Sunday, April 27, 2008

UNIFIL hides info about Hezbollah war prep from Security Council

from Haaretz: Israel: 'UNIFIL is hiding information about Hezbollah from Security Council'


The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is intentionally concealing information about Hezbollah activities south of the Litani River in Lebanon to avoid conflict with the group, senior sources in Jerusalem have said. In the last six months there have been at least four cases in which UNIFIL soldiers identified armed Hezbollah operatives, but did nothing and did not submit full reports on the incidents to the UN Security Council.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry are reportedly very angry about UNIFIL's actions in recent months, especially about the fact that its commander, Major General Claudio Graziano, is said to be leniently interpreting his mission, as assigned by Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Senior IDF officials said recently behind closed doors that Graziano is "presenting half-truths so as to avoid embarrassment and conflict with Hezbollah," and that Resolution 1701 has been increasingly eroded in recent months.

A senior government source in Jerusalem said that, "There is an attempt by various factors in the UN to mislead the Security Council and whitewash everything having to do with the strengthening of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon." The source also said, "The policy of cover-ups and whitewashing will not last long and, hopefully, now that the concealing of information has been revealed, things will change."

Israeli anger reached boiling point over a week ago after the release of a new report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with regard to another Lebanon-related Security Council resolution, 1559. The report briefly mentioned an incident at the beginning of March in which UNIFIL soldiers encountered unidentified armed men, and included no additional details. Officials in Israel, familiar with the incident, reportedly were aware that the Security Council had not been apprised of numerous details of the incident.

A day after the release of the report, Haaretz revealed that the incident described in the report had actually been a clash between UNIFIL and armed Hezbollah activists. The latter, driving a truck full of explosives, threatened the Italian UNIFIL battalion with weapons. Instead of using force as required by their mandate, the UN soldiers abandoned the site. A diplomatic source at the UN told Haaretz that senior officials in UNIFIL and in the UN Secretariat brought heavy pressure to bear to have the incident erased from the report or at least to blur it.

When the incident was made public, UNIFIL was forced to admit that it had indeed occurred and to request Lebanon's assistance in investigating it. UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane said that during the incident, which took place near the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, five armed men had threatened UNIFIL troops. Bouziane said the identity of the armed men was uncertain.

A day later, a second report was transmitted to the Security Council on the matter, this time including all the details. However, the report stated that this was the first incident of its kind. According to a security source in Israel, this was a misrepresentation; he said that in fact there had been many similar incidents in the past. A response from UNIFIL with regard to Israel's claims was unobtainable.

What's More Important: Blue Jeans or Being Blown Up?

from Barry Rubin at the Gloria Center: "What's More Important: Blue Jeans or Being Blown Up?"

It's hard to satirize a lot of media coverage about Israel and the Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. The truly dreadful stuff is in the details, the small stories and big assumptions on which they are based, rather than in any "scoops" or blockbuster articles.

There are basically two types of such articles. In one, the author's basic and extreme political bias comes out clearly. The writer is consciously determined to slam Israel. This happens more often in large elements of the European press and in Reuters.

A Reuters reporter called me and told me that they were writing a story on how Israel destroyed the Palestinian economy. I suggested that perhaps they should do an article about the problems of the Palestinian economy rather than assume the answer. When the story came out, my short quote was represented fairly, but the rest of the article was totally biased, trying to prove a thesis, and even misquoted a World Bank report. In the article, the report blamed Israel for the problems but the actual text--available online--said the opposite.

Another personal experience. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that country's main and official television network interviewed me on the main events of the Middle East in 2007. I said that the most important single thing was Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, an action which set back the chances for peace by many years, even decades.

When the story was broadcast it had been edited so that I appeared to be saying that Israel policy had set back the chances for peace by many years, even decades.

I filed an official complaint and in the end they came down on my side, sort of. The decision was that the piece had been carelessly edited or something like that. In the online correction, however, they didn't even say that but merely that I had asked that an explanation be added to make clear my point was not about Israeli policy.

Of course, the reporter had done it on purpose.

But most silliness, especially in the U.S. media, is based on the blindness of assumption: of course Hamas could become moderate, of course the Palestinians want peace, of course Fatah is moderate, of course Israel treats them unfairly.

So we get AP items like Laurie Copans, "Israeli-Palestinian Trade Suffers," March 28. Oh dear, suffering trade. That's bad. Wouldn't more trade be good for everyone?

The article is very long for AP, 22 paragraphs. It tells us a touching story about how--due to the fact that "the Palestinian driver did not have a permit through an Israeli military checkpoint and the X-ray machine at a crossing was broken," a shipment of blue jeans for the Israeli market "arrived 8 1/2 hours later."

Silly me. I expected the reporter would then compare a delayed shipment of blue jeans with the danger of dozens of Israeli civilians being murdered. Nope. Let me explain: this is wartime, safeguarding lives is more important than expediting clothing. If the Palestinians are not happy with the delays let them crack down on terrorism so that roadblocks aren't needed.

Does the article make this point? Hardly, and even then only in a derisive way.

Here is paragraph four. Note how it tells you about the real story in a way that says it is totally unimportant:

"Israel agreed this week to issue more permits for Palestinian laborers and merchants, but has yet to take down any of the hundreds of West Bank checkpoints it says are necessary to stop suicide bombers. With little real progress on the peace front and violence persisting, Israeli-Palestinian business ties are discouraged."

Now is it so unproved, a mere Israeli assertion, that checkpoints are necessary to stop suicide bombers, not to mention other forms of terrorism? It is well established that past terrorists have come through checkpoints yet this is treated as some possibly wild or at least unproven Israeli allegation.

Are Israelis quoted for balance after all the quotes from Palestinians toeing the party line? Sure, but only if the Israelis say what the author wants: "`Israel has an interest in not having hungry neighbors,' [economist Ephraim] Kleiman said. `Israel has a vested interest in the economic well-being of the Palestinians. It's much more important than any moral obligation.'"

Not Kleiman's fault. What he said is right in context. But the reporter didn't put it into context. Instead the message is: Trade is vital for peace and human needs. The Palestinians are hungry, if the Israelis hold up the jean deliveries it verges on being a crime against humanity, and security is either an illusory factor or an outright excuse.

Oh, and there is also the big ending. Here it is:

"A harrowing incident made [Israeli designer Irit] Levzohar...thankful for the Israeli security.

"Once, when she made the trip to the West Bank herself, she discovered a stack of guns after she pulled her bags of clothing out of a Palestinian driver's truck.

"`I began to shake all over and I dropped the bags,'" Levzohar said. "`All I could think about was my children.'"

"She confronted her Palestinian supplier, who promised never to work with that driver again, and reported the incident to the Israeli military. Now Levzohar says she only picks up clothes at authorized crossings.

"`You can't gamble for business,'" Levzohar said."

Yeah, that seems a relevant consideration, doesn't it? Perhaps it isn't just an Israeli claim about the need for roadblocks to stop terrorists and weapons from getting into Israel. But that's stuck in at the end (the part most likely, as AP editors know, to be cut by newspapers to make a piece fit) rather than made part of the lead. And probably it got in only because it was a colorful anecdote that spiced up the article.

In many cases, pieces like this don't even have that ending but stick to the usual framework. Trade is good; Palestinians are hungry; Israel is bad. The key elements involved here--terrorism is central, extremism among Palestinian leaders incites and organizes it, Israel wants piece while Palestinian groups don't--is absent from most of the articles written on these issues.

No wonder so many in the West find the Middle East incomprehensible. A lot of the coverage makes it seem that way precisely because the reporting ensures that viewers don't understand what is going on or how things work.

Reminds me of what a very cynical Washington Post reporter once told me: "That's why they're called stories"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hamas reacts to Carter: no recognition of Israel

from the BBC NEWS: Hamas rejects Israeli recognition


Palestinian militant group Hamas will not recognise Israel, its political leader Khaled Meshaal has insited. He was responding to comments by former US President Jimmy Carter, following their talks in Syria at the weekend. Mr Meshaal said Hamas agreed to a Palestinian state on the land in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza that Israel captured in the 1967 war. Mr Carter had said Hamas was prepared to accept the right of Israel to "live as a neighbour next door in peace".

Speaking in Syria, where he lives in exile, Khaled Meshaal said the Palestinian state must have "Jerusalem as its capital, with genuine sovereignty, without settlements". He added that this did not mean recognising Israel, but he said: "We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as an alternative to recognition."

The United States said Mr Meshaal's comments did not amount to a change of position by Hamas. In any case, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, "actions speak louder than words".

Many Israelis and their allies do not believe Hamas' offer of a truce, says the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. They cite the Hamas charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to see Mr Carter, as he ended his regional visit in Jerusalem. In a speech in the city, Mr Carter said Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking had "regressed" since the US hosted Middle East talks in November at Annapolis. He defended his talks with Mr Meshaal in Damascus. "The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved," he told Israel's Council on Foreign Relations.

Israel, the US and the European Union regard Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organisation.

Mr Carter also said the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas and other militant groups during a raid into Israel two years ago, was being held up by the lack of direct communication between Israel and Hamas. Mr Carter said the difficulty was in agreeing the identity of the Palestinian prisoners to be released in return. He said Egyptian officials had told him that Israel had agreed to release 1,000 prisoners but accepted only 71 names on a list of hundreds of prisoners submitted by Hamas. Khaled Meshaal told reporters on Monday that Hamas had agreed to pass a message from Corp Shalit to his family.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hamas responds to Carter request for cease-fire: attack Israeli border

First fruits of Jimmy Carter's amateur diplomacy? Hamas conducts a major attack on one of the key points where goods enter Gaza. I expect that the world outcry against Hamas' attempt to starve the Palestinians will be forthcoming shortly.


from the New York Times:Palestinian Suicide Bombers Attack Crossing Into Gaza By ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM — Palestinian suicide bombers from Gaza drove three explosives-laden vehicles into the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on the border with Israel early on Saturday, detonating two of them, the Israeli military said.

Three bombers were killed in the blasts and 13 Israeli soldiers were wounded, three moderately and the rest lightly, the military said.

Hamas, the Islamic group that controls the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for the attack. It came on the eve of the weeklong Passover holiday in Israel and hours before former President Jimmy Carter held a second meeting in Damascus with exiled leaders of Hamas, reportedly to explore the possibility of a cease-fire and a prisoner exchange between the group and Israel.

Hamas is holding an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a border raid on an army position not far from Kerem Shalom and taken into Gaza in June 2006. The group is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in return for the Israeli corporal.

Two more Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in Gaza on Saturday, one a member of the Hamas military wing and the other a member of the Hamas police.

Saturday’s attack on the Kerem Shalom terminal, from where essential goods are transferred into Gaza, appeared to be part of a concerted campaign by Gaza militants against the border crossings. Hamas officials have issued threats in recent weeks about an impending explosion along Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt. This attack was the fifth to have occurred along the border with Israel in the last 10 days, according to Maj. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli Army spokeswoman.

Israel has strictly limited the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza since Hamas took control of the area last June, and since late last year has further restricted the flow of goods, including fuel supplies, as a sanction against continued rocket fire.

With the passenger crossing on Gaza’s border with Egypt mostly closed, Gaza’s population of 1.5 million is completely reliant on goods allowed in from Israel.

About 200 trucks of essential food and medical supplies currently pass through Kerem Shalom each week. On Friday, 48 trucks delivered goods including wheelchairs, babies’ bottles, meat and fish, the military said.

Israel says that by attacking the crossings, Hamas is trying to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that would lead to international pressure on Israel.

Hamas says it is trying to open Gaza by all available means. A spokesman for the group’s military wing, Abu Obeidah, told reporters in Gaza that Saturday’s attack was “a gift for the people under siege” and warned that there is “worse to come.” Asked why Hamas was attacking the entry points when the population was in such dire need of supplies, he replied that Saturday’s attack was “a purely military operation.”

Kerem Shalom is always closed on Saturdays and will be closed Sunday because of Passover, but Major Leibovich said the crossing was likely to reopen in the days after.

The vehicles entered the Palestinian side of the crossing at about 6 a.m. under cover of heavy mortar fire and the early morning mist. They included two jeeps painted to resemble army vehicles and an armored personnel carrier, Major Leibovich said. Israeli forces came to confront them as they headed toward the Israeli side. The soldiers escaped more serious injury because they were in a fortified space.

Another armored personnel carrier was spotted half an hour later by soldiers at a border position north of Kerem Shalom. That vehicle was blown up by Israeli fire before it could reach the border fence.

Abu Obeidah said that four booby-trapped vehicles had headed for Kerem Shalom, and that three had exploded and one had withdrawn.

On Thursday, Israeli forces shot at an armed Palestinian group approaching Kerem Shalom, killing one, and Palestinian snipers fired at Nahal Oz, the only fuel depot along the border.

On Wednesday, three Israeli soldiers and four militants were killed in an ambush laid by Hamas near the border, and 14 Palestinians, mostly said to be civilians, were killed in subsequent Israeli strikes.

Two Israeli civilians working at the Nahal Oz fuel depot were killed in an April 9 attack by Gaza militants, which caused the terminal to close down for a week.

On Saturday afternoon Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, director of the emergency medical services in Gaza, said that Health Ministry ambulances would stop running at 6 p.m. because of a shortage of gasoline.

Israel insists there are enough fuel reserves in Gaza to avert a crisis, but the Gaza association that distributes the gasoline has been on strike in recent weeks in protest against the reduced supplies.

On Friday night, four rockets fired from Gaza slammed into the Israeli border town of Sderot, causing damage to property but no injuries.

Before his meetings in the Syrian capital, Mr. Carter met with Hamas officials in Cairo on Thursday, where he asked them to halt rocket attacks against Israel and sharply criticized Israel for causing suffering to the residents of Gaza by restricting supplies.

Mr. Carter angered Israeli and American officials by meeting with Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza.

Friday, April 18, 2008

German Muslim tried for stabbing Frankfurt rabbi

from the International Herald Tribune: Trial of German Muslim charged with stabbing Frankfurt rabbi begins

A 23-year-old German Muslim on trial for attacking a rabbi told a Frankfurt court Thursday that he had felt threatened and acted in self-defense.

Sajed Aziz told the court on the first day of his trial that he and Zalman Gurevitch, 43, first had a testy verbal exchange on a street in the city in September. Then the orthodox Jewish rabbi grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and screamed at him, Aziz testified.

He said he reacted by pulling a knife and stabbing at the rabbi, but insisted he could not recall what had happened next. Aziz testified he later looked at the knife, but did not see any blood on it.

Prosecutors have said the rabbi — who suffered stab wounds from the incident — told authorities at the time of the attack that his assailant said, "I'll kill you, you (expletive) Jew," then pulled out a knife with a 7.6-centimeter (3-inch) blade and stabbed him in the stomach.

A German citizen born of Afghan parents, Aziz is charged with attempted manslaughter, dangerous bodily harm and invasion of privacy. He has denied that the attack had an anti-Semitic motive or that he intended to kill the rabbi.

The young man apologized to Gurevitch at the opening of the trial.

Aziz, who told the court that on the day of the attack he had woken up at noon and then smoked several joints to improve his mood, has been held in custody since his arrest due to his criminal record, which includes another case of causing bodily harm.

The attack prompted concern and condemnation from local politicians and Jewish groups.

A verdict in the trial is expected on May 17.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ausie Croatians honor Nazi leader

from Jerusalem Post: Melbourne eatery hails leader of Nazi-allied Croatia

Melbourne's Katarina Zrinski restaurant held a celebration this past weekend to honor World War II Croatian leader Ante Pavelic, whose genocidal policies led to the deaths of 400,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies.

The restaurant is attached to the local Croatian club.

The event honoring the head of the Croatian fascist Ustasha movement and the leader of Nazi-allied Croatia was an "outrageous affront" both to his victims and to any persons of morality and conscience who oppose racism and genocide, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter and Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff said on Wednesday.

According to local press reports, a large photograph of Pavelic was hung in the restaurant, T-shirts with his picture and that of two other commanders in the 1941-1945 Ustasha government were offered for sale at the bar, and the establishment of the "Independent State of Croatia" was celebrated.

Zuroff noted this was not the first time that Croatian émigrés in Australia had openly defended Croatian Nazi war criminals.

"It is high time that the authorities in Australia find a way to take the necessary measures to stop such celebrations, which clearly constitute racist, ethnic, and anti-Semitic incitement against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies," he said.

About 30,000 Croatian Jews - or 80 percent of the country's Jewish population - died during the Holocaust.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saudis have turned bribery into an art

A successful bribe requires a willing recipient who is both unburdened by ethics and powerful enough to do get done what you need done. In the two Bush administrations, the Saudis found just that. But one gets the sense that they now feel that the equation, hence their game plan, is changing. Their power has risen relative to that of the United States. Why else would they be raising our fuel costs at such a precipitous rate?


from
The Guardian| Comment is free: House of cards
by Craig Unger

From 9/11 to BAE, the Saudis have turned the purchase of political power into a fine art


If Saudi Arabia continues to escape unscathed for its role in the alleged bribery of BAE Systems, it won't be the first time that the Saudis' enormous political power has tipped the scales of justice. Several years ago no less an authority than Prince Bandar, the Saudi national security adviser who reportedly received £1bn in the BAE scandal, blithely confided to an American television reporter that the House of Saud may have stolen tens of billions of dollars from the kingdom it ruled. "If you tell me that building this whole country ... we misused or got corrupted with fifty billion, I'll tell you, 'Yes' ... So what?" Bandar said. "We did not invent corruption."

The House of Saud has turned the purchase of political influence into a fine art. In the 70s, young Saudi billionaires such as Salem bin Laden, the half-brother of Osama, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a banker, made their way to Texas and, directly and indirectly, entered a variety of business relationships with politicians on the way up. "[The Saudis] wanted to build up relationships with key people at the same time they had return on investments," said Nawaf Obaid, an oil analyst close to the House of Saud. Ultimately, these ties led to business deals with, among others, George W Bush, his father, and James Baker, the elder Bush's secretary of state.

Often the value of such strategic political alliances trumped the bottom line. That certainly was the case in the 80s, when Saudi money bailed out a troubled Texas oil company called Harken Energy. Because Harken was loaded with debt and had drilled one dry hole after another, it was a particularly unlikely investment for the oil-rich Saudis. But one of its investors and directors was a 42-year-old businessman named George Bush, whose father was then the vice-president of the United States.

The value of these ties could be seen most dramatically in the events that took place immediately after the attacks of 9/11. When it became clear that no fewer than 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, Prince Bandar, then ambassador to the US, took to the airwaves and assured the world that the Saudis were America's staunchest allies. The Saudis flooded the market with oil, dropping the price from $28 a barrel to $22. And, on September 13 - at a time when private aviation was still locked down in the aftermath of 9/11 - a small private plane began picking up members of the Saudi royal family.

The 9/11 attacks constituted the worst crime in the history of the US. But ultimately at least 140 Saudis, including two dozen relatives of Osama bin Laden, were evacuated without having gone through a formal interrogation. In addition, the Saudi role in financing radical Islam somehow escaped being a central focus of the war on terror. As a result, it is safe to say that Britain does not have a monopoly on what the high court referred to as "the impotence of the law".

It is difficult to disagree with last week's ruling of the high court that a perversion of justice took place when the Serious Fraud Office bowed to Saudi threats to withhold information about potential terrorist attacks. But it is also important to acknowledge the political realities of today. Terrorist threats aside, in the past seven years the price of oil has increased by a factor of five to $110 a barrel - and the west must compete with an increasingly energy-dependent and ascendant China for fuel.

Moreover, because one of the disastrous consequences of the Iraq war has been the rise of Iran, the west is now in a position where it has to lean on the Saudis to win support for its policy of isolating Iran. As a result, the Saudis have a stronger hand than ever.

· Craig Unger is the author of House of Bush, House of Saud
craigunger.com

This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday April 15 2008 on p28 of the Comment & debate section. It was last updated at 00:01 on April 15 2008.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Belarus desecrates Jewish cemetery to build stadium

For the fourth time...

from the AP via the
New York Times: Jewish Remains Dug Up in Belarus

GOMEL, Belarus (AP) -- Workers rebuilding a sports stadium on the site of an 18th century Jewish cemetery in Belarus say they have no choice but to consign the bones to city dumps.

''It's impossible to pack an entire cemetery into sacks,'' said worker Mikhail Gubets, adding that he stopped counting the skulls when the number went over 100.

But critics say it's part of a pattern of callous indifference toward Belarus' Jewish heritage that was prevalent when the country was a Soviet republic and hasn't changed.

The stadium in Gomel, Belarus' second largest city and a center of Jewish life until World War II, is one of four that were built on top of Jewish cemeteries around the country.

The Gomel cemetery was destroyed when the stadium was built in 1961, but the remains lay largely undisturbed until this spring when reconstruction began and a bulldozer turned up the first bones.

A Jewish leader in Gomel, Vladimir Gershanok, says he asked the builders to put the bones into sacks for reburial at a cemetery that has a monument to Holocaust victims.

''We know we can't stop the construction but we're trying to minimize the destruction,'' Gershanok said.

But city authorities have ruled that the construction can go ahead because the bones are more than 50 years old.

Igor Poluyan, the city official responsible for building sports facilities, says he doesn't understand the problem. ''If something was scattered there, we'll collect it and take it away,'' he said.

A history professor, Yevgeny Malikov, sees the cemetery as part of the city's heritage. He has filled three sacks with bones and pulled aside two of the unearthed marble gravestones. Other gravestones are piled near a trash bin or already carried away. Some of the bones have been carried off by stray dogs.

''The history of the city is being thrown into the dump together with the human remains,'' Malikov said.

Jews began settling in Gomel in the 16th century and by the end of the 19th century made up more than half of the population. In 1903, they made history by being the first to resist a pogrom, defending 26 synagogues and prayer houses.

Most of Gomel's 40,000 Jews managed to flee before the Nazis arrived. The 4,000 who remained were shot in November 1941. Only a few thousand Jews now live in the city of 500,000.

Oleg Korzhuyev, 38, who lives on Karl Marx Street at the edge of the site, said the workers aren't happy about digging up human bones, ''but if they find a gold tooth then it's a real celebration.''

Another city, Grodno, experienced a similar problem while reconstructing a stadium built on a Jewish cemetery. The excavated earth and bones were scattered into a ravine.

Jewish graves also have been disturbed in neighboring Ukraine.

''It's not just a Jewish issue, it's this general Soviet legacy,'' said Ukraine's chief rabbi. Yakov Blaikh. ''They didn't respect people while they were alive and they don't respect them when they are dead.''

This month, the Jewish community in the city of Vinnyntsa was able to stop construction of an apartment building on a pre-World War II Jewish cemetery.

Ukrainian authorities apologized, saying they did not realize the construction would affect the cemetery. Belarus, on the other hand, has been ''one of the least responsive countries on all Jewish issues,'' according to Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli Simon Wiesenthal Center.

''The government is simply erasing Jewish history from the face of this land,'' said Yakov Basin, vice president of the Belarusian Jewish Council.

Before the war, about 1 million Jews lived in Belarus and 800,000 of them died in the Holocaust. Today they number 27,000 in the country of 10 million.

Belarus' president, Alexander Lukashenko, has shown little respect for Jewish culture. In a radio broadcast in October that provoked a sharp protest from the Israeli government, he suggested that when Jews were numerous in another town, Bobruisk, they turned it into ''a pigsty.''

''You know how Jews treat the place where they live. Look at Israel; I was there,'' he said.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

World Trade Center remains identified

from the NY Daily News: "World Trade Center remains identified"

The remains of four people killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have been identified, the medical examiner's office revealed Monday.

"I don't think any of us know how to react to it," said Douglas Mann, whose cousin Ronald Milstein, 54, was working as a temp in the twin towers on 9/11.

"It's incredible, one, that they found something, and two, that they were actually looking after 6-1/2 years," Mann said.

A portion of Milstein's remains less than an inch long was recovered from debris at Haul Road.

The remains of Alejandro Castano, a 35-year-old deliveryman, were also identified last week, as were those of a 52-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man whose names have not been released.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

9/11 "truth" advocate named UN agent re human rights of Palestinians

from Joel Pollak's blog Guide to the Perplexed:

Richard Falk, anti-Israel UN investigator, 9/11 TROOFER

I can't believe I overlooked this--and that everyone else has, as well: Princeton prof Richard Falk, newly-appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as its "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," is also a devoted supporter of the crackpot "9/11 Truth" movement, which denies that Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

Check out this radio interview, as well as the foreword Falk wrote to David Ray Griffin's 9/11 conspiracy theory book, The New Pearl Harbor. According to this Troofer website, Falk even worked to find a publisher for Griffin's book.

This is the man who will be reporting on Israel's human rights violations for the next several years...

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