When I saw the title of this article, I knew whom it was about. And I was right. Eric Trager at Commentary has named Israel's Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert the worst politician ever.
Ehud Olmert is hardly your typical leader. Indeed, rather than making any argument for Israeli strength in the aftermath of the prisoner swap, Olmert has declared total failure, saying:
There will be much sadness in Israel, much humiliation considering the celebrations that will be held on the other side.
Israeli “humiliation”? “Celebrations” among Hezbollah’s supporters, perhaps broadcast on satellite television across the Arab world? Quite literally, Hezbollah would kill for these prizes. With these words, Olmert has guaranteed that this latest prisoner swap will be a substantial strategic liability, with Hezbollah gunning for more Israeli “humiliation” as soon as it senses an opening.
What's amazing is that this time, for once in his life, Olmert is actually telling the truth. The 'swap' is a total failure, there will be (and is) much sadness and humiliation in Israel about Olmert's government's failure in the Second Lebanon War and thereafter, and there will be lots of celebrations on the other side when and if the 'swap' is carried out (as now seems inevitable).
It's a shame that Olmert doesn't at least have the decency and dignity to draw the obvious conclusion from these results of his actions: He should call new elections and resign.
The price for releasing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has likely risen as a result of the cabinet's decision on Sunday to trade Samir al-Kuntar - among others - in exchange for the dead bodies of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. After all, Shalit is alive.
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar on Monday hailed the inclusion of jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in an imminent Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap, saying it paved the way for the release of Palestinians convicted of killing Israelis.
Mahmoud Zahar called on Hamas to take advantage of Israel's decision to release accused of having blood on their hands, such as Kuntar, who is serving multiple life sentences for murdering a Nahariya family in 1979.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah. Under the terms of the deal, Hezbollah will release the two Israeli soldiers it seized in July 2006, and Israel will release Kuntar, four Hezbollah militants, the remains of Lebanese civilians and several dozen Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has refused to release many of the prisoners Hamas is demanding as part of the exchange, on the grounds that they were involved in killing Israelis.
Expectations among security prisoners in Israeli jails have been heightened as the exchange deal draws near, and particularly on the issue of Palestinian prisoners.
Activists have not concealed their disappointment over reports that the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released will be very limited, and that they would be chosen by Israel alone.
"If that is the case, the deal is disappointing" to say the least, one activist said. "Nevertheless, we will wait until the deal is completed before we take a position."
Writing in Tuesday's Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick says Israel gave up even more than what has previously been disclosed.
In exchange for the bodies of two dead soldiers - Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser - Israel has succumbed to all of Hizbullah's demands. It will release six murderers from prison and send them to Lebanon for a hero's welcome. It will give Hizbullah the bodies of 200 terrorists and so empty Israel's Potters Field for terrorists. Moreover, it has pledged to close Israel's graveyard for terrorists and so has committed future governments to never keeping terrorists' bodies as bargaining cards for future swaps of Israeli hostages. Israel has agreed to provide Hizbullah with information on four missing Iranian "diplomats." And it has agreed to release an unknown number of Palestinian terrorists from prison.
This deal will cement Iran's control of Lebanon through Hizbullah. It also all but guarantees that any future Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hizbullah will be killed on the spot. Why care for hostages when you can murder them and expect to receive the same payoff you would get if you kept them alive?
Israel Television admitted tonight that the media had put enormous pressure on the cabinet to approve the deal, which went through despite opposition from the security forces. With one or two exceptions, the media were in favor of the deal. Where have we heard that before?
By the way, Glick slams Livni for her vote for the deal and attempting to evade its consequences afterward, as well as for her functioning as foreign minister generally for the last two and a half years. Livni views herself as Olmert's replacement. It's definitely worth it to read the whole thing.
"As a Syrian citizen, I think that had Syria had such a secret program, it wouldn't have allowed inspectors to visit the site. ... This is logic," Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said at a joint news conference in Damascus with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Stoere.
"But as a citizen, I wish that Syria would have such a program because Israel simply has made strides in manufacturing nuclear weapons," he said.
If you visit an enemy state, you can't run for the Knesset
Finally, something good comes out of this Knesset session. In fact, this almost rates being a flying pigs moment.
On Monday, the Knesset passed the second and third readings of a bill that bans persons who have visited enemy states from running for the Knesset for seven years. The law is aimed at Arab MK's who have gone to Lebanon and Syria to declare their solidarity with terror groups and arose out of the Azmi Bishara (pictured) fiasco last year. Honestly, I'm shocked that it passed. It wasn't proposed by the government.
The bill was proposed by MK's Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP) and Esterina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu) following the case of former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara. Bishara is wanted for questioning by police under suspicion of money laundering and of aiding Israel's enemies during the Second Lebanon War. He left Israel and has not returned since the allegations surfaced.
The bill was approved by 52 votes to 24. Among the bills opponents were Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Education Minister [Comrade] Yuli Tamir, Vice Premier [sexual predator] Haim Ramon, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and Minister [proven liar] Ami Ayalon.
According to the amendment to Knesset Basic Law, whoever illegally visits an enemy country in the seven years prior to the submission of party lists, will be seen as giving support for the armed struggle against Israel, as long as it is not proven otherwise, and, therefore, will be banned from becoming an MK.
Orlev hailed the approval. "From today, Arab MKs will have to decide - the Syrian parliament or the Israeli parliament. The law will stop the infiltration of Trojan horses into the Knesset."
He said that unrestrained loyalty to the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state must be demanded from the Arab leadership, just as an enlightened, democratic state demands of its elected officials.
"The Bishara, case and the defiance of some of the Arab MKs, who traveled to Syria and met with Hamas leaders, are not in the realms of freedom of speech but an explicit encouragement for the armed struggle against Israel and for terror against its citizens," added Orlev.
You could just see this coming. On Sunday, Israel's cabinet prostrated itself at the feet of Hezbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah by agreeing to all of his demands in exchange for the dead bodies of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. And on Monday, Nasrallah issued a new demand, with the inevitable threat that if it is not fulfilled he will once again go to war.
Hezbollah considers itself free to strike Israeli soldiers and civilians unless it receives maps of minefields and areas peppered with cluster bombs during the Second Lebanon War, a Lebanese journalist believed familiar with the Shi'ite group's thinking wrote in an article appearing Monday.
"This will be a sufficient reason for the resistance (Hezbollah) to carry out a thousand operations and to kill the enemy soldiers as it wishes, and perhaps its civilians, as long as the Israeli killing machine continues," Ibrahim al-Amin wrote in Monday editions of Al-Akhbar.
Al-Amin added that Hezbollah's arms build-up, which includes training of its gunmen and the development of its military infrastructure, will continue "without permission from anyone."
For those of you who thought that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 would prevent Hezbullah's arms build-up, maybe it's time for you to come out of your cave and admit that - like everything else in the Second Lebanon War - Olmert and Livni botched it.
But this time there's more.
Hezbollah is also planning a terrorist attack against an Israeli target as retribution for last year's killing of arch-terror mastermind Imad Mughniyeh, al-Amin wrote.
"We may see many things that can be portrayed as punishment, but there is one big event that nothing can prevent from happening," he said. "It will be on the scale of the crime (Mughniyeh killing)."
Al-Amin did not provide many details on Hezbollah's expected response, but it would be reasonable to assume it would take the form of an attack outside of Lebanese soil. The writer noted that Hezbollah faces practical and technical obstacles as well as intra-Lebanese political considerations that are delaying the execution of the attack.
Al-Amin said Hezbollah does not plan to publicly claim credit for the attack.
With the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government in power, this has to concern us all.
Labor MK Danny Yatom, who was a candidate for the party's leadership just thirteen months ago, has quit the Knesset in disgust over the corruption and sleaze that is causing the Knesset to rot at its core.
"After five and a half years in the Knesset I have decided to resign and leave politics," Yatom told the faction. "For 43 years, I've served the people and the state in all of my positions in the IDF, Mossad, the Prime Minister's Office and the Knesset. I saw my work as a mission."
"It is not a secret," he continued "that in the past three years, since the Second Lebanon War, I have felt more uncomfortable. The leadership in Israel has made political survival its only goal. Moral and ethical codes that were once fundamental have been eroded."
Yatom criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, claiming that he was to blame for the deterioration of Israeli politics. Olmert, he said "failed in the task of leadership in war and did not succeed in moral and public tasks. [But] he is not alone, and corruption standards and improper behavior continue."
"As a member of Knesset in a coalition party I feel as though I am a partner in the deterioration when I vote in favor of the government," he continued. "I can no longer function in a reality in which political considerations fill the void of leadership and take precedence over basic values."
"I hope that my resignation will send a message that it is forbidden for the public to accept such a reality," Yatom concluded.
I may not agree with his politics but Danny Yatom is a straight shooter. In November 2000, Yatom published a brutally honest 'white paper' on PA/PLO noncompliance with the Oslo accords. The Clinton Administration, which was then in its last days in power and trying to bring about a 'deal' between Yasser Arafat and the lame duck government of Ehud Barak, was furious over the publication of the white paper.
Senior U.S. officials yesterday sharply criticized a "white paper" released by the Israeli government on Monday, which contains a series of accusations against the Palestinian Authority and its chairman, Yasser Arafat. In private discussions with Israeli counterparts, the U.S. officials said that the document's main message is highly problematic. After perusing the White Paper, "it's hard to be persuaded that Israel remains interested in engaging the peace process with the Palestinians," they said.
In 2000, I had my Matzav email list and sent an entire separate edition that included the 70-page long white paper. It is a damning indictment of 'Palestinian' noncompliance with signed agreements, and I urge all of you to peruse it. It is to Yatom's credit that he made sure that the white paper was brought before the public. And it is to Yatom's credit that he has the integrity to resign from a government and a Knesset that is rotten to the core.
Replacement Geography: Google Earth replaces Israel with 'Palestine'
Google Earth's virtual map of Israel features dozens of orange dots which purport to represent 'destroyed' 'Palestinian' villages. Each of the dots links to a web site called "Palestine Remembered" which features 'Palestinian' propaganda regarding the villages. Some of the dots represent villages that never existed or were never destroyed.
While Google often allows organizations to create overlays of its maps to promote various (often political) causes, what's different about the Israeli map is that the overlay is done by Google itself. You cannot escape it. If you are trying to find places in Israel, you are automatically redirected to the site with the 'Palestinian' narrative. Andre Obeler, a post-doctoral fellow at Bar Ilan University and an expert in the media refers to this as replacement geography.
Virtual Israel, as represented by Google Earth, is littered with dozens of orange dots. Orange dots represent contributions from the user community, and those appearing by default have been accepted into the core layout by Google Earth. In the case of Israel, most of these dots claim to represent "one of the Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war." For example, Ramat Aviv, the site of Tel Aviv University, appears as Al Shaykh Muwannis. While generally Google Earth does not erase Israeli towns and kibbutzim, it has heavily integrated a politically motivated Palestinian narrative into the map of Israel. As a result, Israel is depicted as a state born out of colonial conquest rather than the return of a people from exile. Each orange dot links to the "Palestine Remembered" site, where custom layers which further advance this narrative can be obtained.
Early press reports portrayed the virtual Palestine initiative as documentation of fact and included Israeli comments that it was "biased but legitimate." Later research showed that many of the claims staked out in Google Earth were presenting misinformation. Kiryat Yam was wrongly claimed to be built on the Palestinian village of Ghawarina. Many sites known to be ruins in 1946 are claimed to be villages destroyed in 1948. Arab villages which still exist today are listed as sites of destruction. The Google Earth initiative is not only creating a virtual Palestine, it is creating a falsification of history.
"Replacement geography" builds on the concept of "replacement theology," a position that spurred anti-Semitism within the church and which, starting with Vatican II, has been removed from Christian doctrine. Indeed, it has been stated that recognition of the State of Israel by the Vatican completed this process. Replacement theology stated that Christians had inherited the covenant and replaced the Jews as the chosen people. The concept of replacement geography similarly replaces the historical connection of one people to the land with a connection between another people and the land.
This was famously applied by the Romans when they renamed Judea to Palaestinia, and Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina in 135 CE in an effort to destroy the Jewish people after the Bar Kokhba revolt. In more recent times, replacement geography has resulted in the destruction of Jewish artifacts at the Temple Mount.
The inclusion of virtual Palestine, superimposed on Israel in the core layer of Google Earth, is an example of replacement geography advanced by technology. Those wishing to find directions, explore the cities of Israel, or randomly wander across this small piece of land are immediately taken to a politically motivated narrative unrelated to their quest. This is the sort of replacement the ancient Romans tried and failed to achieve. The promotion of a replacement narrative works against a compromise solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, inspiring absolutist positions rather than a negotiated settlement.
Generally, Google allows all kinds of organizations or individuals to create overlays with their own information on its map. These overlays are only available to those who specifically request them, but they are not automatically incorporated into the core map of Google Earth that every user entering its website can see. Disturbingly, Google has incorporated the Palestinians' overlays and their accompanying narrative into its core maps of Israel. As Google maintains editorial control over its core layer, it has responsibility for its content, which it clearly has not adequately exercised.
Anyone who is not familiar with Israel will likely take the Google narrative at face value. They will be indoctrinated into the 'Palestinian' narrative without even being told there is another side to the story. Even for those who are somewhat familiar with the truth, it is almost inevitable that something along the way will fool them.
It would be different if this were an overlay by a pro-'Palestinian' group that would only pop up at the user's option. But it's not. The overlay has been fixed to the map by Google itself, ostensibly an unbiased purveyor of information. The 'thought control' implications are reminiscent of the Communist regimes of sixty years ago. Of course, this is not the first time that Google has used its status as a dominant news purveyor to make a political statement. In fact, the Israeli town of Kiryat Yam has actually sued Google over the map in question. What's new here is that typically you could opt out of Google's political view. Not now. This is the only map of Israel on Google Earth.
A 45-year old Iranian electronics merchant, who did business with the country's military and security services, has been sentenced to death for spying for Israel.
The Iranian FARS news agency reported that Ali Ashtari was accused of "jeopardizing Iranian security." He was also accused of receiving payment from the Mossad.
"Ali Ashtari, who was accused of spying for the Zionist state and for the Mossad was sentenced to death," the report said.
Iran's state TV quoted an unnamed official as saying Ashtari "relayed sensitive information on military, defense and research centers" to Mossad intelligence officers.
Ashtari was also accused of giving out information regarding Iran's nuclear installations. His name was not disclosed until he was sentenced to death on Monday morning.
On Saturday, Ashtari appeared in court to face charges of spying for Israel in exchange for money. According to Iranian media reports, the presiding judge was shown "spying equipment" which the prosecution claims was provided by the Mossad.
Iranian television broadcasted footage of Ashtari as he was being led to court.
During the deliberation, Ashtari's attorney claimed that his client was innocent. Ashtari has 20 days to appeal.
There is no mention of whether or not Ashtari (pictured at right) is Jewish.
According to Ashtari's "confession", published in full by Fars, he was a salesman of telecoms equipment which sought to help the Israeli intelligence service Mossad access secret information from Iranian officials.
Mossad gave him 50,000 dollars to buy Internet cables and satellite phones and then sell them on to "special customers" in the hope of enabling Israel to spy on their communications.
His handlers "introduced themselves as Jacques, Charles and Tony," Ashtari said.
"I had meetings in Thailand, Turkey and Switzerland with them. They gave me some equipment including a laptop through which I could send encrypted emails," he said.
They wanted "me to sell these terminals in Iran to my special customers so they could hack into this equipment.
"I am not sure what they intended to do as before I sold these to my customers I was arrested," he added.
While I have no doubt that Israel has spies in Iran, I have my doubts this is one of them.
The chickens are coming home to roost for the Hamas terror government in the Gaza Strip. It seems that someone has decided that - as we Jews would say - they're not fruhm (pious) enough.
They have always been in Gaza. Hamas' concerns stem from a rise in support for the sect throughout the Strip. In the past year they have increased their ranks by several times; their number now stands at between 40,000 to 50,000 Gazans.
The number of those praying in the mosque the sect operates, A-Sahabah, in the Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City has skyrocketed since Hamas' takeover of Gaza a year ago.
The sect even operates a religious school for grades 1 through 12, whose classes are bursting at the seams.
The salafis do not watch television at home. Their wives have to cover themselves from head to foot. They may not hang large pictures or display statues in their homes, and they pray frequently. Hamas knows they represent an alternative to its monopoly over religion in the Gaza Strip, which has led to great tension between the salafis and Hamas over control of the mosques.
Violent brawls have broken out over attempts by Hamas to throw salafis out of the mosques where they have managed to take control. Another problem for Hamas is the salafis' avoidance of politics, which makes Hamas look like a gang of power-hungry politicians, especially in light of its mistakes over the past year: the violent takeover, torture and corruption.
But a more tangible threat for the rulers of Gaza is from other groups loosely linked to the sect, which are known collectively as A-salafiyeh al-Jihadiyeh. These extreme groups identify with salafi religious principles but dispute the principle of remaining aloof from political, military and diplomatic involvement.
The best-known of these groups are the Army of Islam and the Army of the Nation. Their ideology recalls the teachings of Al-Qaida, and they flaunt their connections with the latter. While the Army of Islam is clan-based and mainly connected to the Durmush family, the Army of the Nation is gathering numbers largely from people cast out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad because of their extremism.
In an interview with a Palestinian journalist, one of the leaders of the Army of the Nation explained that as far as his followers were concerned, there is no difference between the "military wing" and the "political wing." "They are all soldiers," he explains. These organizations see the need to return to Islam's roots; for example, stoning adulterers, cutting off thieves' hands and whipping people who drink alcohol.
In their view, anyone who is not a believing Muslim should be hounded, even beyond the borders of Palestine and including, of course, Jews and Christians. These are the people assumed to be behind the wave of strikes on Western institutions, from Internet cafes to libraries.
They are also believed to have been behind the grenade attack during a festival organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Rafah a year and a half ago, where 12-year-old boys and girls appeared together in a traditional dance. The militants consider this "un-Muslim." They reject any kind of agreement with Israel or the West, which explains the statement to the Palestinian reporter by the Army of the Nation leader that "the leaders of Hamas do not believe in Allah."
The inevitable 'Supreme Court' appeal against the 'terrorists for corpses' exchange
Nothing happens in this country without a 'Supreme Court' appeal against it. And while as a lawyer I believe that certain actions of a duly constituted government are political decisions that ought to be unassailable in the courts, as a matter of morality, this despicable pretense of a government committed yet another perfidy that deserves redress - if not in the courts of law then in higher courts.
On Monday morning, an appeal to the Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice will be filed by the families of twelve Iranian Jews who disappeared during the 1990's while attempting to immigrate to Israel. They are not appealing against the entire 'exchange,' but only against the part that requires Israel to give the Iranians (for whom Hezbullah acted as agents) information regarding the fates of four Iranian 'diplomats' who disappeared in Lebanon during the 1982 Peace for Galilee operation (now known as the First Lebanon War).
Dalia Ravizada, whose father Nuriel disappeared while most likely trying to cross the border to Pakistan on his way to Israel, told Ynet that, “twelve years have passed and we still know nothing about my father.”
He and 11 other Jews throughout the years 1994-1997 simply vanished while assumedly trying to cross a dangerous escape path with the help of smugglers. “It is like the earth swallowed them whole. The government promised to deal with this, but nothing is happening,” said Ravizada. All attempts to locate them have failed.
In 2004, when the media continually reported the actualization of the second stage of the previous agreement with Hizbullah which was to include the release of Samir Kuntar, the families appealed to the High Court against the deal.
The appeal was postponed but the government promised to continue making an effort to receive information regarding their fate. Since then, the families say they have been left in the dark.
“The missing Jews in Iran tried making Aliyah to Israel with the encouragement and assistance of the Israeli government and this is why it is the government’s obligation to do everything possible in order to attain reliable and substantial information that will put an end to these families’ suffering,” said attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, who is representing the families.
As I understand it, the only information the Israeli government has about the Iranian 'diplomats' is that the four 'diplomats' were kidnapped by Christian Phalangist forces in Lebanon (the same people who perpetrated the Sabra and Shatila massacre). But the fact that such information may be useless to the Iranians is not the point. The fact that Israel is making a payoff to Iran at all, and the fact that by giving 'information,' it is in a sense admitting to involvement in a 'kidnapping' to which it had no connection are a disgrace.
That's without even mentioning that we Israelis are already desensitized to the fact that the current government is willing to abandon yet another twelve Jews who are not media darlings. That has become so routine that it rouses no reaction in most of us. The bottom line in this country is that sitting quietly and not insisting on your 'rights' - to the exclusion of all others' - is a violation of the first commandment of life here: Thou shalt not be a 'frier' (sucker). It's every man and woman for him or herself here. I've talked about that before. The abandonment of twelve more Jews (not to mention the IDF's missing in action soldiers from 1982) is all part of the same syndrome.
But then there appears to be nothing that is beneath the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government in its drive to maintain itself in power. Nothing at all.
Her successor may not be any better, but could s/he possibly be any worse? Louise Arbour (pictured in a hijab at the far right with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a meeting of the 'non-aligned conference' in Tehran in September 2007) is retiring from her position as the United Nations' 'Human Rights Commissioner.'
Rather than cite from the disgustingly fawning piece that AFP published about her (and which Yahoo curiously placed in its Entertainment section - Hat Tip: Shy Guy), I will instead remind of you of some things Arbour did that AFP 'forgot' to mention.
In November 2006, Arbour refused to meet with the families of kidnapped IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. But she did decide that Israel was 'more to blame' than Hezbullah for human rights violations during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
Since March 2008, Arbour has been involved in the planning of the 'Durban II conference,' which promises at least as big an anti-Semitic orgy as its predecessor just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks.
And finally, just last week, the UN 'Human Rights Council,' under whose aegis Arbour serves as 'human rights commissioner,' decided to ban all criticism of Islam, because "religious issues can be “very complex, very sensitive and very intense…This council is not prepared to discuss religious matters in depth, consequently we should not do it.” From now on, only religious scholars would be permitted to broach 'religious matters' before the Council."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has yet to designate a successor to Arbour, but can s/he really be any worse?
The politically motivated holiness of al-Aqsa to Islam
Al-Aqsa is one of the two mosques that sits atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In this essay, Professor MordechaiKedar of Bar Ilan University argues that the holiness of al-Aqsa to Muslims was invented to resolve political issues in 7th century Islam, some fifty years after Mohammed's death. Here's an excerpt:
Islam rediscovered Jerusalem 50 years after Mohammad's death. In 682 CE, 'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the Hajj. 'Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Caliph, needed an alternative site for the pilgrimage and settled on Jerusalem, which was then under his control. In order to justify this choice, a verse from the Koran was chosen (sura 17, verse 1) which states (as translated by Majid Fakhri): "Glory to Him who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing."
The meaning ascribed to this verse (see the commentary in al-Jallalayn) is that "the furthest mosque" (al-masgid al-aqsa) is in Jerusalem and that Mohammad was conveyed there one night (although at that time the journey took three days by camel) on the back of al-Buraq, a magical horse with the head of a woman, wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching to the horizon. He tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and from there ascended to the seventh heaven together with the angel Gabriel. On his way, he met the prophets of other religions who are the guardians of heaven - Adam, Jesus, St. John, Joseph, Idris (Seth?), Aaron, Moses and Abraham - who accompanied him on his way to Allah and who accepted him as their master. Thus, Islam tries to gain legitimacy over other, older religions, by creating a scene in which the former prophets agree to Mohammad's mastery, thus making him Khatam al-Anbiya' ("the Seal of the Prophets").
Not surprisingly, this miraculous account contradicts a number of the tenets of Islam. How can a living man of flesh and blood ascend to heaven? How can a mythical creature carry a mortal to a real destination? Questions such as these have caused orthodox Muslim thinkers to conclude that the nocturnal journey was a dream of Mohammad's. The journey and the ascent serves Islam to "go one better" than the Bible: Moses "only" went up to Mt. Sinai, in the middle of nowhere, and drew close to heaven; whereas, Mohammad went all the way up to Allah, and from Jerusalem itself.
What are the difficulties with the belief that the al-Aqsa mosque described in Islamic tradition is located in Jerusalem? For one, the people of Mecca, who knew Mohammad well, did not believe this story. Only Abu Bakr, (later the first Calif), believed him and thus was called al-Siddiq ("the believer"). The second difficulty is that Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in Kitab al-Maghazi (Oxford UP, 1966, vol. 3, pp. 958-9), a book by the Muslim historian and geographer al-Waqidi. According to al-Waqidi, there were two masjeds (places of prayer) in al-Gi'ranah, a village between Mecca and Ta'if, one was "the closer mosque" (al-masjid al-adana) and the other was "the further mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa), and Mohammad would pray there when he went out of town. This description by al-Waqidi, which is supported by a chain of authorities (isnad), was not "convenient" for the Islamic propaganda of the 7th century.
In order to establish a basis for the awareness of the "holiness" of Jerusalem in Islam, the Caliphs of the Ummayad dynasty invented many "traditions" upholding the value of Jerusalem (known as fadha'il bayt al-Maqdis), which would justify pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the faithful Muslims. Thus was al-Masjid al-Aqsa "transported" to Jerusalem. It should be noted that Saladin also adopted the myth of al-Aqsa and those "traditions" in order to recruit and inflame the Muslim warriors against the Crusaders in the 12th century.
Our 'peace partners' at the 'Palestinian Authority' are quite pleased that Israel is about to release mass murderer Samir Kuntar (Quntar). They consider him a hero. Palestinian Media Watch reports.
According to the Palestinian Authority leadership, Samir Quntar epitomizes the ideal Palestinian prisoner. Quntar, who crushed the head of four-year-old Eynat Haran with his rifle, is serving four life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison, but is almost certain to be freed in a prisoner swap with Hizbullah this week.
On one hand, Quntar embodies what the PA considers the "heroism" of terrorists fighting Israel. On the other hand, he's the ultimate symbol of all terrorist prisoners who have murdered Israelis and will eventually be freed as a result of future kidnappings or through some other means.
PA TV, controlled by ['moderate,' 'Palestinian' President. CiJ] Mahmoud Abbas, broadcast the following picture honoring Quntar. He is depicted beside a map of Israel completely covered by the Palestinian flag.
[PATV, 23-25 June 2008]
Following are several recent quotes from PA leaders since April 2008, describing Quntar: "Samir Quntar, the warrior from Lebanon." "The brave warrior, Samir Quntar." "The Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership are standing behind you (Quntar)." "You (Quntar) are an inseparable part of the action to free our homeland." "Your (Quntar) patience and strength are a lesson for us."
Besides bludgeoning [four-year old. CiJ] Eynat Haran to death with rocks and his rifle, Quntar killed her father and was responsible for the death of her infant sister. He also killed two policemen in the 1979 attack in Naharia. The Israeli cabinet today approved a prisoner exchange that would free Quntar and several other prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah in 2006. The exchange could happen within the next few days.
We're supposed to make 'peace' with 'people' who regard Kuntar as a hero?
Breaking: Cabinet ratifies terrorists for corpses exchange
The Israeli government's cabinet today ratified the exchange of mass murderer Samir al-Kuntar, four Hezbullah terrorists captured in Lebanon and "'Palestinian' prisoners whose number and identity will be determined in the sole discretion of the Israeli government' in exchange for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev HY"D (may God avenge their blood), body parts of various Israeli soldiers who fell during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and 'information' regarding IAF navigator Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and who has not been heard from since 1988. The cabinet vote was 22-3. Shortly before the cabinet voted, Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert informed the cabinet that the government was classifying Goldwasser and Regev as 'killed in action.' The families were upset that Olmert announced that Goldwasser and Regev were dead and were upset that he announced it without telling them first. But the government has known they are dead for quite some time. My sense is that the government felt railroaded into making this deal by the pressure brought by the families and the media, and that this was Olmert's - frankly petty - way of getting back at them (much as I am opposed to the exchange, this was still petty on Olmert's part - they are still bereaved families)!
That's all based on a news report I heard on Voice of Israel starting from the 4:00 News. More to follow.
As well as freeing Kuntar, Israel will release dozens of bodies, including eight Hizbullah guerrillas captured during the Second Lebanon War, and a number of Palestinian prisoners. Israel also agreed to give information regarding disappearance of Iranian diplomats in the nineties as part of the deal.
That last detail is scandalous. Israel has always claimed that it had nothing to do with their disappearance, and I have no idea what kind of 'information' it could possibly give. Besides, Iran is not supposed to be a party to this 'exchange.' (Heh!).
Olmert's decision to back the swap came even as the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad advised against accepting the deal, and even though Olmert said that it was almost certain that Regev and Goldwasser were not alive, but were either killed during the kidnapping attempt or died shortly thereafter from their wounds.
The prime minister added that Hizbullah likely abducted the two soldiers precisely for the purpose of releasing Kuntar, as the group did not have any more information on the fate of Ron Arad - a previous condition for Kuntar's release.
Guess what's going to happen the next time - and unfortunately there will be a next time - one of the terror organizations abducts an Israeli soldier or civilian now that they see that you can get just as much for a dead soldier as for a live one.
Goldwasser's wife Karnit was disappointed with the manner of Olmert's declaration, telling the Knesset Channel that she would have expected an announcement of the soldiers' death be made to the families before it was made to the general public. [See above as to why I think that was done. CiJ]
His father Shlomo said he was not surprised by the declaration, but wanted proof the soldiers were dead. "There have been assessments for a long time," he said. "But none of this matters because it is not fact...They were alive when they were kidnapped and no one has provided us with evidence to the contrary."
There has been proof for months. Starting from the IDF investigation that took place shortly after the incident. I concluded they were dead in December 2006 based on what had been publicized in the media. The IDF reached that conclusion well before that.
At the start of the meeting, Olmert said the government had the obligation to deliberate over the prisoner swap as it would have an impact on the lives of all Israelis.
"There is no doubt that today's discussion has special weight and is exceptionally sensitive in terms of its national and moral implications," he said.
"Even those with the utmost responsibility, like myself, have the right, and the obligation of deliberation, as the deal will have an impact on our lives in the coming years," Olmert told ministers.
"We have a collective responsibility of the highest degree, and we need to be able to look the Regev, Goldwasser, Haran, Arad, and Schalit families in the eyes," Olmert said.
It's not the Regev, Goldwasser, Haran, Arad and Shalit families whose eyes the government has to look into. It's all the innocent Israelis whose death warrants were - God forbid - signed today by twenty-two cabinet ministers in a government that should have been unseated a long time ago. None of us knows who shall live and who shall die (as the High Holiday prayer intones), but unfortunately hundreds of Israelis' death warrants were probably signed today.
The meeting began with a security briefing: Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Shabak (General Security Service) head Yuval Diskin expressed their strong objection to the deal, while IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin supported it.
Opponents of the deal, including security experts, politicians, the Almagor terrorism-victim organization and the Bereaved Parents Forum, said that a deal for dead bodies "would encourage the terror organizations to kill their abductees in the future, and also directly endangers Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas." Shabak chief Yuval Diskin has said the same.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the Labor Party, was among those who raised their hand in favor, having said, "We have a moral obligation to bring the boys home, dead or alive." He admitted last week that the deal is "problematic." Vice Premier Chaim Ramon (Kadima) said the deal is reasonable, as "receiving Goldwasser and Regev is for sure, while receiving information on Arad is only a maybe..."
One Cabinet minister said, "You'll notice that we have never received a live body from Hizbullah in any prisoner exchange, except for Elchanan Tenenbaum; the three soldiers kidnapped in 2000, and apparently the current two as well, were returned dead."
Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) actually used this information to support the deal. He noted that back in 1996, the Netanyahu government released 45 Hizbullah prisoners and the remains of 141 Hizbullah terrorists, in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers - Yossi Fink and Rahamim Alsheikh - who had been kidnapped by Hizbullah ten years earlier. Yishai did not mention that 17 Israel-allied South Lebanese Army prisoners were also freed by Hizbullah in the deal.
Aside from Yishai's omission, something needs to be added about the Tenenbaum deal (a deal I have criticized on this blog in the past): None of the terrorists released in the Tenenbaum deal had 'blood on their hands.' Kuntar is one of the most heinous murderers in Israel's history, and he was the entire motivation for Hezbullah going to war two summers ago. By releasing him, the government has allowed Hezbullah to fulfill the goals of that war, while its own goals (if there ever were any) remain completely unfulfilled.
UPDATE 7:41 PM
Here's an interview with Likud MK and former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Yuval Steinitz, who explains why exchanging live terrorists for the corpses of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev is a bad idea, and what Israel should do to avoid such situations in the future.
The weekly Carnival of the Insanities is up at Dr. Pat's place. Make sure you check out all the latest insanity by pointing your browser here. Carnival of the Insanities: Its posts are INNNNNNSSSSSSSAAAAANNNE!
Why Israel should reject the 'prisoner exchange' deals
For those of you who are still in doubt as to whether Israel should accept or reject the proposed 'prisoner exchange' with Hezbullah, I urge you to read Caroline Glick's column from Friday's paper, which does a great job of making the argument against the exchange. Here's an excerpt.
TO DATE, the only clear public call to reject these deals was made by former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon. At a conference on military leadership Tuesday, Ya'alon argued against the deals explaining, "In some situations, the price to pay as part of the deal is much heavier than the price of losing the captive soldier."
Ya'alon's statement should have been a springboard for a reasoned debate. But the local media would have none of it. Rather than enable a responsible debate, the media called on Schalit's father, Noam Schalit, to rebut Ya'alon.
Noam Schalit brutally and unfairly denounced Ya'alon as a political operative. In his words, "No politician or political operative has the right to determine the fate of an IDF POW, except a commander during battle. Ya'alon was an army commander, but today he is mainly a politician and a political operative. He and anyone else can determine a POW's fate only if it concerns their own son."
Piling on, Goldwasser's father, Shlomo Goldwasser, said, "Such words can only be spoken by a man whose son is not held captive by the enemy. He would have spoken differently had the matter been a personal concern of his."
The brutal truth is that the hostages' fathers have things precisely backwards. With all due respect, it is they that should not be listened to.
Through no fault of their own, the Regev, Goldwasser and Schalit families have become the mouthpieces of Hizbullah and Hamas. This is as natural as it is tragic.
The moment their sons were abducted, the Schalit, Regev and Goldwasser families also became prisoners. In constant agony over the fate of their sons, these families are incapable of acknowledging the cruel and devastating fact that the safety of three soldiers cannot be placed above Israel's national security. In their unmitigated suffering, they cannot come to terms with this horrible fact because for them the country, and indeed the world, is made up of their loved ones. This is the natural human condition. Each person's world is defined by the presence and absence of his loved ones. For the Goldwassers, Regevs and Schalits, Israel is a meaningless, cold, dark place when it doesn't include their sons Ehud, Eldad and Gilad.
And it is precisely for this reason that they cannot be allowed to dictate policy. It is precisely for this reason that the only ones who can responsibly weigh Israel's options for releasing them are those who are not personally affected by their plight.
Former Mossad Chief: Israel has a year to stop Iran
In an interview in Sunday's London Telegraph, former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit says that Israel has a year - at most - to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time," he said in an interview.
Mr Shavit, 69, who was deputy director of Mossad when Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981, added: "As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared. We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don't work. What's left is a military action."
The "worst-case scenario, he said, is that Iran may have a nuclear weapon within "somewhere around a year".
Shavit also believes that whether Israel strikes Iran could be affected by whether John Sidney McCain or Barack Hussein Obama is elected President of the United States in November.
"If [Republican candidate John] McCain gets elected, he could really easily make a decision to go for it. If it's Obama: no. My prediction is that he won't go for it, at least not in his first term in the White House."
He warned that while it would be preferable to have American support and participation in a strike on Iran, Israel will not be afraid to go it alone.
"When it comes to decisions that have to do with our national security and our own survival, at best we may update the Americans that we are intending or planning or going to do something. It's not a precondition, [getting] an American agreement," he said.
Shavit was the Mossad's director from 1989-96.
Add another voice that says that if Obama wins the US election we can look for an attack on Iran by either Israel or the United States between November and January, while if McCain wins, Israel may wait a bit longer to see if the US takes action.
'Palestinian' 'youth group' to sue UK over Israel's creation
A 'Palestinian' 'youth group' has announced plans to sue the United Kingdom over Israel's creation, charging the British government with committing a 'series of crimes' against the so-called 'Palestinian people.'
Representatives of the Watanuna (Our Homeland) Palestinian Youth said the biggest crime the British government committed was when it promised a homeland for the Jewish people in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
They said they were also planning to collect a million signatures from Palestinians in support of the lawsuit against Britain.
Ali Ubeidat, a spokesman for the youth group, whose members include many university students, said preparations had already begun to file the suit in a British court.
He said the decision to go after the UK government came after a thorough study of all the legal aspects related to Britain's responsibility for the Palestinians' "nakba" (catastrophe), the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
"We hold Britain responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people over the past 60 years," Ubeidat said. "It's time for Britain to bear the moral and political responsibility for this suffering. The British people should be among the first to support the rights of the Palestinians."
The organizers began collecting signatures over the weekend from Palestinian youth in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Israel and overseas.
Rami Masharaka, director of Watanuna Palestinian Youth, said the lawsuit would also refer to the time of the British Mandate for Palestine.
He said his group had begun collecting testimony and other evidence about Britain's practices back then, especially "its policy of expelling the Arabs from their homeland."
I wonder if the sovereign still has immunity in Great Britain, or whether they have done away with that rule too. If the sovereign is not immune, perhaps the 'International Court of Justice' will take up the 'Palestinians' cause.
Shocka: 'Good terroristspolice' of Fatah use torture
I'm sure you'll all be shocked - just shocked - to hear that the 'justice system' administered by the 'good terrorists' of Fatah - the same 'justice system' for which the West pledged over $200 million at a conference in Berlin this past week - uses torture on prisoners. And by the way, we're not talking about Abu Ghraib type 'torture.' We're talking about the real thing.
Western support for Abbas’s security forces is part of a strategy to isolate Hamas fundamentalists who seized control of Gaza last year.
However, many of those detained on suspicion of links to Hamas described a form of torture called “shabah” in Arabic – being forced to hold stress positions for prolonged periods.
Some have been made to stand with one leg and one arm raised for hours. Others have had to sit on the edge of a chair with their hands tied to their feet.
Amar al-Masri, 43, a Nablus businessman who is married to Kholoud al-Masri, an elected Hamas municipal official, has been held since last month in al-Jenid prison in Nablus. Last Thursday, his son Abdullah, 13, crossed off day 54 on a calendar on the family’s refrigerator.
“What is shocking me is that no charge has been addressed against my husband,” Kholoud said last week, sitting in her home in Nablus, a hijab (head-scarf) covering her hair.
“He is in a Palestinian jail, but we don’t know why.” She has been allowed to visit him only once.
“He said he was hung by his two legs by a rope connected to the ceiling,” Kholoud said. The prisoner’s lawyer said he had seen puffy wrists and legs that supported the testimony, as well as scabs on his legs and hands.
A former prisoner, interviewed at a coffee shop near his third-floor flat in Nablus after he was released at the end of a 50-day spell in prison, described similar experiences.
“They arrested me on fantasy charges that I had rockets,” said the 29-year-old law student, who did not want his name used out of fear the security forces would come after him.
“They tied my hands behind my back, and the rope was connected to a pipe,” he said. “They would stress the rope every 20 seconds. They said if they did it more I would be paralysed.”
He was eventually released without charge. “They [the security forces] told me, ‘You have been steadfast under torture so we have decided you are clean. We will not bother you again.’ ” The Palestinian Authority denied using torture in detention centres. “They are prisoners. We do not give them chocolate and roses,” said Akram Rajoub, head of preventive security in Nablus. “But I can assure you that we don’t use torture methods or shabah methods.”
But some of you might recall that some 'Palestinian' prisoners do get chocolate and roses in jail. Of course, they are the ones who have murdered Jews.
The West is trying to convince itself that by throwing more money at Fatah these types of abuses will be rooted out.
A spokesman for the [British] Department for International Development, which administers the funds paid to the Palestinian Authority, confirmed that money was going to West Bank security forces but said some of it would be used to root out abuses.
“People are aware of irregularities in their behaviour . . . and that’s why we are investing in making them a more professional outfit and a more accountable police force,” the department said.
Human Rights Watch last week called for the aid going to the Palestinian Authority security forces to be made conditional on effective efforts to reduce arbitrary arrests and torture and on improving the system of justice.
On Saturday, Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari (pictured) claimed that Israel 'cannot stop' Iran and that Iran has all of Israel within its missile range.
In comments published on Saturday in the Iranian newspaper Jam-e Jam, the Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Israel "is completely within the range of the Islamic republic's missiles" and it cannot confront Iran's missile power.
"The enemy possibly wants to delay our nuclear activities by attacking our nuclear sites, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq [both of whose nuclear plants were destroyed by Israel. CiJ]," he said.
Sunday's Times of London is reporting that one of the locations in Israel which is targeted by Iranian missiles is Israel's alleged nuclear power plant in Dimona.
Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.
The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.
The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.
As it happens, the Chairman of the United States' Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, was in Israel on Saturday. Coincidence? Maybe. But there's also apparently something going on.
“Although the visit had been planned well in advance, we got the feeling he was coming to make sure we’ll obey the strict timetable agreed with the US,” said an Israeli defence source. He refused to elaborate.
President Bush is also helping Israelis in another important way.
President George Bush has approved the linking of Israel to a US infrared satellite detection system that could spot Shahab missile launches within seconds.
This should enable the Israeli air force to destroy such missiles in the booster stage. The system will also give the Israelis about 15 minutes to seek shelter before any warhead hits.
I should probably add a caveat here that the Times of London piece was written by Uzi Mahnaimi, who has jumped the gun in the past.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is apparently a deadline beyond which Israel will not wait to attack Iran. My guess is that the deadline is not dependent on only one factor, and that it may well change depending upon, for example, whether Obama or McCain wins the US Presidential election. But what should be clear to everyone is that Israel is not going to allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons unchallenged. And at least as long as President Bush is in power, the United States is at least going to go along with Israel doing the dirty work, if not participate in it itself.
Islamic Jihad threatened on Saturday to 'resume' rocket fire against Israel unless the crossings to the Gaza Strip are reopened. The crossings have remained 'closed' all week due to rocket fire on Israel coming from the Strip. But Jihad has also threatened to 'resume' rocket fire if Israel continues military operations in Judea and Samaria, which is not even included in the 'truce.' Meanwhile, the soon-to-be 'good' terrorists from Hamas have threatened to lock up anyone who violates the 'truce.'
The threats came after a Palestinian teenager was killed in Hebron in the West Bank overnight as he threw petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers, the military said, putting further strain on the week-old ceasefire.
Mohammad al-Alami, 17, was shot in the face and body by Israeli soldiers who came under attack with stones and fire bombs during clashes in Beit Umar, near Hebron, in the south of the territory, Palestinian police said.
Islamist group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since it routed forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas a year ago, said it had already arrested some militants for breaking the truce.
It seems that the children are joining in the 'fun.'
"There is an agreement between Islamic Jihad and Hamas stating that all people from Jihad or Hamas, who violate this accord will be arrested and their weapons confiscated," al-Zahar was quoted as saying in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds.
"People have already been arrested. Some opened fire on lorries and others fired rockets at the Nahal Oz (oil facility)," al-Zahar added.
He said that Hamas had even negotiated for some families to hand over their children to Hamas police for breaking the truce.
I can just imagine. Maybe if they didn't train them to be 'martyrs,' they wouldn't break the 'truce' in the first place.
The German weekly Der Spiegel reports Saturday on a claim by Professor Arnd Kruger that the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games knew that an attempt was going to be made on their lives and that nevertheless they decided not to leave the Olympic village.
"I was a journalist in Munich back then," he said, "and I remember Israelis telling me they think security at the Olympic Village is not tight enough. We must voice the possibility that the Israeli team chose not to leave despite being well aware of the risk, and we must consider the possibility that some of them did not run away when the terrorists came in because of the self-sacrifice ideal of the Israeli ethos."
"How is it possible," he added, "that Shaul Ladany [who was a racewalker] managed to escape and others didn't? He was neither a sprinter nor a long jumper, and was visually impaired."
Lest any of you think that Kruger admires Israelis, consider his next statement.
Kruger said he had sought to bolster his claims with sociological explanations. He said Israelis have a "different perception of the body," and that the abortion rate in Israel is relatively high.
That's how Haaretz has it. But a translation of the original web page from Der Spiegel shows that what Kruger actually said was even worse.
Kruger joined its martyrs and unfounded theories with a reference to the different body understanding "in Israel and other industrialized nations: Israel trying about living with disabilities with all available means to prevent". Zudem sei die Abtreibungsrate in Israel höher als in anderen westlichen Ländern. Furthermore, the abortion rate in Israel is higher than in other Western countries.
Kruger is an expert on the Nazi Olympics of 1936. I'm waiting to hear about his other connections with the Nazis.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the site of the El Kibar nuclear reactor in Syria on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week. Israel destroyed the reactor in September 2007. As you may recall, Syria denied the inspectors permission to view three sites other than the El Kibar site. But apparently the inspectors took their work a little bit more seriously than their boss, Mohamed ElBaradei. In fact, I'm beginning to believe that when I post about the IAEA, I have to differentiate between the organization itself and its feckless chief. Take, for example, this report from Al-Guardian:
The IAEA team, led by Olli Heinonen of Finland, reached al-Kibar on Monday and was due to hold talks with Syrian officials before returning to Vienna today.
The IAEA put Syria on its proliferation watch-list in April after receiving intelligence photographs from the US, said to show a reactor that could have yielded plutonium. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of IAEA, condemned the Israeli raid and criticised the US for failing to share intelligence on Syria sooner. Last week ElBaradei cast doubt on his inspectors' ability to establish the nature of the site. "It is doubtful that we will find anything there now, assuming there was anything there in the first place," he said.
As we'll see, the inspection team apparently did more than just talk, but first this: On Wednesday, the British daily Al-Guardian reported that according to Israeli sources, El Kibar was actually part of the Iranian nuclear weapons development program and that Syria was acting as a subcontractor to supply Iran with nuclear fuel.
The Israeli adviser told the Guardian: "The Iranians were involved in the Syrian programme. The idea was that the Syrians produce plutonium and the Iranians get their share. Syria had no reprocessing facility for the spent fuel. It's not deduction alone that brings almost everyone to think that the link exists."
On Monday the German magazine Der Spiegel quoted "intelligence reports" as making similar claims. A Syrian government spokesman dismissed them as "nonsense". But Der Spiegel said that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was considering withdrawing support for the Iranian nuclear programme. Tehran and Damascus have had close relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Both support Hizbullah, which fought Israel in 2006.
Amos Yadlin, head of Israel's military intelligence, told MPs last Sunday that the Syrians were "concerned" about the inspection by the IAEA and were trying to conceal their actions.
Then on Thursday, there was this intriguing report from DEBKA (yes, I know, DEBKA isn't always right, but this does sound plausible).
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the three-man International Atomic Energy Agency team which inspected the El Kibar site bombed by Israel last September, returned to Vienna Wednesday, June 25, with soil and building materials samples gathered secretly without Syrian knowledge. From the Syrians they received different samples said to have been collected at a site which they insisted was a military facility under construction.
During their four days in the country, Olli Heinonen, IAEA deputy director and leading negotiator with the Iranian authorities, and his team interviewed Syrian army officers and men presented by Damascus as having been employed at the facility. They denied it was a nuclear reactor and possessing nuclear credentials themselves. But, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, the inspectors countered with their own list of officers, scientists and technicians – not only Syrians, but also Iranians and North Koreans employed in building the facility.
The Syrian side denied this and refused the inspectors permission to interview people on their list.
It will be interesting to see what the final report says and whether ElBaradei will try to suppress any information that is adverse to his 'Syrian brothers.' But I suspect that we are just starting to learn what went on in the facility that Israel destroyed last September.
In yet another sign of the collapse of Western civilization, London's Daily Express reports on Friday that England's Transport Department is going to restrict the use of sniffer dogs on Muslims because Muslim terrorists are offended when they are touched by the 'unclean animals.'
A report for the Transport Department has raised the prospect that the animals should only touch passengers’ luggage because it is considered “more acceptable”.
In the Muslim faith, dogs are deemed to be spiritually “unclean”. But banning them from touching passengers would severely restrict their ability to do their job. The report follows trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, some female Muslims said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it was tantamount to being forced to strip.
British Transport Police last night insisted it would still use sniffer dogs – which are trained to detect explosives – with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of “cultural sensitivities”.
Critics said the complaints were just the latest example of minority religions trying to force their rules and morals on British society.
Hey guys, guess what: Suicide bombers don't usually put their bombs in their luggage. They wear them around their waists or chests.
Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said even dogs touching baggage would be an issue for a Muslim preparing to pray. But he stressed that it should be easy to allow dogs to check passengers without physical contact.
“There is a way of dealing with this and we just need to be sensitive,” he said.
Maybe they can teach the dogs how to talk so they can ask 'sensitive questions.'
How many people will die before they stop being so 'sensitive?'
I don't know how much the collapse of the US dollar is being felt in the States, but for those of us (like me) who earn most of our income in dollars and pay most of our expenses in a different currency (in my case, the Israeli shekel), the effect of the dollar's collapse has been devastating. Last August, there were about 4.2 shekels to the US dollar. Today, there are around 3.35. While I can bill Israeli clients in shekels, there's not a whole lot I can do about American clients. The bottom line is that I have a lot less shekels to spend these days when I bring in the same amount of dollars as a year ago. And expenses in shekels are going up, not down. For example, a gallon of gasoline here is more than $7 per gallon.
MEMRI reports that what's happening to the dollar today did not happen on its own. MEMRI claims that the Islamists have actually been attempting to orchestrate the dollar's collapse and with it the collapse of the American economy.
As was argued in a 2007 MEMRI analysis, many of the jihadists and their supporters have come to view their struggle against the U.S. and the West as an economic war. More specifically, they have come to the conclusion that it is financial, rather than military, losses that will prompt the U.S. to change its policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Consequently, they emphasize the importance of targeting U.S. interests around the world, and of directing their military jihad primarily at targets that affect the U.S. economy.
The dollar can expect two additional blows that will break its back... [namely] the announcement of the return of the Caliphate..." and the reinstatement of the gold standard in international monetary trade.
A recent posting on the Al-Ikhlas forum urges the mujahideen and their supporters to sell their dollars, if they have any, because Al-Qaeda is planning a strike inside the U.S. so that it will undermine the American economy: "[I advise you] to get rid of [your] American dollars... and buy gold instead... or real estate. The next attack inside the U.S. is imminent... Zawahiri will convey his instructions [regarding this attack] in his next [message]... This attack will put an end to the so-called United States of America and destroy its economy completely... The day of the attack is very near..."
Given that it is highly atypical for Al-Qaeda to give prior warning of its attacks, the message is probably an attempt to pressure Muslims to sell dollars, in order to generate pessimism in the dollar market and thus accelerate the drop in its value.
Will the United States stand up and fight? Will the United States do what needs to be done to end the Islamist role in the American economy, such as developing enough domestic sources for oil and alternative energy to end American dependence on supplies from Islamist countries like 'our friends the Saudis?' Or will the United States economy collapse and - God forbid - the American people submit to the dictates of the desert kingdom from the 8th century? Stay tuned.
There has been much talk in Israel all week of 'prisoners with blood on their hands' whom Hamas wants released in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. On Friday afternoon, the JPost web site has some of the names of terrorists that Hamas is demanding.
The [Egyptian] sources [quoted by London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat] went on to say that among the prisoners Hamas was demanding in the first stage were PFLP chief Ahmed Sadat [responsible for the assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rechavam Zeevi. CiJ], Tanzim leader Marwan Baghouti [founder of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades serving five life sentences and responsible for the murder or wounding of hundreds of Israelis. CiJ], Amana Muna - a female Fatah operative who lured 16-year-old Ophir Rahum via Internet chats to a cruel death on January 17, 2001 - and two members of Hamas's armed wing Izzadin Kassam.
Meanwhile, the London-based A-Sharq al-Awasat newspaper said that Israel had offered to release prisoners who took part in large terror attacks to Gaza, but not to the West Bank.
If Hamas agrees to the offer, said the newspaper, Israel will release the prisoners Hamas is demanding, including Abbas Said, the mastermind of the 2002 Pessah eve bombing of Netanya's Park Hotel [murdered thirty Israelis. CiJ]. However, the paper said that Hamas was opposed to the offer, since the group refused to agree to "the deportation" of prisoners.
And there are over 400 more like them. I cannot think of a more explicit invitation to carry out the next terror attack than to release these terrorists.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married and a fourth is engaged! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com