The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Archive for March, 2012


Saturday, March 31st, 2012

(published in CAMERA)

Zakaria is the over-exposed host of Cable News Network’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” editor at-large of TIME magazine and columnist for The Washington Post. Two recent Post commentaries on Israel and Iran, “Deterrence works” (March 15) and “Israel’s false choice” (February 16) – partially echoed by a TIME column and remarks on his March 11 CNN show – raise a question: Why so much Zakaria?

CAMERA has pointed out before his blind spot when it comes to Israeli concerns and his use of a Palestinian magnifying glass to squint at the rest of the Middle East. One notable example, demonstrating either superficiality or manipulation comes from the Aug. 22, 2010 episode of his CNN program. See “Fareed Zakaria Casts Hezbollah as a Model of Religious Tolerance” (Aug. 26, 2010).

His March 15 Post column, “Deterrence works,” continues the pundit’s two-dimensional campaign against Israeli or U.S. military pre-emption of Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons program. Zakaria argues that since Western deterrence against a nuclear-armed Soviet Union worked, it’s likely to do so against an Iranian government in possession of such arms.

He omits the time element from his comparison. The Soviet Union that behaved as a rational actor, deterred by Western nuclear arms from using its own, was two generations beyond its Bolshevik revolutionary leadership. Still dedicated strategically to world communist expansion according to the Brezhnev doctrine, it made numerous tactical maneuvers, including sub-contracting aggression to lesser surrogates, to avoid direct confrontation with the United States and its allies.

Iran only now is attempting a transition from its first-generation Islamic revolutionary rulers. But the younger generation of leaders and would-be successors, highlighted by Iran’s recent parliamentary elections, includes not only President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other apocalyptic messianists, but also “harder-line” theological “purifiers” and other Islamic ideologues. “Moderate” Islamic modernizers, let alone secularists, were barred from running.

Never mind. Zakaria continues in this unanalytical vein, asking “if deterrence doesn’t work, then why are we not preparing preventive war against Russia, which still has a fearsome arsenal” of nuclear weapons, “or against Pakistan, home to a military-intelligence regime that has been implicated in more major acts of terrorism” far more often than Iran?

Facile comparisons don’t impress high school debate judges, and they should raise doubts about Zakaria’s arguments. The United States hasn’t put the option of pre-emptive military strikes against Russia “on the table” as it has with Iran because, among other things, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian republic has not reiterated that “we will bury you”; has not hidden its nuclear program from international inspection; or, at least not directly, supported anti-American attacks.

But Iran, labeling the United States “the Great Satan” and Israel “the Little Satan,” has urged supporters to “imagine a world without America” as well as “a world without Israel.” It has masterminded, among other strikes, the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, the 1996 bombing of American military quarters in Saudi Arabia and the arming of anti-American insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year it apparently tried to murder the Saudi Ambassador in Washington.

Why not pre-empt a nuclear-armed Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban’s de facto hinterland? Zakaria does not acknowledge that, like preparations for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hide out last year, plans to “secure” Pakistan’s nuclear facilities in case of a coup by Islamic extremists reportedly are ready at the Pentagon.

Such real-world complications escape Zakaria, who instead pursues apples-to-oranges comparisons, including also “Mao’s China” and “Kim Jong Il’s North Korea” as examples of successful deterrence. Previous Chinese and North Korean regimes may have been deterred by, among other things, lack of accurate, long-range delivery systems (like those Iran reportedly is working on) and, at least for North Korea, lack of faith in its warheads. Zakaria says nothing of Iranian military parades that reportedly have included ballistic missiles carrying signs proclaiming Israel as their target.

Zakaria declares that “great powers went to war with brutal regularity for hundreds of years. Then came nuclear weapons, and there has not been a war between great powers since 1945 – the longest period of peace between great powers in history.” Like pedestrians crossing against the light, media celebrities should beware historical generalizations.

The United States and Soviet Union did not fire directly at each other during the Cold War, 1946 – 1991, but during the Korean War, Vietnamese War and numerous smaller, surrogate conflicts – including, in some respects, the 1967 Six-Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur War – the United States and NATO, and other allies, most certainly fought the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries and their satellites. Millions of people died in and from wars in which the great powers were invested during Zakaria’s “peace between great powers”.

He follows false comparisons and retroactive historical determinism with a logical fallacy. Describing Kenneth Waltz as “one of the most distinguished theorists of international relations,” Zakaria quotes Waltz that “rulers want to have a country that they can continue to rule.” Waltz is known in academia as founder of “neorealism,” an approach to explaining the behavior of countries. Explanation, of course, looks back. Prediction, which neither Waltz nor most other foreign policy specialists are famous for, looks forward. Zakaria misses this elemental distinction. Rulers who see themselves with God or history on their side not infrequently over-reach and bring devastation to their countries: King Phillip II and Spain, Napoleon and France, Hitler and Germany are among the examples.

Zakaria almost airily dismisses Iran’s potentially genocidal threat to Israel, acknowledging “anguish over the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapons is understandable. It would be better for Israel, the Middle East and the world if Tehran does not acquire such a weapon.” But if it does, “a robust policy of containment and deterrence would work …”

“Robust” is one of those currently fashionable words used to imply specific, effective measures the speakers don’t care to itemize. Absent not just shades of gray but even relevant blacks and whites, Zakaria’s analysis, if it can be called that, tells us little about the “whys” of the past or the “what” of today.

His earlier Post Op-Ed on the topic, “Israel’s false choice,” exhibited the same defects and more. Zakaria began by equating Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s assertion that Iran’s nuclear program will soon enter a “zone of immunity” as it expands deep underground with “Germany’s decision to start what became World War I.” But regardless of threats to German military power in 1914, other European states did not threaten the existence of Germany or its people.

Zakaria goes further off base by insisting that America can understand Israel’s existential fears because “we have gone through a very similar experience ourselves” with the Cold War Soviets: “Everything that Israel says about Iran now, we said about the Soviet Union.”

Besides missing the time/generational difference between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and his colleagues and Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khameni and others with power or reaching for it in today’s Tehran, Zakaria is mistaken in asserting that Americans have experienced existential threats like the Jewish state has. Not only were one of every three Jews murdered in the Holocaust, killings the world was largely indifferent to at the time, Israel was nearly destroyed at birth in what Arab leaders said would be a war of extermination. In 1967, Israelis saw hundreds of thousands of enemy troops and thousands of tanks on their borders and heard Arab leaders again threaten genocide. Then, for a few days at the start of the ’73 war, they were forced to relive those earlier nightmares. And each time they felt abandoned while the world counseled patience and restraint. Americans have experienced nothing similar, not even those in the South during the Civil War.

Zakaria says “over the past decade, there have been thousands of suicide bombings by Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Pakistanis, but not been a single suicide attack by an Iranian.” This is supposed to indicate Iran would not stage a nuclear first strike.

In the past decade, plenty of those suicide bombings by Lebanese, Palestinians and others, in the form of attacks by Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their ilk were made possible by Iranian funds, training and weapons. And why limit it to “the past decade”? Add the 1992 and 1994 Hezbollah-Iranian bombings of the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center, respectively, in Buenos Aires to the list including the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks and the French military barracks in Lebanon, the Khobar Towers bombing and countless mass murders in Iraq.

Erroneous comparisons, thin-ice history and a pose as enlightened sage – all are informed by Zakaria’s lack of empathy with realistic Israeli concerns and unwillingness to take Iranian words and deeds seriously.

Michael Singh, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, titled his critique of Zakaria’s February 16 column published by Foreign Policy, “How to Construct an Inaccurate Historical Analogy.” It too highlights the difference between the performance of a communication media celebrity, like Zakaria, and a news analyst, and can be found here:

The day before Zakaria’s first column appeared, The Post ran an editorial headlined “The U.S.-Israeli trust gap; The Obama Administration needs to be clearer about possible military action against Iran.” It argued that “military action against Iran, by Israel or the United States, is not yet necessary or wise.”

However, “saying ‘all options are on the table’ is not enough; the Obama Administration should be explicit about Iranian actions that will violate its red lines – and what the consequences will be.” Contrary to Zakaria, it did not assume “robust” deterrence, should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, would be sufficient.

And several days before Zakaria’s second column, The Post’s Outlook section ran a feature by Don Cooke, one of the Americas held captive at the U.S. embassy in Tehran from 1979 – 1981. Cooke spent 33 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, his last posting as senior policy adviser for Iran, before retiring recently. He concludes “the key to the Iranians accepting such a solution to halt their nuclear program is to convince them that we have the capability and the will to end the program ourselves. The irony is that the more clearly we demonstrate that capability and will, the less likely we will need to use them.”

In other words, when making policy, pay no heed to Fareed Zakaria.


Friday, March 30th, 2012

by Gabe Kahn (Arutz Sheva News)

Land Day turned violent Friday when Arabs began hurling Molotov cocktails and stones at soldiers near the Kalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem.

The riots began after Friday afternoon Muslim prayers – often a starting point for violence – when dozens of masked Arab youths began rioting at the checkpoint.

Soldiers responded with teargas and deployed the “Skunk” – a vehicle loaded with canons spraying a noxious-smelling liquid. A machine that transmits high frequency sound waves was also employed.

Israel Radio reported several protesters were lightly injured in the clashes and taken to the hosptial. Hamas parliament member Ahmed Atoun was lightly injured when he was struck in the head by a stone hurled by the rioters.

A video uploaded to the IDF Spokesperson’s YouTube channel showed rioters in Bethlehem hurling stones and firebombs at an IDF watchtower.

Hundreds of Arabs gathered near the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem in an attempt to stage an illegal march, but were stopped by police. Numerous arrests were reported.

Some 200 people attended a parade marking Land Day in Kafr Kanna near Nazareth, where no violence was reported.

Meanwhile, Jordanian news sites reported some 20,000 people are gathering in order to take part in the massive march towards the Israeli border. According to reports, 4 rabbis from the extreme anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect were marching with them.

The stridently pro-Hizbullah Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported 120 Hamas-provided buses will be transporting protesters to the Israeli border to participate in the “Global March on Jerusalem.”

Friday’s violence was widely expected by security officials who deployed on Thursday thousands of additional troops and police officers in anticipation of trouble.

Palestinian Authority enclaves in Judea and Samaria were also cordoned off.

IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Police commissioner Yochanan Danino on Friday personally toured potential hotspots to make first hand security assessments.

At least 15 people were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers when they tried to cross the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel in May protests over Israel’s creation in 1948.

In June, Israeli troops killed 23 infiltrators who crossed into the no-man’s land between Israel and Syria as a part of violent protests against Israel’s presence in the Golan Heights since 1967.


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

by Rachel Hirshfeld (IsraelNationalNews)

There are a number of e-mail notifications being circulated at Columbia University Law School, as well as various departments and clinics within the school, announcing official upcoming anti-Israel events, according to IsraelMatzav.

American-Israeli “human rights” lawyer Emily Schaeffer and member of the Yesh Din NGO spoke at the prestigious law school on March 27, claiming that Israeli “human rights violations” include cases of “torture, targeted killings, and the use of white phosphorus.” Yesh Din is funded almost entirely by foreign donations, and provided testimony against the Israel Defense Forces in the Goldstone Report. The organization says its mission is “to oppose the continuing violation of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory… documenting and disseminating accurate and up-to-date information about the systematic violation of human rights in the OPT, by raising public awareness of such violations, and by applying public and legal pressures on government agencies to end them.”

In addition, an event titled, “Disruption of Normal Life in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” which is expected to accuse Israel of “home demolitions” and “illegal construction” is scheduled to take place March 29. The event’s flyer proclaims, “Palestinians maintain that the demolitions stem from a discriminatory planning and zoning regime that favors Israeli settlers.”

Furthermore, university students who submitted reports to the United Nations Special Procedures Committee regarding the “human rights situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” are to engage in a “lunchtime discussion in which they will share some of their research and experiences… They will discuss issues affecting everyday life for Palestinians including: housing and zoning schemes, forced evictions and displacement, and discriminatory land policy.”

Similarly, Professor Katherine Franke, who recently returned from a trip to the region, where she was helping ‘Palestinian’ women establish a Women’s Committee within the Palestinian Bar Association, is scheduled to speak about the “pressing Gender Justice issues,” in the “West Bank” and what it means to be a feminist in the West Bank.”

“The Ethics of Pinkwashing: LGBT Rights in Israel/Palestine,” scheduled to take place on April 4th, is meanwhile expected to accuse Israel of “pinkwashing” and committing crimes of discrimination against the homosexual population in Israel.

Columbia University is widely known to be a hotspot for anti-Israel programming and activities, and has sponsored numerous events aimed at de-legitimizing the Jewish State. It facilitates academic, economic and cultural boycotts against the State of Israel. The university’s Edward Said was photographed throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers guarding the border with Lebanon. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at the university in 2007.


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

by Chana Ya’ar (Arutz Sheva News)

The US Supreme Court has returned to the lower court a decision whether Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky’s passport can list “Jerusalem, Israel’ as his place of birth.

The case has made its way all the way through the entire United States court system, from the district court, through the court of appeals, and up to the highest court in the land.

But on Monday, March 26, Supreme Court justices sidestepped the delicate issue of Menachem Zivotofsky v. Hillary Clinton, as had all the adjudicators before them.

In their decision, the justices wrote, “Congress enacted a statue providing that Americans born in Jerusalem may elect to have “Israel” listed as the place of birth on their passports. The State Department declined to follow that law, citing its longstanding policy of not taking a position on the political status of Jerusalem. When sued by an American who invoked that statute, the Secretary of State argued that the courts lacked authority to decide the case because it presented a political question. The Court of Appeals so held.

“We disagree. The courts are fully capable of determining whether this statute may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the Executive by the Constitution.”

The family, noted the Court, did not ask for a determination of whether Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Rather, the case presented is simply an intention to determine whether they have the right under the law to record Jerusalem, Israel on their son’s passport as his place of birth.

“That Congress took a position on the status of Jerusalem and gave Zivotofsky a statutory cause of action… is of no moment to whether the judiciary has the authority to resolve this dispute… The existence of a statutory right, however, is certainly relevant to the Judiciary’s power to decide Zivotofsky’s claim… the only real question for the courts is whether the statute is constitutional,” the justices wrote.

Moreover, the judges pointedly reminded their colleagues in the lower courts, for at least 200 years it has been common legal knowledge that the judicial branch of government is the final arbiter with regard to definition of the law – including laws determining whether one can list a particular city of birth on a passport.

“At least since Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803), we have recognized that when an Act of Congress is alleged to conflict with the Constitution, “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

“That duty will sometimes involve the “resolution of litigation challenging the constitutional authority of one of the three branches,” but courts cannot avoid their responsibility merely “because the issues have political implications.”

The justices then bluntly spelled out for their colleagues in the lower courts what is next to be done:

“In this case, determining the constitutionality … involves deciding whether the statute impermissibly intrudes upon Presidential powers under the Constitution. If so, the law must be invalidated and Zivotofsky’s case should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

If, on the other hand, the statute does not trench on the President’s powers, then the Secretary must be ordered to issue Zivotofsky a passport that complies…”


Monday, March 26th, 2012

by Michael Oren (Israel Ambassador to the USA)

Just as Jews were once expelled from Arab lands, Christians are now being forced from countries they have long inhabited..

The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church’s clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.

The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region’s population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they’ve inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren’t endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.

A damaged crucifix survives the burning of a Greek-Orthodox church in Tulkarem in the West Bank on Sept. 17, 2006.

This does not mean that Israeli Christians do not occasionally encounter intolerance. But in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to “ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion.” It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.

Israel abounds with such sites (Capernaum, the Hill of the Beatitudes, the birth place of St. John the Baptist) but the state constitutes only part of the Holy Land. The rest, according to Jewish and Christian tradition, is in Gaza and the West Bank. Christians in those areas suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.

Little wonder, then, that the West Bank is also hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%. Some have attributed the flight to Israeli policies that allegedly deny Christians economic opportunities, stunt demographic growth, and impede access to the holy sites of Jerusalem. In fact, most West Bank Christians live in cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, which are under Palestinian Authority control. All those cities have experienced marked economic growth and sharp population increase—among Muslims.

Israel, in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem’s churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza. In Jerusalem, the number of Arabs—among them Christians—has tripled since the city’s reunification by Israel in 1967.

There must be another reason, then, for the West Bank’s Christian exodus. The answer lies in Bethlehem. Under Israeli auspices, the city’s Christian population grew by 57%. But under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city’s population.

The extinction of the Middle East’s Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude. Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive.


Monday, March 26th, 2012

by Katie Parla

The Vatican Secret Archives were established four centuries ago to house the Holy See’s official documents. Spanning 12 centuries and occupying a cumulative 50 miles of shelf space, the Archives’ contents range from the quotidian to the controversial.

Through September, the Capitoline Museums (Piazza del Campidoglio; 39-060608) will host “Lux in Arcana: The Vatican Secret Archive Reveals Itself.” The exhibition will feature 100 documents of historical and cultural interest, which will be shown outside the Vatican for the first time.

The selection of letters, manuscripts and codices document the political and spiritual power wielded by the church throughout the Middle Ages until the late 19th century. Though mentions of contemporary scandals are conspicuously absent, there are centuries’ worth of papal ruthlessness to behold.

Visitors to the exhibition will find the record of Galileo’s conviction, the case against the Knights Templar and the order for Martin Luther’s excommunication. Tamer pieces include letters from world leaders, including Abraham Lincoln, and publications of church dogma.


Monday, March 26th, 2012

by Rachel Hirshfeld (Arutz Sheva News)

The Associated Press (AP) retracted a story that was discovered to be based on a Hamas lie, claiming that an Arab baby died due to the fuel shortage in Gaza.

It turns out that the story was based on a complete manipulation and distortion of the facts and that the story of Mohammed Helou’s death first appeared on March 4 in the local Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds — before the shortage that allegedly caused his death.

The AP issued a statement saying, it “has withdrawn its story about a 5-month-old baby who was said to have died Friday after the generator powering his respirator ran out of fuel, the first known death linked to the territory’s energy crisis.”

“The timing and reason for the death were confirmed to the AP by a man identified as the baby’s father and a Gaza health official, but the report has been called into question after it was learned that a local newspaper carried news of the baby’s death on March 4,” the statement continued.

“A substitute story will be filed shortly reflecting the new information,” added the AP.

They then issued a follow-up noting that, “A Gaza man said Sunday his 5-month-old baby died two days ago after the generator powering his respirator ran out of fuel, but the report was called into question after it emerged that the timing of the baby’s death was misrepresented.”

“The baby’s death — which was confirmed to The Associated Press by a man identified as the father and a Gaza hospital official — would have been the first linked to the territory’s energy crisis, and the report appeared to be an attempt by Gaza’s Hamas rulers to use it to gain sympathy,” noted the AP.

There have been numerous cases, over the years, of media outlets reporting inaccurate information based on stories relayed by Gazan officials. Less than two weeks ago, the Ma’an News Agency reported that Nayif Shaaban Qarmout, 15, was killed in Beit Lahiya, north Gaza. It was reported that, “the 15-ear-old was playing with friends in a play ground near his school when an Israeli missile hit the area.”

However, later in the day the AFP reported that “there was no sign of an Israeli air raid.”


Sunday, March 25th, 2012

by Gavriel Queenann (Arutz Sheva News)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday he may recall the Israeli ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council and cut ties with the body.

His remarks came after the 47-member council voted to establish a fact-finding mission to probe the “effects of settlements on Palestinian human rights.”

Lieberman also said Israel may choose not to cooperate with the council in its investigation, adding that he plans to ask the US to quit the council as well.

The resolution to “investigate the implications” of the settlements on “the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem” was passed by a vote of 36 to 1, with 10 abstentions.

Europe was divided on the fact-finding mission, with Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Russia voting for the measure. Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Moldova abstained.

Other countries with whom Israel has good ties who voted for the measure were Angola, Nigeria, Uganda, China, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Guatemala, Costa Rica and Cameroon abstained.

The UN Human Rights Council also adopted four other resolutions condemning Israel on Thursday. Only the US voted against the raft of anti-Israel resolutions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the decision on Thursday, saying the council is “hypocritical” and should be “ashamed of itself.”


Sunday, March 25th, 2012

by Ryan Jones (Israel Today News)

In public, Russia has joined the chorus of nations condemning the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown on its people and rebel forces. But behind the scenes, Moscow remains one of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s closest allies, and the reported arrival of Russian troops in Syria this week may have been orchestrated to drive home that point.

ABC News first broke the report citing an unnamed UN Security Council official who was upset that Russia had made such a move at such a delicate time.

It later turned out that only a single unit of Russian counter-terrorism commandoes was in Syria, but the deployment remains symbolically significant, especially to Arab observers.

“This is the first time in modern history that Russia directly intervenes on the ground in the Middle East,” stated Abdul Rahman, manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel. “With its forces, Russia truly threatens security and stability in the region. This could be the start of a Russian invasion.”

Tariq Homayed, editor of the London-based Arabic daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, added, “Something is happening in Syria, but no one knows how serious it is.”

Meanwhile, there have been scattered reports that the Syrian rebels, and in particular the Free Syrian Army (FSA), are turning to Israel for assistance.

In a secretive interview with the Hebrew newspaper Israel Hayom earlier this month, a key figure in the FSA appealed to Israel to convince the rest of the West to help topple Assad.

“I believe Assad is still in power because Western powers are not convinced that Israel really wants to see a Syria without Assad. You are afraid of what will be the day after Assad falls,” the man who identified himself as “Kamal” stated.

Kamal added that while most Syrians are not yet ready to normalize ties with Israel, helping to topple Assad is a gesture that “the Syrian people would not forget.”


Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

By Gavriel Queenann

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel and the US disagree on what would be a realistic timetable for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Barak reiterated Israel’s concerns that Iran is trying to render nuclear program immune from attack before taking a decision on assembling atomic bombs.

Israel “cannot afford to wait” in such a situation, Barak told Israel Radio, adding in an interview Thursday, “Israel feels directly threatened by a nuclear Iran.” However, Barak added, “several more months” can be given to allow sanctions and negotiations to run their course.

During this period, it would become clear “if the Iranians intend or don’t intent to stop their nuclear weapons program,” he said.

During the interview, Barak argued that superior US military capabilities and America’s position as a world power lead to its leaders perceiving the Iran nuclear threat differently than Jerusalem.

Barak said Israel and the U.S. agree on the final objective of preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons, but that “the difference between us and the U.S. is the perspective on timetables.”

“America has more abilities than Israel,” Barak said. “You can think of a time when Israel would be very limited in its ability to act.”

The rising specter of a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities comes ahead of renewed nuclear talks between Iran and the so-called 5+1 – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

Mohammad Javad Larijani – a key advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – has signaled Iran may be willing to halt its uranium enrichment program.

Larijani said the West should accept Iran’s “peaceful nuclear program,” sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assistance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.

In return for cooperation from the West Iran would offer “full transparency,” Larijani said.

He did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.

Iran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and insists its nuclear program is meant for peaceful uses such as generating electricity.

However, the International Atomic Energy Association has issued two reports in recent months indicating Iran has sought – and continues to seek – nuclear technology that has solely military applications.

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