Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gaza Man Run Over by Bulldozer

Gaza man run over by bulldozer.

Posted: 11 May 2011 03:20 AM PDT
Arab media is reporting that a man near the Rafah tunnels was killed accidentally when he was run over by a bulldozer.

I wonder why in this case they assume it is accidental, while in other cases they assume murder?

Muslim World Has Inferiority Complex

The Muslim world's inferiority complex

Posted: 11 May 2011 05:54 AM PDT
From Hudson-NY, translating an op-ed by Khaled Montaser in Al Masry al Youm late last year:

We Muslims have an inferiority complex and are terribly sensitive to the world, feeling that our Islamic religion needs constant, practically daily, confirmation by way of Europeans and Americans converting to Islam. What rapturous joy takes us when a European or American announces [their conversion to] Islam—proof that we are in a constant state of fear, alarm, and chronic anticipation for Western validation or American confirmation that our religion is "okay." We are hostages of this anticipation, as if our victory hinges on it—forgetting that true victory is for us to create or to accomplish something, such as those [civilizations] that these converts to our faith abandon.

And we pound our drums and blow our horns [in triumph] and drag the convert to our backwardness, so that he may stand with us at the back of the world's line of laziness, [in the Muslim world] wherein no new scientific inventions have appeared in the last 500 years. Sometimes those who convert relocate to our countries—only to get on a small boat and escape on the high seas back to their own countries.

The dilemma which we Muslims imbibed from one end of the earth to the other—by way of our sons, our intellectuals, our youth, our elders, our men and our women—regards the German writer Henryk Broder. We celebrated him through our media and Internet sites, saying that he had converted to Islam, because he said "I have been saved from misguidance and have come to know the truth, returning to my natural state [fitriti, i.e., Islam]." Our writers and intellectuals portrayed Broder's statement as a slap to Germany's face, since he was one of the most critical opponents of Islam, but now he had announced his repentance.

Then the truth was immediately revealed and the embarrassing predicament which we imbibed of our own free will: for Broder is not to blame; he merely wrote a sarcastic article—but we are a people incapable of comprehending sarcasm, since it requires a bit of thinking and intellectualizing. And we read with great speed and a hopeful eye, not an eye for truth or reality. Some of us are struck with blindness when we read things that go against our hopes.

We actually imagined that the man was speaking truthfully and sincerely! Thus we drank from the bitter cup of failure and shame, products of our chronic ignorance and contemptuous feelings of inferiority and detestability.

How come the Buddhists don't hold the festivities we do for those who convert to their religion? And some of these converts are much more famous than Broder. Did you know that Richard Gere, Steven Seagal, Harrison Ford—among Hollywood's most famous actors—converted to Buddhism? What did the Buddhist countries of Asia do regarding these celebrities? What did the Buddhists in China and Japan do?

Did they dance and sing praise and march out in the streets, or did they accept these people's entrance into Buddhism as a mere matter of free conviction? When Tiger Woods, the most famous golf player and richest athlete in the world, discussed his acceptance of Buddhism, did China grant him citizenship, or did Japan pour its wealth on him? No, being self-confident, they treated him with equality, not servility.

It is sufficient for the Buddhists that these celebrities purchase their nations' electronic goods—without any beggary or enticements.

I have discussed the Arab and Muslim inferiority complex in the past, and some of the stuff is worth revisiting.

May 2005: Why Israel's creation is a "naqba"

July 2005: The flip-sides to Arab "honor"

December 2008: Mixing up importance and impotence

US Defense Dept. analysis of the Muslim world, 1946


Anecdotal but convincing: Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was

Posted: 11 May 2011 04:26 AM PDT
A fascinating article in Hudson-NY by Anna Mahjar-Barducci:

Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Usama bin Laden was killed last week, is the same town I lived in for five years – in a house 800 meters away from his villa.

...All these roads were already heavily patrolled before 9/11, and more so after the Taliban took over the Swat valley: it is unthinkable that the most wanted man tried his luck in reaching Abbottabad at the risk of being stopped at a checkpoint. To avoid this danger, according to experience, there is only one way: to use an official car. No soldier will ever dare to stop what he supposes to be a high-ranking officer.

Abbottabad is considered a "cantonment," or a military town, with many military institutions: the Frontier Force Regiment (popularly known as the "Piffers"), an infantry regiment, and a batallion of mountain artillery. The most remarkable institution, however, is the "Pakistan Military Academy" (PMU), the Pakistani equivalent of West Point, from which Bin Laden's hideout was only a few hundred meters.

In such a place, the presence of security forces and secret services is everywhere. Everyone is under observation, particularly foreigners and newcomers.

Once you gain the confidence of the local officers they may even reveal themselves to you. Some officers of the so-called "secret police" were not exactly the movie image of James Bond. Rather, they were badly dressed and probably having some problems making ends meet. However, this ramshackle police managed to give an American aid-worker suspected of espionage 24 hours' notice to leave the country, It did not take much to raise their suspicion, and for them to take the subsequent action.

Bin Laden's compound was located in Bilal Town, a not very elegant area of Abbottabad. ... The presence of more than 20 people living in the compound, however, could not have passed unnoticed.

...In a country where gossip is a national sport, how is it possible that the presence of people from Waziristan, who were buying food for scores of persons, was never signalled to the police? When I lived there, everybody seemed to know me and my whereabouts. I even received anonymous phone calls although my name was not in the telephone book. I did not know these people, but they knew me.

...Pakistani officials are now protesting that the country's sovereignty has been violated. It probably was. But more importantly, Pakistan's credibility -- if there was any left -- as a reliable partner in the war against terrorism, is now completely gone.

Until now, many thought that Pakistan's double game was due to some deviated sectors of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence); now we understand that there is more to it than that. Americans knew full well that Pakistanis could not be trusted, so they took action without informing the country's authorities -- they were right.

PA Soldiers were Asleep at Joseph's Tomb

PA soldiers at Joseph's Tomb were asleep; fired wildly when they awoke

Posted: 11 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT
From Arutz-7:

Palestinian Authority soldiers last month woke up from a slumber and shot wildly at Jews who had been praying at Joseph’s Tomb, killing Ben Yosef Livnat, according to the private Israel Defense website, which is not associated with the IDF.

The report states that an internal PA investigation totally contradicts original accounts that the armed forces shot at the worshippers after they allegedly broke through a roadblock on their return from prayers at the holy site.

The internal investigation, as reported by Israel Defense, discloses a string of failures by the PA. Three soldiers, who had been trained by American army officers, were sleeping in their jeep several hundred yards from Joseph’s Tomb on April 24, the morning of the last day of Passover.

Nineteen Jews, including Livnat (pictured), a nephew of Likud minister Limor Livnat, passed the PA checkpoint where the soldiers were sleeping. When the worshippers began returning home in their three vehicles, two other PA officers at Joseph’s Tomb also were asleep next to a bonfire they had lit to keep warm.

The report states that they woke up from a slumber, saw vehicles they did not recognize, and started shooting wildly at close range without asking superiors for permission to fire.

The shooting woke up the two officers in the jeep, and one of them also fired without knowing who he was shooting at, but he did not hit anyone. The other officer did not fire because he was guarding without a weapon, in violation of standard procedures. The worshippers later said that the PA forces knew them because they frequently prayed at Jospeh's Tomb.

The Palestinian Authority security forces also did not report the incident immediately, while the IDF, observing from nearby Mount Gerizim, observed the shooting and arrived at the scene before senior PA officers arrived, even though PA units are stationed in Shechem.


An Israeli investigation showed that one of the PA soldiers was a former terrorist. It also found that the PA soldiers wildly fired 44 rounds during the incident - when they were not threatened at all.

(h/t Yerushalimey, Joel)

A Twitter Thread with an anti-Zionist

A twitter thread with an anti-Zionist who hated my posters

Posted: 11 May 2011 07:53 AM PDT
It is fun to watch how Israel haters react to my series of posters celebrating Zionism.

One such hater is someone named Ben White, who apparently is one of the leaders of the anti-Israel crowd. He wrote a book called "Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide" and has been praised by the usual crowd of anti-Zionists like Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe.

His reaction to my posters was to put up his own spoof poster on Twitter, replacing "Zionism" with "Hasbara" and tweeting "Israel at 63: This is Hasbara!":

Not having ever heard of him, I thought this was a compliment, because I thinkit is a very good example of what hasbara should be. Only when MargieInTelAviv responded

ah can't stand the truth can you? Why not check it out?


did I realize it was meant to be an insult.

I responded:

Of course it is #Hasbara. And it is true. Hasbara is no more an insult than #Zionism!


Ben:

#hasbara in 2011 = treating kids in Haiti, evicting kids in #Palestine

He then included a link to "Hasbara Buster" who claims that Israel's good deeds aren't good in themselves, but an insidious plot to redirect the world from talking about Israeli crimes.

Me:

You are a sad man to get so upset over Zionists doing good things.


Ben:

you are a not-so-bright man if u think its the "doing good things" bit that's objectionable


Me:

Ah. One sided propaganda against Israel=good, telling the other side=evil. Got it.


Ben:
No, its called using acts of charity in strategy 2 defend apartheid. But nice #projection though

Me:
Even your example disproves your thesis. Org is private. But your hate overrides all. Sad.

He then tried to change the subject, with a photo that I suppose is meant to illustrate Zionist evil. Which is the usual modus operandi of people like him - they need to change the playing field in order to pretend to win.

But think about his main argument: he believes that when Israel - or in this case, ordinary Israelis - do good things, they have an ulterior motive: to cover up crimes. And when people like me publicize how great Israel is, we also have an evil motive: to cover up Israel's crimes.

In other words, to these mental midgets, Israel is inherently evil. Everything it does is evil. This is the premise that informs all of their activities. No shades of grey, no nuance, not even the possibility of admitting that things are more complex than they pretend. When Israel does something seemingly bad, it proves it is evil, when it does something good, it's just more proof that it is evil.

Logical people, who make up their minds based on evidence, can look at both sides of a story and decide. Haters, however, already know the answer, and any evidence to the contrary they use to "prove" their own point!

Let's once again look at the oppressed Palestinian Arab cancer patients who enjoyed a day in the snow courtesy of the IDF, the subject of my first poster:



Looking at these photos drives the haters crazy, as we have seen. They cannot reconcile the idea of Israelis - especially Israeli soldiers - actually doing something nice for the people they supposedly despise and who are, they believe, being ethnically cleansed by the very same soldiers. The cognitive dissonance must be painful. They must therefore invent their own elaborate frameworks of bizarre conspiracy theories to reconcile the obvious truth about Israel with their own, twisted, hate.

How can oppressed Palestinian Arab kids allow themselves to be used as pawns by the evil IDF? How dare they laugh and smile and have fun with the symbols of Zionist atrocities? Better that they refuse to go sleddign in Mount Hermon, and stay in their hospitals, than go and have fun when there is a slight chance that someone might photograph them and use them in such a terrible evil hasbaristic way! Don't they see that they are exactly like the Jews in Theresienstadt before the Red Cross visited it in 1944? Their smiles are lies! Their fun is a lie! The pictures are probably Photoshopped! The IDF was probably mowing them down with machine guns!

There is an entire industry out there, with people who are emotionally - and, in this case, financially - invested in demonizing Israel. Showing the truth is a direct threat to their worldview, and for them, this cannot be allowed. To them, Israel is a uniquely evil entity that must be destroyed, and tons of solid evidence showing that they are completely, irrevocably wrong is simply something else that they must do battle with their only weapon: lies.

The Palestinian Pound

The Palestine pound: A little revisionist history

Posted: 11 May 2011 08:48 AM PDT
From the Los Angeles Times' blog Babylon and Beyond:

As part of a statehood bid they plan to bring before the U.N. this September, Palestinians are pushing for the creation of a new Palestine Central Bank and the introduction of new currency.

But Jihad Al-Wazir, 48, governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which hopes to soon evolve into the first central bank, says work is needed before reintroducing the Palestinian pound.

“We do not expect that in September we would wake up the next day and find the Palestinian pound all over the place,’’ he told the Los Angeles Times recently. “That’s not going to happen. The way it looks now, people would like it in the first week and enjoy the fact that the pound is back, but would they put it in their pocket and use it the next day? That would be the challenge.”


Well, there was indeed currency called the Palestine pound. Here's what it looked like in 1939:

Yikes - look at all that Hebrew! And that Jewish shrine on the front - in Bethlehem!

But wait, there's more! Here's what the Palestine Pound looked like in 1948:




In fact, these were the last Palestine Pound notes made, as Israel migrated to the Lira (Israeli pound). The last place that the Palestine pound was legal tender was in - Israel.

Do you think this is the pound note Al Wazir wants to "re-introduce"?

Al-Wazir, by pretending that he might bring the Palestine pound back, is implying that there was once an entity called "Palestine" that issued its own currency, rather than using British currency (equal to one pound sterling) of Mandate Palestine.

Incidentally, before 1948, the Palestine pound was also legal tender in Transjordan. Perhaps it should be re-introduced there as well.

(h/t David G)

A 12-meter Key in Rafah

A 12-meter "Naqba key" in Rafah

Posted: 11 May 2011 09:52 AM PDT
Palestinian Arabs in Rafah have unveiled what they say is the world's longest key, to symbolize when they fled Palestine in 1947-48.


At the two hour ceremony, the organizers pleaded with Arab countries to continue to push their Palestinian Arab guests to "return" to a country most of them have never entered. Which means that they asked Arab countries to continue their apartheid-like practices of discrimination against their Palestinian Arab populations and never allow them to become naturalized citizens, even if they want to.

The person behind the stunt said

The goal is to consolidate this key in the minds of young people, women and children, to tell them that they they were expelled and deported from their land.


In fact, most of their ancestors simply fled their homes out of fear, after their own leaders fled before them. They thought that their neighboring Arab nations would welcome them and allow them to start afresh, but they didn't count on their own leaders and the Arab leaders to create a myth of Palestinian Arab nationalism meant to ensure that they remain in misery forever. If they would have known how their Arab "brethren" were going to treat them for the next six decades, most of them probably would have stayed put.

The organizer continued:

The fight with the Jews is ideological, and therefore it is imperative for young people and children in particular to be aware of this through awareness by the community, through the organization of such events, and the work of innovative ideas as this key of return.

He added a message to Israel, "There will be no security for you," and he called for the Arab and Islamic nation and the Palestinian factions to unite in Jihad and resistance until the restoration of "usurped Palestinian land."

This is the two-state solution that we've been hearing so much about from the New York Times.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Runs for Egyptian Presidency

Muslim Brotherhood leader running for Egyptian presidency

Posted: 11 May 2011 10:59 AM PDT
Remember those wonderful days of the Egyptian revolt, last February, when the Muslim Brotherhood sought to allay Western fears about themselves by writing an op-ed in the New York Times?

We aim to achieve reform and rights for all: not just for the Muslim Brotherhood, not just for Muslims, but for all Egyptians. We do not intend to take a dominant role in the forthcoming political transition. We are not putting forward a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for September.


Never mind:

A leader of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement will run for the post of Egyptian president as an independent candidate, the al-Masry al-Youm newspaper said on Wednesday.

"Abdul Munim Abu al-Futuh has decided to run in the presidential election in response to numerous appeals by his supporters," the newspaper said.

A loophole: since a MB leader is not running as a member of the MB's "Freedom and Justice" party but as an independent, the Brotherhood can have its cake and eat it, too..

Obsession, free movie available limited time

Obsession, the movie, available for a limited time

Posted: 11 May 2011 11:35 AM PDT
For a limited time, you can watch the entire move Obsession about the dangers of radical Islam online for free:

Obsession: Radical Islam Against the West - Full Version from Clarion Fund on Vimeo.

(h/t Wayne Kopping via Twitter)

Hamas/Fatah Unity Agreements

Afternoon links

Posted: 11 May 2011 01:36 PM PDT
Harry's Place on another wonderful organization that Amnesty International supports whose philosophy would seem, in a sane world, to be at odds with those of a human rights organization.

Noah Pollak's Commentary article on B'Tselem is now available in full.

NGO Monitor surveys NGO reaction to the Hamas/Fatah unity agreement to see if any of them demand that Hamas abandon violence and recognize Israel. Results pretty much as expected.

Martin Peretz: Why should Israel make peace with failed states?

CAMERA details how Hamas is using doubletalk that the Western media is eating up - and points out that nothing that Hamas is saying today is inconsistent with an interview last year where Hamas says it intends to destroy Israel in stages.

PMW: 64% of Palarabs wouldn't object to Bin Laden being buried in "Palestine."

Israeli Records Syrian Opposition Songs

Meanwhile, whose side are Israelis on?

Well, a popular Israeli singer is recording Arabic protest songs, and getting them smuggled into Syria to the protesters. One such song can be heard here.

(h/t Joel)

Syria Blames Israelis for Killing Syrians

Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf warned Israel of instability if the regime of his cousin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad falls, vowing to "fight to the end," according to The New York Times.

"If there is no stability here, there’s no way there will be stability in Israel," said Makhlouf, who is on a list of 13 Syrian figures subjected to European Union sanctions for their role in violence against protesters opposing Assad's autocratic government.

"Nobody can guarantee what will happen after, God forbids, anything happens to this regime," Makhlouf told the US daily.

"What I’m saying is don’t let us suffer, don’t put a lot of pressure on the president, don’t push Syria to do anything it is not happy to do," said Makhlouf who is a member of Assad's Alawite minority.

So Assad's cousin is telling Israel to stop the Zionist protests if it knows what's good for it.

However, some Arabs are interpreting his statements differently. From the comments there, Sami writes:

A great proof of who is protecting Israel!


Yeah, Makhlouf really cares about Israel.

As is inevitably the case, both sides accuse the other of being Zionist.

The Stream: Grassroots reporting gives voice to Syrians

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This Is Zionism: IDF soldiers give Palestinian cancer patients a day of fun


This is Zionism: IDF soldiers give 'Palestinian' cancer patients a day of fun

I wrote once before about the IDF's alpine unit taking 'Palestinian' cancer patients to the Hermon here. Now you have it on video (really a slide show).

Turkey Continues Working to Destroy Israel


The Turkish terror group IHH, which is closely connected to Prime Minister Erdogan's AKP party, has announced that it will send another flotilla of 'supplies' for the desperate Gazans in the third week of June (Hat Tip: Joshua I).

The flotilla will depart from various European ports, including Marseilles.

The flotilla is being delayed for a month - rather than depart on or around 'Naqba day,' which is Sunday, because there are elections in Turkey in early June.

What could go wrong?

Labels: Gaza plenty, IHH, Mavi Marmara, naqba, Turkish obsession with Israel

posted by Carl in Jerusalem

Is Egypt on the Verge of Starvation?


Is Egypt on the verge of starvation? It seems that a combination of rising food prices, lack of credit and the economic consequences of revolution are putting Egypt in danger of starvation.

Egypt's political problems - violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example - are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming "revolutionary committees" to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who "charge more than the price prescribed by law", the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.

According to the ministry, "Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices" and "people's committees" are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country's central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.

The collapse of Egypt's credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country's Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of "an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils". According to the country's statistics agency, only a month's supply of rice is on hand, and four months' supply of wheat.

The country's foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt's currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Aren't you glad Mubarak's gone?

Labels: Egyptian economy, food shortage

posted by Carl in Jerusalem

Syria Withdraws Her Bid for Human Rights Seat


Syria is withdrawing its candidacy for the UN 'Human Rights Council' as one of the four candidates from the 'Asia group.' It will be replaced by Kuwait, which was slated to 'run' for the Council in 2013. It is not clear whether Syria will take 2013 space.

Kuwait is going to replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body in what would be a victory for human rights groups and many governments opposed to the ongoing crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s security forces, Western diplomats said Tuesday.

An intense behind-the-scenes campaign has been waged to prevent Syria from being elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council following the government’s attempts to crush a seven-week uprising challenging the Assad family’s 40-year rule.

One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because no public announcement has been made, said Tuesday that Kuwaiti officials told diplomats in Kuwait they will replace Syria as a candidate in the May 20 secret-ballot election in the U.N. General Assembly.

...

Syria was a frontrunner for a seat on the Human Rights Council as one of four candidates selected to fill four Asian seats.

It was considered likely to win unless another candidate entered the race or it failed to win a majority of votes in the 192-member General Assembly.

You mean it's actually possible to shame the United Nations? I didn't think they had any shame.

Labels: Kuwait, Syria, United Nations Human Rights Council

posted by Carl in Jerusalem

Guess Who Funded Women for Peace?


On Monday, I reported that Deutche Bahn, the German national railway, was withdrawing from its supportive role in a project to construct a high speed rail line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I also reported that the withdrawal was brought about through the efforts of an organization called Who Profits, which I described as

an on-going grassroots investigation effort by activists in The Coalition of Women for Peace, a leading Israeli feminist peace organization, dedicated to exposing companies and corporations involved in the occupation so as to promote a change in public opinion and corporate policies and eventually lead to an end to the occupation.

I'm sure you folks will all be shocked to hear who funds the Coalition of Women for Peace.

Surely they are funded by Iran or Saudi Arabia? But here’s what NGO Monitor tells us:

In 2006-2009, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $294,129 to CWP (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).

“Major donors” since 2000 include the European Union, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (587,189 NIS from the German government), Heinrich Böll Stiftung (from the German government), the Moriah Fund, Aaron Back and the Ford Israel Fund, and SIVMO. (This funding does not include support for individual NGOs in the coalition.)

So in addition to the hostile Europeans, liberal American Jews have unknowingly been supporting this viciously anti-Israel organization!

A prominent member of the NIF, chair of its “Pluralism Grants Committee,” is the Union for Reform Judaism’s nominee for its new President, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who describes himself as “proudly and strongly pro-Israel.”

And you thought rabbi rick was opposed to BDS.

Read it all.

Labels: BDS, Coalition of Women for Peace, high-speed rail line, New Israel Fund, rabbi Rick Jacobs, Who Profits

posted by Carl in Jerusalem

IAF Flyover on Yom HaAtzmaut


Here's a group of IAF F-16I's flying in formation as part of the Independence Day flyover.

Def Poetry - Common - A Letter To The Law


Here’s a sample of Dickinson’s work that could have been presented at Bush’s event:

I’m nobody! Who are you?

I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!

They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!

Aboveis a sample of Common’s work, transcribed from a 2007 video with 837,613 viewers on YouTube.

Iran Calls Shots in Syria


MASSACRING THEIR OWN PEOPLE By Tom Gross April 26

This dispatch is a follow-up to my recent article on Syria.

Because some in the international media are still not covering the six-week-old Syrian uprising properly, and indeed certain journalists are still taking Assad regime propaganda at face value, I attach four videos below.

(As recently as yesterday, the correspondent for The New York Times, for example, was still referring to Bashar Assad as though he was some kind of moderate reformer who may have little or nothing to do with the current crackdown in Syria, much in the same way that for years other writers at The New York Times made excuses for Yasser Arafat, deluding themselves that Arafat had nothing to do with the terrorism which he was in fact initiating.)

Bashar Assad, even more than his father, has formed an ever closer alliance with the regime in Tehran, hence U.S.President Obama’s reference yesterday to the role of Iranian advisors in the present massacre of Syrians.

Israel is on high alert in case Assad and his partners in Tehran create a crisis in Lebanon or Gaza. We should not forget that the cause of the crisis that led to the 1967 Six-Day War was Syrian instability, and the willingness of Syria’s Alawite rulers to act against Israel in order to maintain their rule.

Carrying out acts of terror is nothing new for the Assad family, of course. They have been aiding and abetting terrorism against Israelis, Lebanese, Kurds, Iraqis and others for decades.

Al Jazeera is carrying interviews with witnesses in the city of Daraa, and in the Damascus suburb of Duma, saying that after Syrian security forces have shot unarmed demonstrators, they have then executed many of the injured, and shot anyone trying to help them. The authorities have turned off water and electricity in the area, so the injured can’t be treated properly in hospitals in any case.

Meanwhile, Syria is still in line to become the newest member of the (cruelly misnamed) U.N. Human Rights Council when a vote takes place on May 20 at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Be warned, this first video (filmed over the weekend) is one of the most graphic I have ever posted. (The other two videos after that are not nearly as gruesome. In particular I recommend watching the second video. There are some other notes after the three videos.)

-- Tom Gross

London: pro-bin Laden protest - no comment

Independence Day from Canadian Prime Minister

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) celebrations:

“Today, on the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s independence, I extend warm regards to the many Canadians who are celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut.

“Since its creation in 1948, the world has witnessed Israel’s unwavering dedication to affirm its right to exist and to achieve peace and security with its neighbours.

“This day offers an opportunity to remember the constant struggles facing Israel and its citizens, and to reaffirm our commitment to strengthen the bonds of our partnership. Through trade, investment and the exchange of knowledge in areas such as innovation, green technology, medicine and law, our nations can continue to grow together.

“Our Government understands the realities of the Middle East and we will not falter in our continued support of Israel, Canada’s friend and ally, in defending the values that both nations share – freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“As we celebrate the creation of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, I call on all Canadians to wish them peace and prosperity in the year ahead.”

I think we have a winner.

Frank sinatra In Israel Yom HaAtzmaut 1962

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maher Assad Tops EU Syria Sanction List


The measures, asset freezes and travel bans, are part of a package of sanctions, including an arms embargo which went into effect on Tuesday, as part of EU efforts to try to force Syria to end violence against anti-government protesters.

EU governments decided not to target the president for now, in what diplomats said was a bid to introduce punitive measures gradually.

But Bashar al-Assad, grappling with the most serious challenge to his 11-year rule, could face EU sanctions soon, they said.

Failure to put Assad on the list underlines splits in the EU over the effectiveness of an embargo in restraining his government's actions.
Live Blog Syria


Sources said Germany and Spain opposed adding the president, over-riding strong backing for such a move from France and others.

Included was Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad, who owns Syria's largest mobile phone company, Syriatel, and several large firms in the construction and oil sectors.

The EU said in its official journal that he "bankrolls (Assad's) regime, allowing violence against demonstrators".

In 2008, the United States imposed sanctions against him because of corruption allegations.

Also affected is Ali Mamlouk, head of the General Intelligence Service, and Adulfattah Qudsiyeh, who runs military intelligence.

Call for more protests

Syrian activists called for countrywide protests on Tuesday in solidarity with thousands of anti-regime activists rounded up by the security forces, setting the scene for another round of bloody clashes.

"Demonstrations will continue every day," said the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, which has been a motor of the protests.

It called for "a Tuesday of solidarity with prisoners of conscience held in the jails of the criminal Syrian regime".

Street demonstrations are persistently dispersed with violence by the security forces, who also make mass arrests, according to rights activists, who say more than 600 people have been killed and 8,000 jailed or gone missing in the eight-week crackdown.

In the latest security force bid to crush the anti-regime protest movement, troops went house to house in the coastal city of Baniyas on Monday, rounding up thousands of men, activists said.

Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said water, electricity and telephone lines were cut off in Baniyas, on Syria's northwest Mediterranean coast.

"Thousands of men, including youths, have been rounded up by the army and security forces... to be interrogated and they are being beaten. More than 400 are still being held," he said.

A Syrian senior government official said in an interview with the New York Times, meanwhile, that she believes Assad's embattled government had ridden out the worst of the uprising.

"I hope we are witnessing the end of the story," Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Assad who often serves as a spokeswoman, told the US paper in an hour long interview.

"I think now we've passed the most dangerous moment. I hope so, I think so," Shaaban said, giving a glimpse at the mindset of a 40-year-old regime that has barred most foreign journalists from Syria since the beginning of the uprising.

"We want to use what happened to Syria as an opportunity," Shaaban added. "We see it as an opportunity to try to move forward on many levels, especially the political level."

The Times reporter was allowed in the country for a few hours, the report added.

Syria's upheaval began on March 18 when protesters, inspired by revolts across the Arab world, marched in the southern city of Deraa.

Assad initially responded with vague promises of reform, and last month lifted a 48-year-old state of emergency. But when the demonstrations persisted he sent the army to crush dissent.

Meanwhile, concerns remain for the welfare of Dorothy Parvaz, an Al Jazeera journalist, who has not been heard from since she arrived in the capital, Damascus, on April 29.

Israel's Right to Exist


In this realm, Israel has argued over the years that Jews have a right to establish a state in Palestine, that they have a right to establish a "Jewish" state in Palestine, that this state has a "right to exist," and that it has a "right to defend itself", which includes its subsidiary right to be the only country in the region to possess nuclear weapons, that it has the "right" to inherit all the biblical land that the Jewish God promised it, and a "right" to enact laws that are racially and religiously discriminatory in order to preserve the Jewish character of the state, otherwise articulated in the more recent formula of "a Jewish and democratic state". Israel has also insisted that its enemies, including the Palestinian people, whom it dispossesses, colonises, occupies, and discriminates against, must recognise all these rights, foremost among them its "right to exist as a Jewish state", as a condition for and a precursor to peace.

Rights are non-negotiable

Israel began to invoke this right with vehemence in the last decade after the Palestine Liberation Organisation had satisfied its earlier demand in the 1970s and 80s that the Palestinians recognise its "right to exist". In international law, countries are recognised as existing de facto and de jure, but there is no notion that any country has a "right to exist", let alone that other countries should recognise such a right. Nonetheless, the modification by Israel of its claim that others had to recognise its "right to exist" to their having to recognise "its right to exist as Jewish state" is pushed most forcefully at present, as it goes to the heart of the matter of what the Zionist project has been all about since its inception, and addresses itself to the extant discrepancy between Israel's own understanding of its rights to realise these Zionist aims and the international community's differing understanding of them. This is a crucial matter, as all these rights that Israel claims to possess, but which are not recognised internationally, translate into its rights to colonise Palestinian land, to occupy it, and to discriminate against the non-Jewish Palestinian people.

Israel insists that these rights are not negotiable and that what it is negotiating about is something entirely different, namely that its enemies must accept all its claimed rights unequivocally as a basis to establish peace in the region and end the state of war. However, the rights that Israel claims for itself are central to what the Palestinians and the international community argue is under negotiation – namely, colonisation, occupation, and racial and religious discrimination. But these three practises, as Israel has made amply clear, are protected as self-arrogated rights and are not up for negotiations.

Fighting to be heard in a climate of fear - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English

Fighting to be heard in a climate of fear - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English
Using the media to push against the wall of fear: From Eman al-Obeidy in Libya to Wissam Taraf in Syria. And media in post revolutionary Egypt - an interview with Ibrahim Eissa.

There have been widespread atrocities committed in Libya - some of them have been reported by the international media, some of them, unfortunately, have not. But when a woman storms into a hotel lobby full of foreign journalists and starts screaming that she was gang-raped by Gaddafi's men, it is going to make headlines. Then, when that woman is bundled away by the authorities - not to be seen again - it is going to stay in the headlines. The plight of Eman al-Obeidy highlighted the ongoing dangers Libyans face when speaking out against the Gaddafi regime. Our News Divide this week starts in Tripoli but goes beyond Libya to show that even in this climate of fear, Arabs are still fighting to get their story heard.

Quick hits from the media world: Iraq's bloodiest day in months and a local reporter is among the victims; Ukraine opens an investigation into the murder of a journalist targeting the country's former president; Mexican news outlets set out guidelines on how to cover the ongoing drug war; and it is a case of tit for tat as France expels an Iranian journalist in retaliation at the expulsion of a French reporter.

Dissident Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Eissa was not a popular figure with the former Egyptian government. During his career, Eissa worked at 10 newspapers that were all closed down by the Mubarak regime and most recently, was fired as the editor of the opposition newspaper al-Dustour. In the second part of our show, we talk to the outspoken journalist about the re-launch of his own publication and the media environment in post - revolutionary Egypt.

The Rap News crew have featured on our show before - their take on the politics and the media is popular with the team. This time, they take on the uprisings in the Arab world and how the American media have given blanket coverage to the story, while offering limited airtime to a political revolt that has been happening on US soil. It is our internet video of the week.

This episode of Listening Post can be seen from Saturday, April 2, at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Video - Al Jazeera English Missiles Hit Tripoli

Video - Al Jazeera English

The NYT Continues to Push Nonsense

The NYT continues to push nonsense

Posted: 09 May 2011 03:19 AM PDT
An editorial in the New York Times about the Hamas/Fatah unity agreement uses a couple of the usual NYT memes.

We have many concerns about the accord, starting with the fact that Hamas has neither renounced its legacy of violence nor agreed to recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he remains in charge of peace efforts and the unity government will be responsible for rebuilding Gaza and organizing elections. Whether that is Hamas’s vision is unclear.

Also disconcerting are suggestions that Mr. Abbas may have privately agreed to replace his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who has done so much to build up the West Bank economy and institutions. There are big questions about the future of the two sides’ security forces.

The United States has spent millions of dollars helping the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority create a security force that Israel has come to rely on to keep the peace in the West Bank. Whether Hamas, which has terrorized Israel with rockets from Gaza, can ever be integrated into that force, or even work side by side, is a huge question.

Israel certainly has many reasons to mistrust this deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended tax remittances and is pressing Washington hard to cut off aid to the Abbas government. The Obama administration has reacted warily to the new pact but said its assistance will continue for now. Congress is talking tough.

It’s too early for a cut-off. The money is Washington’s main leverage on the new government. A cut-off would shift the political balance dangerously toward Hamas.

If the US would have clearly warned the PA ahead of time that a government that does not meet the long-standing preconditions of the Quartet will lose all its foreign funding, all of the above problems would never have come up to begin with. Why should the world embrace Hamas now when we saw what happened last time they had "unity" - leading to Gaza turning into Hamastan?

Other reconciliation attempts between Fatah and Hamas have imploded, but Mr. Abbas seems to believe this will advance his push to get the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. Above all, his sudden willingness to deal with his enemies in Hamas is a sign of his desperation with the stalled peace process.

No it isn't. It is proof that Abbas refuses to compromise with Israel and therefore is cunningly using the international community to accomplish by fiat the same goal without his being forced to tell his people that they will need to make concessions. There is no desperation here: just a very smart end-run around his making hard decisions.

Hamas’s goals are far harder to game, although there are reports of new frictions with Syria and a desire for better ties with Egypt’s new government.

The NYT covers world events, but cannot draw a line between the popular revolutions against authoritarianism in the Arab world and Gaza? Apparently, to the Times, the PA is an island of Western-style democracy in an ocean of Arab dictatorships.

In an interview with The Times last week, Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, declared himself fully committed to working for a two-state solution. Just a few days earlier Hamas’s (supposedly more moderate) prime minister, Ismail Haniya, was out there celebrating Osama bin Laden as a “Muslim and Arab warrior.”

Hmmm. How can the New York Times resolve this seeming contradiction? Maybe it should go back and read Ethan Bronner's actual interview with Meshal, without Bronner's unprofessional and frankly dangerous assumptions, and discover that Meshal said no such thing!

Here's a rule to live by: When Hamas seems inconsistent between its words and actions, look for a loophole in their words. This is what a serious journalist must do, and it is something that the New York Times cannot seem to grasp vis a vis Palestinian Arab promises.

Huge skepticism and vigilance are essential. But more months with no progress on peace talks will only further play into extremists’ hands....

After Israel withdrew from Gaza, rocket attacks increased. After Israel killed some 750 Hamas terrorists in Cast Lead, rocket fire went down dramatically and Hamas started stopping other Gaza groups from firing rockets.

There were more suicide attacks in the immediate aftermath of Oslo - even before the second intifada - then there are today, after Israel went on the offensive to destroy the terror infrastructure in the West Bank.

Amazing how peace can result from war - another concept that the New York Times cannot grasp.

Washington needs to press Mr. Netanyahu back to the peace table. A negotiated settlement is the only way to guarantee Israel’s lasting security.

In the funhouse mirror image universe that the NYT resides in, it is Netanyahu who has refused to talk with Abbas, not the other way around. Their meme of an intransigent Likud leader is so ingrained that they cannot even get basic facts right.

The answer, to us, is clear. It is time for Mr. Obama, alone or with the quartet, to put a map and deal on the table. If Bin Laden’s death has given the president capital to spend, all the better. The Israelis and Palestinians are not going to break the stalemate on their own. And more drift will only lead to more desperation and more extremism.

The map and deal have been on the table before. The Palestinian Arabs rejected it, consistently. The Times' editors fantasies that Israel just needs to give a little more to obtain peace reflects nothing close to resembling reality.

But it does reflect that they believe Mahmoud Abbas' lies completely and uncritically. They believe he is a moderate, that he is willing to compromise, that his hands are tied, that he desperately wants peace with Israel. All of those assumptions - each demonstrably and provably false, as has been documented over the years - are what informs ridiculous NYT op-eds like these.

It certainly isn't based on fact.

(h/t David G)
Elder of Ziyon

Peaceful PalArab Weekend

Peaceful PalArab weekend

Posted: 09 May 2011 05:21 AM PDT
Discovery of an honor killing, where the woman's uncle didn't like her choice in marriage partners.

The execution-style murder of an alleged "collaborator" with Israel.

Another execution-style murder in Al-Eizariya.

A man in Jericho was stabbed to death as well.

Sounds like Hamas is influencing things in the West Bank already!
Elder of Ziyon

Jordan Upset at Hamas/

Jordan upset at Hamas/Fatah deal

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:01 AM PDT
Palestine Today reports that the Kingdom of Jordan is not happy about the Fatah/Hamas unity deal.

Jordan is mostly upset that they were not consulted beforehand .The kingdom has been harsh with Hamas elements in Jordan and the sudden about-face embarrassed the country.

As a result, Jordan refused to send any high-ranking officials to the Cairo ceremony and sent a note pf protest to Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan is also upset at Egypt, both on not giving the kingdom a heads-up about the agreement as well as the interrupted supplies of natural gas due to saboteurs blowing up the gas lines towards Jordan and Israel in Egypt.

The newspaper describes the rift as a "crisis."
Elder of Ziyon

Go, America, Go

"Go, America, Go!"

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT
Somehow, I don't think that the members of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, rallying against the US after the assassination of Bin Laden, quite understood how their slogan might come across:
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan gather for march against the US President Barack Obama in Karachi on May 6, 2011. Hundreds of Pakistanis took to the streets on May 6, cheering Osama bin Laden and shouting 'death to America' to condemn a unilateral US raid on their soil that killed the Al-Qaeda chief.

link

Hell, yeah!

(h/t Alex)

Islamists Vow to Take Over World

Islamists vow to take over the world. In London.

Posted: 09 May 2011 07:51 AM PDT
From Daylife, in a photo taken Friday in London:


What, you mean you didn't read about this in your local newspaper?

Even the New York Times mentioned this... deeply buried in the very last paragraph of a 13 paragraph article where the other 12 paragraphs were about pro-Bin Laden rallies in Cairo. And even in the 13th talks as much about the English Defense League counter-rally as about this one.

Call me crazy, but I think a pro-Bin Laden rally in London is a bit more newsworthy than one in Cairo.

The only other news outlets to mention these signs and the mock funeral for Bin Laden in London are the Daily Mail and London Metro, with a Fox News blog quoting the Daily Mail.

(h/t Alex)
Elder of Zion

A Thousand-Year-Old Yeshiva in France

A thousand year old yeshiva in France

Posted: 09 May 2011 11:45 AM PDT
From YNet:

The courthouse of the French city of Rouen is an impressive gothic building from the 15th century. For hundreds of years – in fact, since its establishment, the place was used by the district judicial authority.

Even today, those who happen to reach the criminal ward, and not as one of the workers, can at least enjoy a colorful Renaissance ceiling.

About 40 years ago, archaeologists were surprised to discover under the building a historic structure dating back to 1100.

The archeological find was only revealed to the wide audience in the past year. It appears to be a yeshiva from the Middle Ages – the only one in Europe whose remains have been preserved to this day.

Rouen residents are very proud of the yeshiva, referring to it as "the most important Jewish archeological find in Europe."

The structure discovered under the courthouse proves that about 1,000 years ago, Rouen had an intellectually and commercially active Jewish Quarter.

Two phrases in Hebrew were found inscribed on the internal wall of the underground building: May the Torah Reign forever" and "This house is supreme".

The second writing made the researchers assume that the structure was a house which belonged to one of the community's rich members, a theory which was only raised after a suggestion that it was a synagogue was contradicted due to the absence of a typical eastern wall.

When American researcher Norman Golb of Chicago University delved deeply into the matter, a new light was shed on the walls. Golb, an expert on Hebrew manuscript materials, studied the structure in its initial discovery stages and established the thesis that it was a yeshiva.


Some interesting background material, that might answer why no one had heard of this in Jewish history:

[Golb]'s selection of the site of the yeshiva on Rouen's Rue aux Juifs was based on the fact that references to the building stop with the sixteenth century. This was the point at which the highly ornamented Palais de Justice was built. "I surmised that they had rased the Jewish center to make way for the new construction," Golb told me joust intelview.

Equally fascinating is the fact that Golb may have discovered why Rouen was overlooked as a center of Judaism during the Middle Ages. It may have been bypassed because Hebrew references to the city were misread by Latin scholars of the Middle Ages. Until the fourteenth century, Rouen was known as Rodom.

In surviving Hebrew manuscripts, the name Rodom is written like Rhodoz, a medieval city in southern France. What happened was that scholars, in recopying the manuscripts, often mistook the Hebrew letter samech for a final mem. Golb said he was fascinated by the possibility that the city they were really talking about and writing about as a "thriving Jewish community" was really Rodom or Rouen.

"I went back to the original manuscripts at the British Museum, and my suspicions were immediately confirmed," he said. Subsequent studies of manuscripts in Paris, Amsteidam, and Jerusalem revealed detailed maps, as well as descriptions of the Jewish quarter and of life in the city.

Today in Rouen, there are about 400 Jewish families engaged in professions and academic life, as well as industry and commerce. The Jews who came to Rotten in the 1960s from Algeria and Tunisia brought a Sephardic presence to the area.


This Is Zionism

Posted: 09 May 2011 08:54 AM PDT















Islamists vow to take over the world. In London.

Posted: 09 May 2011 07:51 AM PDT
From Daylife, in a photo taken Friday in London:


What, you mean you didn't read about this in your local newspaper?

Even the New York Times mentioned this... deeply buried in the very last paragraph of a 13 paragraph article where the other 12 paragraphs were about pro-Bin Laden rallies in Cairo. And even in the 13th talks as much about the English Defense League counter-rally as about this one.

Call me crazy, but I think a pro-Bin Laden rally in London is a bit more newsworthy than one in Cairo.

The only other news outlets to mention these signs and the mock funeral for Bin Laden in London are the Daily Mail and London Metro, with a Fox News blog quoting the Daily Mail.

(h/t Alex)


"Go, America, Go!"

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT
Somehow, I don't think that the members of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, rallying against the US after the assassination of Bin Laden, quite understood how their slogan might come across:
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan gather for march against the US President Barack Obama in Karachi on May 6, 2011. Hundreds of Pakistanis took to the streets on May 6, cheering Osama bin Laden and shouting 'death to America' to condemn a unilateral US raid on their soil that killed the Al-Qaeda chief.

link

Hell, yeah!

(h/t Alex)


Jordan upset at Hamas/Fatah deal

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:01 AM PDT
Palestine Today reports that the Kingdom of Jordan is not happy about the Fatah/Hamas unity deal.

Jordan is mostly upset that they were not consulted beforehand .The kingdom has been harsh with Hamas elements in Jordan and the sudden about-face embarrassed the country.

As a result, Jordan refused to send any high-ranking officials to the Cairo ceremony and sent a note pf protest to Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan is also upset at Egypt, both on not giving the kingdom a heads-up about the agreement as well as the interrupted supplies of natural gas due to saboteurs blowing up the gas lines towards Jordan and Israel in Egypt.

The newspaper describes the rift as a "crisis."


Peaceful PalArab weekend

Posted: 09 May 2011 05:21 AM PDT
Discovery of an honor killing, where the woman's uncle didn't like her choice in marriage partners.

The execution-style murder of an alleged "collaborator" with Israel.

Another execution-style murder in Al-Eizariya.

A man in Jericho was stabbed to death as well.

Sounds like Hamas is influencing things in the West Bank already!


The NYT continues to push nonsense

Posted: 09 May 2011 03:19 AM PDT
An editorial in the New York Times about the Hamas/Fatah unity agreement uses a couple of the usual NYT memes.

We have many concerns about the accord, starting with the fact that Hamas has neither renounced its legacy of violence nor agreed to recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he remains in charge of peace efforts and the unity government will be responsible for rebuilding Gaza and organizing elections. Whether that is Hamas’s vision is unclear.

Also disconcerting are suggestions that Mr. Abbas may have privately agreed to replace his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who has done so much to build up the West Bank economy and institutions. There are big questions about the future of the two sides’ security forces.

The United States has spent millions of dollars helping the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority create a security force that Israel has come to rely on to keep the peace in the West Bank. Whether Hamas, which has terrorized Israel with rockets from Gaza, can ever be integrated into that force, or even work side by side, is a huge question.

Israel certainly has many reasons to mistrust this deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended tax remittances and is pressing Washington hard to cut off aid to the Abbas government. The Obama administration has reacted warily to the new pact but said its assistance will continue for now. Congress is talking tough.

It’s too early for a cut-off. The money is Washington’s main leverage on the new government. A cut-off would shift the political balance dangerously toward Hamas.

If the US would have clearly warned the PA ahead of time that a government that does not meet the long-standing preconditions of the Quartet will lose all its foreign funding, all of the above problems would never have come up to begin with. Why should the world embrace Hamas now when we saw what happened last time they had "unity" - leading to Gaza turning into Hamastan?

Other reconciliation attempts between Fatah and Hamas have imploded, but Mr. Abbas seems to believe this will advance his push to get the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. Above all, his sudden willingness to deal with his enemies in Hamas is a sign of his desperation with the stalled peace process.

No it isn't. It is proof that Abbas refuses to compromise with Israel and therefore is cunningly using the international community to accomplish by fiat the same goal without his being forced to tell his people that they will need to make concessions. There is no desperation here: just a very smart end-run around his making hard decisions.

Hamas’s goals are far harder to game, although there are reports of new frictions with Syria and a desire for better ties with Egypt’s new government.

The NYT covers world events, but cannot draw a line between the popular revolutions against authoritarianism in the Arab world and Gaza? Apparently, to the Times, the PA is an island of Western-style democracy in an ocean of Arab dictatorships.

In an interview with The Times last week, Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, declared himself fully committed to working for a two-state solution. Just a few days earlier Hamas’s (supposedly more moderate) prime minister, Ismail Haniya, was out there celebrating Osama bin Laden as a “Muslim and Arab warrior.”

Hmmm. How can the New York Times resolve this seeming contradiction? Maybe it should go back and read Ethan Bronner's actual interview with Meshal, without Bronner's unprofessional and frankly dangerous assumptions, and discover that Meshal said no such thing!

Here's a rule to live by: When Hamas seems inconsistent between its words and actions, look for a loophole in their words. This is what a serious journalist must do, and it is something that the New York Times cannot seem to grasp vis a vis Palestinian Arab promises.

Huge skepticism and vigilance are essential. But more months with no progress on peace talks will only further play into extremists’ hands....

After Israel withdrew from Gaza, rocket attacks increased. After Israel killed some 750 Hamas terrorists in Cast Lead, rocket fire went down dramatically and Hamas started stopping other Gaza groups from firing rockets.

There were more suicide attacks in the immediate aftermath of Oslo - even before the second intifada - then there are today, after Israel went on the offensive to destroy the terror infrastructure in the West Bank.

Amazing how peace can result from war - another concept that the New York Times cannot grasp.

Washington needs to press Mr. Netanyahu back to the peace table. A negotiated settlement is the only way to guarantee Israel’s lasting security.

In the funhouse mirror image universe that the NYT resides in, it is Netanyahu who has refused to talk with Abbas, not the other way around. Their meme of an intransigent Likud leader is so ingrained that they cannot even get basic facts right.

The answer, to us, is clear. It is time for Mr. Obama, alone or with the quartet, to put a map and deal on the table. If Bin Laden’s death has given the president capital to spend, all the better. The Israelis and Palestinians are not going to break the stalemate on their own. And more drift will only lead to more desperation and more extremism.

The map and deal have been on the table before. The Palestinian Arabs rejected it, consistently. The Times' editors fantasies that Israel just needs to give a little more to obtain peace reflects nothing close to resembling reality.

But it does reflect that they believe Mahmoud Abbas' lies completely and uncritically. They believe he is a moderate, that he is willing to compromise, that his hands are tied, that he desperately wants peace with Israel. All of those assumptions - each demonstrably and provably false, as has been documented over the years - are what informs ridiculous NYT op-eds like these.

It certainly isn't based on fact.

(h/t David G)


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The Secret Codes Hidden War

The Secret Codes Hidden War

Posted: 09 May 2011 12:45 PM PDT
Yaakov Kirschen, the cartoonist behind Dry Bones, has put together a fascinating academic paper that traces the use of coded anti-semitic imagery in political cartoons during the past 80 years.

He shows, very effectively, that the same memes were being used by the far-right Nazis, the far left Soviets, and modern American (and arab) political cartoonists - shorthand memes to demonize Jews.

For example:

Kirschen is on a speaking tour through America, sponsored by Z Street, where he is elaborating on his research. It is really good stuff.

More details here.


Elder of Ziyon

Daraa Syria is Worse off than Cast Lead Gaza

May 8: Twitter user @SyrianJasmine tweets that Daraa is in need of food, medicine and milk for children, and so far there are 6,000 detainees being held in schools.

May 9: Daraa is still under siege and the army and tanks are on the streets in Daraa al-Mahatta. The situation is slightly improved, since women are being allowed to go down to the market for three hours, but there is nothing in the market. The shops are all closed. Electricity is only available for three hours per day at the most. There is water available in Daraa al-Mahatta. Telecommunications are cut in the entire province of Daraa without exception. Electricity, water, food, and communications are still cut in Daraa al-Balad. Trash is lying around uncollected and the snipers are still deployed in the mosque minarets and on buildings’ rooftops. The army and security forces have not withdrawn from Daraa.


By any objective measure, the residents of Daraa are being treated by their own government worse than Gazans were treated by their sworn enemy during a war.

Where are the flotillas? Where are the human rights activists? Where are the anguished op-eds?

As of this writing (11:00 AM EDT) , Syria is not one of the top 14 stories listed at MSNBC. It didn't make the top 30 stories at Reuters. It was number 19 at Fox News (a story from Friday.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Banksters What They Did and How to Jail Them

by L. Randall Wray, Univ of Missouri

We have long known that lender fraud was rampant during the real estate boom. The FBI began warning of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud as early as 2004. We know that mortgage originators invented “low doc” and “no doc” loans, encouraged borrowers to take out “liar loans”, and promoted “NINJA loans” (no income, no job, no assets, no problem!). All of these schemes were fraudulent from the get-go. Property appraisers were involved, paid to overvalue real estate. That is fraud. The securitizers packaged trash into bundles that ratings agencies blessed with the triple A seal of approval. By their own admission, raters worked with securitizers to provide the rating desired, never looking at the loan tapes to see what they were rating. Fraud. Venerable investment banks like Goldman Sachs packaged the trashiest securities into collateralized debt obligations at the behest of hedge fund managers–who were allowed to choose the most toxic of the toxic waste—then sold the CDOs on to their own customers and allowed the hedge funds to bet against them. More fraud.

Indeed, the largest financial institutions were run by their management as what my colleague Bill Black calls “control frauds”. That is, the banks used accounting fraud to manufacture fake profits so that they could pay huge bonuses to top management. The latest data out on Wall Street bonuses show that these institutions are still run as control frauds, with another record year of bonuses paid by cooking the books. The fraud continues unabated.

This is the biggest scandal in human history. Indeed, all previous scandals from around the globe combined cannot even touch this one in terms of scale and scope and stench. This is the mother of all frauds and it will be etched into the history books for all time.

Many have called for a national moratorium on foreclosures. Even some of the banks that have been run as control frauds have voluntarily stopped foreclosing. And yet President Obama, ever the centrist, has taken sides with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which warns that “it would be catastrophic to impose a system-wide moratorium on all foreclosures and such actions could do damage to the housing market and the economy”.

No, it would expose the securities industry, itself, as the chief architect of the biggest scandal in human history.

Now we know that it was not just the mortgage brokers, and the appraisers, and the ratings agencies, and the accountants, and the investment banks that were behind the fraud. It was the securitization process itself that was fraudulent. Indeed, the securities themselves are fraudulent. Many, perhaps most, maybe all of them.

Some are trying to argue that this is just a matter of some missing paperwork. A moratorium would allow the banks to get all their ducks in a row so that they can supply all the documents needed to foreclose.

However, as reported by Ellen Brown (at Web of Debt) and by Yves Smith (at Naked Capitalism), the paperwork does not exist. Worse, as Yves has discovered, the banks are furiously working to manufacture documents, aided and abetted by companies like DocX that specialize in “document recovery solutions”—for a fee they will create fraudulent documents that banks can use in court.

The banks would like us to believe that in the speculative frenzy of the real estate boom they “forgot” to do some of the required paperwork. That is not likely. The absence of the documents was required to run the scam.

Recall that the banks invented “no doc” mortgages. This was not at the behest of no-account borrowers, high school dropouts with bad credit histories who were duping investment bankers into making mortgage loans they could not repay. No, these mortgages were created and endorsed by originators and securitizers and credit raters to create a patina of “plausible deniability” to be used later in court when they were sued for fraud by investors who bought the securities and by the borrowers who could not possibly service the mortgages. Because if the originators had ever requested the documentation from borrowers it would have demonstrated that the mortgages and the securities were frauds.

Similarly, the paperwork required for the securities was never done because the securities were fraudulent. Yves helps to explains why. The trust that purportedly underlies a mortgage backed security must hold the “note”—the borrower’s IOU (in 45 US states the mortgage that is a lien on the property is an “accessory” to the note, and is not sufficient to do a foreclosure). If the note is not conveyed to the trustee (usually before closing but sometimes up to 90 days after signing) the securities are no good.

This is not just some pesky little rule imposed by a pin-headed regulator. This is IRS code. As reported by Brown, MBSs are typically pooled through a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC) that must according to the Internal Revenue Code hold all the paperwork demonstrating a complete chain of title. Done properly, taxes are avoided. Since a number of intermediaries are usually involved from the mortgage originator through to the trustee of the REMIC, there must be endorsements all along the line. However, it now appears that most of the original notes are still held in the loan originator warehouses. There are no endorsements. The trustees do not have the notes. Can anyone say “tax fraud”?

So why weren’t the notes conveyed to the REMICs? There seem to be two possibilities—probably both of them correct. Karl Denninger at MarketTicker believes it was because the REMIC trustees feared an audit by investors in the securities. If the documentation existed, it would show that the mortgage loans were fraudulent. Far better to “lose” the docs, then later manufacture new ones for the foreclosure.

According to Brown (quoting Steve Liesman and Neil Garfield), the other possibility is that the tranching process actually prohibited assignment of the notes to the REMICs. Bundles of mortgages of varying quality would be tranched into a variety of securities, say from AAA to BBB. But no individual mortgage is actually assigned to a particular tranche—until it defaults. When one defaults, it is assigned to a lower tranche security and then the foreclosure process begins. This means that from inception of that BBB security, there was no way to assign a note to the trustee because the trustee did not know in advance which mortgage would default. The REMIC trustees tried to get around that by using a dummy conduit called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System) that would “hold” the mortgages and assign them to the proper tranches later. But they do not have the paperwork either, and some courts have rejected their claims as owners.

This is a complete mess. What President Obama must understand is that fraud is endemic at every level of the home finance food chain. We were long told that securitized mortgages cannot be modified because of the complexity involved—modification of most mortgages would require consent of the holders of the securities that each have a piece of the mortgage. But actually it is impossible to tell how many—if any—of these securities holders have a legitimate claim on any of the mortgages. Simply imposing a moratorium will not be enough—it will just give the banks time to manufacture false documents, encouraging even more fraud. Meanwhile, half of all homeowners with mortgages are already underwater or are within spitting distance of being underwater. Many of these are drowning because the epidemic of fraud perpetrated by financial institutions destroyed our economy and caused housing prices to collapse.

The President needs to try a different approach, consisting of the following series of steps:

1. Declare a national bank holiday that would close the biggest financial institutions—say, the top dozen or so. Send in the supervisors to examine their books to uncover fraud. Determine which ones are insolvent and resolve them. While resolving them, net their claims on one another (including derivatives). Do not allow any insolvent institutions to reopen, and do not use the resolution process to merge institutions (we don’t need even bigger “too big to fail” banks). Prosecute the crooks and jail the guilty.

2. Stop all foreclosures. Investigate and prosecute all institutions that have been selling or buying fake documents to be used in foreclosures. Prosecute the crooks and jail the guilty.

3. Announce that all homeowners who occupied their homes on October 1, 2010 will be allowed to remain in their homes indefinitely. Create a national mediation board to adjust all mortgage payments to “owner’s equivalent rent”—the fair value of rent for the home. Establish a fund to provide rental assistance to keep low income homeowners in their homes.

4. Give purported mortgage holders 30 days to produce the original notes; if they cannot find them, hand the homes over to the owner-occupants—free and clear of debt.

5. Create a process to allow securities holders to sue for recovery of value. This must be national—state courts will not be able to handle the case load.

6. Direct the GSEs to refinance mortgages at a low fixed rate. Mortgages would be provided against real estate appraised at fair market value to any borrower for a primary residence. The GSEs would pay holders of existing mortgages only current fair market value. Those holding these mortgages can seek redress through the process outlined in step 5. Only in the case of borrower fraud would the homeowner be held responsible for losses attributed to the refinancing.

7. There will be fall-out from losses. It is better to deal with the collateral damage directly than to prop up the control fraud banks. For example, pension funds hold toxic waste securities as well as equities in the control fraud banks, and by all reasonable accounting the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation is already insolvent. But it is better to directly bail-out pensions than to maintain the charade that fraudulently created securities have value.

Bill Black likes to joke that economists are afraid to use the “F” word (fraud). The President must come to realize that there is no other word that can be applied to the US home finance system. Until we deal with the fraud we will never resolve this financial crisis.

(Go to http://www.nakedcapitalism.com for Yves Smith, “4ClosureFraud posts lender processing services mortgage document fabrication sheet”, October 3, 2010; and to http://www.webofdebt.com for Ellen Brown, “Foreclosuregate and Obama’s ‘pocket veto’”, October 7, 2010.)

L. Randall Wray is a Professor of Economics, University of Missouri—Kansas City. A student of Hyman Minsky, his research focuses on monetary and fiscal policy as well as unemployment and job creation. He writes a weekly column for Benzinga every Tuesday.

He also blogs at New Economic Perspectives, and is a BrainTruster at New Deal 2.0. He is a senior scholar at the Levy Economics Institute, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Rome (La Sapienza), UNAM (Mexico City), University of Paris (South), and the University of Bologna (Italy).

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/mortgage-fraud-scandal-2010-10#ixzz12SFTHIus

FUBAR - Get Your House, Free

Beyond sloppy documents, the foreclosure debacle has exposed one of Wall Street's little-known practices: For more than a decade, big lenders sold millions of mortgages around the globe at lightning speed without properly transferring the physical documents that prove who legally owned the loans.

Now, some of the pension systems, hedge funds and other investors that took big losses on the loans are seeking to use this flaw to force banks to compensate them or even invalidate the mortgage trades themselves.

Their collective actions, if successful, could blow a hole through the balance sheets of big banks and raise fundamental questions about the financial system, financial analysts and a lawmaker said.

If judges rule in favor of such lawsuits, "it could be 2008 all over again," said Josh Rosner, managing director at Graham Fisher & Co., referring to the Wall Street meltdown that occurred after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

How do you fix this? I have a bad feeling that you don't. But, probably you need Congress to come up with some patchwork retroactive fix. Basically, you have a bunch of people who can't pay their mortgages. But no one can prove that they have a right to their mortgage payment and, therefore, the right to foreclose on the home. Technically, there are millions of people who have the right to keep their home without paying for it because the real owners didn't follow the law.

So, what do you do?

BooMan

US Mortgage Ownership is FUBAR

An obscure company in Reston, Va., the MERS Corporation, claims to hold title to 60 million loans -- roughly half of all the home mortgages in the nation. Judges, lawmakers and housing experts are raising questions about MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems), whose private mortgage registry has all but replaced the nation's public land ownership records. The biggest question: How can MERS claim title to those mortgages and foreclose on homeowners when it has not invested a dollar in a single loan?
Drudge Retort

Egypt Church Fire


True to the mainstream media's habit of describing a scene of mutual "tensions" when Muslims attack Christians, the headline below describes "Egyptian sectarian violence," giving the impression of equal participation. Here, the rumor that the Coptic church is holding two women who converted to Islam has fueled months of jihadist violence against Christians far removed from any such alleged conspiracy, including the New Year's Eve church bombing in Alexandria, and even the massacre on the eve of All Saints' Day in Baghdad.

"6 dead in Egyptian sectarian violence," from CNN, May 7:

Cairo, Egypt -- Six people were killed and 120 injured in sectarian clashes outside a church in Cairo on Saturday, officials said.

An angry group of Muslim Salafists attacked the Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church. They were upset over reports of a woman being held against her will after allegedly converting to Islam.

"With my own eyes I saw three people killed and dozens injured," said Mina Adel, a Christian resident. "There's no security here. There's a big problem. People attacked us, and we have to protect ourselves."

Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman Alla Mahmoud said in a statement that six people were killed and 120 injured in the violence.

Authorities sent soldiers and police to help secure the area.

Tensions have risen this year between Egypt's Muslim majority and its Coptic minority.

A Coptic church in the town of Alexandria was bombed on New Year's Day, killing 23 people. The Palestinian Islamic Army, which has links to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack on Christians in Egypt in recent times.

US army Muslim chaplin programs

FBI, DOJ & DHS Permit Any Muslim Outrage in US

FBI, DOJ, DHS assure Muslim leaders they're exempt from scrutiny

What could go wrong? "Muslim leaders, feds meet after bin Laden's death," by Oralandar Brand-Williams for The Detroit News, May 8 (thanks to Creeping Sharia): thanks to Robert

Detroit — Arab-American and Muslim leaders said they received assurances today from federal law enforcement officials that added security in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden wouldn't result in profiling.

The meeting at the Star International Academy between the community leaders and representatives from the FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office and Department of Homeland Security was scheduled before bin Laden's death, but concerns emerged about possible retaliation or difficulties if the federal threat level is elevated.

"All of the federal agencies made it loud and clear that hate crimes and a backlash would not be tolerated, and that in no form or shape would there be racial profiling," said Imad Hamad, the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

About 75 people attended the private meeting BRIDGES —Building Respect In Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity — that ended at 1:30 p.m. Dearborn Police were given a standing ovation for their handling of the brief fracas that broke out during Friday's protest by Florida Pastor Terry Jones in Dearborn.

Also today, the head of the local office of the [Hamas-linked] Council on American-Islamic Relations said the Department of Homeland Security informed his office that it will open a formal investigation into complaints by local Muslims that they have been questioned by border control officers about their religious practices while returning to the United States from Canada at land crossings....
Atlas Shrugs

Copts Forced to Build Militias for Self-Defense

Egyptian security isn't protecting its Coptic Christian minority, so they have to do it themselves.

Members of the Coptic community in the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba in northwest Cairo are forming militias for self-defense after recent sectarian clashes left 12 dead and hundreds injured.

Copts in Imbaba, who expect more clashes in coming months, say they have organized small groups to protect churches as well as homes and businesses owned by Copts.

The clashes broke out Saturday night after a group of Muslims attempted to storm a church under the pretext of rescuing a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity. A second church was set on fire.

A small group of Copts who gathered near the US Embassy in Cairo on Sunday called for international protection of Egypt's Christian community and criticized the government for not doing more to protect them.

Sunday night, thousands of protesters staged a sit-in front of the state TV building calling for immediate investigation into the clashes and church burning.

Tens of Copts gathered inside the church at the center of the clashes while the army blocked nearby streets.

Christian protesters are accusing the army of collaborating with crowds of ultraconservative Islamists during the earlier attack on a church overnight. A residential building home to Christians was also burned in the overnight violence.
Elder of Ziyon

Is Nasrallah Afraid of Being Hit?

Al Masry al Youm quotes a Kuwaiti newspaper as saying that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has moved away from his Beirut home in fear of a commando-style operation that would kill him the way Bin Laden was killed.

Quoting "high level Lebanese sources," the article says that Nasrallah moved from his home and changed his security personnel in fear of leaks about his whereabouts.

In my experience, Kuwaiti newspapers are not the most reliable in reporting from other areas of the Middle East, but it is worth following this story. A Nasrallah hit could have very positive results, as his charisma is instrumental in holding Hezbollah together.
Elder of Ziyon

Elder of Ziyon: Rides of Hope (video)

Elder of Ziyon: Rides of Hope (video)

Hamas: Israel's new partner - חמאס: הפרטנר החדש של ישראל

San Remo's Mandate: Israel's 'Magna Carta' - CBN.com


This video talks about the San Remo Conference, which was the basis for the way the Middle East was divided and for the 'British Mandate' that allowed the British to administer what was then known as Palestine. The San Remo Conference remains relevant to Israel's status under 'international law' today.

The Volunteers: Answering the Call of History


Here's a video about the volunteers who helped Israel during the period in which the State was established. They were known as Machal (Mitnadvei Chutz LaAretz - volunteers from abroad).

Ayaan Hirsi Ali at CUNY Monday

Fatah and Hamas Agree to Coordinate Violence


Another great result of last week's reconciliation summit in Cairo.

Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal said that his organization will determine the nature of the struggle against Israel, including the use of violence, in coordination with the Western-backed Fatah movement.

"How to manage the resistance, what's the best way to achieve our goals, when to escalate and when to cease fire, now we have to agree on all those decisions as Palestinians," Mashaal said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

What could go wrong?

Labels: Fatah, Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, Mahmoud Abbas

posted by Carl in Jerusalem

Sunday, May 8, 2011

DYLAN RATIGAN: FORECLOSURE FRAUD & $45 TRILLION DOLLARS


Jail under torture all bankers, relaters, lawyers and judges associated with this fraud. Jail their families under RICO until they return the defrauded monies. Return the properties to original owners.

Why Kill Bin Laden Now?

Why Kill Bin Laden Now?

Police find IED Near Amtrack Rail in Chester, PA

Police Find IED Near Amtrak rail in Chester, Pa.

A new chapter of terror begins in America:

Police: IED Found Near Chester Train Tracks CBS Philly hat tip Armaros

CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – Chester police are urging vigilance after they found an improvised explosive device, this afternoon, near Amtrak and Septa railroad tracks and the Commodore Barry Bridge.

Police say the device consisted of two bottles with a yellow liquid inside. They say one had a timer and wires attached by duct tape.

Police were not sure if the device was really explosive but evacuated the area as a precaution. The Delaware County bomb squad determined that it was and disarmed it.

The device was found about 2 p.m., near third and Reaney Streets. That’s underneath the bridge and not far from the tracks Septa’s Wilmington-Newark line uses.

An investigation is underway.

Judge Files Complaint vs Merkel for Being Glad

Judge Files Complaint against Merkel over Bin Laden Comments Speigel

A Hamburg judge has filed a criminal complaint against Chancellor Angela Merkel for "endorsing a crime" after she stated she was "glad" that Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces. Meanwhile a new poll reveals that a majority of Germans do not see the terrorist's death as a reason to celebrate.
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Schadenfreude, the enjoyment of others' suffering, may be a famously German concept, but it is apparently not a feeling that many Germans aspire to. The political and public fallout following Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement on Monday that she was "glad" Osama bin Laden had been killed was among the most hotly debated topics in the German media this week.
Politicians, including those within her own center-right coalition, said that no death was cause for celebration, and reproved the remark as un-Christian and vengeful.

But Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann went even further. He alleges that the chancellor's statement was nothing short of illegal, and filed a criminal complaint against Merkel midweek, the daily Hamburger Morgenpost reported Friday.

"I am a law-abiding citizen and as a judge, sworn to justice and law," the 54-year-old told the paper, adding that Merkel's words were "tacky and undignified."

In his two-page document, Uthmann, a judge for 21 years, cites section 140 of the German Criminal Code, which forbids the "rewarding and approving" of crimes. In this case, Merkel endorsed a "homicide," Uthmann claimed. The violation is punishable by up to three years' imprisonment or a fine.

"For the daughter of a Christian pastor, the comment is astonishing and at odds with the values of human dignity, charity and the rule of law," Uthmann told the newspaper.

A Sober German Reaction

While the judge's reaction may seem extreme, his sentiments are apparently shared by 64 percent of the German population. That was the proportion of Germans who said bin Laden's death was "no reason to rejoice" in a poll published by broadcaster ARD on Friday.

Among respondents who said they identified with Germany's three main opposition parties, an even greater proportion were disgusted with the jubilation over the al-Qaida leader's death. Their views mirror recent comments made by opposition politicians on the issue.


But even among supporters of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their junior coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), barely half of those polled said they empathized with Merkel's view.