< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Read a book about the Jews

Read a book about the Jews - for instance The Jews in their Land, (conceived and edited by David Ben-Gurion, and first published in 1966 by Aldus Books, London) and you will see that we have always been in the Holy Land. The book mentioned is divided as follows:
Part One
Entry to Exile
1200 BCE - 587 BCE

Part Two
The Prophets

Part Three
From the Babylonia Exile to the Bar Kochba Revolt
587 BCE - 135 CE

Part Four
From Bar Kochba's Revolt to the Turkish Conquest
135 CE - 1516

Part Five
Under Ottoman Rule
1517 - 1917

Part Six
From the Founding of Petah-Tikva to the Present Day
1878-1966
Then there is the Epilogue, by David ben-Gurion:
In all the chronicles of mankind, the history of the Jewish people is unique. From the dawn of their days, 4000 years ago, they had to fight, without surcease, a battle of the few against the many. The battle raged even when the Jews were sovereign in their own Land. It was a battle of politics and armaments alike. And whether Jewry was home on independent and independenet, or whether it was condemned to interminable wandering in worldwide dispersion, it was also required to engage in a battle of spirit and of minds. . .

Of their (biblical Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Aram) tongues, cultures and creeds nothing lives.

The Jewish people, in the Land of Israel, are the only people in the whole of the Middle East who still speak the language that their ancestors spoke 4000 years ago, who still hold tospranggion that sprange from the Patriarch Abraham and the great teacher Moses. Twice the people of Israel were wrenched from the homeland. For the last 2000 years they have been scattered to the four corners of the globe, drifting from country to country .. . Yet never once did they sever their links with the Land. Each day, three times, they prayed: Sound the great horn for our freedom; raise the ensign to gather our exiles, and gather us from the four corners of the earth.. . . And to Jerusalem, they city, return in mercy . . . rebuild it soon in our days as an everlasting building . . .

Eighty-six years ago, this supplication bursting from Jewish hearts inspired a bold and unparalleled revival. On barren and malarious soil beside the Yarkon river, the first new Jewish village was founded; its name was Petah Tikva, Gateway of Hope. Then others; in scores and hundreds, the length and breadth of the Land. Hebrew came to be used for everyday speech. In 1948 a Jewish State was proclaimed and Israel was sovereign again, less than a decade after the most terrible calamity to befall the Jewish people in their lifetime, the murder of the 6,000,000. Among them were the Jews who, in the three preceding generations, had paved the way for the Return to Zion and the Rebirth of Israel and who, for the last 200 years, had formed the core and center of Jewry, intellectually, morally and culturally.

The first decade and a half of the State witnessed astonishing changes; a tripling of the population, enlargement of farming and industry, great strides in shipping and civil aviation, in research and science, advances that placed the Land in a class with the most progressive states of Europe.

Mass aliya stemmed from every continent, from almost every island of the world's oceans, thought in the main from Asia and Africa, from areas that were, materially and culturally, backward and abject. As yet, development has been marked only in a narrow coastal strip from Haifa to Tel Aviv and its sister towns. North Galilee and, more particularly, the Negev - a full 70% of the State's area - are still waste and empty.

Israel and her Arab neighbors are member states of the United Nations, the charter of which enjoins all members to solves disputes by peaceful means. But Israel is still beleaguered. Arab rulers still proclaim, day after day, their intent to destroy the Jewish state.
Ben-Gurion goes on to call for aliya, for settlement in the Galilee and the Negev, for closing the gap between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews in Israel, and for dispelling "the hostility of the encircling Arab peoples" by making "a covenant of peace between them and Israel that will culminate in economic, cultural and political cooperation, and advance the well-being of the whole Middle East."

Finally he calls for playing our part in "ensuring social progress" . . . because "our people believe that a new world will arise, a world of freedom, of justice and peace, of human partnership."


I beg you not to cower and allow this world to embarass you for your Jewishness. Read a book about the Jews, about our kings and kingdoms, our travels and suffering, our victories, our survival . . . and our contributions to the uplifting of humanity.

For crying out loud, plant a tree in Israel, vacation there, move your family there. Say a blessing, say a hundred. Uplift someone's well-being. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You who are born to this people of enormous integrity and righteousness, of learning and building, have a role to play. The battle of the few against the many rages on; no less so, the battle of spirit and of minds. Whether you admit it or not, whether you like it or not, the story of the Jews includes your life, your words, your actions.

What have you done for us lately?

Friday, December 19, 2003

Sharon's Disengagement Policy Speech

"Peace and terror cannot coexist"
FULL TEXT

Good Evening,

I congratulate the organizers of this conference for the important and interesting gathering which you have held here. During the past three days, you have been discussing Israel's situation. I, as Prime Minister, am responsible for the planning and implementation of the measures which will shape Israel's character during the next few years.

We are all entrusted with the duty of shaping the face of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel – a state where there is an equal distribution of the burden, as well as the acceptance of rights and shouldering of duties by all sectors, through different forms of national service. A state where there is a good and efficient education system which educates a young generation imbued with values and national pride, which is capable of confronting the challenges of the modern world. A country whose economy is adapted to the advanced global market of the 21st century, where the product per capita crosses the $20,000 line and is equal to that of most developed European countries. An immigrant-absorbing state which constitutes a national and spiritual center for all Jews of the world and is a source of attraction for thousands of immigrants each year. Aliyah is the central goal of the State of Israel.

This is the country we wish to shape. This is the country where our children will want to live.

I know that there is sometimes a tendency to narrow all of Israel's problems down to the political sphere, believing that once a solution is found to Israel's problems with its neighbors, particularly the Palestinians, the other issues on the agenda will miraculously resolve themselves. I do not believe so. We are facing additional challenges which must be addressed – the economy, educating the young generation, immigrant absorption, enhancement of social cohesion and the improvement of relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Like all Israeli citizens, I yearn for peace. I attach supreme importance to taking all steps which will enable progress toward resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. However, in light of the other challenges we are faced with, if the Palestinians do not make a similar effort toward a solution of the conflict – I do not intend to wait for them indefinitely.

Seven months ago, my Government approved the "Roadmap" to peace, based on President George Bush's June 2002 speech. This is a balanced program for phased progress toward peace, to which both Israel and the Palestinians committed themselves. A full and genuine implementation of the program is the best way to achieve true peace. The Roadmap is the only political plan accepted by Israel, the Palestinians, the Americans and a majority of the international community. We are willing to proceed toward its implementation: two states – Israel and a Palestinian State – living side by side in tranquility, security and peace.

The Roadmap is a clear and reasonable plan, and it is therefore possible and imperative to implement it. The concept behind this plan is that only security will lead to peace. And in that sequence. Without the achievement of full security – within the framework of which terror organizations will be dismantled – it will not be possible to achieve genuine peace, a peace for generations. This is the essence of the Roadmap. The opposite perception, according to which the very signing of a peace agreement will produce security out of thin air, has already been tried in the past and failed miserably. And such will be the fate of any other plan which promotes this concept. These plans deceive the public and create false hope. There will be no peace before the eradication of terror.

The government under my leadership will not compromise on the realization of all phases of the Roadmap. It is incumbent upon the Palestinians to uproot the terrorist groups and to create a law-abiding society which fights against violence and incitement. Peace and terror cannot coexist. The world is currently united in its unequivocal demand from the Palestinians to act toward the cessation of terrorism and the implementation of reforms. Only a transformation of the Palestinian Authority into a different authority will enable progress in the political process. The Palestinians must fulfill their obligations. A full and complete implementation will – at the end of the process – lead to peace and tranquility.

We began the implementation of the Roadmap at Aqaba, but the terrorist organizations joined with Yasser Arafat and sabotaged the process with a series of the most brutal terror attacks we have ever known.

Concurrent with the demand from the Palestinians to eliminate the terror organizations, Israel is taking – and will continue to take – steps to significantly improve the living conditions of the Palestinian population: Israel will remove closures and curfews and reduce the number of roadblocks; we will improve freedom of movement for the Palestinian population, including the passage of people and goods; we will increase the hours of operation at international border crossings; we will enable a large number of Palestinian merchants to conduct regular and normal economic and trade relations with their Israeli counterparts, etc. All these measures are aimed at enabling better and freer movement for the Palestinian population not involved in terror.

In addition, subject to security coordination, we will transfer Palestinian towns to Palestinian security responsibility.

Israel will make every effort to assist the Palestinians and to advance the process.

Israel will fulfill the commitments taken upon itself. I have committed to the President of the United States that Israel will dismantle unauthorized outposts. It is my intention to implement this commitment. The State of Israel is governed by law, and the issue of the outposts is no exception. I understand the sensitivity; we will try to do this in the least painful way possible, but the unauthorized outposts will be dismantled. Period.

Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements.

I take this opportunity to appeal to the Palestinians and repeat, as I said at Aqaba: it is not in our interest to govern you. We would like you to govern yourselves in your own country. A democratic Palestinian state with territorial contiguity in Judea and Samaria and economic viability, which would conduct normal relations of tranquility, security and peace with Israel. Abandon the path of terror and let us together stop the bloodshed. Let us move forward together towards peace.

We wish to speedily advance implementation of the Roadmap towards quiet and a genuine peace. We hope that the Palestinian Authority will carry out its part. However, if in a few months the Palestinians still continue to disregard their part in implementing the Roadmap – then Israel will initiate the unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians.

The purpose of the "Disengagement Plan" is to reduce terror as much as possible, and grant Israeli citizens the maximum level of security. The process of disengagement will lead to an improvement in the quality of life, and will help strengthen the Israeli economy. The unilateral steps which Israel will take in the framework of the "Disengagement Plan" will be fully coordinated with the United States. We must not harm our strategic coordination with the United States. These steps will increase security for the residents of Israel and relieve the pressure on the IDF and security forces in fulfilling the difficult tasks they are faced with. The "Disengagement Plan" is meant to grant maximum security and minimize friction between Israelis and Palestinians.

We are interested in conducting direct negotiations, but do not intend to hold Israeli society hostage in the hands of the Palestinians. I have already said – we will not wait for them indefinitely.

The "Disengagement Plan" will include the redeployment of IDF forces along new security lines and a change in the deployment of settlements, which will reduce as much as possible the number of Israelis located in the heart of the Palestinian population. We will draw provisional security lines and the IDF will be deployed along them. Security will be provided by IDF deployment, the security fence and other physical obstacles. The "Disengagement Plan" will reduce friction between us and the Palestinians.

This reduction of friction will require the extremely difficult step of changing the deployment of some of the settlements. I would like to repeat what I have said in the past: In the framework of a future agreement, Israel will not remain in all the places where it is today. The relocation of settlements will be made, first and foremost, in order to draw the most efficient security line possible, thereby creating this disengagement between Israel and the Palestinians. This security line will not constitute the permanent border of the State of Israel, however, as long as implementation of the Roadmap is not resumed, the IDF will be deployed along that line. Settlements which will be relocated are those which will not be included in the territory of the State of Israel in the framework of any possible future permanent agreement. At the same time, in the framework of the "Disengagement Plan," Israel will strengthen its control over those same areas in the Land of Israel which will constitute an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any future agreement. I know you would like to hear names, but we should leave something for later.

Israel will greatly accelerate the construction of the security fence. Today we can already see it taking shape. The rapid completion of the security fence will enable the IDF to remove roadblocks and ease the daily lives of the Palestinian population not involved in terror.

In order to enable the Palestinians to develop their economic and trade sectors, and to ensure that they will not be exclusively dependent on Israel, we will consider, in the framework of the "Disengagement Plan", enabling – in coordination with Jordan and Egypt – the freer passage of people and goods through international border crossings, while taking the necessary security precautions.

I would like to emphasize: the "Disengagement Plan" is a security measure and not a political one. The steps which will be taken will not change the political reality between Israel and the Palestinians, and will not prevent the possibility of returning to the implementation of the Roadmap and reaching an agreed settlement.

The "Disengagement Plan" does not prevent the implementation of the Roadmap. Rather, it is a step Israel will take in the absence of any other option, in order to improve its security. The "Disengagement Plan" will be realized only in the event that the Palestinians continue to drag their feet and postpone implementation of the Roadmap.

Obviously, through the "Disengagement Plan" the Palestinians will receive much less than they would have received through direct negotiations as set out in the Roadmap.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my life experience has taught me that for peace, as well as for war, we must have broad consensus. We must preserve our unity, even in the midst of a difficult, internal debate.

In the past three years, the Palestinian terrorist organizations have put us to a difficult test. Their plan to break the spirit of Israeli society has not succeeded. The citizens of Israel have managed to step into the breach, support each other, lend a helping hand, volunteer and contribute.

I believe that this path of unity must be continued today. Whether we will be able to advance the Roadmap, or will have to implement the "Disengagement Plan", experience has taught us that, together, through broad national consensus, we can do great things.

Let us not be led astray. Any path will be complicated, strewn with obstacles, and obligate us to act with discretion and responsibility. I am confident that, just as we have managed to overcome the challenges of the past, we will stand together and succeed today.

We will always be guided by the words of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who said, on the day after the Declaration of Independence:
These days, our purpose is only to build the State of Israel with love and faith, in Jewish brotherhood, and to defend it with all our spirit, and as long as necessary. We are still in the midst of a difficult battle, one that has two fronts: political and military. Let us not embellish our deeds and, of course, our words, with grandiose names. We must remain humble. We achieved what we have achieved by standing on the shoulders of previous generations, and we accomplished what we have accomplished by preserving our precious legacy, the legacy of a small nation which has endured suffering and tribulations, but which is, nevertheless, great and eternal in spirit, vision, faith and virtue.
I am also a great believer in the resilience of this small, brave nation which has endured suffering and tribulations. I am confident that, united in the power of our faith, we will be able to succeed in any path we choose.

Thank you very much, and happy Hannukah.

Happy Chanuka to Manhigut Yehudit!

Dear Friends,

Israel's Makor Rishon weekly newspaper is currently running a poll with the following question:
In your opinion, who should lead the Likud party?

To date, here are the results:

Silvan Shalom - 1.26%
Shaul Mofaz - 2.20%
Ehud Olmert - 2.83%
Tzahi Hanegbi - 3.77%
Limor Livnat - 13.84%
Bibi Netanyahu - 25.47%
Moshe Feiglin - 50.63%

Happy Chanuka everybody!!!

With love of Israel,
Shmuel Sackett
International Director
Manhigut Yehudit

Justice and Saddam Hussein

by Jeff Jacoby
. . . justice will not be done. Not in any courtroom in Iraq, not in any courtroom on earth. How could it be? The very worst outcome Saddam is likely to face is a hanging or execution by firing squad. For a killer with the blood of one or two or 10 innocents on his hands, such a punishment might reasonably be said to fit the crime. But what punishment could possibly fit the crimes of a monster like Saddam, who is responsible for the murder and torture of hundreds of thousands of human beings?

"This is a regime" -- I am quoting *The Threatening Storm* by Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East scholar who served two tours of duty in Bill Clinton's National Security Council -- "that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents. This is a regime that will crush all the bones in the feet of a 2-year-old girl to force her mother to divulge her father's whereabouts. . . . This is a regime that will burn a person's limbs off to force him to confess or comply. This is a regime that will slowly lower its victims into huge vats of acid, either to break their will or as a means of execution. . . . This is a regime that will drag in a man's wife, daughter, or other female relative and repeatedly rape her in front of him. This is a regime that will force a white-hot metal rod into a person's anus or other orifices. This is a regime that employs thalium poisoning, widely considered one of the most excruciating ways to die. This is a regime that will behead a young mother in the street in front of her house and children because her husband was suspected of opposing the regime. This is a regime that used chemical warfare . . . not just on the 15,000 killed and maimed at Halabja but on scores of other villages all across Kurdistan."

The liberation of Iraq from such mind-curdling horror was a profound moral achievement. It marks the fourth time in little more than a decade that the United States has freed Muslims from terror and totalitarian cruelty.
Read it all.

Excellent Krauthammer

The end of the myth of Saddam
WASHINGTON -- The race is over. The Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject, goes to ... "Saddam's Dental Exam.''

Screenplay: First Brigade, U.S. 4th I.D.

Producer: P. Bremer Enterprises, Baghdad.

Director: the anonymous genius at U.S. headquarters who chose this clip as the world's first view of Saddam in captivity.

In the old days, the conquered tyrant was dragged through the streets behind the Roman general's chariot. Or paraded shackled before a jeering crowd. Or, when more finality was required, had his head placed on a spike on the tower wall.

Iraq has its own ways. In the revolution of 1958, Prime Minister Nuri as-Said was caught by a crowd and murdered, and his body was dragged behind a car through the streets of Baghdad until there was nothing left but half a leg.

We Americans don't do it that way. Instead, we show Saddam -- King of Kings, Lion of the Tigris, Saladin of the Arabs -- compliantly opening his mouth like a child to the universal indignity of an oral (and head lice!) exam. Docility wrapped in banality. Brilliant. Nothing could have been better calculated to demystify the all-powerful tyrant.

It was a beautiful sight. But it was more than that. It was a deeply important historical moment. More than the fate of a man is at stake here. At stake is the fate of an idea, an idea of singular malignancy that has cost the Arabs not just countless innocent lives, but a half-century of progress.

Saddam was the most aggressive and enduring exemplar of a particular kind of deformed Arabism, a kind that arose in the post-colonial era, appealed to the greater glory of the Arab nation and promised a great restoration. Ironically, its methods and ideology were imported from the West, the worst of the West. The Baath Party was modeled on the fascist parties in early 20th-century Europe. Its economics were Western socialism at its most stifling and corrupt. Saddam then created the perfect fusion of the two, producing a totalitarianism of surpassing cruelty modeled consciously on Stalin's.

Saddam's destiny is important because he was the last and the greatest of these pan-Arab pretenders, though he gave it a psychotically sadistic character unmatched anywhere in the Arab world. This stream of Arab nationalism brought nothing but poverty, corruption, despair, torture and ruin to large swaths of the Arab world. The mass graves of Iraq are its permanent monument.

Which is why it was important not just to capture Saddam, but to demystify him -- and with him, the half-century spell that radical pan-Arabism had cast over the entire Middle East. It was important that the God-King of pan-Arabism be shown as the pathetic coward he was. It was important to finally shatter what Fouad Ajami had called ``the dream palace of the Arabs.'' And to banish the grotesque fantasy, perpetrated by Saddam and his acolytes in the Arab intelligentsia, that Arab greatness -- once built on a magnificent civilization of science, culture and tolerance -- is to be built upon blood, power and cruelty.

It seemed as if that fantasy had been dealt a fatal blow when Baghdad fell so suddenly on April 9. Instead of the promised Battle of Baghdad, confronting and perhaps even stopping the Americans in heroic street-by-street combat, there was nothing. Just ignominious collapse. The Arab media, particularly the al-Jazeeras that have long lionized Saddam and promoted ``Baghdad Bob's'' comical claims of Iraqi war victories, were shocked and humiliated. They themselves had to admit that this was the greatest psychological blow to Arab nationalist pretensions since the similarly vainglorious Nasser was routed by Israel in six days in June 1967.

But then came the Iraqi insurgency: the bloodying of the Americans, the doubts at home, the charges of ``quagmire,'' the visions of Vietnam, the notion that the United States might in the end be defeated -- tire and leave the field, once again to Saddam.

On the run, Saddam enjoyed one final moment of myth: the ever-resourceful, undaunted resistance fighter. Perhaps, it was thought, he had it all calculated in advance, fading silently from Baghdad like the Russians withdrawing from Moscow before Napoleon, to suck in the Americans only to strike back later on his own terms in a brilliant guerrilla campaign masterminded by the great one himself.

And then they find him cowering in a hole, disheveled, disoriented and dishonored. After making those underground tapes exhorting others to give their blood for Iraq and for him, his instantaneous reaction to discovery was hands-up surrender.

End of the myth. It is not just that he did not resist the soldiers with the guns. He did not even resist the medic with the tongue depressor.
See also "Saddam: Arab Honor or Dishonor" by Walid Phares at Townhall.com and "Saddam's Arrest Brings Humiliation Debate" in The Guardian.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

al Qaeda plans exposed by Jordan

Three-man cell was poised for major attacks
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reveal that Jordan has exposed a three-man al Qaeda cell, residents of Zarqa, just as it was poised for such major attacks as the assassinations of senior Jordanian military intelligence officers and shooting-grenade attacks on Western and Israeli tourists visiting the ancient ruins of Jarash, 29 miles north of Amman, and the Ajlun National Forest nearby.

Their primary Jordanian target was Major Ali Bourjak, counter-terror chief in Jordanian intelligence, who is of Circassian origin. In addition to Israeli trippers, the cell intended seeking out Western visitors to the two sites and Amman’s bars, restaurants and cafes that serve alcoholic drinks. Jarash is popular with tourists as the most complete Roman provincial city to survive in the world, while Ajlun forest overlooks the Biblical Land of Gilead.

Al Qaeda’s preparations for attack were well advanced. They had reconnoitered the two sites and concealed weapons and explosives near the targeted locations.

In addition to rounding up the al Qaeda cell, Jordanian security found the source of its weapons – Iraq via Syria – yet further evidence of Syria’s involvement in the terror offensive rampant in the Middle East. The captured terrorists disclosed under questioning that their commander and supplier of weapons and explosives was Osama bin Laden’s Jordanian chief of operations, Musab Zarqawi, who is known to be hiding in Iran. Zarqawi’s instructions were passed on by his nephew Omar Sayel, a member of the Jordanian police force.

Zarqawi has been linked to last month’s wave of bomb blasts at Jewish synagogues and British locations in Istanbul in which 53 people were killed and 750 injured. The US has placed a $15 million price on his head.

Saudi Arabia bans teddy bears, female dolls and Buddha statues

Interior minister trying to appease "extremists"
The Guardian: Saudi Arabia has banned imports of female dolls and teddy bears, and shopkeepers have been given three months to dispose of any stock.

The ban also applies to non-Islamic religious symbols, such as crosses and statues of the Buddha. It was imposed by Prince Nayef, 69, the interior minister, al-Riyadh newspaper said yesterday. He is also in charge of the feared religious police and is regarded as one of the main obstacles to reform within the government.

Fashion models in the country have also been told that they must not display "shapely" figures.

"Prince Nayef is trying to appease the extremists because the followers of Wahhabi Islam believe in forbidding this sort of thing," said Ali al-Ahmad of the Washington-based Saudi Institute.

The ban could not be confirmed by Saudi officials.

One unofficial source said it might to be a new attempt to enforce a 1982 royal decree forbidding toys made in the shape of living creatures.


Ah yes, a world without teddy bears . . . without Jews, Christians or Buddhists. Even more offensive than the imposition of Islamic fundamentalism is the acquiesance of the world. One takes for granted that few will stand up for the Jews, but teddy bears? Surely, people care about innocent toys . . . or Buddhas?



Buddha statue - An Afghan militiaman sits under the 120 foot tall female Buddha statue in Bamiyan.
This female Buddha statue is located near the taller, male statue which had previously been
damaged in fighting. Afghanistan's Taliban rulers began the destruction of all statues on March 1 2001.
Photo: Zaheeruddin Abdullah, AP


The Destruction of the Statues in Bamiyan

Remember the Church of Nativity Deportees?

One arrested for major theft in Belgium
Haaretz: LONDON - One of the 13 Palestinians deported from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in May 2002 was arrested Tuesday in Belgium on suspicion of participating in a number of robberies in which more than $250,000 were stolen. Khalil Mohammed Abdullah al-Nawara received asylum in Belgium following the siege on the church.

The Belgian daily, Le Soir, reported that large security forces had conducted searches in 44 locations in the Brussels area, arresting seven individuals, including al-Nawara, on suspicion of using explosives to rob post offices of more than 215,000 euro.

Al-Nawara, a former resident of Bethlehem and a member of the Tanzim militia, was involved in the past in incidents of shooting at Israeli cars on the Tunnel Road, as well as the murder of Israeli citizens. His asylum in Belgium included financial assistance and housing. He was initially under guard by Belgian security forces, but this was later lifted after he was deemed not to be a threat to public security.

The affair has stirred unrest and embarrassment in Belgium.

A really worthy cause

via Naomi Ragen
Friends,

The problem with Jewish fundraising is that many causes that really need the money, and many people who really deserve to get it, don't know how to ask for it. They aren't plugged into the big, well-oiled funds like Shefa, who pay men in expensive suits executive salaries to hold fundraising dinners honoring well-heeled donors. They aren't sophisticated mailing- list buyers, and don't know how to sell themselves. So they sit back and work their hearts out, doing amazing things, until they wear themselves out and/ or go bankrupt.

I'd like to tell you about one such enterprise. It's a pre-army preparatory course("Mechina" in Hebrew) called Karmei Hayil that takes in boys facing army service, strengthening their bodies with combat training courses, their faith with ethical and religious studies, and their minds with an understanding of what it means to be a citizen and a soldier in the only Jewish country in the world.

There are a number of such Mechina programs in Israel. So why am I telling you about this one? Because, this one is special.

Someone I know had a son who was in a terrorist attack. He wasn't physically injured, but something happened to his spirit. He was in tenth grade, and he dropped out of school. He enrolled in a private tutoring program to learn for his matriculation exams, but it was in the center of an Israeli town that had one terrorist attack after another. So he dropped out of that too. He struggled for two years on his own, to prepare for his exams. And he passed them all. When the notice came from the army, he was happy. But he was still young -- only seventeen. He realized that he needed to prepare -- to build up his strength, to hone his skills, to prove that he could be an active participant in the life of the country. He tried to get into some of the other Mechina programs. But when they looked at his school records, all they saw was :drop out... Sorry, they said. No room. Besides, they had six hundred applicants and only one hundred openings. And they were looking for a different 'type' of boy...

He gave up, his new spirit fading. His parents were devastated. But then someone told his mother to call Rav Ran, head of Karmei Hayil. "Let me talk to your son..." he told her. And she did. And Rav Ran took the time to see what others hadn't bothered to see: that this was a good boy, who needed a chance to prove himself so he could become a fine Jewish soldier; so he could protect other people's children from the terrorists who had ruined his high school years.

He's been there several months. And he's happy at last. And the staff at Karmei Hayil are very happy with him, too. It's got a wonderful staff, this little Mechina on a windswept hill in the Galilee at a yishuv called Beit Rimmon. Jewish scholars, an instructor for army service who was an officer in Sayeret Matkal, the army's most elite unit. A physical education instructor, a combat training instructor and an administrator. And I'd like to tell you something else about these men, something I know but few others do. Certainly not the boys: None of the staff is taking a salary. Because, right now, there is no money for salaries.

So, what money do they have? Well, the boys' parents pay a nominal sum that just about pays for the three meals a day the boys eat, and their electricity and water and housing. And the government used to chip in. That is, when the land of Israel had a government that had money for such projects. But those days are over.

Which is why I've decided to try to let all of you know about this place. Before they wear themselves out, and have to close down and send the boys home. And that would truly be a disaster, because most of their students have made long personal journeys before finding this home where they are happy at last.

They need money for everyday expenses. Money to fund scholarships for boys who can't afford to come. They could use a new study hall, instead of the old, rusting barn they have. And it would be great if they could fix up the boys' rooms and keep out the cold winters in the Galilee. And audio visual equipment for the lectures, and yes, Torah books, and a Sefer Torah for their synagogue...And maybe, just maybe, some money to pay their teachers so they won't have to work two and three jobs....

So, if you want to help Israel, and you want a really good cause, one that won't be getting money from the Shefa Funds, one that will really change the lives of young boys and enhance the lives of young soldiers, some of whom have been through so much already, please send them whatever you can. I know I will. Because if we don't, no one else will, because there isn't any director of development, and no PR department. Just a bunch of men and a bunch of boys on a windy hilltop in the Galilee, trying to do something wonderful for the Jewish State and its children.

If you want to make a money transfer from your bank account, here are the details of Karmey Hayil's bank account::

Mizrahi Bank
Branch No. 441
Hadar, Haifa
Account No. 635507


Another way of sending donations is to mail a check made out to Karmey Hayil to: Karmey Hayil, Beit Rimmon, HaMovil Mail, Zip 17950, ISRAEL. All donors who wish to recieve receipts for tax purposes, please request them.

And if you know something about fundraising, and would like to help this place organize something in the States, or Canada, or Europe, or South Africa, or Australia, contact the Sagi ben Yaacov at sagiby@yahoo.com . Or write me. You can count on me to help you help them in any way I can.

Love you all. Happy Chanukah.

Naomi

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Is there some reason this meeting was not a target?


Spiritual leader of the militant group Hamas Sheik Ahmed Yassin, second from left, sits with Egyptian mediator, Moustafa El-Bohairi, left, and Mohammed Ibrahim, second from right, and Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, right,during a meeting at Yassin's home in Gaza City, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003. Egyptian mediators arrived in Gaza Tuesday to restart talks among Palestinian militant factions about a halt to attacks against Israelis. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
YASSIN: When asked whether he thought there was any hope of Palestinians and Israelis peacefully living side by side, he responded: "They can set up a state in Europe. . . They threw out millions of Palestinians from their homes," he added. "Israelis don't want to live here with the same rights as others." (12/6/03)


RANTISI: In the Gaza Strip, Hamas co-founder Abdel Aziz Rantisi pledged at a rally (12/12/03) that a fresh wave of attacks on Israelis was coming. "Bodies of (Hamas) commandos will continue to shake and to blow up in the depth of the Zionist entity," Rantisi told a cheering crowd of thousands. "Jihad (holy war) is coming."

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Advertising the Chanukah Miracle in Boulder

Public Menorah Lighting set for Monday


Wonderful Chanukah celebration!
Giant 9 foot Menorah
Chanukah doughnuts and refreshments
Singing
Special Chanukah fun pack for kids
(One per family first 35 families)

Monday, Dec. 22
6:00 pm
Pearl Street Mall
(1300 block)

MIGRON to be dismantled

42 families threatened with expulsion
Arutz Sheva: Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz has given orders to uproot and dismantle the "outpost" of Migron - including all 42 of its families - and it may happen on Thursday.

Migron was officially established almost two years ago on a hilltop overlooking the Shomron's central artery Highway 60, which leads from Jerusalem to Binyamin and Shomron towns such as Ofrah, Beit El, Shilo, and Eli. The tall buildings of Jerusalem can be clearly seen to the south, thus that Migron is part of Jerusalem's defense belt.

The town never received all its written permits, thus rendering it an "illegal outpost," but its construction was rushed along and encouraged by many national and local government offices. In particular, a road was paved, caravans and playgrounds were stationed at the site, security was provided, and other help was administered. Mofaz has ordered O.C. Central Command Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky to prepare an order that will bypass the need to receive Supreme Court approval for the evacuation of the families.

Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that information in the hands of Yesha Council leaders indicates that the dismantling will take place this Thursday, ignoring the legal process that is necessary to do so. The strategy will be to highlight the fact that Israeli law does not apply to Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and that the IDF is sovereign. Buildings and towns will thus be able to be demolished without receiving legal approval.

IDF officers arrived at the site yesterday to ascertain what equipment will be needed for the evacuation.

A senior military Central Command source told Huberman that Migron has the added problem of questionable land-status. Even though much of the property is Jewish-owned, some of it is not. On the other hand, the main pusher behind the establishment of Migron was none other than Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, who served in the past as Central Commander. Yaalon was among those who frequently warned that the site was a critically strategic point, and that if Israel does not take it, the Arabs would. Another recent Central Commander, Yitzchak Eitan, who was not a great friend of the Jewish settlement enterprise in Yesha, also insisted that the site remain Jewish. He even told then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer that if Jewish civilians were not permitted to remain, he would build an army outpost there. "This point must not be abandoned," he said.

The 130 residents of Migron, virtually all of them young couples and families, have no other homes - thus that their expulsion would be a "transfer" in the full sense of the word. This would be the first time such a transfer will have occurred since the destruction of Yamit in 1982 - although in that case, the residents were set up with alternative homes beforehand.

Migron's first residents were two young bachelors who set up a container on the deserted hilltop over four years ago, with the encouragement of Gen Yaalon. After a period of negotiations, the two agreed to leave, in exchange for a promise to start the procedure to build a town there. An antenna was placed there - and that was it. Defense Ministry bureaucracy took over, blocking all progress, until the first families moved up in March 2002. Twenty of the founding families are members of the Yeshivat Har HaMor kollel in Jerusalem. "If we had more caravans, we could easily have numbered 100 families by now," says Itai Har'el, the town's absorption coordinator.

Several public institutions and offices are operative in Migron, including a Leumit Health Fund clinic, a branch of the Binyamin Council Library, three nurseries, a game center, a synagogue, and more. The name Migron is mentioned twice in the Bible: once in connection with King Saul's battle with the Philistines in the area of Binyamin (Sam. I 14,2) and once in reference to King Sennacherib's march on Jerusalem.

The welcome sign at the entrance to Migron announces the community's mission statement: "Migron, a communal town, was founded on the 19th of Adar 5762 [March 3, 2002], despite difficulties - out of the belief in the Eternity of Israel. The force that drives us is the knowledge that the unity of Nation, Faith, and Land brings peace and redemption. Welcome."

Continue reading to learn about planned resistance.
What angers me more than anything about this is that no one, not the Israelis nor the nations of the world, would ever EVER allow this sort of treatment of the poor Palestinian refugees.

Jewish soldiers pulling Jewish families out of their homes by force is the worst of this damned war.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I'm sorry, but I have to laugh

HAMAS on horseback

Masked Palestinian Hamas activists ride horses as they hold their rifles
during a rally marking the 16th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas
Islamic group, in the West Bank town of Nablus Sunday Dec. 14, 2003.
(AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Somehow, Arab "activists" out to destroy the Jews, posing for the AP on horseback, just seem ridiculous to me on this Monday morning. Hard to believe this is for real.

Dean: "It's all about nuance."

The Politics of Saddam by Fred Barnes
LET'S BE CRASS and assess the politics of the capture of Saddam Hussein. No one is boosted more than President Bush, the beneficiary of so much good news this fall (surging economy, 10,000 Dow, Medicare drug benefit). For him, only one more thing has to fall into place to assure re-election. That's a sharp turn for the better in the twilight war against the Baathist diehards and their motley allies in the Sunni triangle of Iraq. The grabbing of Saddam, a pathetic, cowardly Saddam, could lead to exactly that--but not necessarily. A turning point was declared when Saddam's sons were killed last July, only to be followed by an increase in the terrorist attacks on American troops and Iraqis.

The big loser is Howard Dean--potentially. Dean has embarked on an image-altering effort so he'll be seen as a centrist on foreign affairs. In interviews with the Washington Post and New York Times, he insisted the differences between himself and Bush are not great, mainly about style, not substance. He offered this amazing statement to the Times: "It's all about nuance." In truth, there's rarely been a presidential candidate with a less nuanced approach to foreign affairs.

Dean demonstrated this once again in his response to Saddam's capture. He praised the capture, then claimed that it had created "an enormous opportunity" to adopt what amounts to the Iraq policy of France. First, do "everything possible" to bring the United Nations, NATO, and others into the effort in Iraq. In other words, turn the Iraq situation over to those who not only favored keeping Saddam in power, but also sought to undermine the American policy of regime change in Iraq from the moment it was first announced by President Clinton in 1998. And second, speed up the turnover of power to Iraqis. There's nothing nuanced about that advice. And by the way, Dean claimed last week that he had never called Saddam a "danger" to the United States.
Continue reading at the Weekly Standard

Reality show

Monday Morning in Gaza

A masked militant from the Popular Commitee for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
carries a live hand grenade as pictures of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein
and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat are held in the background during a small
pro-Hussein demonstration in the town of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip,
Monday, Dec. 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

Who said the Palestinians never built anything?

It's just that they build only things to burn or otherwise destroy;
it's much like sending your children to blow themselves up

Palestinian supporters of the radical Hamas movement burn a Star of David
and a coffin symbolizing the so-called Geneva Initiative peace plan during a
demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah to mark the
16th anniversary of the creation of their group.
(AFP/Said Khatib)
I know, they can't help it. The Israelis made them do it.

One Down . . .


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is greeted by former Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussein in 1980. Israel said Saddam's capture was a
lesson to Palestinians and Syria to abandon 'terrorism.'
(AFP/INA/File)
'terrorism'?? as in, 'so-called'??

from Naomi Ragen in Israel

Friends,

A neighbor of mine says a State Department official told him this:

"The Arabs are always extremely concerned about their pride, while the Jews don't seem to have any at all. But in the last thousand years, the Arabs have done nothing to be proud of, while in the last fifty, the Jews have created a miracle."

Mazal Tov on Saddam! May all the enemies of Israel be cornered like rats and have lice in their beards.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Banagor's Scorn


Banagor reports that the lefties in his (San Francisco) corner of the world are in shock because Saddam's capture will hurt the Democrats:
I walked down to the coffee shop around the corner from where I live and everyone is sitting outside, the heart of Cole Valley, sipping their morning espresso and chatting about the news.

"I've heard that they had him for months and only pulled him out now because of the elections"

"I don't really believe it is him. It must be a double. You know that Bush would stoop to that."

"Yeah, I don't believe it either. It was staged."

"Maybe it was him but what about all the other things like Haliburton?"

"I don't put anything past Bushcheney and Rove. It's a set up."

"I'm still in shock, you know what this means for his numbers?"

"How can you be happy about it? You know what this means for Dean?"

Along these same lines, I heard some "expert" on CNN this morning begrudgingly admit that the capture of Saddam was a "necessary element" in the war, and go on to say . . . BUT it doesn't change the average Iraqi's need for electricity and a job, etc. yadda yadda yadda. I've had enough of this nay-saying, enough of the leftist alignment with terrorists.

Banagor acidly scorns their self-serving, narrow-minded and immoral crapola. READ IT ALL, and be glad.

Columbia Faculty continue to condemn alleged US global imperialism (and Israel)

Story covered at Arutz Sheva by my friend - Alyssa Lappen - and colleagues

Alyssa A. Lappen, journalist, essayist, editor, poet, friend and devoted advocate for Israel, has a piece in the Opinion Section at Arutz Sheva, entitled Columbia's MEALC Praises a Legacy of Hate, co-authored with Jerry Gordon and Maria Silwa. Mazal tov, Alyssa, and my hearfelt thanks for all your hard work.
"A veritable geyser of hate, in the tradition of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi Der Deutscher Beobachter editor Julius Streicher, erupted Friday evening, December 5th at a festschrift to honor the memory of the late cultural polemicist and Comparative Literature professor Edward Said.

The “US Imperialism in the 21st Century” intellectual atrocity gathered in the Teatro at Columbia University’s Casa Italiana, sponsored by the controversial Middle East Arts Language and Culture (MEALC) program, an interdisciplinary Barnard/Columbia affair founded by Said. This glimmering Morningside Heights campus was designed in the late 19th century by the fabled architectural firm of McKim Mead & White (and completed by the university’s dynamic early 20th Century President, Nicholas Murray Butler) to host world-rank civil and intellectual discourse. Indeed, in the 1930s and 1940s, Columbia offered a refuge for many scholars driven from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. . .

Khalidi, who ran the daylong conference, featured speakers harboring these sentiments:

* The US, and particularly the Bush administration, are hegemonic, imperialist aggressors. The Bush "regime" does not bully other countries, but reshapes them to be totally dependent on the U.S.

* The US has been baiting the Islamic world to enrage Muslims and transform Western Europe.

* The Bush administration has successfully divided Western and Eastern Europe.

* The Bush administration espouses a grand hegemonic strategy, in which the Middle East is central.

* Yasser Arafat is one of the most legitimate leaders in Palestine. This is why the U.S. government targets him (says Sorbonne University of Paris professor Gilbert Achcar).

* The Bush administration aims to tighten its hegemony and seeks the vassalage of other countries and of the people in the U.S.

* Israel is an occupier and oppressor, working with the US.

* The U.S. and Israel viewed 9-11 as a good thing, which justified further oppression of Palestinians, a ramped up global war on terror and conquest of Iraq.

* The Palestinian Authority militants and Iraqi and Afghan guerrillas commit armed resistance and terrorism due to intense forces of oppression and occupation imposed by the U.S. and Israel.

* The Bush regime wields great influence over faith-based Christians, who want him involved in foreign affairs.

* “Straussians” - alias neo-conservatives - run right-wing U.S. think tanks and the pro-Israel U.S. Defense Department.

* Bush did not anticipate getting blowback from Iraq, local guerrillas and international freedom fighters.

* At the core of Bush administration policy is an overt embrace of armed preemption in Iraq, within the Arab Muslim heartland, according to Professor Khalidi.

* The Bush imperialist occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq exceeds the efforts of any prior U.S. administration to establish a new security paradigm, announced in September 2001 and promoted internally among Defense Department neo-conservatives.

* Iraq was not connected to the attack on the World Trade Center.

* The U.S. intentionally exaggerates the savagery of Saddam Hussein against Iraqi people and others in the region.

* The US obstructs democracy in the name of democracy and the Bush administration operates in Orwellian fashion.

* The depiction of Islamic beliefs by Muslim apostate, author and playwright Salman Rushdie (lionized at a spring Columbia festival that produced Midnight’s Children) is inaccurate and irreverent.

* Al-Jeezera the 24/7, Qatar-based Arabic language satellite TV propaganda network, portrays the truth concerning the Middle East and Gulf region to the Arab/Muslim street. "
Be sure to read it all.

Palestinians pained by Saddam capture

JPost: For many ordinary Palestinians, the TV footage of a disheveled Saddam obediently submitting to a medical exam by his U.S. captors was painful to watch: it sealed the defeat of the one Arab leader they felt always stood by them.

Saddam should have put up a fight or committed suicide, they said, and his surrender is a stain on Arab honor. "It is a big defeat for all Arabs and Muslims," said Raji Hassan, 29, watching TV with friends in a Gaza City coffee shop.

The Palestinian Authority declined official comment. While Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had supported Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War, his government had been careful to stay on the sidelines during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq this year.

Mohammed Horani, a legislator from Arafat's ruling Fatah movement, said he expected many Palestinians and Arabs to have mixed feelings. "Saddam is a dictator and the Iraqi people suffered under him, but on the other hand, it was the (America! n) occupation that caught him," he said. "There will be a sense of confusion in the public."

Horani said he had expected Saddam to be more courageous. "I had expected him to have fought back, or at least end his life," he said. "But then again, all dictators are cowards."

During the past three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Saddam sent millions of dollars to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including US$25,000 for the family of each suicide bomber and US$10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting with Israelis.

In the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam attacked Israel with 39 Scud missiles, in the failed hope of breaking up an Arab coalition against him. When the Iraqi missiles flew over the West Bank, en route to targets in Israel, Palestinians would often cheer.

On Sunday, about a dozen men were playing pool in Gaza City hall while the news was being broadcast on a television in the corner. No one even turned to look at the television.

"I ! love him so much, I can't stand watching it while he's in custody," Raafat Logman, 23, said as he was shooting pool. "We are surprised. We are so sad," said Sameh Aloul, 22.
CAST YOUR VOTE in Jerusalem Post poll: What should happen to Saddam Hussein?

IRAQIS CELEBRATE



See also reactions of Iraqi bloggers via Little Green Footballs.

SADDAM HUSSEIN CAPTURED ALIVE

"We got him . . . the tyrant is a prisoner"

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - American forces captured a bearded Saddam Hussein as he hid in a dirt hole under a farmhouse near his hometown of Tikrit, ending one of the most intensive manhunts in history. The arrest, eight months after the fall of Baghdad, was carried out without a shot fired and was a huge victory for U.S. forces.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer told a news conference Sunday. "The tyrant is a prisoner."



Saddam was captured Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in a specially prepared "spider hole" in a house in Adwar, a town 10 miles from Tikrit, said Lt Col. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq. The hole was six to eight feet deep, with enough space to lie down, camouflaged with bricks and dirt and supplied with an air vent to allow long periods inside.

A U.S. defense official said Saddam admitted his identity when captured.

Sanchez, who saw Saddam overnight, said the deposed leader "has been cooperative and is talkative." He described Saddam as "a tired man, a man resigned to his fate."

In the capital, radio stations played celebratory music, residents fired small arms in the air in celebration and passengers on buses and trucks shouted, "They got Saddam! They got Saddam!"

Eager to give Iraqis evidence that the elusive former dictator had indeed been captured, Sanchez played a video at the news conference showing the 66-year-old Saddam in custody. Saddam, with a thick, graying beard and bushy, disheveled hair, was seen as doctor examined him, holding his mouth open with a tongue depressor, apparently to get a DNA sample. Saddam touched his beard during the exam. Then the video showed a picture of Saddam after he was shaved, juxtaposed for comparison with an old photo of the Iraqi leader while in power.

Iraqi journalists in the audience stood, pointed and shouted "Death to Saddam!" and "Down with Saddam!"

Though the raid occurred Saturday afternoon American time, U.S. officials went to great length to keep it quiet until medical tests and DNA testing confirmed Saddam's identity.

Washington hopes Saddam's capture will help break the organized Iraq resistance that has killed more than 190 American soldiers since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1 and has set back efforts at reconstruction. U.S. commanders have said that while in hiding Saddam played some role in the guerrilla campaign blamed on his followers.

In the latest attack, a suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives in a car outside a police station Sunday morning west of Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding 33 more, the U.S. military said.

Saddam was being held at an undisclosed location, and U.S. authorities have not yet determined whether to hand him over to the Iraqis for trial, Sanchez said. Iraqi officials want him to stand trial before a war crimes tribunal created last week.

"This success brings closure to the Iraqi people," Sanchez said.

"Saddam Hussein will never return to a position of power from which he can punish, terrorize, intimidate and exploit the Iraqi people as the did for more than 35 years."

Ahmad Chalabi, a member of Iraq's Governing Council, said Sunday that Saddam will be put on trial.

"Saddam will stand a public trial so that the Iraqi people will know his crimes," said Chalabi told Al-Iraqiya, a Pentagon-funded TV station.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the capture, saying the deposed leader "has gone from power, he won't be coming back."

"Where his rule meant terror and division and brutality, let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people of Iraq," Blair said in brief comments at his 10 Downing St. office.

In Tikrit, U.S. soldiers lit up cigars after hearing the news of Saddam's capture.


Iraqi boys smile as a soldier with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division
(Task Force Ironhorse) patrols in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit,
north of Baghdad, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2003. (AP Photo Efrem Lukatsky)


Some 600 troops from the 4th Infantry Division along with Special Forces captured Saddam, the U.S. military said. There were no shots fired or injuries in the raid, called "Operation Red Dawn," Sanchez said.

Two men "affiliated with Saddam Hussein" were detained with him, and soldiers confiscated two Kalashnikov rifles, a pistol, a taxi and $750,000 in $100 bills, Sanchez said. The two men were "fairly insignificant" regime figures, a U.S. defense official said.

Celebratory gunfire erupted in the capital, and shop owners closed their doors, fearful that the shooting would make the streets unsafe.

"I'm very happy for the Iraqi people. Life is going to be safer now," said 35-year-old Yehya Hassan, a resident of Baghdad. "Now we can start a new beginning."

Earlier in the day, rumors of the capture sent people streaming into the streets of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, firing guns in the air in celebration.

"We are celebrating like it's a wedding," said Kirkuk resident Mustapha Sheriff. "We are finally rid of that criminal."

"This is the joy of a lifetime," said Ali Al-Bashiri, another resident. "I am speaking on behalf of all the people that suffered under his rule."

Despite the celebration throughout Baghdad, many residents were skeptical.

"I heard the news, but I'll believe it when I see it," said Mohaned al-Hasaji, 33. "They need to show us that they really have him."

Ayet Bassem, 24, walked out of a shop with her 6-year-old son.

"Things will be better for my son," she said. "Everyone says everything will be better when Saddam is caught. My son now has a future."

After invading Iraq on March 20 and setting up their headquarters in Saddam's sprawling Republican Palace compound in Baghdad, U.S. troops launched a massive manhunt for the fugitive leader, placing a $25 million bounty on his head and sending thousands of soldiers to search for him.

Saddam was one of the most-wanted fugitives in the world, along with Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network who hasn't been caught despite a manhunt since November 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown in Afghanistan.

Saddam proved elusive during the war, when at least two dramatic military strikes came up empty in their efforts to assassinate him. Since then, he has appeared in both video and audio tapes. U.S. officials named him No. 1 on their list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, the lead card in a special deck of most-wanted cards.

Saddam's sons Qusai and Odai - each with a $15 million bounty on their heads - were killed July 22 in a four-hour gunbattle with U.S. troops in a hideout in the northern city of Mosul. The bounties were paid out to the man who owned the house where they were killed, residents said.

Adnan Pachachi, member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, said Saddam's capture will bring stability to Iraq.

"The state of fear, intelligence and oppression is gone forever," Pachachi said. "The Iraqi people are very happy and we look forward to a future of national reconciliation between Iraqis in order to build the new and free Iraq, an Iraq of equality."


An Israeli man in a electric appliances store in Tel Aviv, Israel
watches TV sets showing footage of a live broadcast of a news
conference from Baghdad, Iraq announcing Saddam Hussein's
capture Sunday, Dec. 14, 2003. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)


See Israeli commentary: "With Saddam's Capture, Will Israelis Still Have to Die to Please?"
by Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director of IMRA, Independent Media Review & Analysis.

Solly Gaynor: Conversation in Europe

Arutz Sheva: About a week ago I was invited by my German publisher, the Fischer Verlag, to give a lecture on the Holocaust in Frankfurt. Some years ago, they published my book Light One Candle in German, and since then it became part of the curriculum in German high schools. My lecture was quite successful, judging by the standing ovation of the fairly large audience. The same evening, at dinner, my hosts told me that my lecture was important not only to tell this new generation about the Holocaust, but also to expose the lies and disinformation the European press writes about Israel. I didn't sleep well that night.

I never sleep well when I am in Germany.

As my flight back to Israel was scheduled for eight in the evening the next day, I had a whole day to kill and my hosts suggested to show me around town. After a short walk and some lunch, we said goodbye to each other and I returned to the hotel. It was still very early and I decided to have my coffee in the lobby.

Next to where I sat down, I saw two men, in their early thirties, drinking beer. One of them looked slightly familiar.

"Hello," he said, "you are Solly Ganor, from Israel. I was very impressed with your lecture last night."

"Thank you," I said.

"My friend here is Kurt, and my name is Manfred. We are both peddling computer software," he said with a grin. By the expensive suits they were wearing and the aura of money around them, I guessed they were not doing too badly.

"Actually, it was my girlfriend who persuaded me to come to your lecture. I am glad that I did, as I learned many things about the Holocaust I had no idea about. I know my grandfather's generation was stupid to follow Hitler, but the brutality and the cruelty of the Germans you described in your lecture was a bit of a surprise; but then, your army doesn't seem to be much different, does it?"

"How is that?" I asked calmly, trying to control my fury.

"What we read in the news, and see on the television, your army is suppressing the civilian Palestinian population with great brutality. You may sometimes disbelieve the press, but you can't dismiss the video shots we see on television. We constantly see your tanks aiming their cannons at kids throwing stones at them. It is not a pleasant sight and reminds us of the Nazi times."

"To start with ,who do you think are the cameramen who take these video shots?" I asked.

"Why? They are German camera men, on German television, British on BBC and Americans on CNN; we see them all here on cable."

"That is where you are wrong. More than 90% of the cameramen are Palestinians hired by the TV stations you have mentioned. The Germans, British and Americans are not too keen to go to these places. They are too dangerous. Besides, if you dare to broadcast something against their liking, your life is in danger, and sometimes, even that of your families. Did you know that? Of course, you didn't. Israel is a democratic country and the correspondents have nothing to fear no matter how much they slander Israel. They do not dare do the same with the Palestinians.

"And then, imagine what would have happened to me and my family, if during World War II I would have dared to throw a stone against one of your Nazi tanks? They wouldn't even waste a bullet on me, they would have hanged me and my family without any mercy. And what is happening to the kids throwing the stones at the tanks? Nothing! If you watch the video shots you will see that the tanks are not shooting at them at all. The whole scene is obviously staged by the cameramen for propaganda purposes."

After a short silence, during which the two men looked at each other, Manfred said: "Yes, already yesterday I noticed that you have persuasive powers. You have me at a disadvantage here. I am not too well informed about what is going on. Perhaps we should, considering how the region is becoming the most dangerous place to world peace."

"You mean Israel, don't you?"

"Well, yes. Many of us think so. Well, let me explain. I don't think that anyone really thinks that Israel constitutes a danger to Europe. What we do believe is that if a major war breaks out again between Israel and the Arab states, and Israel's existence is threatened, you may set the world on fire with your nuclear arsenal."

I was getting really annoyed with them and answered rather sharply: "If you mean that this time, we won't go peacefully to the gas chambers like good little Jews, you are absolutely right. We won't, even if we have to use all means at our disposal. If Europe is affected by that, too bad. Your continent is soaked with Jewish blood anyway. Perhaps it could do with some cleansing," I said sharply.

There was a short silence. The Germans looked embarrassed.

"Actually, what Manfred means is why don't you settle the matter with the Palestinians once and for all? And if you can't, why don't you just quit. You live in a sea of Arabs who aim at your destruction. Perhaps the fifty-year experiment of the State of Israel is, unfortunately, coming to an end. Perhaps we should all consider that it didn't work. Why don't you cut your losses and emigrate to places where you would be appreciated and where you can bring much good, as you always did in the past?

"Look at our Europe. For hundreds of generations we were engaged in endless bloody ruinous wars against each other. When today we look back at the endless carnage of hundreds of years, we can only curse the absolute stupidity of our previous generations. Why couldn't they get their act together before hundreds of millions of people died in wars? Hitler only came to power because of the devastation of the German people following World War I. If it weren't for that war, Hitler would have been simply laughed at. The obvious reasonable thing for you to do is what we finally did here in Europe. Anything else is madness and ruin."

It was the second German, Kurt, who held that impassioned speech. He even got up while addressing me.

"To start with, our bringing so much good to this world, as you have stated, wasn't exactly appreciated by your grandparents, since they tried to gas us out of existence. You won't mind if we are a little suspicious about living in Europe again. Second, you still seem to see us as the wandering Jew, living on his suitcase and any time there is a danger we just get up and run. What you don't seem to understand is the deep roots we have in our country. These roots go back thousands of years, when your forefathers were just barbaric tribes. For thousands of years we have prayed: 'The next year in Jerusalem'; and now that we are there, we shall never leave!

"It was there that we laid the foundation of civilized living for the world. It was there that we brought to the world the jewel of civilization, the Ten Commandments, and it was there we brought you our Bible, which became the basis for Western civilization. According to the Malaysian prime minister, Mahatir Mohamad, we Jews invented Human Rights and Democracy, two things the Muslim fanatics hate the most.

"So, you are addressing the wrong people. It is the Islamic fanatics that you should address. You are either blind or anti-Semites when you accuse us of being the biggest danger to peace, while Islamic suicide bombers blow themselves up in Istanbul, New York, Bali, Moscow, Philippines and dozens of other places around the world; where a prime minister of Malaysia denounces the Jews for creating democracy and human rights and where an Iranian head of state puts out a contract to murder a writer with whom he disagrees about what he wrote regarding the Koran.

"They don't give a hoot about your achievements in Europe. They think that your Western Civilization is an abomination on Earth, decadent and rotten to the core and should be replaced by the purity of Islam. They are convinced that now that they have discovered a cheap strategic weapon, the suicide bomber, they can bring the West's economy to its knees. September 11, besides thousands of victims who died in New York and Washington, cost the American economy eleven billion dollars, by conservative estimates. How much will the next mega-blow-up in the West cost is anybody's guess. Their aim to bring economic ruin to the West is not so far-fetched, and the Americans realize that, but you in Europe are playing a second act of Chamberlain. Instead of seeing the real danger to the world, Islamic fundamentalism, you are blaming Israel and the Jews instead!"

"What would you have us do? These people are hiding all over the world. It would be like fighting shadows," Manfred said. He seemed taken aback by my tirade.

"Do you know what 'El-Qaida' means in Arabic? It means the 'base'. They named it after the base they had in Afghanistan. Now, their bases are the Islamic fundamentalist states, which give them their full support in fighting the West. Sooner or later, we will have to go to war with them, whether we like it or not. In the Middle Ages, the pirates on the high seas threatened to undermine the economies of the world. It took a combined world effort to stomp out that threat. The Islamic fundamentalists are the pirates of the twenty-first century, except they are much more dangerous to our world than the pirates of the old days."

"I think you are exaggerating their danger. The fact is that when we leave them alone, they leave us alone. You don't see any one of them blowing themselves up in Europe, do you?"

"That is your problem here in Europe. You are living the good life and think that they won't come after you. Let me tell you, to them you are part of the Western world, the same Crusaders, the abomination on Earth.

"You know, you remind of what reverend Martin Niemoller, who was a prisoner with us in Dachau, once said: 'They first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me – and by that time, there was nobody left to speak up."

I could see by their startled look that I scored a point.

"As I said before, you have persuasive powers. Perhaps we should think about what you said, especially about Israel. There is one thing we don't understand, though; the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and now your are building a new 'Berlin Wall' in Israel...."

"There is a vast difference between your Berlin Wall and the wall we are building."

"Yes, what is that?"

"The difference is that the Berlin Wall was designed to keep people who wanted to escape from the brutal system of East Germany in, while our wall is designed to keep murderers who blow up our children out. That is the difference."

For a while we looked at each other in silence.

"Well, you always seem to have the right answers. Perhaps Israel is not as bad as we are informed by the media...."

"Yes, perhaps," I answered quietly. "Perhaps there is not enough of us to plead our case in a hostile Europe. Perhaps our Foreign Office should do a better job informing the Europeans. Perhaps there is not enough of them and not enough funds," I thought wearily.

Two Japanese young men dressed in dark formal suits entered the lobby and approached the two Germans. They bowed deeply and then shook hands with them. The two Germans raised their beer glasses in a salute and smiled at me. Then they settled down to talk business with the two Japanese.

For a while I was depressed by my conversation with the two Germans, but then I remembered that I will soon be back home in Israel. It was a pleasant, heart-warming thought. Thank God for Israel. On the way to the airport, I saw the huge modern buildings of Frankfurt towering in the business area, and thought about the two Germans in the lobby. It occurred to me that the only way they will wake up to the danger of Islam is when some of these towers will be pulverized like the Twin Towers in Manhattan were on September 11.
Blessings on your head, Solly. And thank G-d for your patience and persistence . . .