November 2010

Fire From the Mountain / Jonathan Spyer

The Kurds fight against Turkey

Our PKK contact and driver arrived at the appointed time outside the hotel in Erbil. We had been told he would identify himself using an agreed term. We hadn't quite been ready for the fact that this single word would be the sole communication possible between us. The diminutive, scrawny youth who turned up at six that morning knew neither English nor Arabic.

Only Kurdish. That was how we began our journey from the Iraqi Kurdish capital toward the Qandil mountains, in the remote border area between Iraq, Turkey and Iran.

Turkish Flotilla "Peace" Group Visits Terrorists and Plays at War / Prof.B.Rubin

The New York Times--you know, it's sort of like National Public Radio but with printed letters on murdered trees--keeps saying it can't find any connections between IHH, the Turkish Islamist group that organized the Gaza flotilla, and terrorism. From time to time, I've published helpful hints to assist them in making these linkages. But, alas, they don't quite seem to get the picture.

Picture! Hey, that's an idea!

Was Nilin Shooting Doctored? Jonathan D.Halevi

New findings suggest that the video tape published by Btselem was intentionally edited and scenes were omitted

A joint investigation conducted by the physicist Nahum Shahaf and the undersigned has revealed new findings in the shooting incident in Nilin more than two years ago. On July 20, 2008, Btselem, the human rights organization, published an approximately one minute video clip documenting an Israeli soldier shooting a rubber bullet from very close range at a Palestinian handcuffed and blindfolded detainee named Ashraf Abu Rahma.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Isrel's Air Force / David Rodman


A Future History of Palestine / Prof.B.Rubin

The following article isn’t intended to reject a two-state solution but to point out issues that would inevitably arise if one ever came about. Recently, a once-major American magazine ran a cover story saying Israelis aren’t desperately eager for “peace” without ever mentioning the real reasons why that's so:

It's simple: Rather reasonably, Israelis want to know whether they would be better or worse off after making a deal to get a promise of peace in exchange for accepting a fully independent Palestinian state.

A Response to Diaa Hadid's, the Associated Press Reporter, Article in The Washington Post / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

Diaa Hadid published an article in The Washington Post on November 2, 2010 titled: "Jewish- Arab Relations in Israel Hit Boiling Point."

Diaa described in th article the Israeli – Arab point of view and interviewed Beeri – Sulizeanu, co- director of the Abraham Fund, a Jewish- Arab organization who seeks to promote coexistence.

The Netherlands, The Middle East, and the 2010 Parliamentary Elections/ Prof.B.Rubin

The Netherlands is a fascinating test case of how Middle Eastern factors--immigration, foreign policy issues--affect European politics. These questions have become highly partisan ones, with the left side and right side of the spectrum often having diametrically opposite standpoints. The 2010 election brought to power a government that is friendly toward Israel and has pledged to reduce immigration.


Arabic Fassouta Was Once A Jewish Village /DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

The Arabic village of Fassouta is located in the western Galilee, North-East of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, about two kilometres from the Lebanese border. Most of its 3000 residents are Greek-Orthodox Christians. The village was founded during the Ottoman period, about 150 years ago, at the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century, by immigrants who, most likely, came from Lebanon.

Fassouta’s ancient Hebrew name was Mafshata.

The U.S. Elections and the Middle East / Prof.B.Rubin

What effect will the congressional elections have on U.S. foreign policy generally and Middle East policy in particular?

It isn't a matter of the individual candidates, since nobody lost or won who will have some big influence on U.S. policy in the next couple of years. The important factor is to what extent the White House hears the message being delivered with the electorate, which of course is largely concerned with domestic issues. Even, by itself, will a Republican majority in the House of Representatives force any shift since the White House really does control foreign policy.

Is Rachel's Tomb a Muslim Mosque / Nadav Shragai


UNESCO,the UN Educational,Scientific and Cultural Oraganization accepted a resolution declaring Rachel's Tomb near Beth Lehem, the Holy Land, a mosque. The resolution rejected Israel's claim that Rachel's tomb is a Jewish heritage site.

The following article was published in 2007, long before the recent UNESCO resolution accepted with the votes of Muslim states.

Palesrinian Authority Inctement to Kill Israeli and Destroy Israel / Prof.B.Rubin

Palestinian Authority Incitement to Kill Israelis and Destroy Israel: A Powerful Subverter of Chances for Peace

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority (PA) through its schools, media, mosques, and officials' statements daily incites Palestinians to attack and kill Israelis. It also continues to claim Israel is illegitimate and should be wiped out, along with the belief that this will happen in the future. Naturally, this undermines any possibility that peace talks will succeed.

Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh - a light in the darkness / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

Khaled Abu Toameh is an Arab-Palestinian- Israeli journalist. He is a muslim.

Unlike Arab- Israeli leaders he has a more balanced approach to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Reading journalist Khaled Abu Toameh articles is strengthening my believe in human nature.

Please, read the views of an honest Israeli, non- Jew on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict:

70 Years Ago: FDR Rallies Nation in Darkest Hours of World War Two / Prof. B.Rubin

Seventy Years Ago: FDR Rallies Nation in Darkest Hours of World War Two, Interesting Parallels to Today

Seventy years ago, May 1940, was just about the darkest moment ever for the democratic world. Germany was overrunning France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands. Nazi Germany and the Communist USSR were allied. Britain was scrambling to pull out as many men as possible from Dunkirk and an invasion of Britain seemed imminent.

Anti - Semitism Among Palestinian Authrity Academics / Itamar Maecus & Babara Crook

One of the primary objectives of the Palestinian Authority (PA) after its establishment in 1994 was to delegitimize Israel. These efforts were evident throughout Palestinian society and involved various channels including television, schoolbooks, and culture. The delegitimization of Israel incorporated various hate messages, especially the denial of Israel's right to exist.

Two Key Indications on Israel- Palestine Develoments / Prof.B.Rubin

Here are two developments that are important indicators about the Israel-Palestinian situation.

First, the current Palestinian Authority (PA) strategy is to stall and avoid negotiations because making a deal with Israel requires giving concessions to get to a compromise peace. The leadership wants to make no concessions, both because they themselves don’t wish to do so and know that the pressure of their constituency and radical rivals won’t allow it.

International Humanitarian Law / Justus Weiner & Avi Sutton

Free Lunch for Hamas

Daily Telegraph (London) correspondent Tim Butcher recently reported from Gaza after the war, stating: "Targets had been selected and then hit... but almost always with precision munitions... I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites... did not make any great difference..." Butcher continued, "[O]ne thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944."

Why Do Christians Remain Silent about the Persecution of Christians in Muslim Majority Societies / Prof.B.Rubin

Christians in Iraq have been, and not for the first time, deliberately targeted in a major terrorist attack. Indeed, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Iraq, from the Gaza Strip to Egypt to Sudan to Nigeria, Christians are being assaulted, intimidated, and murdered by militant Muslims.

Yet virtually never do Christians in any of these countries-perhaps with some occasional exceptions in India--attack Muslims. In the West, there have been no armed terrorist attacks on Muslims or the deliberate killing of Muslims. There does not exist a single group advocating such behavior.

Palestinian Authority has neither Desire nor Ability to Finalize Agreement with Israel / Moshe Elad

While the Palestinians debate whether to enter direct negotiations with Israel, we would do well to again ask the following question: Are their peace intentions genuine?

The State of Israel had a golden opportunity to scrutinize the frankness of their intentions to finalize a future peace agreement during Operation Fortress in 2002. Security forces uncovered the most guarded secrets of Arafat and his men in the PLO’s Ramallah archive, which contained thousands of security and political documents of unprecedented quality.


A Moderate Muslim Shows the Strength and Weaknesses of that Approach / Prof.B.Rubin

Here’s a really interesting op-ed piece on al-Jazeera by a moderate Muslim with some useful ideas. But it also shows the weaknesses of that standpoint.

And The World Pays / Ben Dror Yemini

Ben-Dror Yemini takes a look at the biggest welfare people on the planet: And The World Pays

According to world opinion, the Palestinians are the most wretched people in the world. The most oppressed people on earth. This is a national group that incorporates a significant part of the image of the victim. Numerous publications deal with this wretchedness, with the poverty, with the refugee status that has continued for decades. Here, too, the connection between the facts and the publicity is less than nothing.

Demonizing Israel and Pretending It Is Critisism / Prof.B.Rubin

This is getting to be a pretty common kind of story. The mayor of Frankfurt invites a Jewish intellectual whose family left Germany in 1932 to speak on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The problem is that this man, Alfred Grosser, is a ferocious critic of Israel.

Is Israel the Goliath of the Middle East / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

Part One

Aluf Benn, an Israeli journalist, explained how Israel's demonization and de- legitimation is being done by using the biblical story of David and Goliath.

In the past, wrote Benn, Israel was David and the Arabs were Goliath. Today, the Palestinians are described as David, "a small and brave nation fighting for its liberty with primitive bombs" against Israeli Goliath "equipped with F-16s and nuclear weapons."

Six Years Ago, Yasir Arafat Died: Today his Legacy still prevails: NO TO Peace, No To Compromise / Prof.B.Rubin

Six years ago, on November 11, 2004, Yasir Arafat died. On that occasion, former President Bill Clinton explained why he wouldn’t attend Arafat’s funeral: "I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring [Palestine] into being….” Not Israel, but Arafat did so.

Chapter 7, Part Two - The Ethnic - Religous Composition of the Population During the Mamluk Period, 1260 - 1516/ DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

The Population's Composition During The Mamluk Period (1260 – 1516):Elimination of the Christian Majority

Part Two


The population under the Mamluk occupation was reduced from 470,000 under the Crusaders occupation to about 120,000 (Chapter 6, Part One) under the Mamluk rule.

No Mamluk official records survived on the size and composition of the population. The major source of information comes from the first Ottoman census of 1525/6, 8 years after the fall of the Mamluk rule.

Israel- Maghreb Relations: Realities and Possibilities / Bruce Maddy - Weitzman

Israel’s relations with the three core Maghreb states--Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia--have been shaped by a combination of factors: the region’s French colonial legacy and distance from the historical cross-currents of Arab nationalism and from the Arab-Israeli conflict, geopolitical exigencies, the state-building enterprises within the three Maghreb entities and the competition between them, and the particular status of their respective Jewish communities.

An Open Letter to the "Jewish Voice for Peace" organization / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

The JVP is too busy to answer the many emails they get. The only way to make them listen to me is this.

About Jewish Voice for Peace (from their web site)

Through grassroots organizing, education, advocacy, and media, Jewish Voice for Peace works to achieve a lasting peace that recognizes the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.

Messages from Tehran: Answering Questions fron Iranianss / Prof.B.Rubin

I have been asked by some very brave Iranian bloggers to answer their questions, which they translate into Persian here and here and make available within Iran. I am told there is a good response from their readers.

Here are two of my responses.

Question: Why doesn't Israel and Israelis protest more about human rights violations in the Middle East, including Iran?

Why is the U.S. Government Rushing to give the PA More Aid / Prof.B.Rubin

The U.S. government is rushing an additional $150 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that it can have a balanced budget. Funny, the United States doesn't have a balanced budget and the same government doesn't think that's a problem.

A Different Palestinian Voice in Hebron / Jonathan D.Halevi

The city of Hebron is generally associated in media reports with the tense relations between Arabs and Jews, demonstrations, riots, struggle over the land and Intifada. On the Arab side, there are also different voices that advocate for Arab-Jewish co-existence in the City of the Patriarchs and are embedded with a willingness to adapt to the status-quo and to give the politicians the needed chance for settling the conflict in peaceful means.

Hisham Abu Varia - Israeli Soldier / Ray Cook

I was alerted to this YnetNews article by pro-Israel Bay Bloggers. The original article can be found here.

The soldier in question is a Muslim Arab Israeli.

What’s more, he comes from a very pro-Hizbullah, Arab town, Sakhnin. Where, evidently, Israel allows its citizens to demonstrate their support of the enemy.

Despite the obvious social repercussions of his actions, he was determined from an early age to serve his country.

Lt. Hisham abu Varia appears to understand very well that Israel is his country and he and other Arabs should strive to improve it and themselves.

As Virulent Antisemitism Grows, Jewish and Government Institutions Refuse to Name the Real Cause / Prof.B.Rubin

Its a time when antisemitism is at the highest point in the West and the world generally since 1945, the battle against it faces a terrible obstacle.

To a very large extent, the driving force of this hatred is revolutionary Islamism, whether it be in the form of attitudes promoted by many Muslim immigrants to the West, or from anti-Israel propaganda generated by Islamist groups and their (usually) leftist allies in the West (directly or indirectly), or from Iran or Arabic-language media in the Middle East.

Eye- Witeness - The Christian Pogrom in Bethlehem / Ray Cook

Yesterday I wrote in (mostly) praise of Peter Hitchen’s recent MailOnline article about his visit to Gaza and the West Bank.

I covered his Gaza experiences but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.

Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:

once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things

Eye Witness in Gaza / Ray Cook

I’m not a great fan of Peter Hitchens but he has provided what is probably the most balanced view of the realities of life in Gaza.

He actually went there and reported his findings in a MailOnline article a few days ago.

It is lunchtime in the world’s biggest prison camp, and I am enjoying a rather good caffe latte in an elegant beachfront cafe.

Is Iran's Regime Officially Running - or merely helping - A Pro-Nazi Site / Prof.B.Rubin

Is Iran's government sponsoring an Internet site that extols the German Nazis, their history and achievements, including the antisemitism that the current Iranian regime also supports? Or is it merely permitting one to operate in its highly censored communications' system?

Unmaned Aerial Vehicales in the Service of the Israeli Air Force / David Rodman

The Israel Air Force (IAF) has a rich history of employing unmanned aerial vehicles in battle with excellent results, and is set to expand significantly its drone operations in the coming decades, as the increasing sophistication of these vehicles makes them suitable for a rapidly expanding set of roles. In the future, the IAF's drone force could alter Israel's strategic landscape, reinforcing both its nuclear and conventional deterrence, as well as making it less dependent on American military assistance.

Briish Troops and UN Double Standards / Ray Cook

More than 220 Iraqi civilians were subjected to “systemic abuse”, including torture, by British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq, the High Court was told on Friday

Now replace ‘Iraqi’ with ‘Palestinian’ and ‘British’ with ‘Israeli’.

Just mull that over for a while and test your reactions.

If it had been Israelis and Palestinians the full weight of the UN would undoubtedly be behind a Goldstone-style investigation which would be convened within a couple of weeks with the findings of the committee already decided.

Still Crazy After All These Years / Ray Cook

This is a guest post by Daphne Anson who analyses the Palestinians’ and Israel’s enemies’ true intentions: the destruction of Israel. Rejectionism and dissembling peaceful intentions whilst always finding a reason to blame Israel and further demonise it have characterised the conflict. Ramping up the rhetoric and turning the screws on negotiations, demanding more and more and delivering nothing.

FBI Hate Crimes Report for 2009:Anti - Jewish Attacks 9 Times more than Anti - Muslim Ones / Prof.B.Rubin

If anyone tells you that the United States is a nest of Islamophobia and that's a huge problem that must be atoned for by all sorts of measures, just give them the official FBI hate crime statistics. The numbers are now out for 2009 and can be seen here.

The report and the site are very badly organized and the numbers vary somewhat in the different tables in a way hard to understand. But the proportions are consistent. The number of antisemitic attacks on Jews is almost nine times higher than those against Muslims.

Israel and the Arab World - Hope through Medicine / Ray Cook

The Elder of Ziyon website is constantly providing some fantastic stories from the Arab world.

Most of them are about negative relations, but in the last few days a story that gives us a small window, a little chink, into a world that could be, has been reported.

It’s all about an Arabian princess. But it appears it’s no fairy tale:

From JPost:

A member of the royal family of a Persian Gulf state is undergoing advanced medical treatment in Israel, sources close to Deputy Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Ayoub Kara (Likud) revealed Sunday.

Former High Ranking Official:Who Cares What is the Deal?Just Do It/ Prof.B.Rubin

Sometimes you have to wait until high-ranking officials leave office to find out how truly clueless they are. Such is the case with former National Security Advisor James Jones. Israel-Palestinian peace is easy to obtain, he explained in a lecture. Why? Because the Palestinians are willing to accept Israel gradually giving them all of the West Bank over the next ten years.

The Myth of the Siege of Gaza / Jonathan D.Halevi

Since 2007, Israel has maintained a legal maritime blockade around Gaza whose purpose is to keep rockets and other weapons out of the hands of Hamas, while letting food and other humanitarian aid in. Yet there have been a wide variety of officials and commentators who insist that Gaza is starving, setting the stage for the repeated efforts of "humanitarian" ships to break the Gaza blockade.

Saudi Arabia:the Succession Crisis is heating up after a successful Haj / Zvi Mazel

Last week saw the successful completion of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, the Haj. In stark contrast to previous years there were no disasters, no terror attacks and no political demonstrations to mar the feast. All was not well however. As the ceremonies were about to begin, a communiqué from the official news agency informed the people of Saudi Arabia that their king, Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, eldest living son of famed King Ibn Saud, was unwell. Allegedly suffering from a slipped disk, the aging monarch (he was born in 1924) was ordered to rest by his physicians.

Why Are the Palestinians Opposed to Ending the Occupation / Jonathan D.Halevi

The dual-headed Palestinian regime in Ramallah (Fatah) and in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) totally rejects Lieberman’s proposal to recruit the European Union to build power stations to supply electricity, desalination stations and a sewage treatment plant. This was to be part of a plan that would totally sever all connections with Israel, which would forego its naval supervision over merchandise entering the port of Gaza and would totally seal the border with the Gaza Strip. The arguments against exercising Palestinian independence resemble each other.

The Real Lessons of the Korea Crisis / Prof.B.Rubin

How The World Works Today

What is the United States and the world going to do about an act of aggression by North Korea on South Korea, the deliberate unprovoked firing of mortars at civilians? And what are the lessons of this situation for other world problems?

First, nobody is going to do anything real in response to this attack. Indeed, the South Koreans are lucky that they aren’t being investigated and condemned for something or other.

The Connection between UNRWA and the Palestinian Terror Organizations of Gaza Strip / Jonathan D.Halevi

In recent years a vast amount of information has accumulated regarding the gradual takeover of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the UN relief agency for the Palestinian refugees, by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. Awad al-Kik, a teacher at the UNRWA school, who served simultaneously as the head of the engineering and weapons manufacture unit of Islamic Jihad serves as a prominent example.[1]

International Law and Gaza:The Assault on Israel's Right to Self- Defense / DR.Abraham Bell

Since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Palestinian groups including Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Resistance Committees have launched thousands of rocket attacks at Israel. All the attacks have been on civilian targets, with no more than a handful of possible exceptions. The brunt of the Palestinian assault has been borne by the town of Sderot.

Palestinian Leader Abbas Seeks to Adopt Racist Policy / Jonathan D.Halevi

The Palestinian Authority is under heavy international pressure, mostly American, aimed at facilitating the transition from proximity talks to direct negotiations with Israel.