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Canada: Hizbullah is a `Cancer'


Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said on Tuesday that the terrorist organization Hizbullah is a `cancer' that was capable of breaking any ceasefire negotiated in the future. MacKay dismissed criticism of his government's pro-Israel position, but for the first time also had sharp words for the Jewish state. Israel's decision to bomb the Beirut airport had made the process of evacuating Canadian citizens from Lebanon much more difficult, he said.

Israeli Troops, Hizbullah Engage in Fierce Battles

By Ha'aretz

Israeli commandos landed by helicopter late Tuesday night near the Hizbullah stronghold of Baalbek in what Lebanese security sources described as a major operation against suspected Hizbullah positions.

Lebanese security sources said the troops landed as aircraft launched several strikes near Baalbek, which is located in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. One Lebanese officer said the IAF presence in the air above the ancient city was "unprecedented."

The operation began with at least five rapid air strikes three hours before the end of Israel's self-imposed two-day pause in air attacks. "The extreme, unprecedented number of aircraft indicates the possibility that the Israelis are planning to land troops, but we cannot yet confirm that," said one security official on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Early Wednesday, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV reported the group's "guerrillas" were fighting IDF ground troops west of Baalbek. The broadcast said fighters were involved in a "confrontation with an Israeli unit that landed near Al-Hikma Hospital west of Baalbek."

The IDF would not comment when asked about the Bekaa Valley operation. Israel Radio reported briefly on the Baalbek operation quoting reports from Lebanon with no local comment.

Baalbek is about 60 miles north of the Litani River, which Israel had set as a northern boundary for an expanded ground operation that was announced in the early hours Tuesday. IAF warplanes and helicopters started the operation on Baalbek and its surroundings at 10:20 p.m. (local time).

Baalbek, an ancient city with spectacular Roman ruins, was a former Syrian army headquarters and included the barracks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards when they trained Hizbullah terrorists there during the 1980s.

Hizbullah Praised Among Arabs

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Washington), & Ha'aretz

Israeli Army Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog said the Jewish state has destroyed about 70 percent of Hizbullah's medium and long-range rockets and their launchers, although the terrorist group is still believed to have thousands of shorter-range Katyusha rockets in its arsenal.

"The picture that I get from everybody in the know I speak with in Israel, until now Israel has seriously degraded Hizbullah's capability, very seriously," he said. "So it may not be the picture that is out there in the media, but they are suffering a very severe blow, which takes them back years."

In Ramallah and Nablus, on the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians waving Hizbullah flags and chanting "Nasrallah, bomb Tel Aviv!" rallied Tuesday in a show of support for the Lebanese terror group in its conflict with Israel.

The protesters set American flags on fire and voiced encouragement to the Iraqi insurgency to continue their attacks on US troops. The rally in Ramallah was organized by the Fatah movement, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

A stormy protest against Israel's anti-Hizbullah campaign in Lebanon took place in front of the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem on Tuesday morning. Five protesters were arrested when the demonstration, which included tens of Jewish and Arab participants, turned violent. Arab protesters at the event chanted slogans in praise of Hizbullah and its warlord-leader, Hassan Nasrallah. A police spokesperson said that officers were attacked by the crowd when they moved in to detain the event's organizer.

On Monday, dozens of anti-Israel demonstrators protested near the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC. Carrying signs that said "Murderers," "Death to Israel" and "Stop the Slaughter," the protesters decried Israel's ongoing military offensive against the Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Protests last week included a joint Arab-Jewish protest against the war in besieged Haifa on Tuesday. Hearing about the protest on television and the radio, outraged Haifa residents left their bomb shelters to hold a stormy counter-protest.

Hizbullah's Gruesome Use of Dead Children for Propaganda.

By Barry Shaw (Commentary)

Qana was a human tragedy in a sad war. Hizbullah, like all terror groups, selected to fight this war against civilian targets in Israel. They also purposely chose to launch their fight from strictly civilian areas to achieve maximum propaganda when Israel retaliated.

Now I am in possession of the most gruesome pictures of phony rescue workers using the dead bodies of children for propaganda purposes. I am refraining from distributing them, despite the fact that they tell a story of inhuman abuse of the dead, and are clearly evidence of an international human rights crime.

Humanitarian rescue workers do not hold up the bodies of small children to waiting cameras. Humanitarian rescue workers do not remove the bodies of little girls from ambulances and parade them for the international media. Humanitarian rescue workers do not carry the bodies of children for hours for public viewing by incoming photographers and journalists.

This type of behavior shows dishonor and disrespect for the dead. This type of behavior is an international crime against human rights.

By inflaming the world with these staged pictures, Hizbullah has succeeded in changing public opinion. The international media have joined the frenzy to put out pictures and videos, thereby adding to the propaganda gain for Hizbullah.

By carefully examining the timeframes of the pictures it is clear that Hizbullah have committed a human rights crime by exploiting the bodies of dead children for propaganda purposes. Where is the outcry and criticism of such cynical use of dead children?

Court: Temple Mount Faithful Can Visit Holy Site


Israel's High Court of Justice ruled Tuesday to permit members of the Temple Mount Faithful movement to visit the Jerusalem holy site on Tisha B'Av, in the framework of an agreement the State Attorney's Office reached with the extreme-Right Jewish group.

The Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) Faithful Movement is an Orthodox movement, founded by Mideast Studies lecturer Gershon Salomon, which wishes to reestablish the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and re-institute the practice of ritual sacrifice.

Currently on the site of the Jewish Temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE, are Islamic holy sites, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. In the past, members of the movement have been forbidden access to the site out of fear they would spark clashes with Muslims.

The judges wrote in their verdict that, "After discussions…the following was agreed between the sides regarding Tisha B'Av: Those represented by the prosecution, with the exception of Gershon Salomon, can visit the Temple Mount during regular visiting hours for the public."

The ruling stipulated that the Temple Mount Faithful "could not carry any banners, could not wear extraordinary clothing, and could not behave provocatively." With that, the High Court authorized police forces to prevent the visitation should circumstances change or should the agreement be violated.

Among the Temple Mount Faithful there was apprehension that police would attempt to block the visits, and they were prepared to file complaints to the High Court of Justice.

Elements on the extreme-Right told Ynet, "It is our intention to bring hundreds of Jews to the Temple Mount Thursday, and among other things we plan to pray for the wellbeing of soldiers in the north. The Temple Mount is the heart of the nation, and as long as Israel doesn't control the Temple Mount, then we do not control all of Israel."

Disney Exec Backs Gibson

By Kim Masters (Commentary in Slate)

Are we really surprised at Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic outburst last week? After his wink-wink Holocaust denials in the past? Probably not. The question is whether Hollywood will continue to countenance him. Disney is set to release his next movie.

Oren Aviv, the new head of the Disney film studio, says he is prepared to forgive and forget. Aviv happens to be a committed member of the tribe that Gibson seems to blame for everything.

For those who might not remember, Gibson's father is a Holocaust denier, and Gibson, pressed on the subject before the opening of The Passion of the Christ, said Dad had never lied to him in his life.

He also offered some choice Holocaust-denier code talk: Many people died in World War II and some of them were Jews. And we've heard that he didn't quite take the Jewish blood-curse language out of his movie—just the English subtitle. Since our dead languages are rusty, fact-checking this is tricky. God knows if it's true, if you know what we mean. Gibson's publicist, Alan Neirob, declined to offer any enlightenment on the matter.

Gibson has apologized for his recent outburst and said he didn't mean what he said (which was, among other niceties, "Fucking Jews … The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world"). And of course, he was drunk. Certainly in our own limited experience with inebriation, we've never found ourselves inclined to articulate opinions utterly foreign to us. Given Gibson's Holocaust-denying history, it's hard to argue that he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Even in his apology, Gibson fudged. "I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone who I have offended," he said. "Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior." We can see that Gibson had a lot of ground to cover here—he threatened to get one cop fired and called another "sugar tits." But still—he can single out a few deputies for an apology without a word for millions of Jews? Asked why Gibson didn't address his slurs directly, publicist Nairobi offered a bold "No comment."

Disney is set to release Gibson's Apocalypto in December—the same Disney that recently announced plans to slash its staff and its production slate while it pursues more family-oriented movies worthy of the company brand. Certainly Apocalypto won't be one of those, as it deals with human sacrifice and the bloody fate of the Mayan people. You can be sure the subject has provided Gibson ample opportunity to indulge his well-established appetite for gore…

Back to more tangible concerns. One prominent producer says he already has an idea to help Disney maximize its gains on the upcoming Gibson Apocalypto by launching a new theme-park attraction. "You get in a speeding car," he suggests, "while a hologram of a drunken Mel Gibson follows you shouting 'F*****g Jew!' "

(Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.)

ABC Cancels Plans for Holocaust Programs


ABC television (owned by Walt Disney Studios) has announced it is canceling plans to host a mini-series based on the Holocaust which was scheduled to have been produced by Mel Gibson, or at least by one of his companies.

Although critics have pointed out that Gibson, who is widely considered by many Jews to be anti-Semitic in the wake of his movie The Passion of the Christ, should be prohibited from being involved with the planned program, ABC announced that the reason for canceling the plan is rather that two years have passed without significant progress on the project, since the first draft was submitted.

Gibson Seeks Meeting with U.S. Jewish Leaders

By Reuters

Actor Mel Gibson on Tuesday apologized for making anti-Semitic remarks after his recent arrest for drunken driving and asked to meet with members of the Jewish community to begin a "path for healing."

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark," Gibson said in a statement. "I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested," he added.

Gibson, who directed 2004's blockbuster movie "The Passion of The Christ" about the last hours of the life of Jesus, was caught speeding in his car in the early morning last Friday, and he went on a rant in which he is widely reported to have said "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department report, parts of which have appeared on celebrity Web site, is laced with anti-Semitic statements and expletives said by the actor.

His statement on Tuesday sought a meeting with Jewish community leaders in which he could explain his actions. "I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing," Gibson said. "I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery."

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