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Abbas Does New York

I appreciate the spirit of freedom and independence but many modernist Islamist politicians are unrealistic when it comes to the situation with Israel; and the New York Times is an outlet for such figures to preach their hatred and prejudice. Ironically, the Palestinian territories are famous for their media censorship and abuse of journalists.

On April 20th, Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he cited the “Arab Spring” as a tangible socio-political trend toward democracy and modernity in which Israel is both the cause of all Middle East turmoil as well as the feet-dragger in the great Middle East Revolution:

“The plight of the Palestinians has been a root cause of unrest and conflict in the region and is being used as a pretext for extremism in other corners of the world. Israel, more than any other country, will need to adapt to the new political climate in the region. But it need not fear; the emergence of a democratic neighborhood around Israel is the ultimate assurance of the country’s security.”

Mr. Gul’s country is one where blood libel accusations are aimed at Israel and prime-time television airs television shows in which IDF soldiers are fictionally portrayed murdering children.

While many Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, unified under the Palestinian Liberation Organization, curse the United States and stomp on the red, white and blue flag of the leaders of the free world, Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, has taken a more diplomatic approach. He too has written an op-ed in The New York Times – a publication that is among the most syndicated print media outlets in the world.

“This month… as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”

Wrote Abu Mazen:

“Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt; too many of our men and women have been lost for us to engage in such political theater.”

The fact remains, and Abbas later in his article admits that the Palestinians could have had a state in 1947 but refused one. Why? So they could create war without a state in the name of freedom from oppression. This is more affective. This is the stunt. Had they now a “state,” recognized by the UN, though, on the borders they now have, it would be a pariah state. One that makes war with Israel – and is still, despite the strange Fatah/Hamas merger government, at war amongst themselves.

Abbas wrote:

“We have the capacity to enter into relations with other states and have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have indicated that our institutions are developed to the level where we are now prepared for statehood. Only the occupation of our land hinders us from reaching our full national potential; it does not impede United Nations recognition.”

However, in a pluralized Israel, where Arab Muslims thrive and hold seats in Knesset, it seems strange that an “occupation,” which he cannot define, but surely refers to the settlements, is some kind of hindrance to a state that would be an ethno-cracy.

Abbas wrote:

“The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.”

However, Nakba day, was not peaceful. Several Israeli policemen were wounded by Palestinian stone throwers.

Meanwhile, Israel has agreed to release tax transfers to the Palestinians despite the Hamas-Fatah unity pact; after finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, said they would be withheld.

The Beat Goes On

And the beat goes on. According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian journalists are regularly “abused with impunity” (Reuters) by both the security services of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and his Islamist rivals Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian man sells newspapers in front of his shop in Gaza StripThe 35-page report cited reporters’ charges of arbitrary arrests, beatings and equipment seizures by government enforcers.

Ahh, yes, the Palestinians, the human rights victims of Israel’s abuse, poised for new statehood. New reforms by the International Monetary Fund allow the Palestinian Authority to reduce its dependence on foreign aid for its regular budget, from $1.8 billion in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2010, and now, less than $1b for 2011.

Fatah in the West Bank, the governing part of the Palestinian Authority denies the accusations of abusing journalists.

Meanwhile, Fox News correspondent, Jeniffer Griffin and her husband, Greg Myre have a new book called, “This Burning Land: Lessons from the Front Lines of the Transformed Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” In the book, Griffin talks about when her colleague, Steve Centanni of Fox News and Olaf Wiig a cameraman from New Zealand, were kidnapped on August 14, 2006 by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City by the Holy Jihad Brigades.

In another story, al-Arabiya claims 1 of 2 people killed in a strike in Sudan was senior Hamas military commander; the Sudanese FM says the fatal hit was “absolutely an Israeli attack” and meant to keep Sudan on the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors, rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza, provoking the attack. Also, Sudanese and Iranian weapons were seized en route to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

More From Egypt and Elsewhere

As mayhem continues throughout the Middle East, journalists are in danger, and consequently, so is revelation of truth. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by the Committee to Protect Journalists for “an unprecedented and systematic attack” on international reporters.

The committee’s executive director, Joel Simon, said:

“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism…With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba…We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action…and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately.”

Incognito agents have gone so far as to enter hotels and confiscate equipment. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday 101 direct attacks on news facilities and journalists. Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the newspaper Al-Ta’awun, was shot and killed by sniper fire while filming demonstrations in central Cairo’s Qasr al-Aini, adjacent to Tahrir Square.

Injured Associated Press photographer Khalil HamraAl-Jazzera, BBC, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, the Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN all said they have staff members who’ve been attacked. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also reported that staffers were detained.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, despite the ongoing Internet black-out said:

“There have been no instructions to hinder the coverage of the media in the Tahrir area…I made clear that they have full freedom to do anything they want.”

Egyptian and American sources told the New York Times that Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, who nearly escaped an assassination attempt in recent days that took the lives of two of his body guards, met with army leaders to discuss steps to weaken President Hosni Mubarak’s authority and possibly have him removed him from the presidential palace.

The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, is another city where waves of protests became violent. On Saturday morning, 12 journalists were kidnapped.

Along with similar demonstrations in Syria, Turkey, Malaysia and Iraq, hundreds of Jordanian protesters marched toward the Egyptian embassy in Ankara, calling Mubarak a puppet of Israel. Jordan’s main Muslim opposition, however, said it wants to give their new leader an opportunity to carry out the political reforms promised.

Among reforms that the Jordanian population would like to see are financial. According to a wire by the latest WikiLeaks release, more than 80% of the Hashmonean Kingdom’s budget is spent on “bloated” civil service and a military “patronage system” – including supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The Jordanian government told U.S. diplomats that:

In spite of increased calls by opposition groups and non-governmental figures to explain its Afghanistan assistance and end its security cooper with the United States … Mash’al Al Zaben, Chief of Staff for Strategy, stated that Jordan would stay in Afghanistan until the last U.S. soldier came home.”

Jordan’s deficit hit a record $2 billion this year, while inflation rose six percent and unemployment figures hit 12.9 percent.

The WikiLeaks documents also told of Jordan’s military support to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. According to the ambassador:

“Jordan has already made a significant contribution of forces in Afghanistan (ref B), currently numbered at 850 troops, which includes an infantry battalion, a special operations company, and a field hospital…Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan. Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan…”

Jordan:

Tweeting around the Egyptian Internet gag order:

Muslim Brotherhood:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Independence Day

“…In its formative decades the government of Israel was almost indistinguishable from the party of Labor.”

Wrote Time Magazine’s Karl Vick of Ehud Barak’s departure from Labor.

He continued:

“David Ben-Gurion, the new nation’s equivalent of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson rolled roughly into one, headed both the party and the government it largely populated.”

Proving his inability to separate Israel from his own United States of America, he compared the formation of the Jewish State to the American colony’s secession or better, coup d’etat from Great Britain, because Barak compared his departure from Labor and formation of an independent faction to Ben-Gurion’s historied Labor departure. This journalist is like a child who misbehaves because of some adult activity, unrelated to his own: a window breaks in the house, mom yells, so the kids pees on the carpet and screams. When the child grows up, he learns to deal with the wild energy like an adult. No call to ring America’s Freedom Bell here Mr. Vick.

With Labor’s pull from Netanyahu’s inter-Knesset support league, the coalition’s majority in the 120-member Knessent falls to 66 from 74.

Isaac Herzog, Binyamin, Avishay Braverman, Ben-Eliezer and the rest of the Labor bongos can finally stretch their legs in the back seat with Barak out of the driver’s seat, Herzog said:

“The Labor Party, which founded the State of Israel, got rid of the hump on its back…Ehud Barak’s masked ball is over.”

Nay, the Palestinian’s masked ball is over!

Einat Wilf, one of four Labor members who will join Barak in the brand spanking new Independence faction said:

“I don’t belong to the camp that believes Israel is solely responsible for the failure of these [last summer in Egypt and America] negotiations…The Palestinians bear responsibility for not entering the talks. Some people have sent them a message to wait around for a new government.”

The other Labor babies to join Barak are Matan Vilnai, Shalom Simhon and Orit Noked.

The Independance faction will be “Zionist, Center and Democratic…

Palestinian Areopagitica II

Journalists

The international press freedom organization, Reporters Without Borders, has claimed that Palestinian journalists are victims of:

Palestinian journalists

“Collateral damage in the years-long conflict,between the Fatah and Gaza factions. In both Hamas’ Gaza Strip and Fatah’s West Bank, journalists are participators in a depressing and desperate game of ping-pong.”

The Reporters Without Borders piece paid special attention to Palestinian journalists held in unlawful detention, urging politicians for their release.

In august, Ahmed Fayadh of the aljazeera.net news website, part of the Palestinian media opposition to Hamas was beaten by Gaza police.

In late October, 26-year-old atheist and blogger Walid al-Husseini was jailed in Qalqilya in the West Bank for “blasphemy against the Prophet and the Koran.” al-Husseini also, prior to his arrest had created a Facebook page called, “Allah.” On it he wrote poetic stanzas imitating Quaranic verses.

Here is a piece from the young man’s blog, “Nour Al Akl” or The Enlightened Mind:

“My dear visitors, I am seeking the truth. In my writings, I am not trying to twist facts to the favor of my arguments. I am just posing questions that many of us do not dare to ask and I urge you to be honest with yourselves while attempting to find the answers. We are not two parties at war against one another. We will not be dragged into a futile attempt to prove who is the fittest by discrediting each other. If someone can refute my arguments and prove the fallacy of my logic, I will listen and respond rationally. I will not mock his opinions or manipulate words to prove my points. I am not an enemy of Islam or Muslims; after all, we are all seeking the same thing – the truth. To be more precise, I know I am not the Muslim’s best friend. I am not against Islam in particular, I am just a human being who is tired of watching the world collapse around us because of religions and religious strifes. It is ironic how Islamic scholars contribute such wars and destruction to the lack of faith. My dear believer, I urge you to use the brains you were given to seek your own truth instead of lazily relying on the misleading pacifying translations and interpretations of others. I have faith in you! I know you will not settle for fake half truths that were clearly manipulated to serve the best interest of those who promote them. I hope you are a truth seeker not just someone who is looking for a validation for what he believes to be the truth.”

Politicians

Hamas-FatahOn Monday, Fatah accused Hamas of preventing their leaders in Gaza from traveling to the West Bank to attend a party meeting.

Mediators have been talking with Hamas about permitting the members of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council to travel to Ramallah “and there has been no positive result, ” said Faissal Abu Shahla, a Gaza-based council member.

For the third time this year, Hamas rejected travel requests to the nine members who are currently in Gaza, Abu Shahla told Xinhua.

Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, elected in 2009, will meet Tuesday to discuss the peace talk stalemate with Israel and other issues. President Abbas will chair the meeting.

Between Hell and Back and an Unlikely Friend


In the days of the Clinton era, Helen Thomas reacted to former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher’s statements to the press concerning arms shipments to Israel.

“Helen Thomas: Where do the Israelis get their arms?

Ari Fleischer: There’s a difference Helen, and that is—.

Helen Thomas: What is the difference?

Ari Fleischer: The targeting of innocents through the use of terror, which is a common enemy for Yasir Arafat and for the people of Israel, as well as—.

Helen Thomas: Palestinian people are fighting for their land…I think that the killing of innocents is a category entirely different. Justifying killing of innocents for land is an argument in support of terrorism”.

But sadly Helen Thomas never got the message. The 89-year-old journalist and author, Dean of the White House Press Corps has retired, leaving behind her a front row seat and a legacy as one of the strongest anti-Israel stances observable in mainstream America, say, right up there with ol’ Jimmy Carter.

On May 27, 2010, outside the Jewish Heritage Celebration Day event at the White House, the following conversation happened between Thomas and Rabbi David Nesenoff:

“Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …

Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?

Thomas: They go home.

Nesenoff: Where’s the home?

Thomas: Poland. Germany.

Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?

Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?”

Well, hearing such a powerful American journalist speak such nonsense, these days, is about as shocking as reading José Maria Aznar, former Spanish prime minister, publish an open-editorial in the London Times, saying that the global community needs to support Israel because “if it goes down, we all go down”. Is it flip-flop day?

About the floatilla raid, Aznar writes:

“Anger over Gaza is a distraction. We cannot forget that Israel is the West’s best ally in a turbulent region…In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship.”

“Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology…62 years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.”

Aznar says the real threat to the region is extreme Islamism, “which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfillment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony”.

He added:

“Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large…It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East…Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.”

Moral of the story: Europe is not made up of nothing but anti-Semites and likewise America is not 100% friendly or trustworthy for the Zionist State. We will pray that Helen Thomas’ retirement marks the end of an era and that such fearless friends as José Maria Aznar will create a new trend in support for the Jewish Country, a trend which really needs to begin in Aznar’s own country first.

ISRAEL: Anat Not Cool…Do Non-Partisan Journalists Differ?

Graffiti in Israel
In an embarrassing moment for IDF intelligence, the Tel Aviv District Court has several days ago, cleared for publication the report that a journalist from Israel was accused of leaking top-secret information without authorization in an attempt to compromise the State’s security and possession of classified intelligence.

Anat Kam, 23, a reporter for the Walla news website, leaked secret documents which she had stolen from the army, where she served in the office of then-Central Command Chief Yair Naveh.

Kam’s attorney Avigdor Feldman claimed that she acted out of moral motives and not in an attempt to compromise state security and henceforth forwarded the materials to a journalist and not to “hostile elements”.

The public relations expert serving Kam, Nissim Duek, said:

“There is a very big gap between the media talk and the facts which will be revealed in court. The fact is that the court decided to place Kam under house arrest, despite the State’s motion to arrest her and allowed her to keep working as a reporter…Kam was exposed to documents together with hundreds of other junior soldiers, how is that to be explained if those were indeed so classified. How can one explain the fact that she was arrested over a year after the article’s publication? The security elements are trying to paint her as an enemy of the state and she is not.”

In November 2008, Uri Blau of Haaretz reported that the IDF had held discussions which revealed that the army ignored High Court rulings in regards to assassinations of Palestinians; and that the assassinations were carried out following orders given by the Northern Command, “even in cases in which the wanted terror suspects could have been arrested.”

Kam was arrested by the Shin Bet in December 2009, 13 months after the article was published, following an investigation sanctioned by IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

Kam had burned the files onto a CD and uploaded them onto her personal computer after her release from army service. She then offered the classified material to another journalist, though not resulting in any published reports.

In September of 2009, Blau, through his attorney, handed the Shin Bet some 50 documents which he had received from Kam, as well as his computer, which was destroyed. However, the investigation discovered that Kam had copied and transferred more than 2,000 documents to the Haaretz reporter.

Some of the documents were of detailed plans for past and future IDF operations, combat doctrines, defense plans of Central Command, summaries of meetings between senior IDF officers, information on the deployment of IDF forces and lists of ways to deal with a possible heat up in the territories.

Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin referred to the affair as the most severe in Israeli history, considering the damage it might have caused to the country’s security.
Diskin defined the documents as “highly classified” saying:

“If these documents, even part of them, reach enemy hands or foreign intelligence agencies, this could cause serious, ongoing security damage and danger to IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens…You don’t need to be an expert in information security to understand how much dangerous information there is here.”

Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist Judith Miller addressed the affair in her blog, saying that Blau was staying in London in order to avoid the Shin Bet:

“What is being called the ‘Anat Kam affair’ has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executives…Israel, like the United States at the federal level, also has no shield law that protects journalists from being forced to reveal the sources of their stories… “

The Gaza War Hill Of Shame and Reporting in Cast Lead

A recent letter to the editors of the Jerusalem Post was sent in by the Dutch RTL media journalist Connie Mus, regarding the baring of international correspondents from Gaza during the recent war there.

Gaza War Hill of Shame (AP)

Gaza War Hill of Shame (AP)

The journalist, who like others from international news services, as well as Israeli journalists, was not allowed into the Gaza Strip to directly report on the recently suspended IDF Operation Cast Lead which, until halted by a very flimsy cease fire agreement, resulted in the deaths of 14 Israelis and more than 1,400 Palestinians. Mus, who is a foreign correspondent for the Netherlands based RTL News Service, complained that she and her fellow journalists were prevented from directly reporting on and filming the fighting in Gaza during the 22 day operation, and were forced to do so from a hill located outside the Gaza border which they named the “Hill of Shame”.

While Ms. Mus may have thought she had some valid points in regards to her comments about the Israeli government barring foreign correspondents from entering Gaza during the fighting there, judging from what occurred during the 2006 war in Lebanon, having a slew of international journalists stationed in Beirut and elsewhere not only increased the negative propaganda war against Israel but also put the lives of these people in mortal danger.

Mind you, field correspondents have often been exposed to harm’s way during warfare, and many have paid the ultimate price for doing so. But due to the intensity of the bombing and fighting which did occur in many parts of Gaza, several of these journalists, and the camera and other logistical personnel which usually accompany them, might have been killed or injured during the three week operation.

It might be noted that during the 2006 war in Lebanon, in which over 1,190 Lebanese (mostly civilians) and 165 Israelis (44 civilians) were killed, a news photographer and TV technician were killed and at least 12 journalists suffered various injuries and wounds. According to statistics noted by the international organization Journalists Without Borders, 81 journalists and auxiliary personnel lost their lives in the line of duty in 2006 alone.

That none of the journalists covering Operation Cast Lead suffered even minor injuries can be attributed to the ban which was imposed on them by both the government and the IDF. After the cease fire was declared, these journalists have not wasted any time going in to Gaza to get the “full story” as was indicated in the “BBC Ad” incident when the BBC refused to broadcast a controversial fund raising advertisement that has been judged to be show partiality towards Hamas. In light of this, maybe there’s logic to these restrictions after all.

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