Saturday, April 07, 2012

7-Apr-12: Living and dying in a tough neighbourhood


The Hamas regime has its own distinct ways of imposing
its will on Gazan Arab society [Image Source]
The vipers' nest of religiously-incited haters and killers might not be making the headlines where you are. But here in Israel, notwithstanding the calm and peace of the Passover week that has just gotten underway, Gaza continues to be in the news and on people's minds. In the last hour, the IDF reported that it had detected a couple of Palestinian Arabs preparing to launch yet another in a seemingly limitless supply of rockets into Israel from an undisclosed site in southern Gaza.

Israeli surveillance of Gaza is done by one of the world's most advanced combinations of purpose-specific technology including unmanned camera-bearing aircraft (drones or UAVs) and fixed-location long distance vision systems, all operated from a distance on a 24x7 basis by service personnel, very often young women.

Tonight's timely intervention [see "IDF strikes rocket launchers in southern Gaza, thwarting attack" in the online Times of Israel] in two men on a motorcycle being hit. Palestinian sources say they are injured and being treated in a Rafah hospital. Since it's always something of a lottery when these fanatics fire into the air with their exploding tubes, it's hard to know who was saved and what possible damage was prevented. But one thing needs to be abundantly clear: the terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the other ambitiously-named Gazan street gangs that are equipped like small and not-so-small armies by their sponsors outside Gaza, have one thing on their mind: dead Israelis. Thankfully, tonight (so far at least) they failed. Note that the difference between a tragically-successful outcome for the jihadists and frustration like tonight is in no sense a function of restraint or cool-headedness on the Gazan side. It's entirely due to Israeli vigilance.

This past Tuesday night, an armored unit of the IDF killed another aspiring Gazan terrorist. As the Times of Israel reported then, he was detected crawling towards the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip. Alert forces fired a shell at him, achieving a direct hit. A previous attempt by a terrorist crossing into Israel from Gaza took place a week ago - he was killed. And a cluster of explosives found near the border fence were found by an IDF patrol and neutralized in a controlled explosion.

The deaths in Gaza - as indeed throughout the turbulent Arab world - are not always a function of cross-border hostilities. Three Gazan Arabs were put to death at dawn today in a regime-sanctioned hanging. AP points out that the Islamists of Hamas have "executed at least 18 men since seizing power in 2007". The BBC's Middle East correspondent notes that
"it is impossible to assess the quality of the evidence presented against the three men who have been executed. Court proceedings in the Gaza Strip are not held in public, and defendants are identified only by their initials, so it can be difficult event to match announcements of executions even with previous news of arrests or convictions, our correspondent says. It is not even possible to know what specific charges the executed men faced".
Meanwhile to our north, in the blood-soaked killing fields of Syria, the al-Assad regime's armed-to-the-teeth soldiers today are reported to have killed 121 people, all of them Syrian citizens, evidently trying to "stamp out as much of the year-old uprising against him as he can before next week’s ceasefire [source]" proposed by a UN mediator. CNN quotes sources that say the deaths include "eight women and five children... 59 in Hama, 28 in Homs, 13 in the Aleppo suburbs, 19 Idlib, one in Daraa, and one in Douma in the Damascus suburbs".

Syrian protesters express their feelings about Syria's
President Bashar Al-Assad  in Kafranbel, near Idlib, Syria,
March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Raad Al Fares 
[Image Source
The daily death toll in these Syrian-government massacres of their fellow Syrians is maddening. It keeps going on and on and on, while international agencies and famous politicians and human rights organizations keep tut-tutting. The latest round of Al-Assad-inspired barbarism, underway for a year so far, has caused more than 9,000 Syrian deaths according to the UN and more than 11,000 according to a Syrian source, the Local Coordination Committees.

Barely fifteen months ago, serious newspapers (the Sydney Morning Herald, for instance) were reporting that the Obama administration believed a comprehensive Israeli-Syrian peace treaty was possible and close, and that there was ''unprecedented Syrian co-operation'' to reach a peace agreement. Notorious Al-Assad crony Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian regime's leading foreign policy voice for the past quarter century, was quoted then saying ''the Syrians are ready to re-engage in dialogue with the Israelis to reach peace'', which evidently was the basis for the US appointing an ambassador, Robert Ford, as Washington's ambassador to Damascus, the first since 2005. The White House was said to be asserting that this any-moment-now Israeli-Syrian peace agreement would be ''a breakthrough in the peace process as a whole to achieve peace in the Palestinian territories''.

Imagine if anyone serious on the Israeli side had decided to act on that.

Friday, April 06, 2012

6-Apr-12: It's not necessarily paranoia when you discover there are enemies living in your neighbourhood

Hezbollah rallies its forces in Lebanon: Coming
soon to (or may already be in) a neighbourhood
near you [Image Source]
A syndicated news report from Reuters yesterday uncovers the deep concerns of law enforcement officials in the United States over the presence of 'sleeper' jihadist terrorists in major American urban centers, principally in the service of the Iranian-owned  Hezbollah global terrorist organization.

Some key points from the article.
  • The terrorists of Hezbollah last carried out mass-casualty bombings against American targets in the 1980s. They have avoided repeats because they are doing so well with their North American fund-raising operations and do not want that interrupted.
  • The US counter-terrorism community sees Hezbollah as "the most potent and disciplined" of the Islamic terrorists organizations, "even more so than al Qaeda". And now, with the growing confrontation over Iran’s nuclear activities, the anxiety level has risen sharply. 
  • Why's that? Well for one thing, Iranian "diplomats" and "possible Hezbollah operatives" have been seen conducting surveillance missions at sensitive targets including New York subways and bridges, public buildings in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and nuclear power plants and tunnels elsewhere in the United States over a period of ten years. If you're surprised to hear this, you're hardly alone.
  • Those surveillance missions, combined with recent attacks and uncovered plots in other countries, have brought the US government to appreciate the danger of "considerable violence directed against U.S. targets". Those include a thwarted plan by Iranian agents to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington and other Iranian plots uncovered in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan and Georgia this year.
  • This might be aimed at American overseas installations or businesses. Or it might be directed at Americans within the borders of the United States. And before we ask "how", the article quotes a congressional report that says "U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, along with private experts, say there is little doubt Hezbollah has an extensive network of supporters, fund-raisers and potential operatives in the United States."
  • The New York Police Department, under severe attention and considerable criticism because of its cautious monitoring of Muslim communities, says there are 200-300 Hezbollah "sympathizers" living in New York City. Ten or more are family members of Hezbollah terrorists killed in action - from the Lebanese towns of Bint Jbeil (the Reuters report erroneously refers to it as two towns: Bint and Jbeil), Yanoun and Yatar. 
  • Several of these New York residents have undergone military training wit Hezbollah  in Lebanon. But "pinpointing" the Hezbollah men is difficult because of the group’s operational security. [For us, this is the most alarming statement in the article, unless the resort to the word "difficult" is an attempt  at disinformation.]
  • The estimates quoted in the report are that Hezbollah has “several thousand sympathetic donors” in the United States and “hundreds” of operatives. Translation: the word operatives, like the words militants and activists and other similar circumlocutions, is media-double-speak for terrorists. 
What these people train to do, and what they will do, in New York and Los Angeles and anywhere else they choose, in the United States and when the moment is right, based on their years of carrying out their surveillance missions, is called terror.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

5-Apr-12: The Egyptians, Passover and the wanderings in Sinai

The Golden Haggadah: Preparations for
Passover. 'The Golden Haggadah is one of the finest
of the surviving Haggadah manuscripts
from medieval Spain. The Haggadah,
which literally means 'narration', is the Hebrew
service-book used in Jewish households on Passover
Eve at a festive meal to commemorate
the Exodus from Egypt. [Image Source]
This is no Bible story.

Passover, Judaism's festival of freedom, is going to start tomorrow evening and most Jewish families throughout the world are preparing themselves and their households for a festive meal and a week of bread-free enjoyment.

We noted earlier today that rockets - three of them it turns out - were fired on Eilat in the small hours of this morning. Eilat, Israel's main tourist city, happens to be filled with holiday-makers since Passover is one of its two busiest weeks in the year.

We also noted [5-Apr-12: The terrorists send us their Passover greetings] that Egypt's chief of security made two uncompromising statements earlier today in the wake of the rocket attacks. One - they didn't come from Egyptian territory. And two - in case anyone might have thought that there were security issues in the Sinai, well - there aren't.

That's not how it looks from here.

Just as one instance: the gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel has been bombed at least thirteen times in the last year [here's Reuters reporting on the most recent such attack a month ago]. The Egyptians had said in November 2011 that they would "tighten security along the pipeline by installing alarms and recruiting security patrols from Bedouin tribesmen in the area". But if they did - and we can find no published reports to support their claim - the effect was not exactly what they wanted. And today there's a major attack on Israel's busiest holiday resort.

The Israeli view of this is much less sanguine than the official Egyptian statements. And this evening, the head of Israel's military intelligence made his concerns plain:
"Military Intelligence chief Major-General Amir Kochavi said that the rockets fired at Eilat on Wednesday are a reflection of the change the Sinai region is undergoing. "More than 10 terror hubs in Sinai have been exposed in the last few months and terror organizations continue to strengthen their foothold there". He said Israel will must prepare for increased threats and lack of security stability in the region."
The changes in Egypt, contrary to the relaxed and nonchalant views of influential Western journalists intoxicated a year ago by the events at Tahrir Square, are worrying too. Al-Jazeera reported earlier this week that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - which controls nearly 50 percent of the new Egyptian parliament and dominates the constituent assembly that is in charge of writing Egypt's new constitution [source] - has decided to run its deputy leader in the upcoming presidential election "despite alleged splits within the movement and accusations that it is trying to monopolise power".

This is
"a surprise even to many of its own members, some of whom have openly expressed disappointment that the group is breaking an earlier promise not to run. They worry the decision sacrifices the group's credibility for short-term gains. Liberals and secular leaders are fuming the group has abandoned its repeated promise to share power and fear it could monopolize rule, thwarting hopes for democracy. The Brotherhood backtracked on an earlier pledge not to contest May's presidential election by announcing on Saturday that it would field deputy leader Khairat al-Shater." [ABC News]
The charter of the arch-terrorists Hamas, sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel, declares that it is "one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine." And for its part, the Moslem Brotherhood - according to its leader Mohammed Badie [see quote here] - views Hamas as its 'role-model'.

Unfortunately we don't have the same kind of leadership today as we had at the time of the exodus from Egypt, but our prayers this Passover for communal and individual well-being and security are the same. We surely hope there is no need for blood, frogs and pestilence in order to achieve those goals. But like then, we know we need to be watchful, by night and by day.

May we all enjoy a peaceful Passover.

5-Apr-12: The terrorists send us their Passover greetings

Passover eve: Eilat's bustling hotel zone
All of Israel is in the last stages of preparing for Passover. The seder meal, in which we re-tell and relive the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and their journeys via the Sinai desert into our homeland, takes place Friday night. Many, including hordes of foreign visitors, will spend it in hotels throughout the country.

Exactly ten years ago, on the first night of Passover 2002, the barbarians of Hamas carried out a massacre in a packed hotel dining room filled with veteran Israelis, tourists, pensioners and children. (And as happens with sickening regularity, the man who planned it has become a media hero, praised and glorified by the television station controlled by the 'moderate' Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Arab regime.)

That deliberate targeting of Jews in the midst of our thousands-of-years-old celebratory ritual, an event normally marked by family closeness and general enjoyment, represented the clearest statement of what the Islamist forces of darkness wish for us if they can only execute their plans. They were sending a message. They sent us additional lethal Passover messages in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007. As the writer and analysts Daniel Greenfield recently pointed out, it is by far not only Israeli Jews whom they target.

Today, with the clansmen of the Hamas planners of that Netanya seder-night massacre in firm control of the Gaza Strip and with their newly-empowered Moslem Brotherhood cousins redrawing the political map of much of the Arab world (though not yet Jordan), the danger to ordinary Israelis is clear and understood by most of us.

We have just gotten a reminder of the kind of 'relations' they seek with us.

During the hours of this morning (Thursday), a GRAD rocket crashed into a residential quarter of Israel's southern holiday city, Eilat. Ynet reports that it emanated, according to security authorities, from the Sinai, though a report in the Times of Israel says no one is ruling out the possibility of the source being Jordan. Eilat has experienced previous attacks by terrorists firing their Katyusha rockets from Sinai. The most recent was 18 months ago when a volley of five rockets exploded in Eilat and the nearby Jordanian city of Aqaba. All the casualties, one killed, several injured, were on the Aqaba side. Ynet at the time quoted Egyptian security officials saying the attack did not originate in the Sinai Peninsula. "Firing rockets from Egypt requires extensive logistical preparations and a lot of equipment. This is impossible because Sinai is heavily secured," an official said. This was patent nonsense back then. Today, the security situation in Sinai after the end of the Mubarak regime is considerably more dangerous and out of control. [UPDATE Thursday 5-Apr-12, 11:30 am: Ynet quotes the Israeli security authorities saying there was not one rocket but THREE, and they are searching Eilat for remnants.]

The midnight rocket landed within 150 meters of an apartment building complex in the residential part of Eilat. Eilat's many hotels are close to full capacity and no one is expecting people to stay away because of this latest expression of jihadist hatred.

On the other hand, we have learned to understand the ability of Palestinian Arab society to turn history on its head and to distort even their own scared Moslem scriptures in pursuit of a hate-filled political agenda. Palestinian Media Watch publicized a video this past week, translated from Arabic to English, showing a university lecturer present a recent Palestinian Authority religious TV program. The scholar teaches that Moses, who was of course a Moslem, brought the Israelites - who were Moslems - out of Egypt and into the land of Israel where they carried out the "first Palestinian liberation... of Palestine."

His straight-faced lecture and other similar programs in which religion is hijacked by racism and hate-based terrorism need to be seen by the greatest number of people. How else to begin to understand why their rockets and bombs keep being flung into our population centers and tourist zones at holiday time?

UPDATE #2: Thursday 5-Apr-12 1:30 pm Ynet quotes Mahamoud El-Hefnawy, Cairo's director of security for the Sinai sector, as saying this morning's rocket fire did not emanate from Sinai. "The situation in the southern sector is excellent. There are regular patrols and stakeouts across all roads", and he should know, though we wonder how this squares with the numerous unthwarted (by Egyptian authorities) attacks on the gas line between Egypt and Israel. Just a week ago, a published Israeli defence study concluded that
"with a new regime governing Egypt, the lawless Sinai Peninsula has become a breeding ground for Israel's enemies and their proxies. After more than thirty years of relative quiet on the border, Israel has a new potential threat to manage."
Echoing that view, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, like Israel's security leadership in general, has an opinion that differs sharply from El-Hefnawy's confident assertions that all is under control. He said this morning that the Ministry of Defence in Israel is
"well aware of the fact that Sinai is turning into a rocket launching pad for terrorists... We are building a fence. It can't stop missiles but we will find a solution for that. We will strike those who aim to harm us." 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

3-Apr-12: After Toulouse

Huguette Chomski Magnis is the Secretary General of Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme, and spokesperson of the International Alliance Against Terrorism. Her guest blog appears here at our request, with gratitude for her tireless activism in the struggle against terror and its proponents.

Thoughts from France: Terrorism and resistance                
Huguette Chomski Magnis
Toulouse, March 2012

On the morning of Monday, March 19, 2012, a man called Mohamed Merah grabbed a child, Myriam Monsonego, by the hair. The seconds that followed were an eternity of suffering for the terrified little girl whom he dragged along the ground and then murdered by means of a gunshot to the head.

In doing this, Merah carried out an act of resistance.

We are shocked by such a statement? We cough, we hesitate, we find this a bit exaggerated. 

We find it scandalous that a certain French schoolteacher asked her students to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the child-killer, Merah.   

We stress that almost everyone who matters in France unreservedly condemned his horrifying actions. And this, of course, is true and as it should be.   

But does this mean civil society has satisfied its obligations, and is thereby relieved of further self-examination?   

Is it so extraordinary that one of the lost children of our republic murdered three unarmed French soldiers? All three were of North African origin. Were their deaths an accident? Or did Merah and his accomplices target them as ‘traitors’ on the assumption that they had fought the Taliban?   

Is it so extraordinary that – unable to find a soldier to murder on that Monday – he turned his attentions to the natural alternative: Jewish children, a Jewish school? Have not Jewish children been considered a legitimate target by many whom «those who matter in the world» judge as respectable? 

The call to murder Jews – with no minimum age – is a recurring theme in the broadcasts and sermons of the Tunisian Salafists. The Tunisian authorities remain silent in the face of this murderous hatred.   

A similar message, only slightly more disguised, also exists in the ranks of Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood with which France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States administration are approving of «dialogue», regarding it as interesting and promising.   

It also exists in the Charter of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood, and the party that claims responsibility for countless massacres of Israeli children – they praise such massacres as glorious acts of resistance.

They are hardly alone. The Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a unit of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, among others, do the same.   

Appallingly, even the official television station of the Palestinian Authority recently broadcast a sermon by the PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, calling for more killing of Jews. [Source]   

Is the slaughter at the Jewish school in Toulouse worse than the horrifying May 2004 massacre of the Hatuel family: a pregnant mother and her four daughters aged from 9 years old to two?  The mis-named Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees claimed this as one of its heroic military achievements!

Is Toulouse worse than the massacre in Itamar a year ago in which the Fogel family was decimated: both parents and three of their five children, the youngest of whom was three months old?   

No, it is not worse. The reality is that Itamar is Toulouse.   

But we shall be told that what happens in France, by comparison with events far away, affects us to a much larger extent – and this is a thousand times right. The massacre in Toulouse has stunned us. We are still struggling to recover.   

But there is a problem here that cannot be swept under the rug.

There are very «proper» people, not in the least of immigrant background, who found that we made too much of these Jewish children who, although French, were also Israeli and buried in Israel, while the children of Gaza… suggestive suspension dots.

Little wonder that Baroness Catherine Ashton, a luminary among luminaries, found it necessary to associate the memory of the murdered children of Toulouse with the children of Gaza whose blood Mohamed Merah claimed to be avenging.

The children of Gaza have been turned into archetypical victims.   

Let us then talk of the children of Gaza – with a sad and loving thought for the unhappy children killed in the war of 2009.   

I do not know how many they were. Nor does anybody in France know. The figures of Hamas – a thoroughly unreliable source of information – have systematically been accepted.   

But to allow people to believe that Israeli army soldiers deliberately targeted those children, as did Mohamed Merah and his countless terrorist predecessors, is dishonest. Those poor children were civilian victims of war, not the targets of that war.

Dare one ask how many Libyan children were unintentionally killed by NATO bombs during their intervention? Do we even know? Were we given civilian casualty figures for that war?   

The blood-drenched dictator Gaddafi caused a great many casualties in the course of his regime’s collapse.   

Propaganda was the answer and that was correct. It was explained that he used his civilians as human shields. Again, that was correct.
  
But then, what has Hamas done but use its civilian population, children first, as human shields? The difference is that the Hamas has achieved an extraordinary resonance in our media.   

To oversimplify an extremely complex conflict led to mythology replacing reality; assumptions instead of analyses; propaganda instead of objective information.
  
The devastating result is total confusion.   

If the French icon Stephane Hessel supports Hamas and gives it the title of resistance fighters, then is it not feasible to implement Hamas methods into France?
  
This is something that humanists should question. 


So now what? 


Jihadism has landed in France. Merah’s death is in no sense its epilogue. 


For us simple citizens, our concern is neither the jihadists, nor the instrumentalities of State intelligence nor security. Our concern is with the reaction of civil society. Is civil society up to this challenge? 


Why are we not able to do what the Moroccans did after the attacks? Articulate with a clear voice: NO TO TERRORISM. 


The will to defend French republican society should not lead us to self-censorship. On the contrary.   

During the march that took place on the evening of the massacre on Monday, March 19, everyone around me, my comrades in the struggle against racism as well as a prominent lawyer, were categorical: the murderer was a neo-Nazi. The notion that he might be an Islamist was im-po-ssible.  Responsibility might lie with the foul ideas of the National front, or even of the government.  

Why is our reaction not just as clear when the alternative view, the “impossible” theory, is confirmed?   

Why are we asked to avoid speaking of Islamic extremism,  so as not to stigmatize Islam?

This is not what democrats in North Africa and the Middle East expect from us, especially those in Tunisia courageously fighting the rise of the salafists tolerated by the Ennahda regime. 

Pointing to the responsibility of Islamism - political Islam - that oppresses and kills Muslims first of all, enables one to distinguish it from spiritual Islam and the right of worship guaranteed to all citizens.   

There is a dangerous confusion. To illustrate: We know that Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was invited to address a rally of the UOIF on April 6. Responding to the voices of protest after the Toulouse horror, Nicolas Sarkozy said Qaradawi was not welcome in France.   

The edifying reaction of a certain researcher associate of Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales was that he could not understand the ban. For him, Qaradawi is simply a moderate supporter of the Palestinian cause and of its right to resist, not in solidarity with jihadist movements. [Source]

The researcher should have investigated more carefully. Qaradawi, the so-called moderate, is the author of the hallmark treatise on Islamic law, “The licit and the illicit in Islam”, and a man who prominently glorified the assassins of Sadat.    

Yes, he condemned the London tube bombings; a necessity in order to acquire a position of authority in Europe!   

But he published a justification for suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians of all ages. He issued a fatwa allowing to "kill Jewish embryos in the womb of their mothers because once born and grown up, they become soldiers of the IDF". [Source]   

So are we really a «republic united against terrorism»?   

Far from it, unfortunately.

Either condemnation of terrorism is universal or it does not exist.  

Paris - March 27, 2012 (Translation: Bernice Dubois)

Monday, April 02, 2012

2-Apr-12: An open letter to the prime minister: Are you the kind of leader we need now?

A version of the article below was published yesterday in the Ops & Blogs section of the Times of Israel under the title "From terrorist to talk-show host: a letter to Netanyahu"

PM Binyamin Netanyahu:  "In a live address 
to the country [on July 1, 2010], Netanyahu said all Israelis
wanted Shalit back safely but past experience showed
that many Palestinians released had returned
to carry out attacks on Israelis". Source: Haaretz newspaper
under the headline "Israel willing to pay heavy price to free 

Gilad Shalit - but not any price" 

Are you the kind of leader we need now?                     
By FRIMET ROTH

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

We could say "I told you so". But we will pass; the words offer no comfort. One of the terrorists you freed last October in the Shalit deal, our daughter’s murderer,Ahlam Tamimi, has resumed her terrorist activities. And she is flaunting them before the world.

She is not alone. Earlier this month, Haaretz learned from the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. AviMizrahi, that prisoners freed in exchange for Shalit are plotting to abduct Israeli civilians or soldiers and hold them hostage outside the West Bank.

But those freed prisoners are obviously on the IDF’s radar screen. Israel has arrested and re-imprisoned some for terrorist activities. Tamimi, on the other hand, was repatriated at your command to her home in Jordan where she is beyond Israel’s reach. “Exile” is what you called this arrangement, Mr. Netanyahu.

Last month, Tamimi began hosting a weekly show on the Hamas satellite TV station Al Quds which is beamed to every Arabic speaking country. She says the program, Nasim al-Ahrar [Breeze of the Free] will champion the cause of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. Airing on Friday nights, it enables Tamimi to incite others to attacks similar to the one she perpetrated – the massacre of fifteen men, women andchildren at Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant.

Upon learning, while imprisoned, that her efforts as strategist, scout, bomb transporter and escort had killed eight children, Tamimi said she had presumed there were three. “Eight?” she asked, smiling broadly, when she heard. “Eight then,” she repeated.

This child-killer’s hour-long TV shows are posted on You Tube. Seated in the Al Quds studio, composed and measured, Tamimi fields phone calls from prisoners’ families throughout the Arab world and hosts studio guests. She revels in her newfound celebrity.

On her first segment, Tamimi welcomed Saleh Arouri, director of the Hamas prisoners’ portfolio, who told viewers that the way to secure the release of more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails is by continued "resistance" and kidnappings of more IDF soldiers.

Tamimi, who ought to know, says her program is broadcast to Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Horrified by this news, we contacted the spokesperson’s office at the Israel Person Service. They responded that all Palestinian prisoners, presumably including mass murderers, are given access to ten channels of which four are Arabic. Cancelling this long-standing privilege, we were told, is regarded by prison authorities as impossible because, in their words, “it would not stand up in court”.

They assured us the prisoners have no access to Al Quds, and that the IPS has not detected broadcasts of Tamimi’s program on any of the permitted channels. They did concede that while future broadcasts of her program are entirely possible, all the IPS would do was carry out routine spot checks of program content.

This is disturbing for anybody concerned about incitement to terror by a mass murderer who was sentenced to 16 life sentences.

Such mollycoddling of terrorists is a precedent that you, Mr. Netanyahu, have set, even while you continue the pretense of being tough on terrorists.

For instance, two weeks ago, in the context of the Iranian nuclear threat, you vowed to AIPAC never to gamble with [Israel’s] security. "I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation", you declared.

And last week, reacting to the Toulouse shootings which you proclaimed were a “despicable murder”, you told the French government: “I promise that Israel will help France in the task of apprehending the murderer.”

Do you honestly consider yourself a bulwark against terrorists? You, who discounted the statistics about recidivism among past released terrorists. You, who paid no heed to the fact that some 30 terrorist attacks, in which 177 Israelis perished, committed since the year 2000, were carried out by Palestinians freed in previous deals or as goodwill gestures.

Netanyahu doctrine, mid-nineties edition
You even dismissed the principles promulgated by your own book. In Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists" (1995) you wrote:
“Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that… their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”

You forgot your vow in 1998 to your Likud colleagues, at the time of the Wye Plantation agreement: “We will never release convicted terrorist murderers”.

You ditched your pronouncement of July 2010 that “arch-terrorists” would not be part of any deal to rescue Gilad Shalit.

Finally, you ignored the letter my husband and I wrote and had hand delivered to you six months before you signed the Shalit deal. In it, we begged you to exclude from the swap one uniquely demonic terrorist: Ahlam Tamimi.

Mr. Netanyahu, to this day you have not responded to our plea. In fact, you have never written to us about the travesty of justice committed by our government. In October 2011, after the first tranche of the Shalit release, you assured the public that you had sent a letter to every victim affected by the Shalit deal. We checked, and it appears not one of us received such a letter. When we inquired at the Prime Minister’s Office, your staff insisted that “many” such letters had been mailed at the post office. The letters’ tracks, they said, had then been lost. One of your spokesmen prepared to quote me a precise number of letters sent, but we heard somebody in the background call out to him “Don’t give a number!”

At this foreboding juncture in our history, the Jewish people need a leader for whom their safety and welfare are top priority. A principled, honest, steadfast leader who, like US president Teddy Roosevelt, speaks softly and carries a big stick.

You, Mr. Netanyahu, do not fit the bill.

Frimet Roth is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the Sbarro restaurant bombing (2001). She and her husband founded the MalkiFoundation in her memory. It provides concrete support for Israeli families, irrespective of their religious or national affiliation, who choose to care for their special-needs child at home.

2-Apr-12: When you march for the rights of prisoners, what does it mean for the rights of their past and future victims?

Source: PMW
A friend has alerted us to the fact that political rallies are being organized in Europe (including Paris) and elsewhere this week in support of yet another UN-sponsored conference about the“plight” of the Palestinian Arabs being held in Israeli prisons.

We want those who march for them and against administrative detention and imprisonment to ask themselves and the organizers some tough and perhaps unpleasant questions - about these prisoners, about what brought them there - before they turn to good, liberal-minded people for support.

When they march, are they marching for the young cousins Amjad and Hakim Awad?

These boys are mere teenagers. And in the world in which most Europeans and Americans live, we know that boys in their teenage years are prone to getting into mischief. As an enlightened society, we treat them a little more gently so that we can encourage them to grow to mature manhood and become constructive members of our societies.

But this is not Europe or America. Yes, the Awad cousins are young. Amjad Mahmad Awad is 19, and was a student at Al-Quds Open University. Hakim Mazen Awad is 18. The Awad clan makes up about half of the population of Awarta, the village to which they fled after they carried out the crime for which they were convicted in an Israeli court. Last year, when they were arrested, Hakim Mazen Awad was a high school student whose father, Mazen, is active in the PFLP terrorist organization and had served a five-year prison sentence, imposed by the Palestinian National Authority, for murdering his female cousin and cremating her body.

It’s a family with some history. The boys had an uncle Jibril, also a PFLP terrorist. This Awad uncle participated in an earlier attack on the neighbouring community of Itamar back in 2002. A mother called Rachel Shabo and three of her children, Neria (16), Zvi (13), and Avishai (5) were shot to death inside their home, and the head of the neighborhood preparedness team, Yosef Twito (31), was also shot to death. Uncle Jibril’s career in terrorism came to a premature and fatal end in a 2003 clash with Israeli forces.

It is perhaps not surprising that the Awad clan had elaborate and quite complete arguments why their beautiful young sons had nothing to do with the horrible crime of which they were convicted last year. (Note also that several early media reports said the perpetrator might have been a Thai agricultural worker, though their services are generally not used in that part of Israel.) The crime was cold-blooded and horrifying even to observers who are hardened by the difficult acts of terror that happen in Israel with sickening frequency. Wikipedia’s report [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itamar_attack] says:

After crossing the fence, Amjad and Hakim walked 400 meters into the settlement. The perpetrators first broke into a house of the Chai family who were on vacation, searching all the rooms. They stole an M-16 assault rifle, ammunition, a helmet, and a kevlar vest. They waited an hour and entered the Fogels' house at around 10:30 pm. According to the indictment, the two entered the children's room, told eleven year old Yoav, who had been awakened by their entry, not to be afraid, then took him to a nearby room, slashed his throat, and stabbed him in the chest. Hakim Awad then strangled four-year-old Elad with Amjad Awad stabbing him twice in the chest. The two next entered the parents' room, and turned on the light, waking them up. The parents then struggled with the attackers. Ehud Fogel was repeatedly stabbed in the neck, and Ruth Fogel was stabbed in the neck and back and then shot when the suspects saw that she was not dead. The suspects then left the house… The two then argued over whether to withdraw or carry out attacks in other homes, with Hakim insisting that they return immediately to Awarta, and Amjad arguing that they should return to the home and steal another weapon. Amjad then re-entered the Fogel home. When 3-month old Hadas began crying, Amjad stabbed her… According to several accounts, the infant was decapitated, though one source says that although her throat was deeply slit, she was only "nearly decapitated". The attackers did not notice two other children asleep in the house at the time. In their confessions they said that they would not have hesitated to kill them if they had noticed them.

Hakim Awad's mother, Nawef, claimed that her son was at home the night of the murder and never left the house, claiming that "five months ago Hakim underwent a surgery in his stomach and I'm sure he was tortured and forced into confessing."  Amjad's family also claimed that he was in the village at the time of the event. One relative said that Hakim and Amjad did not know each other, as "one went to university, the other is in high school". He also claimed that if they had been guilty, they would have been captured within days, as "the whole world knows about Israel's advanced investigation abilities and its use of sophisticated means". 

What the whole world knows is actually something else. The Awads, who confessed and recreated the killings for the police, are now being claimed as heroes in the perverted world of the Palestinian Arab media and its friends and supporters. They are praised on government-owned television which played a song containing this revealing line: “That is what the homeland asked of me”.

Click to view the English-sub-titled PMW video clip
Here is where the story becomes decidedly un-American and non-European. We Israelis are confronted with an enemy that believes its very highest values are served by encouraging its young men to become heroes in the very specific sense of slicing the throats of sleeping Jewish children because “that is what the homeland asked” of them.

One of the most notorious of the killers created by the terrorism-adoring Islamist Arab society is Ahlam Tamimi. She planned the 2001 massacre in which fifteen Israelis, most of them children, were blown apart in a pizza restaurant. She planted the bomb – who happens to have been a human being – and then fled for her own safety. Later that day, she personally, herself, read the evening news report on PA Television about the successful killings in central Jerusalem without so much as a cynical smile to acknowledge that this horrifying crime was in fact hers. (Is there a historical precedent for this? Could Hollywood invent a credible scenario that includes such a scene?)

Tamimi, explicitly unrepentant, was released in October 2011 as part of the Shalit Transaction and has become a genuine media star with herown weekly program on the Al-Quds satellite television channel that is broadcast throughout the Arabic speaking world. Her presence as a fiery religious speaker, finger pointing  heavenwards, encouraging copycat acts of terror against Jews, has become ubiquitous in Islamist rallies in Jordan, Tunisia and parts in between.

Tamimi, speaking to an Islamist rally in Amman a month ago [Arabic source here], revealed that hunger strikes by Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons are what she called a “tactical move” that will continue for at least the next two months. And on April 17th, which is termed "Palestinian Prisoners' Day," something is going to happen. As the most well-known spokesperson for the claims of the imprisoned Islamists, she – perhaps more than anyone else on earth – exemplifies the cynical manipulation by the Islamists of liberal sympathy for the victims of alleged human rights offences. And more than anyone else’s actions, hers exemplify where that manipulation leads.

To those planning to take to the streets tomorrow in Paris and elsewhere, we ask: Are you for Tamimi or against the lethal hatred and the pathological racism which she embodies. Are you for the teenage perpetrators of last year’s Itamar massacre, or do you insist that something even worse is done when we hold them behind bars.

It may seem to you that getting this right or wrong does not matter so much because the killers are far away and not threatening your children. But what if you are wrong about that?

It might be interesting to ask the people of Toulouse for their opinion.

2-Apr-12: [UPDATED] Small, seemingly random acts of hate-based lethal violence: another scene from this ongoing war


Recent snap of Sha'ar Shechem (also known as Nablus Gate). It has a rich history.

At the Old City of Jerusalem's Nablus Gate (Sha'ar Shechem, in Hebrew), a man of 55 dressed in the usual black suit and hat preferred by Jewish Haredim paid the price for being in the wrong place at about 8 this morning. Sources: Haaretz and Ynet.

An Arab "youth" whacked him with an ax, inflicting injuries to the man's head and torso, before heroically fleeing after dropping the ax to the ground. The police are on his trail. The Jewish victim is being treated now at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.

UPDATE Wednesday 4-Apr-12: Israel Hayom, the English-language website of the Hebrew-only newspaper, has this background today.
"The attack occurred Monday at around 8 a.m., when Nachum Weisfish, 69, was assaulted as he walked along Neviim Street in Jerusalem. The suspected assailant apparently noticed Weisfish walking alone and attacked him from behind, repeatedly attempting to strike him in the head with an ax. Lying in bed at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, Weisfish told Israel Hayom, “I was returning to my home in the Makor Baruch neighborhood after praying at the Western Wall as I do every day. I noticed someone running up behind me and tried to run away. When I turned around, I saw an Arab man wielding an ax. I tried to grab the ax and as we struggled it fell from his hand. At that point, the Arab man fled and I noticed that the ax had cut my wide-rimmed hat, which had partially blocked the strike. My kippah [skullcap] also helped block the blade. I phoned the police and waited until they arrived.” A police spokesman said he believed the perpetrator would soon be apprehended. Weisfish, a 10th-generation Israeli, said, “Arabs are testing our resolve everywhere. My grandfather was murdered by Arabs 75 years ago in Zichron Yaakov. I experienced a great miracle.”

2-Apr-12: More darkness in and from Hamas-controlled Gaza, and this time the price is paid in the silent, unnoticed deaths of children


A 2010 BBC website image of a previous Gaza fuel crisis
Stand by for another urgent session of the United Nations Security Council. The suffering must end. Or must it?

As a result of totally unnecessary and tragic circumstances, three very young children of a Gazan Palestinian Arab family called Bashir died in their beds at some time in the past 24 hours. (The report is unclear as to exactly when, other than that their bodies were found on Sunday - yesterday.) The children aged 6, 5 and 2 lived with their parents in the town of Deir Balah, in the center of the coastal strip. A fourth child, a baby of six months, is badly burned and is being treated in an unspecified hospital.

Adham Abu Selmiya, the frequently-quoted spokesman for the Hamas-controlled emergency services authority in the Gaza Strip, said their deaths were caused by a candle being used due to lack of electricity in Gaza. "A fire broke out in the children's room," he said. "The candle was being used after the electricity was cut".

Was cut, is the phraseology. But why was it cut? Did the cuts fall from the sky? Is there a cause for these cuts?

Uninformed readers of the news will surely be thinking of those past reports blaming Israel for coldheartedly cutting off power to the teeming masses of Gaza. We are referring to such affairs as those reported by us here:
Those past reports reflect an absurd situation where Hamas, the masters of darkness, inflict power shortages on their own people through calculated manipulation of energy supplies including deliberately firing on the Israeli power station in Ashkelon that used to deliver some 70% of their electricity. As we reported in 2008 and 2010, the truth of the bizarre situation was that even while the terrorist gunmen and rocket-firers of Gaza, under Hamas inspiration and control, were trying to bring the Ashkelon plant to its knees, Israeli power workers inside the Ashkelon plant continued to work round the clock supplying electricity to the Gazans even while they came under constant Qassam fire. The head of the Israel Electric Corporation workers' committee chairman, Miko Zarfati, said it as plainly as you would want back at the time, but his words were barely quoted anywhere; you can see them here.

Instead of facing up to the blatant manipulation of Hamas, newsagencies throughout the civilized world swallowed the bait and published self-evidently dishonest news photos like the one below showing politicians sitting in the dark in Gaza:

Closed curtains, plus the mindset of the people in this picture, keep the daylight from streaming in
When we published this 2008 photo (taken inside the now-dormant Gazan 'parliament') at the time, we quoted the well-informed (but largely ignored) Palestinian Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh who wrote
"They had closed the curtains in the rooms to create the impression that Hamas leaders were also suffering as a result of the power stoppage," one journalist told The Jerusalem Post. "It was obvious that the whole thing was staged. Another journalist said he and his colleagues were told to wait for a few minutes before entering the chamber of the Palestinian Legislative Council so that each legislator would have time to light his candle. He said that when he saw that the curtains had been closed to prevent the light from entering, he realized that Hamas was trying to manipulate the media for political gain."
Not a single mainstream media channel reported what Abu Toameh said though the pictures of a phony blackout were everywhere at the time and may appear in the coming days again. 
Now back to this week's reality.

The Gaza Strip's sole power station stopped operating a week ago, says Ynet. It ran out of fuel 48 hours after some 450,000 liters were delivered from Israel last week. The Red Cross said Thursday it is going to ship emergency supplies of fuel, but it's not clear that the incoming fuel will be used, because the cynical Hamas regime has much larger concerns than providing its people with energy. What is happening in the background is diabolical. There is a dispute between the new Moslem Brotherhood-influenced government in Egypt and Hamas. It's a dispute that is being described as
"the worst energy crisis here in years: Gazans are enduring 18-hour-a-day blackouts, fuel is running low for hospital backup generators, raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea for lack of treatment pumps and gas stations have shut down. The fuel and electricity shortages, which have escalated over the past two months, are infuriating long-suffering Gazans who say their basic needs, perhaps more than ever, are being sacrificed for politics... Ostensibly the spat revolves around fuel supplies from Egypt — but on a broader level, it is linked to Egypt's troubled relationship with Hamas and its long-standing deep ambivalence toward Gaza itself."
The ins-and-outs of the dispute, this being the world of Arab brotherhood, include Egypt wanting to keep Gaza at arms' length. Egypt is said to be refusing to open a cargo route to Gaza but continues to turn a blind eye to the smuggling of fuel and other supplies through hundreds of under-the-border tunnels. Recall as you read this syndicated Associated Press story from Thursday that the one thing the Arab world has in incredible, almost obscene, abundance is oil:
"The fuel crisis has its origins in the decision by Hamas, more than a year ago, to use smuggled fuel to run the territory's only power plant instead of paying for more expensive fuel coming through an Israeli cargo crossing... Several weeks ago, the flow of smuggled Egyptian fuel began to slow: Egypt was itself suffering shortages, and it grew annoyed that Hamas was profiting by imposing tariffs on subsidized fuel meant for Egyptians. The Gaza power plant shut down on Feb. 10 and has been mostly offline since. Depots of fuel for transportation gradually ran low, and major gas stations in Gaza City closed several days ago. In recent days, no smuggled fuel has reached Gaza, traders say."
The effects are very uncomfortable, and worse: danger to premature babies in hospital incubators, and to kidney patients on dialysis, to those in intensive care. Half of Gaza's ambulances are currently grounded. Most cars are off the streets. Crowds fight over the few public taxis. Owners of diesel cars have taken to pouring used cooking oil into their tanks. Water supplies have dropped sharply for a lack of fuel to pump it up from wells. Sewage is being discharged into the Mediterranean Sea because waste-treatment pumps are out of action. And so on and so on.

Of course, AP's story would not be AP if it did not end up blaming you-know-who:
"The circuitous arrangement makes the point that Israel bears responsibility for Gaza and not Egypt. "We propose Kerem Shalom, because with this, we stress that Gaza is still under Israeli responsibility," the [un-named] diplomat said. "If we accept what Hamas wants, we would absolve Israel of this responsibility."
We're not sure the ordinary people of Gaza share that view. It's likely the masses don't give a hoot as to who provides them with fuel. They need power and services and they need them now. And as for the United Nations Human Rights Council, we doubt any citizens' delegations from Gaza are going to turn to them for help based on past performance.

And that's before we begin to try to think of the Hamas-created catastrophe that has engulfed Mr and Mrs Bashir and hundreds of thousands of Arab victims like them, victims of the hate-driven, tyrannical religious fanatics who rule them, in this ongoing war.