July 28/14

Bible Quotation for today/Here is my servant, whom I have chosen

Matthew 12,14-21/"But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them,
and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.’"


Faith Treasures & Persecution

Iraqi Christians find little help

Question: "What is the Gap Theory? Did anything happen between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?"/

Bomb Kills 5 at Nigeria Church as Female Bomber Injures Cops at University


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on July 28/14

The Lebanese who are making it big in Brazil/By: Dana Halawi| The Daily Star/July 28/14

Book suggests Iran role in Sadr killing theory/The Daily Star/July 28/14

Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution/By Raymond Ibrahim/July 27/14

Lebanese Related News published on July 28/14

Nasrallah Meets Jumblat, Discusses with Zarif Means to Support Gaza

Nasrallah, Jumblatt call for swift election

Hezbollah repels Syrian rebel attack on border

Book suggests Iran role in Sadr killing theory
Army to enforce strict security over Eid al-Fitr
Lebanon’s Bank Audi says H1 profit up to $190M
Salam Urges End to 'Israeli Aggressiveness', Says Hizbullah Won't Drag Lebanon into Gaza War
Bomb Kills 5 at Nigeria Church as Female Bomber Injures Cops at University

Lebanese Delegation Heads to Mali to Identify Victims of Plane Crash
Lebanese Dar al-Fatwa Says today, Monday is First Day of Eid al-Fitr

Lebanese delegation in Mali
Lebanese, Arabs in Sydney Force Top Official to Resign over pro-Israel Remarks

The Lebanese who are making it big in Brazil
Lebanon taps roots for tourism growth

Israel army on alert on Syria, Lebanon border

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 28/14

Netanyahu’s dilemma: Back Obama’s save Hamas policy, or fight for its downfall with Egypt and Saudis

Report: Kerry truce draft ignores Israeli

'More dangerous elements could replace Hamas'

Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

In phone call with Netanyahu, Obama stresses need for 'immediate' Gaza cease-fire

Obama piles pressure on Israel over Gaza

Palestinian youth struggle against old guard

10 Killed in Gaza as Death Toll Hits 1,065 and Netanyahu Dismisses Hamas Truce Offer
IS Jihadists Take Syrian Army Base as Rebels Seize Control of Arms Depots
ISIS seizes army position in Hassakeh

Iran flogs five for publicly eating during fast

Nasrallah Meets Jumblat, Discusses with Zarif Means to Support Gaza
Naharnet/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has discussed with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat the need to elect a president as soon as possible and boost coordination among security agencies, both parties announced on Sunday. The two leaders held their meeting in the presence of Wafiq Safa, head of Hizbullah's Liaison and Coordination Unit, according to a joint statement issued after the talks. The communique did not mention the time or place of the meeting. “Discussions tackled the general situations in Lebanon and the region, especially the Zionist crimes in Gaza against the Palestinian people,” it said. “The two parties stressed that Palestine remains the central cause, which rises above all political differences, underlining their solidarity with the Palestinian people and Gaza in their resilience in the face of occupation,” the statement added. At least 1,050 Palestinians have been killed and 6,000 wounded since Israel launched a fierce assault on Gaza 20 days ago.
Nasrallah and Jumblat also touched on the events in Iraq, “specifically the displacement of Christians from Mosul,” noting that both Christians and Muslim are being slaughtered at the hands of “the takfiris.” The two leaders condemned the practices of the extremist Islamic State group, emphasizing “the need to discuss means to protect Iraq's unity and political diversity.” IS jihadists last week ordered hundreds of Christian families in Mosul to convert to Islam, pay tribute, or leave the city, prompting thousands to flee. Christians and other minorities who failed to comply were threatened with execution, while the property of those who left the city was forfeited to the Islamic State.
Nasrallah and Jumblat also discussed the situations in Lebanon, mainly the government's work and the need to “boost it and activate it.”According to the joint statement, the two leaders expressed their belief that a new president must be elected quickly in order to end the current political vacuum. “Talks also addressed the security situation in Lebanon and the two parties agreed on the necessity to maintain domestic coherence and intensify the measures that were taken to preserve the current stability in the country through boosting the level of coordination among security agencies,” the statement added.
As for bilateral ties between Hizbullah and the PSP, both sides “expressed their satisfaction over the progress of this relation,” underscoring “the need to develop it in a manner that would serve the two parties' interests and the national interest.”Jumblat has recently criticized Hizbullah in a fierce manner, accusing it of receiving orders from Iran and urging it to end “the historic sin” and withdraw its fighters from neighboring Syria. Separately, Nasrallah received a phone call from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during which they tackled the latest developments in Gaza.
Talks addressed “means of support to stop the (Israeli) aggression and lift the siege” that is imposed on the impoverished Palestinian region, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported. Hizbullah's leader has also met with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and an accompanying Iranian delegation, in the presence of Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammed Fathali. The conferees discussed “the situations in Lebanon and the region in general and in Gaza in particular, demonstrating the ongoing terrorist, Zionist aggression and means to back Gaza's people and resistance.” During a Quds Days ceremony on Friday, Nasrallah had announced that his party was closely following the battle in Gaza, vowing that Hizbullah will do anything it perceives as duty to support Gaza's people and resistance movements.

Salam Urges End to 'Israeli Aggressiveness', Says Hizbullah Won't Drag Lebanon into Gaza War

Naharnet /Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Sunday ruled out a role for Hizbullah in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian groups, urging an end to the Israeli “aggressiveness” and “hegemony” in the region. “If we can put an end to Israeli hegemony and to Israeli aggressiveness in this region, we will put an end to many violence in this region and if we cannot do that, violence will prevail,” Salam said in English in an interview on CNN. “You cannot build a country, you cannot build a future for any people under the banner of violence, under military might. That cannot go on,” he added.
Salam said force “can be exercised from time to time” but will not achieve any objectives for Israel. “We have a seen a live example in Lebanon in 2006. With all the military might of Israel they were not able to subdue or occupy Lebanon, so why to keep ... trying to do this now with the Palestinians?” the premier asked rhetorically.
Asked about the likelihood of Hizbullah getting involved in the current war and “dragging Lebanon” into the the conflict, Salam said: “For the moment I don't see Hizbullah getting Lebanon involved in this conflict, unless the Israelis want to … direct their military machine towards Lebanon.”Commenting on the several rocket attacks from southern Lebanon against northern Israel that have taken place during the assault on Gaza, the PM said unorganized “individuals” fired the rockets under the influence of “sentiments before anything else.”
Asked what keeps him awake at night, Salam said “the security situation.”“That is a time bomb in the midst of extremism and of violence that's prevailing in the region. Of course that can upset at any moment the stability of the country and that's why we are supporting as best as we can our security forces,” Salam added.
“There again we require a lot of external support,” he said. The premier explained that “as much as those forces are vigilant and as much as they are active, as much as we can prevent extremism and we can prevent violence from coming into Lebanon.”Asked how much “influence” Syria has in Lebanon nowadays, Salam answered: “I believe Syria has its own concerns, they have their own worries, so they don't have time.”“Luckily we enjoy now in Lebanon some freedom of action,” he added. The premier reminded that recently Lebanon has received “a substantial ... unprecedented support from Saudi Arabia for the Lebanese Army, with three billion dollars for a small country like Lebanon.”Commenting on the protracting presidential vacuum in Lebanon, Salam described it as “a major political problem.”“Any state without a head is not a full state and yet we have a safety net in the form of a coalition government trying to carry on (with) matters,” Salam added. “Unfortunately we have the negative effects of this vacuum, which immediately almost paralyzed the legislative branch. Our parliament is not being able neither to legislate nor to elect a new president,” Salam lamented, urging all political forces to gather and elect a new president. “As long as the political factions, all the political factions, do not get to a point where they should gather and decide on electing a president, we will be suffering,” Salam warned.


Hezbollah repels Syrian rebel attack on border
The Daily Star/HERMEL, Lebanon: Hezbollah foiled Sunday an attempt by armed Syrian rebels to recapture a strategic hill on the border between Lebanon and Syria, a security source told The Daily Star.
The source explained that the hill was located between the mountainous outskirts of the Lebanese Baalbek village of Arsal and the Syrian town of Flita.
The news came as fierce clashes continued over the weekend along Lebanon’s northeastern border with Syria between Hezbollah and Nusra Front fighters, the source added.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported Sunday that a young Lebanese man Mohammad Omar Audeh was badly injured as a result of the clashes raging on the eastern mountain range.
Audeh, 20, was rushed to one of the hospitals in the Bekaa Valley region of Zahle. Hundreds of refugees have taken shelter on Lebanon’s eastern mountain slope, posing grave problems to the country’s stability and security. Hezbollah says it is on a mission to wipe out the pockets of rebels in the mountains. Media reports said Saturday that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s nephew had been killed in Syria during battles with rebel opposition groups. The resistance group issued a statement, saying Hamzah Yassine from the southern town of Abbasieh was killed while performing his “jihadist duty defending holy sites.”Local media reports including Al-Mustaqbal newspaper said Yassine was the son of Nasrallah’s sister. Hezbollah, alongside regime troops, have been engaged in fierce battles with rebel groups including the Nusra Front in Syria and along Lebanon’s border since May of last year, when the party announced its military role in the war-torn country. Friday, a Syrian jet strike on the border with Lebanon killed around 20 Syrian rebel fighters, security sources told Reuters. The strike hit just inside Lebanese territory in a barren area east of the town of Arsal. Syrian rebel fighters have frequently crossed into Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town where residents have often been sympathetic to fighters trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is from Syria’s Alawite minority. Earlier this month, security reports said that Syrian rebels had plans to launch a massive ground operation on Lebanese villages bordering Syria and kidnap dozens of men, to be used as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Islamist prisoners held at Roumieh prison. Swiftly afterward, the Lebanese Army deployed at 100 new points in the Baalbek-Hermel villages of Al-Qaa, Ras Baalbek, Fakiha, Meqraq, Labweh, Swanieh, Nahleh, Younin, Maqneh, Bizalieh, Nabi Othman and Arsal.

The Lebanese who are making it big in Brazil

Dana Halawi| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Jamil Fadlallah left Lebanon in 1979 without any money or legal papers, seeking an escape from the Lebanese Civil War, then in its fourth year. “All I wanted back then was to leave in any way, since it was not possible to succeed in Lebanon in such circumstances,” he told The Daily Star. Like millions of Lebanese, Fadlallah headed west to leave behind the economic unrest, political turmoil and long periods of security instability that plague Lebanon. While some émigrés had the support of relatives where they settled, Fadlallah suffered for years in Brazil before finding success. “In addition to my job in a factory during daytime, I used to work in sewing for hours at night over seven years for me to be able to start with my own business,” he said. “I had to borrow money from some relatives in addition to my salary to start operating independently.”Having spent 35 years in Brazil, Fadlallah is now the owner of a well-known sports clothes factory in Sao Paulo with over 450 employees and a huge turnover. “I finally managed to succeed, with all the hard work and persistence I had but I must admit it was not easy at all,” he said. “Leaving your family behind to an unknown future and destiny is the worst feeling ever.”While Fadlallah says he would have loved to live and work in Lebanon, the dire economic situation prevents him from returning.
“The Lebanese market is too small, and it is hard to make a good profit,” he said. “We got used to living in Brazil and it is even easier to work there than in Lebanon.” It is a story repeated across Brazil, reportedly home to nearly 7 million people of Lebanese descent. Miled Khoury, owner of Sawary Jeans factory in Sao Paulo, left Lebanon over 20 years ago and started his business in Brazil. Khoury was luckier than Fadlallah because some of his family had already relocated to Brazil years before he moved there.
“I was lucky that my brother was already there and has supported me in many ways to start with my business there,” he said. “I am very satisfied with the outcome after 21 years of working in Sao Paulo.”
Following his great success in Brazil, Khoury tried to expand his business to Lebanon in 2005, but blames the political and security unrest for a poor result, which prompted him to end his operations in Lebanon in 2007. “I opened shops in ABC Mall, Sarba and in Zghorta, but I did not succeed due to the different political and security problems that prevailed in the country at the time,” he said.
Despite finding success in the South American country, Lebanese-Brazilian industrialists interviewed by The Daily Star say doing business in Brazil has its own challenges.
“The workforce in Brazil is very expensive, especially if you want to employ skilled laborers,” Khoury said. “We pay a salary of around $700 on average for each laborer, but the employee costs us no less than $1,400 in reality because we pay part of his national social security fee and retirement plan.”
Khoury added that employers were also responsible for paying an additional month’s bonus salary for each worker, because the law in Brazil forced businesses to pay 13 moths’ salaries instead of 12 per year. “Moreover, every laborer has the right to take one paid month off,” he said. Khoury’s remarks were echoed by Fadlallah, who said the labor party ruling the country supported workers a lot and gave them many rights. “If a laborer is absent for one reason or another, we cannot even complain,” he said.Fadlallah added that one of the big challenges facing factories operating in Brazil was the difficulty of finding skilled laborers. He explained that Brazilian women used to work mainly in agriculture in the past. But when the industrial sector started to flourish, these women shifted to work in factories. Fadlallah said that later, many women shifted to other sectors due to the difficulty and 12-hour days of sewing work.
“This is why female sewing laborers cost four times more than any other employees in Brazil,” he said. “They cost much more than sewing laborers in China for instance.”
The labor challenges, on top of a heavy tax burden, have exposed the industrialists to heavy competition from China and the United States.
“The high prices of products in Brazil have encouraged many families to buy their needs from the United States when they travel for vacation,” said Toni Etter, another owner of clothes and accessories factory and retail shops that employ over 350 workers. With the rising cost of production in Brazil, many industrialists have resorted to importing most of their products from China.
“I used to manufacture most of my products in Brazil, but now we import much more than what we produce in our factory because the quality is better outside and it is cheaper to import due to the high cost of skilled laborers,” Etter said. “Moreover, we do not have the same technology that they have in China,” he added. Fadlallah also imports around 60 percent of his items from China.
This growth in imports comes despite high custom duties. “We import leather jackets from China and customs cost us around 90 percent, while sometimes it even reaches 100 percent,” Khoury said.
“We still make some profit even with all the taxes on jackets because it is a sophisticated product, and it is not easy to produce this item in Brazil,” he added.
Lebanese industrialists operating in Brazil said they did not export their products to Lebanon because their high cost of production impeded their ability to compete in the Lebanese market.
“Moreover, if we export to Lebanon, Lebanese importers will have to incur customs fees, and won’t be able to make any profits,” he said.
But this could change soon, as Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced the opening of free-trade negotiations with the South American trade bloc, Mercosur, during his recent visit to Brazil.
Guilherme Mattar, director of the Brazil- Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, said a free-trade agreement between Brazil and Lebanon would benefit both countries.
“Being such a big economy, it would be very important for Brazil to buy more Lebanese products. With a free-trade agreement there would be less import duties, so Lebanese products would be more competitive on the Brazilian market,” he said. Mattar cited Lebanese wine, which, he said, is of “an outstanding quality.”
“But if it arrives into the marketplace and retail stores at a higher price than the French wine, which have invested so much more in image and are already established in the market, then it gets difficult to successfully promote the Lebanese wine,” he said. Mattar said that one of the main challenges facing the Lebanese in Brazil was a lack of cooperation among each other.
“I believe that the Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry must work on boosting cooperation among the Lebanese diaspora by formulating a policy to encourage them to cooperate together,” he said. A memorandum of understanding was signed over two weeks ago between the Chamber of Beirut and Mount Lebanon and the Brazil- Lebanon Chamber of Commerce (CCBL) aimed at developing economic relations between Lebanese and Brazilians at various levels, especially regarding increased trade and an exchange of experiences and cooperation at the regional level.
It also aims to enhance communication and cooperation in the private sector and to organize delegations to explore business opportunities in both countries.


Book suggests Iran role in Sadr killing theory
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A recently released book by an American author claims that charismatic Shiite Imam Musa Sadr was executed, and that an Iranian figure was involved in his killing.
Rumors surrounding what happened to Sadr, who has been defined as “missing” by the Lebanese state since the late ’70s, are never-ending.
Kai Bird’s biography of CIA agent Robert Ames, “The Good Spy,” claims that Sadr was killed in Libya.
“Ames was told by his Palestinian sources that eventually Imam Musa Sadr and his two traveling companions [Sheikh Mohammad Yaaqoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine] had been summarily executed and buried at an unmarked desert gravesite,” writes Bird, an American author, columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer.
The story goes that Gadhafi was set to hold a meeting between Sadr and Mohammed Beheshti, a Shiite Iranian scholar close to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who would later be assassinated in 1981.
While Beheshti was a proponent for a Shiite theological state, Sadr argued it was prohibited for Shiite imams to exercise political power. Gadhafi, a Sunni, wanted the two to come to an agreement on an anti-Western political agenda and agreed to host the two figures to work out their differences. But although Sadr arrived in Tripoli for the conference, Beheshti never showed.
“ Musa Sadr was an impatient man, and after several days of waiting in his hotel for a meeting with Qaddafi [Gadhafi] that never materialized he announced that he was packing his bags and leaving Libya,” writes Bird. “Arriving at the Tripoli airport, Musa Sadr was escorted to the VIP departure lounge. In the meantime, Beheshti told Qaddafi to detain Musa Sadr by all means necessary.”
Beheshti reportedly gave Gadhafi assurances that Sadr was a “Western agent” and in response, says Bird, the Libyan dictator told his security forces to try and coax Sadr back to his hotel room. Instead, a scuffle ensued and Sadr was thrown into a car and taken to a prison where he would stay for months.
“Qaddafi was angered when he discovered what had happened but he felt he couldn’t release Imam Sadr without embarrassing himself politically,” Bird writes.
Under pressure from Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, Gadhafi later called Beheshti to make a decision about how to handle Sadr. According to Bird, Beheshti told him Sadr was a threat to Khomeini. Sadr was last seen on Aug. 31, 1978 in Libya.
Lebanese government officials regularly promise investigations into Sadr’s disappearance, though little solid information is ever unveiled. The latest attempt was announced two days ago when a new committee was formed to follow up on Sadr’s disappearance. The committee’s formation was announced by former Lebanese MP Hasan Yaaqoub, the son of Sheikh Mohammad Yaaqoub.
Sadr, the founder of Lebanon’s Amal Movement, which is now led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, would be 86 years old if alive today.
“The Good Spy” was released in 2014 and has received a rating of 4/5 stars on Amazon by customer reviews. Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize winning biographer for writing “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” (Knopf, 2005).

Army to enforce strict security over Eid al-Fitr
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army announced Sunday in a statement on its website that it would enforce strict security measures during the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
“On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr and due to the celebratory ceremonies specific for this event across Lebanon, Army units have begun to implement exceptional security measures around worshiping houses and places that surround them,” the statement said. The Army will also maintain its control over the country’s main roads, shopping centers and various touristic sites. The heightened security measures come after a number of terror plots were uncovered. There are also fears that Lebanon’s mosques could be a target for terrorist attacks after twin car bombs attacked Tripoli’s Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques last summer. “The measures will include the spread of Army members, deploying patrols, and erecting mobile and fixed checkpoints as well control points.”


Lebanese Delegation Heads to Mali to Identify Victims of Plane Crash
Naharnet/An official Lebanese delegation headed on Sunday to Paris en rout to Mali to follow up the probe into the Air Algerie plane that crashed three-days ago and to carry out the necessary procedures to identify the bodies of the Lebanese victims. Haitham Jomaa,director general of the emigrants dept. at Lebanon's foreign ministry, chaired a delegation to follow up the probe into the crash of the McDonnell Douglas 83, which crashed over Mali on Thursday. The delegation will reportedly discuss with Malian officials the necessary arrangement to repatriate the bodies of the Lebanese victims to Beirut as soon as possible. It will also follow up the probe with French experts tasked with the investigations. Lebanese medical experts had taken DNA samples from the Lebanese victims' families before leaving Beirut, in order to compare them with human remains found at the crash site in Mali. One family in the southern El-Kharayeb village of Lebanon died in the tragedy -- the third time that residents there had been involved in a plane disaster. No one survived the impact and entire families were wiped out.The flight had taken off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso bound for Algiers.
Travelers from Burkina Faso, France,Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash, increasingly being blamed on bad weather that forced the pilots to change course. France bore the brunt of the disaster, with some 54 French citizens among the overall death toll of 118. On Saturday, Prime Minister Tammam Salam contacted French President Francois Hollande to request help in identifying the bodies of the 19 Lebanese victims.

Lebanese Dar al-Fatwa Says today, Monday is First Day of Eid al-Fitr
Naharnet /Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani has announced that Monday (Momday) is the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“We have verified according to the rules of Sharia that (tomorrow,) Monday, July 28, 2014 A.D. is the first day of (the lunar Islamic month of) Shawwal 1435 A.H., and accordingly tomorrow, Monday is the first day of Eid al-Fitr,” Qabbani, who heads Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim religious authority Dar al-Fatwa, announced in a statement. According to Muslim tradition, it is the sighting with the naked eye of the new moon that signals the start of Eid al-Fitr. Sunni religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have also announced that Eid al-Fitr begins Monday.
During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslim believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn until sunset. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.

Lebanese, Arabs in Sydney Force Top Official to Resign over pro-Israel Remarks
Naharnet /The Lebanese expat community in Sydney has played a role in forcing a top state government official to resign after he made controversial public comments in support of Israel's deadly assault on the Gaza Strip.“The Lebanese and Arab expat communities in Sydney have managed to push Vic Alhadeff, a high-ranking government official, to resign, after he voiced support for Israel,” Lebanon's National News Agency reported. Alhadeff, the chair of the New South Wales Community Relations Commission (CRC), had sent an email defending Israel's military offensive in Gaza, which has so far killed around 1,065 Palestinians and wounded at least 6,000 others. The email sparked calls from Muslim and Arab groups that he be sacked, according to Guardian Australia. Mike Baird, the premier of the New South Wales state, resisted those calls, leaving Alhadeff to decide whether he should step down. "It is with considerable regret that I have decided to resign from my position as chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission," Alhadeff said in a statement on Sunday."I have chosen to do so in the interests of the CRC and its important work in fostering social harmony within our society."The email, which was sent in Alhadeff's capacity as CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, claimed Israel was operating with "care to avoid civilian casualties." "Israel has made it clear that it is not interested in further escalation, but will do whatever is needed to defend its citizens," Alhadeff said in the email. The email also included a "frequently asked questions" fact sheet from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs about its offensive in Gaza. Alhadeff now concedes the email "issued under my name inadvertently caused offense to some.""This is greatly regretted," he said. "While this was unintended, and despite the backing of numerous community leaders who acknowledged my record of goodwill, the reaction from some has become a distraction to the work of the CRC and the role of the chair."
Baird's decision to back Alhadeff angered community groups, who pledged to boycott future government events. That started with a Ramadan event hosted by Baird last week, which was shunned by groups including the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Australian Arabic Council. In a joint statement to the NSW citizenship minister, Victor Dominello, representatives from a number of Arabic community groups said they had “grave concerns” and did not believe Alhadeff “is capable of exercising sound judgment on community relations.”
“We call on you as the minister responsible for his appointment to ask for Mr. Alhadeff’s resignation and to replace him with someone who is willing to set his or her own views to one side, so far as public statements are concerned, to ensure that the CRC and its role remain acceptable to the whole NSW community,” they said. Writing in Guardian Australia, the former Victorian multicultural affairs commissioner Joseph Wakim said: "What message does his statement send to half a million Australian citizens of Arab ancestry, many with relatives cowering under beds in Gaza?" According to its website, the government-affiliated New South Wales Community Relations Commission seeks to promote “multiculturalism, Australian citizenship, cultural diversity, community unity and harmony.”

Question: "What is the Gap Theory? Did anything happen between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?"

Answer: Genesis 1:1–2 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The gap theory is the view that God created a fully functional earth with all animals, including the dinosaurs and other creatures we know only from the fossil record. Then, the theory goes, something happened to destroy the earth completely—most likely the fall of Satan to earth—so that the planet became without form and void. At this point, God started all over again, recreating the earth in its paradise form as further described in Genesis. The gap theory, which is distinct from theistic evolution and the day-age theory, is also called old-earth creationism, gap creationism, and the ruin-reconstruction theory.
In young-earth creationism, Genesis 1:1 is seen as a summary of the complete chapter 1 in the Hebrew storytelling form. God created the heavens and the earth. Then verse 2 begins a detailed breakdown of the step-by-step process that verse 1 summarizes. However, the statement that “the earth was formless and empty, [and] darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2) can be puzzling. The idea that God created a useless and shapeless earth is an uncomfortable position for some conservative theologians, and this leads them to the gap theory, or an old-earth perspective.
According to conservative proponents of the gap theory, Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation of God—perfect in every way. Then, between verses 1 and 2, Satan rebelled in heaven and was cast out. Satan’s sin “ruined” the original creation; that is, his rebellion brought about its destruction and eventual death, and the earth was reduced to its “formless and empty” state, ready for the “re-construction.” The length of time involved—the size of the “gap”—is not specified but could have lasted millions of years.
Of course, Satan must have fallen before Adam did; otherwise, there would have been no temptation in the garden. Young-earth creationists say that Satan fell sometime after Genesis 1:31. Gap creationists say that Satan fell between Genesis 1:1 and 2.
One difficulty of the gap theory is that it requires that creation suffer death and destruction before Adam’s fall. Romans 5:12 says, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” The gap theory counters by positing two worlds. Satan’s sin brought death to the original creation, whatever that was like; and Adam’s sin brought death to the re-creation, the realm of mankind. Through Adam’s sin, evil entered our world and the realm of man was cursed. But rebellion already existed outside the realm of mankind (in the spiritual realm), since Satan and his angels had already fallen (Isaiah 14:12–14; Ezekiel 28:12–18). Sin could not enter the realm of man until man chose it. And Satan, via the serpent, successfully tempted man to make that choice.
Objections to the gap theory include the idea that, if something important had occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 2, God would have told us so, rather than leave us to speculate in ignorance. Also, Genesis 1:31 says God declared His creation to be “very good”—a statement difficult to square with the theory that evil already existed because of Satan’s fall in the “gap.”It is possible to hold to a literal, six-day creation week and still hold to the gap theory—the gap theory does not require evolution to be true, since the gap falls before the events of Day One in Genesis 1:3. And that’s why some conservative scholars do believe the gap theory, although its acceptance has waned since the days of proponents C. I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee. However, many of those who hold to the gap theory do so in order to reconcile old-earth, evolutionary theories with the book of Genesis. But it seems to be a strained reconciliation. The plain reading of Genesis 1 does not at all intimate a length of time between the first two verses. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 informs us that, when He first created the earth, it was formless, empty, and dark; it was unfinished and uninhabited. The rest of Genesis 1 relates how God completed the formless, empty, and dark earth by filling it with life, beauty, and goodness.

Recommended Resources: The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel and Logos Bible Software.

Bomb Kills 5 at Nigeria Church as Female Bomber Injures Cops at University
Naharnet/At least five people were killed and eight were injured Sunday in a bomb attack on a Catholic church in a mainly Christian area of Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's north, police said, as five cops were hurt as they prevented a female suicide bomber from carrying out an attack outside a Kano university. The church bombing came shortly after the end of mass.
Police spokesman Frank Mba told Agence France-Presse: "We suspect an IED (improvised explosive device) that was thrown from across the road" at the church in Kano's Sabon Gari district, which has suffered previous attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Also in Kano on Sunday, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up outside a university after police prevented her from carrying out an attack, injuring five officers, Mba said. "A female suicide bomber was isolated as she was walking towards the gate of the university," Mba said, adding that she had hidden the bomb under her "long black hijab." "Police on duty isolated her" because she was behaving strangely, Mba said. They were about to ask a female colleague to frisk the woman when she detonated the bomb, killing herself and injuring the five police officers, he said. Police also said they had made safe a remote-controlled car bomb near a mosque and the home of a prominent Kano sheikh on Saturday. "The police were alerted by some vigilant residents last night," said Kano police spokesman Musa Magaji Majia. "Our bomb disposal personnel succeeded in defusing the IED." While Boko Haram, which is seeking to install an extremist Islamic state in Nigeria, has killed dozens during a recent spate of strikes in the far northeast, Kano has also seen two attacks in recent months. On June 23, a bomb blast at a public health college in the city killed at least eight, while on May 19, a suicide car bomb attack in Sabon Gari killed at least four people, including a young girl. At least four strong explosions rocked the same area on July 29 last year, killing 12.
Blame has been attributed to the Islamist militants, whose violent insurgency began in the mainly Muslim north in 2009. Agence France Presse

Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

By Raymond Ibrahim on July 27, 2014 in Islam, Muslim Persecution of Christians
CBN News
Days before the recent Israel/Hamas conflict erupted, the Presbyterian Church USA withdrew $21 million worth in investments from Israel because, as spokesman Heath Rada put it, the Israeli government’s actions “harm the Palestinian people.”
Soon after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church’s move. Netanyahu responded:
It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful. You know, you look at what’s happening in the Middle East and I think most Americans understand this, they see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians—Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. So most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation. You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.
It’s difficult—if not impossible—to argue with Netanyahu’s logic. Indeed, several points made in his one-minute response are deserving of some reflection.
First, the obvious: why is it that self-professed Christians completely ignore the horrific Islamic persecution of fellow Christians in the Middle East, while grandstanding against the Jewish state for trying to defend itself against the same ideology that persecutes Christians?
And he is absolutely right to say that the persecution of Christians in the Mideast has reached a point of “savagery of unimaginable proportions.” Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the atrocities Mideast Christians are exposed to—the slaughters, crucifixions, beheadings, torture and rape—is the absolute silence emanating from so-called mainline Protestant churches in the U.S.
Note also the nations Netanyahu highlighted for their brutal persecution of Christian minorities: Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Indigenous Christians were markedly better off in all three nations before the U.S. got involved, specifically be empowering, deliberately or not, Islamist forces. Now,according to recent studies, Christians in all three nations are experiencing the worst form of persecution around the globe:
•Libya: Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Gaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. It’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was not the case under Gaddafi.
•Syria: Christians have been attacked in indescribable ways—wholesale massacres, bombed and desecrated churches, beheadings, crucifixions, and rampant kidnappings—since the U.S.-sponsored “Arab Spring” reached the Levant.
•Iraq: After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here forgraphic images). In the last decade, Christians have beenterrorized into near-extinction, with well over half of them fleeing Iraq.
If the Presbyterian Church has problems with governments that persecute people—in this case, the Israeli government’s purported treatment of Palestinians, hence the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from Israel—perhaps it should begin by criticizing its own government’s proxy war on fellow Christiansin the Middle East.
Christians are also being targeted in the P.A. territories—by the very same elements the Presbyterian Church is trying to defend.
In 2012, for example, a pastor noted that “animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the P.A. continues to get increasingly worse. People are always telling [Christians],Convert to Islam. Convert to Islam.” And in fact, the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christians in Gaza is an ugly reality.”
More recently, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property. “Someone wants to send us away,” wrote Sister Ibraxia in the letter, “but we will not flee.”
Sadly, the hypocrisy exhibited by the Presbyterian Church is not limited to that denomination. Some time back, fifteen leaders from various U.S. Christian denominations—mostly Protestant, including the Lutheran, Methodist, and UCC Churches—asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel, again, in the context of supporting “persecuted” Palestinians.
Yet nary a word from these same church leaders concerning the rampant persecution of millions of Christians at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East—a persecution that makes the Palestinians’ situation pale in comparison.
Other “leftist” Protestants do find time to criticize Muslim persecution of Christians—but only to blame Israel for it. Thus, Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, wrote an article in the Daily Beast ostensibly addressing the plight of Mideast Christians—but only to argue that the source of Christian persecution “ in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine.”In reality, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, the Arab-Israeli conflict is itself a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason hostility for Israel is much more viral is because the Jewish state holds a unique position of authority over Muslims unlike vulnerable Christian minorities who can be abused at will (as fully explained here).
Little wonder, then, that more Arab Christians—double the number of each of the preceding three years—are now joining the Israel Defense Forces.
They know they can count on basic human rights protection from Israel than from many of their fellow Christians in the West. After all, beyond the sophistry, distortions, and downright lies emanating from some of these Christian denominations, the fact remains: both Jews and Christians are under attack from the same foe and for the same reason: they are non-Muslim “infidels” who need to be subjugated.

10 Killed in Gaza as Death Toll Hits 1,065 and Netanyahu Dismisses Hamas Truce Offer
Naharnet/Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Hamas of violating a ceasefire that it had itself called and vowed that Israeli operations in Gaza would continue, as the death toll from 20 days of Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian strip rose to 1,062.Hamas' belated acceptance of diplomatic calls for a temporary ceasefire was announced several hours after Israel resumed a devastating military assault on the enclave after a pause of more than 24 hours. Although Hamas said its militants would halt their fire from 1100 GMT in response to a request from the United Nations, there was no response from Israel.
Agence France-Presse said rockets continued to fall, with 11 striking Israel in the two hours after the reported truce went into effect, prompting a derisive response from Netanyahu. "They are violating their own ceasefire," he told the CNN news network. In a separate interview with CBS, Netanyahu said Israel would not allow "a ruthless terror organization... to decide when it's convenient for them to stop for a moment, rearm, and continue firing on our citizens and our people."
The abortive announcement came shortly after Israel said it would no longer abide by a unilateral ceasefire while coming under "incessant" fire from Hamas.
Shortly afterwards, Israeli troops resumed their punishing air strikes and tank shelling, killing 10 people across the territory, including an elderly Christian woman, medics said. Another three people also succumbed to their wounds, hiking the toll on day 20 of Israel's devastating military campaign to 1,062. The renewed violence came after a rare 12-hour break in the hostilities on Saturday, which was respected by both sides, with world powers urging both Israel and Hamas to extend the temporary truce by another 24 hours. But Saturday's relative calm quickly became a distant memory
"I was praying at church when my father called me and told me to go home quickly," said Antonio Ayad, a Christian whose elderly mother was killed when a missile struck their home in western Gaza City.
"They are targeting Christians in Gaza," he said.
"I'm not Hamas, I'm not Fatah -- I don't belong to any Palestinian faction. Where is the world? Where is the pope?" he asked. From the pulpit in Rome, Pope Francis issued his own call, pleading for an end to the bloodshed which has killed over a thousand victims, around a quarter of them children. "Stop, please stop! I beg you with all my heart," he said in the weekly Angelus prayer.
Following Saturday's humanitarian lull, which was respected by both sides, Israel's security cabinet agreed to extend the calm by 24 hours, but Hamas rejected the move, firing rockets over the border, one of which killed a soldier. But after 12 hours of holding its fire, Israel said it was resuming its operations following "incessant" rocket fire from Hamas. Shortly afterwards, the skies over Gaza were filled with the familiar sound of explosions, as plumes of black smoke quickly rose on the horizon, an AFP correspondent in Gaza City said.
Ambulance sirens wailed as medics sprang into action, cars racing down the streets which quickly emptied of people who had ventured out to make the most of the lull.
For Israelis, the quiet skies had ended late on Saturday with sirens sounding up the coastal plain as rockets fell on the south and center, killing a soldier and raising to 43 the number of troops killed since the July 17 start of a ground operation to destroy a sophisticated network of tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have also been killed by rocket fire. By Sunday morning, there appeared to be little appetite in Israel to prolong the one-sided truce, with 86.5 percent of Israelis opposing any truce in the current climate, army radio said, quoting pollsters Mina Tzemah. "It is clear that Hamas isn't interested in this ceasefire so I think we should renew the fighting and maybe even more so," said Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, a security cabinet member who had voted late on Saturday in favor of extending the truce by 24 hours. "After what we've seen last night and this morning, I'm fairly certain that we should renew our fire even stronger," he said, while Israel was initially observing a ceasefire. SourceAgence France Presse

IS Jihadists Take Syrian Army Base as Rebels Seize Control of Arms Depots
Naharnet/Islamic State jihadists, building on vast land grabs in Iraq, have seized an army position in the Syrian city of Hasakeh, a monitoring group said Sunday.
On another front in Syria's complex civil war, rebels seeking President Bashar Assad's ouster captured a weapons depot in Hama province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. And in the central city of Homs, a car bombing killed seven people, the Observatory and state media said. In Hasakeh in the northeast, "IS jihadists took over the army's Regiment 121 (base) at Maylabiyeh" after a three-day battle, said the Britain-based Observatory. On Twitter, supporters of IS, which first emerged in Syria's war in spring 2013, celebrated the army position's "liberation" at the hands of the jihadists. The latest advance came a day after IS took over a Division 17 position in Raqa province, killing at least 85 regime troops there, including 50 who were executed after their capture.
But also on Saturday, the regime recaptured the Shaar gas field in Homs province in central Syria, where IS reportedly killed 270 people while taking the site.
While IS has escalated its offensive against the regime in parts of Syria in the past two weeks, it has also been in a state of open war since January against rebels seeking Assad's ouster. On Sunday, IS killed 15 Syrian rebels in an ambush as the jihadists tried to advance on Aleppo province, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"IS is very ambitious. It wants to capture both the regime-held Kweiris airport (in Aleppo province), and ultimately Aleppo city -- both the opposition and regime-held areas," Abdel Rahman said. In June, the jihadist group proclaimed an Islamic "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq. "IS has nothing to do with the anti-Assad revolt. It just wants control," said Abdel Rahman. It was emboldened by a June offensive in Iraq when swathes of the north and west fell out of Baghdad's control.
Syrian rebels say the group transported a large amount of heavy weapons captured from fleeing Iraqi troops into Syria. On another front, rebels in Hama province captured Khattab and Rahbeh villages, taking over arms depots, Abdel Rahman said.
Rebels, he added, are now "advancing towards Hama military airport."The air base is important because aircraft loaded with deadly barrel bombs regularly take off from there to attack opposition areas in Hama and Idlib provinces. Amateur video posted by activists on YouTube showed some of the weapons seized by the rebels in Hama, including rockets, ammunition and mortars.
Meanwhile in Homs city, seven people were killed and 20 wounded in a car bomb attack on an Alawite district, said the Observatory. Immediately after the blast, several home-made rockets hit the neighborhood.
State media also reported the explosion, giving the same death toll, but claimed the blast was caused by a suicide car bomb attacker.
Homs was once dubbed "the capital of the revolution" against Assad, but all except one district are now squarely in regime control.
Syria's war has killed more than 170,000 people since it broke out in March 2011 and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.
Agence France Presse

A different Arab-Israeli war: will it have a different ending?
Sunday, 27 July 2014
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
Despite all the rhetorical descriptions that the Palestinian cause is “the main Arab issue,” the central, pivotal and crucial case and the reason behind revolutions, coups and massive military spending, we as Arabs have not been fighting Israel for more than 70 years in a serious manner.
Our wars against Israel have been brief. We wage them enthusiastically at the media and rhetorical levels without enough military planning, preparation or readiness for the patience and perseverance they require. Most of the wars against Israel were wars against us and not waged by us. Even the1948 and the 1973 wars, which were waged by Arabs, were brief wars tormented by limited political targets more than being decisive wars of liberation.
In order to have a clearer image, we will compare the Bosnian war (1992-95) with all the Arab-Israeli wars. Bosnians entered the war with the determination of a “war of independence,” i.e., either to win or suffer complete defeat. They sacrificed their men and women, and deployed all their efforts in their war. They disregarded the balance of power and did not take into consideration the international and regional circumstances facing them. They went through the worst and faced both abandonment and conspiracy. They benefited from all that was available, whether small or big, and cooperated with all who were willing to help, regardless of their motives and intentions.
Many parties that rarely gathered around one issue rallied around Bosnians, from Saudis to Turks, Iranians, and even Malaysians who were far off at the other end of the world. What mattered to them was victory; had they showed reluctance or accepted the “wisdom” of those telling them to accept whatever came from their Serb rivals and negotiated with them, they would be a vulnerable minority today negotiating with a racist Serb entity that hates them.
Freedom has its price and costs
This year, God is favoring the people who are seeking their “absolute freedom” like Algeria, Vietnam, Ireland and Europe under the Nazis. Freedom has its price and costs, at the top of which are bloodshed and death. This is not speech-making or overstatement but rather a recurrent historical and political analysis.
Until the current Gaza war, the Palestinian people are alone in not having fought a long war for freedom since their almost decisive and historical revolution in 1936. Palestinians have always relied on Arabs but the latter have their own calculations and rulers who also have their own calculations and priorities. Then they lose a war against Israel, leave Palestine and its people to their fate and return to their homelands to restore what was damaged and protect what was left. They then content themselves with promises, speeches and poems addressed to the Palestinians. What matters to them is the party, the ruler and what remains of the country to govern.
The Ramadan 1435 (2014) war is different. It is an unprecedented, genuine Palestinian war from start to finish. The Arabs have completely distanced themselves from it. In fact, most of them have denied it and criticized those who initiated it. However, the Palestinian has imposed his decision on everyone. Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh are displaying pride and enthusiasm, talking with confidence, imposing conditions and a new reality on everyone. They have restored life to the Palestinian cause.
Everything about this war is new; how were weapons smuggled into Gaza? Despite the blockade, thousands of rockets have entered a small country that is surrounded from all sides. This fact alone is a miracle. Some thought the tunnels were only used to transfer rice, sugar, fuel oil and a few machineguns and explosives. They were destroyed and flooded with water as a result. But tons of explosives, hundreds of missiles, 7-meter Grad rockets miraculously passed through these tunnels. How did this occur? Were they transferred through tunnels or by sea?Hamas now possesses hundreds of them so how did they get them?
No one can believe that Hamas took advantage of the year during which isolated Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood reigned and during which Egypt turned a blind eye to all these rockets. Everyone knows that Mursi did not have absolute power at the military and intelligence levels. There is no doubt that Israel and its intelligence services are now busy trying to solve this puzzle in order to prevent its continuation. If “Hamas” was able to bring in all these weapons despite the blockade (and this is what late President Arafat failed to do and was held accountable simply because he tried to do so even though he had presided over an international organization that had extensive connections and capabilities), it is then able to do it repeatedly.
Hamas did not waste its time when governing Gaza
The distinctive combat performance of Hamas’s men, the enormous network of tunnels that stretches over many miles beneath the Gaza Strip and from there to Israel and Egypt that have been employed brilliantly have inflicted unprecedented injuries to their enemy. They will use them again and again whenever the enemy tries to enter any of their neighborhoods. This reveals that Hamas did not waste its time when governing Gaza. The Israelis acknowledge and are concerned about this performance. It will be the biggest deterrent to Israel's invasion and occupation of Gaza but maybe Hamas wanted that in order to enter in a long-term liberation war with the Israelis. The war must be extended to the other bank that is also burning so that it might change all that was settled there after Oslo.
The national unity, which demonstrated the Gazans’ will to put forward sacrifices, even their lives, so that they can prevent a return to the humiliating life under siege, is another achievement for the determined Palestinian fighters. The only solution for the Israelis is to entirely destroy Gaza but who can eradicate two million Palestinians?
Another important issue that has become apparent is that the Palestinians are now imposing cease-fire conditions, in a departure from all previous Arab wars. They have nothing to lose. Israel’s threats to bomb Cairo, Amman or Damascus do not worry the Palestinian anymore and neither does its occupation. That was once the weakness of the Arab armies when they were defeated alongside the diehard Palestinian combatants. Israel has lost this power. Israel is freely roaming in the West Bank but the direct occupation is not in Israel’s interests and the Palestinians are using this fact against it; this is another new fact. What is even more important is that the Palestinians are ready to fight a long-term battle and this is a strategic shift. If they sustain this solid combat principle, they will change all the rules of the “Arab-Israeli conflict.” They will be stronger negotiators and will be respected by the whole world, which historically respects the strong and disdains the weak.
If the late Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic had given up at an early stage, after being severely wounded and seeing thousands of his people killed in massacres under the eyes of the world (even under the official protection of the Europeans), U.S. President Bill Clinton would not have taken a step in August 1995 against Europe’s wishes and led NATO to bomb the Serbs and force them to negotiate and accept the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
No one will bomb Israel but if the Palestinians withstand this time, the peace negotiations that failed a few months ago, despite the attention and optimism of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will be more serious. They will include the real reasons behind the war against Gaza, which are the occupation and the siege, and not only in Gaza alone but in the West Bank as well. Arabs will have then to catch up with the diehard Palestinian combatants to support them and forget all that was said and done at the time of the great Arab deterioration.


Netanyahu’s dilemma: Back Obama’s save Hamas policy, or fight for its downfall with Egypt and Saudis
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 28, 2014/Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu entangled himself Saturday and Sunday, July 26-27, in the net he had cast to blur the effect of the unanimous decision by the security-political cabinet of Friday to turn down the ceasefire proposals proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The two diplomats and their partners, a brace of European ministers and Qatar and Turkey, who met in Paris to concoct a peace framework for Gaza, were privately dubbed by wags in Jerusalem the “Save Hamas Squad.”
Netanyahu tried to present the flat cabinet “no” to the ceasefire as a “no, maybe.”
His purpose was to leave an opening for the US and UN to ginger up their pro-Hamas framework for ending hostilities in the Gaza Strip by incorporating elements that Israel’s security needs half way. If that was done, Israel, he indicated, would be amenable to joining lengthy ceasefire accords with Hamas, or even making unilateral halts in violence.
He explained to his close circle that he was performing these maneuvers to gain international legitimacy for Israel’s large-scale counter-terror operation against the Palestinian extremist organization in the Gaza Strip, now it its 20th day. This would be especially timely ahead of the UN Security Council session on the issue due to take place in New York Monday.
The trouble with this pretext is that the large measure of international sympathy Israel enjoyed in the early days of its Operation Defense Edge against Hamas’ rocket barrage collapsed the moment President Obama sent Kerry to the Middle East last week, for a bid to save Hamas before it was mown down by the IDF.
The Palestinian Authority was much more open and blunt than Netanyahu in its disapproval of the game that was being played out in Paris. Walid Assad, one of the spokesmen of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas protested what he called Kerry’s “appeasement” of Qatar and Turkey at the expense of Egypt and the PA, and his failure to invite either to the meeting for discussing a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities.
Senior Palestinian officials warned against attempts to “bypass the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
In the legitimacy stakes, Netanyahu has three solid allies for crushing Hamas: Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and the UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas attached a Palestinian voice to this group.
This regional coalition has enormous clout, derived, on the one hand, from the Israeli military and its fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian army’s containment of Hamas efforts to break out into Sinai for strategic depth; and, on the other, from the financial might of Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates and the world prestige they enjoy.
So why is the Obama administration shoving this powerful coalition out of his way and building a rival alliance to counter it?
Its primary motive is fear that if this group is allowed to make the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip a success, it will become the springboard for its next move, a victorious assault on Iran.
This sequence of events would totally derail current US Middle East policy, which hinges on détente with Tehran, Obama’s advisers warn him, and even jeopardize his strategy for bringing the nuclear negotiations between the six world powers and Iran to a successful conclusion.
Netanyahu’s shilly-shallying between approval and rejection of Gaza ceasefires is the outcome of his dilemma: Sticking with the first solid alliance Israel has ever acquired in the region would cost him a deep rift with Washington. But going along with Kerry’s plan would cost Israel more in security against one of the most dangerous Islamist terrorist organizations on earth.
Vacillation by a war leader increases the dangers to his troops and the risk of missing its goals. A wishy-washy formula was thrown up in Jerusalem to cover this period of uncertainty: “Quiet will be met with quiet and fire will be met with fire!
This slogan was used at the start of the operation against Hamas. Its response was the contemptuous ramping up of rocket fire against Israeli population centers to 100 a day - which in turn, triggered Israel’s ground operation eight days ago.
Half measures will not go down well with the Israeli public, which, even after losing 43 servicemen in action in the Gaza Strip, is still solidly behind the operation. A poll conducted by TV Channel 10 Sunday found 87 percent of those canvassed demanding that Israel press on, and 69 percent urging the government to go al the way and overthrow Hamas rule of the Gaza Strip.
With the US, Europe, Iran, Qatar and Turkey at its back and a wavering Israeli government putting the IDF Gaza operation on stop-go, Hamas can afford to carry on shooting rockets at Israel when it chooses before, after and in the middle of its own ceasefires.
There might a slowdown for the three-day Eid al-Fitr which starts Sunday night. But not necessarily. The Palestinian extremists may use an outburst of violence during the Muslim festival to rally their coreligionists across the Muslim world for huge marches of solidarity behind them. This could present Egypt and Saudi Arabia with a predicament.
Netanyahu will meanwhile have to resolve which way to jump, one of the hardest decisions any Israeli prime minister has ever faced.
Hamas won’t give him the peace to make up his mind. It has plenty of firepower and rockets left to keep Gaza violence and attacks on Israel on the boil, while making good use of the rising toll of Palestinian deaths in the fighting to place all the estimated 1,060 deaths squarely at Israel’s door.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, the Palestinian extremists received another shot in the arm from Iran, a phone call to politburo chief Khaled Meshaal from Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, with a promise to make up Hamas’ losses of weapons in the war with Israel.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossen Amir Abdolahian traveled to Beirut to discuss with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, how they could help Hamas