to dictate the future to the rest.

At the height of last week’s fighting in Gaza, one Palestinian in 300 carried a weapon in support of Hamas – a third of one percent of the population. Now Hamas rules 1.5 million people.

Numbers still matter, of course. But strength of will can overcome hollow numbers. And nothing – nothing – gives men a greater strength of will than religious fanaticism.

We don’t want to hear it. Secular virtues were supposed to triumph. They didn’t, but we still can’t let go of our dream of a happy-face, godless world where nobody quarrels.

Our refusal to acknowledge the unifying – and terrifying – power of extremist religion has deep roots. As academics rejected and derided faith in the last century, even the Thirty Years’ War – the horrible climax of Europe’s wars of religion – was reinvented as a dynastic struggle, or a fight for hegemony, or a class struggle.

But the Thirty Years’ War was about faith. All the other factors were in play, but the core issue, from the Protestant coup in Prague in 1618 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was religious identity. And the atrocities committed on both sides make Iraq look like amateur hour: Wars of religion always demand blood sacrifice. (It was a compromise of bloody exhaustion that ended the Thirty Years War.)

Our problem is that, of those who rise in government, few have witnessed the power of revelation or caught a life-changing glimpse of the divine. They simply can’t imagine that others might be willing to die for all that mumbo-jumbo. Our convenience-store approach to faith leaves us numb to the passion of our enemies.

The true believer always beats the feckless attendee. The best you can hope for is that the extremist will eventually defeat himself.

And that does leave us some hope: Fanatics inevitably over-reach, as al Qaeda’s Islamo-fascists have done in Iraq, alienating those who once saw them as allies. But the road to self-destruction can be a long one: The people of Iran want change, but the fanatics have the guns. And sorry, folks: Fanatics with guns beat liberals with ideas.

Faith is the nuclear weapon of the fanatic. And there’s not going to be a religious “nuclear freeze.” It doesn’t matter how many hearts and minds you win, if you don’t defeat the zealots with the muscles.



Fatah isn’t the answer
By Michael Oren
The Wall Street Journal
June 20, 2007

America and its Middle Eastern allies have every reason to panic. The green flags of Hamas are furling over Gaza and the al-Fatah forces trained and financed by the United States have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf.

To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid to the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of its Fatah president, Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state. The goal is to provide Palestinians with an affluent, secular and peaceful alternative to Hamas, and persuade Gazans to return to the Fatah fold. But the policy ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah’s monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, any sovereign edifice built on the rotten foundations of the Palestinian Authority is doomed to implode, enhancing, rather than diminishing, Hamas’s influence.

Gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Is funding them the path to peace?

Since its creation by the so-called Oslo Accords of 1993, the PA has garnered more international aid than any entity in modern history – more, per capita, than the European states under the Marshall Plan. The lion’s share of this fortune has been siphoned into the private accounts of Fatah leaders or used to pay off the commanders of some 16 semi-autonomous militias. The PA also maintains an estimated 60,000 uniformed gunmen on its payroll, giving the West Bank the world’s highest percentage of policemen-to-population.

The Palestinian people, meanwhile, languish in ever-deepening poverty and unemployment, while lawlessness plagues Palestinian streets. The unbridled corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006, as well its takeover of Gaza. Viewers of Hamas television have recently been treated to tours of the lavish villas maintained by Fatah officials in the Strip, and video clips showing PA policemen, more abundantly armed and more numerous than Hamas’s troops, fleeing at the first sign of battle.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular, democratic state in Palestine, the organization refashioned itself in 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian youth. Ironically, the Islamization of Fatah legitimized Hamas and contributed to the cadres of religious extremists who are now defying its authority.

In addition to its fiscal malfeasance and Islamic radicalism, Fatah has never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as “contrary to the Palestinian national interest” – not an affront to morality and international law – he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.

In the past, such assaults have served as a means of maintaining Fatah’s legitimacy as a resistance movement and countering charges that the organization sold out to America and Israel. In fact, a distinct correlation exists between the amount of support that Fatah receives from the West and its need to prove its “Palestinianess” through terror.

In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Mr. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.

In response, Israel will be precluded from lifting the checkpoints that not only block suicide bombers but hinder communication between Palestinian cities. Impeded by Palestinian attacks and Israeli countermeasures, the peace talks will inexorably grind to a halt. In the end, the Palestinian people will remain impoverished, divided and stateless, and more than ever amenable to the purist polity of Hamas.

If funding and empowering Fatah is not a viable option for the U.S., what other courses might the administration take? Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. Even under the most propitious circumstances this process is certain to take many years – longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally. Similarly, proposals for containing Hamas’s influence by stationing an international force along the Gaza border are unlikely to succeed if for no other reason than Hamas’s avowed determination to resist such a deployment. Yet the need to combat Hamas and provide Palestinians with an attractive diplomatic horizon remains acute. There is, fortunately, an interim answer.

The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Within these districts, local Palestinian leaders will be fully empowered to manage all aspects of daily life including health, education and resource management. A national assembly, comprised of representatives from each district, will meet regularly to deliberate issues of West Bank-wide concern. Security, however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.

Visiting Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the Hamas conquest of Gaza as an opportunity for the Palestinians. This indeed may be the case, but not by resurrecting long-failed policies and imposing a state structure on a corrupt and incompetent Fatah. Doing so is tantamount to investing in the Titanic. Significant opportunities do, however, exist for policy makers – American, Israeli, and Palestinian – who are willing to consider new paradigms and incremental steps toward the realization of a durable peace.



Mahmoud Abbas is a fiction
By Israel Harel
June 21, 2007

George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert looked pathetic giving their “full backing” to the broken-down crutch that is Mahmoud Abbas. Contrary to the talk in Washington, nothing has changed to open a new opportunity for negotiations over a final settlement. It is impossible to hold talks with Abbas, just like it was impossible to hold talks in the past on any kind of arrangement, and certainly not on a permanent settlement. The Hamas victory in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a “moderate” government in Ramallah do not divide the territory into Hamastan in the Gaza Strip and Fatahstan in Judea and Samaria. This is only another illusion in the basket of Israeli illusions – a fallacy that’s part of the same belief that there is an Arab leader (it used to be Yasser Arafat, and now it is Mahmoud Abbas) who wants to sign an agreement with us, and one that entails relinquishing the right of return and recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and Zionist state.

It is not only the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and their leadership who do not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a state with a Jewish and Zionist character, but as a number of recently published documents have revealed, it is a view shared by entities representing the Arab citizens of Israel too.

The Palestinian government sworn in earlier this week is a fiction, even if the United States and Israel support it. In Ramallah, where this fictitious government sits, Hamas won a decisive victory in the last elections: four seats in parliament for Hamas, and only one for Fatah. In Nablus, four seats went to Hamas and two to Fatah. In Hebron: nine to Hamas and none for Fatah. In Jerusalem: four to Hamas and two for Fatah. In the cities of Judea and Samaria Hamas won 30 parliamentary seats. Fatah got only 12.

Given the circumstances, the new government does not represent the Palestinians – only Israeli illusions, and possibly also those of the Americans and the Europeans. The Israel Defense Forces cannot prevent the erosion of Fatah’s military power, and it is doubtful whether it is even worth investing efforts in such futility. The experience of recent years proves that our “allies,” Mohammad Dahlan among them, are only boisterous characters – corrupt and lacking any real power. They are certainly no ally of Israel.

In any case, Hamas will defeat them, and Israel should prepare well for the confrontation ahead. And in a confrontation of this nature, the various Dahlans would bring no benefit, only a burden.

Abbas’ men lost in the fight not because Hamas militants are more brutal or better trained. If Fatah could, it would have adopted the same methods. Hamas won because the vast majority of the Gaza Strip population supports it, and this is first and foremost support for the religious ideology of the movement, which calls for the destruction of the Zionist entity. And as the elections have shown, this call is shared by the vast majority in Judea and Samaria, the area which Israeli analysts and politicians have designated for a Fatah state.

Certainly since the elections, areas A and B have been controlled by Hamas. As the events in the Gaza Strip show, the fact that many countries around the world have opposed the Hamas regime did not weaken support for the group. While in Judea and Samaria, thanks to the “occupation,” Israel is able to prevent, and it is important that it prevent, some of the bloodletting, it is unable to prevent the weakening, and even the disappearence of Fatah as a significant force.

It is therefore time to let the truth out: Abbas is a fiction, and he cannot be saved.



Brothers to the bitter end
By Fouad Ajami
The New York Times
June 19, 2007

So the masked men of Fatah have the run of the West Bank while the masked men of Hamas have their dominion in Gaza. Some see this as a tolerable situation, maybe even an improvement, envisioning a secularist Fatah-run state living peacefully alongside Israel and a small, radical Gaza hemmed in by Israeli troops. It’s always tempting to look for salvation in disaster, but in this case it’s sheer fantasy.

The Palestinian ruin was a long time in coming. No other national movement has had the indulgence granted the Palestinians over the last half-century, and the results can be seen in the bravado and the senseless violence, in the inability of a people to come to terms with their condition and their needs.

The life of a Palestinian is one of squalor and misery, yet his leaders play the international game as though they were powers. An accommodation with Israel is imperative – if only out of economic self-interest and political necessity – but the Palestinians, in a democratic experiment some 18 months ago, tipped power to a Hamas movement whose very charter is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state and the imposition of Islamist rule.

The political maxim that people get the leaders they deserve must be reckoned too cruel to apply to the Palestinians. Before Hamas, for four decades, the vainglorious Yasir Arafat refused to tell his people the basic truths of their political life. Amid the debacles, he remained eerily joyous; he circled the globe, offering his people the false sense that they could be spared the consequences of terrible decisions.

In a rare alignment of the universe, there came Mr. Arafat’s way in the late 1990s an American president, Bill Clinton, eager to redeem Palestinian claims and an Israeli soldier-statesman, Ehud Barak, who would offer the Palestinians all that Israeli political traffic could bear and then some.

But it was too much to ask of Mr. Arafat to return to his people with a decent and generous compromise, to bid farewell to the legend that the Palestinians could have it all “from the river to the sea.” It was safer for him to stay with the political myths of his people than to settle down for the more difficult work of statehood and political rescue.

For their part, the Arab states have only compounded the Palestinian misery. The Arab cavalry was always on the way, the Arab treasure was always a day away, and there was thus no need for the Palestinians to pay tribute to necessity. In recent years, the choice was starkly posed: it was either statehood or a starring role on Al Jazeera, and the young “boys of the stones” and their leaders opted for the latter.

After Mr. Arafat’s death, the mantle passed to a fairly decent man, Mahmoud Abbas, a leader for a post-heroic era. He is free of Mr. Arafat’s megalomania, and he seemed keen to cap the volcano; he promised, as he put it, “one law, one authority, one gun” in the Palestinian street. But he has never been a master of his world; by the time he had been given his political stewardship the culture of the Palestinian world had succumbed to a terrifying cult of violence.

It has long been a cherished legend of the Palestinians, and a proud claim, that they would not kill their own, that there would be no fratricide in their world. The cruelty we now see – in both Gaza and the West Bank – bears witness that the Palestinians have run through the consolations that had been there for them in a history of adversity.

It isn’t a pretty choice, that between Hamas and Fatah. Indeed, it was the reign of plunder and arrogance that Fatah imposed during its years of primacy that gave Hamas its power and room for maneuver. We must not overdo the distinction between the “secularism” of Fatah and the Islamism of Hamas. In the cruel streets and refugee camps of the Palestinians, this is really a distinction without a difference.

It is idle to think that Gaza could be written off as a Hamas dominion while Fatah held its own in the towns of the West Bank. The abdication and the anarchy have damaged both Palestinian realms. Nablus in the West Bank is no more amenable to reason than is Gaza; the writ of the pitiless preachers and gunmen is the norm in both places.

There is no way that a normal world could be had in the West Bank while Gaza goes under. There is no magic wand with which this Palestinian world could be healed and taught the virtues of realism and sobriety. No international peacekeeping force can bring order to the deadly streets and alleyways of Gaza. A population armed to the teeth and long in the throes of disorder can’t be pacified by outsiders.

For decades, Arab society granted the Palestinians everything and nothing at the same time. The Arab states built worlds of their own, had their own priorities, dreaded and loathed the Palestinians as outsiders and agitators, but left them to the illusion that Palestine was an all-consuming Arab concern.

Now the Palestinians should know better. The center of Arab politics has shifted from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, a great political windfall has come to the lands of the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, vast new wealth due to the recent rises in oil prices, while misery overwhelms the Palestinians. No Arabs wait for Palestine anymore; they have left the Palestinians to the ruin of their own history.

The rise of Hamas in Gaza should concentrate the minds of the custodians of power in the Arab world. Palestine, their old alibi, the cause with which they diverted the attention of their populations from troubles at home, has become a nightmare in its own right. An Arab debt is owed the Palestinians – the gift of truth and candor as well as material help.

Arab poets used to write reverential verse in praise of the boys of the stones and the suicide bombers. Now the poetry has subsided, replaced by a silent recognition of the malady that afflicts the Palestinians. Except among the most bigoted and willful of Arabs, there is growing acknowledgment of the depth of the Palestinian crisis. And aside from a handful of the most romantic of Israelis, there is a recognition in that society, as well, of the malignancy of the national movement a stone’s throw away.

The mainstream in Israel had made its way to a broad acceptance of Palestinian statehood. In the 1990s, Yitzhak Rabin, the soldier who had led its army into acquisition of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War of 1967, told his people that it was time to partition the land and to accept Palestinian sovereignty. It was an unsentimental peace, to “get Gaza out of Tel Aviv,” as Mr. Rabin put it, but it was peace nonetheless.

In varying degrees, all of Mr. Rabin’s successors accepted this legacy. There was even a current in Israel possessed of a deep curiosity about the Palestinians, a romance of sorts about their ways and folk culture and their connection to the sacred land. All this is stilled. Palestinian society has now gone where no “peace processors” or romantic poets dare tread.

(Fouad Ajami is, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies)



Let Palestine split into two
By Martin van Creveld
The Forward
June 12, 2007

Many divorces are bitter, and they rarely make for a pretty spectacle. Nevertheless, once the fireworks die down some of them end well. Quite often a divorce enables two people who cannot live together to go their separate ways, if not to achieve reconciliation then at any rate to find new partners and make a fresh start.

The ongoing hostilities in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas certainly do not a pretty spectacle make. On both sides, fighters are being shot

Meanwhile, a growing number of civilians – women and children included – are being caught in the crossfire. Wherever one looks, all one sees are villains and victims. In this entire bloody drama, the only heroes are the hospital workers, both local ones and those working for international agencies, trying to save whomever they can.

But while the pictures coming out of Gaza are grim indeed, out of the prevailing chaos a better future may yet emerge.

Although the West Bank and Gaza are inhabited by a people known as Palestinians, the two pieces of land form distinct entities and differ sharply from one another. The West Bank is less densely populated – a lower percentage of the people it contains are refugees – and socially and economically more developed. Before the outbreak of the second intifada, its economy was based partly on tourism. And to this day, it remains more open and less committed to religious extremism.

In contrast to the West Bank with its many holy places, Gaza is a godforsaken piece of land that has almost nothing to recommend it. Not only is it the most densely populated area in the world, but it also contains a higher percentage of penniless refugees living in squalid, overcrowded camps.

Socially and economically, Gaza is less developed than the West Bank. As the political and military strength of Hamas proves, its inhabitants seek to make up for these problems by embracing a more fundamentalist version of Islam.

In part, these differences reflect the fact that it was only fairly recently that the two areas came under the same government.

From 1948 until it was occupied by Israel in 1967, the West Bank was an integral part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan granted citizenship to all West Bank residents, refugees included.

By contrast, Egypt, which ruled for the same 19 years over Gaza, never granted the strip’s inhabitants citizenship. Instead, Cairo kept Gazans under military government and did what it could to thwart their development.

Now that Fatah and Hamas are fighting one another in Gaza, most people in Israel and the West are hoping for hostilities to cease and for the two areas to be reunited under the authority of a single moderate government that can negotiate with Israel. In the long run, such an outcome is highly unlikely – but it is fair to ask whether it is even desirable.

Of all the obstacles to eventual peace in the Holy Land, perhaps the most troublesome one is the long-time Palestinian insistence upon the so-called right of return. The Israelis, who rightly see the realization of this demand as leading to the destruction of their state, cannot grant it. The Palestinian leadership, which claims authority not only over the residents of the West Bank and Gaza but also over that part of the Palestinian people which lives in refugee camps in the neighboring countries, is unable to give it up.

The result is deadlock that, apart from everything else, has bedeviled every attempt to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians – and seems destined to go on doing so for a long time to come.

Suppose, however, that the current fighting ends not with the reestablishment of a single “moderate” government, but with the West Bank and Gaza going their separate ways. In that case, Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah will rule the West Bank, and Ismail Haniya and Hamas will govern Gaza.

Neither Fatah nor Hamas would be able to speak – or even claim to speak – for the Palestinian people as a whole. Unable to speak for the Palestinian people as a whole, each of the two will find it easier, if not to stop insisting on the right of return, at least to put it aside for the time being.

The fighting in Gaza is not pretty; divorces rarely are. In the long run, however, it is at least conceivable that the war of Palestinian against Palestinian will lead to the removal of the single most important obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. If so, then perhaps the blood currently flowing is not being shed altogether in vain.

(Martin van Creveld is a professor of military history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)



Two states of destruction
By Cal Thomas
June 19, 2007

The Bush administration’s announced goal for Israel and the “Palestinian people” has been two states, living side by side in peace. The administration is two-thirds there. There are now two states – one in Gaza, headed by the militant Hamas organization, which shot its way to power; and another in the West Bank headed by accused Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas. Unfortunately for Israel, there is no peace, which should not surprise those who have been predicting exactly what is now coming to pass.

Whatever their names, be they groups like Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida, or states like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran, their objectives are identical: the annihilation of the democratic Jewish State and the elimination of all Jews, either by death or displacement, from the land. To argue otherwise and to continue believing the fiction that “infidel” diplomats from the State Department or European Union can magically transform people commanded to hate Jews and Israel based on a twisted mandate from their corrupt notion of God, is to be in extreme denial.

Hamas won’t stop with Gaza. After its victory over poorly directed Israeli forces in Lebanon last summer, why should it? The one thing terrorists understand is weakness. They perceive Israel, under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as weak and they are going for Israel’s jugular. Benyamin Elon, a conservative member of Israel’s Knesset, said, “The Fatah is diminishing in front of our eyes, and a group of gangsters is taking over. Israel can wake up now from the delusion of an independent Palestinian state.”

Will it, or will Olmert be passing out and swallowing, himself, more diplomatic sleeping pills during meetings this week with President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and members of Congress? The violence and broken agreements are not being perpetrated by Israel. They are being perpetrated on Israel. It is mystifying why Western diplomats continue to pressure Israel to “do more” when “more” has brought Israel less.

Each time Israel gives up something necessary for its security, it receives in return more war, more terror and more insecurity. If more for less remains the “strategy” of the United States, then Israel has two choices: surrender now, or prepare for all-out war with catastrophic results.

Since President Bush laid out his “vision” for a two-state solution to Middle East turmoil four years ago this month, Israel has frozen expansion of Jewish communities beyond the armistice lines of 1949 (a major Palestinian demand). As Caroline Glick wrote in The Jerusalem Post, “Israel expelled all Israeli residents of Gaza and northern Samaria in order to render the areas Jew-free to the Palestinians.”

What was the Palestinian response to Israel’s construction halt? Did they suddenly embrace the two-state solution of peace and harmony with Israel? They did not. The Palestinians held elections in January 2006 and instead of picking leaders to make peace with Israel, they overwhelmingly voted in members of Hamas to head the Palestinian Authority. A flood tide of terrorists and arms subsequently flowed into Gaza.

The intentions of Hamas and other terrorist groups are not hidden. They openly proclaim what they intend to do and then they do it. Osama bin Laden said five years before Sept. 11, 2001, that he planned to attack the United States. Few took his statement seriously enough to eliminate him when they had the chance.

Those still in doubt or denial about what Israel’s (and America’s) enemies are planning might benefit from reading Jed Babbin’s new book, “In the Words of Our Enemies” (Regnery Publishing). In it, Babbin assembles what the Islamic terrorists, Chinese and North Korean communists and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez are saying they want to do to us. This quote from the al-Qaida training manual leaves no room for diplomacy: “The confrontation that Islam calls for with these godless and apostate regimes, does not know Socratic debates, Platonic ideals nor Aristotelian diplomacy. But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine-gun.”

Anyone who questions the sincerity of such a statement is a fool. Apparently enough fools remain in leadership in Israel, the United States and Europe to encourage the killers to fight on until victory is attained.

Congratulations Hamas: Getting an opinion piece into NYT and WP on the same day is unprecedented

June 24, 2007


1. New York Times and Washington Post rush to promote Hamas’s views
2. Hardline Iranian government paper backs Jimmy Carter’s support for Hamas
3. “Terrorism” only happens to journalists
4. Israeli army continues to help Gazan population
5. The supposed “moderates” of Fatah continue to kill
6. They lined them up against the wall and shot them
7. Hamas attempts to gain support in Turkey
8. Hamas leader admits: U.S. aid money used to buy guns
9. Syria orders advanced MiG-31 from Russia
10. UK Labour peer compares Rushdie to 9/11 “Martyrs”
11. Journalists quietly dole out cash to politicians: most leans left
12. Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk, wrong again
13. UN Sec-General criticizes UN Human Rights Council for targeting Israel
14. Largest British trade union confirms Israel boycott
15. Israeli wins prize for epilepsy breakthrough
16. At least 80 civilians killed by NATO in Afghanistan
17. Leading Australian cleric claims Hizbullah has 30,000 supporters in Australia

This dispatch contains a series of notes and observations. Various articles concerning the situation in Gaza and the West Bank will be sent/posted tomorrow or Tuesday.

[Note by Tom Gross]


While Hamas was still executing people in Gaza last week, including civilians, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the NY Times-owned International Herald Tribune all rushed to promote the propaganda of one of the world’s most murderous terrorist groups.

Getting the same opinion piece into the Times and the Post on the same day is unprecedented.

Reuters reports:

Hamas scores publicity coup in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shunned by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, the Islamist group Hamas scored a publicity coup this week by defending its policies in Gaza with opinion pieces in two of the country’s most influential newspapers on the same day.

The New York Times and The Washington Post gave space to Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas figure, on Wednesday to argue that the United States should not interfere in Gaza, where Hamas took control after six days of bloody fighting against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah fighters.

Yousef is senior political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, who became Palestinian prime minister after elections last year. He is now contesting his dismissal by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who formed a new government in the West Bank after Hamas took over Gaza.

Hamas leaders rarely have access to major U.S. media to express their views unfiltered, and getting an opinion piece into the Times and the Post on the same day appeared unprecedented.


Kayhan, one of the most hardline Iranian government dailies, which supports Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeated and endorsed Jimmy Carter’s pro-Hamas comments (bottom right text box, specially located for this email list/website, here; full Persian text, here.)

Speaking from the comfort of faraway Ireland, where he was accepting yet another “human rights” award, Carter had said on Tuesday that it was “criminal” for the U.S., Israel, the European Union, and Arab League to shun the Iranian-armed terrorist group Hamas.

Carter went on to express strong words of support for Hamas – whom even the PLO leader denounced last week as a “murderous terrorist group” – leading to uneasy murmuring even among the Irish “human rights” crowd gathered at the wine-and-cheese event.

Meanwhile, at the very time Carter was speaking, a mob was attacking and beating a Kuwaiti diplomat in Teheran.


This Los Angeles Times editorial about kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston uses the words “terror,” “terrorists” and “terrorize”. Meanwhile when Israeli children are blown up on the way to school, that’s “militancy” (as Backspin points out).


Contrary to the untruths being told by some western news correspondents, and despite the volatile nature of the security situation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army (IDF) is continuing its efforts to provide help to the people of the Gaza strip. On Friday, for example, Israel sent hundreds of tons of food produce and medical supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing and transferred Palestinians injured in the recent Hamas-Fatah fighting into Israel for state-of-the-art medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.

As thanks, Hamas last night fired ten missiles at IDF forces on the Israeli side of the Gaza border. There were no injuries.


The al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed branch of Fatah, is continuing to murder people on the West Bank even as Condoleezza Rice foolishly gives them more money and arms when what they really need is reform and good governance. For example, the al-Aqsa Brigades killed a man (Amjad Jouri, 26) in stages in Nablus last week. First, they only succeeded in shooting him in the legs. He was taken to Rafidia hospital. Two days later they marched into the hospital and opened fire on the injured man, killing him while he lay on the X-ray table. An undetermined number of others have been murdered in the West Bank in the last two weeks by Fatah. This is the kind of thing not mentioned in most of the news reports claming Fatah are “moderates.”


Meanwhile, Ha’aretz reports this weekend on the situation in Gaza:

“Hamas was not using a random hit list. Every Hamas patrol carried with it a laptop containing a list of Fatah operatives in Gaza, and an identity number and a star appeared next to each name. A red star meant the operative was to be executed and a blue one meant he was to be shot in the legs – a special, cruel tactic developed by Hamas, in which the shot is fired from the back of the knee so that the kneecap is shattered when the bullet exits the other side. A black star signaled arrest, and no star meant that the Fatah member was to be beaten and released. Hamas patrols took the list with them to hospitals, where they searched for wounded Fatah officials, some of whom they beat up and some of whom they abducted.

“Aside from assassinating Fatah officials, Hamas also killed innocent Palestinians, with the intention of deterring the large clans from confronting the organization. Thus it was that 10 days ago, after an hours-long gun battle that ended with Hamas overpowering the Bakr clan from the Shati refugee camp – known as a large, well-armed and dangerous family that supports Fatah – the Hamas military wing removed all the family members from their compound and lined them up against a wall. Militants selected a 14-year-old girl, two women aged 19 and 75, and two elderly men, and shot them to death in cold blood to send a message to all the armed clans of Gaza.”

Most western human rights groups are being strangely silent about all this.


Hamas announced today that it intends to launch a Turkish version of its website in the near future, the site’s eighth language. Hamas is continuing its efforts to upgrade its Internet propaganda and spread its influence internationally. It already runs sites in Arabic, English, Hebrew, French, Russian, Farsi, Urdu and Malaysian.


The online site of the leading German news weekly Der Spiegel yesterday interviewed senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who boasted that Hamas was able to buy weapons using American aid money:

Spiegel Online: “The militant wings of Fatah and Hamas have been fully armed over the last few months. Are these weapons still in circulation?”

Zahar: “There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around €3.50 – now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America!”


Sources in Moscow say that Syria has ordered advanced MiG-31E combat fighter-jets from Russia. The first delivery is expected in the coming months. The sources say the MiG-31E would provide Syria with a huge leap in air combat capability.

“The Syrians will be getting the top line of Russian aircraft through financing by Iran and share some or most of the platforms with the Iranian Air Force,” a Russian source said. “This is the start of a new era.”

This is believed to be the first Syrian combat aircraft procurement since 1988 and is another sign of Damascus’s hostile intent towards its neighbors, particularly Israel. Hundreds of Iranian military advisors are now active in Syria.


British peer Lord Ahmed (a member of Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s ruling Labour Party) has given an interview to French newspaper Le Figaro comparing the newly knighted British writer Sir Salman Rushdie to the “martyrs” of the 9/11 attacks.

Interviewed in Le Figaro, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a Muslim member of Britain’s House of Lords who some in the British media have wrongly described as a moderate, said “Salman Rushdie is controversial man who has insulted Muslim people, Christians and the British. He does not deserve the honor. What hypocrisy. What would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honored the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?”

Demonstrating against the knighthood to Rushdie at Regents Park Mosque in London, protestors held up placards saying “May God curse the Queen” and one speaker told followers Tony Blair should be sent back from the Middle East “in a bag”.

In a letter to more than 500 mosques, the Muslim Council of Britain accused Tony Blair personally of rewarding an author who had “vilified” Islam.

In Iran, a senior cleric told worshippers at Friday prayers that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence against Rushdie was still valid.

In Multan in Pakistan members of the local paramedics association torched effigies of Rushdie and Queen Elizabeth II, and a group of traders offered a reward of 10 million rupees for anyone who beheads Rushdie.


A survey by MSNBC to find out which American journalists gave money in private to political causes during the last three years has discovered that 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes such as, whereas only 17 gave to Republicans.

For example, CNN reporter Guy Raz gave $500 to John Kerry’s campaign the same month Raz was embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Raz has also worked as a CNN Jerusalem correspondent covering Israel, and now covers the Pentagon for National Public Radio (NPR).

Journalists from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NPR, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker, are among those feeding cash to politicians, parties or political action committees.

Even the ethics columnist at The New York Times made a political donation.

“Probably there should be a rule against it,” said New Yorker writer Mark Singer, who wrote the magazine’s profile of Howard Dean during the 2004 campaign, and then gave $250 to America Coming Together and its get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat President Bush. “But there’s a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler – a journalist interviewing him had murdered him – the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don’t regret it.”

(For more, including a full list of donors and their explanations, see:


Emmanuel Sivan, writing in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, relates how “Sharp-eyed reporters in Beirut read Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh’s article in astonishment,” so obviously were Hersh’s allegations about the Bush administration’s cooperation with al-Qaeda-linked groups in Lebanon untrue:

“But it was published in The New Yorker, a magazine known for its meticulous fact-checking. The Lebanese reporters began investigating the story on their own.

“Hersh said he heard the story from Robert Fisk, the bureau chief of The Independent’s Beirut office. But Hersh did not check out the story himself. For his part, Fisk said he heard the unconfirmed report from Alistair Crooke, a former British intelligence agent and the founding director and Middle East representative of the Conflicts Forum, a non-profit organization that aims to build a new relationship between the West and the Muslim world. Crooke, who gained his reputation through his involvement in the conflict in Northern Ireland, does not know Arabic. When Lebanese journalists spoke to Crooke about the report, they said he told them only that he had heard it ‘from all kinds of people.’

“Thus are reports about the Middle East generated, I thought to myself. And this is a case involving two well-known journalists and an even more well-known magazine.”

It is worth reading Sivan’s piece in full. It tells us a lot about how myths become facts when left in the hands of certain western journalists covering the Middle East. Crooke, incidentally, is also well known for his extreme anti-Israeli and anti-American views.

(I also published this item here and it has been picked by many other leading commentators such as Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic and Stephen Pollard at the Spectator.)


The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, joined Western nations that criticized the UN’s own Human Rights Council for “picking on Israel”.

The 47-nation council agreed in Geneva on Monday (18 June) that Israel’s actions would become a permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda. At the same time they said that countries such as Cuba, Belarus, Burma, North Korea, Burundi, Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Cambodia, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, would not, nor would a single Muslim state.

As the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial: “The real scandal here is the West’s abandonment of moral leadership. Under the ‘consensus’ mandate, even a handful of the 47 members could have blocked this anti-democratic document. Yet only Canada objected to the indictment of Israel, and Mr. de Alba refused to acknowledge the Canadian concerns.”

Ban Ki-moon’s office said: “The Secretary-General is disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The UN Human Rights Council was set up by the General Assembly last year to replace the discredited United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Ban Ki-moon is South Korean, a country with a relative absence of anti-Semitism. Might this just possibly have something to do with the fact that – unlike all his recent predecessors as Secretary-General – he has actually denounced the hounding of Israel?


This is a follow-up to UK Times: “Mamma Mia!” could be first victim of boycott retaliation.

UNISON, the largest British trade union (representing over 1.4 million members in the public sector, private contractors and the utility industries) has now voted to advocate a total economic and cultural boycott of Israel. In addition, delegates called on the British government to press for an arms embargo against Israel.

Labor unions in Israel reacted with disgust that British unions should be singling out Israel for boycott when Israel is still facing daily terrorist threats of a kind few other countries in the world face – and when the UK is itself “occupying” territories in several places in Asia and Africa, South America and southern Spain.

UNISON’s secretary, Mary Maguire, claimed the vote was symbolic and carried little practical consequences.


While activists in Britain and elsewhere continue to call for the shunning of Israel, many Israeli academics continue to concentrate on contributing to the betterment of the human condition.

Prof. Alon Friedman of Ben-Gurion University has just won the prestigious 2007 Michael prize for his epilepsy research. Following 10 years of work, Prof. Friedman and his co-researchers believe they may have found a potential cure, after focusing on the delicate blood-brain barrier, a barricade in the brain that separates the bloodstream from the neural connections of the brain.


At least 80 civilians have been killed (by accident) in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan in the last ten days, according to the pro-western Afghan government. At least 25, including women children and babies, were reportedly killed in a single strike two days ago by British forces. It is odd British trade unions are not calling for a boycott of themselves. Can you imagine the media and activist outcry if Israel had ever killed 25 civilians in a single strike in Gaza?

Meanwhile, fighting continues in and around the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli, north Lebanon, where at least 182 people have been killed in the last five weeks without almost a word of protest from the all the various “Palestinian solidarity committees” in Europe and elsewhere. Ten people died last night and early this morning in Tripoli, according to the Lebanese army.


Australia’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric has publicly declared his allegiance to the Iranian-backed militia Hizbullah. Kamal Mousselmani – head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Australia – said that 30,000 Australian Shia supported Hizbullah, and lashed out at John Howard’s government over its support for Israel.

Hizbullah’s military arm, the External Security Organization, is a proscribed terrorist organization in Australia, and supporting Hizbullah’s political and military wings is illegal under UN counter-terrorist financing declarations.

Australian security agencies are continuing to monitor radical mosques in Australia.

-- Tom Gross

Arafat’s Nobel Prize, Suha’s gowns looted (& Gaza’s Christians fear for their lives)

June 18, 2007

* Unreported in Western media: Bibles are being burned and churches ransacked in Gaza
* BBC apologizes for calling Jerusalem capital of Israel

This dispatch is a follow-up to last week’s dispatches on the bloody Fatah-Hamas clashes in Gaza.



1. Gaza’s Christians fear for their lives
2. Did anyone say double standards?
3. No reporting from Gaza
4. Gaza impoverished? Trying telling that to the people of Chad
5. Not believe Hamas spokespeople anymore?
6. Boycotting universities: Slamming Israel, giving Palestinians a free pass
7. Abbas outlaws Hamas
8. “The bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism”
9. Arafat’s Nobel Prize, Suha’s gowns looted (Yediot Ahronot, June 17, 2007)
10. BBC sorry for calling Jerusalem capital of Israel (Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2007)
11. Hamas-land and Fatah-land at war (By Amir Taheri, UK Times, June 16, 2007)
12. “Arafat’s children” (Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2007)
13. “Fundamentalists threaten Israel from all sides” (Daily Telegraph, June 15, 2007)
14. “Our ‘friend’ Fatah” (By Barry Rubin, June 17, 2007)
15. “Iran’s long game sets stage for war” (Sunday Times, June 17, 2007)
16. “Gaza’s Christians fear for their lives” (Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


Bibles are being burned and churches ransacked in Gaza and yet the many (at least nominally) Christian reporters covering the Mideast seem almost completely uninterested in the plight of Christians at the hands of Islamic extremists.

It has been left to the Jerusalem Post’s Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh – a Muslim – to take up the story:

“Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.

“‘The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church,’ Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said. ‘Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment.’”

(The full article by Khaled Abu Toameh – who is a longtime subscriber to this email list – is attached as the final item below.)

An estimated 2,500 Christians live in Gaza City.


If Israelis machine gunned protesters at a peaceful demonstration I think we can safely say that the BBC, New York Times and others would cover it in a major way:

From Ha’aretz:

Before noon, two civilians were killed during a protest held in Gaza City under the banner “Stop the Killing.” Some 1,000 Palestinians marched in the city, calling for an end to the fighting, but when they approached a Hamas position, militants fired at the protesters, killing two.


Correspondents from all the main television networks have reported on events in Gaza only by standing on the Israeli side of the Gazan border. Yet the Western media have gone out of their way not to explain why (i.e. that it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who target journalists).

It is interesting that all the media rights organizations that never tire of criticizing Israel for its supposed reporting restrictions, seem to be strangely silent.


It is hard to find a news report about Gaza these days in which a western journalist doesn’t tell his or her audience that Gaza is “impoverished”.

Gaza may well be impoverished when compared to Switzerland, or Monaco, but it is not particularly poor when compared with other places throughout the third world.

Indeed money has flowed in to Gaza – the Palestinians are the biggest per capita recipients of aid in the world – while aid to African countries and elsewhere is sparse. In 2006, when Palestinians were supposedly being deprived of aid according to many false reports in the Western media, Palestinians actually received twice the international aid they received in 2005, and over six times the aid given per capita to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Much of this increased aid to the Palestinian Authority has been diverted to buy ever more sophisticated arms, combat vehicles, mortars, night vision equipment, hand grenades, and so on, as television viewers might have noticed in recent days.

Before the U.S. and European Union give any more aid to Gaza might they not insist that they will hand it over only in return for some of those weapons now in Hamas’s possession?


When Palestinian spokesmen from both Fatah and Hamas have made things up about Israel, western media have broadcast them as fact.

Yesterday, Hamas’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Fatah has set up “extermination camps” to send “kidnapped” Hamas “partisans” in the West Bank to.

I wonder why western journalists aren’t treating these accusations as fact in the way they so often treat allegations Hamas propagandists invent about Israel as fact?


At last a comment sympathetic to Israel’s predicament from The Economist magazine:

“Israel at present has a centre-left government that proposes a two-state solution for the Palestine conflict. The Palestinians have voted into office an Islamist government under the Hamas movement that says it aims to end the existence of the Jewish state by a policy of armed struggle. By general consent, moreover, Israel’s universities enjoy far greater academic freedom than any in the Middle East. Why, in these circumstances, should Israeli academics be shunned while those from the other side are welcomed?”


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday outlawed Hamas – although of course, he merely outlawed the Hamas militia without any reference to terrorism or past attacks on Israel. A formal announcement is to be released shortly, aides in Abbas’ office added.

Abbas also swore in an emergency Cabinet, to replace the Hamas-Fatah coalition he dismantled after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip at the end of last week.

The Cabinet is headed by economist Salam Fayyad, who will also serve as finance minister and as foreign minister. Fayyad is regarded as a moderate by the U.S. state department and by the European Union.


I attach eight articles below. The first, from Yediot Ahronot, reports that Hamas gunmen broke into the Gaza house of late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and stole his Nobel Peace Prize and the evening gowns of his hated, corrupt widow Suha.

Ironically as the fourth article below points out, the recent inter-Palestinian fighting “is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.”

Of course, Arafat, the father of modern terrorism – from the airline hijacking to the suicide bombing – should never have been given the Nobel Peace Prize in the first place. The awarding of the prize to Arafat (who even wore his green terrorist outfit to the award ceremony) has forever diminished the value of the Peace Prize.

The second article below, by the Jerusalem Post’s Jonny Paul (who is a subscriber to this email list) relates that the BBC quickly and profusely apologized for referring to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on of its soccer programmes. Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, made a groveling apology after coming under pressure from Arab groups. (Of course, Jerusalem is as much Israel’s capital as London is Britain’s. Israel’s government, parliament, president, supreme court, and so on are all located in Jerusalem.)

All the other articles below predict mostly bleak prospects for the future. Amir Taheri (also a subscriber to this list) warns us that it is “welcome to Gazastan”.

Con Coughlin (my former foreign editor at the Telegraph) writes that “Hamas is trying to replicate Hizbollah’s success in Gaza, not a pleasing prospect for Israel, which now faces the threat of having two Iranian-backed, Islamic fundamentalist organisations dedicated to its destruction camped on its northern and southern borders. It is not a thought that will help Israelis sleep easy.” (Yesterday, after he wrote the article, and for the first time in nearly a year, Israel was struck by rockets fired from neighboring Lebanon.)

(Marc Henry in the French paper Le Figaro yesterday carried a similar article. “The Iranian threat approaches Israel: Iran is within five minutes of Ashkelon,” he wrote.)

Barry Rubin (also a subscriber to this list) writes (in an article that includes interesting historical analogies) that if the international community is to work with Fatah, “have no illusions or expectations.” Uzi Mahnaimi in the (London) Sunday Times comments that “Hamas’s stunningly swift victory in a brief civil war has left the Jewish state at its most vulnerable for three decades: Israel awoke last Friday to find itself encircled by enemies with its most determined foe, Iran, entrenched on its southern doorstep in Gaza.”

-- Tom Gross



Arafat’s Nobel Prize, Suha’s gowns looted
Hamas gunmen who destroyed late PA chairman’s Gaza house did not spare prestigious award he won, as well as garments left behind by his widow
By Roee Nahmias
Yediot Ahronot
June 17, 2007,7340,L-3413794,00.html

The Hamas gunmen who broke into the Gaza house of late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Saturday, also stole his Nobel Peace Prize and his widow’s evening gowns, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

“This morning the Hamas gangs and militia broke into the home of the leader and symbol, Yasser Arafat, broke the door and entered his house under gunpoint. They stole and looted its content, stepped on his picture and military uniform and stole his personal documents,” the report said, using harsh words against Hamas.

According to the report, “(The gunmen) smashed the badges and gifts he received from world leaders, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize medal.”

It appears that the gunmen also visited the private room of the late leaders’ widow, Suha Arafat.

“The militiamen broke into his wife and daughter’s rooms on the second floor of the house and stole the women’s clothes. They also stepped on the picture of the ‘shahid rais’ (martyr chairman) with his daughter Zahwa and his wife, Suha Arafat.”

Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman was enraged by the incident, saying that “this crime took place after Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal promised that Arafat’s house would not be touched.

“This is a real crime which was preceded by crimes of killing, slaughter and theft by the gangs of the Hamas militia and its executing force in the presidential headquarters in Gaza, as well as the execution of Fatah officers.

“These crimes will reveal to the entire world the face of the Hamas leadership and the political leadership which rose to power. The Palestinian people will not forgive these criminal gangs which broke into the home of the great Palestinian shahid, Yasser Arafat. This crime will remain a mark of disgrace on the forehead of the Hamas leadership and its criminal gangs,” he added.



BBC sorry for calling Jerusalem capital of Israel
By Jonny Paul
The Jerusalem Post
June 15, 2007

The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and promised not to repeat “the mistake,” following a complaint by four British organizations.

Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and “historic soul.”

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit posted a response on its Web site: “The reference was a passing one in a context where the focus was on sport, not politics. While recognizing the sensitivity of the issue of the status of Jerusalem, the ECU took the view that the program-makers had taken sufficient action by acknowledging the error and rectifying the Web site.”

The Editorial Complaints Unit’s ruling was: “Complaint resolved.”

In a letter to the complaining NGOs, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, said: “We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it.”

“Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence.”

Steel added: “I’d like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I’m sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response: “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future.”

London-based Arab Media Watch told The Jerusalem Post: “Under international law, neither east nor west Jerusalem is considered Israel’s capital. Tel Aviv is recognized as Israel’s capital, pending a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter and a member of the Muslim Association of Britain, part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tamimi spoke at Saturday’s anti-Israel rally in London’s Trafalgar Square. He blamed the British for their role in the Arab-Israeli conflict and vowed to return to his mother’s house in Hebron, which he said could never become a “Zionist place.”

To huge applause, Tamimi called Israel “a racist entity that sees us [Palestinians] as subhuman while they see themselves as superhuman.”

Tamimi told BBC in an interview in 2004 he did not recognize Israel’s right to exist and would be willing to become a suicide bomber. Last year, Merrill Lynch pulled its sponsorship from an event hosted by the London Middle East Institute because of Tamimi’s participation.

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has faced continuing allegations of extremism and anti-Semitism. In 2005, during the last general election in the UK, the group campaigned against pro-Israel and pro-Iraq war MPs, and attempted to slur one MP by claiming she was a Jew. It eventually apologized when they learned the candidate was not Jewish.

Last year, The Observer discovered that the committee’s co-founder, Asghar Bukhari, had funded Holocaust denier David Irving.

The Friends of Al-Aksa states on its Web site that the first Jewish commonwealth lasted “only 98 years - from 1020 BC to 922 BC,” and that after the destruction of the First Temple, “all Jews are either killed, exiled or taken prisoners. This marks the end of Israel after 400 years of its inception.”

The Leicester-based organization had its bank accounts closed by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2005.

The Muslim Association of Britain accused the bank of being a tool of the pro-Israeli lobby. “It appears the Royal Bank of Scotland is being used as a tool against those that express sympathy with Israel’s victims,” a representative of the Muslim Association said.

“No bank or institution should be allowed to get away with such anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim bias.”



Hamas-land and Fatah-land at war
Amir Taheri on three reasons for trouble ahead
Times of London
June 16, 2007

Welcome to Gazastan! This is how the Arab media greeted the seizure of control by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Although some have blamed the fighting on “the international community”, Israel, and even George W. Bush, what is happening is prompted by intra-Palestinian political rivalries. The fighting has three causes: immediate, medium-term and long-term.

The immediate cause is the desire by Hamas to bring the security apparatus of Fatah, its rival group in Gaza, under its own control. Months of negotiations with the help of Saudi Arabia failed to persuade Fatah to put its security forces under government (which in practice meant Hamas) command.

To Hamas, Fatah’s security machine, led by Muhammad Dahlan, is little better than “the Zionist enemy”. Dahlan, for his part, knew that, without his machine, he would have little chance of making a bid for the presidency when the incumbent, Mahmoud Abbas, is forced out. Dahlan ran a lucrative protection racket in Gaza, set up by the late Yassir Arafat and his family, to bankroll Fatah.

Having expelled Fatah, Hamas takes over this protection racket. Despite a $250 million cash gift from Tehran, Hamas has been short of money for almost a year. Thus, seizing control of Arafat’s business empire in Gaza will be a godsend.

The medium-term cause of the fighting is Hamas’s desire to push the wooden nail into the heart of the Oslo accords, the “undead” that haunts Palestinian politics with the elusive prospect of a two-state solution.

Fatah bought into the two-state philosophy in the 1990s. It regards Gaza and the West Bank as pieces of a jigsaw that, put together, would make an independent Palestinian state that would exist alongside Israel. The constitution of Hamas, however, commits it to the creation of a single state. Gaza and the West Bank are regarded as bases from which the struggle for the liberation of the entire mandate of Palestine, that is to say the elimination of Israel, is pursued for as long as necessary.

The longer-term cause of the duel is the deep ideological divisions in Palestinian society: Hamas is religious, Fatah secular. Hamas is pan-Islamist, Fatah Palestinian nationalist.

Although Gaza has been Hamas’s principal base for a decade, the presence of Fatah’s armed security networks prevented the pan-Islamist movement from reshaping the enclave according to its radical ideology. Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international movement dedicated to creating a single global Islamic state. For it, Palestine is no more than a small corner of Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) that must one day defeat Dar al-Kufr (the House of the Infidel) to unite mankind under its banner.

In a talk to students at Tehran University a few months ago, Ismail Haniyah, the Hamas Prime Minister fired yesterday by President Abbas, cautioned against “the trap of nationalism”, which he described as a “Zionist-Crusader conspiracy” to divide Muslims across national lines. To be sure, Haniyah wants a Palestine as much as Dahlan does, but not just any old Palestine. Haniyah wants a Palestine that covers the entire 22,000sq km of the old British mandate, not the 5,000 sq km of Gaza and West Bank that Fatah has accepted. He also wants an Islamic Palestine in which Sharia, not Western-style law, is in force.

Having won the general election 18 months ago, Hamas launched a drive to “Islamicise” Gaza, forcing women to wear the hijab and men to grow beards. It burnt down the last beer factory in Gaza and banned the sale of alcoholic drinks. Bands of youths calling themselves “Brigades of Enforcing the Good and Combating Evil” raid homes in search of alcohol, Western music and videos, unIslamic T-shirts and other “sinful items”. Young men and women found together in public, or even in private cars, are stopped and interrogated to make sure unmarried couples do not violate Sharia rules.

Hamas is convinced that time is running out for Israel and that, with Islam experiencing a global renaissance, the chance of victory against the “Infidel”, in this particular corner of the world, is rising by the day. Exclusive control of Gaza will enable Hamas to devise a low-intensity pincer war against Israel with the help of Hezbollah in Lebanon, supported by Iran and Syria. Hamas is also encouraged that, for the first time in two decades, several regional powers, including Iran, Syria, and Libya, support its “one-state” strategy.

Fatah’s analysis, however, is based on the assumption that the longer the “two-state” solution is delayed, the smaller the chances of creating a viable Palestinian state.

By expelling Fatah, Hamas will have exclusive control over an area that accounts for almost half of all Palestinians in the occupied territories. Fatah has retaliated with “cleansing” operations against Hamas supporters in the West Bank. As things are shaping up, Gaza could end up as Hamas-land while the West Bank becomes Fatah-land. And, that, if anything, looks like a three-state scenario: a Jewish one in Israel, a secular Arab nationalist one in the West Bank, and an Islamist one in Gaza. And that means bigger troubles ahead.



Arafat’s children
The Wall Street Journal
June 16, 2007

Scores of Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza in factional fighting between loyalists of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and those of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. As if on cue, it took about 24 hours before pundits the world over blamed the violence on Israel and President Bush.

This is the Israel that dismantled its settlements in Gaza in August 2005, a unilateral concession for which it asked, and got, nothing in return. And it is the U.S. President who, in a landmark speech five years ago this month, called on Palestinians to “elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.” Had Palestinians done so, they could be living today in a peaceful, independent state. Instead, in January 2006 they freely handed the reins of government to Hamas in parliamentary elections. What is happening today is the result of that choice – their choice.

That election didn’t simply emerge from a vacuum, however. It is a consequence of the cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history and which has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.

* * *

In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N.’s General Assembly – the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.

In 1973, the National Security Agency recorded Arafat’s telephoned instructions to PLO terrorists to murder Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador in Sudan, and his deputy George Curtis Moore. Yet in 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from “extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud.” Yet over the next several years, the Palestinian Authority would become the largest single recipient of foreign aid on a per capita basis.

In 1996, after he had formally renounced terrorism in the Oslo Accords, Arafat told a rally in Gaza that “We are committed to all martyrs who died for the cause of Jerusalem starting with Ahmed Musa until the last martyr Yihye Ayyash” – Musa being the first PLO terrorist to be killed in 1965 and Ayyash being the Hamas mastermind of a series of suicide bombings in which scores of Israeli civilians were killed. Yet the Clinton Administration continued to pretend that Arafat was an ally in the fight against Hamas. In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.

In 2005, only months after Arafat’s death, Israel dismantled its settlements and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have used the opportunity to intensify their rocket fire at civilian targets within Israel. Last month, Israeli security services arrested two Gazan women, one of them pregnant, who were planning to enter Israel on medical pretexts in order to carry out suicide attacks. Yet the same month, the World Bank issued a report faulting Israel for restricting Palestinian freedom of movement.

Now it appears Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip’s main road, its border with Egypt as well as the offices of the so-called Preventive Security Services, traditionally a Fatah stronghold. “They are executing them one by one,” a witness told the Associated Press of Hamas’s reprisals against the Preventive Security personnel.

We do not pretend to know where all this will lead. On Thursday, Mr. Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, though he seems powerless to change the course of events in Gaza. Israel could conceivably intervene, as could Egypt, and both states have powerful reasons to prevent the emergence of a Hamastan with close links to Iran hard on their borders. But neither do they wish to become stuck in the Strip’s bottomless factionalism and fanaticism.

At the same time, pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas’s ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. According to this reasoning, the Bush Administration cannot demand democracy of the Palestinians and then refuse to recognize the results of a democratic election.

But leave aside the fact that Mr. Bush did not simply call for an election: Is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? The best-case scenario – a suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding – would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults. Then, too, the last thing the Palestinians need is yet further validation from the wider world that the violence they now inflict so indiscriminately works.

* * *

The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. This is not the result of Mr. Bush’s call for democratic responsibility; it is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.



Fundamentalists threaten Israel from all sides
By Con Coughlin
The Daily Telegraph
June 15, 2007

Welcome to the new Islamic Republic of Hamas-stan, where every Palestinian woman is obliged to wear the veil and all traces of corrupting Western influences, from pop music to internet cafιs, are strictly banned.

The creation of a mini Islamic state in Gaza now appears the most likely outcome as the militant Palestinian group Hamas strikes against the more secular-minded government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

And with fighters loyal to Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement either surrendering or fleeing, it seems that not even the might of Israel can prevent Hamas from fulfilling its long-held ambition of establishing an Islamic state within the Palestinian territories.

The Gaza Strip, the 20-mile stretch of desert scrub wedged between Israel and the Sinai Desert, has never been a happy place. The majority of the 1.4 million Palestinians who live there are mainly refugees from Israel’s 1948 war of independence and have rarely seen their living standards rise above subsistence level. But the addition of religious fanaticism to economic privation has severely worsened their plight.

Even before this week’s violence, activists had been busy attacking cafιs, video shops and restaurants that serve alcohol or sell what are regarded as subversive Western films.

An internet cafι at the Jabaliyah refugee camp was bombed because zealots believed its customers might be exposed to pornography or pop music. The desire to enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic law even resulted in a gunman attacking a UN primary school because it allowed young boys and girls to mix together in the playground.

And all this with Ismael Haniyeh, the Palestinian Prime Minister who came to power on the back of Hamas’s surprise election victory in the 2006 elections, yet to establish his de facto Islamic state. Even if Gaza remains under Mr Abbas’s nominal control, the implications of it becoming a self-contained Islamic entity are alarming not just for Israel, but for the wider region.

Hamas makes no secret of the fact that it now receives most of its financial and military support from Iran. The Iranian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hamas leadership in June last year, in which it agreed to fund the militant group to the tune of £400 million.

Until then, most of the Palestinian Authority’s funding came from the EU and America, but this dried up when Hamas came to power and refused to give up its long-standing policy of seeking Israel’s destruction or to renounce its terrorist past.

In addition to financial support, Iran provides training to members of the military wing of Hamas by sending them to camps in Lebanon and Iran run by the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards.

Past Iranian attempts to supply the Palestinians with military hardware have been less successful, with the Israeli navy intercepting a ship laden with explosives destined for Gaza in early 2002. But earlier this year, the Iranians sought to establish new supply lines to Gaza.

On February 24, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’s supreme leader, travelled to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where he met senior Quds Force officials and Sudanese politicians who are broadly sympathetic to Hamas’s political objectives.

The main topic of conversation was setting up a supply route that would enable Iran to smuggle rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles, guns and explosives through the porous border between Gaza and Egypt.

The dispute over tightening the border is now one of the issues at the heart of the current violence; Hamas refuses to countenance the deployment of an international force that would seriously curtail the activities of the arms and money smugglers who use a sophisticated network of tunnels to transport their contraband into Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian campaigners frequently claim that the main reason Gaza is in crisis is that the economic blockade imposed by America and Israel following Hamas’s election victory has reduced the civilian population to penury. This was the essence of the argument advanced by Alvaro de Soto, until recently the UN’s special co-ordinator for the Middle East, who seems happy to blame anyone for the Palestinians’ plight except the Palestinians themselves.

Ordinary Palestinians, it is true, in both Gaza and the West Bank, are suffering hardship. But this is not because of a lack of funds entering the Palestinian territories: it is because successive Palestinian administrations have made no effort to distribute the resources available equably among the population.

Hamas, on the other hand, sees economic deprivation as a form of political oppression. The World Bank reported that donors contributed about £375 million to the Palestinian territories in 2006, twice the amount they received in 2005. But since taking power, Hamas ensures any funds are spent on Islamic causes and its 6,000-strong militia, leaving the majority to fend for themselves.

The bonus for Hamas is that, by forcing the majority of Palestinians to exist in dire poverty, it succeeds in attracting widespread sympathy from international do-gooders who do not understand the sadistic economic manipulation that is taking place.

Not surprisingly, many Palestinians who were previously agnostic about their Muslim heritage have found themselves embracing the Hamas cause, more out of economic necessity than religious obligation.

Hizbollah – another Iranian-funded militia – used similar tactics to establish its power base in southern Lebanon during the 1980s. Hizbollah, of course, has now become a dominant force in Lebanese politics.

Hamas is trying to replicate Hizbollah’s success in Gaza, not a pleasing prospect for Israel, which now faces the threat of having two Iranian-backed, Islamic fundamentalist organisations dedicated to its destruction camped on its northern and southern borders. It is not a thought that will help Israelis sleep easy.



“Our ‘friend’ Fatah”
By Barry Rubin
June 17, 2007

During World War One, Germany concluded that its chief ally, Austria-Hungary, was more of a burden than an asset. As one German official put it, that alliance was like being “shackled to a corpse.”

And more than a century earlier, it was said of the doomed French dynasty, the Bourbons, that they learned nothing and forgot nothing.

Welcome to the alliance with Fatah, sort of Austria-Hungary and the Bourbons rolled up into one. It is now ruler of a West Bank-only semi-state after Hamas captured the Gaza Strip from it. The United States is now backing Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas with aid and probably military assistance. Israel’s government will do everything possible to preserve that regime, too.

This is a completely logical policy decision. It makes perfect sense given the balance of forces and the overall situation. I understand why it is being done. The problem is that it isn’t going to work. And if we know that now, perhaps this fact should shape policy just a bit?

But first, let’s sweep the floor of all the debris that belongs in the garbage can. There are now those who argue for backing, or at least parlaying with, Hamas. Reportedly, the European Union is going to keep giving aid to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

As I recall, in wartime one does not send aid to enemy-ruled states, even to help the civilians there. Putting on such pressure is a way to defeat the enemy. Of course, the United States and Europe are not at war with Hamas, or Hizballah, Syria, or Iran for that matter. The problem is that these countries generally don’t understand that these forces are at war with them.

If you send aid to the Gaza Strip, it will strengthen Hamas’s rule. Aid will be diverted to pay terrorists and buy arms. The schoolteachers whose salary you pay will teach the children that their highest duty is to become a suicide bomber and that Christians and Jews are sub-human. The salaries paid are used to buy support for Hamas. Those loyal get money; those who oppose Hamas don’t. Is all this so hard to understand?

And if one wants to do something humanitarian, take the money that would have gone to the Gaza Strip and give it to poor people in Africa, Asia, South America, Iraq, even the West Bank. Don’t finance terrorism, antisemitism, and radical Islamism for goodness sake. Is that so hard to understand?

The second piece of nonsense is that this is some great opportunity for advancing the peace process. Have no doubt. The United States and Israel may give Fatah money, trade some intelligence, and try to get them to stop cross-border terror attacks. But serious negotiations? Forget it.

In understanding the Fatah world view let’s try a simple test. You are a Fatah official. You receive money. What do you do with it? Answer: put it into your foreign bank account. Why? Because aside from pure greed and a mentality of corruption, you are afraid that Hamas will take over the West Bank, too. You will need a bankroll so that you and your family can flee abroad and live comfortably, very comfortably.

As for Abbas, he is a loser and only if he is replaced can one even begin to believe in Fatah’s survival. He is the closest thing in the Palestinian movement to a French intellectual, not the kind of person you would like to have by your side in a knife fight.

Consider his first two decisions. Who did Abbas make prime minister? Muhammad Dahlan, who has been warning about the Hamas threat for more than five years, or some other warrior? No, Salam Fayyad, a professional economist. Why, does Abbas intend to launch a major development and anti-poverty campaign? No, it’s because Fayyad, an honest and experience guy it is true, but certainly no wartime consigliore.

In addition, he has refused to outlaw Hamas on the West Bank. Perhaps he hopes for reconciliation? Or wants to avoid a confrontation on his remaining turf? If Abbas is thinking like a European Union bureaucrat he is really doomed.

There is something deeper in the desire to believe in an alliance with Fatah, an organization which still carries on terrorist attacks and doesn’t believe in Israel’s right to exist. This is the obsession with the peace process idea.

Now peace is a very good thing. It is certainly preferable to war. Such a condition far better serves the interests of average people. But, unfortunately, a comprehensive, formal peace is not going to happen. Get over it. Smell the coffee. Deal with unpleasant reality.

OK, so we have to deal with the cards which have been dealt. But this means a tough policy, showing adversaries that it is costly to be enemies; pressing supposed allies to deliver the goods.

What lesson does Iran draw from Western weakness in opposing its nuclear weapons’ program? To paraphrase the words of the Union admiral during the Civil War, “Damn the diplomatic notes! Full speed ahead!”

What lesson does Syria draw from Israel’s failure to retaliate against it last summer and the stream of Western suitors bearing gifts? Escalate the war against Lebanon!

What lesson does Hizballah draw from Western refusal to get tough on arms smuggling and Europeans trembling lest it attack the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in Lebanon? Rearm, rebuild positions in the south and start firing rockets against Israel again!

So, all right, work with Fatah but have no illusions or expectations. And don’t give something for nothing.



Iran’s long game sets stage for war
By Uzi Mahnaimi
The Sunday London Times
June 17, 2007

Israel awoke last Friday to find itself encircled by enemies with its most determined foe, Iran, entrenched on its southern doorstep in Gaza.

Hamas’s stunningly swift victory in a brief civil war has left the Jewish state at its most vulnerable for three decades.

Inspired by a philosophy of militant Islam and backed by Iranian weaponry and military training, Hamas poses a direct threat to Israel and, if left unchecked, will soon be in a position to step up its lethal rocket attacks on towns and villages across the border.

In Lebanon to the north, Israel faces Hezbollah, the militant Syrian-backed militia, which has rebuilt its frontline forces – also with Iranian help – since last summer’s war exposed the shortcomings of the Israeli defence forces. The Lebanese government can do little to curb Hezbollah’s growing strength.

“Tehran has succeeded in planting an Iranian division in the north and now they have a foothold in the south by establishing their southern division - Hamas,” said a source in Israel’s defence ministry.

Then there is Syria, with which Israel is still officially at war. Damascus is demanding the return of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said recently his country did not want war with Syria but warned that a “miscalculation” could spark one.

To the east – beyond Jordan – lie the deeply unstable Iraq and the greatest threat of all in Israeli eyes, Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has declared that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and continues to advance a nuclear programme in defiance of the United Nations security council.

Israeli intelligence has little doubt that if Israel or the US attacks Iran’s burgeoning uranium enrichment programme, much of the retaliation will come from Tehran’s clients on its borders.

They are also watching a fierce debate inside the US administration between doves led by Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and hawks such as Vice-President Dick Cheney, on the repercussions of any military strike against Iran.

With the doves seemingly holding the upper hand in Washington, US support for a hardline Israeli response may be fading. But Israeli leaders continue to warn that they will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Ehud Barak, who is expected to be appointed defence minister tomorrow, met Olmert to agree a crisis plan to deal with the threat of Hamas before Olmert left for Washington to meet President George W Bush this week.

“Israel will not tolerate a Hamastan at its back door,” said one of Barak’s close associates.



Gaza’s Christians fear for their lives
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
June 18, 2007

Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.

The appeal came following a series of attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City over the past few days.

Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church.

“The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church,” he said. “Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment.”

Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, noting that the gunmen destroyed all the Crosses inside the church and school. “Those who did these awful things have no respect for Christian-Muslim relations,” he said.

He estimated damages at more than $500,000. “Those who see the destruction will realize how bad this attack was,” he said. “Christians have been living in peace and security with Muslims for many years, but those who attacked us are trying to sabotage this relationship.”

He said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas phoned him on Sunday night to express his strong condemnation for the attack. “President Abbas promised that he would do his utmost to prevent such attacks on Christians here,” he said.

Fatah officials blamed Hamas militiamen for the attack on the church and school. However, Islam Shahwan, spokesman for Hamas’s Executive Force in the Gaza Strip, denied responsibility.

He nevertheless admitted that a large group of Hamas militiamen had been near the area during the attack. “We have instructed all our men to withdraw from the area,” he said. “We will punish anyone who targets churches and public institutions.”

UK Times: “Mamma Mia!” could be first victim of boycott retaliation

June 14, 2007

* Time Out London: “An Islamic London would be a better place”
* Was Israeli basil deliberately infected in the UK?
* Dershowitz to sue British lecturers boycotting Israel

This dispatch contains items of interest from the UK, and is also a follow-up to other recent dispatches on threats to boycott Israel, including For first time, British journalists officially vote to boycott Israeli goods (April 14, 2007) and Nobel laureate cancels UK trip over Israel boycott (& a tale of two terror groups called Fatah) (May 28, 2007)



1. One in four British Muslims believe London bombs were staged
2. British Islamic terrorist killed in Somalia
3. Was Israeli basil deliberately infected in the UK?
4. Time Out London: “An Islamic London would be a better place”
5. British Minister: Boycott is “fundamentally wrong”
6. “If they boycotted medicines… half of England would be sick”
7. 1.4 million member Unison may also boycott Israel
8. “Moral masturbation”
9. Even the Independent runs an article criticizing the boycott
10. Mamma Mia! to be boycotted?
11. “The price of British Jewish criticism of Israel” (London Times, June 11, 2007)
12. “Israel discovers oil” (By Thomas Friedman, New York Times, June 10, 2007)
13. “Harvard legal expert vows to sue lecturers boycotting Israel” (FT, June 2 2007)
14. “Shame on the left and its vicious hatred of Israel” (Daily Express, May 31, 2007)
15. “A letter to the British academic” (Yediot Ahronot, June 12, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


One in four British Muslims believe “Government agents” staged the July 7, 2005 London transport bombs, according to a new survey. A poll carried out by Channel 4 News discovered that a quarter of Muslims polled believe the four men named as responsible for killing 52 people on London transport were not responsible for the attacks – even though their ringleader left a video, broadcast on al-Jazeera, proudly claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Six out of every ten Muslims interviewed for the poll felt the British government had not told the whole truth about the bombings. And over half of the Muslims polled also felt the security services had made up evidence to convict terror suspects.

A selection of Muslims interviewed by Channel 4 claimed the CCTV images of the four bombers arriving at Luton station en route to London were “faked”. Some said the men were made “convenient scapegoats” and others claimed that the “martyrdom” videos left by Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer admitting responsibility for the attacks were also forgeries.


A British citizen was among the 12 Islamic terrorists killed by a U.S. missile strike in Somalia last week. There have been a number of reports in recent weeks that foreigners including British citizens have been fighting alongside Somali jihadists. British Muslims have already blown themselves up, murdering others, in Tel Aviv, Baghdad and elsewhere.

According to Mohamed Ali Yusuf, the finance minister of Puntland (a region of Somalia where al-Qaeda-linked militants are trying to take over), the authorities had retrieved documents from the bodies showing that “The terrorists were from America, Britain, Sweden, Morocco, Pakistan and Yemen.”


Israeli officials have said that “hostile elements” may have been behind the Salmonella that was inserted onto Israeli-grown basil exported to Britain and then sold there and in other parts of Europe.

Oded Yaffe, from the private agronomy laboratory Shelef, said that “the odds that the Salmonella happened to reach three different Israeli farms at the same time are tiny,” and it appeared as if “someone just pasted Salmonella on the basil from Israel.”


Last week’s Time Out London (the city’s leading listings and entertainment magazine, which also publishes editions in New York and other cities) posed the following question – in both Arabic and English – on its front cover: “Is London’s future Islamic?”

The magazine featured an article inside, authored by Michael Hodges, which argued that “an Islamic London would be a better place.”

The preamble to the piece reads: “It’s the capital’s fastest growing religion, based on noble traditions and compassionate principles, yet Islam can still be tainted by mistrust and misunderstanding. Here Time Out argues that an Islamic London would be a better place.”

Time Out claims that an Islamic London would be an improvement in terms of ecology, education, public health, arts, social justice, food, inter-faith relations and race relations.

Regarding public health, the article claims that a Muslim-dominated London, in which alcohol was forbidden, would prevent thousands of deaths and alcohol-related crimes.

Concerning “race relations,” Hodges writes “Under Islam all ethnicities are equal. Once you have submitted to Allah you are a Muslim – it doesn’t matter what colour you are. End of story.”

The full piece can be read here.

Apparently Hodges forgot to mention that Time Out would have to dispense with about half its listing sections: Bars, clubs, women’s events, its gay and lesbian section, non-Muslim religious worship, and so on.


Britian’s Minister for Higher Education, Bill Rammell, visited Israel this week in a show of support after the 130,000-member British teachers and lecturers union (UCU) decided to call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Rammell called the boycott “fundamentally wrong” and said that “I hope my visit here sends a strong message of the views of the British government and people.” He also added that he was convinced “the vast majority of academics in Britain oppose a boycott.”

During his visit to Israel, Rammell defended the British press – which many blame for whipping up untruths about Israel which helped lead to the calls for a boycott. Whilst he did concede that Britons were “not always” getting a fair picture, he told the Jerusalem Post that “we’ve got a media in Britain that is open, [and] that does try to present in most cases, not all, all sides of the argument.”

However, Rammell (who had never been to Israel before) then admitted he had been a Guardian reader since the age of 16, so it was quite probable he knows very little about both sides to the Arab-Israeli conflict.


In reaction to the British boycott, a law has been submitted to the Israeli parliament, which if passed, will mean that a country that boycotts Israel or Israeli products will have all of its imports to Israel tagged with stickers reading, “This country is involved in an anti-Israel boycott.”

The bill was submitted by Otniel Schneller, a Member of the Knesset from the ruling (centrist) Kadima party. Schneller said: “When we are boycotted, we should respond in kind. When we are isolated by a country, we should isolate them in return.”

The bill has received cross-party support in Israel.

Schneller added that “We must respond to this current trend in England. If the British think that they can pass judgement on us as a group and boycott us in this manner, than we must respond similarly to the British. If they [the British] boycotted medicines that were researched or created in Israel, half of England would be sick.”

For more on Israeli scientific advances, see the second article below, written by Thomas Friedman.

Many British academics are also speaking out against their colleagues. Prof. Malcolm Grant of University College London, said, “An academic boycott of other academics is a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university.”

UK based-lawyer Anthony Julius, who represented the late Diana, Princess of Wales in her divorce from Prince Charles, and leading American lawyer and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz have also vowed to fight the boycott. Julius and Dershowitz – who are both long-time subscribers to this email list – jointly wrote an article criticizing the boycott in the Times of London yesterday. Their full 3,500 word piece can be read here.

Julius also told the Times Higher Education Supplement that “the vote has stimulated a great sense of solidarity among distinct constituencies. The overwhelming majority of Jews find the motion repellent, academics recoil from the double standards in the resolution and the threat to academic freedom, and people who are neither Jews nor academics see this activity for what it is: generated by malice and hatred for Israel.”

Dershowitz likened the boycott of Israeli Jewish academics to the treatment of Jewish students and faculty in Nazi Germany. If the boycott proceeded he promised to sue various British universities leading them to “financial and legal ruin.” For more, see the third article below.

To hear Dershowitz debate this issue on Channel 4 News, click here.

In addition, an online petition signed so far by 4,000 non-Israeli academics has called on all scholars “of differing religious and political perspectives” to view themselves as Israelis and turn down activities from which Israelis have been excluded.

The petition criticizing British boycotters has been signed by 15 Nobel Prize laureates from several countries, and professors from Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, Toronto and others, including the presidents of Penn State, Tufts, Miami, Brandeis and Columbia.


In spite of this, anti-Israel activists at another British union – the 1.4 million member public services union (UNISON) – are planning to vote at their national conference (which starts June 19) whether to cut economic ties with the Jewish state.

The Histadrut, the largest labor union in Israel, has urged the British union to withdraw the motion, according to The New York Times.


Israelis across the political spectrum have reacted with great anger to the British university lecturers’ decision. Bradley Burston, a columnist for the left-wing newspaper Ha’aretz, wrote “the whole boycott campaign smacks of a uniquely far-left British brand of moral masturbation, a desperate, delusional, sterile, supremely self-contained form of non-activism that risks nothing even as it changes nothing. There must be some reason why no one in this world does condescension better than the British far-left. There must be some reason why the British far-left manages to satisfy itself with a uniquely public, uniquely self-congratulatory form of ideological self-abuse.”

An editorial in the Jerusalem Post pointed out that the academic boycott “is so blatantly unprofessional, misinformed and misguided that is more of a mark of shame on the institutions that promulgated it than on the Jewish state, its intended target.”

Like Burston in Ha’aretz, the editorial claims that the boycott says much more about the state of British academia than it does about Israel. “What does it say, for example, about the state of the British academy when, far from showing solidarity with a fellow democracy under terrorist attack, it seems to unquestioningly support the side engaging in suicide bombings, the deliberate rocketing of civilian cities, and openly calling for Israel’s destruction? How does it reflect on professors and journalists when they so blithely violate every standard and principle of their own professions in order to excoriate Israel?”

Sari Nusseibeh, the president of the Palestinian university Al-Quds, also criticized the proposed British boycott of Israeli universities, calling it “self-defeating”.


Even The Independent, the British daily of which the notorious Robert Fisk is Chief Middle East correspondent and a newspaper which has constantly railed against the Jewish state, has allowed one of its regular contributors, Howard Jacobson to write a few days ago: “Heigh-ho, it’s boycott time again... It’s time to end the vilification of Israel. If anti-Semitism is repugnant to humanity, then it is no less repugnant to humanity to single out one country for your hatred, to hate it beyond reason and against evidence, to pluck it from the complex contextuality of history as though it authored its own misfortunes and misdeeds as the devil authored evil, to deny it any understanding and – most odious of all – to seek to silence its voices. For make no mistake, this is what an intellectual boycott means. We silence you. We will not let you speak.”

Jacobson’s full article can be read here.

Another poignant article on the boycott is by Amir Hanifes, a Druze Israeli student who participated at the UCU meeting as an Israeli delegate. Hanifes wrote that “the figures we presented [to show how Muslims, Christians and Jews all study together at Israeli universities] were futile, because all they cared about was their one and only objective: De-legitimizing the State of Israel with no relation to its academia.”

His full article can be read here.


According to the Times of London (full article attached below) “The ABBA musical Mamma Mia! could be the first casualty of a growing Israeli backlash against a proposed British academic boycott of Israeli universities.”

However, it seems that the show is not in any danger of being cancelled. The show’s producer, Mark Lieberberg, told the Israeli portal Ynet, in response to the Times piece, “We are here, and that’s a fact. Our show is almost sold out. No Israeli theatre or organization told us anything about a boycott. This whole matter is part of the British tabloid business – the British media are always presenting speculations as facts – and unfortunately this has reached the Times as well.”

Mamma Mia! is due to open shortly at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.


I attach five articles below. I particularly recommend the fourth article, by Leo McKinstry, who writes that “anti-Semitism is becoming not just tolerated but even fashionable in some of our [British] civic institutions, including the universities and parts of the media.”

In the final article, Yair Lapid, one of the most popular columnists in Israel, portrays what many Israelis think of the academic boycott: “[This is] all I ask of the Brits: not money, service or even friendship. Just understand the annoying fact that I don’t want to die.”

As if to underline this point, Israeli security forces announced yesterday that they had successfully foiled a double suicide attack on Tel Aviv and Netanya. Two Palestinian women, both mothers to young children, and one of whom was pregnant with her ninth child, were arrested as they were on their way to carry out the attacks. Islamic Jihad said it had planned the bombings.

-- Tom Gross



The price of British Jewish criticism of Israel
Tel Aviv gets ready to silence Mamma Mia!
By Sonia Verma
The Times (of London)
June 11, 2007

The Abba musical Mamma Mia! could be the first casualty of a growing Israeli backlash against a proposed British academic boycott of Israeli universities.

The British production, due to open in Tel Aviv in a few weeks, has been jeopardised by threats from local theatre companies who refuse to stage it in retaliation over threats from the University and College Union to boycott Israel for occupying Palestinian land.

But the musical is only the beginning, says a group of Israeli politicians who drafted a law that could trigger a consumer boycott of an estimated £1.2 billion of British imports sold in Israel every year.

“The British people should know we are very disappointed in England,” said Otniel Schneller, an Israeli parliament member who helped to draft the Bill aimed at punishing Britain.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the six-day war, stances taken back then still loom over the Middle East peace process.

“For me, the cost of lost business is not important. It is impossible for us to have economic relations with a country that promotes such antiSemitic policies,” he said. Britain is Israel’s third largest trading partner, behind the US and Germany, according to the country’s Ministry of Trade.

If adopted by the Knesset, the law would require British imports to be labelled clearly, making it easier for shoppers to shun the goods. Machinery, electronics, pharmaceuticals, cars and diamonds are among Israel’s top imports from the UK.

Political observers say that there is growing public support for the Bill. The Israeli Government, leading Israeli academics and newspapers have roundly condemned recent moves by Britain’s largest trade and lecturers’ union, with some commentators branding its actions antiSemitic and the result of the influence of Britain’s growing Muslim community.

In Israel travel agencies are discouraging tourists from travelling to Britain. Some union workers are refusing to unload British imports and some Israeli importers have threatened to cut ties with British suppliers in protest.

A number of prominent Israeli academics, including Itamar Rabinovitch, the former president of Tel Aviv University and a leading author, have expressed outrage at British unions for targeting the wrong people, arguing that Israeli academics are among the most fervent opponents of Israel’s occupation.

But among some Palestinians, the view is different. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called boycotts a valid tools to end the occupation.

“The Palestinian call for institutional boycott of Israel, which is principally inspired by the antiapartheid struggle in South Africa, is the most morally and politically sound resistance strategy to counter Israeli apartheid and colonial policies,” Omar Barghouti, a Campaign leader, said. He has organised a tour next month of British universities and colleges for pro-boycott Palestinian academics.

A visit to Israel yesterday by Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, to show solidarity with Israeli academics did little to quell the controversy. Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he called the planned academic boycott of Israeli universities fundamentally wrong. He also criticised Israeli restrictions that stop Palestinian students attending Israeli universities, or students from Gaza travelling to study in the occupied West Bank.

Hitting where it hurts

– Exports from the UK to Israel amounted to about £1.2 billion

– British imports from Israel amounted to just over £700 million

– Eleven Israeli companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange

– Almost 30 other Israeli companies, including Elron Investments and Sky Vision, are planning to float stock on London’s AIM market this year

– Britain exported more than £110 million of military equipment to Israel during its occupation of Palestinian territories and war with Lebanon

Source: Israel-British Chamber of Commerce



Israel discovers oil
By Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times
June 10, 2007

Lucien Bronicki is one of Israel’s foremost experts in geothermal power, but when I ran into him last week at Ben Gurion University, in Israel’s Negev Desert, all he wanted to talk about was oil wells. Israel, he told me, had discovered oil.

Pointing to a room full of young Israeli high-tech college seniors, Mr. Bronicki remarked: “These are our oil wells.”

It was quite a scene. Once a year Ben Gurion students in biomedical engineering, software, electrical engineering and computing create elaborate displays of their senior projects or – as in the case of a student-made robot that sidled up to me – demonstrate devices they’ve invented.

On this occasion, Yossi Vardi, the godfather of Israeli venture capitalism – ever since he backed the four young Israelis who invented the first Internetwide instant messaging system, Mirabilis, which was sold to AOL for $400 million in 1998 – brought some of his venture capital pals, like Mr. Bronicki, down to Ben Gurion to scout out potential start-ups and to mentor the grads.

The first student exhibit I visited was by Yuval Sharoni, 26, an electrical engineering senior, whose project was titled an “Innovative Covariance Matrix for Point Target Detection in Hyperspectral Images” (which has to do with military targeting). When I told him I was from The Times, he declared: “This project is going to make the front page, I’m telling you.” The cover of Popular Mechanics, maybe, but it could one day make the Nasdaq, where Israel now has the most companies listed of any nation outside of the United States.

“Today, every Israeli Jewish mother wants her son to be a dropout and go create a start-up,” said Mr. Vardi, who is currently invested in 38 different ones.

Which gets to the point of this column: If you want to know why Israel’s stock market and car sales are at record highs – while Israel’s government is paralyzed by scandals and war with Hamas and doesn’t even have a finance minister – it’s because of this ecosystem of young innovators and venture capitalists. Last year, Vcs poured about $1.4 billion into Israeli start-ups, which puts Israel in a league with India and China.

Israel is Exhibit A of an economic phenomenon I see a lot these days. Of course, competition between countries and between companies still matters. But when the world becomes this flat – with so many distributed tools of innovation and connectivity empowering individuals from anywhere to compete, connect and collaborate – the most important competition is between you and your own imagination, because energetic, innovative and connected individuals can now act on their imaginations farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.

Those countries and companies that empower their individuals to imagine and act quickly on their imagination are going to thrive. So while there are reasons to be pessimistic about Israel these days, there is one huge reason for optimism: this country has a culture that nurtures and rewards individual imagination – one with no respect for limits or hierarchies, or fear of failure. It’s a perfect fit with this era of globalization.

“We are not investing in products or business plans today, but in people who have the ability to imagine and connect dots,” said Nimrod Kozlovski, a top Israeli expert on Internet law who also works with start-ups. Israel is not good at building big companies, he explained, but it is very good at producing people who say, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this...” then create a start-up to do it – which is later bought out and expanded by an Intel, Microsoft or Google.

“The motto here is not work hard but dream hard,” Mr. Kozlovski added. “I had some guy come see me the other day and say, ‘You know Google? They make a lot of money, very famous, right? They’re not that good. We have a much better system that correlates to the cognitive process of searching. Google is worth $50 billion? Probably we can match their numbers.’ He was dead serious.”

My guess is that the flatter the world becomes, the wider the economic gap we will see between those countries that empower individual imagination and those that don’t. High oil prices can temporarily disguise that gap, but it’s growing.

Iran’s ignorant president, who keeps babbling about how Israel is going to disappear, ought to pay a visit to Ben Gurion and see these rooms buzzing with student innovators, with projects called “Integration Points for IP Multimedia Subsystems” and “Algorithms for Obstacle Detection and Avoidance.” These are oil wells that don’t run dry.



Harvard legal expert vows to sue lecturers boycotting Israel
By Jon Boone
The Financial Times
June 2, 2007,dwp_uuid=34c8a8a6-2f7b-11da-8b51-00000e2511c8,print=yes.html

A top American lawyer has threatened to wage a legal war against British academics who seek to cut links with Israeli universities.

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor renowned for his staunch defence of Israel and high-profile legal victories, including his role in the O.J. Simpson trial, vowed to “devastate and bankrupt” lecturers who supported such boycotts.

This week’s annual conference of Britain’s biggest lecturers’ union, the University and College Union, backed a motion damning the “complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation [of Palestinian land]”.

It also obliged the union’s executive to encourage members to “consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions”.

Prof Dershowitz said he had started work on legal moves to fight any boycott.

He told the Times Higher Educational Supplement that these would include using a US law – banning discrimination on the basis of nationality – against UK universities with research ties to US colleges. US academics might also be urged to accept honorary posts at Israeli colleges in order to become boycott targets.

“I will obtain legislation dealing with this issue, imposing sanctions that will devastate and bankrupt those who seek to impose bankruptcy on Israeli academics,” he told the journal.

Sue Blackwell, a UCU activist and member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, said: “This is the typical response of the Israeli lobby which will do anything to avoid debating the real issue – the 40-year occupation of Palestine.” Jewish groups have attacked the UCU vote, which was opposed by Sally Hunt, its general secretary.



Shame on the left and its vicious hatred of Israel
By Leo McKinstry
The Daily Express
May 31, 2007

Anti-racism is supposed to be one of the guiding principles of our society, preventing discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin or nationality.

Yet it is a bizarre paradox of modern Britain that there is now a climate of increasing hostility towards Jews, particularly in those Left-wing intellectual circles which otherwise make a fetish of their concern for racial sensitivities.

Dressed up as criticism of the state of Israel, anti-Semitism is becoming not just tolerated but even fashionable in some of our civic institutions, including the universities and parts of the media.

Thanks to the Left’s neurotic hatred of Israel, we now have the extraordinary sight of self-styled liberal campaigners launching McCarthyite witch-hunts against anyone deemed to have Israeli connections, as in this week’s debate at the University and College Union’s annual conference at Bournemouth calling for a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.

Respect for democracy, individual rights and freedom of speech are being crushed beneath the juggernaut of shrill indignation.

What is particularly disturbing is the way opposition to the Jewish state descends into vicious antagonism against Jews themselves, as shown by this sickening recent outburst from writer Pamela Hardyment, a member of the National Union of Journalists, which in April voted to boycott Israeli goods.

Explaining her support for the NUJ’s stance, Ms Hardyment described Israel as “a wonderful Nazi-like killing machine backed by the world’s richest Jews”.

Then, like some lunatic from the far-Right, she referred to the “so-called Holocaust” before concluding: “Shame on all Jews, may your lives be cursed.”

Such words could have come straight from Hitler or the most fervent supporter of Osama Bin Laden.

But Ms Hardyment is hardly unique.

This sort of seething resentment can be found throughout the Left, whether in demands that Israel be treated as a Typical of this pariah state or in connivance at anti-Semitic propaganda. approach was the opinion of Ulster poet and darling of the BBC Tom Paulin, who once argued that “Jewish settlers in Israel They are Nazis, should be shot dead. I feel nothing but hatred for them.”

Yet Paulin would no doubt be outraged if some English extremist uttered the same sentiments about radical Muslims settling in Britain.

One of the most nauseating rhetorical devices used by hysterical campaigners such as Paulin and Hardyment is to draw an analogy between the Nazi regime and the modern government of Israel.

Such a link is not only historically absurd, since Israel is by far the most democratic and liberal country in the Middle East, but it is also offensive because it demonises the Jews and devalues the horror of the Holocaust.

The pretence that Israel’s actions in its own defence against Islamic terrorists are somehow the equivalent of Nazi Germany’s gas chambers is a lie worthy of Dr Goebbels himself. And the tragedy is that this continual assault on Israel has led to a rise in anti-Semitism in Britain, much of it fuelled by Islamic radicals.

In 2006 there were 594 anti-Semitic race-hate incidents in this country, a 31 per cent rise on 2005 and the highest total since records began in 1984.

I should perhaps stress that I do not come from a Jewish Like Tom Paulin, I hail from the family. Belfast middle-class. But I have been repelled by the anti-Semitism – disguised as support for the Palestinians – of parts of the British Left.

I first became aware of this nasty phenomenon when, in 1985, I attended the annual conference of the National Union of Students at Blackpool. There I was appalled to hear delegates calling for a ban on student Jewish societies, on the grounds that because such groups supported the state of Israel they were essentially fascistic in nature.

Yet, more than 20 years later, this sort of intolerance is no longer confined to the student debating floor. It now exists in large swathes of education, the press and the arts.

The boycott of Israel by academics was started by Professor Stephen Rose of the Open University, like Paulin another BBC favourite, who told his colleagues that “you have no right to treat Israel as if it were a normal state”.

The boycott is now so widespread that, in one grotesque incident, an Israeli PhD student had his application for Oxford initially rejected purely because he had served in his country’s army.

The professor dealing with the case, Andrew Wilkie, said he had “a huge problem with Israelis taking the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust and then inflicting gross human rights abuses on Palestinians”.

Professor Wilkie would not have dreamt of turning down a Zimbabwean because of Mugabe’s tyranny, or a Chinese applicant because of his own opposition to the occupation of Tibet.

This is what is so contemptible about the intellectuals’ fixation with Israel.

They are guilty of the most bizarre double standards.

While they scream about the Jewish state, they remain silent about human rights abuses carried out by brutal regimes across the world.

And it is ironic that, on the day the lecturers debated a boycott of Israel, they also voted to refuse to co-operate with any attempt to crack down on radical Islam on campuses, claiming such a move would be an infringement of free speech.

Given some of the lecturers’ enthusiasm for silencing Israeli opinion such a position is laughable in its hypocrisy.

United by anti-Semitism, the bigots of the academic Left and Muslim fundamentalism are destroying freedom of thought in this country.



A letter to the British academic
Yair Lapid responds to UK academics’ criticism, reminding them he might pay for the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints with his life
Yediot Ahronot
June 12, 2007,7340,L-3411227,00.html

It was with great interest I read of the British University and College Union’s call for an academic boycott of Israel. I was glad to discover that the association has not yet made a final decision as to how best to boycott us. Their highnesses are still pondering the decision. The blue-gray smoke wafts from their pipes, their foreheads wrinkle, a watch on their wrist sits underneath the sleeve of a Harris Tweed jacket with its leather elbow patch. Maybe they say to themselves, perhaps we’ll boycott them immediately or maybe we’ll wait a bit.

No reason to be hasty, these sweaty baby-makers somewhere in the Middle East, won’t stop killing each other in the near future. In the meantime let’s have another pint and study the rare 18th-century manuscript that we found in the library.

We Israelis know that the decision has a comic side to it. Our academic institutions have always been the fortresses of the radical left, opposed to the occupation with all its heart. We sort of suspected that the Brits don’t really get what is going on here but this is the kind of ignorance that elicits the same kind of wicked laughter from students who catch their teacher making a mistake.

And yet maybe it is me who is making a mistake? Maybe I am too easily ridiculing the opinions of people who care, who are innocently trying to make the world a better place? For every human group that has adopted a lofty cause, there are always the cynics like me who believe that these idealists don’t understand the real world.

Those who opposed apartheid were told that the struggle against international communism was more important, environmentalists were called ‘tree huggers,’ and Tony Blair was told repeatedly that the struggle in Northern Ireland would never end. It is possible that instead of ranting and raving, getting angry, feeling insulted and canceling plans to travel to London to see some theatre in the West End, it is worthwhile to try and help the honorable lecturers in their deliberations. Perhaps this is immodest of me but I believe there is one small thing I can add: I don’t want to die!

While it may be true that the humane thing is to remove the roadblocks and checkpoints, to stop the occupation immediately, to enable the Palestinians freedom of movement in the territories, to tear down the bloody inhumane wall, to promise them the basic rights ensured to every individual. It’s just that I will end up paying for this with my life. Petty of me perhaps to dwell on this point. After all, how important is my life when compared to the chance for peace, justice and equal rights. But still, call me a weakling; call me thickheaded – I don’t want to die.

Make no mistake. Should we do what the honorable British lecturers are demanding, I will die. Maybe not immediately but the waiting won’t be fun. It will take two or three months until my death (don’t worry; it won’t take longer than that). I will always ask myself how I am going to be killed. Will a Katyusha fall on my home burying me in the ruins? Will a suicide bomber explode his charge at the mall as I am buying my small daughter a pair of new shoes? Will someone run pass me with an axe on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv and slice off my head? Or maybe a sniper will take me down on my way to pick up my son from school? If I could choose I would prefer the last option. It seems the most painless. At the very least, my wife will pick up our son a little late and explain to him that his father is dead. Unfortunately I don’t really have the choice of how I am to die, and the curiosity, if you’ll pardon the pun, is killing me.

However, in contrast to me and my ridiculous insistence on staying alive, academics – certainly those lecturers who wander the hallowed, silent halls of the distinguished English university – know how to look at the big picture. From the historic vantage point, my death is really marginal compared to the major effort to end what they are calling “Israeli apartheid”. Their use of this phrase concerns me a tad. Is it possible that even lecturers sometimes miss the lecture? Apartheid? Why apartheid?

The oppression causing the occupation (and yes the opposite is also true) is not there to turn the Palestinians into slaves. We never sent them to look for diamonds in our mines; to pick cotton in our fields or force them to use public toilets reserved for ‘Arabs Only.’ The separation between Israelis and Palestinians has nothing to do with race, creed or color. In fact, Israel is one of the only countries in the world that has banned racist politicians from being elected to the Knesset. Some 20 percent of the population is Arab – they will tell you that no one has ever dared to demand that they sit at the back of the bus.

The only thing that concerns us is that the bus won’t explode and yes my daughter travels on it to her gymnastics class twice a week. Promise this to us, and see how quickly the checkpoints come down and the wall crumbles. Promise us this and see how Israel rallies to help the Palestinians establish a state, to save their economy, to aid them in their most important war: the fight against poverty, ignorance, and Islamic messianic fundamentalism. This is all I ask of the Brits; not money, service or even friendship. Just understand the annoying fact that I don’t want to die.

I am aware of the argument that the occupation is the root of all this horrible violence. It’s just that this is an argument, well, how shall I say it – okay, academic. After all, Arab terror started long before we occupied even one piece of this land. Every major wave of Palestinian terror came as the chances of a peace treaty came closer. It was the situation when there was the wave of terror bombings on public busses in the “Black March” of 1996, which destroyed the prospects of the Oslo Agreement. This is how it was when the second intifada erupted as it did just after Ehud Barak proposed giving up nearly all the occupied territories including part of Jerusalem. That is the way it is now with the wave of Qassam rocket attacks in the wake of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza strip.

I still believe in peace. I am interested in the occupied territories, the bloodshed and cruelty. I believe in peace as I have all my life and I know that a price will have to be paid to achieve it. All I am asking for in the meantime is a fair chance to still be alive when it comes.

Gaza slips towards civil war (& Shimon Peres elected Israeli president)

June 13, 2007


1. Civil war in Gaza
2. Human Rights Watch accuses both Fatah and Hamas of “war crimes”
3. Rantissi targeted
4. UN workers killed
5. European Union resumes aid
6. President Shimon Peres

[Note by Tom Gross]


Since Monday’s dispatch, titled “The Doctor was blindfolded, handcuffed, shot six times and then tossed into the street,” the international media have started reporting on the renewed savagery in Gaza, some days after it began.

However, most media are continuing to fail to report in anything like the detail they would were Israel involved.


Among the violence since Monday’s dispatch:

* Over 60 Palestinians have been reported killed in Gaza. The true numbers are likely to be much higher because access to medical workers and journalists is severely limited in many parts of Gaza.

* For the first time in several weeks, the fighting has spread to the West Bank: Fatah gunmen attacked a Hamas television studio in Ramallah and kidnapped a Hamas deputy cabinet minister from the city. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at a Hamas school in Ramallah. No one was injured. In the last hour Fatah kidnapped Hamas members in Nablus after a shootout.

* The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has accused both Fatah and Hamas of “war crimes,” following summary executions inside hospitals.

* Three Palestinians were shot dead in Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza. These include Fatah leader Jamal Abu al-Jedian who was shot 41 times in his hospital bed.

* At Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa in Gaza City, combatants fired mortars, grenades and assault rifles.

* Executions, kneecappings and tossing handcuffed prisoners off tall apartment towers have continued.

* A gunbattle in the town of Khan Yunis led to fifteen children, attending a kindergarten in the line of fire, being taken to hospital.


* In a bloody battle, hundreds of Hamas gunmen, firing rockets and mortar shells, have captured Fatah’s national security headquarters in northern Gaza.

* Fatah fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas.

* Hamas have fired mortar shells at the Gaza presidential office compound of Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah. (Abbas himself is presently in the West Bank.)

* Fatah militants abducted and killed the nephew of Abdel Aziz Rantissi, the Hamas leader assassinated by Israel in April 2004.

* Hamas gunmen attacked the home of a Fatah security official with mortars and grenades, and not finding him at home, instead executed his 14-year-old son and three women inside.

* Fatah gunmen stormed the house of a Hamas lawmaker and burned it down.

* Hamas yesterday seized control of a Fatah munitions storeroom and seized two million bullets belonging to Fatah.


* Fierce battles have spread today to central Gaza, with Hamas trying to seize control of the coastal strip’s main north-south road and cut off Fatah’s supply lines.

* Hamas leaders issued a statement blaming the Gaza fighting on President Mahmoud Abbas, saying his security forces were “corrupt and riddled with criminals.”

* Abbas claimed the “madness” was being orchestrated by Hamas’ exiled leader, Khaled Meshal, who lives under the protection of the Assad regime in Damascus.

* Two Palestinians who worked for a UN agency in Gaza have been executed, a UN spokesman said.

* AP reports that both sides have been arming themselves by smuggling weapons through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, tunnels which westerners such as Rachel Corrie did so much to protect.

* Arab press commentators write today that no one will ever trust Hamas or Fatah again when they say they will abide by a ceasefire.


* Even though numerically less, Hamas appears to be winning. Fatah commanders have complained that they have no central command. Fatah’s strongman in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, has spent the last few weeks in Cairo for treatment of a knee injury. Other leading Fatah officials have fled to the West Bank.

* The U.S. State Department has advised journalists not to travel to Gaza and urged U.S. journalists there to leave. Sources tell me that despite this, several Western journalists had entered Gaza in recent days and are now in hiding, for fear of being kidnapped.

* Hamas’ website has accused Fatah of executing an Imam, Sheik Mohammed Al Rafati, in a mosque and say they will “burn” Fatah men in revenge.

* Many houses have been torched in western Gaza City.

* And in Lebanon, two Red Cross Workers were killed and a third wounded by Islamic militants at the Nahr Al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp.

* And most amazingly of all, in the midst of the fighting on Monday afternoon, the European Union announced it was resuming aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian ministry of finance (just in time for Hamas to stock up on weapons).

* Wondering how a whole generation of young men came to be so proficient with firearms? See this webpage prepared several years ago: Arafat’s Education System.

* This cartoon is over a year old, but it could represent the “two state solution” which will exist a few days from now.



In other news, just hours after writing about the world’s oldest hit pop band, The Zimmers, and their debut song, “My Generation,” 83-year-old Shimon Peres has been elected Israel’s new president.

He will assume office on July 15, just before he celebrates his 84th birthday, so he will be about to turn 91 when his seven-year term ends.

Peres is the elder statesman of Israeli politics and his wisdom and experience will be a welcome relief to Israelis, whose scandal-riven government is the most unpopular ever.

Peres, a former Israeli prime minister, defense minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Belarus. His first cousin is the Hollywood screen goddess Lauren Bacall, whose original surname, like Peres’ original name, is Persky.

Peres has been at the forefront of Israeli politics for almost 50 years. He was a senior aide to Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and was elected to parliament in 1959. Although the post of president is largely ceremonial, many Israelis are hoping Peres will play a role in ensuring better governance in Israel.

While Peres is highly thought of around the world, in Israel – until now at any rate – he has been considered a serial loser. This morning’s front page of Israel’s popular daily Ma’ariv was bordered by individual portraits of Peres detailing each one of his previous eight electoral defeats ranging back to the 1970s.

Another former Labor party prime minister, Ehud Barak, narrowly won the race to regain the leadership of the Labor Party yesterday, making it likely he will become Israel’s next defense minister in the government of Ehud Olmert. Barak had absented himself from politics after his term as prime minister, from 1999 to 2001, ended in failure.

-- Tom Gross

My Generation


Because this website so often contains very serious, depressing stories, I occasionally send items of light relief.

Here is the latest pop sensation, the Zimmers, who released their first single on May 28. The grandfather of a friend of mine in London is in the band -- a band which has a combined age of over 3000 (in other words even more than the Rolling Stones).

Their debut song, is great and heading to number 1! Watch it for some fun...

The lead singer is 90-years-old, the lead guitarist is 83, and the backing chorus include pensioners aged 99 and 100.

They are planning a world tour next year.

The Zimmers’ “My Generation” was recorded at the legendary studio two at Abbey Road, London, where the Beatles recorded many of their hits.

For previous videos and items of light relief on this list, see here.

-- Tom Gross

The Doctor was blindfolded, handcuffed, shot six times and then tossed into the street

June 11, 2007

* In another especially horrific incident this weekend, Hamas kidnapped Mohammed Sweirki, 25, took him to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building and threw him off

* In revenge, a Hamas activist was thrown off the 12th floor of a building and killed last night. Four other Hamas men in the building were shot

* This dispatch contains news from non-occupied Gaza that most of the western media are refusing to print, even though – to their credit – both Reuters and The Associated Press have been sending it out prominently on their main international news wires to which almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes

* In spite of its prominence on the news wires, none of this was mentioned in international newspapers today such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, not even in passing or in their short one-paragraph news briefs. Western media such as the BBC are too busy defaming Israel to notice what is happening in Gaza and Lebanon



1. Medics in Gaza protest kidnapping and shooting of doctor
2. Taken to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building, and thrown off
3. Palestinians “yearn for a return to the Israeli occupation”
4. Gaza: The unreported kidnap victims
5. Palestinian journalists angry at use of “TV” vehicle in attack
6. Lebanon camp battle enters 4th week, death toll rises
7. Hamas doubles its warhead size
8. Islamic group in Gaza threatens to kill women appearing on TV
9. “Gaza hospital on strike after violence” (AP, June 9, 2007)
10. “Palestinians say fed up with gunmen” (By Wafa Amr, Reuters, June 7, 2007)
11. “Palestinian journalists slam use of ‘TV’ vehicle in Gaza attack” (Reuters, June 10, 2007)
12. “Poll: Most Palestinians depressed by violence” (Washington Times, June 10, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


The thousands of people who marched against Israel in Europe over the weekend – and in Washington, D.C. yesterday – seem barely to have noticed what the Palestinians have been up to since Israel withdrew from “occupied Gaza” almost two years ago. This is largely because the western media have not been reporting properly on the situation, even though the news has been sent out prominently by Reuters and The Associated Press, agencies to which almost every major news outlet in the world subscribe, and it is certainly gruesome enough to report.

For example, The Associated Press reported that “Medics at a northern Gaza Strip hospital walked off their jobs for a few hours Saturday to protest the kidnapping and shooting of a doctor by Palestinian militants... Dr. Fayez al-Barrawi, a known Hamas supporter, was blindfolded, handcuffed and shot six times in the legs, including a kneecap, and then tossed on the street. Hamas has said Fatah militants were behind the kidnapping.”

The AP article, which is attached below in full, continues: “Al-Barrawi worked at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Hamas and Fatah supporters have been kidnapped in recent months by rival gunmen. The treatment of the hostages, who are usually released after a few hours, has become increasingly harsh, and captives are often shot in the legs... Militants have also used hospital rooftops and grounds as firing points, prompting their rivals to fire upon hospitals, threatening staff and patients.”


In another story, The Associated Press reported yesterday: “In an especially grisly incident Sunday, Hamas militants kidnapped an officer in a Fatah-linked security force, took him to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building and threw him off. Mohammed Sweirki, 25, from the guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, was killed in the plunge...”

“And just before midnight, a Hamas activist was thrown off the 12th floor of a building and killed, security officials said. Four other Hamas men in the building were shot and wounded.”


Meantime, at Reuters, even Wafa Amr, their infamous Chief Palestinian Correspondent, has quoted a Palestinian legislator who says that Palestinians are “so fed up with the armed groups ‘they now wish the Israeli occupation would take [back] over in Gaza or hope for the return of Jordanian rule in the West Bank’ to get rid of them.” (The full Reuters article is attached below.)

Last week, a leading Palestinian rights group reported that in recent months an estimated 620 Palestinians (including many civilians) have been killed by Hamas or Fatah and thousands injured – often deliberately by knee-capping and other such crimes.

This morning, gunmen opened fire at the Palestinian government building during a cabinet meeting, forcing ministers (including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh) to flee the premises.

In the last full article below, the Washington Times reports that “More than nine in 10 Palestinians show signs of depression caused by despair over violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen and the apparent demise of the Palestinian unity government, according to a West Bank pollster. Jamil Rabah, the director of Ramallah-based Near East Consulting, said he found that 92 percent of Palestinian survey respondents suffer from depression-related anxiety.”

Does anyone plan a march in London and Washington to demand that Hamas and Fatah (which together make up the Palestinian “national unity” government) actually govern under democratic norms?


Instead western news media like the BBC have reached new depths in their historical revisionism in recent days. With the BBC’s absolute skewering of the truth and ugly tone about Israel and Israelis (most recently in its reporting on the Six-Day War), it is not surprising that anti-Semitism has increased in Britain more than in almost any other country in the west in recent years.

Additionally, dozens of people have been kidnapped in Gaza, but the BBC has barely mentioned them in its daily reports about its kidnapped Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston.

For example, a group of 15 armed men burst into the ministry of finance in the center of Gaza City and abducted the general director, Hashim Abu Nada, but the western media didn’t report it. (Abu Nada is former general director of Yasser Arafat’s office, and the administrator of hundreds of millions of dollars of western aid.)

In its world news bulletin a few minutes ago, for example, BBC World radio again mentioned that Johnston had been kidnapped but didn’t mention the gun attack on the Palestinian cabinet meeting today.


The Palestinian journalists’ union yesterday criticized militants for using a vehicle marked with a “TV” sign to enter Israel on Saturday and attempt to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

“The use of vehicles that carry ‘Press’, ‘TV’ or other signs... expose journalists’ lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties,” the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate said.

The Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association said in a statement the use of a vehicle marked with TV insignia represented “abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist” and was “a grave development.” (Full article below.)

Neither organization bothered to condemn the attempt to kidnap Israelis, only the misuse of press credentials.


Fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamic militants in north Lebanon has entered its fourth week. Dozens of Palestinian civilians at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, where the militants are based, have been killed. It is Lebanon’s worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The Lebanese army has refused to allow Red Cross ambulances in to treat the injured civilians, some of whom are lying bleeding to death in the street, according to Reuters. Can you imagine the outcry at the UN, Arab League, European Union, human rights groups and in the international media if Israel had behaved this way?


The ruling Hamas movement has doubled the size of the warhead of its Qassam-class, short-range missile, security sources say. They said the conventional explosive warhead was increased from three to six kilograms: “The new warheads are clearly more lethal, and kill or maim people in a larger radius.” Hundreds of missiles have been fired from Gaza into Israel in recent months, killing and injuring Israeli civilians.

Separately, Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced on Wednesday that it had “improved” rockets that had sufficient range to hit strategic targets inside Israel. In a statement issued by the group’s al-Quds Brigades, it was claimed that the new weapons, based on the Russian Grad-type rocket, contain more explosives and have greater range.


The Righteous Swords of Islam, a radical Islamic group in Gaza, issued a death threat last weekend against Palestinian women working for the Palestinian Authority’s official television station. The group accused the women of dressing immodestly and behaving in a way that violates the teachings of Islam.

They distributed a leaflet referring to the women who appear on Palestinian TV, “The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals... It’s indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing between each other to display their charms.”

The leaflet concluded by threatening to “slaughter” the women for supposedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society.

Members of this group have been known to splash acid in the face of a number of young women accused of “immoral behavior.” The Righteous Swords of Islam had previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Internet cafes in the Gaza Strip over the past year.

The threats against the female journalists and employees are very serious, but groups like Britain’s 40,000-member National Union of Journalists are too busy boycotting Israel to notice.

-- Tom Gross



Gaza hospital on strike after violence
The Associated Press
June 9, 2007

Medics at a northern Gaza Strip hospital walked off their jobs for a few hours Saturday to protest the kidnapping and shooting of a doctor by Palestinian militants, the first physician targeted in months of deadly infighting.

Dr. Fayez al-Barrawi, a known Hamas supporter, was blindfolded, handcuffed and shot six times in the legs, including a kneecap, and then tossed on the street Thursday. Hamas has said Fatah militants were behind the kidnapping.

Al-Barrawi worked at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel.

Hundreds of Hamas and Fatah supporters have been kidnapped in recent months by rival gunmen. The treatment of the hostages, who are usually released after a few hours, has become increasingly harsh, and captives are often shot in the legs.

It is the first time a doctor was seized. However, militants often fire on paramedics and ambulances during gunbattles.

“We strongly condemn that medical officials should be the victims of security chaos,” said hospital director Jamil Suleiman, in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

Scores of doctors and medics later marched to the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, demanding that the attackers be brought to justice. However, none of those involved in internal fighting were ever put on trial.

Medical institutions are often unwilling parties to the conflict. Hospitals in areas of militant strongholds often only treat parties from one side of the conflict, to ensure tensions do not break out in the hospital itself.

Militants have also used hospital rooftops and grounds as firing points, prompting their rivals to fire upon hospitals, threatening staff and patients.



Palestinians say fed up with gunmen
By Wafa Amr
June 7, 2007

For most Palestinians, black-hooded gunmen have long been respected symbols of resistance against Israeli occupation.

Now, frequent internal fighting and lawlessness gripping the Palestinian territories have transformed the militants into no more than gangsters in the eyes of many of those who once saw them as heroes.

“It’s very ironic but I’m relieved the Israelis have started a bombing campaign. The gunmen killing each other on the streets were forced to go into hiding,” said Mai, a Gaza housewife, referring to strikes aimed at halting rocket attacks on Israel.

Reflecting mounting public concern over recent fighting between Islamist group Hamas and his Fatah faction that killed some 50 people, President Mahmoud Abbas said this week Palestinians were on the verge of civil war.

The threat posed by internal bloodshed, he said, rivaled the dangers presented by Israeli occupation.

Gunmen, who once battled Israeli soldiers in the alleyways of towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, have turned against each other in an on-going power struggle between Hamas and Fatah – partners in a unity government.

Some of the militias formed by Fatah and Hamas are no longer controlled by their political leaderships and owe loyalties to clans or criminal gangs that enforce their own rules.

“Many of these groups are now a burden on society. They were created to fill a security vacuum under the pretext of national resistance, said legislator Nasser Jum’a, once a leading member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

“They then blackmailed people, attacked them and confiscated their freedoms as the weak official security forces failed to punish them,” he said.


Jum’a said ordinary Palestinians were so fed up with the armed groups “they now wish the Israeli occupation would take over in Gaza or hope for the return of Jordanian rule in the West Bank” to get rid of them.

In one recent incident in the West Bank city of Nablus, gunmen told shopkeepers to close their businesses as a sign of solidarity with a Fatah leader arrested the day before in an Israeli raid.

The gunmen shot in the air, stole a bulldozer from the Nablus municipality and closed the main road with mounds of sand, dividing the city in the same way Israeli forces had during their operation.

For the first time in the city, a bastion for militants, most of the shop owners refused to close down.

“These people have caused us a lot of suffering and are not involved in national resistance,” said Najah al-Jabaji, who works in an advertising agency in Nablus.

But while sentiments seem to have turned against the militants, Israeli raids to detain them elicit strong public condemnation among Palestinians, who have long demanded the release of those held in Israeli jails.

Gunmen spearheaded a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and gained strength when Israeli military operations effectively destroyed the infrastructure of the official security services, some of whose members also belonged to militant groups.

The power vacuum was filled by militias loyal to a variety of political factions and rivalries spiraled into bloodshed after Hamas trounced Fatah in a January 2006 election.

More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since the vote, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights says, a figure approaching the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period.

In a poll conducted by the Palestinian independent pollster NearEast Consulting in the West Bank and Gaza in May, 70 percent of those surveyed said they feel more insecure since Hamas came to power last year.

The poll, which coincided with a surge in internal fighting, also found 92 percent of respondents described themselves as depressed or very depressed, up from 22 percent in April.

“The internal crisis in the occupied territories was the main issue that made Palestinians feel depressed in May. It can also be noted that the problem of the Israeli occupation took a back stage in May,” commentary accompanying the poll said.

“The message is that people are tired of inter-Palestinian fighting. They are fed up with both Fatah and Hamas, and all they want is to live in security before any thought of fighting Israel,” Palestinian analyst Bassem Izbedi told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Atef Sa’ad in Nablus and Said Ayyad in Bethlehem)



Palestinian journalists slam use of ‘TV’ vehicle in Gaza attack
June 10, 2007

The Palestinian journalists’ union criticized militants Sunday for using a vehicle marked with a “TV” sign to approach Gaza’s frontier border with Israel and attempt to kidnap an Israel Defense Forces soldier from a position across the border.

“The use of vehicles that carry ‘Press’, ‘TV’ or other signs... expose journalists’ lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties,” the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate said.

“We stress our rejection of the use of media vehicles and the involvement of the press in any existing conflict, and we demand all parties stop using these methods,” said the group, the sole journalists’ union in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

News photographs showed the white armored vehicle, with “TV” in red letters on the front, at Kissufim Crossing after the attack, bullet holes in its windshield.

The Israel-based Foreign Press Association said in a statement the use of a vehicle marked with TV insignia represented “abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist” and was “a grave development.”

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in broadcast remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, said Sunday that the attackers used “a vehicle marked ‘TV’ in order to fool Israeli soldiers.”

He said the gunmen had tried “to take advantage of the special sensitivity that we have in a democratic country such as ours, to the right of the media to operate freely and independently in security-sensitive areas.”

Abu Ahmed, spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, accused the IDF of fixing the TV sign to the armored car.



Poll: Most Palestinians depressed by violence
By Joshua Mitnick
The Washington Times
June 10, 2007

More than nine in 10 Palestinians show signs of depression caused by despair over violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen and the apparent demise of the Palestinian unity government, according to a West Bank pollster.

Jamil Rabah, the director of Ramallah-based Near East Consulting, said he found that 92 percent of Palestinian survey respondents suffer from depression-related anxiety, a jump of 15 percent compared with a poll in October and more than double the level from November 2005.

“The higher the level of depression, or discontent, the higher this score comes out, the higher the social fragmentation of society,” Mr. Rabah said.

Mr. Rabah said he built a depression index with questions used by the World Health Organization to study the Balkans.

The group polled 801 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem for the latest survey, which has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

The poll was taken last month, following a deadly flare-up between Hamas and Fatah gunmen that left dozens dead in Gaza and laid bare a dysfunctional unity government. The unrest cuts across region, political affiliation and social class, according to the poll findings.

Analysts fear the growing despair will cause more grass-roots Palestinians to be drawn into an internecine conflict, which has been largely limited to militias from rival parties and families. Other reactions include rising support for radical Islamic militant groups as well as increasing waves of emigration.

“There’s a high level of frustration. It’s getting dangerous. There isn’t any value to life,” said Ibrahim Habib, field-work coordinator for the Israeli chapter of Physicians for Human Rights. “A lot of people feel the [Palestinian] Authority is irrelevant.”

Cairo Arafat, a psychologist and an official in the Palestinian Planning Ministry, said that, though the survey doesn’t address levels of clinical depression among Palestinians, it indicates an erosion of Palestinians’coping mechanisms developed over seven years of daily clashes with the Israeli army.

In addition to the internal fighting, Palestinians are hemmed in by Israeli restrictions on their movement, as well as an international aid boycott of the government.

The government is divided, with the presidency controlled by the secular Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, forswear violence and recognize peace accords.

“We’ve never [before] been a society where we’ve had any type of significant internal struggles,” Miss Arafat said. “Internal violence with the continuing levels of poverty and unemployment was a significant marker for many people that the situation was deteriorating further.”

Palestinians have become more critical of their leaders because of the chronic lack of security, but they also blame the international community for supporting parliamentary elections in 2006 and then turning their backs on the democratically elected Hamas government.

Though they realize the current Hamas-Fatah government is a failure, there’s little confidence that a new election will produce a more stable result.

“There’s a better diagnosis of the problem, but there’s no clear solution,” she said. “We’ve tried this, and we’ve tried that, and it’s not working. When you get in a position of not knowing what to do, it creates a situation of helplessness.”

Palestinians see the infighting as a significant blow to their decades of struggle for a sovereign state.

In Gaza, where the lawlessness is most acute, that situation has provided fertile ground for Islamic militants who are more radical than Hamas to lay down roots.

“The depression will move in more than one direction,” said Iyad Barghouti, a scholar who studies Islamic movements. “We will witness a multiplication of radical and fundamentalist groups.”

Six days of war: the media’s idea of balance

June 07, 2007

* This is the second of two dispatches to mark this week’s 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War. This dispatch concentrates on the recent media coverage of the anniversary.

(The first dispatch, which dealt with events leading up to the war, some new analysis of why the war started, and some lessons from the fighting, can be read here. Thank you to The Spectator magazine’s Clive Davis for recommending the first dispatch.)



1. Tiny democratic Israel gets more criticism than large dictatorial Russia
2. “We were all crying. It seemed like a miracle.”
3. European Union “funding anti-Israeli events for war’s anniversary”
4. Arab media more critical of Arab regimes than anti-Israel media in the west
5. Oxford University’s idea of balance
6. The Economist calls Six-Day War the “wasted victory”
7. Der Spiegel labels Six-Day War “Israel’s alleged victory”
8. “John Pilger is the kind of humanist who doesn’t much care for Jews”
9. The view from 1968
10. “The issue then is largely the same as it is today”
11. “They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.”
12. The forgotten refugees
13. “The Economist is wrong” (Yediot Ahronot, May 27, 2007)
14. “U.K.-based humanists who don’t care for Jews” (Ha’aretz, May 29, 2007)
15. “Israel’s peculiar position” (Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1968)
16. “The heavy burden of victory” (Jewish Exponent, May 31, 2007)
17. “A classic case of ‘Battered Nation Syndrome’” (Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


There are massive anti-Israel rallies planned around the world for this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War (and small pro-Israel counter-rallies planned in London on Saturday and in Washington DC on Sunday).

The anti-Israel rallies are likely to generate much media coverage – after all the BBC alone is running dozens of reports each day, on radio and TV, for the entire six days of the anniversary of the war. Many of the reports are replete with inaccuracies (“It was the 1967 war that exposed Israel to what Israel calls terror attacks”; “Some are saying that Israel should start handing back the 1967 territories”; “Israel still occupies most of the Arab lands won in 1967”; “What some see as the liberation of Jerusalem is celebrated only among right-wing Israelis”. The BBC apparently has forgotten that Israel was subjected to thousands of terror attacks in the 1950s and 60s, that it has withdrawn from Sinai and Gaza, and so on.)

When I met with Gary Kasparov this week in Prague – a fascinating, articulate and extremely brave man (considering the KGB’s propensity for using poisons) – he told me how disappointed he was that the pro-democracy rallies he is co-organizing this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg were likely to gain only a fraction of the international media coverage that the anti-Israel rallies being held elsewhere would get.

(Kasparov may well stand for president of Russia next year against the anti-democratic candidate Putin is likely to put up. Kasparov – regarded as the greatest chess player the world has ever known – was in Prague for a pro-democracy conference organized by former political prisoners Natan Sharansky and Vaclav Havel, and attended by dozens of dissidents from the Arab world and elsewhere. For more, see here.)


Amid the many anti-Israeli reports in the western media this week, few journalists have pointed out that in 1967 Israel genuinely faced a threat of annihilation, barely two decades after the Holocaust had ended. As David Rubinger, the Israeli photographer who took the most famous pictures of the war, of IDF paratroopers capturing the Western Wall, said at the time:

“We were all crying. It wasn’t religious weeping. It was relief. We had felt doomed, sentenced to death. Then someone took off the noose and said you’re not just free, you’re king. It seemed like a miracle.”


The reliable group NGO Monitor has revealed that the European Union has funded much of the anti-Israel events being held by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to coincide with the anniversary of the 1967 war

NGO Monitor says “one-sided view of events, repeating the Palestinian narrative and providing a distorted history of the war” are being propagated by the following NGOs funded (at least in part) by the European Union: “Machsom Watch, War on Want, ICAHD, Amnesty International, Sabeel, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Christian Aid.”

(For more, see here.)


Unlike the western media, some in the Arab press have been critical of the Arab dictatorships misuse of their defeat by Israel in 1967. Egyptian columnist Wael Abdel Fattah wrote in the independent weekly Al-Fagr that Arabs blame the defeat for “everything” – from “price hikes, dictatorship, religious extremism, sectarian strife, even sexual impotence.”

Jordanian columnist Faisal al Ref’ou also criticized the Arab world. “Our Arab nation didn’t learn from the history lesson,” he wrote in Al Rai, Jordan’s largest newspaper. “We’re still at square one. We still have the spear in our abdomen in Gaza, Baghdad, Darfur, and Mogadishu. And our executioners are the same – they hand us the knives and we stab ourselves.”


Following the decision last week by British academics to boycott Israelis, one of the UK’s most prestigious universities, Oxford, is demonstrating a BBC-like approach to “balance”.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war, it has chosen four panelists: two are Arabs and two are Jews, Oxford tells students in an effort to show balance.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the two Arab speakers on the panel (held at St Antony’s College in conjunction with the Middle East Center) are anti-Israel: Dr Laleh Khalili (author of Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine, published by Cambridge University Press) and Dr Karma Nabulsi (formerly PLO representative at the United Nations, Beirut and Tunis, and now a columnist for The Guardian).

But then the two Jewish speakers picked for the panel by Oxford in a pretense to show “balance” are even more anti-Israeli: Professor Avi Shlaim and Dr Brian Klug, both of whom devote much of their lives to undermining the state of Israel, calling for international boycotts and so on.

And just in case Oxford students – which judging by Oxford’s past record are likely to go on to senior positions in government in countries throughout the world – don’t get the message from the four speakers, the event begins with a screening of “The Iron Wall” by Mohammed Alatar. It is a film not known for its sympathetic approach to Israel.


Because it presents its case in a sharp, authoritative way (like the BBC), many people around the world tend to regard The Economist magazine (like the BBC) as somehow fair and accurate. Last week’s special feature in The Economist marking 40 years since the Six-Day War, headlined “Israel’s Wasted Victory,” said the victory had been “a calamity for the Jewish state.” The Economist forgot to tell readers that it had saved Israel from threats of annihilation at the hands of Egypt (a country 50 times Israel’s size) and other Arab regimes.

Sever Plocker, one of Israel’s leading columnists responds vigorously. Writing in Yediot Ahronot (his full article is attached below), Plocker says that “The Economist – which boasts a circulation of more than one million and whose readership comprises members of the world’s financial, political and cultural elites – is very wrong. For Israel, the victory of 1967 was not wasted. Israel’s population grew from 2.6 million to 7.1 million, 2 million of whom were new immigrants. The Gross National Product grew by 630 percent. Real per capita product, the benchmark for measuring economic development, grew by 163 percent and last year crossed the $21,000 mark. The average standard of living in Israel is only 22 percent lower than in Britain; on the eve of the Six Day War there was a 44 percent gap. And The Economist has often noted Israel’s information technology achievements.”

The Economist also claims that “the Arabs did not phone to sue for peace and Israel did not mind not hearing from them.” This is untrue. The Israelis, via Washington, phoned just ten days after the war’s end to offer land-for-peace. No Arab regimes returned the call. The silence from the Arab league lasted until September 1, 1967, when the Arab nations gathered in Khartoum collectively issued their three “no’s” to Israel – no peace, no recognition, and no negotiations.


Der Spiegel, the leading German-language news magazine, has described the Six-Day War as “Israel’s alleged victory in the six days war”.

Its article last week on the 1967 War begins: “Shootings in Gaza, fights in Lebanon: 40 years after the six-days-war it becomes clear that the Israeli triumph of 1967 was a Pyrrhic victory.”

Under a photo of the then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Der Spiegel placed the caption “Kriegsherr Dajan, Soldaten” (“War lord Dayan with soldiers”), which is perhaps a fair reflection of where they stand on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Bradley Burston, writing in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, also takes a look at the media coverage of the anniversary of the Six-Day War. Burston is particularly incensed by an article in the New Statesman by London-based Australian journalist John Pilger titled “Children of the Dust.”

Burston describes the article as “A political cartoon in the guise of factual exposition. It discusses with minute resolution and admirable compassion the effects of occupation and warfare on the children of Gaza, while writing off the post-traumatic stress of the blitz-plagued children of [the bombarded Israeli town] Sderot as the negligible, they-had-it-coming whining of the faceless offspring of callous brutes.”

Burston continues, “The problem goes beyond Jews, after all, because the Israeli people on Israeli soil who are in the line of Palestinian fire are both Jew and Arab, Semites all. The crux of the matter is this: To argue that attacks on civilians is justified, is to declare those civilians to be sub-human. John Pilger is the kind of humanist who doesn’t much care for Jews.”

What is also interesting is that such an article appeared in Ha’aretz. It seems that even the Israeli left is becoming tired of the anti-Semitism in some European media masquerading as anti-Zionism.

Pilger has won many journalist awards for his writings. For more on Pilger, I strongly recommend you read On Yom Kippur, British TV screens a particularly harsh attack on Israel (Sept. 18, 2002).


The third full article below, by Eric Hoffer, was published on May 26, 1968 in The Los Angeles Times. I attach it to show that many of the arguments remain as relevant today as they were 39 years ago.

Hoffer writes: “The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese – and no one says a word about refugees.

“But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world...” (Full article below.)


Jonathan Tobin in the fourth article below, writes about how “much of the coverage and commentaries about the topic seem to center on the same theme: How Israel’s historic triumph has become an intolerable burden that is itself the primary ‘obstacle’ to peace.”

Yet “had Israel been defeated, then the oft-repeated threats of extermination of both the State and her people by Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser and Palestinian leader Ahmed Shukairy, might well have been fulfilled.”

Tobin continues “The war’s anniversary ought to bring to mind the fact that the issue then is largely the same as it is today… what the war demonstrated to the world was that the Jewish re-entry into history that Zionism represented was not to be erased after a mere 19 years.”

“French writer Alexandre Dumas the elder wrote in 1854 that ‘nothing succeeds like success.’ But when it comes to the State of Israel, it appears that nothing seems to fail as abysmally as victory.”


Michael Freund in the fifth article below (from the Jerusalem Post) argues that “Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown in the sea.”

“Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did. We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us. They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.”

Freund’s article, titled “Battered Nation Syndrome,” is as much directed at left-wing Israelis who are constantly criticizing Israel, as external critics.


Amid the wealth of news coverage on Israel and the Palestinians this week, much has been made of the Arabs who became refugees in 1948 (and who were later referred to as Palestinians). There has been almost no mention of approximately the same number of Jews from Arab countries that became refugees.

Most Jews in Arab countries fled their homes after 1948. Most of the remainder were forced out during or soon after the 1967 war, when, in fury over their disastrous defeat, Arab regimes subjected their remaining Jewish populations to violent attack, resulting in the deaths and imprisonment of many Jews in Egypt and elsewhere. In contrast to the Arab refugees in Arab lands (many of whom remain second-class citizens until today), Israel has fully integrated Jewish refugees from Arab countries (and Iran) into Israeli society. They and their descendants now make up more than one-half of the country’s population, and include among their number the president and senior government officials.

These Jewish refugees have been completely ignored by the world’s media and the UN. Needless to say neither Israel nor the refugees themselves have received any compensation for losing their homes and other possessions.

Jews had lived in what are now Arab countries since Biblical times, many having been dispersed from ancient Israel after the Roman conquest. Since 1947, there have been more than 100 UN resolutions expressing concern over the Palestinian refugees. The UN has not once condemned the substantial injustices done to 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab states in the late 1940s and in 1967.

-- Tom Gross



The Economist is wrong
Six Day War had significant positive effects and is not a ‘wasted victory’ as The Economist argued
By Sever Plocker
Yediot Ahronot
May 27, 2007

“Israel’s Wasted Victory,” this is the headline of The Economist’s editorial marking 40 years since the Six Day War. The Economist boasts a circulation of more than one million copies and its readership comprises members of the world’s financial, political and cultural elites. The articles written by its authors (the majority of which go unsigned) are perceived as God’s words. “The Economist says” – is a ruling that goes unchallenged in many circles.

Nonetheless, in describing the Six Day War as a “Pyrrhic victory” and “a calamity for the Jewish state no less than for its neighbors,” The Economist is making a grave mistake. The Six Day War changed the course of history for the better, ensured Israel’s existence and convinced the Arabs to come to terms with it. Thanks to Israel’s full and shining victory, the rulers of the Arab states relinquished their vision of eliminating Israel, and by lack of choice engaged in dialogue based on the concept of “land for peace.”

In his book “The Six Day War,” historian Michael Oren wrote that events in the Middle East, which until 1967 only culminated ahead of the conflict, could have moved towards peace even after the war. He added that diplomatic breakthroughs considered unrealistic became almost commonplace after the war.

In November of that year, the UN Security Council passed resolution 242, which since then has constituted a cornerstone for every diplomatic effort in the region including the recent Saudi Initiative.

Resolution 242 called for “just and lasting peace” between Arabs and Jews; Israel endorsed it immediately. It took Egypt another decade to internalize 242 and to sign a peace agreement with Israel in exchange for return of the Sinai.

The maturation process took Jordan an additional 20 years. Syria announced its willingness to sign a full normalization agreement with Israel in January 2000. Here is therefore, a basic fact: Due to Israel’s military victory in June 1967, Israel was accepted by the Arab world as a legitimate “Jewish State” entitled to exist within peaceful borders, land that until then was deemed Zionist occupation.

Hubristic folly

Somehow, The Economist manages to ignore these developments and minimizes their significance. The editorial focuses on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel, wrote The Economist, “embarked on its hubristic folly of annexing the Arab half of Jerusalem and - in defiance of law, demography and common sense – planting Jewish settlements in all the occupied territories to secure a Greater Israel.” And “When, decades later, Egypt and Jordan did make peace with Israel, the Palestinians did not recover Gaza and the West Bank.”

The Palestinians did not recover Gaza and the West Bank? Until 1967, Gaza and the West Bank were territories administered by Egypt and Jordan. It may well be assumed that that the Jordanian regime would not have permitted Palestinian refugees, their children and grandchildren to realize their national sovereignty in Gaza and the West Bank and to establish the Palestinian state there.

As to criticism regarding Israel’s acts of annexation and settlement since 1967, large parts of the Israeli population share these sentiments, including the author of this article. Under the charismatic and destructive influence of Moshe Dayan, at the end of the Six Day War the government chose to prevent Palestinian autonomy, oppressed Palestinian rights and subjugated the Palestinian workforce to the interests of Israeli employers. This is indeed “hubristic folly.”

But is it only ours? The “Land for Peace” movement immediately challenged the Greater Israel movement, and they divided Israeli society from within. Not Palestinian society.

Palestinians prefer ‘state of no state’

It should be said unabashedly: Had the Palestinians really wanted a state of their own it would have been established long ago; even Israel’s excessive military might would not have sufficed in preventing its establishment within some type of border.

Yet the Palestinians prefer a state of “no state,” no responsibility, no commitments and no solution, alongside ongoing terror. Generation after generation, Palestinian nationalism has excelled in denouncement. Had Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres not unwillingly dragged the PLO leadership to the Oslo Accords in 1993 it would not have initiated a thing by itself.

The Economist is very wrong. For Israel, the victory of 1967 was not wasted. Israel’s population grew from 2.6 million to 7.1 million, 2 million of whom were new immigrants. The Gross National Product grew by 630 percent. Real per capita product, the benchmark for measuring economic development, grew by 163 percent and last year crossed the $21,000 mark. The average standard of living in Israel is only 22 percent lower than in Britain; on the eve of the Six Day War there was a 44 percent gap. And The Economist has often noted Israel’s information technology achievements.

Among Palestinians, however, the situation has deteriorated drastically. Are we to blame? Yes, it is our fault as well as theirs. Two states for two peoples: If this vision was wasted, it was not so because of the Six Day War, but despite it. And if it is realized, it will be another outcome of the Arab plan’s defeat in June 1967.



U.K.-based humanists who don’t care for Jews
By Bradley Burston
May 29, 2007

There’s been a refreshing note to much of the overviews, analyses and reconsiderations accompanying the imminent 40th anniversary of the Six Day War – balance.

The early entries, those of the Economist, for example, and the New Yorker, are notably free of the slavish leanings that have poisoned much of the writing on the subject for decades.

A notable companion to these accounts is “Gaza, The Jailed State,” an article by author and journalist Zaki Chehab, writing in this week’s New Statesman. Nuanced and knowing, the piece examines the performance of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in dispassionate detail.

The article is all the more valuable for the one which follows it, “Children of the Dust,” by the London-based Australian writer John Pilger. A political cartoon in the guise of factual exposition, it discusses with minute resolution and admirable compassion the effects of occupation and warfare on the children of Gaza, while writing off the post-traumatic stress of the blitz-plagued children of Sderot as the negligible, they-had-it-coming whining of the faceless offspring of callous brutes.

There have always been two sides to the imbalance story: On one hand, there is the humanist who cries out against the violence and slander dealt to the Jews of the Holy Land, suggesting, with respect to what has happened to the Arabs, that they’re only getting what they deserve.

Then there are writers like John Pilger, the kind of humanist who doesn’t much care for Jews.

Why, after all, should we care about the people of Sderot at all, when, as Pilger reminds us as the opening of the piece, the only issue that should move anyone, is the fact that Israel’s single-minded imposition of hardship on the Palestinians could be seen in the anguish of all distressed peoples everywhere:

“Israel is destroying any notion of a state of Palestine and is being allowed to imprison an entire nation. That is clear from the latest attacks on Gaza, whose suffering has become a metaphor for the tragedy imposed on the peoples of the Middle East and beyond.”

Pilger scorns British reporters for what he sees as their overt and consistent pro-Israel bias. He takes them to task for mentioning in reports on Israeli airstrikes “the rockets fired at Israel from the prison of Gaza which killed no one.”

Contrast this with the balance and the breadth of the lead sentence of Chelab’s article: “As hundreds of Israeli families leave the town of Sderot in southern Israel to escape Hamas-designed Qassam rockets and mortars, Palestinians in turn are fleeing the wrath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which in the past week have killed more than 30 people, many of them civilians.”

For Pilger, any suggestion of anything smacking in the least of equivalence, or of Palestinians mounting deadly attacks – for example, a British Channel Four reporter’s mention of an “endless war,” rather than a unilateral Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people as a whole – is indicative of unforgivable pro-Israeli pandering:

“There is no war,” Pilger writes. “There is resistance among the poorest, most vulnerable people on earth to an enduring, illegal occupation imposed by the world’s fourth largest military power, whose weapons of mass destruction range from cluster bombs to thermonuclear devices, bankrolled by the superpower.”

In Pilger’s kindergarden class of the left, the basic legitimacy of Palestinian suicide bomb, rocket, and drive-by sniper attacks ? most of them aimed at civilians – is both self-evident and intentionally omitted from BBC and other wildly pro-Israel press accounts:

“Under international law an occupied people has the right to use arms against the occupier’s forces. This right is never reported.”

Here’s another point that’s never reported: Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows which members of staff are anti-Semitic. Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows how that Jew-hatred can insinuate itself into news copy.

I have no evidence that John Pilger falls into that class. He may even be Jewish for all I know. I think it entirely legitimate that he may at once detest Israel and have not a molecule of anti-Semitism in his entire constitution.

Which is all the more reason that I believe he owes the Jews of this place a little more consideration as human beings.

The problem goes beyond Jews, after all, because the Israeli people on Israeli soil who are in the line of Palestinian fire are both Jew and Arab, Semites all. The crux of the matter is this:

To argue that attacks on civilians is justified, is to declare those civilians to be sub-human.

Come to think of it, perhaps this is why a humanist like John Pilger can’t be bothered to bring himself to care about them.



Israel’s peculiar position
By Eric Hoffer
The Los Angeles Times
May 26, 1968

The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese – and no one says a word about refugees.

But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.

Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover, but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June, he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Negroes are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts and Jewish resources.

Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general. I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.



The heavy burden of victory
By Jonathan Tobin
The Jewish Exponent
May 31, 2007

Lamenting the ‘occupation’ won’t make the facts that led to ’67 conflict go away

French writer Alexandre Dumas the elder wrote in 1854 that “nothing succeeds like success.” But when it comes to the State of Israel, it appears that nothing seems to fail as abysmally as victory.

As the world notes the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War this coming week, much of the coverage and commentaries about the topic seem to center on the same theme: How Israel’s historic triumph has become an intolerable burden that is itself the primary “obstacle” to peace.

Once upon a time, the great victory of 1967 that was achieved against great odds and at a moment in history – when much of the world expected that Israel was about to suffer a catastrophic defeat – was emblematic of Jewish pride. Yet that event is now increasingly seen as emblematic of unhappiness with the Jewish state.


After all, the critics note, the anniversary’s not so much of battles fought and won against great odds, but of 40 years of Israeli “oppression” of Arabs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, the territories “conquered” in 1967.

The toll exacted by Israel’s presence in the territories is seen as being responsible for the country losing its soul. Settlements and checkpoints have become deeply negative symbols of the country. In the Diaspora, it is the villainous Israel of “occupation” that has become the pariah despised by intellectuals and academics, and increasingly shunned by Jews who are not eager to identify with an oppressor.

Among those who do still embrace Israel, the war’s anniversary inspires nostalgia for the state that existed before the unification of Jerusalem, and access to places where our history began to topple the existing Israeli political applecart. It was, as the Israel Policy Forum’s M.J. Rosenberg, recently wrote, the Israel of the book and film “Exodus,” a place he asserts, that could be admired without apology.

The war set in motion a series of events that led inevitably not just to settlements, but to the end of Labor Party domination of Israeli politics and the mainstreaming of forces such as the nationalist right, religious and Sephardi Jews, who had hitherto been marginalized by the Ashkenazi elite.

The Israeli right has had its failures, but the idea that the country was better off under the rule of the paternalistic Labor-dominated government of Israel’s pre-war era is more myth than fact. The socialism embraced by that governing elite didn’t merely retard the nation’s economic progress. An era in which the government prevented the development of local television – to cite just one example of the excesses of this time – is nothing about which we should wax nostalgic.

Yet Rosenberg is right when he says that a more powerful Israel than the idealized early pioneer state “is a hard sell to those under 50, and particularly to young Jews of college age.” But the problem is that those, like Rosenberg, whose main agenda is “to end the nightmare” of the occupation, seem to forget what the alternative to the actual outcome of the Six-Day-War was.

That is the crux of much of the teeth-gnashing about Israel’s 40 years of post-1967 sin. The main point of contention between Israel and the Palestinians, and their supporters, is the same as it was 40 years ago: the existence of a Jewish state within any borders.

What then was the alternative to victory and “occupation?”

The answer is simple. Had Israel been defeated, then the oft-repeated threats of extermination of both the State and her people by Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser and Palestinian leader Ahmed Shukairy, might well have been fulfilled.

We are told, ad nauseum, that the “occupation” is the reason for the ongoing conflict. Yet in 1967, Israel’s dominion was limited to the exact boundaries that we are told are the only solution to the conflict. The world of June 3, 1967, was one in which not a single Jew lived in Judea and Samaria, nor in the eastern part of Jerusalem. No Jew prayed at the Western Wall, or could even visit any Jewish historic or religious site in the West Bank.

The war’s anniversary ought to bring to mind the fact that the issue then is largely the same as it is today. There is not a shekel’s worth of difference between the rhetoric and the goals of Hamas, Al Qaeda, or that of the leadership of Iran and that of the pre-’67 war Arab and Muslim world.

Compare the Jews of Sederot, who are subjected to missile attacks from Gaza today, and those slain by cross-border terror attacks that emanated from the same area prior to June 1967. The only difference is that prior to the Oslo peace accords and Israel’s complete withdrawal from the territory in August 2005, we could still harbor illusions about the willingness of the Palestinians to embrace a chance for peace.


All the introspection about 1967 ought to lead us to wonder why so many of us here are so uncomfortable with an Israel that is identified with power rather than weakness. Was the Israel that so many believed to be fated for imminent extinction in May 1967 more virtuous than the contemporary Jewish state? No. The “occupation” that fuels Arab and Muslim fury refers to every inch of the country. Israel’s victory did not create Islamist extremism, it’s just another excuse for a hatred that already existed.

Conversely, the joy with which the Jewish world greeted the events of June 1967 stemmed not only from being reunited with places like the Kotel, as identification with a proud, successful Jewish people. Like the creation of the state in 1948, the Six-Day War changed the lives of every Jew. For centuries, Jewish identity was bound up with homelessness and powerlessness. These victories allowed Jews to hold their heads up higher not only here in the United States, but even in the Soviet Union, where a movement for emigration to Israel was launched in its aftermath.

The Israel that emerged from that war has made its share of mistakes – though some of those errors were rooted more in a naive belief in the possibility of peace than triumphalism. But what the war demonstrated to the world was that the Jewish re-entry into history that Zionism represented was not to be erased after a mere 19 years.

That is a verdict some would like still to reverse. Yet the “occupation” so many lament was created by Arab aggression, and is rooted in the alienable right of the Jewish people to their own country rather than in some aberrant variant of Zionist imperialism. More territorial compromise will come when Israel’s enemies give up their war to destroy it. Sadly, as recent events have again proved, that moment is nowhere in sight.

Until it does, those supporters of Israel here who spend so much time apologizing for it would do better to apply themselves to the task of asserting the justice of Israel’s right to self-defense. Success in war has its drawbacks, but the alternative in 1967, as well as today, remains unthinkable.



A classic case of ‘Battered Nation Syndrome’
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
May 30, 2007

It was 40 years ago next week that tiny little Israel , facing destruction at the hands of its enemies, miraculously emerged triumphant from the 1967 Six Day War. Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state decisively vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.

Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean Sea , were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.

The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people. After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria , and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

And yet, it seems, four decades later, many Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.

In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six Day War, grumble about Israel’s success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and Gaza , and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.

Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.

How could so many forget so much in so short a time? Even now, as Palestinians fire rockets daily at southern Israel from the very same Gaza Strip that we handed over to them two years ago, the proponents of appeasement still refuse to acknowledge the error of their ways.

It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and its leadership are clearly suffering from what I refer to as “Battered Nation Syndrome.” Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there: low self-esteem, a belief that the violence aimed against us is somehow our fault, and a tragic pattern of preferring to appease those who terrorize us rather than confront them.

Naturally, this distorted world-view results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel’s perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.

Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel’s policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good, ol’-fashioned self-inflicted guilt trip.

But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.

To begin with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown in the sea.

What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.

They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet “occupy” the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.

Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.

Pointing out that Egypt , Jordan , Syria and Lebanon , combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war. Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.

All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the States in the region.”

But Israel’s offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.

Hence, Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did. We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.

They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.

The Six-Day War: one of the most stunning military victories in modern history

June 04, 2007

* This is the first of two dispatches to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War. This dispatch contains notes and articles on events leading up to the war, some new analysis of why the war started and some lessons from the fighting.

* The second dispatch will concern the media coverage of the war’s anniversary.



1. How 3 million defeated 100 million
2. Poll: 96 percent of Israelis wouldn’t give up Western Wall for peace
3. “A gamble of astonishing proportions”
4. A Soviet War?
5. Lessons for today
6. “Prelude to the Six Days” (By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 18, 2007)
7. “The days before the Six Days” (By Patrick Goodenough, CNS, May 31, 2007)
8. “The Soviets’ Six Day War” (By Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2007)
9. “Wisdom of waiting” (Michael Oren, Yediot Ahronot, May 20, 2007)
10. “The audacity of 1967” (By Saul Singer, Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Six-Day War, in which it is widely acknowledged that Israel achieved one of the most stunning military victories in modern history. In just six days, tiny Israel, then a country of 3 million, defeated the armies of 100 million Arabs.

There are already a lot of anti-Israeli, partially inaccurate programs being produced by news media like the BBC about how the Six-Day War came about and how it was fought.

Forgotten is the fact that on the war’s first day, June 5, Jordan launched massive, indiscriminate rocket fire into residential areas of west Jerusalem, killing and wounding dozens of Israeli civilians. Forgotten is the fact that Jordan launched rockets on Tel Aviv from Jenin; that Jordanian troops attacked Jerusalem from the south, and so on.

In an attempt to counteract the inaccuracies of the mainstream media, several new websites have been produced.

Among the best is, a site compiled by historians, academics and writers (several of whom are subscribers to this email list). The site is intended to “turn back the clock to give you a flavour of what it was like to be in Israel at the time, living with the tensions involved with a countdown to what Israel’s opponents suggested would be annihilation.”

Among the highlights are the Movie Clips section, as well as the Arab cartoons section which shows cartoons from publications in the Arab world prior to the war predicting the imminent defeat and destruction of Israel.

There are also some useful quotes here.


The Six-Day War also led to the reunification of Jerusalem, and the return to Jewish sovereignty of the Western Wall, which (together with the Temple Mount) is the holiest site in Judaism and the central symbol of the Jewish people. It is Judaism’s Mecca.

The central importance of Jerusalem within the Jewish religion and Jewish identity is re-emphasized by a new poll, in which ninety-six percent of Israeli Jews say they are against Israel relinquishing the Western Wall, even in exchange for lasting peace. According to the poll, most Israeli Jews do not believe territorial concessions in Jerusalem would bring peace in any case.

The poll found that 43 percent of Israeli Jews were willing to give up the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, as long as Israel keeps the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. However, most of these 43 percent said they did not believe such concessions would actually bring peace.


I attach five articles below. The first, by Charles Krauthammer, argues that the “three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel’s 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of that war – the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza – in return for paper guarantees of peace.”

The “perilous” Israeli condition in the days leading up to the war has been largely forgotten. “The victory hinged on a successful attack on Egypt’s air force on the morning of June 5. It was a gamble of astonishing proportions.”

Krauthammer (who is a subscriber to this email list) correctly predicts that “The world will soon be awash with 40th-anniversary retrospectives of the war – and exegeses on the peace of the ages that awaits if Israel would only to return to lines of June 4, 1967. But Israelis are cautious. They remember the terror of that June 4 and of that unbearable May when, with Israel in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever, the entire Arab world was furiously preparing Israel’s imminent extinction. And the world did nothing.”

These were Israel’s indefensible pre-1967 borders, which the left-wing Israeli statesman Abba Eban referred to as Israel’s “Auschwitz borders.”

The second article below, by Patrick Goodenough, cites a number of “Oft-forgotten facts” in an attempt to dispel what he calls the “barrage of propaganda and revisionism” in much of the mainstream western media on this subject.


The third article below, by Daniel Pipes, looks at a new book written by “Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, a wife-husband team,” titled “Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets’ Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War”.

The authors claim that the Six-Day War “originated in a scheme by the Soviet politburo to eliminate Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, and with it the country’s aspiration to develop nuclear weapons.” (“Foxbats” refer to the Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s.)

Pipes writes “that Moscow’s responsibility for the Six-Day War has disappeared from histories of the conflict.”

Whether the Soviet Union was trying to eliminate Israel’s nuclear facility is questionable, but it does bring the responsibility of the Soviet Union in the lead up to the war some much-needed exposure.


The final two articles below investigate the course of the fighting during the six days and the lessons that can be gleaned for present-day Israel.

Michael Oren, probably the foremost authority on the subject, concludes with the following lessons: “First, instead of rushing into battle, we should utilize the period of (relative) ‘restraint’ in 2007 to make Israel’s case – we cannot sustain Qassam rocket attacks on a daily basis. The second lesson is that ... there is no alternative to addressing the source of the threat. In other words, we should be waiting enough time in order to strengthen, improve our just argument, and prepare to thoroughly address those who stand behind the attacks – the Palestinians and Syrians.”

In the final article below, Saul Singer (who is the Jerusalem Post’s op-ed editor, as well as a subscriber to this list) also sees parallels with Israel’s current strategic situation. Singer argues that “The international response to Iran’s gathering storm has been as feckless as its inaction while Egypt and Syria openly prepared to destroy Israel 40 years ago. Today, however, the Islamofascist threat, while most acute against Israel, is global in scope. Barring an unforeseen burst of effective sanctions, such as imposing a total banking and import ban, a return to Western 1967-like audacity will be necessary.”

-- Tom Gross



Prelude to the Six Days
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
May 18, 2007

There has hardly been a Middle East peace plan in the past 40 years – including the current Saudi version – that does not demand a return to the status quo of June 4, 1967. Why is that date so sacred? Because it was the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War in which Israel scored one of the most stunning victories of the 20th century. The Arabs have spent four decades trying to undo its consequences.

In fact, the real anniversary should be now, three weeks earlier. On May 16, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser ordered the evacuation from the Sinai Peninsula of the U.N. buffer force that had kept Israel and Egypt at peace for 10 years. The United Nations complied, at which point Nasser imposed a naval blockade of Israel’s only outlet to the south, the port of Eilat – an open act of war.

How Egypt came to this reckless provocation is a complicated tale (chronicled in Michael Oren’s magisterial “Six Days of War”) of aggressive intent compounded with miscommunication and, most fatefully, disinformation. The Soviet Union had reported urgently and falsely to its Middle East clients, Syria and Egypt, that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian border for an attack. Israel desperately tried to disprove this charge by three times inviting the Soviet ambassador in Israel to visit the front. He refused. The Soviet warnings led to a cascade of intra-Arab maneuvers that in turn led Nasser, the champion of pan-Arabism, to mortally confront Israel with a remilitarized Sinai and a southern blockade.

Why is this still important? Because that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel’s 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of that war – the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza – in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez war, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.

All this disappeared with a wave of Nasser’s hand. During those three interminable weeks, President Lyndon Johnson did try to rustle up an armada of countries to run the blockade and open Israel’s south. The effort failed dismally.

It is hard to exaggerate what it was like for Israel in those three weeks. Egypt, already in an alliance with Syria, formed an emergency military pact with Jordan. Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began sending forces to join the coming fight. With troops and armor massing on Israel’s every frontier, jubilant broadcasts in every Arab capital hailed the imminent final war for the extermination of Israel. “We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants,” declared PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri, “and as for the survivors – if there are any – the boats are ready to deport them.”

For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating. Israel’s citizen army had to be mobilized. As its soldiers waited on the various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from its peril, Israeli society ground to a halt and its economy began bleeding to death. Army Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the life of his country in the balance, knowing that waiting too long would allow the armies of 100 million Arabs to strike first his country of 3 million.

We know the rest of the story. Rabin did recover in time to lead Israel to victory. But we forget how perilous was Israel’s condition. The victory hinged on a successful attack on Egypt’s air force on the morning of June 5. It was a gamble of astonishing proportions. Israel sent the bulk of its 200-plane air force on the mission, fully exposed to antiaircraft fire and missiles. Had they been detected and the force destroyed, the number of planes remaining behind to defend the Israeli homeland – its cities and civilians – from the Arab air forces’ combined 900 planes was... 12.

We also forget that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was entirely unsought. Israel begged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the conflict. Engaged in fierce combat with a numerically superior Egypt, Israel had no desire to open a new front just yards from Jewish Jerusalem and just miles from Tel Aviv. But Nasser personally told Hussein that Egypt had destroyed Israel’s air force and airfields and that total victory was at hand. Hussein could not resist the temptation to join the fight. He joined. He lost.

The world will soon be awash with 40th-anniversary retrospectives of the war – and exegeses on the peace of the ages that awaits if Israel would only to return to lines of June 4, 1967. But Israelis are cautious. They remember the terror of that June 4 and of that unbearable May when, with Israel in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever, the entire Arab world was furiously preparing Israel’s imminent extinction. And the world did nothing.



The days before the Six Days
By Patrick Goodenough
May 31, 2007

With the approach of the 40th anniversary of a short but momentous war that changed the face of the Middle East, brace yourself for a barrage of propaganda and revisionism. Prepare for reports and commentary focusing on the themes of upheaval, dispossession, refugees and, naturally, four decades of brutal Israeli occupation.

Less common will be accounts of what led up to the Mideast war of June 1967, when Israel for six days fought the combined militaries of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, supported by personnel from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria and Kuwait.

By the time the gunfire subsided, Israel had seized the Golan Heights from Syria; the “West Bank” from Jordan; and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt .

Oft-forgotten fact #1: Prior to 1967, the Jordanian-named West Bank and the Gaza Strip weren’t controlled by Palestinian Arabs at all, but were ruled by Jordan and Egypt, respectively.

The result of the war, of course, is what the United Nations calls the Occupied Territories. The conventional wisdom parroted by pundits and politicians is that if only that pesky little Jewish state would hand back the land it captured in 1967, the Arab-Islamic world would accept Israel. The fringe goes further, envisaging the emergence of a “new Middle East” of love and brotherhood.

And pigs might fly.

Let’s look back at the weeks before the war, when there was no Israeli occupation of these lands. How did Israel’s neighbors view it, and how did they act on those views?

Start with the Palestinians.

Oft-forgotten fact #2: Yasser Arafat’s Fatah was created in the late 1950s, and the Palestine Liberation Organization he dominated was established in 1964 – yes, three years before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza. So its goal was not to liberate those areas but to liberate all of “Palestine” – by which it meant pre-1967 Israel. Sure, the Six Day War elevated the PLO to a new status, but remember: Fatah was mounting terrorist operations from Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank before the war.

Move on to Egypt, a Soviet client state at the time and the PLO’s main benefactor.

Here’s what that country’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser did in the weeks leading up to the war :

May 15 – moved two divisions of troops into the Sinai, an area between Egypt and Israel which since a 1956 conflict had been monitored by a U.N. force;

May 16 – ordered the U.N. buffer force to withdraw immediately. It complied;

May 22 – closed the Straits of Tiran, a Red Sea waterway through which Israel obtained its vital oil supplies;

Moved seven more divisions (infantry, armored and mechanized) into Sinai;

May 30 – signed a defense pact with Jordan’s King Hussein.

Throughout this period, Nasser and others repeatedly declared that Israel was facing destruction. At the end of May, he said: “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel ... the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived.”

On Israel’s northeastern flank, meanwhile, the Soviet-allied, Baath Party-ruled Syria was flexing its muscles, stepping up attacks from the strategic Golan Heights onto Israeli communities in the Galilee valley below.

Damascus then announced it was invoking a defense treaty with Egypt, and once Jordan joined a pact with Egypt on May 30, the threat appeared both severe and imminent.

Rather than await the expected assault, Israel chose pre-emption. In a spectacularly successful operation on June 5, Israeli planes destroyed the bulk of the considerably larger, Soviet-supplied Egyptian air force before the planes could leave the ground.

Israeli tanks, paratroopers, infantry and armored divisions swept into Sinai, and within four days had defeated the Arab world’s strongest army.

Meanwhile, Jordanian forces launched attacks against Israeli positions in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on June 5, and the following day Israel struck back. In two days, Israel had seized major West Bank towns and on June 7, Israeli paratroopers captured eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount, Judaism’s most revered location.

Back on June 5, Israel’s air force had returned from Egypt and headed for Syria, where night-time air strikes destroyed two-thirds of that country’s air force.

Syria then mounted a massive shelling of Israeli towns, and Israel over the following days launched a hard-fought and costly assault. By June 10, the Syrians had fled the Golan Heights.

And on the seventh day, Israel rested.

It’s precisely because of what Israel experienced during the weeks leading up to the war that its governments and people since then have been so reluctant to relinquish the territory won in 1967.

Consider having Bashir Assad’s forces again overlooking northern Israel (on a clear day you can see the Mediterranean from the Golan – that’s how tiny the country is).

Imagine heavily-armed Palestinian fighters holding sway over Gaza and the West Bank, well within rocket-range of Israel’s main population centers (with Arabs controlling the West Bank, Israel at its narrowest is some eight miles wide).

Throw into the mix Hizballah in Lebanon and the terrorists ruling Tehran – neither of them a factor in 1967 – and you begin to get a glimpse of why so many Israelis oppose surrendering more territory. Look what evacuating Gaza got them.

Oft-forgotten fact #3: When Israel faced the growing clamor of war in May 1967 the world largely looked the other way. The U.N. caved to Nasser’s dictates; France, formerly Israel’s key arms supplier, applied an arms embargo against Israel; the Johnson administration, focused on Vietnam, would not intervene forcibly.

While most of the world views the upcoming anniversary from the Palestinian viewpoint, Israel will be remembering the harrowing weeks leading up to the war 40 years ago – when it stood alone.



The Soviets’ Six Day War
By Daniel Pipes
The Jerusalem Post
May 30, 2007

One of the great enigmas of the modern Middle East is why, 40 years ago next week, the Six-Day War took place. Neither Israel nor its Arab neighbors wanted or expected a fight in June 1967; the consensus view among historians holds that the unwanted combat resulted from a sequence of accidents.

Enter Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, a wife-husband team, to challenge the accident theory and offer a plausible explanation for the causes of the war. As suggested by the title of their book, Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets’ Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War (Yale University Press), they argue that it originated in a scheme by the Soviet politburo to eliminate Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, and with it the country’s aspiration to develop nuclear weapons.

The text reads like the solution to a mystery, amassing information from voluminous sources, guiding readers step-by-step through the argument, making an intuitively compelling case that must be taken seriously. In summary, it goes like this:

Moshe Sneh, an Israeli communist leader (and father of Ephraim Sneh, the country’s current deputy minister of defense) told the Soviet ambassador in December 1965 that an advisor to the prime minister had informed him about “Israel’s intention to produce its own atomic bomb.” Leonid Brezhnev and his colleagues received this piece of information with dead seriousness and decided – as did the Israelis about Iraq in 1981 and may be doing about Iran in 2007 – to abort this process through air strikes.

Rather than do so directly, however, Moscow devised a complex scheme to lure the Israelis into starting a war which would end with a Soviet attack on Dimona. Militarily, the Kremlin prepared by surrounding Israel with an armada of nuclear-armed forces in both the Mediterranean and Red seas, pre-positioning mat riel on land, and training troops nearby with the expectation of using them. Perhaps the most startling information in Foxbats over Dimona concerns the detailed plans for Soviet troops to attack Israeli territory, and specifically to bombard oil refineries and reservoirs, and reach out to Israeli Arabs. No less eye-opening is to learn that Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s (the “Foxbats” of the title) directly overflew the Dimona reactor in May 1967.

Politically, the scheme consisted of fabricating intelligence reports about Israeli threats to Syria, thereby goading the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian forces to go on war-footing. As his Soviet masters then instructed, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser moved his troops toward Israel, removed a United Nations buffer force, and blockaded a key naval route to Israel - three steps that together compelled the Israelis to move to a full-alert defense. Unable to sustain this posture for long, they struck first, thereby, it appeared, falling into the Soviet trap.

But then the Israel Defense Forces did something astonishing. Rather than fight to a draw, as the Soviets expected, they quickly won what I have called “the most overwhelming victory in the annals of warfare.” Using purely conventional means, they defeated three enemy Arab states in six days, thereby preempting the planned Soviet invasion, which had to be scuttled.

This fiasco made the elaborate Soviet scheme look inept, and Moscow understandably decided to obscure its own role in engineering the war (its second major strategic debacle of the decade – the attempt to place missiles in Cuba having been the first). The cover-up succeeded so well that Moscow’s responsibility for the Six-Day War has disappeared from histories of the conflict. Thus, a specialist on the war like Michael Oren, has coolly received the Ginor-Remez thesis, saying he has not found “any documentary evidence to support” it.

If Foxbats over Dimona is not the definitive word, it offers a viable, exciting interpretation for others to chew on, with many implications. Today’s Arab-Israeli conflict, with its focus on the territories won in 1967, accompanied by virulent anti-Semitism, results in large part from Kremlin decisions made four decades ago. The whole exercise was for naught, as Israeli possession of nuclear weapons had limited impact on the Soviet Union before it expired in 1991. And, as the authors note, “21st century nostalgia for the supposed stability of the Cold War is largely illusory.”

Finally, 40 years later, where might things be had the Soviets’ Six-Day War not occurred? However bad circumstances are at present, they would presumably be yet worse without that stunning Israeli victory.



Wisdom of waiting
Lessons of Six Day War still applicable in face of ongoing rocket attacks
Michael Oren
Yediot Ahronot
May 20, 2007,7340,L-3402180,00.html

The Palestinians are resorting to terrorism to attack Israel, Syria is threatening to embark on a war, hostile elements exploit southern Lebanon as a base for launching attacks on Israel – and the world condemns any Israeli attempt to defend ourselves through revenge attacks.

This scenario is very familiar to us through our daily existence, but it also describes the situation Israel found itself in 40 years ago, during the process that led to the Six-Day War’s outbreak.

Then as now, Fatah members carried out terror attacks from the West Bank, while other Palestinian groups emerged from southern Lebanon with the aim of hitting Israeli targets. Syria, which at the time was also controlled by the Baath party, frequently called for war to liberate “occupied Arab land.”

Israel did not sit idle in the face of these threats, but rather, carried out defensive operations such as the paratroop raid on a terrorist stronghold in the West Bank village of Samua in November 1966. This operation was harshly condemned by the international community, and particularly by the US Administration.

On the face of it, there can be no comparison between the 1967 Israel, a relatively poor country surrounded by hostile regimes and lacking any powerful allies, to current-day Israel: A high-tech powerhouse boasting peace agreements with two of its neighbors and a close alliance with the world’s only superpower.

Yet despite the changes, Israel still faces the threat of terrorism, which could turn large sections of Israeli territory into no-man’s land, along with existential threats – which today originate in Iran rather than in Egypt – that may lead to an all-out war that could last six minutes rather than six days.

Therefore, instead of merely marking the Six-Day War’s 40th anniversary, we should examine the Israeli government’s decision-making process in the pre-war period and learn the appropriate lessons. We can point to two decisions that significantly affected this process.

The first decision was taken in November 1966, when the revenge operation in Samua was approved. Although Syria, rather than Jordan, was behind Fatah attacks, ministers were concerned about punishing Damascus because of the possibility of confrontation with the Syrian army and its Soviet patrons. Therefore, the government preferred to approve an operation against Jordan.

Eshkol rejected generals’ recommendation

However, en route to their targets the paratroopers encountered a Jordanian force, and the operation turned into a battle. This incident had two results: The Americans slammed the operation and referred to it as madness, while Jordan’s King Hussein, who was greatly humiliated, attempted to cast the blame for the disaster on his archrival, Egyptian President Nasser, claiming that he was hiding “behind the dresses” of the UN force in the Sinai and Gaza.

The latter, in response, sought any pretext to remove the UN force – a pretext provided by the Soviets in mid-May 1967, after they told Nasser that Israel seemingly intends to attack Syria.

Nasser quickly discovered that the story was baseless, yet he used this pretext to remove UN forces and deploy his troops in Sinai, block the Tiran Straits that lead to Eilat, and form military alliances with Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. As it was surrounded by tens of thousands of Arab soldiers excited about the prospect of eliminating it, Israel was forced to decide whether it should resort to a pre-emptive strike.

The second decision was undertaken by then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who rejected the recommendations submitted by IDF generals and senior ministers to attack Egypt at once. Eshkol insisted on waiting another three weeks in order to prove to the world, and particularly to the Americans, that Israel exhausted all possibilities to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means.

This “waiting period” is remembered today as a highly tense period, and Eshkol was harshly condemned for it. Yet Israel used this period in order to prepare the IDF for action and justify its position to international public opinion. Therefore, once the war broke out on June 5th, the IDF was ready and Israel enjoyed broad sympathy in European capitals and in Washington.

It would be worthwhile to take note of two lessons from the Six-Day War: First, instead of rushing into battle, we should utilize the period of (relative) “restraint” in 2007 to make Israel’s case – we cannot sustain Qassam rocket attacks on a daily basis. The second lesson is that undue fears, rather than exaggerated bravery, could lead to escalation, and that there is no alternative to addressing the source of the threat.

In other words, we should be waiting enough time in order to strengthen, improve our just argument, and prepare to thoroughly address those who stand behind the attacks – the Palestinians and Syrians.



The audacity of 1967
By Saul Singer
The Jerusalem Post
May 31, 2007

This week I joined a tour of the Six Day War battle for Jerusalem, led by historian Michael Oren and author Yossi Klein Halevi for the new Adelson Institute of the Shalem Center.

Standing in places where fierce, sometimes hand-to-hand fighting took place, it was difficult to mentally transport ourselves back just 40 years, when Jerusalem was a small town in a cul-de-sac sealed by a wall and Jordanian snipers. And to the few hours of brutal struggle that changed all that.

The tour began at the Sherover Promenade in Talpiot, which has been transformed from a strategic strip of no-man’s land to one of the most magnificent vistas of the united city. We heard how, contrary to Jimmy Carter and others who blithely claim that Israel preemptively attacked Jordan, Israel went to extraordinary lengths to avoid opening a front in Jerusalem, even as the IDF pummeled Egypt’s air force.

Before the war, one paratrooper was so sure the fighting would be confined to the north and south that he sent his nine-months pregnant wife to family living on the border with Jordan in Jerusalem. He was part of the Paratroop Brigade that had trained to fight in the south, and yet was sent on the second night of the war to respond to the unexpected Jordanian attack on Jerusalem.

On the war’s first day, June 5, Jordan launched massive and indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian west Jerusalem, killing and wounding dozens of residents. Jordan also rocketed Tel Aviv from Jenin. Further, Jordanian troops assaulted Jerusalem from the south, on the ridge where the Promenade is today. They retreated after Rachel Kaufman, the wife of the director of an experimental farm on that ridge, opened fire with an old machine gun.

Even after these Jordanian attacks, Israel’s leadership was torn over how to respond. Paratroop Brigade commander Motta Gur sent two of his battalions to secure Mount Scopus, and one to take over the Rockefeller Museum, which overlooks the walls of the Old City. By sending part of his force to the Rockefeller, Gur was clearly anticipating an order to take the Old City.

Careful planning and preparation, however, is not what characterized the battles that day. The soldiers sent to capture Ammunition Hill, on the way to Mount Scopus, were not expecting the Jordanians to be so heavily fortified in trenches and bunkers. Nor did they know, as the pre-dawn battle raged, that the Jordanian tanks they were being sent to ward off were being destroyed by the Israeli air force a few kilometers away.

The brigade that was sent to the Rockefeller, which did not even have enough street maps of the city, took a wrong turn on to Nablus Road, where the US consulate still stands, came under hails of Jordanian fire and took many casualties.

There are never commissions of inquiries into victories, but if there were, the Winograd Committee’s standards for preparations, training and decision making would not have been remotely met by the battle for Jerusalem. Yet, as in all of Israel’s wars, there were battles that were won despite everything, because each soldier knew he could not let his comrades down, and he was fighting for the existence of his family and country.

At the conference preceding the tour, Adelson Institute scholar Martin Kramer said, “The memory of 1967 is the basis of an implicit understanding between the [Arab] regimes and the peoples: the regimes will avert war, and in return the people will stay loyal, even docile... The skill of rulers in averting war has helped to secure and entrench them. The collective Arab memory of 1967 explains why no Arab state has entered or stumbled into war with Israel in over 30 years. It’s the underpinning of such peace and stability as the region has enjoyed.”

In this view, the 1967 war ended the Arab-Israeli phase of the conflict and started a Palestinian-Israeli one. We have now, however, entered a third phase in which the conflict has expanded outward again, to a global battle between Islamofascism led by Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and al-Qaida; and the West, including the US, Europe and Israel.

The idea that the Six Day War actually ushered in this third phase, however fashionable, does not hold water. Though Islamofascism rose over the ashes of pan-Arabism, there was nothing inevitable in the West’s toleration of this new and growing threat, which had little to do with Israel.

Even when Osama bin Laden was fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with American help, the Islamofascists saw the West as the next obstacle in their quest for world domination, and the easier one to beat.

Some wonder whether the powerful effect of 1967 has faded. Particularly since last summer’s war, they claim, Israel does not look so invincible any more. Even if this is so, phrasing the problem this way largely misses the point.

The bigger problem now is that the global equivalent to 1967 in the current struggle, the dispatching of the regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 is now seen to be unraveling. The new US Iraq strategy is succeeding on the ground, but perhaps not fast enough to stem the erosion in domestic support for seeing the struggle through.

Nasser’s pan-Arabist bubble was not fully popped until the defeat of the Arab’s Yom Kippur War counterattack six years after 1967. We are seeing a similar Islamofascist counterattack now. This menace will grow until its center, the Iranian regime, is defeated.

On May 26, just days before the Six Day War, as Egypt massed 80,000 troops and 900 tanks on the border, Nasser said, “We intend to open a general assault against Israel. This will be total war. Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel.”

Iran has been equally blunt about its intentions. The international response to Iran’s gathering storm has been as feckless as its inaction while Egypt and Syria openly prepared to destroy Israel 40 years ago. Today, however, the Islamofascist threat, while most acute against Israel, is global in scope. Barring an unforeseen burst of effective sanctions, such as imposing a total banking and import ban, a return to Western 1967-like audacity will be necessary.