Sunday, October 26, 2003

Another piece of good (baseball) news -- Marlins Win World Series. I wanted a Red Sox vs. Cubs series, but at least the Yankees lost....
The New York Times reports that Many Iraqis Find They Like Life Without Hussein. It gives me hope that despite the many mistakes the U.S. has made in Iraq since the end of the war, despite what seems to have been our poor planning on what to do afterwards, that eventually we will help create a much better situation for the people of Iraq.

More on International ANSWER and the International Action Center. This is a letter about a U.S. committee that formed to protest the "disgraceful show-trial of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia."

And the IAC site also includes a fawning press release about the wonders of North Korea.

Curious about the Workers World Party -- here's information from their newspaper. Prominently displayed toward the bottom of the opening page are links to both ANSWER and the IAC.

An interesting critique by an anti-war activist of the alliance between International Answer and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ, who together organized today's anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. He points out that ANSWER's parent group is the International Action Center, sponsored by the Worker's World Party, which supports North Korea and denies that Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia attempted genocide against Bosnian & Kosovar Muslims. Some information about ANSWER:
The dirty open secret on the American left--universally, but rarely openly, acknowledged--is that ANSWER is led at its core by an outfit called the International Action Center (IAC), which is itself a front group for the reactionary and Stalin-nostalgist Workers World Party. What nobody wants to say out loud is clearly evident: IAC and Workers World support genocide.

IAC's frontman, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, is a founding member of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, and IAC routinely dismissed accounts of the atrocities against Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians as imperialist "lies." Even now, IAC supports Milosevic almost without reservation, portraying him as a defender of socialism. During the worst of the Bosnia bloodshed, IAC4s Clark travelled to Bosnia to meet with Serb strongman Radovan Karadzic (now indicted on war crimes charges) and offer his support.

Workers World also supported Deng Xiaoping in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, portraying the protesters as "counter-revolutionaries."

In 1991, Workers World split the movement aganst Desert Storm by refusing to condemn Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. In the ensuing years, Clark and IAC dismissed human rights allegations against Saddam as more imperialist propaganda.

Workers World Party--whose cadre such as Brian Becker are ANSWER's most visible spokespersons--is a vigorous apologist of mass murder.
.

Click here for International ANSWER. Among many other things on this web page (their opening page is much too big and takes forever to load, by the way -- they need a better webmaster), they have a report on the Palestine Solidarity conference that was recently held at Rutgers. Among other things, the "Palestine Solidarity Movement" affirms that (as "Principle of Unity #5) that: "As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation." Hmm, I guess that means that suicide bombings aimed at the massacre of civilians is morally justified by the anti-imperialist struggle....


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A good critique of Krugman's op-ed as well as more information about Mahathir's anti-semitic career (and anti-democratic rule in Malaysia).



A good critique by Andrew Sullivan of Paul Krugman's column today in the New York Times on Mahathir's anti-semitism. I was very puzzled by the same passage from Krugman.

Not long ago Washington was talking about Malaysia as an important partner in the war on terror. Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become. Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low.


I don't think that Mahathir needs George Bush or Ariel Sharon as an excuse for his anti-semitism (since he's been making anti-semitic statements and doing anti-semitic things for decades, including banning the showing of Schindler's List in Malaysia). I find it peculiar that Krugman seems to be claiming that Mahathir needed an external provocation to "insert" anti-semitism into a speech.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

An interesting survey of world reactions to Mahathir's speech in the Washington Post -- Anti-Semitism or Political Correctness?. Among the most interesting is an excerpt from the commentary of Marwan Bishara, a Palestinian columnist for the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon.

Lumping all Muslims and all Jews as politically uniform is misleading at best. In the U.S., for example, Jewish voices critical of American foreign policy are louder than most others. And in Israel, an increasing number of Israeli Jews oppose their country's occupation and support the Palestinian right of self-determination. Mahathir's statement can only undermine the efforts of those Jews who do not find themselves represented by the government of Israel and damage the just struggle of the Palestinians people.



An excellent opinion piece from the Washington Post on Mahathir's speech and its reception -- Return to Wannsee (washingtonpost.com). He says:
....But what ails part of the Islamic, especially Arab, world, is both anti-Semitism, which is rampant and state-tolerated, and the sort of thinking that underlies it. The belief that Jews have some sort of mystical powers -- that they are smarter and, of course, more diabolical than others -- provides the Islamic world with a handy explanation of why more than 1 billion Muslims cannot seem to cope with little Israel. But what corrupts and enfeebles large parts of the Islamic world is not Jews in either New York or Tel Aviv but its own self-serving and inept leadership -- in other words, some of the very people who stood and cheered the speech.

Sadly, throughout the Islamic world, anti-Zionism has been corrupted into anti-Semitism. Saudi clerics preach that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to make their Passover matzos. That classic forgery, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," can be found throughout the Arab world. The tenets of traditional European anti-Semitism have been adopted in the Islamic world -- the globalization of crackpot conspiracy theories. Governments either look the other way or offer support.

Finally, Bush Tells Malaysian Leader That Comments on Jews Were Wrong. This article explains why he hesitated to say anything immediately after Mahathir's speech. A strange story, in my opinion. Condoleeza Rice also said, that "everyone thinks the comments were hateful; they are outrageous," and that Mr. Bush regarded them as "reprehensible." She added, "I don't think they are emblematic of the Muslim world." I hope they are not emblematic of the Muslim world, but they may in fact be emblematic of much of the undemocratic "leadership" of the Muslim world, since as the article says, "Mr. Mahathir's speech on Thursday received a standing ovation from Muslim leaders of many nations, including Saudi Arabia, who were attending the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim group." And the president seems to have a strange concern not to embarass Mahathir, as a White House spokesman says, "Clearly, we had to respond," a White House official said today. "But the president wanted to do it in a quiet way, without further public embarrassment for Mahathir." Seems to me that Mahathir took care of his own public embarrassment last week.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Leon Wieseltier's excoriation of Tony Judt's new-fangled one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, What is Not to be Done, is a treasure. Read it all.
In this article, Anti-Semitism: The blood motif, Amnon Rubenstein of Ha'aretz discusses the European roots of Muslim anti-semitism. He says: "The blood motif [the blood libel] originally had no Muslim parallel. The Jews are an inferior subject people but they are not different bodily from Muslims, who are also circumcised. The Damascus libel [of 1840] was therefore imported to the Muslim east from Christian Europe. This process is occurring even more strongly in our own time. 'The Protocols,' [of the Elders of Zion] for example, are an import from Czarist Russia."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Times hasn't seen fit to print an article, but they did denounce Mahathir's speech in this editorial, Islamic Anti-Semitism.
It is hard to know what is more alarming — a toxic statement of hatred of Jews by the Malaysian prime minister at an Islamic summit meeting this week or the unanimous applause it engendered from the kings, presidents and emirs in the audience. The words uttered by the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a speech to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference on Thursday were sadly familiar: Jews, he asserted, may be few in number, but they seek to run the world....

When Israeli officials noted that such talk brought Hitler to mind, the assembled leaders were mystified. Yemen's foreign minister said he agreed entirely with his Malaysian colleague, adding, "Israelis and Jews control most of the economy and the media in the world." The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, called the speech "a very, very wise assessment." Even the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said the speech was "very correct."...

Sympathy for the Muslims' plight must not be confused with the acceptance of racism. Most Muslims have indeed been shoddily treated — by their own leaders, who gather at feckless summit meetings instead of offering their people what they most need: human rights, education and democracy.

The European Union was asked to include a condemnation of Mr. Mahathir's speech in its statement yesterday ending its own summit. It chose not to, adding a worry that displays of anti-Semitism are being met with inexcusable nonchalance.


And what a big surprise that the Europeans aren't taking anti-semitism seriously -- when have they ever?

Friday, October 17, 2003

As Andrew Sullivan and LGF report, EU fumbles over response to Malaysian PM's remarks against Jews . Apparently the French Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, objected to the EU condemning Mahathir's anti-Jewish remarks, saying that it was not appropriate to do so at an EU summit. The British, on the other hand, called in the Malaysian ambassador and issued a stiff protest. The statement that Chirac, as well as the Greek Prime Minister, objected to read as follows: "His unacceptable comments hinder all our efforts to further interethnic and religious harmony, and have no place in a decent world. Such false and anti-Semitic remarks are as offensive to Muslims as they are to others." Why is Chirac doing this? Because he thinks it will endear France to Muslim leaders? Or is this a sop to the Muslims of France -- instead of truly accepting them as fellow-citizens, throwing them an anti-semitic bone, turning their frustrations with French society against the Jews?

Under this title, Malaysian Calls on Muslims to Resist Jewish Influence, the Washington Post reports on the Malaysian prime minister's remarks yesterday against "the enemy" (i.e., the Jews). What is the Post's problem? Do they simply not recognize blatant anti-semitism when they see it? Or are they trying to gloss it over because a Muslim leader uttered these remarks, not a member of the Aryan Nations?

At least the Post reported on his speech. A search of the New York Times web site for today reveals references only to wire service reports and nothing in the print edition.
Protests of Mahathir's speech from Europe and the U.S., but a standing ovation from the Muslim leaders present, including "Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri." Statements from Karzai and the Egyptian and Yemenite foreign ministers saw no anti-semitism.

"This was a pep talk to the Muslim countries for them to work hard and look to the future," Maher [the Egyptian Foreign Minister] said. "But as soon as you have any criticism of Israel, then there are people who are very eager to rush to condemnation, without comprehending what it's all about."


Apparently Israel=the entire Jewish people, according to the Egyptian prime minister. And this from one of the leaders of a supposedly moderate Muslim country.

A fairly decent report on Mahathir by CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- Malaysian leader stirs controversy at Islamic summit opening - Oct. 16, 2003. This report points out that President Bush is due to meet with him on his trip to Asia next week.
And, on Al-Jazeera, this interesting report on Mahathir's speech. It elides the difference between "the Jews" and the state of Israel (as Mahathir himself does), but adds some useful information about him, for example his condemnation of suicide bombers last year -- Muslims urged to use brains not brawn. Their report also points out that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who is also attending the conference, "has waged a brutal war against Muslim Chechnya."
And now, the EU slams Mahathir comments as anti-Semitic.
U.S. and Italy condemn Mahathir for 'anti-Semitic' speech.
Well, the Australians are denouncing Mahathir.
An Israeli perspective on the American League pennant race -- All-nighters for Red Sox nation in Israel.

According to this AP story on Mahathir's speech, Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews, even U.S. allies like Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan (whom the U.S. installed in power) speak highly about his speech and do not even mention, much less denounce, his anti-semitism. Two quotes:

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said it was "a shrewd and very deep assessment.''

"It is great to hear Prime Minister Mahathir speak so eloquently on the problems of the ummah (Muslim world) and ways to remedy them,'' added Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "His speech was an eye-opener to a lot of us and that is what the Islamic world should do.''


Mahathir is the incoming chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (I got the name wrong in my previous post) and apparently such a farrago of Nazi anti-semitic lies does not disqualify him from the chairmanship. I would personally prefer to think that his views do not represent the 1.3 billion Muslims in this world. Considering that the Muslim "leaders" who heard his speech are for the most part ruling by undemocratic means (e.g., Mubarak of Egypt, the royal family of Saudi Arabia), that may be true -- but who is speaking out against this nonsense in the Muslim world (or elsewhere as well)?

There are times when the blogosphere really does issue a wake-up call to something that has been ignored or glossed over in other media. I first heard about this on Protocols and LGF.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhammad Mahathir, in a speech to the Organization of Islamic Countries, which is meeting this week in Malaysia, blamed the Jewish people for the troubles of the Muslim world, calling us "the enemy" and delivering the following gems taken straight from the playbook of paranoid anti-semitism:

There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right. They believe that things can only get worse. The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews. They will forever be poor, backward and weak. Some believe, as I have said, this is the Will of Allah, that the proper state of the Muslims is to be poor and oppressed in this world.

But is it true that we should do and can do nothing for ourselves? Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people?

It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategise and then to counter attack. As Muslims we must seek guidance from the Al-Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Surely the 23 years' struggle of the Prophet can provide us with some guidance as to what we can and should do. . . .

It is surety time that we pause to think. But will this be wasting time? For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory. Pausing and thinking calmly is not a waste of time. We have a need to make a strategic retreat and to calmly assess our situation.

We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. . . .

But the defence of the ummah, the counter attack need not start only after we have put our houses in order. Even today we have sufficient assets to deploy against our detractors. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to make use of them to stop the carnage caused by the enemy. This is entirely possible if we stop to think, to plan, to strategise and to take the first few critical steps. Even these few steps can yield positive results....

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think.


Emphases are mine. Those who still think that Nazi anti-semitism died in 1945 are living in a dream world. The Anti-Defamation League has called on the leaders of civilized nations to denounce this speech. Let's see if "civilized" nations now recognize how vile these sentiments are--I will be very curious to see if any of the European countries denounce his speech or even notice it.




Thursday, October 16, 2003

Another synagogue found in the Golan Heights is going to be put back together next summer with the help of a giant crane, as Ha'aretz reports in Slowly but surely, ancient Golan synagogue rises again. Apparently, 25 ancient synagogues have been found on the Golan. This one was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 C.E. In Katzrin, also on the Golan, another ancient synagogue was found and has been partially reconstructed, along with other buildings in the same ancient Jewish village -- a very cool site to visit if you're going to Israel (and don't have political problems with visiting the Golan Heights).

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I just recently discovered this blog, Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall (I can't remember which blog referred me to it). It's a good counter to all the right-wing blogs that I read and has been making some good points about the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent. His analysis seems better to me than what Andrew Sullivan has been saying recently on this topic.

While cruising through LGF today, I found a link to a speech David Kay made (Statement on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group) on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. At this point, it seems that they have found information on the development of biological weapons, some hints to the continued development of chemical weapons (though no actual chemical weapons themselves), evidence on continuing development of missiles past the permitted range (150 km), and evidence of a continuing desire by Saddam to develop nuclear weapons.

Some excerpts (emphasis mine):

....We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone. We are actively engaged in searching for such weapons based on information being supplied to us by Iraqis. . . .

What have we found and what have we not found in the first 3 months of our work?

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN. Let me just give you a few examples of these concealment efforts, some of which I will elaborate on later:

* A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.

* A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.

* Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.

* New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.

* Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).

* A line of UAVs not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of  500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.

* Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.

* Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km - well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.

* Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles --probably the No Dong -- 300 km range anti-ship cruise missiles, and other prohibited military equipment. . . .

With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.

Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown. We are still working on determining the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts or BW terror weapons, but this clandestine capability was suitable for preserving BW expertise, BW capable facilities and continuing R&D - all key elements for maintaining a capability for resuming BW production. The IIS also played a prominent role in sponsoring students for overseas graduate studies in the biological sciences, according to Iraqi scientists and IIS sources, providing an important avenue for furthering BW-applicable research. This was the only area of graduate work that the IIS appeared to sponsor.

Discussions with Iraqi scientists uncovered agent R&D work that paired overt work with nonpathogenic organisms serving as surrogates for prohibited investigation with pathogenic agents. Examples include: B. Thurengiensis (Bt) with B. anthracis (anthrax), and medicinal plants with ricin. In a similar vein, two key former BW scientists, confirmed that Iraq under the guise of legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW agents. The scientists discussed the development of improved, simplified fermentation and spray drying capabilities for the simulant Bt that would have been directly applicable to anthrax, and one scientist confirmed that the production line for Bt could be switched to produce anthrax in one week if the seed stock were available.

A very large body of information has been developed through debriefings, site visits, and exploitation of captured Iraqi documents that confirms that Iraq concealed equipment and materials from UN inspectors when they returned in 2002. One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons. The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent  has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache....

Multiple sources with varied access and reliability have told ISG that Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled CW program after 1991. Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced - if not entirely destroyed - during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections. We are carefully examining dual-use, commercial chemical facilities to determine whether these were used or planned as alternative production sites.

We have also acquired information related to Iraq's CW doctrine and Iraq's war plans for OIF, but we have not yet found evidence to confirm pre-war reporting that Iraqi military units were prepared to use CW against Coalition forces. Our efforts to collect and exploit intelligence on Iraq's chemical weapons program have thus far yielded little reliable information on post-1991 CW stocks and CW agent production, although we continue to receive and follow leads related to such stocks. We have multiple reports that Iraq retained CW munitions made prior to 1991, possibly including mustard - a long-lasting chemical agent - but we have to date been unable to locate any such munitions....

With regard to Iraq's nuclear program, the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point. Some indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions. At least one senior Iraqi official believed that by 2000 Saddam had run out of patience with waiting for sanctions to end and wanted to restart the nuclear program. The Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) beginning around 1999 expanded its laboratories and research activities and increased its overall funding levels. This expansion may have been in initial preparation for renewed nuclear weapons research, although documentary evidence of this has not been found, and this is the subject of continuing investigation by ISG....

With regard to delivery systems, the ISG team has discovered sufficient evidence to date to conclude that the Iraqi regime was committed to delivery system improvements that would have, if OIF had not occurred, dramatically breached UN restrictions placed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.

Detainees and co-operative sources indicate that beginning in 2000 Saddam ordered the development of ballistic missiles with ranges of at least 400km and up to 1000km and that measures to conceal these projects from UNMOVIC were initiated in late-2002, ahead of the arrival of inspectors. Work was also underway for a clustered engine liquid propellant missile, and it appears the work had progressed to a point to support initial prototype production of some parts and assemblies. According to a cooperating senior detainee, Saddam concluded that the proposals from both the liquid-propellant and solid-propellant missile design centers would take too long. For instance, the liquid-propellant missile project team forecast first delivery in six years. Saddam countered in 2000 that he wanted the missile designed and built inside of six months. On the other hand several sources contend that Saddam's range requirements for the missiles grew from 400-500km in 2000 to 600-1000km in 2002.

ISG has gathered testimony from missile designers at Al Kindi State Company that Iraq has reinitiated work on converting SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missiles into ballistic missiles with a range goal of about 250km. Engineering work was reportedly underway in early 2003, despite the presence of UNMOVIC. This program was not declared to the UN. ISG is presently seeking additional confirmation and details on this project. A second cooperative source has stated that the program actually began in 2001, but that it received added impetus in the run-up to OIF, and that missiles from this project were transferred to a facility north of Baghdad. This source also provided documentary evidence of instructions to convert SA-2s into surface-to-surface missiles.

ISG has obtained testimony from both detainees and cooperative sources that indicate that proscribed-range solid-propellant missile design studies were initiated, or already underway, at the time when work on the clustered liquid-propellant missile designs began.  The motor diameter was to be 800 to 1000mm, i.e. much greater than the 500-mm Ababil-100. The range goals cited for this system vary from over 400km up to 1000km, depending on the source and the payload mass.

A cooperative source, involved in the 2001-2002 deliberations on the long-range solid propellant project, provided ISG with a set of concept designs for a launcher designed to accommodate a 1m diameter by 9m length missile. The limited detail in the drawings suggest there was some way to go before launcher fabrication. The source believes that these drawings would not have been requested until the missile progress was relatively advanced, normally beyond the design state. The drawing are in CAD format, with files dated 09/01/02.

While we have obtained enough information to make us confident that this design effort was underway, we are not yet confident which accounts of the timeline and project progress are accurate and are now seeking to better understand this program and its actual progress at the time of OIF.

One cooperative source has said that he suspected that the new large-diameter solid-propellant missile was intended to have a CW-filled warhead, but no detainee has admitted any actual knowledge of plans for unconventional warheads for any current or planned ballistic missile. The suspicion expressed by the one source about a CW warhead was based on his assessment of the unavailability of nuclear warheads and potential survivability problems of biological warfare agent in ballistic missile warheads. This is an area of great interest and we are seeking additional information on warhead designs....

I have covered a lot of ground today, much of it highly technical. Although we are resisting drawing conclusions in this first interim report, a number of things have become clearer already as a result of our investigation, among them:

1. Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Even those senior officials we have interviewed who claim no direct knowledge of any on-going prohibited activities readily acknowledge that Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed. Several of these officials acknowledge receiving inquiries since 2000 from Saddam or his sons about how long it would take to either restart CW production or make available chemical weapons.

2. In the delivery systems area there were already well advanced, but undeclared, on-going activities that, if OIF had not intervened, would have resulted in the production of missiles with ranges at least up to 1000 km, well in excess of the UN permitted range of 150 km. These missile activities were supported by a serious clandestine procurement program about which we have much still to learn.

3. In the chemical and biological weapons area we have confidence that there were at a minimum clandestine on-going research and development activities that were embedded in the Iraqi Intelligence Service. While we have much yet to learn about the exact work programs and capabilities of these activities, it is already apparent that these undeclared activities would have at a minimum facilitated chemical and biological weapons activities and provided a technically trained cadre.


Wednesday, October 08, 2003

A cool new find in Albania -- Fifth-century synagogue found in Albania.

Impressive remains of a synagogue dating from the fifth or sixth century CE have been revealed in the Albanian coastal city of Saranda, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. Initial excavations at the site were conducted some 20 years ago when Albania was under tight Communist rule.

The synagogue has come to light as the result of an invitation from the Archeology Institute of the Albanian Academy of Sciences, asking the Hebrew University Institute of Archeology to participate in a joint excavation and study project at the site. Working in the past few weeks have been professors Ehud Netzer and Gideon Foerster of the Hebrew University, together with Albanian archeologists Kosta Lako and Etleva Nalbani.

The synagogue underwent various periods of use, including its conversion into a church. Particularly noteworthy among the finds are two mosaic pavements. One features at its center a seven-branched menora flanked by an etrog and a shofar, symbols associated with the Jewish holidays. The other mosaic pavement, in the center section, contains a number of representations, including a variety of animals, trees, symbols alluding to biblical lore, and the facade of a structure resembling a temple (perhaps a Torah ark). Other mosaic pavements at the site preceded the building of the synagogue.


In my Jews in the Ancient and Medieval World course, we spent yesterday looking at slides of ancient synagogues, including many that had just the features found in this synagogue also on their mosaic floors. I wonder if there might be a zodiac with Helios also found there, as there has been at Beth Alpha, Hammat Tiberias, and other sites in Israel.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Well, at least one piece of good news -- the Red Sox will be in the playoffs (washingtonpost.com). Of course, they will be playing the Yankees, so their chance of reaching the World Series is slim. . . but still one can hope.

A good article by David Horowitz, editor of the Jerusalem Report, on Toughing It Out in Israel:
We Israelis cannot end this conflict by ourselves. Even as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sends helicopters to attack the endless ranks of "most wanted" intifada kingpins, and now even widens our retaliatory action to Syria, the bombers keep coming. Yet if we withdraw our settlers and soldiers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip without an accord, our enemies will perceive it as capitulation. They will not lay down their arms and embrace us.

We cannot impose peace on a people who have been so misled by their leader, Yasir Arafat, who returned from Camp David to assert, falsely, that Israel had refused viable Palestinian independence. Affected since by antiterrorism measures like border closings, mass detentions and missile strikes, most Palestinians have become even more hostile. And Mr. Arafat — who condemns the suicide bombings in English while, in Arabic, he asks for "a million martyrs" — will resist any new effort at engineering tranquillity.

But Israelis can do more to reach out to Palestinians over the heads of this manipulative leadership. Statehood for the Palestinians is not only in their interest, it is crucial to our own. Unless Israel can separate from the 3.5 million Palestinians, it cannot remain democratic and predominantly Jewish. And so we need to use every possible forum to underline our commitment to co-existence.

Our leaders must stress that Israel will make no concessions until Palestinian leaders condemn terrorism, jail perpetrators and educate for reconciliation. But they must also make clear that if such a Palestinian leadership emerges, Israel will rush to join it at the peace table. And they must reinforce the rhetoric with proof — by stopping expansion of the settlements and building the terrorist-thwarting "security barrier" along the Israel-West Bank border rather than inside the West Bank.

This is no quick fix. Indeed, there is no quick fix. But every day more Israelis and Palestinians succumb to the dead-end notion that our enemies are fundamentally different from ourselves, delightedly sacrificing their children for the cause. Such dehumanization shames and undermines us. We need our government to emphasize our desire for peace as relentlessly as it demands an end to terrorism. We must try to end the hopelessness, to persuade the mothers of Gaza that their children have something to live for — and, in the process, give ourselves the chance of something better to live for, too.



Gilad Kariv, of the Israel Religious Action Center of the Movement for Progressive Judaism, speaks very movingly, in an article in today's Ha'aretz about Kol Nidre, war and freeing the enslaved. First he comments on the purpose of the Kol Nidre prayer itself and the heshbon ha-nefesh -- self-examination -- that we must engage in:

How many times do we put down others in order to feel stronger ourselves? How many times do we suppress our uniqueness so that no one can say we are not part of the crowd? How often do we take a certain position because it is fashionable, because everyone thinks that way, because we are afraid of what others will say?

All the vows we have taken in the desire to find favor in the eyes of others, all the promises we have made that we never intended to keep, all the conventional behavior we adhere to although we know it harms us and those around us - all these are the focus of the Kol Nidre prayer today.

When I was sitting in synagogue today, one of the events that I thought about was the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, which began on October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur. I was in synagogue then also, attending the Harvard Hillel services in Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. When the terrible news that the war had broken out came to Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold, he announced it to all of us that Israel had been attacked.

Gilad Kariv continues:

For 30 years, ever since the day when a shrill siren echoed all over Israel, the ancient holy day has been associated with a terrible war that left over 3,000 Israeli families broken and hollow. This Yom Kippur, as the scars carved into the flesh of Israeli society stand out with jagged intensity because of the round number of years gone by, it is hard to ignore the profound analogy between the tragedy of Aaron, the bereaved father [of Nadav and Avihu, who died when they offered "strange fire" before God], and the tragedy of the families whose sons did not return from the battlefields of the Golan Heights and the wilderness of Sinai.

In the same way that Nadav and Avihu were guilty of the sin of hubris, in the same way that complacency became their undoing, so Israel in its younger days learned, through the most excruciating means, the heavy price paid for smugness, for becoming inebriated with power and victory. In the six years that followed the six days, Israeli society preferred to close its eyes, to wallow in its glorious past, to lose its fear of the future. The catastrophe, as we all know, was waiting around the corner.

There is a wonderful Hasidic saying attributed to Reb Simha Bunem of Przysucha: A person should always carry two notes in his pocket - one with the words: "For my sake alone was the world created," and another with the words: "I am but dust and ashes." More than any other day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur is meant to remind us to slip that second note into our pockets. Have we learned our lesson?

Yom Kippur ends with the blowing of the shofar. Unlike Rosh Hashanah, where the blowing of the shofar is an explicit commandment from the Torah, the shofar blast at the close of the fast is merely a custom. It takes us back to the days when the Israelites celebrated the Jubilee. The sounding of the shofar was the signal to release the slaves and allow them to live their lives in freedom and dignity. It was the signal to "straighten out the social curve," as the Bible commands us to do every fifty years.

Over the years, the shofar-blowing at the close of Yom Kippur lost its original meaning. The loss of Jewish independence turned the sound of the shofar into a symbol of hope and longing for religious and political redemption. The wish "Next year in Jerusalem" was added for the same reason. From a religious symbol meant to remind us of our duty to free those in bondage and restore their dignity, the blowing of the shofar has become a symbol of self-liberation and restoring national pride.

After 50 years of Jewish statehood, the time has come to bring back the original significance of the shofar blowing on Yom Kippur. Israel has become a state of bondage and subjugation, a state that deprives some of its inhabitants of their liberty and self-respect. In a country that hunts down people in the city streets, where modern-day slave traders rake in money and escape without penalty thanks to their wealth and connections - in a country like this, the blast of the shofar should be shaking the door-posts.

In a country where the government oppresses foreign workers and blames them for its economic and social ills with one hand, and helps parties with vested interests get rich from the sweat of foreign brows with the other, the sound of the shofar at the end of Yom Kippur should be toppling walls of indifference.

If you go to the synagogue this Yom Kippur, take a good look at the worshipers sitting in the pews, praying so devoutly. Which one is the contractor who locks his workers up in shipping containers at night? Which one is the employer who withholds his workers' pay in the knowledge that they cannot complain? Which one is the young man invited to a bachelor party who takes along a tormented girl, released for a few hours from her prison cell to line the pockets of her torturers through the exploitation of her body? And who are the ones who keep silent, who turn a blind eye, who look on with indifference - if not us?

To all this, the Prophet Isaiah has already said: "Hear the world of the Lord, you chieftains of Sodom; Give ear to our God's instruction, you folk of Gomorrah! That you come to appear before Me - who asked that of you? Trample My courts no more. Your new moons and fixed seasons, fill Me with loathing; They are become a burden to Me, I cannot endure them. Though you pray at length, I will not listen. Your hands are stained with crime" (Isaiah 1:10-15).

Upon hearing the shofar blown at the end of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav used to say that he could already hear the synagogue beadle waking up members of the congregation for the Selihot [penitential] services the following year. Hopefully, in the course of this new year, we will succeed in eliminating at least a few of the reasons for beating our breast next year.


And I would add, not only foreign workers suffer in Israel today, although they are among the most helpless of those that suffer. The poor of all communities suffer, as the government declares that there is no hunger in Israel. Single mothers and others dependent upon government stipends suffer when their supplements are slashed again and again to balance the budget -- while at the same time the government spends billions on supporting the settlements, building bypass roads, building new housing in the settlements, and constructing the separation fence that will only ensure that in the future there will be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Sunday, October 05, 2003

The victims of yesterday's suicide bombing in Haifa were young and old, families, and both Jews and Arabs. The suicide bombers don't care who they kill. While claiming to fight for the Palestinian cause, they indiscriminately kill Arabs as well as Jews.

Just a note on my previous post -- I'm not making a connection between the suicide bombing and the construction of the separation fence. The bomber came from Islamic Jihad, which does not recognize the right of Israel to exist and calls for its destruction. I don't believe that any amount of Israeli moderation would convince them otherwise. But I also do not believe that innocent Palestinian civilians should be punished (by the building of the separation fence) for the terror actions of Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Tanzim, and the Al Aksa Brigades.


Another suicide bombing, this time in Haifa

Another suicide bombing, this time in Haifa earlier today - 19 people killed, including "three children, a baby girl, three members of the same family and four Israeli Arabs." Will this ever end? The Ha'aretz editorial, entitled "Awful Days" (a pun, because these are the "awe-filled days" between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur -- the "Yamim Noraim" in both cases) calls for "With the help of the international community, led by U.S. President George Bush, they [Israel and the Palestinian Authority) must fulfill the obligations they assumed with the road map and remove the religious extremists and those thirsty for blood. The blood of the victims of the bombings and [Israeli] assassinations cry out to them - enough is enough!" A sane and moderate call that will probably be ignored by both sides.

Uzi Benziman, also in today's Ha'aretz, predicts a dismal future if both peoples refuse to recognize each other's legitimate rights.
The lesson to be drawn from the last three years is that the two sides refuse to relinquish the original sources of the dispute - the Palestinians are unwilling to give Israel unconditional recognition of its right to exist; Israel refuses to abandon its conquest, and it continues to expand the settlements while it negotiates with the Palestinians about a peace settlement.

The violent conflict stems from these obstinate starting positions. As though to offset the grueling experience the Israeli public suffers after each terror attack, the Palestinians provide evidence about the grim results of preventive anti-terror actions and assassinations carried out by Israel. This balance of atrocities does not exempt Israel from its obligation to change the course on which it has deviated since the 1967 Six Day War.

Seen from the historical point of view, the occupation of the territories is a justifiable result of Arab aggression and attacks on the state of Israel. The 1948 Independence War and the 1967 Six Day War expressed the Arab peoples' refusal to recognize the Jewish people's right to establish a sovereign state on a small piece of territory in its historic homeland.

In retrospect, it appears that the use made by the state of Israel of its military success in 1967 has transmogrified, and become a threat to its own existence. Territories which Israel occupied and settled present a demographic threat, a security danger, an economic burden and a diplomatic problem. The effects of the occupation have maddened decision making processes undertaken by the leadership, scrambled public ethics in the country, and distorted values held by a number of constituencies in the state.

The occupation is a circumstance which must be brought to an end so as to preserve the state's moral fiber, and its capacity to survive. Should Israel's control in the territories persist, processes that cause the two sides to clash will intensify, and this fighting will eventually exhaust resources needed by both.

The recent decision reached by the government regarding the construction and placement of the separation fence reflects its hasty, imprudent thinking. What was once a legitimate defense measure that emerged as a result of murderous terror attacks like the one in Haifa yesterday, has become a lever for land-grabbing.

The government is wrong to believe that its sophistic explanations will dupe the world, and that the Palestinians will placidly accept the suffering caused by the places chosen for the fence to stand on.

The separation fence is designed to eliminate prospects for a viable Palestinian state. For this reason, settler leaders have accepted it with equanimity. Under the design endorsed by the government, the fence will create a South African reality whose result is easily predicted.
For a time I thought that the separation fence was making the best of a bad bargain - since negotiations were going nowhere, at least build a fence that would give Israelis more physical safety. But with the way that the Sharon government is using the fence to annex further West Bank land, and in particular the way it is being used to cut off Palestinian cities (for example, Kalkilya, which is now surrounded either by a wall or by a fence, and which can only be entered through one entrance, an Israeli checkpoint), I think that it is further driving Israel down a hellish path.