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Iran’s public relations coup

Iran’s flotillas aren’t about aiding Gazans as much as they are a diversionary tactic, according to one Washington Times op-ed writer.

While world media and political attention is focused on the Israel-”Freedom Flotilla” incident, Iranian mullahs in Tehran are celebrating their brilliant war strategy in advancing their nuclear program. As world-renowned masters of the game of chess, Iranian mullahs can add “strategic marketing, public relations and media planning” to their resume.

Iran, anticipating a damning report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealing Iran has more than 2 tons of enriched uranium (two warheads’ worth), had been actively working with Israel’s enemies to divert world attention away from the alarming findings. The IAEA report, released on May 31, the day of the raid, was virtually unreported by the media, as all eyes had turned to Israel and Gaza.

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Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 12:54 PM  | David Kuner

Iranian flotilla to set sail on Sunday

As rumors swirl about Gaza-bound flotillas from several countries, Iran’s “The Children of Gaza Ship” appears ready to go:  

A day after an announcement on a delay in the Iranian flotilla to Gaza, a new date for departure has been set. Iranian Red Crescent Spokesman Abdul Rauf Adibzadeh announced Tuesday that the group’s aid ship will set sail on Sunday, the ISNA news agency reported.

According to the group, the vessel, named “The Children of Gaza Ship,” will be carrying 1,100 tons of equipment including 500 tons of medicine and food supplies. Adibzadeh estimated that the ship will arrive in the Gaza Strip within a fortnight. “The ship belongs to a private company. It carries 10 people: Five reporters and five Red Crescent aid staffers,” he said.

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Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 11:21 AM  | David Kuner

New controversy looms over Jerusalem park

Israel is planning to demolish 22 illegal Arab homes in Jerusalem to make room for an archeological park. At the same time, Israel announced that it will legalize another 66 illegally-built Arab homes in Jerusalem.

Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Erakat called on the international community to condemn Israel’s actions. According to Erakat, such actions are meant to derail the indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The U.S. has yet to respond.

While the decision to demolish the homes has been controversial, it is still well within the rights of the Jerusalem municipality to make. Illegally built homes are subject to demolition by court decision.

Jerusalem is a focal point for both Israel and the PA because of each party’s position. Netanyahu’s government has stated repeatedly that dividing Jerusalem is not on the table, while the PA argues that without Jerusalem as its capital there can be no peace.

Jerusalem is a relatively small and densely populated city. It’s hard to imagine how two countries could have their respective capitals in such a small space. If Jerusalem were to be divided, one would need to cross an international border to get from one neighborhood to the next. It seems inconceivable that Israel would agree to this, especially since the PA would control what comes in and out of East Jerusalem in such a compromise. This would seriously jeopardize the safety of worshipers by the Western Wall as well put all of Jerusalem’s residents in clear danger of rocket attacks. (There is historical precedent for this fear — during Jordan’s 19-year rule of East Jerusalem, Arab sniper fire into parts of the city controlled by Israel was not uncommon).

For all these reasons Israel has demanded that the capital remain undivided and under Israeli control.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 at 12:04 PM  | afarkas

Holocaust survivors gather to honor a hero

Lena Kuchler was a remarkable woman with a remarkable legacy that lives on in the many Jewish and Christian lives she saved:

It was a particularly emotional meeting. Some 50 Holocaust survivors, all part of Lena Kuchler’s “hundred children,” convened Wednesday in order to mark the author’s 100th birthday.

Lena, who passed away 23 years ago in Israel, was born in the town of Wieliczka just outside Krakow, Poland and survived the Holocaust due to her indomitable will to live and her indiscriminate love for children – Jewish and Christian alike. After evading the Gestapo and jumping from the train taking her to the Belzec extermination camp, she established a house for 100 children in the resort town of Zakopane.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 at 10:56 AM  | David Kuner

As goes Israel, so goes the West

Last week we directed you to an article about a great pro-Israel op-ed by former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar. At the time a lengthy registration process was required to read the entire op-ed, which originally appeared in the London Times. Happily, it has now been reprinted in its entirety in Arutz Sheva (no registration needed):

For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.

The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfillment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.

Read the article. You won’t find a better defense of Israel’s right to exist and defend herself — and no one makes the case more strongly than Aznar that Israel’s fate is inextricably intertwined with the fate of all free Western nations (a case also convincingly made by Charles Mooore five years ago in this terrific op-ed in the UK Telegraph).

In times like these, voices like Aznar’s are critically important. May there be more of them speaking out clearly and unapologetically on Israel’s behalf.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 at 6:10 AM  | David Kuner

Hamas official: Palestinians should fire at Israel from West Bank

As Israel’s Gaza blockade is criticized and eased, a Hamas strongman pledges they will never change their policy of resistance against Israel:

Palestinians should initiate rocket attacks on Israel from the West Bank, Israel Radio quoted Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar as saying in an interview on Sunday, saying that such a move was necessary.

Asked whether rocket fire against Israel should be limited to launches originating in Gaza, Zahar told the East Jerusalem newspaper Al Quds that the fact that “such launches should happen in the West Bank as well [as Gaza] is inevitable.”

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 at 6:25 PM  | David Kuner

Women are the “secret weapon”

As rumors and sightings of additional “aid” flotillas continue in the wake of the May 31 Gaza flotilla incident, a Lebanese group reveals their latest tactic to attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the region: women:

Women are “the new secret weapon” in use against the “thieving enemy,” said Samar Alhaj, the woman leading the Lebanese boat that is scheduled to try to break the naval blockade on Gaza in an interview with a regional Israeli Arabic- language radio station in Nazareth. The Israeli government has linked the boat to Hizbullah ”

Asked on Radio A-Shams by Zohair Bahloul why the ship, Mariam, would only be carrying women, she said, “We are women in order not to give the thieving enemy an excuse to use arms against the ship.”

Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian businessman of Palestinian descent who heads the “Free Palestine Organization,” is funding the boat and another headed to the region. Over the weekend he told a Hezbollah television station he hopes the same boats will one day take “Europe’s refuse [the Jews] that came to my homeland back to their homelands.”  

While the ship full of women is now sailing to Cyprus and not directly to Gaza due to a Lebanese law that forbids sailing to ports under Israeli control, the situation speaks to the tumult and tactics still to come.

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 at 11:09 AM  | David Kuner

What’s the blockade for?

Over at Commentary magazine’s blog, Michael Totten comments on Israel’s recent announcement that it will ease the Gaza blockade:

Critics describe the Israeli blockade as “collective punishment” against Gaza’s entire population, and it does look that way when perusing the list of prohibited items, but the items on that list aren’t outright banned. Aid organizations can import all the cement and coriander they want for reconstruction and food distribution. The restrictions only apply to private-sector importers, and even then, only “luxury” items and construction materials that can be used for military purposes are blocked.

“Humanitarian products are delivered on a daily bases to the Strip,” said the spokesman for COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. “Food products are delivered almost without restriction—with the exception of luxury goods, which the average Gazan cannot afford, but which are purchased by the wealthy and corrupt leaders of Hamas.”

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 2:34 PM  | David Kuner

What's the blockade for?

Over at Commentary magazine’s blog, Michael Totten comments on Israel’s recent announcement that it will ease the Gaza blockade:

Critics describe the Israeli blockade as “collective punishment” against Gaza’s entire population, and it does look that way when perusing the list of prohibited items, but the items on that list aren’t outright banned. Aid organizations can import all the cement and coriander they want for reconstruction and food distribution. The restrictions only apply to private-sector importers, and even then, only “luxury” items and construction materials that can be used for military purposes are blocked.

“Humanitarian products are delivered on a daily bases to the Strip,” said the spokesman for COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. “Food products are delivered almost without restriction—with the exception of luxury goods, which the average Gazan cannot afford, but which are purchased by the wealthy and corrupt leaders of Hamas.”

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 2:34 PM  | David Kuner

Egypt refuses to stop Iranian flotilla

As reports continue about additional flotillas headed to Gaza, the Kuwaiti paper al-Dar reported on Friday that Israel once again stands alone in protecting the area from potential threats.

The Kuwaiti report, which cites Egyptian sources, said the officers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appealed to Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and asked he prevent the passage of Iranian ships through the Suez Canal.

The Israeli sources argued in their request that Iran supports the Hamas organization, which is a terror group that also operates against the Egyptian authorities.

According to the paper’s sources, the Egyptians rejected the Israeli request, and stressed in their response that, due to the international agreements on movement through the Suez Canal, Egypt cannot prevent any ship from sailing through it, unless it is a ship belonging to a state that is at war with Egypt, which is not the case with Iran.

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 2:18 PM  | David Kuner

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Rabbi's Commentary
A Fragile Peace

As we continue to pray for a lasting peace, one of our most critical tasks is to help Israel recover – to rebuild, to restore shattered lives, to comfort those who have lost loved ones or livelihoods. And none of this is possible without you who continue to stand by the Jewish people.


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