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Leaked: Israel’s battle plan over Palestinian UN bid

Israel has started mobilizing its embassies for the battle against UN recognition of a Palestinian
state in September, ordering its diplomats to convey that this would delegitimize Israel and foil
any chance for future peace talks.

Envoys are being asked to lobby the highest possible officials in their countries of service, muster
support from local Jewish communities, ply the media with articles arguing against recognition
and even ask for a call or quick visit from a top Israeli official if they think it would help.

Foreign Ministry Director General Rafael Barak and the heads of various ministry departments
sent out classified cables outlining the battle plan to the embassies over the past week, after
earlier ordering all the country’s diplomats to cancel any vacations planned for September. The
contents of the cables reached Haaretz and are reported here in full.

―The goal we have set is to have the maximum number of countries oppose the process of having
the UN recognize a Palestinian state,‖ Barak wrote to Israel’s ambassadors in his cable, which
was sent June 2. ―The Palestinian effort must be referred to as a process that erodes the
legitimacy of the State of Israel…
―The primary argument is that by pursuing this process in the UN, the Palestinians are trying to
achieve their aims in a manner other than negotiations with Israel, and this violates the principle
that the only route to resolving the conflict is through bilateral negotiations.‖

Each envoy was ordered to prepared a focused plan for the country in which he or she serves
and present it to the Foreign Ministry by today, June 10.

―The goal is to get the country in which you serve to vote against recognizing a Palestinian state,‖
Barak wrote. ―Your plan must include approaching the most senior politicians, mobilizing the
relevant force multipliers [such as local Jewish communities, nongovernmental organizations],
using the media, influencing local public opinion, and public diplomacy aimed at all the relevant

Barak also informed the emissaries that the ministry had established a ―September Forum‖
headed by the director of its Middle East Department, Yaakov Hadas.

―This team is analyzing possible Palestinian moves and the options open to Israel to foil the
process, and is putting together a diplomatic, public diplomacy and media plan,‖ Barak wrote.
―You are to report on your activities to the September Forum once a week.‖

―The mission that has been assigned to us is not an easy one,‖ the cable concluded. ―But I’m sure
that by joining forces, we will do the best we can to achieve the goal we’ve set for ourselves.‖

A Foreign Ministry source said the directive issued to ambassadors by both Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman and the ministry director general is not to give up on any country in advance,
and to work to obtain a hearing with the highest possible officials in each country.

This past Sunday, June 5, the head of the ministry’s Western Europe department, Naor Gilon,
sent a follow-up cable to embassies in all European Union countries. A similar cable was sent by
the head of the Eurasia Department, Pinhas Avivi, to representatives in the EU countries of
eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

In his cable, Gilon asked the ambassadors to prepare plans ―that will lead the country in which
you serve to oppose or abstain during a UN vote.‖ It divided the EU countries into three groups:

* Countries that have already voiced objections to unilateral Palestinian action. A Foreign Ministry
source put Germany and Italy in this category.

* Countries whose stance is unclear, particularly members of the former Eastern Bloc that had
recognized a Palestinian state back in 1988. These include the Czech Republic, Slovakia,
Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In two weeks, Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu are planning to make separate trips to these countries in an effort to persuade them to
vote against a Palestinian state.

* Countries that tend to automatically side with the Palestinians and are expected to support a
Palestinian state, among them Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal.

Gilon wrote that the Foreign Ministry believes the 27 EU members ―will have difficulty reaching a
consensus decision on recognizing a Palestinian state, as happened with regard to [recognizing]
Kosovo. Even so, it’s clear that the EU bureaucracy in Brussels will try to enter into a dialogue
with the Palestinians in an effort to moderate the [UN] resolution so that EU members could
support it.
―Everyone knows where the country he serves in stands,‖ Gilon wrote. ―Our goal is to create
momentum against recognition of a Palestinian state in September by creating a significant bloc
of EU states that voice their opposition as early as possible to unilateral Palestinian action.‖
Another goal is to try to persuade those countries which have already said they will vote in favor
of the Palestinian move to refrain from publicly stating their position.

Gilon tasked the ambassadors with trying to spur as many politicians and opinion-makers as
possible to either make public declarations or issue statements opposing unilateral recognition of
a Palestinian state. He also instructed them to generate negative media reports and op-eds
objecting to the Palestinian moves.

The ambassadors were asked to inform the September Forum of any requests they receive from
their respective countries’ leaders to speak by phone with President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu or
Lieberman, and to indicate whether a diplomatic visit by senior Israeli officials before September
might be helpful in persuading top officials in the countries where they serve.

But one senior Foreign Ministry official said that regardless of what efforts are made, only a few
countries will vote against recognizing a Palestinian state in a General Assembly vote, including
the United States, Canada and a few European countries. The ministry’s assessment is that most
Asian, African and South American countries will vote in favour.

Same hate, New target: Islamophobia in America on the rise

Incidents of Islamophobia increased significantly last year and the American perspective of
Muslims worsened amid heavily publicized controversies like the Islamic center near Ground Zero
and a pastor’s planned Quran-burning, according to the report ―Same Hate, New Target‖
( released Thursday,
combining data collected by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of
California, Berkeley’s Center on Race and Gender.

The Muslim community is trying to recover from falling favorability, down to 30 percent, according
to the Pew Center, and CAIR charged American Muslims to become more active in their
communities as a way to personally counter the negative stereotypes their neighbors may hold.

Reports of anti-Muslim rhetoric doubled between 2009 and 2010 and vandalisms tripled, including
damage done to the Turkish Center Mosque in Houston, an Islamic center in San Antonio and a
mosque playground in Arlington, the report found.

The report also applauded political leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and news satirists like
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their commentary on Islamophobia, which the report defines
as close-minded prejudice against Muslims. They criticized the Jihad Watch, Newt Gingrich and
others for promoting Islamophobia.

―This groundbreaking report creates a benchmark for examining the troubling growth of anti-
Muslim sentiment in our society and offers a who’s who of those promoting or challenging
Islamophobia,‖ said Nihad Awad, the national executive director of CAIR. ―As the recent GOP
presidential debate demonstrated, Islamophobia is moving toward the mainstream and therefore
must be challenged by all Americans who learned from those periods in our nation’s history when
other minorities were similarly targeted.‖

The report outlined how civic engagement, community outreach and charity work are all part of
restoring the reputation of the Muslim community to CAIR’s goal of 75 percent favorability.

―I think we really need to serve the society,‖ said Awad during a discussion about the report. ―We
need to do service beyond our immediate circles, beyond the traditional religious functions. I think
that is when the community will find itself at home and when other people will find the community
worthy of respect.‖

Dutch populist Geert Wilders acquitted of hate speech
(Reuters) – Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders was acquitted of inciting hatred of Muslims in a
court ruling on Thursday that may strengthen his political influence and exacerbate tensions over
immigration policy.

The case was seen by some as a test of free speech in a country which has a long tradition of
tolerance and blunt talk, but where opposition to immigration, particularly from Muslim or
predominantly Muslim countries, is on the rise.

Instantly recognizable by his mane of dyed blond hair, Wilders, 47, is one of the most outspoken
critics of Islam and immigration in the Netherlands.

His Freedom Party is now the third-largest in parliament, a measure of support for its anti-
immigrant stance, and is the minority government’s chief ally. But many of Wilders’ comments —
such as likening Islam to Nazism — are socially divisive.

The presiding judge said Wilders’s remarks were sometimes ―hurtful,‖ ―shocking‖ or ―offensive,‖
but that they were made in the context of a public debate about Muslim integration and multi-
culturalism, and therefore not a criminal act.

―I am extremely pleased and happy,‖ Wilders told reporters after the ruling. ―This is not so much a
win for myself, but a victory for freedom of speech. Fortunately you can criticize Islam and not be
gagged in public debate.‖

The ruling could embolden Wilders further. He has already won concessions from the
government on cutting immigration and introducing a ban on Muslim face veils and burqas.

―This means that his political views are condoned by law, his political rhetoric has been legalized,‖
said Andre Krouwel, a political scientist at Amsterdam’s Free University.

―This has made him stronger politically. He is needed for a political majority, he is basically vice
prime minister without even being in the government.‖
Some Dutch citizens have started to question their country’s traditionally generous immigration
and aid policies, worried by the deteriorating economic climate, higher unemployment, incidence
of ethnic crime and signs that Muslim immigrants have not fully integrated into Dutch society.

Similar concerns have helped far-right parties to gain traction elsewhere in Europe,
from France to Scandinavia.

Farid Azarkan of the SMN association of Moroccans in the Netherlands said he feared the
acquittal could further split Dutch society and encourage others to repeat Wilders’s comments.

―You see that people feel more and more supported in saying that minorities are good for
nothing,‖ Azarkan said.

―Wilders has said very extreme things about Muslims and Moroccans, so when will it ever stop?
Some will feel this as a sort of support for what they feel and as justification.‖

Minorities groups said they would now take the case to the United Nations Human Rights
Committee, arguing the ruling meant the Netherlands had failed to protect ethnic minorities from

―The acquittal means that the right of minorities to remain free of hate speech has been
breached. We are going to claim our rights at the U.N.,‖ said Mohamed Rabbae of the National
Council for Moroccans.

Wilders, who has received numerous death threats and has to live under 24-hour guard, argued
that he was exercising his right to freedom of speech when criticizing Islam.

The Amsterdam court had used a Supreme Court ruling — that an offensive statement about
someone’s religion was not a criminal offence — as the basis of its decision, leading to acquittal,
the judge said.

Unusually, the prosecution team had also asked for an acquittal, arguing that politicians have the
right to comment on problem issues and that Wilders was not trying to foment violence or

―I think it is good that he has been acquitted,‖ said Elsbeth Kalff, an 83-year-old retired sociologist
in Amsterdam.

―He has been told that he has been rude and offensive but it is on the border of what the criminal
law allows. It is good, the Netherlands is, after all, a tolerant country and we should keep it that

(Editing by Sara Webb and Mark Trevelyan)

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