Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Islam Update

Time to destroy Hamas

Islamic movement morally corrupt, a cancer in Palestinian dream

Ray Hanania

East Jerusalem - Occupation of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terrorist
organization and the destruction there of the democratically elected
government system should make it clear to all that there is no
compromise with Islamic fundamentalism.

Hamas is and always has been an organization premised on Islamic
superiority, not on the goal of achieving nationalism for the
Palestinian people.

But if there is a silver lining in the Hamas-led civil war there, it
is that the conflict could serve as the basis for secular Palestinian
leaders in the remaining government institutions in the West Bank to
re-engage in the peace process with Israel.

A coalition can be formed that would re-energize a new peace
initiative with Israel while destroying Hamas and the Islamicist
movement that threatens not only the West but all Palestinians who
believe in an independent state based on secular nationalism and true

Since it was founded during the first Intifada as an armed Islamic
movement, Hamas has never compromised on its two main goals,
destroying the Jewish State and undermining the Palestinian secular

In their extremist religious eyes, there is no difference between
Israel and the Israeli people, and a secular Palestine and its
secular leadership.

That Hamas was able to take control of the Gaza Strip, a hell hole of
economic disaster and political turmoil where more than 1.35 million
Palestinians live, should not be a surprise.

Although Hamas fronted representatives to participate in the
democratic elections held in January 2006, their organization has
been neither democratic nor driven by the goal of creating a democratic

They took over control of the Palestinian National Authority only
because the larger, more popular secular Palestinians split their
votes. Although Hamas won the January 2006 elections, the
organization never won a majority mandate from Palestinians.

Yet Hamas used its power not to build on the democracy and to pursue
peace, but as an opportunity to undermine the secular lifestyles of
the majority Palestinians through intimidation, militant
confrontation and by using violence designed to provoke the Israeli
military occupation to create greater Palestinian hardship that plays
into Hamas' long term goals.

As long as there is no hope for peace, no movement towards compromise
and continued suffering and frustration for Palestinians living under
an oppressive Israeli military occupation, Hamas militancy, not their
religious fanaticism, will remain an attractive choice to the
emotionally racked Palestinian people.

Ismail Haniyeh, who was ousted as prime minister of the Palestinian
Authority that his organization intentionally destroyed in the Gaza
Strip, is frank in declaring that his goal is to transform the
Palestinian movement into a religiously-governed movement, not a
secular democratic state.

Haniyeh is disingenuous when he claims that the conflict is the
result of the corruption of his secular rival party, the Fatah
organization founded by the late Yasir Arafat.

In truth, while the Fatah-dominated government had serious corruption
problems, the Hamas organization is morally corrupt. It used violence
not as a weapon of resistance, although that is what they claimed,
but as an immoral tool to block the very peace process that gave
legitimacy to the election system that allowed Hamas to rise to
"minority control" of the PA.

It is so important to understand that the peace process failed not
solely because of the difficult hurdles on the Palestinian refugees
and the City of Jerusalem that both Israeli and Palestinian
negotiators failed to overcome, but because Hamas intentionally used
suicide bombings at each and every junction where peace talks were
poised to make headway.

Hamas is as much responsible for the collapse of the peace process
and the return to violence as was Ariel Sharon, the extremist Israeli
prime minister who rose to power in the five years after one of his
followers assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who launched the
peace process with Arafat.

Hamas does not want peace. It is a cancer in the Palestinian dream
for statehood. They will trade off anything to survive as a movement
driven by blind faith, not reasoned and free public choice.

Mahmoud Abbas is not only the successor to Arafat, he is the symbol
of the secular political movement that places individual choice and
real democracy above religious fanaticism.

For the sake of Palestinian unity, he has stood by while Hamas
government leaders have violated the fundamental basis upon which
they were elected, asserting undemocratic policies such as Sharia Law
on the Palestinian populations where they have rule.

They have sat back while Islamic terrorists have threatened to "slit
the throats of women from ear to ear" who appear on Palestinian TV
without wearing the "Hijab," or Islamic religious head covering.

But their real goal is not the imposition of the Hijab on women, but
the subjugation of women, Christian Palestinians and secular Muslims
by denying them an equal voice in Palestinian society. Hamas
terrorists firebombed symbols of secular lifestyle, including
restaurants that have served alcohol, nightclubs that have permitted
intermingling of young men with women and dancing.

Worse, though, Hamas has allowed their armed factions to act outside
of the authority of the PA, firing Qassam rockets into Israel not as
acts of defensive resistance but as a provocation to create increased
conflict that allows their political counterparts to exploit the
Palestinians who are then the victims of Israeli retaliation.

Hamas cannot claim they are both a resistance movement and the
majority leadership of the secular Palestinian Democratic government.

They have played both sides not for the sake of achieving Palestinian
goals of democratic statehood, but to strengthen their base as an
Islamicist power that has exploded into a mini-Hamastan State.

Abbas and the true democratic representatives of Palestinian hope in
the PA have a choice. Either they can continue to try to appease the
unappeasable Hamas cancer, or they can act forcefully to destroy
Hamas and remove it from all aspects of Palestinian leadership and society.

The fear of a civil war is long past. This is a civil war that Hamas
has begun by its actions in the Gaza Strip where dozens of
Palestinians from rival political groups have been murdered in cold
blood and their buildings, homes and offices burned to the ground.

If the secular Palestinians do not take a stand today to stop Hamas,
Hamas will eventually bring its religious fanaticism to the West Bank
where a final civil war will be fought.

In the battle against religious fanaticism, secular forces always
seek to compromise while the religious extremists, driven by faith,
cannot compromise on their faith and continue to seek the destruction
of the other side.

At stake today is the survival of Palestinian secular society and the
hope for a negotiated peace with Israel.

Ray Hanania is an Award Winning Palestinian American columnist,
author and standup comedian. Writing from East Jerusalem, Hanania
can be reached at

American Congress for Truth
Radical Islam's 'End-Game'

A friend of mine said recently, "We shouldn't even be there. Let them kill each other. I mean, that would solve the problem. Right?"
I thought about that statement as I read the news coming out of the Gaza Strip. As Hamas and al-Fatah literally battle to the death for supremacy in their region, it is crucial that we take the time - right now - to understand what it is they're fighting about. The truth is our lives depend on it.

To look at the situations in Iraq and Gaza as separate conflicts is to view them in a naive and overly simplistic way. True, the battles taking place in Gaza are more akin to a civil war, if in fact a civil war can take place without a recognized country to govern. And the battles taking place in Iraq are almost completely instigated at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists hell-bent on creating chaos with violence while destroying any chance of democracy in that nation. But what the less visionary among us are deficient in understanding and neglectful or deceitful in not addressing is the reason they are fighting, their goal, their end-game.

Many anti-war activists and members of the American Fifth Column insist that the reason radical Islamist terrorists -- insurgents or militants as they like to call them -- have taken to jihad against the United States and the West is because of the encroachment of our culture into the 7th Century Middle Eastern culture in which they exist. They point to Osama bin Laden's 1996 fatwa against the US and the West citing the presence of Western military personnel and installations as the catalyst for al Qaeda's Islamofascist aggression.

While these points may very well be the justification used by the cadre of terrorist organizations originating throughout the Middle East for attacks against the West, it doesn't explain their propensity for Arab on Arab, Muslim on Muslim violence. It doesn't explain the original catalyst for the conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims and it certainly doesn't address the Islamofascists' goals.

The specifics surrounding the original cause for conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims are disputed by both camps. But both factions concede that it stems from a disagreement over the direct succession to Mohammed, to the Caliph. This subject requires more space than can be afforded here. What can be addressed here is the "end-game."

That Islamofascist aggression advanced through the use of terrorism is taking place around the world against members of every faith other than Islam is a testimony to the fact that radical fundamentalist Islamists are engaged in an intentional conflict of global conquest. Terrorist attacks in the name of Islam have taken place in Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Spain, Britain, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Somalia, Algeria, Sudan, South America and the United States - to cite a short list - against, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and even conformist and non-fundamentalist Islamists.

When one examines the facts and logistics of Islamofascist aggression - both in history and modern times - it is hard to argue that the basis for this aggression is Western influence on the Islamic culture. If this were the sole reason for Islamofascist aggression there would be no excuse for attacks in the name of Islam on the Hindus or Buddhists or in any nation that doesn't embrace Western values such as Thailand, Somalia or most of Indonesia. Yet, the slaughter of innocents in the name of Islam does take place against these people and in these non-Westernized regions.

By acknowledging these facts - and they are indisputable - we can dismiss the argument that the US and the West have brought the wrath of Islamofascism upon ourselves, which is the basis for the argument used by the anti-war movement, the American Fifth Column and disingenuous and opportunistic politicians.

What, then, is the catalyst for Islamofascist aggression and what could be so powerful as to produce legions of suicide bombers and those willing to die, without reservation, for their cause?

While the many elements of this subject are complex, together they indicate an overall agenda that is not.

In almost every declaration and action of the Islamofascist, from Osama bin Laden to Hassan Nasrallah, Ayman al Zawahri to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the goal is the same: the successful establishment of a global Islamic state - or caliphate - ruled under sharia law. This notion is not a supposition on my part. Rather, it is an accurate observation, based on understanding and acknowledging the actions taken and the words used by each of these fascist leaders (note the correct usage of the word fascist).

In his 1996 fatwa, Osama bin Laden proclaimed, "...O you horses (soldiers) of Allah ride and march on. This is the time of hardship so be tough. And know that your gathering and co-operation in order to liberate the sanctities of Islam is the right step toward unifying the word of the Ummah under the banner of 'No God but Allah'...Our Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them among themselves, shaken the earth under their feet and give us control over them..."

It should be noted that to bin Laden, the Ummah is considered a figurative nation comprised of all Muslims and all Islamic nations.

In 2000 bin Laden declared, "...Afghanistan is the only country in the world that has the Shari'ah. Therefore, it is compulsory upon Muslims all over the world to help Afghanistan. And to make hijra to this land, because it is from this land that we will dispatch our armies to smash all kuffar all over the world."

In October of 2005, during his address to the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "From the beginning of time, humanity has longed for the day when justice, peace, equality and compassion envelop the world."

And in a speech to Friday prayer leaders he said, "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi."

It should be noted here that Ahmadinejad believes - as do most Shi'ites - that the 12th Imam (or Muhammad al-Mahdi), according to their interpretation of the Quran, will bring "peace and justice on earth" by establishing Islam throughout the world. This equivalent of the "second coming" would take place when the world has fallen into chaos and civil war emerges between the human race for no reason.

If we are to take the leaders of the Islamofascist movement at their word - and the leaders of the United States and the West have been delinquent in accepting the declarations of fascists in the past, so much so that world war has ensued - we can only surmise that the battles taking place between Sunni and Shi'ite factions in Iraq, Gaza and elsewhere in the world are for dominance in what they perceive as an inevitable global Islamic Caliphate.

It is crucial that the United States government - and all the governments of the West - dispense with the political infighting that currently holds hostage national unity and the collective will, so we can defend ourselves from the inevitable full-scale confrontation with an emboldened and strengthening Islamofascist movement. The first step to achieving this unity is an honest, comprehensive understanding of the enemy. The education to achieve that end must begin immediately.

Make no mistake. We are essentially re-visiting the ominous days of 1938. It took everything that the freedom loving people of the world could muster to vanquish evil then. This time we may not be so lucky. This time the forces of evil will have nuclear capability.
By Frank Salvato
American Congress for Truth (ACT) is a 501c3 non profit organization. Everyday ACT is on the front lines fighting for you in meeting with politicians, decision makers, speaking on college campuses and planning events to educate and inform the public about the threat of radical Muslim fundamentalists to world peace. We are committed to combating the global upsurge of hate and intolerance.
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During the Second World War the Nazi regime lead by Adolf Hitler massacred approximately six million Jews. This brutal atrocity - known as the Holocaust - is perhaps one of the darkest periods of human history. It is also one of the most well-documented events in history. However despite overwhelming evidence and countless eyewitness and survivor testimonies, there are some who claim that the Holocaust never happened (or that the extent of the bloodshed was exaggerated for political purposes).

It used to be that Holocaust denial was limited primarily to a handful of neo-Nazis and radical anti-Semites. However in recent years the seeds of Holocaust denial have found fertile ground in the Muslim world - where it has become a propaganda tool for Islamic extremists.

The spread of Holocaust denial in the Middle East has even begun to impact other parts of the world. A disturbing report by the UK's Department of Education indicates that some teachers in the UK are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons because they do not want to offend Muslims. (There are more than 1.5 million Muslims in the UK, making Islam the nation's largest religious minority.)

Rewriting History

Embracing Holocaust denial seems to be a recent trend in the Middle East. Kenneth Jacobson, assistant national director of the Anti-Defamation League, made the observation that "adopting the theories of Holocaust denial of Western scholars is a relatively new phenomenon in the Muslim world. The accepted attitude had been to say that whereas it was true the Holocaust had taken place, the Palestinians should not have to pay the price."

A few Muslim leaders, most notably Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have combined these two approaches - simultaneously claiming that the holocaust is a "hoax" and a "myth" while saying it is also not the fault of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad once told reporters: "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces. Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem? If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe - like in Germany, Austria or other countries - to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe."

In December of 2006 Iran hosted a conference on the Holocaust which called into question the historical facts surrounding the atrocities - the US State Department condemned the conference, calling it a "platform for hatred" and an "affront to the entire civilized world."

Replacement Theology

Many people today do not take the Word of God seriously. Some ignore it, many disbelieve or deny it, and others dilute its meaning with conjectures, allegories, and redefinitions. But God says what He means, and means what He says. God delights in making and keeping His promises. A disturbing aspect of many modern churches is their failure to appreciate the seriousness of God's covenant with Israel. Some believe that Israel "forfeited her promises" by rejecting her Messiah, and that these promises now devolve somehow symbolically, or allegorically, upon the Church. This false doctrine has been taught for centuries.

Under the influences of Martin Luther and others, the Protestant Reformation brought an intensive return to the authority of the Scriptures which, in turn, resulted in the subsequent reform in soteriology (the study of salvation) with its emphasis on salvation by faith alone. Many were willingly burned at the stake for their commitment to a Biblical perspective. However, one of the unfortunate shortcomings of the Reformation was that it failed to also reexamine the eschatology of the Medieval Church in the light of Scripture. As a result, most Protestant denominations today are amillennial and post-tribulational.

There are two basic views in eschatology (study of End Times) which concern the promises to Israel and the millennium: amillennialianism, which says they are symbolic, and premillennialism, which says they are literal. One of the derivative aspects of an amillennial perspective is that it denies Israel's future role in God's plans. This also leads to a "replacement theology" in which the Church is viewed as replacing Israel in God's program for mankind. In addition to forcing the allegorization of many key passages of Scripture, this heretical eschatology promotes anti-Semitism and was a contributing factor to the tragedy of the Holocaust in Europe. Unfortunately this "replacement theology" still continues to pervade the doctrines of most Protestant denominations today.

Anti-Semitic violence has become a serious problem throughout the world. Some may blame the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict for fostering anti-Semitism. Others may say that such racially motivated hatred is limited to neo-Nazi groups and radical Islamic sects. Yet hatred of the Jews goes back long before even the existence of the Islamic faith, before the Nazi party took power in Germany, and before the advent of television and modern media. The real root of anti-Semitism is Satan's desire to thwart God's plan for the redemption of mankind. Anti-Semitism exists in many places and many forms. It may be displayed in blatant aggression or in more subtle and subversive ways, but all are aimed at the destruction of God's chosen people.

For a more detailed examination of this topic, listen to our briefing titled The Next Holocaust (see link above for discounted prices).

Related Links:

Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims - Daily Mail
Anti-Semitism Report Chides Governments - JTA
Report on Holocaust Denial in the Middle East - ADL
Strategic Trends: The Struggle for Jerusalem - Koinonia House
Strategic Trends: The Rise of Islam - Koinonia House
The Next Holocaust - DVD - Special Offer!
The Next Holocaust - MP3 Download - Special Offer!


In recent weeks the Palestinian territories have spiraled deeper and deeper into chaos. Hamas has driven Fatah from Gaza and the Palestinian territories are now effectively divided - with Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. The Palestinian unity government has crumbled and the two groups are now battling for power. While the press has resisted using the term "civil war" to describe this latest surge of violence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is calling it a coup.

In January of 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in the Palestinians parliamentary elections - their victory completely transformed the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The militant group won 76 of 132 seats in parliament. Fatah, which prior to the elections had controlled the Palestinian Authority for nearly 40 years, won only 43 seats. Following the elections the Palestinian Prime Minister and his Cabinet were forced to resign. Mahmoud Abbas still holds the office of President, but he has been stripped of most of his power. Even before the elections Abbas was a weak and ineffective ruler, however the Hamas victory reduced him to little more than a figurehead.

When Abbas came to power after Yasser Arafat's death he inherited the remnants of a regime that was plagued with problems and was growing in unpopularity. During the decades of Yasser Arafat's corrupt and incompetent leadership, crooked government officials had stashed away billions of dollars that should have gone to help the Palestinian people. While Arafat grew rich, the Palestinian people suffered, and Israel was blamed for it all.

The PLO and Fatah-controlled government was often criticized for neglecting to provide Palestinians with basic social services. Meanwhile, Hamas operated a network of schools, clinics, and mosques which helped it gain the support of the people - effectively paving the way for the Hamas victory in last year's pivotal parliamentary elections.

The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah has ignited a frantic arms race. According to Israeli intelligence sources Hamas has been able to smuggle weapons through the Egyptian border with Gaza. Israeli forces say militants have also acquired hundreds of new anti-tank missiles. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been arming himself against his rivals. Although Abbas' power base has eroded since Fatah lost the parliamentary elections, both Israel and the United States support Abbas' limited efforts to bring peace. Being the lesser of two evils, Israel has agreed to let Egypt and Jordan supply Abbas' presidential guard with small arms and ammunition.

As the fighting escalates, the international community is divided over what must be done to stop the bloodshed. There has been talk of placing a UN peace-keeping force on the Israel-Gaza border, however many suspect that the UN's presence in the region would do little to stem the tide of violence that has engulfed the territories.

Related Links:

Strategic Trends: The Struggle for Jerusalem - Koinonia House
Iran 'played role' in Gaza Takeover - Aljazeera
Gaza Christians in peril after takeover by Hamas - Washington Times
Olmert, Abbas to Meet Arab Leaders - Washington Post
The Sword of Allah - MP3 Download - Koinonia House

Past Week Breaking News

Every day, our editors scour the web for news items of interest in the areas of world events, religion, and technology. Here are some choice news that we found this past week:
Enormous Hindu temple being built in Georgia
UK Abortions Set Record
Isaac Newton: End of the World Will Come After 2060
Christians warned: Accept Islamic law
SEATTLE: "I am both Muslim and Christian"?
Ministers say hate crimes act could muzzle them
Schwarzenegger to Immigrants: Avoid Spanish-Language Media
Gay Marriage to Remain Legal in Mass.
The following are some other popular breaking news of this past week:
Baptist Megachurch Makes History Electing Woman to Pulpit
Billy Graham's wife Ruth dies at 87
Atheists and agnostics take aim at Christians
PCA Approves Recommendations of Federal Vision Report
Southern Baptist split over politics
Tomb Found in Mexico Reveals Mass Child Sacrifice
The revival of Mass in Latin
Vatican issues 10 Commandments for drivers
Vatican reverses annulment of Joseph P. Kennedy
Mint Releases More 'Godless' Dollars
more interesting news...

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Photo Feature: Arutz-7 Stands With Sderot, Broadcasts Live

Arutz-7 launched its Sderot Solidarity Week with a visit to the embattled town Sunday and a day-long live-broadcast from the scene.

  1. Photo Feature: Arutz-7 Stands With Sderot, Broadcasts Live
  2. Civil War in Gaza
  3. Labor Party Primaries Get Underway
  4. Votes Lining Up in Presidential Race
  5. EU Breaks Freeze on Funding PA
  6. FICC Praises Partial Tax Relief, Calls for Lower Income Tax
  7. Two-Thirds of Israelis Dissatisfied with the Democracy
  8. Thousands Expected to March to Homesh
  9. Audio: Sderot Solidarity Broadcast

TV Programs
Jonathan Pollard: Don't vote for Peres
Solidarity visit to Sderot

Radio Programs
Audio: The New World Order Against Israel Click to Listen
Audio: How to Understand Events in the Land of Israel Click to Listen

Learn Hebrew online with Israel

1. Photo Feature: Arutz-7 Stands With Sderot, Broadcasts Live

by Ezra HaLevi

The city of Sderot has fallen from the headlines – but rockets continue to fall as well. Though fewer in recent days, the tension from the impacts and from the Color Red alert system has actually thickened.

A group of Arutz-7 readers and listeners traveled from Jerusalem to Sderot Sunday to kick off Arutz-7’s Sderot Emergency Campaign and Telethon.

Click here to pledge to the Sderot Emergency Campaign

Israel National Radio's live 6-hour broadcast raising funds for the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva, featuring Yishai and Malkah Fleisher, Tamar Yonah, Walter Bingham, Avi Mechanic, Ze'ev Orenstein and Alex Traiman, as well as interviews with Sderot residents young and old, as well as your phone calls, can be heard by clicking here:

Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3, Hour 4, Hour 5, Hour 6

“The reality here is one of Russian Roulette,” says Noam Bedein, a college student in Sderot who started, a web site dedicated to telling Sderot’s story and facilitating visits by journalists, tour groups or individuals that decide they want to stand with Sderot in the face of rockets and abandonment.

Sunday’s tour group was the latter – made up mostly of new immigrants and non-Jewish friends of Israel.

Bedein recalled to the group the most jarring images he had witnessed as a resident of the leading shell-struck town in Israel. (About 1,600 rockets and mortars have hit Sderot, while more than 6,000 hit the Jewish towns in Gush Katif. Now used a launch-sites after being destroyed by PM Ariel Sharon in 2005.)'s Noam Bedein shows the Arutz-7 groups the piles of hundreds of Kassam rockets at the local police station

Kassam rockets labeled with the date and site of impact
A school, one-third of which is protected from rockets
Store front near Kassam impact
Holes in a metal door from the shrapnel of a Kassam rocket that detonated nearby
Residents of a building hit several times by Kassam rockets adorned it with a Hamsa

“I have never seen a more horrifying site than a man, given the seconds of warning provided by the Red Alert system, having to decide which of his two kids to grab when scrambling for cover,” Bedein tells the group. “I also never thought I would see synagogues blown up by explosives in Israel.”

The synagogue referred to is called Ohel Yitzchak, Tent of Isaac. The Dahan family – nine brothers and a sister, all born and raised in Sderot, had just completed a year of mourning for their father, Hananya. They planned for months to dedicate a Torah scroll in his memory, setting the date for May 17 – the day after the mourning ended. Police and the IDF Home Front Command advised against holding the dedication celebration. “We said, ‘What, we are going to let Hamas and Hizbullah win?'” recalls Ziva Dahan. “We did it with faith – on time, even though half of Sderot had fled.”

The 'Ohel Yitzchak' synagogue
The study hall of the synagogue
The roof of the synagogue
The synagogue's shattered sign

Damage from the impact in the hall outside the study hall
Photos of Rabbis Yaakov Abuhatzeira and Mordechai Eliyah were unharmed despite the blast, which almost led to the building's collapse

Four hundred people attended the dedication. “After the festive meal, the family stayed behind to clean the synagogue,” Yigal Dahan said. “Our mother finished cleaning the study room (Beit Midrash) and locked the door, but we were all still gathered outside in the large courtyard.”

The Red Alert system sounded and...

Click here to read the continuation of this story and see tens of more pictures from Sderot.

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2. Civil War in Gaza

With 19 Arabs killed by Arabs in 24 hours, mortar shells at Abu Mazen's office, and a rocket at Hamas PM Haniye's home, what has until now been known as "violence" is now widely being called, even in Gaza, all-out civil war.

The fighting in Gaza is now in its latest and most severe round since it broke out well over a year ago. On Tuesday morning, Fatah gunmen fired an RPG rocket at the home of the head of the Fatah-Hamas unity government, prime minister Ismail Haniye. Haniye, who was home at the time but was not hurt, lives in the Shati section of Gaza City.

The RPG attack followed the firing of four mortar shells by Hamas at the office of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). No injuries were reported. Nearly 100 Arabs have been injured since Monday, and more than 80 have been killed in the current round of fighting.

The RPG attack against Haniye was far from the first time he has been targeted. Fatah men have shot at his house more than once over the past month, and last October, Haniyeh's convoy came under gunfire in Gaza and one of the cars was set on fire.

Tuesday at noon, exchanges of fire were reported at the hospital in Khan Yunis (near the site of what was N'vei Dekalim). Hamas men have taken up positions on the hospital's roof, and Fatah men are firing at them from an adjacent building.

The Hamas military faction has warned Fatah security personnel not to show up for work. "Every security force agent who comes to work will be suspected of taking part in the struggle against the Palestinian people and is liable to be hurt," Hamas warned. Fatah accuses Iran of encouraging Hamas in its attacks, particularly against innocent civilians for "shock value." Three women and a boy in a Fatah family were murdered in their Monday night.

The Egyptian mediator in Gaza said both Fatah and Hamas should be "ashamed of themselves" for having "killed the hope." He said both sides refused to come to peace talks today.

The civil war in Gaza has also included at least one case of armed terrorists throwing people out of their home and then blowing it up.

Related article: PA Militia War Continues Despite Truce

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3. Labor Party Primaries Get Underway

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
The vote for leadership of the Labor Party is taking place Tuesday with polling stations around the country opening at 8:30 a.m. The balloting is the second round in the party's primaries, and it will end the contest between freshman Knesset Member Ami Ayalon and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

In the first round of voting, Barak won the largest number of votes (35.6%); however, much of the support and campaign infrastructure of defeated incumbent and Defense Minister Amir Peretz has been formally thrown behind Ayalon, which may well shift the second round outcome in Ayalon's favor. The voters who supported another defeated primaries candidate, MK Ophir Paz-Pines, are likely to be split evenly between the Barak and Ayalon camps, although Paz-Pines formally gave his endorsement to Ehud Barak. Paz-Pines won only 8% of the vote in the first round, while Peretz and Ayalon won 22.4% and 30.6%, respectively.

On the other hand, there has been criticism in the kibbutz movement, a traditional core base of Labor voters, of the Ayalon-Peretz collaboration. Many kibbutz voters cast their ballots in the last national elections for the Kadima party out of a rejection of outgoing party chairman Peretz. It has also often been the case that kibbutz voters support the candidate who was himself a former member of a kibbutz - in this case, Ehud Barak.

Most polls have indicated that former Prime Minister Barak will pull slightly ahead of MK Ayalon.

Former Prime Minister Barak has also received the endorsement of influential MK and former radio talk show personality Shelly Yechimovitch. The impact of MK Yechimovitch's support for Barak is amplified by the fact that she was among the chief supporters of Peretz in the previous round of voting. She explained her support for what has developed into the rival camp by saying that her concern in the first round was to support Peretz's socio-economic positions; however, the economic policies advocated by Barak and Ayalon are nearly identical, Yechimovitch claims, and therefore she prefers Barak's leadership experience.

Most polls have indicated that former Prime Minister Barak will pull slightly ahead of MK Ayalon, who has emphasized the need for social welfare programs. Barak ran a "race of silence," leaning on his previous experience and declining to make major policy statements, except to say that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must be replaced. A poll carried out for television's Channel 10 and released Monday night gave Barak 46% of the vote and Ayalon, 39%. Undecideds were listed at 7%.

Tuesday's contest is the seventh time in seven years that Labor voters have had to elect a party leader.
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4. Votes Lining Up in Presidential Race

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

As Israel's June 13th Presidential election approaches, Knesset blocs are making their favorites known. Candidate Reuven Rivlin has written a last-minute appeal to all the MKs.

The nine Knesset Members of the right-wing National Union-National Religious Party faction have thrown their support behind candidate Reuven Rivlin, a Knesset Member from the Likud known for relatively hawkish political positions. The Pensioners Party (Gil) pledged its seven votes to Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres of the Kadima party.
The Pensioners party did not select the octogenarian Peres because of his age.

According to their announcement, the Pensioners Party did not select the octogenarian Peres because of his age. Rather, the party leadership explained, Peres would best represent Israel in the eyes of the world, since he is a well-known and well-liked figure abroad.

According to Israeli law, the President is elected by the majority of voting Knesset Members. The election is conducted by secret ballot. The current President is Moshe Katzav; however, due to a criminal investigation underway against him, the Acting President, MK Dalia Itzik (Labor), will be handling the transition following the election.

Another faction that has recently declared its support for Shimon Peres's presidential bid is the Sephardic-Hareidi Shas party. Last week, the party's guiding Council of Torah sages, led by former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, announced, "We instruct all Shas faction MKs to vote for Mr. Shimon Peres as President of the State, and we wish him luck in his position for the State of Israel. We also honor and respect our dear friend Reuven Rivlin and appreciate him, and wish for him to rise upwards and upwards."

Some Shas MKs, however, have already intimated that they will vote differently once they are alone, behind the voting partition. It was just such a scenario that led to Peres' defeat in the last presidential election, when the Peres camp confidently counted votes that were ultimately cast for his opponent, Moshe Katzav.

Reuven ("Ruby") Rivlin is a respected former Speaker of the Knesset from the Likud party, upon which he is counting for the core of his support. However, he enjoys the support of individual MKs from parties across the political spectrum.

On Monday, Rivlin sent a last-minute letter to MKs in which he expressed his faith that "at the moment of truth, behind the curtain, far from those who entice and those who threaten, fairness and conscience will win out." In his call to his
Rivlin enjoys the support of individual MKs from across the political spectrum.
colleagues in parliament - issued "over the heads of the entertainers, the publicists, the rich, the PR consultants, the advertisers and the strategists" - Rivlin wrote:

"I believe that only a president elected by a broad and rare consensus in this house will see before him all of those who elected him and all of the public, with all of its sectors and ethnic groups, throughout his entire seven-year term of office. I believe it is in my power to bring that message out."

Colette Avital, a former ambassador, consul-general in New York and a sitting MK representing the Labor party, is also running for the presidency. Formally, she is the Labor pick; however, several MKs from her party have already indicated their support for one or another of her rivals, Peres or Rivlin. In particular, Labor MK Shelly Yechimovitch, a former radio personality, publicly stated that she will not vote for Avital, but rather for Rivlin.

Avital has charged supporters of Vice Prime Minister Peres with threatening to wreck her political career if she does not pull out of the race for President. Aides to Peres responded that they refuse to be drawn into an argument.

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5. EU Breaks Freeze on Funding PA

by Hana Levi Julian

The European Union has agreed to transfer 4 million euros (approximately $5 million) to the coffers of the Palestinian Authority government, effectively ending a freeze by Western nations on funding the Hamas terrorist-led entity.

“The EU is resuming its support of the Palestinian Authority in a direct manner through the finance ministry,” announced PA Finance Minister Dr. Salem Fayyad at a news conference Monday.

The money is to be used for a project “to assist the Minister of Finance in ensuring the proper use of Palestinian taxpayers’ money” and that expenditures are accounted for, said EU representative John Kjaer.

Mr. Kjaer signed the memorandum of understanding with Dr. Fayyad, clearing the way for a new flow of funds to the PA government.

"The European Union's first step will be a €4 million project to help the minister of finance in ensuring that Palestinian taxpayers' money is spent efficiently and that all expenditures are accounted for to the highest international standards," read a statement by the EU.

Training for the financial management project will reportedly begin in the PA Finance Ministry’s offices in Ramallah and Gaza City and will be carried out by the accountancy firm Ernst & Young.

The Quartet, of which the European Union is a member as well as the United States, Russia and the United Nations, declared a freeze on funding to the PA until the Hamas-led government officially recognizes the State of Israel, renounces terrorism and fulfills past agreements.

The Quartet members had also said they would not acknowledge the Fatah-Hamas unity government until it fulfilled the conditions.

The freeze went into effect in January 2006, immediately after the Hamas terrorist organization, whose charter plainly states its intent to destroy the State of Israel, took control of the PA government in a landslide victory.

“The European Union has always played a leading role working with the Palestinian Authority to help it achieve its objective of managing public money efficiently and transparently,” said Dr. Fayyad in a statement.

The financial move raises the status of the PA without formal acceptance. It is also likely to result in increased pressure on Israel to release $700 million in tax revenue collected for the PA but withheld following the Hamas victory, leading to an accelerated disintegration of Western resolve to boycott the terrorist organization.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently returned to pressuring Israel into releasing the funds, despite America’s ban against transferring money to Hamas.

In explaining her actions, she told The Associated Press, "I understand the Israelis' concerns about what might happen to tax revenue, but we think that there are mechanisms that they could use in the ways that they have in the recent past to support important activities."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acceded to her request several months ago to release almost $100 million in tax revenues. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas cancelled a planned meeting with Mr. Olmert due to the prime minister's refusal last week to agree to free more money, among other reasons.

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6. FICC Praises Partial Tax Relief, Calls for Lower Income Tax

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC) issued a statement Monday in praise of Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert for his decision to eliminate the purchase tax on a wide range of consumer items. The next step, in the view of the FICC, is lowering income tax levels.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Olmert signed an order directing the Finance Ministry to lift purchase taxes from dozens of durable goods and cosmetics, including major household appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. The cuts, expected to total 400 million shekels in lost taxes, were meant to "encourage growth" and give consumers greater freedom of choice, according to the Prime Minister.

Uriel Lynn, President of the FICC, said, "Eliminating the purchase tax is a move in the right direction, which will give an additional push to the economy's growth and increase purchasing power in the local market. This move also has significant social import, for by this measure products are made more available to the low-income population."

The FICC, the nation's largest employers' association, noted that the current annual economic growth of 5% will be bolstered by the new tax cuts.

"Eliminating the purchase tax is a move in the right direction." - FICC President Uriel Lynn

The next step, Lynn recommends, is to cut direct taxes at the lower income levels. With an average Israeli salary currently estimated to be 7,383 shekels per month, Lynn proposes cutting taxation such that those who earn between 4,170 shekels and 11,140 shekels per month will not pay more than 25% in income tax. About 30% of the working population in Israel falls in that category, according to the FICC.

Lynn explained, "At the conclusion of the tax reform measures in 2010, the direct tax burden of 30% will still be high, disproportionate to [the average] income level and relative to higher tax brackets. Lowering the direct tax will constitute a real incentive for seeking employment.... It will increase motivation to move ahead in terms of level of income."

The FICC is the non-profit, autonomous umbrella organization of six regional Chambers of Commerce, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva and Nazareth.
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7. Two-Thirds of Israelis Dissatisfied with the Democracy

by Hillel Fendel
An Israeli Institute for Democracy survey shows that 66% of Israelis are unhappy with the way Israeli democracy functions - but they're not leaving.

The latest annual survey, entitled "2007 Israeli Democracy Index: Cohesiveness in a Divided Society", finds that the proportion of those who are unhappy with Israel's democracy jumped by 12 percentage points over last year.

In general, the survey finds that Israelis are not proud of the way their country works - but do not want to leave, and are willing to fight for it if necessary.

Among the findings:
  • 79% of those interviewed say they are concerned with the current situation in Israel.
  • 86% state that the government is not dealing adequately with the country’s problems. Only 29% give credence to statements issued by the political echelon regarding Israel’s security.
  • 70% agree that politicians tend not to take the average citizen’s opinion into account, and 68% believe that the people running the country are motivated by personal interests rather than the public good.
  • Despite the above, 76% of Israeli citizens are proud to be Israeli, despite the current atmosphere, and 80% of Israelis want or seriously intend to continue living in Israel in the long term. Most Israelis deeply identify with the state and the problems that it faces, and are prepared to fight for their country should the need arise.
  • Support for a "strong leader" is up. Those who agree that a few strong leaders would prove more useful to the state than all of the discussions held and laws passed now number 69%, compared to 60% last year.
  • 75% of the respondents believe that there is a great deal of corruption in Israel.

Regarding Jewish-Arab relations, 87% rated Jewish-Arab relations in Israel as poor or very poor. Both Jewish and Arab respondents stated that they find it difficult to trust each other; 73% expressed the belief that the other side tends to behave violently.

Significantly, the report did not provide the breakdown of how many Jews felt Arabs are violent, and how many Arabs feel that way about Jews.

Trust in Government - Down
The authors of the report feel that its most conspicuous finding is a 22% decline in the level of trust shown by the public in the Prime Minister – 21% now, compared to 43% a year ago. However, trust in all government bodies dropped: Trust in the Supreme Court dropped to 61%, compared to 68% last year; the police - 41% (44% last year), IDF - 74% (79% last year), Knesset - 74% (79% last year), and the government - 31% (39% last year). Trust in the media stayed basically the same, at 45%, compared to 44% last year. Trust in the President plunged drastically from 67% to 22% - an unsurprising finding, given the accusations against President Moshe Katzav.

The Supreme Court is perceived by 39% of the public as the institution that most effectively safeguards democracy, followed by the media at 34%, the Prime Minister at 14%, and the Knesset at 13%. A significant increase was registered in the degree of trust placed in the media as a means to safeguard democracy – from 25% to 34%.

The survey also found that 59% of those interviewed stated that they favor a socialist-economic approach over capitalism.

The Democracy Index is produced by IDI's Guttman Institute, by Yael Hadar and Nir Atmor under the direction of Professor Asher Arian. The Index includes data from a public opinion survey based on a representative sample of 1,203 interviewees in three languages, conducted by Machshov as well as assessments and comparative data from international research institutes.

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8. Thousands Expected to March to Homesh

by Hillel Fendel

For the first time, a visit to the ruins of a Disengagement-destroyed town is sanctioned by the government - and that's precisely what worries some supporters.

The army and police will be on hand Tuesday afternoon and evening to protect thousands of expected Land of Israel loyalists as they march to Homesh in the Shomron. Homesh was one of four Jewish towns in the Shomron region destroyed by the government two years ago during Ariel Sharon's Disengagement/expulsion scheme. Unlike Gaza, the area has not been handed over to Arab control, and former residents and current supporters of Homesh have made clear their intentions to resettle it.

Tuesday's event was initiated by Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the head of the religious-Zionist Yeshivot Bnei Akiva movement. He spoke with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and received permission for the ascent - with the clear condition that those who make the trek do not try to remain there past nightfall. The IDF spokesman said the IDF will not allow anyone to seize or resettle any of the territory of the former town.

This arrangement ostensibly follows the pattern of early settlement in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). In the 1970's, determined groups of pioneers made attempt after attempt to settle the region, until finally the government ceded slightly - leading later to full-fledged communities. Today's march will set out, symbolically, from the old Sebastia train station - where, in July 1974, thousands of people took part in a milestone five-day-long settlement effort that led to the founding of Elon Moreh.

In the current case of Homesh, as well, supporters have made several attempts to re-settle the site, with little success, but the pressure is perceived as having led to the government's consent to Tuesday's event.

The Yesha Council organizers say they see the event as a preparation for another planned ascent to the site next month, after which families plan to remain at the site. Council spokesman Yishai Hollander clarified to Arutz-7, however, that next month's attempt is not a Yesha Council event, but rather one organized by the group that arranged the previous ascents, known as "Homesh First."

This clarification is an allusion to tensions reigning between the two groups. "Homesh First" organizer Boaz HaEtzni explained to Arutz-7 that he sees no potential in events, such as Tuesday's, that are organized by the Yesha Council. "The Council has shown in the past that it is not interested in winning," HaEtzni said. "When the government gives you a permit, this means that you also have to leave when they say so. Our goal is not just to go and visit Homesh every once in a while. We want to remain there. The only way to achieve this goal is not by working together with the government, but by clashing with it; the government won't give you anything unless you clash with it."

HaEtzni said he knows that there are many who plan to participate in the Tuesday march, but will then try to remain there - hopefully, he says, at the expense of a clash with soldiers.

The police have announced that they will begin an investigation into the organizers of some of the Homesh marches - prompting MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) to complain of "selective law enforcement." "Why are the organizers of the weekly left-wing protests at Bil'in not being investigated?" Eldad asked. The anti-partition wall protests at Bil'in often turn violent.

Many religious high schools throughout the country will take part in the Tuesday event - prompting Education Minister Yuli Tamir, an early Peace Now member, to investigate whether illegal political use is being made of school education. Left-wing complaints have also been heard regarding the army's dedication of four battalions to protect the marchers.

The participants plan to bring new street signs, bearing the original names of the streets, and affix them there. They will also bring shovels, hoes, rakes and brooms in an attempt to begin to restore the once-beautiful town to something similar to its original state.

Several youths who made an early attempt to arrive at the site last night were arrested. They allegedly attempted to paint the Homesh water tower orange, the color of the anti-Disengagement struggle.

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9. Audio: Sderot Solidarity Broadcast

Special Broadcast with Arutz Sheva Staff

A live 6 hour broadcast from the besieged city of Sderot which is suffering from rocket attacks from Gaza. Join Yishai and Malkah Fleisher, Tamar Yonah, Walter Bingham, Avi Mechanic, Ze'ev Orenstein and Alex Traiman for this fundraising broadcast for the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva's Hand-in-Hand Program which contributes daily to improving the lives of the embattled residents and children. Plus interviews with Sderot residents, both young and old, and your phone calls.

Hour 1: Listen Now or Download

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Hour 6: Listen Now or Download

Click to Pledge Your Support now on for Sderot residents, who have been suffering from endless Kassam rocket attacks.
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Tuesday, Jun. 12 '07
26 Sivan 5767

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