A woman on a train walked up to a man across the table. "Excuse me," she said, "but are you Jewish?" "No," replied the man. A few minutes later the woman returned. "Excuse me," she said again, "are you sure you're not Jewish?" "I'm sure," said the man. But the woman was not convinced, and a few minutes later she approached him a third time. "Are you absolutely sure you're not Jewish?" she asked? "All right, all right," the man said. "You win. I'm Jewish."
"That's funny," said the woman.
" You don't look Jewish."
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A woman on a train walked up to a man across the table. "Excuse me," she said, "but are you Jewish?" "No," replied the man. A few minutes later the woman returned. "Excuse me," she said again, "are you sure you're not Jewish?" "I'm sure," said the man. But the woman was not convinced, and a few minutes later she approached him a third time. "Are you absolutely sure you're not Jewish?" she asked? "All right, all right," the man said. "You win. I'm Jewish."
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the UN Tuesday in a forceful exposition showing why the world should not accept Rouhani's words as legal tender.
" Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.
Last Friday Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran —this is a quote —Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. Well, in 2002 Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz. And then in 2009 Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.
Rouhani tells us not to worry. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Any of you believe that? If you believe that, here’s a few questions you might want to ask. Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?
Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy?
Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program; Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3 1/2 percent, doubled it stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges. It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Iraq; that’s in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. And since Rouhani’s election —and I stress this —this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated."
Mr Netanyahu has been called "The only honest leader inthe ME."
You can take that to the bank.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
While many on the American side were excited about the possibilities opened by President Obama’s historic phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, many Iranians were decidedly less so. When Rouhani returned to Tehran after the diplomatic conversation after the U.N. General Assembly in New York, his car was beset by crowds —not all of them friendly. About 100 protestors met him at the airport, shouting, "Death to America." One protestor threw a shoe at the presidential car, which in Islamic countries is considered a much graver insult than you’d think. It’s not the only complication Rouhani ran into after the phone call: several tweets were taken down on Friday after details of the conversation appeared to be divulged from an account in Rouhani’s name.
However, like the Tea Baggers in America, the protesters are a tiny minority.
Friday, September 27, 2013
September 27, 2013
WASHINGTON —President Obama spoke by telephone with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Friday afternoon, the first direct conversation between leaders of the two estranged countries since the rupture of the Tehran hostage crisis more than three decades ago.
Mr. Obama called the discussion an important breakthrough after a generation of deep mistrust and suggested that it could serve as the starting point to an eventual deal on Iran’s nuclear program and a broader renewal of relations between two countries that once were close allies.
“The test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Mr. Obama added: “A path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult. And at this point both sides have significant concerns that will have to be overcome. But I believe we’ve got a responsibility to pursue all options".
The Iranian mission at the United Nations said the two presidents talked as Mr. Rouhani was in a car in New York heading to the airport.
“The Iranian and U.S. presidents underlined the need for a political will for expediting resolution of the West’s standoff with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program,” the mission said. The two presidents “stressed the necessity for mutual cooperation on different regional issues.”
Recognizing the sensitivities of the conversation, Mr. Obama made a point of trying to reassure Israel that he would not sell out an ally’s security. “Throughout this process, we’ll stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel,” he told reporters after the phone call.
He added, “I do believe that there is a basis for resolution,” citing Mr. Rouhani’s comment that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The authorities say they are in a new war on terror against Islamist militants. State media have labeled the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled Mursi to power last year, as an enemy of the state.
TV footage showed members of the security forces in body armour and armed with automatic rifles fanning out in Kerdasa,
In a shoot-out in a nearby village, heavy gunfire was heard as police chased a group of men into side streets, the footage showed. Gunfire appeared to hit near a police position.
In a similar operation earlier this week, the security forces moved into the town of Delga in the southern province of Minya - another area known for Islamist sympathies and a major theatre for an insurrection waged by Islamists in the 1990s.
The August 14 attack on Kerdasa's police station was triggered by the security forces' operation against two pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo. That led to the worst spasm of violence in Egypt's modern history, with more than 100 members of the security forces killed as well as the hundreds of Mursi supporters.
Mass arrests have netted at least 2,000 people, mostly Mursi supporters, since his downfall. The former president and many Brotherhood leaders have been thrown in prison.
Egypt has been in a state of emergency since August 14 and large parts of the country remain under a nighttime curfew. The government decided on Thursday to shorten the hours of the curfew to start at midnight instead of 11 p.m. from Saturday
(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti, Yasmine Saleh)
Saturday, September 14, 2013
President Bashar al-Assad gave the following interview to the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper:
Interviewer: Mr President, how do you view the situation in your country? The Syrian Army has lost control over large parts of Syria, in other words those areas are outside the control of central government. What’s your take on the situation?
President Assad: Your question requires us to put things into their proper context: this is not a conventional war with two armies fighting to control or liberate particular areas or parts of land. What we are in fact dealing with is a form of guerrilla warfare.
for the Syrian Army, there has not been any instance where our Armed Forces have planned to enter a particular location and have not succeeded. Having said this, the Army is not present – and should not be present – in every corner of Syria. What is more significant than controlling areas of land, is striking terrorists. We are confident that we can successfully fight terrorism in Syria, but the bigger issue is the ensuing damage and its cost. The crisis has already had a heavy toll but our biggest challenges will come once the crisis is over.
Interviewer: In your recent interview with Al-Manar it appeared as though you were preparing the Syrian public for a protracted struggle. Was that your intention?
President Assad: No, this was not specific to Al-Manar. From the early days of the crisis, whenever I was asked, I have stated that this crisis is likely to be prolonged due to foreign interference. Any internal crisis can go in one of two ways: either it is resolved or it escalates into a civil war. Neither has been the case for Syria because of the foreign component, which seeks to extend the duration of the crisis both politically and militarily; I think its fair to say that my predictions were right.
Interviewer: Mr President, how do you expect to overcome the large-scale destruction that has been inflicted in Syria?
President Assad: In the same way you, in Germany, overcame the devastation after World War II, and in the same way many other nations have progressed and been rebuilt after their wars. I am confident Syria will follow the same path. As long as we have resilient people, we can rebuild the country. We have done this before and we can do it again, learning from all we have been through.
In terms of funding, we have been a self-sufficient country for a very long time. Of course we will need to be more productive than before as a result of the situation. Friendly countries have helped us in the past and continue to offer their support, maybe in the form of loans in the future. It may take a long time, but with our determination, our strength and our solidarity, we can rebuild the country
However, the more arduous challenge lies in rebuilding, socially and psychologically, those who have been affected by the crisis. It will not be easy to eliminate the social effects of the crisis, especially extremist ideologies. Real reconstruction is about developing minds, ideologies and values. Infrastructure is valuable, but not as valuable as human beings; reconstruction is about perpetuating both.
nterviewer: Mr President, during the crisis some areas of the country have become either more self-reliant or more reliant on external support. Do you think this could potentially lead to the re-drawing of borders?
President Assad: Do you mean within Syria or the region in general?
Interviewer: The region – one hundred years after the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
President Assad: One hundred years after Sykes-Picot, when we talk about re-drawing the borders in our region, we can use an analogy from architecture. Syria is like the keystone in the old architectural arches; by removing or tampering with the keystone, the arch will collapse.
If we apply this to the region, to the world, – any tampering with the borders of this region will result in re-drawing the maps of distant regions because this will have a domino effect which nobody can control. One of the superpowers may be able to initiate the process, but nobody – including that superpower, will be able to stop it; particularly since there are new social borders in the Middle East today that didn’t exist during Sykes-Picot. These new sectarian, ethnic and political borders make the situation much more complicated. Nobody can know what the Middle East will look like should there be an attempt to re-draw the map of the region. However, most likely that map will be one of multiple wars, which would transcend the Middle East spanning the Atlantic to the Pacific, which nobody can stop.
Interviewer: Mr President, in your opinion what will the region look like in the future?
President Assad: If we rule out the destructive scenario of division in your last question, I can envisage a completely different and more positive future, but it will depend on how we act as nations and societies. This scenario involves a number of challenges, first of which is restoring security and stability; our second challenge is the rebuilding process. However, our biggest and most important challenge lies in facing extremism.
It has become extremely clear that there has been a shift in the societies of our region away from moderation, especially religious moderation. The question is: can we restore these societies to their natural order? Can our diverse societies still coexist together as one natural whole? On this point allow me to clarify certain terms. The words tolerance and coexistence are often used to define our societies. However, the more precise and appropriate definition, of how our societies used to be – and how they should be, is harmonious. Contrary to perception, the issue is neither about tolerance – since there will come a day when you are not tolerant, nor is the issue about coexistence – since you co-exist with your adversaries, but rather it is about harmony.
What used to characterize us in the region was our harmony. You cannot say that your hand will coexist with or tolerate your foot because one compliments the other and both are a part of a harmonious whole.
Another challenge is political reform and the question of which political system would keep our society coherent: be it presidential, semi-presidential or parliamentary, as well as deciding the most appropriate legislation to govern political parties. In Germany, for example, you have the Christian Democratic Party. In Syria we could not have religious parties, neither Christian nor Muslim, because for us religion is for preaching and not for political practice. There are many other details, but the essence is in accepting others. If we cannot accept each other we cannot be democratic, even with the best constitution.
Interviewer: Mr President, where do you see secularism in the midst of the rising Islamic current in the region?
President Assad: This is a very important question; many in the region do not understand this relationship. The Middle East is a hub of different ideologies. Arab society is primarily based on two pillars: Pan-Arabism and Islam. Other ideologies do exist, such as communism, liberalism, Syrian nationalism, but these are not nearly as popular. Many people understand secularism as synonymous with communism in the past, in that it is against religion. In fact it is the complete opposite; for us in Syria secularism is about the freedom of confession including Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and the multiple diverse sects within these religions. Secularism is crucial to our national unity and sense of belonging.
Thererefore we have no choice but to strengthen secularism because religion is already strong in our region, and I stress here that this is very healthy. What is not healthy is extremism because it ultimately leads to terrorism; not every extremist is a terrorist, but every terrorist is definitely an extremist.
So in response to your question, we are a secular state that essentially treats its citizens equally, irrespective of religion, sect or ethnicity. All our citizens enjoy equal opportunities regardless of religious belief.
Syria is passing through most difficult circumstances, definitely not a spring
Interviewer: Mr President, how do you view the two-and-a-half years since the so-called ‘Arab Spring?’
This is a misconception. Spring does not include bloodshed, killing, extremism, destroying schools or preventing children from going to their schools, or preventing women from choosing what to wear and what is appropriate for them. Spring is the most beautiful season whilst we are going through the direst circumstances; it is definitely not Spring. Is Spring compatible with what is happening in Syria – the killing, the slaughtering, the beheading, the cannibalism, I leave it to you to decide.
Interviewer: What are the issues that the so-called “Arab Spring” is supposed to resolve?
President Assad: The solution doesn’t lie in the ‘Spring’ or in anything else, the solution lies in us. We are the ones who should provide the solutions, by being proactive instead of reactive. When we address our problems proactively we ensure that we get the right solutions. Solutions imposed reactively by the ‘Spring’ will only lead to deformed results.
Like many countries in the Middle East, we have numerous problems that we are aware of and view objectively. This is how these problems should be solved, in that the solutions are internally manufactured and not externally administered, as the latter would produce a distorted or stillborn solution. It is for this very reason that when we call for dialogue or solutions, they need to be home-grown in order to ensure that they lead to the Syria we aspire to. What is happening in Iraq now, and in Lebanon previously, are repercussions of the situation in Syria.
Interviewer: Mr President, you have rejected any form of foreign intervention and have warned that this would extend the battle to wider areas, have you reached this?
President Assad: Let’s be clear about this, there are two types of foreign intervention: indirect through proxies or agents, and direct intervention through a conventional war. We are experiencing the former. At the beginning of the crisis I warned that intervention in Syria – even indirectly, is similar to tampering with a fault line, it would lead to shockwaves throughout the region. At the time, many people –saw this
as President Assad threatening to extend the crisis beyond Syria’s borders. Clearly they did not understand what I meant at the time, but this is exactly what is happening now.
If we look at the reality in front of us, we can see clearly that what is happening in Iraq now, and in Lebanon previously, are repercussions of the situation in Syria, and this will only extend further and further. We are seeing these ramifications and the intervention is still indirect, so imagine the consequences of military intervention? The situation will, of course, be much worse and then we will witness the domino effect of widespread extremism, chaos and fragmentation.
Interviewer: You criticise countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Britain for their interference in the Syria crisis, isn’t it true that Russia and Iran are also involved?
President Assad: There is a significant difference between the co-cooperation of states as opposed to the destabilisation of a certain country and interference in its internal affairs. Cooperation between countries is conceived on the concept of mutual will, in a way that preserves their sovereignty, independence, stability and self-determination. Our relationship with Russia, Iran and other countries that support Syria are cooperative relations certified under international law.
The countries you mentioned, have adopted policies that meddle in Syria’s internal affairs, which is a flagrant violation of international law and our national sovereignty. The difference therefore, is that cooperation between countries is intended to preserve stability and perpetuate the prosperity of these nations, whilst foreign interference seeks to destabilise countries, spread chaos and perpetuate ignorance.
Interviewer: Sir, you have discussed the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Iraq and Lebanon whose societies are based on what one might call a sectarian system. Do you think that such a system with Sunni and Shiite pillars could be established in Syria?
President Assad: Undoubtedly, sectarian systems in neighbouring countries, sectarian unrest or civil wars – as in Lebanon 30 years ago, will inevitably affect Syria. That is why Syria intervened in Lebanon in 1976 – to protect itself and to safeguard Lebanon. It is for this reason that we are observing carefully the unfolding events in Iraq – they will affect us directly. This was also for this reason that we adamantly opposed the war on Iraq, despite a mixture of American temptations and threats at the time. We rejected losing our stability in return for appeasing the Americans. Sectarian systems are dangerous and that is why we insist on the secular model where all citizens are equal regardless of religion.
Interviewer: Mr President, you are fighting “Jabhat Al-Nusra.” Can you tell us about it, what is this organization, who supports them, who supplies them with money and weapons?
President Assad: Jabhat Al-Nusra is an Al-Qaeda affiliated group with an identical ideology whose members live in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan as well as other Arab and Muslim countries; they are very well financed and have plenty of arms. It is difficult to trace their sources due to the fact that their support resides in a covert manner through wealthy individuals and organisations that adopt the same ideology.
Their primary aim is to establish an Islamic State in accordance to their interpretation of Islam. Central to their political thought is the Wahhabi doctrine – comparable to Al-Qaeda’s in Afghanistan. This ideology is
administered wherever they are present, especially on women. They claim to be applying Sharia Law and the Islamic Religion; however, in reality their actions are a complete distortion of the real religion of Islam. We have seen examples of their brutality on our satellite channels taken from footage they publish on purpose on YouTube in order to spread their ideology; a recent example was the beheading of an innocent man, which was aired on Belgian TV.
Interviewer: What is the motivation for Saudi Arabia and Qatar to assist and arm the terrorists against you, what do they seek to achieve?
President Assad: Firstly, I believe that this is a question they should be answering. I will respond by raising a few questions. Do they support the armed gangs because of their vehement belief in freedom and democracy as they claim in their media outlets? Do they harbour any form of democracy in their own countries, in order to properly support democracy in Syria. Do they have elected parliaments or constitutions voted on by their people? Have their populations decided at any time during the previous decades on what type of governing system they want – be it monarchy, presidency, principality or any other form? So, things are clear: they should first pay attention to their own nations and then answer your question.
Interviewer: In this quagmire, why do Britain and France delegate leadership to Saudi Arabia and Qatar? What do they hope to achieve?
President Assad: I also cannot answer on behalf of Britain or France, but I can give you the general impression here. I believe that France and Britain have an issue with the ‘annoying’ Syrian role in the region – as they see it. These countries, like the United States, are looking for puppets and dummies to do their bidding and serve their interests without question. We have consistently rejected this; we will always be independent and free. It seems as though France and Britain have not forgotten their colonial history and persist in attempting to manipulate the region albeit through proxies. Indeed, Britain and France can direct Saudi Arabia and Qatar on what they should do, but we must also not forget that
t he policies and economies of France and Britain are also dependent on petrodollars.
What happened in Syria was an opportunity for all these countries to get rid of Syria –this insubordinate state, and replace the president with a “yes man.” This will never happen neither now nor in the future.
Interviewer: The European Union has not renewed the arms embargo imposed on Syria and yet it has not approved arming the opposition. What is your assessment of this step?
President Assad: Clearly there is a split within the European Union on this issue. I cannot state that the EU is supportive of the Syrian government; there are countries, especially Britain and France, who are particularly hostile to Syria. On the other hand, there are countries – Germany in particular, which are raising logical questions about the future consequences of arming the terrorists. Well firstly, that would perpetuate the destruction in Syria, forcing the Syrian people to pay an even heavier price. Secondly, by supplying arms, they are effectively arming terrorists, and the Europeans are well informed that these are terrorists groups. Some are repeating the American rhetoric of “good fighters and bad fighters,” exactly as they did a few years ago with the “good Taliban and bad Taliban, good Al-Qaeda and bad Al-Qaeda.” Today there is a new term of “good terrorists and bad terrorists” being promoted. Is this logical?
Interviewer: Mr President, what is your vision for Syria in the next five years?
President Assad: I reiterate that our biggest challenge is extremism. If we can fight it, with better education, new ideas and culture, then we can move towards a healthy democratic state. Democracy, as we see it in Syria, is not an objective in itself, but rather a means to an end – to stability and to prosperity. Legislations and constitutions are also only tools, necessary tools to develop and advance societies. However, for democracy to thrive, it needs to become a way of life – a part of our culture, and this cannot happen when so many social taboos are imposed by extremist ideologies.
In addition to this, there is of course the reconstruction process, reinvigorating our national industries and restoring and opening up our economy. We will continue to be open in Syria, continue to learn and benefit from the lessons of this crisis. One of these lessons is that ignorance is the worst enemy of societies and forms the basis for extremism; we hope that Europe has also learned from these lessons.
Interviewer: Mr President, thank you very much. I have been greatly influenced by your personality and your vision; I hope Europe and the West will benefit from this interview and look at you and your country differently.
President Assad: Thank you very much and welcome again to Syria.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Friday, August 30, 2013
President Obama has said that a "low level" attack on Syria would "send a message" to Assad.
A message that almost certainly would result in more death in civil war torn Syria.
The President said that down the road "bad guys" might get Syria's chemical weapons and use them on us.
The opposition in Syria, who we support, are increasingly, hard core Jihadis, including Al qaeda.
To the extent that we injure the Assad regime, we would be aiding Al Qaeda and other Jihadis, the very "bad guys" the President referred to.
Let's get the facts before we bomb another Arab country, and by all means, let's not do this alone.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Some are shocked, some are revolted, I even read an article that claimed this performance signaled the end of Western civilization.
In actuality, the performance was about a 20 year old billionaire shaking her booty and singing a decent enough tune, which will probably go platinum, thanks in part to the shock factor.
Miley Cyrus has talent, she did a superb cover of Dylan's "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go" recently, which attracted little attention and therefore, encouraged her to go in a different direction.
As for all the fuss..it too will pass, and Miley will either concentrate on her considerable vocal talent and acting abilities, or not.
Life will go on as before.
We wish her luck.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
The UN inspection units have been in Syria for days, since before the recent alleged nerve agent attack.
Why would Assad allow the largest attack using nerve gas in twenty-five years knowing the inspectors were right there?
Would Islamists murder their own people to convince the world powers to step in on their side?
Islamists in Egypt recently forced the government to use force to break up Muslim Brotherhood terror activities.
Extremist Muslims routinely commit murders, rapes and other forms of criminal acts.
In Syria, both sides are allied to terrorists.
Neither side is acting honorably, therefore the US can't fully commit to either side.
Before the President states that the "redline has been crossed", we need to be certain about which faction may have used CW's.
Friday, August 16, 2013
The Taliban today condemned Egyptian security forces for combatting Muslim Brotherhood terrorists.
The Taliban, one of the most brutal terrorist groups in the world is famous for terrorising women and girls in Afghanistan and murdering unarmed civilians.
The Egyptian military is supported by all people who oppose terrorism and Sharia style dictatorship.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
—Egyptian security forces stormed two sprawling sit-ins by terrorist Muslim Brotherhood supporters shortly after dawn Wednesday, firing weapons, bulldozing tents and beating and arresting protesters in raids that Morsi’s political party said caused heavy casualties.
A senior Health Ministry official, Ahmed el-Ansari, said a total of nine people were killed and 50 injured at the two sites. But the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which backs the ousted president, claimed that more than 2,000 people died. The party initially said 500 protesters were killed and about 9,000 wounded in the raids.
Watch this space for more..
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
More than 100 people have been killed and 1,500 injured at a protest held by Islamic fundamentalist supporters of arrested Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, doctors say.
The army ousted Mr Morsi on 3 July.
He has been formally accused of murder, relating to a 2011 jail outbreak, and of links to the militant group Hamas.
Both pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators held huge protests overnight in the capital, the anti-Morsi demonstrations were much larger, but in contrast to the militants, the anti- Morsi protesters were peaceful.
The anti-Morsi demonstrators occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square in support of the army, after its chief, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had urged people to demonstrate to show that most Egyptians oppose the Islamist MB.
Egyptian security forces were required to fire on Islamists actively promoting violence.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
There has never been a positive aspect to Islamist takeovers anywhere.
We strongly support the Egyptian military and advise them to dismantle the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.
Representative Rogers said Sunday that the Egyptian military is a stabilizing force and should continue to receive U.S. aid, despite its role in deposing a democratically elected government.
Mr. Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would support making an exception to U.S. law that calls for the suspension of U.S. aid in the case of a military coup.
“We should continue to support the military, the one stabilizing force that can temper down the political feuding that you’re seeing going on now,” he said.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Could it be the beginning of a new era of inter-party love? Former President George W. Bush was caught praising current President Obama's approach to immigration reform in an interview with ABC's The Week Sunday. "It's very important to fix a broken system," he said, "to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people."
He's also a fan of Obama's decision to hold onto counterterrorism policies put in place during his own administration.
Can the love last?
Friday, July 5, 2013
The Muslim brotherhood is a terrorist organization, they should be dismantled.
When we see the pro-Morsi
" activists," we see them shouting maniacally "Allah akbar!"
They are quick to anger.
The women at these MB conflicts are covered from head to foot.
Islamist is the word used most often these days to designate criminal gangs that use Islam as a justification for their crimes.
They believe Allah is going to assist them in establishing An Islamic world.
They will commit murder to fulfill what they believe is the will of Allah.
They will rape women to further this sick ideology.
Now is the time to rid the middle-east of these violent, corrupt organizations.
From The New York Times:
Crackdown on Morsi Backers Deepens Divide in Egypt
As prosecutors arrested dozens of top Muslim Brotherhood members, a senior Egyptian jurist was sworn in as acting head of state.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Pee-wee Herman's Crazy Dad
by Zachary Solomon,
Those antics had to come from somewhere.
Hours after Ben-Gurion announced Israeli independence, Arab forces launched a massive ground invasion. Days later, the American pilot Milton Rubenfeld volunteered for the brand new Israeli Air Force. The young man from Peekskill, New York, his recruitment officer later told an historian, was "so cocky he seemed to swagger even while sitting down."
But Rubenfeld was more than just swagger. He quickly proved himself a skilled pilot, though he was no match for the Arab missiles that shot down his Avia S-199 and forced him to bail over the Mediterranean. As he swam to shore, Israeli farmers began to shoot, thinking him an Arab pilot. As the story goes, Rubenfeld knew no Hebrew to prove himself a compatriot. So he improvised, shouting, "Shabbos, gefilte fish! Shabbos, gefilte fish!"
Rubenfeld's storied life continued after the war. He returned to America and had 3 children, one of whom was Paul Reubens, i.e. Pee-wee Herman. Reubens even cast his father as an extra, earning Rubenfeld, along with his military accolades, his very own IMDB page.
Original Page: http://thejewniverse.com/2013/pee-wee-hermans-crazy-dad/
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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Dear Prof. Hawking:
When I was a boy in ninth grade, I received a book as a birthday present. It was your successful work, A Brief History of Time. At that time, we did not yet have the internet, so I scoured the papers and the news on radio and television for any scrap of information about you. I was incredulous: "How is it possible that a man in a wheelchair who can barely speak has made such important discoveries about space?", I asked my father. Since then, 25 years after your book was published, my ears have been listening out for the sound of your name - for a return to those moments of my youth, to the sense of wonder at someone - you - who had proven that it is possible to do the impossible. That is, until Wednesday. Because Wednesday you announced that you were canceling your participation in the Israeli Presidential Conference. The reason was that you feel obligated to respect the academic boycott against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. Your announcement was endorsed by spokespeople of a body called: "The British Committee for Universities in Palestine", another in a long list of organizations that are instigated by Palestinian elements and their partners in the cheap propaganda campaign known as BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel). Boycotts are flawed in principle. But there is something even more outrageous when intellectuals, scientists and cultural leaders in particular boycott an entire people, any people. Because if there is one field in which there must be room for dialogue, for a cultural bridge, for moral change, it is precisely here, on the same platform on which you and your colleagues stand. If I had to define this in your scientific language, I would say that the boycott creates reverse, negative energy, a vacuum. In my words - it leads to extremism, a hardening of positions, and deterioration. Yes, a boycott leads to a void that does not allow for dialogue, persuasion or discussion. Not with the boycotted people and certainly not with your colleagues, Israel's scientists, researchers, artists and writers. How often it happens that we find a song that has made us think differently about something, about somebody, about a particular people? How often we realize that the discovery of a foreign scientist, whose name we can barely pronounce, has changed our lives forever? How often it is that the director of a political film has caused us to say to someone next to us: "You know, apparently it really isn't ok." Professor Hawking, if you wanted to have an influence on the future of the Palestinians and on what you claim is Israel's problematic treatment of them, then it would be important for you to be here, in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, to say those things. Say them so that they resonate, provoke debate, make headlines. Say them so that we will listen, so that we nod our heads, so that we go back to our loved ones and say, "You know, I heard Prof. Hawking today and there's something in what he says..." Because as hard as it is for us to hear what you have to say, Israel is still a vibrant and lively democracy, one with freedom of speech that is unparalleled, not only in the Middle East but also in the Western world from which you come. Because it is permissible and appropriate to expect that an intellectual of your stature would face the questions, would try to understand that there is a grey area of reality between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I, Professor Hawking, have grown up. I am no longer a boy. I have come to understand that reality is generally not simple. It is not black or white, but mostly gray. It is a pity that you of all people, the object of my admiration, should have chosen to boycott me, the same child with a dream. It saddens me that you have chosen the black option, the option of boycott - the one that creates black holes in the relations between people's and countries, the same black holes that swallow up all that crosses their path. It is just this that I learned from the book that I got as a present, A Brief History of Time. And what will be with the next young reader who gets your book for his birthday? Will he or she also learn the same important life lesson that I was privileged to receive in my youth? Sadly, your support for the boycott passes down to the next generation the failure of the culture of dialogue and the betrayal of all that is right and good in our millennia-old basic values: the values of science, culture and art. Attorney Tzahi Gavrieli has served as an advisor to Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert
Original Page: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4378746,00.html
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Monday, May 13, 2013
By John Chalmers
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Nawaz Sharif, poised to become prime minister for a third time after a decisive victory in Pakistan's election, said on Monday the mistrust that has long dogged relations with India must be tackled.
Sharif said he had a "long chat" with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday and the two exchanged invitations to visit - a diplomatic nicety in some parts of the world but a heavily symbolic step for South Asia's arch-rivals.
Asked by an Indian journalist if he would invite Singh for his swearing-in as prime minister, Sharif said: "I will be very happy to extend that invitation."
"There are fears on your side, there are fears on our side," Sharif added during a news conference at his home on the outskirts of Lahore. "We have to seriously address this."
Sharif's power base is Pakistan's most prosperous province, Punjab, which sits across the border from an Indian state with the same name. A free marketeer, he wants to see trade between the two countries unshackled, and he has a history of making conciliatory gestures towards New Delhi.
In 1999, when he was last prime minister, Sharif stood at the frontier post waiting to welcome his counterpart - Atal Behari Vajpayee - to arrive on the inaugural run of a bus service between New Delhi and Lahore.
It was a moment of high hope for two countries that were divided amid bloodshed at birth in 1947 and went on to wage war three times in the decades that followed.
But by May of 1999, the two sides were sucked into a new conflict as the then-army chief of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, sent forces across the line dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. And by October, Sharif had been ousted by Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
Sharif's return to power 14 years later has raised concern that he will again cross swords with the military, which has long controlled Pakistan's foreign and security policies.
But Sharif said he "never had any trouble with the army", just Musharraf, and as prime minister he would ensure that the military and the civilian government work together on the myriad security and economic problems confronting Pakistan.
Musharraf resigned as president in 2008 and went into self-imposed exile abroad. He returned in March to run in last Saturday's elections. Instead, he was arrested for his crackdown on the judiciary during his rule and put under house arrest.
OPEN TO LIKE-MINDED ALLIES
Sharif said his Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) - won enough of the 272 National Assembly seats contested in the election to rule on its own, but suggested he was open to allies joining his government.
"I am not against any coalition. But as far as Islamabad is concerned, we are ourselves in a position to form our own government," Sharif told the news conference. "All those who share our vision, we will be happy to work with them."
The election was a democratic milestone in a country ruled by the military for more than half its history, marking the first transition from one elected government to another.
However, Sharif inherits a stack of challenges from a government led for the past five years by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which failed to tackle corruption, poverty and a Taliban insurgency.
Another bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a new balance of payments crisis is seen as inevitable. Sharif has suggested that he would be willing to implement politically sensitive reforms to secure an IMF lifeline.
He has picked senator Ishaq Dar as his finance minister in the new cabinet, a party spokesman said on Monday.
Dar, who served as finance minister in a previous Sharif cabinet in the 1990s, has said he plans to lean on provincial governments to collect agricultural taxes, a policy that could set him on a collision course with some of the Pakistan Muslim League's (PML-N) wealthy supporters.
Sharif said ahead of the election that Pakistan should reconsider its support for the U.S. war on Islamist militancy and suggested he was in favor of negotiations with the Taliban.
Pakistan backed American efforts to stamp out global militancy after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and was rewarded with billions of dollars in U.S. aid.
But many Pakistanis have grown resentful, saying thousands of Pakistani soldiers have died fighting "America's war".
As prime minister-elect, Sharif chose his words carefully on Monday, saying Islamabad and Washington have "good relations" and "need to listen to each other".
Asked about U.S. drone strikes against militants on Pakistani soil, which many Pakistanis regard as a violation of sovereignty, he referred to it as a "challenge" to sovereignty. "We will sit with our American friends and talk to them about this issue," he said.
Underlining the security issues facing Sharif, a truck bomb destroyed the home of the police chief in the western province of Baluchistan on Monday. The police chief survived but at least five people died and 68 were injured. It was not clear if the Taliban or Baluch nationalists were responsible.
(Additional reporting by Gul Yousufzai in Quetta; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Monday, April 22, 2013
by Annika Lichtenbaum, brownpoliticalreview.org
April 21st 2013 9:08 PM
Asked who America's number one foreign enemy is, which country would you answer? If you follow the news, you'd probably say either North Korea or Iran – the former due to their recent propaganda proposing to bomb major American cities, and the latter due to the hostile, anti-American sentiment that has been prevalent in Iranian political discourse since the Islamic Revolution. But it's not just about bluster; these states are considered threats because of their respective nuclear programs, seen as a danger to the US and to its allies in South Korea and Israel. Iran and North Korea have been very much in the news lately due to their potential nuclear agendas. And yet, though North Korea is the one actually suspected of having achieved nuclear capability (Iran is allegedly at least a year away from this goal), it is Iran whose threat is being taken more seriously. This preoccupation, largely influenced by America's relationship with Israel, has made Iran's nuclear program the focus of international news since the past few months' failed non-proliferation negotiations. But though there are ostensibly three broad foreign policy courses available to the United States in its dealings with Iran, the various problems posed by each option indicate that the only ultimately viable solution (diplomacy) is not yet under serious consideration.
The first option, which has long been a controversial element of US policy towards 'hostile nations,' is to increase the severity of the economic sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, which according to newly-confirmed US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are 'among the toughest, most effective ever applied', are intended to inhibit the development of the Iranian economic sectors directly related to its nuclear activities. The goal of this strategy is to pressure Iran's leaders to submit to the will of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, who have banded together to counter the threat of a nuclear Iran) and – fingers crossed – discontinue their nuclear program.
Now, I'm no Greta Lichtenbaum (my mother is far more an expert on the ramifications of Iranian sanctions than I will ever be), but the way I see it, this policy will not affect the behavior of Iranian leaders, but will succeed only in further impoverishing their populace. This is not a new outlook on these sanctions; analysts have for years decried them as ineffectual instruments of policy when it comes to Iran. But in the past, the reason for this view was that the sanctions, which restricted only the American companies under US jurisdiction, weren't harsh or broad enough to force the regime to change its policies. In recent years, however, the reach of the sanctions has expanded. Foreign companies and banks now face certain penalties in their commerce with the US if they do business in Iran, the UN has imposed sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear program, and to top it all off, new policies out of the EU and Canada have targeted Iran's energy sector – the driver of its entire economy. But, as a recent report citing senior US policy experts attests, while there may be 'plenty of evidence that the sanctions are hurting Iran,' there is 'none that they are changing the course of the country's nuclear program.' The fact is, Iran's nuclear capabilities represent ideological, even more than economic, significance to the current regime. And while increased sanctions may be causing the country's economy (and therefore its populace) to suffer more than in the past, they are unlikely to sway Iranian politicians on the issue of their nuclear program.
Even Bibi Netanyahu believes sanctions are not the most effective route to take with Iran: which brings us to our second policy option – direct military engagement. The main reason Iran has been so much in the news lately is because Israeli politicians have been making noise about carrying out a lone military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Frustrated with the ineffectiveness of the sanctions, they have emphasized Israel's capability to act without the help of the United States or the international community. But in the midst of Israel's bluster, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution last Tuesday stating the following: "If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self defense against Iran's nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence." So we've essentially pledged to attack Iran if Israel does, which is scary enough. However, the resolution requires Congressional approval of the legitimacy of Israel's hypothetical motives in the event of such a strike. And given what I consider the vast unlikelihood that a) Israel's blustering over the development of the nuclear program will evolve into a concrete military attack on Iran that garners US congressional support (Senator Lindsey Graham's opinions don't count) or b) Iran will amass the necessary capabilities and move forward to attack Israel (thus meriting a military response), the proposal to support Israel militarily against Iran holds little weight as a method of dealing with the latter's nuclear program.
And now for the third option, which is currently being executed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and of which I heartily disapprove (hence this post's rather immature title). Hagel, at this moment in the middle of a weeklong Middle East tour, is expected to finalize negotiations for a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This trade would supply these American allies with the military equipment believed necessary to defend themselves against the Iranian threat. The problem with this option, aimed to continue the long-standing US policy of maintaining Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME) is that the purpose of the aid (i.e. the nature of the 'defense' it proposes to facilitate) is unclear. Though not intended as a US endorsement of an Israeli military strike against Iran, the arms deal provides Israel with equipment that could (and even seems designed to) be used in such an operation. According to a recent NY Times article, Israel will come away from this deal with, among other things, 'a new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes' that 'would let Israel's warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission — like a strike on Iran.' That sounds ominous. However, as the article continues on to say, 'the tankers would also be useful for air patrols protecting Israeli borders.' In other words, the extent to which the US supports a pre-emptive Israeli strike against Iran is uncertain. By keeping with the QME policy through such an aggressive arms deal, the US Defense Department makes unclear its position vis-à-vis Israel's potential belligerence towards Iran, thereby stagnating the possibility for constructive diplomatic engagement with Iran in the future.
So if none of the above concrete policies (all already, to some extent, in effect) will do – then what?
The answer lies in a policy prescription that, while vague in its current form, has the potential to become a concrete and effective proposal: diplomacy. While simply advocating an improvement in relations with Iran would be too ambiguous, not to mention naive, diplomacy as delineated by the aforementioned policy report would be an effective means of dealing with Iran going forward. The report, released last Wednesday by the Iran Project (a non-profit dedicated to Iran-US dialogue), advises steps that would demonstrate the Obama administration's readiness to form ties and cooperate with the current regime. These include 'a formal bilateral channel,' as well as 'establishing a hot line for clarification of unclear or antagonistic events and statements, and public acknowledgement by Obama of Khamenei's fatwa against nuclear weapons.' These baby steps, which may seem insignificant in the short run compared to the limelit economic sanctions and military proposals, will contribute towards the essential long-term goal of improving diplomatic relations with Iran. If my experience with London's weather this semester (which I have countered by repeatedly buying, breaking and losing crappy umbrellas) has taught me anything, it is that a temporary fix never actually solves anything. Given the various problems with each of the current policies being considered towards Iran, it is my hope that the wisdom of the long-term solution occurs soon to Hagel and the rest of the Defense Department.
Original Page: http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2013/04/hagel-bites/
Sunday, April 14, 2013
michaelblackburnsr.blogspot.com | Apr 14th 2013 Anti-Semitism is a symptom of something very flawed in those who propagate it.
New York, NY, March 20, 2012 � Anti-Semitic attitudes in ten European countries remain at "disturbingly high levels," according to a new poll from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released today, with large swaths of the population subscribing to classical anti-Semitic notions such as Jews having too much power in business, being more loyal to Israel than their own country, or "talking too much" about what happened during the Holocaust.
Attitudes Toward Jews in Ten European Countries (.pdf), an ADL opinion survey of 5,000 adults � 500 in each of ten European countries � revealed that pernicious anti-Semitic beliefs continue to be held by nearly one-third of those surveyed.
The poll was conducted between Jan. 2-31, 2012 in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The survey has a margin of error of between +/- 4.43 and +/- 4.85, depending on the specific country.
"The survey is disturbing by the fact that anti-Semitism remains at high levels across the continent and infects many Europeans at a much higher level than we see here in the United States," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "In Hungary, Spain and Poland the numbers for anti-Semitic attitudes are literally off-the-charts and demand a serious response from political, civic and religious leaders."
In France, where a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse yesterday claimed the lives of three small children and a teacher, the overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, an increase from 20 percent in a previous ADL poll conducted in 2009. In France, 45 percent of respondents attributed the violence against European Jews to anti-Jewish feelings, an increase from 39 percent in 2009.
Other findings for France include: 45 percent of the population responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country; 35 percent agreed that "Jews have too much power in the business world; and 35 percent believe that "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them during the Holocaust.
When asked for their opinion about anti-Semitic violence directed against Jews, and whether that violence is the result of anti-Jewish feelings as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment, overall, 39 percent of Europeans responded that it was the result of anti-Jewish sentiments. "In France, you have a volatile mix," Mr. Foxman said. "France has seen an increase in the level of anti-Semitism. At the same time, more people today believe that violence directed against European Jews is fueled by anti-Jewish attitudes as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment. "Those increases are all the more disturbing in light of the shooting attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse."
In comparison with a similar ADL poll conducted in 2009, several of the countries showed dangerously high levels in the overall level of anti-Semitism, while other countries experienced more modest increases.
The overall findings among the countries for which comparison data is available:
� Austria experienced a slight decrease, to 28 percent from 30 percent in 2009.
� France: The overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009.
� Germany: Anti-Semitism increased by one percentage point, to 21 percent of the population.
� Hungary: The level rose to 63 percent of the population, compared with 47 percent in 2009;
� Poland: The number remained unchanged, with 48 percent of the population showing deep-seated anti-Semitic attitudes.
� Spain: Fifty-three percent (53%) percent of the population, compared to 48 percent in 2009.
� United Kingdom: Anti-Semitic attitudes jumped to 17 percent of the population, compared to 10 percent in 2009.
Country-by-Country Findings on Anti-Semitic Attitudes
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel" than their own country, the 2012 survey found:
Austria � 47%, unchanged from 2009
France � 45%, up from 38% in 2009
Germany � 52%, down from 53% in 2009
Hungary � 55%, up from 40% in 2009
Italy � 61% in 2012
Netherlands � 47% in 2012
Norway � 58% in 2012
Poland � 61%, down from 63% in 2009
Spain � 72%, up from 64% in 2009
The United Kingdom � 48%, up from 37% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world," the 2012 survey found:
Austria � 30%, down from 36% in 2009
France � 35%, up from 33% in 2009
Germany � 22%, up from 21% in 2009
Hungary � 73%, up from 67% in 2009
Italy � 39% in 2012
The Netherlands � 10% in 2012
Norway � 21% in 2012
Poland � 54%, down from 55% in 2009
Spain � 60%, up from 56% in 2009
The United Kingdom � 20%, up from 15% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets," the 2012 survey found:
Austria � 38%, up from 37% in 2009
France � 29%, up from 27% in 2009
Germany � 24%, up from 22% in 2009
Hungary � 75%, up from 59% in 2009
Italy � 43% in 2012
The Netherlands � 17% in 2012
Norway -- 23% in 2012
Poland � 54%, unchanged from 2009
Spain � 67%, down from 74% in 2009
The United Kingdom � 22%, up from 15% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust," the 2012 survey found:
Austria � 45%, down from 55% in 2009
France � 35%, up from 33% in 2009
Germany � 43%, down from 45% in 2009
Hungary � 63%, up from 56% in 2009
Italy � 48% in 2012
The Netherlands � 31% in 2012
Norway � 25% in 2012
Poland � 53%, down from 55% in 2009
Spain � 47%, up from 42% in 2009
The United Kingdom � 24%, up from 20% in 2009
ADL commissioned First International Resources to conduct the survey. Fielded in Europe by Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs, it was conducted in the national language of each country. The margin of error is +/- 4.43 to +/- 4.85, depending on the specific country, at 95% level of confidence.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
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Monday, March 25, 2013
Just one more thing...
Because of the incredible amount of spam we've been getting we won't publish comments marked "Anonymous".
Zamir and I are spending way too much time deleting spam marked "anonymous".
We would prefer to spend that time saving the world.
Mike and Zamir
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Biased, Prejudiced, and Unprofessional: The UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission Report on Israeli Settlements
On 31 January 2013 the "International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" published its findings on the implications of Israeli settlements on the human rights of the Palestinian people.
The enabling resolution of the Human Rights Council, the composition of the mission, its mandate, mode of operation, and substantive content are, from the outset, based on a premise that considers Israel's settlement policy to be illegal. This premise dictates the one-sided and prejudiced nature of the mission and its report. The accepted usage in UN and other international bodies of the term "occupied Palestinian territories" (OPT) is legally flawed and indicative of the inherent bias accompanying this entire exercise. There has never been any determination that the West Bank territories are in fact "Palestinian territories." The use of the expression "OPT" constitutes a politically biased and unjustified prejudgment as to the legal status of the territories, which remain "disputed territories" pending agreement between the parties. The report is based entirely on material submitted by a small number of Israeli, Palestinian, and international non-governmental organizations known for their anti-Israel agenda, residents of the territories, a left-wing-oriented Israeli newspaper (while ignoring other newspapers that take a different stand), UN bodies, and even the Jordanian foreign ministry. The following critique of this inherently one-sided report by the fact-finding mission outlines some examples of the blatant bias, lack of objectivity and unprofessional conduct of the mission, calling upon the UN Secretary General to reject the report in its entirety.
Any normal observer genuinely seeking to better understand the issue of Israel's settlement activity and its implications for the Palestinian residents of the territories might view with some anticipation a report, ostensibly by an "independent international fact-finding mission," that presumes, by its own admission, to be impartial, objective, transparent and professional.
Regrettably, upon perusing the mission's report it becomes immediately evident that any such expectation and anticipation of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, and professionalism is immediately and blatantly false.
Title, Mandate, and Composition of the Mission
The title and mandate of the mission established by Human Rights Council Resolution 19/17 of 22 March 20122 "to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem," as well as the extremely partisan preambular and substantive provisions of that enabling resolution that determined in advance the illegality of Israel's settlement activity, both underwrite from the start the tenor and orientation of the mission.
The fact that this exercise emanates from, and is directed by, the UN Human Rights Council, the questionable integrity and politically-biased orientation of which is a sad but universally recognized fact, only adds to the questionable nature of the mission's report and retracts from any semblance of credibility and reliability.
The biased nature of this report is perhaps evident first and foremost from the curious composition of the fact-finding team appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council.3 The team included a representative of Pakistan, a country openly hostile to Israel, which maintains no relations whatsoever and refuses to recognize the country. Pakistan was in fact the co-sponsor and introducer, on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, of the Human Rights Council Resolution 19/17 establishing the fact-finding mission, as well as a gallery of other resolutions directed against Israel.4
One might have assumed that in composing any such "independent" mission, some discretion and due regard would have been given by the President of the Human Rights Council to the political implications inherently obvious in choosing such a member of the mission.
"Occupied Palestinian Territories"
What has generally come to be accepted usage in the UN and other international bodies of the term "occupied Palestinian territories" (OPT), and specifically in the title to the report of the fact-finding mission and in the resolution of the Human Rights Council setting out the mandate of the mission, is, in and of itself, politically and legally flawed, slanted, and indicative of the biased and selective character of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as of the inherent bias accompanying this entire exercise.
There has never been any determination, whether by treaty, by any binding UN resolution, or by any of the agreements dealing with the Middle East peace negotiation process, that the West Bank territories are in fact "Palestinian territories." Similarly, there has never been any Palestinian sovereign entity that has governed the territories and to which they belong.
Even the UN itself, in welcoming and supporting the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,5 inherently acknowledged thereby that the status of the territories and the final determination of their sovereign character are, as set out in that agreement, subject to negotiation between the parties in a permanent status agreement. This is further emphasized by the co-signing as witnesses of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement by the EU, the U.S., Russia, Jordan, Egypt, and Norway.
Accordingly, the use of the expression "OPT" by the Human Rights Council and its fact-finding mission runs counter to determinations both of the UN itself as well as agreements between the Palestinians and Israel. It constitutes a politically biased and unjustified prejudgment as to the legal status of the territories, which remain "disputed territories" pending agreement between the parties. As such it undermines the Oslo Accords and prejudices the obligations set out in those accords.
Impartiality and Objectivity of the Mission's Mode of Operation
One may in fact wonder, in this context, what substantive standing and relevance could have been attributed by the mission to representatives of the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, with a view to their inclusion in the report as authorities on the subject matter?
In its media statement dated 31 January 2013 issued upon publication of the fact-finding mission's report, "NGO Monitor" observed as follows:8
Of 133 footnotes, 31 cite NGOs, and an additional 12 cite the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which generally also relies on NGOs for its claims. Many of these NGOs are funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund (NIF).
The document also cites a single media source, Ha'aretz, which in turn often quotes NGOs. The reference to an opinion article from the paper's editors also demonstrates the lack of substantive research. Many other references are to other UNHRC documents, which are also heavily reliant on NGOs and newspaper articles.
In these respects, the latest UNHRC fact-finding report again blatantly violated best practices in human rights investigations, such as the Lund-London guidelines that mandate reports be "clearly objective and properly sourced."9
But above all, what stands out is the utter lack of any information other than one-sided accusations and allegations by those sources listed, and the impression that such sources were chosen due to their compatibility with the mission's aims rather than their validity or professionalism.
Having relied so entirely on one-sided findings, one may wonder how the mission could logically claim to have been guided by "the principles of 'do no harm,' independence, impartiality, objectivity, discretion, transparency, confidentiality, integrity and professionalism."10
Had the members of the mission been truly guided by the above principles, and had they been genuinely impartial, objective, discrete, transparent, professional and with integrity, as they presume to be, then in light of the one-sided nature of the mission's mandate and terms of reference, not to mention the source material presented to them, they clearly should have recused themselves once it became evident that the mission could not meet the very standards of impartiality that it imposed on itself.
Even without the cooperation of the government of Israel (quite understandable in light of the biased mandate and composition of the mission), one might have expected, if only out of concern for its credibility, impartiality and objectivity, and when faced with the barrage of one-sided and partisan accusations and allegations against Israel, that the mission would, at the minimum, have consulted material openly available in the media and on the internet in order to verify the one-sided allegations and accusations.
An example of this might be the determination in paragraph 24 of the report that the first settlement established by Israel was Kefar Ezyon. Had they thought of checking the most simple and available websites on the subject such as Wikipedia, they would have discovered that Kfar Etzion had existed since 1927 as a Jewish farming community, on land legally purchased for that purpose. They would have discovered that the Jewish residents had been brutally massacred and exiled during the Arab uprising of 1936, later returning in 1943, only to be massacred once again and taken prisoner in 1948 by the Jordanian Arab Legion and irregular forces.11 The re-establishment of the village by the offspring of those same massacred Jews, and their re-entry into the same homes owned by them for decades prior to 1967, was ignored by the fact-finding mission, which ironically preferred to adopt the viewpoint of those who had carried out the massacres and to call for the removal of Kfar Etzion.
The underlying assumption upon which the entire report is premised and guided is that a situation of "military occupation" prevails in the territory, and that Israel's policies regarding settlements and its treatment of the local Palestinian population are in violation of the international humanitarian law and various human rights treaties relevant to such a situation of military occupation.
This assumption is based on a long-standing political position repeated consistently in countless UN resolutions since Israel's assumption of control over the territories following its defensive war of 1967, and even repeated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a non-binding 2004 Advisory Opinion on Israel's security fence.
None of the above instruments indicate or base themselves on any genuine, objective legal analysis of the sui generis situation in the territories since 1967. They are based, inter alia, on a selective interpretation of provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, but disregarding significant references in the official International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary on the convention, in its traveaux preparatoires and by prominent jurists, as to the background of, and intention behind, its provisions.12
This position also disregards the factual circumstances leading to Israel's presence in the territories, and totally ignores the unique historical and legal background, including the long, deeply-rooted, historic and indigenous rights of Jews in these territories. In this context, the UN Human Rights Council and its fact-finding mission actually undermine the UN's own Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)13 which recognizes the historic rights of an indigenous people to land and territory. They also disregard and seek to undermine those historic rights guaranteed to the Jewish people in such documents as the 1917 Balfour Declaration14 and the 1920 San Remo Declaration,15 the continued validity of which is reaffirmed in Article 80 of the UN Charter.
No less surprising is the fact that the report of the fact-finding mission selectively chooses to disregard as applicable law, central provisions of the agreements between Israel and the PLO regarding the status of the territory and their mutual rights and responsibilities pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations.16
The definition of Israeli settlements proffered by the fact-finding mission "for the purpose of its work"17 is a further indication of the biased nature of the mission's mandate.
In Annex I to the report setting out in a timeline a listing of Israeli settlements, the mission opens its list with the 1948 Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, stressing the differentiation between this declaration and the 1947 General Assembly Partition Resolution 181,18 as if to stress that the State of Israel itself is a settlement in derogation from Resolution 181.
Similarly, Israeli legislative instruments adopted in the 1950s and 1960s prior to the 1967 entry by Israel into the territories are also listed as "Israeli settlements."
One might assume from this that the "impartial," independent fact-finding mission views the very existence of the State of Israel as an "Israeli settlement," with all the pejorative meaning attributed by the report to this term.
While viewing international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as other international law frameworks and principles, as its guiding factors in considering the applicable law for purposes of its mission,19 the fact-finding mission seems to have completely overlooked the legal framework directly and formally applicable to the situation in the territories as agreed-upon by the interested parties themselves, Israel and the PLO, in the 1993-5 Oslo Accords,20 witnessed by the international community and supported by the UN, which, as lex specialis, governs the legal relationship between the two sides as well as the issues of mutual jurisdiction and status of the territory.
Thus, in accusing Israel of maintaining distinct legal systems and separate application of the law for Palestinians and Israelis, the mission was either unaware of, or seems again to have deliberately chosen to ignore, the readily available information as to the legal relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, set out in Article XVII of the 1995 Interim Agreement, detailing the agreed-upon fields of respective jurisdiction of the two sides. Similarly, the mission ignores the fourth Annex to the interim agreement entitled "Protocol Concerning Legal Matters," readily available to the members of the mission on the web with the press of a button, had they chosen to consult it.21 This Annex covers in detail such fields as criminal and civil jurisdiction and legal assistance in criminal and civil matters.
In ignoring this important component of applicable law, the fact-finding mission is, in fact, both acting contrary to the UN's own acknowledgment of the validity and relevance of the Oslo Accords, as well as presenting an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the applicable law.
In listing as part of applicable law the humanitarian obligations incumbent upon Israel vis-à-vis Palestinians as "protected persons,"22 the mission would appear to mislead readers of its report into thinking that Israel still controls all the territories and is responsible for the human rights and welfare of the residents, whose rights, according to the report, Israel is allegedly violating.
However, the mission seems to have overlooked the fact that since Israel withdrew from Areas A and B in the West Bank pursuant to the 1995 Interim Agreement, the major portion of the Palestinian residents of the territory is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority which is obligated, pursuant to a very significant clause of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, "to exercise their powers and responsibilities pursuant to this agreement with due regard to internationally accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law."23 If, indeed, residents of the areas under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction (as well as residents of the Gaza Strip under the jurisdiction of the Hamas terror organization) suffer violations of their humanitarian rights, it would be appropriate for the Human Rights Council to refer its fact-finding mission to those Palestinian authorities responsible rather than to unjustly blame Israel.
Use of Slanted Terminology
In a pejorative and biased manner, the mission appears to have developed a unique form of terminology intended to indicate a new and different standard of "settler violence," "settler attacks," "settler communities," "settler roads," etc.
The usage by the mission's report of such terms as "settler violence" implies a double standard applied vis-à-vis Israel only, and as such belies the impartial and objective nature claimed by the mission.
One may wonder how this novel term "settler violence" differs from any other form of violence, whether this be violence against Israeli citizens by foreign visitors freely entering Israel to demonstrate against Israel's policies, violence including indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian terrorist elements (or, as termed by the mission, "armed elements") against Israeli towns, villages, settlements and people, stone-throwing and other acts of violence by Palestinians demonstrating in what the fact-finding mission describes as "a non-violent manner"24 against Israel's security barrier, or violence by residents of Israeli settlements against Palestinians.
Violence is violence, wherever it takes place and however termed, and in all circumstances should be dealt with in accordance with the law by the responsible authorities.
Curiously, it would appear that only in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does a "peaceful non-violent demonstration" include stone-throwing and "Molotov cocktails." This has come to be a given, understandable, and acceptable course of action, and the international community and UN organs, including the Human Rights Council, are willing to accept such Palestinian violence as legitimate and non-violent, and condemn measures by Israel to prevent it.
In a similar vein, the arbitrary use in the concluding paragraph 101 of the term "creeping annexation," to describe the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, is nothing more than a political judgment and indicates acute lack of professionalism by the mission as well as an utter ignorance and lack of understanding of the framework of mutual commitments by Israel and the PLO in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. Both sides agreed that settlements (as well as other issues) would be dealt with in the permanent status negotiations and, as such, undertook to avoid changing the status of the territory pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.25 Israel has consistently reaffirmed its position that the settlements issue remains an issue for negotiation, and hence any allegation that Israel's settlements constitute "creeping annexation" is nothing less than demagogy.
The evidently deliberate and nuanced use in the fact-finding mission's report of such terms as "total segregation," "institutionalized discrimination," and "separate/distinct legal systems" further indicate a lack of professional integrity by the mission members in conducting their research, as well as in the evidently deliberate use of terminology that is ominously reminiscent of apartheid or Nazi terminology or even the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with all that that is intended to imply.
The repetition by the fact-finding mission of unfounded and absurd allegations that archeological excavations conducted by Israel in Jerusalem's Old City "are intended to emphasize Jewish cultural heritage while disregarding – or worse undermining – the rich heritage of other cultures that have contributed to the millenary history of the city"26 is both gratuitous and intellectually insulting, both to Israel but no less to the members of the mission themselves, and would appear to be totally irrelevant to the mandate or subject matter of the fact-finding mission. This one-sided approach by the fact-finding mission negates thousands of years of Jewish history, backed up by archeology.
The historic and cultural heritage of all religions in and under Jerusalem – whether Muslim, Jewish, Ottoman, Hellenic, or any other – is strictly and duly respected by Israel without distinction. All archeological excavations are carried out according to the highest international standards and are usually accompanied by external observers. All such excavations are documented and findings are available via the web and shared with the international community.
Had the members of the fact-finding mission been genuinely impartial and objective, they would have proceeded to authenticate such wild allegations rather than merely repeat them in their report.
In this context, one cannot but recall the crude and unprofessional excavations carried out by the Muslim Waqf authority in 1996-2007 at the "Solomon's Stables" holy site and other sites on the Temple Mount – using bulldozers, thereby destroying countless historical artifacts.27 While archeologists from around the world voiced their outrage, it is noteworthy that the UN, including its Human Rights Council, remained silent.
A similarly absurd, gratuitous, insulting and irrelevant allegation by the fact-finding mission appears in paragraph 79 of the report, in which: "Israeli politicians, academics and civil society actors voicing criticism of the settlements are discredited in public discourse."
Repetition of such an allegation belies the intellect, integrity, and professionalism of the members of the mission. Israel is an open and free society in which freedom of speech is maintained at the highest cost. Politicians, academics, former combatants, and journalists (including the renowned Ha'aretz newspaper quoted as a reference in the mission's report) are free to voice their opinions, without fear of retribution.
The International Criminal Court
In its conclusion, the fact-finding mission accuses Israel inter alia of "gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law."28 It foresees a scenario in which the Palestinians would ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and thereby invoke the court's jurisdiction against Israel's leaders.
Such a scenario might perhaps be wishful thinking by the members of the fact-finding mission, but in practice is highly unlikely.
Unlike the highly politicized and partisan Human Rights Council, the ICC is neither a UN Organ nor a Specialized Agency, and is not obliged, as are the specialized agencies and other bodies within the UN system, to follow the recommendations of the UN General Assembly or Human Rights Council. It is an "independent, permanent judicial institution" as determined in its relationship agreement with the UN.29
The 1998 ICC Statute provides that the court's jurisdiction may be activated only by states, and that a state party to the ICC Statute may initiate charges.30
In the Palestinian 2009 attempt to invoke ICC jurisdiction against Israel,31 the ICC Prosecutor determined that he did not have the competence to determine whether the term "state" could be applied to the Palestinian Authority, and referred the issue to the UN Secretary General who, in case of doubt, will defer to the guidance of the General Assembly.
In considering whether the Palestinian Authority could, following the 2013 General Assembly upgrade resolution,32 be considered a state for the purposes of approaching the ICC, the fact nevertheless remains that it is no more a state following the resolution than it was before adoption of the resolution. Legally, the upgrade resolution neither created a Palestinian state, nor did it grant any kind of statehood to the Palestinians.
The UN General Assembly does not have the legal and political power to establish states. It merely upgraded the observer status of the PLO's UN representation to that of a non-member-state observer for internal purposes within the UN and its constituent organs and agencies.
It remains highly unlikely that the ICC or the UN Secretary General, if functioning properly and legally and without political manipulation, would be able to accede to a further Palestinian attempt to invoke the court's jurisdiction. As an independent juridical institution, in keeping with the purposes for which it was established, and with a view to protecting its absolute objectivity, the ICC has attempted, up to the present, to avoid having its independent juridical character politicized or otherwise compromised.
The scenario foreseen by the members of the Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission, in which the Palestinian Authority, with the encouragement of the Human Rights Council, would attempt to manipulate the ICC and turn it into a "whipping-body" against Israel, similar to the way in which the Human Rights Council is being so manipulated, would doubtless cause considerable damage to the court and prejudice its continued credibility and viability.
This critique of the fact-finding mission's report points to some basic flaws both in the modus operandi of the mission as well as in its mandate. These flaws reflect on the credibility, intellectual honesty, professionalism, and impartiality of the members of the mission, as well as of the UN Human Rights Council itself.
Issuing such a slanted and biased report implants within the international community an incorrect and inaccurate view of a complex reality, in a manner that inevitably steers the debate away from practical or fruitful directions and in fact assists in entrenching the beliefs of the more extreme elements on all sides. It serves to mobilize the international community in a manner prejudicial to any future prospect of agreement and settlement of the dispute.
In short, this report is nothing more than an insult to the UN as a whole and to its Human Rights Council, as well as an insult to the intellect of all those who read it in the false expectation that it is authoritative and credible.
The UN Secretary General and the President of the Human Rights Council are therefore urged to have this disgraceful report withdrawn, rejected, and permanently shelved.
* * *
1. A/HRC/22/63 dated 7 February 2013, pursuant to UNHRC Resolution 19/17 dated 22 March 2012.
2. Ibid. at p. 48.
4. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-2_en.pdf. See resolutions 19/14 "Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan," 19/15 "Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination," 19/16 "Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem," 19/17 "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan," 19/18 "Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict."
5. UN General Assembly Resolution A/50/21 of 12 December 1995, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/50/21⟪=E
6. Paragraph 8 of the report.
7. Stated by Mme. Justice Unity Dow, member of the mission from Botswana. See UNHRC press release dated 31 January 2013.
12. See ICRC, Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, edited by Jean S. Pictet (1958), in its Forward and at pp.3-9, for an extensive summary of the reasoning behind the drafting of the convention. See also Eugene V. Rostow, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 84, 1990, p. 719, and Julius Stone, "The Illegal Settlements Myth," Commentary, Dec. 2009.14. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/The%20Balfour%20Declaration
16. See the section on "applicable law" below.
17. Report, paragraph 4.
19. Mission report, paragraphs 10-17.
20. See the 1993 Declaration of Principles (Oslo I), http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Declaration+of+Principles.htm; the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (Oslo II), http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/THE+ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN+INTERIM+AGREEMENT.htm; the Hebron Protocol, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Protocol+Concerning+the+Redeployment+in+Hebron.htm; the Wye River Memorandum, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Reference+Documents/The+Wye+River+Memorandum-full.htm; and Sharm el Shiekh Memorandum, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1990_1999/1999/9/Sharm+el-Sheikh+Memorandum+on+Implementation+Timel.htm
22. Paragraph 15 of the report.
23. 1995 Interim Agreement, op. cit., Article XIX.
24. Paragraph 77 of the report.
25. Interim Agreement, op. cit., Article XXXI(7).
26. Paragraph 59 of the report.
27. Israel Finkelstein, "In the Eye of Jerusalem's Archaeological Storm," Jewish Daily Forward, 26 April 2011, http://forward.com/articles/137273/in-the-eye-of-jerusalem-s-archaeological-storm/. See also Etgar Lefkovits, "Temple Mount Relics Saved from Garbage," Jerusalem Post, 14 April 2005.
28. Paragraph 104 of the report.
30. Articles 12-14 of the Statute of the ICC, http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm
32. A/Res/67/19, 26 November 2012, http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/0080ef30efce525585256c38006eacae/181c72112f4d0e0685257ac500515c6c?OpenDocument