Saturday, October 19, 2013

19-Oct-13: Just across our southern border, still more terror attacks

Ismailia: aftermath [Image Source]
The escalating turmoil in Sinai continues to grow increasingly serious. [Click here for our previous Sinai entries.] In the past two days:
Gunmen Kill Police Officer in Egypt's SinaiEL-ARISH, Friday, October 18, 2013 | Associated Press | Suspected militants killed an Egyptian police officer Friday in the Sinai Peninsula, as Islamists held scattered protests around the country, calling for the reinstatement of the nation's ousted Islamist president. Gunmen opened fire at the police officer as he walked near his home in the city of el-Arish 
In Egypt, car bomb injures six military members; attacks raise fear of insurgencySaturday, October 19, 7:45 PM | Washington Post | A car rigged with explosives detonated outside a military intelligence headquarters in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia on Saturday, wounding at least six military personnel and highlighting the rise in militant attacks on security forces here. The official news agency MENA said security forces discovered a second car bomb while sweeping the area, but it did not explode... Five civilians were also injured. Egypt has seen a surge in militant attacks against military and police installations since the army deposed then-President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, in July and cracked down on thousands of his supporters. The assaults, though still apparently uncoordinated, are increasingly brazen and sophisticated, raising fears of an insurgency that could plunge Egypt into turmoil just 2 ½ years after its pro-democracy uprising... Home to roughly 350,000 people, Ismailia is a military garrison town and the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928.
There's a striking photo essay on the English-language version of Germany's Der Spiegel, entitled "Laboratory of Violence: Egypt Struggles for Control of Sinai". Here's how it opens:
The Sinai Peninsula is both a vacation paradise and a haven for jihadists and gangs of thugs. The military and the police are trying to regain control over the region. But a new class of haughty warlords and a resentful public mean the state's chances are remote... The entire country has descended into violence since the military coup in July, but nowhere in Egypt is the fight being waged as bitterly and violently as on the Sinai Peninsula, which is roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland. The Sinai is a laboratory of violence, a test zone. This is where the military must prove it can establish law and order, now that it has eliminated the democratically elected Islamist government of former President Mohammed Morsi. The generals must demonstrate they can save the country -- and soon, or else the majority of Egyptians will lose the last vestige of confidence in the military, and so will Egypt's allies.

Friday, October 18, 2013

18-Oct-13: Two years and a call to action

In her latest blog post on the Times of Israel website ["We cannot forget this day"], Frimet Roth asks for support in conveying to Israel's leadership how mistaken are the current policies that have brought it to undertake mass releases of unrepentant convicted terrorists, many of them murderers, with no regard for the length of the prison terms to which they were sentenced. 

Referring to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, she writes
Tell him that he has more than the terror victim families to contend with. That you too find the freeing of convicted, unrepentant mass murderers repugnant. That you too expect the rulings of our judges and courts to be respected, not trashed. That you too are concerned about the repercussions of his actions: the sharp escalation in terror attacks and the diminished deterrence. [More from "We cannot forget this day" at Times of Israel]
Click here for the contact details of the prime minister's office.

18-Oct-13: Two years after the mass release of killers and other terrorists, a cry of pain

Click for the Jerusalem Post article
Frimet Roth's op ed appears (in slightly edited form, under the title "Releasing terrorists only encourages terrorism") in today's edition of the Jerusalem Post. Its publication coincides with the second anniversary of the day on which no fewer than 1,027 convicted killers and assorted other convicted terrorists were set free by the Israeli government in order to secure the release of a kidnapped hostage, the soldier Gilad Shalit. Among those who walked free two years ago is the woman who confessed (proudly) to engineering the massacre at a central Jerusalem pizza shop a decade earlier. That woman, the principal murderer of our teenage daughter Malki, now lives freely in Amman, Jordan from where she regularly speaks to public meetings and via her own television program in enthusiastic and unimpeded support of the killing of Jewish children.

Two years after mass release of terrorists, Israeli leadership is doing it again

October 18th marks two years since the Shalit Deal. On that day, our daughter Malki, was murdered a second time.

That is how we felt when Ahlam Tamimi was freed along with 1,023 other terrorists in the deal struck to rescue kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas. Twelve years earlier, Tamimi chose the target, transported the bomb and led her accomplice by the arm to Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant where she instructed him to detonate the 10 kg. of explosives he carried on his back. Fifteen children, women and men, among them our precious Malki, perished in the inferno. On this day in 2011, our prime minister allowed Tamimi to return triumphantly to her home in Jordan.

A self-confessed, convicted, unrepentant mass murderer, sentenced to 16 life terms, Tamimi was included in the deal despite our pleas to Netanyahu that her name be removed from the list. In our letters, we reminded him of an interview in which Tamimi smiled broadly upon learning that she had murdered eight children, several more than she had presumed.

Few Israelis are aware of the letters that my husband and I and several other victims sent our prime minister over the last three years imploring him to meet us. Not once has he, or his office, responded.

Following the Shalit Deal, Netanyahu announced that he had written to the families of the victims of terror. His office insisted that “many” such letters were delivered to the post office. Neither we nor any other such families – and we have asked dozens – ever received such a letter.

Given the scant media attention, not many know that last year our prime minister allowed Tamimi’s fiancé, also a murderer released in the Shalit Deal, to leave the West Bank in order to marry her and settle in Jordan.

This was contrary to an explicit written condition of the fiance’s release prohibiting him from ever exiting the West Bank. Once again, our pleas – both written and by phone - that the permission be refused, were ignored.

In August 2013, it was announced that 104 prisoners would be released in three tranches to jump-start renewed negotiations with the PA. The Shin Bet’s Yoram Cohen warned at the time: “Their release will damage security, both in terms of immediate threat to public safety and in terms of an erosion of deterrence.”

Then last month, Al Hayat reported that Israel had agreed to release a further 250 convicts. Presumably, Netanyahu sees these as easy concessions to make to Abbas and Obama. After all, no outrage has emanated from the 86% of Israeli Jews who, according to a poll, strongly oppose their being set free.

The latest media buzz is that a third intifada is brewing. There has been a sharp jump in the number of terror attacks in the West Bank: from 68 in August to 104 in September.  

This week we learned of the discovery of a 1.5 mile “abduction tunnel” constructed by Hamas. Fifty feet underground, the Hamas construction penetrated a quarter of a mile into Israel. The news sent shock waves throughout the country.

survey published by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last month found [according to this Jerusalem Post report] that 58% of Palestinians expect a third intifada to erupt if an agreement is not reached with the Israelis during the current negotiations. With 70% of Palestinians and 80% of Israelis certain the talks will fail, a new intifada looks, at the very least, highly likely.

Yet our serial releaser-of-murderers, Mr. Netanyahu, is immutable and  unchallenged. Even objections from seven right-wing cabinet ministers fizzled out almost as soon as they were uttered.  The “settlement candy” that Netanyahu is wont to dole out after each release no doubt buys the right’s docility.

Potential killers are now flush with the confidence that if caught they will be freed shortly afterward.

There is one aspect of the releases that has been glossed over even by their opponents: Netanyahu’s usurpation of the judiciary. He has discarded not only court sentences but, in certain cases – including our Malki’s murderer – explicit judicial recommendations that the defendants never be included in any deals.

The very foundations of our democracy are being undermined.  

Oddly, Netanyahu himself best expressed the dangers that his releases pose. In a recent “open letter” posted on his website, he addressed his constituents after announcing the release of the 104 prisoners. "This is an incredibly difficult decision,” he wrote [source]. “It hurts the bereaved families, it hurts all of the Israeli people and it hurts me very much. It clashes with the most important principle, the principle of justice.”

Of course, those words only make his decision to pursue these releases more confounding.

When the world’s democracies are unified in battling Islamist terrorism, Israel – a prime target for terrorists – is looking askance at its own terrorist enemies. Once an exemplar of counter-terrorism strategy, Israel has, thanks to Netanyahu, become a terror-enabler.

We, the victims of terror who feel the pain of releases of terrorists like a knife stab, have been left to battle this alone. The first tranche of the 104 prisoners were transported home in the dead of night. Obviously our government is keen to hush and hide this outrage. We must not allow it to slip under the radar any longer.

FRIMET ROTH is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the Sbarrorestaurant bombing (2001). With her husband Arnold. she founded the Malki Foundation. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

17-Oct-13: Lessons learned now we know why all that cement was needed

Elliott Abrams, writing today on the blog site of the Council on Foreign Relations, reflects on that story of the destruction by the IDF of an elaborate and expensive tunnel running from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel. We wrote about it here: "13-Oct-13: Gazan tunnels: what lies beneath the surface". 

Abrams begins with a review of the pressure put onto Israel in 2010 following the Mavi Marmara affair in which a Turkish vessel, provocatively bent on violating Israel’s defensive blockade of Gaza and carrying zero humanitarian cargo, was forcibly stopped by Israeli naval forces. Several people were killed. 
The incident did Hamas some good: the violence and the publicity increased pressure on Israel to loosen the terms of  the blockade. Already in 2009 Pope Benedict had offered his prayers that the embargo would be lifted so that reconstruction could move faster, and in March 2010 Ban Ki-Moon had said that the Gaza blockade was causing “unacceptable suffering.” On June 1, the day after the ship was seized, Secretary of State Clinton said “the situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable… Palestinians’ legitimate needs for… regular access for reconstruction materials must… be assured.” She pressed Israeli officials to allow more building materials to enter Gaza, as did British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Former President Carter visited Gaza two weeks later and said the embargo causes “death, destruction, pain and suffering to the people here.” The Quartet called “for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza so that crucial reconstruction work can take place….” And this was the trope from virtually every EU government. And so the cement flowed; Israel lifted its ban
Now, as Abrams points out, we know what was actually happening. Housing and hospitals were built? Nope. Reconstruction of vital facilities? Nope again. Tunnels, and in particular a very serious one, sixty feet beneath the earth's surface, and 1.5 miles long, entirely dedicated to enabling a terrorist attack on Israel.
Construction appears to have been started two years ago—after cement began to flow into Gaza... What’s interesting here is not Hamas acting as Hamas always does: as a terrorist group that is uninterested in the welfare of the people of Gaza. What’s interesting is the number of proponents of lifting the blockade of Gaza who have now admitted error. The number appears to be zero. Not one has acknowledged that allowing construction materials into Gaza allowed Hamas to construct more tunnels, and that Israel may have been right to prevent their arrival. Being a critic of Israel apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.
Can you think of a single reason why Hamas will not try to do the very same thing again?

17-Oct-13: Apparent hostile attempt this evening to penetrate IDF base near Jerusalem

The scene at the IDF base this evening
[Image Source: Hadashot 24/Uri Davis]
In the past hour, there are reports of an attempted penetration of an IDF base close to Ramallah. A Palestinian Arab driving a tractor approached the security gate of the base a few kilometers from Jerusalem's northern edge and requested permission to enter. While the guard in the sentry box sought permission, the Arab driver smashed through the gate and damaged several vehicles before the guard and his commander managed to neutralize him with their fire. It appears the driver is now dead.

Times of Israel says there are no other injuries reported in the incident. Ynet says the IDF is treating tonight's attempted breach of the IDF base's perimeter as a terror attack. It also reports that a failed attempt by Palestinian Arabs to get access to the same base happened in December 2012.

UPDATE October 18, 2013: As the Jerusalem Post points out Friday morning, the attacker is Younis Obaidi from Beit Hanina, a north Jerusalem suburb: "Obaidi's brother, Mir'i Radeideh, also attempted to carry out a terrorist attack with a tractor, in March 2009. Radeideh attempted to run over two policemen in a police car in Jerusalem in March 2009. He was also shot to death." The official, government-controlled Palestinian news agency, WAFA, this morning calls him "a martyr" in its Arabic edition. His death is not yet recorded in WAFA's English pages.

17-Oct-13: Naive in Seattle (but not only there, of course): notes from the battlefield

The same two speakers on a January 2013 visit to Washington DC
[Image Source]
This is about the gross naivete (that's a quote) of certain people and the recourse to dishonest and false equivalences of certain organized groups.

We see both on display in the report below about a very recent event that took place in Seattle. The speakers come from an organization that sends pairs of representatives - one Arab, one Jewish - to speak in Europe, the US and certain selected other places, constantly. They have a message that resonates well with many audiences. We have listened to them closely. Theirs is a message that does not resonate with us, nor with many of the terror victims whom we know well.

What we see happening far too often is an ongoing effort to downplay the dangers and befuddle audiences about who the terrorists are and what they plan to do. We don't view this as a small thing but see it as part of a cognitive war. Cognitive warfare, to be clear. has real victims, real casualties, real combatants, real battlefields. It is war in the same way that the physical war going on in the skies over our homelands, in our pizza restaurants and on our buses is real.

But first, the article. It comes from the October 16, 2013 edition of The Mike Report, and is republished here with the author's permission.

Shas compared to Hamas at synagogue-sponsored event in Seattle 
Temple De-Hirsch sponsors controversial Israel event. Group claims to promote dialogue but only tells only one side of the story. 
Seattle, WA: October 16, 2013 – Parents Circle is an organization founded by a group of parents of victims of Palestinian violence and parents of Palestinians killed while either attacking Israelis or caught in the crossfire. The group describes itself as founded to “Support Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance” and sponsors multiple outreach and educational programs to further their message. 
The program on Sunday, October 13th at St. Mark’s featured Parents Circle publicist Robi Damelin, an Israeli of South African origin whose son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper at a checkpoint in East Jerusalem. Robi is an articulate and passionate advocate for reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. During her talk she frequently compared the South African Apartheid experience to the situation in Israel. Ms. Damelin promoted her vision of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Israel based on the post Apartheid South African model. 
St Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle [Image Source]
Bassam Aramin’s eleven year old daughter Abir was tragically killed in 2007 when caught in IDF crossfire during a Palestinian riot in Anata near Jerusalem. While the exact cause of death is disputed, it appears likely that Abir was struck in the head by an errant IDF Rubber bullet. Aramin similarly spoke of the need to humanize the “other” as a means towards achieving trust between the two peoples. He condemned both violence and revenge as a means towards achieving the goal of a Palestinian state. 
One could not help but be moved by these two sympathetic figures who appear to be genuinely trying to turn their personal tragedy into something positive. Throughout the program the focus was less on fault and more on moving forward. But whenever blame was assigned it was assigned to Israel. 
Whenever blame was assigned it was assigned to Israel.  
At no point the in the nearly two hour program was a mainstream Israeli perspective on the causes of the conflict or its lack of resolution presented. There was reference made by Ms. Damelin for the need to remove the security barrier as a prerequisite to peace. She did not mention that Palestinian terrorism was the precipitant for the construction of the barrier or that terror attacks have been dramatically reduced since the barrier’s installation. 
Both presenters identified “the occupation” as the progenitor of the conflict. There was no context offered as to how the occupation came about or acknowledgement that Israel has ever made any concessions for peace. One could have easily left the lecture under the impression that hostilities between Israel and her Arab neighbors commenced only with the acquisition of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.

An unrelated support organization for bereaved Israeli parents released a statement in July of 2013 expressing their discomfort with Parents Circle, questioning their motives and agenda. “Reviewing the public statements of Parents Circle’s key figures over the past decade, a consistent and depressingly familiar political agenda emerges. The Israelis are the aggressors. The Palestinians are the victims. The occupation is at the heart of the conflict. And as for the role of the terrorists, their ideologies and decades of Arab rejectionist politics – that is simply absent.” 
Towards the end of the program the audience was invited to ask questions. One woman queried the presenters on how one could combat the appeal of Hamas to young Palestinians, asking “With Hamas so into the Jew’s destruction, how are you able to counter that among the young people who look up to them? How do you even begin?” 
Mr. Aramin responded. “It is exactly how the Israelis do with Shas. Shas and Hamas. We are talking to everyone, Hamas. One of the founders of combatants for peace was from Islamic Jihad, which is the same mentality that you see with Hamas. We are talking to the people and I believe it starts and ends with education. Education on both sides, it is not less worse in Israel.” 
There was no objection or gasps of shock when Mr. Aramin placed an Israeli Sephardic-ethnic political party on the same moral plane as the Hamas terror organization. Hamas has indisputably murdered hundreds of innocent civilians in the most gruesome fashion, including many of their fellow Palestinians. While Shas politicians may have at times engaged in offensive rhetoric, they are a political party and have never blown up a pizza parlor or a bus, or murdered anybody for that matter. 
The effectiveness of events like these lie in the emotional stories of the presenters and the decency that they project. Both presenters appealed for non violence from all parties, including Palestinians. They pleaded with their audience not to dehumanize either side. But their message, while sympathetically packaged is singular, the fault of and solution for the conflict lies entirely in Israel’s hands. 
Frimet and Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was murdered by Hamas terrorists in the Sbarro massacre of August 9, 2001 expressed their displeasure with Parents Circle in a July 2013 article. ”We believe Parents Circle leverages our collective bereavement to secure funding for advancing a very specific and particular political line - a line even they concede is unrepresentative of Israel’s bereaved families.” 
This one-sided perspective served up gently has garnered support from extremist groups advocating for the boycott and international ostricization of Israel. An unaffiliated Israeli bereaved parents group notes that “it is not so surprising that groups promoting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel) including EAPPI and Sabeel acknowledge a close relationship with, and support for, Parents Circle.” 
This event was co-sponsored by St. Mark’s Cathedral and Temple De Hirsch Sinai. Rabbi Aron Meyer of Temple De-Hirsch offered the opening invocation. The Stroum Jewish Community Center hosted a similar forum with Parents Circle that same afternoon. 
In a region where animus towards Israel is rampant [some in the audience expressed feverish hostility towards not just Israel but also to Jews. One man verbally accosted a pro-Israel woman in the audience.] one cannot help but be alarmed at the gross naïveté at best of Jewish organizations that promote sleekly produced, agenda driven programs that are not fair to Israel and may ultimately place the Jewish state in greater danger from her very real enemies. 
Our sense is this report shows once again how the jihadists are too often given an easy pass, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by people with a political viewpoint to push. This can certainly happen when those who find it expedient to do so make bogus comparisons with non-terrorist groups whom they happen not to like. In this case, an irresponsible parallel was proposed between the actions of the child-killers of Hamas on one hand, and the views of a religiously-oriented, thoroughly-mainstream Mizrachi/Sephardi political party in Israel, on the other. Insane is the word that comes to mind.

We get cross-eyed just thinking about the mental gymnastics a rational person would have to go through to validate that idiotic and dangerously wrong comparison. We don't believe the speaker whose words are being reported made that effort. To us, it’s fairly obvious he said something a smarter and more responsible representative of the group that flies him around the world would never have said. If you like, a slip of the tongue. But it was said, and as far as we can tell was not taken back – not by the speaker, not by the hosts.

There are audiences, like the one in Seattle, for whom a statement as inane as the one made by the Palestinian Arab speaker works. It can and it does happen in other places too. 

For our recent critique of Parents Circle Families Forum, see “12-Jul-13: Behind the facade at Parents Circle, messages that are deeply disturbing to bereaved families”. Our comments, taken from that article, are mentioned in the report above.

Finally, here's a reminder of one of the things we said when we wrote previously about the activities of Parents Circle:
We sincerely support the right of individuals or groups promoting a political view of the conflict to express it in whatever manner they deem fit, and however much it may differ from ours. But exploiting bereavement to raise funds and to promote specific ideological positions is a different matter. The Parents Circle does just that.

17-Oct-13: Making sense of never-ending corruption

Scene from the movie classic Casablanca: Renault, the police chief,
picking up his roulette winnings, is "shocked, shocked" to find gambling going on.
This has nothing, nothing, to do with Palestinian Arab corruption
and European willingness to be duped. [Image Source]
An article by Michael Curtis, "The Unsurprising Corruption of Palestinian Authorities" over on the American Thinker site, takes us several steps beyond the points we noted here in the past week (see "15-Oct-13: Which one factor, central to the conflict and the hatred, is almost never reported in the news media?" and "13-Oct-13: Massive scandal in Palestinian Arab financial affairs? No!") It's a great piece of analysis, and we urge everyone to read it all. 

The immediate trigger is a not-yet-released report by the European Court of Auditors into the income and spending of money given as foreign aid to the Palestinian Arabs by the EU. As we mentioned here four days ago, billions of aid dollars given to the Palestinians between 2008 and 2012 are unaccounted for and "lost". EU investigators who came to Jerusalem and the West Bank "were unable to obtain information or speak to Palestinian officials about corruption", as Curtis puts it. A more serious indictment would be hard to imagine. Still and unsurprisingly, it has gotten negligible media coverage. The usual reasons apply.

Some bullet-point extracts from his important piece, starting with the extraordinary largesse that has created the conditions for the monumental scale on which official Palestinian corruption is done:
  • The Palestinian Authority received, per capita of the people it controlled, 25 times more aid, mostly given to UNRWA (UN Relief and Work Agency) for Palestinian refugees, than Europeans received after World War II
  • Transparency International, a Berlin group concerned with monitoring corporate and political corruption, states that the ineffectiveness of the Palestinian parliament since 2007 has "given the executive (branch of Palestinian government) unlimited management over public funds." There have been "significant shortcomings" in management of funds. The group is currently investigating 29 Palestinian officials on counts of fraud and money laundering.
  • Moreover, over three-quarters of the funding of UNRWA comes from democratic, non-Arab countries...
  • Since 2008, the U.S. has given on average about $600 million a year to the Palestinians in bilateral aid: in 2013 the U.S. is giving $444 million. In addition, the U.S. has given $4,150 million to UNRWA since its establishment: it is the largest single state donor.
  • Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority... again laid blame on the "Israeli occupation" for the difficult economic situation of the Palestinians... This "occupation" exploited Palestinian resources and lands which directly led to an increase in deficit. In fact, the estimated budget deficit in 2013 is expected to be $1.4 billion. As a result he doubted that there would be funds available to pay the November salaries of the 150,000 PA workers... He did not try to define in which sinking hole the lost nearly $3 billion had gone.
  • U.S. aid has been given not only for humanitarian reasons, but also in the hopes that Palestinian terrorism may be ended, and that Palestinians would be encouraged to enter into the peace process. So far those hopes have been in vain.
  • Instead of dealing with the reality of Palestinian wastage and theft of financial resources, critics of Israel persist in their bias and prejudicial behavior. Typical of this is the vote of the Presbyterian Church, USA, to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the disputed territories and its call to all nations "to prohibit the import of products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land."
  • Instead of making peace with Israel the Palestinians have been wasting their resources. In view of the evident continuing corruption and mismanagement that almost everyone is now willing to acknowledge it is hard to take seriously, as some well meaning people have done, the Palestinian pretense of being victims of "Israeli oppression."
The leadership of the European Union, which obviously knows as much as we do and far more about this ongoing scandal has been silent since the London Times first reported it this past weekend. In any event, there is nothing new about it. We wrote here seven years ago
Don't be offended. But if you're a European who cares about what's being done with the taxes you pay to your government, the Palestinians are playing you for a fool. Not just you alone, but also your government, your politicians and your public-sector watchdogs.
Some earlier posts: 

17-Oct-13: Pausing for a moment

We have several posts either prepared or being readied that ought to startle people in the same way they startle us. Before they go up on this blog site, we feel the need to pause for a moment, to reflect and to share.

This blog allows us to say things here about matters that generally do not get reported or properly analyzed (in our estimation) in the mainstream media. Its focus is terror, and our homeland, Israel, and our people, the Jews.

For us, aspects of the complexity of life here as well as in the neighbourhood around us have phenomenal significance and throw light on those focal issues we just named.

It's evident that the people who run the world's great opinion-forming machines (the huge newspapers, the huge television and radio networks, the huge think-tanks and analysis shops) don't agree with what we think. At least that's how things seem, to judge by the way they keep ignoring the really important, influential things we find so central. Like what? The transparent hypocrisy and malevolence of those who support the haters of people who follow a creed different to their own; the killers of children and the fact that people keep making excuses for their sickening actions; the breathtakingly large degree of corruption and waste on the part of those who manage the resources of the countries near ours. There are additional issues but this paragraph is already too long.

So as we said, we have this blog and we write. It helps preserve our sanity. And it gives us a modest platform from which to be heard.

We try not to kid ourselves about how the world is going to stop rotating on its axis because the two of us sit down and write what we see, think and predict. But to be fair to ourselves for a moment, with a weekly audience in the thousands, we feel we are talking to concerned, passionate people who, like us, understand you have to search and think in order to make sense out of the available information.

Plus this: much of what you see in those places that used to be unquestionably authoritative simply lacks credibility. The mainstream news outlets are often wrong; they are wrong about things about which no one should never be wrong.

Perhaps this was always so; we're not sure about the past. But about today, there's just no doubt. And having gotten to personally know many professional journalists, editors, political figures and other opinion-formers, especially in the last few years when our lives took on a more public profile, it's clear to us that many of them are as wrong as the rest of the community about some of the most important issues in life.

Most people don't realize that information and ideas are being used against them. They are unlikely to realize this until they understand better the who, the what and the how of information manipulation.

We are in a cognitive war. We live on its battlefield, and most of us don't even realize that it's happening.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

16-Oct-13: That massive Hamas terror tunnel? A non-issue

Click for the Middle East Monitor article
Israeli forces found and destroyed a massive, cement-walled tunnel running from the terror-infested Gaza Strip into the fringes of an Israeli residential community a few days ago. [Background at "13-Oct-13: Gazan tunnels: what lies beneath the surface".]

Why the purportedly-impoverished Hamas regime misappropriates building materials, human labor and scarce budget funds to create a secret access channel capable of bringing its killers right up to the doorstep (literally) of the Israelis is obvious to anyone watching how jihad, Islamism and race-driven hatred work.

But out there, living, looking like and seeming to be relatively normal people, is an entire sub-population, scattered throughout the world, who are receptive to infantile, self-justifying propaganda like this terror-friendly report currently on prominent display at the Middle East Monitor's website.
Hamas: Israeli announcement of Gaza tunnel pretext to tighten siegeMiddle East Monitor | Monday, 14 October 2013 | The spokesperson of the Palestinian Islamist Movement Hamas, Sami Abu-Zuhri, has accused the Israeli occupation of using any pretext to tighten the siege on the Gaza Strip. Abu-Zuhri was commenting on the Israeli occupation's announced revelation of a tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Sunday. In a press release, Abu-Zuhri explained that the announcement aims to exaggerate a nonissue simply because the Israeli occupation wants to find a reason to tighten the already strict siege on Gaza...
There's nothing we especially want to say to the Hamas shill, Abu-Zuhri. He knows his audience, and it's human nature to expect some percentage of mankind and of his readership to believe in him.

Better they should not be reminded of one of his first appearances in the headlines. That was about seven years ago when, oy-vavoy, he accidentally allowed Palestinian Arab security people to find about a million dollars worth of Euro banknotes tucked into his clothing. (The BBC has the report.)

He also has a proclivity for turning what most would consider weighty matters into 'non-issues'. So just as the uncovering of a multi-million dollar tunnel for giving terrorists access to their intended victims is a triviality for Sami Abu-Zuhri, so too is the mass murder of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. He's on the record, in his official capacity as spokesperson for the Hamas terrorist organization, declaring in 2009 (according to Associated Press) that the "so-called Holocaust" (his words, a direct quote) deserve no place in the lesson plans of Palestinian Arab children being taught in UNRWA schools. Other things, he said, are more important for the children of the Hamas regime.

(UNRWA's leadership denied at the time, and again in 2012, that there was ever a plan to teach about the Holocaust to the children of UNRWA's schools in the Middle East. UNRWA "deferred to the host country on these matters", they said.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

15-Oct-13: What's behind the claims that Arafat died of radiation poisoning? [UPDATED]

Abbas and the iconic image of a predecessor [Image Source]
We deal here with the ongoing war against terrorists and terrorism, so it's appropriate that we update readers on new things learned about the late and unlamented Yasser Arafat, founding head of the PA, Nobel Prize laureate, notorious arch-terrorist.

Recall the headlines made just three days ago with the appearance of reports quoting a professional source some will regard as authoritative:
One of the world's leading medical journals has supported the possibility that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210. The British The Lancet journal has published a peer review of last year's research by Swiss scientists on Arafat's personal effects. It endorsed their work, which found high levels of the highly radioactive element in blood, urine, and saliva stains on the Palestinian leader's clothes and toothbrush. The work of the experts at Lausanne University, Switzerland, was triggered by an Al Jazeera investigation... By November 4, 2004, [Arafat] died of a cerebral haemorrhage, at the age of 75. Despite several scientific tests, there was no evidence of poison, and the cause of his illness remained unidentified... According to the Lancet publication, "[the] findings support the possibility of Arafat's poisoning with 210Po ... on the basis of [the] forensic investigation, there was sufficient doubt to recommend the exhumation of his body in 2012". The results of that latest analysis are expected shortly. [, October 12, 2013
The Lancet's report is here behind a paywall. To our eyes, it seems to say substantially less than the learned editors at are claiming, but what do we know. Others, with ties to the dead terrorist and his successors, seem sure enough of what they heard to drop the "supported the possibility" part of the reports. For instance, the main Iranian government-controlled media mouthpiece reported forthrightly on Saturday that
According to British journal the Lancet, Arafat was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210... [PressTV, October 12, 2013] 
Now, today, there's this:
Russian official: Arafat did not die from polonium poisoning | DPA | Oct. 15, 2013 | 12:44 PM | A Russian official said Tuesday that forensic tests found no indications of polonium poisoning in the body of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. "He could not have died of polonium poisoning – the Russian experts found no traces of this substance," Vladimir Uiba, the head of Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday. Last week, Britain's The Lancet journal reported that Swiss toxicologists discovered significant, unexplained traces of polonium in stains found on Arafat's belongings... In February of last year, Arafat's wife, Suha, gave researchers full access to her husband's medical file and to his personal effects in an effort to confirm her claim that he had been poisoned. In November 2012, Arafat's body was exhumed and samples of it were given to French, Swiss and Russian forensic experts as part of the investigation. 
If evidence that Arafat was poisoned by the Israelis cannot be found and soon, the previous list of theories is likely to stick around and prey on people's minds. We can rely on the energy of the inner circle of Arafat heirs to deal creatively with the challenge.

Mortifying as it must be to Palestinian Arabs deeply invested in cultivating a statesman-like image for the Yasser Arafat persona, the theory that remains persistent is that the man died with, or of, AIDS

For skeptics, that happens to be the view of Ahmed Jibril, a terrorist colleague of Arafat and head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command [video interview on Al-Manar Hezbollah television, July 5, 2007]. It's also what Arafat's personal doctor, Dr. Ashraf Al-Kurdi [interview] has said. 

From a video clip translated to English by Palwatch
Why has that cloud of AIDS doubt not been dispelled before now? We can suggest a few reasons:
  • The determination of the grieving widow Suha Arafat who for eight years (until she made a 180 degree turn-about) refused to allow an autopsy [NYTimes, September 8. 2005]
  • The persistent refusal of the officials at Percy Military Training Hospital in Paris, where Arafat was treated in his last weeks, to release the medical file [The Independent UK, August 29, 2012]
  • The need of Palestinian Arab figures like Nasser Al-Qidwa, Arafat's nephew and one-time PA "foreign minister" to stick to their mantra: "We shall neither tire nor grow weary... of the demand to receive an answer concerning the martyrdom death of our commander [Arafat] who was poisoned by Israel. We are convinced of this, but we want proof..." [source].
  • The educational value in raising generations of Palestinian Arab children nurtured on this hateful and counter-factual idea [YouTube video]: that Arafat, in his death, was a hero, a martyr and a shaheed, who was poisoned by you know who.
The German news-magazine Der Spiegel summed up the dynamic well in a single line: "One thing is clear in the mysterious case: If Arafat becomes [we would say 'remains'] a martyr, it could help deflect attention from the Palestinians' problems."

And as is painfully obvious to anyone watching, the deflecting of attention away from their problems is one of the few tasks at which the Palestinian governments truly excel.

UPDATE:  AFP issued the following retraction in the past few hours (Tuesday):
Russia denies issuing conclusions over Yasser Arafat’s death | Tuesday, 15 October 2013 | AFP, Moscow | The Russian agency involved in studying the remains of Yasser Arafat on Tuesday denied issuing any conclusions about the death of the Palestinian leader, after a report cited its chief as saying he could not have died from polonium poisoning. Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) was one of three international institutes involved in exhuming Arafat’s remains in November 2012. Interfax earlier quoted FMBA head Vladimir Uiba as saying he doubted a report published in The Lancet at the weekend saying that Swiss radiation experts had found traces of polonium on Arafat’s clothing... However, the FMBA quickly denied that Uiba had ever issued such a statement to Interfax. “We have not publicised any official results of our forensic review,” a spokesman for the agency told AFP, reading from an official statement. “Neither have we publicly confirmed nor denied media reports about there being or not being polonium in Arafat’s remains.” Pressed to explain the Interfax report, the spokesman said: “There was no statement.” The deputy editor of Interfax’s political news section stood by the story, saying Uiba made his comments in a sit-down interview. “The correspondent and I sat down with Uiba for an interview and this is what he said,” said the deputy editor, who asked not to be named. “If the (FMBA) press service later decided to issue that kind of statement, then it will rest on their conscience.” A foreign ministry source said Russia had no right to publicise the forensic review’s conclusions because the study was commissioned by the Palestinian leadership. “Our position on announcing the results of Yasser Arafat’s exhumation remains the same: only the Palestinian authorities can release this information,” the unnamed source told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Deflection of attention, anyone?

15-Oct-13: Which one factor, central to the conflict and the hatred, is almost never reported in the news media?

Scene at yet another donor conferences seeking a European solution and
Western money for a certain 'desperate plight' [Image Source]
Here's a reality check reminder for readers who wonder (and from the mails we get we know that this is vexing quite a number of people out there) why the Palestinian Arabs and their many supporters get such an easy deal from the global media, despite the constant very negative evidence of what they do to themselves, to their children and to our side.

We wrote here on Sunday ["13-Oct-13: Massive scandal in Palestinian Arab financial affairs? No!" ] about new evidence, revealed publicly by an impeccable, objective agency and pointing to economic malfeasance by a succession of Palestinian Arab insiders at the expense of the Palestinian Arab masses and the society they say they are struggling to create.

Here again is the essence of it, as reported by the Sunday Times in London:
Billions of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based watchdog. Brussels transferred more than £1.95bn to the occupied territories between 2008 and 2012 but had little control over how it was spent...
In truth, for people who have been paying attention to how the money given to the Palestinian Arab governments have been mismanaged since the establishment in the early nineties of the first Arafat regime, there are no surprises here. Google the terms "financial scandal" and "Palestine" and be prepared to spend hours trawling through the results, or start here with this 2002 news piece.

Now note that the Palestinian Authority has once again declared a financial emergency:
Abbas: PA struggling to pay salaries  Maan News Agency (Palestinian Arab) | Updated) 14/10/2013 10:51 | RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas expressed concern Friday that the Palestinian Authority would not be able to pay salaries for its employees in November due to the difficult economic situation.  In an interview with official PA television, he said that his minister of finance, Shukri Bishara, had informed him that the government would not be able to pay salaries unless international aid arrives. "The economic situation is really difficult, and the main reason is the Israeli occupation," Abbas said. "Israel exploits our resources and lands which increased our economic deficit.
"We must take responsibility according to the law," Abbas said. "We are working on improving our abilities and lowering the unemployment rate by supporting small enterprises."
He added: "I call on all wealthy Palestinians everywhere to support small projects. If every wealthy Palestinian took care of a family or opened up a small project for them, this would help to mitigate the crisis." The PA's budget deficit is nearly $500 million for 2013.
So now we want to share some questions with readers - food for thought, really, since there's no one in the mainstream news media, in the European Union or in the PA who shows any sign of taking this scandal or its ramifications even half-way seriously.
  • Why do the Palestinian Arabs not pay income tax to their own governments? There is considerable wealth among them, including many millionaires. Why are their two statelet run as a tax-haven like Monaco?
  • Why has not a single serious non-Israeli news channel, with the exception of the London Times that first reported this weekend's latest scandalous exemplar of vast financial piggishness (and also excepting UPI whose syndicated report from yesterday appears to have been picked up for publication by none of its news channel clients), reported on the devastating criticism of the PA's management published by the European audit agency?
  • If, as we know to be the case, the Palestinian Arabs constitute a bottomless pit of financial mismanagement, personal greed, incompetence, embezzlement, nepotism, theft on a monumental scale and the constant misappropriation of foreign aid for the purposes of advancing deadly terrorist activity, do we see this reported so rarely?
  • What are donor countries to make of the fact that the single most important agency for providing badly-needed resources for Palestinian Arab children (UNRWA, as hateful, distorted and inefficient as it is) gets trivial-to-no funding from obscenely wealthy Arab sheikhdoms like Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia? By far most of the money that funds schools and hospitals for the Palestinian Arabs comes from Europe, the United States, Australia and other non-Arab, non-Moslem sources. You can see the numbers here.
Money alone is not going to solve the challenges of the Middle East or of the woefully misnamed Arab Spring. But facing up to the monumental corruption that goes hand-in-hand with it would be a small step in the right direction. A pity it's not happening.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

13-Oct-13: Massive scandal in Palestinian Arab financial affairs? No!

Giving a hand in Brussels, May 2001: Chris Patten, Arafat, Romano Prodi,
Nabil Shaath [Image Source]
Seven years ago, we wrote here:
Don't be offended. But if you're a European who cares about what's being done with the taxes you pay to your government, the Palestinians are playing you for a fool. Not just you alone, but also your government, your politicians and your public-sector watchdogs.
Seven years: so much misery, so little progress.

For those wondering who OLAF is and what it did and did not do to facilitate the unjust enrichment of a large cohort of corrupt Palestinian Arab insiders, and/or who know little (or maybe nothing) about the connection between European funding of Palestinian Arab terrorism and the politician who is today the chairman of the BBC Trust, please read what we wrote back then. (And for a more recent update: "9-Sep-13: Snouts and troughs")

Today (literally) it became very relevant all over again. Here is the report that sparked a minor burst of interest in how the Palestinian Arabs have played, and continue to this very minute to play, an elaborate shell game funded by European taxpayers and benefiting some of the most hideous people a person would ever want to meet.
£1.95bn EU aid lost in Palestine | Times, London | Bojan Pancevski, Brussels | Published: 13 October 2013 | BILLIONS of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based watchdog. Brussels transferred more than £1.95bn to the occupied territories between 2008 and 2012 but had little control over how it was spent, the auditors say in an unpublished report seen by The Sunday Times. EU investigators who visited sites in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank noted “significant shortcomings” in the management of funds sent to Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the EU. A spokesman for the court declined to comment.
It infuriates us to see the passive language of that Times of London headline. Two billion pounds were lost? Is someone suggesting it got mislaid?

Of course not. This is a story of massive malfeasance, as the article itself suggests and as, we hope, the as-yet unavailable audit report will show. A pity that the headline writer saw fit to soft-pedal and obfuscate but that's actually the essence of the story behind the story.

If there is one aspect of this saga of corruption and dishonesty that is truly beyond our comprehension it's this: how can the members of the news media who cover the EU and the Middle East conflict have allowed this decade-plus financial scandal (one that everyone knows about and that few will discuss in public) to get so little media coverage?

How much of the conspiracy of silence is based on intimidation?

13-Oct-13: Gazan tunnels: what lies beneath the surface

Building materials being transported into the Gaza Strip from
Israel [Image Source: Flash 90]
Since the basic elements of the Gaza tunnel story, revealed today by Israel's army, are not disputed, let's go with the IDF's press announcement:
On October 7, IDF soldiers discovered the opening of a tunnel built by Gazan terrorists near Israeli civilian communities. The tunnel is approximately 18 meters underground and extends 1.7 kilometers. This is the third such tunnel found along the Gaza-Israel security fence in the past year... The tunnel was built with approximately 500 tons of cement and concrete. Hamas and other terror organizations in the strip invest millions of dollars and resources in order to operate a thriving network of illegal tunnels leading into Israel. Sufficient evidence suggests that terrorists methodically abuse construction materials transferred into the strip by Israel as humanitarian aid in order to build such tunnels. Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, Commander of the Gaza Division: “The IDF holds the Hamas terror organization as the sole responsible body for all terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip etc." [From the IDF Blog, today]
Hundreds of tons of cement and concrete made this tunnel possible. It was a done deal, and only a matter of time before armed and lethally-equipped men and women with murder on their minds would make their way through it. There's no double purpose to a tunnel like this one. It runs into Israel, not Egypt. It's not there to smuggle cows or cigarettes. It's a weapons-delivery system. No one is claiming otherwise.

Most people know how pathetic the lives of the people in Gaza are. No one tells the story of their suffering, their inadequate housing, the squalor of their towns, villages, shacks more often or more aggressively than the cold-blooded insiders of Hamas, and those who choose to align themselves with them - despite all the blood and gore on their hands - for 'humanitarian' reasons. Let the Gazans have cement, let them have concrete, stop the collective punishment, be more humanitarian! The drill is all too familiar to us.

Now let's get one aspect of this sorry affair clear. Hamas has the entire Gaza Strip in its tight control. People live and die there according to the will of the Hamas inner circle. And hundreds of tons of building materials get used for housing and schools and hospitals when and if the Hamas regime says so. When Hamas says that cement and concrete gets pulled aside and applied to the construction of a well-fortified tunnel for taking the war up to the homes of the Israelis, then that's what happens, and that's what happened.

At some point, someone is going to do an accounting to see which specific parties - from among the thousands of aid workers and the many dozens of NGOs active in Gaza - knew the cement and concrete were being sent to the tunnel makers. But for now, it's sufficiently shocking for the rest of us to note how the report of the tunnel is being marketed to the consumers of news around the globe.

One report, syndicated by Agence France Press, starts out this way today:
Israel on Sunday froze shipments of building materials to the Gaza Strip after discovering an alleged "terror tunnel" entering its borders from the adjoining territory, a defense official said.
"Due to security reasons, (the army) decided to stop for now the transfer of building materials into Gaza," Guy Inbar told AFP.
Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, did not say how long the ban would remain in force.
Last month Israel permitted delivery of cement and steel for use by the private sector into the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007, when Israel banned their transfer as part of a larger economic blockade imposed on the Strip at the time. [AFP today]
Yes, it bothers us that the terror tunnel is written "terror tunnel". But the basic factual elements of the news are there. A tunnel, intended to serve the purposes of terror, was found. It was made from materials that Israel had allowed into Gaza. Israel, aware that more cement and concrete will surely mean more underground terror-delivery systems, stops the inflow of cement. Which self-defence force would act differently?

We snapped this semi-trailer hauling
construction steel into Gaza in September 2012
So how have AFP's customers chosen to headline that syndicated report? The same identical report in each case, but each of the editors decide on what title to give it, and therefore how to spin it:
For consumers of the Arab and Pakistani news products listed above, the clear take-away (unlike in the case of the one British paper, the Telegraph) is that Israel has yet again done something unconscionable and oppressive. One more depressing instance of editors engaging in cognitive warfare. 

Over at the BBC, they quote an Israeli activist group called Gisha today saying 
70 lorry loads of building materials for the private sector and 60 loads for humanitarian projects had been due to enter Gaza on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the editors at the BBC fail to take the next step and ask their readers to figure out why those lorry loads that had been due are now not going to cross over into Gaza.

At some point, and soon, those same editors are likely to be once again assailing the 'cruel' Israel policy that keeps making life miserable for the Gazans, and many of their readers will have neither the data nor the motivation to recognize the con job which is being pulled on them.

13-Oct-13: A tunnel filled with Hamas explosives and a passion to kill

Here in Israel, there's considerable attention being paid this morning to the discovery by security forces of a massive underground tunnel running between Gaza and Israel, said to be 
particularly wide and about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) long, started in Abbasan al-Saghira, a farming village near Khan Yunis, in Gaza, and terminated inside Israel near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, in the western Negev. The tunnel, which was discovered over a week ago, terminated near a kindergarten on the kibbutz, among other exit points. It was filled with explosives, likely intended to be used for a terror attack... [Times of Israel]
This was actually discovered last week. The IDF evidently wanted time to destroy the tunnel before announcing that it had been found. This may explain the focus that  IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz made in an uncommonly significant speech (we're preparing a report on it now) just a few days ago. In it, he said the next war (the likelihood of which is evidently on the order of "utter certainty and just a matter of time") could be sparked by a “tunnel packed with explosives that reaches a kindergarten”.

Given what today's disclosure says about the security situation and the ongoing war with the terrorists, we will come back to this in the next day. There are more dimensions to it than are immediately visible, and we're too busy to do the subject justice for the next few hours.