Saturday, December 18, 2010

Column One: Bringing Down Bibi

by Caroline B. Glick

Over the past week, two writers published columns in foreign newspapers. One received wall-to-wall coverage in Israel. The other was completely ignored. The contrasting fortunes of the articles are a key to understanding the central challenges to Israel’s democratic order.

Last Friday, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief peace negotiator with Israel, published an op-ed in Britain’s Guardian newspaper in which he declared eternal war on the Jewish state. This he did by asserting that any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that does not permit the immigration of some 7 million foreign Arabs to Israel will be “completely untenable.”

So as far as the supposedly moderate chief Palestinian negotiator is concerned, a peace deal in which Israel cedes Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians as the Israeli Left desires will not be sufficient for the Palestinians.

Unless Israel also agrees to commit national suicide by accepting 7 million foreign Arabs as citizens, the Palestinians will continue to wage their war. So with or without a Palestinian state, as long as Israel exists, the Palestinians will continue to seek its destruction.

The second article was Tom Friedman’s latest column in The New York Times. Throughout his interminable career, Friedman has identified with Israel’s radical Left and so been the bane of all non-leftist governments.

In his latest screed, he compared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to someone in the throes of an LSD trip. Friedman harangued Netanyahu for failing to convince his cabinet to agree to the Obama administration’s demand to abrogate Jewish property rights in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem for another 90 days. He argued that by doing so, Israel – with some help from the Palestinians – is destroying all chance of peace.

So on the one hand, the chief Palestinian negotiator declared eternal war. And on the other hand, Friedman condemned Netanyahu – for the gazillionth time.

And characteristically, the Israeli media ignored Erekat’s article and gave Friedman’s screed aroundthe- clock coverage.

DESPITE ITS hysteria, the media has not fooled the public. The Israeli people don’t need to hear about Erekat’s declaration of war to know that the supposedly moderate Fatah party is just as committed to Israel’s destruction as Hamas. Israelis know that the majority of terrorist attacks carried out by the Palestinians since 2000 have been conducted by Fatah. They know that the US- and EU-financed and trained Palestinian security services commanded the Palestinian jihad that began in 2000. They know that Fatah is behind much of the political warfare being carried out today against Israel throughout the world.

The disparity between the pubic and the media comes across very clearly in a poll released last week by the Brookings Institution. A mere 8 percent of Israelis believe that Israel and the Palestinians will achieve a lasting peace in the next five years. Ninety-one percent of Israeli Jews and 88% of Israeli Arabs think either that more time is needed or that there will never be peace.

Despite the sentiments of the public, there is a class of Israeli leaders that acts as though peace is just around the corner and that the public expects them to deliver it. Not unlike Friedman, for the most part these politicians argue that the Israeli government bears either sole responsibility or the lion’s share of responsibility for the absence of peace. Consequently, they argue that all that is required to achieve peace is an Israeli leader willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Over the weekend, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak were in Washington for the annual Middle East peace process conclave at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum. In their addresses to the forum and in media interviews, both politicians followed the Israeli media’s lead by ignoring Erekat and parroting Friedman.

Barak brazenly rejected the policies of the government he serves by calling for the division of Jerusalem in the framework of a final-peace accord with Israel.

As for Livni, she eschewed every semblance of propriety during her stay in the US capital. During a joint appearance on ABC’s This Week with the unelected Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, Livni viciously attacked the Netanyahu government.

Livni criticized Netanyahu for not accepting the Obama administration’s call to abrogate Jewish property rights. She attacked him for not forming a leftist government with Kadima and Labor. She made it clear that she doesn’t believe that Netanyahu is interested in peace.

Echoing Barak’s assertion at the Saban Forum that being a Zionist means supporting a Palestinian state, Livni asserted that by surrendering to the Palestinians, and agreeing to every US demand, Israel is advancing its own existential interests.

On the so-called Palestinian refugee issue, while stipulating that Israel could not accept immigration of foreign Arabs to within its truncated borders, she said nothing about Erekat’s Guardian article. And she voiced no objection when Fayyad intimated that a Palestinian compromise on this issue is not in the offing. From Livni’s perspective, the only one acting in bad faith is Netanyahu.

Barak and Livni’s behavior was not wrong simply because it is classless to attack your country’s elected leadership while visiting in foreign lands. It was wrong because in behaving as they did, they showed extraordinary disrespect for the 92% of Israelis who do not share their professed belief that peace is just around the corner.

So what were they after in Washington? Why did they embrace the views of a mere 8% of the electorate while treating 92% of their countrymen with contempt? And why did they choose to launch their assault on the government from Washington?

IN TRUTH Barak and Livni were simply following what has become the standard operating procedure for leftist politicians over the past 20 years.

They were playing to two constituencies that they prize more than they prize the public.

They were playing to the US administration and the Israeli media.

Barak is an old hand at this game. During Netanyahu’s first tenure as prime minister, Barak used then-president Bill Clinton to bring down Netanyahu’s government and get himself elected in his place. After Barak made clear that he would be far more accommodating towards Yasser Arafat than Netanyahu was, Clinton went out of his way to demonize and isolate Netanyahu. He pressured Netanyahu’s coalition partners to abandon his government.

And when Netanyahu’s government finally fell, Clinton dispatched his senior political strategists James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Robert Schrum to run Barak’s campaign.

Since Netanyahu appointed him defense minister, Barak has been racking up frequent flier miles on the Tel Aviv-Washington line. Barak travels to Washington at least once a month. Amazingly, he always happens to come home with recommendations consonant with the administration’s whims.

Livni was similarly richly rewarded for her willingness to attack Netanyahu while sitting next to Fayyad on American television. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton treated Livni like the most esteemed politician in Israel. Clinton steadfastly ignored the fact that 91% of Israelis think Livni’s views are utter nonsense. And after accusing Netanyahu of lacking the courage to embrace the cause of peace, Clinton ostentatiously hosted Livni for an hour-long private meeting.

Livni’s Kadima Party is a media creation. Whereas every other political party in Israel was formed by citizens who felt they needed to organize politically to empower their voices, Kadima was the brainchild of the media. The media colluded with Likud leaders who were disenchanted with their voters.

The likes of Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot and Channel 2 convinced these Likud politicians to join forces with breakaways from the Labor party, who also held their voters in contempt.

As Barak’s rise to power in 1999 makes clear, the media’s bid to demonize the Right and undermine Israel’s alliance with the US in the hopes of restoring the Left to power is nothing new. But this week, a leading media siren was kind enough to expose the media’s entire strategy for disenfranchising the public.

Haaretz’s veteran columnist Akiva Eldar performed this service in a pair of articles published on Tuesday in the Guardian and Haaretz.

Eldar co-authored his Guardian article with his comrade Carlo Strenger. It was their response to Erekat’s declaration of eternal war. Eldar’s main message to Erekat was that he should keep his plans to himself. Certainly he shouldn’t be blabbing about them in a place the Israeli public was liable to see them. It could wreck the media’s entire plan to discredit the government.

Eldar and Strenger scolded, “Erekat’s article is disappointing.

He is not just a private citizen, but the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, and he knows Israel and its internal dynamics very well. He knows that raising the right of return at this moment plays into the hands of Israel’s right wing: they will be able to say: ‘We always told you so: the two-state solution is just a Palestinian plot to incorporate the Jewish state into the Greater State of Palestine.’” But then again, as Eldar showed in his article in Haaretz, Erekat doesn’t really have anything to worry about. Eldar and his comrades will keep the Israeli public in the dark about Erekat’s determination to destroy Israel.

Ignoring completely what Erekat wrote, Eldar’s column in Haaretz started where Friedman’s ended. He placed all the blame for the absence of a peace process on Netanyahu’s shoulders. He accused Netanyahu of destroying Israel’s alliance with the US by not embracing Obama’s latest request to abrogate Jewish property rights in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. He then claimed that due to Netanyahu’s behavior, the Obama administration has decided to follow in the Clinton administration’s footsteps and overthrow his government.

As Eldar put it, “When Clinton recently invited Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to a private meeting, this signified an unofficial announcement that Netanyahu’s account in Washington has been closed.”

He continued, “Twelve years ago, when Hillary Clinton’s husband realized that... [Netanyahu] had no intention of honoring his signature (on the Wye River Accord with Yasser Arafat), that was Netanyahu’s last stop before being sent back to his villa in Caesarea.”

So this is the game. The media and the US administration are again colluding with the Israeli Left’s political leadership to overthrow the Netanyahu government. They are willfully ignoring both the will of Israel’s voters and the declared commitment of their favorite “moderate” Palestinians to fight Israel until it is destroyed in order to blame the absence of peace on Netanyahu.

THIS GAME can stop. But two things must happen first.

The Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment that supports it must pay a price for seeking to undermine the elected government of the US’s most important strategic ally in the region. And Israeli voters – who gave Kadima more mandates in the Knesset than any other party in the last elections – must abandon Livni and her Astroturf party.

Until these things begin to happen we can expect our media to continue to collude with its American partners, and with Livni and Barak, to undermine the will of the public.

Original URL:

Caroline B. Glick

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

US Army Chief Says Iran Still Seeking Nuclear Bomb

by Associated Press

The top US military officer on Saturday said he is sure that Iran is still working to build a nuclear bomb.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US and Iran's neighbors are worried. He was in Bahrain, across the Persian Gulf from Iran and home to a US Navy base that would be on the front lines of any future war with Iran.

He said the US is "very ready" to respond to any threat from Iran.

Mullen stated he would like to avoid using military force to stop Iran from developing a weapon. He said he fears the "unintended consequences" of striking Iran, but stressed that a military option is still on the table if it's needed.

Iran denies it is building a bomb.

Original URL:

Associated Press

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Sacrificed Survivors of 9/11

by Jack Kemp

In the 2002 movie The Guys, based on a true story, a lady English professor is asked to help a New York City Fire Dept. captain write eulogies for eight of his men who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. A big part of the captain's "needing a writer" (a line from the movie) is that he was in shock and quietly grieving shortly after their deaths.

A new documentary, entitled Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque, is, in many ways, the story and movie that the fire captain from The Guys would make if he had nine years to reflect on the events of 9/11 and was now able to speak with some ease about what happened then. The captain could also now talk about what 9/11 means in today's world, where a quite different New York City mayor and some imam want to put up a triumphal mosque at one of the buildings hit on 9/11. That is not a stretch: the landing gear of one of the planes crashed through the roof of the Burlington Coat Factory and potential mosque site, along with quite a bit of debris, which included human remains.

"Normally you have to ask people a lot of questions to get them to talk," says the film's director, Martin Mawyer, "but we just sat these people in front of the camera, and they told their stories." Mawyer is the also the head of the Christian Action Network. Patti Pierucci wrote the overview and those parts of the script that didn't come from the words of survivors and their families.

In a premier showing and discussion held at St. Luke's Theater in Manhattan, Mawyer and many of the people in the film -- rescue operations fireman Tim Brown; construction worker Andy Sullivan; Al and Maureen Santora, the parents of slain fireman Christopher Santora; Madeline Brooks, the head of the New York Chapter of Act! for America -- have come to present the film and talk to a select audience that includes an anti-terrorism expert who lived in Arab countries; "Culturalism: A Word, a Value, Our Future" author John Press; various members of the internet media; and the friends and family of those involved in the film.

The DVD began with two film previews that answered the question, "What does a mosque have to do with the sadness and fears of the loved ones of 9/11 victims?" The first preview,, "Islam Rising," shows Muslim street protesters calling for the death of the West, followed by Dutch politician Geert Wilders stating that "Islam is the communism of today." This is followed by Pres. Obama receiving a medallion from a Saudi official and scenes of the World Trade Center destruction. The second movie preview, "Homegrown Jihad," shows jihadist training camps spread across the United States, where the members can be seen marching, shooting rifles, and learning hand-to-hand combat.

Sacrificed Survivors itself has many personal stories told in a quiet, powerful way, and one can see the emotion under the surface of the speakers' facial expressions. I don't know if I can do them justice in my words -- and I don't want to give away the story of the film here.

Tim Brown talked about his best friend, fellow firefighter Capt. Terry Hatton, hugging him before he went into the Trade Center, saying that "I love you, brother. I may never see you again." Terry Hatton never returned.

Another of the on-screen speakers is Madeline Brooks, who saw the 9/11 attacks from her home. She is now the New York City chapter leader of ACT! for America, an organization founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a former Lebanese Christian who saw her country's society destroyed by an Islamic takeover. Brooks says she felt that "an enormous evil was holding us in its sadistic hand." In fact, Madeline's organization has sent out an e-mail linking to the website "Stakelbeck on Terror," where this week's topic is "Iran using Western Mosques to plot terrorism."

Next, Andy Sullivan came on the screen and talked about seeing the attacks while working construction with his crew directly across the street and realizing, after the second plane hit, "that someone had just declared war on us." The film then shows something the mainstream media doesn't have the guts to show again: scenes of people choosing to jump to their death from the Trade Center rather than be passively burned alive. There were also conversations with others who lost firefighter brothers, in both senses of the word.

The film then begins a discussion of the plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero, which more than one survivor family member calls "a graveyard." After showing a Fox News video of smiling and cheering Palestinians in Gaza celebrating the 9/11 attacks on America, the brother of a deceased firefighter says, "It's as if they are dancing on the graves of those that they killed."

Sacrificed Survivors goes on with more very personal recollections and ends with a photo essay of two-year-old Christine Hanson, youngest victim at the Trade Center (a passenger on one of the planes, along with both her parents).

In the discussion that followed the film, Andy Sullivan stated that 40 percent of the bodies of those murdered on 9/11 at the World Trade Center were never found. Madeline Brooks said that the attempt to build a mosque at Ground Zero is a "soft jihad," a smiling attempt to subordinate American culture to Islamic culture -- a gloating. Sullivan went on to say that they -- the Imam Rauf couple -- "are attempting to plant the seeds of Islamic thought in our country." He also noted that Rep. Peter King will be Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in January 2011.

An audience member asked about the terrorist camps in the film preview. Someone in the audience who does security investigations said the information gathered in making that film was passed to the FBI and New York officials and that he does not know why they haven't been closed. Fireman Tim Brown said that his contacts tell him that the investigation has been stopped at the top political levels. The director of the movie, Martin Mawyer, said that he spoke with the Roy Romer, the former (Democrat) governor of Colorado, concerning the Muslim training camp in that state and the (now-)former governor said that "we were under orders from Washington not to do anything."

The people in both the film and the audience that night are those middle-class working New Yorkers who Mayor Bloomberg and his elitist friends want to pretend don't have the "superior intellect" or proper judgment about what values are important to a society. I suspect that Bloomberg believes that they are not worth considering in his "grand plans" to remake the world. The mayor can't even remake the Second Avenue Subway project without these people, the heart and soul of New York. What "superior grand plans" does he have?

Every year, officials of the City of New York commemorate the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the worst industrial fire in New York history and the second-greatest New York loss of life after 9/11. When a fire broke out in 1911, 146 mostly young immigrant women died and another 71 were injured, as the New York Fire Dept. didn't have the technology to reach the upper floors of the site or break the fall of the many who jumped to their death rather than burn. As recently as 2007, the 96th anniversary of the fire "was marked by a solemn ceremony outside the Asch building, which withstood the blaze and is now owned by New York University." New York City Council President Christine Quinn, fire officials, labor leaders, and Cardinal Egan stood on the street to honor the victims of that fire which can more accurately be described than 9/11 as a tragedy -- because 9/11 was a mass murder. "A prayer was said and the Ballad of the Triangle Fire was sung. Finally, schoolchildren were given white carnations, each tagged with the name of a victim. A silver fire bell tolled 146 times as the children read the names, then placed the blossoms in a pile, forming a tangled mound of crushed flowers and stems on the chilly sidewalk."

The City of New York appears to be "farsighted." They can see things in a faraway utopia but cannot see things as they really are up close. The more people who order and see the Sacrificed Survivors documentary, the greater the political outcry will be for government officials to get a new pair of glasses for their "presbyopia" -- and see the world around them in focus. Then they can perhaps support people who care about America, and not those who care about jihad. Or they can "retire" after another Election Day.

Original URL:

Jack Kemp

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Teaching Their Children to Hate

by Ethel C. Fenig

Israel's former premiere, Golda Meir of blessed memory, was once asked when peace would end the Israeli-Arab conflict. She quickly replied

"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." (Statement to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 1957)

More than 50 years later, peace is not about to break out; the Arabs are still glorifying hate and war among themselves while passing on these toxic attitudes to their children.

In Gaza, official talk of resistance and rejection is standard. "I would rather die a martyr like my son than shake the hand of my enemy," Yusef Mansi, the Hamas minister of public works and housing, said in an interview, responding to a question about reconciliation with Israel.

These are people who are not ready to make peace; they are people who are preparing for war to totally destroy their enemy as they publicly proclaim. And thus any sensible person such as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton would end "peace talks." Apparently she is not sensible; with nothing to talk about, the hot air "peace talks" continue; the true cause of global warming

Original URL:

Ethel C. Fenig

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

WikiLeaks conspiracy theorists target Israel

by Mladen Andrijasevic

Many just cannot take it. After all the exposed hypocrisy of the Arab governments vis-a-vis Iran and the incompetence of the Obama Administration in dealing with the messianic apocalyptic regime in Tehran, people do not understand how come Israel come out so clean in Wikileaks. So they concoct conspiracy theories of an Israeli
deal with WikiLeaks. Where is the real dirt on Israel?" question some.

But the answer is quite simple and straightforward. Israel has been demonized and lied about by a pernicious media for the last 30 years. It was held to a higher standard than any other western democracy and when finally the truth comes out it looks totally out of sync with the distorted image most have of Israel.

The dirt on Israel the bloggers are looking for has actually been hurled at Israel for all these years, so some of it stuck. Now the few glimpses of truth may only wash it away somewhat, and that is what is making many people very unhappy.

There are so many instances of distortion that it is impossible to list them all. I'll mention just three:

Hamas Casualties During Operation Cast Lead

Hamas admitted last week that between 600 and 700 of its militants were killed during Operation Cast Lead - a figure consistent with that reported by the Israel Defense Forces.

The figure is several times higher than the previous number of fatalities that Hamas claimed it sustained during the operation.

Hamas' military wing had previously claimed that only 49 of its militants were killed during the three-week operation that the IDF launched in December 2008. Israel had put the figure at 709.

Israel had been accused targeting civilians by the Goldstone report and most of the of media took the Hamas's original claims of losses at face value.

How Did The 2000 Violence Start?

For years most of the world's media reported that Arial Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount triggered the 2000 violence. However, the violence that started in September 2000 was an explicit decision by the Palestinians. According to Imad Faluji the Palestinian Authority Communications Minister, the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's "provocation." "It [the uprising] had been planned since Chairman Arafat's return fromCamp David, when he turned the tables on the former U.S. president and rejected the American conditions.

Two Percent Occupation

From 1996 until 2000, only 2 percent of Palestinians lived under Israeli control. The rest, i.e. 98 percent lived under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Even this 2 percent of Palestinians living under Israeli control would have ceased to do so if Arafat had accepted a peaceful solution at Camp David. Therefore the whole Palestinian justification for starting a terror war against Israel in September 2000 is based on 2 percent occupation which Barak offered to end at Camp David in 2000.

Upon concluding the Oslo II Interim Agreement in September 1995, which extended Palestinian administration to the rest of the West Bank cities, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared: "once the agreement will be implemented, no longer will the Palestinians reside under our domination. They will gain self-rule and we shall return to our heritage."14

Since that time, 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has come under Palestinian jurisdiction.15Israel transferred 40 spheres of civilian authority, as well as responsibility for security and public order, to the Palestinian Authority, while retaining powers for Israel's external security and the security of Israeli citizens

What about the remaining 99 percent of the yet unreleased cables? It is almost certain that the cables will always be more favorable towards Israel than the media distortions of the last three decades.

A government has to function with a certain degree of secrecy. Regardless of the fact that in this case WikiLeaks revelations backfired on the Left and exposed the hypocrisy of everyone else regarding Iran, the leaks also revealed the most vulnerable targets of the West to Al Qaeda and much more. Therefore Julian Assange should be held accountable for what he is doing. One key point is that the US had warned Assange in a letter that the revelations would be detrimental to US interests and he went ahead nevertheless, so he knowingly did it, and therefore they have a case.

Imagine if WikiLeaks had been available during WWII. One sentence about Bletchley Park breaking the Enigma code would have changed the outcome of the Battle of Britain, The Battle of the Atlantic, Stalingrad, Kursk and D-Day -- in other words winning the war would have been much, much more difficult.

Original URL:

Mladen Andrijasevic

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Venezuela, WikiLeaked

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

When WikiLeaks disclosed approximately a 1,000 documents on Venezuela to the Spanish speaking world via the Spanish newspaper, El País, the majority of the documents, partly from the US Embassy in Caracas, referred to Washington's apprehension about Venezuela's relations with two particular countries: Cuba and Iran.

According to the cables, the relations between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies are so close that they appear to be competing with one another for the Bolivarian government's attention. Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," which, according to the cables, could impact US interests.

The documents also reveal that Russia sold Venezuela, up to that moment, 100 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, one of the weapons that Washington considers most destabilizing in the region.

Also in the cables appears the concern of former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who wrote that "Venezuela's support for a country that has nuclear ambitions, supports terrorism and talks about wiping Israel off the map is of grave concern." Brownfield also comments that the US should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing uranium to Iran. However, US Charge D'Affairs John Caulfield claims in June 2009, that "it is highly unlikely that Venezuela is providing Venezuelan uranium to third countries."

El Correo del Orinoco, a pro Chavez newspaper, accuses the US Embassy in Caracas of employing "the heavy services of the Pentagon's psychological operations team to bombard Venezuelans with pro-US propaganda, to counter what an Embassy cable claimed in March 2008, Chavez's anti-Americanism." For the newspaper, it is clear that the documents revealed by WikiLeaks "reaffirm the increasing US aggression against Venezuela and its hostile foreign policy against the Chavez administration.

  • WikiLeaks: US made efforts to isolate Chavez
  • Chavez praises WikiLeaks and says that the US is a failed and illegal state
  • Chavez: "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state."
  • WikiLeaks reveals US concerns about presence of Cuban agents in Venezuela
  • WikiLeaks: The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests; 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration
  • WikiLeaks: Members of the US Embassy met with former Chavez's "sentimental and political partner"
  • The "Axis of Mischief": leaked documents claim that Cuban spies advise Chavez
  • Mexico allegedly asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez
  • WikiLeaks: Russia sold Chavez over 100 anti-aircraft missiles
  • One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense system; The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made
  • Igla missiles, Tor M-1 air defense system and S-300 missiles
  • Pro-Chavez paper: The cables on Venezuela are a "reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the communist expansion."
  • Pro-Chavez paper: US Embassy employees engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government; Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes
  • Former US Ambassador: We should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing uranium to Iran; US Charge D'Affairs contradicts this opinion

December 8, 2010

WikiLeaks: US made efforts to isolate Chavez

Some of the confidential diplomatic communications leaked by WikiLeaks show "efforts to woo Latin American countries to isolate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez," Spanish newspaper El País said.

In a communication between French and US diplomatic sources in September 2009, Jean-David Levitte, a French official, described Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as "crazy" and said that "Brazil was not able to support him anymore."

"Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of Latin America's richest countries and turning it into another Zimbabwe," Levitte said in a telegram disclosed by British newspaper The Guardian. […]

Chavez praises WikiLeaks and says that the US is a failed and illegal state

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on November 30 that leaks of diplomatic correspondence by whistleblower website WikiLeaks have exposed a "naked empire." Chavez added that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "should resign, it is the least she can do" given the seriousness of the revelations.

"The empire stood naked. I do not know what the United States is going to do. Well, they do not care about this. But how many things have been disclosed! They disrespect their allies with all these spying activities!" Chavez said during a cabinet meeting broadcast by state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión. The Venezuelan president said that according to the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, the United States "refers to its allies in a very unusual way." The documents show "an attack against governments, people and international organizations."

The United States "is a failed and illegal state that disrespects ethical principles, and has lost respect for its own allies... and this (the documents leaked by WikiLeaks) shows it clearly," he added. "I have to congratulate the people of WikiLeaks," Chavez said, and his director, Julian Assange, "for their courage and bravery." "This man (Assange) has gone underground; he is making statements in a secret place. He even fears for his life," Chavez said.

Chavez: "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state."

Clinton should resign, Chavez suggested. "It is the least she can do, together with all those other spies and delinquents working in the State Department. They should give an answer to the world rather than attacking and saying that it was a theft," the Venezuelan president said.

Chavez was outraged because the documents leaked by WikiLeaks show that Clinton allegedly ordered a "study on the mental health of Argentine President" Cristina Fernandez. The Venezuelan head of state expressed his solidarity with his Argentine counterpart. "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state," said Chavez.

WikiLeaks reveals US concerns about presence of Cuban agents in Venezuela

Cuban intelligence agencies have deep involvement in Venezuela and enjoy direct access to President Hugo Chavez, as highlighted by US diplomatic cables leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks to Spanish newspaper El País, according to the web page of the daily.

According to El País, in January 2006 a US diplomatic cable said that "the relations between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies are so close that they appear to be competing with each other for the Bolivarian government's attention," but this activity continues four years later […].

WikiLeaks: The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests; 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration

In the third consecutive day of publication of documents of a collection of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables in possession of WikiLeaks, the Spanish newspaper released details about US concerns on the relations between the Castro regime and the Venezuelan government, and the degree of involvement of Cuba's intelligence services in Venezuela.

"The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests directly, because Venezuelan intelligence services are among the most hostile towards the United States, but they lack the expertise that Cuban services can provide," said one of the diplomatic cables.

According to El País, the cable No. 241522 says that Cubans may have played an important role in the solution of internal struggles that led to the appointment of some Bolivarian politicians to replace a group of officials close to Chavez.

There is plenty evidence throughout the cables of Washington's concerns about the presence of some 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration.

WikiLeaks: Members of the US Embassy met with former Chavez's "sentimental and political partner"

Members of the US Embassy met with Herma Marksman, who is identified as the "sentimental and political partner" of President Chavez between 1984 and 1993, to try to determine the extent and origin of the personal and political relationship between Chavez and Fidel Castro. Marksman disagrees with the view of Venezuela's opposition according to which Chavez is an idiot, the paper said. "She said that he is very determined and he is unwilling to trust others," said cable 18574, dated 2004.

The US Embassy was also concerned about the possibility of being spied upon, according to the documents. Additionally, Brazilian Defense Minister Jobim "all but acknowledged" the presence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Venezuela, but he refused to mention the issue because he did not want to undermine the possibility of mediation between Venezuela and Colombia, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.

The "Axis of Mischief": leaked documents claim that Cuban spies advise Chavez

Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," according to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks. The diplomatic message, sent in 2006, expressed concern over Cuba's influence in Venezuela, a top US oil supplier, according to Reuters news agency.

"While the economic impact of Cubans working in Venezuela may be limited, Cuban intelligence has much to offer to Venezuela's anti-US intelligence services," said the cable posted on WikiLeaks website on December 1.

Chavez has strengthened ties with Cuban leader Fidel Castro as well as with his brother Raul, the current Cuban president, subsidizing the island's economy with oil in return for the services of doctors and advisers.

Chavez, a retired military officer, has incorporated Cuban-style militias in the armed forces. Experts on Venezuela have long said Cuban intelligence services train Chavez's bodyguards. The document implied that Chavez trusts Cuban information more than his own intelligence services. "Cuban intelligence agents have direct access to Chavez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting without consulting with Venezuelan officers," the report said. […]

Mexico allegedly asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez

Mexico warned the United States about the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Latin America Latina and asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez, according to a diplomatic cable of the US Embassy in Mexico disclosed by WikiLeaks and published on Thursday by Spanish newspaper El País.

In October 2009, the US embassy reported a meeting between then-US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in which the Mexican leader "stressed that Hugo Chavez is active everywhere, including Mexico," AFP reported.

"The United States must be ready to engage the next Brazilian President," Carlos Pascual, the US Ambassador in Mexico, said in the diplomatic cable. "Brazil is the key in restraining Chavez," Calderon would have said. El Universal (Venezuela)

December 5, 2010

WikiLeaks: Russia sold Chavez over 100 anti-aircraft missiles

Russian officials told United States officials in 2009 that they had "sold Venezuela, up to that moment, 100 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, one of the weapons that Washington considers most destabilizing in the region," according to diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks and published by Spanish newspaper El País.

Although Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "personally announced the acquisition of such weapons, the amount was never disclosed or suspected to be so high," the newspaper cited.

"Rearming of Venezuela and its increasingly close military cooperation with Russia have set off the alarms for some time in Washington, which is exerting pressure on several allied governments and Russia itself not to sell arms to Caracas," wrote the Spanish newspaper. It added that "the official reason is fear that weapons may end up in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)."

El País explained that, according to cables filtered by WikiLeaks, Venezuela bought from Russia at least 100 Igla (needle, in Russian) missiles. The cable highlights the leading role that "one of the most trusted men of (Vladimir) Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin," played in the negotiations.

One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense system; The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made.

"One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) that allow fighters to shoot down an aircraft." The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made." With these missiles, which have a range of 2.5-4 miles, the Blackhawks operating in Colombia would be an easy target," added El País.

"The Russians confirmed that in this quarter they had sold Caracas 100 Igla missiles with 90 launchers. This does not rule out the possibility that Russia has subsequently provided more missiles to Chavez. At the same meeting, held in a climate of cooperation and extensive exchange of information, Russians told the US envoys that these weapons would not end up in the hands of third parties," said the Madrid-based daily newspaper.

El País noted that on the computers seized from late FARC leader Raul Reyes by the Colombian military there were "messages from Venezuelan military officers to Luciano Marin Arango, alias "Ivan Marquez," a member of the Secretariat... offering these weapons to Colombian guerrillas."

Igla missiles, Tor M-1 air defense system and S-300 missiles

"The US officials had asked the Russians that the anti-aircraft missiles to be provided to Venezuela were the type that need a fixed platform or a truck for launch, but the Russians have always responded that Chavez himself insisted on buying man-portable anti-aircraft missiles," El País posted on its website.

"The combination of Igla missiles, together with the Tor M-1 air defense system, which Caracas already owns, and S-300 missiles, whose future purchase Hugo Chavez announced last October (which, for example, Moscow has refused to sell to Iran), will make the US aircraft "think twice" before trying to cross the Venezuelan airspace," quoted El País. Press TV (Iran)

December 3, 2010

Pro-Chavez paper: The cables on Venezuela are a "reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the communist expansion."

One document, a scathing analysis of the alleged Cuban presence in Venezuela's intelligence services and a host of other government institutions, would at first glance be alarming. The cable, cynically titled "Cuba/Venezuela Axis of Mischief: The View from Caracas." was written by notorious former Ambassador William Brownfield in January 2006, and claims Cubans have penetrated almost every aspect of Venezuela's government, culture and economy.

It is reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the "communist expansion" and the "red scare" in the hemisphere. This time, however, instead of the Russians, it is the "Cubans are coming...they are everywhere." Be alarmed, be very alarmed. Except that, when read in detail, it becomes clear that the sources behind this alleged "Cuban communist takeover" are actually high-profile opposition leaders, such as the former Governor and now fugitive from justice, Manuel Rosales; big business executives, and journalists from anti-Chavez media.

Brownfield even writes in the cable statements such as "Anecdotal reporting suggests...", "Less reliable reports indicate..." and "Unconfirmed sensitive reporting suggests...", evidencing the weakness of the information provided […].Information that is unconfirmed, comes from exclusively biased sources (all anti-Chavez) and overall has no foundation in reality, is then used to craft US policy towards Venezuela. […]

Pro-Chavez paper: US Embassy employees engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government; Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes

The Caracas documents also evidence how Embassy employees violate their status as diplomats to engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government. In the "Cuban scare" cable, Brownfield reveals that the Department of Defense monitors flight activity from Cuba to Venezuela daily, and then Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes: "Embassy officers have noted regular flights of Cubans -- or Venezuelans returning from official visits to Cuba – at Caracas' Maiquetia airport...Post cannot determine how many Cubans are on the flights..."

What Brownfield is most concerned about, apart from standing vigilance at the airport watching the planes come and go, is how the US could be affected by the Cuba-Venezuela relationship. "The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests directly," he claims, concerned about "the expertise that Cuban

services could provide...about the activities of the USG [United States Government]." More or less, Washington is worried their clandestine actions in Venezuela will be exposed as the Venezuelans improve their intelligence capacity.

Former US Ambassador: We should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing

uranium to Iran; US Charge D'Affairs contradicts this opinion

In another document, titled "Explaining Venezuela's coziness with Iran," Ambassador Brownfield invokes the "Iran scare," and comments: "Venezuela's support for a country that has nuclear ambitions, supports terrorism and talks about wiping Israel off the map is of grave concern. It also alarms nations -- such as France... We can exploit this alarm."

Brownfield remarks that Washington should not "dismiss the uranium rumors," referring to allegations that Venezuela was providing uranium to Iran to make bombs. But a later cable, written by the more steady-headed Charge D'Affairs John Caulfield in June 2009, contradicted Brownfield's war-mongering attitude. "Although rumors that Venezuela is providing Iran with Venezuelan produced uranium may help burnish the government's revolutionary credentials, there seems to be little basis in reality to the claims... it is highly unlikely that Venezuela is providing Venezuelan uranium to third countries."

Original URL:

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Palestinians: What Is the Difference Between Direct, Indirect and Parallel Talks?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

It seems that the US Administration does not believe that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is serious when it says that it cannot make any concessions to Israel, especially with regards to core issues such as settlements and the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.

Americans need to listen to what the Palestinians are saying not only in English, but also in Arabic. And in Arabic, the message coming out of Ramallah remains no and no and no -- no to resumption of peace talks unconditionally, no to accepting Israel as a Jewish state, no to any solution that does not include all the territories captured by Israel in 1967. These no's are apparently being translated by the White House and State Department as one big yes.

When Mahmoud Abbas day and night reiterates that he will not make any concessions, and that he insists on a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, and that the refugees must return to their original homes inside Israel proper, the US obviously does not take him seriously.

Nor are the Americans ready to accept the fact that Abbas is a weak and discredited leader who will never be able to sell any peace agreement to a majority of Arabs and Palestinians.

The Palestinians are telling the US Administration that they do not trust Obama and Clinton anymore. However, this does not seem to ring a bell with anyone in the White House or the State Department.

Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are telling everyone, including the Americans, that they have no intention to change their position, no matter how long the Middle East conflict continues. The Palestinians have even won the backing of the Arab League for their policies, first and foremost for refusing to return to the negotiating table unless their pre-conditions are met.

For months now, the US Administration has been trying to push the Middle East "peace process" forward by offering Israelis and Palestinians different methods of negotiations.

First, the Americans tried indirect or proximity talks between the two parties. Then, Washington managed to persuade the two sides to move to direct talks that were launched under the auspices of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Now, the Obama Administration is offering the two parties something new: "parallel talks" for a period of six weeks. What does this exactly mean? "Parallel talks," according to the Obama Administration, means that the US would hold bilateral talks with each side instead of direct negotiations.

But haven't the Israelis and Palestinians already seen this movie?

When will the US Administration realize that peace does not depend on the way you hold the talks, but on substance? Do the Americans really believe that the Palestinians will change their positions and demands if the talks were direct or indirect?

If the Palestinians have made it clear through the previous rounds of indirect and direct negotiations with Israel that they cannot make such concessions, what reason is there to believe that they will change their minds or soften their position during the proposed "parallel talks"?

Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders say they have lost faith in the Obama Administration because of its failure to "force" Israel to extend a moratorium on settlement construction not only in the West Bank, but also in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have even publicly expressed their deep disappointment with Obama and Clinton, accusing them of endorsing the policies of the Israeli government.

When the indirect talks began a few months ago, Abbas stated that he had no intention of giving up on any of the major core issues. Abbas once again reiterated his position when Washington pressured him to launch direct talks with Israel.

Yet this has not stopped the Americans from continuing to push harder and harder. Even if the Palestinians agreed to the latest US offer to conduct "parallel talks," who said that the Palestinians would come with different position?

Original URL:

Khaled Abu Toameh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Galloway Kept Out of U.S.

by IPT News

George Galloway, the former British MP and the leader of the pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina, was denied entry into the United States last weekend when he planned to attend a series of fundraisers. Airline officials told him there were problems with his visa.

Galloway was scheduled to speak in five different cities on behalf of the Muslim Legal Fund of America. Instead, he spoke via live video link to gatherings in Kenner, La. and San Diego. Galloway told the Louisiana audience on Monday he was unsure whether his entry denial was the result of a bureaucratic mistake or political reasons.

"Nothing will stop me. Not the government of what they call Israel; not the government of Canada or the U.S.," Galloway declared. "I cannot be silenced…I hope the U.S. government understands that. We live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook. There will always be a way for me to speak."

He spoke for about an hour and a half via video link Sunday evening at the San Diego Muslim Legal Fund Benefit Dinner, also expressing his concerns about whether his denial into the U.S. was a mistake or something "more serious."

This incident is not the first time Galloway has had trouble entering foreign countries. After the third Viva Palestina convoy ended with violent clashes at the Egyptian/Gaza border, Galloway was declared "persona non grata" by the Egyptian foreign ministry in January, barring him from entering the country again. Last year, Galloway was scheduled to speak in four Canadian cities but was deemed inadmissible based on an immigration law barring foreign nationals who support terrorism. Galloway's Canadian lawyers argued in an Ontario federal court last April that the decision should be overturned because it was based on the government's pro-Israel bias. In September, a federal judge ruled that the government did not officially exclude Galloway from entering the country, and noted that he never tried to enter the country since the ban. Galloway delivered a speech in Canada to a crowd of hundreds in early October, and returned to Canada in November for a 10-day speaking tour.

Galloway's Viva Palestina convoys have successfully delivered millions of dollars to the Hamas regime in Gaza during four land convoys to the region. Galloway directly delivered cash to a Hamas minister during the first Viva Palestina convoy in March, 2009, and has met with and supported Hamas hardliners.

U.S. Reps. Sue Myrick, R-NC, and Brad Sherman, D-CA, have urged the government to take action against Galloway and his group. In a December, 2009 letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sherman wrote, "The borders of the United States should not remain open to individuals that provide support to recognized terror organization. Please act so that Mr. Galloway and others who solicit funds for terrorist organizations do not receive visas to visit the United States and determine whether Viva Palestine, IFCO and their leadership should be designated as supporters of a Foreign Terrorist Organization."

Galloway raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Viva Palestina on U.S. soil in 2009 and 2010.

Original URL:

IPT News

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ros-Lehtinen: Obama Wrong to Give ‘Blank Check’ to PA

by Hilary Leila Krieger

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, incoming chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the Obama administration on Wednesday for givposting the Palestinian Authority a “blank check” while pressuring Israel, signaling that a Republican-led House would complicate one of the major prongs of the White House’s emerging strategy for moving forward with the peace process.

With direct talks between the two sides stalled, the administration announced last week it planned to intensify Palestinian state-building as a means of making progress on the ground toward a peace agreement for a two-state solution. The US has supplied hundreds of millions of dollars toward this end, with the expectation that it would now, if anything, be increasing its assistance.

But Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who will become the chairwoman of the influential committee in January, criticized the current approach to US funding for the PA in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“It’s a bailout for them which provides no incentives for them to reform. So they know they don’t have to do a darn thing – with this administration they will get a blank check and they will always get helped out,” she said of over $200 million in American funds the Palestinians received this past year alone.

“I think that’s the wrong approach, when we’re forcing the Israelis to make concessions and we’re giving the Palestinians anything they want,” she said.

Though many in the US administration and even some in Israel’s government have praised the work of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who under President Mahmoud Abbas oversees the institution-building and training of Palestinian security forces facilitated by the United States, Ros- Lehtinen urged close scrutiny of their activities.

“This feeling that Abbas and Fayyad are the good guys – if they’re the good guys, then we should start praying for Israel’s safety right now, because these are folks who have not wanted to be true partners for peace,” she said. “These guys are moderate when you consider that they’re not as extreme as [Hamas], but they’re not the epitome of democratic governance or openness or transparency.”

She also denounced the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel, including its focus on settlements.

“I believe we have had the wrong approach in the Obama administration of pressuring Israel to make concessions and appeasing enemies like Iran and Syria,” she said. “It’s shameful to make public statements about Israel as if a housing complex is an impediment to peace while the Palestinians’ so-called leaders get away with murder.”

Ros-Lehtinen said that support and aid for Israel – which is currently around $3 billion a year – would remain strong even under the budget-conscious GOP, but that the amount it received could be reduced if there were wideranging cuts, as the party has promised.

“I don’t know what the leadership wants to do in terms of levels of funding. If they say 5 percent across the board for everybody, then that’s the way it is,” she explained, but added that she supported an idea floated by incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) to consider aid to Israel separately from other countries.

“What we would like to see is that countries that have been hard hit by natural disasters or hard-hit by thugs that surround them, that those countries will be in a special category,” she said, giving Israel and Haiti as examples.

Ros-Lehtinen also criticized any implication that Israel should be the state to confront Iran should military action be necessary.

“I don’t like the fact that our options are always, well, let Israel take care of it. It seems to be that that’s what we’re saying all the time,” she said. “Our message should be that all options are on the table and that we say it and convince people that we mean it, because we should be meaning it.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she intended to introduce legislation in the coming session to close loopholes in the Iran sanctions act passed this summer and push the State Department to do more to punish Russian and Chinese companies that continue to do business with Teheran. She also plans to refile a bill on UN reform, which includes provisions to push for changes at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and to remove the US from the Human Rights Council.

“UNWRA has been a tool used by the extremists of the Palestinian groups to bash Israel,” she said. “And a lot of the taxpayer dollars that go to the UN Human Rights Council – I believe in zapping those tax dollars. We can put that money to better uses.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Ros- Lehtinen joined the rest of the House in passing a non-binding resolution calling on US President Barack Obama to veto any attempt by the Palestinians to have the UN Security Council unilaterally declare statehood.

The resolution, sponsored by current House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-California) as well as Ros-Lehtinen, also lends “strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish State of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”

Passage of the resolution was welcomed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which said in a statement that the organization “supports the House’s call for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its strong opposition to efforts to seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.”

The PLO’s Washington delegation, however, expressed its “deep disappointment” in the vote.

“A declaration of statehood that is coordinated with organizations like the United Nations and members of the international community would not be a ‘unilateral’ step. This was, in fact, how the State of Israel came into being in 1948,” the PLO mission said in a statement.

“Members of Congress who are truly concerned about the safety and security of Israelis should recognize that they will never be safeguarded until Palestinians gain their freedom and legal rights,” it continued. “They should work to support the efforts of President Obama and his administration to bring peace to the region, rather than obstructing them and passing resolutions that hinder that effort.”

Original URL:

Hilary Leila Krieger

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Austria Under Fire for Promoting Trade With Teheran

by Benjamin Weinthal

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce’s decision early this month to hold a workshop in Vienna to expand trade with Iran has sparked criticism from Austria’s Jewish community and the European NGO Réalité EU.

“The Chamber of Commerce is advising firms on how to circumvent the sanctions against Iran,” the Jewish community said on its website.

“Michael Tockuss, of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, the most important lobbyist of the Holocaust- denying regime in Teheran,” was invited, the Jewish community said.

Austria has contributed to “the diligent construction of commemorative plaques and memorials since the Shoah,” but the Chamber of Commerce does not shy away from trade with Iran, the 7,500-member Jewish community said.

According to the community’s statement, current Iranian-Austrian trade relationship reminds one “that under the Nazis, German- Austrian industry profited from the annihilation of Jews.”

The Jewish community statement termed Austria’s business deals with Teheran “disgraceful and morally reprehensible.”

Dr. Diana Gregor, a political analyst and researcher with Réalité EU, an organization that tracks European- Iranian trade, told The Jerusalem Post this week that “Austria has the reputation of being docile toward Iran.”

In June 2009 and this month, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce held seminars to “intensify” business with Iran, said Gregor, an authority on Austrian-Iranian economic relations.

“There are roughly 680 Austrian companies that have business relations with Iranian firms or the Iranian state. Some 35 Austrian firms have local branches in Iran and another 500 companies occasionally conduct business with Islamic Republic,” she said.

“Austrian companies are earning good money in Iran” but rarely talk publicly about the activity, Gregor added.

Austria’s exports to the Islamic Republic have increased by 6 percent since the global economic crisis began, she said.

Responding to the criticism, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement on its website that “in no way” will the seminar “show participating companies ways to circumvent international sanctions against Iran.”

According to the chamber, the concern is to explain to Austrian companies “the restrictions to be considered when commencing business relations with Iran.”

Gregor termed the Chamber of Commerce’s explanation a “lame excuse” and a “whitewash” of the real purpose of the workshop.

“The Austrian chamber of commerce is continually promoting the expansion of trade relations with the Islamic Republic and is proud of the past performance,” she said.

She cited Christoph Leitl, the chamber’s president, as someone who “not only supports the expansion but also actively solicits” Iranian trade.

The workshop showcased a who’s who of Austrian political and business leaders. According to the Jewish community, the attendees included Michael Friedl, Austria’s trade representative in Teheran; Dr. Gerta Mlejnek from the chamber; and Dr. Helmut Krehlik of the Austrian Ministry for Economy, Family and Youth.

Dr. Robert Granditsch, from the Austrian Federal Financial Ministry, was also present, as was Ferdinand Schipfer from the Österreichische Kontrollbank Aktiengesellschaft (OeKB), a company owned by Austria’s commercial banks that is the country’s chief “provider of financial and information services to the export industry and the capital market.”

Representatives of German companies also participated in the seminar. Dr. Julia Pfeil of the Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie law firm’s Frankfurt office and Hans-Anton Sapper, chief executive officer of the Sapper Global ECS (Export Control Solutions) software company in Kempen, North Rhine-Westphalia, were listed.

Original URL:

Benjamin Weinthal

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

WaPo Reports on Palestinian Incitement

by Leo Rennert

In its Dec. 16 edition, the Washington Post features a page-one article by Jerusalem Correspondent Janine Zacharia, with the following headline: "Palestinian Authority reins in radical imams."

Zacharia reports that the PA's minister of religious affairs last year issued an order to West Bank imams on the PA payroll to end radical incitement in their sermons, as for example urging their flocks to kill Jews and destroy Israel. But it's not until recently that this edict has been enforced with "particular vigor."

"The practice, part of a broader crackdown on Muslim preachers considered too radical, shows the extreme steps the Palestinian Authority is taking to weaken Hamas, its Islamist rival, as it seeks to cement power and meet Israel's preconditions for peace talks," Zacharia writes.

On the face of it, this would seem to be encouraging news for the pace process, and that's how the Post plays it by giving it a prominent spot on the front page. The message conveyed to readers is that Mahmoud Abbas, under U.S. pressure, is finally getting his act together in meeting his responsibilities as a would-be reliable peace partner.

But Zacharia's article also leaves unanswered many questions about Abbas's real dedication to ending anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement.

For starters, one wonders why the Post -- after years of hiding from readers the persistent and vast extent of such incitement -- only becomes aware of it when the PA finally seems to be taking a few steps to curb this kind of vicious propaganda.

Furthermore, even if the content of sermons were being purged of the worst kind of incitement, there has been no letup in PA TV broadcasts, including instruction programs for children, which call for the elimination of Israel and creation of a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. None of this is being reported by the Post.

Nor is the Post reporting Mahmoud Abbas's continuing glorification of Palestinian terrorists, especially those who staged mass killings of Israelis -- whether in Israel or at the Munich Olympics.

Nor, it turns out, is Zacharia herself satisfied whether it's a good idea to crack down on "vitriolic sermons" in the 1,800 mosques under Abbas's direct control.

"Critics say the heavy-handed policy violates freedom of expression, alienates segment of Palestinian society and is harbinger of the kind of police state the Palestinian Authority could become once statehood is achieved," she writes.

Makes one wonder if, on second thought, the minuses might outweigh the pluses in this purported crackdown on radical imams.

"It is disappointing to those who had expected greater tolerance from the Palestinian Authority which rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank," Zacharia sighs.

Notice also what a strange, yet revealing, way Zacharia uses to define authority in the West Bank -- the PA, she concedes, "rules" parts of the West Bank (i.e. Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and virtually all other major Palestinian population centers) But if that's so, how come she writes in the same breath that the West Bank is "Israeli-occupied." So, it makes no difference that Abbas "rules" all key parts of the West Bank, the Post still peddles the notion of Israel as an "occupier."

Finally, while Zacharia at long last gets into the topic of anti-Israel incitement under Abbas's "rule," she hastens the draw an immediate equivalence with purported incitement emanating from Israel. If the PA is guilty, so is Israel. Here's how she puts it:

"The mosque crackdown comes as Israel and watchdog groups step up monitoring of statements in Palestinian government-run media and educational materials that dispute Israel's right to exist or demonize Jews. For their part, Palestinian leaders routinely complain about statements by Israeli political or religious figures that are hostile to Arabs, which they say undercut peace efforts."

Even when drawing a parallel -- and a false one at that -- Zacharia tilts the scales in favor of the Palestinian side. In her formulation, it is only anti-Arab incitement from Israel that "undercuts peace efforts" -- not the overwhelmingly harsher and far more frequent incitement against Israel under PA ''rule."

Equivalence in incitement? More than a bit of a stretch. Hostile feelings about Arabs pop up occasionally in Israel, but not at the inciteful level of genocidal calls to eliminate Muslims and Arabs. And when some Israelis cross the line, Israeli political and religious leaders are quick to condemn them publicly. For example, when some rabbis recently urged Jews not to sell property to non-Jews, Prime Minister Netanyahu quickly and publicly rebuked these rabbis. So did other political leaders and many other rabbis

By contrast, Abbas has yet to publicly repudiate Palestinian anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, which, in fact, he continues to foment.

Original URL:

Leo Rennert

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israel on Campus - Where are We?

by Alexander Joffe

The situation on campus continues to change for Israel's supporters: abuse is now almost everyplace. There have been important successes, like upholding the recent veto of a "boycott, divestment and sanctions" (BDS) proposal at the University of California at Berkeley's student council, and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's recent definition of anti-Semitism on campus as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But there have also been notable failures, such as the continuing unwillingness of the administration of the University of California at Irvine to take harassment of Jewish and Israeli students and speakers seriously. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was heckled and silenced there by a group of students from the Muslim Student Association before university security stepped in and removed them. These students later accused the university administration of denying them their First Amendment rights.

At Evergreen State University Jewish students have felt compelled to transfer to other schools after overt harassment. Sukkahs have been vandalized in recent years at Stanford, the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and other campuses. "Israel Apartheid Week" is now an established part of the calendar at colleges across the country, bringing verbal harassment and even physical assaults against Jewish students. At these events, "Jews" are assumed to be "Zionists" and are subject to abuse on this basis, as well as because they are Jews. Worse, universities and the community at large are getting accustomed to it all.

Seeing the anti-Israel movement in isolation has always been part of the problem. There is a well-organized network of international anti-Israel activists and organizations. In the U.S. it operates at all levels, from giant state universities, to local churches, to suburban living rooms. The group that makes up "International Apartheid Week" sponsors a coordinated week-long protest in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Holland and elsewhere. Groups like "Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition" sponsor speaking tours by noted anti-Israel figures such as Norman Finkelstein, George Galloway and countless others throughout the U.S.. Local branches of Al-Awda and the "International Solidarity Movement" are found throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Coordinated internationally, these groups share speakers and also train and bring "activists" to Israel. Muslim student groups facilitate and support these. and bring their own speakers, such as the radical Muhammad al-Asi, to their gatherings.

These groups have made common cause on and off campus with extremist groups, seemingly united by their hatred of Israel, the U.S., and its policies worldwide. Anti-Israel events have also been co-sponsored -- or organized as a part of "anti-war," "anti-globalization'" and "anti-imperialism'" protests -- by groups such as "Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER)," "United For Peace and Justice," and the "Stop the War Coalition." The U.S. and Israel appear to be regarded as part of a larger "capitalist-imperialist conspiracy" that must be "exposed" and "smashed."

Anti-Israel groups have also been allied with those defending Iran, such as the Socialist Workers Party; although the "Great Satan" and the "Little Satan" are both forthright about defending themselves and the freedoms of others. The related "boycott, divestment and sanction" (BDS) movements against Israel are also active everywhere, from the Cambridge City Council to the Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia Washington, to pension funds in Canada and England. This too is an international movement. The group "International BDS" is directed by the "Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee," made up of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions and Islamist groups While they have so far failed to get any American university or significant group to actually boycott or divest from Israel, they lie and say they have succeeded, as occurred recently at Hampshire College and Harvard University.

In Europe, BDS has mostly succeeded in provoking weekly protests outside Israeli shops, such as the Dead Sea cosmetics firm Ahava, and rampaging through French supermarkets.

While extreme right-wing groups have always hated Israel, usually on traditional anti-Semitic terms, anti-Israel organizations are now primarily on the far left. But Neo-Nazis, radical Muslims and anarchists are all happy to put aside their differences to join in hatred of Israel. Far right groups such as the John Birch Society or the Lyndon LaRouche movement and neo-Nazis are still not welcome on campus. But left-wing groups have been accepted or even invited on American university campuses by faculties that either embrace them or who are merely "tolerant" of their presence, and who indignantly pull out free speech and academic freedom defenses when challenged. University administrations and trustees have been equally tolerant. They simply want the problem to stay manageably quiet, and for the money to keep flowing in from the government and from donors.

The language and tools of human and civil rights have also been hijacked. The respect for NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International is especially high on campuses, along with the United Nations, since these represent secular and "global" alternatives to the U.S. government and groups like church-based charities. NGOs and international organizations are wrapped in a "halo effect" provided by the secular religious term "human rights." To question them and their ideas is to appear to be "against human rights." Mainstream NGOs tend to focus on Israel to a disproportionate degree, as opposed to countries that violate human rights extravagantly; these NGOs bitterly criticize every Israeli action to defend itself against terrorist attacks and overt threats of annihilation. Other NGOs, such as Adalah, Badil and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, often backed by the European Union, attack Israel as virtually their sole focus, and are deeply connected with the BDS movement. Even Israel's defense of its identity as the sole Jewish state has been cast as a violation of "international law" and "human rights," and regularly send speakers to appear regularly on U.S. campuses.

The Goldstone investigation, ordered by the United Nations Human Rights Council, was apparently intended provided legal cover for the intensification of such abuses of law and language. By ignoring evidence presented to them by Israelis, and ignoring the words and deeds of Hamas, the report reached a completely predictable outcome that has rippled around the world. Shooting back at those who shoot at you was declared de facto a "war crime;" Israeli politicians and military leaders have now been subjected to investigations and arrest warrants in Europe, on charges brought by NGOs, Muslim groups and other fellow travelers. Pro-Palestinian groups have long claimed that Israel is practicing "genocide," albeit a strange kind that actually increases the life span and numbers of its alleged "victims," as just this year alone, over 180,000 Palestinians, as well as people of all races and creeds are treated daily in Israeli hospitals.

This vitriol, however, his has spilled over onto college campuses in the U.S., where Israel is branded as a criminal state by a growing number of activists and professors, both inside and outside the classroom. Convincing idealistic college students not to be blinded by the "halo effect" around NGOs is a challenge. Helping them to recognizing that faith in NGOs and other forms of "global governance," which may be distorted and politicized, and is part of a Western secular religion of internationalism, albeit where there is no further recourse, is vital to understanding and combating their abuses.

The hijacking of human and civil rights has been especially cruel blow to persecuted peoples elsewhere. Darfur, while not entirely off the map, has been pushed far to the back burner in favor of "engagement" with the cruel government of Sudan. Accusations that Sudanese persecution and mass murder are all Zionist fabrications are common from those who elsewhere express passion for the "plight of the Palestinians." These trends also explain something about why the plight of persecuted Christians in Muslim countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Iraq, and Christian communities fighting for survival in countries like Nigeria, get so little attention. Anything that takes away from the obsessive focus on the supposedly unique evil and cruelty of Israel is dismissed as either a myth or disinformation. Even Christians slaughtered in church in Baghdad receives barely a fraction of the attention of an announcement that an Israeli urban planning committee has approved construction of housing in Jerusalem. In the view of all too many, Christians can only be the persecutors and not persecuted. Defending Christians on campus is often as difficult as defending Israel.

The unique focus on Israel on campus increasingly fits former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky's '3-D test' of the new anti-Semitism; demonization, double standards, and delegitimization. Israel is singled out for special attention, judged not simply by Western standards but impossible ones -- and then condemned. The revival of the "one state solution" by academic activists as the preferred outcome is another such sign. To them, Israel is so uniquely bad and its future such an impossible blight that it must dissolve itself and share its land, institutions and wealth by accepting the "right of return" by Palestinian "refugees." Never mind that ethnic groups all over the world are busy trying to break away from one another. The Czechs and the Slovaks divorced in 1993; and the Scots and the Welsh have been trying to get out of the United Kingdom for centuries; there is Quebec from Canada; the Basque from Spain; the Chechnyans from Russia; the Kurds from Turkey, and so on. Israel is expected to go out of business, voluntarily or by force,. Increasingly, if one does not accept that Israel is uniquely bad and its dissolution necessary, one is called a racist. Accepting that Israel must go is a litmus test for both the far left and the far right, and for all too many liberal Jews and Christians alike.

In short, the situation on for Israel and its supporters on campus is abysmal. Jewish students especially are finding it harder and harder to avoid being actively challenged by professors, activists and the general campus atmosphere; they are urged to give up Israel and join the "mainstream," or be labeled "far right" or "racist." Once students are informed about Sharansky's 3-D test, however, and sensitized to the way concepts like "human rights" and "international law" are being abused, it will be apparent that there are few places to hide.

There are no easy solutions. Becoming informed about the facts is a prerequisite. Groups like the David Project and Christians United for Israel are active across the country providing resources and support for students and communities who refuse to accept the one-sided picture of Israel's "original sin" put forward by many professors and activists. Larger Jewish institutions such as the Jewish Federations of North America and many Hillels (although unfortunately not all) are more conscious of the problem and have begun taking steps to combat the skewed propaganda. The Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel Defense Forces are also equipped to get information into the hands of those who are countering attacks on Israel,

Sadly, the uncritical financial and moral support of universities continues from Jews and others, who refuse to believe that isolated incidents add up to a pattern. The treatment of Jews and Israel in Western universities merely reflects the larger corroding intellectual and moral health of the West.

The nature of activism is changing rapidly. Groups of rival students standing on opposite sides of the quad holding banners has given way to aggressive behavior in which students are challenged and assaulted by activists, and active responses are quickly met with un-thought-through bumper-sticker cries of "racism" or "Islamophobia," '"censorship" or "interference in academic freedom," wherein name-calling replaces discussing issues.

Pro-Israel groups have not stooped to that level of intimidation, insults and even violence, which means that their voices are typically drowned out. But pro-Israel groups must aggressively hold universities to their own standards of free speech and freedom from intimidation. Universities want to cover up exactly how ugly anti-Israel protests have become. This cannot be permitted.

Both pro-Israel and anti-Israel protests should be filmed to document just who is using what kind of language and techniques. Legal complaints about universities and state and Federal authorities should be pursued when necessary. Parents and alumni need to get involved as well, letting their peers and the universities know that campus anti-Semitism is unacceptable and has consequences.

Social networking is another new battleground, along with new media. The numbers of pro-Israel Facebook groups and YouTube videos are tiny compared to those belonging to pro-Palestinian groups. The need to organizing these areas is obvious, relatively easy and does not require an aggressive personality or special leadership training. Getting Israel's message out, and showing the lengths to which anti-Israel activists will go, is vital.

BDS petitions have a way of being submitted at the end of a student council meeting and debated on Friday nights or holidays. Once publicized, they tend to wither in the light of day. And new, creative means to get Israel's case across have been used across the country – "buy-cotts," in which Israeli goods are sold, dance parties where a message is delivered, and expert panels are only some of the ways. Keeping a bright light shone on campus is especially important. The best way to fight back is to use the truth. Finding like-minded people through church and synagogue groups also remains key. But having the courage to speak up for Israel in ways large and small remains a challenge that canbe met by first finding resources within ourselves.

Original URL:

Alexander Joffe

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.