Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Fallacy of Grievance-based Terrorism

Melvin E. Lee
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2008

The fundamental premise of much scholarly examination and public discourse is that grievances with U.S. policies in the Middle East motivate Islamist terrorism. Such assumptions, though, misunderstand the enemy and its nature. In reality, the conflict is sparked not by grievance but rather by incompatibility between Islamist ideology and the natural rights articulated during the European Enlightenment and incorporated into U.S. political culture. Acquiescing to political grievances will not alter the fundamental incompatibility between Lockean precepts of tolerance and current interpretations of Islam: Only Islam's fundamental reform will resolve the conflict. Many scholars mark the post-World War I partition of the Ottoman Empire as the origin of Islamist opposition to the West.[1] The idea that the Middle East would be a tolerant, prosperous contributor to the global environment today if World War I victors had left intact the Ottoman Empire is a premise in the literature accompanying the rise of twentieth-century jihadism. Historian David Fromkin argued in his influential A Peace to End All Peace that present day Muslim unrest is the direct result of Winston Churchill's early twentieth-century decisions.[2] British journalist Robert Fisk also holds British officials responsible although he prefers to blame Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary between 1916 and 1919.[3] Both authors are wrong, though, to base their theories of grievance on such arbitrary demarcation of eras. The roots of jihadism and its opposition to the United States as part of the non-Muslim West were cast long before World War I erupted. The interaction between the United States and Muslim states and societies dates back to American independence.[4] Contemporary jihadism is not the result of accumulated grievance; rather it has for cultural reasons been an integral factor in Islamic societies' interaction with the United States.

The Die is Cast
Almost immediately after independence, the U.S. government found itself in conflict with the Barbary sheikhdoms of Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli. For centuries, these states filled their coffers by piracy, stealing cargoes, enslaving crew, and collecting ransom. European sea-going nations often entered into treaty and tribute arrangements with the Barbary leaders in order to buy immunity and curtail competition.[5] In 1784, Moroccan pirates hijacked the U.S. merchant ship Betsy in the Mediterranean and enslaved her crew. A year later, Algerine pirates seized two more vessels, the Maria from Boston and the Dauphin from Philadelphia. The U.S. ministers to England and France, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson oversaw a peace treaty with Morocco, but the Algerine leadership refused any accommodation. In 1796, President George Washington ordered construction of six warships to form a U.S. navy and to protect U.S. shipping from Barbary pirates. In 1801, in the wake of an upsurge in piracy, President Thomas Jefferson entered into war with Tripoli, bombarding the city three years later and winning the release of American hostages.[6] Peace did not last. With the U.S. military embroiled in the War of 1812, Algerine pirates again began terrorizing American crewmen and disrupting U.S. trade. They miscalculated. In 1815, President James Madison dispatched a squadron of U.S. Navy frigates, which defeated the pirate fleet and won reparations from Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.[7]

Many historians consider the Barbary wars a sideshow relative to contemporaneous events such as the French Revolution, Napoleon's conquests, and the War of 1812, but the Barbary wars are significant to today's conflict. Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison each believed the Barbary wars to be a continuation of the American Revolution. The ground war in North America may have freed the United States from British tyranny, but the Barbary campaign was necessary to win the same freedom of action and commerce within the international community.[8] The episode also crystallized perceptions of Islam and the Ottoman Empire in the American mind. While Americans did not perceive the Barbary wars as a conflict between Christianity and Islam per se, religion was an issue. The two sides fought, not over theological differences, but rather as a result of the divergent ideologies enabled by the two faiths.[9] Washington and Adams referred to the Muslim leaders as "nests of banditti" while Jefferson's and Madison's campaign literature called them "petty tyrants."[10] The "despotic Turk" became the antithesis of early American republican identity.

What Americans and Europeans saw as piracy, Barbary leaders justified as legitimate jihad. Jefferson related a conversation he had in Paris with Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli who told him that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Qur'an and that it was a Muslim's "right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners."[11] Islam gave great incentive to fighting infidels, Abdrahaman explained, because the Qur'an promised that making war against infidels ensured a Muslim paradise after death.[12] Richard O'Brien, the imprisoned captain of the Philadelphia merchantman Dauphin and later the U.S. consul to Algiers, related similar conversations with ‘Ali Hasan, the ruler of Algiers.[13] Ottoman leaders used the same rationale to justify the enslavement and trading of captives from the Balkans, Caucasus, and Ukraine.[14]

The role that jihadi ideology played in the Barbary wars is documented with explicit references to jihad and holy war in the treaties that U.S. officials entered into with Muslim rulers. Tunis and Algiers, as the western outposts of the Ottoman Empire, even described themselves to American envoys as the "frontier posts of jihad against European Christianity."[15]

U.S. officials took a conciliatory attitude. Realizing that the North Africans were hypersensitive to the historic conflict between Islam and European Christianity, especially in the context of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, U.S. officials bent over backwards to deny the religious and ideological nature of the conflict, especially to the Muslims themselves. They realized that religious conflict might jeopardize the commerce that the United States still hoped to find in the Mediterranean. In 1821, President John Quincy Adams was barely able to resist assisting the Greeks in their war of independence when both the American and European publics urged war with the Ottoman Empire.[16] The founders possessed a deep conviction for religious tolerance and proudly explained in the short-lived 1797 treaty with Tripoli that the U.S. was not a Christian state at all but rather one which had no official religion and maintained laws forbidding the prohibition of religion.[17] Perhaps their denial of the religious and ideological nature of the conflict foreshadowed the attitude many Washington policymakers adopt today. Then as now, it has become the basis of a fundamental misunderstanding of the root of the conflict.

To continue readinggo to:

No Change

Jonathan Spyer
The Guardian
January 31, 2008

The response of Israeli officials to the latest events in Gaza may in essence be divided into two halves. The initial response was one of frustration at Egyptian unwillingness to restore order on the international border. The subsequent sense is that the latest Gaza events have served to clarify, rather than significantly alter, an already existing reality. As the news began to come in of the destruction of the southern border wall separating Gaza from Egypt, Israeli and western officials demanded that Egypt take steps to re-assert its control. And as the exodus of Gazans began, there was widespread anger at Egypt for its failure to speedily impose its authority.

This failure was seen as of a piece with the generality of Egyptian behaviour since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in September, 2005. In November 2005, Israel, under US pressure, handed over control of the Philadelphi corridor to Egypt, which was to administer the area, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, and observed by an EU monitoring force. Events since this point are well known. Hamas won PA elections in January, 2006, and completed its seizure of power with a coup in June, 2007. This led to the departure of EU monitors from the border, and its sealing by Egypt.

Throughout this period, it has been a constant complaint on Israel's part that the Egyptians have reacted half-heartedly and unwillingly to the ongoing Hamas project of smuggling large quantities of weaponry into Gaza. The initial response to the chaotic scenes on the border reflected this.

The Israeli security forces were subsequently placed on increased alert along Israel's southern border. Israeli tourists were advised to return home from Sinai. There was fear that in the absence of any control, terrorist organisations would find it easy to exit Gaza, and prepare attacks on Israeli border communities.

As the days progressed, however, a new type of Israeli response began to manifest itself. The growing sense was that the latest Hamas action changed little of substance, but confirmed an already existing - if ultimately untenable - situation: since June 2007, Hamas-run Gaza has constituted a de facto hostile entity, administered by an organisation committed to Israel's destruction.

Ineffectual Egyptian administration of the southern border has led to a large scale influx of weaponry into the Strip. The Hamas-led entity has sought to engage Israel in a roiling, ongoing war of attrition through the use of rocket attacks and support for acts of terror launched from Gaza.

For the moment, at least, it appears that the border is now to be administered through a joint effort by Hamas and the Egyptian security forces. Hamas will thus be engaged in partial control of an international frontier. But whatever the final arrangement, Israel will continue to demand that Egypt adequately police the crossings, and Egypt will continue to fail to do so. Hamas efforts to bring in weaponry will also continue, and its support for Qassam rocket attacks on western Negev communities will remain.

This process makes a major Israeli operation into Gaza, at some point in the future, a near inevitability.

Of course, the curious situation remains whereby Hamas-controlled Gaza still receives the greater part of its fuel and electricity supplies from the state to whose destruction it is committed. And the Israeli High Court today ruled that even the partial restrictions imposed on fuel supplies must now be lifted. But should Qassam rocket attacks begin again in earnest, Israel has made clear that the borders between itself and Hamas-run Gaza will be re-sealed, with only those provisions necessary to prevent a humanitarian crisis allowed to enter.

The situation between the state of Israel and the Islamist statelet of Gaza is by definition one of conflict. In the event of a major Hamas terror attack within Israel, it is likely to turn into open war, on the model of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Gaza is ruled by an organisation committed to destroying Israel, and replacing it with a state based on Sharia Law. This was the case before Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008. It is the case after it. The events of the last days, from the Israeli point of view, have served largely to illustrate and reinforce this reality.

The final question is just how the continued existence of the Islamist statelet in Gaza can be reconciled with the hopes of the renewed peace process in which we were asked to believe following the Annapolis Conference. Peace processors of all nationalities - Israeli, Palestinian and western - have yet to offer a coherent answer. The anomalous situation in Gaza thus looks set to continue, until its contradictions play themselves out.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His latest book, The Truth about Syria was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in May 2007. Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online at:

Obama's Nation of Islam Staffers

Edward Said & "Inflexible Jews" Causing Mid-East Conflict:

An Obama Insider Reveals the Real Barack

Responding to criticism by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, Barack Obama declared his strong opposition to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and
strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan."

Obama also went on to condemn his Church's award to Farrakhan and his minister's tight relationship with him.

But a former Obama insider says that Obama's sudden aversion to NOI and Farrakhan is belied by the fact that Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs. I have verified that this person--who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity--held a key position in the Obama campaign. The insider was so close to Senator Obama that they frequently personally discussed and exchanged direct e-mail messages on campaign and policy matters. This person is not connected with the Clintons and is not a disgruntled employee.

The insider says he frequently objected to Mr. Obama's placement of Cynthia K. Miller, a member of the Nation of Islam, as the Treasurer of his U.S. Senate campaign. When I contacted Miller, now a Chicago real estate agent, to verify whether she was a member of the Nation of Islam and whether she shared Louis Farrakhan's bigoted views about

Jews, she responded, "None of your business! Where are you going with this?" She said her resignation as Obama's treasurer had nothing to do with her Nation of Islam ties. Then, she hung up.

The Obama insider says he also objected to Obama's involvement with Jennifer Mason, whom he says is also a member of the Nation of Islam. Mason is Obama's Director of Constituent Services in his U.S.

Senate office and is also in charge of selecting Obama's Senate interns.

She did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

But it's not just that he employed these individuals in positions of power in his office, it's that when the former associate raised objections, he says Mr. Obama's position was that he saw nothing wrong with the Nation of Islam and didn't think it was a problem. If true--and the fact that Ms. Mason still holds her prominent Obama Senate staff position bears that out--Obama's condemnation of Farrakhan, this month, is phony.

But the insider says there is more to it than that. Obama's Illinois State Senate district consisted of prime Nation of Islam territory, including Hyde Park, home to Farrakhan's mansion. It is not possible, Illinois politicos say, to win that district without the blessing of the NOI leader. NOI members, including consultant Shakir Muhammad, held important roles in the Obama state senate campaign.

How many Nation of Islam members will work in an Obama White House?

Then, there is the issue of Israel.

When Obama first ran for the U.S. Senate, he gave militant responses to the Chicago Jewish News about Israel. Obama denounced Israel's fence--which he called a "wall" and "barrier to peace"--to keep out terrorists and favored working with Yasser Arafat.

When members of the Chicago Jewish community circulated his responses, Obama said that the answers were not his positions, but the work of a low-level intern. He submitted new answers. But that was a lie, the insider says. In fact, they were the work of Obama's Policy Director, Audra Wilson. Moreover, Obama told the insider that he blamed the Mideast conflict on the Jews: "Barack told me that he felt that Jewish community was too inflexible, and that was why the situation in the Mideast could not be resolved."

This is the man who says in a new campaign ad that Hillary Clinton will say anything but change nothing. Barack Obama will say anything, but change his answers.

Palestinian activist and Islamist Ali Abunimah, who was a close friend of Obama's, attended an Arab fundraiser at which the late Edward Said--plagiarist, fabricator, and prominent PLO/Arafat advisor--was the keynote speaker, and at which the Obamas were notably in attendance.

Pictures on Abunimah's site, posted above, show Obama and wife, Michelle, sitting next to Said and engaging in conversation. Abunimah, in a must-read article, says the Senator has since "changed" his proclaimed views from those he expressed privately, in order to get Jewish donors and votes.

And he has succeeded in spades.

Lee Rosenberg a top Illinois official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby is a big Obama donor. Ditto for former national AIPAC official Bob Asher. And Penny Pritzker of the pro-Israel family that owns Hyatt hotels. And there are so many others who have bought in to Obama's newly pro-Israel views. The insider says Obama pulled the wool over their eyes.

Then, there's Bettylu Saltzman, also Jewish and one of Obama's first major supporters and donors. She is a major Peace Now devotee, officer of the far-left, pro-capitulation New Israel Fund, and wrote a letter to a Chicago newspaper praising Jimmy Carter's book calling Israel an apartheid state. The Obama insider says she has Obama's ear on the Mideast and "will be a major policy person for Barack.

Very dangerous."

The insider points to Mr. Obama's changing views in Iraq as another area of uncertainty. He has highlighted his opposition to the War in Iraq. The insider says there is strong speculation that Obama attempted to get his crony, Federal Indictee Tony Rezko, a contract to build a nuclear power plant in the new Iraq. Rezko, a Syrian Arab who helped Obama in a deal to purchase his home, was in a partnership with NOI founder Elijah Muhammad's son, Jabir.

Barack Obama can denounce Louis Farrakhan ad infinitum. But with supporters like Ms. Saltzman, high-level staffers who are Nation of Islam members, and constantly morphing views on Israel merely for donor appeal, a Barack Obama White House bodes poorly both for Israel and--far more important--for America.

Posted by Debbie at January 30, 2008

Iran: World Should Abandon 'Filthy Zionist Entity'

Ezra HaLevi

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on the world to come to terms with the demise of the “filthy” Jewish state.Ahmadinejad made his latest statements in a speech given in the southern Iranian town of Bushehr, where Iran’s first light-water nuclear reactor is being built by Russia. The speech was broadcast live on Iran’s state-run television. He addressed world nations, advising them to "abandon the filthy Zionist entity which has reached the end of the line."

Seeming to search for various synonyms to remove doubt sown by apologists that question the translation of his call to erase Israel “off the map,” the Persian leader said: "[Israel] has lost its reason to exist and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered…Accept that the life of the Zionists will sooner or later come to an end."

Ahmadinejad said that the “final chapter” has begun in which the Arabs of Israel, together with “regional nations” will confront Israel and bring about “Palestine.”

In the same speech, Ahmadinejad declared that nothing will stop his nation from pursuing nuclear capabilities. "[Iranians] will not back down one iota in defense of their rights," he said. "The nuclear issue was the most important challenge since the revolution but with the help of G-d and your resistance, it is ending in favor of the Iranian nation."

"I am addressing leaders of two or three powers,” Ahamdinejad said, who invited other nations to assist Iran in becoming a nuclear power. “Do you remember I sent you a message and told you to stop be stubborn? If you think that you can block the movement of the Iranian nation, you are wrong…If you will not come, this nation will build nuclear plants based on its own resources and when you come some four years later it will reject your request and not then give you any opportunity.”

Iranian Energy Commission chairman Kamal Daneshyar announced Wednesday that his nation plans to operate 20 nuclear facilities in the coming years.

Left: Winograd Supports Olmert Right: Winograd Rejects Olmert

Hillel Fendel

If Judge Eliyahu Winograd and the members of his committee - who were charged with investigating the government's handling of the Second Lebanon War - hoped to put the matter to rest once and for all with their final report, they have failed. Following the release of their 500-page report Wednesday evening, and after a half-hour press conference in which the main conclusions were announced, both sides say their position has been strengthened. The PM's Office and Olmert supporters say that Winograd has vindicated their man, while the right-wing is saying the report means Olmert must resign.

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union) said, "The interim report [issued in April '07] found that Olmert failed in the first week of the war. Already then it was clear that he failed and must resign. Olmert cannot hide now behind the vague formulations that were forced upon the Winograd Committee [in the final report]. It is clear that his decision to push off the ground offensive until the end of the war stemmed from his political needs."

MK Uri Ariel (National Union): "The Prime Minister's people are ignoring the clear statements by Justice Winograd [in last year's interim report] that the war was handled poorly, and that the Prime Minister ran it without experience or knowledge, without seriously relating to the details, and without serious staff work. Prime Minister Olmert is not suitable to continue to lead Israel in the face of the grave challenges and threats that face her."

On the other hand, MK Yoel Hasson, of Olmert's Kadima party, said, "The conclusions are clear and absolute, and determine that the war was not a failure and that the final-battle decisions were reasonable and considered."

Hasson said that the "de-legitimization and mud-slinging campaign against the Prime Minister was unacceptable from the outset. The opposition must ask forgiveness."

The Likud Party issued a statement calling on Olmert to take responsibility for his handling of the war and resign. "The Winograd Report is very grave and places clear responsibility on the government, which is headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert," the Likud announced. "Olmert must take personal responsibility and resign. Defense Minister Ehud Barak [of Labor, Kadima's largest coalition partner - ed.], who promised [several months ago] to quit the government when the final report was published, must fulfill his promise. If Barak is looking for an excuse in the report to avoid resigning, he won't find any."

MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) also said Olmert must quit: "The Winograd Report's determination regarding the grave faults and deficiencies in the government and the army mean that Olmert must go the way of [ex-Defense Minister Amir] Peretz and [ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan] Halutz. If Olmert evades taking responsibility, then it is incumbent upon Barak to stand by his word and dismantle the government."

Labor MK Eitan Cabel, who has been pushing his party to quit the government, said that the latest findings must not erase the impression of the earlier findings, which were very critical of the Prime Minister.

Cabinet Minister Ruhama Avraham-Belila (Kadima) said, "The members of the commission did their work well, and presented an accurate report of failings and faults that were found. The opposition's attempt to find fault with the way the decisions were made received a resolute response in the words of Winograd. The opposition must apologize to the public, the Prime Minister, and the bereaved families."

The Media
Media analysis was mixed as well: Army Radio commentators speculated that the report was a "softening" of the interim report, while Voice of Israel's broadcasters wasted no time in asserting that Olmert had passed the crisis and was vindicated by Winograd.

Arutz-7 bloggers Michael Freund and Yitzhak Klein both weighed in on the post-Winograd spins. Freund claims Olmert;s aides are grasping at straws to try to spin the report positively, while Klein doubts Shas or Labor will bring down the government and calls on citizens to obliterate all parties involved when the next elections finally arrive.

Barak Studying Winograd Report, Deciding Whether to

Hillel Fendel

All eyes are now turned towards Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister and head of the Labor Party. Barak will have to decide in the coming days whether to stand by his word to quit the government after the release of the final Winograd Report, or to remain in the government despite the report's findings. If Barak chooses to leave the coalition, the result will be the toppling of the government and new elections anywhere from three months from now to next November.

What About Olmert?
The resignation of Olmert himself does not appear to be on the horizon, based on statements his aides have made since the release of the Winograd report. Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, a close friend of Olmert and the most outspoken Kadima spokesman regarding the Winograd Report, was asked why Olmert should not take responsibility and resign - and responded, "Taking responsibility doesn't always mean quitting; sometimes it means remaining in order to repair, as the Winograd Report implies as well."

Regarding Barak, Bar-On said, "The report gives Barak a very strong basis on which to decide to remain in the government, and I hope that he will do so."

Barak spent Wednesday night reading the Winograd report - including the secret chapter, which he called "grave." This morning, he went to Kerem Maharal to pay a "shiva" consolation visit to fellow Labor Party Minister Ami Ayalon, whose father died this week. The Defense Minister is expected to announce his final decision next week.

Within Labor, most Cabinet ministers support remaining in the government, while a small but vocal group of MKs think otherwise. MKs Shelly Yechimovitch, Ophir Pines-Paz, Danny Yatom and Eitan Cabel are meeting on the topic, and have called upon Barak to take the party out of the government.

Yechimovitch told Voice of Israel Radio, "I agree that Barak has a genuine dilemma. But I believe that our partnership with Kadima is wrong, and that he should leave. Despite the fear that Netanyahu might form the next government, I believe we must proceed towards new elections."

Yechimovitch, a former outspoken left-wing radio personality, had harsh words for Olmert: "I didn't need Winograd to tell me that Olmert is not a suitable Prime Minister, in the deep sense of the word. But the report told me much about the arrogant and superficial way in which the decisions were made... [In response to a question:] Yes, I am quite apprehensive that my son, who is enlisting in the army next week, will be in the hands of Olmert. It has been said that the main test of an Israeli Prime Minister is if Jewish mothers are willing to entrust their sons to him, and I think Olmert does not pass this test. He is a talented man, but not worthy morally. He sees the Prime Ministership as a job, and not as a national mission; a job without an agenda and without Zionism. He is also up to his neck in cases of corruption, and also happened to get to this job by a series of flukes which almost could have been a subject of a comedy series..."

Olmert is said not to enjoy great support within his party as well, though it has not surfaced as of yet. One Knesset Member, however, has made his opposition clear. MK Avigdor Yitzchaki of Kadima announced Thursday morning that he would quit the Knesset "if there are no political developments in three weeks." Last May, Yitzchaki resigned as the chairman of the Kadima faction in the Knesset in protest of Olmert's refusal to resign following the interim Winograd report.

In light of the danger that Labor might quit, as well as threats by the Shas party to leave the coalition, Kadima officials have opened talks with the hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism party. UTJ officials say they have no plans to join the government, however.

Former IDF Intelligence Chief Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash weighed in with a post-Winograd comment, saying, "Olmert will have to decide whether to set a national norm regarding Prime Ministers taking responsibility, just like Golda Meir and Yitzchak Rabin did in the past."

Winograd Report: Grave Errors, Lack of Strategy

Ezra HaLevi

The final report of the Winograd Committee examining the government's performance in the Second Lebanon War was delivered to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Wednesday evening. Winograd then read aloud its conclusions at a press conference in Jerusalem's Binyanei HaUmah Conference Center. The 500-page report (click here for full report - in Hebrew) found "serious faults and defects in the decision making processes in both the political and the military levels and the interface between them" in the course of the Second Lebanon War. "Israel entered a prolonged war, which it initiated, that ended without a clear victory militarily."

The report summed up the war with the phrase "a great missed opportunity" and laid the blame "mostly with the military." It continued, however, by saying, "Partially responsible was the weakness projected by the political echelon."

The committee stood by its original commitment to refrain from issuing personal recommendations and does not mention PM Olmert by name, though it states: "It should be emphasized that the fact that we avoided laying personal blame does not mean that there was no such blame." It says it refrained from naming names in order not to deter any futureleaders from making tough decisions during war time.

Report Summary
* Failures began before the war, the report said. The decision to go to war was made without strategy. The government had to choose between a quick, decisive air offensive followed by withdrawal or a full-blown ground war that would involve a call-up of the reserves. The government delayed the decision and ended up in a drawn-out conflict with ground-troops unprepared for deployment until the very end.

* It has been pointed out that a 'code word' used in the report whenever the committee wished to say that somebody erred so significantly that something ought to be done is "keshel" (failure). The report explains in Chapter 17, Paragraph 25 that "failure" is not the same as mere faulty judgment.

* The army was criticized for a lack of organization of ground forces and failure to request the call-up of the reserves for a ground invasion until the first week of August. Clear objectives were lacking commanders lacked faith in their superiors, as well as their subordinates in certain cases.

* The report sees the United Nations' Resolution 1701 - the ceasefire - as an accomplishment.

* Contrary to the recent focus of reservists' criticism, the report said that the final ground operation was "practically a necessity." It said that although its goals were legitimate, it was not conducted properly and therefore did not contribute anything positive.

* The report criticized the emphasis on protecting soldiers at the expense of the Home Front. "The IDF comported itself in the war as if the fear of suffering casualties among its soldiers served as a central element in the planning processes and in its operational considerations," the report stated. The committee went so far as to say that "the IDF's most basic values came undone in the war. Much of what had been seen as a basic foundation of the military organization remained, in some of the operations, empty verbiage." In this context, the committee lists "the tenacity in pursuing the target and dedication to accomplishing the mission; strict operational discipline; combat leadership and the role of commanders in battle; the avoiding of taking personal responsibility and a willingness to obey, while giving constructive criticism to those in charge." The report cites a connection between the aversion to suffering casualties and a feeling that the missions were routine security missions (batash) as opposed to actual warfare.

* There were severe failures in the defense of the home front. "Hizbullah rocket fire on the Israeli home front continued throughout the war and the IDF failed to provide an effective response. Daily life was disrupted, residents left their homes and entered bomb shelters...These results had far-reaching consequences for us and our enemies."

* The report cites positive aspects of the conduct of the Second Lebanon War, in addition to criticism of it. The accomplishments cited were, first and foremost, the volunteer spirit of the reservists who were called up for the war, and the heroism exhibited by individual soldiers. It also says that the Air Force had impressive accomplishments.

Winograd summed up his 30-minute oral summary of his commission's report on the Second Lebanon War with a statement that Israel "cannot survive in this region unless the people within it and outside it believe that it has political leadership, military capabilities and social strength that will enable it to prevent their enemies from realizing their goals – even by force."

This basic truth, the committee states, is common to all political approaches. "Attempts to reach peace or an agreement must come from a place of military might and of ability and willingness to fight for the country, its values and residents," the committee stated. "This has deep ramifications, well beyond the Second Lebanon War," it said.

Olmert's Response
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office released statements leading up to the Committee's press conference saying that Olmert is "relieved" and believes the report spares him the harsh criticism many expected, particularly regarding the final offensive of the war.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert released a short reaction to the report Wednesday evening. Olmert's statement said that he has faith "in the IDF, in its commanders, in its soldiers and abilities." The statement did not include any reaction to the criticism leveled at Olmert in the report, but said that he was treating it "with full seriousness," just as he had treated the interim report.

Cabinet Secretary Oved Yechezkel told Army Radio shortly after the press conference that Olmert has no plans to step down. "The prime minister and the government take responsibility and will make the required rectifications," Yechezkel said. "Taking responsibility means staying on the job to fix and improve - continuing to lead the way forward."

IDF Response
IDF officials are noting that the army has not waited until the publication of the report to take action to correct its mistakes in the war. More than 70 committees were appointed within the IDF to examine various aspects and make recommendations that are already being implemented. Those recommendations match those reached by Winograd, for the most part.

Nevertheless, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has appointed a special team to read the Winograd Commission's report on the Second Lebanon War and to come up with conclusions and recommendations. The crew includes the IDF Spokesman, the Chief Military Attorney and three members of the General Staff.

The Winograd Committee
The Winograd Committee was appointed and hand-picked by Prime Minister Olmert as a compromise response to demands for a State Commission of Inquiry, which would have had more authority to investigate and use its results in court proceedings. The committee was headed by retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd. The other committee members were Prof. Ruth Gavison, Prof. Yehezkel Dror, and retired IDF Major-Generals Menachem Einan and Chaim Nadel.

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) maintained that an independent inquiry was necessary, and was joined in its demand by IDF reservists, including senior officers who accused the government and General Staff of behaving irresponsibly. The groups announced in response to the prime minster's decision to put retired Judge Eliyahu Winograd at the head of the commission of inquiry that "Only a commission of inquiry headed by a judge with legal jurisdiction appointed by the president of the Supreme Court, not by the prime minister, is the solution."

Analysis: Decisions, decisions

Amir Mizroch
Jan. 30, 2008

The fact that a permanent successor to outgoing National Security Council chief Ilan Mizrahi has not been chosen reflects poorly on the prime minister's contention that much has been learned and fixed since the Winograd Committee issued its interim report in April.

In its final report issued on Wednesday, the committee found "serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface," and "serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons." The words "decision-making," "staff work" and "strategic thinking" pop up everywhere in the report, invariably along with terms like "failed," "flawed," "absent" or "inadequate." That the National Security Council remains sidelined is one of the central factors behind this.

The serious failures in the process of decision-making by Olmert, wartime defense minister Amir Peretz and then IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz were highlighted in the interim report a full nine months ago. Apart from the continuing National Security Council debacle, in the intervening months, the Strategic Affairs Ministry was established, but saw little cooperation from the Defense and Foreign Ministries. With the departure of strategic affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman from the government, greeted with glee within the defense establishment, that ministry is left without a head. Assuming it is carrying out important work, why has Olmert not found an immediate replacement?

Prof. Alex Mintz, dean of the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and a world-renowned expert on decision making, says Olmert, Peretz and Halutz made a series of errors and that biases in their decision-making stemmed from their overconfidence in air power [Halutz], reliance on a charismatic and intelligent chief of General Staff [Olmert and Peretz], and underestimating Hizbullah's capabilities.

"They believed in a concept that proved to be wrong. They locked in to a concept that said air power could knock over Hizbullah and end the rocket bombardment of the North, and when that concept proved wrong, it took them too long to overturn their decision and 'unlock' from that option," Mintz says, adding that the decision-making processes of the wartime leaders was "primitive."

The failure of the air power conception should have been quickly evident. Yet thousands of rockets continued to hit the North as days turned to weeks of warfare, 200 on the final day alone. Ground forces were eventually sent in to do a job in 60 hours that the initial planners assumed would require weeks.

The Winograd Committee could not find a proper answer as to who made the final decision to embark on a ground operation that would last 60 hours, with the proviso that the forces could be ordered to stop within six hours, nor could it be certain how that decision was made. What the committee does say unequivocally is that the ground operation, in which 33 soldiers died, did not meet its goals. How could it, in the time it was given?

The panel also points out that not only was there a delay in preparing the ground forces for deployment in southern Lebanon, but that the real failure was that the idea of a large ground offensive was not brought up for serious discussion by the army and the political echelon. The committee finds that only toward the end of the first week of August 2006 (the war ended on August 14) was a ground attack plan prepared.

"Avoiding serious discussion on a ground deployment made it impossible for the decision-makers of all ranks to clearly understand the price of their hesitation [on whether to deploy ground forces] as compared to its benefits, and thus to take an informed decision," the report says. The committee also finds that the "erroneous conception adopted whereby the government and cabinet could not prepare for a ground offensive without it actually having to be executed" placed serious restrictions on Israel's ability to act.

Instead of having ready-made strategies prepared by professional staff-work and tinkering with plans as conditions necessitated, Olmert forced himself into a position where operations were largely shaped by events - including the army's failure to stop the rocket fire, and prolonged cease-fire negotiations at the UN.

The committee also notes that it saw "no serious staff-work on Israeli positions on the cease-fire negotiations front." This situation improved in part when the team headed by the prime minister's chief of staff was established. The team worked efficiently and with dedication, professionalism and coordination. "This could not compensate, however, for the absence of preparatory staff work and discussions in the senior political echelon," the report states.

Can Olmert, a leader who made decisions based on overconfidence and who did not use the staff-work tools available to him - such as the National Security Council - to make better decisions, be trusted to make better decisions in the future?

Mintz believes Olmert has become more systematic in his decision-making process, as evidenced by the attack on a target in Syria on September 6 and the fact that he hasn't yet sent the army into a ground operation in Gaza.

What Olmert, and the army brass, need to be careful of now, Mintz says, is over-cautiousness. Fearful of repeating mistakes of the past, and being blamed for them, the country's decision-makers may feel they need to cover themselves on every base. This kind of thinking may be contrary to the creativity and daring Israeli leaders will need to display in the face of the Iranian threat, and the challenge posed by Hamas in Gaza.

Retired judge Eliahu Winograd summed up his remarks by saying that his committee's suggestions "for systemic and deep changes in the modalities of thinking and acting of the political and military echelons and their interface should not be obscured by current affairs, local successes or initial repairs."

These are "deep and critical processes," the judge said. Indeed, they are the sort of changes that can only be carried out through daily staff-work from agencies such as the National Security Council, the Foreign Ministry Research Department, and other necessary strategic planning bodies.

Ground assault was 'legitimate,' despite the loss of lives

Herb Keinon
Jan. 30, 2008

"The Second Lebanon War constituted a great and dangerous missed opportunity," the head of the Winograd Committee said Wednesday in summarizing the conclusions of its 600-page Final Report on the the government's and army's handling of the war.
The members of the committee - retired judge Eliahu Winograd, Professors Ruth Gavison and Yehezkel Dror and Major-Generals (res.) Haim Nadel and Menahem Einan - delivered a written statement to the public after presenting the report to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Prime Minister's Office.
Criticizing both the government and the army for "serious failings and flaws," the report stopped short of blaming Olmert personally for the shortcomings.
The report described a UN-brokered cease-fire as an "achievement for Israel" and said Olmert, in ordering a widely criticized last-minute ground offensive, acted "out of a strong and sincere perception" of what he thought was in "Israel's interest." The decision to start the ground operation, and its goals, "were legitimate," it said. "There was no failure in that decision in itself, despite its limited achievements and its painful costs."
The Final Report stood in sharp contrast to the strongly worded Interim Report last April, which criticized Olmert personally for "severe failure" in "hastily" going to war.
The members of the committee sat on the dais in front of an estimated 300 journalists. Winograd spoke in Hebrew and Gavison in English.
"Israel embarked on a prolonged war, which it initiated itself and which ended without it winning a clear military victory," Winograd said. "A quasi-military organization numbering some thousands of fighters withstood for several weeks the strongest army in the Middle East, an army which enjoyed absolute aerial supremacy and advantages in size and technology. The rocket fire by Hizbullah at the Israeli home front continued throughout the war, and the IDF did not provide an effective solution to it. Civilian life in the North, which was under the threat of rockets, was seriously disrupted, and many residents temporarily left their homes or huddled in shelters. After a long period in which the army sufficed with returning fire and conducting limited ground operations, very close to the time when a cease-fire agreement was reached, Israel launched a broad ground attack which did not achieve any military gains and was not completed."
Winograd said the Final Report, which covers the period between July 13 and August 24, should be regarded as an integral continuation of the Interim Report released on April 30, 2007._In this period, too, he said, "we found very troubling facts," which he summarized as follows:

We found serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface.

We found serious failings and flaws in the quality of preparedness, decision-making and performance in the IDF high command, especially in the Army.

We found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons.

We found severe failings and flaws in the defense of the civilian population and in coping with its being attacked by rockets.
According to the committee, the government's decision to go to war against Hizbullah left it only two choices - either to launch a heavy, painful artillery and air strike that would last a few days, or to try and change the state of affairs in southern Lebanon by sending in ground troops.
The problem was, according to the committee, that for most of the war, the government and the army could not make up their minds between the two options.
"This 'waffling' worked against Israel," the committee wrote. "Even though there was an awareness of this situation, there was no orderly discussion or decision on this central question for several long weeks."
Winograd added that the choice of options and the strategy of ending the fighting should have been worked out before the decision to go to war was made.
Furthermore, the fact that it took so long to decide on the ground operation meant that it only began once the diplomatic process leading to the August 14 cease-fire was close to fruition, leaving insufficient time for the army to achieve its war aims. Thus, "Israel did not win a diplomatic achievement as a result of a military one, but relied on a diplomatic achievement... to end the fighting."
According to the committee, the war's outcome was determined to a large extent by the fact that it was conducted without a comprehensive knowledge of the conditions in the theater of operations, without proper preparation by the army and without an understanding of the basic principles of how to use military might to achieve political ends.
In the final analysis, the committee blamed the army for failing to deliver the military results that could have provided the the right conditions for the government's diplomatic efforts.
As for the ground operation launched in the last two days of the war, not only did it not achieve its aim of stopping the Katyusha attacks, but it was also not clear whether it had an impact on the cease-fire terms or the willingness of the Lebanese government and Hizbullah to accept the agreement. The committee noted that "the way the ground operation was conducted raises very serious questions."
The committee was not critical, however, of the decision to launch the attack. In fact, it determined that the decision was "almost a necessity... The aims of the military operation were legitimate and involved more than just an attempt to speed up the diplomatic process or improve its terms. The decision itself did not constitute a failure, despite its limited achievements and painful price."
Having said that, the committee added that neither the government nor the army had given any serious consideration to the fact that the operation was limited to 60 hours. (Then-chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz had originally insisted on 96 hours.) Furthermore, neither the army nor the government had sufficiently monitored the fighting after it began.
In summing up its assessment of the ground operation, the committee emphasized that it was up to the public and the politicians to reach their own conclusions about the government's performance.
The committee added that not everything about the war was negative. The IDF, and particularly its reserve forces, had displayed great courage, dedication and fighting ability. The air force also performed well. However, even here, the committee added that both the army and the government had overestimated the IAF's ability to win the war.
Winograd added that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 constituted a diplomatic achievement for Israel, even though some of its provisions had already been undone and it was obvious that others would not be implemented at all.
The committee made recommendations on how to correct the failures it found in the war's management, and stressed that it required "a persistent and prolonged effort, on many levels, to achieve crucial improvements in the modes of thinking and acting on the part of the government and military systems."

Israeli Company Developing Hydrogen-Powered Car

Ezra HaLevi

Just a week after an announcement that Israel will be the testing ground for the first electric cars, an Israeli company is taking part in the development of a hydrogen-powered car.

The Israeli program, developed in cooperation with Russian and German researchers, has recently completed designing and testing a lightweight and safe hydrogen tank for use in cars, according to Globes business news agency. he greatest challenge facing developers in recent years has been developing hydrogen tanks insulated well enough not to pose a fire hazard while remaining light enough to allow the vehicle's weight to remain movable.

The company, called C.En, has conducted over 120 experiments in the past three years. It now claims to have developed prototypes that store double the amount of hydrogen of currently available tanks.

The new tank, say C.En, would weigh 50 kg (110 pounds) and run a vehicle for 600 km (373 miles).

C.En has applied for five patents based on their tests. Further tests are being carried out at the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM).

Company literature says that if the tanks meet expectations, they will prove that an alternative energy source to Arab oil exists for the world’s motor vehicles.

Many open questions and issues remain before the hydrogen-powered car can become a reality.


Fouad Ajami
New York Times

It would have been unlike Samuel P. Huntington to say "I told you so" after 9/11. He is too austere and serious a man, with a legendary career as arguably the most influential and original political scientist of the last half century — always swimming against the current of prevailing opinion. In the 1990s, first in an article in the magazine Foreign Affairs, then in a book published in 1996 under the title "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order," he had come forth with a thesis that ran counter to the zeitgeist of the era and its euphoria about globalization and a "borderless" world. After the cold war, he wrote, there would be a "clash of civilizations." Soil and blood and cultural loyalties would claim, and define, the world of states.

Huntington's cartography was drawn with a sharp pencil. It was "The West and the Rest": the West standing alone, and eight civilizations dividing the rest — Latin American, African, Islamic, Sinic, Hindu, Orthodox, Buddhist and Japanese. And in this post-cold-war world, Islamic civilization would re-emerge as a nemesis to the West. Huntington put the matter in stark terms: "The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other's Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity."

Those 19 young Arabs who struck America on 9/11 were to give Huntington more of history's compliance than he could ever have imagined. He had written of a "youth bulge" unsettling Muslim societies, and young Arabs and Muslims were now the shock-troops of a new radicalism. Their rise had overwhelmed the order in their homelands and had spilled into non-Muslim societies along the borders between Muslims and other peoples. Islam had grown assertive and belligerent; the ideologies of Westernization that had dominated the histories of Turkey, Iran and the Arab world, as well as South Asia, had faded; "indigenization" had become the order of the day in societies whose nationalisms once sought to emulate the ways of the West.

Rather than Westernizing their societies, Islamic lands had developed a powerful consensus in favor of Islamizing modernity. There was no "universal civilization," Huntington had observed; this was only the pretense of what he called "Davos culture," consisting of a thin layer of technocrats and academics and businessmen who gather annually at that watering hole of the global elite in Switzerland.

In Huntington's unsparing view, culture is underpinned and defined by power. The West had once been pre-eminent and militarily dominant, and the first generation of third-world nationalists had sought to fashion their world in the image of the West. But Western dominion had cracked, Huntington said. Demography best told the story: where more than 40 percent of the world population was "under the political control" of Western civilization in the year 1900, that share had declined to about 15 percent in 1990, and is set to come down to 10 percent by the year 2025. Conversely, Islam's share had risen from 4 percent in 1900 to 13 percent in 1990, and could be as high as 19 percent by 2025.

It is not pretty at the frontiers between societies with dwindling populations — Western Europe being one example, Russia another — and those with young people making claims on the world. Huntington saw this gathering storm. Those young people of the densely populated North African states who have been risking all for a journey across the Strait of Gibraltar walk right out of his pages.

Shortly after the appearance of the article that seeded the book, Foreign Affairs magazine called upon a group of writers to respond to Huntington's thesis. I was assigned the lead critique. I wrote my response with appreciation, but I wagered on modernization, on the system the West had put in place. "The things and ways that the West took to 'the rest,'" I wrote, "have become the ways of the world. The secular idea, the state system and the balance of power, pop culture jumping tariff walls and barriers, the state as an instrument of welfare, all these have been internalized in the remotest places. We have stirred up the very storms into which we now ride." I had questioned Huntington's suggestion that civilizations could be found "whole and intact, watertight under an eternal sky." Furrows, I observed, run across civilizations, and the modernist consensus would hold in places like India, Egypt and Turkey.

Huntington had written that the Turks — rejecting Mecca, and rejected by Brussels — would head toward Tashkent, choosing a pan-Turkic world. My faith was invested in the official Westernizing creed of Kemalism that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had bequeathed his country. "What, however, if Turkey redefined itself?" Huntington asked. "At some point, Turkey could be ready to give up its frustrating and humiliating role as a beggar pleading for membership in the West and to resume its much more impressive and elevated historical role as the principal Islamic interlocutor and antagonist of the West."

Nearly 15 years on, Huntington's thesis about a civilizational clash seems more compelling to me than the critique I provided at that time. In recent years, for example, the edifice of Kemalism has come under assault, and Turkey has now elected an Islamist to the presidency in open defiance of the military-bureaucratic elite. There has come that "redefinition" that Huntington prophesied. To be sure, the verdict may not be quite as straightforward as he foresaw. The Islamists have prevailed, but their desired destination, or so they tell us, is still Brussels: in that European shelter, the Islamists shrewdly hope they can find protection against the power of the military.

"I'll teach you differences," Kent says to Lear's servant. And Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism's conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.)

I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are "nowhere men," children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young.

More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington's pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is "dubious" whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history's passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington's that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision.

(Fouad Ajami is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and the author, most recently, of "The Foreigner's Gift")

Suicide by tolerance

National Post
Lorne Gunter

Walt Kelly, the cartoonist and satirist once had his famous character Pogo say, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

In the clash between the West and Islam, that is increasingly true. We are our own worst enemy.
Those of us who care about the survival of Western civilization occasionally rage about the way Muslim organizations feign outrage in the media at the tiniest slight. We grind out teeth when those organizations file human rights complaints against the writings of the likes of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. We warn against our governments permitting the implementation of shariah law and against the insidious teachings of radical imams at mosques and Islamic community centres on our own continent.

But really, could radical Islamists take over unless our elites let them?

True, the Alberta human rights complaint against Levant was brought by something called the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), and the one against Steyn was initiated by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), both of which make it look as if Muslims are behind these attacks on our free speech.

Yet would either grievance have gone anywhere in the absence of government-sponsored, tax-supported agencies that encourage vocal advocacy groups to lodge formal complaints against their foes, and then pay their way?

Imagine the fleeting lives of such complaints in the absence of laws -- passed by liberal Western politicians, not professional Muslim cause-pleaders --granting them legitimacy?

The Syed Soharwardys (ISCC head) and Mohammad Elmasrys (CIC boss) of the world might rail on to a sympathetic reporter or two about the indignations the Levants and Steyns are causing their religion, but without the backing of modern Western governments and the politically correct functionaries who pull their levers, open their money spigots and crack their whips, such complainants would be trees falling in the forest with no one there to hear. For most readers, listeners and viewers the response would be turn the page, switch the station, flip the channel.

It wasn't the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIRCAN) that sent chief CIBC economist Jeff Rubin for Muslim sensitivity training three years ago after a bank financial report offended the particularly pugnacious, litigious Muslim organization. It was Rubin's fearful, PC bosses at CIBC.

Yes, CAIR-CAN, the CIC and the ISCC delight in taking full advantage of the official avenues open to them to criticize and intimidate their foes, but they didn't create those avenues and there is little they could do if our governments and politically correct corporations decided to close them tomorrow.

The best example of what I mean surfaced this week from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency ( BECTA).

Shoo Fly publishers of Newcastle has produced a very innovative, interactive software version of the Three Little Pigs -- a 3D book designed to encourage young children to develop critical thinking abilities. It has won several awards, but was not approved by BECTA because "the use of pigs raises cultural issues." In particular, the company was told, "Judges would not recommend this product to the Muslim community," out of concern the pig images would be upsetting.

British papers were instantly filled with headlines such as "PC gone mad! Muslims devour Little Red Riding Hood."

But, of course, Muslims had done no such thing. Indeed, the Muslim Council of Britain told the Daily Telegraph, "We are not offended by that at all," and called on British schools to welcome the books.

I am not saying radical Muslims pose no threat to our way of life. Of course if fundamentalist Muslims had their way we would all become converts, or at the very least servile dhimmi living at the whim of a worldwide caliphate. Muslims who protested in the Western world two winters ago against the Danish cartoons of Muhammad were not driven by our own PC elites to take to the streets carrying signs with slogans such as "Death to those who dishonour the Prophet."

Still, their fundamentalist vision would go nowhere legally, culturally or politically without our governments, politicians, bureaucrats and experts bending over backwards to appear sensitive and reasonable.

Call it suicide by tolerance. The Western world with its institutions of democracy and the rule of law, with its advances in science and medicine, its progress in individual liberty, its historic devotion to reason and its developments in culture and the arts will disappear because its own elites could not be proud enough of its achievements to defend it from within.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace- The U.N. need only take five simple steps.

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review on Line

There seems to be a growing renewed animus against Israel lately. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the purported humanist Mahatma Gandhi, thinks Israel and Jews in general are prone to, and singularly responsible for, most of the world's violence. The Oxford Union is taking up the question of whether Israel even has a right to continue to exist. Our generation no longer speaks of a "Palestinian problem," but rather of an "Israeli problem." So perhaps it is time for a new global approach to deal with Israel and its occupation. Perhaps we ought to broaden our multinational and multicultural horizons by transcending the old comprehensive settlements, roadmaps, and Quartet when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a dispute which originated with the creation of Israel.

Why not simply hold an international conference on all of these issues — albeit in a far more global context, outside the Middle East?

The ensuing general accords and principles could be applied to Israel and the West Bank, where the number of people involved, the casualties incurred, and the number of refugees affected are far smaller and far more manageable.

Perhaps there could be five U.N. sessions: disputed capitals; the right of return for refugees; land under occupation; the creation of artificial post-World War II states; and the use of inordinate force against suspected Islamic terrorists.

In the first session, we should try to solve the status of Nicosia, which is currently divided into Greek and Turkish sectors by a U.N. Greek Line. Perhaps European Union investigators could adjudicate Turkish claims that the division originated from unwarranted threats to the Turkish Muslim population on Cyprus. Some sort of big power or U.N. roadmap then might be imposed on the two parties, in hopes that the Nicosia solution would work for Jerusalem as well.

In the second discussion, diplomats might find common ground about displaced populations, many from the post-war, late 1940s. Perhaps it would be best to start with the millions of Germans who were expelled from East Prussia in 1945, or Indians who were uprooted from ancestral homes in what is now Pakistan, or over half-a-million Jews that were ethnically cleansed from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria following the 1967 war. Where are these refugees now? Were they ever adequately compensated for lost property and damages? Can they be given promises of the right to return to their ancestral homes under protection of their host countries? The ensuring solutions might shed light on the Palestinian aspirations to return to land lost sixty years ago to Israel.

A third panel would take up the delicate issue of returning territory lost by defeat in war. Ten percent of historic Germany is now part of Poland. The Russians still occupy many of the Kurile Islands, and Greek Cyprus lost sizable territory in 1974 after the invasion by Turkey. The Western Sahara is still annexed by Morocco, while over 15 percent of disputed Azerbaijan has been controlled by Armenia since 1994. Additionally, all of independent Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since 1950-1. Surely if some general framework concerning these occupations could first be worked out comprehensively, the results might then be applied to the much smaller West Bank and Golan Heights.

In a fourth panel, the international conference should take up the thorny issue of recently artificially created states. Given the tension over Kashmir, was Pakistan a mistake — particularly the notion of a homeland for Indian Muslims? North Korea was only created after the stalemate of 1950-3; so should we debate whether this rogue nation still needs to exist, given its violent history and threats to world peace?

Fifth, and finally, is there a global propensity to use inordinate force against Muslim terrorists that results in indiscriminate collateral damage? The Russians during the second Chechnyan War of 1999-2000 reportedly sent tactical missiles into the very core of Grozny, and may have killed tens of thousands of civilians in their hunt for Chechnyan terrorists — explaining why the United Nations later called that city the most destroyed city on earth. Syria has never admitted to the complete destruction of Hama, once home to Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. The city suffered the fate of Carthage and was completely obliterated in 1982 by the al-Assad government, with over 30,000 missing or killed. Did the Indian government look the other way in 2002 when hundreds of Muslim civilians in Gujarat were killed in reprisal for Islamic violence against Hindus? The lessons learned in this final session might reassure a world still furious over the 52 Palestinians lost in Jenin.

In other words, after a half-century of failed attempts to solve the Middle East crisis in isolation, isn't it time we look for guidance in a far more global fashion, and in contexts where more lives have been lost, more territory annexed, and more people made refugees in places as diverse as China, Russia, and the broader Middle East?

The solutions that these countries have worked out to deal with similar problems apparently have proven successful — at least if the inattention of the world, the apparent inaction of the United Nations, and the relative silence of European governments are any indication.

So let the international community begin its humanitarian work!

Greek Cypriots can advise Israel about concessions necessary to Muslims involving a divided Jerusalem. Russians and Syrians can advise the IDF on how to deal properly and humanely with Islamic terrorists. Poland, Russia, China, and Armenia might offer the proper blueprint for giving back land to the defeated that they once gained by force. A North Korea or Pakistan can offer Israel humanitarian lessons that might blunt criticisms that such a recently created country has no right to exist. Iraq and Egypt would lend insight about proper reparation and the rights of return, given its own successful solutions to the problems of their own fleeing Jewish communities.

But why limit the agenda to such a small array of issues? The world has much to teach Israel about humility and concessions, on issues ranging from how other countries in the past have dealt with missiles sent into their homeland, to cross-border incursions by bellicose neighbors.

No doubt, Middle East humanitarians such as Jimmy Carter, Arun Gandhi, and Tariq Ramadan could preside, drawing on and offering their collective past wisdom in solving such global problems to those of a lesser magnitude along the West Bank.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author, most recently, of A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

Initial Winograd Responders

Dear Friends,
Chers Amis,

The Winograd Commission has handed over its final report 2 hours ago.

As Judge Winograd said, "it's up to the public to draw the conclusions".
There is no clearer message than "Go to the polls".
Because the cardinal question for our future is to have a leadership - moral, political, military - that we can trust for the difficult decisions ahead.

By the way, please take the time to read again the paper that I wrote and sent 4 DAYS after the starting of the war, on July 16th 2006.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jacques Heller
Migdal Hamenorah, 12 apt 13
71726 Modiin, Israel AFTER THE 1973 YOM KIPPUR WAR,

This Sunday morning, July 16th, rockets are raining on the North of Israel and kassams are landing in Sderot.
For the first time since my alya 9 years ago, I feel unsecure and unprotected in my country.
The absence of moral, political and military leadership is striking and costs us, the Israeli people, dearly.
It is clear now that from the top echelons of the government, the army and the main government agencies, there was:
∑ no long term political and strategy vision,
∑ no national objectives,
∑ weakness, un-preparedness and nonchalance.

How did it happened, how did we let it happen ?

I. The situation before:

Oslo in itself might not have been a mistake.
The mistake was not to react firmly immediately after the first negative declaration, cheating and aggressive action of Arafat and his team. Not to have appreciated, up to now, the steady destructive and hateful attitude of the large majority of the Palestinian people.
We were lead by dreaming and irresponsible descriptions of “the New Middle East”.

The second historical mistake has been the “unilateral” withdrawal strategy conceived by “the Gang of Four” (Ariel Sharon, Omri Sharon, Dov Weissglass and Shaul Mofaz).
We pay a heavy price for Boggi Ayalon’s departure a year ago.
Everything he said and predicted happens now, unfortunately.
His absence is strongly felt. Mr. Olmert’s insistence on the retreat strategy is the expression of a political blindness. The same goes for Mr. Amir Peretz who, according to TV reports, is busy in the last days, to prepare the evacuations of some Judea and Samaria communities. What a strange priority!
Once and for all, there is no policy without “give and take”. Even if it takes decades.

II. The situation now:

According to the information available, we are witnessing an extraordinary slowness and hesitation in the government’s reactions and the military apparatus to the crisis that we are going through.

If this is not war, what is it?

We found ourselves unprepared, although there were many advanced notices from the Hizbullah in the North and the Hamas in Gaza.

Look at the body language of our present “Trio”, Omert, Peretz and Halutz, if they appear at all. They are conveying to the people a sense of surprise, weak and too-late actions. The Arab world and the terrorist organizations have well received that message.
Unfortunately for all of us, Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz are the wrong men at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
What the Chief-of-Staff is concerned, the un-preparedness of the army, the wrong evaluations, the very slow reactions (due also to the failing political leadership) should be of deep concern to the country and its citizens. True that the budget cuts are not improving the military might.

Tactically, the choice of gradual limited military operations instead of a full blow from the start might hamper our ability to destroy the terrorist apparatus in the North and in the South and impose a heavy burden on the generation to come, on our children.
We are REacting to rockets fired on Haifa and the North and we feel that there was no pre-emptive strategy, as it always has been in
Israel’ s history (except for the Yom Kippur war). In wars, time is an essential factor. To extinguish a fire, you better act from the start and not wait until there is a conflagration.

Another essential factor in time of war, is the morale of our people and the morale of our soldiers before going into battle.

Obviously the silence of our leaders and the face of our military generals on the TV screen are not very encouraging.
For the first time, Israeli generals admit that they have no answer to the terrorist arsenal and tactics. If they can’t protect us, they should leave and let others manage the war.
But in the present situation, our sons, daughters and their commanders should be fully supported with all our heart.

Where is the pep talk of Mr. Olmert to the Nation, at the Knesset or in front of the cameras ? Where is the President of the Knesset ? Nahman Shai has already politely mentioned that failure in a TV interview 48 hours ago.
Who is leading this country ?
By the way, have we heard anything from our intellectuals?
Fortunately a few leaders from the Right and from the Left have expressed some sensible and responsible opinions. But they are “vox clamans in deserto”.
What the opposition is concerned, Mr. Netanyahu has declared with much restraint on the first day of the war, that the opposition is behind the government if it changes course. The left has not been so gentle during the Lebanon war in 1982.

The media have played a terrible partisan role in the last years. They continue to act irresponsibly when showing the impact of the rockets and helping the Hizbollah or Hamas to adjust their fire or when they demand full information on the army’s plans.
Haaretz’ editorial asking restraint and limited objectives in our military operations is shocking. They weaken our options on the diplomatic and military front. There is a limit to total free-speech in times of war.
Asking the removal only of the Hizbullah and the deployment of the Lebanese army in South Lebanon is a plaster on an open wound.
How ironic also to hear Gideon Meir from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declaring that all is well and that our diplomatic position has never been so good.

III. The future:

It might be time to prepare a more aggressive and vocal policy from the ranks of the opposition and from its leader.
It is the right time to start explaining what are the stakes and ask the People to openly support a strong, well defined and clear objective for our future generations.
The People of Israel has enough of this long terror environment.
We have tasted the “realignment”. It does not work.
Let us protect our strategic depth. No inch of territory should be evacuated if not in return for a comprehensive peace agreement, tested over a number of years.

The Arab world declares that time is on their side.
We have returned to our Homeland for eternity and we will stay here in our Jewish land until the end of times. Israel is strong and our enemies should know it and feel it.
Otherwise, there is no reason for our soldiers and our children to risk their lives now.

It is time also to organize a public support for a strong and clear-cut policy and to assemble around a national consensus.

Regarding Iran and Syria:
Syria is our neighbor, our enemy but only a middleman.
It is a passageway from Iran to Irak, from Iran to Lebanon, to Gaza and to Israel.
The real threat is Teheran.

Menahem Begin said: “If our enemies (the Arabs) declare that they want to annihilate the Jewish People, believe them”.
He launched the “Osirak” operation.

We should believe what the Iranian leaders say and act accordingly.
Its time to warnthem first on the Lebanese soil.
This is our priority, unless the Iranian people will wake up.

Finally, when we will go to the polls, we will have to carefully choose our leaders according to their moral values, their competence and their honesty. We cannot afford further mistakes.

The Knesset and our Society have many challenges ahead in justice, education, economy, security, ethics. “Tsedek, Tsedek tirdof”.

Let us win this war, bring back our kidnapped soldiers including Ron Arad while caring and praying for our soldiers. Let us quietly prepare the long term visions for our People.

Yitschak Jacques Heller


Arlene Kushner

January 30, 2008


Today at 5 PM local time the five person Winograd Committee -- which was hand-picked by Olmert after the uproar following the war, as a compromise to demands for a state inquiry, and was not charged independently -- delivered its final report to Olmert and Barak. An hour later they came to Convention Hall (Binyanei Hauma) and retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd, who chaired the Committee, read the report for assembled journalists. In the briefest of summaries:

We didn't win the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, which is regrettable because we missed an important opportunity and should have won. There were "serious failures and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface."

A great deal of blame was placed on the military, But the political echelon, which projected weakness, was also at fault. It was highly unfortunate that the rocket fire from the north was not stopped, as we had military superiority. The ground offensive that was launched very shortly before the end of the war (the one in which 33 soldiers were lost) did not improve our military position. But the committee is convinced that the prime minister acted in what he thought was Israel's best interests.

The fact that no fingers were pointed in the report (by design) does not mean, says the report, that there are not individuals who are responsible.

The failures went beyond the conduct of the war itself and involved a lack of long term strategy.

Our failure to win conclusively had great impact on us and on our neighbors, and our allies.

Concluded Winograd, Israel "cannot survive in this region unless the people within it and outside it believe that it has political leadership, military capabilities and social strength that will enable it to prevent [its neighbors] from realizing their goals – even by force.
"Attempts to reach peace or an agreement must come from a place of military might and of ability and willingness to fight for the country, its values and residents. This has deep ramifications, well beyond the Second Lebanon War."


There is no clear cut direction from this, and it's too soon to tell what the fallout will be. Members of Kadima are claiming vindication, members of right wing parties say that just as former defense minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Dan Halutz accepted responsibility for the failings of the war and resigned, so must Olmert now. Olmert is saying, quite clearly, that he will not. A great deal, I believe, will depend on how the electorate responds.


My own immediate response is this. Whatever Winograd said about Olmert's sincerity of intent, and the responsibility of the military, this is what leaps out at me:

One of the things Winograd faults the political echelon with is projecting weakness. This absolutely cannot be minimized. See the concluding statement by Winograd that says Israel at all levels must convey strength to survive -- it's clear the Committee also believes this is critical.

This, then, must be taken to heart with regard to how Olmert conducts the affairs of government now. He is doing us irreparable harm by making statements about he'll do whatever he has to reach an agreement with Abbas, by conducting himself in a way that allows citizens of Sderot to remain at risk, and by refusing to order that necessary ground operation into Gaza. He is projecting weakness. This is lethal for us and cannot continue. He must go.

Undoubtedly, I will return to this subject many times. But I would like to leave it now.


Yesterday I spoke about a phony photo of Palestinians in Gaza working by candlelight when it was really daytime. I was unable to reproduce the photo I had. And so now I would like to thank Doris Montrose, who sent me a link to a blog that provides several such pictures and discussion. Some of these blogs are great for exposing the frauds.



According to YNet there has been good progress in communication between Egyptian security personnel and Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political security department. Reportedly, there are 25,000 to 30,000 Palestinians remaining in Egypt, and they are supposed to be pushed back to Gaza by next week.

Meanwhile Israel National News has reported that Gazans have spent $250 million in Egypt, and by the weekend are expected to have made purchases totaling $480 million. Since there were 700,000 Arabs from Gaza in Egypt, that comes to an average of almost $670 person, if these figures are correct. $670 represents a whole lot more for Gazans than for Israelis or Americans. It's big money. So, the question is where this came from if they're so poverty stricken.

What is more, according to this report, a bulk of the money was spent on building materials. This is NOT what people buy when they are starving.


The High Court has made a significant ruling. I wrote a couple of days ago about a petition to the court by left wing human rights organizations that demanded that the crossings to Gaza be opened. The court had issued a preliminary ruling that humanitarian aid had to go through. But now we have the complete ruling:

Israel has had no effective control over the Gaza Strip since September 2005, and that therefore "it is not obligated to care for the welfare of the Strip's residents or allow the transfer of unlimited amounts of goods and commodities." However, Israel is obliged "to allow the supply of essential humanitarian aid."

What is more, Israel's actions are in conjunction with local and international law: "In times of war, the civilian population is… the first and most prominent victim of the fighting, even when efforts to reduce the harm done to it are carried out."

Gaza, said the court, was controlled by a murderous terrorist organization, which was tirelessly working against the State of Israel and its citizens, while breaking every possible rule of international law in its violent actions, "which indiscriminately target civilians – men, women and children."


Now Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, is proposing that Egypt absorb Gaza (which it controlled from 1949 to 1967). Gazans, says Pipes, speak a colloquial Arabic that is identical to the Arabic of the Sinai, and have more family ties in Egypt than in the West Bank. He cites journalist David Warren, who said calling Gazans "Palestinians" is less accurate than politically correct.

This, suggests Pipes, would end the rocket fire and expose the superficiality of Palestinian nationalism.

"It's hard to divine what benefit American taxpayers have received for the US$65-billion they have lavished on Egypt since 1948; but Egypt's absorbing Gaza might justify their continuing to shell out US$1.8-billion a year."

Sounds good to me.


The UN Security Council has given up efforts to formulate a statement condemning Israel for the situation in Gaza. Libya, which is chairing the Council this month, decided to give up its call for condemnation of Israel, following a battle waged by Israel, backed by the US.


I wrote the other day about concerns that the multinational force of 1,800 in Sinai would be threatened by the Gazans. But apparently that never happened, they have not withdrawn, and they are proceeding normally.


Victor Davis Hanson writes some marvelously insightful pieces. I would like to close here by recommending an article of his, "A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace." Quite simply, he puts what's going on here into an international perspective.

India: Misunderstanders of Islam planned serial bombings in Mumbai

India Jihad Update. "India: Islamists planned blasts in Mumbai," from United Press International:

NEW DELHI, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- India says rebels conspired to trigger serial bomb blasts in four crowded areas in Mumbai, including the historic Gateway of India. Five suspected militants arrested in connection with recent blasts in Uttar Pradesh state wanted to carry out simultaneous explosions in Mumbai, an Interior Ministry official said. He said the suspects told their interrogators that Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, which India views as a terrorist organization, was planning to carry out the blasts. The suspects were arrested in connection with the Nov. 23 serial blasts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi.
Gateway of India, the suburb of Andheri, Oberoi Hotel and Navi Mumbai were places where these suspected terrorists already carried out dry runs, the official said.

"Islamophobia" Alert: Europeans think Islam is dangerous!

Watch for the hand-wringing and blame-shifting. Watch for the dark laments about European "racism" and "xenophobia." One thing you won't see is any acceptance of responsibility, any acknowledgment that any Muslims may have done anything -- anything -- to lead Europeans to think this way. No one will talk about the Islamic justifications advanced by Muslims themselves for acts of violence like the 7/7 bombings in London and the 3/11/2004 bombings in Madrid. No one will acknowledge the existence of supremacist rhetoric about conquering Europe that even Sheikh Qaradawi, that renowned "moderate," has advanced. No, this is all non -Muslims' fault. Don't you know that? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?

"Europeans Think Islam Is Dangerous," by Jason Groves for the Daily Express (thanks to Isabella the Crusader):

AN “overwhelming majority” of Europeans believe immigration from Islamic countries is a threat to their traditional way of life, a survey revealed last night.
The poll, carried out across 21 countries, found “widespread anti-immigration sentiment”, but warned Europe’s Muslim population will treble in the next 17 years.

It reported “a severe deficit of trust is found between the Western and Muslim communities”, with most people wanting less interaction with the Muslim world.

Last night an MP warned it showed that political leaders in Britain who preach the benefits of unlimited immigration were dangerously out of touch with the public.

Of course they are. And only groups like the BNP are taking up the slack, which cannot bode well for Britain's future in any scenario.

The study, whose authors include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, was commissioned for leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
It reports “a growing fear among Europeans of a perceived Islamic threat to their cultural identities, driven in part by immigration from predominantly Muslim nations”.

And it concludes: “An overwhelming majority of the surveyed populations in Europe believe greater interaction between Islam and the West is a threat.” Backbench Tory MP David Davies told the Sunday Express: “I am not surprised by these findings. People are fed up with multiculturalism and being told they have to give up their way of life.

“Most people in Britain expect anyone who comes here to be willing to learn our language and fit in with us.”

And why exactly should anyone consider that unreasonable?

Mr Davies, who serves on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, added: “People do get annoyed when they see millions spent on translating documents and legal aid being given to people fighting for the right to wear a head-to-toe covering at school.
“A lot of people are very uncomfortable with the changes being caused by immigration and politicians have been too slow to wake up to that.”

The report says people have little enthusiasm for greater understanding with Islam and attempts to improve relations have been “disappointing”.

And with the EU Muslim population expected to reach 15 per cent by 2025 it predicts: “Any deterioration on the international front will be felt most severely in Europe.”

And from the Muslim spokesmen, predictable denial, obfuscation, and victim-posturing:

But leading Muslim academic Haleh Afshar, of York University, blamed media “hysteria” for the findings. She said: “There is an absence of trust towards Muslims, but to my mind that is very much driven by an uninformed media.
“To blame immigration is much harder because the current influx of immigrants from eastern Europe are by-and-large not Muslim.

The danger is that when people are fearful of people born and bred in this country it is likely that discrimination may follow.”

Don't want discrimination? Work to keep your coreligionists from blowing things up and announcing their intention to take over.

Thanks Jihad Watch

UK: Jihadist gang planned to behead Muslim soldier "like a pig"

Because he dared to cooperate with the kuffar, you see. "Gang plotted to behead Muslim soldier 'like a pig,'" from the Times (thanks to all who sent this in):

An Islamist quartermaster hatched a plot to kidnap a British Muslim soldier on a night out and behead him "like a pig" in a lock-up garage then release footage of the killing to the public, a court heard today. Nigel Rumfitt, QC, prosecuting, told a jury at Leicester Crown Court that Parviz Khan, of Alum Rock, Birmingham, had pleaded guilty to terrorism charges a fortnight ago. Three other men had also admitted a range of terror offences.

Mr Rumfitt was speaking as the trial opened of two further men, Ahmad Mahmood and Zahoor Iqbal, both from Birmingham, who accused of offences under the Terrorism Act.

All six men were arrested on January 31, 2006, in co-ordinated police raids.

Outlining the plot, Mr Rumfitt told the jury that Khan had hoped to kidnap a Muslim soldier in the Broad Street entertainment district of Birmingham city centre, with the help of drug dealers.

"He would be taken to a lock-up garage and there he would be murdered by having his head cut off like a pig," said Mr Rumfitt. "This atrocity would be filmed . . . and the film released to cause panic and fear within the British Armed Forces and the wider public."...

Thus "striking terror in the hearts of the enemies of Allah," as per Qur'an 8:60.

Majadle: Labor Isn't Quitting Over Winograd

Gil Ronen

The Minister of Science, Culture and Sport, Raleb Majadle (Labor) said Tuesday that his party would not be leaving the government following publication of the final report by the Winograd commission, which was appointed to investigate the handling of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. "This is the best government for Israel," he said. "I am not waiting to see Winograd; we have seen the intermediate report and that is enough for us."

"We need to look ahead, for the good of Israeli society," Israel's first Arab minister said. "The society requires that we show national responsibility, and first and foremost governmental stability. We can't have elections every two years."

Report may center on Halutz
A source described as being "close to the Winograd Commission" told Ynet that "the report will place a mirror before the face of Israeli society." The core of the report, the source said, will deal with the IDF "ethos of combat" and "the interface between Israel's society and its military."

Leaks from the report are varied in nature but most of them predict a report that will not be very hars
The report's main purpose is not "to chop off heads" but to learn from mistakes and prepare Israel for the coming years.
h on Olmert, and reserve most of its criticism for the military leadership, especially then-Chief of Staff of the IDF, Lt.-Gen.Dan Halutz.

The report's main purpose, according to another news item on the subject, is not "to chop off heads" but to learn from mistakes and prepare Israel for the coming years.

'No improvement' since interim report
One of the commission's members said the committee was of the opinion that the prime minister did not implement changes in response to the conclusions in the committee's interim report, which was published nine months ago. Channel 10 News quoted the commission member, who said no meaningful improvement had taken place since the war, in the decision-making process regarding political and security matters.

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik rejected a request by opposition MKs to hold a special Knesset session on Thursday in order to debate the final Winograd report (the Knesset does not normally convene on Thursdays; its three-day work week begins on Monday and ends on Wednesday).

The debate is probably going to be held next week. More than the required 40 MKs have signed a pe
Opposition MKs: 'Prime Minister attempting to buy time and delay the debate.'
tition requiring Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to personally address the debate on the Winograd report when it takes place.

Letter from Schneller
MKs Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP) and Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) said Tuesday that the speaker's decision was misguided. According to Army Radio, the two said that "the report's importance overrides the Prime Minister's attempts to buy time and delay the debate."

Opposition members did not give up, though: they made use of their allotted one-minute speeches Tuesday evening to quote the most damning passages from the intermediate Winograd Commission report.

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), a confidante of Olmert's, wrote a letter to his fellow Kadima members Tuesday, in which he said that if the report unequivocally asks Olmert to resign, he will understand the consequences on his own.

Shneller said that the blame for the problematic management of the war lay with past leaders, who did not place enough emphasis on the IDF's readiness. This year, said Schneller, the conclusions from the Second Lebanon War have been implemented and improvements are already visible.”