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Saturday, October 31, 2009








It is so impossible for some to wrap oneself around the concept of EVIL. Can't you just accept the possibility that there exist those who will do evil for its own sake with nothing to gain, even at the expense of their own suffering? Is it not possible that there are those who are irredeemable? That they cannot be rehabilitated? If you can't, you also cannot prepare for all the possible scenarios. How will you defend yourself against this force? Play dead? Mosheh Wolfish - (10/29/2009 03:05)

Israel's Perils

The Late Great State of Israel:
How Enemies Within and Without
Threaten the Jewish Nation's Survival

Aaron Klein

Israel is dying. And those responsible are not just the terrorists plotting its destruction, but also the political elites within its borders. Drawing on in-the-field reporting and research that has brought him to the front lines of the Middle East news cycle, acclaimed journalist Aaron Klein spells out the shocking truth. In this groundbreaking work, Klein will show how Israel is often its own worst enemy. And how Hamas, Iran and Palestinian terrorists are poised to end the democracy once and for all. Unless these perils are countered soon, warns Klein, the only remnant of the Jewish country may soon be an epitaph: 'The Late, Great State of Israel.'

Wafa Sultan: "The Muslim World Needs Reform"


Middle East Forum

Be sure to visit MEF on

"The Muslim World Needs Reform"

A briefing by Wafa Sultan
October 20, 2009
(includes an audio recording of this talk)

Wafa Sultan is a Syrian-born psychiatrist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1989. She is most well-known for appearing on Al-Jazeera in 2006 in a debate with sheikh Ibrahim Al-Khouli, when she delivered a memorable attack on Islam (which has since caused her to live in hiding). She just released a new book, entitled A God Who Hates. On October 20, Dr. Sultan addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call.

Islam is intrinsically destructive—that is Dr. Sultan's message. She began by discussing how she came about this conclusion, which is the story of her largely autobiographical book.

In her view, the Muslim world needs reform in three areas: Muslim nations must 1) grant their citizens the right to practice any—or no—faith; 2) they must reform school curricula, which currently teach intolerance and hatred for non-Muslims; 3) they must grant equal rights to women and eliminate the oppression Muslim women currently experience.

Dr. Sultan stressed this last point, saying the West has long ignored the plight of Muslim women, which is why her book spends extra time addressing the problems women face in the Muslim world. Her recommendation is for the West to cease apologizing for Islam and instead confront Islamic teachings directly and "put pressure" on Muslims to "come up with honest answers."

Asked whether rejecting Shari'a is tantamount to rejecting Islam itself, Dr. Sultan answered in the affirmative: to be a Muslim, one must accept the laws of Islam as laid out in the Qur'an and the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith). Thus, while she accepts that there are "moderate Muslims," she insists that Islam itself is not and cannot be moderate. Still, she hopes that those who are trying to reform Islam will one day prove her wrong.

In response to a question on whether putting pressure on the Muslim world, as Dr. Sultan recommends, could provoke a backlash, she said that there would indeed probably be an initial backlash and perhaps an increase in violence. Regardless, Muslims will sooner or later have to confront the reality of Islam's "cruel" and "backwards" teachings.

Finally, asked about what Americans can do to make people aware of the threat, Dr. Sultan urged for pressure to be put on the U.S. government to confront Islam without politically correct restraints. She concluded by asserting her dream—that one day her native Syria will be as free as the United States.

Summary written by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.

You may post or forward this text, but on condition that you send it as an integral whole, along with complete information about its author, date, publication, and original URL.

The Middle East Forum


Last update - 04:34 27/10/2009
In shadow of Israeli 'boycott,' J Street meets in D.C.
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: U.S. Jews, J Street

The pro-Israel lobby J Street kicked off its first national conference on Sunday with more than 1,500 guests at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. Despite controversy and tension surrounding the convention, organizers said the attendance exceeded expectations.

Numerous peace activists, politicians, diplomats, lobbyists, male and female rabbis, political advisers, artists, students and journalists filled the halls. Participants who spilled out from over-crowded panel rooms sat in a circle on the lobby carpet, heatedly discussing the state of left-wing activists in Israel and the United States, religion and the new media.

"We couldn't be more thrilled," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. "The numbers of participants far exceeded our expectations - 148 congressmen supported the event, 250 students and reporters from 17 countries came. This is truly the birth of a movement. It demonstrates the vacuum and the desire to promote peace now, when it's more urgent than ever... Our vision for peace is very clear - two states based on '67."

"Violence might break out, there are extremists on both sides," he continued. "But we can't allow the extremists to prevent a better future for both sides."

A reporter asked Ben-Ami how J Street could be pro-Israel when Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had boycotted the event. "The Israeli ambassador is making a serious mistake. This is part of the Jewish community and to refuse to engage with us is a serious mistake, as it is to refuse to engage with those seeking to promote peace. I wish he were here even to express his disagreement. We do love Israel, we do support Israel. [But] we have questions regarding its policy," Ben-Ami said.

Asked about the Goldstone report, he said "The process by which the international community addresses these issues is flawed. But that doesn't mean Israel doesn't need to deal with the substance."

Opposite the hotel, Bob Kunst, of the rightist group Shalom International, held a one-man protest against the conference with a poster that read: "J St. Nazis."

MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said he had no compunction whatsoever about attending the conference. "I attended AIPAC's conference and now I'm here. The government is making a mistake in not attending. We appear at all kinds of forums that oppose Israel as well as in Arab states - so not coming to a pro-Israel conference? I'm of the impression that [J Street's] support in Israel is real and serious."

Participants will throng to Capitol Hill today and tomorrow for more than 200 meetings in Congress. They intend to explain to the congressmen and their aides that the Jewish American community has more than one voice, that active involvement in the peace process is a basic interest of both the United States and Israel, and that the preferred solution to the Iranian issue is the diplomatic process.

Five families from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah had their own agenda on the hill. "They came to tell their story, they want the American administration to help them return to their homes and prevent the imminent eviction of 500 more people," said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, who accompanied them.

"It was very exciting," said Colette Avital, a former Labor MK, "standing before a young crowd who said they love Israel and want to advance peace. I haven't seen such fervor in a long time, neither in Israel nor here. While we're getting thrown out of all the campuses, here there's huge potential."

Pollster and political adviser Jim Gerstein said Israel was not boycotting J Street. "It's not an Israeli boycott, it's Netanyahu's boycott. You have welcoming letters from the president and Tzipi Livni... 150 congress members are co-sponsoring this event. If Obama's administration is taking it seriously, what does it say about the prime minister?"
////////////////////////THE TRUTH COMES OUT////////
J Street: Jews Can Be 'Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian

J Street's campus branch drops pro-Israel slogan
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J Street's university arm has dropped the "pro-Israel" part of the left-wing US lobby's "pro-Israel, pro-peace" slogan to avoid alienating students.

That decision was part of the message conveyed to young activists who attended a special weekend program for students ahead of J Street's first annual conference, which began on Sunday.

Students are seen as a key component of the 18-month-old organization's constituency base and the conference itself. The multi-day event has incorporated new technology and interactive forums to harness their energy and garner feedback from the audience, which swelled to 1,500 on Monday and created overflow plenary and breakout sessions.

At their earlier weekend session, the 250 participating students mapped out strategies for bringing J Street's approach to college campuses and encouraging students to join in the effort.

* J Street's spiritual conceit
* Q&A: Roberta Seid on why J Street is bad for Israel

"We don't want to isolate people because they don't feel quite so comfortable with 'pro-Israel,' so we say 'pro-peace,'" said American University junior Lauren Barr of the "J Street U" slogan, "but behind that is 'pro-Israel."

Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board that decided the slogan's terminology, explained that on campus, "people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East."

She noted that the individual student chapters would be free to add "pro-Israel," "pro-Israel, pro-Palestine," or other wording that they felt would be effective on this issue, since "it's up to the individuals on campus to know their audience."

Yonatan Shechter, a junior at Hampshire College, said the ultra-liberal Massachusetts campus is inhospitable to terms like "Zionist" and that when his former organization, the Union of Progressive Zionists (which has been absorbed into J Street U), dropped that last word of its name, "people were so relieved."

Shechter said that J Street U allows students who support Israel to have an address on his campus, adding that nothing more to the right exists or would be sustainable and the only other Jewish student group "is decidedly not political... they won't go beyond having felafel on Independence Day."

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami said that when it came to his organization's work with the student groups, "If the way to engage the young part of our community is to give them space to work through their relationship with Israel, then we're going to do that. We're not going to shut them out, because the only way to keep them in the community is to give them the space to work that out."

J Street itself has repeatedly emphasized the pro-Israel aspect of its identity, stressing its stand in support of Israel and the need for a two-state solution in the face of criticism that it doesn't squarely support the Jewish state.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren declined an invitation to the conference after a spokesman said some of J Street's policies "could impair Israel's interests," though several Kadima and Labor MKs have flown in to attend the Washington convention.

Ben-Ami described himself as "concerned but realistic" about the students' choice to leave out the pro-Israel piece of J Street's slogan.

He added, "Some in the community might not want to hear that this is where a lot of young people have come to, but we have to deal with people where they're at and address their concerns."

The student sessions included activism training on using the media, building campus organizations and lobbying political leaders. They also addressed issues of concern, including "Anti-Semitism and Israel," a session described as focusing on the fact that "anti-Semitism does exist, even within

progressive communities we often consider our allies" and asking how open conversations can still be promoted. Another event was titled "Reckoning with the Radical Left on Campus: Alternatives to Boycotts and Divestment," and called for "developing alternative methods for change."

One participant, though, expressed surprise when the latter session shifted from the advertised topic of countering divestment to a discussion of how to effectively call for divestment from products made in settlements without a broader call for divestment from all of Israel.

The participant, who spoke anonymously because J Street only authorized J Street U's board members to speak to the media, said the students at the panel were brainstorming ways to make the nuance of their position clear from broader divestment campaigns.

J Street did not respond to a question about the session by press time, but did note that the student workshops were closed door sessions.

Ben-Ami specifically welcomed students at the opening session on Sunday night, at which Barr spoke, though the crowd was dominated by older activists, many of them long advocates of an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinians and in favor of active American diplomacy in the region.

Later, Ben-Ami described his organization's goal as one that includes changing the nature of the debate about Israel in America to one of a big-tent approach where different viewpoints and perspectives were welcomed.

"It is our goal to change traditional conversations when it comes to Israel and to broaden the notion that there is only one way to express love and concern for it," Ben-Ami said to applause. "We are here to redefine and expand the very concept of being pro-Israel. No longer should this 'pro-' require an 'anti-.'"

He read letters of support from President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, neither of whom were able to attend but both of whom expressed support for including a wide swath of American Jews in the issues connected to Israel.

"For too long, our voice - the voice of mainstream progressive Jews on Israel - has been absent from the political playing field in Washington and around the country," Ben-Ami told the crowd, noting that many have focused on other issues.
Roberta Seid- Education/Research Director of StandWithUs


Roberta P. Seid.

Seid earned her doctorate at UC Berkeley in European Social History, taught Gender Studies and European history at the University of Southern California, and currently teaches a course on Israel at UC Irvine. She is Education/Research Director of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, and was a member of the America Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) which analyzed Palestinian and Israeli demography. Dr. Seid has authored and co-authored books and articles in these fields in both the scholarly and non-scholarly press.

She was answering my questions on the way to J Street's conference - she's there to follow and protest, not to show support. Here we go:

1. How is J Street "frequently endorses anti-Israel, anti-Jewish narratives"?

In StandWithUs' extensive experience covering anti-Israel events, speakers, and organizations, we have found certain patterns: they exclude context, draw moral equivalencies, defend defamations and one-sided narratives under the banner of free speech, use half-truths and outright lies to stain Israel and Jews, or promote speakers who delegitimize Israel. Unfortunately, J Street has exhibited a pattern of doing some or all of these things.

Some examples: J Street:

Refused to condemn the bias and misrepresentations of the UN Goldstone Report, faulted the Israeli government for not cooperating with the investigation, and urged "the Israeli government to establish an independent state commission of inquiry to investigate the accusations, something Israel has done on several occasions in the past."

"7 Jewish Children" J Street endorsed Washington DC's J-Theater production of "7 Jewish Children" in March, 2009, claiming it would stimulate "rigorous intellectual engagement.”" Even the BBC would not air the piece after British Jewish leaders condemned it for historical distortions and for portraying "Israeli parents as inhuman triumphalists who care littleabout anything except their children's feelings and who teach them that Arabs are sub-human and must be hated."

Launched a public letter campaign to support programs with anti-Israel bias, such as Bob Simon's "60 Minutes" biased view of the settlements in January, 2009. J Street launched a campaign to defend Simon against CAMERA and Abe Foxman's criticisms. Foxman called the show a "hatchet job on Israel."

Adopted the anti-Israel interpretation of why Charles Freeman did not get appointed to a top intelligence post in the Obama administration. J Street refused to take sides in this controversy, but afterwards objected to the outcome, writing that "It cannot be a litmus test for service in the American government that you have never criticized Israel or its policies publicly." In fact, the Freeman appointment was scuttled because of Freeman's apologia for China’s brutal crackdown in Tianamen Square in 1989, his position as president of MEPC, an Arab lobby group partially funded by Saudi Arabia and the Bin Laden family, and because he did not "criticize" Israel, but rather fulminated against it in a series of screeds that repeated false anti-Israel charges.

Praised Jimmy Carter without denouncing the misrepresentations and pernicious influence of Carter's book that claimed Israel had instituted apartheid vs the Palestinians. J Street posted and urged distribution of Nancy Kaptur's (D-OH) speech which called for Jimmy Carter's op ed against Israel actions in Gaza to be entered in the Congressional Record. Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street's executive director, praised Jimmy Carter in 2009: "You have to respect him, which I don't think everybody has done... And he deserves more respect and more thanks than he has gotten."

Blamed Israeli policyfor Palestinian terrorism instead of recognizing the existence of extremist terrorist groups and strategy among Palestinians, portraying Palestinians solely as helpless victims instead of active agents in their policy choices. "But we're not doing a very good job at creating a secure home by conducting ourselves in this manner towards another people that are a minority, and that are powerless, and treating them in a way that forces them essentially to become terrorists, and leads to us being again in danger" (Ben-Ami in Salon interview).

2. Do you think criticizing Israel is necessarily "anti-Israel"? if not - where do you draw the line?

Of course criticizing Israeli policy is not inherently anti-Israel. Israelis do it all the time. There clearly will be different policies heatedly debated as Israel tries to deal with the difficult situation it is in today. I think Sharansky did an excellent job clarifying when criticism of Israel crosses the line from being reasonable to unreasonable.

The line between what is legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Israel positions are those I mentioned in answer 1 above. I think Sharansky's "3 D's" are a good litmus test: Delegitimization of Israel; Double standards when judging Israeli actions; Demonization of Israel, particularly misrepresenting all it has done for peace and to improve the condition of its minorities. To his 3 D's, I would add "decontextualization" - ignoring the context for Israel's actions and drawing moral equivalencies between Israel and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which would probably fit in Sharansky's "demonization."

More specifically: 1) Forcing Israel to adopt policies that are against the will of its democratically elected government; 2) Blaming Israel alone for the ongoing conflict and calling for pressure only on Israel to change policy, as J Street does; 3) Ignoring context, particularly the serious security threats Israel faces and could face in an imposed solution, and ignoring the failures of the PA and the problematic reality of it being able to be a peace partner when it is a divided between Hamas and Fatah.

3. J Street seems to be quite successful - do you agree with this assessment, and how do you explain this success?

J Street has gotten a lot of publicity. It's well funded and well connected, and has used a lot of major PR to get widespread attention. But how successful it will be remains to be seen. That's why our work is so important: Americans need to know what this organization actually stands for and whom it does or doesn't represent. Then they can make their decisions. Because so many American Jews oppose the policies they advocate, I tend to believe they will not be very popular in the Jewish community, though they very likely will continue to gather support from organizations and individuals who have generally been hostile to Israel.

4. You're "concerned because J Street echoes many of the charges in Walt and Mearsheimer's The Israel Lobby, and denigrates mainstream Jewish organizations across the political spectrum". But J Street's founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami had said (in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, referring to Walt and Mearsheimer) that "when the analysis of that lobby veers over a line and essentially says that all of American foreign policy is controlled by this one lobby and this one interest group, to me, personally, this does smack of the kind of conspiracy theories contained in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This notion that somehow Jews control this country, they control our foreign policy, that there is some diabolical conspiracy behind the scenes, this is when you cross that line." So, can we now delete one concern from the list?

I read the Goldberg interview. Ben-Ami has tried to distance himself from the Walt-Mearsheimer book with good reason. But he cannot deny that he echoes many of its themes, and many of his claims do make it sound like there is a "diaboloical" conspiracy out there. It is no accident that Walt is so pleased J Street was founded.

After all, the whole raison d'etre for the founding of J Street is their claim that mainstream Jewish organizations do not represent mainstream young Jews or liberal Jews, that these Jews have had no voice or are silenced, and that there is a need for a new direction in America's relationship with Israel.

But Ben-Ami goes even further.

He paints all the mainstream Jewish organizations as right wing, and as imposing "one voice" on the Jewish community - despite the bipartisanship of AIPAC and the different alignments of different Jewish organizations. He even has argued that being "hawkish" on Israel is a litmus test for acceptance by mainstream Jewish organizations. Consider his comments to Salon:

"And it greatly disturbs me and it greatly disturbs a very large number of progressive American Jews, who believe very strongly in Israel but feel that the way in which the American Jewish community's voice has been expressed on these issues doesn't reflect our values or opinions. Only the voices of the far right have been heard. They've really hijacked the debate when it comes to Israel." Ben-Ami in Salon interview said.

"Another key reason that J Street is urgently needed, Ben-Ami said, is to heal a dangerous and growing schism in the Jewish community... If we say that in order to be tied to the established Jewish community, either through federations or synagogues or any institutional entity, you have to go through a litmus test of 'do you stand with Israel right or wrong on everything' before we'll let you feel comfortable in our institutions, we're going to drive all these people away. We're going to lose an entire generation."

For his part, Ben-Ami said politicians on the Hill had reacted extremely positively to J Street's launch. "About the only thing that we can do to drive America away from Israel is to press our luck too far, keep on saying 'Is it pro-Israel enough?,' keep demanding that we have 32 preamble clauses that say how bad the Palestinians are." Ben-Ami said the politicians he spoke to wanted to make sure that the U.S.-Israel relationship was not damaged by such overkill, and were grateful that a new organization would "give them a little bit of relief from this constant pressure."

Similarly, in the issue about Charles Freeman's appointment, J Street expressed views that could have come from Walt and Mearsheimer - that "it cannot be a litmus test for service in the American government that you have never criticized Israel or its policies publicly," when in fact Freeman's rejection was not just because of his Israel positions, and when his "criticism" of Israel in fact included defamatory tirades that demonized and delegitimized Israel.

All these arguments resemble those of Walt and Mearsheimer.

5. Your Walt-Mearsheimer accusation is just an example to what many people might see as criticism too aggressive in tone and not properly nuanced when it comes to accuracy. Did you not cross a line when you've turned your legitimate criticism of J Street's into war of words that is hardly productive?

J Street is the group guilty of an aggressive tone and a total lack of nuance. It has painted mainstream American Jewish organizations with one brush as "right wing," and demanding "group think" for acceptance, and has made the preposterous claim that J Street alone is pro-peace, suggesting all these other groups are pro-war. That is nonsense and frankly dishonest.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say we are "too aggressive" in tone. Our press releases, statements, and ads simply laid out J Street's positions with documentation. We consider these positions and methods harmful for Israel, but all we did was explain what those positions were. Readers can then make informed decisions. J Street never denied that it advocates these positions. Nor did we attack J Street's founders. We pointed out that J Street has donors and supporters who have been affiliated with groups or countries that have historically been hostile to Israel, from Human Rights Watch to a member of the NIAC. J Street didn't deny these affiliations. It defended them. But it is certainly legitimate to ask why such individuals would support a pro-Israel organization - or whether they would influence it in ways that could be harmful to Israel. We are not engaged in a war of words with J Street. We just have very serious concerns about their positions, and we wanted to educate the public about J Street's positions.

6. Please explain your strategy: you think J Street is harmful, you think its ideas are wrong - how do you intend to try and oppose it in an effective way?

We are fulfilling our mission: education about Israel and issues related to Israel. We and others who are concerned about J Street have already succeeded because the problems with J Street's self-portrayal and its positions are now open and on the table, and being vigorously debated, as they should be.

7. Is there a danger that you're seen as "conservative" (namely, tend to be supportive of the Republican Party) - and that's effectively preventing you from being effective with most Jewish Americans? How can you convince the perplexed that your organization is not in the business of political character-assassination?

What does this have to do with the Republican party? We are looking at J Street's content and ideas, not their political affiliations. We have not used political labels, and this is the first time this question has been brought up in an interview. StandWithUs is non partisan. Our Board of Directors includes people from all parties and our students are a mix of liberal and conservative. We focus on correcting misconceptions and promoting education and information, not on endorsing political parties.

The issues about J Street are not about "conservative" and "republican" versus "democrat" and "liberal." They are about the American Jewish community and the best ways it can support Israel and further movement toward peace in the region. Unfortunately, J Street has tried to make this about liberal vs conservative in order to marginalize mainstream organizations and views, but support for Israel crosses party lines and the liberal-conservative divide. According to polls, 96% of Israelis feel the current U.S. administration's policies are not friendly to Israel. That result certainly crosses a wide political divide. The same is true here in the U.S.

We are certainly not in the business of "political character assassination." We are a non-partisan Israel education organization. J Street has every right to hold its opinions, express them, and form an organization to support them. Other American groups, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have an equal right to express their views and to challenge and debate J Street positions - and to inform the public about J Street positions that are cause for concern.

J Street isn't concerned about being seen as far left even though it recently affiliated with both the Union of Progressive Zionists and BrizTzedek. It seems rather that the groups that challenge J Street are from the mainstream though J Street has tried hard to marginalize them as "right wing" and "hawkish."

8. How can we measure your success or failure to achieve your goals?
The best way to measure our success or failure is by whether or not there is vigorous, thoughtful, and factual debate about J Street's positions and what it really represents. Our main goal is to bring clarity to the fact that the variety of groups under J Street's umbrella endorse positions that the vast mainstream of Israelis and supporters of Israel from other countries would find of grave concern and potentially harmful to Israel.


Breaking with the cautious attitude of major Jewish institutions, a prominent pro-Israel group in the U.S. has launched a scathing verbal attack on J Street, the left-leaning U.S. lobby for Israel, ahead of its inaugural conference which begins Sunday.

In a recent statement, StandWithUs - a nonprofit working to counter anti-Israel and anti-Semitic phenomena on campuses - asserted that since its foundation last April, J Street has "echoed" the position of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who argue the "Israel lobby" is too powerful in Washington.

"One of the most dangerous things that can be said about Jews is that they control the world, or America, or American foreign policy," said Roz Rothstein from Los Angeles, who founded StandWithUs in 2001.

Rothstein, who visited Israel this week for the Presidential Conference, argued J Street "contributes to this way of thinking" with statements like the one made on June 9 by J Street 's executive director Jeremy Ben Ami, who wrote that "for decades, established pro-Israel groups have enforced right-wing message discipline on Israel in Congress."

Not worth a reaction

A spokesperson for the self-described "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby, Amy Spitalnick, told Anglo File on Monday that her organization had no comment on this and other accusations by StandWithUs "because they do not merit a reaction." One J Street supporter called the advocacy group's letter a "lie-filled dossier" and "smear sheet".

StandWithUs wrote its protest letter to the J Street conference's 160-person congressional host committee, which includes John Kerry, Henry Waxman and Dianne Feinstein. Israel 's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said he will not attend the J Street conference, set to take place next week in Washington D.C.

In a 2,000-word response to the 800-word letter by StandWithUs, Richard Silverstein, a writer known for his critical approach to Israel who will lead a discussion on blogging during the J Street Conference, wrote that the Walt and Mearsheimer reference was "so patently false it isn't even worth engaging [which]."

StandWithUs, which has an annual budget of roughly $4 million, also wrote that J Street , whose annual budget is $3 million, drew "a moral equivalence" between Israel and Hamas when the lobby group said during Israel's recent campaign in Gaza that "it could not identify who was right or who was wrong."

This claim, Silverstein argued, should be examined against J Street's full statement, which he says "bears no resemblance whatsoever" to what StandWithUs said. Referring to Israel's conflict with Hamas, J Street - which calls on U.S. and Israeli politicians to "find ways to engage Hamas" - went on to write in the petition that "there are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides."

According to Rothstein, StandWithUs will send a delegation of observers - whose makeup and identity she would not disclose - to the J Street conference next week.
"Though it's probably made up of fine people, J Street's message can be dangerous," said Rothstein. "It has a very attractive-looking pitch that speaks of peace and love, which we all want, but that world view only works with those who share it. Hamas doesn't, Iran doesn't and many others don't share it either."
///soros' J Street////////////////
J Street 'thrilled' by turnout at first national conference
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: U.S. Jews, J Street

The pro-Israel lobby J Street kicked off its first national conference on Sunday with more than 1,500 guests at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. Despite controversy and tension surrounding the convention, organizers said the attendance exceeded expectations.

Numerous peace activists, politicians, diplomats, lobbyists, male and female rabbis, political advisers, artists, students and journalists filled the halls. Participants who spilled out from over-crowded panel rooms sat in a circle on the lobby carpet, heatedly discussing the state of left-wing activists in Israel and the United States, religion and the new media.

"We couldn't be more thrilled," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. "The numbers of participants far exceeded our expectations - 148 congressmen supported the event, 250 students and reporters from 17 countries came. This is truly the birth of a movement. It demonstrates the vacuum and the desire to promote peace now, when it's more urgent than ever... Our vision for peace is very clear - two states based on '67."

"Violence might break out, there are extremists on both sides," he continued. "But we can't allow the extremists to prevent a better future for both sides."

A reporter asked Ben-Ami how J Street could be pro-Israel when Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had boycotted the event. "The Israeli ambassador is making a serious mistake. This is part of the Jewish community and to refuse to engage with us is a serious mistake, as it is to refuse to engage with those seeking to promote peace. I wish he were here even to express his disagreement. We do love Israel, we do support Israel. [But] we have questions regarding its policy," Ben-Ami said.

Asked about the Goldstone report, he said "The process by which the international community addresses these issues is flawed. But that doesn't mean Israel doesn't need to deal with the substance."

Opposite the hotel, Bob Kunst, of the rightist group Shalom International, held a one-man protest against the conference with a poster that read: "J St. Nazis."

MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said he had no compunction whatsoever about attending the conference. "I attended AIPAC's conference and now I'm here. The government is making a mistake in not attending. We appear at all kinds of forums that oppose Israel as well as in Arab states - so not coming to a pro-Israel conference? I'm of the impression that [J Street's] support in Israel is real and serious."

Participants will throng to Capitol Hill today and tomorrow for more than 200 meetings in Congress. They intend to explain to the congressmen and their aides that the Jewish American community has more than one voice, that active involvement in the peace process is a basic interest of both the United States and Israel, and that the preferred solution to the Iranian issue is the diplomatic process.

Five families from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah had their own agenda on the hill. "They came to tell their story, they want the American administration to help them return to their homes and prevent the imminent eviction of 500 more people," said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, who accompanied them.

"It was very exciting," said Colette Avital, a former Labor MK, "standing before a young crowd who said they love Israel and want to advance peace. I haven't seen such fervor in a long time, neither in Israel nor here. While we're getting thrown out of all the campuses, here there's huge potential."

Pollster and political adviser Jim Gerstein said Israel was not boycotting J Street. "It's not an Israeli boycott, it's Netanyahu's boycott. You have welcoming letters from the president and Tzipi Livni... 150 congress members are co-sponsoring this event. If Obama's administration is taking it seriously, what does it say about the prime minister?"


Published: 10/22/09, 10:11 AM / Last Update: 10/22/09, 10:38 AM
'Media Opens Season of Self-Hatred' Says MK Katz

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
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( Israeli television and radio programs on Wednesday praised the outgoing head of the Central Command who often has criticized Jews in Judea and Samaria -- indicating “a sign of the opening of the annual season of incitement and tongue-lashing against the [national religious] community,” National Union Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz said Thursday.

He pointed out that the same [national religious] community "contributes the most to the country,”

Programs on Channel 1 and Channel 2 television and on Voice of Israel government radio on the departure of Major General Gadi Shamni were “literally signs of anti-Semitism,” the chairman of the National Union added. “Several reporters heaped reckless praise, full of self-hatred, for the leftist general who has harassed Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria more than anyone else since the re-establishment of the State of Israel.”

MK Katz added, “The left-wing is diminishing itself into a tiny minority that has abandoned all Zionist values and all of its empty and false visions have failed except to bring us nothing but more hatred and blood.”

He charged that the “self-hatred” thrives from the “annual official festival of poisonous incitement against the religious community whose values are the only ones that have been successful.”

Former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was murdered by a young Haifa area resident who media, at the time of the assassination, falsely reported was a resident of a community in Judea and Samaria.

Controversy and "conspiracy theories" surrounding the murder, charge that the government is covering up evidence that points to others being involved in the assassination.

Afghanistan: A MESS

Karzai's Brother and Washington's Kept Politicians

by Daniel Pipes
October 28, 2009
Cross-posted from National Review Online

Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai is reportedly on the American payroll.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, "a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban," and "a suspected player in the country's booming illegal opium trade," the New York Times informs us, "gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years."

This unsavory news has many negative implications about Hamid Karzai's presidency; the one that interests me most is how it confirms his status as a kept politician, a leader who enjoys his present position due to foreign backing.

Karzai is hardly the Middle East's only kept politician; others that come to mind include Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki, Lebanon's Saad Hariri, and the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas. Of note: Washington kept no politicians in 2000 but now has four of them.

Some kept politicians eventually do establish their own rule and legitimacy — the Jordanian monarchy has been on its own since Glubb Pasha's dismissal in 1956. Usually, however, they fail: This was the fate of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958, the last shah of Iran in 1979, Anwar Sadat in 1981, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1990, and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1992.

So too, in all likelihood, will the rule of Hamid Karzai, Maliki, Hariri, and Abbas end in collapse. (October 28, 2009)


Conspiracy at UN to rob Israeli military of moral right to strike Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis

17 Oct. The Netanyahu government's slow-moving, lackadaisical handling of the Goldstone commission mandated for accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, played into the hands of a coalition formed to strip the Israeli military of legitimacy as a defensive strike force against Iran 's fast-moving nuclear weapons program and its Middle East allies' missile arsenals. Their tactics culminated in the predictable majority vote at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday Oct. 17 to refer Israel 's alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council, while omitting to mention Hamas' culpability.

Saturday, Muslim and Arab media, notably London-based news organizations, "predicted" that Israel would react to its "growing diplomatic isolation" with a "crazy military adventure" that would inflame the entire Middle East . Their purpose was to discredit a priori any Israeli military action against Iran 's nuclear facilities.

But Israel has a boxful of powerful tools for dealing with the fallout of the UN HRC motion which it is not using.

If sanctions are legitimate penalties for Iran , why not economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for setting the UNHRC loose against Israel and its military?

Israeli army chiefs face the problem of sending troops to defend their country knowing that they may face war crimes charges somewhere in the world.
So why should Israeli soldiers, condemned as "war criminals by Palestinians and copycat Israel Arabs, grant special passes for Palestinian VIPs to exit the West Bank at night and go partying in Israeli towns?

Why does the Netanyahu government continue to release INS 220 million (app. $50 million) every month to the Gaza Strip for Hamas?

The Goldstone panel started work on April 3, 2009. Israel had seven months to submit to the international court and UN a counter-report documenting 10 years of Palestinian murderous campaigns targeting Israeli civilians, women and children, and their consistent violation of every rule and standard of armed conflict and human rights. Some of the guilty Palestinians hold responsible positions not only in Gaza but Ramallah too.
Israel is now forced to establish a credible panel of inquiry for the Cast Lead operation, when it could have done so voluntarily from the start.

Tehran : Iran will continue to enrich uranium up to 5% even if some is reprocessed abroad.
If Vienna talks fail, home production will be upped to 20% grade.
Iran will not give up uranium enrichment at home even while sending quantities for further processing abroad.
This statement was issued by Iran as three powers met Iranian officials in Vienna Monday to discuss Russia's reprocessing offer.

Threat of Iranian invasion of Pakistan , "crushing response" against US, UK
DEBKAfile Special Report

19 Oct. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafary, Monday, Oct. 19, threatened "crushing" retaliation against the US, UK and Pakistan including the invasion of its eastern neighbor. Tehran linked all three to the suicide bombing attack in Sistan-Baluchistan Sunday, Oct. 18, which killed 42 people including seven senior Guards officers.

DEBKAfile's Iranian sources note that was the first time in Iran's 30-year Islamic revolution that a military leader has openly threatened to attack US and British military targets, a measure of the damage the regime and Guards suffered from the suicide attack.
Tehran holds the Sunni secessionist terrorist group Jundallah of Baluchistan responsible and in the past has accused the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency and the CIA of supporting the group.
New Iranian missiles head for Gaza , Syria tops up Hizballah's rocket stocks
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

20 Oct. Iran is making a huge effort to smuggle to the Palestinian Hamas Fajr-5 ground-to-ground rockets that would bring Tel Aviv within range of the Gaza Strip, and Syria, Iran's second ally with an Israeli border, has decided to transfer one-third of its missile stockpile to the Hizballah in Lebanon, topping up its arsenal with medium-range rockets that can cover central as well as northern Israel. Israel's top strategists are asking -

1. Are the 250 Syrian surface missiles destine for Hizballah Scuds B, C and D whose ranges exceed 800 kilometers, or Iranian-Syrian made projectiles whose range is shorter?
2. Do the transfers mean Iran and its allies are gearing up for a major Middle East conflict in the months ahead, possibly in early 2010?
3. Will Syria hand Hizballah chemicals-tipped missiles?
4. Will some batteries be installed atop the mountain ranges running down central Lebanon, together with air defense systems supplied at the same time by Syria ?
Israel is particularly concerned by the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's recent decision to turn coat against the pro-Western camp led by Saad Hariri in favor of deals with Tehran and Damascus.

Iran May Ship 'Part' of Its Uranium Abroad WATCH THE POWERS CAVE

Published: October 26, 2009

Filed at 7:48 a.m. ET

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's foreign minister said Monday that Tehran may agree to ship part of its stockpile of low enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment, the first official indication that Iran could at least partly sign onto a U.N.-drafted plan aimed at easing nuclear tensions.

The plan is seen by the international community as a way to delay Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon by getting a large part of its enriched uranium stock out of the country, preventing it from being reworked into a warhead. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tehran's final decision over the plan will ''will be made in the next few days.''

Iran is weighing between the U.N.-drafted plan or buying its own enriched uranium abroad and keeping its own supply.

''To supply fuel, we may purchase it like in the past, or we may deliver part of (the low enriched uranium) fuel which we currently don't need,'' Mottaki said.

In either case, Mottaki said Iran will continue to enrich its own uranium as well -- a step opposed by the U.S. and its allies over fears they could produce weapons-grade material.

''Iran's legal peaceful nuclear activities will continue and this issue (Iran's enrichment program) has nothing to do with supplying fuel for the Tehran reactor,'' he said.

So far, Tehran's response has been unclear. Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani earlier accused the West of trying to cheat his country with the proposal, raising doubts Tehran will approve the deal.

Iran's top ally, Russia, nudged it to accept the plan.

''Iran has not yet officially confirmed its agreement. But we hope the necessary step will be taken and the agreement proves acceptable to the Iranian side as well,'' Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Russian daily Vremya Novostei in an interview published Monday.

Implementation of the proposal ''would allow for a cooling of emotions and a realistic assessment of the situation,'' said Ryabkov, who has led Russian negotiators in talks on Iran's nuclear program.

The plan was drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency Wednesday after three days of talks between Iran and the U.S., Russia and France in Vienna. The three countries endorsed the deal Friday, but Tehran has said it is still studying the proposal.

The U.N. plan envisages Iran sending up to 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched to a higher degree needed for use in a Tehran research reactor.

The deal is attractive to the U.S. and its allies because it would mean Iran -- for a period of time, anyway -- would not have enough uranium stocks to build a bomb.

Uranium enriched to a low level is used to fuel a nuclear reactor for electricity, and a somewhat higher level is used in research reactors. When enriched to levels above 90 percent, the uranium can be used to build a bomb.

Around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) is the commonly accepted amount of low-enriched uranium needed to produce weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear warhead.

The Vienna plan would require Iran to send 2,420 pounds (1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium to Russia in one batch by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, U.N. experts were scheduled to hold a second day of inspections Monday inside a once-secret uranium enrichment facility that has raised Western suspicions about the extent of Iran's nuclear program.

The four-member delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency had their first look in the Fordo enrichment facility on Sunday. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of building the facility in secret, a claim denied by Tehran.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner echoed the urgency felt by the West over reaching an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.

He told the Daily Telegraph, in an interview published Monday, that time was running out since Israel might well launch a pre-emptive strike.

''They (the Israelis) will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. We know that, all of us. So that is an additional risk and that is why we must decrease the tension and solve the problem,'' he said.
Mottaki on Monday replied that ''the Zionist regime doesn't dare to attack Iran because it is currently in its weakest position.''
ElBaradei's ruse helps Iran keep on enriching uranium for a nuke
DEBKAfile Special Report

21 Oct. Mohammed ElBaradei, the retiring IAEA director, pulled a rabbit out of his hat Wednesday, Oct. 21 to save the Vienna talks with Iran on the future of its enriched uranium from breaking down on its third day. It was a draft proposal for Iran to transfer three-quarters of its enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing. The US, France, Russia and Iran were given until Friday for their answer.

The only officials to come smiling out of the aborted meeting were the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili and his aides. But strangely enough, it was greeted with happy applause in the West, from secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai, who should have been wise to ElBaradei's machinations by now. By some magic, the proposal "forgot" three UN Security Council resolutions and six-power demands for Iran to give up uranium enrichment. Iran is also suddenly absolved of the obligation to allow UN inspectors to monitor its facilities and not by a single word is Tehran forbidden to process masses of additional enriched uranium after it ships the 1.200 kilos to Russia , or even to make a bomb. No wonder Jalilee smiled.
Analysis / Expect more trickery from Iran in nuclear talks
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: UN, Iran nuclear, EU

The excited responses, in praise or condemnation, proved to have been too soon. Iran continues operating at its own pace. The last deadline that the international negotiators set was Friday, and the Iranians did not bother to issue an official response to the draft agreement on giving most of their enriched uranium to Europe to be treated.

Instead of a response, Iran issued a rather murky promise of one toward the middle of the week, accompanied, as is customary, by contradictory signals. Last Wednesday's initial positive declaration was replaced with skepticism and further preconditions. We can assume fairly certainly that this is how Tehran will conduct itself in the future: more conditions, more delays, a strategy of making the powers believe is still possible to resolve the crisis by peaceful means while squeezing out more concessions and buying more time for the centrifuges.

From Israel's point of view, there is an inkling of positive news in last week's developments. The draft agreement, as it was presented last week, would not end Iran's nuclear program, only postpone it. If it is adopted, it would make Israel appear to be an eternal skeptic. If on the other hand Iran rejects the deal, it will emerge as the refusenik.

A failure in the negotiations may expedite stricter sanctions against Iran. This will probably not be a Security Council initiative because China opposes this, but rather an American-European plan, which would have a shot at convincing the Iranians to reconsider freezing their race for the bomb. But we are still far from that. On the way there will be further ups and downs, certainly accompanied by other acts of trickery by Tehran.

Israel has responded wisely - it has kept a low profile, while retaining one advantage: its intelligence on the Iranian program is considered largely reliable and accurate, and is readily welcomed by the powers. The difficulty lies elsewhere. The international community, at least at this stage, does not favorably view an attack - by the U.S. or Israel - on the Iranian nuclear sites. It also appears that the declarations of the Iranian leadership, in particular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cause more fear in Israel than in the West.

Senior officers, most of them from Europe, visited Israel last week, and one of the hosts was surprised to note that most of their questions were about the Palestinians. When the issue of Iran was raised, the host was told that Israel's two basic assumptions - that Iran poses a serious existential threat, and that the Iranian threat precedes the need for a breakthrough on the Palestinian track - are not convincing.
For eight years, while Hamas indiscriminately shelled Israeli civilians with rockets provided by its patrons in Iran, the UN stood silent. Only when Israel, after years of restraint, moved to put an end to the terror, did the Human Rights Council act -- by condemning Israel. This one-sided body passed a one-sided resolution calling for a one-sided investigation. Last month, the results of this "investigation" were presented by Justice Richard Goldstone to the HRC. Yet instead of dealing responsibly with the report, HRC members engaged in yet another anti-Israel travesty, which even Goldstone acknowledged as one-sided.

There have been dozens of international inquiries into events in the Gaza operation, and Israel has cooperated fully with almost all of them, including one undertaken by the UN Secretary General. Only in those instances where it was clear beyond any doubt that an inquiry was motivated by a political agenda -- and not concern for human rights -- did Israel decide not to cooperate. Unfortunately the HRC's Fact-Finding Mission was one of these.

Even Goldstone is now trying to distance himself from the results of his own handiwork.

Sadly, what was clear to Israel from the outset, has only now become clear to Goldstone. He is now trying to distance himself from the results of his own handiwork.

Last Friday he discussed his disappointment with the action taken by the HRC, telling the Swiss daily Le Temp: "This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel, there is not a single phrase condemning Hamas."

We must now deal with the consequences. The council's adoption of the Goldstone report constitutes nothing less than a prize for terrorism in more ways than one. First, the resolution adopted Friday perverts the reality of Hamas criminality, blaming the victim, rather than the true perpetrator of war crimes in Gaza. For the HRC, it was totally irrelevant that Hamas committed grave war crimes by openly calling for Israel's destruction, purposely firing thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians, endangering Gaza civilians by firing from populated areas and abducting Gilad Schalit.

It was likewise irrelevant to the HRC that Israel had a responsibility to protect its citizens, made every effort to avoid confrontation and did all that it could to minimize civilian casualties. The only relevant consideration for the HRC was the fact that an opportunity had presented itself to demonize Israel in the international arena.

Second, the resolution undermines moderate Palestinians who are interested in peace with Israel. There is a power struggle going on within Palestinian society. It is a zero-sum game, in which any gain for extremism comes at the expense of support for moderation. When the Hamas "tail" is allowed to wag the Middle East "dog," the Palestinian street takes heart and the entire region takes heed. In our neighborhood, everybody loves a winner. So when an international body upholds Hamas's atrocious behavior and exploits it once more to bash Israel, Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority loses face, moderate Arab states lose ground and the Hizbullah-Syria-Iran axis gains strength.

This resolution grants immunity to the terrorists and prevents law-abiding states from defending their citizens.

Thirdly, the resolution creates a new obstacle in the global battle against terrorism. A new form of warfare has emerged, in which terror groups launch attacks against "enemy" civilians from behind a shield of "friendly" civilians. This resolution grants immunity to the terrorists and prevents law-abiding states from defending their citizens. With the blessing of the HRC, this tactic will be repeated by terrorists throughout the world, to the detriment of all other democracies struggling against terrorism, putting millions of innocent civilians in danger.

Finally, and most tragic, this whole episode has led Israelis to doubt the underlying assumptions that have guided them until now in their internal debate on how best to achieve peace. Most Israelis supported the willingness of their leadership to take calculated risks to advance the peace process, with the understanding that the "world" would support such efforts and "hedge their bets." Israelis assumed that if, after making compromises, things didn't work out, they would at least retain the right to defend themselves and the world would support them in their struggle.

Yet now, a nightmare has come true. After taking the tangible risk of leaving contested territory for the sake of advancing peace, Gaza was turned into a lawless enclave of Hamas-led, Iranian-backed terrorism. Yet, when Israel was forced to defend itself, the world reacted not with support and understanding, but with accusations of "crimes against humanity." Damned when they do and damned when they don't, Israelis are now asking themselves "Was the sacrifice worth it?"

While Israelis consider their options, the Goldstone snowball is threatening to gain momentum. From Geneva, the issue has now been passed to the UN General Assembly in New York for further action. But, it is still not too late. An international rejection of the HRC's treatment of the Goldstone report would signal to the Israeli public that the world indeed supports its compromises toward peace. Danny Ayalon is Israel's deputy foreign minister.
Man Friday
Armageddon Time
Peter Robinson, 10.23.09, 12:01 AM EDT
When it comes to Iran, the U.S. may be facing a cataclysm.

Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian; Robert Baer a former CIA field officer. Both have studied the Middle East for decades, traveled to the area repeatedly in recent years and written about the region extensively. And both have become convinced that we may be facing a cataclysm.

Hanson and Baer each presented his analysis during an interview this past week. Although they differ on certain matters, they agree on five observations. The first: If not already capable of doing so, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons in mere months.

Baer noted that Iran's scientific and technical capacity is impressive. The country may very well be able to produce enough enriched uranium for several nuclear weapons on its own. If not, Iran can obtain enriched uranium in other ways. "The Iranians are very good at procuring banned materials very easily," said Baer. "They are very close [to having what they need to produce weapons]. They could move very quickly."

How quickly?

"Six months, a year."

The second observation: The Iranians have no interest in running a bluff. Once able to produce nuclear weapons, they will almost certainly do so.

The Israelis cannot wait. They will attack Iran before the end of the year with conventional weapons and destoy as much of Iran's nuclear program as possible. Then they will warn Iran that if Israel

"We see Iran as the power in the region," Hanson said. "But when Iran looks at the region, it sees danger everywhere." In Iraq, a democratic government has achieved stability, which can only incite the dissident movement in Iran. In Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran's client, has failed in its attempt to capture control of the country, finding itself contained and marginalized instead. The Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and the emirates look upon Iran, a Shia state, with sectarian hostility.

"The Iranians, think, 'My gosh, we are in an unstable position,' " Hanson said. "'Maybe a bomb or two will allow us to do what Pakistan has done. Maybe it will allow us to achieve some autonomy.'"

The third observation: As the Iranians scramble to produce nuclear weapons, the Obama administration appears too feckless, inexperienced or deluded to stop them.

Already, the administration has committed two errors. Last summer, when millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest their country's corrupt presidential election, it failed to encourage the protesters, merely looking on. "Obama could have said to the Iranian people, 'We support your legitimate concerns over constitutional government,'" Hanson argued. "Instead he was saying, 'Let's wait and see who wins.' It did not look good."

Then last month the Obama administration announced that the U.S. no longer planned to deploy anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. These emplacements, which the Bush administration had promised, would have protected Eastern Europe against long-range missiles from Iran. The Obama administration canceled the anti-missile defenses to please Russia, hoping that Russia would pressure Iran in return. "Russia is never going to help," Hanson said. "Tension in the Gulf would raise oil prices, helping Russia. Anything that causes the United States problems, Putin is for."

What options does the administration still possess? "We could get the Europeans to immediately stop exporting gas to Iran," Hanson explained. "We could have some kind of blockade of the Persian Gulf. We are talking about very serious things. But they would put pressure on Iran, ostracizing it." Will President Obama pursue such options? Does he possess the political will? Hanson and Baer doubted it. "We have a president who likes to be liked," Hanson said.

The fourth observation: Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.

"The Israelis have some bunker busters," Baer said. "They could take out some sites underground. They could set the Iranian nuclear program back years." Would the Israelis be willing to accept the risks a military strike would entail? "This is just 65 years after the Holocaust," Hanson said. "My God, we are talking about 6 million people who were executed while the world watched, and now we have a person [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran] who is promising to do it again."

What is the probability that Israel will strike Iran within the next six months?

"Forty-nine percent," said Baer.

"I would say 50-50," Hanson replied.

The final observation: Iran would retaliate.

"Iran's deterrent doctrine is to strike back everywhere it can," Baer explained. "We should expect the worst." Iran would attack American supply lines in Iraq and command Hezbollah to start a civil war in Lebanon. It would fire surface-to-surface missiles at every oil facility within range, wreaking devastation in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states while removing millions of barrels of oil a day from the world markets. The economy of the entire globe would suffer a paroxysm. The Middle East could descend into chaos. The U.S. would experience the worst crisis in decades.

After the assassination 95 years ago of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the great powers of Europe engaged in meaningless diplomatic maneuvers. "Austria has sent a bullying and humiliating ultimatum to Serbia, who cannot possibly comply with it," British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith confided in a letter. "[W]e are in measurable, or at least imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon."

A big nation attempting to humiliate a small nation in a way the small nation simply cannot accept. Unseriousness among great powers. A gathering sense of impending catastrophe. Once again, it may be Armageddon time.

Peter Robinson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford Universityand a former White House speech writer, writes a weekly column for Forbes.


Analysis: US making plans for a nuclear-powered Iran

Robert Burns - Oct 28, 2009
The Jerusalem Post

The Obama administration is quietly laying groundwork for a long-range strategy that could be used to contain a nuclear-equipped Iran and deter its leaders from using atomic weapons.

US officials insist they are not resigned to a nuclear Iran and are pressing negotiations to prevent it from joining the world's nuclear club. At the same time, however, the administration has set in place the building blocks for policies to contend with an Iran armed with atomic weapons.

Those elements, former officials and analysts said, include the newly revised defense shield for Europe and deeper defense ties to Gulf states that feel threatened by Iran.

Andrew Kuchin, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said administration officials clearly are thinking about how to contain an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

"It would be pretty irresponsible on our part if we didn't," he said.

The administration shies away from talking about a nuclear-armed Iran, believing that such talk implies that the United States has given up hope of stopping the Iranians from getting the bomb.

"It is our clear policy that an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability is unacceptable, and we are working with our allies and partners to ensure that Iran desists from working toward such a capability," said Colin Kahl, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East.

In recent weeks, US diplomats have pushed with the country's international partners to nudge Iran into agreeing not to use its nuclear facilities to build atomic weapons.

Several negotiating sessions in Geneva have led to a UN draft plan under which the Iranians would ship enriched uranium out of the country for processing instead of using their own nuclear sites, which also could be used to build weapons covertly. Iran indicated Tuesday it might agree, but details still are being worked out.

But if Iran stays on a nuclear arms path, the administration's only realistic choice is to deter it from using them, said Richard Kugler, a senior consultant to a policy research center at National Defense University.

The administration's move this year to reconfigure an interceptor and radar system to protect Europe against short- and medium-range missiles already is a clear element of deterrence aimed at a nuclear Iran. The proposed system is based on the assumption that the missiles would be Iranian and carry nuclear warheads.

"So the initial steps are being taken" in that direction, said Kugler, who sees that move as taking the United States toward "extended deterrence," a sort of umbrella over neighbor-nations threatened by a nuclear Iran.

That is akin to a controversial "defense umbrella" concept that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned publicly in July. Those comments angered Israel, which said it sounded as if the United States was conceding Iran was going nuclear and preparing to live with it.

Clinton insisted her comment was meant to show Iran that it would not profit from building an atomic bomb.

Extended deterrence would be meant to protect friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe from the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack - not unlike the security umbrella the United States provided for Germany during the Cold War, when the central threat was seen as either a Soviet land assault or a nuclear attack.

Some question whether such an argument can dissuade Iran, but retired Gen. John Abizaid, who oversaw US military operations in the Middle East from 2003-07, says he thinks that a nuclear-armed Iran would make rational judgments.

"The historical evidence would suggest that Iran is not a suicide state," he told a University of Virginia conference Oct. 5. "So it's my military belief that Iran can be deterred."

Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said in an AP interview that Washington is mistaken in insisting that it would be intolerable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

"Just as the world tolerates North Korea and Pakistan, it would have to tolerate Iran as well," she said.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night

Pretty neat idea. Never thought of it before.

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this:
It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it.
It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain....
It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around.

After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that.

And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic.
Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem. Please pass this on even IF you've read it before. It's a reminder.

Majority of Pakistanis says U.S. is greatest threat
Bridget Johnson of reports on the disturbing results of a July 2009 poll by Gallup Pakistan for Al-Jazeera. (8/9/09)

The truth behind Afghan insurgency
Ralph Lopez of the nonprofit Jobs for Afghans reports in the Boston Globe that the Taliban is one of the most reliable employers in the region. They pay $8 a day for carrying a gun. (8/17/09)

North Carolina Peace Action activist secures free speech rights in Wilkes County high schools
ACLU aids in successful 4-year lawsuit. The school board repeatedly refused Sally Ferrell's request to distribute literature on school grounds and to speak with students. Local military recruiters, however, were given carte blanche. (8/12/09)

The Return of Israel's Existential Dread

In tabloid cartoons and dinner conversations, Israelis brace themselves for war with



The postcard from the Home Front Command that recently arrived in my mailbox looks like an ad from the Ministry of Tourism. A map of Israel is divided by color into six regions, each symbolized by an upbeat drawing: a smiling camel in the Negev desert, a skier in the Golan Heights. In fact, each region signifies the amount of time residents will have to seek shelter from an impending missile attack. If you live along the Gaza border, you have 15 seconds after the siren sounds. Jerusalemites get a full three minutes. But as the regions move farther north, the time drops again, until finally, along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the color red designates "immediate entry into a shelter." In other words, if you're not already inside a shelter don't bother looking for one.

The invisible but all-pervasive presence on that cheerful map of existential dread is Iran. If Israel were to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, Tehran's two terrorist allies on our borders—Hezbollah and Hamas—would almost certainly renew attacks against the Israeli home front. And Tel Aviv would be hit by Iranian long-range missiles.

On the other hand, if Israel refrains from attacking Iran and international efforts to stop its nuclearization fail, the results along our border would likely be even more catastrophic. Hezbollah and Hamas would be emboldened politically and psychologically. The threat of a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv would become a permanent part of Israeli reality. This would do incalculable damage to Israel's sense of security.

Given these dreadful options, one might assume that the Israeli public would respond with relief to reports that Iran is now considering the International Atomic Energy Agency's proposal to transfer 70% of its known, low-enriched uranium to Russia for treatment that would seriously reduce its potential for military application. In fact, Israelis from the right and the left have reacted with heightened anxiety. "Kosher Uranium," read the mocking headline of Israel's largest daily, Yediot Aharonot. Media commentators noted that easing world pressure on Iran will simply enable it to cheat more easily. If Iranian leaders are prepared to sign an agreement, Israelis argue, that's because they know something the rest of us don't.

In the last few years, Israelis have been asking themselves two questions with increasing urgency: Should we attack Iran if all other options fail? And can we inflict sufficient damage to justify the consequences?

As sanctions efforts faltered, most Israelis came to answer the first question affirmatively. A key moment in coalescing that resolve occurred in December 2006, when the Iranian regime sponsored an "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust," a two day meeting of Holocaust deniers. For Israelis, that event ended the debate over whether a nuclear Iran could be deterred by the threat of counter-force. A regime that assembles the world's crackpots to deny the most documented atrocity in history—at the very moment it is trying to fend off sanctions and convince the international community of its sanity—may well be immune to rational self-interest.

Opinion here has been divided about the ability of an Israeli strike to significantly delay Iran's nuclear program. But Israelis have dealt with their doubts by resurrecting a phrase from the country's early years: Ein breira, there's no choice. Besides, as one leading Israeli security official who has been involved in the Iranian issue for many years put it to me, "Technical problems have technical solutions." Israelis tend to trust their strategic planners to find those solutions.

In the past few months, Israelis have begun asking themselves a new question: Has the Obama administration's engagement with Iran effectively ended the possibility of a military strike?

Few Israelis took seriously the recent call by former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to shoot down Israeli planes if they take off for Iran. But American attempts to reassure the Israeli public of its commitment to Israel's security have largely backfired. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent threat to "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack against Israel only reinforced Israeli fears that the U.S. would prefer to contain a nuclear Iran rather than pre-empt it militarily.

On the face of it, this is not May 1967. There is not the same sense of impending catastrophe that held the Israeli public in the weeks before the Six Day War. Israelis are preoccupied with the fate of Gilad Shalit (the kidnapped Israeli soldier held by Hamas), with the country's faltering relations with Turkey, with the U.N.'s denial of Israel's right to defend itself, and with an unprecedented rise in violent crime.

But the Iranian threat has seeped into daily life as a constant, if barely conscious anxiety. It emerges at unexpected moments, as black humor or an incongruous aside in casual conversation. "I think we're going to attack soon," a friend said to me over Sabbath dinner, as we talked about our children going off to the army and to India.

Now, with the possibility of a deal with Iran, Israelis realize that a military confrontation will almost certainly be deferred. Still, the threat remains.

A recent cartoon in the newspaper Ma'ariv showed a drawing of a sukkah, the booth covered with palm branches that Jews build for the autumn festival of Tabernacles. A voice from inside the booth asked, "Will these palm branches protect us from Iranian missiles?"

Israelis still believe in their ability to protect themselves—and many believe too in the divine protection that is said to hover over the fragile booths. Both are expressions of faith from a people that fear they may once again face the unthinkable alone.

Mr. Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor to the New Republic.


What Occupation?

Commentary; New York; Jul/Aug 2002; Efraim Karsh;

Few subjects have been falsified so thoroughly as the recent history of the West Bank and Gaza. The history of Israel's so-called "occupation" of Palestinian lands and the ways in which Palestinians and Arabs have distorted Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza are discussed.
What Occupation?

NO TERM has dominated the discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict more than "occupation." For decades now, hardly a day has passed without some mention in the international media of Israel's supposedly illegitimate presence on Palestinian lands. This presence is invoked to explain the origins and persistence of the conflict between the parties, to show Israel's allegedly brutal and repressive nature, and to justify the worst anti-Israel terrorist atrocities. The occupation, in short, has become a catchphrase, and like many catchphrases it means different things to different people.

For most Western observers, the term "occupation" describes Israel's control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, areas that it conquered during the Six-Day war of June 1967. But for many Palestinians and Arabs, the Israeli presence in these territories represents only the latest chapter in an uninterrupted story of "occupations" dating back to the very creation of Israel on "stolen" land. If you go looking for a book about Israel in the foremost Arab bookstore on London's Charing Cross Road, you will find it in the section labeled "Occupied Palestine." That this is the prevailing view not only among Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza but among Palestinians living within Israel itself as well as elsewhere around the world is shown by the routine insistence on a Palestinian "right of return" that is meant to reverse the effects of the "1948 occupation"-i.e., the establishment of the state of Israel itself.

Palestinian intellectuals routinely blur any distinction between Israel's actions before and after 1967. Writing recently in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, the prominent Palestinian cultural figure Jacques Persiqian told his Jewish readers that today's terrorist attacks were "what you have brought upon yourselves after 54 years of systematic oppression of another people"-a historical accounting that, going back to 1948, calls into question not Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza but its very legitimacy as a state.

Hanan Ashrawi, the most articulate exponent of the Palestinian cause, has been even more forthright in erasing the line between post-1967 and pre-1967 "occupations." "I come to you today with a heavy heart," she told the now-infamous World Conference Against Racism in Durban last summer, "leaving behind a nation in captivity held hostage to an ongoing naqba [catastrophe]":

In 1948, we became subject to a grave historical injustice manifested in a dual victimization: on the one hand, the injustice of dispossession, dispersion, and exile forcibly enacted on the population .... On the other hand, those who remained were subjected to the systematic oppression and brutality of an inhuman occupation that robbed them of all their rights and liberties.

This original "occupation"-that is, again, the creation and existence of the state of Israel-was later extended, in Ashrawi's narrative, as a result of the Six-Day war:

Those of us who came under Israeli occupation in 1967 have languished in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip under a unique combination of military occupation, settler colonization, and systematic oppression. Rarely has the human mind devised such varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution.

Taken together, the charges against Israel's various "occupations" represent-and are plainly intended to be-a damning indictment of the entire Zionist enterprise. In almost every particular, they are also grossly false.

IN 1948, no Palestinian state was invaded or destroyed to make way for the establishment of Israel. From biblical times, when this territory was the state of the Jews, to its occupation by the British army at the end of World War I, Palestine had never existed as a distinct political entity but was rather part of one empire after another, from the Romans, to the Arabs, to the Ottomans. When the British arrived in 1917, the immediate loyalties of the area's inhabitants were parochial-to clan, tribe, village, town, or religious sect-and coexisted with their fealty to the Ottoman sultan-caliph as the religious and temporal head of the world Muslim community.

Under a League of Nations mandate explicitly meant to pave the way for the creation of a Jewish national home, the British established the notion of an independent Palestine for the first time and delineated its boundaries. In 1947, confronted with a determined Jewish struggle for independence, Britain returned the mandate to the League's successor, the United Nations, which in turn decided on November 29, 1947, to partition mandatory Palestine into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab.

The state of Israel was thus created by an internationally recognized act of national self-determination-an act, moreover, undertaken by an ancient people in its own homeland. In accordance with common democratic practice, the Arab population in the new state's midst was immediately recognized as a legitimate ethnic and religious minority. As for the prospective Arab state, its designated territory was slated to include, among other areas, the two regions under contest today-namely, Gaza and the West Bank (with the exception of Jerusalem, which was to be placed under international control).

As is well known, the implementation of the UN's partition plan was aborted by the effort of the Palestinians and of the surrounding Arab states to destroy the Jewish state at birth. What is less well known is that even if the Jews had lost the war, their territory would not have been handed over to the Palestinians. Rather, it would have been divided among the invading Arab forces, for the simple reason that none of the region's Arab regimes viewed the Palestinians as a distinct nation. As the eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti described the common Arab view to an Anglo-American commission of inquiry in 1946, "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."

This fact was keenly recognized by the British authorities on the eve of their departure. As one official observed in mid-December 1947, "it does not appear that Arab Palestine will be an entity, but rather that the Arab countries will each claim a portion in return for their assistance [in the war against Israel], unless [Transjordan's] King Abdallah takes rapid and firm action as soon as the British withdrawal is completed." A couple of months later, the British high commissioner for Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, informed the colonial secretary, Arthur Creech Jones, that "the most likely arrangement seems to be Eastern Galilee to Syria, Samaria and Hebron to Abdallah, and the south to Egypt."

THE BRITISH proved to be prescient. Neither Egypt nor Jordan ever allowed Palestinian self-determination in Gaza and the West Bank-- which were, respectively, the parts of Palestine conquered by them during the 1948-49 war. Indeed, even UN Security Council Resolution 242, which after the Six-Day war of 1967 established the principle of "land for peace" as the cornerstone of future Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, did not envisage the creation of a Palestinian state. To the contrary: since the Palestinians were still not viewed as a distinct nation, it was assumed that any territories evacuated by Israel, would be returned to their pre-1967 Arab occupiers-Gaza to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan. The resolution did not even mention the Palestinians by name, affirming instead the necessity "for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem"-a clause that applied not just to the Palestinians but to the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from the Arab states following the 1948 war.

At this time-we are speaking of the late 1960's-- Palestinian nationhood was rejected by the entire international community, including the Western democracies, the Soviet Union (the foremost supporter of radical Arabism), and the Arab world itself. "Moderate" Arab rulers like the Hashemites in Jordan viewed an independent Palestinian state as a mortal threat to their own kingdom, while the Saudis saw it as a potential source of extremism and instability. Pan-Arab nationalists were no less adamantly opposed, having their own purposes in mind for the region. As late as 1974, Syrian President Hafez alAssad openly referred to Palestine as "not only a part of the Arab homeland but a basic part of southern Syria"; there is no reason to think he had changed his mind by the time of his death in 2000.

Nor, for that matter, did the populace of the West Bank and Gaza regard itself as a distinct nation. The collapse and dispersion of Palestinian society following the 1948 defeat had shattered an always fragile communal fabric, and the subsequent physical separation of the various parts of the Palestinian diaspora prevented the crystallization of a national identity. Host Arab regimes actively colluded in discouraging any such sense from arising. Upon occupying the West Bank during the 1948 war, King Abdallah had moved quickly to erase all traces of corporate Palestinian identity. On April 4, 1950, the territory was formally annexed to Jordan, its residents became Jordanian citizens, and they were increasingly integrated into the kingdom's economic, political, and social structures.

For its part, the Egyptian government showed no desire to annex the Gaza Strip but had instead ruled the newly acquired area as an occupied military zone. This did not imply support of Palestinian nationalism, however, or of any sort of collective political awareness among the Palestinians. The local population was kept under tight control, was denied Egyptian citizenship, and was subjected to severe restrictions on travel.

WHAT, THEN, of the period after 1967, when these territories passed into the hands of Israel? Is it the case that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been the victims of the most "varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution" ever devised by the human mind?

At the very least, such a characterization would require a rather drastic downgrading of certain other well-documented 20th-century phenomena, from the slaughter of Armenians during World War I and onward through a grisly chronicle of tens upon tens of millions murdered, driven out, crushed under the heels of despots. By stark contrast, during the three decades of Israel's control, far fewer Palestinians were killed at Jewish hands than by King Hussein of Jordan in the single month of September 1970 when, fighting off an attempt by Yasir Arafat's PLO to destroy his monarchy, he dispatched (according to the Palestinian scholar Yezid Sayigh) between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinians, among them anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 civilians. Similarly, the number of innocent Palestinians killed by their Kuwaiti hosts in the winter of 1991, in revenge for the PLO's support for Saddam Hussein's brutal occupation of Kuwait, far exceeds the number of Palestinian rioters and terrorists who lost their lives in the first intifada against Israel during the late 1980's.

Such crude comparisons aside, to present the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as "systematic oppression" is itself the inverse of the truth. It should be recalled, first of all, that this occupation did not come about as a consequence of some grand expansionist design, but rather was incidental to Israel's success against a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Upon the outbreak of IsraeliEgyptian hostilities on June 5, 1967, the Israeli government secretly pleaded with King Hussein of Jordan, the de-facto ruler of the West Bank, to forgo any military action; the plea was rebuffed by the Jordanian monarch, who was loathe to lose the anticipated spoils of what was to be the Arabs' "final round" with Israel.

Thus it happened that, at the end of the conflict, Israel unexpectedly found itself in control of some one million Palestinians, with no definite idea about their future status and lacking any concrete policy for their administration. In the wake of the war, the only objective adopted by then-Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan was to preserve normalcy in the territories through a mixture of economic inducements and a minimum of Israeli intervention. The idea was that the local populace would be given the freedom to administer itself as it wished, and would be able to maintain regular contact with the Arab world via the Jordan River bridges. In sharp contrast with, for example, the U.S. occupation of postwar Japan, which saw a general censorship of all Japanese media and a comprehensive revision of school curricula, Israel made no attempt to reshape Palestinian culture. It limited its oversight of the Arabic press in the territories to military and security matters, and allowed the continued use in local schools of Jordanian textbooks filled with vile anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel's restraint in this sphere-which turned out to be desperately misguided-is only part of the story. The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.

In the economic sphere, most of this progress was the result of access to the far larger and more advanced Israeli economy: the number of Palestinians working in Israel rose from zero in 1967 to 66,000 in 1975 and 109,000 by 1986, accounting for 35 percent of the employed population of the West Bank and 45 percent in Gaza. Close to 2,000 industrial plants, employing almost half of the work force, were established in the territories under Israeli rule.

During the 1970's, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world-ahead of such "wonders" as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. Although GNP per capita grew somewhat more slowly, the rate was still high by international standards, with per-capita GNP expanding tenfold between 1968 and 1991 from $165 to $1,715 (compared with Jordan's $1,050, Egypt's $600, Turkey's $1,630, and Tunisia's $1,440). By 1999, Palestinian per-capita income was nearly double Syria's, more than four times Yemen's, and 10 percent higher than Jordan's (one of the betteroff Arab states). Only the oil-rich Gulf states and Lebanon were more affluent.

Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians also made vast progress in social welfare. Perhaps most significantly, mortality rates in the West Bank and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while life expectancy rose from 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000 (in Iraq the rate is 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22). And under a systematic program of inoculation, childhood diseases like polio, whooping cough, tetanus, and measles were eradicated.

No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians' standard of living. By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967; 85 percent had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16 percent in 1967; 83.5 percent had electric or gas ranges for cooking, as compared to 4 percent in 1967; and so on for refrigerators, televisions, and cars.

Finally, and perhaps most strikingly, during the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980's, the number of schoolchildren in the territories grew by 102 percent, and the number of classes by 99 percent, though the population itself had grown by only 28 percent. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the time of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990's, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria.

ALL THIS, as I have noted, took place against the backdrop of Israel's hands-off policy in the political and administrative spheres. Indeed, even as the PLO (until 1982 headquartered in Lebanon and thereafter in Tunisia) proclaimed its ongoing commitment to the destruction of the Jewish state, the Israelis did surprisingly little to limit its political influence in the territories. The publication of proPLO editorials was permitted in the local press, and anti-Israel activities by PLO supporters were tolerated so long as they did not involve overt incitements to violence. Israel also allowed the free flow of PLO-controlled funds, a policy justified by Minister of Defense Ezer Weizmann in 1978 in these (deluded) words: "It does not matter that they get money from the PLO, as long as they don't build arms factories with it." Nor, with very few exceptions, did Israel encourage the formation of Palestinian political institutions that might serve as a counterweight to the PLO. As a result, the PLO gradually established itself as the predominant force in the territories, relegating the pragmatic traditional leadership to the fringes of the political system.*

Given the extreme and even self-destructive leniency of Israel's administrative policies, what seems remarkable is that it took as long as it did for the PLO to entice the residents of the West Bank and Gaza into a popular struggle against the Jewish state. Here Israel's counterinsurgency measures must be given their due, as well as the low level of national consciousness among the Palestinians and the sheer rapidity and scope of the improvements in their standard of living. The fact remains, however, that during the two-and-a-half decades from the occupation of the territories to the onset of the Oslo peace process in 1993, there was very little "armed resistance," and most terrorist attacks emanated from outside-from Jordan in the late 1960's, then from Lebanon.

In an effort to cover up this embarrassing circumstance, Fatah, the PLO's largest constituent organization, adopted the slogan that "there is no difference between inside and outside." But there was a difference, and a rather fundamental one. By and large, the residents of the territories wished to get on with their lives and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by Israeli rule. Had the West Bank eventually been returned to Jordan, its residents, all of whom had been Jordanian citizens before 1967, might well have reverted to that status. Alternatively, had Israel prevented the spread of the PLO's influence in the territories, a local leadership, better attuned to the real interests and desires of the people and more amenable to peaceful coexistence with Israel, might have emerged.

But these things were not to be. By the mid1970's, the PLO had made itself into the "sole representative of the Palestinian people," and in short order Jordan and Egypt washed their hands of the West Bank and Gaza. Whatever the desires of the people living in the territories, the PLO had vowed from the moment of its founding in the mid1960's-well before the Six-Day war-to pursue its "revolution until victory," that is, until the destruction of the Jewish state. Once its position was secure, it proceeded to do precisely that.

BY THE mid-1990's, thanks to Oslo, the PLO had achieved a firm foothold in the West Bank and Gaza. Its announced purpose was to lay the groundwork for Palestinian statehood but its real purpose was to do what it knew best-namely, create an extensive terrorist infrastructure and use it against its Israeli "peace partner." At first it did this tacitly, giving a green light to other terrorist organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad; then it operated openly and directly.

But what did all this have to do with Israel's "occupation"? The declaration signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period not to exceed five years, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. During this interim period the territories would be administered by a Palestinian Council, to be freely and democratically elected after the withdrawal of Israeli military forces both from the Gaza Strip and from the populated areas of the West Bank.

By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (apart from a small stretch of territory containing Israeli settlements) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On July 1, Yasir Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza. On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat's abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank's populated areas with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Council were held, and shortly afterward both the Israeli civil administration and military government were dissolved.

The geographical scope of these Israeli withdrawals was relatively limited; the surrendered land amounted to some 30 percent of the West Bank's overall territory. But its impact on the Palestinian population was nothing short of revolutionary. At one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank's 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60 percent of them-in the Jericho area and in the seven main cities of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron-have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction. Another 40 percent live in towns, villages, refugee camps, and hamlets where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil authority but, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained "overriding responsibility for security." Some two percent of the West Bank's population-tens of thousands of Palestinians-continue to live in areas where Israel has complete control, but even there the Palestinian Authority maintains "functional jurisdiction."

In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99 percent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation. By no conceivable stretching of words can the anti-Israel violence emanating from the territories during these years be made to qualify as resistance to foreign occupation. In these years there has been no such occupation.

IF THE stubborn persistence of Palestinian terrorism is not attributable to the continuing occupation, many of the worst outrages against Israeli civilians likewise occurred-contrary to the mantra of Palestinian spokesmen and their apologists-not at moments of breakdown in the Oslo "peace process" but at its high points, when the prospect of Israeli withdrawal appeared brightest and most imminent.

Suicide bombings, for example, were introduced in the atmosphere of euphoria only a few months after the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn: eight people were murdered in April 1994 while riding a bus in the town of Afula. Six months later, 21 Israelis were murdered on a bus in Tel Aviv. In the following year, five bombings took the lives of a further 38 Israelis. During the short-lived government of the dovish Shimon Peres (November 1995-May 1996), after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, 58 Israelis were murdered within the span of one week in three suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Further disproving the standard view is the fact that terrorism was largely curtailed following Benjamin Netanyahu's election in May 1996 and the consequent slowdown in the Oslo process. During Netanyahu's three years in power, some 50 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks-a third of the casualty rate during the Rabin government and a sixth of the casualty rate during Peres's term.

There was a material side to this downturn in terrorism as well. Between 1994 and 1996, the Rabin and Peres governments had imposed repeated closures on the territories in order to stem the tidal wave of terrorism in the wake of the Oslo accords. This had led to a steep drop in the Palestinian economy. With workers unable to get into Israel, unemployment rose sharply, reaching as high as 50 percent in Gaza. The movement of goods between Israel and the territories, as well as between the West Bank and Gaza, was seriously disrupted, slowing exports and discouraging potential private investment.

The economic situation in the territories began to improve during the term of the Netanyahu government, as the steep fall in terrorist attacks led to a corresponding decrease in closures. Real GNP per capita grew by 3.5 percent in 1997, 7.7 percent in 1998, and 3.5 percent in 1999, while unemployment was more than halved. By the beginning of 1999, according to the World Bank, the West Bank and Gaza had fully recovered from the economic decline of the previous years.

Then, in still another turnabout, came Ehud Barak, who in the course of a dizzying six months in late 2000 and early 2001 offered Yasir Arafat a complete end to the Israeli presence, ceding virtually the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the nascent Palestinian state together with some Israeli territory, and making breathtaking concessions over Israel's capital city of Jerusalem. To this, however, Arafat's response was war. Since its launch, the Palestinian campaign has inflicted thousands of brutal attacks on Israeli civilians-suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, stabbings, lynching, stonings-murdering more than 500 and wounding some 4,000.

In the entire two decades of Israeli occupation preceding the Oslo accords, some 400 Israelis were murdered; since the conclusion of that "peace" agreement, twice as many have lost their lives in terrorist attacks. If the occupation was the cause of terrorism, why was terrorism sparse during the years of actual occupation, why did it increase dramatically with the prospect of the end of the occupation, and why did it escalate into open war upon Israel's most far-reaching concessions ever? To the contrary, one might argue with far greater plausibility that the absence of occupation-that is, the withdrawal of close Israeli surveillance-is precisely what facilitated the launching of the terrorist war in the first place.

There are limits to Israel's ability to transform a virulent enemy into a peace partner, and those limits have long since been reached. To borrow from Baruch Spinoza, peace is not the absence of war but rather a state of mind: a disposition to benevolence, confidence, and justice. From the birth of the Zionist movement until today, that disposition has remained conspicuously absent from the mind of the Palestinian leadership.

It is not the 1967 occupation that led to the Palestinians' rejection of peaceful coexistence and their pursuit of violence. Palestinian terrorism started well before 1967, and continued-and intensified-after the occupation ended in all but name. Rather, what is at fault is the perduring Arab view that the creation of the Jewish state was itself an original act of "inhuman occupation" with which compromise of any final kind is beyond the realm of the possible. Until that disposition changes, which is to say until a different leadership arises, the idea of peace in the context of the Arab Middle East will continue to mean little more than the continuation of war by other means.

EFRAIM KARSH is head of Mediterranean studies at Kings College, University of London. His articles in COMMENTARY include "Israel's War" (April 2002) and "The Palestinians and the `Right of Return"' (May 2001).