The Day In Israel: Tues Dec 14th, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again ranted against Israel, this time during a meeting with another Gaza “aid” convoy.

Ahmadinejad

"Oy gevalt, these Je..I mean Zionists..must be destroyed!"

The members of the Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine convoy met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Monday.

The members of the aid convoy began their journey to the besieged territory of Gaza in India, travelled through Pakistan, and then arrived in Sistan-Baluchestan Province in southern Iran on Wednesday. After travelling through Kerman, Yazd, Isfahan, and Qom, they arrived in Tehran Province on Monday. They will continue their journey through Zanjan and Tabriz and then cross into Turkey.

Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic, along with other countries, will always make efforts to help Palestinians, including the besieged Gazans, attain their freedom and rid themselves of the Zionist regime.

He stated that the most important problem of the modern world is the existence of the Zionist regime.

The Zionist regime was established in order to help the hegemonistic powers’ efforts to dominate the entire world, he observed.

Crimes like humiliating people, conducting terrorist acts, selling people into slavery, and depriving people of their basic rights, which have been committed in the world throughout history, are now committed almost every day in Palestine, he stated.

He went on to say that the Zionists are neither Jewish, nor Christian, nor Muslim, but rather, they are unbelievers who also do not care about basic human values.

The Zionists are pursuing only one mission and that is to destroy the culture of other nations, Ahmadinejad noted.

Today, everybody knows that Palestine is not a conflict between Arabs and Jews or between Muslims and Jews, but rather, it is a global issue that should be solved globally, he said.

And there’s more:

“The settlement of the Palestinian issue and wiping the Zionist regime off the occupied territories is a humane and global responsibility,” Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with members of the Asian continent’s first humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza in Tehran on Monday.

Stressing that existence of the Zionist regime is the most important problem for humanity today, he said, “The behavior of the usurper regime is an insult to all human beings and man’s identity has been despised by this regime.”

Well, professing a wish that we are wiped off the occupied territories actually sounds like an improvement from his previous statements that Israel should be wiped off the map.

He’s clearly becoming more moderate!

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

7:55PM: We’ve pissed off the smallest Muslim country in the world..by trying to help them!

The Republic of Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean and the smallest Muslim country in the world, has been enraged in the past few days due to an Israeli delegation of eye surgeons who arrived to treat locals’ eyesight problems.

The Eye of Zion organization’s delegation was sent to the islands on behalf of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who renewed diplomatic relations with Israel only about a year ago. The relationship was frozen following the Yom Kippur War.

The purpose of sending Israeli experts was to improve the relations between the countries. But no one thought the Israeli doctors would be welcomed by raging demonstrations in front of their hotel, including Muslim demonstrators calling to banish the physicians and burning the Israeli flag.

Islamic opposition party Adhaalath and the Islamic Association of the Republic of Maldives officially claimed the Israeli doctors arrived to their country as part of an Israeli-Zionist conspiracy intended to harvest the organs of citizens and then steal them.

Looks like the only ones mistreating body parts are the Maldivians, who are biting the hand that feeds them.

4:10PM: From Hamas with love?

Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement has politicians sweeping streets to show community spirit, activists distributing chocolates and cards signed “from Hamas with love” and police officers visiting homes and schools to soften the often harsh image of the security forces.

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During a Muslim holiday in November, some 12,000 Hamas activists went door to door, distributing boxes of chocolate to more than 300,000 families, said Ashraf Abu Daya, a Hamas official. “We simply wanted to send a message that Hamas is still close to the street, despite being busy being in power and politics,” he said.

Each box had a holiday card signed “from Hamas with Love.”

In the run-up to the rally, Hamas politicians helped clean Gaza’s streets.

Last week, dozens of Hamas leaders and government officials, including Barhoum and Health Minister Bassem Naim, swept and shoveled dirt and debris in Omar al-Mukhtar Street, Gaza City’s main thoroughfare. In the Jebaliya refugee camp, Hamas lawmakers Mushir al-Masri and Ismail Ashqar walked the streets after sunset prayers and took notes as residents talked about their problems.

The third campaign, to last for 50 days, is aimed at improving the image of the security forces, said Col. Kamal Abul Nada, who heads the effort. He said officers have been visiting schools, mosques and clan chiefs to give talks. Police also sent out text messages with the phone numbers and e-mails of commanders so residents can lodge complaints. Officers have distributed flowers and sweets to drivers, helped farmers harvest crops and played soccer with children.

“Our aim is to erase the bad image that some ordinary people might have about the police,” the colonel said.

Reactions are mixed.

Taxi driver Marwan Abdel Fatah, used to arguing with traffic police, said he was shocked to get sweets at a police checkpoint instead of a traffic ticket, and was skeptical the bonhomie would last.

Talal Hamad, 45, who owns a warehouse for food supplies, said Hamas has done a good job, considering the tough circumstances.

But Maher, a 33-year-old Gaza shop owner and Fatah supporter who would not give his last name for fear of repercussions, said Hamas is trying to mislead the public. “Since they came to power, we have lived under blockade and no one enjoyed a good life, except for Hamas people,” he said.

10:50AM: A newly released Wikileak reveals that Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem considered former Australian PM and current Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to be “very pro-Israel.”

The Israeli ambassador to Australia found Kevin Rudd to be “very pro-Israel” and senior Australian diplomats warned the former prime minister that his condemnation of Iran risked retaliation against Australia’s embassy in Tehran, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

The secret cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to the Herald, reveal the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, was pleased with Mr Rudd’s “very supportive” attitude towards Israel’s position in the Middle East peace process and his strong attacks on the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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The leaked cables reveal that Israeli diplomats saw Mr Rudd as an important ally.

Mr Rotem told US officials in July 2008 that during his first meeting with Mr Rudd after the 2007 federal election, the newly elected prime minister had described Mr Ahmedinejad as a ”loathsome individual on every level” and that his anti-Semitism ”turns my stomach”.

The US embassy noted that while opposition leader, Mr Rudd had taken a “very strong stance” on Iran, including calling for Mr Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for his calls for the destruction of Israel.

The Israeli ambassador said that the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Michael l’Estrange, and the director-general of the Office of National Assessments, Peter Varghese, had “met several times to convince the PM to think through the consequences of his rhetoric on Iran”.

“The Israeli ambassador believes PM Rudd is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear program and firm in his desire to do whatever possible to signal Australia’s opposition to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” the embassy reported. “The Israelis believe Rudd is very firm in his overall support for Israel.”

Asked by the US embassy about whether Mr Rudd’s views on Iran had elicited any response, Mr Rotem said the Iranian government had reacted to the prime minister’s statements by taking ”retaliatory measures” against the Australian embassy in Tehran.

“These measures make it harder for the embassy to conduct its day-to-day business,” Mr Rotem observed.

The Australian government has never publicly acknowledged any Iranian response to Mr Rudd’s public criticism of Iran and its President.

Mr Rotem went on to tell the US embassy that Israel saw Australia “as playing an important role in the ‘global PR battle’ on Iran because PM Rudd is viewed favourably by the ‘European Left’, many of whom are sceptical about taking a tough line towards Tehran”.

The ambassador said Israeli officials would normally have been concerned at the prospect of a Labor government: “However, this was not the case because Rudd had long gone out of his way to stress his strong commitment to Israel and appreciation for its security concerns.”

”Commenting that DFAT officials are very frank in expressing their annoyance with the PM’s micromanaging of foreign policy issues, Rotem laughingly said that ‘while I understand their point of view, how can I complain about having that kind of attention from the PM’.”

The Israeli ambassador’s enthusiasm for the Labor government extended to the deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, with the US embassy reporting in January last year that Mr Rotem was “very satisfied” with the Australian response to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

“Rotem said he had been impressed with acting PM Julia Gillard, who has taken the lead in co-ordinating the [Australian government] public and private response to the Gaza fighting … Rotem said that Gillard and [national security adviser Duncan] Lewis have been very understanding of Israel’s military action, while stressing the need to minimise civilian casualties and address humanitarian concerns.”

Mr Rotem said Ms Gillard’s public statements surprised many Israeli embassy contacts as being “far more supportive than they had expected”.

Mr Rotem told his US counterparts that several senior Labor Party contacts had told him privately that Mr Rudd had been “a bit jealous of the attention garnered by Gillard” and that this led him to speak to the Gaza issue later in January 2009.

The ambassador added that he would be “playing to Rudd’s vanity” to encourage him to pay an early visit to Israel and continue to speak out in support of a hard line against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Kevin Rudd vain? I wouldn’t have guessed.

Meanwhile, yes, he seems supportive of Israel. But I wouldn’t get too carried away.

The revelation of Mr Rotem’s description of Mr Rudd last year comes as the Foreign Minister wraps up a visit to Cairo where he expressed concern that ”no real progress” has been made in the US-brokered Middle East peace process.

Following a weekend meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, Mr Rudd said Israeli settlements on Palestinian land were ”destroying” the chances of peace. He said he would visit Israel this week and reiterate his position, but added Israel had security fears that needed to be taken into account.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media