Living it up in Gaza

Apparently life is not all sorrow for the “refugees” in Gaza. If your country is one of the many that give aid to the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza, here are your tax dollars at work:

 

Looking for a luxury hotel, fine dining, high-end shopping or an amusement park for the kids? Here is the updated version for 2011:

 

[Just make sure “Israel” is not stamped anywhere on your passport if you want to come back alive from your visit.]

Apparently the IDF missed a few buildings in its recent forays into Gaza, and some goods are squeaking through the blockade on Gaza that all the “peace flotillas” are trying to break.

It would be absurd to suggest that these videos prove there is no squalor in Gaza. But then again, there is plenty of squalor in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and every other non-oil-rich Arab country. But in all these places, amongst the squalor there is plenty of money flowing around too. Keep that in mind the next time you see a special report on the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.

Melanie Phillips on the State of Israeli Hasbara in Britain

Melanie Phillips, a staunch British advocate for Israel had this to say about the sad state of affairs of Israeli hasbara (public relations) in England:



 

Perhaps it could be said that, in her frustration, Ms. Phillips exaggerates somewhat. However, the lack of an effective hasbara campaign by the Israeli government is both well-known and longstanding.

Of course combating anti-Israeli propaganda all over the world is a massive job, especially when an anti-Israel (read: anti-Jewish) message is so readily accepted in so many quarters. But the Israeli government and Foreign Ministry have proven quite incapable of doing a competent job, let alone showing the kind of ingenuity that Israelis are famous for in so many other fields.

It should be clear that a substantial portion of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, including the diplomatic core, are from the political Left and are highly invested in the ever-failing peace process — politically, professionally and personally. These people shy away from an active defense of Israel’s position since that is confrontational and would upset the Arabs. And they may be hesitant to work with Israel’s natural allies on the Right.

Due to the way the system in Israel works, these people can not and will not be purged from positions of importance any time soon. Don’t expect them to change or to go away. Therefore it is pointless to rely on the Israeli government to handle this job effectively.

The only options are 1) to bypass the “official” hasbara system and/or 2) to find an effective pro-Israel message that the Left in Israel can support.

Alas, it seems that #1 is much easier to accomplish than #2.

The Haaretz Spy Scandal

The Jerusalem Post’s commentator Caroline Glick comments on Israel’s leftist-agendized media as epitomized by the Haaretz spy scandal:

When the gag order was revoked last Thursday, Israelis… learned that Anat Kamm, a reporter hired by the Walla Web portal when it was partly owned by Haaretz, had been under house arrest for four months. She is on trial for acts of espionage with the intent of harming national security that she committed not as a reporter, but during her service in the IDF… She continued reporting for Walla, while under house arrest until the end of March.

Haaretz staff reporter Uri Blau fled the country not to protect a source, but to evade punishment for possessing classified military documents in breach not only of the law but of a plea bargain agreement with the Shin Bet.

Kamm served in the IDF from 2005 to 2007 as a secretary in the office of the commander of Central Command. In the weeks before her release from service, she copied about 2,000 highly classified IDF documents onto two CDs and uploaded them to her home computer. After her release, she shopped the documents around to various military reporters and eventually gave them to Blau…. Such information in the hands of Israel’s enemies could cause the death of thousands of Israeli soldiers and civilians…

The Shin Bet launched its investigation of stolen IDF documents, which led it to Blau and then to Kamm after Blau published articles in November 2008 based on the documents he received from Kamm. At the time, the Shin Bet asked that Blau return all the classified documents in his possession. In return for his agreement to do so, the Shin Bet agreed not to prosecute him for illegally possessing classified materials. Blau returned 50 such documents and asserted that he had no more documents in his possession.

But then the Shin Bet found Kamm. And after confessing to stealing the 2,000 documents, she told them that she gave them all to Blau. When Blau found out that the Shin Bet knew he lied, and still illegally possesses thousands of classified documents, he decided not to return to Israel…

With the knowledge that their reporter lied to the Shin Bet and fled the country Haaretz chose to pay his living expenses in London and his legal expenses in Israel.

In her statements during her investigation published in court documents, Kamm revealed that she is a messianic leftist. She came to the army not to serve the country, but to transform it. It was only when she realized that she had failed to bend the IDF to her will that she decided to reveal its secrets.

Kamm’s treachery is a deeply disturbing comment on the mindset of the radical Left in Israel. But her crimes are even more alarming when we realize that Kamm is not a lone renegade. In her treasonous activities, she enjoys the support of a massive organization…

Haaretz has demonstrated that leftist traitors have a powerful sponsor capable of exacting painful revenge on the State of Israel for daring to prosecute them.

As for the State of Israel… the Haaretz spy scandal demonstrates is that the state is utterly unwilling to deal with this dangerous state of affairs. Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin stated that Israel will not change its screening process of candidates for military service. In the post-Kamm IDF, religious youths will continue to be grilled about their willingness to expel Jewish Israelis from their homes, and radical leftist youths will not be questioned about their loyalty to the state and willingness to keep the IDF’s secrets.

Ma’ariv and Globes both reported that thousands of Israelis canceled their subscriptions to Haaretz this week. Haaretz denied the reports. But really, it doesn’t care. Haaretz’s target audience is not Israeli. It is global. And there it remains the champion of those who seek an Israeli affirmation of their anti-Israel attitudes.

Once again, the real problem is not the bad apples in the barrel but the vast numbers of people that support them (and vote for them).

New York Man Sentenced in Terrorism Financing Case

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday the sentencing of a New York man convicted in a terrorism financing case:

A New York businessman was sentenced Monday to more than 10 years in prison for trying to funnel money to a terrorism training camp in Afghanistan through an undercover agent posing as a wealthy Middle Easterner.

Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari pleaded guilty in September to charges of terrorism financing and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Alvin Hellerstein sentenced him to 121 months, plus three years of supervised release. He faced up to 20 years behind bars.

Alishtari was operating a phony loan investment program when he met the undercover agent. Prosecutors said he accepted an unspecified amount of money from the agent to transfer $152,500 he believed was being sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan to support a terrorist training camp.

Alishtari, also known as Michael Mixon, thought the money would be used to buy night vision goggles, medical supplies and other equipment and advised the agent he had to be “three steps away” from the money so it could not be traced back to him.

Alishtari also pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from victims through the fraudulent loan investment program. The judge ordered him to pay restitution to victims in the scheme, but a figure has not been determined.

The judge said at sentencing Alishtari knew what he was doing.

“You knew these ends were assisting terrorism that was of a type, that it was on the edge of causing substantial death and destruction to people like you and me,” the judge said. “The very fabric of civilization is endangered by terrorism.”

Syria, Hezbollah and the Next Mideast War?

In light of the recent disclosure by Israeli president Shimon Peres that Syria has shipped Scud missiles to Hezbollah, Wall Street columnist Bret Stephens considers recent actions by Syria, Hezbollah and how they could ignite the Next Mideast War:

In the matter of Syria’s alleged shipments of Scud missiles to Hezbollah, it bears noting how often the fate of the Middle East has turned on seemingly trivial or nearly imperceptible events…

Why would Syria risk war with Israel by transferring the sorts of weapons it doubtlessly knows could provoke a sharp Israeli reprisal?

It is no secret that since Israel’s summer 2006 war with Hezbollah, Syria has helped to rearm its Lebanese ally with as many as 50,000 rockets and missiles, many of them hidden-at the unwitting recommendation of last year’s Goldstone Report-in homes, hospitals and schools. But the transfer of Scuds, which can be tipped with chemical or biological weapons, poses a threat to Israel of a different order of magnitude.

The prosaic answer is that Syrian President Bashar Assad has a reckless streak. He was reckless in allowing Syria to become a way station for Iraq-bound jihadists, reckless in (almost certainly) ordering the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, reckless in attempting to build a covert nuclear facility, and reckless in pursuing a no-wriggle-room alliance with Hezbollah and Iran.

Then again, Mr. Assad has never had to pay the ultimate political price for those gambles…. Another destructive war over Lebanon might just be sufficient to topple Beirut’s fragile pro-Western governing coalition, enhance Hezbollah’s prestige, and perhaps give Damascus the cover it needs to re-enter Lebanon militarily by posing, as it so often has in the past, as a force for “stability”…

What does the Obama administration do? So far, it hasn’t helped matters by giving the impression of a clear wedge between Israel and the U.S. Nor has the administration’s assiduous courtship of Damascus done anything other than embolden Mr. Assad’s taste for adventure.

In 1967, a series of seemingly minor events, tactical misjudgments, and particularly an Arab perception that the West would not honor its international commitments or come to Israel’s defense triggered a war the consequences of which have defined the Middle East ever since. We are adrift in those same waters today.

Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to US

ABC News is reporting that an award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist has defected to the United States:

An… Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials. The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, “an intelligence coup” in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran’s nuclear program. A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment. In its declassified annual report to Congress, the CIA said, “Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons.” Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. He worked at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University, which is closely connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, according to the Associated Press.

The Daily Alert, prepared by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs adds this note mentioned in the above video:

Amiri has been extensively debriefed since his defection. One Iranian web site reported that Amiri had worked at the covert Qom facility.

Retired US Officers: Israel “Important to US Middle East Policy”

A group of highly-ranked retired U.S. officers have stated that Israel is “highly important to U.S. Middle East Policy”:

Close to 50 generals and admirals have signed a letter that termed
Israel a key element in U.S. global strategy.

…The retired officers, who have toured Israel, said the Jewish state was highly important to U.S. policy in the Middle East and Mediterranean region.

“We brought with us our decades of military experience and, following unrestricted access to Israel’s civilian and military leaders, came away with the unswerving belief that the security of the State of Israel is a matter of great importance to the United States and its policy in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean,” the letter, released on April 2, read. “A strong, secure Israel is an asset upon which American military planners and political leaders can rely.”

“…We also recognize that the important countries of the region won’t like us any better if we shed Israel as an ally.”

“They will wonder how quickly we will shed them when they are inconvenient.”

JINSA [the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs] has been lobbying the Defense Department and U.S. military regarding Israel since the early 1980s. In January 2010, the organization released a report that asserted that Washington was denying Jerusalem — the largest recipient of U.S. military aid — a range of weapons in what could harm Israel’s military superiority over its Arab neighbors.

….The retired senior officers said they could not rule out the prospect that “political differences may be allowed to outweigh our larger mutual interests.”

“As American defense professionals, we view events in the Middle East through the prism of American security interests,” the letter said. “In the Middle East, a volatile region so vital to U.S. interests, it would be foolish to disengage — or denigrate — an ally such as Israel.”

The admirals and generals said Israel and the United States have engaged in defense and military cooperation at all levels. The letter cited training, law enforcement, counter-insurgency as well as research and development.

The United States would require Israeli cooperation for a range of threats, the officers said. They said this would include nonconventional and ballistic missile proliferation as well as CI [counterintelligence] operations.

Unfortunately, the great strategic importance of Israel to the US and the unreliability of the Arabs is something that has to be learned over and over by new American administrations, usually the hard way.

Abbas Promotes Terrorist Mastermind to Major General

Recalling that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was the financier of the Munich Massacre and other murderous terror attacks against Israel, it should come as no surprise that Abbas has promoted a terrorist who masterminded the murder of 3 Americans (and many others) to Major-General rank (2 stars):

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has promoted a man who commanded a Palestinian terror unit to the rank of major-general. Mahmoud Damra, commander of Yasser Arafat’s personal guard and terror unit called Force 17, was responsible for the planning and logistic coordination of numerous terror attacks in which many people were killed. Among those killed in the terror attacks he commanded were US citizens Esh-Kodesh Gilmore and the couple Binyamin and Talia Kahane in the year 2000. He has been imprisoned by Israel since 2006.

The following is from the Palestinian daily Al-Quds:

“President Mahmoud Abbas decided to promote the prisoner Mahmoud Damra, [known as] Abu Awad, commander of the ‘President’s Security Force 17,’ to the rank of major-general.” [Al-Quds, March 6, 2010]

As an interesting aside, in most armies Major Generals typically command divisions (10,000+ soldiers) or at least brigades (usually around 5,000 soldiers). It is clear that Damra, who merely commanded a terror unit, will never command that many troops even if Israel makes the mistake of releasing him from prison. So the rank is either purely ceremonial or an example of the fantasy rank-inflation seen in many third-world despotic cultures. See, for example, Manuel Noriega of Panama, who promoted himself to be a full, 4-star general despite commanding only 16,000 troops. This is the same rank as Eisenhower had for much of the time he was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

In contrast, Israel has more normative ranking of its commanders, with the Israeli Chief of Staff being the IDF’s only Lieutenant General (3 stars). Moshe Dayan, Israel’s chief of staff in the 1950’s when the army was smaller, had the rank of Major General.

JihadJane Co-Conspirator Charged in US Terror Plot

A few weeks ago, this blog cited reports that an American “JihadJane” has been apprehended for recruiting Muslim terrorists via the internet. Now comes a report about a co-conspirator with “JihadJane” who has been charged in the US terror plot:

Federal prosecutors filed terrorism charges Friday against a pregnant American woman in the so-called Jihad Jane case. The two American women are accused of plotting online to attend a terror training camp.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez flew from Ireland Friday to Philadelphia, where she was arrested by agents with the joint terrorism task force there. Her 6-year-old son flew with her and was placed in the custody of child protective service workers.

Last month, authorities in Ireland detained Paulin-Ramirez, originally from Colorado, and six others as they investigated an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist whose drawing had offended many Muslims.

Those seven suspects in Ireland were linked to Colleen LaRose [a.k.a. JihadJane — ed.], a 46-year-old woman who had traveled to Europe but was arrested last fall when she returned to the United States.

The new indictment charges that LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez, 31, separately traveled to Europe to support violent jihad, or Muslim holy war. The court papers also say that once LaRose was in Europe, she invited Paulin-Ramirez to join her to attend a “training camp.”

Paulin-Ramirez, prosecutors charge, accepted the invitation and asked to bring her 6-year-old son with her. She and the boy traveled to Europe last September and on the day of her arrival, she married a co-conspirator whom she knew only from online discussions, authorities said.

Last August, Paulin-Ramirez and LaRose allegedly had a computer conversation in which LaRose said “when our brothers defend our faith (and) their homes, they are terrorists … fine, then I am a terrorist and proud to be this.”

According to the indictment, Paulin-Ramirez replied, “that’s right… if that’s how they call it then so be it I am what I am.”

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.