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Ahmadinejad: Iran Does Not Want to Go to War


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that his country has no intention of going to war with any other country, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.

In the past, Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. The Islamic Republic has not allowed full international inspection of its nuclear development program, which, it insists, is for purely peaceful purposes. Iran has threatened to retaliate against any action taken against its nuclear installations, and on Wednesday unveiled a missile capable of reaching Israel.

Haniyeh Recognized Israel in 2006 Letter to Bush

By Ha'aretz

A few months after Hamas' 2006 election victory, leader Ismail Haniyeh tried to start a dialogue with President George W. Bush.

Ha'aretz has obtained a written message from Haniyeh sent to Bush via an American professor who met with Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh asked Bush to lift the boycott of the Hamas government and pressure Israel to maintain stability in the region.

On June 6, 2006, Haniyeh met Dr. Jerome Segal of the University of Maryland in the Gaza Strip. Segal had been involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for many years and was one of the first Americans to meet Palestine Liberation Organization leaders in the late 1980s, even passing messages from senior PLO figures to then Secretary of State George Schultz. However, the relationship was severed during the Bush administration.

At the time of the meeting, Hamas was trying to establish its three-month-old government under an international boycott. The Quartet for Middle East peace had called on the organization to recognize Israel, disavow terror and honor existing agreements.

At the end of the meeting, Haniyeh dictated a short message he asked Segal to transmit to Bush. Haniyeh spoke Arabic and Youssuf translated his words into English. Segal took down the letter in his notebook and Haniyeh and Youssuf both signed it.

Haniyeh wrote in the missive, "We are an elected government which came through a democratic process." In the second paragraph, Haniyeh laid out the political platform he maintains to this day. "We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don't mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years," he wrote.

Haniyeh called on Bush to launch a dialogue with the Hamas government. "We are not warmongers, we are peace makers and we call on the American government to have direct negotiations with the elected government," he wrote. Haniyeh also urged the American government to act to end the international boycott "because the continuation of this situation will encourage violence and chaos in the whole region."

Upon his return to the U.S. several days later, Segal gave State Department and NSC officials the original letter.

In his own letter, Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas' de facto recognition of Israel. He noted that in a separate meeting, Youssuf suggested that the Palestinian Authority and Israel might exchange ambassadors during that truce period. This was not the only covert message from Hamas to senior Bush administration officials. However, Washington did not reply to these messages and maintained its boycott of the Hamas government.

Dershowitz Helped to Prevent Carter from Speaking at Democratic Convention

By Shalom TV

In an exclusive Shalom TV interview, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz revealed that he was among those who convinced Barack Obama to keep Jimmy Carter from addressing the Democratic National Convention.

"I pushed him very hard to make that decision," Dershowitz explained "Barack Obama had to make a choice between his Jewish supporters and his anti-Israel supporters like Jimmy Carter, and he did not choose Jimmy Carter. And that was an embarrassment for Jimmy Carter and a show of disrespect. And I'm very glad he made that decision. It was a good decision, a wise decision, a moral decision."

Speaking to fears among some American and Israeli Jews that Obama will be less supportive of the State of Israel than President Bush, Dershowitz predicted that Obama "will try to energize the peace process." Moreover, Dershowitz sees Obama's support in the pro-Palestinian community as an opportunity for the president-elect to move the peace process forward.

"The fact there are some in the Pro-Palestinian community who like him may be a positive thing--that he can reach out to both communities and be an honest broker who, without compromising Israel's security, can facilitate a kind of peace that will be both in the best interests of Israel and the best interests of the Palestinian people. I have a high level of confidence--not perfect confidence--but a high level of confidence that he will do the right thing."

Dershowitz also acknowledged that he received thousands of emails from Jews opposing Obama during the election campaign. While some emails where thoughtful and expressed legitimate concerns, Dershowitz is convinced that many were from "extreme right-wing Jews" and were "out-and-out racist. As Jew I was appalled by some of the racism that I saw in some of the emails that I got."

Galilee Bedouins Claim Obama as a Relative

By The London Times

President-elect Barack Obama has a host of relatives in exotic locations from Hawaii to Kenya, and during his run for the American presidency he discovered that he had an aunt living in Boston.

Now Barack Obama is being claimed by not one but as many as 8,000 Bedouin tribesmen in northern Israel. Although the spokesman for the lost tribe of Obama has yet to reveal the documentary evidence that he says he possesses to support his claim, people are flocking from across the region to pay their respects to the "Bedu Obama" whose social standing has gone through the roof.

"We knew about it years ago but we were afraid to talk about it because we didn't want to influence the election," Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah, a 53-year-old local council member, told The Times in the small Bedouin village of Bir al-Maksour in the Israeli region of Galilee. "We wrote a letter to him explaining the family connection."

Obama's team has not responded to the letter so far but that has not dampened Sheikh Abdullah's festivities. He has been handing out sweets and huge dishes of baklava traditional honey-sweetened pastries to all and sundry, and plans to hold a large party next week at which he will slaughter a dozen goats to feed the village.

It was his 95-year-old mother who first spotted the connection, he says. Seeing the charismatic senator on television, she noted a striking resemblance to one of the African migrant workers who used to be employed by rich sheikhs in the fertile north of British Mandate Palestine in the 1930s.

The Africans would sometimes marry local Bedouin girls and start families, though, like many migrant workers, would just as frequently return home after several years. One of those men was a relative of Obama's Kenyan grandmother, Sheikh Abdullah maintains.

He estimates that his tribe extends to as many as 8,000 members, all of them loosely connected to the African-American senator for Illinois.

Sheikh Abdullah swears that he has papers and pictures to back up his claim but has promised his mother not to divulge them until he has presented them to Obama; something he hopes will happen once his "relative" is in the White House. "We want to send a delegation to congratulate him, and we know we'll get an answer soon," he grinned.

Sheikh Abdullah's recognition as the relative of the soon-to-be most powerful man on Earth has spread like wildfire among the Arab community of northern Israel, and especially among Bedouin, a formerly semi-nomadic group of pastoralists.

Two baby boys born into the sheikh's large clan have even been named Obama. "We knew he'd win," the sheikh said, constantly interrupted by a barrage of phone calls from well-wishers and those hoping to cash in on his newfound wasta, an Arabic term denoting influence or clout (proteksia in Hebrew). "We have always been a lucky family.

"We hope he'll end all wars and intervene here to solve our problems in Israel. The Bedouin are the people who suffer the most here," he added while greeting a well-wisher from Ghajar, an Arab town divided between Israel and southern Lebanon, the bitter legacy of the Jewish state's long occupation of southern Lebanon.

"We hope to God that Obama will solve the problem of Ghajar," said Sheikh Issam al-Khalil, a leading citizen of the divided town, whose residents mostly speak Hebrew and Arabic but many of whom consider themselves as originally Syrian.

"Everyone is talking about [Sheikh Abdullah's ties to Obama] . . . They believe it. The sheikhs from all the villages are talking about it. There's a whole delegation of Druze leaders coming from the Golan Heights to congratulate him."

The history of the Middle East is littered with the stories of false messiahs and their brief followings. For the time being, Sheikh Abdullah is greeting a dozen respectful visitors a day, basking in the reflected glory of what would be not only the first African-American President but the first one who could claim kinship with an entire clan of Bedouin.

Rahm Emanuel Apologizes for Father's Disparaging Remarks about Arabs

By Reuters

President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to an Arab-American group on Thursday for comments disparaging Arabs made by his father.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to Emanuel calling on him to distance himself from remarks made by the elder Emanuel in an interview with an Israeli newspaper following his son's appointment last week.

In the interview, Benjamin Emanuel was reported as saying: "Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

While some political analysts have said Rahm Emanuel, a veteran Democratic congressman, should not be held responsible for the actions of his father, there was also a sense that an apology was unavoidable.

"Today, Rep. Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, apologized on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future," a statement from his office said.

The committee, in a statement on its website, said Emanuel told Oakar it was unacceptable to make such remarks against any ethnic or religious group. "From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and me. These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family," the group quoted him as saying.

Oakar welcomed the apology, saying: "We cannot allow Arabs and Muslims to be portrayed in these unacceptable terms."

Some commentators in the Middle East have raised concern about the appointment of Emanuel, who has a pro-Israel record, suggesting he could use his position to influence Obama's policies in the region. But political analysts and Emanuel himself this week dismissed such suggestions. The congressman said Obama did not need his influence to "orientate his policy toward Israel."

The chief of staff position serves as one of the closest advisers to the president and typically can decide who gains access to the president, while also developing administration policies.

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