Saturday, April 19, 2014

19-Apr-14: One small step for civilized society; one substantial leap in the fight against the terrorists

Iran's official response: the property confiscation breaches their rights of
religious freedom [Image Source]
Families whose loved ones were killed or maimed in acts of terror connected with Iran have a bit of encouraging news to share. 

In New York City on Thursday, prosecutors announced plans to sell a Manhattan skyscraper that is owned by an arm of the Iranian regime. It's part of a terror-related seizure that we described here some months ago ["18-Sep-13: Striking back at the money that enables the terrorists"]. Earlier, we posted some details ["15-Feb-12:Is New York threatened by an Iranian attack? You might be surprised to know how real this is."] of how the sophisticated Iranian structure, which sought to conceal the regime's ownership, operated.

The settlement was approved yesterday by a federal judge in an action brought by 19 plaintiffs. It relates to the Piaget Building, a 36-story office tower located at 650 Fifth Avenue in the heart of New York City. AFP says ["US to sell Iran-owned building in New York"] the claimants in the NY property seizure case are the families and estates of victims of the 1983 bombings of US Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 military personnel, as well as the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US service members.
In addition to the Manhattan tower, US authorities will also sell Iran-linked properties in California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and the Queens borough of New York, along with the contents of bank accounts formerly in the name of entities that served as fronts for Iran. "With this settlement, we have taken an important step toward completing what will be the largest ever terrorism-related forfeiture and providing a substantial recovery for victims of terrorism," Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
This comes less than a month after a groundbreaking court decision in Canada ["24-Mar-14: In Canada, a court-ordered counter-attack on Iranian terrorism"] arising from four lawsuits brought by terror victims seeking damages from the Iranians for training, arming and financing Hamas and Hezbollah. There too Iranian assets are being confiscated.

Few will be be surprised to know the Iranians are not happy. A report published in Tehran today says:
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman lashed out at a US court’s decision to seize the assets of Alavi Foundation, an Iranian charitable organization in New York City, saying the ruling lacks legitimacy and credibility. Marzieh Afkham was reacting to a ruling by a New York City court that authorizes the confiscation of property of the non-profitable organization... The Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman strongly rejected the allegations as baseless and politically motivated, saying Iran has already been a victim of terrorism. “This foundation is not linked to Iran… Terrorism allegations leveled against Iran are repetitive and baseless,” said Afkham. She also said the confiscation of a charitable organization by the US government constitutes a blatant violation of freedom of religion.
There's more than a little room for skepticism when the subject is Iran's approach to freedom and rights. For the record, here's how one of the world's leading research centers on religious freedom in Iran sizes up religious freedom in Iran:
Iran’s Constitution defines Iran as an Islamic State based on the tenets of Jafari Shi’a Islam. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei exercises control of the government through vilayat al-faqih (guardianship of the jurist), a concept put forth by his predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini. The state holds a monopoly on Shi’a religious discourse, and Shi’a clerics who disagree with the state version of Shi’a Islam face persecution and imprisonment. Iran is home to sizeable Sunni Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, and Zoroastrian communities. With the exception of Baha’is, these groups are legally protected minorities, though they sometimes face persecution and discrimination in practice. The Iranian Constitution guarantees the rights of protected religious minorities to practice their faith and allots five seats in the Iranian parliament to representatives of recognized minority religions. However, non-Shi’a Muslims often struggle to gain entrance to universities, encounter institutional barriers in securing employment, and occasionally face police harassment. The Baha’i community is legally understood as an apostate sect of Islam. Almost 100 Baha’is are currently held in Iranian prisons for religious reasons, and arsons of Baha’i property in 2011 and 2012 have been ignored by the Iranian government. Despite current President Ahmadinejad’s strained relationship with Israel and his denial of the Holocaust, Iranian Jews face minimal restrictions on their ability to practice their faith. [Source: Religious Freedom in Iran: The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University]
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman probably prefers we don't look at these details of religious minority oppression in her freedom-minded country. And to put the point beyond doubt, there's this:
According to Iranian law, Baha'i blood or anyones' who marries or helps a Bahá'í or gets involved with them is considered Mobah, meaning it can be spilled with impunity. [Iran: International Religious Freedom Report - Department of State, US]

Friday, April 18, 2014

18-Apr-14: In Thailand, a Hezbollah terrorist plot is thwarted

The home page of the website today focuses
on the men arrested in Bangkok
Terrorist attacks rarely end up being thwarted as comprehensively as the latest such attempt in Thailand. Verbatim quotes now, in bullet points, from today's edition of the Bangkok Post:
  • Assistant [Thai] national police chief Winai Thongsong said the men were arrested at different locations in Bangkok after Thai police received intelligence from Israel about a planned attack on Israeli tourists during Passover, the Jewish festival which coincided with Songkran... "If we had been unable to arrest the men during Songkran, a bomb attack would certainly have taken place somewhere on Khao San Road," he said.
  • The men have been identified as French-Lebanese national Daoud Farhat and Lebanese-Filipino national Youssef Ayad... Farhat held a French passport... Ayad carried a Philippines passport... The source also said Mr Ayad had given useful information to police... 
  • He admitted his group entered Thailand to carry out a bomb attack against Israeli tourists and other Israeli groups on Khao San Road during Songkran.
  • Both Mr Farhat and Mr Ayad are listed on the website, which collects information on suspected terrorist cells operating in Asia, and carries notices of financial rewards for information.
  • One of the men admitted to a planned attack on Israeli tourists in Khao San Road during Songkran, according to an investigator... They were arrested on suspicion of links to militant Islamist group, Hezbollah.
  • Both were born in Lebanon... authorities have yet to confirm if the travel documents are genuine.
  • Investigators believe at least nine suspected foreign terrorists connected to Hezbollah are somewhere in Thailand. Authorities are attempting to track them down.
All of which means the Thais are determined to prevent the suspect from engaging in future such adventures, right? Not exactly:
  • The two suspected foreign terrorists will be deported back to the last countries they travelled from immediately after Thai police finish questioning them. He did not name the countries.
  • National Security Council chief Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut confirmed Thai authorities are focusing on the capture of another foreign terrorist.
Khao San Road scene courtesy of
About the website mentioned in the Bangkok newspaper report, Times of Israel calls an "Israeli anti-terror website... which gathers information on terror cells in East Asia." If that's right, the investment sunk into it paid welcome dividends this week.

Khao San Road in central Bangkok, Thailand, was once a major rice market. Over the past two decades, it has become better known as a world-famous backpacker attraction, offering cheap accommodation as well as being a hub for bus travel throughout Thailand. Wikipedia says the short street is also famous as 
a center of dancing, partying, and just prior to the traditional Thai New Year (Songkran festival) of 13 April to 15 April, water splashing that usually turns into a huge water fight. One Thai writer has described Khaosan as "a short road that has the longest dream in the world."
Thankfully, this latest dream of the Hezbollah jihadists ended without innocent casualties. But will the decision of the local authorities to throw them back into the arms of those who sent them mean smaller threats in the future, or larger?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?

We're flabbergasted at the news that the World Council of Churches went public today with a statement of solidarity with what it calls "some 5000 Palestinian men, women and children, languishing in Israeli jails".

The WCC's chief executive, Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran, is quoted in its press release saying that the members for whom he speaks
"are called to pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention. For Israel and Palestine, prisoners have taken on even greater significance than in the past. We were disappointed when the government of Israel cancelled the scheduled release of prisoners who have been in Israeli jails even before the Oslo Agreement of 1993...
The announcement goes on to invite "the churches in the Holy Land to remember Palestinian prisoners through prayers and acts of solidarity that restore to them their freedom with justice and dignity”.

WCC is a roof body that purports to speak for the world's major protestant churches. Here's where they list their members. In Australia, they include the Anglican, Churches of Christ and Uniting Church in Australia. In the UK, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church in Wales, the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of Wales and others. In the United States, they include the Quakers, the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and many others.

That's a lot of worshipers. Do they know how their religious faith is being exploited by a small coterie of self-perpetuating, Geneva-based bureaucrats?

The word that most offends us here is "languishing". Dr Tveit doesn't apply it to certain specific prisoners, but to all of them, including (just as an example) to Abdullah Barghouti ["10-Apr-07: Regarding Abdullah Barghouti"], convicted of murdering 66 Jews and seeks (he says openly) to kill more of us. He personally assembled the bomb that killed our 15 year-old daughter Malki. If he's languishing, and other unrepentant murderers are too, this strikes us as being an exceedingly gentle condition for them to be in, given the state in which their victims are, and the ongoing agony of those who loved the victims.

And if, Heaven forbid, someone ever restores to Barghouti his "freedom with justice and dignity", will that someone take responsibility for the consequent acts of carnage?

Semantics aside, one has to wonder at an international association of Christians that looks at the devastation overtaking the Christian communities of the Middle East and concludes that the one problem deserving of the bulk of their attention and resources is the one involving the Jews.

[There's more on CAMERA's website: "April 17, 2014 | Misinformation and Moral Stupidity from World Council of Churches"]

[UPDATE 19-Apr-14: Our sincere thanks once again to Małgorzata Koraszewska for having published a Polish-language translation of this blog post on the widely-read Listy z naszego sadu website.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

16-Apr-14: Capitulating to terrorism and lessons for a people in search of leaders

2001 edition still available at
David Horovitz, the long-time editor of the Jerusalem Post, and now the founding editor of The Times of Israel, posted a powerful, eloquent and thoughtful demolition this afternoon of the Binyamin Netanyahu political leadership. A government that betrays its primary obligation, to protect its citizens, has no right to govern, he writes. Some highlights from "Lead, Netanyahu, Lead":
  • Israel’s shambolic, self-defeating tradition of prisoner “exchanges” and releases over the decades has long since made clear to every potential Palestinian terrorist killer that he or she can reasonably expect to return to the heroic embrace of family and friends within just a few years...
  • Israel’s policy is one of suffering the crime without meting out the punishment, setting free today’s killers and emboldening tomorrow’s. Almost all Israelis have long since recognized that this has to stop.
  • It is frankly impossible to reconcile the clear thinking of Netanyahu 1995 with the muddled leadership of Netanyahu 2013 who, rather than facilitate peace talks by the simple and reversible expedient of freezing settlement expansion and acknowledging the indisputable fact that Israel is negotiating on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, as Mahmoud Abbas had demanded, chose to capitulate to the least palatable of Abbas’s preconditions: releasing pre-Oslo era Palestinian terror convicts. The four-phased deal to free some of the most evil killers was a terrible mistake from the start...
  • Netanyahu telling Israelis he was setting free the hardcore terrorists “for the good of the country” was no explanation at all. And his history of “punishing” acts of terrorism by approving still more settlement building only adds insult to injury.
  • A government that betrays its primary obligation, to protect its citizens, has no right to govern. The Netanyahu government lost that right when it sanctioned the phased program of prisoner releases.
  • ...If he won’t put the protection of Israel’s citizens first, he should vacate the seat in favor of someone who will. He derides the US for its ostensible weakness in international affairs, and most especially when it comes to thwarting Iran, but America doesn’t capitulate to terrorism. Netanyahu does.
Please read and share the entire article. We posted this response in the comments section:
As parents of a child murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in the service of Hamas, we learned the hardest way what it means to be abandoned by our country's leaders.
Netanyahu built his public reputation on the imperative of straight-talking, principled firmness in dealing with the terrorists. He betrayed those values the very first time he was tested as a leader.
Whatever remaining shreds of respect we felt for him and those in his circle vanished when he and they utterly ignored our direct appeals to exclude from the 2011 Shalit transaction the woman who engineered the massacre at the Sbarro restaurant. Israel's justice system had dealt with her in the correct way, finding her guilty on dozens of counts, sentencing her to 16 terms of life in prison. The judicial panel added its unanimous recommendation that the woman "not be eligible for pardon by the military commander, nor to early parole by any other means".
Our political leaders trampled the justice system that is at the heart of Israel's democracy. And the media barely addressed this issue. She walked free in 2011 and with a husband lives now in Jordan. She has achieved unimaginable global fame throughout the Arabic-speaking world. She is the embodiment of triumphant Islamist terror. Her influence is huge, its effects lethal and continuing. A gift from Israel's political leadership.
A leadership that understands why politicians must never be permitted to undermine the nation's principles of justice could have avoided this outcome and its disastrous consequences. But that's the point. For them, the politicians, personally, there were no disastrous consequences. Until other Israelis become as pained as the direct victims of the freed terrorists are, Netanyahu and those in his circle will continue to slap one another on the back and fail to acknowledge what they have wrought. [Frimet and Arnold Roth, Jerusalem]

16-Apr-14: Someone exploded something in Gaza this morning, killing some people. Mainstream media interest? Not so great

Khan Younis, November 2012 [Image Source]
It's always a tricky thing to base news reports on Palestinian Arab sources, so a grain of salt if not more is needed when processing this report from Maan, the European-funded Palestinian Arab news agency.

Maan reported at 11:15 this morning (Wednesday) that there has been "an explosion" this morning in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, in or near Khan Younis (population: 350,000). It quotes Ashraf al-Qidra whom we have mentioned here in the past, speaking on behalf of the Hamas regime's Ministry of Health, saying "the circumstances behind the explosion were not clear". What is evidently less unclear is that three Palestinian Arab men are dead and four others are injured with shrapnel wounds and in "stable" condition. The Maan report has been picked up by several other news outlets, most of them Israeli, this morning.

For people who follow events in the Hamas-run enclave, it's commonplace for news of failed terror attacks and self-inflicted injuries from mishandled explosives (such as the one that killed three Gazan men a month ago) to be reported via Hamas' Ministry of Health.

Why not the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of War, the Ministry of Jihad, the Police Ministry, the Public Safety Ministry, the Department of Child Welfare, the Ministry of Outbound Explosives? Because they don't have any of those. The ministers who sit in the Hamas government are those who head Justice, Housing/Public Works, Local Government, Agriculture, Finance, Religious Affairs (naturally), Interior, Education and of course Health, as well as "prime minister" Ismail Haniyeh.

The Gazan Palestinian Arabs last had elections more than eight years ago. They have been under iron-booted Hamas rule since June 2007 when its jihadist irregulars carried out a savage massacre of Fatah forces and seized control. The Palestinian Authority's prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, who also stands at the head of Fatah and who is currently in the year ten of his four-year term of office, has not set foot in Gaza in the seven years since then, though he has been widely reported to be about to go there (2013, 20122011 and 2010.)

The Mahmoud Abbas villa in Gaza [Image Source]
Though he owns a multi-million dollar villa (see this 2003 report) there, he has not seen it or stepped across its ample threshold in at least seven years, throughout which it has been held and used by Hamas.

But he shows no visible embarrassment in purporting to speak for the Gazans when he sits down at what passes for a peace table with the Israeli and the Americans and says he's there to negotiate.

Our point is there is almost zero criticism in the global news media of the man's hubris in claiming to seek resolutions and understandings in the name of the Palestinian Arabs while in reality he is forcibly excluded from everything Gazan.

The truth is relatively little is known about what actually happens day to day, and especially the very bad things done to Gazans by the dark forces of Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, as today's explosion report highlights. It's hardly a free and open society. Yet we rarely hear the experts of the mainstream news media owning up to this, even while they bemoan a failed peace process. Perhaps it's time to hold them to a higher standard.

16-Apr-14: Incoming rocket siren heard in Ashkelon region

Logo of the Hof Ashkelon region
Once again, the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) incoming missile alert sounding its warning in the Hof Ashkelon area in the small hours of Wednesday morning. We noticed a posting on a Hebrew-language forum at about 1:00 this morning (some 45 minutes ago), and have searched for, but not yet found, confirmation. It may be that the system was triggered by a firing but that the rocket itself fell short and crash-landed inside the Gaza Strip. If we find more, we will post it here. (Note also that the IDF reported an earlier Tzeva Adom warning some four hours earlier. No confirmation of a landing in that case, either.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

15-Apr-14: Seder night shooting attack: dead and wounded Israeli victims

Route 35 near Kiryat Arba last night: IDF soldiers search
for the shooter's trail [Image Source: Ynet]
In the final minutes before the onset of Passover on Monday evening, an Israeli family from Modi'in, traveling on Highway 35 by car to a family seder in the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba came under fire near the Arab village of Idhna (population 19,000). The driver, a man in his forties and a police officer (according to a report from Israel National News: "Terrorist Murders Man and Wounds Family in Hevron") was shot to death. His pregnant wife was struck by bullets as well and evacuated to Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in moderate to critical condition. One of their children sitting in the back seat was also hit by bullets; we don't yet know of his condition.

[UPDATE: 11:00 pm Tuesday: The man murdered in yesterday's shooting is Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, described as a senior police intelligence and crime officer, and a father of five whose wife, also wounded, is pregnant. In this Hebrew news report, he is described as head of SigInt, or signals intelligence, in the Investigations and Intelligence arm of Israel Police. The indiscriminate shooters and their terrorist accomplices may come to rue their inadvertent choice of target. The funeral has been announced for 1:00 pm Wednesday in Jerusalem's Mt Herzl military cemetery.]

Times of Israel ["Israeli man killed, two injured in terror attack near Hebron"] reported shortly after the attack that the IDF’s initial investigation indicated the shooter had approached the road on foot, and opened fire with dozens of rounds from an automatic weapon, evidently an AK47 rifle, seeking to hit passing Israeli vehicles. Quoting an eye-witness, the report says two cars were struck in the hail of fire but managed to escape the scene, after which the family from Modi’in became the principal victims of the terrorism.

To this hour. relatively little media attention (for example, at the BBC) has been given outside Israel to the killing - coming as it has on the twelfth anniversary of the Park Hotel Seder Night massacre in Netanya - or its impact on terrorism-addicted Palestinian Arab society. Two American newspapers are notable exceptions.

The Los Angeles Times wrote that two of the three major terrorist forces in the Palestinian Arab sphere, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both "praised the attack but did not take responsibility for it".

And the NY Daily News ["Hamas praises shooting that killed Israeli man, wounded his wife and son"] quotes Ismail Haniyeh, the "prime minister" of the Gaza Strip saying the murder “brought back life to the path of resistance” against Israel. He warned Israelis to expect more of the same from Palestinian Arabs, and particularly in "the West Bank [which] will be the future point of our struggle with the enemy.] We believe him.

Route 35 this morning (Tuesday) [Image Source]
As for the third of the major terrorist groups, Fatah, and its nominal head, Mahmoud Abbas (marking the tenth year of his four-year term as 'democratically' elected president of the PA), there are reports of anger among Israeli sources at their failure to condemn the assault.

We strongly prefer to ignore that genre of strictly-for-the-Western-media play-acting. Mealy-mouthed, plainly insincere expressions of Arab protest have a long and nasty history. One of Yasser Arafat's bodyguards, Muhammad Al-Daya, shed a little light on the rules of that pathetic condemnation-of-terror charade just a fortnight ago in an interview with the BBC.

As with the thugs from Hamas and Islamic Jihad when they speak in Arabic on matters pertaining to terror, the terrorists ought to be believed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

14-Apr-14: In each generation...

The suspect being removed from the murder
scene [Image Source
Jewish communities throughout the world start their commemoration of Passover this evening with a family-focused gathering rich in narrative and festive eating. For those who care to delve into the underlying themes, they're certainly there to be found.

From the Chicago Tribune this morning:
A 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were among three people shot to death on Sunday at two different Jewish community facilities in a Kansas City-area suburb. Police said it was too early to determine a motive, but a leading anti-hate group said the suspect arrested in the shooting was a longtime anti-Semite. The attack came a day before the Jewish holiday of Passover. "We know it's a vicious act of violence. Obviously two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said in a news conference. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation, he said.
The suspect was identified as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, by authorities in Kansas, and by the Southern Poverty Law Center as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a longtime anti-Semite who is the former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan... The shootings started around 1 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas. Two males were shot in a parking lot outside the center, one dying at the scene and the other later at a hospital, police said. The shooter then drove just a mile away to the Village Shalom retirement community that provides skilled nursing services for residents and fatally shot a female there... The two male victims were identified as Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, a high school freshman, and his grandfather, Dr. William Corporon... Both were members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.... Dr. Corporon had moved to the Kansas City area in 2003 to be closer to his grandchildren... It appears the shooter used a shotgun and possibly other types of guns.
The named victims are evidently not Jewish, but the published facts of their murders will resonate with Jews everywhere: a man so focused on the pleasures and privileges of family that he moved to town to be close to his grandchildren; a shooter who sought to know nothing more than that his innocent victims were in the car park of a Jewish cultural center and of a Jewish aged-care residence; a life-long hater and so-called white 'supremacist' who invoked the name of Adolf Hitler as he was taken into custody.

The text of the Passover seder is the Haggada. For us, its most evocative moments include these parallel quotations:
  • In each generation, down through all the generations, we are obliged to see ourselves, personally, as having been freed from slavery... 
  • In each generation, they rise against us to destroy us...
Yesterday's events in Kansas City remind us that, with all the blessed freedom which we enjoy and take for granted, the haters are close by, seeking their moment.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

13-Apr-14: Report of Gazan rocket attacks tonight: explosions heard in Eshkol region

Too soon to have any confirmation, but Hebrew-language online reports from eyewitnesses say rocket attacks were detected around 12:30 tonight (Sunday morning) and multiple explosions have been heard in the Eshkol region of southern Israel.

UPDATE 2:00 am: Times of Israel says no injuries, no serious property damage.

A second round of Tzeva Adom (Color Red) incoming missile alarms was heard in another part of the south (we will leave a more detailed location till there's confirmation) around 12:45 am. Ynet reports that a mortar shell exploded in open fields near the security fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel, but it was unclear (said the report) whether the shell fell on the Israeli side or or the Gazan, and it's not clear to us whether this is connected to the reports of Tzeva Adom sirens. We will try to update when there's more to report.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

12-Apr-14: For Brits infuriated by irresponsible British taxpayer-funded support of Palestinian Authority's death-cult industry

British parliament [Source: Wikipedia]
Petitions are commonplace in the era of Internet access. But some petitions are clearly more important than others, and if it's easy to sign them, they are no less important for that.

There is only one petition we have promoted here in the years that we have been writing this blog. Now there's a second. It's addressed to the British Government's Department for International Development and it relates to a theme that is core to the things we try to say here. Here's the text from the petition site:
The Palestinian Authority (PA) currently provides salaries to any Palestinian convicted of committing terrorism offences against Israel. These wages are directly pegged to the length of the sentence, so the more grievous the crime, the higher the salary. Since these wages are much larger than those earned by average Palestinians, they clearly reward violence, including murder, and undermine peace. Around 40 per cent of the PA’s budget is made up from donor aid; the UK government has promised £33 million of taxpayer’s money for the 2013/14 period alone. The Palestinian ministers responsible for this policy publicly deride international donors who express unhappiness with their money being used to pay terrorists; only a credible threat of this aid being removed will alter the situation. We are therefore calling on DFID to cease all direct funding to the Palestinian Authority until it agrees to no longer provide salaries for those convicted of committing violent acts against Israel.
For some European support for the message in the petition, please click on a post we published here just a couple of days ago.

Since we're not British, we're not eligible to sign. But if you are, please click here to go to the sign-on page and send a strong message to London.

Friday, April 11, 2014

11-Apr-14: A gunfight and its far-away victims

Al-Hija: The Telegraph could have reproduced
this martyr poster as easily as we have. But
the editors there know how this messes with
the narrative they seek to spin [Image Source]
Here in Israel where reporters tend invariably to speak Hebrew and often Arabic as well, they don't always get the facts perfectly right. They also don't always avoid putting a political spin on things. But at least they usually have the professional skill and outlook to take the trouble to provide context for the consumers of their reports, particularly when the story concerns fighting and/or terrorist actions.

Over at the Telegraph newspaper in London, we have the impression they operate according to a much lower set of expectations to judge from a report in yesterday's paper.

An article called "'It's over': Palestinian militants in Jenin believe peace process is at an end", written by Robert Tait, a reporter, paints a picture of Arab despair in the face of Israeli belligerence. It reflects a fairly clear agenda that encourages readers to sympathize with the plight of the residents of the city that Israelis have come to know as a major center of terrorism:
An ear-splitting explosion in the dead of night seemed to herald the moment when Palestinian residents of Jenin refugee camp decided that negotiations with Israel were not taking them on the path to peace. The blast was caused by a massively-armed Israeli anti-terror unit blowing off the doors of the "safe house" where Hamza Abu Alheja, a wanted Hamas militant, had been tracked down after months of hiding in the densely-populated West Bank camp. A fearful fire fight followed in which a torrent of heavy missiles wreaked destruction on the two-storey dwelling, where another 15 people, including women and children, had been asleep... The mayhem ended with the death of Mr Abu Alheja, 22, who fired back at his pursuers and then tried to escape by jumping from an upstairs window before being shot through the head by a sniper. Two other men, Mohammad Abu Zena, 19, described as a member of Islamic Jihad, and Yazan Jabarin, said to have been on his way to work in a bakery, were killed later after the Israeli force clashed with Mr Abu Alheja's supporters as they tried to carry his body to his family home.
This Alheja is key to the account. Who is he, apart from being 22 and now deceased?
Mr Abu Alheja, the son of a prominent Hamas militant serving nine life sentences in Israel after being jailed in 2002, was described by an army spokesman as "a ticking time bomb" responsible for past attacks on Israelis and in the process of planning more.
You now know everything that Tait wants his readers to know about the departed man. But there's more that he and his editors chose not to share.

In Israel, the dead man is known as Hamza Al-Hija, and as an active Hamas terrorist operating under the noses of the Palestinian Authority officials who govern Jenin.

Times of Israel report from Saturday March 22, 2014, says that early that morning a joint IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police raid in Jenin sought to apprehend him on suspicion of involvement in a plot to carry out a major terrorist attack which, as Israelis know too well, means an attack on Israeli civilians.

The house in Jenin was surrounded by armed Israeli security people. The men inside evidently decided to shoot their way out. In addition to Al-Hija, two other Arab men were killed in the ensuing fire fight: Mahmud Abu Zeina, 25, connected with Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and Yazen Jabarin, 22, a terrorist in the Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades. A not so unusual symmetry with one representative of each of the three major armed terror groups active in the PA's domain.

It's notable that Tait fails to mention the foreseeable consequence of the gunmen deciding to shoot their way out, notwithstanding the many civilians inside. Tait says "15 people, including women and children". One wonders why he somehow neglected to mention that none of them, other than the gunmen, were harmed by the IDF. Is that irrelevant? Does that say not something about the intentions and capabilities of the Israeli security people who find it necessary to enter Jenin on occasion and to apprehend armed practitioners of terror in densely populated neighbourhoods? Would referring to this somehow mess up the narrative for Tait and his editors?

IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, quoted in the Times of Israel, said al-Hija opened fire on the IDF forces before he was killed. Also, that he was “wanted for numerous shooting and bombing attacks as well as planning future acts of terrorism... a ticking time bomb” who was intent on killing Israelis.

Times of Israel goes on to quote
A Gaza-based media outlet associated with Hamas [that] tweeted shortly after Abu al-Hija’s death that sources said the dead man had been “preparing a major operation” against Israel. 
This is not unusual; the Palestinian Arab terror industry thrives on the making of what it terms 'martyrs'. Not only are they not shy of the savagery in which these men engage; they enthusiastically celebrate it.

A senior Israeli political figure, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, is also quoted by Times of Israel. He calls the Jenin raid
an important thwarting which prevented a planned terrorist attack that was meant to be carried out against Israeli targets, and thus saved lives.” 
Perhaps this might have been mentioned in passing by the Telegraph's man on the spot. But to be frank, we're guessing that Tait has a political outlook that differs from Israel's defense minister, and from the army's official spokesperson. He's probably less interested in the saving of innocent Israeli lives than we are.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But no one - and that certainly includes newspaper reporters with pretensions to objectivity - is entitled to their own reality. There's background on the dead gunman that anyone with Google could have easily found. Tait's story delivers almost none of it.

Now on to the father mentioned in the Tate piece: Jamal Abu al-Hija. Tait's readers know only that he is:
a prominent Hamas militant serving nine life sentences in Israel after being jailed in 2002
leaving many/most of them to believe Al-Hija senior is yet one more in that endless, sad parade of political prisoners and other Arabs unfairly thrown behind bars because of Zionist political whims. A militant. An activist. A dissident, perhaps.

In reality the father
is a convicted Hamas leader who is currently incarcerated in Israeli prison. He was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to nine life sentences for involvement in at least six bombings, including the Meron Junction attack that killed nine Israelis in 2002 and the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria bombing that killed 15 in 2001.
Tait and the editors at the Telegraph can gloss over such blood-drenched history but the Times of Israel's editors and reporters can't and shouldn't and didn't. We - the parents of a child murdered in that Sbarro bombing in which Al-Hija Senior played a role - won't.

Tait's piece goes on to provide, in that sadly familiar way in which so many European news channels indulge, a megaphone for the voices of terror in Jenin, wrapped up in the language of threat and doom that alert readers will understand is the result of Israeli wretched excess etc.

Yet another morality fable - emphasis on fable - from the mills of the agenda-driven section of the news industry, the part that is up to its eyebrows in lethal journalism.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

9-Apr-14: Straight talk, crooked dealings: is the role of foreign aid in financing Palestinian Arab terror about to change?

In the European Parliament [Image Source]
A document produced by the Israel Government Prime Minister's Office in January and publicized just today [according to the Jerusalem Post] reiterates the extent to which the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas finances terrorism, making monkeys out of the foreign governments whose aid money makes this possible. Some key points:
  • In 2012, the PA's overall budget was $3.1 Billion of which $786 Million came from foreign aid.
  • The impoverished (by its own description) PA channeled no less than $153.5 Million to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, to their families, and to the families of deceased terrorists including human bombs during that year. 
  • That's 16% of the foreign aid received by the PA in that period.
  • It's also 5% of the PA's annual total budget.
We have written often here about the appalling three-way deal Israel did with the US and the Palestinian Arabs last year as the price for the Abbas regime agreeing in principle to sit down at a negotiating table and talk "peace". None of that eventuated, but what did was that 78 convicted terrorists were released by Israel (of a proposed 104). Today, living in freedom, they get monthly payments from the PA "of up to $3,500, and grants of up to $25,000.

In fact, some get much more. The obscenely flattering Jody Rudoren profile of a released Palestinian Arab killer in the New York Times [Remaking a Life, After Years in an Israeli Prison” front page, March 30, 2014] demonstrated this last week, and quotes numbers. They're large: the Wall Street Journal says today the murderers get paid PA salaries that are "up to five times higher than the average salary in the West Bank."

The Israeli document, stating the obvious, points out that "the Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid. This money, which supports the PA budget, is fungible to meet payments for imprisoned and released terrorists... Publicly rewarding convicted murderers gives an official stamp of approval to terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. It is a highly persuasive form of incitement to violence and terrorism."

(Fungible means "able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable"; "money is fungible—money that is raised for one purpose can easily be used for another")

Now to the development: Israel has been transferring certain tax revenues to the Abbas regime for a long time, and is now said to be giving consideration to holding back a sum equal to what the PA spends each month on grants, salaries etc to the terrorists and their families.

Why? Because giving financial support for terrorists "not only violates basic morality," the Israeli document says, but also "encourages further terrorist outrages"...

It's an analysis that might seem straight-forward to some of our readers. (And it is.) But European bureaucrats of a certain mind-set get to very different conclusions. 

We commented on this two weeks ago in "28-Mar-14: Once more: European double-talk on the funding of Palestinian Arab terrorism". In it, we reproduced word for word the public statement of an official of the European Commission, a certain Štefan Füle who, for the past four years, has been the senior person in charge of EU enlargement and neighbourhood policies ("to consolidate peace, democracy and prosperity in Europe"). In the parliamentary chamber, Füle was asked by a Polish Member of the European Parliament to confirm or deny that EU funds are being used 
"to pay salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons... As the last known case of paying money for killing Jews was in Nazi Germany, will the EU High Representative condemn this practice?". 
The answer, as one might immediately guess, was no. But the rationale is interesting. Füle says he and his colleagues are of course aware of the PA's program of paying "allowances" (his word) to prisoners, but the program is
not and has never been financed by the EU. All the funds the EU allocates to the Palestinian Authority for salaries, pensions and social allocations, are subject to rigorous ex ante and ex post verification procedures, notably including a specific check against a recognised data base of individuals listed as having a connection with terrorism of any sort. Any name which is signalled by the check is automatically deleted from the list of beneficiaries.
And so on. It's a very confident answer, smooth and free of doubt - even though it's composed of double-talk ("rigorous ex ante and ex post verification procedures" is just embarrassing nonsense) and is substantially undermined by things that the EC's own audit body has learned, and recently publicized, about what's wrong with European money flowing into the hands of the Abbas regime and its grabby insiders. 

On that matter, the Wall Street Journal carries an important article today by the chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control in which he calls the things the auditors found "major dysfunctions". He urges the EC to imposes benchmarks and conditions on the Palestinian Authority as a condition for getting more EU gift money:
These should include improving the state of human rights in the West Bank, cracking down on corruption and cutting off subsidies to convicted Palestinian terrorists. In these hard times, Brussels shouldn't tolerate blatant misuse of EU taxpayers' money. [WSJ, April 9, 2014]
In our March 28 blog post, we said:
Anyone who has reviewed the tragic history of EC double-talk around the subject of money -generously but ignorantly provided by unwitting European taxpayers via their representatives in Brussels - handed over to the Palestinian Arabs, knows that it is rich in language like what's on display here. Don't blame us; we didn't do anything wrong; we have rigorous ex ante and ex post verification proceduresand so on. This sand-in-your-eyes resort to self-parodying language is calculated to do precisely what it achieves: to conceal far more than it reveals
We're not optimistic that a turning point has been reached. Europe and to a great extent the US as well are deeply invested in the Palestinian Authority, and in the moralistic acrobatics that got them to become its financiers. Climbing down from the tree, if it ever happens, would mean many politicians and the bureaucrats who serve them having to own up to being duped again and again, year after year, by the Arafat regime and then the Abbas clicque that took over (or in some cases, to having been co-conspirators, and one prominent British figure knows we mean him).

The chances are slim.

9-Apr-14: A second Wednesday attack from Hamas-controlled Gaza

Ynet says there was a mortar attack this evening (Wednesday), today's second assault on southern Israeli by the terrorist forces of the Gaza Strip.

An unnamed community in the Sha'ar Hanegev region (population: 6,000), close to Israel's Gaza border fence, was the hapless victim though fortunately it appears no one was injured. No warning siren was heard.
The rocket landed near the a swimming pool and caused damage to surrounding infrastructure. No injuries were reported and no alert siren was sounded. Local residents described hearing an immense blast which they said inspired quite a scare. Residents are requested to remain indoors for the meantime and refrain from reaching the blast site. [Ynet]
As with today's earlier rocket attack, yet another "Fell Short", there is zero media coverage at this time, other than in the handful of Israeli channels that focus on this ongoing war, as we do.

9-Apr-14: Fell short (again) and no one outside of Gaza knows (again) that it happened and what resulted

Rocket men from Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Heroes in the political culture
of the Palestinian Arabs even while bringing death and injury down on the
heads of their families and neighbours
Notice how little media coverage this gets.

Yet another rocket fired by the extremely well-endowed rocket men of Gaza was fired out of Gaza this afternoon at about 1:00 pm Israel time in indiscriminate search of Israeli victims. Any Israeli victims. This has nothing to do with Hamas fighting the dreaded IDF. It's all about sowing terror, and killing innocent people.

Ynet reports that the Tzeva Adom (Colour Red) incoming missile warning was heard throughout the Hof Ashkelon region of southern Israel into which so many Gazan rockets have been fired in the past year.

Today's rocket however failed to find its Israelis. Instead it crashed back into Gaza. And - as always - there is not a word in the news about who or what was destroyed.

The Gazans and their promoters like to call the enclave the most densely populated place on earth. It certainly is not that. But it is small and has many badly-housed, poor-governed people, many, many of whom are children (and both Paris and Athens have four times Gaza's population density).

So when an indiscriminately-fired rocket packed with explosives fails to get across to the far side of the border with Israel (that's why we call them Fell Shorts), and instead falls onto the heads of the families and neighbours of the evil men who do the firing, there is often a terrible price. See our blog of a few days ago to understand what we mean: "5-Apr-14: Home-made rockets? What damage can they possibly do?"

So what happened to today's "Fell Short" rocket? Who knows? If we find out, we will share the results with readers.

How often does this happen? In our post of a few days ago, we referred to some statistics - some fairly scientific, some anecdotal, all based on data collection from outside the Gaza Strip since the Hamas rulers are less than co-operative on such things - which we summarize briefly:
  • During a two week period in January 2014, 37% of all Gazan rockets fell short
  • Between February 20 and March 5, 2104, 80% of all Gazan rockets fell short
  • In the major barrage of Gazan rocket fire during mid March, 60% fell short.
  • In the entire month of March 2014, more than a third fell short
Yes, there's room for doubting the precision of these numbers. But there's no room to doubt that Gazans are among the principal victims of the terror-addicted Hamas Islamists. Check out the most recent report of one of the Gaza-based Palestinian Arab human rights organizations from April 1, 2014 and count up the number of children maimed as a direct result of Hamas savagery. It goes on like this constantly.

Who cares? Certainly not the mainstream media. You won't find this reported anywhere.

9-Apr-14: Analyzing the failure, what role did the Kerry State Department play?

State's Deputy Spokesperson has still not figured out
whether the US regards the convicted murdering
terrorists as freedom fighters in the way
that Abbas and his regime do. Yes, that's right: the
State Department of the United States. [Image Source
Ha'aretz, and then numerous other news channels, have sized up the failed "peace" talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and identified the culprit. "Kerry places blame on Israel for crisis in peace talks", says Israel's newspaper of record, and while others (the Jerusalem Post for instance, with "US clarifies: Kerry blames both Israel, Palestinians for breakdown in talks") take a slightly different view, but it's sadly obvious that there's no line of critics beating up on Mahmoud Abbas and his band of terrorism-loving insiders for their role.

What we are wondering is, what part did the US take in this foreseeable failure, and what is its responsibility?

We are particularly troubled by the way in which the freeing of unrepentant, convicted and imprisoned terrorist felons ended up playing a central role in the PA's bill of complaints. (See for instance "Israel Halts Prisoner Release as Talks Hit Impasse" in the New York Times, April 3, 2014.)

From our perspective, as we have written here many times in the past nine months, a peace process in which committed murderers are deliberately and repeatedly turned by one of the parties in the conflict into heroes whose homicidal exploits are celebrated as examples for others to follow, is no peace process but a march towards victory.

This is why we are infuriated by the way the Kerry-led State Department has gotten away with a consciously ambiguous policy on Palestinian Arab terror. We are infuriated by the gall and the hypocrisy of the Washington bureaucrats who devised and executed it. And we are no less enraged by the passivity which the working media, the news reporters who know this and write nothing, devoted to keeping the matter quiet, at least for English-speaking news consumers. 

In the Arab world, the studied indifference of the Kerry/Obama policy concerning the Abbas/PA lionization of terrorist killers of Jews served as an eloquent signal. They didn't need Arabic-language State Department press releases for the point to be driven home. Terrorism, when practised by Palestinian Arabs? That's not real terrorism. Ignore the Israelis. And certainly ignore the Israeli victims.

Here's where the rot first appeared, at least for us. On August 13, 2013, an American journalist asked Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson in the State Department, this straight-forward question during a media briefing:

Do you have any thoughts or position on whether these people who are going to be released [today] are political prisoners or are they terrorists?
Speaking as the designated State Department official spokesperson that day, in a formal press briefing, she said: 
I do not have a position on that.
And we can confirm, from the silence that has thundered out of the State Department offices since then, that they still do not. (In case readers are in doubt, they may want to watch this video of the exchange between them.)

Despite our repeated and polite enquiries since August 2013, both as interested individuals and as the parents of an American-citizen who was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists who walked free without any intervention by the State Department, we have been comprehensively ignored. 

No one in the US administration is willing to admit, it is clear, that they have taken a position on this serious matter - at any rate, no one who was willing to speak to us, or for the record. 

Then again, as the Arab world has noted, State, Kerry and the Obama administration have taken a position on whether those murdering terrorists are freedom fighters, political prisoners or mere felons. Was that signal integrated into the PA negativism that was so clear to anyone with eyes since the start of this latest "peace" process? We think the answer is pretty clear. 

Sometimes, the anguish of ordinary people like the parents of a murdered child can be helpful in allowing others to see and hear what is being concealed from them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

8-Apr-14: When PA's "peace" negotiator says Hamas savages are not terrorists, what does this say about "peace"?

Erekat, Kerry [Image Source]
It seems there's yet another round of let's-set-aside-our-little-differences-and-just-get-on-together going on between the terror-loving Fatah movement and the terror-obsessed Hamas organization. Here's a taste of the creative thinking that it has now produced.

A Middle East Monitor report published on Sunday quotes Saeb Erekat, a perennial insider in the Palestinian ruling elite, speaking this past Friday at a two-day conference in Ramallah of The Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies. Here's what the great man, speaking in Arabic, pronounced:

"Hamas is a Palestinian movement, is not and will never be a terrorist organisation".
From a different source but referring to the same event, Israel National News says that he
called on Hamas to implement all previous agreements with Fatah in order to "fight together against Israel... The political movements have an obligation to resolve their differences at the ballot box, and not through bullets... I hereby declare, in the name of President Mahmoud Abbas and the directorate of Fatah, that Hamas is a Palestinian movement, and is not and never was a terror group..."
Before taking this apart, let's tune in to a recent, stunningly sharp analysis of Erekat from the Turkish think-tank SETA:
Having resigned eight times in the last 20 years over peace talk impasses, Dr. Erekat has a long history of saying one thing and doing the other. In the 45 minute conversation [for Al Jazeera's "Head to Head" program] the disquieting chief negotiator demonstrated a worrying case of incoherence and disharmony of thoughts... Dr. Erekat's incoherence mirrors the lack of harmony between what the PA says it is doing and what the PA is actually doing. This cognitive dissonance is perhaps the greatest burden on the Palestinian people today..." ["The Cognitive Dissonance of Saeb Erekat", March 15, 2014]
Erekat and ever-attentive reporters,
June 2013 [Image Source]
Reading Erekat say Hamas "is not and never was a terror group" does not mean he knows less about that thuggish group than we do. 
  • We know from the Wikileaks papers that he made his contempt for the Hamas savages known in 2007 when he told a European politician “I can’t stand Hamas." 
  • As for being aware of their actual nature, a program broadcast on the Hamas-controlled Al-Aqsa television network told its viewers in Erekat's native tongue that "killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah". 
  • And as we know, Hamas proudly took full credit for the massacre at a central Jerusalem pizza shop that took the lives of fifteen innocent victims in 2001. Since one of those victims was our daughter, Malki, we're in a position to invite anyone who wants text or video of the numerous celebrations by Hamas of that achievement to be in touch with us. And if anyone seriously doubts that pure, unadulterated terrorism is what Hamas teaches Arab children in the formal, informal and summer educational programs carried out in the terror-infested Gaza Strip in its name, we are ready to oblige.
Erekat, a well-connected person, knows these truths no less well than the rest of us do. It's clear he doesn't mean to dispute them. He's comfortable with them. For a man of his moral flexibility and political chutzpah, terrorism in the name of a cause for which he is deeply sympathetic is simply not terrorism.

But none of that is the actual problem; the issue is not with Erekat. As the Turks said, he is a man of "incoherence", and they were being polite and restrained. The problem - the far greater problem - is with all those editors, analysts, politicians and civil servants who deal with this disgraceful man as if he were the genuine article, as a man seeking peace

He resigns again. The 2011 edition of
an Erekat performance with so many encores.
And media professionals don't know this?
When they describe him in their speeches and articles as the chief Palestinian "peace" negotiator for the past two decades, they are willingly buying into whitewashing a public career characterized over decades by dishonesty and malevolence. They also overlook the man's drama-queen tendency that has produced a series of highly public Ereket resignations [see "Erekat: 20 years of goodbyes"], all of them quietly reversed when the media's attention moved on.

To give just a couple of fact-related instances from a long list...

Speaking live to CNN in 2002, Erekat said Israeli forces were attacking Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. He described shooting, shelling, an injured Palestinian policeman that the Israelis were preventing from being evacuated by ambulance. CNN then crossed live to its correspondent at the Arafat compound while the interview was still underway to report on what was going on there, which was absolutely nothing. [Source: Honest Reporting].

Erekat, cynically exploiting his media credibility, notoriously promoted the fiction during Operation Defensive Shield (Israel's response to a crescendo of Palestinian Arab human bomb attacks on civilian Israelis) that Israeli forces had savagely killed "523" people in Jenin. "I have 1,600 names, missing people from the refugee camp. I have mothers calling me speaking about missing their daughters, their sons. I have husbands missing their wives. I have parents missing their grandparents." Putting it beyond doubt, he told the news media (according to a CNN transcript): "A real massacre was committed in the Jenin refugee camp". 

The impact of his histrionics is reflected in key news reports such as the one from The Guardian that asserted "Israel's international reputation slumped to its lowest point for two decades yesterday..." Erekat was at the heart of that blood libel. As a CAMERA report pointed out at the time, no one in the mainstream media seriously challenged the man's facts or motivations. The subsequent findings, that several dozen Palestinian Arabs were killed in the Jenin battle, the majority of them combatants, came too late to reverse the damage caused by this assault of pure, unadulterated propaganda, as CAMERA's report termed it.
Close ties to the terrorist. Reuters image from a Damascus
meeting of Hamas politburo deputy chief
Moussa Abu Marzouk, Khaled Meshaal of Hamas,
Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat
It's neither surprising nor especially problematic that Erekat says the blood-drenched Hamas "is not and never was a terror group..." unless you think he is a reliable source of facts and someone who strives to bring peace to the conflict. People can choose to believe this and ignore the evidence. 

But real questions need to be directed at certain others.
  • Since it's unreasonable to think those who package and distribute the news are less aware of what Saeb Erekat does and says than we are, why do they continue to provide him with the indispensable credibility and exposure that he craves and exploits?
  • In this light, how surprising is it that the Palestinian Authority demands the release of growing numbers of convicted murderers and publicly celebrates their crimes as great achievements and heroic deeds? In what parallel universe would this be central to something called a peace process?
  • Why does the US State Department continue to decline to answer this simple question? Those convicted, imprisoned and unrepentant Palestinian Arab murderers whose freedom is being demanded by the Abbas regime who see them as heroes - are they freedom fighters, as Erekat implies? Or are they terrorists?