Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paul Larudee of the International Solidarity movement: Some "peace" activist

"Armed struggle must not be discouraged, but rather made as effective as possible." 
Paul Larudee

Are these the words of a peace activist?

Paul Larudee, of El Cerrito, California is a self described “peace activist”.  He is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and the Northern California head of the International Solidarity Movement. Paul was one of the organizers of the Global March to Jerusalem. He is also a proud member of Jewish Voice for Peace. Photos of him and Gaza's Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh are all over the web

Paul Larudee in Gaza

In a recent article in Dissident voice,  Paul puts to bed any doubt that he, or the International Solidarity Movement support a non-violent end to the conflict in the region

Armed or nonviolent resistance? Every struggle in the world – whether successful or unsuccessful – has included a combination of armed and nonviolent resistance in varying proportions. If it can be argued that armed resistance has failed in Palestine, so has nonviolent resistance. Nevertheless, it is exceedingly important in all struggles for such efforts not to undermine each other. Mixing the use of violence in a nonviolent action is a sure way of rendering that action ineffective, which is precisely why the enemy uses infiltrators in such a manner. Similarly, armed struggle must not be discouraged, but rather made as effective as possible. The two are more effective when coordinated, insofar as possible, so as to complement each other and so that the struggle may be unified.

This isn’t new, and was documented in 2004 by Toby Harnden, the Middle East Correspondent to  the Telegraph who wrote:

The International Solidarity Movement is often described as a peace group but its founders back the Palestinian right to wage an "armed struggle". Launched in 2001, the ISM says it uses "non-violent direct action" in the style of Gandhi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr Martin Luther King. A closer look reveals that the leadership sees volunteers not as pacifists but as combatants on the Palestinian side.
In a 2002 article, the movement's co-founders, Adam Shapiro, a New York Jew, and Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian Christian, urged: "The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent." Mr Shapiro and Miss Arraf predicted that "yes, people will get killed and injured" and suggested that the casualties "would be considered shaheed", using the Arabic term for martyrs applied to suicide bombers....
ISM activists have been photographed posing with automatic weapons.  There's a reason the women are dressed as observant Jews. They  are filmed committing atrocities against the Palestinian people, with the intent of having Israelis blamed. These films are shown in Europe and in the Americas, as recruiting propaganda for the ISM, and as a way of demonizing Israel.

International Solidarity movement

International Solidarity Movement

In his March 27th article at the Dissident Voice website Paul asks  "What about arms?", advocating for targeted assassinations, though its unclear if he wants Palestinian leadership taken out, or the Israeli leadership

Armed resistance is difficult but not impossible. Certainly, one must not expect to match Israel in arms or even to mount a very effective fighting force. There is also the danger that armed resistance can be used to apply greater repression on a nonviolent resistance movement. However, if armed struggle is to be effective, it is most likely to achieve its ends through assassinations of very senior figures, in much the way covert U.S. forces use drone assassinations and the way Israelis themselves have used the tactic on Palestinians. In the absence of Palestinian drone aircraft, however, one must assume that such acts would have to be accomplished the old fashion way, if at all, and with a degree of secrecy that is difficult to maintain.
Paul Larudee  is advocating assassination and armed struggle.  Does anyone still believe this man is a voice for peace, justice and non-violence?

Billboard Wars hit Middle America

The Israel/ Palestine conflict has moved to the sides of buses and alongside roadways across America.  The latest skirmish in the Billboard Wars  hails from Missoula, Montana, and was once again initiated by the notorious  Council for the National interest
From the Missoula Independent

 Soon after a pensive-looking cowboy popped up on a billboard alongside Interstate 90 between the Orange and Reserve street exits two months ago, the phones started ringing at the Har Shalom synagogue in Missoula.

 "We got calls from people in the community, non-Jews as well," says Har Shalom Board of Directors President Bert Chessin.

 It wasn't the cowboy that got the phones ringing. It was the message the middle-aged man wearing a 10-gallon hat appeared to be pondering: "$8 million a day to Israel just doesn't make sense!"...

 The message, however, hit a nerve. Chessin, for one, says the billboard is one-sided and superficial, as well as anti-Israel. Aiming to reclaim the battlefield of public opinion, Har Shalom mobilized and joined forces with Stand With Us, an international nonprofit based out of Los Angeles, to promote its own message.

 SWU educates about Israel and, according to its website, combats "the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues." SWU's Gary Ratner says his organization commonly encounters messages like the one in Missoula. "It's called 'BDS ' boycott, divestment and sanction," he says. "It's an attempt to undermine American support for Israel and the joint values that we hold."

 When alerted to such efforts, SWU counters with its own themes, fueling a public relations war that's played out on buses, billboards and in train stations across the country. Typically the skirmishes occur in progressive strongholds such as San Francisco, Portland and New York, but now it's stretched to Missoula.

 This week, after the Council for the National Interest's billboard contract expired, Har Shalom and SWU paid to erect a new billboard in the same location. For the next two months, rather than the pensive cowboy, commuters heading east on I-90 will see the following message: "Tell Congress Not to Support Palestinian Groups like Hamas, because they don't want peace."

 "We felt that [the other billboard] shouldn't go unanswered," Chessin says.

The Council for the National Interest has sponsored delegations that have met with terror groups, Hamas and Hezbollah  and is led by Alison Weir, a noted conspiracy theorist whose work has been profiled on the website of former KKK leader, David Duke. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What if you gave a protest and no one came? The Southen California Edition

As part of the annual Youm El-Ard/Day of the Land Activities in Southern California, Al-Awda, The extremist Palestine Right to Return Coalition has organized yet another protest in front of the Israeli, er "Zionist" consulate.
Los Angeles: A Day of the Land Demonstration will be held on Friday March 29, 2013, starting 3 PM in front of the Zionist consulate (11766 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025) with participation from all of Al-Awda's chapters in Southern California. Organizations wishing to co-sponsor, please email

And its deja vu all over again. Just like the Al Awda organized protest earlier this month in San Francisco, no one showed up. Eric Golub documents the latest Al Awda fail here:

The failed Good Friday Los Angeles Palestinian protest

Maybe it was the Christian spirit of Good Friday, but Palestinians made their most positive contribution to humankind in the entire history of their existence. For once, they stayed in their homes and left the rest of society alone.

 A planned anti-Jewish protest in Los Angeles fell flat when nobody showed up. It’s a sad day in Palestinian culture when hatred of Jews takes a back seat to sleeping in on a paid American holiday.

 The protest was scheduled for March 29 at 3:00pm PST at the Israeli Consulate. The issue would be Palestinian “right of return” to Israel. For those unfamiliar with the Palestinian movement, they are demanding their own separate independent state of Palestine while also demanding to have four million refugees who are not really refugees move to Israel.

 Why would they want their own state yet return to Israel? The answer is to flood Israel with so many non-Jews that Israel would effectively be destroyed. This has always been the “peaceful” purpose of the Palestinian movement...

 The Palestinians in Los Angeles faced the ultimate indignity. Like fading Hollywood celebrities, they were non-controversial.  They were prepared to hold a protest, and nobody cared.
Contrast that with American Muslims for Palestine's effusive rant  from yesterday : "The interest  shows the American public is ready to accept the Palestinian narrative!".  Perhaps this rather complete lack of interest shows quite the opposite- that the American public stands firm with our closest ally in the region, Israel, and realizes that ultimately,  while the Jewish people have truth and history on their side, the Palestinians are left with  mere"narrative"

Hows that Secular Democratic State working for you?

From an article by the courageous Khaled Abu Toameh, in the Jerusalem Post:

A Palestinian man who clicked "Like" on a Facebook status criticizing a Palestinian Authority official has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Anas Ismail, 29, of Salfit, near Nablus, was found guilty of "libel and slander."

Ismail is the second Palestinian to be imprisoned for Facebook activities in the past few days.

He was sentenced to prison on the same day another PA court in Bethlehem sentenced a Palestinian journalist to one year in prison for sharing a photo on Facebook that compared PA President Mahmoud Abbas to a villain and spy of French colonial authorities in a Syrian drama.

 In the earlier incident, Palestinian journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh, a correspondent for Al-Quds TV in the West Bank, was first arrested by the Palestinian security forces shortly after the derogatory  photo appeared on his  Facebook page in 2010. He was freed on bail until he was re-arrested last Thursday following the court decision. Abbas  pardoned him, some speculate, after intense pressure from the west. Hamamreh was released from prison one day after his sentencing
Incidentally,  CAMERA , the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East reporting in America is awarding Khaled Abu Toameh  the organizations' coveted  Emet (truth) Award at their annual dinner on April 21 in New York City.  More than 600 participants are expected to attend the gala.   Khaled Abu Toameh consistently reports what the mainstream media will not, and is our window to truth in the West bank and Gaza

Friday, March 29, 2013

American Muslims for Palestine Declare a Rather Premature Victory

To the extremist American Muslims for Palestine, the 25 ads in Metro North stations in New York and Connecticut were little more than a cheap and cynical publicity stunt.  They've made that perfectly clear with an email they sent out today, proclaiming their 2 day old campaign a "huge success":.

Keep the momentum going!AMP’s new ad campaign is getting nationwide, and even international attention! And the term ‘Israeli Apartheid’ has made it into mainstream media reports – from ABC, CBS and NBC to Haaretz. The ad will be posted at 25 stations on the Metro North line in New York and Connecticut for four weeks. It's purpose is to raise awareness about the occupation and Israel's apartheid policies, as well as to reclaim our narrative from those who have been posting virulently anti-Arab and anti-Muslim ads. AMP's ad campaign is slated for several cities throughout the country and may next appear on buses in San Francisco. More than a dozen media outlets attended our press conference in NYC on Tuesday to kick off the campaign! 
 The interest  shows the American public is ready to accept the Palestinian narrative! 
No. I don't think so.

At least one of those media outlets, the New York Daily News saw right through the incendiary rhetoric and reported:

 Why is this day different from all other days? Because a pro-Palestinian group picked the first day of Passover to unveil a button-pushing new ad campaign that compares Israel to racist South Africa.The ads, which demand “End Apartheid Now! Stop U.S. Aid to Israel,” are being plastered at 25 Metro North train stations for the next four weeks. The head of American Muslims for Palestine insisted Tuesday they didn’t time the unveiling of the ads to coincide with the Jewish holiday, which celebrates freedom.“We timed the release of our ads with President Obama’s visit to the Middle East,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian. Obama visited Israel last week.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued the following statement on the anti-Israel ads

We are deeply disturbed that American Muslims for Palestine is undertaking a billboard campaign that falsely accuses Israel of "apartheid." Their ad campaign ignores the complicated nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is part of the campaign to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state.

It shows a profound lack of sensitivity that they chose the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover to announce this malicious and false ad campaign.

And the American Muslims for Palestine responded:

We can’t let these Zionists and Islamophobes win! Help AMP take this ad campaign to cities across the nation.

The ADL has released a background paper on the American Muslims for Palestine.  The organization has roots in the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an anti-Semitic group that served as the main propaganda arm for Hamas in the United States until it was dissolved in 2004. Since its creation in 2005, AMP continues to work closely with some former IAP leaders who currently hold positions as AMP board members.

Read the paper here.  This is what we are facing.  And decide now how your community will react when this special brand of AMP hate shows up in your neighborhood.

Harry Fear's Suggestions for a Gaza Visit

Twenty five miles of Mediterranean beaches.
Gaza Beach

 Lavish meals in elegant restaurants.

Menu from Roots restaurant in Gaza City

Five star hotels.
Al Mashtal Hotel in Gaza

If you are hankering for a Gaza-style vacation, Harry Fear has some suggestions for organizing your Gaza visit.  Harry should know.  He's been in Gaza quite a while, and has made some very special friends

Harry Fear and Friends in Gaza

From the Gaza Report Blog at

I have just arrived in Gaza for my maiden visit and I want to share my experience of getting here by means of this how-to guide on how to cross into the Strip. I came from Britain with a human rights-orientated purpose in Gaza, and so my how-to guide is most appropriate for those in a similar situation.
The Gaza Strip has three crossing points; two are designed for civilian entry and exit. The first, ‘Erez’, is controlled by Israel and is under near-total lockdown.
(Harry is of course, mistaken about this.  Each week, over 2,000 people pass through the Erez crossing)
The other, ‘Rafah’, borders with Egypt and is essentially under Egyptian control. The Rafah Border Crossing (‘Rafah’) is open at least 5 days per week and is the size of a small airport terminal. On each operating day, Palestinians and internationals attempt to enter and exit the Strip. For Palestinians, entry and exit via Rafah is renowned as one of the most cumbersome and bureaucratically difficult crossing points in the world. Rafah also represents an often difficult crossing for internationals too, but this how-to guide will help with many of the tiring details in getting to Gaza. With this guide, visiting Gaza (via Rafah) should be substantially more simple and straightforward.
(I give indicative pricings below in British pounds. The Egyptian currency (EGP) is the ‘guinea’.)

Getting from Britain to Gaza
  1. You need a pretext to enter Gaza. As the situation stands, you cannot simply visit Gaza for ‘tourism’. Perhaps you will volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to help document human rights abuses. Whatever the purpose of visiting, you need a signed letter from a notable Gaza-based organisation (like ISM) to personally invite you for a set period of time. This organisation is sometimes referred to as your ‘host’.
  2. You then, via email, submit your personal details, the dates of your planned visit and the letter of invitation from your host to the Egyptian Embassy in London  Within 2--3 weeks you will receive a permission letter from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry; this permission letter permits you to use the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.
  3. Book your flight to Cairo International Airport. Return tickets start at about £250 with the Egyptair airline (or similar); return tickets start at £380 if you book at the last minute. Fly from London Heathrow (or similar) to Cairo’s airport. The flight usually takes about 5hrs.
  4. Your ‘guide’ will be someone who you will have previously organised to kindly act as your guide in Gaza and will likely be your contact at the host organisation that invited you to Gaza. Your guide (or someone from your host organisation) needs to visit the Residence and Foreigners Affairs Admin office of the Ministry of Interior & National Security about a week before your arrival to apply for your Palestinian Entry Permit. The Palestinan National Authority needs to have issued your Entry Permit for you to be permitted entry. Make a printed copy of the Entry Permit for your possession.
  5. On arriving at the airport you will need to purchase an Egypt entry visa ($15 or ~100 EGP [£10]) before you can pass through the passport control stations.
  6. Take a taxi from Cairo’s airport to the centre of Cairo. Such a journey normally costs £20
  7. (Optional) Take a night’s rest in Cairo. Cheap hotels start at around £9 per night.
  8. Take a taxi from Cairo to the Rafah crossing. This long-distance journey usually takes 6 hours so one hires a private driver, costing about £45. Drivers like to start the journey at about 3am to arrive at Rafah as the crossing opens at 9am. Your driver will likely stop two-thirds of the way through the journey to have breakfast at a cafe-restaurant. A driver can be sourced by your hotel in Cairo, or perhaps by a personal contact of yours in Cairo.
  9. On arriving at Rafah, show your passport, the Egyptian permission letter, the Palestinian Entry Permit and the Gazan-based organisation invitation letter to the guard at the gate. You will have to wait for between 10 minutes and 1 hour while they authenticate your documents. On completion, they will invite you to enter the crossing through the gates.
  10. Follow the flow of pedestrians and enter the Egyptian side’s Rafah terminal building. Go to the Passport Control desk and get a non-Egyptian entry form. Fill it in and get it stamped (for 2 EGP [£1]). Take the entry form, your passport and your  two (permission and invitation) letters back to the Passport Control desk. Your details will once again be checked. You will usually have to wait for an hour before your name is shouted out by a Passport Control agent. You may need to sit or stand particularly close to the Desk so you don’t miss hearing your name being announced, as the public announcement system is intermittent.
  11. Once your name is called out you will be given back your passport which will have been stamped with an Egypt exit stamp beside an Egypt entry stamp you received at the airport. Proceed through the terminal building, passing through another Egyptian guard desk; your passport will be checked for an exit stamp and a guard will want to read your permission and invitation letters.
  12. Before you exit the Egyptian side’s terminal you will need to pay for an exit ticket (105 EGP [£11]).
  13. Follow the flow of pedestrians. Purchase a coach ticket (20 EGP [£2]). Board the coach, which will take you through to the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing. [Congratulations! You are now out of Egypt and almost in Palestine.]
  14. Enter the Palestinian side’s terminal building and present your passport and two letters to an officer at one of the passport control booths.
  15. Security officers will ask you to be seated while they ask you a few questions on the purpose of your visit, the location of your Gaza accommodation and which Gazan will be guide. It will take between 5-30 minutes to satisfactorily verify your story. Ask the officers to place a telephone call to your guide to invite them into the terminal to collect you and help validate your story. Your guide and you will complete a form about your visit.
  16. You may also be asked to fill in an exit registration form, informing authorities of the date on which they should expect to receive you at the border to exit into Egypt.
  17. On the forms’ completion you will be given a Palestinian entry stamp and then continue through the terminal. You have successfully entered the Strip. You will then probably want to take a taxi to your specific destination in Gaza with your guide.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Context is everything. The arrest of Palestinian Children in Hebron

A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has a chance to pull on its pants. With so many anti-Israel collaborators willing to aid and abet lies, its no wonder.

The story broke on March 20.  Anti-Israel bloggers and tweeters lapped it up, without stopping for a moment to question its veracity.  The headlines read "Mass arrest of Palestinian children on their way to school in Hebron"

From B'Tselem:

On the day of the incident B’Tselem wrote to the Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria, the Legal Advisor of the Israel Police and to the spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division regarding this issue. The officials confirmed that, further to a stone-throwing incident earlier that morning, the military apprehended 27 minors, including at least 14 under the age of 12. Later, the military released 20 of the minors to the custody of the Palestinian Authority. The other seven minors were questioned by the police

Preliminary information received this morning by B'Tselem indicates that the army today conducted mass arrests near the area known as route 160 in Hebron.  Soldiers detained or arrested over twenty minors on their way to school. About ten of them were released. As is known to B'Tselem at this point, among the children detained by the military are at least five children 8 to 10 years old, with possibly others below the age of criminal responsibility who cannot legally be arrested. Conversations with the Hebron police indicate that some of the children have been taken for interrogation by a youth interrogator.

Why were these children arrested?  Here’s the context that was deliberately left out .

If schoolchildren in Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco attacked local police in this manner, what would happen to them?   Do you doubt for a moment that they would be taken into custody?

Israeli Filmmaker beaten in France

2012 was  “a year of unprecedented violence against Jews in France,” with 614 anti-Semitic incidents reported- an increase of 58 percent from 2011.

2103 isn’t looking much better.

Israeli media has reported that Israeli filmmaker Yariv Horowitz was attacked and beaten unconscious  in France while attending the Aubagne Film Festival.  Horowitz was jumped by a group of Arab youth in what appears to be a racially motivated attack shortly after the screening of his film.
Horowitz is reported in good condition, and was able to attend the remainder of the film festival.

His film, "Rock the Casbah", follows the story of young Israeli soldiers during the first intifada in Gaza.  The  film won the festival's  Special Prize of the Jury for Best Picture.

 From the J Post:
Horowitz wrote on his personal website that the film is “a project that I always wanted do.” The films stars Yon Tumarkin, and covers the lives of young soldiers in the Gaza Strip during the violent uprising of Palestinians in the first intifada in 1989.

He writes that his film is “a tribute to my childhood friends who served with me in the occupied territories.”
His film was screened last month at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, and won the prestigious International Confederation of Art Cinemas award there.

In the film, 18-year-old Tomer is sent into to Gaza where he struggles with his life as a soldier, and a member of a Palestinian family plays a role in the killing of an IDF soldier
UPDATE: 30th March 2012 - A statement from the Festival International du Film d'Aubagne has been released on Facebook. It asks that the following events based on their interpretation of the events be clarified:
"We were there during the assault director Yariv Horowitz Thursday, October 21 at 22:30. It is not for us to judge who is to blame and no aggression is excusable. But it should restore some truths:
1 - These are not men who committed the assault but a young infant who was with other kids his age.
2 - It was not Arabic.
3 - The events that triggered the coup (once) have nothing to do with a racist attack.
4 - After being helped by the festival organizers, Yariv Horowitz was seen by firefighters who have identified a minor injury. They suggested he go to the police. The director refused. His injury is minimal it did not want to not go to the hospital.
5 - Far from lynching, Yariv Horowitz returned to the festival the next day and has participated in various events until the end of the festival.
6 - It is mounted on scene the night of the awards ceremony with a smile to receive his prize: special mention for the quality of its staging."
The statement, translated from French, seems to corroborate that the attack did indeed occur. The details however, are still unclear. The Festival maintains that the boys who assaulted Horowitz were "not Arabic", however how they might know this for sure is not stated and runs contrary to the version of events reported around the world.
The rest of the story, including the fact that Horowitz returned to the festival, are upheld by the statement.


Women on Gaza Aid Convoy sexually assaulted in Libya

Three women, two of whom are sisters have been sexually assaulted in Benghazi, Libya. They were part of an aid convoy passing through Libya on the way to Gaza  The group is currently safe in the Turkish consul in Benghazi and is expected to return to the UK.

Libyan security officials said the attacks happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning.   The convoy had traveled through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and then Libya, but was held up at the border by Egyptian authorities.

According to the Libya Herald:

The incident took place on Tuesday, when two groups from the aid mission, a British-Pakistani family – a father with his two daughters – and another man and a woman, decided to leave the convoy, which was being delayed at the Libyan-Egyptian border, and return to the UK.

The five took a taxi back to Benghazi but were stopped at the Sidi Al-Faraj checkpoint by members of the Libyan regular army. They were then kidnapped and taken to a farm in the Sellouk area, where at least one of the girls was sexually assaulted. Four of the kidnapped Britons managed to escape and found a local police station. The fifth was later rescued.
 It is not clear how many of the three kidnapped women were abused. It has been reported that one was raped. Deputy Prime Minister Awadh al-Barassi said in a statement released on his Facebook page that both daughters had been “brutally raped” in front of their father. “I express my very deep sorrow at what happened,” he said.
“This heinous incident does not under any circumstances reflect the genuine generosity and morality of the Libyan people or the traditions of Arab-Islamic culture,” Barassi said, “and I demand the authorities to take the necessary action.”
 The Ministry of the Interior has sent a team to investigate the case. Four Libyan soldiers have already been arrested in connection with allegations of abduction and rape and another is wanted. They are understood to be members of the First Infantry Brigade of the Libyan regular army.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Remembering the dead. Passover massacre in Netanya, 2002

11 years ago today, on the eve of Passover, Abdel-Basset Odeh, a Hamas suicide bomber broke into the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel murdering 30 civilians, and injuring hundreds more.  We remember:

- Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon
- David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya
- Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod
- Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya
- Alter Britvich, 88, of Netanya
- Frieda Britvich, 86, of Netanya
- Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya
- Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya
- Miriam Gutenzgan, 82, of Ramat Gan
- Amiram Hamami, 44, of Netanya
- Perla Hermele, 79, of Sweden
- Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya
- Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya
- Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat Hasharon
- Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat Hasharon
- Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya
- Lola Levkovitch, 70, of Jerusalem
- Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel-Aviv
- Furuk Na'imi, 62, of Netanya
- Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel-Aviv
- Chanah Rogan, 90, of Netanya
- Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La'et
- Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem
- Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel-Aviv
- St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot
- Zee'v Vider, 50, of Moshav Bekaot
- Ernest Weiss, 80, of Petah Tikva
- Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva
- Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon
- George Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon

American Muslims for Palestine Joins Billboard Wars

Hatem Bazian is one of the founders of  American Muslims for Palestine. You may remember him  infamously called for an  intifada in America

"Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Well, we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don't have an intifada in this country? Because it seem[s] to me, that we are comfortable in where we are, watching CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, and all these mainstream... giving us a window to the world while the world is being managed from Washington, from New York, from every other place in here in San Francisco: Chevron, Bechtel, [Carlyle?] Group, Halliburton; every one of those lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving individuals are in our country and we're sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know every-- They're gonna say some Palestinian being too radical -- well, you haven't seen radicalism yet!" 

The extremist organization had previously emphasized indoctrinating students and recently held a  training session for high school students.   Nearly 200 students from grades 10 to 12 attended workshops on  such topics as the "Islamic significance of Palestine".

American Muslims for Palestine is branching out as the latest participant in the Billboard wars. Their current entry, now in 25 New York Metro stations spreads the egregious "Apartheid" lie, as it calls for the end to aid for America's closest ally in the Middle East

This ad campaign isn't simply about  25 ads- its accompanied by a rather well oiled PR campaign, timed to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Passover  to prevent opposing voices.   Speaking at the press conference   were Raja Abulhaq, president of AMP-NY; Lamis Deek, director of Al Awda-NY; Abi Hassan of the National Lawyers Guild; Felice Gillman of Wespac Foundation and Michael Letwin of Jews for the Palestinian Right of Return.  

Following the formal press conference, AMP called for a twitter onslaught on members of the mainstream media.   


Throwing even more fuel onto the fire, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Institute) has developed a series of ads to counter those posted by the American Muslims for Palestine

Avi Mayer: Another Side of Israel

  Another Side of Israel: The Impact of Tikkun Olam 
 Written by Avi Mayer, the Director of New Media at The Jewish Agency for Israel.  Follow him on Twitter @avimayer.

On a chilly day in the middle of February, seven young Syrian men appeared near the border fence separating the Syrian and Israeli sides of the wind-swept Golan Heights. Suffering from gunshot wounds, their bodies riddled with shrapnel, they called out to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers guarding their side of the fence and asked for permission to draw near. When the IDF soldiers saw the Syrians' condition, they immediately permitted them entry, provided them with first aid, and transported them in military ambulances to Ziv Hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed for further treatment.

"This is not the first time in the hospital's history that we have received wounded individuals from the other side of the border," hospital director Dr. Oscar Embon later said. "It is always a humanitarian activity and we concentrate on the wounded as we would on any other wounded person, focusing solely on the medical issue without going into other matters. We treat every wounded person as he is, and it does not matter where the person comes from."...

The seven Syrian men who staggered toward their country's border with Israel in February knew that their supposed enemy to the southwest would come to their aid when they needed it most. Indeed, Israel's commitment to helping those in need is embedded in the country's national DNA. It has manifested itself throughout Israel's existence and continues to do so in a myriad of ways, both close to home and at the furthest reaches of the globe.
 In spite of the continuing conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has always extended its hand to its neighbors, offering  aid and humanitarian assistance to those in need.

According to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry department responsible for implementing government policy vis-à-vis the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 210,469 Palestinians in need of medical care were admitted into Israel to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals in 2012. A report by the World Health Organization found that 91.5% of applications to enter Israel for medical purposes were approved in 2012, while a further 7.2% were awaiting approval, pending security clearance.

Israeli nongovernmental organizations play an important role as well. One NGO, Save a Child's Heart (SACH), works with Israeli government agencies and medical centers to provide lifesaving medical treatment to children from 44 developing countries, including some that do not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. Approximately half of the 3,000 children treated through the program have been Palestinians, 70% of whom have come from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Though Iraq has been at a state of war with Israel since 1948, dozens of Iraqi children have received medical care in the Jewish state. SACH is the largest organization of its kind in the world and all medical staff involved in the program work voluntarily.

Read Avi Mayer's article in its entirety here , and help spread the word.

The We Divest Campaign Against TIAA-CREF: Hubris and Arrogance

After an intense three year campaign against investment giant TIAA-CREF, the “We Divest” alliance of associated Israeli-haters, including Adalah-NY, the American Friends Service Committee, (AFSC)  Grassroots International,  Jewish Voice for Peace, (JVP)  the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and the US Palestinian Community Network has convinced 200 plan participants to sign their petition. That's not a typo.

That's 200 out of 3.7 million participants.

0074 %.    Less than 1/100 of 1 percent of TIAA- CREF shareholders.  74 people per million

The hubris and arrogance is breath-taking,  yet is representative of the modus operandi of the BDS movement in general. A tiny minority- a fringe of the fringe- attempts to hijack the agenda a large community institution, and to bully them into compliance.  Anna Baltzer has issued a press release condemning the investment giant for its refusal to set aside its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to advance her bigoted political agenda.   Steve Tamari of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee claims “TIAA-CREF has not only ignored our moral concerns, but now refuses to let us vote or have any voice on the issue."

No, Steve. No, Anna.   The leadership at TIAA-CREF has listened to your voices. They've taken your phone calls. They've received your petitions. They've responded to your Tweets. They've rolled their collective eyeballs at your flash mobs and lame attempts at street theater.  And still the answer is NO. They heard your arguments, and they've rejected them.

As do all people of conscience.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3-year-old critically injured by stones near Ariel

Mike L.

{Cross-posted at Israel Thrives and Geoffff's Joint.}

Vehicle carrying woman, her three daughters, crashes into truck that veered off course due to stones hurled by Palestinians in West Bank road; 3-year-old critically injured; three others moderately wounded 
A woman and her three daughters were injured on Thursday in a car accident caused by stones hurled by Palestinians on Route 5 connecting Tel Aviv and Ariel.

One of the girls, three-year-old Adele, was critically wounded, while the mother, Adva Biton, 40, and her two other daughters, Avigail and Naama - ages four and five - sustained moderate injuries.
Progressives tend to think that the reason that Arabs seek to murder Jews, including Jewish children, is because the tiny Jewish minority in the Middle East is persecuting the vast Arab-Muslim majority, particularly those who now go under the moniker "Palestinians."

This is a lie.

The is the Big Lie.

Arab-Muslims have been throwing rocks at Jews for fourteen centuries.  It is only in very recent years that people started discussing the Arab inclination to stone Jews as a matter of "civil rights" and "social justice."  It was only shortly after the Holocaust that the Soviets decided that Arab attempts to murder Jews should be placed into the context of human rights and national liberation.

But the fact of the matter is that Arab-Muslim justification for the murder of Jews is embedded in Islam.

The only difference now is that we have millions upon millions of westerners, including G-d knows how many western Jews, who think that Arab efforts to kill Jews are morally justified.  They have even convinced themselves that the tiny bit of land that has been known for four thousand years as Judea is being illegally "Occupied" (with the Big O) by Jews.

The violence toward this family and toward this little girl is not a merely because of Arab-Muslim genocidal racism, but because that genocidal racism is justified by "liberals" throughout the western world who fund the very hatred that gets us killed.  The west funds Hamas which calls for the murder of Jews in its very charter.  The United States funds the Palestinian Authority which incites hatred toward Jews among Arab-Muslim children in Judea and Samaria, thus ensuring that the long Arab war against the Jews in the Middle East will continue for generations to come.

And yet they blame us for the ongoing violence toward us, but this also is nothing new.

If you were to talk to your average "progressive" he or she would say that the historical persecution of the Jewish people was a terrible injustice.  They would claim to be opposed to Nazism and the Holocaust, and yet they would still tell you that the Palestinian-Arab cause is moral and should be supported.  In other words, while all efforts in the past to kill Jews were wrong, the current effort is justified.

Every generation they justify it.

This one is no different.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Richard Silverstein: Failure to fact Check

And now for some Breaking News  from the failure to fact-check department:

Seattle Blogger Richard Silverstein fancies himself a journalist, yet he seems to have missed  some of the very basics of fact-checking.

Today, Silverstein posted an image on his facebook page as "Breaking news"-  claiming 9 year old children- 50 of them- were arrested in Hebron.  Its illustrated with an anguished photo of a young girl- trouble is, as 2 minutes on Google would have shown him- the photo was taken in 2007  .  Silverstein, in his mad rush to demonize Israel, just couldn't be bothered to check for accuracy. Or relevance. Or timeliness.

Apparently sloppy research is a hallmark of Silverstein, the self-proclaimed "Wikileaks of Israel". He's done this before.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yityish Aynaw meets President Obama

We can't seem to get enough of  Miss Israel Yityish Aynaw.  Her she is, being introduced to American President Obama at a state dinner, hosted by Israel's President Peres.

What did these two trend setters have to say to each other?

From the Telegraph:

 When asked about the US president, she replied, according to Israeli outlet Yediot Aharonot: "He's an exciting man, a world-class hunk, charming and an extraordinary gentleman."
She added that she did not think Michelle Obama, the First Lady, would be jealous.
Mr Obama reportedly told Ms Aynaw: "You are very beautiful ... Michelle would have been very happy to be as tall as you are."
Ms Aynaw, who emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her Jewish grandparents after the death of her mother when she was 12, earlier this month said Mr Obama was a role model "who broke down barriers, a source of inspiration". 

Obama's Speech in Ramallah

Transcript of  Obama's Speech in Ramallah
March 22, 2013
Marhaba.  Thank you, President Abbas, for your generous words and for welcoming me to Ramallah.  I was last here five years ago, and it’s a pleasure to be back — to see the progress that’s happened since my last visit, but also to bear witness to the enduring challenges to peace and security that so many Palestinians seek.  I’ve returned to the West Bank because the United States is deeply committed to the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.
The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it.  Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.  Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.
I want to commend President Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, for the progress that they’ve made in building the institutions of a Palestinian state.  And the United States is a proud partner in these efforts — as the single largest donor of assistance that improves the lives of Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza.  As your partner, we salute your achievements and we mourn your losses.  We offer condolences, in particular, over the loss of your fellow Palestinians last weekend in the tragic accident in Jordan.
Ramallah is a very different city than the one I visited five years ago.  There’s new construction.  There’s new businesses, new start-ups, including many high-tech companies, connecting Palestinians to the global economy.  The Palestinian Authority is more efficient and more transparent.  There are new efforts to combat corruption so entrepreneurs and development can expand.  Palestinian security forces are stronger and more professional — serving communities like Bethlehem, where President Abbas and I will visit the Church of the Nativity tomorrow.
Moreover, this progress has been achieved under some extremely challenging circumstances.  So I want to pay tribute to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad for their courage, for their tenacity, and for their commitment to building the institutions upon which a lasting peace and security will depend.
I would point out that all this stands in stark contrast to the misery and repression that so many Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza — because Hamas refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to live freely; and because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down rather than building Palestine up.  We saw the continuing threat from Gaza again overnight, with the rockets that targeted Sderot.  We condemn this violation of the important cease-fire that protects both Israelis and Palestinians — a violation that Hamas has a responsibility to prevent.
Here in the West Bank, I realize that this continues to be a difficult time for the Palestinian Authority financially.  So I’m pleased that in recent weeks the United States has been able to provide additional assistance to help the Palestinian Authority bolster its finances.  Projects through USAID will help strengthen governance, rule of law, economic development, education and health.  We consider these to be investments in a future Palestinian state — investments in peace, which is in all of our interests.
And more broadly, in our discussions today I reaffirmed to President Abbas that the United States remains committed to realizing the vision of two states, which is in the interests of the Palestinian people, and also in the national security interest of Israel, the United States, and the world.  We seek an independent, a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel — two nations enjoying self-determination, security and peace.
As I have said many times, the only way to achieve that goal is through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.  There is no shortcut to a sustainable solution.
In our discussion with President Abbas, I heard him speak eloquently about the difficult issues that cannot be ignored — among them, problems caused by continued settlement activities, the plight of Palestinian prisoners, and access to holy sites in Jerusalem.  I understand that the status quo isn’t really a status quo, because the situation on the ground continues to evolve in a direction that makes it harder to reach a two-state solution.  And I know that the Palestinian people are deeply frustrated.
So one of my main messages today — the same message I’m conveying in Israel — is that we cannot give up.  We cannot give up on the search for peace, no matter how hard it is.  As I said with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, we will continue to look for steps that both Israelis and Palestinians can take to build the trust and the confidence upon which lasting peace will depend.  And I very much appreciate hearing President Abbas’s ideas on what those steps could be.
I want both sides to know that as difficult as the current situation is, my administration is committed to doing our part. And I know that Secretary of State John Kerry intends to spend significant time, effort, and energy in trying to bring about a closing of the gap between the parties.  We cannot give up on the search for peace.  Too much is at stake.
And if we’re going to succeed, part of what we’re going to have to do is to get out of some of the formulas and habits that have blocked progress for so long.  Both sides are going to have to think anew.  Those of us in the United States are going to have to think anew.  But I’m confident that we can arrive at our destination to advance the vision of two nations, two neighbors at peace — Israel and Palestine.
If given the chance, one thing that I’m very certain of is that the Palestinians have the talent, the drive, and the courage to succeed in their own state.  I think of the villages that hold peaceful protests because they understand the moral force of nonviolence.  I think of the importance that Palestinian families place on education.  I think of the entrepreneurs determined to create something new, like the young Palestinian woman I met at the entrepreneurship summit that I hosted who wants to build recreation centers for Palestinian youth.  I think of the aspirations that so many young Palestinians have for their future — which is why I’m looking forward to visiting with some of them right after we conclude this press conference.
That’s why we can’t give up, because of young Palestinians and young Israelis who deserve a better future than one that is continually defined by conflict.  Whenever I meet these young people, whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli, I’m reminded of my own daughters, and I know what hopes and aspirations I have for them.  And those of us in the United States understand that change takes time but it is also possible, because there was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunities in their own country as somebody else’s daughters.
What’s true in the United States can be true here as well.  We can make those changes, but we’re going to have to be determined.  We’re going to have to have courage.  We’re going to have to be willing to break out of the old habits, the old arguments, to reach for that new place, that new world.  And I want all the people here and throughout the region to know that you will have the President of the United States and an administration that is committed to achieving that goal.

Transcript of President Barack Obama's Speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center

Remarks of President Barack Obama To the People of Israel
Jerusalem Convention Center
March 21, 2013

Shalom. It is an honor to be here with you in Jerusalem, and I am so grateful for the welcome that I have received from the people of Israel. I bring with me the support of the American people, and the friendship that binds us together.

Over the last two days, I have reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I have borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I have seen Israel’s shining future in your scientists and entrepreneurs. This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation. Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated. But what I’ve looked forward to the most is the ability to speak directly to you, the Israeli people – especially so many young people – about the history that brought us here today, and the future that you will make in the years to come.

Now I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word and gesture is carefully scrutinized. But just so you know, any drama between me and my friend Bibi over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet.

I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday – the celebration of Passover. And that is where I would like to begin today. Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods. After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud to have brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.

It is a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah. It is a story about finding freedom in your own land. For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become. But it is also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and salvation. It is a part of the three great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred. And it is a story that has inspired communities around the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.

In the United States – a nation made up of people who crossed oceans to start anew – we are naturally drawn to the idea of finding freedom in our land. To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil rights movement. For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day was on the horizon. For me personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, it spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.

Of course, even as we draw strength from the story of God’s will and His gift of freedom expressed on Passover, we know that here on Earth we must bear our responsibilities in an imperfect world. That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle, and working – through generation after generation – on behalf of that ideal of freedom. As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed – “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that… we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” So just as Joshua carried on after Moses, the work goes on – for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.

For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.

That is why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own. And over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.

And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora – welcoming Jews from Europe to the former Soviet Union; from Ethiopia to North Africa.

Israel has built a prosperous nation – through kibbutzeem that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the middle class, and innovators who reached new frontiers – from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space.

Israel has established a thriving democracy – with a spirited civil society, proud political parties, a tireless free press, and a lively public debate – lively may even be an understatement.

And Israel has achieved this even as it has overcome relentless threats to its security – through the courageof the Israel Defense Forces, and a citizenry that is resilient in the face of terror.

This is the story of Israel. This is the work that has brought the dreams of so many generations to life. And every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable bonds of friendship with the United States of America.

Those ties began only eleven minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, “I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization”

Since then, we have built a friendship that advances our shared interests. Together, we share a commitment to security for our citizens and the stability of the Middle East and North Africa. Together, we share a focus on advancing economic growth around the globe, and strengthening the middle class within our countries. Together, we share a stake in the success of democracy.

But the source of our friendship extends beyond interests, just as it has transcended political parties and individual leaders. America is a nation of immigrants. We are strengthened by diversity. We are enriched by faith. We are governed not simply by men and women, but by laws. We are fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation. And we are defined by a democratic discourse that allows each generation to reimagine and renew our union once more. So in Israel, we see values that we share, even as we recognize what makes us different.

Yet I stand here today mindful that for both our nations, these are complicated times. We have difficult issues to work through within our own countries, and we face danger and upheaval in the world. When I look at young people within the United States, I think about the choices that they must make in their lives to define who we will be as a nation in this 21st century, particularly as we emerge from two wars and a painful recession. No matter how great the challenges are, their idealism, their energy, and their ambition always gives me hope.

I see the same spirit in the young people here today. And given the ties between our countries, I believe your future is bound to ours. So I’d like to focus on how we can work together to make progress in three areas that will define our times: security, peace, and prosperity.

I will begin with security. I am proud that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger: more exercises between our militaries, and more exchanges among our political, military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge. Those are the facts. But to me, this is not simply measured on the balance sheet. I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal. So let me tell you what I think about when I consider these issues.

When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot – children, the same age as my own daughters, who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live. That’s why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives – because those children deserve to sleep better at night. That’s why we have made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself. And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; who were robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hizbollah what it truly is – a terrorist organization. Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities, and supports the massacre of men, women and children in Syria.

The fact that Hizbollah’s ally – the Assad regime – has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency. We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. And I have made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders: we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people or the transfer of these weapons to terrorists. The world is watching, and we will hold you accountable.

America will also insist that the Syrian people have the right to be freed from the grip of a dictator who would rather kill his own people than relinquish power. Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin. Because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsive to its people – one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them.

When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction. It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat. But this is not simply a challenge for Israel – it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States. It would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism, undermine the non-proliferation regime, spark an arms race in a volatile region, and embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations.

That is why America has built a coalition to increase the cost to Iran of failing to meet their obligations. The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing. It is isolated. Its economy is in a dire condition. Its leadership is divided. And its position – in the region, and the world – has only grown weaker.

All of us have an interest in resolving this issue peacefully. Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. Moreover, peace is far more preferable to war, and the inevitable costs – and unintended consequences – that would come with it. Because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. That is what America will do – with clear eyes – working with a world that is united, and with the sense of urgency that is required.

But Iran must know this time is not unlimited. And I have made the position of the United States of America clear: Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained. As President, I have said to the world that all options are on the table for achieving our objectives. America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

For young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected your right to exist. Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all they had to make a place for themselves in this world. Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state. Your children grow up knowing that people they have never met hate them because of who they are, in a region that is changing underneath your feet.

So that is what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges – that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it. That is why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important – because it can never be taken for granted. But make no mistake: those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. Today, I want to tell you – particularly the young people – that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd.

The question, then, is what kind of future Israel will look forward to. And that brings me to the subject of peace.

I know Israel has taken risks for peace. Brave leaders – Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin –reached treaties with two of your neighbors. You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis. You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets. Across the region, you have extended a hand of friendship, and too often have been confronted with the ugly reality of anti-Semitism. So I believe that the Israeli people do want peace, and you have every right to be skeptical that it can be achieved.

But today, Israel is at a crossroads. It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace – particularly when an Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers, and so many other pressing issues demand your attention. And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future.

I also know that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace. I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, and that’s a part of democracy and the discourse between our two countries. But it is important to be open and honest with one another. Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside, and express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points.

First, peace is necessary. Indeed, it is the only path to true security. You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine. Given the frustration in the international community, Israel must reverse an undertow of isolation. And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people is through the absence of war – because no wall is high enough, and no Iron Dome is strong enough, to stop every enemy from inflicting harm.

This truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab World. I recognize that with the uncertainty in the region – people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rise of non-secular parties in politics –it is tempting to turn inward. But this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve for peace. As more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace with a handful of autocratic leaders are over. Peace must be made among peoples, not just governments. No one step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and division.

Second, peace is just. There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, and leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is why security must be at the center of any agreement. And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiation. That is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.

But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

Only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians – you will define the future of Israel as well. As Ariel Sharon said, “It is impossible to have a Jewish, democratic state and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.” Or, from a different perspective, think of what David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace – “a peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.”

Of course, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few would have imagined a decade ago. So many Palestinians – including young people – have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations.

Which leads to my third point: peace is possible. I know it doesn’t seem that way. There will always be a reason to avoid risk, and there’s a cost for failure. There will always be extremists who provide an excuse to not act. And there is something exhausting about endless talks about talks; the daily controversies, and grinding status quo.

Negotiations will be necessary, but there is little secret about where they must lead – two states for two peoples. There will be differences about how to get there, and hard choices along the way. Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel. Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn. I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for talks. But for the moment, put aside the plans and process. I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people.

Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want – they’re not so different from you. The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.

That is where peace begins – not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people; not just in a carefully designed process, but in the daily connections that take place among those who live together in this land, and in this sacred city of Jerusalem. Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.

I know this is possible. Look to the bridges being built in business and civil society by some of you here today. Look at young people who have not yet learned a reason to mistrust, and those who have learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents because of the simple recognition that we hold more hopes in common than the fear that drives us apart. Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward. Look to a future in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land. Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time.

There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be. Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. After all, that is a lesson that the world learned from the Jewish people.

That brings me to the final area I will focus on: prosperity, and Israel’s broader role in the world. I know that all the talk about security and peace can seem distant from other concerns that you have in your daily lives. And every day, even amidst the threats you face, Israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities you create.

Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy. Israelis understand the value of education, and have produced 10 Nobel laureates. Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors. That spirit has led to economic growth and human progress: solar power and electric cars; bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives; stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease; cell phones and computer technology that change the way we live. If people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv: home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers. And Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.

That innovation is just as important to the relationship between the United States and Israel as our security cooperation. Our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with Israel nearly three decades ago, and today the trade between our two countries is at 40 billion dollars each year. More importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments, and pushing new frontiers of science and exploration.

That is the kind of relationship that Israel should have – and could have – with every country in the world. Already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region. One program here in Jerusalem brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business. An Israeli and Palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance Palestinian start-ups. Over 100 high-tech companies have found a home on the West Bank, which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the Palestinian people.

One of the great ironies of what is happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for – education and entrepreneurship; the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, toconnect to the global economy – those things can be found in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine of opportunity. And this is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy. I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, and a lasting peace.

Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much tragedy and triumph, Israelis have built something that few could imagine sixty-five years ago. Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history – at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see that the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past; at the grave of Rabin, who understood that Israel’s victories in war had to be followed by battles for peace; and at Yad Vashem, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the Jewish people and all of humanity if we fail to remain ever vigilant.

We bear that history on our shoulders, and we carry it in our hearts. Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation, you – the young people of Israel – must now claim the future. It falls to you to write the next chapter in the story of this great nation.

As the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend, I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead. And as a man who has been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience – tikkun olam – I am hopeful that we can draw upon what’s best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world. May God bless you, and may God bless Israel and the United States of America. Toda raba

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama in Israel: full text of his speech


President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and most of all, to the people of Israel, thank you for this incredibly warm welcome. This is my third visit to Israel so let me just say tov lihiyot shuv ba’aretz.

I’m so honored to be here as you prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel. Yet I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages — to be “masters of their own fate” in “their own sovereign state.” And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

As I begin my second term as President, Israel is the first stop on my first foreign trip. This is no accident. Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril. So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.

I want to begin right now, by answering a question that is sometimes asked about our relationship — why? Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel? And the answer is simple. We stand together because we share a common story — patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.

We stand together because we are democracies. For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.

We stand together because it makes us more prosperous. Our trade and investment create jobs for both our peoples. Our partnerships in science and medicine and health bring us closer to new cures, harness new energy and have helped transform us into high-tech hubs of our global economy.

We stand together because we share a commitment to helping our fellow human beings around the world. When the earth shakes and the floods come, our doctors and rescuers reach out to help. When people are suffering, from Africa to Asia, we partner to fight disease and overcome hunger.

And we stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land. For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbors.

So as I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can –the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.

That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago. That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today. And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever – lanetzach.

Thank you very much.