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Comments by Obama, Netanyahu, Mubarak, Abdullah and Abbas at start of peace talks

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C (Press Release)– Following is the text of comments made Wednesday evening by U.S.  President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II to inaugurate the new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everyone.  Tomorrow, after nearly two years, Israelis and Palestinians will resume direct talks in pursuit of a goal that we all share —- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Tonight, I’m pleased to welcome to the White House key partners in this effort, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the representative of our Quartet partners, former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Your Majesty King Abdullah, and President Mubarak —- we are but five men.  Our dinner this evening will be a small gathering around a single table.  Yet when we come together, we will not be alone.  We’ll be joined by the generations —- those who have gone before and those who will follow.

Each of you are the heirs of peacemakers who dared greatly -— Begin and Sadat, Rabin and King Hussein -— statesmen who saw the world as it was but also imagined the world as it should be. It is the shoulders of our predecessors upon which we stand.  It is their work that we carry on.  Now, like each of them, we must ask, do we have the wisdom and the courage to walk the path of peace?   

All of us are leaders of our people, who, no matter the language they speak or the faith they practice, all basically seek the same things:  to live in security, free from fear; to live in dignity, free from want; to provide for their families and to realize a better tomorrow.  Tonight, they look to us, and each of us must decide, will we work diligently to fulfill their aspirations?

And though each of us holds a title of honor —- President, Prime Minister, King —- we are bound by the one title we share. We are fathers, blessed with sons and daughters.  So we must ask ourselves what kind of world do we want to bequeath to our children and our grandchildren.

Tonight, and in the days and months ahead, these are the questions that we must answer.  And this is a fitting moment to do so. 

For Muslims, this is Ramadan.  For Jews, this is Elul.  It is rare for those two months to coincide.  But this year, tonight, they do.  Different faiths, different rituals, but a shared period of devotion —- and contemplation.  A time to reflect on right and wrong; a time to ponder one’s place in the world; a time when the people of two great religions remind the world of a truth that is both simple and profound, that each of us, all of us, in our hearts and in our lives, are capable of great and lasting change.

In this spirit, I welcome my partners.  And I invite each to say a few words before we begin our meal, beginning with President Mubarak, on to His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.

President Mubarak.

PRESIDENT MUBARAK:  (As prepared for delivery.)  I am pleased to participate with you today in relaunching direct peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.  Like you, and the millions of Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs and the rest of the world, I look forward that these negotiations be final and decisive, and that they lead to a peace agreement within one year.

Our meet today would not have taken place without the considerable effort exerted by the American administration under the leadership of President Obama.  I pay tribute to you, Mr. President, for your personal, serious commit and for your determination to work for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine since the early days of your presidency.  I appreciate your perseverance throughout the past period to overcome the difficulties facing the relaunching of the negotiations.

(Continued as translated.)  I consider this invitation a manifestation of your commitment and a significant message that the United States will shepherd these negotiations seriously and at the highest level.

No one realizes the value of peace more than those who have known wars and their havoc.  It was my destiny to witness over many events in our region during the years of war and peace.  I have gone through wars and hostilities, and have participated in the quest for peace since the first day of my administration.  I have never spared an effort to push it forward, and I still look forward to its success and completion.

The efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis encountered many difficulties since the Madrid Conference in October 1999, and progress and regression, breakthroughs and setbacks, but the occupation of the Palestinian Territory remains an independent — an independent Palestinian state is yet — remains a dream in the conscious of the Palestinian people. 

There is no doubt that this situation should raise great frustration and anger among our people, for it is no longer acceptable or conceivable on the verge of the second decade of the third millennium that we fail to achieve just and true peace — peace that would put an end to the century of conflict, fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, lift the occupation, allow for the establishment of normal relations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

It is true that reaching a just and comprehensive peace treaty between both sides has been an elusive hope for almost two decades.  Yet the accumulated experience of both parties, the extended rounds of negotiations, and the previous understandings, particularly during the Clinton parameters of 2000, and subsequent understandings of Taba and with the previous Israeli government, all contributed in setting the outline of the final settlement.

This outline has become well known to the international community and to both peoples — the Palestinian and Israeli people.  Hence, it is expected that the current negotiations will not start from scratch or in void.  No doubt, the position of the international community, as is stated in the consecutive statements of the Quartet, in particular, in its latest August 20th statement, paid due respect to relevant international resolutions and supported the outline of final settlements using different formulation without prejudice to the outcome of negotiations.

It has stressed that the aim of the soon-to-start direct negotiation is to reach a peaceful settlement that would end the Israeli occupation which began in 1967, allowing for the independent and sovereign state of Palestine to emerge and live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.

I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu many times since he took office last year.  In our meetings, I listened to assertions on his willingness to achieve peace with the Palestinians, and for history to record his name for such an achievement.  I say to him today that I look forward to achieving those assertions in reality, and his success in achieving the long-awaited peace, which I know the people of Israel yearn for, just like all other people in the region. 

Reaching just peace with the Palestinians will require from Israel taking important and decisive decisions — decisions that are undoubtedly difficult yet they will be necessary to achieve peace and stability, and in a different context than the one that prevailed before. 

Settlement activities on the Palestinian Territory are contrary to international law.  They will not create rights for Israel, nor are they going to achieve peace or security for Israel.  It is, therefore, a priority to completely freeze all these activities until the entire negotiation process comes to a successful end.

I say to the Israelis, seize the current opportunity.  Do not let it slip through your fingers.  Make comprehensive peace your goal.  Extend your hand to meet the hand already extended in the Arab Peace Initiative. 

I say to President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt will continue its faithful support to the patient Palestinian people and their just cause.  We will continue our concerted efforts to help fulfill the aspirations of your people and retrieve their legitimate rights.  We will stand by you until the independent state of Palestine on the land occupied since 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.  We will also continue our efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation for the sake of the Palestinian national interest.

Once again, I’d like to express my thanks to President Obama, and I renew Egypt’s commitment to continue exerting all efforts, sharing honest advice and a commitment to the principles on which Arab and regional policy rests upon.

Please accept my appreciation, and peace be upon you. (Applause.) 

HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH:  (As translated.)  In the name of God most merciful, most compassionate, President Obama, peace be upon you. 

(In English.)  For decades, a Palestinian-Israeli settlement has eluded us.  Millions of men, women and children have suffered.  Too many people have lost faith in our ability to bring them the peace they want.  Radicals and terrorists have exploited frustrations to feed hatred and ignite wars.  The whole world has been dragged into regional conflicts that cannot be addressed effectively until Arabs and Israelis find peace.

This past record drives the importance of our efforts today. There are those on both sides who want us to fail, who will do everything in their power to disrupt our efforts today — because when the Palestinians and Israelis find peace, when young men and women can look to a future of promise and opportunity, radicals and extremists lose their most potent appeal.  This is why we must prevail.  For our failure would be their success in sinking the region into more instability and wars that will cause further suffering in our region and beyond.

President Obama, we value your commitment to the cause of peace in our region.  We count on your continued engagement to help the parties move forward.  You have said that Middle East peace is in the national security interest of your country.  And we believe it is.  And it is also a strategic European interest, and it is a necessary requirement for global security and stability.  Peace is also a right for every citizen in our region. 

A Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of two states living side by side is a precondition for security and stability of all countries of the Middle East, with a regional peace that will lead to normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states that have endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative.  That would be — well, that would also be an essential step towards neutralizing forces of evil and war that threaten all peoples.

Mr. President, we need your support as a mediator, honest broker, and a partner, as the parties move along the hard but inevitable path of settlements.

Your Excellencies, all eyes are upon us.  The direct negotiations that will start tomorrow must show results — and sooner rather than later.  Time is not on our side.  That is why we must spare no effort in addressing all final status issues with a view to reaching the two-state solution, the only solution that can create a future worthy of our great region — a future of peace in which fathers and mothers can raise their children without fear, young people can look forward to lives of achievement and hope, and 300 million people can cooperate for mutual benefit.

For too long, too many people of the region have been denied their most basic of human rights:  the right to live in peace and security; respected in their human dignity; enjoying freedom and opportunity.  If hopes are disappointed again, the price of failure will be too high for all.

Our peoples want us to rise to their expectations.  And we can do so if we approach these negotiations with goodwill, sincerity and courage.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, Excellencies, Shalom Aleichem.  Shalom Alkulanu.  Peace unto us all.

I’m very pleased to be here today to begin our common effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I want to thank you, President Obama, for your tireless efforts to renew this quest for peace.  I want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Mitchell, the many members of the Obama administration, and Tony Blair, who’ve all worked so hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together here today.

I also want to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their dedicated and meaningful support to promote peace, security, and stability throughout our region.  I deeply appreciate your presence here today.

I began with a Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.”  Our goal is shalom.  Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  We don’t seek a brief interlude between two wars.  We don’t seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror.  We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all.  We seek a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation, and the next.

This is the peace my people fervently want.  This is the peace all our peoples fervently aspire to.  This is the peace they deserve.

Now, a lasting peace is a peace between peoples — between Israelis and Palestinians.  We must learn to live together, to live next to one another and with one another.  But every peace begins with leaders.

President Abbas, you are my partner in peace.  And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning. The Jewish people are not strangers in our ancestral homeland, the land of our forefathers.  But we recognize that another people shares this land with us. 

I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both our peoples to live in peace and security and in dignity.  I’ve been making the case for Israel all of my life.  But I didn’t come here today to make an argument.  I came here today to make peace.  I didn’t come here today to play a blame game where even the winners lose.  Everybody loses if there’s no peace.  I came here to achieve a peace that will bring a lasting benefit to us all.  

I didn’t come here to find excuses or to make them.  I came here to find solutions.  I know the history of our conflict and the sacrifices that have been made.  I know the grief that has afflicted so many families who have lost their dearest loved ones.  Only yesterday four Israelis, including a pregnant women  — a pregnant woman — and another woman, a mother of six children, were brutally murdered by savage terrorists.  And two hours ago, there was another terror attack.  And thank God no one died.  I will not let the terrorists block our path to peace, but as these events underscore once again, that peace must be anchored in security. 

I’m prepared to walk down the path of peace, because I know what peace would mean for our children and for our grandchildren. I know it would herald a new beginning that could unleash unprecedented opportunities for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the peoples — all the peoples — of our region, and well beyond our region.  I think it would affect the world. 

I see what a period of calm has created in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, of Janin, throughout the West Bank, a great economic boom.  And real peace can turn this boom into a permanent era of progress and hope.

If we work together, we can take advantage of the great benefits afforded by our unique place under the sun.  We’re the crossroads of three continents, at the crossroads of history, and the crossroads of the future.  Our geography, our history, our culture, our climate, the talents of our people can be unleashed to create extraordinary opportunities in tourism, in trade, in industry, in energy, in water, in so many areas. 

But peace must also be defended against its enemies.  We want the skyline of the West Bank to be dominated by apartment towers — not missiles.  We want the roads of the West Bank to flow with commerce — not terrorists.

And this is not a theoretic request for our people.  We left Lebanon, and we got terror.  We left Gaza, and we got terror once again.  We want to ensure that territory we’ll concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave armed at the heart of Israel — and may I add, also aimed at every one of us sitting on this stage.

This is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us.  And there will be many challenges, both great and small.  Let us not get bogged down by every difference between us.  Let us direct our courage, our thinking, and our decisions at those historic decisions that lie ahead 

Now, there are many skeptics.  One thing there’s no shortage of, Mr. President, are skeptics.  This is something that you’re so familiar with, that all of us in a position of leadership are familiar with.  There are many skeptics.  I suppose there are many reasons for skepticism.  But I have no doubt that peace is possible. 

President Abbas, we cannot erase the past, but it is within our power to change the future.  Thousands of years ago, on these very hills where Israelis and Palestinians live today, the Jewish prophet Isaiah and the other prophets of my people envisaged a future of lasting peace for all mankind.  Let today be an auspicious step in our joint effort to realize that ancient vision for a better future.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT ABBAS:  (As translated.)  His Excellency President Barack Obama, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah II, His Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Tony Blair, ladies and gentlemen. 

I would like to start by thanking President Obama for his invitation to host us here today to relaunch the permanent status negotiations to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement covering all the permanent status issues within a year in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions. 

As we move towards the relaunch of these negotiations tomorrow, we recognize the difficulties, challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.  Yet we assure you, in the name of the PLO, that we will draw on years of experience in negotiations and benefit from the lessons learned to make these negotiations successful.

We also reiterate our commitment to carry out all our obligations, and we call on the Israelis to carry out their obligations, including a freeze on settlements activities, which is not setting a precondition but a call to implement an agreed obligation and to end all the closure and blockade, preventing freedom of movement, including the (inaudible) siege.

We will spare no effort and will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure that these new negotiations achieve their goals and objectives in dealing with all of the issues:  Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, border security, water, as well as the release of all our prisoners — in order to achieve peace. The people of our area are looking for peace that achieves freedom, independence, and justice to the Palestinian people in their country and in their homeland and in the diaspora — our people who have endured decades of longstanding suffering.

We want a peace that will correct the historical injustice caused by the (inaudible) of 1948, and one that brings security to our people and the Israeli people.  And we want peace that will give us both and the people of the region a new era where we enjoy just peace, stability, and prosperity. 

Our determination stems to a great extent from your willpower, Mr. President, and your firm and sweeping drive with which you engulfed the entire world from the day you took office to set the parties on the path for peace — and also this same spirit, exhibited by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator George Mitchell and his team.  The presence of His Excellency President Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah is another telling indication of their substantial and effective commitment overall, where Egypt and Jordan have been playing a supportive role for advancing the peace process.  Their effective role is further demonstrated by the Arab Peace Initiative, which was fully endorsed by all of the Arab states, and the Islamic countries as well.

This initiative served a genuine and sincere opportunity to achieve a just and comprehensive peace on all tracks in our region, including the Syrian-Israeli track and the Lebanese-Israeli track, and provided a sincere opportunity to make peace.

The presence here today of the envoy of the Quartet, Mr. Tony Blair, is a most telling signal, especially since he has been personally involved in the Palestinian Authority for many years and in the efforts for state building in Palestine.

Excellencies, the time has come for us to make peace and it is time to end the occupation that started in 1967, and for the Palestinian people to get freedom, justice, and independence.  It is time that a independent Palestinian state be established with sovereignty side by side with the state of Israel.  It is time to put an end to the struggle in the Middle East. 

The Palestinian people who insist on the rights and freedom and independence are in most need for justice, security, and peace, because they are the victim, the ones that were harmed the most from this violence.  And it is sending message to our neighbors, the Israelis, and to the world that they are also careful about supporting the opportunities for the success of these negotiations and the just and lasting peace as soon as possible.

With this spirit, we will work to make these negotiations succeed.  And with this spirit, we are — trust that we are capable to achieve our historical, difficult mission — making peace in the land of peace.

Mr. Netanyahu, what happened yesterday and what is happening today is also condemned.  We do not want at all that any blood be shed, one drop of blood, on the part of the — from the Israelis or the Palestinians.  We want people in the two countries to lead a normal life.  We want them to live as neighbors and partners forever.  Let us sign an agreement, a final agreement, for peace, and put an end to a very long period of struggle forever.  

And peace be upon you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to thank all the leaders for their thoughtful statements.  I want to thank the delegations that are represented here because they are the ones who oftentimes are doing a lot of the work.  This is just the beginning.  We have a long road ahead, but I appreciate very much the leaders who are represented here for giving us such an excellent start.  

And I particularly want to commend Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their presence here.  This is not easy.  Both of them have constituencies with legitimate claims, legitimate concerns, and a lot of history between them.  For them to be here, to be willing to take this first step — the most difficult step — is a testament to their courage and their integrity and I think their vision for the future. 

And so I am hopeful — cautiously hopeful, but hopeful — that we can achieve the goal that all four of these leaders articulated. 

Thank you very much, everybody.

*
Preceding distributed by the White House

The proposed Muslim community center may be fanatics’ Trojan horse

September 1, 2010 2 comments

By Isaac Yetiv, Ph.D

Isaac Yetiv

LA JOLLA, California–   My “Open Letter to Fareed Zakaria” has elicited many pertinent comments and questions. Rather than respond individually, I thought it better to tackle them in the aggregate and to publish this comprehensive response.
 
The “Mosque Affair” has assumed national, even international, proportions. Since my “open letter,” more information has emerged:
 
On the promoter, Imam Rauf : two more damning videotapes were broadcast, in which he was seen, saying clearly:

1) that America has caused the death of 500,000 (!) Iraqi children because of the sanctions against Iraq (this vile accusation was strongly rejected, when made, by no other than President Clinton, who blamed Saddam for any death, not the US sanctions.)

2) that “America has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al-Qaeda has non-Muslim blood on its hands.” And this, after the 3000 Americans killed on 9/11. A chutzpah of the highest degree by someone who is still touted by the political elites as a “moderate” Muslim who was dispatched to the Middle-East as ambassador of the United States to ” improve our image in the Muslim world.”

(We just heard that his wife, Daisy Khan, has also been sent to the Middle-East for the same mission, thus doubling the taxpayer’s bill to tens of thousands of dollars, ostensibly to explain how good America is, but certainly to fundraise for the Mosque.)
 
In the Middle-East, the cry for “the right of all Muslims to build mosques anywhere…and to pray to Allah” did not come from kings or presidents but from Mahmoud El-Zahar, the co-founder and leader of Hamas, who also  extolled the virtues of shari’a which he would like to see observed among US Muslims,and later, among non-Muslims in the U.S. and in the world.
 
A Saudi cleric, Mohammad El-Arifi, took a more violent approach (on Egyptian TV on June 19) :” Our devotion to Jihad, he said, and our desire to shed blood, smash skulls, sever limbs, for the sake of Allah, is our honor as true believers. The Koran says that
infidels should convert, pay jizya (poll tax), or be killed. If we had implemented this, we would not be humiliated as we are now.”

True, this is an extreme view, and the majority of Muslims don’t agree with it , but that majority is missing in action, absent from the scene, and as the French say, the absent are always wrong  (Les absents ont tojour tort.) The extremists are the only
game in town, and the conflict is with them, not with “Islam as a religion,” not with “the first amendment” or “freedom of religion.”

El-Arifi, too, wants sharia to become the law everywhere. His wishes have been partly granted : in Europe, there are many enclaves of sharia , independent from the law of the land , to judge Muslims. In Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden with a quarter of the population Muslim,  Sharia is already the law in the “autonomous areas.”

In the United States, while we are not yet there, there has been at least one judge who agreed to use “their law” and acquitted the perpetrator of what is a crime under our laws (he was overturned later.) And there are in the US many banks and financial institutions which are “sharia-compliant” where a committee of sheikhs
decides on economic activities according to Islamic law. AIG, now owned by the US taxpayer, is among the most important of them.The Center for Security Policy found that out of 100 mosques in the US, 80 use Sharia in one way or another.
 
It was recently “discovered” that the State Department has spent six million dollars “restoring” mosques in Pakistan and…China, and elsewhere , thus violating   the separation of “mosque” and state (how many churches have we restored with taxpayers’ money? ) while a church that was destroyed in 9/11 was not allowed to rebuild for 9 years, nor were the towers themselves been rebuilt, nor was a monument erected in memory of the victims. How can we explain the fervent calls from the emasculated politicians to put up a skyscraper of a mosque with unknown sources of funding?

No wonder the disconnect of those political elites from the people : A recent poll showed 68 % of the elits for the erection of the mosque and 77 % (!) of the people against it.
 
A  phenomenon of immense importance , that would change the face of the jihadi war against us and our ways and means to fight it, has been noticed lately: the change in the leadership in Al-Qaeda , to more “local” chiefs, including four US citizens and one resident, “working from places like Yemen, Somalia (the Afghanistans of tomorrow),and from among us, here, in the U.S.of A.

Al-Awlaki, who had connections with the last three jihadi attacks, is the most known, having been Imam in a mosque in Virginia that spewed two of the nineteen 9/11 highjackers. These new leaders have lived here, are very familiar with the laws and customs,and they master the English language. Awlaki’s recorded sermons are read in the mosques (protected free speech). He said: “Jihad is becoming as American as apple-pie. Anti-American terror will come from within…even against the military.” Are the “authorities” listening?

We better believe him, and prepare accordingly, as we better believe Hamas and Ahmadinejad when they promise to destroy Israel.
 
Finally, a case of a very suspicious “entrepreneurship” in the funding of the projected mosque whose provenance has been kept top-secret, is now unfolding. If we believe recent reports, a certain El-Gamal (a modest waiter turned into a mogul) has bought the real estate for the mosque for 5 million dollars and now was offered 20 millions (some say 39, 45) by a buyer named Elzanaty.

It is not clear whom they represent. It is still not known if this suspicious commerce is like any oriental bazaar dealing or a sinister plot to launder money given by mysterious and unfriendly donors.These transactions should be investigated by the proper authorities. If that is not enough, we learned that they will enjoy a “tax-exempt debt,” meaning the American taxpayer will subsidize the building of the mosque. Isn’t that mind-boggling?
 
One would think that this litany of bad news would generate a strong reaction from the governments involved, and a plan of action, but they, too, are missing in action. Worse, they encourage the subversion:
                                                                                                                                                                                            Obama first declared to a Muslim audience in the White House that the Muslims have the right to practice their religion and build a mosque…(as if any one person opposed that). The next day, he backed down, expressing doubt about the wisdom of doing it at ground zero. Then, he said he had no regrets (?), and finally, no more comments. This is in keeping with his  “on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand” style, his indecision between his pro-Islamic stand and what is politically expedient before the elections. No wonder he has alienated both sides: the Muslim support went down 7 points, and 24 % of the population believe he is a Muslim.
 
Nancy Pelosi surpassed herself in stupidity and farcical behavior: she wants to investigate the funding…not of the Mosque, but of ads put up by the opponents. No less ridicule were the comments from some liberals like ” Would you have objected to the building of a church or a synagogue? (oblivious to the fact that the 19 hijackers were all Muslims, not Christian or Jewish.) Or the asinine ubiquitous remark that “we are not at war with Islam,” or “the jihadis are not a state,” or “remember the crusades.”

As for Bloomberg and Co, I have said enough in my “Open Letter.”
 
A few of my correspondents asked me if I believed that a mosque of that magnitude and cost should not be built on ground zero but elsewhere, or should not be built at all. I think I made it clear in my “Open Letter” that, while it is outrageous and despicable
to erect the Islamic shrine on the ruins of ground zero, we should not forget the “security risk” by building it elsewhere.

If this project succeeds, we should not be surprised to see more skyscraper mosques in other US cities. There is an unending supply of oil money and an unending supply of volunteer jihadists to staff them with Imams and preachers and recruiters and indoctrinators. I will not be surprised to see in the Manhattan mosque a memorial plaque for the 19 hijackers to be inaugurated on a 9/11, the day of their “martyrdom.” This ,too, will be protected free speech. The same way they used our airplanes in 9/11, they will use our laws to do more harm. And our authorities, and our money, will help them in their sinister endeavors.
 
What to do? First, there is no “right” that is not limited by another superior right. And “life protection” is paramount. When the “authorities that be” will sober up and start heeding the advice of the majority of their folks, they can enact some “zoning laws for security reasons” and limit the size and the location of any house of worship of any religion.

Anyone can pray to his-her god alone, in a small chamber, in the desert… Jonah prayed from the belly of a fish. God understands all languages and doesn’t need palaces (in fact, Islam abhors that.) Small places are easier to watch and monitor,and spy upon.
 
A few steps are necessary: First the “authorities” should challenge those who call themselves “moderate Muslims” to actively separate themselves from the “radical fundamentalists” of the Wahabi-Salafi doctrines. Tawfik Hamid proposed a “test of moderation” for the Muslim leaders. They should declare, loudly and publicly, verbally or in their websites, that they strongly condemn the Redda doctrine
that allows the radicals to kill anyone who converts to another religion, the violence against women, the Sharia teaching to use jihad to dominate the world , and other practices. I believe it is within the political reach of the American government to impress upon the  leaders of the Islamic world that they should demand from their religious leaders, whose salaries they pay, to issue clear fatwas prohibiting suicide which is an unforgivable sin in Islam  (Dhumb la yughfar Lah), and the killing of innocent women and chilldren which is also strictly forbidden in the Koran.
 
There have been a few encouraging interventions from courageous Muslim leaders, as I reported before. Here is another pronouncement recently published: The General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV, Abdul Rahman El Rashid, expressed his fear that “the Mosque in Manhattan will be turned into an arena for promotion of hatred, and a symbol for those who committed the crime [of 9/11].” Not different from what
I presented here and in my open letter. That is the truth. We ignore it at our peril.

*
Yetiv, a native of Tunisia, immigrated to Israel, where he served on the Haifa city council, and later came to La Jola where he writes and lectures on the Middle East.

Iran: the elephant in Iraq’s living room

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –President Obama’s speech on the end of combat operations in Iraq was a strange muddle of domestic policy, blaming our recession on borrowing for the war (although according to the Congressional Budget Office, seven years of the Iraq war cost less than one year of the Obama Administration’s stimulus package) and equating the end of combat operations with providing the resources to turn our attention to economic recovery (as if we couldn’t attend to the economy until we “finished” the war, which isn’t finished in any event).
 
But the real wonder is how it was possible for the President of the United States to give a whole speech about Iraq without mentioning Iran. While the United States is “turning the page” and leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, the Iranians are heavily invested in the violence that continues to plague the country. While the President lauds the Iraqis for their courage and their choice to engage in politics (well deserved praise), the shooting war continues, funded and abetted by Iran. President Obama acknowledged:

“Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders.”

The Iraqis might have no interest in “endless destruction,” but Iran has no interest in an independent, democratic, pro-Western Iraq. The Iraqis may be able to “resolve their differences and police their streets,” but with Iran continuing to fund unreconciled militias, what hope has the Iraqi police/military of getting ahead of the mullahs? “Only Iraqis can build a democracy,” but can they build it under military attack from their neighbor Iran?
 
The President referred to “extremists,” but those extremists have a patron. Iran. And if Iran is the elephant in Iraq, it is the elephant in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and surrounding Israel as well.
 
The issue of American arms for a Lebanese armed force that shares with Iran’s agent Hezbollah has been discussed in prior JINSA Reports. The recent announcement of a Syria-Hezbollah military cooperation agreement, alongside the increased Syrian role in the Lebanese body politic, brings Iran right into Lebanon, north of Israel. 
 
Iran is the elephant in the Israel-Palestinian “peace” talks. Iran provides funds and ideological support to Hamas, while Hamas and Fatah are engaged in a civil war that has moved from Gaza (where Fatah supporters have been pushed underground by brutal attacks) to the West Bank, where Hamas supporters are increasingly visible – including in yesterday’s murder of four Israelis. It should be impossible for the Administration to propose a “two state solution” while the Hamas government wages war on both Israel and Fatah.
 
In each case, violence is treated as disembodied and unsupported. But in fact, in each case, trying to deal only with the closest manifestation of the violence – Israel’s Security Fence; the Iraqi army and police trying to disband militias; UNIFIL in Lebanon; the Israel-Egypt embargo of Gaza; or missile defenses against Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran – ignores the relative ease with which Iran is able to resupply and rearm its protégés.
 
Without an understanding of where the elephant is, and how to tame it or remove it, what success the United States has had in Iraq is likely to be short-lived. That failure will make a mockery of the sacrifices of both Americans and Iraqis in pursuit of consensual government for the Iraqi people.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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Lizards, like canaries in a coal mine, may be early warning systems for ecological change

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release)― Lizards are an important indicator species for understanding the condition of specific ecosystems. Their body weight is a crucial index for evaluating species health, but lizards are seldom weighed, perhaps due in part to the recurring problem of spontaneous tail loss when lizards are in stress.

Now ecological researchers have a better way of evaluating these lizards. Dr. Shai Meiri of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology has developed an improved tool for translating lizard body lengths to weights. Dr. Meiri’s new equations calculate this valuable morphological feature to estimate the weight of a lizard species in a variety of different ecosystems.

“Body shape and body size are hugely important for the understanding of multiple ecological phenomena, but there is a need for a common metric to compare a multitude of different species,” he says.

Building a lizard data bank

In a study published recently in the Journal of Zoology, Dr. Meiri evaluated hundreds of lizard species: long-bodied, legless species as well as stout, long-legged species; some that sit and wait for prey, others that are active foragers. Based on empirical evidence, such as well-established behavioral traits, he built a statistical model that could predict weights of lizards in a reliable, standardized manner, for use in the field or at the lab.  

For the study, Dr. Meiri looked at a large sample of lizards –– 900 species in 28 different families –– and generated a dataset of lizard weights, using this dataset to develop formulae that derive body weights from the most commonly used size index for lizards (the length of the head and body, or “snout–vent length”). He then applied a species-level evolutionary hypothesis to examine the ecological factors that affect variation in weight–length relationships between different species.

Predicting post-disaster damage to the environment

How can this standardized metric protect our environment? “It can help answer how lizard species may react if there were major shifts in the availability of food due to climactic changes,” he says.

In the future, zoologists will be able to use Dr. Meiri’s method to better predict which communities of animals will shrink, grow or adapt to changing conditions, even after massive environmental disasters like the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill. 

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Preceding provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Obama: U.S. will ‘push back’ against Hamas terrorists

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, DC. (Press Release)– Following is a transcript of comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Ministr Binyamin Netanyahu following their meting on Wednesday, September 1,  at the White House.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, everybody.  Prime Minister Netanyahu and I just had a very productive discussion about our shared efforts to advance the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and throughout the Middle East.  I’m going to have more to say about today’s meetings not only with Prime Minister Netanyahu but with the other participants of the talks here in the Rose Garden later this afternoon.  But I did want to specifically take some time out to speak to the people of Israel and to the region about the senseless slaughter that took place near Hebron yesterday.

There are going to be extremists and rejectionists who, rather than seeking peace, are going to be seeking destruction.  And the tragedy that we saw yesterday where people were gunned down on the street by terrorists who are purposely trying to undermine these talks is an example of what we’re up against.  But I want everybody to be very clear:  The United States is going to be unwavering in its support of Israel’s security and we are going to push back against these kinds of terrorist activities.

And so the message should go out to Hamas and everybody else who is taking credit for these heinous crimes that this is not going to stop us from not only ensuring a secure Israel but also securing a longer-lasting peace in which people throughout the region can take a different course.

I also want to express the deepest condolences of the American people to the families of those who were gunned down.  And I want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu, during a very difficult time for his country, still being so committed to the cause of peace that he is here with us today.

Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, thank you, Mr. President, for expressing what I think is the sentiment of decent people everywhere, in the face of this savagery and brutality. 

Four innocent people were gunned down and seven new orphans were added, by people who have no respect for human life and trample human rights into the dust and butcher everything that they oppose.

I think that the President’s statement is an expression of our desire to fight against this terror.  And the talks that we had, which were, indeed, open, productive, serious in the quest for peace, also centered around the need to have security arrangements that are able to roll back this kind of terror and other threats to Israel’s security.  That is a fundamental element, an important foundation, of the peace that we seek and work for.

And I appreciate, Mr. President, your efforts to advance this peace for us and for our neighbors, for our region, and I think we can say, for the world.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you. 

And let me just say that I will be meeting with President Abbas this afternoon.  He condemned this outrageous attack, as well.  I have the utmost confidence in him and his belief in a two-state solution in which the people of Israel and the Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security.  And so I am also grateful to him for his presence here today.

We’ve got a lot of work to do.  There are going to be those who are going to do everything they can to undermine these talks, but we are going to remain stalwart. 

And so, to Prime Minister Netanyahu and to Prime Minister — and to President Abbas, as well as to President Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan, I am very grateful for their participation.  I will have a longer discussion about that this afternoon after my bilateral meetings. 

Thank you. 

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Preceding provided by the White House

Strategic and tactical questions abound at start of peace talks

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Will they or won’t they?

Who is “they?”

There are several possibilities.

The couple killed last night were well embedded in the religious settler community. Six kids, another one on the way, and related to one of the leading activists in the settler movement.

While the crazies are trying to find olive trees to cut down, cars to burn, and a random Arab to kill, the moderates among the settlers are threatening their standard retaliation for a terrorist attack: Build. They have declared an immediate end to the construction freeze, rather than wait until its formal expiration on September 24th. They are promising to move the bulldozers and other stuff throughout the West Bank beginning tomorrow.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister has asserted that Israel is a land of law, and that there will be no construction without the government’s approval.

We’ll see.

That’s the first “will they or won’t they?” In this case, “they” is either the settlers or the Prime Minister, or the minister who controls the people who can actually stop the construction that the settlers begin. Some of those personnel are under the control of the Defense Minister, who is not likely to want that construction to go forward now. Others answer to the Minister of Housing and Construction, who is likely to want it to go forward.

Another “they” are the Palestinians. Will they deliver with their promise to stop the talks if construction begins? Is this going to happen a day after four Israelis have been killed in a demonstrated weakness of the security forces which the Palestinians are counting on to convince the Israelis and Americans that they are serious enough about governing to demand concessions?

There are two principal groups of Palestinians: Fatah behind the West Bank regime of Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas. Hamas people are passing out sweets in celebration of their successful killing of four Israeli civilians, and hinting at the onset of a civil war to take control of the West Bank. Will they do it, and enjoy the success that they had in Gaza? Will the forces of Fatah resist them? Will the Israelis help Fatah stay in power?
Fatah’s security people are arresting Hamas activists in the West Bank. If Israel wants to hurt Hamas on account of the killing in the West Bank, there are appropriate targets in Gaza as well as the West Bank.

That’s another “Will they or won’t they?” Such an act by Israel, even if it occurs as part of an operation against Hamas, will kill enough Palestinians to give the Fatah regime a reason for ending the talks.

Another “Will they or won’t they?” concerns the division of Jerusalem.

Defense Minister and Labor Party head Ehud Barak has said that the end game will include the transfer of Arab neighborhoods to Palestine, and some kind of joint sovereignty over the Old City. The Prime Minister has reminded him that it is government policy not to divide Jerusalem. We’ve heard the comments “New,” “Extreme,” and “What does that mean?” for the idea of dividing sovereignty over the Old City.

The Defense Minister does not have a firm hand on the Labor Party. There might not be much left of the Labor Party, but what still exists may proceed with their threatened rebellion if Barak does not stand firm for major concessions to the Palestinians. The concessions the anti-Barak Laborites desire are more generous than those wanted by the Prime Minister, and much more generous than those likely to be accepted by Knesset Members of the Prime Minister’s party.

We get hints that the Americans will play tough if the Israelis do not offer enough to the Palestinians. No one has yet commented on what the Americans are likely to do if the Palestinians walk out before the ceremony setting the talks in motion, or soon after, in protest about new construction in the West Bank.

How tough might the Americans be? Heavily tilted leftists among the commentators have spoken of maneuvers to change the composition of the Israeli government so that it will be more in line with what the Americans favor by way of Israeli concessions.

Sounds like what the CIA did in Chile during the Nixon administration.

Will the Americans dare do that against Israel? Probably not when there are more right wing influential American Jews than there were left-wing supporters of Chile in positions of power in the United States during the Nixon administration.

Late news is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has told Hillary Clinton that Israel will not renew the freeze on construction in the West Bank.

That may take one of the “will they or won’t they?” off the table. The settlers can thank Hamas for the gesture. However, those in the know are asking if the Prime Minister will approve building throughout the West Bank, or only in the major settlements. Assuming he has the capacity to stop the settlers from building wherever they want.

So many questions. So few answers.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Netanyahu: Israel will punish those responsible for killing four Israelis

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following is a transcript of comments made on Tuesday, August 31, by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State prior to their formal meeting together in advance of the new Mideast Peace Talks:

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We witnessed today a savage murder of four innocent Israelis. There are seven new orphans that were added to the circle of grief in Israel. We will not let the blood of Israeli civilians go unpunished. We will find the murderers. We will punish their dispatchers. We will not let terror decide where Israelis live or the configuration of our final borders. These and other issues will be determined in the negotiations for peace that we’re conducting, and in these negotiations I will set clearly the security needs that are required precisely to address this kind of terror; and I hope to have the opportunity to go into greater detail in my conversations with President Obama tomorrow and with you, Secretary Clinton, today, and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians as well. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me express our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones. This kind of savage brutality has no place in any country, under any circumstances. The forces of terror and destruction cannot be allowed to continue. It is one of the reasons why the prime minister is here today: to engage in direct negotiations with those Palestinians who themselves have rejected a path of violence in favor of a path of peace. We have to not only stand against the kind of horrific murders we saw today on behalf of the four who were lost and, as the prime minister said, the seven orphans who have been brutally deprived of their parents, but on behalf of all people — Israelis, Palestinians, everyone who knows that there is no answer when violence begets violence. And I thank the prime minister for his leadership in seeking a different future for the children of Israel. And we pledge to do all we can, always, to protect and defend the State of Israel and to provide security to the Israeli people. That is one of the paramount objectives that Israel has that the United States supports in these negotiations.

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Preceding provided by the U.S. State Department