Friday, August 25, 2006
Olmert's Newest Surrender
1. Olmert's new surrender:
Israel has essentially given up hope of Hizbullah being disarmed, and
instead is now concentrating on ensuring that an arms embargo called for
in UN Security Council resolution 1701 be implemented, The Jerusalem Post
Furthermore, senior Israeli officials have made it clear in recent days
during talks with foreign governments that Israel realizes a Hizbullah
presence south of the Litani River is unavoidable, if for no other reason
than because the organization is so well rooted there that the only way to
get rid of Hizbullah would be to evacuate the entire region.
What Israel does expect, however, is that the Lebanese Army and the
international force that will deploy there ensure that Hizbullah doesn't
have offensive weaponry to attack Israel, and that if they do try to
attack, there will be someone there to stop them.
2. Olmert's surrender in Lebanon is already having repurcussions. Syria
has figured out that Israel is on the run and is so weak it cannot defeat
a ragtime band of terrorists shooting WWII rockets. The empty "Never
Again" slogan aside, Olmert's Israel did nothing when 4000 rockets were
fired at its civilians. Moreover, Syria sees
that Israel is still trying to appease its way to peace and achieve peace
through surrender. Senior Israeli officials are signalling they are ready
to turn the Golan Heights over to Syria to become a new base for launching
rockets at the Jews.
SO Syria is mobilizing its entire army and moving it forward to the
border with Israel, openily threatening to open a new front any day now.
And why shouldn't it? Olmert has made all of Israel ripe for the Baathist
4. Preparing the Second Holocaust:
5. Hebollah ambulance chasers:
6. If only this were true:
August 25, 2006
Hezbollah Didn't Win
By AMIR TAHERI
August 25, 2006; Page A14
The way much of the Western media tells the story, Hezbollah won a great
victory against Israel and the U.S., healed the Sunni-Shiite rift, and
boosted the Iranian mullahs' claim to leadership of the Muslim world.
Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the junior mullah who leads the Lebanese
branch of this pan-Shiite movement, have adorned magazine covers in the
West, hammering in the message that this child of the Khomeinist
revolution is the new hero of the mythical "Arab Street."
Probably because he watches a lot of CNN, Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali
Khamenei also believes in "a divine victory." Last week he asked 205
members of his Islamic Majlis to send Mr. Nasrallah a message,
congratulating him for his "wise and far-sighted leadership of the Ummah
that produced the great victory in Lebanon."
By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the
conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for
different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West.
In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the
picture is rather different.
* * *
Let us start with Lebanon.
Immediately after the U.N.-ordained ceasefire started, Hezbollah organized
a series of firework shows, accompanied by the distribution of fruits and
sweets, to celebrate its victory. Most Lebanese, however, finding the
exercise indecent, stayed away. The largest "victory march" in south
Beirut, Hezbollah's stronghold, attracted just a few hundred people.
Initially Hezbollah had hesitated between declaring victory and going into
mourning for its "martyrs." The latter course would have been more in
harmony with Shiite traditions centered on the cult of Imam Hussain's
martyrdom in 680 A.D. Some members of Hezbollah wished to play the
martyrdom card so that they could accuse Israel, and, through it, the
U.S., of war crimes. They knew that it was easier for Shiites, brought up
in a culture of eternal victimhood, to cry over an imagined calamity than
laugh in the joy of a claimed victory.
Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple
reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked
had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against
criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the
knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in
television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having
triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been
The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the
critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March
14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese parliament and
government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led
to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the
tragedy. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has made it clear that he would not
allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun,
a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for
the Shiite militia to disband.
Mr. Nasrallah followed his claim of victory with what is known as the
"Green Flood" (Al-sayl al-akhdhar). This refers to the massive amounts of
crisp U.S. dollar notes that Hezbollah is distributing among Shiites in
Beirut and the south. The dollars from Iran are ferried to Beirut via
Syria and distributed through networks of militants. Anyone who can prove
that his home was damaged in the war receives $12,000, a tidy sum in
* * *
The Green Flood has been unleashed to silence criticism of Mr. Nasrallah
and his masters in Tehran. But the trick does not seem to be working. "If
Hezbollah won a victory, it was a pyrrhic one," says Walid Abi-Mershed, a
leading Lebanese columnist. "They made Lebanon pay too high a price -- for
which they must be held accountable."
Hezbollah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community,
which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the
grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize
Hezbollah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an
interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that
Hezbollah represented the whole of the Shiite community. "I don't believe
Hezbollah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting
the] war," Mr. al-Amin said. "The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled
from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community
never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name."
There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic
in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She
asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A
Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow
believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without
consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a
popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hezbollah as "one of the
worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time." He accuses Mr. Nasrallah
of risking Lebanon's existence in the service of Iran's regional
Before he provoked the war, Mr. Nasrallah faced growing criticism not only
from the Shiite community, but also from within Hezbollah. Some in the
political wing expressed dissatisfaction with his over-reliance on the
movement's military and security apparatus. Speaking on condition of
anonymity, they described Mr. Nasrallah's style as "Stalinist" and pointed
to the fact that the party's leadership council (shura) has not held a
full session in five years. Mr. Nasrallah took all the major decisions
after clearing them with his Iranian and Syrian contacts, and made sure
that, on official visits to Tehran, he alone would meet Iran's "Supreme
Guide" Ali Khamenei.
Mr. Nasrallah justified his style by claiming that involving too many
people in decision-making could allow "the Zionist enemy" to infiltrate
the movement. Once he had received the Iranian green light to provoke the
war, Mr. Nasrallah acted without informing even the two Hezbollah
ministers in the Siniora cabinet or the 12 Hezbollah members of the
Mr. Nasrallah was also criticized for his acknowledgement of Ali Khamenei
as Marjaa al-Taqlid (Source of Emulation), the highest theological
authority in Shiism. Highlighting his bay'aah (allegiance), Mr. Nasrallah
kisses the man's hand each time they meet. Many Lebanese Shiites resent
this because Mr. Khamenei, a powerful politician but a lightweight in
theological terms, is not recognized as Marjaa al-Taqlid in Iran itself.
The overwhelming majority of Lebanese Shiites regard Grand Ayatollah Ali
Sistani, in Iraq, or Ayatollah Muhammad-Hussein Fadhlallah, in Beirut, as
their "Source of Emulation."
Some Lebanese Shiites also question Mr. Nasrallah's strategy of opposing
Prime Minister Siniora's "Project for Peace," and instead advancing an
Iranian-backed "Project of Defiance." The coalition led by Mr. Siniora
wants to build Lebanon into a haven of peace in the heart of a turbulent
region. His critics dismiss this as a plan "to create a larger Monaco."
Mr. Nasrallah's "Project of Defiance," however, is aimed at turning
Lebanon into the frontline of Iranian defenses in a war of civilizations
between Islam (led by Tehran) and the "infidel," under American
leadership. "The choice is between the beach and the bunker," says
Lebanese scholar Nadim Shehadeh. There is evidence that a majority of
Lebanese Shiites would prefer the beach.
* * *
There was a time when Shiites represented an underclass of dirt-poor
peasants in the south and lumpen elements in Beirut. Over the past 30
years, however, that picture has changed. Money sent from Shiite
immigrants in West Africa (where they dominate the diamond trade), and in
the U.S. (especially Michigan), has helped create a prosperous middle
class of Shiites more interested in the good life than martyrdom . la Imam
Hussain. This new Shiite bourgeoisie dreams of a place in the mainstream
of Lebanese politics and hopes to use the community's demographic
advantage as a springboard for national leadership. Hezbollah, unless it
ceases to be an instrument of Iranian policies, cannot realize that dream.
The list of names of those who never endorsed Hezbollah, or who broke with
it after its Iranian connections became too apparent, reads like a Who's
Who of Lebanese Shiism. It includes, apart from the al-Amins, families
such as the al-As'ad, the Osseiran, the al-Khalil, the Hamadah, the
Murtadha, the Sharafeddin, the Fadhlallah, the Mussawis, the Hussainis,
the Shamsuddin and the Ata'allahs.
Far from representing the Lebanese national consensus, Hezbollah is a
sectarian group backed by a militia that is trained, armed and controlled
by Iran. In the words of Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian
daily Kayhan, "Hezbollah is 'Iran in Lebanon.'" In the 2004 municipal
elections, Hezbollah won some 40% of the votes in the Shiite areas, the
rest going to its rival Amal (Hope) movement and independent candidates.
In last year's general election, Hezbollah won only 12 of the 27 seats
allocated to Shiites in the 128-seat National Assembly -- despite making
alliances with Christian and Druze parties and spending vast sums of
Iranian money to buy votes.
Hezbollah's position is no more secure in the broader Arab world, where it
is seen as an Iranian tool rather than as the vanguard of a new Nahdha
(Awakening), as the Western media claim. To be sure, it is still powerful
because it has guns, money and support from Iran, Syria and Hate-America
International Inc. But the list of prominent Arab writers, both Shiite and
Sunni, who have exposed Hezbollah for what it is -- a Khomeinist Trojan
Horse -- would be too long for a single article. They are beginning to
lift the veil and reveal what really happened in Lebanon.
Having lost more than 500 of its fighters, and with almost all of its
medium-range missiles destroyed, Hezbollah may find it hard to sustain its
claim of victory. "Hezbollah won the propaganda war because many in the
West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United
States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have
become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory."
Mr. Taheri is author of "L'Irak: Le Dessous Des Cartes" (Editions
URL for this article:
7. August 25, 2006
A Match Made in Israel
By NATHANIEL POPPER
August 25, 2006; Page W11
Last January I took a Birthright Israel tour, a free 10-day trip designed
to give young Jews a positive sense of Jewish identity. What remains from
my trip are some fuzzy memories of Jerusalem and Eilat and a few new
friends. Oh, and one more thing: a sandy-haired Californian girl with whom
I now cook dinner on most nights and celebrate the Jewish holidays.
As it turns out, my romantic success was no accident. Birthright Israel,
which has taken more than 100,000 young Jews to the Holy Land, is
generally thought to be a tool for inculcating Zionism. But when it was
organized, Yossi Beilin, then Israel's justice minister and the official
at the center of the project, reflected the sentiments of the
philanthropists behind it when he said, "I see myself as a Jewish
shadchan," using the Hebrew word for matchmaker.
There was a time when speeding along Jewish love was left to synagogue
mixers and the likes of Yenta the Matchmaker. But these days, the Yenta in
her kerchief has been replaced by wealthy philanthropists in pinstripes.
Mark Charendoff, who advises Jewish philanthropists as the president of
the Jewish Funders Network, told me "that influencing that one decision --
who you marry -- has prompted an enormous amount of grant making."
The money pouring into the Jewish singles scene can largely be traced back
to one event -- the release of the now infamous 1990 Jewish population
survey, which announced that 52% of Jews were marrying outside the faith.
The study prompted lots of preaching and hand-wringing about how to make
Judaism appealing again. A few cooler heads, though, have realized that to
hold off the trends, you don't have to make Judaism attractive; you just
have to find attractive Jews and leave the rest to chemistry and fate.
In San Francisco, for instance, the federation just sponsored a dating
game for Russian Jews, who have had little contact with Jewish
institutions. The Newton D. and Rochelle F. Becker Foundation has funded a
singles initiative for young eligible Jews in Los Angeles. And New York
has two recently created cultural centers that provide a place for young
Jewish love to grow. One of these, Makor, sponsored a sold-out
speed-dating session last week. The dating coach who facilitated the
event, Shoshanna Rikon, said that she regularly gets called for similar
work. "They keep me busy," said Ms. Rikon.
Perhaps no one figure looms larger in this world than Michael Steinhardt,
the hedge-fund impresario turned matchmaker. Mr. Steinhardt has given
millions to Birthright Israel, and he founded Makor before handing it over
to the 92nd Street Y. Today he is a major funder of the Manhattan Jewish
Experience, where he plays the gregarious host at a dating-game show. With
an audience of 300 or so looking on, the game featured a series of
contestants, each of whom had three people of the opposite sex vying for
his or her affections. "Somehow I feel," Mr. Steinhardt told me, "that in
my lame amateur efforts I am impacting the miserable demographics we have
at least a little bit."
The religious imperative for this kind of work is evident. There in
Deuteronomy it says: "Do not intermarry with them." Why? "For they will
turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's
anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you."
But Mr. Steinhardt is a self-proclaimed atheist, as are many of the people
he is trying to reach, so he uses less biblically rooted tactics. At
college and Birthright events he has been known to promise a honeymoon on
his estate in Anguila to any couple in the room who meets that night and
eventually gets married. He says that he has footed the bill for 20 such
honeymoons so far. The Manhattan Jewish Experience counts some 60 couples
among its successes.
Moving into the singles arena makes good business sense for Jewish
organizations that want to attract young blood too. They could see the
opportunities they were missing by looking to the example of the Jewish
dating Web site, JDate.com, which has 600,000 paying subscribers.
But I can say from personal experience that there are many young Jews who
would never pay money to enter a limited dating pool. When I first found
out in high school that some of my Jewish friends would not consider
marrying our non-Jewish friends, I was flabbergasted -- it seemed
positively tribal and antique. It was the allure not of a Jewish woman but
of a free trip that inspired me to go on the Birthright tour.
Maybe, though, that's the key to its success. Critics would be quick to
say that matches like mine will only push the problem of assimilation one
further generation down the line -- without a deep attachment to Judaism,
they'd say, there's no substance to my Jewish identity. But my new partner
has shown me the wonders of candle lighting, the Yiddish language and the
holidays, and the beauty of these Jewish rituals is much more evident
through the rose-colored glasses of love.
Mr. Popper is a reporter at the Forward.
URL for this article:
8. August 25, 2006
August 25, 2006
The word "ghetto" comes to us from the Italian language, and was first
used to describe the quarter of Renaissance Venice to which Jews were
Now, the northeastern Italian city of Padua has given Europe another
shameful first in the annals of segregation. This month it built a
three-meter steel wall around a problem-plagued housing project, to
separate its residents from the surrounding neighborhood of new office
blocks and stylish villas. Anchored well underground to deter burrowing,
the wall encircles the homes of some 1,500 immigrants. Many are illegal,
most from sub-Saharan Africa.
The police checkpoint and surveillance cameras at the single entrance to
the Serenissima project on Via Anelli suggest a prison. Police control
access and have stepped up raids on the apartments inside, on at least one
recent occasion arresting illegal immigrants.
Mayor Flavio Zanonato of the Democrats of the Left party says he was
prompted to act by neighbors of the housing project, who complained about
violence and crime. Many Paduans reached the end of their tether one night
in July, when the project spawned a terrifying machete-and-crowbar fight
that raged for several hours between Moroccan and Nigerian gangs.
Inside the wall, flapping laundry and satellite dishes festoon the
buildings, according to the newspaper Le Figaro, and men play cards and
soccer in a courtyard throughout the day. After the wall went up, one
Serenissima resident posted a hand-scrawled poster reading: "today's
illegal immigrants are tomorrow's voters." One can only hope.
Outside the walls, reaction to the ghettoization was more enthusiastic.
Paolo Manfrin, spokesman for a group of neighborhood residents, told
Italy's Corriere Della Sera that "after ten years of being afraid to leave
our apartments, militarization is precisely what we want." A disturbing
choice of words, coming from the land that also gave us the term
"fascism." Another neighbor told Le Figaro, "Via Anelli is a sore that
must be made to disappear forever." In fact, that's more or less what Mr.
Zanonato intends: To empty the project within two years. He says that he
will redistribute the residents around Padua. The recent arrests suggest
that some will be redistributed out of the country.
It's ironic that this desperate measure was implemented by a socialist
mayor. The left in Italy has argued for dismantling the detention centers
that hold illegal immigrants pending deportation; yet now it has all but
created a new one. Politicians of all stripes have denounced the wall, but
the fact that a leftist mayor introduced it suggests a hardening against
immigration across the vast and colorful Italian political spectrum.
In any case, when building a wall to keep people apart becomes official
policy, it's generally an admission of massive failure. In this case the
European Union has failed to coherently address African immigration, even
as stories of tragic entry attempts have become a regular feature of the
Continent's summer news. A few meters of steel won't stop the powerful
allure of a shot at a better life.
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9. Anti-Semitic paper in Berkeley
The Northern California Jewish Bulletin ran this:
which woul dbe nice if the same paper did not have such a long history of
running Bash-Israel articles by anti-Semites itself.
10. Don't negotiate:
11. Nice survey: