Friday, August 31, 2007

Palestinian affairs: Summits aside

Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 30, 2007

A Palestinian leader who feels safer in Jerusalem, Paris and Washington than in Nablus and Jenin will never be able to deliver.

This is how a senior Fatah official in Ramallah reacted to this week's summit in Jerusalem between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The two leaders are said to have discussed, for the first time in seven years, "core" issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the final borders of the future Palestinian state and the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the Arab world.

The last time Abbas was seen in Jenin, Nablus or other West Bank cities was on the eve of the January 2005 presidential election. Then, he toured many areas in the West Bank to seek the support of voters.

Earlier this month, he visited Jericho, but only to meet with Olmert in a hotel located on the southern outskirts of the sleepy town.

In recent months, especially after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, some Palestinians have been referring to Abbas jokingly as the mayor of Ramallah, since the only time he leaves the city is when he travels abroad. A visit to Nablus or a refugee camp in the West Bank remains out of the question, mainly for "security reasons," as one of his aides said this week.

The defeat of Abbas's security forces in the Gaza Strip last June has seriously undermined his standing and credibility among many of his constituents. Not that he enjoyed much popularity before the Hamas "coup."

But today, Abbas is also facing many challenges inside Fatah, with some hinting at a behind-the-scenes power struggle to succeed him.
In fact, Abbas has been a great disappointment to many of his erstwhile supporters, particularly since he stepped into Yasser Arafat's big shoes in January 2005.
In his pre-election campaign, Abbas promised his people that he would wage a relentless war against financial corruption and anarchy. He also promised to bring good governance and build proper state institutions. In addition, he pledged to reform his Fatah faction and to allow the younger leaders a larger say in decision-making.

But after one year, Hamas came to power mainly because Abbas had failed to fulfill most of his promises. Hamas found fertile soil among many disgruntled Palestinians who were clearly disappointed with Abbas's failure to deliver.
Instead of fighting corruption, Abbas surrounded himself with many of the corrupt leaders who had served under Arafat. And instead of making a serious effort to end the state of anarchy and lawlessness on the Palestinian street, Abbas did nothing to stop militiamen and gangsters (most of whom belonged to Fatah and PA security forces) from terrorizing the Palestinian public.

Abbas continued to do nothing even after Hamas came to power in January 2006. Instead of drawing the conclusions from the defeat of Fatah and working toward reforming the faction, he and his aides chose to devote almost all of their time to searching for ways to remove Hamas from power.

When they failed to achieve their goal, Abbas and his Fatah lieutenants followed the saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
This policy resulted in the formation of the fake and short-lived Hamas-Fatah unity government earlier this year.

As commander-in-chief of the PA security forces, Abbas bears the full responsibility for Hamas's violent takeover of the entire Gaza Strip. Yet no one in the Palestinian media in Ramallah, which is directly and indirectly controlled by Abbas's office, has dared to demand that he be held accountable. Moreover, calls by young guard Fatah operatives to reform the faction and get rid of icons of corruption have mostly been ignored by the PA-funded media.

ABBAS MAY be sincere in his efforts to talk peace with Israel and assert his control over the West Bank, but it's hard to imagine that he would be able to make crucial decisions on explosive issues concerning Jerusalem and the refugees. It's hard to imagine that he would be able to accept anything less than what was offered to Arafat at the botched Camp David summit in 2000.

Having lost the Gaza Strip and much of his credibility - not only among his constituents, but also among many Arabs and Muslims elsewhere - it's not even clear if Abbas has a mandate to represent the Palestinians at the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference due to be held later this year. Abbas is well-aware of this fact, which is why he announced this week that he would hold a national referendum on any agreement he reaches with Israel.

Given the current divisions among the Palestinians, the ongoing Hamas-Fatah power struggle, the growing mistrust of the US and Israel in the Arab world and Abbas's shaky status, it is highly unlikely that the PA chairman would be able to win the backing of a majority of his people for a US- backed deal.

The ghosts of wars lost

Caroline Glick-Jerusalem Post

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's statements Tuesday in support of stiffer sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons were justifiably heartening to many. Sarkozy's remarks, like his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's trip to Iraq last week, marked a refreshing departure from his predecessor Jacques Chirac's knee-jerk anti-Americanism.
Yet while Sarkozy's open support for sanctions serves to distinguish him from Chirac, his justification of his position indicates that although much has changed, much has also remained the same in France. By Sarkozy's lights, "This [sanctions] initiative is the only one that can allow us to escape an alternative that I can only call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."
Praising Sarkozy on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal was quick to conflate his remarks with those made by Sen. John McCain a few months ago about the prospect of a US military strike against Iran's nuclear installations. McCain said, "There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option; that is a nuclear-armed Iran."
But these statements are not the same. A moral chasm divides them. Unlike McCain, Sarkozy makes no moral distinctions between a nuclear-armed Teheran and a military strike aimed at preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. For him, they are the same.
Sarkozy's moral blindness is rooted in post-World War II Europe's instrumental treatment of the legacy of that war. For the Europeans - and first and foremost for the Germans, and for the Dutch, French and Belgians who collaborated with the Germans during the war - the main lesson of the war was that militarism and nationalism are bad. This view informed post-war Europe's ideological embrace of pacifism and transnationalism.
But in truth, militarism and nationalism did not cause WWII. The true cause of that war was Germany's decision to embrace evil and depravity as its guiding philosophy and the willingness of the nations of Europe that collaborated with German authorities to also embrace this evil. That is, the real legacy of the war is a moral one and the real lesson to be learned from it is not that nations must allow themselves to be gobbled up into transnational entities or that they must eschew war at all costs. Rather, the true lesson is that nations should embrace morality that sanctifies life and freedom and that holds men and women accountable for their choices.
Europe's refusal to reckon with this central truth is what brings leaders like Sarkozy to ignore the real reason why Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons. As a regime that embraces evil and preaches genocide and global domination, Teheran cannot be trusted with weapons of genocide and global domination. War waged to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power is preferable and less catastrophic than a war the Islamic Republic would wage if it were to acquire such weapons.
EUROPE IS far from unique in its refusal to accept and contend with the true legacy of its wars. Humanity as a whole more often than not prefers to evade the difficult lessons of war - and especially of lost wars. We see this very clearly today in the Islamic world, where the forces of global jihad base their efforts to destroy human freedom on their refusal to accept the reasons that Western nations, organized around the Judeo-Christian notion of human liberty, have defeated their forces in war for the past 500 years.
The refusal to reckon with the lessons of war is also the central unifying characteristic of Israel's political and intellectual establishment. The Israeli establishment's denials of the lessons of its military history began at the end of the Yom Kippur War, and extend to the 1982 Lebanon War, the Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, the Oslo process, the 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and the war in Lebanon last summer.

In the midst of all this evasion, something refreshing and, indeed, inspiring is happening today in America. There, a debate about the legacy of an unpopular lost war has recently begun in earnest. That war, of course, is the Vietnam War.
Last Wednesday, US President George W. Bush gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he discussed the consequences of America's defeat in Vietnam. Bush did not speak of the conflict itself. He did not connect then-president Lyndon Johnson's failure to explain the war to the American people to the US media's decision, made around 1967, to actively sue for American defeat at the hands of the Soviet and Chinese-backed Communists in North Vietnam. He did not discuss the defeat of the members of the American establishment at the hands of their children.

Bush made no mention of the fact that Congress's refusal to provide military assistance to the South Vietnamese made their loss of freedom a foregone conclusion. He didn't discuss how then-president Gerald Ford betrayed South Vietnam when he refused to provide air and naval support when the North Vietnamese invaded in 1975.
Bush did not discuss the reasons the US was defeated at all. He limited his remarks to the consequences of that defeat on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and on the US's position in the world to this very day. He noted that some two million Cambodians died at the hands of Pol Pot's murderous Communist regime, which rose to power after South Vietnam was overrun. He recalled the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese who were imprisoned in concentration camps, the tens of thousands who were killed and the hundreds of thousands who took to sea in rickety boats in a desperate bid to find freedom in the America that had just abandoned them. He noted statements by Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri asserting the US defeat in Vietnam as proof that the US can and will be defeated by Islam.

The US mass media reacted to Bush's speech with fits of hysterical rage. The New York Times, which together with CBS News had led the media war against the US defense of South Vietnam, dismissed the president's remarks as "bizarre." Major newspapers and television networks excoriated Bush for remembering the heavy and abiding toll of that lost war and for warning against repeating the mistake by embracing defeat in Iraq.

Christopher Hitchens' response to Bush's speech in The Observer was emblematic of the Left's condemnations. Hitchens wrote: "If one question is rightly settled in the American and, indeed, the international memory, it is that the Vietnam War was at best a titanic blunder and at worst a campaign of atrocity and aggression."
But contrary to the claims of Hitchens and his comrades, the question of America's memory of Vietnam was never settled. They never managed to successfully dictate America's national memory, even as they succeeded in squelching popular debate of history.

THIS WEEK, author Robert Kaplan published an article in The Atlantic Monthly pointing out the unbridgeable gap between popular histories of the Vietnam War, which are largely based on the views of that war espoused by Hitchens and The New York Times, and the literature of the war read by the American military. In an article entitled "Re-reading Vietnam," Kaplan gives an overview of that literature, which in contrast to the Left's bestsellers, has generally been published by boutique presses.

These books tell the stories of the warriors who fought in Vietnam. They discuss the stoic heroism of the American POWs who were subjected to years of physical torture and unrelenting psychological abuse during their captivity in North Vietnamese prison camps. They describe the counterinsurgency tactics employed by anti-communist forces that by 1970 had succeeded in politically defeating the Viet Cong in 90 percent of South Vietnam.

As Kaplan notes, in recent years these books have been supplemented by new histories, like Lewis Sorley's A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam , which examine the strategic success of the American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam after Gen. Creighton Abrams took command from Gen. William Westmoreland in 1968.

After the September 11 attacks, the American public began expressing a willingness to reassess Vietnam. This newfound openness was manifested in the public's belated embrace of Vietnam veterans, who had been shunned and silenced upon their return home.

The force of that embrace was felt strongly in the 2004 presidential elections.
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry had built his political career on public condemnations of his brothers in arms when he joined the anti-war movement after being released from the US Navy in 1970. The veterans banded together and, with massive public support, launched a successful campaign against him.

Although the Left has denounced Bush for his use of Vietnam as a warning for what will occur if the US is defeated in Iraq, the war's opponents have made near obsessive use of the Vietnam War as a means of convincing the American public that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. Just a week after the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, major media outlets were invoking Vietnam and warning that "a Vietnam-like quagmire" was ensuing in Iraq.

In a recently released study of the US media's treatment of the war in Iraq, the Internet blog "Media Busters" noted that a document search showed that since March 2003, The New York Times has published some 2,500 articles that make mention of both Vietnam and Iraq. CNN has run more than 3,000 stories that discuss the wars side by side. And always, the message is the same: As then, so today, the US cannot win, and so every American life sacrificed in Iraq is sacrificed in vain.

BUSH'S CHALLENGE to the received wisdom about the Vietnam War came then against the backdrop of these cultural crosscurrents, which also inform the current debate on the war in Iraq and the war against Islamic fascism in general. Bush is to be applauded for raising the story of Vietnam's legacy. His entrance into the debate will no doubt speed up the long-delayed moral reckoning with the legacy of Vietnam - of America's betrayal of its South Vietnamese allies, and of the consequences of that betrayal for America's international standing and its own self-assessment.

Hopefully, America's newfound readiness to reckon with the lessons of Vietnam will bring about a renewed and realistic American assessment and discussion of the current war against Islamic fascism.

And perhaps America's willingness to examine the demons of its past will prompt Europe and Israel, and perhaps one day even the Islamic world, to honestly study their military pasts. For until we recognize the causes of our past failures, we will be doomed to repeat them, time after time after time.

USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group takes up position opposite Lebanese coast amid trepidation over September presidential election

Our military sources report that aboard the Kearsarge group’s vessels are members of the 22nds Marine special operations-capable Expeditionary Unit, ready to execute landings on Lebanese beaches.Wednesday, Aug. 29, Adm. William Fallon, chief of US Central Command and the war on terror paid an unannounced visit to Beirut, although for years US generals have given the Lebanese capital a wide berth. He left after three hours, the longest time considered safe for him to stay. Our sources reveal he reviewed with Lebanese leaders US preparations for military intervention should the September presidential election descend into civil violence or elicit an attempt by Iran, Syria or Hizballah to seize power by force. Such an attempt could leave Lebanon dangerously stranded between two rival administrations.

The posting of the Kearsage and a marine force within reach of Lebanese shores is intended as a deterrent and indicator of Washington’s willingness to send the military over to prevent Lebanon’s takeover by Iran or Syria.

Adm. Fallon also inspected the measures for protecting the lives of the anti-Syrian leaders prime minister Fouad Siniora, majority party head Saad Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, and the safety of US ambassador Jeffrey Felton, a key mover in charting US strategy for Lebanon, and the embassy staff.

Portents of coming unrest were seen last week in the hasty departure from Beirut of the Saudi and UAE ambassadors under threats to their lives. Most Arab and European missions have cut down staff in the Lebanese capital.

Lebanese police are investigating the re-appearance of a sick videogame in Beirut whose goal is the murder of the prime minister, cabinet members, Jumblatt and Maronite leader Samir Geagea, who are designated “thieves and traitors.” Its name, “The Battle of the Seraya,” refers to the government building. The game, which has been removed from stores in Beirut, depicts underground tunnels leading from the government building to the US embassy, echoing Hizballah’s reference to the Siniora government as “the Feltman Cabinet.”

The government building has been guarded by tanks and three army and police battalions since the Hizballah-led opposition occupied downtown Beirut earlier this year with the declared aim of toppling the government.

Thanks to gen. Paul Vallely-stand up for America

Olmert follow-up

Bechor reports, based on "leaks from the Palestinian side," that Israel has, in the past few days, presented Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at least one draft of an "agreement of principles." · The agreement calls for a state named Palestine to be established alongside Israel, and have a territory of 6,250 square kilometers: the equivalent of all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
· "Palestine" will be demilitarized.
· Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled, according to the plan. The remaining communities are to be concentrated in small salients
Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled.
for which the Arab state will be compensated with additional territory elsewhere in present-day Israel.
· A passage of some sort will connect Gaza and Judea and Samaria. It will be under Jewish sovereignty and Palestinian administration.
· Israel agrees to redivide Jerusalem. Arab neighborhoods will be under Arab sovereignty and Jewish ones under Jewish sovereignty. Mention is made of "religious areas," but further details are not known as of yet. Each side will recognize the other's spiritual needs.
· The "refugee" question is not mentioned at all, and Bechor reports that this is the main sticking point. Abbas is insisting that Arabs descended from those who fled Israel in 1948 be allowed to return to Israel, at least in principle.

Bechor says that Abbas and his men have gone over the draft and are not pleased; they know how to negotiate, he notes. In a recent interview with PA TV, Abbas said that "declarations of principles are a waste of time" and "useless." What the PA wants, he said, is a clear timetable for establishing Palestine, as well as an Israeli pullback, demolition of Jewish communities and "return of refugees" (i.e., the flooding of Israel with Arab citizens).

The Arabs are hoping Israel will become more pliable in November, when an international diplomatic conference, sponsored by the US, is to be held in an attempt to hammer out an accord.
An official close to Mahmoud Abbas, Mustafa Bargouti, said that the idea of a conference is "an Israeli trap" and that nothing will come of it.

Olmert Offers Judea, Samaria, Divides J'lem in Draft Accord

Israel has agreed, in writing, to hand over 6,250 square kilometers of land – the equivalent of its entire biblical and strategic heartland - to an Arab terror state. So reports Dr. Guy Bechor, a leading expert on Arab affairs, who also supplies some of the details of the negotiations. Just released moments ago-developing-I will update And here is the rest of it.

Change of Pace: Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in a Year

WASHINGTON (AP) - The economy grew at its strongest pace in more than a year during the spring as solid improvements in international trade and business investment helped offset weakness in housing. The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, expanded at an annual rate of 4 percent in the April-June quarter, significantly higher than the 3.4 percent rate the government had initially estimated a month ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The 4 percent GDP growth rate for the second quarter marked a sharp jump from the anemic 0.6 percent pace turned in during the first three months of the year. It was the fastest GDP increase since a 4.8 percent growth rate in the first three months of 2006.

Since that time, the economy had slowed sharply, reflecting a major drag from housing, which is in its worst slump in 16 years.

The revision from the initial estimate of 3.4 percent second quarter growth reflected an improving trade deficit, with stronger export sales and fewer imports.
Business investment, in the form of rebuilding of inventories, and construction of shopping centers, office buildings and other non-residential projects was also stronger than previously believed.

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of total economic activity, did show a marked slowdown in the second quarter, growing at an annual rate of 1.4 percent, less than half the first quarter increase.

Housing construction, which had been a standout performer during five boom years, suffered another drop, falling at an annual rate of 11.6 percent, the sixth straight decline in this industry.

Just In: UN Middle East peace envoy calls on Hezbollah to prove captured Israeli soldiers still alive

Kassam rocket fired at western Negev; no casualties

A Kassam rocket was fired at the western Negev Friday morning, crashing in an open area near a kibbutz. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Analysis: Russia uses Syrian port to demonstrate its power in the Med

Russia is expanding its military presence in Syria, developing an advanced naval port at Tartus and providing Syria with sophisticated missile technology.

Comment: Russia is no friend of the USA or the West. You read that Russia is upset with Israel and others who criticize her actions;yet it is her behavior that is helping to de-stabilize this area. Of course, Russia's end game is for this to occur, she will step in with multiple aides-more later-developing trauma here in the Middle East. The story of Russia's return to Tartus, Syria's second most important port after Latakia, broke a year ago. It is Moscow's only foreign naval outpost situated outside the former Soviet Union.
In June 2006 Russian media reported that Moscow had begun dredging at Tartus with a possible eye to turning what was largely a logistical base into a full-fledged station for its Black Sea Fleet, soon to be redeployed from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. But Tartus is much more than just a new home for the fleet; it allows projection of Russian power into the entire eastern Mediterranean, and, by extension, a flexing of military might before Israel and the West.
Russian sources said the country's military planned to form a squadron to operate in the Mediterranean within three years, built around the Moskva missile cruiser.
In addition, several respected Russian newspapers have reported that Moscow planned to deploy an S-300PMU-2 Favorit air-defense system to protect the base, with the system being operated by Russian servicemen rather than by Syrian forces.
According to these reports, the system would provide air defense protection for a large part of Syria.
Moscow and Damascus have also reached an agreement to modernize Syria's anti-aircraft network by upgrading medium-range S-125 missile complexes that were sold to Syria in the 1980s.
Another instance of secret activity at the port came on March 9, 2005, when yet another Russian Black Sea Fleet vessel, the Azov, supposedly carrying machinery for rebuilding the moorage at the Tartus technical base and replacements for obsolete items in the base's storage, left for Syria.
When it arrived at the port, several suspicious meetings between local authorities and Russian Navy officers took place, Russian media reported.
Less than two months later, Syria test fired new Scud missiles. The Syrians launched one Scud B missile with a range of 300 kilometers, and two Scud D missiles with a range of 700 kilometers. It is tempting to suggest that technologies for these projectiles were among the "equipment" brought on board the Azov.
The Russians have not stopped at moving missiles in their attempt to make an impression in the region. On one occasion they sent fighter planes into Israeli airspace.
In January 1996, the Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov came very close to Israeli territorial waters. On January 27, it launched several advanced Su-33 fighters, the naval version of the Su-27. The jets ventured into Israeli air space near Haifa. IAF planes were scrambled to intercept, but a skirmish was avoided.
The incident was kept secret for six years and was only revealed in 2002 in an article in the Israel Air Force magazine.
According to the report, Russian planes entered Israel's airspace at least twice and several F-16 scrambled for an intercept mission after an intrusion alert was received.

One or Four States Solution.

After the WW1, following the collapse of Ottoman Empire , the League of Nations , in order to facilitate the transition to independent states, created many mandate governed areas in the Middle East As a result the countries such as Iraq , Saudi Arabia , Syria , Lebanon and others were created. The same principle was intended for the creation of a Jewish state when the United Kingdom (UK) was given a guardianship of the Palestinian Mandate.
Almost immediately, the UK made a deal with the Arabs and Egypt, and as a result, 77% of the land that was designated for the Jewish state was illegally cut off to create Jordan and additional 5% to Syria from the Golan Heights. That is when the modern Arab-Israel conflict actually began!
Recently, a new Islamist order has been emerging in the Gaza Strip. Not long ago the Hamas Executive Force took control over Gaza. As a result the two-state solution, which was so eagerly promoted by 'friends' of Jews and by self-hating Jews lately, became a totally discredited fantasy! As a result, there are only two options remaining viable at the moment:
1. Creation of four states on Jewish land: Israel, Jordan, Fatahstan in Judea and Samaria and Hamastan in Gaza.
2. Establishment of one Jewish state on all Jewish ancestral land. (The non-Jewish population residing in the land of the Palestinian Mandate can be easily integrated by the neighbouring Muslim countries or a new state can be formed in Sinai Peninsula later.) This option has never been given a chance!
There is another one-state solution. Enemies of the Jews, not just Arabs, have been working on it before and since creation of the Palestinian Mandate and definitely since the declaration of independence by Israel. It is One Muslim State without Jews! Would you prefer this option? Many Jew-hates do!
Many Jewish publications have been eagerly promoting opinions about a Two-state solution or the Transfer control of Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza to Jordan , as the only alternatives to Arab-Israel conflict.
The limited autonomy of the Arab population in Gaza and the West bank, the original intention of the Olso Agreement has completely forgotten. They absolutely ignore, block and discredit as extremist views the original plan of the League of Nations – the creation of a Jewish homeland in the Palestinian Mandate, including the Trans-Jordan.

Why is the idea of giving up Jewish land to enemies, whose goal is complete destruction of the state of Israel , not considered radical, but advocating the rights of Jewish people to the land of their ancestors is?

No wonder that with this type of coverage by the Jewish press, in addition to the global anti-Israel propaganda by main-stream press, Jews have started to believe that we have no other choice!

Jews and the public in general are deprived of correct information and facts. They are brainwashed by, politically motivated, often leftist self-hating traitors who have infested the Jewish press and other Jewish organizations! The absence of true Zionist leadership in Israel and the Diaspora is the major contributor to our problems!

For some sinister reason international press guided by hypocritical international political and business interests are portraying Fatah as a moderate alternative to Hamas. People forgot the killing of Israelis athletes during Munich Olympic games and string of airplanes and ship hijackings perpetrated by Fatah in the past. The existing endless suicided bombings, barrage of Kassam rocket and shells send toward Israel by military wing of Fatah are ignored or played down.
In reality there is no difference between Hamas, Fatah or any so-called Palestinian organization. For quite a while the Palestinian National Charter - the official PLO doctrine have not been checked. Make a decision yourself if this is a "moderate" organization which accepts a two state solution, recognizes Israel and rejects violence and terrorism.
Article 2: Palestine , with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit. - This is in line with the League of Nations resolution for Palestinian mandate as the land was allocated for the Jewish state and it did include Jordan !
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine . Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase…
Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war…
During the last 56 years, all peace options, but Jewish one, have been tried many times! They produce only escalation of violence and terror, not just for Jews but for Arabs as well. One solution – the Jewish state, as it was designated by League of Nations , on the Jewish ancestral land is the only option that can bring the peace and end the conflict. Why is it systematically ignored? Why creation of Eretz-Israel is considered as extreme, ...

Fire the Neocons, Fight the War

On October 11, 2000 George W. Bush said, "I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war."
In January 2003, President Bush was presented with two post-invasion plans for Iraq. One, authored by the Defense Department, called for a hard and fast invasion, establishment of a provisional government in Baghdad, and an exit from Iraq in very few months, to enable our forces to deal with the neighboring state sponsors of terrorism, Iran and Syria. The other, authored by the State Department and the CIA, was for the extended occupation and nation-building in Iraq.
In between was 9-11, and George Bush’s conversion to the neocon “strategy” to fight the war we’re in.
In April 2002, I wrote that the president’s thinking was dangerously garbled, and that our British allies were very uneasy about it. That September, I wrote that the president needed -- before we took military action against Iraq -- to make very clear that Iraq was only part of the problem and that a war president was obligated to lead us and the free world to defeat the enemy in its entirety. But between October 2000 and January 2003, President Bush became a neocon.
Since the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, President Bush has focused our war effort on building a new democracy in Iraq. We have not been either decisive or forceful with Iran or Syria. And last week, the President invoked the memory of Vietnam as the reason we shouldn’t abandon Iraq before the job is done. But his definition of the job is incorrect, and so is the lesson he learned from Vietnam.
The debate about Iraq is essential, but it is focused on the wrong issues. The question is not how best to withdraw from Iraq. The issue is how to win the war against the terrorist nations.
Gen. Petraeus is operating the surge magnificently, and it may -- by March or April -- have established a sustainable success against the insurgency. At the same time, the Maliki government is -- as the new National Intelligence Estimate says -- dysfunctional and not able to govern.
The President has said our goal in Iraq is to create a nation that can defend and govern itself and will be an ally in the war on terror. That definition of our endgame puts America on the strategic defensive.
We didn’t go to war with Iraq because it wasn’t a democracy. If that were our casus belli, we’d be at war with about three-fourths of the nations of the world. We went to war because -- relying on all the intelligence we had -- the President in good faith judged Iraq to be a clear and present danger to the United States.
Our forces swept through Iraq and entered Baghdad in a combat crouch, very aware of the equal -- or bigger -- threats posed by Iraq’s neighbors. And there we stopped, as the neocons wanted us to, spending soldiers’ lives to build a democracy in Iraq.
Let’s be very clear: whether Iraq becomes a democracy is not determinative of our success or defeat in this war. Iraq is only one campaign in the war against the nations that sponsor terrorism. Victory isn’t an Iraq that can defend and govern itself. Victory is defined as the end of state sponsorship of Islamic terrorism, which means forcing Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and others out of that business. Nothing more is needed, and nothing less will defeat an existential threat to America.
Conservatives -- people such as you and me, and most of our military leaders -- believe that the lesson of Vietnam is not how to manage our withdrawal of Iraq. Wars, as Churchill said about Dunkirk, are not won by evacuations. Those who believe we have a moral obligation to defend defenseless Iraqis have a point. But that point ended when Nouri al-Maliki said that if America abandoned Iraq, he could “find friends elsewhere.” The Maliki government is much too closely tied with Iran, and the only visible replacement for Maliki -- Iyad Allawi -- is tied as closely to Saudi Arabia as Maliki is to Iran. Neither of those nations is going to allow Iraq to be an ally in the larger war.
We who lived through the Vietnam era understand that the lesson of Vietnam isn’t that we have to win the “hearts and minds” of the peoples of the Middle East. We know it isn’t that we cannot pull out of Iraq prematurely. We know that we can be in Iraq for another sixty days or another sixty years and the situation will not improve much while Iraq’s neighbors continue to man, fund and arm the insurgency.
The lesson of Vietnam is much different from the one the President apprehends. The lesson is this: if you fail to fight a war in a manner calculated to win it decisively, you will lose it inevitably.
By waiting for the Iraqis to establish democracy and failing to deal with the terrorist nations that surround them, we have enabled our enemies to control the pace and direction of the war. It is time for the President to “Trump” the neocons: tell them they’re fired. And get on with the business of fighting a war that will end the threat to America.
Gen. Petraeus is literally working wonders in Iraq. When he reports to Congress in three weeks, he’ll likely say that the counter-insurgency is working, but hasn’t yet succeeded. And he will say that it needs to continue, as the President has planned, at least through March of 2008. Now is not a time to second-guess Petraeus. But now is the time to tell Maliki and the Iraqis that our effort in Iraq is divorced from theirs.
As I wrote in March 2006, there is a conservative war plan. It’s this:
We as conservatives understand that Islamic terrorism cannot threaten us significantly without the support of nations. We are impatient with Mr. Bush's neo-Wilsonianism because it allows the enemy and its apologists to control the pace and direction of the war. We are unwilling to allow the prosecution of this war against the terrorist nations to be delayed for however long it takes for Iraqis to sort themselves out. It is impossible for them to do so while neighboring nations -- Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia -- actively interfere.
Conservatives don't want to be caught in the web of failed nostrums of Vietnam. We won't wait for Islam to be reformed or to win the hearts and minds of the mullahs in Tehran. We don't consider Islam unreformable; but we understand that it is unreformable by non-Muslims. And we understand that the only way to spur Muslims to accomplish that reformation is to break the hold radical Islam has over a growing number of nations.
Fire the neocons, Mr. President, and reject their theories. Turn your thinking back to October 2000. Order Gen. Petraeus to do what is necessary for now in Iraq, and turn our military and intelligence establishments’ attention to the nations that surround it.

Stop thinking about how to not lose. Think about how to win.

Mr. Babbin is the editor of Human Events. He served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush's administration. He is the author of "In the Words of our Enemies"(Regnery,2007) and (with Edward Timperlake) of "Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States" (Regnery, 2006) and "Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse than You Think" (Regnery, 2004). E-mail him at

Breeding the dogs of war

The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran
By Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar
Yossi Melman, a veteran Haaretz investigative journalist, and Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born political analyst, have provided both a detailed study of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and a comprehensive survey of the Iranian nuclear program.

The book's first three chapters center on the life of the man considered to be today's greatest threat to Israel and the West. Ahmadinejad is largely absent from the second part which, beginning with the efforts of the shah, gives a detailed account of the Iranian nuclear endeavor.
Ahmadinejad, who was elected president in 2005 and is expected to serve until 2009, was born in the village of Aradan on October 28, 1956. His father was a blacksmith, and his parents were materially troubled and extremely religious. He was taken as a young child to one of the poorest neighborhoods of Teheran, where he showed outstanding industry and ambition. Devoted to his family, modest in his personal life (in contrast to many of his corrupt political rivals) and an excellent student, in 1975 he enrolled at the University of Science and Technology close to his family home in Narmak. There he was a founder and active member of the Islamic Student Union, and his anti-shah activities put him in contact with Lebanese Shi'ite militants. Some claim Ahmadinejad was directly involved in seizing the US Embassy in Teheran in September 1979. The authors, however, say that it's impossible to substantiate this claim. In much the same way they say the accusation as to his not having actively participated in the Iran-Iraq war is also not provable. So too with another accusation in regard to his planning the 1989 murder of Iranian dissidents in Vienna.
Ahmadinejad's rise to the top came after he occupied a series of government posts. At one point he was governor-general of the province of Ardebil, at another a popular teacher at his old school, the University of Science and Technology. In his next post, as mayor of Teheran, he was widely admired as a hard-working problem solver. He also built many monuments commemorating the Iranian soldiers who had fallen in the war with Iraq.

One of the major reasons for Ahmadinejad's success as mayor was his attack on corruption. The authors point to the major deterioration in Teheran's quality of life in the years after the Shah. There were major increases in noise and air pollution, traffic congestion and crime. The inability to refurbish their aircraft made Iranian airlines among the most unsafe in the world. The country's medical services deteriorated. Bureaucracy worsened. Despite the regime's preaching of puritanical virtues, the streets of the capital filled with tens of thousands of prostitutes from poor urban families. Surprisingly, this major exporter of oil and gas lacks refining capacity, and has known fuel shortages.

It is generally considered that Ahmadinejad hasn't done a good job in confronting the nation's internal challenges, and that his focus on foreign relations is an effort to divert attention from this.

Part of this obsession with foreign affairs has been his denial of the Holocaust, and his repeated statements about wiping Israel off the map. Though there have been repeated clarifications from various spokesmen and defenders, it is clear that he is obsessed by Israel and the Jews, and will do whatever he can to eliminate the Jewish state. As he has gone from success to success with incredible determination, the threat he presents is clearly one which should be taken seriously.

In this connection a most troubling chapter of the book deals with Ahmadinejad's close relations with the messianic teacher Mohammed Taghi Mesbah Yazid. The doctrine that speaks of a great war between Gog and Magog preceding the coming of the 12th Mahdi and the subsequent Islamic conquest of the world is one Ahmadinejad apparently subscribes to. Violent global conflict is thus for him not something to be avoided, but rather to be welcomed and induced. Yazid's doctrine suggests extraordinary human efforts might hasten the catastrophic events connected with the appearance of the Mahdi.

The second part of the book tells the story of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. One of the principal villains of the piece is IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei; it seems his Nobel Prize is something similar in value to that given to Yasser Arafat. ElBaradei was slow to waken to the Iranian danger, delayed reporting the extent of violations, and enabled Iran to continue working toward building nuclear weapons.

Iran was also considerably helped in this by China, Russia and Pakistan. Here we see that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is not the work of one extreme individual, but rather a central goal of the ayatollahs' regime; Iranian leaders were determined to acquire the Bomb long before Ahmadinejad came to power. The president is thus not an exception, but merely the most vocal exponent of what the Iranian leadership as a whole wants. His grandiose pronouncements, his defiance of and hatred for the West, his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel, do however set him apart as the most extreme and dangerous of the nation's leaders.

The authors offer a detailed analysis of how Iran might be prevented from attaining nuclear devices. Diplomatic pressure through UN sanctions has been one tack, but former US representative John Bolton believes it is already too late for this. Regime change has been the great American hope, and the recent riots over gas rationing in Teheran may provide a bit of substance to this hope. But even this, given the weakness of the Iranian internal opposition, seems an unrealistic goal. The authors' analysis of military options is detailed and informative, if somewhat ambiguous. They don't claim to have a definitive answer, though their work certainly underlines the urgency of dealing with the Iranian threat and its most provocative exponent before disaster comes to Israel and the world.

The writer's most recent book is Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General.

German House opened in Damascus

Comment: The EU, the West are not resolved in their strategies for combating terrorism. Note the following business relationship and mixed western messages we continue to give our enemies. You see, all other Arab countries watch,listen and learn-we are not courageous enough to do the same. It is this fundamental weakness that our enemy believes will ultimately defeat us-I agree!

DAMASCUS, (SANA)-Head of the State Planning Commission Tayser Riddawi on Wednesday underlined the importance of economic cooperation with Germany, Riddawi and German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul opened the German House in Damascus which includes representatives of German development companies working in Syria.
"Germany's cooperation with Syria is very important to develop sectors of water, technology and energy," Riddawi said, calling German investors to invest in the country in all fields.
Wieczorek-Zeul stressed that the German House is a symbol of cooperation between the two states that will contribute to developing and boosting economic ties, expressing hope the House will become a center for contact and communication between Syrian and German companies.
The German House in Damascus includes representatives of all development programs done by German experts in cooperation with Syrian institutions.

The Dangers of 'Peace' Making

America's latest efforts merely entrenched al Qaeda in the Gaza Strip. BY DORE GOLD
August, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The U.S. and other Western powers are pushing for a new Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough, to help contain Iran and undercut the appeal of al Qaeda and radical Islam. A grand-scale Middle East peace conference is planned for this fall.
The underlying assumption is that radical Islam has something do to with Israel-related political grievances. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made this argument repeatedly. If he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice roll up their sleeves and work toward a permanent settlement of the Palestinian issue, so the logic goes, they will be providing a powerful diplomatic antidote to the jihadism threatening the security of the entire Western alliance.

But is this really the case? In August 2005, the international community embraced Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, largely for these very reasons. The "occupation," which they tirelessly argued was polarizing the Middle East, would be rolled back. The Palestinians would take over Israeli greenhouses and export cherry tomatoes to the European Union. They would pump gas from lucrative off-shore gas fields being developed by British Gas to bring in huge revenues to the Palestinian people.

Ms. Rice also pushed hard for the "Rafah Border Crossing Agreement," which was supposed to facilitate trade between Gaza and the rest of the world while keeping terrorists out. EU observers were deployed.

But moderation did not ensue. Five months after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas won the Palestinian elections and formed a government. In March 2006, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the London Arabic daily Al-Hayat that al Qaeda had penetrated the area. A month later, the newspaper reported that al Qaeda operatives had infiltrated Gaza from Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.

Huge amounts of weapons and cash also poured into Gaza. And regardless of their tactical disagreements, Hamas did not fight al Qaeda but in fact joined forces with one of its Gaza affiliates, the Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam), in kidnapping Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit. In July 2007, the head of al Qaeda in Egypt fled that country's security forces to hide in Gaza.

In short, the U.S. and its Western allies thought that Israel's Gaza pullout would establish the foundations of a Palestinian state and thus reduce the flames of radical Islamic rage. Instead they got an al-Qaeda sanctuary on the shores of the Mediterranean.

The source of their error was a popular misconception in policy-making circles of what causes radical Islam to thrive. The gasoline fueling al Qaeda has been its sense of victory, not political grievances.

Its recruits have responded to Web clips of U.S. armored vehicles in Iraq exploding, or the beheading of Russian soldiers in Chechnya. Indeed, al Qaeda was established in 1989, after the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan. It was then that Osama bin Laden and his followers said to themselves that they had just beaten a superpower and were replicating the great victories of the early armies of Islam that crushed the Byzantine and Persian Empires.

It should be remembered that in the 1990s, the U.S. and its allies addressed many political grievances of the Islamic world in Kuwait, Somalia and especially in Bosnia. In the Arab-Israeli sector, the Clinton administration devoted more time to Arab-Israeli diplomacy than most of its predecessors, with the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, the 1997 Hebron Agreement, the 1998 Wye Agreement, and finally the attempt to reach a permanent-status agreement at Camp David in 2000. But al Qaeda only grew in strength. There were attacks in Saudi Arabia in 1995, East Africa in 1998, Yemen in 2000 and finally 9/11.

In other words, there was no correlation between U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to ameliorate the grievances voiced by radical Islamic groups and the appeal of al Qaeda.

What the Gaza pullout showed, however, was that mishandling the Israeli-Palestinian issue can exacerbate the threat of radical Islam, especially if it deepens the sense in radical Islamic circles that their military efforts have paid off. Today, leading Western diplomats have been praising the Arab League Peace Initiative--based on the 2002 Saudi Plan--which calls on Israel to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 lines (i.e., leave the Golan Heights and entire West Bank) in exchange for "normal relations" with the Arab world. The Saudi Plan re-divides Jerusalem.

This proposal goes well beyond the requirements of peacemaking envisioned by the United Nations in Security Council Resolution 242 (November 1967), which did not demand a complete Israeli pullback. The Arab Initiative also goes far beyond the letter of assurances sent by President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, which guaranteed Israel's right to "defensible borders" in the West Bank (and hence precluded the kind of withdrawal envisioned by the Saudis).

But what if Israel were to feel pressured by the U.S. and its partners--and it conceded its right to defensible borders at the upcoming Middle Eastern peace conference by agreeing to the terms of the Arab Initiative? Gaza provides a preview.

For example, if Israel left the Jordan Valley, its strategic barrier in the east, this would create a new security vacuum. This would not only undermine Israel, but would pose a threat to Jordan, which has already suffered from Iraqi al Qaeda over the last few years with suicide bombing attacks in Amman. Jordan would become the new forward base for jihadi groups moving against Israel. Two years ago, Israel discovered that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, had already set up cells for this purpose in the Jordanian city of Irbid.

Even before the implementation of such far-reaching concessions, serious destabilization could easily erupt. Today, the main reason why Mahmoud Abbas and the remains of his Fatah movement retain power in the West Bank is not their popularity. Observers forget that Hamas also won the Palestinian elections in the West Bank in 2006. However, in contrast to the situation in Gaza, the Israeli Army is fully deployed in strategic areas of the West Bank and could intervene in minutes if Hamas tried to execute a Gaza-style military coup to topple Mr. Abbas.

One of the diplomatic proposals that has been on the table since 2002 is to get Israel to withdraw from its current deployment to the lines it held on September 2000, presumably with international guarantees. If Israel were to agree to this idea, it would be hailed by the Western powers as a vital step towards the achievement of an Arab-Israeli peace. But it would also, under present conditions, set the stage for a complete Hamas takeover in the West Bank as well and create a huge victory for radical Islam.
Forty years ago when U.N. Resolution 242 was drafted, its architects understood that peacemaking required balance. Israel would have to compromise, but its diplomacy should not undermine the delicate strategic balance in the Middle East with a radical pullout that would leave it excessively vulnerable. Effective diplomacy today requires striking the same careful balance--seizing opportunities for real peace, but granting Israel its right to defensible borders.

Pushing Israel back to the pre-1967 lines will not satisfy al Qaeda, nor will it bring peace. Right now, what the Palestinians need is help to build a stable civil society with governing institutions that work, not a return to the ceremonial diplomacy of the 1990s. The errors of past Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking have not been cost-free. They have real consequences in terms of loss of life and a deepening conflict. These initiatives do not halt the assault of radical Islam against the West. In fact, if mishandled, they can make it far worse.

Mr. Gold, Israel's ambassador to the U.N. in 1997-99 and a negotiator with the Palestinians during the Wye River negotiations, is author of "The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City" (Regnery, 2007

So much for Israeli-Arabs identifying with Israel-no surprise

The heads of Arab parties are against the institution of a national civil service for young Arabs. They are refusing any contact with the Defense Ministry. According to them, this measure will not bring "real equality" between Arabs and Jews.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Manoushehr Mottaki, has sharply criticized President George Bush for his comments on the Middle East. Bush had said that ...

Iran was leading the region to a nuclear crisis-Mr. Bush is correct! And here is the rest of it.

Playing into Arab Hands

Congress: Iraq 'surge' not working so screams today's Friday headline in Al Jazeera news media.The White House is playing down a report by the investigative arm of the US congress which contradicts key Bush administration claims of progress in Iraq. Portions of the draft report, compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and due to be released next week, have been leaked to the media.

Among its conclusions: the so-called troop "surge" in Iraq is not the success the Bush administration has claimed. The sharply negative report says Iraq has failed to meet 15 of 18 benchmarks in military and political improvement.

The assessment, first reported by the Washington Post, says the Iraqi government has failed to make constitutional changes, crack down on sectarian militias and provide combat-ready Iraqi army forces to support us troops.
Key points: GAO report
Iraqi govt has failed to make constitutional changes, or crack down on sectarian militias Level of violence against Iraqi civilians unchanged No improvement of Iraqi forces' capabilities Shia militias infiltrating security forces

The Bush administration’s interim report, issued in July, gave passing grades in those three areas. That report said Iraq had made progress on eight of out of the 18 benchmarks. The GAO report also disputes claims that the Bush ‘surge’ strategy has improved security in Baghdad. It says the number of attacks on Iraqi civilians remains unchanged over the past six month, the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved, and Shia militias have infiltrated Iraqi army units. Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, disputed the GAO's overall findings saying the report had set an unrealistically high bar for progress and contained factual errors. 'No secret'

He said that the GAO looked at which political and security goals had actually been met, while the administration's assessment was about progress being made. "It's no secret that many of the benchmarks have not been met," Snow told reporters. "If you're trying to do an overall judgment on what's going on in Iraq, the idea that somehow your standard is everything completed or nothing completed seems to me to be a pretty high standard to meet. "On the other hand, if you're trying to figure out are you making progress toward the goals that you have set out, that's probably the proper way to look at it," he said. "The real question people have is what's going on in Iraq? Is the surge having an impact?… The answer is 'yes'. No question about it." But the report and its conclusions about the lack of action by the Iraqi government sparked renewed criticism of the administration from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The report says levels of violence against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged [Reuters]
"The forthcoming GAO report offers a clear assessment that a new direction in Iraq must begin immediately, before more American lives are lost and more taxpayer dollars wasted," said Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader. His comments were echoed by fellow Democrats. "Unfortunately by almost every measure of progress, they have not only failed to make progress, but they have actually gone backwards," Representative Jason Altmire told reporters.

The Washington Post says the draft GAO report was leaked to reporters by an official who feared its negative findings would be ‘watered down’ before its official release next week. On Thursday the Pentagon said that after reviewing a draft of the GAO report policy officials had "made some factual corrections" and "offered some suggestions on a few of the actual grades" assigned by the report's authors, the Associated Press news agency reported. "We have provided the GAO with information which we believe will lead them to conclude that a few of the benchmark grades should be upgraded from 'not met' to 'met','' Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, was quoted as saying. He did not elaborate which of the benchmark grades the Pentagon was disputing. A highly anticipated report from General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, is due before September 15.
Comment: Now all the infighting begins. The focus becomes political-the real story will not be known as all sides move to protect their "turf". I, for one, will listen to the military people and not to the agenda-driven politicians-on both sides of the aisle. As important as what will be said in the states, is how the words will be used by our enemy here in the Middle East where I live. I have shred but one way the political fighting will be interpreted and shared over here. Know that the lack of cohesion is literally killing our men and women soldiers and civilian Iraquis-the very people our politicians say they are "concerned with their well being". This is nothing more than gratutious manure!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Child's life is worth 10 shekels ($2.42)

IDF: Hamas Responsible for Gaza Arabs' Deaths The IDF struck several rocket launchers in northern Gaza Wednesday, saying it refuses to allow Hamas to guard its rockets by placing them in populated areas.

PA sources claimed three teenagers and children were killed in the strike. The children were apparently sent by Hamas terrorists to adjust the launchers. The IDF identified five launchers with suspicious figures moving among them and launched the strike.

The previous night, IDF soldiers intercepted a 15-year-old suicide bomber dispatched from northern Gaza.

“We are not talking about the first time this has happened,” military correspondent Avi Yissacharov told Army Radio. “This phenomenon of Hamas paying ten shekels to children in order to retrieve the launchers has become the norm. The terrorists launch the rockets from afar via remote control and know that if they approach the launchers they will be hit, so they send young children.”

An IDF statement said: “As part of the ongoing IDF defensive activity to protect Israeli civilians from terror threats this afternoon, the IDF targeted several Kassam launchers in the Beit Hanoun industrial area, which were placed by Palestinian terrorists and aimed at Israel. Several Palestinians were identified handling the launchers at the time. This area is often used to fire Kassam rockets at Israel.

“The IDF received claims that the Palestinians handling the launchers were teenagers. The IDF wishes to express sorrow for the cynical use the terror organizations make of the active participation of teenagers in terror attacks.”

Nearly 300 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the past month alone. Hours before the Gaza incident, a rocket slammed into fields outside Kibbutz Nir-Am, in the western Negev. On Tuesday, a man was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket that slammed into a Sderot home.

Kalkilya Operation Ends
An IDF arrest operation in PA-controlled Kalkilya, located northeast of Tel Aviv, came to an end Wednesday evening after a long day of clashes between soldiers and local Arabs.

As the troops entered the town Wednesday morning, three terrorists opened fire on troops and then fled.

Local Arabs then began to riot, targeting the troops with a constant barrage of stones and Molotov Cocktails. More than 30 PA rioters were lightly wounded when troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, refraining from using live ammunition despite the presence of snipers and armed men among the rioters.

A wanted terrorist who was hiding in a local compound managed to escape, but another terrorist, who threw a firebomb at the troops, was arrested.

12 Terrorists Arrested Overnight
IDF soldiers caught 12 PA Arab fugitives during routine counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria.

No injuries were reported in the overnight activities.

Kassam Slams into Sderot; Damage and Shock

A Kassam rocket fired from northern Gaza into Israel smashed into the city of Sderot, causing damage and sending people into shock.

The rocket was fired around 11 AM Thursday.

Secret Hamas-Fatah Contacts

Though Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza two months ago, it appears that Hamas is taking the lead in trying to make peace with its rival. For the first time since the Hamas take-over in Gaza, Hamas has submitted a written proposal to the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, regarding an end to the dispute.

The item was first reported in a Qatari newspaper, based on a "trusted" Palestinian Authority source. The report states that senior Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar met with Fatah's Ziad Abu Amru, an Abbas confidante, several days ago in Gaza. An official of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization was also present.

The newspaper report said the contents of the Hamas proposal were not known. However, there are indications that it includes an offer to return to Fatah control of the civilian and military bodies it took over this past June. Abbas has reportedly said he would agree to such an offer only if Hamas officially backs it.

Direct secret contacts between Fatah and Hamas are reportedly underway via other channels as well.

One route of quiet contacts between Hamas and Fatah is being mediated by Israeli-Arab citizens of Israel. The daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported this week that a group representing Israeli-Arabs is awaiting Israel's permission to meet with Hamas leaders in Gaza and present them with a proposal for peace with Fatah.

Hamas has also received a proposal from a PA group suggesting that Hamas take the first move towards peace by ceding the civilian and military bodies it took over this past June.

In Other Venues, Strife as Usual
On the other hand, Hamas diplomatic-desk leader Khaled Mashaal, living in Damascus, says that Fatah has rebuffed all of Hamas's peace initiatives. "We didn’t take over Gaza merely in order to give it back," Mashaal said.

In the meanwhile, Fatah demands an international campaign against a cartoon video currently being broadcast on the Hamas Al-Aqsa television station. The video depicts Fatah men as mice stealing food, as attackers of modestly-dressed women, and as destroyers of mosques. Hamas, on the other hand, is portrayed as a stately lion waiting patiently for the proper moment to destroy all the mice.

Another issue of tension between the two terror groups is the recent decision by PA prime minister Salam Fayyad to close 103 charity organizations in Gaza because of financial irregularities. Hamas spokesman Fuzi Barhum says the decision was political and meant only to weaken Hamas.

Months of negotiations regarding a unity government between Fatah and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority preceded the break-out of violence between the two terrorist organizations early this summer

Barak Orders IDF Redeployment From North to Placate Syria

Following his decision to halt the refurbishing of the country’s gas masks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is now redeploying the IDF away from the north, deeming war with Syria “unlikely.” Barak ordered the redeployment from the Golan Heights following months of training exercises and a steady stream of rumors among Israelis that war with Syria would break out in the course of the summer months.

Maariv newspaper quoted Israeli defense officials claiming that, with the IDF’s decision to redeploy, Syria has also lowered its readiness for war. The officials refused to outline what steps Syria had taken, saying they were classified. Defense Minister Barak halted the refurbishing of the country’s gas masks last week for fear that Syria would see the step as a sign of war-preparation.

IDF standing army troops and reservists who are scheduled to engage in exercises and war games in the north will now be redirected to Israel’s south.
Regularly stationed IDF forces will remain along the northern border at a full state of readiness.

Though IDF intelligence acknowledges that Syria continues to develop and improve its military capabilities, particularly long-range missiles and anti-aircraft weapons, leaks to Israel’s state-run media are conveying the message that war with Syria is now “unlikely.”

Hizbullah Rearmed and Ready
Barak warned on Monday that the Hizbullah terrorist group is rearming out of reach of UN peacekeepers, and now has more rockets than at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War. He also said that tensions between Israel and Syria were fading. Barak made the comments speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

As the architect of the unilateral Israeli retreat from the security zone in Lebanon seven years ago, Barak has been blamed by security experts for bringing about the Second Lebanon War.

Harsh Criticism From Opposition
Opposition members criticized Barak for lowering his guard on the Syrian border and said Israel must not be fooled by the superficial calm.

“To note that the Hizbullah has rearmed and at the same time claim that Syria is no longer a threat is like the man who jumps from a 21 floor building and at the 16th floor says 'So far so good',” said MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP), a Golan Heights resident

IDF: Hamas Responsible for Gaza Arabs' Deaths

The IDF struck several rocket launchers in northern Gaza Wednesday, saying it refuses to allow Hamas to guard its rockets by placing them in populated areas. PA sources claimed three teenagers and children were killed in the strike. The children were apparently sent by Hamas terrorists to adjust the launchers. The IDF identified five launchers with suspicious figures moving among them and launched the strike.

The previous night, IDF soldiers intercepted a 15-year-old suicide bomber dispatched from northern Gaza.

“We are not talking about the first time this has happened,” military correspondent Avi Yissacharov told Army Radio. “This phenomenon of Hamas paying ten shekels to children in order to retrieve the launchers has become the norm. The terrorists launch the rockets from afar via remote control and know that if they approach the launchers they will be hit, so they send young children.”

An IDF statement said: “As part of the ongoing IDF defensive activity to protect Israeli civilians from terror threats this afternoon, the IDF targeted several Kassam launchers in the Beit Hanoun industrial area, which were placed by Palestinian terrorists and aimed at Israel. Several Palestinians were identified handling the launchers at the time. This area is often used to fire Kassam rockets at Israel.

“The IDF received claims that the Palestinians handling the launchers were teenagers. The IDF wishes to express sorrow for the cynical use the terror organizations make of the active participation of teenagers in terror attacks.”

Nearly 300 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the past month alone. Hours before the Gaza incident, a rocket slammed into fields outside Kibbutz Nir-Am, in the western Negev. On Tuesday, a man was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket that slammed into a Sderot home.

Kalkilya Operation Ends
An IDF arrest operation in PA-controlled Kalkilya, located northeast of Tel Aviv, came to an end Wednesday evening after a long day of clashes between soldiers and local Arabs.

As the troops entered the town Wednesday morning, three terrorists opened fire on troops and then fled.

Local Arabs then began to riot, targeting the troops with a constant barrage of stones and Molotov Cocktails. More than 30 PA rioters were lightly wounded when troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, refraining from using live ammunition despite the presence of snipers and armed men among the rioters.

A wanted terrorist who was hiding in a local compound managed to escape, but another terrorist, who threw a firebomb at the troops, was arrested.

12 Terrorists Arrested Overnight
IDF soldiers caught 12 PA Arab fugitives during routine counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria.

No injuries were reported in the overnight activities.


Better late than NEVER!

Comment: This writer suggested quite a long time ago that today's warfare requires a total re-examination of the "rules of war'. The agreed upon Geneva rules no longer apply in many instances. Finally, Israel has taken the proactive step of defining active war zones-it is long overdue-I hope they do not stop here-many more venues need redefinition!

Launch sites are war zones, IDF source says Hours after three Palestinian children killed in IDF attack in Gaza, military source explains terror organization use civilians, says 'army makes every effort not to harm civilians; Palestinians must make sure to keep children out of battle zone'
Hanan Greenberg

"The fact that Palestinian civilians, especially children, are killed, is unfortunate, does not serve our interests and does not promote a solution to the terror problem," a military source told Ynet Wednesday night, following the IDF attack on rocket launchers which left three children dead in Gaza.
Nonetheless, the source stressed that "the army makes every effort – sometimes beyond proportion – so as not to hurt civilians, but the terror organizations are using all means at their disposal. A Qassam launcher area is a battle zone, it is their territory, and they should make sure that no child or youth approaches the area."

Sources in Gaza said the three children, all members of the same family, were killed by an artillery shell that was fired in the direction of a group of Palestinians, mostly children, between the town of Beit Lahiya and the Jabalya refugee camp.

According to the Palestinians, the charred bodies of the victims were taken to a hospital but were difficult to identify. The children killed in the attack were eventually identified as 10-year-old Mahmoud Abu Ghazla, his 12-year-old cousin Yihya Abu Ghazla and their 10-year-old relative Sarah Abu Ghazla.

"More than once we preferred not to carry out this type of attack so as not to harm civilians. Nothing is certain here, if Palestinian civilians are identified, we hold fire, but this is not always possible," the source said.

"In cases where we don't fire, the IDF is taking a real risk, because minutes later, a child from Sderot could be injured from a Palestinian attack from that same exact point."

According to Southern Command data, since the IDF left Gaza in the disengagement plan two years ago, 584 terrorists and 54 civilians were killed, an 11:1 ration.

"In many cases, upon investigating the incidents, we find that civilians were killed because the terror organizations sent them to the battle zone, because the terrorists were staying among civilians or carrying out a certain activity that endangered the civilians," the source said.

'Complaints should be addressed to terrorists'
"We must remember that we are fighting in Gaza, one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, where 1.2 million people live on 360 square kilometers (about 140 square miles), and if this is not enough, then the terror organizations are pulling the IDF toward the populated areas, thus delegitimizing the army's war on terror."

Southern Command officials stressed that Qassam rocket cells are well-aware that civilian casualties are detrimental to the IDF's image around the world.

"We also make errors and are trying to learn constantly," one army official said. "We've improved greatly; in the past the number of innocent civilians hurt (in IDF attacks) was almost equal to the number of terrorists hurt – but the Air Force, the Command and the division have all done their homework.

"However, whenever there is a situation in which terrorists pay a group of teens to commit a terror-related act with the knowledge that they may not return alive, then the complaints should be addressed to the terrorists – and to them alone," he said.

Ban Islam?

Non-Muslims occasionally raise the idea of banning the Koran, Islam, and Muslims. Examples this month include calls by a political leader in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders , to ban the Koran ˜ which he compares to Hitler's Mein Kampf ˜ and two Australian politicians, Pauline Hanson and Paul Green , demanding a moratorium on Muslim immigration.

What is one to make of these initiatives? First, some history. Precedents exist from an earlier era, when intolerant Christian governments forced Muslims to convert, notably in 16th-century Spain , and others strongly encouraged conversions, especially of the elite, as in 16th- and 17th-century Russia. In modern times, however, with freedom of expression and religion established as basic human rights, efforts to protect against intolerance by banning the Koran, Islam, or Muslims have failed .

In perhaps the most serious contemporary attempt to ban the Koran, a Hindu group argued in 1984ˆ85 that the Islamic scriptures contain "numerous sayings, repeated in the book over and over again, which on grounds of religion promote disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and incite people to commit violence and disturb public tranquility."

The taking of this demand, known as "The Calcutta Quran Petition ," to court prompted riots and deaths in Bangladesh. The case so alarmed New Delhi that the attorney general of India himself took part in the proceedings to oppose the petition, which, not surprisingly, was dismissed.

Pim Fortuyn (1948-2002) led the most consequential effort so far to end Muslim emigration, in his case, to the Netherlands.
This early petition set the standard in terms of collecting objectionable Koranic verses. Other efforts have been more rhetorical and less operational. The most consequential was by Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands to end Muslim emigration. Had he not been assassinated in 2002, he might have ridden his issue to the prime ministry.

The coordinator of Italy's Northern League , Roberto Calderoli, wrote in 2005: "Islam has to be declared illegal until Islamists are prepared to renounce those parts of their pseudo political and religious doctrine glorifying violence and the oppression of other cultures and religions."

A British member of Parliament, Boris Johnson , pointed out in 2005 that passing a Racial and Religious Hatred Bill "must mean banning the reading ˜ in public or private ˜ of a great many passages of the Koran itself." His observation prompted a Muslim delegation to seek assurances, which it received, from the Home Office that no such ban would occur. Patrick Sookhdeo of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity in 2006 called for prohibiting one translation of the Koran, The Noble Koran: A New Rendering of its Meaning in English, because "it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them."

Other Western countries witnessed lesser efforts: Norway's Kristiansand Progress Party sought to ban Islam in 2004 and Germany's Bundesverband der Bürgerbewegungen sought to prohibit the Koran in 2006, arguing for its incompatibility with the German constitution. " Stop the Islamification of Denmark " demanded in early 2007 the prohibition of parts of the Koran and all mosques, calling them unconstitutional. Australia's Catch the Fire Ministries argued in 2004 that because "The Koran contradicts Christian doctrine in a number of places and, under the blasphemy law, [it] is therefore illegal."

Elsewhere, writers have made the same demands. Switzerland's Alain Jean-Mairet is the strategist of a two-part plan, popular and juridical, with the goal that "all the Islamic projects in Switzerland will prove impossible to fulfill." In France, an anonymous writer at the Liberty Vox Web site wishes to ban Islam, as does Warner Todd Huston in the United States.

The 2006 movie V for Vendetta portrays a future Britain in which the Koran is banned.

My take? I understand the security-based urge to exclude the Koran, Islam, and Muslims, but these efforts are too broad, sweeping up inspirational passages with objectionable ones, reformers with extremists, friends with foes. Also, they ignore the possibility of positive change.

More practical and focused would be to reduce the threats of jihad and Shariah by banning Islamist interpretations of the Koran, as well as Islamism and Islamists. Precedents exist. A Saudi-sponsored Koran was pulled from school libraries . Preachers have gone to jail for their interpretation of the Koran . Extreme versions of Islam are criminally prosecuted. Organizations are outlawed. Politicians have called for Islamists to leave their countries .

Islam is not the enemy, but Islamism is. Tolerate moderate Islam , but eradicate its radical variants.

Poisonously biased

CNN's Christiane Amanpour has set a new standard - and not the kind a news network usually trumpets. God's Jewish Warriors, her two-hour screed against Israeli settlers and American supporters of Israel, is the most poisonously biased and factually shoddy The August 21 broadcast was the first of God's Warriors, a three-part CNN series, ostensibly examining the role of people who want "God back in their daily lives, back to the seat of power." In actuality, the deeply false premise of the programs, established in the opening scene, is the equating of Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency with that of Muslims heard endorsing "martyrdom," or suicide-killing.
There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns under way across the globe, whether in numbers of perpetrators engaged, magnitude of death and destruction wrought or the widespread support of their co-religionists.
To demonstrate the supposed threat of Jewish fundamentalism, the few cases of Jewish terrorism - a handful spanning decades, with each one overwhelmingly denounced by Israeli society and with those involved arrested, tried and jailed - are elaborated on at length and cast as a profound peril.
BUT IT'S Israeli settlements, in the Amanpour script, that are the great enemy of mankind and all those with any link to them, however indirect, whether Christian or Jewish, secular or religious, are part of a putatively evil nexus. This dark alliance is said to include Jewish fundraisers stumping the US for money ("defiance of international law comes dressed in diamonds") and Jewish organizations with an alleged stranglehold on Congress.
Throughout, Amanpour hammers the claim that Jewish settlements violate international law and seeks to paint this position as a universally accepted view with a lopsided parade of like-minded commentators.
Yet apart from any judgment about the political advisability of building or not building settlements, many legal scholars argue that these communities are, in fact, legal and do not violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as the detractors claim. Such experts include Meir Shamgar, former Israeli Supreme Court justice, internationally renowned legal scholar Professor Julius Stone and former undersecretary of state Eugene Rostow, among others. But not one scholar of this viewpoint is given voice in a two-hour feature largely devoted to decrying settlements and their residents.
ALSO CONSISTENT with Amanpour's propaganda-style use of images and editing is her grossly misrepresenting American presidential views of settlement legalities. A videoclip shows former UN ambassador William Scranton saying: "Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including east Jerusalem, is illegal."
Amanpour then declares: "Ever since, American presidents both Democrat and Republican have spoken from virtually the same script."
The next image is Ronald Reagan making a tangential comment framed as agreeing with Scranton. But Reagan explicitly did not speak from the same script. "As to the West Bank," he said in a February 1981 New York Times story, "I believe the settlements there, I disagreed when the previous [Carter] Administration referred to them as illegal, they're not illegal."
Nor, contrary to Amanpour's gloss, have other presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, termed settlements "illegal."
AMANPOUR is similarly deceptive and manipulative in other depictions of nefarious Jewish power, respectfully interviewing both Jimmy Carter and John Mearsheimer, and giving not the slightest hint of the gross factual errors in the charges leveled by the two controversial figures whose recent, incendiary allegations against Israel have been extensively debunked.
Carter declares absurdly that no member of Congress could vote against aid to Israel "and hope to be reelected." Amanpour does not, of course, remind him, or viewers, of the numerous members who have opposed aid to Israel and been repeatedly reelected, including Senate Majority leader Robert Byrd and more than a dozen representatives.
In another sequence meant to demonstrate the vast, coercive powers of the Jews, she claims the first president George Bush opposed loan guarantees for Israel but collapsed under the weight of Jewish pressure and backed down. In fact, Yitzhak Rabin was elected as prime minister to replace Yitzhak Shamir and offered concessions that satisfied the administration.
Israel backtracked - not Bush.
Numerous other falsehoods and distortions mar the production. Amanpour declares bizarrely that "the 40-year tug of war over Jerusalem began when Israel bulldozed the Arab neighborhood next to the Western Wall and built a plaza where Jews now pray." Obviously, the modern battle over Jerusalem "began" 60 years ago, when the Arabs attacked in 1948 to destroy the newborn State of Israel, seizing the eastern side of Jerusalem, including the Jewish quarter of the Old City. Every Jew was expelled or killed and all synagogues were destroyed. Thereafter, for 19 years, no Jew could pray at the Western Wall and Christians had limited access to their holy sites.

Such obtusely uninformed and biased claims betray Amanpour's agenda and reveal a derelict network where editorial oversight failed shockingly. CNN needs to correct every error and slander against Israel and its American supporters. Every one.
The writer is executive director of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

EU/America-Pay Attention and Look-out!

Turkeys new president approves cabinet of Islamic-oriented gov'tTurkey's new president approved a Cabinet with a mix of Islamist and secular figures, many with reformist backgrounds that signal the Islamic-oriented government's commitment to winning entry into the European Union.

President Abdullah Gul, a devout Muslim who has pledged to respect the country's traditional separation of religion and state, swiftly signed off on a Cabinet proposed by his old ally, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The 25-member Cabinet, which includes eight new members, has strong business credentials and appears designed to project a moderate image.

"We will work for more freedoms and for more economic welfare," Erdogan said after Gul approved the list Wednesday. "We will continue on our path, with a new enthusiasm, with the new blood that we have brought in. We have formed a strong team."

Opponents have said they will watch Gul closely for signs of cronyism at the expense of the presidency's traditional role as a check on government. Gul, who won the presidency in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday, has the power to veto legislation and official appointments.

Prison Break

Don't be fooled-read the entire article, then decide!

The Nafha prisoners’ society on Sunday condemned what it described as the Israeli prisons’ authorities neglect of healthcare in Israeli jails and maltreatment of Palestinian prisoners. The society issued a statement decrying the terrible conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and stating that the prisons are miserable and unbearable.
The society urged human rights organisations to intervene, and advised Palestinians to bridge gaps in order to confront the Israeli occupation in a united way.
Such as sticking to the same story (just as a suggestion).
Mohammed Kharaz wanted to get away. He longed to escape the stretches of boredom broken by intense eruptions of violence that are a teenager’s life in this strife-ridden city. So, for a break, he got himself thrown into an Israeli jail.
The idea wasn’t even his, the 17-year-old confesses. He first heard it from a kid who sat beside him in class: If you get yourself arrested by the Israeli army, they send you to a prison with digital television, interesting books and even a decent soccer pitch. In short, everything you don’t find in Nablus, a city cut off from the rest of the West Bank by a series of Israeli military checkpoints.
To Mohammed, it sounded like a dream vacation. So on Feb. 25, he tucked a kitchen knife under his shirt and headed toward the concrete barriers and metal turnstiles that block the road south to Ramallah. It played out just as his friend described. When he got to the front of the long, slow-moving line of Palestinians seeking to leave Nablus, an Israeli soldier told him to lift up his shirt. With a sniper’s rifle pointed at his chest, Mohammed pulled out the knife.
“Two soldiers jumped on top of me and started beating me up, but I didn’t care,” Mohammed recalled. “Getting arrested was like a fashion trend. It was the thing to do.”
It’s the latest peculiarity in a region already full of contradictions: Palestinian youths, who speak openly of their hatred for Israel, willingly putting themselves into Israeli custody because life in jail is seen as being better than life at home. Call it teen angst gone awry in a conflict zone.
“It’s a real phenomenon,” said Jacob Dallal, a spokesman for the Israeli army. He said soldiers had seen dozens of cases like Mohammed’s, coming from both Nablus and nearby Jenin. “It’s sort of a backhanded compliment to the [Israeli army] and the prison service. It passes from word of mouth that the conditions are not so bad in Israeli jails.”

The first few nights after his arrest — he was held with five others in a tiny cell just outside the Hawara checkpoint where he had been arrested — were a gruelling disappointment for Mohammed. But 12 days later, he got the break he was hoping for: a transfer to Ofer prison, an Israeli jail for Palestinian prisoners just outside Ramallah.

Conditions in Ofer, the site of large-scale prisoners’ riots late last year, have come under attack from human-rights groups alleging the torture and mistreatment of detainees. But Mohammed, as his classmates had promised him, had a different experience.
“Ofer was like paradise. You could go to the toilet whenever you wanted, and we had a good time playing football and table tennis in the big courtyard. I started reading good books in there,” he said, his hair short and gelled, and a hint of future stubble ringing his thin face. With a shy glance at his father, he added, “And I could stay up as late as I wanted.”

Mohammed was pleased to get a seven-month sentence. He was crestfallen when his father, Qasim, paid a $250 bond to get him released early. “I was disappointed. My classmate who was sitting next to me went to jail two days before me and he’s still there,” he said jealously, suffering his father’s glare. “In prison, there’s digital television. You can watch everything. Out here, there’s nothing.”
While the stern Mr. Kharaz isn’t impressed with his son’s antics, he understands the motivation. “When a person becomes a young man, he starts looking for entertainment, and there are no good sports centres around here. All the sports fields in Nablus are all made of asphalt.”

Other youths who have gotten arrested at the Hawara checkpoint did so in hopes of helping their families out of increasingly dire financial situations. Until a cut in Western aid forced the Palestinian Authority into effective insolvency earlier this year, the government paid a monthly stipend of about $200 to Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Samira Tabbouq’s son Mahmoud just celebrated his 18th birthday inside Ofer. Mahmoud has gotten himself jailed twice in the past two years in hopes of getting money for his family, and his mother glows with pride describing her son’s crafty efforts to get the Israelis to arrest him.

Last year, Ms. Tabbouq said her son got arrested at Hawara checkpoint while carrying a smoke bomb he had made from sugar and coal. When the Israelis released him from jail 2½ weeks later, he began plotting to get sent back.

The teenaged Mahmoud became the sole breadwinner for the family of eight when his father, a construction worker, was injured in a workplace accident five years ago.
At first, Mahmoud struggled to find after-school work in this economically depressed town that has been largely isolated from the outside world since Israel built the checkpoints during the height of the recent Palestinian intifada.
“His father pressured him to bring home money, to be a man, to help us with our poverty,” Ms. Tabbouq said. “He would come home with nothing and his father would beat him.”

On Feb. 4 of this year, he headed toward Hawara with a knife under his shirt and, ever since, has been in jail awaiting trial. Even though the Palestinian Authority’s cash crunch means he’s not helping his family financially, his mother, who visits him regularly, says he’s as happy as he’s been for a long time, reading books and dreaming of getting married and moving to Syria.

“My son is in jail because he has a big brain and is very intelligent. He thought about it a long time and realized the only way out of his economic and mental crisis was in prison,” Ms. Tabbouq said.

Ironically, another reason Mahmoud wanted to go back to jail was to concentrate on his studies. His 17-year-old sister, Yusra, said that her brother, who was good in school, had spoken longingly of prison ever since he was released the first time.
“He couldn’t stand the guys from the refugee camps who were always carrying weapons. He felt like he was suffocating. He told me, ‘I can’t achieve in school with this chaotic environment around me.’ ” Her brother is now applying to take his high-school exams from behind bars, Yusra added.

Mr. Kharaz, Mohammed’s father, said that while he hoped his son wouldn’t try to get jailed again, it was possible as long as life in Nablus continued to worsen.
“If the situation continues the way it is, everybody will be doing it,” he said. “Young and old.”

Saudi Arabia The Islamist Cage

A former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, recently declared he was returning home to try to regain power after six years of exile — in Saudi Arabia. The day that the monster of Uganda, Idi Amin, was removed from power in 1979, he flew to a country where sanctuary as a Muslim African leader would be guaranteed upon his arrival — Saudi Arabia.
And in 1970, immediately following the death of an Egyptian dictator, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement returned home in droves to try to Islamize their native land — after two decades in Saudi Arabia.
Thus, Saudi Arabia ever expands its fundamentalist cage.
Robert Baer, a 20-year veteran of the CIA and the author of "Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude," has often described the Saudis as the world's primary financiers of terrorism, the source of much of Al Qaeda's leadership, and an incubating station for radical Islam.
Though such activities have come back to haunt the Saudis and their allies in America — Islamist terror struck home in 1995, 1996, and 1998 bombings, two American embassies were attacked in Africa, and the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen in the leadup to the attacks of September 11, 2001 — the Saudi system continues to perpetuate the model.
The reason, according to Mr. Baer and other Middle East analysts, is that Saudi Arabia runs on two currencies: the riyal and Islam.
Neither Saudi society nor its ruling establishment can escape: All of its constituent elements — from business and charity to religious instruction, law enforcement, and foreign relations — rattle inside the cage of the country's fundamentalist obsessions: The Saudi flag contains a Koranic verse. The Saudi monarch wraps his authority in Islam as "the custodian of Mecca and Medina." Saudi foreign aid is based on building fundamentalist madrassas and mosques, supporting such fundamentalist groups as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and spreading Koranic instruction worldwide.
Arab and Muslim expatriate workers who have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia — easily numbering 50 million over the last three decades — return imbued with a model of militancy that duplicates an Osama bin Laden-style path toward jihad against their home societies.
This vicious cycle mattered little when oil was cheap and the Saudis were a mere curiosity. But Saudi Arabia's power grew as it was transformed into a prime energy source in the 1970s, a huge financial influence in the 1980s, and an immense lobbying presence in the 1990s.
By the late '90s, there were full-size mirror images of Saudi Arabia's stilted brand of Islam in Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as among Muslim communities in Europe, Australia, and America. More mirror images are in the making.
In one of his many interviews since leaving the CIA, Mr. Baer gave an interesting analysis of the elements that make for the creation and exportation of this model, describing Saudi Arabia as both hapless and evil.
"They feel humiliated by colonialism, by the United States, by Israel — call it what you want. They feel they are citizens or subjects of a country that has never fought a war, and yet spends so much money on defense. They're humiliated that they don't take the Israelis on, because their army is worthless. They sit around and they read the Koran. And they get on these Islamic Web sites, and they watch Al-Jazeera. And they go to the mosque."
In other words, the Saudis do little except rattle around within the cage of their own fundamentalism. This deep confusion is reflected throughout the ruling family, which contains both princes who are Westernized — in such vulgar aspects as drinking, womanizing, gambling, and wearing diamond-studded Rolex watches — and others who leave a mosque only to enter a charity that nurtures madrassas turning out little bin Ladens.
Their schizophrenia is exemplified in such global personalities as Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, a multibillionaire businessman who simultaneously invests his billions in America while funding both the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is the American chapter of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood.
In the end, the Saudis are just rattling around in their cage. A society with no social project except to produce more Muslims, deeper Muslims, better Muslims, ends up as one that produces Muslim fanatics and terrorists.
Now, with oil prices having moved north of $70 dollar a barrel, a lot more trouble will be coming our way out of the Saudi cage.