Thursday, April 29, 2004

Here's a good article on Jenin: Massacring Truth from the Calgary Herald

The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain delivered this speech in London on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5762, (April, 13, 2002). Its relevance still rings loud and clear.

"Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has seen anything like it? Can a country be born in a day? Or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet Zion laboured and gave birth to her children immediately. Shall I bring to labour and not give delivery? says God. Shall I bring to birth and then close the womb? Says your God . . . As a mother comforts her son, So will I comfort you, and in Jerusalem you will find comfort."

(Isaiah 66: 8-9, 13)

Isaiah's words, which we read this morning as the haftorah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, are more than a simple vision. They tell us what it is to be a prophet.

No one was more severe in his criticisms of Israel than Isaiah. The first chapter of the book that bears his name is one of the greatest acts of social criticism in the religious history of mankind. To this day we read it on the Shabbat before Tisha b'Av.

Yet when Israel was in crisis, Isaiah didn't say, 'I told you so.' He didn't say, 'You are to blame.' He brought his people comfort. He gave them strength. More than strength, he gave them hope.

False prophets are with their people when times are good, and desert their people when things are bad. True prophets are the exact opposite. When times are good, they argue against complacency in the name of high ideals. But when things are bad, they lift the spirits of their people, by being with them in their distress, and giving them the courage to fight on.

Isaiah foresaw that the return to Zion would be difficult. Israel would face enemies from without and divisions from within. And at that moment Isaiah turns to his people and gives them comfort.

'Can a country be born in a day? Or a nation be brought forth in a moment?' The return to Zion, he says, will be like no other event in history. It will seem as if almost overnight a nation was reborn: something that never happened before or since. A people would return from exile; from slavery they would rediscover freedom and come back to their ancient home.

Whatever difficulties you face, whatever battles you have to fight, do not despair.

And then the prophet says the crucial words. 'Shall I bring to labor and not give delivery? Shall I bring to birth and then close the womb?' Rashi explains: Having begun the process of redemption, I will not stop halfway. Whatever difficulties you face, whatever battles you have to fight, do not despair. For God has not brought you back to the land only to desert you, God forbid. Just as He was with you at the beginning, so He will be with you on the way. And in words that, to this day, we still say to give strength to the bereaved, the prophet adds, "As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you, and in Jerusalem you will find comfort." Just as God has brought His people back to Jerusalem, so He will give them the comfort and courage to survive their terrible losses and afflictions.

Those words, thousands of years old, might have been written for today.

We stand between two days of the Jewish year, Yom Hashoa and Yom Ha'atzmaut, the days on which we remember the Holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel. Between them, they remind us why Israel exists: not just because of the murder of one third of our people; not just because, had Hitler succeeded, we would not be here today; but because, when the nations of the world gathered in Evian, France, in 1938, in full knowledge of the danger Jews in Europe faced, one country after another said: we have no room for the Jews. On this whole vast planet, there was not an inch Jews could call home.

The return to Zion didn't begin in 1938; it is as old as the words of Isaiah. Jews did not voluntarily leave Israel. They were driven out by other powers: first Babylon, then Rome, then by the Crusaders. Whenever they could, they returned, even in the dangerous days of the Middle Ages, as did Judah Halevi, as did Nachmanides, as did the family of Maimonides until they were forced to leave for Egypt. Jews never renounced their right to the land, and never once, in all the centuries, stopped praying for the day they would return. Long before the Holocaust, the Balfour Declaration in 1917 gave expression to that right. And yet there can be no doubt that what led the United Nations, in 1947, to vote for a Jewish state, was the knowledge that after the greatest crime of man against mankind, Jews needed a home in the sense defined by the poet Robert Frost as the place where, 'when you have to go there, they have to let you in.'

It was a simple acknowledgement, tragically overdue, that Jews, too, have rights, among them the most basic right of all: to live, to exist, to be able to walk the streets, go on a bus, have a meal in a restaurant, go into a shop, without the fear that someone will attack you, injure you, murder you, because you are what and who you are. No people was denied that right for longer than the Jewish people. And without that right, there are no others. And after the Holocaust, the nations of the world finally recognized that this meant that the Jewish people needed a home, a place where they could defend themselves, and not rely on the goodwill of others; because when they needed it, in 1938, it was not there.

Deny a nation the right to defend itself against violence and terror and you deny its very right to exist.

Today the state and people of Israel is fighting for its life in the most elemental sense. The right to life presupposes the right to self-defense, and what applies to individuals applies also to nations. That is why nations were created in the first place, to secure the safety of their citizens. That, according to every political philosophy, religious or secular, is the very basis of the social contract, without which, said Hobbes, life is 'nasty, brutish and short.' Deny a nation the right to defend itself against violence and terror and you deny its very right to exist. And yet that is what Israel's enemies and critics are doing and saying today, a mere 54 years after its birth, a mere 57 years after the Holocaust.

For the past 18 months, and increasingly over the past few weeks, a war has been waged against Israel on two fronts: the first on the streets and shops and buses of Jerusalem and Haifa and Tel Aviv, a war of terror pure and simple, directed against the innocent, against young and old, men, women and children, terror blind in its hate and suicidal in its effects. It would be hard to find, in the entire annals of human bloodshed, a more perverse campaign than this. Those who have committed it, or condoned it, or encouraged it, have claimed to be fighting a jihad, a holy war. Never has there been a more unholy war, a desecration of everything genuinely holy. To turn human beings into bombs, to turn the murder of innocent citizens into an act of martyrdom, to try and destroy the very people with whom you claim to share an ancestry -- this is not holy war. It is a blasphemy against the very Creator of life who taught us to cherish and sanctify life. And yet there is no protest! : not from the spiritual leaders of Islam; not even from the spiritual leaders of Christianity; and certainly not from the United Nations. Was this holy -- to organize a suicide bombing of innocent people in Netanya as they gathered on one of the holiest nights of the year, Seder night, to tell the sacred story of freedom? The Nazis planned the extermination of the Warsaw ghetto to take place on Pesach, because they wanted to show, God forbid, that there is no God. Until now, we never thought that there could be a greater evil than this. But there is. To do the same thing, and then claim that there is a God who condones such things -- this is a new low in the story of mankind.

Israel is a courageous people. It had to be, in order to survive. And yet over Pesach, for the first time in history, ordinary Israelis were traumatized by fear, not knowing whether a trip to the local supermarket would turn into a tragedy, not knowing whether their children would come back alive from a simple night out drinking coffee with friends. No nation can live like this. No nation should be expected to live like this. Not all the attacks are reported in the news; only the most serious. So most people have no idea that Israel, in the space of 12 months, has suffered 7,732 acts of terror -- more than 20 a day, almost one every hour of every day for 365 days. If terror is to be defeated anywhere, it must be defeated in Israel, because Israel has suffered more, this past year, than any other of the nations of the world. How can the West claim, as it does, the right to fight terror and then deny that right to Israel? How can it bomb the Taleban in Afghanistan and then ! protest when Israel, with far greater care, attempts to root out the suicide bombers who threaten its own citizens, not once or twice but daily? Such double standards cannot exist if humanity is to survive.

But that is only the first front of the war being waged against Israel. The second is more dangerous still. There is physical evil; but there is also moral evil, and no one defined it better than the prophet Isaiah himself. "Woe," he said, "to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Isaiah 5: 20).

For the past 18 months a vicious campaign has been mounted against Israel in the press, the television, international forums and public opinion. It consists in redefining acts of terror as legitimate expressions of anger; and redefining Israel's self- defense as an act of terror. As if Israel wanted any of this to happen. As if it sought bloodshed, when it hates it. As if it wanted war, when it has spent seven years pursuing peace. What madness is it when Israel is branded the aggressor, having offered the Palestinians, at Camp David and Taba, a state of their own, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in the whole of Gaza and 97 per cent of the West bank, with a further 3 per cent of land from within Israel itself? If terror is legitimate and self-defense is not, then crime is legitimate and the rule of law is not. If the search for peace is called aggression, and the breaking by Yasser Arafat of every undertaking he has ever given is called leadership, then we have reache! d the stage where evil is called good, and darkness hailed as light.

What Israel needs of us right now is loyalty.

What then must we do? We must do what the prophet Isaiah taught us to do -- to bring comfort to a troubled people, and hope at the brink of despair. We must remember that a mere week in the Jewish calendar, a mere three years in history, separate Yom Hashoa from Yom Ha'Atzmaut. A people who had come face to face with the angel of death, within three years was reborn as a free and sovereign people in the land of our beginnings. In Isaiah's words: "Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has seen anything like it? Can a country be born in a day? Or a nation be brought forth in a moment?"

Not only did Israel become a city of refuge for Jews facing persecution throughout the world. But more than any other country of its age and size, it has sought to be a blessing to others, giving medical aid, technological aid, agricultural advice, and humanitarian relief to any and every country that turned to it for help. If there were any justice in the world, Israel today, far from being condemned, should be hailed as a model for every new country, every developing region, in how to sustain democracy, create economic growth, revive an ancient language, rebuild ancient ruins, and provide a home for refugees. Israel is a living tutorial in hope; and if it is not allowed to defend itself, then the world is condemning hope itself.

But there is something more. At the very heart of Judaism is the word emunah. Emunah is often translated as faith, but that is not what it means. It means faithfulness, loyalty, being there for someone else when they need you and not walking away when times are hard. That is what Israel needs of us, the Jews of the Diaspora, at this time. It does not ask us to support this government, that Prime Minister, this party, that policy. About these things we are entitled to disagree. What Israel needs of us right now is loyalty. Yes, there are times when we can be critics, as Isaiah himself was. But not when Israel is in distress. Then we must show support. "As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you and in Jerusalem you will find comfort."

There are many ways to bring comfort: by defending Israel's case, by writing to the press or to the local MP, by phoning friends and relatives in Israel to let them know we are with them, or simply by prayer, our oldest and greatest source of strength. Let us show the people of Israel that they are not alone; that we are with them. And let us remember Isaiah's faith that God, who brought His people home, would one day give them peace. No people need it more. No people have earned it more. Hashem oz le-amo yiten, May God give strength to His people in this hour of trial. Hashem yevarech et amo vashalom. And may He give them the one blessing they cherished more than any other. Peace, speedily in our days, Amen.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Keep the conflict in perspective:

Amazing Facts about Israel

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world´s
population, can lay claim to the following:

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli
branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the
Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in

The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Israel has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U.S., Russia and China). In addition to a large variety
of other aircraft, Israel´s air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16´s. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft
outside of the US.

According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry´s most impenetrable flight security. U.
S.officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

Israel´s $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors

Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by
a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people -- as well as one of the highest per
capita rates of patents filed.

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup
companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest numbe r of
startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500
companies mostly in hi-tech).

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the
highest concentration hi-tech companies in the world -- apart from Silicon Valley, US.

Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the US.

Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of
NASDAQ listed companies.

Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per
capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK.

On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

Twenty-four per cent of Israel´s workforce holds university degrees --
ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland - and 12 per cent hold advanced

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

In 1984 and 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk
in Ethiopia, to safety in Israel.

When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, she became
the world´s second elected female leader in modern times.

When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within
a day -- and saved three victims from the rubble.

Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship -- and the highest rate among women and among people
over 55 - in the world.

Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of
democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity.

Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an
international standard that certifies diamonds as "conflict free."

Israel has the world´s second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a n et gain in its number of trees, made
more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.

Medicine... Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for
breast cancer.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper
administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical
treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment

Israel´s Givun imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the
small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart
pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with
heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart´s mechanical
operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the
workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in
Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force
employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.

A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device, produces a
high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne
bacteria to self-destruct -- all without damaging surroundings skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity
generating plant, in southern
California´s Mojave desert.

All the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that
seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having
to spend more per capita on its own protect ion than any other country on earth.

An email from Peter Cobrin includes an article from Mark Steyn - Peter's email is below:

Mark is of Jewish descent, but was baptized a Catholic, confirmed an
Anglican, and currently attends a small rural American Baptist Church. As
John Podhoretz of The New York Post said, "You're not Jewish or gay? But you
wrote a book on musicals?"

And the liberal left hate him. Which causes me to have acute schizophrenia
because I rather enjoy him!

He even has a website

Why the Palestinians are in such a state

By Mark Steyn.

There was an hilarious piece in the Washington Post on Sunday, under the
plaintive headline, "Why Did Bush Take My Job?" The author was Saeb Erekat,
and the job he claims Bush has taken from him is "senior Palestinian
negotiator" with the Israelis. The other day, speaking in support of the
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, President Bush stated the obvious: it was
"unrealistic" to expect a return to the armistice lines of 1949, and there's
no point wasting time discussing the Palestinian "right of return" to what's
now Israel, because it's never going to happen.
But this shift in favour of the "realities on the ground" sent "moderate
Arab opinion" into a tizzy. Returning from a visit to America, Egypt's
president, Hosni Mubarak, dropped in on Jacques Chirac in Paris. "Today
there is hatred of the Americans like never before," he told Le Monde. And,
in what sounded suspiciously like a threat, Mubarak added: "American and
Israeli interests will not be safe, not only in our region, but anywhere in
the world." Did he mention that when he was back at the ranch with Bush?
And that's a guy American taxpayers give $2 billion a year to. In return for
which, they get Mohammed Atta flying through the office window and vile
state-funded Egyptian media that license anti-Americanism as a safety valve
for disaffection that might otherwise be targeted more locally. Thanks a
bunch, Hosni. The Guardian reported this as a "damaging rebuff to President
George Bush's policies", though it's difficult to conceive of anything less
"damaging" to Bush than being insulted by some third-rate Arab strongman
dependent on US aid.
Now Mr Erekat has joined the chorus. "Why did Bush take my job?" To be
honest, I'd forgotten whether or not Mr Erekat currently held it.
Periodically he resigns from Arafat's cabinet for some reason or another,
but quietly returns to his post a couple of months later - "senior
Palestinian negotiator" being the Palestinian equivalent of those ancient
Cabinet titles Tony Blair can never quite get rid of.
Edward Heath, in his time as Lord Privy Seal, was once addressed by some
foreign dignitary as "Lord Heath" and famously responded that he was neither
a lord nor a privy nor a seal. The "senior Palestinian negotiator" is not
"senior", speaks for no viable faction within either the dignified
(Arafatist) or efficient (Hamas) parts of the Palestinian Authority, and
hasn't negotiated anything in a decade.
He last resigned last summer, after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime
minister, went off to negotiate with Ariel Sharon and accidentally left his
"chief negotiator" out of the negotiating team. I guess someone else was
taking Mr Erekat's job back then.
Mr Erekat's real job is to look good in a suit and go on television and
sound reasonable when, as on September 11, the excitable chaps in Ramallah
are dancing in the street and singing the Arabic version of Happy Days Are
Here Again. And he is, of course, "democratically elected", being presently
in the ninth year of a five-year term. So Yasser keeps him around to do the
CNN-BBC interviews when Hanan Ashrawi is washing her hair and they need
someone to do the autopilot drone of "root causes", "desperation", "cycle of
But, if Bush did "take my job", it's because Erekat is not up to it. For 10
years, the world has been trying to give a state to the Palestinians and the
Palestinians keep tossing obstacles in their path. The latest innovation was
a suicide-bomber arrested with explosives bearing HIV-infected blood, the
thinking being that anyone who survived would get Aids. Unfortunately, the
heat of the explosion kills the virus. But, in his combination of depravity
and incompetence, the "Aids bomber" neatly encapsulates the present state of
Palestinian "nationalism". The only way the Palestinians will get any kind
of state is if Israel and America inflict it on them and eliminate such
lethargic middle-men as Mr Erekat.
So Sharon is withdrawing from Gaza, abandoning the settlements and building
a wall. This is bad news for those Palestinians who take a more nuanced
approach to Jews - who think that, if you accidentally infect yourself while
strapping on the HIV bomb, you should have the right to state-of-the-art
treatment from an Israeli hospital. But they'll have to make the best of it.
Israel has concluded that, if you can't "live in peace" with your neighbour,
the priority is to live.
What a strange world the Middle East is. For 10 years, in northern Iraq, the
Kurds have run a pleasant, civilised, pluralist, democratic de facto state,
but external realities require them to be denied one de jure. For the same
period, in the West Bank and Gaza the Palestinian Authority's thugs,
incompetents and bespoke apologists have been lavished with EU aid and
transformed their land into an ugly, bankrupt Arafatist squat. But external
realities require the world to defer to the "Chairman" as a de jure head of
state, lacking merely a state to head.
Meanwhile, Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's special envoy to Iraq, has told French
radio listeners that "the great poison in the region" is Israeli
"domination" and told American television viewers that the Israelis "are not
interested in peace, no matter what you seem to believe in America". Well,
he certainly hit the ground running. A week in town and he is already
sounding like any decades-old Arab despot. In The Spectator a year ago, I
warned against handing over Iraq to the UN: it would simply "install as high
commissioner a non-Iraqi Arab bureaucrat" who'd "effectively wind up as an
Arab League minder, there to ensure that the Iraqis didn't get any funny
ideas (rule of law, representative government) which might unduly
discombobulate the Egyptians, Saudis et al." But even I didn't think they'd
ship over such a walking, talking cliché of Arab League man as Mr Brahimi.
If it's any consolation to Saeb Erekat, Bush may have usurped his job in
Palestine, but in Iraq Mr Brahimi is sounding as if he has usurped Bush's.
And that's a lousy exchange.

Peter Cobrin

Monday, April 26, 2004

An email mailed to

Lebanon Field Office, Beirut April 26, 2004
Hoda Samra
Public Information Officer

Dear Mr. Homra,

It was reported today in the Daily Star that that director general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, Richard Cook, angered Palestinians in Lebanon when he recently requested that pictures of Hamas leaders be torn down from UNRWA schools in northern Lebanon. Some have threatened to bar Mr. Cook from entering Palestinian camps, due to this request.

Cook is the first director general to take this decision, and his courage should be complemented and supported. While Hamas' leader in Sidon, Abu Ahmad Fadl, insists upon "the importance of martyrs in Palestinians' lives", the prevailing cult of martyrdom is now fact the direct and proximate cause of untold suffering for Palestinian children and the continuance of the conflicts across the Middle East. This message must be brought home to the Palestinian leaders of all factions. Barring Mr. Cook from entering Palestinian camps is truly akin to one's cutting off their own nose to spite their face.

Kudos are due to Mr. Cook; his courageous vision, if allowed to prevail, may yet help bring peace to the region.

I am sending a copy of this to to Mr. Paul McCCann in the UNRWA Gaza office.


Elihu D. Stone

Sharon, MA 02067

Thursday, April 15, 2004

This is the text of a letter from President George W. Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the occasion of their April 14 meeting in Washington, D.C.

His Excellency
Ariel Sharon
Prime Minister of Israel

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

Thank you for your letter setting out your disengagement plan.

The United States remains hopeful and determined to find a way forward toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I remain committed to my June 24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security as the key to peace, and to the roadmap as the route to get there.

We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee. We are hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with my vision, will remind all states and parties of their own obligations under the roadmap.

The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.

First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the roadmap, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.

Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all states, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.

Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

I know that, as you state in your letter, you are aware that certain responsibilities face the State of Israel. Among these, your government has stated that the barrier being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.

As you know, the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent, so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance with my vision set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in the roadmap. The United States will join with others in the international community to foster the development of democratic political institutions and new leadership committed to those institutions, the reconstruction of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous economy, and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.

A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians would be a great boon not only to those peoples but to the peoples of the entire region. Accordingly, the United States believes that all states in the region have special responsibilities: to support the building of the institutions of a Palestinian state; to fight terrorism, and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals and groups engaged in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal relations with the State of Israel. These actions would be true contributions to building peace in the region.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have described a bold and historic initiative that can make an important contribution to peace. I commend your efforts and your courageous decision which I support. As a close friend and ally, the United States intends to work closely with you to help make it a success.

George W. Bush

Interesting facts about Israel

Kol Hakovod!! Nice to be able to give ourselves a pat on the back once in awhile!

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can make claim to the following:

An Israeli company has unveiled a blood test that via the telephone diagnoses heart attacks.

The Israeli-developed Ex-Press shunt is providing relief for American glaucoma sufferers.

An Israeli research team has found that the combination of electrical stimulation and chemotherapy makes cancerous metastases disappear.

Israel has designed the first flight system to protect passenger and freighter aircraft against missile attack.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U.S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes. Israel's Given Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used the view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with congestive heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors. A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct - all without damaging surroundings skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California's Mojave desert.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was produced by Haim Saban, an Israeli whose family fled persecution in Egypt.

Israel has the world's second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.

Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and start-ups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world (apart from the Silicon Valley).

In response to serious water shortages, Israeli engineers and agriculturalists developed a revolutionary drip irrigation system to

minimize the amount of water used to grow crops.

Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

Most of the Windows NT operating system was developed by Microsoft-Israel.

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

The technology for AOL Instant Messenger was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The I's and the P's

The I's and the P's have been at war for over half a century. Over the past
several years the level of suspicion, hostility and paranoia between the two
has been unprecedented. I has been the target of a terror campaign by Islamic
terrorists who infiltrated its territory and conducted horrific attacks against
both soldiers and innocent civilians. I accuses P of training and arming these
militants and not lifting a finger to stop them.

After a long series of failed attempts to reach a peace deal or even a
temporary cease fire, the government of I decided it must erect a fence as a
security barrier separating it from P. I's fence project infuriates the P's. Their
uniformed leader called the government of I to immediately halt the
construction. But despite strong international pressure I does not seem to bend and its
white haired prime minister recently called to expedite the project and finish
the fence by the end of 2004.

If you thought the above describes the controversial fence currently being
erected in the West Bank between Israel and the Palestinians you are in good
company. Look again. I is not Israel and P is not Palestine. The story above
describes another fence, three time zones away from the Middle East in the
disputed area of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Indeed, since Pakistani
militants tried to storm the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India has embarked on
an ambitious project aimed to seal its border with its enemy. The fence is
only part of a multi-tiered system that includes mines, sensors, trenches and,
in some parts, a high mud wall.

Now, ask yourself why you associated the above story with the Middle East and
not with South Asia. Why does the action of a nation of six million people
loom larger in your consciousness than that of one billion people? After all,
the India-Pakistan conflict is just as enduring and fierce. It threatens world
peace no less than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Indian fence is at
least twice as long as the Israeli. It too creates facts on the ground
unilaterally; it too entails land grabs and separation of innocent farmers from their

Unlike the Israeli fence, India's project has been under the radar screen of
most American media outlets. Run a quick internet search for "Israel
Palestinian fence" and then "India Pakistan fence" and see the difference. While the
first fence was covered by all main western media outlets from The New York
Times to Time Magazine over and over again ad nauseum, the debate over the Indian
fence features almost exclusively in the south Asian media. American
newspapers dedicated no editorials to it, news networks did not do specials on it. 60
Minutes did not find it interesting enough. Tom Friedman found the Israeli
fence to be a more sexy topic to do a documentary on than the Indian fence. At no
point did the European media call the Indian fence "apartheid wall" or "Berlin

In truth, the Indian fence has not been covered for the same reason an
Israeli incursion into Gaza and the killing of three militants receives on any given
day more media attention than the massacre of 400 people in Congo. The reason
being, in part, that over the years western media's interest in the
Arab-Israeli conflict has reached a level of obsession. Jerusalem is a haven for
journalists. It is a war zone without real war, the one place in the Middle East
where they can file stories while eating sushi. As a result, Israeli affairs are
being covered at a disproportionate scale. The unintended consequence is that
the public judgment and ability to dedicate sufficient resources to other, no
less challenging, parts of the world is compromised.

This over exposure of Israel also has policy implications. It is not an
accident that the Indian fence has not been condemned internationally the way
Israel's has been; that the UN convened a special emergency meeting of the General
Assembly to approve a resolution, demanding a stop to the construction while
being mute on India; that human rights activists flock to the West Bank to lie
under Israeli bulldozers. All of these make great material for even more
stories. And so it goes.

The media is the periscope with which we look at the world and form our world
view. As media consumers, Americans need less Israel and more world,
otherwise we will find ourselves surrounded too by a fence, blocking our view of the
real world issues.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

From: JAT List Owner []
Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:03 PM

DATE: 01 April 2004
TYPE: Action Item
SCOPE: United States

SUBJ: Congress Takes up Issue of Jewish Refugees

The U.S. House and Senate have taken up the issue of nearly
a million Jews forced to flee from Arab countries -- where
their communities had lived in many cases for a thousand
years before the Arabs invaded those countries. Resolutions
would demand that U.S. diplomats always include mention of
these refugees when dealing with Palestinian Arab refugees.

Write to your Representatives and Senators urging them to
support the resolutions.

Visit the AIPAC Web site for contact information for your
Representatives and Senators. Note that some members of
Congress accept email only from those in their own district.


The following article appeared in the on-line edition of the
Jerusalem Post at the following URL:

US Senate takes up issue of Jews who fled Arab lands

Decades after the disappearance of most Jewish communities
from the Arab world, a resolution seeking justice for Jews
and other minorities who were persecuted, expelled or forced
to flee the lands of their birth is being introduced into
the US Senate Thursday.

The "sense of the Senate" resolution, an identical version
of which was introduced into the House of Representatives on
Monday evening, calls on the Bush administration to instruct
all US diplomats, including the US ambassador to the United
Nations, to include mention of "multiple refugee
populations" in any text or resolution alluding to Middle
East refugees, and to ensure that "any explicit reference to
the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue is
matched by a similar explicit reference to the resolution of
the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."

The resolution, sponsored by Rick Santorum (R-PA) in the
Senate and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, urges the
administration to make clear that "redress for the
legitimate rights of all refugees displaced from Arab
countries" and "recognition of the fact that Jewish and
Christian property, schools and community property was lost
as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict" must be part of a
comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East.

Noting that "Jews and other ethnic groups have lived mostly
as minorities in the Middle East, North Africa, and the
Persian Gulf region for more than 2,500 years, more than
1,000 years before the advent of Islam," the resolution
states that a greater number of Jews (850,000) were
displaced than Palestinians (726,000) as a result of
Israel's establishment and wars against the Jewish state.
According to the American Sephardi Federation, fewer than
4,000 Jews remain in the Arab world.

"The resolution is an attempt to rectify what we call a
historical injustice, that is, the cynical neglect of the
international community to the plight of more than 850,000
Jewish refugees," said Stanley Urman, executive director of
Justice for Jews in Arab Countries (JJAC), an organization
founded last year by a coalition of Jewish groups and
dedicated to securing justice for the forgotten refugees of
the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Honorary chairmen of JJAC include former US ambassador to
the UN Richard Holbrooke, former Knesset Speaker Shlomo
Hillel, and Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

The eight-page resolution notes the few instances during
which the international community acknowledged the plight of
Jewish refugees, including several Senate resolutions
adopted in the late 1950s that expressed concern with
Egypt's persecution of its Jewish population; an October
1977 memorandum of understanding between US president Jimmy
Carter and foreign minister Moshe Dayan, and a July 2000
interview on Israeli television in which president Bill
Clinton called for the establishment of an international
fund to compensate both Palestinians and "Israelis who were
made refugees by the war." UN resolutions, the 1991 Madrid
conference and the Quartet-backed road map, the resolution
states, "do not make any distinction between Palestinian and
Jewish refugees." Recent statements by Libyan leaders
stating that the former rogue nation is ready to compensate
Libyan Jews whose assets were confiscated, and Iraq's
recently signed draft constitution, which acknowledges past
wrongs to citizens of all religions, are also noted.

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Santorum,
who is holding a press conference today with Libyan and
Iraqi Jews, Egyptian Copts and Sudanese Christians forced to
flee their Arab homelands, called the expulsion of Jews from
Arab countries over the past 55 years "a serious issue
that's unreported." Should the resolution be adopted by his
colleagues, Santorum said he hopes to organize hearings on
the issue in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "If
we're going to talk about refugees, let's talk about all
refugees," he said.

In October, a "sense of the Congress" resolution, sponsored
by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), called on the
international community to recognize the plight of Jewish
refugees, and it urged the UN Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) to resettle Palestinian refugees rather than prolong
their suffering in decades-old refugee camps. The bill,
which has 20 co-sponsors, was referred to the House
International Relations Committee.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Intellectual Mugging at the MFA

I just had a very unpleasant experience. I was invited to comment on a documentary – Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land, shown at the MFA as part of their Film and Media series. The invitation came because a number of people, including me, had complained to the MFA that they were showing what looked like, from the blurb, a propaganda film which should not be shown without some response. After a number of negotiations, mostly aimed at sparing the MFA embarrassment, we agreed that the MFA would send me a copy of the film, and after the filmmakers spoke, I would make a statement and ask the first questions. The idea was to keep it honorable and civil.

The movie itself is as billed in the blurb, a tendentiously one-sided affair in which hyper-self-critical Israelis and Jews join up with Palestinian accusers to blame the whole conflict on the occupation, and to blame our residual sympathy for the Israelis, on illegitimate Jewish influence over our media. The media should not only understand and present this Palestinian “narrative” – which is, to some extent the media’s job – but adopt it -- which it’s not. The movie demands advocacy journalism: media should always point out the “context” – occupation, occupation, occupation. They should tell people how to interpret these events. Our way.

After I saw the movie, in conjunction with conversations with Bo Smith at the museum, who seemed very concerned about the possible hostility of the audience, I figured I’d start it with what we agreed on – the media are our eyes and ears on the world, and we need them to be as accurate as possible; that a well-informed and autonomously critical public is one of the best guarantees of that accuracy. Did this film help us? In my considered opinion, it was, if anything an object lesson in propaganda. Inaccurate information, packaged with hyper-spin, and the exclusion of all dissident voices. This was not so much an argument – although that it was – but a harangue. No nuance here. In response, I planned to raise some problems with the film (oversights that call into question the stark picture) and then pose some questions to the two filmmakers.

I knew I was in trouble when, at film’s end, the audience – packed house – gave the movie a standing ovation. Okay, so they liked it. But nothing really prepared me for what was to come. First the movie-makers spoke. Bathsheba Ratzkoff presented herself as an Israeli who had grown up learning that you speak out against injustice, and that a holocaust should never happen again to anyone. Sut Jhally presented himself as a courageous man taking on the Palestinian cause when it was taboo (when was that in University circles? Was this before 1967?), driven by Edward Said to do what he had to do, regardless of the consequences. Then it was my turn.

The crowd resisted with catcalls as if to have me speak were an insult, but I got to start. I got though my opening throat clearing, although someone interrupted me when I said, in a gesture of concession, “at least the movie doesn’t explicitly claim to have a monopoly on absolute truth,” by shouting, “Yes it does!” (I wonder how many people there, post-modern, post-colonials all, realized how bad that made them look. All the irony of Pravda.)

But as soon as I got to criticism, the crowd went wild. It was like they were Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride holding their hands over their ears and shouting “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” Here I was, trying to tell them that in this movie there is not one voice of dissent, and they were shouting, “Shut up! Shut up!”

The filmmaker insisted that the crowd let me finish, and I was able to continue some more, constantly interrupted. I’d love to listen to a tape of the event. But I remember another interruption well. I asked if they thought that we could do a similar study on Palestinian and Arab attempts to control the media. I thought one of my strongest (even-handed) questions at the end, was, “are you planning a matching peace of the other side of this phenomenon. Surely it would be easier to fill in the “big corporate interests” who control our politicians, who set the tone for the media (a power-point presentation in the film) with names like Bechtel and Halliburton, and Saudi owned AOL, owner of CNN, than with identifiably Jewish, much less Zionist “corporations.” But to my astonishment, that suggestion was greeted with loud catcalls. Apparently, such an argument was taboo in the crowd. What an extraordinary attitude!

Indeed, there was something cult-like about it. The energy was high, and people felt comfortable taking public voice and speaking for the collective. It was as if they had the gnosis, the secret knowledge, and they gathered to inhale it, to bathe in it. This movie was a delight for them. It filled them with enthusiasm and energy. It liberated them from any sense of guilt about Jews as victims – after all, so many prominent Jews in this movie have given them permission not to be concerned. It mobilized their hate; it clarified the world into the forces of good and evil and let them know who to resist. It oriented them into the fateful future that looms before us. And they could not bear contradiction. Impulse control low, and dropping. And that’s from our progressive community.

Self-styled peace-loving dissidents shouting down a dissident voice. It was a cross between Monty Python, “We’re aaaall individuals,” we are aaaalll dissenters, and the meeting of the Second International, when the Mensheviks became the soon-to-disappear minority. It was as if these folk had been fed red meat and I was trying to stop the feeding frenzy by suggesting that it was tainted, that consuming it might lead to unwarranted hatred and foolish approval of violence that no one – repeat no one – has an excuse for. And these 60s retreads – I’m one for crying out loud – snarled at me with the ferocity of a hungry beast.

I finished, rushed by the crowd and an increasingly nervous museum staff by asking Batsheba, if she were against holocausts happening to everyone, why wasn’t she making a movie about Sudan? Sut Jhally took the mike, and, rather than answering any of my questions, explained to the crowd why I had spoken. Exempting poor Bo, the point man, he insisted that the higher-ups in the museum had caved, and that our insistence as Jews and Zionists, to respond to such one-sided presentations, was an example of our trying to control the conversation. This was a replication of the movie’s unconscious message: don’t just listen to the Palestinian narrative, adopt it! And don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. So my dissent and request to be heard is really coercive manipulation, and his monopoly on the discussion is just keeping you in the audience away from propaganda. He refused to recognize me beyond denouncing me, refused to answer any of my questions. I was not an opponent, but an enemy.

The museum has yet to apologize, or even call to be in touch. I’m sure it will, sometime soon. I suggest that we have a showing of two movies, and a discussion afterwards. I invite Sut Jhally and anyone else he would like to bring to a four-person panel discussion in front of our audience. One in which we all acknowledge the rules of civility. No applause, except at the end. We listen to each other. And let people make up their own minds.

Richard Landes

What has gone right in Iraq by Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe.

[below is an observation from a friend...]

Regarding Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ." Do you know what is completely missing from the movie? Palestinians, that's what! Not one time in the entire move do you see one single Palestinian anywhere. Romans and Jews . . . that's about it. No Palestinians.

And do you know why there are no Palestinians in the movie? Do you know why it's just Romans and Jews? Because that's pretty much all you had in those parts in those days. Romans and Jews. No Palestinians. The Palestinians didn't arrive on the scene until after 1967 about 1966 years later.

There. . . that ought to get the heathens to raging . . .