Australian Court Sentences Muslims for Terrorist Plot

The New York Times reports that an Australian court has sentenced five Muslim men to prison for a terrorist plot against the Australian government.

The Times report states:

An Australian court on Monday sentenced five Muslim men to prison terms of 23 to 28 years for conspiracy to commit acts of terror…. The court ordered that the names of the men not be released.

Prosecutors said they had stockpiled dangerous chemicals, firearms and ammunition as part of a plan to wage Islamist jihad against the Australian government.

Justice Anthony Whealy of the Supreme Court of New South Wales said the men were driven by “intolerant, inflexible religious conviction.”

A report by The Australian describes the demeanor of the convicted terrorists upon hearing their sentences:

Moments after judge Anthony Whealy ordered the five… terrorists to serve lengthy jail sentences, the men looked calmly around the courtroom and smirked, confirming that none had any remorse for plotting violent jihad on Australian soil.

…The judge said the men seemed to “wear their imprisonment like some kind of badge of honor,” seeing it as “a test of their faith and a burden willingly borne as a duty arising from their fundamentalist religious conviction.”

The Times report continues:

The suspects had been arrested in 2005 after months of surveillance, wiretaps and searches of their homes, police officials said. The police found bomb-making guides and radical Islamist literature that was said to endorse mass murder and martyrdom as part of jihad…

The judge said Monday that some of the seized material glorified Osama bin Laden and included graphic images of violence involving hostages…

One of the men had trained at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based in Pakistan, has been blamed by the United States and India for a number of bold terror attacks, including the rampage by gunmen through Mumbai, India, in November 2008 in which more than 160 people were killed.

Terror Attack in India Kills 9, Wounds 57

Associated Press reports on Saturday’s terror attack in India which killed 9 and wounded 57 in at a bakery in the city of Pune. The report notes:

The explosion…, caused by a bomb left in an unattended bag, was the first major terrorist attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

It ripped open the German Bakery in… Pune, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Mumbai. Thick patches of blood and severed limbs littered the popular hangout, which is close to a meditation retreat and a Jewish center officials say were previously scouted by a terrorist suspect now detained in the U.S.

Israel National News reports that the were no Israeli casualties resulting from the attack.

The AP report continues:

Dozens of relatives waited at the city morgue to take home the bodies of victims as authorities performed autopsies…

Hindu nationalist leaders blamed the attack on Pakistan and demanded the government call off next week’s peace talks, the first between the nuclear-armed neighbors since the Mumbai siege.

“India’s initiative to hold peace talks with Pakistan is misconceived and adventurous,” said Arun Jaitley, a top leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

He said India shouldn’t restart peace talks until Pakistan stops allowing terrorists to base themselves there and punishes those involved in the Mumbai attacks. “Terrorism and talks can’t coexist,” Jaitley said…

The bombing was the first major terrorist strike in India since 10 Pakistan-based gunmen rampaged through hotels and a train station in the financial hub of Mumbai for 60 hours in November 2008, killing 166 people.

J Street Opposed at University of Pennsylvania

As the New Israel Fund faces Knesset sub-committee investigation for allegations regarding funding of organizations who contributed to the Goldstone Report, J Street, another organization known by many for its efforts to force Israel to hand over Judea and Samaria, felt heat in the United States.

Israel National News reports that attempts to build support for Washington lobby J Street met heavy opposition at University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel.

The report notes:

J Street, the Washington lobby with strong connections to the Obama administration, held an event at the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday evening, February 4th… The organization, which advocates strong American pressure to force an Israeli surrender of Judea and Samaria…, created a stir in the Jewish media and blogsphere for two weeks with the planned visit of director Jeremy Ben-Ami to the University’s Hillel building.

Z Street, a local pro-Israel organization initially attempted to pressure the University to withdraw its invitation to J Street’s Ben-Ami but when Hillel responded with claims that it was merely renting space to the powerful Washington lobby, Z Street settled for a room in the Hillel building to hold a simultaneous pro-Israel event. The group brought Mitchell Bard, who attracted most of the students concerned with events in the Middle East, and left J Street an audience comprised mainly of elderly Jews from the Philadelphia area.

Roz Rothstein of the California based pro-Israel StandWithUs organization, traveled… to attend the J Street event and confronted Ben-Ami with her concerns about his activities…. “First, how does J Street justify pressuring the democratically elected government of another country to change its policies through lobbying elected officials in the United States? Second, how can people living in the safety of the United States make policy decisions for another country, possibly endangering its citizens? I tried to find out what Ben-Ami thought. I asked him the questions that were on my mind but did not get answers.”

Brian Finkel, founding president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Zionist Freedom Alliance chapter, organized student activists to stand by the entrance to J Street’s event handing out flyers revealing information about the influential Washington lobby, including the massive donations it accepts from people with clear and public anti-Israel agendas.

“J Street asked Hillel staff for permission to use the main auditorium in the Penn Hillel building for a local launch and national webcast to its followers. Permission was granted, but without any consultation with Hillel students. This unilateral action by Hillel staff was met with tremendous anger and frustration from students, whose voices and opinions were entirely ignored in the process. ZFA decided to give those students a voice.”

Finkel, who previously served as Hillel’s Israel chair, described J Street as “an extremist Washington group that lobbies the United States government to impose policies on Israel.” On Wednesday evening, Finkel brought Dan Pollak, Director of Government Relations for the ZOA in Washington, to speak about why J Street poses a danger to the State of Israel. The event drew students and Philadelphia community members alike, prompting a lively debate about J Street’s true motives.

During the period that the Z Street sponsored Mitchell Bard event attracted students away from Ben-Ami’s presentation, the ZFA distributed flyers explaining why the school’s pro-Israel students were opposed to – and ashamed of – J Street’s presence at their Hillel. The flyers included many anti-Israel statements made by J Street leaders and showcased how J Street seeks to undermine Israel’s sovereignty and security by imposing its political agenda on an independent state…. After handing out all of their material…, the Zionist students entered the event but were prevented from asking questions.

ZFA told… that their protest was not only directed at J Street but also at the Hillel staff who, in their view, pushes an extremist political agenda. In recent years the Penn Hillel has brought fringe groups to campus such as Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence, each of whom receive generous funding from European governments hostile to the Jewish state.

One should note that the abovementioned organizations: Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence are among those mentioned in the Im Tirzu report as alledged recipients of NIF funding that gave testimony which appears in the Goldstone Report.

The Israeel National News report continues:

“Its time for us to take back our Hillel and give students a voice again,” Finkel said. “Hillel exists so that Jewish students can have a safe haven on campus. It is hard enough to advocate for Israel on campus without your own Hillel giving space to dangerous and manipulative anti-Israel groups like J Street…. What right do American extremists like J Street have to impose their will on a foreign country?”

This just goes to show that pro-Israel activists can do the right thing, even against a highly-funded organization like J Street.

Analysis: Iran Moves Closer to Nuclear Bomb

The Washington Post reports that Iran notified the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Monday that it intends to begin producing higher-grade enriched uranium. The announcement signals that Iran is moving closer to building a nuclear bomb.

The report notes that:

…Producing higher-grade enriched uranium marks a new and potentially dangerous turn in Tehran’s confrontation with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

….It means that Iran will be a significant step closer to possessing the raw material needed to build a nuclear bomb.

Indeed, Iran does not have the expertise to build the specialized fuel rods needed for the research reactor — only France and Argentina are expert at it — so the main consequence of Iran’s decision appears to be moving up the enrichment ladder. If Iran tried to fuel the reactor itself, absent international assistance, it would be risky to the reactor and for public safety, according to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

Albright said 70 percent of the work toward reaching weapons-grade uranium took place when Iran enriched uranium gas to 3.5 percent. Enriching it further to the 19.75 percent needed for the reactor is an additional “15 to 20 percent of the way there”.

Once the uranium is enriched above 20 percent, it is considered highly enriched uranium. The uranium would need to be enriched further, to 60 percent and then to 90 percent, before it could be used for a weapon. “The last two steps are not that big a deal,” Albright said. They could be accomplished, he said, at a relatively small facility within months.

U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis C. Blair told the House intelligence committee last week that “Iran has the scientific, the technical, the industrial capacity to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years and eventually to produce a nuclear weapon. The central issue is a political decision by Iran to do so.”

The Iranian government took the dramatic action just one week after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to open the door to new negotiations on fueling the research reactor. The IAEA, along with Russia, France and the United States, had offered to provide reactor fuel by using the bulk of the low-enriched uranium produced by Iran, but the negotiations broke down late last year. The countries made the gesture in hopes of reducing Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium — and because the fuel would be returned in metal alloy rods that could not be turned into weapons material.

What will it take for someone to stand up and stop Iran from getting the bomb?

Report: New Israel Fund Gives Money to Anti-Zionist NGOs

The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick provides background behind student movement Im Tirzu’s much-publicized report showing that a number of anti-Zionist NGOs were funded by the leftist New Israel Fund. The report, together with a petition of support for the report from a host of senior military reserve generals has prompted announcement of an investigation of NIF by a Knesset sub-committee.

Glick notes:

Im Tirzu published a detailed report demonstrating that 16 anti-Zionist NGOs funded by the post-Zionist New Israel Fund worked hand in glove with the UN Human Rights Council and Richard Goldstone to bring about the establishment of the Goldstone committee and give credibility to its allegations that Israel committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. According to the Im Tirtzu report, 92 percent of Israeli allegations that Israel committed war crimes in its campaign against Hamas came from these 16 NIF-funded organizations.

Im Tirtzu’s report was prominently covered by Ma’ariv last weekend. The media coverage provoked calls in the Knesset this week to investigate the NIF and its operational arms in Israel, both through regular committee hearings and perhaps through a parliamentary investigative panel.

These calls are extraordinary because they represent the first time in a decade that the legitimacy of these NGOs has been seriously scrutinized.

Israel National News reports that leading the reserve general signatores on the petition are:

former Head of the National Security Council, Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland; former Head of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog; former Head of Ground Forces Command, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yiftach Ron-Tal; former Head of the National Security Council and Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan…

Glick continues:

What is most encouraging about the aftershocks of the Im Tirtzu report is that the Left’s attempts to demonize it have so far failed. Indeed, the loudest voices calling for an investigation of NIF and its sponsored organizations have been MKs from Kadima.

THE HARSH truth is that the main cause of Israel’s poor performance in Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War was the Olmert government’s ideological dependence on the far left and its central contention that it is Israel’s presence in contested areas rather than our enemies’ commitment to Israel’s destruction that causes wars. Owing to their allegiance to this falsehood, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni were unable to prosecute the wars to victory militarily, justify the limited steps they did take to defend Israel diplomatically, or discredit the rising chorus of Israeli NGOs arguing that Israel had no right to defend itself politically.

Since Cast Lead, however, two important things have happened. First Kadima was replaced by the Likud. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rightly recognized the Goldstone Report as a strategic attack against Israel. If Israel has no right to defend itself; if its moves to do constitute war crimes, then Israel cannot fight, cannot win and will be destroyed. Rather than give credence to the report, Netanyahu has made discrediting it one his primary aims in office. And to counteract its force, among other things, for the first time since the start of the Oslo peace process with the PLO, Israel’s government is asserting the Jewish people’s right to Judea and Samaria.

If the government seizes the opportunity to weaken these subversive groups, not only will it be making it clear that the political open season on Israel is over. It will be clearing the way for any future war to end not only in military victory, but in political victory for Israel as well.

Peres Compares Fayyad to Ben Gurion

Last Tuesday’s session of the highly-regarded Herzliya conference featured Israel’s president Shimon Peres’ speech where he lauded PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, praising him for his efforts to establish a Palestinian state.

Peres hailed Fayyad comparing him to David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

Ynet notes:

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been compared to David Ben-Gurion more than once due to his pragmatic policy, which has been manifested in his plan to establish a Palestinian state within two years.

Weeks before he was showered with lavish praise by Peres, Fayyad led a group who tossed products manufactured in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria into a fire and authorized funding for families of terrorists who launch attacks against Israeli civilains and soldiers alike.

Fayyad made demands for a complete freeze of Jewish construction “in settlements, and in eastern Jerusalem” during his Herzliya speech and declared that PA would establish a state in mid-2011.

Obama’s Waterloo Tomorrow?

If the latest polls are accurate, then Massachusetts is poised to elect a Republican senator tomorrow, despite being the most liberal state in the nation by far. If so, then the Democrat supermajority of sixty Senate votes will end. This margin enables them to enact far-left legislation despite unanimous Republican opposition. Why? The country is angry over Obama’s bait-and-switch trick of campaigning as a moderate and governing as a leftist.

On Israel, too, he campaigned as “Israel’s staunchest supporter” before taking off the mask. Charles Krauthammer sums it up well:

What went wrong? A year ago, he was king of the world. Now President Barack Obama’s approval rating, according to CBS, has dropped to 46 percent – and his disapproval rating is the highest ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president’s second year.

Life as a Couple Improves with Age, Israeli Study Reveals

This study may say more about Israel’s culture which celebrates life and marriage than it does about aging in general; however it is a reason for all of us to be optimistic that wisdom and maturity are the keys to happiness:

Most Israelis believe that life as a couple improves after age 65, and more women believe this than men, a recent poll reveals.

The Third Age Conference, set for the Kinneret Academic College, near Kibbutz Ma’agan, on Wednesday will deal with the “couple life” of seniors and whether relationships strengthen with age.

‘The IDF: the World’s Most Prolific Innovation Engine’

Here’s a provocative, beautifully written excerpt from the new book, Startup Nation:

How does Israel—with fewer people than the state of New Jersey, no natural resources, and hostile nations all around—produce more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, and China combined? How does Israel attract, per person, 30 times as much venture capital as Europe and more than twice the flow to American companies? How does it produce, for its size, the most cutting-edge technology startups in the world?

There are many components to the answer, but one of the most central and surprising is the Israeli military’s role in breaking down hierarchies and—serendipitously—becoming a boot camp for new tech entrepreneurs.

Read the whole thing, but take the thesis with a grain of salt; diaspora Jews seem to do just fine in the high-tech start-up arena as well…

Economy Growing Faster than Projected

Israel’s economy is growing faster than projected, despite spurning Obama’s Keynsian spending spree idea:

Bank of Israel Forecasts 3.5% Growth Rate for 2010

The Bank of Israel issued a revised economic forecast for 2010 on Monday, raising its growth projection from 2.5% to 3.5%.
The bank said the recovery of the global economy has increased demand for Israeli exports, though it cautioned that it could scale back the forecast if the recovery slows.

Caught on Tape! The AP Making Stuff Up Again!

Here’s the headline and lede of an AP top story being carried verbatim by the media across the country this morning:

Giuliani: Obama ‘Turned the Corner’ on Terrorism

WASHINGTON – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Friday he believes President Barack Obama “turned the corner” on understanding the nature of terrorism when he publicly declared the U.S. at war.

Here’s the video of the full “Good Morning America” interview with Giuliani that the AP references, which ABC News titles, Rudy Giuliani Criticizes Terror Trial.
(Incidentally, there are accurate quotes of Giuliani in the remainder of the ABC News article quoted above.)
(Hat tip: Dan Friedman)

NYC 9/11 Trial Security Cost: $400M

Further success in bin Laden’s goal of “bleeding America into bankruptcy:”

New York City projects it will cost more than $400 million to provide security if the pre-trial preparation and trial of the suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks takes two years, which insiders say is virtually certain, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The cost of the upcoming terror trials in this New York City courthouse for Guantanamo Bay detainees charged as 9/11 co-conspirators, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will likely be more than $400 million and could go as high as $600 million.
It will cost another $206 million annually if the trial runs beyond two years, which some fear is possible, the mayor’s office estimates.

(Hat tip: Dan Friedman)

1,000 ‘Diversity Immigration Visas’ for Terror-Ridden Yemen

As General Casey said in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting, “diversity is a strength.”

State Department Using ‘Diversity Visas’ to Encourage Immigration to U.S. from Terror-Ridden Yemen

The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year 17 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The “diversity visas” are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of immigrants to the United States.

Iraq Demands Compensation for Destroyed Nuclear Reactor

Five days into 2010, we already have a contender for Chutzpa of the Year; most fair-minded analysts judge Menachem Begin’s destruction of the Osirak reactor in 1981 to have saved the world from the specter of a nuclear Saddam Hussein:

A senior Iraqi lawmaker this week said his government is planning to demand, via the United Nations, that Israel pay compensation for destroying the country’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

Iraqi MP Mohammed Naji Mohammed told the local Baghdad newspaper al-Sabah that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry have already “turned to the UN and the Security Council demanding that Israel pay us reparations for damage caused to the reactor.”

Apparently, the demanded compensation will also try to take into consideration the lost revenue a completed reactor would have brought in.

Built with French assistance, the Osirak reactor was built by Saddam Hussein as part of his effort to obtain nuclear weapons. In a surprise attack, an Israel Air Force squadron crippled the reactor, ending Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.

Many Western powers and not a few Arab states quietly approved of the Israeli action, though the UN passed a harsh resolution condemning the Jewish state and clearing the way for Iraq to claim compensation.

NY Times ‘Year in Pictures’: Israelis are Aggressors

Since the time media magnate William Randolph Heart uttered the phrase “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” the best place to find media bias is in photos. And the best place to find biased media photos is the New York Times.

I broke the 87 photos in the 2009 “Year in Pictures” into three categories: US, US in the World, and the World. Within the latter category, seven cover Israelis/Palestinians and 21 pertain to the remainder of the globe. That’s a 1:3 ratio, an overstatement of 172,000% (using land mass).

Within those seven photos, four clearly portray Israelis as aggressors/Palestinians as victims; most of the rest are biased as well, although it’s not as obvious.

Here’s the most egregious:

breishit

I looked through the New York Times archives and it’s been the same story just about every year.

(Hat tip: Harry Glazer)

Jerusalem Post Omits Arab Identity of Taxi Rapist

The Israeli media has adopted an abhorrent practice of the mainstream Western media: Jewish-on-Arab crimes are often hyped, while Arab-on-Jewish attacks tend to be covered up. Here is an example:

Taxi Driver Arrested on Suspicion of Raping Girl in his Cab in TA

A 64-year-old taxi driver from Kfar Kara was arrested on Friday on suspicion of raping a 17-year-old girl.

The girl told Tel Aviv police that the man picked her up on the city’s Dizengoff Street early Friday morning, drove to a car park and raped her in his taxi.

The Jerusalem Post fails to mention that Kfar Kara is an Arab village.