Short takes: Hamas likes mosque, AP distorts, Harvard doesn’t divest

Hamas supports Ground Zero mosque

One of the objections to the proposed Ground Zero mosque has been that radical Islamists around the world will understand it as a triumphalist symbol of America’s defeat at the hands of Islam. Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar didn’t exactly say that, but he came close:

Two days after President Obama came out in support of a plan to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, the controversial project has received yet another high-profile endorsement – this one from the chief of the terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places,” stated Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is regarded as the chief of the group in Gaza.

Zahar said that as Muslims, “We have to build everywhere.”

It can’t be helpful to Barack Obama to find himself on the same side as Hamas!


AP blames Israel for Palestinian intransigence

Here’s what I read this morning in the Fresno Bee:

By Karin Laub, Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel will not accept conditions for resuming direct negotiations with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Cabinet ministers affirmed in a meeting late Sunday, reflecting a hard line just as invitations to the talks appeared to be near.

“Hard line?” Are you nuts, Karin Laub? Netanyahu has been agreeing to direct talks without preconditions for months. What could be less hard line than that? Isn’t the function of negotiations to, er, negotiate?

The Palestinian Authority (PA), on the other hand, has refused to talk unless their demands are met in advance. In Laub’s words,

Abbas wants Israel to accept the principle of Palestinian statehood in the lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast war with minor modifications, and wants all Jewish settlement building to stop during negotiations.

I’ll note yet again the deliberately misleading formulation “Jewish settlement building” to mean “any construction activity outside 1949 lines,” suggesting that Israel is building new settlements or even expanding the boundaries of existing ones, which has not happened for years.

The PA wants negotiations to pick up where they left off when various generous offers — the Clinton-Barak ideas of 2000-1, and Olmert’s 2008 proposal — were made. Of course, these were presented by Israel as absolute final offers, which were rejected by the PA as inadequate. It’s ludicrous for them to become starting points for new talks, in which the PA will demand even more — not to mention that the response to the Clinton-Barak offer was to start a war.

The AP’s original headline, “Israel: No conditions for talks with Palestinians” is not so  bad. My friends at the Bee changed it to this: “Israel refuses conditions on talks”, to make sure that everyone gets the message that it’s Israel’s fault.

What are my neighbors in Fresno likely to think when they read this propaganda disguised as news?


Harvard does not divest

Some blogs and even mainstream media sources have been saying that Harvard University’s endowment fund has ‘divested’ from Israel. Actually, what happened is that Israel’s economy is so good that its stocks have been shifted from an ’emerging country’ index to a ‘developed country’ one. Harvard rebalanced its portfolio by selling some stocks in Israeli companies and buying some from ’emerging’ countries.

And they probably had a nice capital gain, too.

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