Monday, November 20, 2006

An infidel interprets Islam

Dear Friends,

The British PM, Tony Blair, made a significant foreign policy speech on Monday (November 13, 2006), at the London Lord Mayor's banquet. He outlined his "whole Middle-East strategy". After stating Israel/Palestine "is the core", Blair drew a direct line to Teheran.

"Iran is being confronted over its nuclear weapons ambitions... [T]hey are using the pressure points in the region to thwart us. So they help the most extreme elements of Hamas in Palestine; Hizbollah in the Lebanon; Shia militia in Iraq. That way, they put obstacles in the path to peace, paint us, as they did over the Israel/Lebanon conflict, as the aggressors, inflame the Arab street and create political turmoil in our democratic politics."

Blair's solution to the nuclear threat, global terror and and the Israel-Palestinian dispute is simple: appeal to moderate Islam. His introduction was the base. "In this century, a new and unconventional enemy has appeared: a global terrorism, based on a thoroughly warped misinterpretation of Islam, which is fanatical and deadly."

My question is this: Where is this moderate Islam? Why is an "infidel" explaining that global terrorism is a warped misinterpretation of Islam? Shouldn't it be Muslim's speaking for (not to mention protecting) their own religion? Where are the masses of Muslims who are leading or at least joining the war on terror? And I don't mean lapsed or secular Muslims - I mean religious Muslims.

My studies of comparative religion in high school and the memory of the Muslims I met at university create a dissonance between what I thought was Islam, and what I see today. On the other hand, the Islamist vision of dominating the world as the sole religion has been openly and clearly declared, and is being brought to implementation stage. It is not dissimilar to the vision of the Crusaders, which led to the pogroms of the Middle Ages. Not too different to the Catholic vision that created the Inquisition. And I guess that its political edge is parallel to the vision of the 1,000 year Reich.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Self-selection: anti-Semitic academics face extinction

Dear Friends,


The news from Israel has been rather depressing lately.  Unacceptable military blunders on all fronts.  Our enemies' double war crimes of deliberately attacking civilians from civilian neighbourhoods pointedly ignored, while an accident that we apologise for loudly condemned.  Not enough that "wipe Israel off the map" Ahmadinejad in Iran is developing the bomb – six other Arab states announce that they intend going nuclear too.  And the icing on the cake: a report from the Israeli Ynet news site. Although the UK academic boycott of Israel was voted down, it seems that UK academics and institutions are quietly refusing to have anything to do with Israelis. No consideration for the politics or the multiculturalism of the institutions they disdain, nor of the damage to the Arab students at those institutions.  No recognition of Israel's right to exist – or at least protect its citizens from being slaughtered.  Depressing.


Then I received the latest newsletter of Israel 21c.  The news site comes out almost every day with a new wonder – describing the fruits of modern Israeli science and technology. It set me thinking about all the Jewish Nobel prize winners; about the disproportionate Israeli contribution to modern science.  Computers, medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, renewable energy; Israelis are at the forefront.  


It is not a coincidence that this Jewish state called Israel rose out of the ashes of an attempt by European and Arab states to eradicate their Jews.  Indeed, many of Jewish hospitals, schools, universities and clubs around the world grew out of an unwillingness of the general society to educate, hire or socialize with Jews.  They quickly grew into the finest institutions – a model for others that far surpassed their anti-Semitic rivals.


In the "publish or perish" academic world, access to and participation in the development of new ideas is critical.  And if the inventiveness of Israeli scholarship and achievement is withheld, these academics and their journals will miss out. They may not become second rate and wither on the vine, but is it too much to dream that they will be overshadowed by those who meet their Israeli counterparts on an equal footing?


Wherever practical, let every supporter of Israel direct academic achievements, papers, studies, grants and donations to people and institutions that demonstrate honest and true academic freedom.


Let's make sure that these misguided academics – whether they shun the Jewish state and its citizens out of misguided political correctness, jealousy of their Israeli counterparts' achievements, or simple anti-Semitism – will not have a part in the miracle of modern Israel and its scientific discoveries.


Let the anti-Semites self-select themselves out of the race.  Preferably out of the human race.


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Monday, November 06, 2006

Where is all that "humanitarian aid"?

Dear Friends,
Truckload after truckload of food, medicines and "humanitarian aid" pass through the border crossings into Gaza.  It is part of an Israeli policy to minimise the suffering of Gaza citizens, while their democratically elected Hamas government shoots rockets at Israeli civilians, attacks the IDF troops who keep the border crossings open and smuggles huge stockpiles of weapons, readying themselves to provoke a massive conflict with Israel on the lines of the recent Hizbollah attack and the ensuing war in Lebanon.

Here are the latest two examples.

  • On November 2nd, 210 truckloads of food, medical supplies and other basic commodities were transferred to the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing. In addition, 250 calves, 39 truckloads of medical equipment and 42,000 kg of flour went through the Sufa crossing.
  • On November 5th, 185 truckloads of food, medical supplies, basic commodities and raw materials were transferred to the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing. In addition, 400,000 liters of diesel fuel, 90,000 liters of gasoline and 175 tons of natural gas went through the Nahal Oz fuel terminal.

With the constant flow of supplies into Gaza, one has to wonder about the frequent reports of rampant poverty in Gaza.  And where does all the money come from for the weapons smuggling, terrorist and politician salaries, and the luxurious lifestyles of the elite?

The website of watchdog organization the Funding for Peace Coalition is full of reports of Palestinian corruption – including at border crossings.  It brought plenty of proofs from the Arafat-Abbas regimes, and implies that corruption has simply transferred its master since the rise of Hamas.

And opening this morning's newspaper confirms the worst.  As the original report was in Hebrew, I attach a translation for you.  In short, international donations to hospitals and aid agencies are being diverted to the pockets of individuals and to the purchase of arms and payment of terrorist salaries.  And some of the "aid" is not donations at all – just a method of smuggling, using the black market to line the pockets of the corrupt and feed the Hamas war machine.

One has to wonder the value of the "international observers" placed at the border crossings.  One also has to wonder at the value of so-called international mechanisms to bypass the Hamas government and provide aid directly to the needy elements of the population.

Where is the international outcry from governments, aid agencies and human rights organizations about the siphoning off of international aid to corruption and violence?   It seems that the world has accepted that the only result of Palestinian autonomy in Gaza is to be corruption, poverty and war.  And based on reports of those same agencies, not surprisingly, Israel is to blame.


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Israel investigates: Have "donations" to hospitals gone to Hamas?

Overseas and local intelligence services investigate how documents from international organizations and governments were forged and attached to deliveries that found their way to Hamas.
By ITAMAR EICHNER, Yediot Aharonot, November 6, 2006
Translated by David Frankfurter

Exclusive: The [Israeli] Government Coordinator of Activities in the Palestinian Territories and intelligence services are conducting a joint investigation, following suspicions that Palestinians have forged documents in order to transfer humanitarian donations into the Palestinian territories, and from there they ended up in the hands of the Hamas government.

Additional parties, both in Israel and overseas, are involved in the highly secret investigation.  The main suspicion is that standing behind the "donated" forgeries are Islamists, looking for a way around the Israeli embargo on the transfer of aid to Hamas.  Those elements successfully forged permits from governments and overseas humanitarian agencies.  Included are genuine donations intended for hospitals and humanitarian agencies in the Palestinian Authority.  The "permits" were attached to containers of food, medicines, clothing, etc. and transported through to Palestinian Authority controlled territories, after receiving Israeli government approval.

The suspicions are that the real destinations of the "donations" were for the private use of the forgers, or for sale with the proceeds being transferred to Hamas.  Some of the cases are personal corruption, although some give rise to suspicions of fraud involving the Hamas government.

The use of fictional donors has been revealed, with telephone numbers on the "permits" being incorrect or disconnected.  In one case the Government Coordinator of Activities in the Palestinian Territories contacted the donor, in order to confirm that he in fact transferred the donation to the Palestinians.  The donor denied ever having made any such donation.  The donations with forged permits came are suspected to have come from several different countries, including the UK, Germany, Austria, Jordan, Spain, Canada and South Korea.

Last night, Security Service sources confirmed the investigation and said that the it was multi-faceted.  Shlomo Dror, spokesperson for the Coordinator of Activities in the Palestinian Territories, responded to the report yesterday evening: "Suspicions were aroused regarding the bona-fides of certain donations, concerning the way they were transferred and the organizations that stand behind them, and the matter is under investigation on our behalf."