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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Adar 4, 5767, 2/22/2007

      Do Arab states really care about the Palestinians?

      Arab states provide less than 3 percent of the annual budget of UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees.
      For all their talk of standing by the Palestinians, Arab regimes sure have a funny way of showing it.

      I did a bit of research and discovered an interesting, yet largely unknown, little fact: Arab states provide less than 3 percent of the annual budget of UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East.

      By contrast, Western countries cover some 95 percent of the organization's finances each year.

      Now, if they really truly cared about the fate of their Palestinian brethren, would oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain be so miserly and cheap when it comes to improving their living conditions?

      Read below and see for yourself.

      UN pressing Arab states for more aid to Palestinian refugees
      By Michael Freund

      Despite their rhetorical pledges of support for the Palestinians, the Arab states are providing an increasingly smaller amount of aid to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), prompting the UN agency to step up efforts to solicit more funds from Arab regimes throughout the region.

      At a press conference held Wednesday in Manama, the Bahraini capital, UNRWA representative Peter Ford issued a plea to Arab countries to increase their donations on behalf of Palestinian refugees, asserting that UNRWA is facing "a financial crisis."

      Over the past two decades, Ford noted, Arab states have provided a steadily decreasing percentage of UNRWA's funding. In the 1980s, he said, their donations amounted to 8% of the group's annual budget, whereas now, "Arab donors currently contribute less than three percent of UNRWA's overall spending."

      "The objective," he said, "is to return to that level of support at a time when the innocent refugees, as always the victims of political problems, are suffering more than ever."

      Ford added that while funds from major donor countries have been "regular and steady," the agency is now looking to tap into other sources, in particular the Arab states, in light of growing demand for UNRWA's services among Palestinian refugees.

      "The situation for the refugees is ominously deteriorating because of Israeli attitudes and Palestinian in-fighting," he said. "There is an increasing need for funds from several sources, mainly Arab states."

      Ford was in Bahrain to meet with government officials in an effort to drum up additional pledges of support. He plans to visit several Gulf Arab states in the near future as well.

      According to UNRWA's Web site, the largest pledge received from an Arab country in 2006 was $1.5 million from Kuwait, with Saudi Arabia promising just $1.2 million. By contrast, Sweden pledged more than $41 million, the UK $27 million, and Denmark over $12 million.

      Other Arab states were even less generous, with oil-rich Bahrain offering $30,000 and Lebanon a mere $10,000.
      The US was the largest supporter of UNRWA's activities, with more than $137 million of the group's budgeted expenditures of $462 million coming from Washington.

      As of October 31, the latest date for which figures are available, UNRWA was expecting a funding shortfall in 2006 of $117 million, with total pledges amounting to $345 million.

      Nearly all of UNRWA's operations are financed by voluntary contributions from governments and the European Union. In total, Western countries provide more than 95% of the agency's finances.

      Shevat 17, 5767, 2/5/2007

      The Numbers Don't Lie

      In 2006, by contrast, the number of rockets fired on Israel soared to 1,726 – an increase of more than 300%.
      If there is anyone out there who still thinks that Israel's August 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was not a complete and utter failure, they should check out what the head of Israel's Shin Bet security service had to say today.

      At a special briefing with the press, Yuval Diskin revealed some statistics that underline quite definitively just how disastrous the pullout has proven to be.

      Take, for example, the number of Qassam rockets fired at the Jewish state. In 2005, Diskin noted, Palestinian terrorists launched 401 rockets against Israel. In 2006, by contrast, the number soared to 1,726 – an increase of more than 300%.

      Likewise, said Diskin, the terrorists are believed to have smuggled an estimated 6 tons of explosives into Gaza in 2005, whereas in 2006, the quantity reached 28 tons. In addition, they snuck in some 14,000 assault rifles, versus 9,300 in 2005.

      Hence, rather than bringing increased security to Israel and its citizens, the Gaza retreat has brought in its wake a sharp rise in Palestinian terror activities.

      Indeed, the painful pullout and expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes has not inspired any deeper Palestinian love for Israel, nor has it reduced the motivation of the terrorists to attack.

      This is one case where the numbers, as they say, speak for themselves.

      Shevat 12, 5767, 1/31/2007

      The Arithmetic of Jihad

      The media is always telling us that only a "tiny minority" of Muslims support violence and holy war against the West.

      But just how true is that assertion?

      In the column below, I bring a number of facts and figures that suggest otherwise.
      Like it or not, the arithmetic of jihad is fairly straightforward, and it is time that we stopped pretending otherwise.

      The Arithmetic of Jihad

      By Michael Freund

      It's time we open our eyes and confront reality. Ever since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the media has sought to reassure us that only a tiny minority of Muslims actually support the use of violence against Israel and the West.

      It's just a small fringe, a marginal few at best, they tell us, so don't worry about it all too much. One percent or three percent - who cares? Just sit back, enjoy your morning eggs and coffee and have a nice day.

      But a look at the numbers tells a very different story. The extent of support for global jihad is frightening in its proportions, and the numbers are anything but insignificant.
      After Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists last summer, a poll revealed that 77.2% of Palestinians supported the kidnapping, while 66.8% said they would back additional such attacks.

      Consider, for example, the following statistics regarding support for suicide bombings and other types of terror attacks.

      In a poll conducted five months ago, and broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 TV, nearly 25% of British Muslims said the July 7, 2005, terror bombings in London, which killed 52 innocent commuters, were justified. Another 30% said they would prefer to live under strict Islamic Sharia law rather than England's democratic system.

      Now, one in four justifying terror may not be a majority, but it certainly isn't a "small fringe" either.

      In other countries, the figures are no less unsettling. A survey published in December found that 44% of Nigerian Muslims believe suicide bombing attacks are "often" or "sometimes" acceptable. Only 28% said they were never justified.

      According to the annual Pew Global Attitudes Survey, released in July 2006, "roughly one-in-seven Muslims in France, Spain and Great Britain feel that suicide bombings against civilian targets can at least sometimes be justified to defend Islam." The report also found that less than half of Jordan's Muslims believe terror attacks are never justified. In Egypt, only 45% of Muslims say terror is never justified.

      STILL THINK only a "tiny minority" are in favor of violence? In Israel, the percentages are even more alarming. After Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists last summer, a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center revealed that 77.2% of Palestinians supported the kidnapping, while 66.8% said they would back additional such attacks.

      More than six out of 10 Palestinians also said they were in favor of firing Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and cities.

      And lest you think that war fever lay behind the results, consider this: four additional polls published in September, nearly a month after the Lebanese conflict had ended, all found large majorities of Palestinians backing terror attacks against the Jewish state.

      Indeed, in various countries around the world, support for Muslim fundamentalist terror groups appears to be widespread.

      On the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a survey conducted by Al-Jazeera asked respondents, "Do you support Osama Bin-Laden?" A whopping 49.9% answered: yes.

      And the July 2006 global Pew survey found that among Muslims, a quarter of Jordanians, a third of Indonesians, 38% of Pakistanis and 61% of Nigerians all expressed confidence in the mass murderer who founded al-Qaida.

      In Lebanon six months ago, the Beirut Center for Research and Information found that over 80% of the Lebanese population said they supported Hizbullah.

      And do I need also to mention that a majority of Palestinians backed Hamas in parliamentary elections last year? Sure, there are also places where support for violent jihad is not as high. As Reuters reported on October 15, just 10 percent of Indonesian Muslims said they backed jihad and supported bomb attacks on the island of Bali aimed at foreign tourists.

      But Indonesia is home to more than 200 million Muslims, so while 10 percent may sound like a small number percentage-wise, it is actually quite large in absolute terms. It means there are some 20 million Muslims in Indonesia alone who are willing to say out loud that they support the use of violence and terror against innocent human beings.

      Since when is that a "marginal few"? The question of whether a "tiny" or "sizable" minority backs the global jihad is far more than just one of semantics. It goes to the very nature of the struggle that Israel and the West now find ourselves in.

      The figures above, taken from a variety of nations, continents and contexts, all point in one very ominous direction. They demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the global jihadist movement enjoys a wide and broad base of support that extends far beyond just a minuscule number of supporters.


      POLITICIANS and journalists might wish to believe, as we all do, that the backers of violent jihad are few and far between, and that they do not represent large numbers of people with like-minded extremist views. But that is simply not the case.

      The arithmetic of jihad is quite straight-forward, and it is time we stopped looking the other way and pretending otherwise.

      The threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism to Israel and the West can, and must, be met. With determination and a sense of purpose, victory is not out of reach.

      But the longer we continue to underestimate the extent of the problem, the more difficult it will be to defeat it.

      So let's put aside all that wishful thinking, and roll up our collective sleeves and get to work. Like it or not, the war on terror still faces a long road ahead.

      --- from the January 31 Jerusalem Post

      Shevat 11, 5767, 1/30/2007

      Egypt's Failure to Combat Terror

      Site_of_the_eilat_suicide_bombingThe suicide bombing in Eilat yesterday, which killed three Israelis, should raise some serious questions about Egypt's unwillingness, or inability, to combat terror.

      Based on their initial investigations, Israeli authorities now say that the Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack had infiltrated into Israel from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai peninsula.

      Last year alone, in 2006, Israel is said to have captured over 100 Palestinian terrorists who tried to sneak in from Sinai. These included suicide bombers, weapons experts and other terrorists plotting to carry out various types of attacks. All this took place right under the nose of the Egyptians.

      Moreover, Egypt has allowed Palestinian terrorists a free hand in smuggling weapons, personnel and funds into Gaza, essentially ignoring Israeli protests and pleas.

      And in the past 30 months, there have been three Al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks in Sinai aimed at Israeli and foreign tourists – the October 2004 bombings in Taba and Ras Shitan, the July 2005 attack in Sharm el-Sheikh, and the April 2006 bombings in Dahab – which left 120 people killed.
      Despite receiving $2 billion in American aid each year, Egypt is hardly doing anything to stop the territory under its control from turning into a base of anti-Israel and anti-Western terror.

      It is hard to say whether these failures signify Egyptian malice or incompetence, or a combination of the two.

      But one thing is clear: despite receiving $2 billion in American aid each year, Egypt is hardly doing anything to stop the territory under its control from turning into a base of anti-Israel and anti-Western terror.

      And for that alone, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should be called to account. Instead of heaping smiles and praise on him, as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did during her visit to the region a few weeks ago, it is time for Washington and Jerusalem to turn up the heat on the Egyptian autocrat, and send him a clear and unequivocal message: crack down on the terrorists who are turning Egypt and Sinai into a base of operations.

      Shevat 9, 5767, 1/28/2007

      The Silence of the Left

      It was a bloody weekend in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, but you'd never know it from the silence of the left.

      Fatah_kidnaps_hamas_leader_in_shechemFor the past few days, a mini civil war has been raging between Fatah and Hamas, two of the Palestinian terror factions vying for power, and the result isn't pretty: 25 Palestinians killed by fellow Palestinians, including at least two children.

      The two groups have also been kidnapping each other's members, with over 50 Palestinians abducted in the past 48 hours alone.

      Hamas and Fatah loyalists have also been firing mortar rounds at each other's offices, directing gunfire at each other's homes, and planting bombs in an effort to kill their rivals.

      Interestingly, this spate of intra-Palestinian violence has been largely ignored by the left, and for good reason. The sight of Palestinians kidnapping, shooting and killing each other does little to advance their goal of establishing a Palestinian state and getting rid of the "territories", so the left would rather look the other way and disregard this entire messy affair.

      But hiding one's head in the sand is no way to formulate policy or to run a country. What is taking place now in Gaza and elsewhere just serves to underline once again, in very dramatic fashion, just how dangerous it would be to give the Palestinians a state of their own.

      Look – and learn. The left might prefer to remain silent - but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to as well.