Obama’s Building Crisis: Netanyahu’s Political Boost?

As we recently suggested here, Los Angeles Times columnist Edmund Sanders writes that U.S. President Obama’s crisis over the building licensure for Ramat Shlomo could provide prime minister Netanyahu with a political boost:

By drawing a line against expansion of Israeli housing units in Jerusalem, the Obama administration is confronting a policy that enjoys a strong consensus among Israelis: the effort to ensure that the city remains united and under their control.

U.S. officials reacted with fury last week to a decision to build 1,600 housing units in an area of… East Jerusalem…

But focusing the debate on Jerusalem may actually prove to be of domestic political benefit for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…

“For Netanyahu, this is the best issue you could have given him,” said Efraim Inbar, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, who said the prime minister could emerge politically stronger by refusing American pressure to limit or temporarily delay housing construction in East Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem touches an important nerve for so many Jews that they would support the government, even in a confrontation with the U.S.,” Inbar said. “Even if it causes damage, sometimes you have to draw a red line.”

He said about 70% of Israelis support a “united Jerusalem” under Israel’s control, according to polls he has conducted.

The Jewish population of East Jerusalem has grown from almost nothing before 1967 to 200,000 today.

Netanyahu on Offense: Jerusalem Building to Continue

Israel National News provides further background on prime minister Netanyahu’s apparently firm commitment to continued building in Jerusalem:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday… went on the offense. Buoyed by virtually unanimous Cabinet support, he told Likud Knesset Members at a party meeting, “Building in Jerusalem and in all other places will continue in the same way that has been accepted in the last 42 years.”

Last week, the Prime Minister apologized to visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden over the timing of a government announcement that 1,600 new housing units will be built in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Ramat Shlomo shares the same status as French Hill, Ramot and Gilo, totally Jewish areas that are considered to be politically “untouchable”… The neighborhood is not far from the largely Arab-populated area of Shuafat, but is surrounded on all other sides by the Jewish areas of Ramot, Ramat Eshkol and Golda Meir Blvd.

The Obama government has insisted it is not imposing terms on Israel but also has been paving the ground for Israel to stop building in the restored parts of Jerusalem until a final agreement is made with the PA. However, the Arab world has stood firm that there is no ground for negotiations and that all of its claims to the Old City, eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria must be met.

Most media have roundly criticized the Prime Minister for embarrassing Biden, although the Israeli leader insisted he had nothing to do with the timing of the announcement of new homes in Ramat Shlomo.

Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been severely criticized for over-reacting and for what appears to many as gross interference in Israeli affairs.

The key phrase here is “Buoyed by virtually unanimous Cabinet support”. Prime Minister Netanyahu is ultimately concerned about his future electoral chances, not what the US President says; this point seems to have been lost on the latter.

As long as Netanyahu’s eyes are on the local political scene he can be expected to stand firm if he has local backing. Will he have it? So far the answer seems to be yes, as even the hand-wringing, left-leaning and fiercely Democratic US Jewish establishment has been shocked by the US Administration’s blatant over-reaction. In Israel, no mainstream politician can be seen as capitulating on Jerusalem and most of the country will be behind Netanyahu on this one.

Has President Obama’s team united the Israeli and pro-Israel establishment behind Bibi just as his health care reform plan has unified the far-right, the center-right and independent voters behind the Republican party? If so, he has made a spectacular miscalculation on the Jerusalem building issue.

Report: Hamas Used Civilians as Human Shields

We have long known that systemic use of civilians as human shields is one of the chief strategic and tactical weapons in the Islamic terrorist arsenal, be it Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida or Fatah. And Israel has finally released its first substantative response to the accusations of the Goldstone Report by showing, in detail, how Hamas uses civilians, including chidren, as human shields:

Hamas gunmen used Palestinian children as human shields, and established command centers and Kassam launch pads in and near more than 100 mosques and hospitals during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last year, according to a new Israeli report being released on Monday that aims to counter criticism of the IDF.

The detailed 500-page report… was written by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Malam), a small research group led by Col. (res.) Reuven Erlich, a former Military Intelligence officer who works closely with the army.

The IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cooperated with the report’s authors and declassified hundreds of photographs, videos, prisoner interrogations and Hamas-drawn sketches as part of an effort to counter the criticism leveled at Israel…

Work on the Malam report began immediately after former judge Richard Goldstone issued his… report of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in September.

Which raises 2 questions:

1) Why did it take 6 months to issue this report? The damage from the Goldstone Report has been done and it is much too late to do damage control.

2) Better yet, why wasn’t work on the report started the day after Operation Cast Lead ended, or even before that? All the usual accusations were already being leveled against Israel during the fighting; it was a forgone conclusion that something like the Goldstone report would come along sooner or later. Why can’t Israel preempt in the diplomatic/political sphere like it does in the military sphere?

The article continues:

One example of the material revealed in the Malam report is an-until-now classified sketch of the village of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza discovered by IDF troops during the operation, that details the extensive deployment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and snipers inside and adjacent to civilian homes.

The Malam report also provides an analysis of another sketch found during the offensive in the Atatra neighborhood in northern Gaza City that… proves Hamas’s culpability for the ensuing death and destruction.

“By placing all of their weaponry next to homes, by operating out of homes, mosques and hospitals, by firing rockets next to schools and by using human shields, Hamas is the one responsible for the civilian deaths during the operation,” Erlich said.

The Goldstone Report states that its authors “found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.”

The Malam report, however, brings declassified videos that show how Hamas used civilians as human shields and deployed its weaponry and command centers inside civilian homes.

In one home, the IDF discovered a note, written in Arabic, that read: “We are your brothers, fighters in this holy war, and we used your home and some of your possessions. We are sorry”…

According to a previously undisclosed interrogation of a Hamas operative, one Hamas cell transported rockets on the back of a wagon in which children were also sitting. In other cases, the Hamas operative said, Hamas fighters disguised themselves as women carrying babies to ensure that they would not be hit by IDF troops.

…One declassified air force video from January 6, 2009, …shows a terrorist shooting at troops from the roof of a building. After spotting an Israeli aircraft, the terrorist goes to the building’s entrance and calls to nearby civilians to help him escape. A few moments later, a group of children arrive at the entrance to the home and the terrorist walks out.

Another video from January 13 shows a senior Hamas terrorist – spotted by an aircraft – walking by himself down a street. After spotting the aircraft, the senior terrorist runs over to an elderly woman walking nearby and continues walking next to her. Later, the IDF discovered that the “elderly woman” was really a Hamas operative in disguise.

The report points to four basic flaws in the Goldstone Report: It does not deal with the nature of Hamas – its terrorist aspects and ideology; it minimizes the gravity of the terrorist attacks against Israel, focusing on rocket fire during the six months before Operation Cast Lead while devoting little space to the rocket and mortar fire that began in 2001; it does not deal with the Hamas military buildup in the Gaza Strip in the year preceding Cast Lead that threatened Israel, but at the same time did provide extensive historical coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and it ignored the role Iran and Syria play in Gaza by aiding Hamas and supplying it with explosives and weaponry.

Note that using human shields and fighting from hospitals and mosques is not merely not nice; it is a war crime. But don’t expect the trendy leftists in England and elsewhere to go after Hamas leaders for war crimes like they are doing with Israeli leaders.

US State Dept Decries Goldstone Report, Palestinian Media

Pinch me — now even the U.S. State Department has criticized the Goldstone Report as well as rhetoric by the Palestinian media:

The Goldstone report was widely criticized for methodological failings, legal and factual errors, falsehoods, and for devoting insufficient attention to the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the fact that Hamas and other Palestinian militants were deliberately operating in heavily populated urban areas of Gaza. The government of Israel also sharply rejected the charge that it had a policy of deliberately targeting civilians.

In addition, the report said:

In both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… Palestinian media frequently published and broadcast material that included anti-Israeli content. Rhetoric by Palestinian terrorist groups included expressions of anti-Semitism, as did sermons by some Muslim religious leaders. Some Palestinian religious leaders rejected the right of Israel to exist. Hamas’ al-Aqsa television station carried shows for preschoolers extolling hatred of Jews and suicide bombings.

Why is Israel Apologizing for Jerusalem Construction?

We have to agree with Likud member of Knesset Yariv Levin who questions why is Israel apologizing for building construction in Jerusalem?

MK Yariv Levin (Likud)… expressed confusion over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s apology regarding construction in Jerusalem. “We have the absolute right to build anywhere in the land of Israel and especially in Jerusalem,” he said.

Netanyahu apologized to United States Vice President Joe Biden over the approval of a construction project in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem. Biden had condemned the project, saying it could undermine talks with the Palestinian Authority, which claims the land on which Ramat Shlomo is built as Arab territory.

Foreign attempts to dictate Israeli policy in Jerusalem are “blatant interference,” Levin said. “This is an internal matter, not an international matter,” he explained.

“How can it be that we need permission from the Americans every time we want to build a neighborhood or a house in Jerusalem?” Levin said. The American condemnation of Israeli plans to build in Jerusalem exposed the real problem, the problem of Israel’s willingness to accept foreign meddling in domestic affairs, he stated.

“The time has come for us to stand up for ourselves. I have no doubt that if we do so, the world will see us differently,” he said.

Arab Apartheid Week

Finally, the appropriate response to the mindless “Israel Apartheid Week” events being held by the Arabs and their “useful idiots” this week in cities around the world. Instead of explaining for the thousandth time that Israeli Arabs have full rights, unlike blacks in the Apartheid years of South Africa, columnist (and former IRIS co-chairman) Michael Freund suggests that we should turn the tables and launch a yearly “Arab Aparthied Week”.

Well, I say the time has come to stop playing defense and to bring the offense out onto the field. We need to turn the tables and fight back against our opponents by taking the struggle toward their end-zone.

A good place to be start would be to organize an annual “Arab Apartheid Week,” which would highlight the decrepit state of human and political rights throughout the Arab world.

There is a solid case to be made that the Arab states remain the last great outpost of despotism and tyranny on earth, and people need to be reminded as much. Indeed, the Arab world today is a living encyclopedia of outmoded forms of government, from sultanates such as Oman and emirates such as Qatar, to thuggish dictatorships such as Syria and dynastic monarchies along the lines of Jordan. It may be a political scientist’s dream, but it is a nightmare for the hundreds of millions of Arabs chafing under oppression and tyranny.

Basic and fundamental freedoms such as personal autonomy and individual rights are routinely trampled upon, and ethnic and religious minority groups suffer extreme discrimination and intolerance. Just ask Coptic Christians in Egypt, Baha’is in Iran or Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia for starters.

Or Jews anywhere in the Middle East…

This was borne out most recently by a report issued by Freedom House, the independent Washington-based group that advocates for freedom worldwide. Its annual survey, “Freedom in the World 2010,” would make for eye-opening reading for all those who cry “apartheid” whenever they see a flag with a Star of David.

Consider the following findings:

Of the 18 countries in the Middle East that Freedom House surveyed, only one is considered to be “free.”

And just who might that be? Yep, you guessed it: Israel.

Not a single Arab country – not one! – did Freedom House consider “free”…

In effect, then, this means that of the approximately 370 million human beings currently residing in the Middle East, only 2 percent enjoy true freedom – namely those who live in the Jewish state.

So much for “Israeli apartheid”…

An annual Arab Apartheid Week, held on campuses and at community centers, could be an effective vehicle for driving home this fundamental truth.

Abbas’ New Anti-Corruption Panel: Covering His Tracks?

This blog previously posted a piece by Khaled Abu Toameh concerning PA theft of hundreds of millions in foreign financial aid. Many such cases of corruption were exposed by intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh, previously designated by Abbas as the Palestinian Authority’s “chief corruption-buster”. Shabaneh was later discredited and sacked when he collected evidence which apparently got too close to incriminating dozens of senior officials, as well as Abbas’ two sons. Shabaneh, as Abu Toameh reported, “is now ‘wanted’ by the Palestinian Authority on charges of ‘collaboration with the Israeli enemy.’”

Khaled Abu Toameh reports for the Jerusalem Post that now president Abbas has appointed a new commission of inquiry regarding corruption in the PA. The question must be asked — Is Abbas’ new anti-corruption panel simply an act of covering his and his sons’ tracks?:

A special commission of inquiry established by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to investigate a series of corruption cases in the PA…

The commission was set up after former PA intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh… exposed several cases implicating top officials in sexual, financial and administrative corruption…

Shabaneh, a resident of east Jerusalem, said he has little faith in the commission of inquiry, which is headed by Saleh Ra’fat, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party.

The other two members of the commission are Ali Muhana, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and Natsheh, the PA official who was recently appointed as Abbas’s “personal representative.”

All three members of the commission are known for their close ties with Abbas and the PA leadership in the West Bank – a fact that has left many Palestinians to believe that the panel’s main goal is to exonerate all of Abbas’s men of any wrongdoing.

The word “whitewash” comes to mind.

77 Fatah Men Off Wanted List: Reward for PA?

Theater of the absurd: Israel has stopped hunting some terrorists as a reward for (allegedly) getting help stopping terror:

Correspondent Khalid Abu Toameh reports in The Jerusalem Post that 77 Fatah men were taken off Israel’s wanted list as reward to the PA. [This is not a parody.]

Israel has decided to stop pursuing dozens of… members of Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian sources said on Tuesday.

Israeli security officials recently handed the Palestinian Authority a list that included the names of 77 Fatah operatives who were no longer wanted by Israel, the sources said.

Most of the men are members of the armed group of Fatah, which was responsible for a series of attacks on Israelis during the second intifada, the sources said.

They said that 10 of them had been fully pardoned, which means they would be able to move around freely and even travel abroad.

Some of the Fatah men were told that they would have to remain inside their homes during the night, while others were instructed to sleep at PA security installations.

A list with the names of all the pardoned Fatah operatives was posted by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. Most of the men are from Ramallah and Nablus.

The decision to stop chasing the Fatah men was not the first of its kind. In recent years, dozens of Fatah gunmen who agreed to hand over their weapons to the PA and renounce violence were also granted clemency. Some of them later resumed their activities and were either killed or arrested by the IDF.

The latest Israeli move is seen as a reward for the PA leadership for its increased security coordination with Israel

What is so absurd about this is that those 77 terrorists were almost surely worth much more than whatever alleged cooperation was given by the Palestinian Authority to Israel. Should the PA have turned them over to Israel if they were really cooperating? And shouldn’t they have turned down this “reward” if they were really interested in helping stop terror against Israel?

American “JihadJane” Nabbed for Recruiting Terrorists Online

Anyone who may still think that the United States is secure and invulnerable to infiltration by Islamic Jihadists should read and consider this. The Los Angeles Times reports that a self-proclaimed American “JihadJane” has been nabbed for recruiting Muslim terrorists through various online platforms:

Using e-mail, YouTube videos, phony travel documents and a burning desire to kill “or die trying,” an American woman from Pennsylvania helped recruit a network for suicide attacks and other terrorist strikes in Europe and Asia, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Colleen R. LaRose, who dubbed herself “JihadJane,” was so intent on waging jihad, authorities said, that she traveled to Sweden to kill an artist in a way that would frighten “the whole Kufar [nonbeliever] world”…

The 46-year-old woman bragged that she could go anywhere undetected…

Authorities said LaRose solicited funds for terrorist organizations, helped arrange phony passports and other travel records, and used the Internet to recruit women to kill in Europe and men in Asia. LaRose was arrested Oct. 15 in Philadelphia.

David Kris, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division… emphasized, “[this] underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face.”

Michael L. Levy, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said the case shows “the use terrorists can and do make” of communicating through e-mails and videos around the world. He called LaRose “yet another very real danger lurking on the Internet.”

The other danger, authorities said, is that radical jihadists are turning to home-grown U.S. citizens to carry out their plots. “Terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause,” Levy said, adding that LaRose “shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance.”

A Washington Post piece on the alleged American terrorist adds:

As an American citizen whose appearance and passport allowed her to blend into Western society, LaRose represents one of the worst fears of intelligence and FBI analysts focused on identifying terrorist threats.

She looked for recruits whose physical appearance would “blend in with many people” and go undetected in Europe and the United States.

Californian Nabbed Assisting Arabs in U.S. Visa Fraud

The AP reports that a California man has been nabbed assisting Arab students in U.S. visa fraud:

A California man was charged Monday with operating a ring of illegal test-takers who helped dozens of Middle Eastern nationals obtain U.S. student visas by passing various proficiency and college-placement exams for them, federal authorities said.

The allegations reveal a potentially dangerous security breach in the country’s student visa system and underscored the vulnerability of a tracking process that relies on schools and testing centers to verify the identities of people taking the mandated exams.

Eamonn Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel made an appearance in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud as federal immigration agents arrested 16 of his suspected clients who remained in Southern California…

Over a seven-year period, Higgins collected tens of thousands of dollars from foreign students from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar before he or his accomplices took their exams at ten southern California community colleges and universities using doctored IDs.

Higgins may have worked with hundreds of foreign students, although authorities have only been able to definitively identify 119.

They believe 48 students remain in the U.S., and authorities are seeking all of them…

A search of Higgins’ home turned up 60 fake IDs, college testing materials and completed exams and payment information from foreign students, court papers said.

Most of those students were presumably just interested in the exceptional educational and economic opportunities available in the US, but certainly if it was this easy to get them in it would be easy to get terrorists in the same way.

The Hidden Agenda Behind “Israel Apartheid Week”

The Jerusalem Post has published this piece by Dore Gold providing insight into the hidden agenda behind “Israel Apartheid Week”:

To begin with, in apartheid South Africa (1948-1994), blacks were not allowed to vote or to be candidates in the general elections, they could not attend white universities or be treated in white hospitals, and they were forcibly removed from white cities. Anyone who is the least bit familiar with Israel knows that Israeli Arabs vote for the Knesset and that there are Israeli Arab Knesset members, who also serve as deputy speakers of Israel’s parliament; an Israeli Arab judge sits on Israel’s Supreme Court; Israeli Arabs study in all Israeli universities and there are mixed Arab-Jewish cities, like Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle and Jerusalem.

Can you imagine the opposite happening in Jordan, where it is a capital crime to sell land to a Jew? Or any of the many Arab countries that won’t let someone visit if the person previously visited Israel?

What underlies the Israel Apartheid Week campaign… is a highly politicized interpretation of Israel’s history in which the Jewish people are viewed as a colonialist movement that recently came from Europe to usurp lands from the indigenous Palestinian population, rather than the authentic claimants to sovereignty in their historical homeland.

Prof. Moshe Gil of Tel Aviv University wrote in his 900-page monumental work, A History of Palestine: 634-1099, that as late as the seventh century, Jews still had a massive presence in most parts of what had been their sovereign territory up until the Roman invasion. Some suggest that the Jews were still the majority. According to Gil, on the eve of the Muslim conquests, the Jewish presence in the land was nearly 2,000 years old.

Moreover, there was a constant effort of Jews to return to their land in the centuries that followed, despite the dangers. By the 1860s the Jews, in fact, reestablished their majority in Jerusalem, well before the arrival of the British Empire. When the League of Nations decided to recognize the Jewish claim to a national home in 1922, it specifically recognized the pre-existing right of the Jewish people to what was to become British Mandatory Palestine.

Israel Apartheid Week is not about respect for human rights; it is an incredibly hypocritical initiative that ignores the apartheid practiced by the Palestinians themselves, who make the sale of land to Jews punishable by death.

If it is Israel that wants Apartheid, why is it that the Arabs (and their Apartheid Week supporters) insist that all Jews be removed from the territories in order for there to be peace?

How Nuclear Equipment Reaches Iran

This Associated Press report describes a case study in how nuclear equipment reaches Iran:

Early last year, a Chinese company placed an order with a Taiwanese agent for 108 nuclear-related pressure gauges. But something happened along the way. Paperwork was backdated. Plans were rerouted, orders reconfigured, shipping redirected.

And the gauges ended up in a very different place: Iran.

The story behind the gauges shows how Iran is finding its way around international sanctions meant to prevent it from getting equipment that can be used to make a nuclear bomb. At least half a dozen times in recent years, the Persian Gulf nation has tried to use third countries as transshipment points for obtaining controlled, nuclear-related equipment.

In the case of the pressure gauges, it succeeded. In the process, the Swiss manufacturer and the Swiss government were duped, a Chinese company went around its own government’s prohibition on moving nuclear-related equipment to Iran, and Taiwanese authorities showed themselves unwilling or unable to get into step with the international community.

The deal was a huge victory for Tehran, which had been seeking the gauges for months, said nuclear proliferation expert David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. It also reflected the uneven enforcement of international sanctions against Iran, at a time when the U.S. and other Western countries are pushing hard to expand them.

“The (Iranian) government looked everywhere — Russia, Europe, the U.S., and they were being thwarted by the international community,” Albright said. “It’s really unfortunate they succeeded in using this Taiwan-China connection. …This case is a wake up call of the importance of universal and timely application of sanctions on Iran.”

….The gauges, also known as pressure transducers or capacitance diaphragm gauges, …have numerous commercial applications in machines that employ pneumatic or hydraulic pressure. But experts say the large size of the order suggests very strongly that they are for centrifuges to churn out enriched uranium…

In Shanghai, Roc-Master official Liu Xiaofeng initially said he didn’t recall the transaction. But when pressed, he replied, “It’s our company’s secret information, so I don’t think we need to tell the media anything about it.”

The Clock Keeps Ticking down to a Nuclear Iran

I know we have all been reading these stories for years, but Iran keeps getting closer to a nuclear bomb and sooner or later, it is going to get there:

…the US and Europe said they share UN fears that Teheran may be secretly working on developing nuclear missiles, expressing support for new sanctions if Teheran continues to defy Security Council demands.

Their comments reflected the change in tone of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under new director-general Yukiya Amano in its assessment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Amano… expressed the possibility that Iran may be working on making a nuclear warhead, with the IAEA suggesting for the first time that Teheran had either resumed such work or never stopped it three years ago, as thought by US intelligence agencies.

Iran denies any interest in developing nuclear arms. But the report said Iran’s resistance to agency attempts to investigate for signs of a nuclear cover-up “give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

An unusually strongly worded statement delivered by Spain on behalf of the EU to the IAEA’s 35-nation board criticized Teheran…

“The EU shares the agency’s concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” according to the statement.

Beyond making the same point, US chief delegate Glyn Davies said the IAEA is justified in being concerned that Teheran — accused of repeatedly concealing suspicious nuclear activities or revealing them only to pre-empt being found out — “about the possible construction in secret of other new nuclear facilities in Iran.”

Soldiers Speak Out Against Media Slander of IDF

An Op-Ed column in The Jerusalem Post reports about Israeli soldiers who are speaking out against media slander of the IDF during a tour of North America:

Conspicuously missing in the narrative of Israel’s recent battles against terrorists is the story of those who actually fought in them; the everyday soldier, with no political agenda, just a conviction in the morality of his army and the personal experience to back that up. But that is no longer the case. Groups of Israeli soldiers, young combat reservists are currently touring North America as part of the “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out’” campaign.

Those who have recently served see that the picture the media presents is skewed from the reality they know. They feel a deep sense of injustice when this happens, given that they have risked their own lives and lost friends while doing their utmost to protect Palestinian civilians….

Their personal battlefield experience challenges members of the audience to put themselves in their shoes and to question what they would do in similar scenarios.

Audiences will meet Inon, an officer who was fighting Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 when his unit came across an elderly Lebanese woman in an area where the IDF had warned citizens to leave while they carried out their operation. Seeing the lady was crying out, apparently in pain, they approached her with an army medic. As they got closer, they realized she was wired with explosives… a human bomb.

Also taking part in the tour is Avi, who cut his honeymoon short to rejoin his paratroopers brigade in the military operation against Hamas in Gaza last year. As he fought intense, pitched battles against Hamas gunmen, he saw the streets covered with leaflets. The terrorists had been warned by the IDF that they were coming, thus denying Avi and his colleagues the element of surprise. But a prerequisite for a moral army is wanting to give civilians a chance to flee the battle zone.

THESE STORIES are not documented in the many recent anti-Israel reports, which have ranged from the libelous to the ludicrous. Israel was being bombarded by rockets for the better part of a decade before acting against the Hamas rocket-launchers in Gaza. Yet, before the dust had cleared from the battlefield, the frenzied media – fuelled by politically motivated NGOs – was full of reports and allegations: of reckless bombardment by the IDF, misuse of weapons, organ harvesting.. the list goes on.

And these slanders have been re-reported as fact in much of the Arab (and Western) media…. Web-based technology gives hideous anti-Israel lies a platform that has no borders. Israel’s enemies know this, as Spanish politician Pilar Rahola recently commented… “they [Islamic terrorists] seek to kill us with cellphones connected to the Middle Ages”.

These reports mention Israel in the same breath as Hamas, who fight in civilian clothing, take their own people as human shields and have used every trick in the book to blur and subvert the rules of war. Radical sympathizers are quick to turn a blind eye to this and explain away their rockets as “crude”, when in reality these terrorist forces are better armed than the majority of the armies of… the UN.

Review of Hamas Media: Hamas Targeted Israeli Population Centers

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has issued a review showing that Hamas targeted Israeli population centers:

Hamas has gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that it did not attack civilian targets in Israel during the December 2008 to January 2009 Gaza conflict. But a review of the organization’s own media… shows that Hamas knowingly and repeatedly fired on Israeli population centers in southern Israel.

They [Hamas’ targeting of Israeli civilians] are approved and applauded within Hamas’ internal publications and its propaganda aimed at Arab audiences. For example, in one Arabic article on the Kassam Brigades website, the group discusses rocket operations during the al-Furqan battle and cites the heroism of the Kassam Brigades personnel who conducted the attacks…

During the Gaza conflict, Hamas launched some 600 rockets against… a broad swath of southern Israel. Targets included the major cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba (combined population 850,000), as well as numerous smaller towns and settlements.

In addition, an estimated 400 Kassam-type rockets were fired at Israeli targets closer to Gaza, including “usurped” Sderot. On the same page on its website, Hamas claims to have fired a total of 213 Grads during the conflict; in other words, nearly 70 percent were aimed at civilian population centers… The highest number of Grad strikes claimed against a military target was 26 at the “Ofakim military base.”

Hamas boasted that more than one million Israelis live within range of its rockets.

EIDHR: Humanitarian, or Europe’s Trojan Horse in Israel?

The IRIS blog has posted several reports recently concerning New Israel Fund, J Street and efforts to compel registration of foreign funded NGO’s. An investigative report in The Jerusalem Post adds further fuel to the necessity for laws which act against foreign funded NGO’s by begging the question, European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights: Funding Humanitarian Needs, or Europe’s Trojan Horse Lobby in Israel?:

Between 2002 and 2008, the European Parliament’s European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) granted a total of $14 million to various Israeli NGOs. $5.5 million was directed specifically to causes for Palestinians such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s project “Building a Better Future: Empowering the Palestinian Residents of East Jerusalem to access their planning and house [sic] rights” which received $135,000. A further $7 million went specifically to programs that benefit Israeli Arabs such as the al-Awna fund’s “Master Plan for the Unrecognized Beduin Villages: Securing minority rights for housing and social services” which received $263,000. Even when the EIDHR funded programs for women it did so only for programs for Beduin or Israeli Arab women, except for a token $100,000 it gave to an organization called Isha le Isha (Woman to Woman) which helps fight women trafficking.

There was not one cent directed specifically towards any of the numerous and diverse Jewish communities in Israel: Ethiopians, Russians, Yemenites, Persians or Jews from the Caucasus. The only mention of Jewish citizens as potential recipients was in a grant to the Mossawa Center, the advocacy center for Arab citizens in Israel. It received $402,000 for a project that “aims to combat racism and transform inter-communal relations between target groups who include the Jewish majority, Arab minority and ethnic groups including the Russian, Ethiopian, Mizrahi and Reform Jewish communities.”

Around $73,000 was directed towards former IDF soldiers. It wasn’t to help them with trauma or reward them for a “shared citizenship.” It was to get them to “break the silence” about what they witnessed while in the army, to provide testimony that might lead to a process whereby European courts might put the soldiers or their officers on trial for war crimes. Of course that is not what Breaking the Silence stated for the public. They described their project as “personal encounters with former Israeli combat soldiers.”

THE EIDHR’s “instrument” to affect Israeli policy is merely the tip of the iceberg. In its November 2009 report “Trojan Horse: The impact of European government funding for Israeli NGOs” NGO Monitor illustrated that individual European embassies in Israel and other EU projects give lavishly to Israeli NGOs, sometimes even making up the majority of their budgets. In fact “foreign-funded local NGOs are responsible for a significant portion of the petitions brought before the Israeli High Court of Justice,” says the report.

The EU, realizing it could not get Israel to change its laws through diplomatic means, has resorted to creating an internal lobby within Israel to get Israel to bend to the will of Europe.

An important question not answered in this investigative report is to what extent the money trail covered in Im Tirzu’s report on New Israel Fund leads back to the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. Presumably this is just the tip of the iceberg.