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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

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      An Arab-American politician recently appointed to a key position by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano helped raise funds for an Islamic group that has labeled a deadly anti-U.S. terrorist attack a “military operation,” referred to terrorists as “freedom fighters,” and equated Muslim jihad with the sentiments of American statesman Patrick Henry, this column has learned.
 
      In April, Napolitano appointed Arif Alikhan, then Los Angeles deputy mayor of homeland security and public safety, to serve as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security.
 
      Just 13 days prior to his appointment by Napolitano, Alikhan joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council, or MPAC, for a special fundraiser to support what the group calls its innovative leadership development programs. MPAC describes itself as “a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims.”
 
      According to the website Discover the Networks, MPAC asserts the Hizbullah terrorist organization “could be called a liberation movement” and likens Hizbullah members to American “freedom fighters hundreds of years ago whom the British regarded as terrorists.”
 
      In a 1999 position paper, MPAC described Hizbullah’s 1983 bombing of the American Marine barracks, killing 220 Marines, as a “military operation” rather than a terrorist attack.
 
      In a November 1997 speech at the University of Pennsylvania, MPAC co-founder and executive director Salam Al-Marayati hailed the Hamas terrorist group as a political entity and a provider of social programs and “educational operations.”
 
      Al-Marayati equated jihad with the sentiments of prominent American Revolution figure Patrick Henry, whose “Give me liberty or give me death” declaration was, according to Marayati, “a way of looking at the term jihad from an American perspective.”
 

      Janelle Perez, a spokeswoman for Alikhan at Homeland Security, did not return this column’s request for comment before publication.

 

Hamas Leader Calls Meeting With Former

U.S. Diplomat An ‘Important Step’

 

      A meeting last month between Hamas leaders and former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering served as an “important step” to open eventual dialogue between the Islamic group and the Obama administration, Hamas’s chief political adviser in Gaza told this reporter.
 
      “Any meeting between Hamas and an American official or former official can help with opening the door for serious talks between Hamas and the American administration,” said Hamas’s top adviser Ahmed Yousef.
 
      “I do believe Obama is serious about a peaceful settlement to the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, and he knows you can’t have a peaceful settlement without including Hamas,” Yousef said, speaking from the Gaza Strip.
 
      The Washington Post last week revealed that Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and the UN as well as former secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s deputy in the Clinton Administration, met in Geneva in June with Hamas leaders Bassem Naim and Mahmoud al-Zahar. Naim is Hamas’s health minister while al-Zahar is the chief of Hamas in Gaza.
 

      The State Department said the meeting between Pickering and Hamas was not sanctioned by the White House and that its official policy regarding the group remains unchanged.

 

Obama Inspires West Bank Growth

 

      Activists in Israel have launched a campaign using Barack Obama’s name to construct Jewish housing projects on West Bank hilltops in defiance of the U.S. president’s demands for a halt to all Jewish building in the strategic territory.
 
      The goal is to increase the Jewish presence in the West Bank, beginning with the re-establishment of the town of Homesh, which was one of four Jewish communities evacuated by Israel as part of the country’s 2005 Disengagement plan.
 

      Activists are looking for donations of any amount to help them expand Homesh, including a new hilltop community to be named after Obama. They are also encouraging those making online donations at www.obamahill.tkto send a formal letter to Obama making the White House aware of their building campaign.

 

U.S. Gets Nothing In Return For

Ambassador Returning To Syria
 
      The Obama administration did not extract any concessions from Syria in exchange for a decision last month to send a U.S. ambassador to Damascus, a top official from Syria’s Information Ministry told WorldNetDaily.
 
      Regardless of any State Department negotiations, the official claimed that Syria would not have ended its relationships with Iran, Hizbullah or various Palestinian organizations in exchange for the return of a U.S. ambassador in Syria.
 
      “There was no concession regarding any Syrian principles for having an American ambassador,” the information ministry official said, speaking from Damascus.
 
      “We would not accept any interfering in the Syrian sovereignty and the Syrian right to have independent foreign relationships,” said the official, referring to Syria’s military alliance with Iran.
 
      The U.S. withdrew its ambassador from Syria four years ago in protest against the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, an attack widely blamed on Damascus.
 

   Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “The Late Great State of Israel.” Follow Klein on Twitter under the name “AaronKleinWND.”

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About the Author: Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m (CHANGE TO 7-9 p.m.). His website is KleinOnline.com


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