Friday, March 31, 2006

It's time to come out from behind Ariel Sharon

If you were an alien from Mars and came down to watch the lead up to the election you would be convinced that a very healthy Ariel Sharon was running in the elections. Every Kadima advert showed more Sharon than anyone else, Olmert the man who is running the country was an afterthought.
What does this tell us about the state of our new leadership that they had no confidence in presenting themselves, so they presented their party as being run by a man in a coma.
What is more scary is that Kadima officials have been constantly stating their own policy as that of Sharon's. Time and time again we have been told that this or that one was told by Sharon before his coma that he would have done this or that. The latest is Otniel Schneller, who told the Jerusalem Post that just before Sharon had his stroke he gave the OK for Schneller's withdrawal map.
Schneller, a religious settler from Ma'aleh Michmash turned centrist politician, said he was commissioned by Sharon to create a plan for Israel's future borders following the Gaza withdrawal last summer.
The two men meet in Jerusalem for more than an hour late on the afternoon of January 4, said Schneller. "I showed him my plan. He said, 'It is very interesting. I would like to go with this principle and to work on this plan. Otni, I would like to meet you next week,'" Schneller recalled the PM saying.
"We finished our meeting at 4:30 p.m.," he said. The massive stroke Sharon suffered later that day cut short any future discussions about the map.
This is all very curious as, Ariel Sharon said he would not embark on any unilateral withdrawals. I think it is about time our new leaders from Kadima had the strength of character to say goodbye to Ariel Sharon as a specter above their heads. They should have the strength of their convictions and claim policies for themselves. Kadima have been voted to lead the country, albeit on the back of a leader no longer leading, so it is time for them to come out of the shadows and lead.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Does Olmert have the authority and support for his plans?

Many have spoken about the Israeli elections as a referendum on Olmert's 'convergence plan'. After the election results have been tallied the question has not been resolved. Kadima are the largest party but having garnered less than a quarter of the votes of only 63% of Israeli citizenry it is very unclear what mandate Olmert has received.
Nadav Shragai seems to go further and claims that those against the convergence plan, led by the right-wing have actually gained the moral victory. Shragai writes in 'The right's moral majority' that those against unilateralism won the elctions.
"It is true that the right does not have a blocking majority, but it definitely has a moral, and perhaps even a practical, majority against the one-sided, unilateral element.
The parties opposing any unilateral withdrawal straddle the right-left line, and they are as follows, with their Knesset seats: Likud 11; Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu 12; National Union-National Religious Party 9; Shas 13 - party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has not reversed his rejection of unilateral measures; United Torah Judaism 6. In addition, there is Labor, 20, which does support a massive withdrawal from the West Bank but only by agreement and not as a unilateral measure. All in all, 75 Knesset members. The apparent common denominator between left and right on the sole issue of unilateralism, together with the fact that the Palestinian Authority is now controlled by Hamas (and apparently there is no partner for peace talks), led as early as Tuesday night to an informal invitation to Amir Peretz."

Israel shuns victory

Daniel Pipes writes an interesting piece called 'Israel shuns victory' in which he describes how no Israeli politician seeks to win the war on terror, only manage it.
Excerpts from the piece.....
First, some background. Wars are won, the historical record shows, when one side feels compelled to give up on its goals. This is only logical, for so long as both sides hope to achieve their war ambitions, fighting either continues or potentially can resume. For example, although defeated in World War I, the Germans did not give up their goal of dominating Europe and soon again turned to Hitler to try again. The Korean War ended more than a half century ago, but neither North nor South having given up its aspirations means fighting could flare up at any time. Similarly, through the many rounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict (wars in 1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982) both sides retained their goals.
Those goals are simple, static, and binary. The Arabs fight to eliminate Israel; Israel fights to win the acceptance of its neighbors. The first is offensive in intent; the second is defensive. The former is barbaric, and the latter civilized. For nearly 60 years, Arab rejectionists have sought to eliminate Israel via a range of strategies: undermining its legitimacy through propaganda, harming its economy through a trade boycott, demoralizing it through terrorism, and threatening its population via WMD.
While the Arab effort has been patient, intense, and purposeful, it has also failed. Israelis have built a modern, affluent, and strong country, but one still largely rejected by Arabs. This mixed record has spawned two political developments: a sense of confidence among politically moderate Israelis; and a sense of guilt and self-criticism among its leftists. Very few Israelis still worry about the unfinished business of getting the Arabs to accept the permanence of the Jewish state. Call it Israel's invisible war goal.
Rather than seek victory, Israelis have developed a lengthy menu of approaches to manage the conflict.
And so, they experiment with compromise, unilateralism, enriching their enemies, and other schemes. But as Douglas MacArthur observed, "In war, there is no substitute for victory." The Oslo diplomacy ended in dismal failure and so will all the other schemes that avoid the hard work of winning. Israelis eventually must gird themselves to resuming the difficult, bitter, long, and expensive effort needed to convince the Palestinians and others that their dream of eliminating Israel is defunct.
Should Israelis fail to achieve this, then Israel itself will be defunct.

A Palestinian talks about "Palestinian Occupation"

There are pitifully few voices from the Palestinian world that ever attributes even a miniscule amount of their suffering to themselves. Every person of decent moral character can see the Palestinian suffering, but who is to blame?
Ray Hanania, a Palestinian writes a column for the Ynet site titled 'Occupied with occupation'. Hanania writes that for too long the Palestinians have just blamed Israel for everything, but the fact of the matter the problem goes far deeper.
"We all know about the Israeli military occupation, which began when big-mouthed, loser Arab leaders played to the emotions of their people by rattling cardboard sabers and threatening to "drive the Jews into the sea."
The Israelis are no dummies. When they faced off with the triumvirate of "impotentates" who led Egypt, Syria and Jordan back in 1967, they knew exactly how to respond. They exploited the Arab World bombast and overran everything in a few hours.
That the war actually lasted six days is a miracle.
But the real occupation that holds back Palestinians is not the Israeli military. It is the occupation they impose on themselves.
It's a societal occupation driven by rising extremism, religious fanaticism, and living in a dream world of self-pity and failed leadership.
When your leaders fail as leaders for so long, you begin to blame yourself and feel hopeless and pathetic, too. That helps the leaders to avoid accountability because the public starts to blame itself and others for its problems.
That societal occupation took a major step forward with the election of Hamas terrorists and religious fanatics. These fatalists hide behind the suffering of their people to cover up their own failure as leaders.
Their answer to a problem is to create a bigger problem. It's like an older brother's prank on a younger brother who complains that he bumped his hand and it hurts. The older brother hits the younger brother on top of his head hard, and says, "I bet you don't feel the hurt hand any more."
The other occupation is the self-imposed occupation. This is the most dangerous. Here, instead of thinking for themselves, Palestinians simply accept whatever they are told.
"We have to use suicide bombings because we don't have jet airplanes," one popular but ignorant rationalization goes. They find excuses for failure instead of developing answers or real solutions.
Let's blame the Israelis for our own problems. That's not reasoned.
The reasoned person recognizes the truth of a problem, even when that truth hurts. Even when the truth points to yourself as being as much a part of the problem as the people (Israelis) whom you blame for everything.
Instead of addressing the problem, we then address the emotion. Because it is so much easier to hate someone than it is to accept blame and then correct the problem."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An overview of the Israeli elections

Israelis were promised a big-bang in their political scene, what ensued was more akin to a medium to small sized bang. The formation of a new party that would garner the largest amounts of votes and break the stranglehold of the two ruling party system did materialize, but to a much lesser extent than its members would have hoped.
When Ariel Sharon first broke away from the ruling Likud party to set up Kadima, opinion polls predicted the new list would win 44-45 seats in the 120 seat Knesset. With Sharon incapacitated, Ehud Olmert took the reins of the party and the country. In the three months since Olmert took over the leadership of Kadima, the new party was hemorrhaging voters. Many voters were initially attracted to Kadima purely because they trusted Sharon at the helm and equated Sharon with Kadima and vice versa. Olmert has never held the same presence, authority and trust as the man now in a coma on the seventh floor of a hospital in Jerusalem.
In Tuesday's general election, the first piece of history was the voter turnout. Voter turnout in the elections for the 17th Knesset dropped to an estimated 63.2 percent, a decrease of 5.7 percentage points compared to the previous general election in 2003. The drop on Tuesday was a continuation of the downward trend that has marked participation in elections ever since the State of Israel was created.
"Not good," said Haifa University political scientist professor Asher Arian in response to the figures. "The percentage of voters went down in 2003 and now it has gone down even more." Arian added that the trend in Israel was similar to developments in the rest of the world and appeared to reflect disenchantment with the ability of the state to solve problems. "It is a general unease, not one that is directed at the democratic system per se."
The second piece of history in these elections was that neither Labor nor Likud were the party with the highest amount of votes. Kadima, the party headed by Olmert, took only 28 seats but were still declared the largest party and thus the winners of the elctions, albeit in a weaker than expected position.
Kadima's leader, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, declared victory early today and said he was confident that the party would be able to move forward with its plan to disengage Israel from more territory.
''For thousands of years we have carried the dream of Greater Israel in our hearts," said Olmert, wearing a yarmulke though he usually goes bareheaded, told cheering supporters at his election headquarters. ''But, because of our recognition of the realities of the situation . . . we are prepared to compromise."
The second place in the elections was taken by Amir Peretz's Labor party. The Labor party had attempted to re-establish itself as a social issues party and tended to focus on these issues rather than security in the lead up to the elction.
According to Ha'aretz commentator Yoel Marcus "While the Labor Party increased its share of the pie by just one seat, thanks to Amir Peretz, it is a new Labor - fresh, full of aspirations to succeed when it comes to both peace and social issues. Anyone who took note of Peretz's development during the election campaign can see him not only as a partner for Olmert, but also as the individual who can restore Labor to its former glory in the future."
For many, the true revolution was not in Labor's success among the voters, but in where those voters came from. "We have seen a drastic shift in the map of constituencies in Israel," said MK Shalom Simhon. "Areas that have never voted Labor are voting nearly unanimously for Peretz, according to some early results."
Simhon, who represents the moshavim on the Labor list, said that many development towns in the South which have historically voted Likud were coming out in droves to support Peretz.
According to the results after 99.5% of the voting counted, Likud has sunk to fifth largest party with a paltry 11 seats in the Knesset. The once mighty Likud Party, the dominant force in Israeli politics for almost 30 years, had fallen to its knees.
"We have no doubt the Likud has suffered a tough blow," Mr Netanyahu told a crowd of supporters shortly after exit polls had shown the fate of the Likud. Netanyahu, however, remained defiant and declared that he will remain as party chairman and declared he will make Likud relevant again. "I intend to continue along the path we have only just begun in order to ensure this movement is rehabilitated and takes its rightful place in the nation's leadership," Netanyahu declred.
Many attributed Likud's fall from grace to Netanyahu's stint as Finace Minister. The 56-year-old pushed through swingeing benefit cuts that hurt Israel's poor working class, many of whom are natural Likud supporters. "We didn't pay enough attention to the people," admitted Reuven Rivlin, a Likud parliamentarian.
The most likely to have gained from Likud's fall were the great surprise of these elctions, Avigdor Lieberman's "Yisrael Beiteinu. Amassing up to 14 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu has replaced the Likud as the standard bearer of the right-wing.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us. This is just the beginning of our fight for Israel's future," said the 47-year-old Lieberman, as he stood with his family in a reception room of a Jerusalem hotel an hour after the exit polls. Lieberman was not resting on his laurels and pledged to supporters that this was just the beginning for his party.
"After the next election, we will be the ruling party," pledges the former Russian hard-liner.
The other great winner in the election was also the biggest shock. With nearly all votes counted on Wednesday morning, the Pensioners' Party appears to have secured seven seats in the next Knesset. The Pensioners' Party has never had one seat in the Knesset before and many had forecasted the same fate in these elections.
The Pensioners' Party platform deals entirely with advancing the rights of the elderly, including ensuring pensions for all citizens and placing medications for the elderly in the health basket of medications and medical treatments subsidized by the state. Party chairman Rafi Eitan, a former senior official in the Shin Bet security service and Mossad espionage agency, has a brief political history dating back to when he helped Ariel Sharon establish the Shlomzion party in the 1970s.
The Pensioner's Party relied heavily on young disillusioned voters who weren't intending to vote. According to author Linda Grant, who recently wrote a best-selling book about Israeli society, these voters turned to their elder family members as a means of political protest.
"Two days ago, word started to spread that something really odd was happening in Tel Aviv: the urban young, committed not to voting at all, convinced that all politicians were corrupt and that they should grit their teeth, do their army service, chill out at the beach on weekend leave and then head straight off to Thailand or Goa when they were demobbed, had started to campaign on behalf of their grandparents."
Many see the Pensioners Party as possible king-makers in the future coalition building process. As a party with a heavily weighted single issue, the party is seen as a good coalition partner to carry out security related policies at the cost of paying the pensioner's their desired issues.
Other results saw Shas retain pretty much the same Knesset representation, but the amalgamation of two right-wing parties, National-Religious and National Union, did not bear fruit. After months of anticipation over the merger of the two, the National Union and National Religious Party were stunned Tuesday night by exit polls that showed them losing from their strength in the last Knesset, and the unequivocal failure of the Right to attain enough votes to block an Olmert-led government.
The remaining parties, Meretz, United Torah Judaism and the Arab lists were expected to remain at similar strength to their representation in the last Knesset.
Shunui, the secular party, which took the political map by storm in the last elections were not expected to have enough votes for a single Knesset seats, perhaps an ominous warning that the new centrist Kadima party should not think that it is now invincible for future elctions.
However, Olmert as the leader of the party with the most votes will be invited in the coming days by President Moshe Katsav to form a coalition for a government. The coming weeks will see political horse-trading between a large number of the parties as each one will tell Olmert what it desires to become part of his government. This period is sometimes just as interesting as the period up to the elctions. The people of Israel have had their say, now the politicians get to work to present a sound government to represent Israel for the next four years.
The results after 99% of the voting can be viewed here.

KICPoll Results - Israel Vote 2006

KICPoll - Israel Vote 2006

Which party receives your support on March 28?


Kadima 28.0% (14)
National Union - Mafdal 18.0% (9)
Yisrael Beiteinu 16.0% (8)
Other 10.0% (5)
Likud 8.0% (4)
Labor - Meimad 8.0% (4)
United Torah Judaism 4.0% (2)
Shas 4.0% (2)
Arab Parties 2.0% (1)
Meretz 2.0% (1)

Total votes: 50

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Elections for the 17th Israeli Knesset

With election booths open, many questions will be answered by the end of the day. These elections, seemingly pivotal have been met with large measures of apathy and a lack of focus on issues. Some are calling these elections a referendum on the ideas of disengagement, past and present, some are not.
There are those who see Kadima's ascension to power as a foregone conclusion, and there are those who are not so sure.
My predictions are as follows....
Voter turn-out will not be as low as expected, I don't think they will be that high, but I do not think they will be as low as 55%. Kadima will not do as well as expected with about 32-34 mandates. Labour will come second with 19-20 mandates and likud a more distant third with 15 mandates. The surprise will be Yisrael Beiteinu who will come fourth with 12 mandates followed by Shas and NRP/NU.
Olmert will have a workable coalition and the right will not have enough for a blocking vote. Netanyahu will step down as Likud party head and will probably be succeeded by Silvan Shalom, who it is not inconceivable to be part of a Kadima led coalition that will redraw Israel's borders.
My only impartial advice is to get out and vote. These elections are crucial for all Israelis across the political spectrum. During the coming years if someone is unhappy with Israel's policies and didn't vote, they will have no excuses and their opportunity will be lost.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

LIVE on Election Day with KIC

I have been invited to host an incredible online event that will span eight hours of Israeli Election Night coverage this coming Tuesday. Among other things, I will be co-hosting the first four hours of the event and I will be facilitating LIVE discussion and debate of the policies, personalities and campaigns.

What a way to KICstart Israel Elections 2006!

As the first exit polls reach us, I will be there to KICoff the analysis of the results, the possible coalition ramifications and so on.

Don't miss out on seeing this LIVE and being a part of the event which will host several well-known world Jewish leaders and well-known personalities from the media and beyond.

More than 4000 others are already registered - sign up now and be there when history is made!

Michael Lawrence

Anyone who is under occupation would react with suicide bombs

How often have we heard those words from people who seek to justify terrorism? This statement of course makes no sense. The Palestinians are not the first people to ever feel like they are being occupied, and I always say to people what did the Jews do in Europe during WW II?
A Syrian-born psychologist has reached similar conclusions and has had the courage to say it to the Arab world on Al-Jazeera TV.
Since a single interview on Al-Jazeera on February 21, Wafa Sultan, a psychologist now living in the US, has become an overnight sensation. The link to the clip on has received over a million hits, and Sultan has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Sunday Times and Le Monde. Sultan, in her original five-minute interview, became the Rosa Parks of the global struggle against jihad: the catalyst whose stubborn courage marks a turning point.
"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations," Sultan said in that interview. "It is a clash between civilization and backwardness... between barbarity and rationality... between human rights on the one hand and the violation of these rights on the other, between those who treat women like beasts and those who treat them like human beings."
Then she went even further.
"The Jews have come from tragedy and forced the world to respect them," she said, "with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling.
"We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant... Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. ... The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind before they demand that humankind respect them."

"Israelis are racists"

Israel advocates have a hard time with statements like these written in the international press in the form of an opinion piece. The problem is that even if they make no sense, the statement is left hanging for all to see and a statement like that is sometimes more powerful to the naked eye than a hundred facts.
However, Israel advocates do not expect those sort of meaningless statements from within the mainstream Israeli press. Gideon Levy of Ha'aretz has made such statements in an opinion piece titled 'One racist nation'.
Upon further perusal of the article one can see that like so many articles of the same tilt it stands on very shaky foundations, although I have to be honest and say that I didn't even find one foundation.
Levy writes "Contrary to appearances, the elections this week are important, because they will expose the true face of Israeli society and its hidden ambitions." (Starts pretty ominous, so I am expecting something big).
"More than 100 elected candidates will be sent to the Knesset on the basis of one ticket - the racism ticket." (I can only really think of about twenty seats that will be taken by parties with race as a main platform, Arab and Jewish).
"An absolute majority of the MKs in the 17th Knesset will hold a position based on a lie: that Israel does not have a partner for peace." (Wait a minute, that is the proof that Israelis are racist? Having been bombarded for five years, being fearful to step foot in a cafe or bar, hearing Palestinians cheer the deaths of our loved ones and finally electing a party which bases itself on the Koran that Jews are evil and should die. Because we don't trust the Palestinian leadership, we are racist????
In the Second World War, if the Jews of Europe didn't trust their German leadership when they enacted the Nuremburg Laws, and worse, was that racist too????)
"Only one ambition unites everyone - to get rid of them, one way or another. Transfer or wall, "disengagement" or "convergence" - the point is that they should get out of our sight. The only game in town, the 'unilateral arrangement," is not only based on the lie that there is no partner, is not only based exclusively on our "needs" because of a sense of superiority, but also leads to a dangerous pattern of behavior that totally ignores the existence of the other nation."
(This beggars belief, Israelis think their superior because they want to say to the Palestinians, you want a state, have it???)
"Then came the major terror attacks and Israeli society withdrew into a sickness of apathy never before known to it." (Do you understand the ramification of what he is saying? The more we were attacked the more we should have extended a hand in peace. In fact Levy calls Israeli society sick for being wary of a people who were sending people to kill us. Go figure!!)
So there is Levy's preposterous suggestion. To any sane mind, the article is a contorted piece of nonsense. The problem is the catchy title is very magnetic to some and you can bet your last dollar that this will find it's way onto an anti-Israel website as proof that Israelis are racist.
If anyone sees it on any other website, please let us know.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Double Standard Exists on Terrorism

Oscra winning documentary-maker Arthur Cohn is fed up of people always redeeming terrorism if it is against Israel. Cohn writes an article called 'Double Standard Exists on Terrorism' and decries this stance, while also providing good solid arguments for Israel's case.
Unfortunately, Jewish media people — among them many Israelis — have a strong share in this unjust and dangerous distinction. There is one word that is the basis for the acceptance of Palestinian terrorists, a word used again and again in all political discussions around the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. That word is “occupation.”All land that was not part of Israel until 1967 is termed “occupied territory.” By that definition, it is stolen land, and all means seem to be justified to force Israel to return the theft.
Those who declare that great parts of Israel are occupied territories also indirectly support the Arabs claim that the Jews really don’t have any true roots in the Holy Land, as it is written in Palestinian school books and Arab propaganda.
By declaring that all these areas are part of an illegal occupation, we also support the peculiar idea that all these areas must become judenrein, an idea that is not conducive to real peace. If more than 1 million Palestinian Arabs live in Israel, why is it unthinkable that Jews will live under Palestinian Authority?
In this connection, it must be stressed that almost all Jews who settled beyond the green line of 1967 built their homes on public land and not on privately owned Arab property.
If our demand for security lacks a basis of law, justice and morals, if we don’t stress our rights in the land of Israel, if we basically justify the Arab position that large parts of Israel belong only to them and are forcefully stolen, we cannot wonder when we see so many young students on American university campuses accepting the Palestinian propaganda against Israel.
We cannot wonder when so many writers and media people speak out against Israel politics; we cannot wonder when large churches tell their congregants not to support Israel economically; and we cannot wonder if a prestigious award is given to a film that shows understanding, even a certain admiration, for anti-Israel terrorists."

Palestinian achievements=Israeli achievements

A Palestinian American columnist Ray Hanania wrote an article about Israelis and Palestinians called 'Changing the Israeli-Palestinian paradigm'. In it, Hanania describes how "ThereÂ’s going to be more violence. More killing. More frustration. More parents crying over the death of their children. More families weeping at the loss of their land. More communities despondent as violent events darken their hopes for peace."
Hanania basically raises the old calumny of the "cycle of violence" and morally equalises the share of blame equally between both sides. Israel advocates have heard this story manyy times before.
Martin Sherman writes an answer to Hanania called "False Symmetry". In it, Sherman describes the major differences between Israeli and Palestinian society.
"Hanania does bemoan the loss of life but blithely obscures real differences between the attitudes and conduct of the two sides. While Palestinian civilians have been hurt by the actions of Israel's armed forces, they are never the purposeful target such action.
By contrast, Israeli civilians are almost invariably the intended victims of Palestinian violence. When Palestinian bystanders are inadvertently hit during Israeli operations, which without exception are planned to preemptyt, or respond to, terror attacks, there are always official expressions of regret and contrition. Frequently, there are official inquiries into alleged misconduct of the IDF and security services, and offenders have been punished.
No such similar conduct is evident – or even imaginable - on the Palestinian side.
Likewise, the image of " Â…parents crying over the death of their children" fails to differentiate between the universal grief expressed in Israel at the loss of life; and the ever more pervasive culture of death in Palestinian society, including the glorification of homicidal suicide "martyrs," as well as expressions of pride and joy from parents of those who chose "plastique" as the preferred pathway to paradise.
Hanania expresses a yearning for "an Israeli leader who has the courage to do what needs to be done", but one can but wonder what he dreams of. Over the past few months an Israeli leader unilaterally withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip, removed the IDF from the border with Egypt and obliterated all the settlements there, turning thousands of Israelis citizens into refugees in their own land.
The Palestinian response to all these: the election of Hamas – a terrorist organization who's founding Charter calls for the elimination of Israel. This fact gives lie to the myth that settlements are at the root of Palestinian animosity toward Israel.
There is, however, a final thought regarding the essential asymmetry between the national endeavors of Israelis and Palestinians: Against all odds, Israelis succeeded in establishing a state despite ferocious Arab and Palestinian opposition. On the other hand, the Palestinians, have failed to establish a state despite manifest Israeli acquiescence (and at times even active endorsement) and massive international support.
While it is true that Israel has received a great deal of foreign aid, conditions in this country have remained dauntingly difficult. Yet Israelis have built an advanced industrialized country, with the world's highest per-capita rate of scientific publications and patents filed. The county is a world leader in agriculture, hi-tech and medicine.
Sadly by contrast, despite being the world's highest per capita recipients of international aid the Palestinians have excelled at producing crazed martyrs, corruption andÂ… well, little else."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Israel's helping hand: Israeli doctors to assist Vietnam in heart surgery for children

A group of Israeli heart doctors from the Save a Child's Heart (SACH) organization arrived in Vietnam on March 22 to give educative training on children's heart surgery to Vietnamese doctors. The training encompasses teaching Vietnamese surgeons at Israel's Wolfson medical centre and sending Israeli experts to Vietnam to exchange experiences with Vietnamese colleagues give treatment to poor Vietnamese children. The Israel-based humanitarian organization has since 1996 conducted heart operations for 1,400 children in 24 countries and just recently successfully operated on a Vietnamese child with heart disease.

Should Israel publish an annual report on respect for Jewish rights worldwide?

A very interesting idea posited by Michael Freund in an article titled 'Prove Israel cares about world Jewry' is for Israel to publish an annual report on respect for Jewish rights worlwide. The report would be modelled on US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Freund writes " As the state of the Jewish people, Israel has an obligation to stand up and defend Jewish rights wherever they are trampled, and to speak out forcefully on their behalf.
A simple, yet compelling, step that the government could take would be to compile and publish an annual report on respect for Jewish rights worldwide, modeled on the US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
For nearly three decades the human rights report issued by Washington has served to raise public awareness about the state of freedom worldwide, placing many governments under the glare of international scrutiny and criticism.
Of course, Israel does not have the diplomatic or economic clout of the US. But it most certainly has the moral standing and historic duty to press other countries when it comes to protecting the rights of Jews everywhere.
An annual Israeli government survey chronicling the state of Jewish rights worldwide would serve as an effective tool for monitoring and exposing abuses, as well as for pressuring other countries to take stronger steps to ensure the safety and freedom of their Jewish populations. It would underline and reaffirm Israel's commitment, centrality and responsibility for Jews around the globe and serve to focus the nation's attention on the fate of our brethren in the Diaspora.
So whatever new government may come to power after next week's elections, here's hoping it will devote a little more time and effort to looking out for our fellow Jews. That, after all, is our raison d'etre."

Israel's helping hand: Israel Providing Palestinians With Drugs Against Bird Flu

Israeli Agriculture Minister Ze’ev Boim has ordered the transfer of 300,000 doses of Tamiflu, a drug to combat flu, to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The transfer of the drug doses will be handled by the IDF district coordinating office, via Erez Crossing in northern Gaza. Agriculture Ministry officials report the decision to transfer the drugs was made in response to an appeal from a World Health Organization official.Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that avian flu was detected in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled Gaza, in the area of the former Jewish community of Netzarim.

London Mayor is an anti-Semitic fool

London Mayor Ken Livingston has done it again, fresh from being censured and almost banned for making anti-Semitic and offensive comments to a Jewish reporter. This time he has told two Jewish Iranian developers to "go back where they came from."
Now on top of this Livingston has branded London Assembly member Brian Coleman "Dr. Goebbles." I say he is an anti-Semitic fool because firstly he only seems to make these kind of remarks to Jews and secondly he keeps on saying and doing the same things that got him into trouble last time.
On Tuesday, Livingstone said of the Reuben brothers, Jewish members of the syndicate building the 4 billion pound Olympic City in East London for the 2012 Olympic Games, "perhaps if they're not happy they can always go back [to their own country] and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs."
Asked by reporters to clarify his remarks, he said, "If they're not happy here, they can go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs, if they don't like the planning regime or my approach."
On Wednesday Livingston did not apologise, saying ""I would offer a complete apology to the people ofIran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn't meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran."
I have to ask the question, why is Livingston only making these sort of comments to Jews? Would he have the nerve to say to a British Pakistani or African to go back to where they came from?
I doubt it as he knows that would be the quickest way to a removal from his position. It should not be any different for a Jew. Livingston has to go now!

Why has Israel gone from 'Hero' to 'Outcast'?

Israel advocates have long been scratching their heads about this issue. How has Israel gone from a nation seen as the underdog, or a nation that has risen from the flames to world pariah and outcast?
Ron Fraser attempts to answer this question with a detailed overview of the history of the issue in an article titled 'Israel—From Hero to Outcast'.
Excerpts below...
The world sees the images, nightly, beamed in from Israel, while remaining largely ignorant to the effects of other major crises on the world scene which pale, by comparison, the skirmishes in Israel into relative insignificance. This is due in large part to the inability of news services to establish themselves within the extreme-level danger zones of these other largely closed societies. So images of the extreme gruesomeness of these major crises never reach the living rooms of the masses.But there is another element to this media distortion of the situation in Israel. It’s the element of often deliberately choreographed events on the ground, funneled through generally leftist reporters “dumped on the ground with little prior knowledge … forced to condense and ‘package’ terribly complex and crucial events,” which are then deliberately constructed to reflect the bias of media moguls by “producers sitting in carpeted, climate-controlled studios in New York and London” who are “making war their subject”
One of the more chilling of examples of the extent to which certain groups will go to block the truth given by Gutmann relates to reaction of the Palestinians to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Gutmann relates how Palestinians took to the streets to publicly celebrate al Qaeda’s attack, with an estimated 3,000 celebrating in Nablus alone. An AP photographer filmed the celebrating masses in that city and forwarded his footage to his bureau in Jerusalem. The footage never made it to air. “Before it hit the wire, the photographer called his bureau … [while] sitting in the Nablus governor’s office with guns to his head. The reporter lived, but the truth did not. The AP was told by the Palestinian Authority that it ‘could not guarantee their safety’ in the future unless the AP learned to be ‘more careful’”
Another case which Gutmann exposes is that of two Israeli reservists who made a wrong turn when driving home and found themselves arrested by Palestinian police. Taken to the local police station, the two were then mob-lynched, their bodies brutally battered and set on fire. Again, this instance was witnessed by two press representatives, the one having his camera torn from his grasp and smashed by the mob, the other managing to capture a now-infamous image of one of the murderers of the two Israelis holding his bloody hands aloft to the cheering of the crowd. Death threats from the Palestinians quickly followed to those who manned the bureau for which the cameraman operated. This forced the flight of the bureau chief for his own protection.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Peace trek prevented from entering Libya

A peace trek that intends to break down barriers by sending Israelis, Arabs and many others on a gruelling desert trek has hit on a snag. The event is part of an effort by an organisation called 'Breaking the Ice' which is currently trekking from Jerusalem to Tripoli and has been a success so far as Arabs and Israelis have broken down barriers and got to know each other beyond the conflict.
However, there is one nation that is not entering into the spirit of the event. The group was refused entry into Libya due to the participation of three Israelis who were flatly denied entrance at the border.
The group of people from around the world, including four Americans, was welcome in Libya, a special representative of Libyan leader Mohmar Qadaffi told the mission as it stood on Libyan soil just five meters from the formal border crossing. But not the Israelis.
"Israel does not exist as a country, it is Palestine. We don't allow occupiers into our country," the official said. "Now I order you all to leave Libya."
Earlier, the group had decided it would not cross into Libya unless everyone was allowed in.

The Season's Top 10 Conspiracies in the Arab and Iranian Press

Those involved in Israel advocacy are constantly reading about bizarre conspiracy theories, I have outlined some in previous postings. Steven Stalinsky of the New York Sun describes the 'Season's Top 10 Conspiracies in the Arab and Iranian Press'
Here are some Israeli and Jewish related conspiracy theories.....

10) "Israeli security organizations are in efforts to spread flagrancy and corruption among young [Iranians] to harm the Islamic establishment" and Israel has been behind the smuggling of liquor into Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted an Iranian police commander, Colonel Hossein Abdi, as saying on January 31. A Syrian government daily, Teshreen, on January 8 quoted the Iranian foreign minister condemning an unnamed Zionist company "that published certain cards insulting Muslims and their religious traditions in Iran."

7) An article in the Egyptian government Al-Ahram Weekly of March 2-8 by Khaled Amayrch reported on Israeli religious political party platforms for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs: "enslavement whereby non-Jews living under Jewish law are forced to become 'water carries and wood hewers,' expulsion, or outright extermination."

4) The Mossad has planned terror attacks in Lebanon, the January 31 edition of Teshreen quoted President Lahoud of Lebanon as saying, while a Qatari daily, Al-Raia, on January 26 quoted a former Syrian defense minister, Mustafa Tlas, as saying Israel assassinated a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

2) "The Jewish Walt Disney Company" created the Tom and Jerry cartoon to improve the image of Jews, because Jews were called "Dirty Mice" in Europe, an Iranian government adviser, Hasan Bolkhari, said February 19 on Iranian TV Channel 4.

1) Israel created the avian flu virus in order to damage "genes carried only by Arabs," a January 31 column by Abd Al-Rahman Ghunwym in a Syrian government daily, Al-Thawra, said. Another possibility given was that the virus was created to attack "the yellow race - especially in China and Vietnam" that are "rising powers" threatening "American hegemony over the world."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach

Taking the old adage, the Foreign Ministry has been sending leading Israeli chefs on missions around the world in a bid to boost the country's international image.
"The Ministry, which is charged with exporting Israeli culture to the world, views food as another aspect of art that presents Israel beyond the conflict," said Nurit Tinari-Modai, the Foreign Ministry's cultural cooperation director.
Under the initiative, the Ministry announces an "Israeli food festival" and invites leading locals across the world to a gourmet meal at the Israeli ambassador's house or at a leading restaurant or hotel. Meanwhile, leading Israeli chefs brought from Israel are tasked with cooking for the guests.
Such events enjoy media attention, and on some occasion Israeli chefs are interviewed or make a guest appearance on a local cooking show. As a result, Israel receives some positive press amid the difficult images regularly aired about the region.
"Our ambassador in Portugal told me he has been fighting the media in order to get several positive lines about Israel into the newspapers, while we had whole pages dedicated to us," chef Shalom Kadosh says proudly.
Chef Nir Tzuk, who cooked meals in Kazakhstan over the course of a week, says "there's a strong desire to promote Israeli products, be it our olive oil or our wines."
"I feel we can touch many audiences through food," he says. "For most people Israel is a rather vague concept, and the food allows me to preset Israel as a fashionable place with gourmet food," he says. "The moment people taste Israeli wines and eat delicious, fun food in a cool atmosphere, they don't even think about asking about terror attacks."

Israeli politics and the environment

We who came to live in the Land of Israel really should take better care of our land. The observant amongst us are constantly praying about the Land of Israel, the secular have written poetry about its beauty and most Israelis love nothing better than a 'Tiyul' (a walk in nature or hike). There are numerous Israeli environmental groups, Israel Union for Environmental Defence, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and many others. So why is it that we don't seem to have factor enironmental issues in to our voting choice?
Micael Cohen asks why none of the main political parties is addressing the green issue in an article 'The environment and Israel's politics'
Below are some excerpts...
Many Israelis are focused on the March 28 elections, but one wonders how aware they are that in the campaign itself environmental issues have largely been ignored.
"None of the candidates at the head of the major parties has made a reasoned and professional announcement on environmental matters," says Alona Sheafer-Karo, director of the environmental umbrella organization Life & Environment.
Such a state of affairs is appalling. For too long the Jewish value of caring for the environment has, when it comes to the Land of Israel, been put on the back burner as we wait for the conflict between Israel and her neighbors to finish. This is the reason for the formation of the Green Zionist Alliance. We can nolonger afford to allow environmental concerns to be lost in the shuffle of the other important issues.
Paraphrasing the Zionist philosopher Ahad Ha'am, one might say, "More than the Jews have kept the Land of Israel, the Land of Israel has kept the Jews."
One of our most important decisions, made at the moment we were expelled from the land, was to keep our connection to the land strong. The Romans knew this when, hoping to sever that connection, they changed the name of the land from Israel to Palestine.
We made the connection strong by making it tangible, real and full of meaning. It is not surprising that when the Dalai Lama asked to be taught the secret of our maintaining our identity over thousands of years of exile - anticipating that the Tibetan exile will be long as well - the rabbis and teachers he met told him: Maintain a real connection with your land.

Bird Flu: Jewish killer or killer of Jews?

The thing with paranoia and conspiracy theories is that they rarely make sense, anti-Semitism is a good example of this. In history the Jews have been accused of everything and its opposite.
Jews are too capitalist, Jews are too communist.
Jews mix in too well, Jews don't mix at all.
Jews are rich, Jews are poor.
Lately we have been hearing some extremely bizarre statements from the Arab world surrounding bird flu. Firstly, last month the state-run Syrian daily al-Thawra lately hinted that Israel developed the bird flu virus to harm the genes of its Arab neighbors.
An article published by the newspaper argues that Israel spread the virus in the Far East to mislead the world.
The newspaper backed its suspicions by citing a 1998 report in the Sunday Times that Israel is developing a biological “ethnic bomb” that would kill Arabs and not Jews.
According to the Times, Israeli scientists are trying to identify genes characteristic to Arabs and then develop viruses that attack these genes. The newspaper said the program is being carried out at the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tsiona near Tel Aviv.

Then the bird flu virus found in Israel last week was sent by Allah to punish the Jews for being "the worst of humanity" and is the beginning of the outbreak of other diseases meant to destroy the Jewish state within the next 20 years, a Gaza preacher said at mosque services this weekend.
Sheikh Abu Muhammed, an imam at the popular Al-Tadwa mosque in Beit Lahia north of Gaza City, went on to ask Muslims at his Friday night
sermon to pray for the sexual organs of Jews to "dry out" so they cannot reproduce, a Palestinian in attendance at the mosque services said.
"Praise Allah the bird flu has hit the Jews. It came because of their sins against the Palestinians; because they are the most cruel enemy of humanity; because they are themselves the enemy of humanity; because they don't believe in Allah; because they falsify the book of Allah; because they cheated the prophet Muhammed; and because they cheated Allah and even their own prophet, Moses," Sheikh Muhammed was quoted as saying.
The sad fact is that there are people whbelieveve either or both of these stories. Anti-Semitism seems to have no boundaries, not least sensical and logical.

Monday, March 20, 2006

"An infection called International Jewry"

There have been many calls recently from various quarters not to take Iran so seriously. The theory is that it is all bluster and rhetoric. Firstly, let us say as Jews we have heard that excuse too many times in our history and sadly believed it. Secondly, there is something strange in the obsession Iran has with Israel and Jews.
A good opinion piece in the New York Times called 'The Ghost of Purim Past' by Jeffrey Goldberg shows that this is no mere rhetoric. Also, interestingly and contrary to what many think, Iran ties Jews, Zionists and Israelis altogether.
Three years ago, while visiting Tehran, I was introduced to a charmless man named Muhammad Ali Samadi, who, I was told, would parse for me the Iranian theocracy's peculiar understanding of Judaism and Zionism. Mr. Samadi said that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, held no brief for anti-Semitism. Then, a moment later, he deployed an epidemiological metaphor to explain the role of Jews in history. "There are always infections and diseases in man," he said. "In the world there is an infection called international Jewry."
A year later, Mr. Samadi became the spokesman for the Esteshadion, or Seekers of Martyrdom, a group that has as its mission the training of young Iranians to kill Salman Rushdie, commit acts of suicide terrorism against Americans in Iraq and blow up Jews everywhere. "The Zionists should know that they aren't safe so long as they are an affront to God," he said. I asked him if, by "Zionists," he meant Israelis or, more generally, Jews. "Jews, Zionists, Israelis," he said, only semi-ambiguously.
I was not visiting Iran in order to collect the anti-Semitic leavings of second-tier terrorists, though I did buy a knapsack's worth of Jew-obsessed pamphlets and books, including a copy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in Persian. I was in Iran mainly to cross over into Iraq, whose dictator was about to be deposed by the United States Army. Saddam Hussein had once promised to "make fire burn half of Israel" — and he tried, ineffectually, to do so in the 1991 gulf war.
The terminology of disease control has now thoroughly infiltrated anti-Semitic discourse in the Middle East. Four years ago, a Hezbollah leader in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley named Hussein Haj Hassan told me that Jews function "in a way that lets them act as parasites in the nations that give them shelter." The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad speak in much the same manner.
One worries about overreacting, but such language echoes the passage of "Mein Kampf" in which the Austrian Haman compares the Jew to "a sponger who like a noxious bacillus keeps spreading as soon as a favorable medium invites him."
Nevertheless, a great many people, in Iran and beyond, believe that the Jewish state is a cancer, and it is foolish to believe that this is an idea without consequences. As one Islamic Jihad leader told me not long ago, "Everyone knows that the cure for cancer is radiation."

Schoolbooks have to change for any future peace

Future peace between Israel and the Palestinians has to rely heavily on education. The kids of tomorrow will be the decision makers of tomorrow and we have to look at what they are learning. A recent book called 'Three Wishes' interviewed Israeli and Palestinian children to ask them what they hoped for. While the Israeli children talk about peace and humanity some of the Palestinian children dream of becoming suicide bombers and venting hatred.
One Palestinian girl, Wafa, 12 twelve years old said “Killing an Israeli will make me feel glad. It will make me feel strong."
Another Palestinian girl, Maryam, 11, said “there are women martyrs who do the suicide bombings. They are very brave… I have only one wish. I would like to go to heaven. Maybe in heaven there is happiness after we die. Maybe then.”
Salam, the 12-year-old sister of suicide bomber Aayat Al-Akhras, who killed herself, a security guard and 17-year-old Rachel Levy at a Jerusalem market, said she would have made her sister a special breakfast on the day of her attack, had she known about it.
“I don’t think it would hurt if I blew myself up. I don’t think it hurt my sister. I think she was very brave, not scared at all. I think she was probably very happy,” Salam said.
These comments should come as no surprise to someone familiar with the Palestinian educational system. Whether on TV, radio or in the classroom the Palestinian child is constantly bombarded with talk of martyrdom, death and hatred. On this blog I have detailed an internet site by Hamas designed for children.
A report from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of Tel Aviv's Center for Special Studies (CSS) which examines new Palestinian fifth and tenth grade Palestinian school textbooks shows that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is educating Palestinian youth for conflict with an Israel it does not accept. The CSS examined 29 new textbooks, published by the PA Education Ministry for the 2004-2005 school year, which are still in use, examining their content on issues related to Jews, Judaism and Israel. The findings of the review of that year's books, compared to books from previous years, indicated a consistently hostile attitude. In particular, the CSS made the following findings:
Israel is rarely mentioned by name in the textbooks examined and then only in some negative context;
A fifth grade geography textbook included a 'Political Map of the Arab homeland' on which Israel did not appear;
The signed agreements between Israel and the PA under the Oslo peace process are not mentioned, let alone explained;
Israeli cities and towns, wherever they may be, are described as "settlements";
World War Two is covered but no mention is made of the Holocaust;
The history of biblical times is falsified, the Jewish historical experience is not discussed and Israel's ancient inhabitants are described as Arab peoples; and
The anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is cited, reiterating anti-Semitic myths on the Jews' intention to take over the entire world.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"How I Learned to Love the Wall"

The following is a fair article by Irshad Manji titled 'How I Learned to Love the Wall'. This article is swimming in a sea of articles which only talk about the barrier and its hardships on Palestinians. While not dismissing the Palestinian hardships, Manji gives the barrier context and gives both sides. Like all people of good faith, she looks forward to a day when there will be no need for a barrier, until is reconciled to it.
Below are excerpts...
"this barrier, although built by Mr. Sharon, was birthed by "shaheeds," suicide bombers whom Palestinian leaders have glorified as martyrs. Qassam missiles can kill two or three people at a time. Suicide bombers lay waste to many more. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks have plunged, which means innocent Arab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones. Does a concrete effort to save civilian lives justify the hardship posed by this structure? The humanitarian in me bristles, but ultimately answers yes.
That's not to deny or even diminish Arab pain. I had to twist myself like an amateur gymnast when I helped a Palestinian woman carry her grocery bags through a gap in the wall (such gaps, closely watched by Israeli soldiers, do exist). It made me wonder how much more difficult the obstacle course must be for people twice my age, who must travel to one of the wider official checkpoints nearby.
For all the closings, however, Israel is open enough to tolerate lawsuits by civil society groups who despise every mile of the barrier. Mr. Sharon himself agreed to reroute sections of it when the Israel High Court ruled in favor of the complainants. Where else in the Middle East can Arabs and Jews work together so visibly to contest, and change, state policies?
I reflected on this question as I observed an Israeli Army jeep patrol the gap in Abu Dis. The vehicle was crammed with soldiers who, in turn, observed me filming the anti-Israel graffiti scrawled by Western activists — "Scotland hates the blood-sucking Zionists!" I turned my video camera on the soldiers. Nobody ordered me to shut it off or show the tape. My Arab taxi driver stood by, unprotected by a diplomatic license plate or press banner.
Like all Muslims, I look forward to the day when neither the jeep nor the wall is in Abu Dis. So will we tell the self-appointed martyrs of Islam that the people — not just Arabs, but Arabs and Jews — "are one"? That before the barrier, there was the bomber? And that the barrier can be dismantled, but the bomber's victims are gone forever?

Dance Magazine boycotts Israel, justifies terror

A new more sinister type of boycott is emerging against Israel, an unofficial boycott of everything Israeli bred from absolute ignorance. The latest case is that of a British-based dance magazine called 'Dance Europe' which has recently turned down an article about an Israel dance company.
The editor, Emma Manning said in response to a question as to why she boycotted Israel, “as an editor, I am entitled to choose what to print. It is my prerogative.” Head of advertising Naresh Kaul was more forthcoming saying: “We are opposed to the occupation. If any company in Israel co-operates with us by adding a disclaimer saying it is opposed to the occupation, settlements and everything else, we will co-operate with them.”The website of the 17,500 circulation magazine includes a link to the website of the Palestine El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe. Asked why the Palestinian company was not required to provide a disclaimer against suicide bombings, Mr Kaul responded: “There’s a reason for people to become suicide bombers. Their land has been occupied.”
Two points stand out here as totally outrageous. Firstly, what does Ms Manning mean by "everything else", she has mentioned the occupation and the settlements. Could she mean Israel itself? It seems like she obviously has a big problem with Israel, so it is not such a large stretch to say.
Secondly, Mr Kraul openly condones suicide bombing and feels no particular problem in making such a statement. The sad fact is it is becoming far too de rigeur to make such statements and get away with it. Many like Kraul may say they are not condoning or justifying terrorism, but they 'understand' it. To me that is just the same.

A truly remarkable story

The following is part of an amzing story written by Barbara Sofer in the Jerusalem Post....
Shoshana Greenbaum, 31, taught elementary school in Long Beach, New York. As part of her master's program, the dark-haired, pretty teacher was offered an all-expenses-paid summer program in Israel. She and her husband, Steven Greenbaum, were delighted. Steven accompanied her to Israel for four weeks, and then returned to his job. The idyllic summer in Jerusalem brought an additional cause for joy: Shoshana and Steven were expecting their first child.
On the Thursday morning after he'd returned to their home in Passaic, New Jersey, Shoshana phoned Steven, missing him, happily anticipating their reunion. A friend invited her for lunch, but Shoshana didn't want to trouble anyone. She'd just grab a slice of pizza after classes. So she stopped at the corner of King George Avenue and Jaffa Road on the afternoon of August 9, 2001, just before a Palestinian with a guitar case packed with explosives and nails entered the Sbarro pizza restaurant. The terrorist murdered Shoshana and 14 others.
May her memory be for a blessing, we say in our Jewish tradition. But how do you make sure that memory is a blessing?
Greenbaum gathered friends and acquaintances to brainstorm. They came up with a modest idea: Let's exchange stories of kindness. Everyone could use a daily dose of kindness. These wouldn't be grandiose heroic deeds like leaping into a fire to save a child or like Bill Gates donating millions of dollars to eradicate malaria, but reports of letting someone go ahead of you in a bank line, returning a lost notebook, or surprising a plumber by offering a compliment for arriving on time.Not headline-catching enough for the media, the stories could circulate in e-mail messages. At first there were a dozen or so participants, but within the first two months the numbers grew to 300. He eventually set up two organizations - two organizations in Shoshana's memory - a Jewish one called "A Tradition Of Kindness" and a general one called "Partners In Kindness."
Greenbaum wanted to encourage people everywhere to do kindnesses each day.One reader wrote about buying a beggar a small bottle of water, and another about sharing a Metrocard so that someone could get to a parade. One writer recalled the joy of filling a neighbor's refrigerator with food before they returned from vacation, and another recalled a moment from the past when he gave his socks to a cold, barefoot Vietnam War veteran.Today Greenbaum has 40,000 subscribers, with several hundred new subscribers every week to his daily doses of kindness. His own Web site has become a springboard for other Web sites promulgating niceness. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has started a kindness public-awareness campaign among employees. He speaks in New York City schools and to groups.
THIS WEEK, Greenbaum was delighted with a story of someone in Israel who was giving bus drivers Purim food gifts to thank them for providing transportation on a day that so many other Israelis enjoyed as a holiday.
"This is just the beginning," Greenbaum promised by phone from his New York office.
The stories, he said, remind readers of experiencing or witnessing kindness.
"When they relive that feeling, remembering kind deeds, they're infused with a sense of gratitude, which is a tremendously spiritual experience. Generating this feeling is what being Jewish means to me."
Steven Greenbaum knew he could have drawn a crowd by spewing anger and hatred. Who could have blamed him? "But that's not the way I look at our purpose in this world," he said. "We're supposed to bring light to the world, not allow ourselves to become the tools of darkness."
Purim, named for a lottery to choose a day of destruction and not Redemption, marks one of the darkest moments of Jewish history. Redemption comes not only with dramatic acts of bravery, but also with simple kindnesses, such as giving credit to the doer of a worthy act. It ends with a promise of light and joy and gladness.
If Steven Greenbaum is right, we might just get there, one kindness at a time.
Greenbaum's Web sites are: and

Sumo and Wrestling are coming to Israel

Part of the everyday normality in Israel is that we should be just as quirky, strange and fascinated by bizarre things as any other people.
Firstly, Sumo is coming to Israel soon. Sumo's Sadogatake Stable, to which popular wrestler Kotooshu belongs, will perform in Israel in June, the first such event in the Middle East, officials of the Israeli Embassy in Japan said.
Sumo is becoming popular in Israel, and the embassy asked the Sadogatake Stable to visit Israel, saying it would do much to promote the reputation of Japan. The stable readily accepted the invitation.
During the event slated for mid-June in Tel Aviv, more than 10 sumo wrestlers from the Sadogatake Stable will compete. They are also expected to meet with their Israeli counterparts.
I'd love to know who the "Israeli counterparts" are. I've seen some fat people in Israel, but never heard of an Israeli Sumo wrestler.
Secondly, the more bizarre is the WWE is coming to town. Something called 'Smackdown' is coming to Tel Aviv in the summer.
So it is official, Israel has Sumo wrestlers and WWE wrestling fans......we are a normal country!?!?!

The black hats and beard syndrome

Has anyone noticed that whenever there is a photo of Israeli society, or a clip on the news showing Israelis going about their daily routine there is almost always a black hat and a beard on the men. People who have never been to Israel might believe that the majority of people in Israel are black hatted and bearded. This obviously isn't true.
Linda Grant came to Israel to write a book called 'The People on the Street: A Writer's View of Israel'. She writes a good article in The Guardian about how most journalists are guilty of showing Israel through the prism of Jerusalem and are keen to show only a certain representation of Israel.
Grant writes that in her book "I lamented the habit of foreign correspondents of heading straight from the airport to Jerusalem......It struck me that one has as much chance of comprehending what is going to be the outcome of this election by illustrating it with pictures of bearded black-hatted Jerusalemites, as one would understand the riots in the French banlieu with photographs of men with berets and baguettes under their arm, cycling past the Eiffel Tower."
Israel is trying to change these images of Israel, especially for tourism purposes.
It is a good thing to look out for next time. See how regular Israelis are portrayed on TV and in the papers and online.

Jimmy Carter and UN Security Council Resolution 242

Regular readers will be familiar with my disdain for former US President Jimmy Carter. There really seems no end to his nonsense. Carter has been voted the most unpopular ex-President, Dr. James Laney of Emory University said "I mean, it wasn't just that he was unpopular. People avoided him... he was a loser." Yet today, the same man is an admired figure in America and around the world, an elder statesman whose name is synonymous with honesty, integrity, and service to others. For some reason his words have resonance, I would love to know why.
Carter's latest nonsense is titled 'Colonization of Palestine precludes peace', where Carter claims that an absence of peace has been purely the fault of the Israelis. Of course Carter is allowed to voice his opinion, but when his opinion becomes intertwined with faulty facts we must be concerned.
The opening paragraph says it all and sets the tone, Carter recants "For more than a quarter century, Israeli policy has been in conflict with that of the United States and the international community. Israel's occupation of Palestine has obstructed a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land, regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by Yasser Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet."
Carter then says "universally adopted UN Resolution 242 has mandated Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories."
Now lets take that statement apart.......
The most consistent rejection of Resolution 242 came from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which from its inception in 1964 refused a peaceful settlement with Israel.
Now for a list of all those who disagree with Carter's interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution.
1) Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1965-1967)- "the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal." ("The Meaning of 242", June 10, 1977)

2) Lord Caradon, author of the draft resolution that was adopted as U.N. Resolution 242, U.K. Ambassador to the United Nations (1964-1970)- ""We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately." (MacNeil/Lehrer Report - March 30, 1978)

3) Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1966-1969)- "It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines." (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
"The USSR and the Arabs supported a draft demanding a withdrawal to the 1967 Lines. The US, Canada and most of West Europe and Latin America supported the draft which was eventually approved by the UN Security Council." (American Society of International Law - 1970)

4) The Russian delegate Vasily Kuznetsov acknowledged before the adoption of Resolution 242- "there is certainly much leeway for different interpretations which retain for Israel the right to establish new boundaries and to withdraw its troops only as far as the lines which it judges convenient."

5) The Brazilian delegate Geraldo de Carvalho Silos, told the Security Council after 242's adoption- "We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure, permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighbouring States."

6) George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967 commented- "I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said 'Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied', and not from 'the' territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories." (The Jerusalem Post, 23.1.70)

7) Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President (1963-1968)- "We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967 will not bring peace." (September 10, 1968)

So there we have Carter's "universally adopted UN Resolution 242 has mandated Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories." Quite universally un-mandated for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
You will find lower in the blog that the BBC Board of Governors has actually reprimanded its own online news service for saying exactly what Carter has repeated in his 'opinion' piece.
There is so much more that is faulty with Carter's article, but time and space does not permit me to rip every falsity that is spun from Carter's pen.

Congratulations to Michael

On behalf of the whole KICIsrael team and readers I would like to wish Michael and his wife Lisa, a Mazal Tov on the birth of a son.

Friday, March 17, 2006


This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time, from Virginia Blackburn of the Daily Express (UK). I have reprinted it in full below....
Just what has the world got against Israel? Possibly the most maligned country on the planet is in the news again: this time round it’s being castigated for the capture of Ahmed Saadat. Saadat, a Palestinian terrorist who is accused of ordering the assassination of the Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001, was being held in a Palestinian prison in Jericho.
Even before the election of the Hamas government, concerns were being voiced over the security of the jail. Under the new government and the new president, Mahmoud Abbas, it looked almost certain that he would be set free. So Israel was forced to storm the prison and capture Saadat, who will now face trial.
But does the world thank Israel for capturing a known terrorist and bringing him to justice? No, it does not. Instead, you’d have thought Israel itself was in the wrong.
There’s the usual tutting about heavy handedness and upsetting the rest of the Middle East, much of which, if truth be told, wants to see not only Israel but also the West smashed to smithereens.
Not that you would gather that listening to some people, especially those on the Left: in their eyes, nothing Israel does can ever be right. In a moment of ever greater than usual stupidity, [senior British politician] Clare Short once compared Israel to Saudi Arabia on human rights grounds. As a woman, in which of the two countries do you think she’d prefer to live?
Why do people think like this? Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and the only true friend of the West. Some of the Arab states may present themselves as Western allies but that is only because they want Western money for their oil.
Saudi Arabia may have strong trading links with the UK and the US but it’s an open secret that massively anti-Western propaganda is rife in that country. If you doubt this, remember that the majority of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis, as is Osama Bin Laden. Some friends to the west.
Yet Saudi Arabia doesn’t get an ounce of the vitriol directed towards it that Israel has to take. Israel has had to deal with suicide bombers for years now and has been routinely denounced for its reaction – yet look what happens on the one and only occasion Britain has had to deal with suicide bombers to date: an innocent man is shot dead.
The police have rightly been castigated for this but can you imagine living in a country where suicide bombers are a part of the fabric of daily life? Can you imagine the fear and mistrust this must breed among people who, every day, must mingle with potential murderers in the street?
This is what Israel has had to deal with and have we been sympathetic? Have we hell. The left even sided with the bombers until they got active on these shores, too.
The reason for this appalling attitude, alas, is because Israel is a Jewish state. Anti-Semitism is as strong as it ever has been: it’s just that, after the events of 60 years ago, most anti-Semites have been shamed into shutting up. So they take out their disgusting little prejudices by blaming Israel for all the world’s problems instead.
They should wise up. Israel has, more than once, saved our ungrateful necks. It is Israel that stopped Iraq from becoming a nuclear power by bombing its armaments factories, and the way things are going, it looks as if it may do the same to Iran, too.
And will it be praised by a world it has made safer? You guess.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Usual UN bashing of Israel

To regular Israel advocates, Israel bashing at the UN is nothing new. Pretty much since the international body was formed the UN has singled out Israel for undue criticism, unfair treatment, wiping Israel off the map and has even been a haven for anti-Semitism.
A United Nations body dealing with women's rights has singled out Israel for its treatment of Palestinian women, ignoring other U.N. member states with questionable records on women's rights.The Commission on the Status of Women, which is part of the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council, suspended its 50th session last week with a draft resolution addressing five subjects, including the situation of Palestinian women in relation to Israel.The resolution called for "tangible improvement" in living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families; and it said the Israeli "occupation" is a major obstacle to the advancement and self-reliance of Palestinian women.The resolution called on Israel to "facilitate the return of all refugees and displace Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties."
Professor Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a U.S.-based public policy research organization, noted that out of the 191 U.N. member states, only Israel was criticized for allegedly abusing women's rights."There was no resolution on Saudi Arabia and the million female migrant workers living in slave-like conditions there," Bayefsky said. Nor was there any mention of Jordan, home to "honor killings," where females are murdered for various transgressions to protect the family's name.Nothing was said about China, land of forced abortions and sterilizations, Bayefsky said. "Nothing on Mali's appalling record on female genital mutilation. No mention of Palestinian women who volunteer to be suicide bombers in order to kill Jews. And of course, no mention of the Israeli women and girls who are their victims," Bayefsky wrote in comments on her "Eye on the UN" website."The Commission on the Status of Women makes it abundantly clear that the victims of the U.N.'s obsession with demonizing the Jewish state go far beyond Israelis. They are the billions of women around the world who cannot garner the attention of this organization because it is otherwise occupied," Bayefsky said.

Take some responsibility, Israel's Foreign Minister tells the Palestinians

I have to admit I like new Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. She seems very put together, extremely well informed and perhaps unusually for an Israeli government minister doesn't go looking for sound-bites to make the news.
In response to the Palestinians blaming Israel for the Jericho raid, Livni was straight to the point. The classic Palestinian concept is blaming Israel," she said. "The Brits warned they were about to leave (the prison) and informed him (Abbas) about it, but he did nothing. On the deciding date he found himself in Vienna, called on the international community to intervene, and blamed Israel."
"The person responsible for Abu Mazen's (Abbas) status is Abu Mazen himself," Livni said. "His position is not only dependent on Israel. His status hinges on his deeds, or failures."
Livni is correct, for too long if something goes wrong in the PA, the reflex reaction is to blame Israel, even when Israel is not at all related. Their is such a culture of victimhood amongst certain Palestinians that they believe every single occurrence in the PA is a result of Israel.
If the Palestinians want their own state one day they have to resist the temptation to build it with a chip on its shoulder. Israel was born out of the one of the worst atrocities in human memory, but Israel never blamed Europe every time something went wrong.

Another UN body to bash Israel with

Yesterday a new UN human rights body was established. The new UN Human Rights Council will replace the controversial Human Rights Commission. Almost every single nation voted for the changes that were made, and only four nations stood against it. Israel and the United States were two of them.
The US has argued that right abusers could still be elected to the new body under the proposed rules. World leaders at September's UN summit decided to create a new council to replace the commission, which has been criticized for allowing some of the worst rights-offending countries to use their membership to protect one another from condemnation. In recent years, members have included Sudan, Libya, Zimbabwe and Cuba.
The Americans want members of the council to be elected by a two-thirds vote, not the simple majority now called for, to help keep rights abusers out. They also want the text to explicitly bar any nation from joining the council if it is under sanction by the United Nations. The current draft says only that such measures would be taken into account when deciding membership.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev explained Israel's opposition to the new proposal saying that UN bodies designed to deal with human rights have, over the years, become "vehicles for singling out Israel, and for Israel bashing."
Regev said that although Israel welcomed the pursuit of a new human rights framework at the UN, it feels that "some of the problems in the previous structure are present in the current structure as well. We are concerned that it could still be manipulated to advance an extremist anti-Israel agenda, instead of promoting human rights."
Will the Human Rights Council be any better than the Human Rights Commission? Human rights groups had long been critical of the Commission for not dealing with some of the most egregious human rights abuses around the world. With members such as Cuba, Sudan, Syria and China, and under the Chairmanship of Libya, Human Rights Watch referred to the commission as an "abusers club" of governments who are hostile to human rights.
The Commission on Human Rights routinely adopted totally disproportionate resolutions concerning Israel. Of all condemnations of this agency, 26 percent refer to Israel alone, while rogue states such as Syria and Libya were never criticized. The biggest losers again stand to be the people whose human rights are really being affected. If the new body gets bogged down in the politicisation of constantly attacking Israel, then people will suffer who look to the UN for help.
It is completely understandable that Israel and the US should have a problem with this new body with memories of the old commission fresh in their minds. The United States was kicked off the U.N. Commission for Human Rights in May 2001, despite being one of the most outspoken advocates for human rights and a founding member of the Commission. It was replaced by Sierra Leone and the Sudan, both of which have records of abuses of human rights, including slavery and the forced use of children as soldiers.
Let us hope there is going to be change and the new UN Human Rights Council really does look at the true human rights abusers in this world. I would like to be optimistic that it will, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Israel shows once again that justice must prevail

Although not quite in the same league, many people have suggested yesterday's raid on the Jericho prison can be talked about in the same breath as the daring raid on Entebbe and Israel's bombing of the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981.
However, like those two events Israel did what it felt was necessary regardless of world opinion. Israel has long been in a state of stupor where every Israeli move has to be seen in the context of world opinion. Israel has deliberately stayed her hand many times in recent history when a reaction was necessary to mollify terrorism or violence meted out to its citizens. Many people talk of the might of Israel's military, so they must know that the IDF does not even use a small fragment of its firepower because it understandably and morally does not want to kill innocents. A few years ago we had an almost farcical scene of one of the most technologically advanced armies in the world going house to house in an anti-terrorism operation using tactics more reminiscent of decades ago. This was all because Israel did not want to shed innocent blood so did not fire on targets from the air or from a safe distance. Because of this tens of Israeli soldiers lost their lives, when only double that number of Palestinian terrorists were killed.
So to yesterday, Israel saw a situation that was intolerable and decided to act, world condemnation be damned.
Speaking during a visit to the destroyed jail, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the raid was a blow to the Palestinian Authority.
"What happened is an ugly crime which cannot be forgiven and a humiliation for the Palestinian people and a violation of all the agreements. Their arrest by Israel is illegal," Palestinian MrAbbas said, referring to Saadat and other militants detained.
Of course none of this would have been necessary if the PA Chairman had not confirmed the intention of Hamas to release these prisoners - and his intention to do nothing about it - by stating that he should not be held responsible for the result.
The whole situation of these prisoners was ridiculous from the start (timeline) with an Israeli government minister gunned down in a hotel. The prisoners were convicted by a 'Kangaroo court' only because of international pressure mounting on the Palestinians to act.
This latest Israeli act has righted those wrongs. While the UK, Belgium and many other nations reserve the right to try Israeli leaders and soldiers who have never perpetrated a crime against anyone of that country, Palestinians who murdered a member of the Israeli government were never going to face Israeli justice.
Although a long way from the daring of Entebbe and Osirak, yesterday's mission went a long way in telling the world that Israeli can mean business again, especially when it means justice for one of its slain.
Now the Israeli Prime Minister has stated that the prisoners will finally face an Israeli court.