Tuesday, June 07, 2011

7-Jun-11: International terror victims group asks EC to intervene against PA's promotion of terror

The statement below by the International Alliance Against Terrorism was delivered to the President of the European Commission today.

The International Alliance Against Terrorism | Alliance Internationale Contre le Terrorisme
c/o MPCT, Maison du Citoyen et de la Vie Associative
16, rue du Révérend Père Aubry, 94120 Fontenay-sous-Bois France
Tél: +33-6-6626-4223

Fontenay, 6th June 2011

Mr José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
1049 Brussels, Belgium


As European members (French, Italian, German, British and Spanish) of the International Alliance Against Terrorism network, we have been alerted by our Israeli partner about the payment of a monthly salary to terrorists, jailed in Israel, by the Palestinian Authority. A law is said to have been passed last April to that effect.

It is clearly not a humanitarian gesture but a promotion of terrorism, since Palestinians detained for car  stealing are excluded from this benefit.

Terrorism, the targeted murder of civilians, is thus treated as a honorable profession deserving fair wages.

We naturally wish all prisoners to be judged in fair trials and, if condemned, to get humane detention conditions. But we are shocked by this measure which revolts the families of the victims of these terrorists.

We are worried too, as this kind of incitement may bring about fresh outbreak of terror.

The Palestinian Authority has unfortunately sent many messages pointing to terror incitement.

A ceremony broadcast by Palestinian television on May 20 distinguished the families of  terrorists sentenced to life imprisonment for terror attacks targeting civilians. Among them was the family of Khaled Asakra, condemned  for murdering a French tourist in a Bethlehem restaurant in April 1991.

The European Union contributes over 150 million euros to funding the Palestinian Authority.

We do not want this money, which should help the Palestinian people, to be misappropriated and used to pay wages to terrorists.

Terrorism is one of the scourges of our time.

During May, according to our data, terror acts killed 614 civilians throughout the world and injured 1351.

Whatever his nationality and the cause he champions,  a terrorist may be called a criminal against humanity for  targeting civilians.

Sir, the  condemnation of terrorism is meaningless if it tolerates its justification.

What steps are you going to take to prevent our euros to help pay wages to terrorists?

Looking forward to a strong gesture from you, we pray you receive, Sir, our respectful regards.

Huguette Chomski Magnis, Spokesperson for the International Alliance Against Terrorism
Michael Gallagher, for the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, Northern Ireland
Dr Richard Rossin, President of Mouvement Pour  la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme, France
Reiner Schleicher, for NzT, Nein zum Terrorismus, Germany

Monday, June 06, 2011

6-Jun-11: Many nations have enemies - but what do you call people like this barbarian?

The massacre of the Fogel family - father, mother and three children aged 11, 3 and a three month infant, all slashed to death in their beds - had a devastating effect on Israeli society when it happened on a Sabbath night in March in the quiet Samaria community of Itamar. Not because murders of innocents in their homes is unknown in this country. Far from it. But unlike a bombing or a shooting or a drive-by killing, these murders were carried out by people who could see, touch, smell their victims as they slashed their flesh. The grandfather of the three slaughtered children said the scene was "horrendous, beyond description, beyond comprehension".

Two cousins, Amjad Mahmad Awad and Hakim Awad, from a village a short hike from Itamar, were charged with the murders, indicted in an Israeli court and confessed. DNA evidence found at the Fogel family home connects the two Awads to the crime.

Now in a reminder of how this ongoing war is not based on grievances or claims but on hatred so intense, so all-encompassing and profound that it leaves civilized people gasping, Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, has given voice to the credo of terrorists everywhere:
"I don't regret what I did, even if it means I'm sentenced to death... I'm proud of what I did."
People who have not had to confront terrorism from close up often have difficulty comprehending just how far from familiar norms the values and standards of such people are. The hatred harbored by these people is simply in a different league. Imaging a life in which you compromise and come to terms with such people is something you cannot do once you become aware of the barbarity animating their lives and actions.

Now go try to find a single non-Israeli news channel that has published yesterday's statement by this vile and repulsive man.

For the record, the murderer of our daughter is made of the same sickening material.

6-Jun-11: What's actually going on in Syria?

Under the heading "Here's What Syria's President Was Trying To Hide When He Shut Down The Internet", a US-based website says:
Syrian officials shut off the country's Internet last week in the face of rising protests and civil disobedience. According to the Internet intelligence firm Renesys, the web is up and fully operational as of yesterday morning. The gap in service did not stop the following clip from being released on satellite phone showing Syrian forces firing on peaceful demonstrators. The shooting begins at :21.
The video clip is here:

Here's some more insight into the blood-letting going on in our northern neighbour's domain.

At about this time yesterday, as several busloads of rent-a-mob Syrians were being bused from Damascus to confront Israeli security forces on the Syria-Israel border, the Syrian authorities (the Assad family and its hench-persons) were engaging in yet another day of armed confrontation and massacre of their own citizens.
35 reported killed in crackdown in northern SyriaSyria uses pro-regime gunmen to crush protests
By ZEINA KARAM - Associated Press
BEIRUT (AP) -- The death toll in a government security crackdown in two northern Syrian towns rose to 35 Sunday, human rights groups said. Exiled opposition figures said any dialogue now with President Bashar Assad's regime would be a joke. Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the deaths in the town of Jisr al-Shughour and nearby Khan Sheikhoun included six policemen. The operation is part of a crackdown that began Saturday. Human rights groups say more than 1,200 people have died in the brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters since March.
This past Friday, Reuters - quoting 'activists' - says the Syrian military killed seventy of their fellow Syrians.

You might think that when it comes to a vicious regime like that of Syria's Assad, the great international newsagencies might hesitate before publishing allegations by its various Damascus mouthpieces about Syrian casualties in the clashes on Israel's Syrian border on Sunday. You might think that the Assad regime's credibility would be, at the very least, questioned.

You would be giving them too much credit.

Here's CNN today:
"Israeli troops fired on protesters trying to cross the fortified border between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, with Syrian authorities reporting more than a dozen dead and hundreds wounded."
The San Francisco Chronicle
"Twenty-three people were killed and 350 injured, according to Syrian state-run television."
"Israeli troops opened fire on Sunday as protesters from Syria stormed a ceasefire line in the occupied Golan Heights, with Damascus saying 23 demonstrators were killed."
And this sadly-typical contribution from the ever-aspiring The National ("the Abu Dhabi Media company's first English-language publication, has set a new standard of quality English-language journalism in the Middle East" - we have some personal experience of their 'quality')
"20 shot dead as Israeli snipers fire on Palestinians crossing border... Israeli soldiers shot and killed up to 20 protesters trying to enter the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights from neighbouring Syria yesterday. The bloodshed was a repeat of deadly clashes last month when hundreds of Syria's Palestinian residents poured across the disputed border."
Do you think any of the above editors or reporters are interested in reading an article with this title? "Syrian government has a clear interest in exaggerating the number of casualties from Sunday's clashes in order to overshadow Assad's massacre of anti-government protesters".

Might be asking too much, right?

6-Jun-11: Just when you thought it can't get much worse...

Alongside all of the rising tension and artificially-induced confrontations of the past few days (about which we have been too stretched for personal reasons to respond), there is this very disturbing report about the region's largest and most active practitioner of terrorism.
"The Iranian regime is closer than ever before to creating a nuclear bomb, according to RAND Corporation researcher Gregory S. Jones. At its current rate of uranium enrichment, Tehran could have enough for its first bomb within eight weeks, Jones said in a report published this week. He added that despite reports of setbacks in its nuclear program, the Iranian regime is steadily progressing towards a bomb. Unfortunately, Jones says, there is nothing the US can do to stop Tehran, short of military occupation. The researcher based his report on recent findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published two weeks ago. Making the bomb will take around two months, he says, because constructing a nuclear warhead is a complicated step in the process."
The full article is here.

Just to make the point again that they have their ways and we have ours, Israel yesterday inaugurated its first industrial-grade solar energy field, in a major step towards energy independence, and a cleaner and better environment. Congratulations to Arava Power Company for leading the way.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

2-Jun-11: Notes from around the neighborhood

Living in proximity to neighbors, particularly those with a propensity for acts of terror against their own populations as well as ours, gets you fixated in what is happening over there. Today's very subjective selection.

Syrian Forces Shell Town, Kill 41 Khaled Oweis [Yesterday]
Syrian forces killed 41 civilians in Rastan on Tuesday in an effort to crush pro-democracy protests, human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouna said on Wednesday. Syrian forces also killed nine civilians on Tuesday in the town of Hirak, rights campaigner Ammar Qurabi said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Egypt Revolution Leaves Sinai Increasingly Lawless Tim Whewell [yesterday]
Twice during the few days I spent in el-Arish, roads were blocked by armed Bedouin intent on avenging the kidnap of members of their clan by a rival tribe. After several days, I was allowed to visit the border with Gaza, but I went a little further, travelling down back roads, to visit an arms dealer. Between 2000 and 2007, he says, he was one of five smugglers in charge of the arms trade in Sinai, each of them making four or five deals a month, each involving between 200 and 400 guns. The main source was Sudan, the main market Gaza. Now, he says, it has all changed. Gaza has all the guns it needs, and Hamas can manufacture its own rockets. The market now is internal, within Sinai. "Because of the revolution," he says, "there are no police anymore."  (BBC News
Next week's 'Third Intifada' events Bulletin of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center [Today]
A group using Facebook and calling itself "the third intifada," posted its plan for activities lasting from June 3 to June 7 (Facebook, May 24, 2011):
June 3: Masses of people throughout the Muslim world (including Judea and Samaria) are supposed to pray and call for the liberation of Jerusalem and Palestine. Marches are supposed to be organized to Al-Aqsa mosque and the churches in Jerusalem. Should the marches be prevented from reaching their destinations, prayers will be held at the roadblocks. Marches in the Gaza Strip are also expected to be  held to the border crossings with Israel.
June 4: "Rush to the Golan Day" will be held in Syria, during which Syrian civilians will try to cross the border in the Golan Heights. Such activities may begin on June 3 as well, and there will also be marches on June 5 (Facebook, May 25, 2011).
June 5: After afternoon prayers in the mosques, marches are planned in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to the borders with Israel, with volunteer participants from throughout the Muslim world. Marches to the Israeli embassies will be held in Europe. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Israeli cities "marches and confrontations with 'occupation' soldiers will be held along the border."
June 6: A demonstration is supposed to be held at Maroun al-Ras in coordination with the Lebanese authorities. Fatah members in Lebanon may also participate in the march. In addition, preparations are being made for launching a ship (NOW Lebanon website, May 25; Al-Nashra, May 30; Facebook, May 23, 2011).
June 7: Marches are supposed to be held in Judea and Samaria and within Israel to Jerusalem. A convoy is expected to reach the Gaza Strip. The participants in the day's activities will "swear allegiance to Jerusalem."
What 'Arab Spring'? [Cal Thomas yesterday in the Washington Examiner]
If Western nations think what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt will lead to real democracy, where competing political parties, ideologies and faiths have a fair and equal opportunity of being debated, they are seriously deluded. The money would have a better chance of financing a winning streak in a Las Vegas casino. Democracy doesn't spring up of its own accord. It must have a base from which it can blossom. That was a point made by Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and political science at Duke University, in a recent op-ed column for the New York Times entitled "The Weak Foundations of Arab Democracy." Kuran wrote: "Democracy requires checks and balances, and it is largely through civil society that citizens protect their rights as individuals, force policymakers to accommodate their interests, and limit abuses of state authority. Civil society also promotes a culture of bargaining and gives future leaders the skills to articulate ideas, form coalitions and govern."
None of this exists in any of the nations to which the G-8 has pledged its support. In Egypt, supposedly the most progressive of the Arab states, fundamentalist Muslims still persecute Coptic Christians. The radical Muslim Brotherhood, which at the start of the revolution claimed no interest in political power, is now active in its pursuit of victory in the upcoming election and hints that it might revoke Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. The problems in North Africa and the Middle East can't be solved by money. What's needed is a change in outlook. Radical Islam forces women into second-class status; it is rooted not in optimism, but in pessimism. Radical Islamists appear to serve an angry god who commands them to kill those who do not believe as they do, but this belief will do little to lift the Arab world out of the religious and political deep freeze that holds it back from true progress.
And finally, as a reminder of the turbulence of neighborly relations within the Arab world...

Egypt limits crossings at Gaza border [Joel Greenberg in the Washington Post yesterday]
Egypt reimposed restrictions Wednesday on the number of Palestinians allowed to enter from the Gaza Strip at the Rafah crossing, days after permanently opening the border point in a move to ease Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. Hatem Aweidah, who is in charge of border crossings for the Hamas government in Gaza, said that Egyptian officials had set a limit of 350 to 400 travelers who would be granted entry each day, on the grounds that border personnel could not handle more. A similar daily limit had been imposed in the months before the permanent opening on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

1-Jun-11: "Very likely a nuclear reactor... should have been declared by Syria"

Regional nuclear thug Assad denies the claims and has
powerful friends to back him up [source]
It's just the thing that people living in a bad neighborhood dread the most: vivid confirmation that those noisy, argumentative and extremely badly behaved people on the other side of the fence are indeed armed and dangerous, just as they have believed for a long time. Only in this case we're speaking of terrorism - national-scale terrorism - and the threat of destruction on a monumental scale.

An opinion piece entitled "The I.A.E.A. and Syria" in the 31st May 2011 edition of the New York Times adopts considerably understated language to say what Israelis sweat about when they look north. Writing about a site that was destroyed by someone's air force in September 2007 (presumably Israel):
"The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general, Yukiya Amano, in his May 24, 2011 report to the I.A.E.A. board of governors... concludes that the destroyed building was very likely a nuclear reactor and should have been declared by Syria... Although he does not explicitly say so, Mr. Amano’s finding places Syria in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Three years in the making, the I.A.E.A. certainly cannot be accused of a rush to judgment... At its meeting next week, the I.A.E.A. board of governors must decide whether to formally declare Syria in noncompliance with the nonproliferation treaty. Doing so will place the matter before the U.N. Security Council, opening the way for sanctions. The decision will test whether responsibility overrides timidity. At stake, the agency’s reputation as the world’s nuclear watchdog. To date Damascus has gamed that reputation and succeeded."
Those two last factors - damage to the IAEA's reputation and Syria's ability to fend off sanctions until now - owe much to the just-ended tenure of one man: Mohamed ElBaradei. An article ("Iran and the Bomb: How real is the nuclear threat?) to appear in today's New Yorker magazine, states the mess pretty clearly. ElBaradei -
a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is now a candidate for the Presidency of Egypt, spent twelve years as the director-general of the I.A.E.A., retiring two years ago. In his recent interview, he said, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.
Nobel Prize winner or not, ElBaradei was wrong on Syria. If he's also wrong on Iran then whose interests are being served? And how much more dangerous is the world and our corner of it as a result?

1-Jun-11: 'Mysterious' blast in Gaza

One of many PRC moments in the media [Source
From a Khaled Abu Toameh report in today's Jerusalem Post:
Three Palestinian gunmen were killed on Tuesday in a mysterious explosion in a military training base near Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources in Gaza said. The sources said that the explosion occurred inside a training base belonging to the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of armed groups in the Gaza Strip... Local journalists said that several other people were wounded in the blast, which also caused huge damage. Hamas policemen sealed off the area and launched an investigation.
Popular Resistance Committees' work is defined in a Wikipedia entry as specialized "in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges - directed against military and civilian convoys in the Gaza Strip". One of those 'military and civilian convoys' was a sole vehicle driven by an unarmed and pregnant Jewish woman, Tali Hatuel, and carrying her four daughters aged 2 to 11. PRC took credit for the attack on this convoy on May 2, 2004 in which all the occupants of the family car were murdered.

The organization is defined here as
a kind of Hamas sub-contractor, carrying out attention-getting attacks against Israel. Handling the PRC behind the scenes enables Hamas to encourage terrorist attacks against Israel while outwardly maintaining its policy of restraint and coping with the political exigencies resulting from the composition of its government. Hamas provides the PRC with extensive operational support, including monthly funding, and providing arms, training and operational instructions.
It has been at the center of agitation within Palestinian Arab circles at various times, having attacked and kidnapped a number of public figures including police commander Razi Jebali (July 2004). It kidnapped and murdered Mousa Arafat, the head of PA Military Intelligence and cousin of Yassir; and made troublesome allegations against Palestinian Minister for Internal Security Nasir Yusuf, politician Muhammed Dahlan and other high-profile figures. They have their enemies. Still, five years ago,  the head of the PRC, Jamal Abu Samhadana, was appointed to be in charge of building the Hamas-Palestinian army under the supervision of the Hamas Interior Ministry.

Not so surprising then that Hamas, like any concerned investor, would want to have an investigation.