Sunday, September 28, 2008

Israelis4Obama's message for the High Holidays and beyond

Conventional wisdom puts the Israelis cheering for the white military guy, so this pro-Obama video is offbeat.
Peace seekers think a change in the white house might alter the rest of the world. It's aimed at eliminating fear. Changing it for Hope. Only a small percentage of US voters are Jewish,
so you wonder why they bother with a concerted campaign like this. It's oddly compelling.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mirren to play Mossad agent in new spy flick

Given the secret agent background of Israel's designated prime minister, Ms Tzipi Livni, a new Miramax spy film called "The Debt" couldn't be more topical. But Paris is not the setting for this new cloak and dagger thriller starring Dame Helen Mirren as a classy female secret agent; the action takes place in Berlin, Britain and Israel. Shooting will soon get underway for this big studio remake of last year's HaHov about the hunt for a reviled Nazi.

The Independent reports that

Producers for the The Debt confirmed yesterday that Mirren, 63, will play Rachel Singer, a Mossad agent who lies about killing a Nazi war criminal in the 1960s. She is forced to return to work when her alleged victim reappears three decades later.

The film's director, John Madden, who achieved success with Shakespeare in Love, said Mirren was perfect for the role, which he described as "a national celebrity and retired Mossad agent, a formidable and dignified woman grappling with years of emotional disappointment, suddenly confronted by a powerful and unexpected choice". Madden describes the script as an intense psychological thrill. "It is a tremendously compelling read."

Filming will begin next year in Israel, Germany and Britain. Jonathan Ross's wife, Jane Goldman, has written the English-language script. Kris Thykier, who co-produces the film, said yesterday: "The film is about three Mossad agents who are sent into East Berlin in the 1960s to extract a man known as the 'Surgeon of Birkenau' who is masquerading as a real doctor. The capture goes wrong and, 30 years later, Mirren's character is sent back to do the job again."

For the earlier scenes, Rachel Singer will be played by a younger actress. Mirren will play the Mossad agent in the present day. Further details of the film are being kept under wraps but it is a reworking of HaHov, a little-known but well-received Hebrew-language film from last year, directed by the Israeli director Assaf Bernstein.

In Bernstein's version, Rachel Singer and the two other agents are hailed as heroes after they claim to have killed the Surgeon of Birkenau. The Nazi war criminal in fact survived the assassination attempt and the agents have to live with the knowledge that their hero status is based on a lie.

Three decades later, a decrepit old man suffering from dementia claims to be the Surgeon. The agents fear their deception will be exposed to the public and are torn over whether they should return to their original mission.

Secret power: Mossad

*Mossad – translated as "institution" – is the Hebrew nickname given to Israel's foreign intelligenceservices. Alongside Shin Bet (internal security) and Aman (militaryintelligence), it is charged with defending the state of Israel. Officially known as the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, Mossad traces it roots to the anti-British struggle in Palestine. Mossad's "Kidon" department has executive powers to carry outkidnappings and assassinations.

Phone Atone for the holidays

From my good friend Shari in the US of A, a message to my readers.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Macca, older than Israel, rocks Tel Aviv

Some killjoys were snarling about rapacious ticket prices, unwilling to boost the alimony of the world's most famous one-legged divorcee, Heather Mills. And death threats were issued against Paul--now half of the remaining Beatles-- if he dared to perform in Israel some four decades after Zionist bureaucrats banned the ultimate boy band. By now, the Fab Four is on the verge of becoming the doddering duo. But for two and a half hours, the sexagenarian Paul MacCartney (the cute one) put on quite a show last night. In the West Bank, at a Bethlehem music school, he had showed off his chops on the harmonica--but a hoped-for free concert for Palestinians failed to materialize.
He avoided Ramallah for security reasons after flash-mobs started to assemble for a protest demonstration at the music school there. Give Peace a Chance, anyone?

The Pipes of Peace or Live and Let Die? It must have been a tough choice for Paul McCartney, writes James Hider of The Times, considering the message of brotherly love that he hoped to disseminate with his first concert in Israel, a country under constant attack from militants of all stripes that prides itself on offing its foes with Bond-like ruthlessness.

Luckily for the crowd in Tel Aviv, McCartney put a bullet through the head of the insipid little peace ditty and opted for the James Bond setpiece that turned around what had been, up until then, a rather uninspired start.

It lit up the stage in a volcanic eruption of fireworks that must have been visible in the hills of the West Bank, where the Palestinian leadership were sulking about being snubbed by the ex-Beatle.

For a man six years older than the country in which he was playing, Macca gave an energetic performance, once he found his stride. The start of the show was not promising, with a few blander Beatles pop numbers like You say hello interspersed with some maudlin, instantly forgettable songs from the Wings years. Like Israel, McCartney bears a particularly heavy burden of the past, and he must have noticed how the crowd seized up for many of his solo efforts, only to come alive again once he steered back to favourites penned with John Lennon.

The high point of the first half was a tribute to his old writing partner, Give Peace a Chance, which struck a chord with the war-calloused crowd. After the last notes died away, one middle-aged man with a child on his shoulders and a heavy Israeli accent kept shouting, “Give peace a chance, give peace a chance,” as though he was channeling the trampled ghost of the Oslo Accords.

The problem with a Paul McCartney concert is that the Beatles songs are so familiar that they tend to resemble a karaoke session at an old people’s home, while the Wings numbers have a hazy, half-forgotten quality, with the uncanny ability to dredge up memories of grey Sundays on damp Welsh holidays in the 1970s — even on a warm Tel Aviv night.

Even worse was his foray into his very latest oeuvre. When he began last year’s mandolin-inspired Dance Tonight with a sprightly little jig, he looked up and noticed that he was the only person in Hayarkon Park actually moving, as though 40,000 people had suddenly, spontaneously, decided to play a round of grandmother’s footsteps.

It was only after Live and Let Die that McCartney seemed to find his stride, whipping up the crowd with rocking performances of Back in the USSR’ (with an amusing background video of May Day parades and dancing Cossacks, which must have brought back happy memories to members of the million-strong Russian community) before letting rip with Hey Jude and Get Back, when he finally got the reaction that he’d been looking for all evening: pure joy.

When the Beatles craze was sweeping the world four decades ago, Israel rather prudishly declined to allow the Fab Four to play. That decision made Israel wait 43 years before a Beatle would play here. Judging by the imploring crowd, it was worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Black Beemer runs over platoon of IDF soldiers; Arab driver shot at the wheel

Helicopters buzz overhead tonight at 2 in the morning. As it's Ramadan, people are still up. There's unrest in Jerusalem and an Arab driver was just shot dead near Jaffa Gate. He had plowed his black BMW sedan into a big group of soldiers who were waiting to cross the road to the Old City. Two of the 15 injured Israelis were banged up pretty badly and all went to the Ein Karem hospital. After two shots, the car came to a halt straddling the old green line; the 19 year old driver, Qassem al-Mughrabi, of the al-Farouk area of Jabel Mukaber, East Jerusalem, had a permit to live there, but no driver's license. Police said the driver had "turned" his car and ran over the group of soldiers and students on purpose. His family insisted it was an accident and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
I do wish Israeli bystanders would refrain from taking it upon themselves to be judge and jury, by "shooting to kill". The car already had stopped. There may have been concerns about a possible suicide vest. But if this were an Israeli plowing into a group of Arabs, it would be classified as a traffic accident. End of story. This perturbs me.

A couple of Arabs who strayed through this strategic crossroads were beaten up by groups of rampaging Frum, ultra-orthodox religious Jews, who crossed into the old city en masse, shouting anti-Arab slogans. With haste, the police labelled this a "terror attack" It might have been a guy losing control of a car, instead of a suicide bomber on a mission. That latter possibility is sobering. It feels tense, very tense, outside. The choppers are still whirling up there. And the moon looks swollen.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barak and Bibi 'plotting new coalition' to grab power

Originally uploaded by Tzipi Livni
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu are secretly teaming to deny the premiership to the discredited Kadima Party, according to press reports in Jerusalem. The Foreign Minister and ex-Mossad agent Tzipi Livni, pictured here, is heading exit polls tonight and tipped to win the party leadership. Will this dubious duo thwart her ascent and let Bibi grab power? Kadima, which means forward, is not taken aback by the rumors by the rightwing website. It may be wishful thinking on their part. But anything is possible.

Elections were underway Wednesday to determine the next leader of Kadima, replacing the resigning current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Under normal circumstances the winner of the Kadima election would automatically replace Olmert as prime minister and attempt to establish a new parliamentary majority.

But unnamed sources told the Israeli Web site that Barak, a member of the Labor Party, and Netanyahu are having secret discussions to form a Labor-Likud majority coalition and deny the premiership to the next Kadima leader.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz are the favorites to succeed Olmert as Kadima Party leader.

DEBKAfile's sources say under a Barak-Netanyahu deal to be presented to Israel's president, the Likud leader would become prime minister and serve until a general election at the end of next year, and after that would hand off the premiership to Barak.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ultra-Orthodox vigilantes patrol Jerusalem

Considering oneself "holier than thou" is not an acceptable excuse for striking out. And somehow, worrying incidents linked to extremist fundamentalist views invariably hit out against women. There's a common thread of common brutality that ties together patriarchal monotheistic cultures. Lately, the most conservative ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem have begun to dispatch self-appointed modesty patrols which, in action, are not too different from those despicable goons armed with whips who circulated Kabul for the Taliban's ministry for propagation of virtue and suppression of vice. The AFP interviewed the anonymous witness, who still is cowering from these so-called religious men:

Shaking as she recalled her brutal beating at the hands of Jewish ultra-Orthodox vigilantes, a 28-year-old Jerusalem woman who would only identify herself as M. said she feared for her life.

Some residents say the self-styled "modesty squads" are spreading terror among those seen as straying from the strict moral code demanded of the ultra-Orthodox in the more conservative neighbourhoods of the Holy City.

There life revolves largely around the study of holy texts and a strict dress code that has men sporting black coats and wide-brimmed hats and women covering their heads, arms and legs.

Two weeks ago police arrested two alleged members of a modesty patrol accused of brutally beating M.

The gang allegedly gagged her, hit her, kicked her and said she would be killed if she did not move out of the ultra-Orthodox Maalot Dafna neighbourhood.

"They beat me up, tied me up and threatened to kill me," M. said, holding back her tears. "Who will prevent them from killing me?"

Neighbours had complained of what they called the divorcee's "indecent" lifestyle, which in such neighbourhoods can mean anything from wearing trousers to meeting men in private.

"I don't know why I was treated this way. What has my life got to do with those guys," said M., who until three years ago was married to a Haredi -- a term used to describe the most theologically conservative form of Judaism.

Police have also detained a man accused of torching a store in an ultra-Orthodox district that sold what some residents considered "immoral" clothing.

In Mea Shearim, a Haredi bastion where streets are sealed off for the Jewish day of rest and satellite dishes are considered a sign of heresy, an electronics store has become the latest target of the morality squads.

A young man, sporting the distinctive Haredi sidecurls, beard, black garb and hat, stood outside the store handing out pamphlets.

He said the store was threatening the morals of the community by selling MP4 players that would allow buyers to view indecent movies in their homes.

"This shop corrupts the neighbourhood youth," the man said. "We will fight until they stop selling these impure devices."

David, a salesman at the store, said he is an Orthodox Jew but believes that the protesters who have picketed outside for weeks "are spreading terror in the neighbourhood".

"They burned down our stocks, nothing will stop them," he said, declining to give his family name for fear of being singled out for attack.

In June, a 14-year-old Mea Sharim resident was taken to hospital with burns after an attacker hurled acid at her.

Israeli media said that at the time of the attack the girl had been wearing loose-fitting trousers and a short-sleeved shirt, enough to provoke the ire of religious fanatics.

In 2006, a 50-year-old American-Israeli woman was viciously attacked by four men because she refused to go to the back of a bus while on holiday in Jerusalem. The bus was not one of the sex-segregated lines Jerusalem runs to accommodate Haredi preferences.

In addition to violence within the Haredi community, Israel has also seen tensions between religious and secular Jews over the course of its 60-year history.

The ultra-Orthodox have led violent protests against swimming pools, cinemas and other establishments they consider immoral for failing to segregate the sexes or sacrilegious for opening on the Sabbath.

Meny Schwartz, who heads the religious Kol Haredi radio station, said the modesty patrols have been around for years, with the full approval of religious leaders, but appear to have become increasingly violent.

"For some weeks we've been seeing excesses," he said.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Armed airport guards made him dance. And even demanded an encore

An American performer on tour in Israel, who happens to be married to a Jewish wife, tells the Associated Press how airport security at Ben Gurion made him dance. The dancer didn't charge them for his professional services, and chalks the experience up to the his 70s-era Black Muslim name. Profiling is standard procedure in Israel. At least Bishop Desmond Tutu, who visited earlier this year, was not expected to pull out a tutu and dance for the guards' scrutiny. (Hat tip to C. Gunness)

A performer with the famed Alvin Ailey dance troupe on Tuesday said he was twice forced to perform steps for Israeli airport security officers to prove his identity before he was permitted to enter the country.

Abdur-Rahim Jackson, an eight-year veteran of the dance ensemble, said he was singled out by Israel's renowned airport security because he has a Muslim name. He called the experience embarrassing and said at one point, one of the officers even suggested he change his name.

"To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit," said Jackson, who is black.

Israel is the first stop on a six-nation tour celebrating the New York-based dance company's 50th anniversary. Earlier this year, Congress passed a resolution calling the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater a "vital American cultural ambassador to the world."

Jackson said he was pulled aside from other members of the troupe when they arrived at Israel's international airport on Sunday night. He said he was taken to a holding room, where he was asked about the origins of his name. When he explained he was part of the dance group, he was asked to perform.

"I stood up. I asked what type of dance?" he explained. "He said, "Just do anything.' I just moved around."

Minutes later, he said a female officer put him through a similar interrogation and asked him to dance again.

"The only time I'm really expected to dance is when I'm performing," he said.

Jackson said he received his name because his father was a convert to Islam. Jackson said he was not raised a Muslim, does not consider himself religious and is engaged to a Jewish woman in the troupe who has relatives in Israel.

Jackson said he did not plan to press the matter further, saying the numerous apologies he has received from American dignitaries and his Israeli hosts is "enough for me." The Israel Ports Authority said it had no comment because it did not receive a formal complaint.

The incident was reported in Israel's largest newspaper and on an Israeli television news and interview program. "The security guards should be sent home or (the airport) will become a mental asylum," said Motti Kirshenbaum, a veteran commentator and host of the Channel 10 TV program.

Israel is constantly on the alert for attack because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and extremist Islamic rejection of the Jewish state's existence. Security is strict at all entry points and inside the country.

Israel is famous for the effectiveness of its airport security. But a key element in its security checks is ethnic profiling. The practice has been criticized by Israeli human rights campaigners as racist because it singles out Arabs for tougher treatment.

Such profiling is illegal in the United States, but Jackson said that the only place he has had the similarly humiliating experience of being forced to dance in the past was at a U.S. airport when he returned from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. He did not say when or where that took place.

Jackson said that since the Israeli airport incident, the reception in Israel has been "amazing."

"We're only here to bring positive light to our lives and the people here," he said, calling the group's multicultural appeal "an amazing bind you can't touch, you can only experience."

Israeli Kidnap threat irks Iran

Even though few intelligence analysts are taking it seriously, there's a new kidnap threat out against the Iranian leader, Mahmoud "i'm a dinner jacket" Ahmadinejad-- it's perhaps easier just to call him "Tux."
A former Mossad assassin and current cabinet member, Rafi Eitan, says Iran's head honcho should be snatched by Israeli agents to give the sponsors of Hezbollah a taste of their own medicine and obtain a bargaining chip.
Excerpts from an interview with Der Spiegel, translated by Checkpoint Jerusalem:

EITAN: Criminals have to answer for their crimes before a court of law.

SPIEGEL: Does the Mossad still hunt down old Nazis?

EITAN: That era is over. But that's not to say that such operations are completely a thing of the past.

SPIEGEL: What do you mean by that?

EITAN: It could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

SPIEGEL: Do you mean that seriously?

EITAN: Absolutely. Those who spread poison and want to eradicate another people has to expect such consequences.

Is Eitan serious?

Probably not.

Iran protested at the United Nations yesterday. But there's expected to be scant sympathy for Iran's objections to hostage-taking.

Monday, September 08, 2008

When politics gets personal, Israel suffers. Well, with guys like these in charge...

It's the opposite of the Republican convention tagline in Minneapolis/St Paul. Because of graft at the top, in Israel these days, country comes last, concludes Ben Caspit in today's Hebrew daily, Ma’ariv. It's a heartfelt rant, which sheds a light on the rancour inside the leadership. English translation below:

It is difficult to believe that not long ago they yearned for each other, conducted a torrid love affair behind Amir Peretz’s back and counted the days until they could unite publicly. Here they are, the two Ehuds, the prime minister and the defense minister, walking together towards a common future. Ha.
Their common future looks today like Hell. They are immersed in a sea of toxic gastric juices, giving each other grief, sitting opposite each other in the cabinet meeting with burning, terrifying eyes, pecking at each other’s livers and saying things about one another that are hard to imagine. Barak has succeeded in causing Olmert to again like, a little bit, sometimes, Tzippi Livni. Olmert will yet return Barak to the arms of Shimon Peres. Yes, things are that bad.
The problem is that both of them are right. Barak was right when he forced Olmert to vacate the scene, Olmert is right in what he says and thinks about Barak. This is neither the first time, nor the last, that our state leadership looks like a street fight between gangs in Harlem. It happened to Rabin and Peres, it happened to Bibi and Mordechai (and Levy, and Meridor, and many more), it happened to Barak and Ramon (and Levy, and Sarid, and everyone), it happened to Sharon and Bibi, it happened to Shamir, it happened to Ben-Gurion, it happened to Eshkol, it happened to Begin. It will happen to everyone.
The system of government in force here is destructive, impossible, it does not enable governing, decision-making, making long-term plans. The system makes everything personal, here and now. Everything is conditional. Every morning anew you have to count hands, bribe your way to the end of the day. No one is willing to see the other succeed at anything. Barak will not let Olmert make peace with the Syrians, because he wants to do it himself. Everyone makes their personal calculations. There is also a country here, but in the existing system the country comes last. Long live the primaries.
Besides that, yesterday was a sad day. In the cabinet meeting, and in general. A day of a sweeping police recommendation to file an unprecedented indictment against Israel’s prime minister. Eight o’clock in the evening, like clockwork, upon the start of the news editions, was also the hour of the recommendation. The public has long since lost its confidence in the prime minister, in his government, but also in the rest of the systems. The police, for example. The rule of law. Everyone, in the end, has their eye on 8:00 PM. And then too, what was published is far from what will happen. We are still waiting for the indictment against [president] Moshe Katsav for rape. Olmert will be indicted, that is clear, the question is for what, bribery? It’s not certain that it will be for that. But what difference does it make.
What was Olmert hinting at when he spoke about Barak’s sensitive leaks? About his damage to security? Two things are burning up the prime minister: The first is the fact that Barak said that Olmert had delayed the truce in Gaza when the reality, says Olmert, is the opposite. Barak, in his insane paranoia, was opposed to convening the security cabinet, and preferred to decide everything alone, just with Olmert, in a secret partnership.
The second thing is related to covert operations, in which Barak is trying to forcibly take credit he does not deserve. In Olmert’s drawer lie transcripts of recordings of discussions and work meetings that prove how Barak twists reality in his favor. Olmert tossed these transcripts in Barak’s face, but what does it matter now. It’s all history. So is Olmert.
This coming Wednesday, US [envoy] General Jones is supposed to come to Israel, in an attempt to organize the bottom line in advance of the end of George Bush’s term, with regard to the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Americans very much want to make a dramatic statement at the UN General Assembly session towards the end of September, they are talking about a presidential address, a joint document, a declaration of one kind or another, various formats and ideas. They want to promote this with the Israeli government, but where is the Israeli government? There is no Israeli government.
There is only Armageddon, investigations, leaks, reports, clashes, passions, envy, hatred and conflicting interests of candidates for the primary and just plain candidates. There is no law and no judge. A retired Supreme Court justice recommends on television that cabinet ministers receive psychological therapy, and a prime minister all but strangles his defense minister before his astounded ministers, and his defense minister, the same evening, at a gathering of the Labor Party (there is such a thing) in Haifa, reminds us: “Don’t forget, we’re all brothers.” As if we had forgotten.
Cartoon of Ehud Olmert in criminal mode by Ben Heine.

Friday, September 05, 2008

New Camo-chameleon suits due for IDF

Invisible troops just got more likely, according to press reports in Israel. It'll be a twist on that old Boy George tune, Camo-chameleon.
Hyper-camouflage patterns and heat-sensitive fabric are the results of new war research using US combat forces in Afghanistan, where the countryside is unforgivingly stark yet contrasts of sun and shade are sudden. These ideas have been incorporated into more effective gear that can change color and pattern to fit in with any likely battlefield.

The Israel Defense Forces is currently negotiating with an American company in a bid to acquire recently developed state-of-the-art camouflage uniforms.
To improve readiness on both Israel's northern and southern fronts, the IDF is seeking uniforms that can adapt to different physical surroundings and even seasons.
The U.S. Army developed the Chameleon Uniforms, following research on animal camouflage patterns, as a result of its presence in Afghanistan.

Of course, anyone with infra-red can still detect a disguised fighter, even in the dark. The Israeli army is known for its inventiveness, and it remains to be seen if they order new suits for guys who are not elite special forces. The standing army, including reserve troops, is estimeated at half a million.

The US Veepstakes viewed from Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, political wonks are not yet fully glued to the American vice presidential race, and some are more gripped by the upcoming city elections here, which will be a power struggle between the ultra-religious and the secular candidates. But considering there are 100,000 or so American absentee voters living in Israel, many as dual-citizens, the Jewish take on the 2008 election is worth considering. The common wisdom is that McCain is more trusted by Jews--but this has been turned on its head.

Biden misquotes broadcast on Army Radio and apocalyptic church Sermons that got Amens from Palin already are raising alarms for many Israelis, according to the latest on the Huffington Post.

While the American media obsess about whether Alaska Governor and aerial wolf-sniper Sarah Palin is ready for prime time and national office, many Israeli political buffs have been scrutinizing the 2008 vice presidential candidates in light of foreign policy issues.

Today, Sen. Joe Biden's photo was splashed on the front page of the conservative Jerusalem Post, which showed no pictures of the Barracuda from Wasilla or her photogenic family.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Israeli reporters in a phone interview yesterday that Israel doesn't need any green light from the United States in order to attack Iran over its nuclear program.

A broadcast on the official Army Radio station last week claimed that unnamed Israeli officials were preoccupied about the prospect of Biden as number two in the White House because they said he had ruled out an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and cautioned them that the region would eventually have to learn to live with A-bombs in Tehran.

Concerns were heightened in Jerusalem after Iranian officials boasted that 4000 atomic centrifuges were already enriching uranium for their nuclear energy program, with an additional 3000 ready for installation. Biden has warned that Israel is less secure now than before the Bush administration's ill-considered Middle East policies shifted the strategic balance in the region.

On Monday, the Obama-Biden campaign had "scathingly rejected" the unsourced broadcast as a partisan lie. "We will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden's 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel," Biden's press secretary, David Wade, said in a statement.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

"Joe Biden's first trip as a senator was to Israel. He has worked with every Israeli leader from Golda Meir to Prime Minister Olmert, and he takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting the relationship between Israel and the US," Wade added. "Senator Biden has consistently stated - publicly and privately - that a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat to Israel and the United States and that we must prevent a nuclear Iran."

Wade noted that only two months ago, in a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee - which Biden heads - the senator reiterated his long-held view on this subject by stating: "Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon would dramatically destabilize an already unstable region and probably fuel a nuclear arms race in the region. It is profoundly in our interest to prevent that from happening."

The Army Radio report asserted that Biden had expressed doubt over the effectiveness of economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The report also said Biden was against the opening of an additional military and diplomatic front, saying that the U.S. had more pressing problems, such as North Korea and Iraq.

Biden has a solid 36-year Senate record of pro-Israel leadership. He has called Israel "the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East" and declared himself a Zionist in an interview with a U.S. Jewish television channel last year, saying that "you don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."

The controversial Army radio report was issued after a newspaper story quoted intelligence sources from the Netherlands who predicted an American strike on Iran's nuclear program within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, local business reporters crowed that $35 million worth of security systems for Iran will soon be supplied through--get this-- an Israeli company. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly ordered over 70,000 units from Sonar Company via one of their branches in China. The company's owner, Yaakov Salman, said that it was "impossible" that the Iranians were unaware that the cutting edge system, which identifies hostile elements through radio waves, was developed by scientists in Israel.

Hostilities of the political sort certainly were evident on the convention room floor in Minnesota as Palin delivered her hard-hitting acceptance speech to adoring Republicans. Even though Palin had been sequestered most of the day for last-minute grooming, she interrupted her prep sessions to speak with members of the "frozen Chosen," Minnesota's Jewish community, and met with powerful Jewish lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to reassure them of her full commitment to Israel.

Much has been made of the miniature flag of Israel pinned to Palin's office drapes in the backdrop of widely circulated video.

Most pundits view its display as a sign of Palin's Christian Zionism, and note that the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus actively reaches out for funding and support from the estimated flock of 400,000 Evangelicals in America. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel has become a reliable touchstone for conservative grassroots campaigns for years.

More troubling videos have emerged showing evangelical sermons, attended by Palin and her large family, which blame the Jewish people's rejection of the Christian messiah for the violence visited upon them in Jerusalem for the past 60 years.

David Brickner, of Jews for Jesus, pointed out last month at Wasilla Bible Church how: "a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment--you can't miss it."

Even though Palin was quick to say she does not share these radical views-- in an instant replay of Obama stepping back from Reverend Jeremiah Wright's notorious remarks-- her born-again embrace of End Times prophecies does not play so well in a country which anticipates apocalypse coming from Tehran in the form of nuclear-tipped missiles.

Still Biden his time??