Monday, December 27, 2010

Anti-Israel bias and the start of the 2008 Gaza War

It is pure bias against Israel to contend that Israel had no right to defend itself against the thousands of rockets launched into Israel by Hamas. 
 It is pure bias to hold Israel responsible for the 2008 Gaza War, when, in fact,  Hamas -- at the time -- even claimed to have started the war.  -- Mark Finkelstein
As explained by Elder of Ziyon:
Today is the second anniversary of the beginning of [Israel's] Operation Cast Lead - but it is not the anniversary of the beginning of the Gaza War.

On the very first day of OCL, I pointed out something that has been all but ignored by the media (but that I had mentioned earlier): Hamas declared war on Israel on December 24th, a full three days before Cast Lead.

Gaza - Ma'an - The military wing affiliated to Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades released a statement on Thursday morning [ 2008- December 25 ] briefing the group's military activities over the first twenty four hours of an operation they called "Oil Stain" which started Wednesday morning.

According to the statement, a total of 87 shells have been fired at Israeli targets bordering the Gaza Strip including 54 mortar shells, 31 homemade projectiles which Hamas calls "Qassam", and two Soviet-made Grad missiles. 
 Amnesty's history of the war starts on December 27th.  [Amnesty International] 

HRW   [Human Rights Watch]  characterizes the entire war as "Israel’s three-week-long military offensive in Gaza that began on December 27." It isn't even a war - it is simply framed as Israeli aggression. And this is in a report about Hamas rocket fire!

Goldstone's chapter headings  [ in Judge Goldstone's report , adopted by the U.N. ]  show this false framework as well:
When the very framework of the issue is biased to begin with, anyone trying to take Israel's aide is already handicapped. It loads the dice before the game even starts, and it takes an effort to re-frame the argument - something that Israeli spokespeople have little opportunity to do when giving statements to the press or when answering questions about NGO accusations.

Even though Hamas wants to be known as a masculine defender of Arab rights in Arabic, and it was proud to take credit for starting the war back in 2008, it has realized the immense value of the false framework provided by Goldstone and HRW and Amnesty and the mainstream media. So it has adopted that framework simply because it puts Israel at a disadvantage.

This is one of the biggest issues that Israel faces when speaking to the world. The idea of Israel as aggressor is so ingrained in the fabric of the discussion that it is not easy for even Israel's defenders to recognize it when they see it. It is especially difficult in the heat of a debate to be able to step back and challenge the questioner as to their implicit assumptions.

One fact is clear - Hamas started the war, and they bragged about it. Any narrative of the Gaza War that does not recognize that simple fact is inherently biased from the outset. No mater how prestigious the NGO or media outlet that promulgates this lie - it is still a lie, and that lie must be corrected.
Source:    12/ 27/2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SWU: Metro Transit rejects anti-Israel ad campaign in Seattle

Breaking News.  Stand With Us reports tonight that the anti-Israel "Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign" group's bus billboard ad campaign  that was supposed to begin next Monday, December 27, was rejected today.

Citing the potential for disruption to transit service, King County Executive Dow Constantine today approved an interim policy from Metro Transit that calls for a halt to the acceptance of any new non-commercial advertising on King County buses.

Also, and most importantly, under provisions of the previous policy, Metro officials today rejected the proposed ad from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

This decision came following yesterday's meeting of Jewish community leaders with senior members of the King County Executive's office and Metro Transit management about the potential threat to the Seattle-area Jewish community, after over 2,000 emails, and after numerous organizations, including StandWithUs, announced plans to run ads either countering this ad and/or promoting the positives of Israel.

Stand With Us offered thanks to....

AJC, Federation, ADL and various other organizations and individuals for their work on the Anti-BDS Task Force.

The metropolitan Seattle community's rabbis, synagogues and organizations for sending out to their members and supporters our alert this week.

And the thousands of community members who have written, called, and created the political pressure that has led to the County and Metro's reject the anti-Israel ad.

Stand With Us, a pro-Israel organization is online at

(hat tip: Jill Marks)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

TIP: U.S. Supports Israel's Pursuit of Peace Negotiations

U.S. Supports Israel's Pursuit of Peace Negotiations

Secretary of State Clinton meets with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu at the beginning of peace talks, September, 2010

Washington, Dec. 16 - The United States House of Representatives has passed a resolution (Dec. 15) affirming the importance of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and rejecting unitaleral moves by the Palestinians to declare statehood.

Israel says a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence would be meaningless since it avoids direct negotiations as a means to lasting peace, delaying the possibility of agreement on critical issues. Several countries in Latin America have recognized a Palestinian state that would occupy all territory captured by Israel in 1967 - but the United States and the European Union have rejected the move.

The House resolution supports a "negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and condemns "unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state."

A negotiated solution, it says, is the only way to create two democratic states living side by side in "peace, security and mutual recognition."

Palestinians abandoned directed talks with Israel in September after a 10-month Israeli moratorium on building in the territories expired. The United States is now trying to get indirect negotiations going between the parties - but the Palestinians are resisting even that.

Key questions between the Israelis and Palestingians regarding security, borders, refugees and Jerusalem are still unresolved.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed the U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Tuesday (Sec. 14) that he is ready to discuss all the core issues in American-led indirect talks.

"The expectation is that borders and security arrangements will be the first two issues to be tackled," according to Haaretz, an Israeli daily.

Mitchell proposed bilateral talks on Wednesday (Dec. 15) - meaning parallel but separate American-led talks with the Israelis and Palestinians - as a means of restoring the negotiations.

Arab nations came out against any talks between Israel and the PA, "direct or indirect," unless the U.S. delineates what the future borders of a Palestinian state would be.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NYT: Declassified papers detail how Nazi anti-Semitism was transmitted to the Arab world after WW II

According to the New York Times, declassified papers detail "how [ after WW II ] high-ranking Nazis escaped from Germany to become advisers to anti-Israeli Arab leaders and “were able to carry on and transmit to others Nazi racial-ideological anti-Semitism.”

 The NY Times article is based on a U.S. government report published Friday, December 10, 2010 by the National Archives

From the NYT article:

In chilling detail, the report also elaborates on the close working relationship between Nazi leaders and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who later claimed that he sought refuge in wartime Germany only to avoid arrest by the British.

In fact, the report says, the Muslim leader was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year). It also said he energetically recruited Muslims for the SS, the Nazi Party’s elite military command, and was promised that he would be installed as the leader of Palestine after German troops drove out the British and exterminated more than 350,000 Jews there.

On Nov. 28, 1941, the authors say, Hitler told Mr. Husseini that the Afrika Corps and German troops deployed from the Caucasus region would liberate Arabs in the Middle East and that “Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”

The report details ... how high-ranking Nazis escaped from Germany to become advisers to anti-Israeli Arab leaders and “were able to carry on and transmit to others Nazi racial-ideological anti-Semitism.”

“You have an actual contract between officials of the Nazi Foreign Ministry with Arab leaders, including Husseini, extending after the war because they saw a cause they believed in,” Dr. Breitman said. “And after the war, you have real Nazi war criminals — Wilhelm Beisner, Franz Rademacher and Alois Brunner — who were quite influential in Arab countries.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

ARZA and URJ open Carmel Fire - Israel Emergency Fund

You can help. ARZA and the URJ, with our partners, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, will help rebuild human lives through the IMPJ Humanitarian Fund.  Contributing to our Carmel Fire-Israel Emergency Fund* is one more way for you to participate in building Israel, the land that we love.

To contribute to this effort, go to:

Carmel Fire-Israel Emergency Fund

If you live in Canada, you can donate online by going to:

Or if you prefer to mail your contribution, you may send it to:


633 Third Ave, 7th Floor

New York, NY 10017

*Neither ARZA nor the URJ withholds any overhead costs for Emergency Funds, with the exception of direct costs such as credit card fees.

Israel's Tragic Fire: How You Can Help

Israel’s Tragic Fire: How You Can Help

Israel has been hit by an unprecedented disaster. A wildfire raging in the north near Haifa has taken at least 42 lives. Thousands of acres of forest have been destroyed and entire villages have been blackened.

The Israel Project is working to get out the facts globally about the fire and the need for help. You can donate to this by going here.

The Jewish Federations of North America has sent up a fund. Checks can be sent to the Israel Forest Fire Disaster Relief Fund, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. They should be made out to The Jewish Federations of North America. Or donate through

The Jewish National Fund has several different ways to help:
To arm the firefighters with the protective gear and equipment they need, go to

To Replenish Trees in Israel’s Forests
- Donate $10 by texting JNF to 20222 from your cell phone.

- Go to and plant a tree.   for online emergency donations to Magen David Adom, with regard to servicing victims of fire outside of Haifa.

 Adapted from combined sources 

Arson suspects apprehended rekindling forest fire in Israel

Coastal District Police Commander Roni Attia said Friday that two arson suspects were apprehended in the North, near Kiryat Bialik.

The suspects were allegedly attempting to rekindle a fire in the forest with the use of Molotov cocktails. Police are not connecting the arsonists at this stage to the massive fires in the Carmel and Atlit but rather to the fire which broke out earlier at the Tzur Shalom area of Kiryat Bialik

Attia added that arson is suspected in a number of separate fires, including Kiryat Bialik and Kiryat Tivon.

Earlier on Friday, police found a bike, a bag, and a wig inside near a fire center in Tzur Shalom, leading them to believe that the fire was caused by an arsonist or arsonists.

Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Post that there are 3 fire centers - Tzur Shalom, the Atlit - Tirat Hacarmel area, and the Carmel hillsides. In one, Tzur Shalom, north of Haifa, "we located suspicious items pointing to arson. As for the other two major fires, it is too early and the incidents are to large in scale to know their causes at this stage." The death toll in the fires rose to 42 on Friday, according to Army Radio.

Galillee police were spread out over the area searching for suspects.
Source: Jerusalem Post,  12.3.2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Des Moines Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, 1 pm, Nov. 21

 From Rabbi David Kaufman,  Temple B'nai Jeshurun

Community Interfaith

Thanksgiving Service


Sunday, November 21st


1 pm


at Temple B’nai Jeshurun

5101 Grand Ave in Des Moines



JCRC, DMARC, AMOS, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Rev. Dave Nerdig of Faith Lutheran Church, Temple B'nai Jeshurun and I, Rabbi David Kaufman, among others would like to invite you to attend the annual (or at least almost annual) Thanksgiving Interfaith Service, to be held this year at Temple B’nai Jeshurun [5101 Grand Ave in Des Moines] at 1:00 p.m. on Nov. 21. We missed having it last year! It is an inspirational event.


This year, the service will be held at the same time as the Temple’s Chanukah Happening event, so participants and attendees will have the opportunity to experience that event and shop at the vendor tables!


Faith leaders from a number of religious organizations will participate and a good time will be had by all. Thank you so much for your willingness to engage in the interfaith religious life of greater Des Moines.



For more information please call the Temple’s office at



This is a free event, open to the public

David Jay Kaufman
Temple B'nai Jeshurun
Des Moines, Iowa

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in Des Moines, 1 pm, Nov. 21


Community Interfaith

Thanksgiving Service


Sunday, November 21st


1 pm


at Temple B’nai Jeshurun

5101 Grand Ave in Des Moines



JCRC, DMARC, AMOS, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, the Diocese of Des Moines, Rev. Dave Nerdig of Faith Lutheran, Temple B'nai Jeshurun and I, Rabbi David Kaufman, among others would like to invite you to attend the annual (or at least almost annual) Thanksgiving Interfaith Service, to be held this year at Temple B’nai Jeshurun [5101 Grand Ave in Des Moines] at 1:00 p.m. on Nov. 21. We missed having it last year! It is an inspirational event.


This year, the service will be held at the same time as the Temple’s Chanukah Happening event, so participants and attendees will have the opportunity to experience that event and shop at the vendor tables!


Faith leaders from a number of religious organizations will participate and a good time will be had by all. Thank you so much for your willingness to engage in the interfaith religious life of greater Des Moines.



For more information please call the Temple’s office at



This is a free event, open to the public 


 From: Rabbi David Kaufman   From:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rennert: A willful disregard for Jewish ownership of land in Jerusalem

Har Homa was built on Jewish-owned land                                                            

[Comments by Israel Matzav on an article by Leo Rennert]
Lost in the argument over building in Jerusalem, writes Leo Rennert, is the fact that Har Homa, where most of the new apartments are being built, is built entirely on land that has been
owned by Jews for nearly a century.
What is utterly ludicrous about this concocted tempest in a Jerusalem teacup is that the bulk of the new apartment units are to go up in Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood of some 12,000 residents in southeast Jerusalem. Two thirds of Har Homa is on land purchased by Jews after the First World War. The other third is owned by Arabs. The entire existing Harm Homa neighborhood was built on Jewish-owned land and plans for additional housing units also are confined to this part of Har Homa. None of this appeared in media reports or in the criticism leveled by Obama, the State Department and the European Union.

Nor did they bother to point out that, under any realistic scenario for a two-state solution, even with a division of Jerusalem, Har Homa will remain on the Israeli side.

With typical historical amnesia, these Israel-bashers also failed to point out that, during Israel's War of Independence, Jordanian forces attempting to eliminate the Jewish state used Har Homa as a vantage point from which to fire on the Old City of Jerusalem and other neighborhoods of the city.

In their cramped and selective sense of history, none of this matters. Their historical perspective begins with the last day of the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel prevailed over Jordanian and other Arab armies intent on destroying it, and in the process reunified Jerusalem.

Thus, Washington Post correspondent Joel Greenberg describes Har Homas as an "area of the West Bank annexed to Jerusalem." New York Times correspondent Isabel Kershner, in similar vein, calls it a "Jewish residential development in southern Jerusalem in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, and then annexed."

So never mind that Har Homa has been on Jewish owned land from well before Jordan illegally occupied it in 1948, in clear violation of the 1947 UN two-state partition plan.

All that history is brushed aside. ...
Source:    11/11/10

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From Beth El Jacob: Sunday event honors the Bergs, Dr. Koslow and John Wild

 Sunday November 7 program honors the Bergs, Dr. Koslow & John Wild
There are still  a few seats available for Beth El Jacob Synagogue's dinner on Sunday.
The reception is at 4pm, presentation at 5pm and dinner at 6:30pm.
Dinner is $54 per person, and reservations can be made via emailing or calling the office.
E-mail your reservation to:
or call Valerie E. Cohen, Administrator  at (515) 274-1551
N.B.  The telephone system at Beth El Jacob is under repair.  There is a very long delay in phone transfers, but the voice mail takes messages after a minute or a bit more. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Feith: Can Israel be Jewish and democratic?

Can Israel Be Jewish and Democratic?

Many nations have laws and practices that recognize their majority group's history, language or religion while also protecting the rights of minorities.

By DOUGLAS J. FEITH , Wall Street Journal,  10/25/2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently asked Palestinian peace negotiators to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. Some critics have called this move cynical, because Palestinian leaders are unlikely to offer such an acknowledgment. But others oppose it for a more basic reason: They claim it is antidemocratic.

Israel, so the argument goes, affronts its non-Jewish citizens by identifying itself as a Jewish state and by using traditional religious emblems as official national symbols—for example, the Star of David on its flag.

Along the same lines, various Israeli intellectuals have proposed dropping "Hatikvah" (The Hope) as their country's national anthem, because it refers to the Jewish soul's millenial yearnings for a return to Zion. A few have urged repeal of Israel's longstanding law of return, which gives Jews from any country a right to immigrate and become citizens.

Some Israeli Arabs have advocated that Israel should become a state identified with no particular ethnic or religious group but rather a state of all of its individual citizens. Israelis commonly view this liberal ideal with suspicion, for it has no relation whatever to the political practices of any countries in the Middle East. Also, Azmi Bishara, the principal Israeli Arab proponent of "a state of all of its citizens" and a former member of parliament, outraged many Israelis by supporting Hezbollah against Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war.

Israeli law respects the voting, property, religious and other rights of its Arab citizens (most of them Muslims) who constitute some 20% of the population. Nevertheless, the ongoing conflict over Palestine has created bitterness between many of them and their fellow Jewish citizens. Many Israeli Jews resent what they see as disloyalty on the part of Israeli Arabs. Many of the latter resent what they see as their second-class status.

But the larger question of Israel's identity as a Jewish state does not hinge on the particulars of its Arab citizens' current status. Rather, it is whether democratic principles are necessarily violated when Israel asserts a Jewish identity based on the ethnic and religious heritage of its majority group. That is a matter of interest to everyone who thinks seriously about self-government.

Israel is by no means unique among democracies in considering itself the embodiment of the national existence of a specific people. In fact, most democracies see themselves that way. Most have laws and practices that specially recognize a particular people's history, language, culture, religion and group symbols, even though they also have minorities from other groups.

The United States is unusual in this regard. It is among the most liberal of democracies, in the sense that it is committed to the principle that laws should, in general, ignore group identities (ethnic, religious or regional) and treat citizens equally as individuals. Canada, Australia and New Zealand—likewise lands of new settlement—are among the other countries on this liberal end of the democratic spectrum.

The democracies of Europe and East Asia and those in the former republics of the Soviet Union, meanwhile, tend to cluster on the ethnic side of the spectrum. Numerous laws and institutions in those nations favor a country's principal ethnic group but are nevertheless accepted as compatible with democratic principles. Christian crosses adorn the flags of Switzerland, Sweden, Greece and Finland, among other model democracies, and the United Kingdom's flag boasts two kinds of crosses.

Several of these democracies have monarchs—and in the U.K., Norway and Denmark, the monarchs head national churches. France famously protects the integrity of the French language and the interests of French speakers, as do pro-French forces in Canada.

Ireland has a law that allows applicants of "Irish descent or Irish associations" to be exempted from ordinary naturalization rules. Poland, Croatia and Japan have similar laws of return favoring members of their own respective ethnic majorities. Many other examples exist.

Israel was founded as a national home for the Jews, recognized as a nationality and not just a religious group. After Allied forces conquered Palestine from the Ottomans in World War I, Britain, France, Italy and other leading powers of the day supported the idea that the Jewish people, long shamefully abused as exiles throughout the diaspora, should be offered the opportunity to reconstitute a Jewish-majority state in their ancient homeland of Palestine.

Those powers planned that the Arabs, whose nationalist leaders from across the Middle East insisted that they were a single, indivisible people, would exercise national self-determination over time in Syria, Lebanon, Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Arabia and elsewhere. Britain soon decided to put the 78% of Palestine east of the Jordan River under exclusive Arab administration, barring Jewish settlement there.

The British government's wartime Balfour Declaration in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine—incorporated verbatim in the Palestine Mandate, which received League of Nations confirmation in 1922—made a crucial distinction between the collective rights of the Jewish people in Palestine and the individual civil and religious rights of the country's non-Jewish residents. The point was that all such rights, collective and individual, should be honored.

After World War I, numerous ethnic groups achieved statehood. It was not considered antidemocratic that the Hungarians or Poles, for example, should establish nations to embody and sustain their particular cultures.

All democratic countries have minority populations. Such countries do not believe that they have to shed their national ethnic identities in order to respect the civil, property and other basic human rights of their minority citizens. The distinction between majority collective rights to a national home and the individual rights of all citizens remains important in Israel and in all ethnically-based democracies.

So democracies vary in the degree to which their laws take account of ethnicity. Their common practices provide an answer to our question: It is not antidemocratic for Israel to protect its status as a Jewish state in ways similar to those used by the French, Swiss, British, Germans, Italians, Lithuanians, Japanese and others to protect the status of their countries as national homelands.

Mr. Feith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as under secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005. He is the author of "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" (Harper 2008).


Monday, October 18, 2010

AJC Poll: 95% of American Jews say peace with the Palestinians requires recognition of Israel as a Jewish state

The American Jewish Committee's Fall survey, released October 12, 2010 reports that
"American Jews remain nearly unanimous – 95 percent – in supporting the proposal requiring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a final peace agreement. In March and in 2009, the figure was 94 percent. "

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oct 25: Middle East As Global Focal Point with Prof. Barry Rubin at Drake University

Prominent Middle East historian, analyst Barry Rubin to speak at Drake University,  October 25th.

Barry Rubin

The Middle East's

Dramatic Change

Why It's a Global Focal Point

Monday, October 25, 2010, 7 p.m.

Meredith 106,

Drake University

(Meredith is located north of Olmstead Parking Lot)

Presented by Drake University's Center for Global Citizenship

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research

in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and

editor of the Middle East Review of

International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest

books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh

edition), The Long War for Freedom:

The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle

East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria


This speech is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event,

please call 515-271-2840.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tues. Oct 12: Jazz at The Caspe Terrace with Jon Weber

Tuesday Oct 12:   7:30 pm
     Pianist Jon Weber  The history of jazz piano is alive and well in the hands of New York City pianist Jon Weber. From ragtime to modern, Jon plays it all. His vast knowledge of tunes is matched by his stories about the composers and musicians who made those tunes famous. A sought after accompanist for New York City’s finest jazz vocalists, Jon has the skill to keep you entertained and enthralled in an evening of solo piano.  Bring your requests, because chances are Jon knows them and will be happy to play them for you!
Our guest artiist will perform at the Caspe Terrace in Waukee, a venue ideally suited to the intimacy of jazz.   The Waukee Area Arts Council hosts a “Meet The Artist” dessert reception following each concert.  Concerts run 7:30 – 10 PM.

 Tickets for individual concerts within the series are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.  Student discounts are available.   For more information, contact Abe Goldstien at 515-279-6452 or via email at

Oct. 24 Temple Brotherhood Political Forum

Political Forum at Temple B'nai Jeshurun
Sponsored by the Temple Brotherhood
Sunday, October 24, 2010
8:45 AM  - Breakfast
9:15 AM to Noon - Forum
Moderator:  Dennis Goldford, Professor of Politics at Drake University and Political Analyst KCCI-TV

An opportunity to hear directly from the following candidates...

  • Chet Culver
  • Brad Zaun
  • Roxanne Conlin
  • Leonard Boswell
Each candidate will give a brief speech followed by a question and answer session.

Please RSVP to the Temple by calling 274-4679 no later than Tuesday, October 19th.

The Brotherhood extended an invitation to both Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley to participate in the Forum.  However, both declined the invitation due to scheduling conflicts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Temple Brotherhood Political Forum, October 24

Political Forum at Temple B'nai Jeshurun
Sponsored by the Temple Brotherhood
Sunday, October 24, 2010
8:45 AM  - Breakfast
9:15 AM to Noon - Forum
Moderator:  Dennis Goldford, Professor of Politics at Drake University and Political Analyst KCCI-TV

An opportunity to hear directly from the following candidates...

  • Chet Culver
  • Brad Zaun
  • Roxanne Conlin
  • Leonard Boswell
Each candidate will give a brief speech followed by a question and answer session.

Please RSVP to the Temple by calling 274-4679 no later than Tuesday, October 19th.

The Brotherhood extended an invitation to both Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley
to participate in the Forum.  However, Terry Branstad declined the invitation due to
a scheduling conflict and Chuck Grassley never responded.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oct. 25 Why the ME is a global focal point. Prof. Barry Rubin at Drake University


October 7: "What it means to be an American Muslim" at Drake University


You are invited to join in a discussion at Drake University on


"What it means to be an American Muslim"


Featured panelists include:


Luai Amro President, Islamic Cultural Center of Des Moines


Bill Aossey President, Midamar Corporation


Abdirizak Bihi Somali Community Activist and Social Worker


Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)



Moderator: Mahmoud Hamad, Ph.D.,  Assistant Professor,  Politics Department, Drake University



Thursday, October 7, 2010

7:00 p.m. -8:30 p.m.


Drake University - Sheslow Auditorium




American Islamic Forum for Democracy





Sponsored by Stanley Richards Revocable Trust

For more information please call Stanley Richards at 515.282.4218


Thursday, September 23, 2010

[excerpts] Remarks of President Barack Obama's Address to the Un...


Excerpts relate to the President's remarks about the war on terrorism,
Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Remarks of President Barack Obama-As Prepared for Delivery [Remarks may
have deviated from the speech as prepared for delivery]
Address to the United Nations General Assembly September 23, 2010

Men, women and children have been murdered by extremists from
Casablanca to London; from Jalalabad to Jakarta.

Now let me be clear once more: the United States and the international
community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door
remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But
the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible
commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear


Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states,
Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as
part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.
We have travelled a winding road over the last twelve months, with few
peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have
pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in
Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that
Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too
divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides
will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some
say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for
talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure,
peace is simply not possible.

But consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached,
Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with
their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security
that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to
co-existence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More
blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our
differences, instead of our common humanity.

I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each
of us must choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with
the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier
this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I came
here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both people
to live in peace, security, and dignity." President Abbas said, "We
will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to
ensure these negotiations achieve their cause."

These words must be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders
have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is
difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians - and the
world - to rally behind the goal that these leaders share. We know
there will be tests along the way, and that one is fast approaching.
Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and
improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well
known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also
believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for
the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time
to build the trust - and provide the time - for substantial progress to
be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it
doesn't slip away.

Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a
responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of
Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires
an independent Palestine - one that allows the Palestinian people to
live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of
the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian
people will be won only through peaceful means - including genuine
reconciliation with a secure Israel.

Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But
these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on
to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it
real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises
Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help
the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and - in so
doing - help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.
And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop
trying to tear Israel down.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange
land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel's
existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign
state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be
clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only
be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts
to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian
people - the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is
injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas -
who stands up for his people in front of the world - is far greater
than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution.
And we can come back here, next year, as we have for the last sixty,
and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of
grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower
the forces of rejectionism and hate. We can waste more time by carrying
forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian
child achieve a better life. We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different - that this time we
will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics
stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the
young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the
young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket
fire. This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that
lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem's soil as
sacred. This time we should reach for what's best within ourselves. If
we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that
will lead to a new member of the United Nations - an independent,
sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Debka: Today's Middle East negotiations

A headline review of today's news from

Before leaving Sharm el-Sheikh, Netanyahu, Abbas, Clinton met again
after first round of talks ended in 40 minutes

* Mitchell: Extending West Bank building moratorium makes sense, but it
is a sensitive political issue in Israel

* We have asked Abbas for steps to promote continuation of talks

* First, Netanyahu talked to Clinton, Abbas to Mubarak

* Fifteen Israeli cabinet ministers plus Knesset Speaker publish open
letter against moratorium

* Hamas military chief Al Jabry says only fire will exorcize conflict
with Israel

* Palestinian state must extend from "Sea to Jordan"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pipes: It's wrong to target all Muslims

Daniel Pipes call upon those who oppose Islamism (al-Qaeda, Hamas ) to
avoid targeting all Muslims. It's wrong and indefensible to target all
Muslims. //Mark Finkelstein

Pipes states:

" I have one concern:[some of those who oppose Islamism are taking on
an] increasing anti-Islamic tone. Misled by the Islamists' insistence
that there can be no such thing as "moderate Islam," my allies often
fail to distinguish between Islam (a faith) and Islamism (a radical
utopian ideology aiming to implement Islamic laws in their totality).
This amounts not just to an intellectual error but a policy dead-end.
Targeting all Muslims conflicts with basic Western notions, lumps
friends with foes, and ignores the inescapable fact that Muslims alone
can offer an antidote to Islamism. As I often note, radical Islam is
the problem and moderate Islam is the solution [to defeating Islamism.]"


Friday, September 3, 2010

Viewpoints on Peace expressed by two ambassadors

Israel's Ambassador to the United States,  Michael Oren, expressed optimism in the peace talks.
In an opinion editorial, he writes:   Is there any reason for optimism?

Indeed, there is. For the first time in history, most Arab leaders view a Middle Eastern state other than Israel - Iran - as their major enemy. The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is strong, stable and deeply committed to resolving the conflict based on two states for two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian. In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is working to restore law, order and economic prosperity while similarly pledging to pursue the two-state solution. And President Barack Obama has placed achieving peace at the top of his foreign policy agenda. Never before, perhaps, have conditions been so conducive for a breakthrough.

Palestinian Ambassador to Iran, Salah Zawawi, expressed his opinion, as well.
 Tehran, Sept 2, IRNA -- Palestine’s Ambassador to Tehran, Salah Zawawi, said on Thursday:  “With reliance upon Grace of Almighty God and through solidarity of world Muslims, we hope to witness complete eradication of [ Israel] the fabricated regime in due course.”
Comments to

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SF Interfaith Statement for One America


Interfaith Statement for One America

A Call to Action for Deeper Understanding & Mutual Respect

As religious leaders representing people of many faiths in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are deeply troubled by the current wave of bigotry and hate directed at Islam and Muslims in the United States.

We recognize that there is a wide range of strongly held views about the location selected for the Islamic Center in New York near Ground Zero and that disagreement with the decision is not tantamount to attacking a religious group. At the same time, there is a growing pattern of anti-mosque protests and other actions directed at American Muslims in many parts of the country that aim to demonize Islam in the name of protecting America from Muslim radicals and extremists.

We condemn these attempts to vilify an entire religious community and affirm that such bigotry has no place in a nation committed to religious liberty for people of all faiths and none. Fear mongering, scapegoating, and intimidating a religious group does not protect our nation against the real threats that it faces, but rather threatens our pluralistic democracy that is a beacon to those who seek freedom from oppression. As a nation of immigrants, we continue to see our diversity as one of the great strengths of our country.

Well-aware of the long and bloody history of religious conflict in Europe, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were determined to found a nation committed to religious freedom. Thanks to their vision and commitment, religious liberty in America is protected as a precious, fundamental and inalienable right for all people. This right is guaranteed by the first 16 words of the First Amendment to the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

From the beginning of our history, we have struggled as a nation to live up to this founding ideal. The current outbreak of fear and prejudice directed at American Muslims is reminiscent of earlier attacks on Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons and other immigrant communities in America. . Anti-Catholic rallies of the 19th century, for example, warned of "Romanism" taking over America and condemned the Catholic Church as antithetical to American freedom.

Today, we are called once again to speak out against a rising tide of prejudice that threatens the religious freedom of American Muslims and thus undermines religious freedom for us all. Religious liberty is a universal right joined to a universal responsibility to protect that right - not just for ourselves, but for all others. We celebrate that in America we may practice our own faiths in diverse ways that deepen our religious commitment, bridge many of the chasms that divide us, and build doors in the walls that often separate us. We are dedicated to creating a community of mutual respect and common effort for the good of society. This is a salute to America’s legacy and future.

At this difficult time, we ask people of all faiths to take concrete steps to reach out to Muslims and members of other faiths - to host events and joint projects that will build relationships and promote mutual understanding.

We ask all Americans of goodwill to join us in countering this current wave of bigotry and hate by coming together to create our own wave of deeper understanding, mutual respect and common action for the good of all. In this spirit, we commit ourselves to speak and act according to the vision of religious liberty set forth in our Constitution, and urge our fellow citizens to do the same.


Maha Elgenaidi, Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Rabbi Doug Kahn, Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County

Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash

Imam Aladdin El-Bakri, West Valley Muslim Association

Rev. Gerald Sakamoto, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin

Rev. Andrew Kille, Interfaith Space

Imam Tahir Anwar

Zahra Billoo, Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco

Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, United Religions Initiative

Agha and Malley: Palestinian leader hard pressed to implement an agreement

Authors argue that because Palestinians lack a strong, legitimate central authority, " Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement," argues Agha and Malley

At Mideast Peace Talks, a Lopsided Table - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (Washington Post)

  • Staggering asymmetries between the Israelis and Palestinians could seriously imperil the talks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments. Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement.
  • Participation in direct talks was opposed by virtually every Palestinian political organization aside from Fatah, whose support was lethargic. Abbas' decision to come to Washington is viewed skeptically even by those who back him. If Abbas reaches a deal, many will ask in whose name he was bartering away Palestinian rights. If negotiations fail, most will accuse him of once more having been duped. Abbas will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
  • The demographic threat - the possibility that Arabs soon might outnumber Jews, forcing Israel to choose between remaining Jewish or democratic - is exaggerated. Israel already has separated itself from Gaza. In the future, it could unilaterally relinquish areas of the West Bank, further diminishing prospects of an eventual Arab majority.

    Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University. Robert Malley is Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and was special assistant to the president for Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998 to 2001. 

  • Source:  summary by on Sept. 2, 2010 .  Article from

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cordoba Project Imam on Israel: Favors one-state solution in comments made in 2005

Again, whether you support or oppose placement of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero, 
you should know that  Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the project ( The Cordoba Initiative,)
 appears to favor positions that can be characterized as anti-Israel. 
A win-win solution to the Palestinian/Israel conflict requires a two-state solution:  A safe and secure Jewish state and a safe and secure Palestinian Arab state.
 In 2005,  Imam Rauf  publicly advocated for a one-state solution, in which no separate State of Israel will exist.   
 Rauf said he does not favor the plan to establish a Palestinian state along with Israel.
 "The differences, perhaps, may lie on whether the solution lies in the two-state solution or in a one-state solution. I believe that you had someone here recently who spoke about having a one land and two people's solution to Israel. And I personally - my own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution. So if we address the underlying issue, if we figure out a way to create condominiums, to condominiamise Israel and Palestine so you have two peoples co-existing on one state, then we have a different paradigm which will allow us to move forward."
Source:  ( Steve Emerson)   Audio documentation  
 As you may already know, Imam Rauf declines to repudiate the terrorist organization Hamas.
 When asked to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization, Imam Rauf refused, saying, in part:
"I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy." 

Souce : 

In writings translated from Arabic, Imam Rauf states that he sees Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad -- organizations identifed by the U.S. State Department as terrorist organizations -- as organizations seeking 'justice."  

//Mark Finkelstein