Drones, Jews and morality

My address to the first interreligious conference on the morality of drone warfare didn’t go over particularly well.

This happened last Saturday afternoon at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I was among 150 clergy, theologians, academics and peace activists gathered to discuss what makes our newest way of killing one another different from all other ways of killing one another.

The organizers invited me because I wrote a cover story for the Journal titled “The Torah of Drones” two years ago. The handful of Jews who have written on Jewish law and drone warfare — actually, it’s just two — likely didn’t attend because their level of Shabbat observance precluded it. So, I warned the audience, they’d have to hear from the bad Jew.

The sad truth is that the Jewish community has not wrestled in any meaningful way with a technology that history will remember was first deployed, advanced and disseminated by Israel, the Jewish state.

In fact, as I told the conferees, the only Jews I know forcing us to confront the morality of drones are the writers and producers of the TV show “Homeland,” whose most provocative plotlines have revolved around errant drone strikes.

The religious leaders gathered at Princeton also saw drones as categorically different from missiles, bombs and other long-distance killing machines. Drones’ relative low-cost and lack of direct human operator have made them a weapon of first, rather than last, resort. These factors also contribute to their fast, nearly unchecked, spread around the globe, without, as yet, any international standards regarding their use.

The result has been hundreds of nameless, dead innocents, and every indication that, as a Pakistani journalist once told me, every drone kills one terrorist and creates two. In fact, the most affecting part of the weekend was not something I heard, but something I saw: a quilt sewn by various church groups for the Drones Quilt Project, with each square inscribed with the name of a Pakistani child killed in an American drone strike. Upward of 984 civilians — including 200 children — have been killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

“We need to bring religious voices to this dialogue, because certainly industry voices are there,” said Maryann Cusimano Love of The Catholic University of America.

Most of the religious voices at the conference called for an end to the strikes altogether. Mine wasn’t among them. It was a strange experience for someone often derided as too dovish to be the most hawkish in a room. But as I explained in my talk, Jewish teaching commands us to kill in self-defense. I urged the audience to try to empathize with an Israeli mother who would prefer to send in a drone, rather than her son, to stop a Hamas rocket. There was thunderous silence: This was not what you call a pro-Israel crowd. 

At the end of the conference, the attendees drafted a statement calling for a halt to drone strikes until issues of accountability and transparency have been established. The Mennonites, Quakers and others in attendance went along grudgingly — as one Mennonite leader explained, he’d rather die than kill.

My own feeling about drones was better summed up by Rabbi Charles Feinberg of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., the only other Jew qua Jew at the conference. “Jewish tradition — and, indeed, many religious traditions — require proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an attack is imminent before pre-emptive action is justified,” he said. “Too often, America’s use of drone’s falls short of this requirement, and that is why the religious community must come together and seek a change.”  

But Jews face an additional moral question, which is this: Is it right to be spreading this technology, unchecked?

Israel began to develop drones following the Six-Day War as a way to circumvent Egyptian air defenses. It pioneered the use of weaponized Unmanned Aerial Vehicles during the first Lebanon War in 1982, selling the United States its first drone — the Pioneer — shortly afterward. Today, an estimated 41 percent of all weaponized drones sold around the world come from Israel. 

“If you scratch any military drone, you will likely find Israeli technology underneath,” Mary Dobbing and Chris Cole wrote in the Drone Wars U.K. briefing “Israel and the Drone Wars.” 

I often write in this column that the world must be mindful that bigotry and terror often start by being directed at Jews and Israel but spread from there to the rest of the world. 

In the case of drones, I’m afraid, the process is exactly the reverse.

We Jews are spreading a technology to the world that one day might very well be used against us, in Israel or elsewhere.

This is a strange problem to confront as we commemorate 70 years since the liberation Auschwitz. We have gone from wielding no weapons in our defense to selling some of the most deadly weapons the world has ever known. We have turned the tides — now how do we stop them from drowning us? 

We are rightly consumed right now with the debate over how to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of one state, Iran. But we should also take note that, meanwhile, Israel is rushing headlong into propagating technology that can provide deadly force to every state and nonstate actor on the planet.

You don’t have to be Mennonite to want to resist that.

Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. E-mail him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @foodaism.

Ruth and Judea Pearl on James Foley, Daniel Pearl and the pragmatic fight against evil

As the online video of an ISIS militant’s murder of American freelance journalist James Foley went viral on the Internet last week, the gruesome scene recalled another journalist’s murder more than 12 years ago. In 2002, al-Qaida member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed Daniel Pearl, an accomplished foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. Pearl had thought he would be meeting an interview source in Karachi, Pakistan, but instead was targeted for being a Jew.

He did not die in vain. As soon as his parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, and sisters, Tamara and Michelle, learned about Danny’s murder, they turned their sorrow into an effort to promote peace and understanding by creating the Daniel Pearl Foundation. In addition to a global network of concerts on the theme of “Harmony for Humanity,” they support U.S. fellowships for Muslim journalists from the Middle East and South Asia, who come here to work in newsrooms in the United States, including spending a week at this Jewish newspaper.  

The Pearls spoke with the Journal at their Encino home about their continuing work with the foundation, the resonance for them of Foley’s murder, and their views and experiences of the Muslim world today.


Jewish Journal: What would you say to James Foley’s parents if you were to speak to them now?

Ruth Pearl: Find comfort in the beautiful memories you have of him, as a young man and as a committed journalist; no one can take those memories from you.

I miss Danny every day. But any time I think of him, as a child or an awe-inspiring, beautiful young man, or look at his pictures or talk to his old friends, it gives me warmth and comfort. 


JJ: You’ve thrown yourselves into creating a foundation that promotes peace and understanding, creating a new legacy in your son’s name. Would you suggest to the Foleys doing the same?

RP: Given the shock and outpouring of support from the public, it was impossible not to go for it. Danny was killed not only for being an American journalist, but also for his religion, and that presented us with the mission of promoting tolerance and East-West understanding. I can’t be sure if we are making a difference, but the fact that it’s keeping me so busy, evidently, is keeping me from feeling sorry for myself. I miss Danny every second; it doesn’t change. Observing our journalism fellows’ achievements, as they return to their home countries, is inspiring and rewarding. Our fellows come from a culture of seeking revenge and are deeply impressed by our inviting them to join us in tikkun olam, not revenge.  If the Foley family decides to take this path, they should be aware of the enormity of the task. 


JJ: When Danny traveled to places like Pakistan, did you ever say to him, “Don’t go”? As parents, did you ever try to stop him?

Judea Pearl: Constantly, we worried. And constantly, we would tell him, “Be careful.” And he was careful, and as a matter of fact, he wrote a protocol for safety for the Wall Street Journal. But as a journalist, this was his interest, and his commitment, so we trusted his judgment.

RP: I’ll tell you a story. One time, when Danny was about to go to Iraq, we were especially concerned, as I was born in Baghdad. So we thought, under the Saddam Hussein regime, he might be targeted. Danny agreed not to go but told us, “This is my job, so please don’t ask me again.”


JJ: When we spoke recently about the death of Foley, you said, “The only answer for democracy is journalism.” Why do you believe that? 

JP: As the family of Daniel Pearl, we found solace in journalists. They identified with Danny’s story, they identified with our mission, and we felt we had a listening ear within this community.

But who cares about democracy today? When [President George W.] Bush went into Iraq in the name of democracy, many laughed at him, and for a good reason. The recipient side is not interested in receiving it, and the giving side is ashamed of offering it. I still believe in it — that democracy is the solution, and that journalism is the vehicle through which we can achieve it. But it doesn’t sell anymore.

Listen to what ISIS is saying: “We don’t need your democracy.” And not only them, the Muslim Brotherhood has been saying it for the past 80 years.


JJ: When journalists take risks — like Danny or Foley did — their mission is often to tell the stories of the humanity on the other side, as well. 

JP: Journalists are our only means of communicating with the “other side.” Remember, normal journalistic channels are choked now, because many journalists’ guilds, even from Jordan and Egypt, forbid their members to report from Israel, or visit Israel, or even associate with Israeli journalists. Given this, Muslim readers have no channel to Israel, and yet Israel is the litmus test for Muslim moderation — so, in effect, they have no channel to moderation.


JJ: You came up with this notion for the foundation within a week of learning Danny had died?

JP: We were devastated, of course, but everybody said, “You have to start a foundation.” It was natural to do it. You have to capitalize on what you have. We had Danny’s legacy, and we felt pressure to leverage it and to fight the hatred that took his life. He could not just disappear from the world. So it was very natural; we didn’t think twice.

We also had a vision that, because Danny had so many friends in the Arab world, they would help to keep his legacy alive; they would be our friends, and they would help us share his vision among their peers. It was the wrong assumption. His friends in Al Jazeera abandoned us immediately. They were probably afraid. Because in their world, he became somewhat suspect. After all, maybe he was an agent for the CIA?

Listen to the BBC now, on the story of James Foley. It’s the same: The callers, British Muslims said, “We don’t even know if he was combatant, or not.” One said, “We don’t even know his political views.” This is the mentality among BBC listeners.

Ruth and Judea Pearl. Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

JJ: So do you still believe you’re fulfilling Danny’s legacy, as you’d hoped to?

JP: Between him and us, there is perfect agreement. But whether it’s accomplishing more than just a drop in the bucket, I don’t know. 


JJ: But what about the saying in the Talmud: “Save one life, save the world”?

JP: Yes, and here’s another one: You don’t have the option of stopping what you’re supposed to do. You do your share and let others judge if it’s a drop in the bucket, or more.

What makes it even more complicated is that we keep being reminded that people need us. They tell us: “You give us the empowerment for optimism. Danny reminds us of the nobility of the profession. He makes our music sound better; you’re reminding us that there’s a purpose to society.” It doesn’t always translate into help, but it does translate into an emotional pressure to continue, because we owe it to them.


JJ: Most people these days criticize or put down journalism and the media. Fox News, for example.

JP: Let’s talk about Fox News. In the past week, I got more requests to be interviewed on Fox News than from the “enlightened media.”


JJ: Why is that?

JP: First of all, they want to speak out against terrorism, and they feel comfortable doing it. CNN doesn’t know how to do that. They are afraid of offending someone. 


JJ: I’ve known you for some years now, and despite everything, you still surprise me with your optimism, and also with your anger.

JP: I am not angry. I’m just pragmatic. I was trained as an engineer, and I want to be effective. So if I’m angry, I’m angry for missing an opportunity to do something effective that I could have done.

In this instance, I’m angry at Al Jazeera, because I think it’s the world’s largest recruitment camp for terrorists, and the world’s largest school of combustible, anti-Western anger. I’m angry at the journalist community for treating Al Jazeera like just another TV channel and not putting them in their place for featuring arch-terrorists like Samir Kuntar and Khaled Mashal as role models for Arab youth. 

Ruth said, “Everyone should write to CNN and tell them not to show James Foley in his orange outfit.” Show the executor, but show a separate picture of Foley as he was as a reporter. Do not put them side by side. Let the world see the difference, but at the same time, don’t show Foley that way. You do not show rape. It’s not right to show a person facing a barbaric execution. We fought against it when a photo from Danny’s video was displayed by the Boston Phoenix. We explained and explained that this is serving the cause of the perpetrators. We said, “It’s not for Danny or for us; it’s for your children.” The eye can scar the mind, and the mind will scar the soul.

Beheading projects weakness and defeat, and I don’t want your children to feel defeated. That’s what I told the editor of the Boston Phoenix, who was the first to display it. “Don’t let your children feel defeated, and they will. It’s a very primitive but effective technique.”

With Danny, they ran it in Saudi Arabia to get recruitment. We Westerners fail to understand that half of mankind today is aroused by cruelty.

I’ll tell you something: I almost canceled this conversation today because I could not think about Foley without thinking about Daniel Tragerman, the 4-year-old Israeli boy killed by a mortar attack from Gaza last week. I watched him on Israeli television — the way he danced, the way he smiled, he really got my heart.

I realized, it’s a triangle here — James Foley, Daniel Pearl and Daniel Tragerman — three torches of man’s inhumanity to man. Why is it that only when terrorists behead someone we notice that inhumanity? In Sderot, they have been showered with rocket attacks for years, which is a “war crime” by any legal standard. And yet, [United Nations Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon says, “We need to urge both sides.” “Both sides” connotes symmetry and indicates a failure of the United Nations and its leadership to distinguish a “crime” from a “side.”

Daniel Tragerman, a 4-year-old Israeli boy, was killed Aug. 22 by a mortar attack from Gaza in southern Israel.

JJ: So, in the triangle of Daniel Tragerman, Daniel Pearl and James Foley, what do you see?

JP: We have lost our moral compass. Danny’s story used to remind people that there is a crisp distinction between good and evil in the world. And now, so does Foley. But, unfortunately, Daniel Tragerman did not. We’re not supposed to say that Hamas is a terrorist organization. It might offend their supporters-bankers in Qatar. We need to put Daniel Tragerman in this triangle, because he is a victim of the same evil. And if I risk offending His Majesty, so be it.

Israel is the only society in the world that has managed, not to eradicate, but to curtail terrorism, and everybody is angry with her, because she reminds the world of its impotence.


JJ: Do you think what you’re doing with the Pearl journalist fellows has an effect?

JP: First of all, the fellows come to America and see what America is all about. Of course, when asked in their country, they’re not going to say, “America is all good.” But they are going to resist the tendency of their peers to put down America as the great Satan. They won’t accept the prevailing street norm that America is evil; that it’s against Muslims and that it has one intention in mind: to oppress Islam.

I think our fellows, when they go home, will offer more nuanced views to their readers. And that’s good enough. 


JJ: Have you seen results?

JP: We know of their achievements and publications. But we don’t know what goes on in the newsroom or at editorial meetings. We don’t know whether they moderate their peers or succumb to peer pressure. But it’s the best we can do. They seem to have a spine, and on that basis, the investment pays off now, and it will pay off over many years.


JJ: So, putting aside the immediacy of pragmatism for a moment, can you answer one last question, this time about the future? In light of what is happening in the Arab world now, are you frightened or hopeful?

RP: To see a beautiful human being shining and then slaughtered, it kills your hope. On the other hand, meeting our fellows gives you hope.

The Torah of drones: Examining the complex morality of drone warfare

In 2009, an Israeli drone flying over the Gaza Strip transmitted back to its command station an image of a telltale rocket trail streaking toward Israeli territory. Many kilometers away, a young Israeli operator, Capt. Y, quickly maneuvered the unmanned aircraft to get a look at the young Palestinian who had just launched the deadly missile. Y’s drone squadron already had authorization to take him out. In an instant, a rocket struck the hidden launch site, followed by a flash of fire.

When the smoke cleared, Y saw images of the shooter lying flat on the ground. Twenty seconds passed. And then Y saw something even more remarkable — the dead man began to move.

Severely wounded, the Palestinian began to claw his way toward the road. Y could clearly see the man’s face, and in his youth and determination Y must have recognized something of himself. So, now Y and his team had a decision to make: Would they let the wounded terrorist escape, or circle the drone back and finish him off?

Y told me this story in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. He is 23, wiry and intense. When I arrived for our interview, arranged through the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Y was sitting in a small atrium, getting in a last smoke.

For security reasons, I cannot use his real name, so I agreed to refer to the captain as Y, and to his fellow drone operator, a lieutenant, as M.

M is calmer. She is 25, has large blue eyes and wears her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail — Scarlett Johansson’s tougher twin sister.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as drones are otherwise known, have been in use militarily since World War I. In 1917, the Americans designed the Kettering “Bug” with a preset gyroscope to guide it into enemy trenches. In World War II, the Nazis deployed “the Fritz,” a 2,300-pound bomb with four small wings and a tail motor. But it is only in the past few years that UAVs have made almost-daily headlines. These days, the United States, in particular, has widely employed UAVs in the far reaches of Pakistan and Afghanistan in its fight against terrorists. As recently as Nov. 1, a U.S. drone strike killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, demonstrating once again the deadly effectiveness of, and the growing reliance upon, these weapons of war.

But like all revolutionary new weapons, this success comes at a price, and it’s a price we in America prefer not to check. Just a day before I met with the two Israelis in late October, two influential human rights groups released reports asserting that the number of civilian deaths resulting from America’s largely secret “drone wars” was far greater than the government had claimed. Human Rights Watch reported that since 2009, America’s anti-terrorist drone strikes in Yemen had killed at least 57 civilians — more than two-thirds of all casualties resulting from the strikes — including a pregnant woman and three children. In Pakistan, Amnesty International found that more than 30 civilians had died from U.S. drone strikes between May 2012 and July 2013 in the territory of North Waziristan.

To Americans, news of anonymous civilians dying in faraway places may not resonate deeply, even if we are the ones who killed them. But these two humanitarian groups’ reports point to the rapid increase in the United States’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles as weapons of war, and they underline the lack of clear international ethical codes to guide that use.

Who gets to use drones? How do commanders decide whom to target, whom to spy on? If a drone operator sitting in a command room in Tampa, Fla., can kill a combatant in Swat, in northern Pakistan, does that make downtown Tampa a legitimate military target, as well?

I wanted to learn more about the morality of this advancing technology, so I talked to people who have studied drones, who have thought about their ethical implications, and who, like Y and M, actually use them. I hoped that through them I might come to understand how we, as a society, should think about the right way to use these remarkable, fearsome tools. 

I wanted to know if there exists, in essence, a Torah of drones.

From 12,000 feet up, the Heron drone Capt. Y was piloting that day during Operation Pillar of Defense offered a perfect view of the wounded Palestinian.

“You see everything,” Y told me. “You could see him lying on the ground, moving and crawling. Even if you know he’s the enemy, it’s very hard to see that. You see a human being who is helpless. You have to bear in mind, ‘He’s trying to kill me.’ But, in my mind, I hoped somebody would go help him.”

Y’s father is French, and his mother is Israeli. He lives in Beersheba, where his wife is a medical student. Y’s brother was killed in the Second Lebanon War by a Hezbollah rocket while he was piloting a Yasur combat helicopter. Y was 18 at the time.

“I believe some of the way to mourn is to go through the same experience of the man you loved,” Y said.

Lt. M’s parents both are French immigrants to Israel, staunch Zionists, and, she said, she always knew one day she’d be an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer.

In Israel, those who cannot complete pilot-training very often enter the drone corps. It may not hold the cachet of becoming an Air Force pilot, but both of these soldiers believe drones are the future.

“I like the idea that every flight you do, you’re helping your fellow citizens,” M said.

“We feel we contribute more than other people,” Y said. “But today, in the modern day, you don’t have to take risks. If you risk your life, it doesn’t mean you contribute more.”

In the United States and Israel, where the reluctance to put boots on the ground is at a high point, the fact that drones offer significant military capabilities with far less risk accounts precisely for the tremendous increase in their use.

Israel, in fact, has led the way. Its effective use of drones during the 1982 Lebanon War rekindled American interest in UAVs. During America’s first Gulf War, in 1991, the U.S. Navy bought a secondhand Pioneer drone from Israel and used it to better aim heavy artillery. At one point during that war, a squad of Iraqi soldiers saw a drone overhead and, expecting to be bombarded, waved a white sheet. It was the first time in history soldiers had surrendered to a drone.

Today, the United States increasingly uses drones for both civilian intelligence — as in Yemen and Pakistan — and militarily. Currently, some 8,000 UAVs are in use by the U.S. military. In the next decade, U.S. defense spending on drones is expected to reach $40 billion, increasing inventory by 35 percent. Since 2002, 400 drone strikes have been conducted by U.S. civilian intelligence agencies. 

At least 87 other countries also have drones. Earlier this year, Israel announced it was decommissioning two of its combat helicopter squadrons — to replace them with drones.

“We’re at the very start of this technological revolution,” Peter Singer, author of “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century,” told me by phone. “We’re in the World War I period of robotics. The cat’s out of the bag. You’re not going to roll it back. But you do want to set norms.”

Singer’s book, first published in 2009 when the public debate over drone ethics was nonexistent, is still the best road map to a future we all have reason to fear, but must face, in any case.

I called Singer to see where he stands on the ethical issues raised by civilian drone deaths.

Actually, he pointed out, his book dealt largely with military use of these technologies. Even he wouldn’t have predicted such widespread use of drones by surveillance agencies that are unversed in the rules of war and that operate without the safeguards built into military actions.

That, for Singer and others who parse the ethics of drones, is the rub. In the military, there are rules of engagement. There is the risk of court-martial. Strategic training is better in the military than in intelligence agencies.

“One group goes to war college,” Singer said, “the other doesn’t. And it’s very different when you’re a political appointee, rather than a military officer. Some tactics would not be allowed in a military operation.”

I asked Singer for an example. He chose one from the CIA operations just now under scrutiny by human rights groups.

“Double-tapping,” he said. “That would never make its way past a military officer.”

Double-tapping is when an aircraft, manned or not, circles back over a targeted site and strikes a second time — either to finish off the wounded or to take out forces that have rushed in to help. Exactly the ethical question Capt. Y. faced.

When Y saw that he hadn’t killed the Palestinian the first time, he and his team faced one of the most difficult, urgent questions of drone combat: Should they double-tap?

Ethical issues in drone combat come up all the time, M said — in training, in operations and, afterward, in frequent debriefing and analysis.

“I have so many examples of that, I can’t count,” Y told me.

A landmark Israeli Supreme Court decision on targeted killing provides the ethical framework for IDF drone operators.

In 2009, the court found there is nothing inherently wrong with a targeted killing — whether by an F-16, Apache helicopter or unmanned drone.

But, the court added, in order for the action to be acceptable, the soldiers must satisfy three questions:

The first is, what is a legitimate target? The target, the court said, must be an operational combatant seeking to do you harm — not a retired terrorist or someone you want to punish for past sins.

Second, has the target met the threshold level of intelligence? The drone team must have a deep knowledge that its target meets the first condition, verified by more than one source.

Finally, who is the supervising body? There must be independent oversight outside the hands of the drone operators and the IDF.

To professor Moshe Halbertal, these three conditions form the basis for the moral exercise of deadly drone force.

Halbertal is a professor of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University, the Gruss Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law and one of the drafters of the IDF’s code of ethics.

Shortly before Halbertal came to Los Angeles to serve as scholar-in-residence Nov. 1-3 at Sinai Temple, I spoke with him about Israel’s experience with drones. From what he could tell, he said, Israel has a more developed ethical framework.

In the American attacks, Halbertal said, “The level of collateral damage is alarming.”

In Israel, he said, “There is a genuine attempt to reduce collateral killing. If this were the level of collateral damage the IDF produces, it would be very bad.”

The fact that drones are less risky is not what makes their use more prone to excesses, Halbertal said.

“Because military operations involve more risk, there is more care in applying them,” Halbertal said. “But, on the other hand, soldiers make mistakes out of fear in the heat of combat that drone operators don’t.”

The danger with drones, he said, is that because the political risks of deploying them, versus deploying live troops, are much less, they can be used more wantonly.

I asked Capt. Y if he’d had experience with collateral damage.

“It’s happened to me,” he said. “We had a target and asked [intelligence officers] if there were civilians in the area. We received a negative. Later, we heard in the Palestinian press that there were casualties. We checked, and it was true — a father and his 17-year-old son. What can we do? I didn’t have a particular emotion about it.”

The people who know the people getting killed do have emotions about it. And that grief and anger can work to undo whatever benefits drone kills confer.

“I say every drone attack kills one terrorist and creates two,” Adnan Rashid, a Pakistani journalist, told me. In the Swat Valley, where he lives, the fear of American drones and the innocent lives they’ve taken has been one of the extremists’ best recruiting tools, Rashid said.

If that’s the case, better oversight and clearer rules for drones may be not just the right thing to do but in our self-interest as well.

No war is ever clean. But that doesn’t mean drone use should increase without the implementation of the kind of national, and international, norms Singer now finds lacking.

If the United States doesn’t adopt the kinds of oversight Israel already has in place, at the very least, Singer believes, we should move the drone program from the intelligence agencies to the military. 

It’s a call that has increasingly vocal support from America to Pakistan. Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, argued Congress could exercise better oversight of a drone program operated by the military.

 “Since when is the intelligence agency supposed to be an Air Force of drones that goes around killing people?” McCain said recently on Fox News. “I believe that it’s a job for the Department of Defense.”

Pakistani protesters from United Citizen Action shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest against the Nov. 1 killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike. Photo by S.S. Mirza/AFP Photo/Newscom

 “The killing is creating more anger and resulting in the recruitment of more people to pursue revenge,” former Pakistani Minister of State Shahzad Waseem told me. “The minimum you can do is to come up openly with some kind of treaty or set of rules to give it a legal shape, mutually accepted by all sides.” 

Will Americans rise up to make a stink over this? That may be a tall order for a populace that seems to take each revelation of intelligence community overreach — from drone deaths to National Security Agency spying — with a collective yawn. Will the international community begin to create a framework that at least sets standards for drone use and misuse? 

Unfortunately, humans, particularly in developing technology, have a way of advancing faster on the battlefront than on the legal or moral fronts. It took the Holocaust, Singer pointed out, for humanity to come up with the Geneva Conventions of 1949. What fresh hell must befall us before we at least attempt to codify behavior for the Age of Drones?

And even if we set standards and nations abide by them, it seems inevitable that the very nature of drones one day will allow non-state actors — the likes of al-Qaeda — to follow the lead of Hezbollah in using them, as well.

If, in the 1940s and ’50s, the best and the brightest scientific minds went into nuclear physics — and gave us the atomic bomb — these days, those talents are all going toward artificial intelligence. At the high end, a future filled with autonomous, intelligent killing drones awaits us.

At the low end, consider this: Singer also serves as a consultant for the video game “Call of Duty,” for which he was asked to envision a homemade drone of the not-too-distant future. He and others came up with a Sharper Image toy helicopter, controlled by an iPad and mounted with an Uzi. A promotional team actually made a fully functional version of this weapon for a YouTube video, and 17 million hits later, the Defense Department telephoned, perturbed.

“Unlike battleships or atomic bombs,” Singer told me, “the barriers to entry for drones are really low.”

That doesn’t mean we should give up on establishing ethical norms for nations — or people — but we do need to keep our expectations in check.

We may be heading toward a world of what Halbertal describes, in the Israeli context, as “micro wars,” where each human is empowered with military-like capacity and must make his or her own ethical choices on the spot.

Cap. Y made his own moral choice that day during Operation Pillar of Defense. He watched as the wounded Palestinian man managed to get to the road, where a group of civilians came to his aid.

Why didn’t Y “double-tap”?

 “He was no longer a threat,” Y told me, matter-of-factly. “And several people gathered around him who weren’t part of the attack.” That was that: The rules of engagement were clear.

In a micro-war, a soldier in combat — not just generals at a central command — must determine in the heat of battle who is a terrorist and who is a civilian, who shall live and who shall die.

In his book, Singer envisions a future in which artificial intelligence will also enable us to provide ethical decision-making to the machines we create. It would be our job to program Torah into these machines — and then let them do with it as they will.

Much like Someone has done with us.

How much collateral damage is too much?

That is a question that should be asked regarding America’ drone operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it cannot be answered except episodically because nothing about those operations is available for public scrutiny.  It is also a question which must be asked of Israel in connection with its futile bombardment of Gaza.

The Israeli army has stated that it is working to reduce as much as possible any harm to Palestinian civilians as part of its operations in Gaza. The IDF has emphasized that people in areas that the army attacks are sent warnings via text message, phone calls and leaflets telling them to stay away from Hamas militants.  But that did not help the Jamal Dalu, whose sister, wife, two daughters, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren ages two to six, four children and five women, along with two neighbors, an 18 year-old and his grandmother, were “mistakenly” attacked by Israeli bombs on November 18.  [I put “mistakenly” in quotes not because I think that Israel intended the death of a whole family of civilians but because in the course of the kind of attack Israel has mounted against Hamas, mistakes are virtually inevitable.  That is what is meant by “collateral damage.”]

According to the Israel Defense Forces, “the IDF mistakenly bombed the home of a Palestinian family, apparently due to a technical error while targeting a senior Hamas militant in charge of the group's rocket firing teams.” Ha’Aretz reports that according to the IDF, “the source of the error was either the failure to paint the target of the attack on the correct site or that one of the munitions in the strike misfired.”

Which is, of course, the point.  These kinds of things happen, no matter the efforts made to avoid them.  It is no comfort at all the loved ones and the neighbors of the dead family to explain to them that the deaths were unintentional.

Now some will argue that Israel had no choice, given the barrage of rockets that were launched in Gaza and aimed towards Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv – and yes, even Jerusalem.

The question that must be asked is whether Israel’s attempt at a military solution to the rockets short of a re-occupation of the entire Gaza Strip is a plausible outcome of Israel’s actions.  Given the history of Israel’s relationship with Gaza, and its continuing siege of Gaza, military action cannot and will not solve the chronic problem. That is why I have said that Israel’s current bombardment of Gaza is futile.  Observers of the current events who have not just tuned in for the first time experience a sense of déjà vu.  It is as if an endless tape were being played and replayed.

What then?  If military action is a dead end, then, obviously, what is left is political action.  Even if the current violence is contained in the coming days, we may be confident that it will burst out of its containment again and then again.  At some point, as distasteful as it may be, Israel will have to talk with Hamas and Hamas with Israel.  It must do that both because that is the only way the chronic violence might be ended and also because it is for sure the only way collateral damage can be avoided.

It is no help to explain that Israel is justified in a harsh response to Hamas attacks launched from Gaza, that it is merely exercising its legitimate right of self-defense.  That may be so, but so what?  Are legal formulas persuasive?  Meaning: Do they bring the violence to an end?  Patently, they do not.

In fact, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, retired Major General Giora Eiland said in an interview with Ha’Aretz on Sunday, November 18, that “The Israeli government will need to make political compromises in order to reach a security arrangement that will ensure the end of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.” This sort of agreement would include “a mutual cease-fire and an Egyptian guarantee of not just quiet, but also that no weapons will enter Gaza, and would be guaranteed by additional parties, for example, Qatar and Turkey.”

Specifically, Eiland listed among the political compromises that could be made in exchange for such a security arrangement lifting the naval blockade of Gaza “so that the European Union member countries could send under supervision dinghies into Gaza’s port.”

In the meanwhile, Gaza remains a territory under siege, and that is a recipe for continuing unrest.  It is a recipe for periodic outbursts of lethal violence and for more collateral damage.  One need not be a dove or a peacenik to see that; one need only load the tape once more.

A close friend in Israel, one who loathes Prime Minister Netanyahu, tells me that the country has never been as united as it is now.  That, as Israeli elections draw close, may help explain Israel’s behavior. But be the motives for that behavior benign or malignant, their result is both lethal and barren.

From Jihad to hasbara

“Who here is Jewish?” Kasim Hafeez asked the audience. Nearly all of the several hundred raised their hands. “Seven years ago,” he added, “I would have wanted to see all of you dead.”

The audience knew where this was heading, which didn’t make his words any less startling. Hafeez, 28, a British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent, grew up in Nottingham, England, and quickly added that now, seven years after his youthful fling with violent jihad, he stands firmly with Israel. 

He spoke at the annual StandWithUs (SWU) “Israel in Focus” conference, sponsored by Gila and Adam Milstein. SWU, an Israel-advocacy group headquartered in Los Angeles, held the gathering at Santa Monica’s Sheraton Delfina hotel Nov. 9-11, and it included talks about ways to advocate for Israel. 

Funny, articulate and self-assured, speaking without notes, Hafeez talked about his early years in a Pakistani neighborhood in England. “In my house, there was always mistrust of Jews and Israel,” he said. “The attitude was: ‘Jews are always up to something …’ My father was blatant about it. ‘Hitler was a good man. He didn’t go far enough; he didn’t kill enough Jews.’”

It was similar in the community, Hafeez said. “I remember, as a kid, holding up signs saying: ‘How can we help our brothers in Palestine?’” 

By the time he was 16, in 2000, Hafeez said he had become “radicalized.”

“There was no question that America and Israel were guilty of all crimes, they were the doers of evil. … When you’re radicalized like that, that’s what you become. Them versus us,” he said.

“My most radicalizing experience was attending a British university. The level of propaganda was insane.” Hafeez attended a group purporting to show students how to be “better Muslims.” It was all about extreme anti-Israel propaganda. “At university, you’re surrounded by people who constantly demonize Jews. … You couldn’t say you were anti-Semitic, which is what it was. But being anti-Zionist was cool.”

One day, at a bookstore, Hafeez came across Alan Dershowitz’s book “The Case for Israel.” He read it with the idea that he would refute all the points. Instead, he found a lot of his deeply held feelings about Israel called into question. Confused, Hafeez decided to find out for himself whether Israel was an apartheid state, as he had always believed. He flew to Israel.

Carrying a recently renewed British passport (unmarked by visas), Hafeez was asked by security at Ben-Gurion Airport what countries he’d been to recently. He said: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The security person asked: Why have you come to Israel? Hafeez was truthful: He said he used to be anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist, but now he wanted to see the country for himself.

“So I spent the next eight hours with a security person,” he said. “He treated me very well, bringing me coffee and things to eat. We became almost like family.” When the security person finally let Hafeez enter the country, he offered some advice: “‘Next time you’re asked why you came to Israel, tell them you’re on holiday.’ ”  

Hafeez walked around Jerusalem looking for signs of apartheid and didn’t see any. “This was not what I expected. I spoke with Muslims; I’d ask them how it was for them. They’d say, ‘We love it here; this is our home.’”

He went to the Holy Sepulcher, Al-Aqsa … then to the Western Wall. 

“I thought: ‘Am I allowed here?’ Well, I was, of course. I was even approached by Chabadniks wanting me to lay tefillin. I thought to myself: ‘What am I doing here? Am I supposed to pray?’

 “I put out a hand to touch the stones, to see what would happen. Then, slowly, I put my forehead on the stones. Then I looked around and saw the Israeli flag, and I thought: Here I am, at the spiritual center of the Israeli state. I looked at that flag and thought: There are 6 million people, 6 million Jews, who never got to see and touch these stones. No matter what happens, no matter what peace agreements are made, what treaties, what progress, there are 6 million who will never get the chance to do what I’m doing right now.”

Hafeez realized that Israel is about survival. “It struck me with such resonance. This is your home. … How hypocritical it had been of me to deny Israelis their homeland.” 

When Hafeez returned to England, he felt he could either get back to life as it was or do something about what he’d learned. He’s been a pro-Israel activist in Great Britain ever since. 

A student in the audience asked, “How do you get along with your family now?”

“My dad and I have nothing to do with one another,” Hafeez said. “My mom ignores the changes I’ve gone through. My sister and auntie are supportive. I even gave them IDF [Israel Defense Forces] scarves, which they wear.”

Asked how he became involved with speaking on the topic, Hafeez responded, “I called SWU and they arranged for me to talk on campuses, gave me tools and resources and information.”

Wrapping up his hour-long presentation, Hafeez said: “If someone says libelous things about Israel and no one responds, the other side considers it a victory. Don’t be ashamed of supporting Israel. It’s a wonderful country. Be proud of it. I figure that if I can change the attitude of just one person, I’ll have done some good. It’s terrible to live with hatred, especially hatred that’s so misplaced. If someone’s been indoctrinated, maybe one little fact might begin to change things, might cause a small crack in that shell.”

ROI youth magnet for global change

“Jewish Summer.” Young, remarkable and ready to change the world.

“I was 25 and never had spoken to a Pakistani delegation before. Mustafa came over to me and said, ‘Would you mind if I sit down next to you and speak?’ We were struck by the fact we were so-called intellectuals—well read—and yet our attitudes in dealing with people were as though we never opened a book.”

That was two years ago, and today Ilja Sichrovsky, savvy founder and general secretary of the Muslim Jewish Conference, and Mustafa are close friends. In 2010, Ilja’s Vienna-based organization brought more than 65 individuals from 25 countries together to promote the idea that with collective faith, peaceful coexistence is feasible.

Ilja represented the electrifying energy of creative and collaborative thought that flowed through the halls of Hebrew University as 150 young global social entrepreneurs came together to share and learn from each other. They are the ROI – an acronym for “return on investment” – attending the sixth ROI Summit sponsored by The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.  Justin Korda, the foundation’s executive director and force behind the initiative, explained to The Media Line that participants, which he described as “a small handful of people building community,” are in their 20s and 30s, and are pooled from other organizations, having been nominated by their peers.

During the five-day conference, participants are brought together to network and engage in ideas, according to Sandy Cardin, president of the Schusterman Foundation and steward of its flagship project. “The focus has changed to strengthening the individual and providing talents and skills, as opposed to earlier years of the projects’ orientation,” he told The Media Line. Indeed, those selected for the Jerusalem conference would reap not only the benefits of exchanging ideas with peers, but receiving hands-on coaching in skills necessary to navigate more mundane organizational needs ranging from fundraising to name branding to improving personal speaking abilities and presentations.

A vibrant force of thinkers representing every aspect of Jewish life ranged from Jewtogether.org, an on-line hospitality network that assists Jewish travelers find Jewish homes; to Moishe House, where a post-collegiate can share in a Jewish environment in any of 35 hosting homes in 14 countries; to Yiddish Summer Farm, where “all things Yiddish are hip”; to Machshava Tova, which collects discarded computers destined for landfills and uses them to train unemployed youth-at-risk as qualified computer technicians.

Skill sessions, experimental labs and master classes featured a wide range of topics including art and culture; cuisine; media hi-tech; environment; LGBT as issues effecting Jews as citizens of the world.

Beaming with pride, conference founder Lynn Schusterman viewed the plethora of proceedings and told The Media Line that, “We’re almost 600 strong and in some way, shape or form, each and every one is a success story. It may not be dollars and cents; they may not have a name-recognition organization yet; but they feel better about whom they are, they have more self-confidence and they look at the world differently.”

One recurring theme in speaking to participants was finding ways the global Jewish community can contribute to making the world around it a better place. The idea was reflected in the make-up of organizations selected to attend. Cadena, for instance, is a Mexican organization created to organize immediate support through the Jewish community that is distributed to victims of natural disasters. Executive director Karen Steiner told of her group’s work after a flood devastated Veracruz. “The government didn’t help the little towns because only boats could get there,” she told The Media Line. “We assisted through the local fisherman and delivered 150 tons of food and water.” The group also provided assistance to Haiti.

Stephen Shashoua heads the U.K.-based Three Faiths Forum, an organization that has linked 45 British schools bringing Jewish, Christian and Muslim students together. Opining that his generation has “more of an instinct for fairness than our parents’ generation did,” he praised ROI for “creating a space where nothing is off-limits.”

Tzvika Avnery is co-founder of Israel-based Wisestamp, an email app platform that enables your functional dynamic email signature. Tzvika told The Media Line that with two million installers globally, “one has the option of enabling users to follow a good cause.” Avnery felt the ROI Summit gave him an opportunity to meet one of his biggest niches – the non-profits and projects for good causes. “For me to meet them, understand their needs and leverage their supporters is important from the business perspective,” he said.

On the flip side sits Charlene Seidle, who is directly involved in grant-making as the vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. As a leading philanthropic adviser, Seidle sees the RIO experience in a different light. “As a funder, I’m besieged by requests. There’s little time to reflect on strategy. We are more responsive and this gathering brings the innovators together and equalizes it.”

Colorado-based Sarah Indyk is a manager at the Rose Community Foundation where she is responsible for three Jewish Life Foundation initiatives. “Do you have a logic model? Will people buy into your idea?” she asks her fellow ROIs during her session entitled, “Evaluation without an Evaluator.”

Laptops, iPads, phones and even antiquated notebooks were all sprawled out across desks while parallel sessions were taught by professionals, most of whom were of equal age to that of the participants.

Jumpstart, through its co-founder Shawn Landres, has changed the global conversation about Jewish innovation primarily through research and advocacy. Landres taught at ROI in 2009, and ran a number of workshops. “I’m here as a participant,” he told The Media Line, “and I’m so honored to be joining the community from that perspective.

Landres was first in line to ask questions of Bob Rosenschein following a master class he delivered. An example of the talent available to summit participants, Rosenschein is the entrepreneurial wizard who created Answers.com – listed among the top 20 sites in the world and recently sold for more than $100 million. He called his session, “Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur.”

“I think it’s brilliant. There is such a diverse group of people here, all talking about action,” said Gadi Rouach, an artist who created the What is Real Creative Energy? video, which will develop into a branding campaign about what Israel and Jewry is today. Another branding expert, Karin Dimant-Rogovsky, who founded Brandtality, returns to the ROI Summit with the distinction of having met her husband at ROI 2007.

Yet, for all of the talk of world-views, reliance upon “Jewish values” is inherent in all of the activities displayed and in the thought process of those assembled to teach and to learn. As well, concern over the place Israel holds in the hierarchy of priorities among the younger generation is rife. Landres, a multi-year veteran of the ROI Summit, suggested that, “there are a lot of young Jews who are becoming social entrepreneurs who are making change in the world and doing so from the basis of their Jewish values…At the end of the day, the burden is on us to show the world that Judaism and Jewish life can bring a positive impact to all of us in the world – to the world around us.” Inwardly, Landres said the other challenge is “to create compelling and meaningful Jewish communities that will engage the 21st Century Jews in ways that connect them to the richness of our tradition.”

With 29 nations represented, none of those assembled in Jerusalem for the ROI Summit was oblivious to being in the region marked by mass unrest and a new set of epithets, including “Arab Spring.”  The Schusterman Foundation’s Korda offered a telling differentiation between the two movements: “Our challenges are different as Jewish people than those living in ‘Tehranical’ countries where human rights are lacking as well as freedom of expression. One of the greatest problems as a result of so much freedom is that in the Jewish world when we talk about revolution we’re talking about transition.” Korda believes that, “These people are not working to overthrow establishment, but working with establishment.”

Jewish communal leaders have been agonizing over the younger generation’s perceived loss of interest in the Jewish state, an issue that is part-and-parcel of the transition Korda spoke about. One reality permeating the ROI Summit was that the new generation does not necessarily reject its parents’ bonding with the modern state, but young Jews do insist on being allowed the ability to process the relevant facts and form independent, informed conclusions. Landres quotes his organization’s research which, he says, demonstrates “a desire on the part of the younger generation to learn; to engage; to see the complexity of Israel from start to finish; to put everything in context and then be treated as adults who are capable of making up their own minds about what their relationship with Israel is going to look like.”

Lynn Schusterman says, “We need a Jewish Spring. And I don’t mean a revolution like what went on in Egypt. But what I think Israel has to do and what I think world Jewry has to do is to be inclusive, not exclusive. And I think they have to welcome anyone who wants to be Jewish to expose them to what being Jewish is; to Jewish education.”

Listening to Schusterman, that the real strategy behind the ROI Summit is a vision that suggests if the attitude is achieved, the individual pieces will fall into place is evidenced by her passionate telling of two stories. The first, her unbridled joy at receiving an email from an ROI alum asking for assistance “for a buddy, not for himself.” The second, the story of a now-successful doctor who attended medical school with a loan from Shusterman’s father. Rather than accept the proffered repayment of the loan, he told the doctor to use the money to “send someone else to medical school.”

From the chemistry apparent at the ROI Summit, it seems likely that Cardin’s prediction of ten years hence is not far-fetched: “a network of some 1700-1800 young activists around the world who understand they’re part of something larger and they’re connected in a way they are really a global force in Jewish life.”

Anti-Semitism in Pakistan — hate on a sliding scale

This is the second of two parts on Pakistan and terror. Previously: Pakistan Reaction: Something dark is growing in our own backyard

Right in the middle of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, stands one of the most recognized symbols of Judaism: the Star of David. It adorns, in relief, Merewether Tower, one of the city’s best-known landmarks, a 112-foot-tall clock tower built by Sir Evans James in 1892. Today, a busy transit intersection has developed around the tower, which hundreds of thousands of Muslims pass each day Complete coverage of Mumbai Chabad attackon their way to work.

Nadeem Ahmed, a broker at the Karachi Stock Exchange located just across the street, points to some old graffiti at the base of the tower that reads “Israel na manzoor” (Israel is not acceptable).

“These marks show the anger of some fanatics for the brutality of Israelis against the Muslims of Palestine and Lebanon,” he says. “Frankly speaking, I’m neither happy nor sad about the Jews who were killed in Mumbai.”

Ahmed’s apathy falls right in the middle of the spectrum of Pakistani attitudes toward Jews. At one end are the virulently anti-Semitic beliefs held by people such as the members of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), Army of the Pure, a banned terrorist outfit operating in Kashmir. The LeT is suspected of being behind the attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai and the murder of the five Jews, including Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah.

At the other end of the spectrum are Pakistanis such as Maria (not her real name), a Shia who converted to Judaism, married a Jewish professor whom she met during her studies in the United States and with whom she has two children.

Unfortunately, tragedies such as what took place in Mumbai last month, in New York in 2001 and in London in 2005, as well as the 2002 murder in Karachi of Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent Daniel Pearl, throw the spotlight on only one end of the spectrum in Pakistan and give the worst impression of Muslims. The other end lies in the dark — the many other variations of how Pakistani Muslims perceive Jews are left out of the picture.

ALTTEXTMerewether Tower

Jews recall Musharraf ties and wonder what comes next

With control of the world’s only nuclear-armed Muslim state up in the air, many Jewish and Israeli observers are watching the political turmoil in Pakistan with unease.

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as Pakistan’s president on Monday, might not have been a great friend of the Jewish people, but he was seen as an ally of the West and a relatively moderate leader of a nuclear state with powerful Islamist elements.

He also had some ties to Jewish groups.

In 2005, Musharraf addressed a Jewish gathering in New York, where he said Pakistan would establish ties with Israel after the Palestinians have a state. During that same visit, Musharraf shook hands with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the U.N. General Assembly. Musharraf also is rumored to have exchanged letters of friendship with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

With Musharraf out, it’s not clear whether or not the open door Jewish organizational leaders have had in Islamabad is in danger of slamming shut.

“It’s a big plus for the Jewish people to have an opening to the world’s only nuclear-armed Muslim country,” David Twersky, senior adviser for international affairs at the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress), said of the relationship between American Jewish groups and Musharraf. “I hope the idea of being open to American Jews doesn’t get thrown out with Musharraf.”

AJCongress chairman Jack Rosen, who has shuttled between New York and Islamabad multiple times to meet with Musharraf on issues of Jewish interest, said he’s confident that the new government in Pakistan won’t sever the country’s dialogue with the Jews.

“I know everybody wants to talk about Musharraf the individual, who was at the center of the stage for the past few years, and everyone wonders what happens next,” said Rosen, who is also chairman of the Council for World Jewry, which is affiliated with the AJCongress. “Our reason for having initiated the contact, and his reason, doesn’t change with the new administration.

“For moderate Muslim leaders around the world, which includes Pakistan, they want to engage America, they want to engage the West, they want to have a dialogue with members of other faiths,” he said. “That doesn’t falter with Musharraf leaving.”

Musharraf’s tenure saw the first high-level diplomatic contacts between Israel and Pakistan. The countries’ foreign ministers met in Istanbul 2005, and after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September of that year, Musharraf said it was time for Pakistan to engage with Israel.

Even as Musharraf’s 2005 speech to a Jewish audience in New York was criticized by Jews for being pro-Palestinian, it was criticized in Pakistan for being too accommodating of Israel.

Musharraf’s resignation this week comes after months of political instability in Pakistan. Last fall, the president moved to suspend the country’s constitution and scuttle planned parliamentary elections. Massive protests prompted Musharraf to back off and eventually resign his position as commander of the armed forces.

The assassination of opposition figure Benazir Bhutto last December further fueled calls for Musharraf to resign as president. Some charged him with being complicit in the Bhutto slaying by not providing her with adequate security.

When he announced his resignation Monday, Musharraf said he was doing so to spare the country his impeachment.

The president of Pakistan’s Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro, becomes the acting president. According to Pakistani law, the next president must be chosen by the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies within 30 days.

The country’s 4-month-old coalition government is led by Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, the chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League and a former prime minister. Sharif’s term was ended in 1999 by Musharraf’s bloodless coup.

Whoever emerges as the next president, analysts say the new leader is unlikely to wield the same broad-ranging powers as Musharraf.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed fears that Pakistan could choose someone with an Islamist orientation.

“I’m very worried about it,” he said.

Nevertheless, Hoenlein and other Jewish organizational officials interviewed for this story stressed the ongoing contacts Jews have had with Pakistani governments over the years — long before Musharraf — and expressed confidence that they would persist in the future.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations once even hosted a kosher lunch for some Jews at his residence, said Hoenlein, who attended the event.

Even if a pro-Western regime endures in Islamabad, however, it isn’t clear whether the next leader will be able to keep Pakistan’s hard-line Islamists at bay.

Within hours of Musharraf’s resignation on Monday, a suicide bomber in Pakistan’s Northwest province — a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban — killed 23 people in a hospital emergency room, according to reports.

A culture of violence or a cult of the superficial?

When The Journal asked me to write a note about the murder of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, I initially declined. I did not feel I had anything insightful or original to add to the dozens of gloomy and desperate articles we have been receiving by Pakistanis and Western analysts in the wake of that horrible tragedy.

I have changed my mind, because the eloquent article in The Jewish Journal by Beirut-based journalist Rami Khouri, “Who Killed Benazir Bhutto?” (Jan. 4) has alerted me to a recurrent phenomenon that deserves our attention.

Khouri places Bhutto’s murder in the wider context of regionwide proliferation of political violence and puts the blame on the fact that “in the life of ordinary people in the vast region from North Africa and the Middle East to South Asia political violence has become an everyday fact of life.”

The essence of Khouri’s article shines through its concluding paragraphs: “They kill as they have been killed. Having been dehumanized in turn, they will embrace inhumanity and brutality.

“Who killed Benazir Bhutto? We all killed her, in East and West, Orient and Occident, North and South. We of the globalized beastly generation that transformed political violence from an occasional crime to an ideology and an addiction.”

My Western upbringing resonates strongly with Khouri’s dramatic ending: “We all killed her,” which I take to be a poetic call for self-examination and social action, urging each and every one of us to make a difference by cleaning our own mess. I am sure many in the Judeo-Christian tradition will echo this call with, “Indeed, let us work on ourselves first” — it is in the nature of our cultural reflex.

But my moral instinct tells me something totally different. It tells me that what the world needs during this state of social upheaval are distinctions, not generalizations, clarity, not equivocation. To say, “We are all guilty,” is paramount to saying, “No one is guilty,” like that bully who excuses himself with the rejoinder, “They all do it.”

Sweeping generalizations that spread guilt too broadly tend to obscure the anatomy of violence; they drive attention away from critical factors and pivotal players and hamper our ability to take corrective actions.

I became particularly sensitive to this logic of overgeneralization in the weeks following the murder of our son, Daniel, when jihadi Web sites began ranting: “What’s all the fuss about one Jewish journalist, when so many Muslims are being killed in Palestine and Afghanistan?”

It is pointless, of course, to explain to jihadis that terrorism earns its ominous and morally reprehensible character not through body count but through intent, i.e., the intent of the perpetrators to harm the innocent — jihadis refuse to get it.

One would expect, however, that modernity-minded thinkers should grasp this defining distinction and use it to tell a good guy from a bad one — they, too, refuse to get it. While every 12-year-old could tell who aims to minimize civilian casualties and who aims to maximize them, anti-American ideologues make believe they could not. They insist on regurgitating the body count argument and pretend they’ve never heard the word “intent.”

Time after time in my lectures before mixed Muslim-Jewish audiences, I get the question: “Isn’t the U.S. operation in Iraq a state-sponsored terrorism?” or “Isn’t Israeli targeted killing morally equivalent to Palestinian suicide bombing?” Even after admitting that Israel aims to minimize civilian casualties — it is, after all, bad for public opinion — the questioners refuse to accept the distinction.

Symmetry is so seductive, and the idea that every strife has two equivalent sides so deeply entrenched in our culture, that even well-meaning intellectuals fall into its trap.

Michael Winterbottom, for example, the director of the movie, “A Mighty Heart,” compared Daniel’s murder to the conditions in Guantanamo, and wrote: “There are extremists on both sides who want to ratchet up the levels of violence, and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this.”

Khouri is thus in good company when he falls into the trap of body count and states: “It makes little difference if this is the work of democratic or dictatorial leaders: Dead children and war-ravaged societies do not value such distinctions.”

What is dangerous in this tendency to generalize and symmetrize violent acts is that it actually helps spread the ideology of political violence, for it permits angry youngsters to reason thus: “All forms of violence are equally evil; therefore, as long as one persists, others should not be ruled out.” This is precisely the logic used by Mohammed Siddiqui Khan, one of the London suicide bombers, in his post-mortem videotape on Al Jazeera.

But no less dangerous is the destructive influence of ideologues who, armed with the halo of nonviolence advocacy, exploit the superficial to preach hatred and bigotry. Typical among them is Arun Gandhi, grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who just this month published an article on the Newsweek/Washington Post Web site titled, “Jewish Identity Can’t Depend on Violence,” in which he states that “Israel and the Jews are the biggest players” in the creation of a “culture of violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity.”

Such reckless twistings of reality, soaked in apocalyptic pontification, spring abundantly from the cult of the superficial and its lazy logic of body count.

Saying, “We all killed Benazir Bhutto” means that violence is so hopelessly symmetric, chaotic and all-pervasive that we do not know where to begin our effort to contain it. But we do know where to begin, because some acts are violence-reducing, while others are violence-producing — the two are not equivalent, and we should obviously begin with the former.

For example, Israel’s military operations in Gaza are not equivalent to the firing of Qassam rockets into Sderot. The former will cease if the latter does but not the other way around. This causal asymmetry is so glaring, that only minds like Gandhi’s can mindlessly ignore.

We have a similar asymmetry in Iraq, where one side sees cessation of hostilities as an achievement, the other as defeat. In such cases, the asymmetries should be noted, analyzed and acted on, rather than dismissed with, “We all killed her?”

With Pakistan in turmoil, Israel keeps eye on nukes

With the pro-U.S. regime of Pervez Musharraf in crisis following the Pakistani president’s move to suspend his country’s constitution and scuttle planned parliamentary elections, Israel is watching the developments with great concern.

The turmoil in Pakistan presents Israel with several nightmare scenarios.

One is that radical Islamists with ties to al Qaeda defeat Musharraf and get their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Another is that the breakdown of law and order enables terrorist groups to acquire enough enriched uranium from Pakistan’s extensive stockpiles and manufacture small nuclear devices known as “dirty bombs.” Radical Islamists then could smuggle and detonate the bombs anywhere in the world. Israel would be a top target.

The nightmare does not end with the prospect of an “Islamic bomb” being used against the Jewish state.

Pakistan’s success in obtaining an atomic arsenal has helped propel nuclear aspirations among other Muslim nations, most notably Iran. As Iran’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons has intensified, other Arab countries have announced they will be pursuing “more robust” nuclear programs.

A nuclear bomb in an unstable Pakistan or with a rogue regime likely would accelerate these incipient moves toward a multi-nuclear Middle East.

Ironically, Israel’s new concerns with Pakistan come after something of a honeymoon period between the two countries. During that time, some observers raised the possibility of diplomatic ties between Israel and the large, influential Muslim state.

In the 1990s, after establishing diplomatic ties with China and India, Israel wooed Pakistan. The Pakistanis were caught between fearing what Muslim radicals might say or do if they established ties with Israel and the desire to use ties to Israel to make inroads in Washington and offset Israel’s growing collaboration with India, Pakistan’s traditional rival.

Israel-Pakistan détente reached its climax in September 2005 with a public meeting between foreign ministers Silvan Shalom and Khurshid Kasuri in Istanbul following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

But a hoped-for breakthrough failed to materialize, and the Pakistanis made clear that formal ties would come only after the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Some Israeli analysts see in the Pakistani unrest this month a danger to Israel even graver than Iran. The reason is simple: Pakistan already has nuclear weapons.

Pakistan joined the nuclear club in 1998 after carrying out a successful nuclear test that took Western intelligence services by surprise. Since then, Pakistan has produced enough enriched uranium for an estimated 30 to 60 nuclear devices. It also has a parallel plutonium-based nuclear program and, with North Korean help, plans to develop intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could reach Israel.

To date, Israel has not made much of a fuss about the Pakistani bomb.

On the contrary, in the late 1990s, when rumors surfaced of Israeli-U.S. plans to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities, Israel took great pains to reassure the Pakistanis that it had no such designs.

The reason for Israel’s relative equanimity was the nature of the Pakistani regime, perceived as stable, pro-Western and responsible. Moreover, Pakistan’s strategic reason for wanting a bomb — as a counterweight to neighboring India’s nuclear power — made sense even if it was undesirable.

But the current unrest points to a potentially very different Pakistan driven by fundamentalist Islamic forces.

Over the past few years, Pakistan has seen a constant influx of Islamist money and ideology, much of it from Saudi Arabia, and Islamist fighters, most of them Taliban crossing over from neighboring Afghanistan to escape U.S. and allied troops. Both have had tremendous influence on the country.

In the latest issue of the Foreign Policy quarterly, 100 American experts named Pakistan as the country “most likely to become the next al-Qaeda stronghold.”

That would spell deep trouble for Israel.

Even if the pro-Western regime in Islamabad manages to cling to power, terrorists still may get their hands on Pakistani fissile material necessary to manufacture a dirty bomb.

Pakistan’s secret service is thought to be inundated with people with Islamic sympathies, and any of them could collaborate with Islamic terrorists or Arab regimes in the same way that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistani bomb, illicitly sold nuclear technology to Libya and Iran in exchange for cash.

This danger would be particularly high if Pakistan is in turmoil and nuclear sales are seen as a fast route to easy money.

If moderate Arab countries feel threatened by Iran and/or Pakistan, they too could go down the nuclear road.

A year ago Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia all declared they intended to boost their “peaceful” nuclear programs. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco all have sizable reactors and advanced nuclear energy programs that could become the basis for weaponization.

“Because there would be so many different players, with so many different strategic interests, the risk of miscalculation, of misreading an opponent’s moves and, ultimately, of irresponsible use of the bomb would be much higher,” nuclear strategist Reuven Pedatzur of the Netanya Academic College said.

To dissuade Arab moderates from going nuclear, Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and now director of the Washington-based Brookings Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, has proposed that the United States offer those nations a nuclear umbrella.

Under Indyk’s proposal, any nuclear attack on those states would provoke an automatic nuclear response by the United States on their behalf.

Israel’s official policy is in favor of a nuclear-free Middle East, but only after peace is achieved with all the Arab countries, the Palestinians and Iran.

Now that policy may depend on another factor: who wins control in Islamabad.

British boycott moves reveal anti-Israel bias

The utter hypocrisy of the British National Union of Journalists, which recently voted to boycott only Israel, has now become evident in the face of the silence over the recent move by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to suppress dissent by the media in his leftist regime.

General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, too, has now imposed massive press censorship. In many of the other hard-left favored countries – Cuba, China, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe – suppression of the press is routine, and imprisonment of journalists is common.

But there is not a peep about these countries from the British National Union of Journalists, who seem to admire tyranny and condemn democracy and openness.

Only Israel, which has among the freest presses of the world, is being targeted for sanctions. Even Arab and Muslim journalists have more freedom of the press in Israel than in any Arab or Muslim nation. While Palestinian terrorist groups murder, kidnap and threaten journalists, the British Union exempts the Palestinian authority, run by the censorious Hamas, from its journalistic sanctions.

The reason is obvious. The British Union cares less about journalists or freedom of the press than it does about blindly condemning the Jewish state.

The same can be said about the British University and College Union, which has voted to move forward with the boycott against only Israeli academics. Israel has more academic freedom – for Jews and Muslims alike – than any Arab or Muslim nation and than the vast majority of countries in the world.

Israeli scientists have developed, on a per capita basis, more lifesaving medical technologies than any nation in the world. Yet the British Union has singled out Israel alone for boycott.

Again, this has nothing to do with protecting academic freedom or scientific inquiry. It has everything to do with anti-Israel bigotry.

Now academics around the world are fighting back against this British bigotry. Led by more than a dozen Nobel Prize winners, thousands of American academics have signed a petition declaring themselves to be honorary Israelis for purposes of any academic boycott. They have pledged to refuse to participate in any events from which Israeli academics are boycotted.

Any academic who wishes to join this moral response to an immoral boycott can e-mail ScholarsforPeace@aol.com.

Jihad follows twisted path from Afghanistan to Israel

The path of jihad begins in a cave on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. From there, it takes a dizzying spin through Iran, wends its way through the Middle East and then settles, inevitably, in Israel.


What Musharraf Should Say to Jews

Dialogue between Jews and Muslims is a necessary step toward easing world tension, and we are therefore pleased that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has addressed the American Jewish Congress last weekend in New York.

As we have been actively involved in such dialogue over the last two years — through public appearances, community discussions and extensive touring within and outside the United States — we thought that Musharraf could benefit from our findings and experience.

There are several points that Jews would like to hear from a Muslim leader and others they need to hear.

First, Jews would like an unambiguous statement condemning anti-Semitism. Muslim leaders need to take a clear moral stand regarding anti-Semitism, whatever their feelings about the politics of the Middle East. They likewise must ensure that the current surge in anti-Semitism is acknowledged, checked and fought back at the highest levels of government.

Second, a Muslim leader needs to convey to his Jewish audience that the cultural and religious basis for such a fight is deeply entrenched in the Islamic civilization. He needs to point out the many and strong bonds that exist between the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as the respect Muslims have for the great shared biblical figures such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses and for many rituals and values.

Third, Jewish audiences would like to hear that Muslim education and Muslim media are prepared to portray modern Jews as heirs to, and equal carriers of, the Abrahamic tradition.

Fourth, Jews would like to hear an explanation of Islam’s attitudes toward and practice of democracy, human rights and civil liberties. Here, the example of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan revered by Pakistanis as the Quaid-i-Azam, or great leader, would be extremely illuminating. Jinnah was the embodiment of parliamentary democracy and believed in human rights and respect for the law. He achieved the creation of Pakistan in 1947, then the largest Muslim nation on earth, without ever having broken the law or going to jail.

Fifth, Muslim leaders need to give a clear direction to relations with Israel. Reaction to Israel is complicated by the strong feeling Muslims have for Palestinians, whom they see as a people oppressed. Muslim leaders need to also understand and appreciate Jewish history and the national aspirations of the Jewish people. A double-narrative — of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples — needs to be heard in both the Muslim and the Jewish media.

Muslim leaders need to work toward the creation of two states both living in security, peace and hopefully harmony. Most importantly, framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a clash between two legitimate national movements is a crucial first step toward resolving the conflict.

Sixth, a Muslim leader should point out that there is a growing sense of Islamophobia in the West, which allows the prophet of Islam and the religion itself to be attacked with impunity. This Islamophobia encourages the perception that the loss of Muslim lives is of little concern to the rest of the world, and further feeds into the sense of anger, desperation and injustice which strengthens people of violence.

Unfortunately, many Muslims perceive the Islamophobia as being fomented by Jews, and there is a conspiracy-theory mindset in the Muslim world that tends to blame the Jews for the ills of the Muslim world. Jewish leaders must be more active and visible in the fight against Islamophobia, and Muslim leaders, in turn, must help dispel unfounded conspiracy theories.

Seventh, on the issue of terrorism, Jewish audiences would like to hear Muslim leaders take an unequivocal moral stance, not merely against the perpetrators of terrorist acts, but also against the ideologues and legitimizers of such acts — in particular, suicide bombings against Israelis. The red lines against the targeting of innocent lives cannot be crossed for any grievance.

Finally, in order to overcome the chasm of misunderstanding and bad history which exists between our respective communities, an active, long-term, ongoing public dialogue of the Abrahamic faiths needs to be supported throughout the Muslim world. This dialogue needs to include every shade of political opinion, religious leadership and gender. It is a dialogue not only of civilizations, but for the future of mankind.

Perhaps the most powerful gesture that Musharraf could make — both for purposes of bridge-building and for pointing the direction to the future — is to announce a meaningful memorial to the late Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was so tragically murdered in Pakistan and who came to symbolize the very idea of East-West dialogue.

We proposed that if Musharraf were to build a Daniel Pearl Center for Abrahamic Dialogue in Karachi, where Danny lost his life, he would be creating a spiritual and moral campus that could bring people together, and at the same time be a strong gesture of healing and compassion, and serve as a concrete embodiment of Musharraf’s call for “enlightened moderation.”

Akbar Ahmed, a former high commissioner from Pakistan to the United Kingdom, is Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic studies at American University. Judea Pearl is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his murdered son, and a professor of artificial intelligence at UCLA.

Honest Reporting

“When you look at us, all you see is Osama bin Laden.”

I had to admit, Walid al-Saqaf had a point.

Al-Saqaf sat on a small stage at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood with me and journalist Ammara Durani. For the past four months, both had been Alfred Friendly Press Fellows — al-Saqaf at the Wall Street Journal; Durani at the Los Angeles Times.

Both were also Daniel Pearl Fellows, chosen by the Los Angeles-based Daniel Pearl Foundation from among 99 Muslim journalists around the world to work and study in the United States.

Al-Saqaf, 31, has served as editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times, the country’s largest and most influential English-language newspaper. A computer scientist by training, he took over the paper when its previous editor and publisher died in a mysterious traffic accident after editorializing for more open government. That editor was al-Saqaf’s father.

Durani, 28, is assistant editor of The News, Pakistan’s most important English-language paper. She has received awards and fellowships for reporting on Pakistan’s water crisis and the role of women in society, and she holds a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge University.

I sat with Durani and al-Saqaf to moderate a discussion titled, “Muslim Journalists Look at America” for the Los Angeles Press Club on Aug. 17.

“What information about your country,” I asked them both, “isn’t getting out through the American media?”

That’s when al-Saqaf answered with characteristic bluntness and clarity.

“I’m from the country where Osama bin Laden originated,” he said, “and she is from the country where he may be hiding, and that’s all most Americans really care about.”

As I said, he had a point.

As the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, America and the Muslim world are still circling each other like cage fighters on Spike TV. This week, former Bush administration communications director Karen Hughes announced she is just putting the finishing touches on a strategic plan to reach out to the Muslim world and explain U.S. policy, but judging by the comments of the visiting journalists, she is the last ambulance on the scene.

To hear the two journalists explain it, the Americans can’t see beyond Osama and Saddam, and the Muslim world can’t see beyond Palestine and Iraq — and both sides see red.

“Is any aspect of American foreign policy popular in your country?” I asked them.

“To tell you the truth,” Durani said, “no.”

Al-Saqaf said that in Yemen there had been a surge of sympathy for America following Sept. 11, and a wave of support for President George W. Bush’s calls for reform and democracy in the Arab world. But the Iraq War, coupled with heavily anti-Israel news on Arab radio and TV, turned public opinion against America.

Changing the anti-American sentiment that results will be difficult — even if the goal is simply to achieve perceptions that, if not pro-American, are at least fair and balanced. With all due respect to Hughes, the best approach may have more to do with supporting indigenous journalists than providing slicker response teams.

After Daniel Pearl’s brutal murder at the hands of Islamic terrorists, Judea and Ruth Pearl vowed to further their son’s commitment to journalism as a means for cultural understanding. They decided to bring Muslim journalists to America for professional training and experience. As part of the fellowship, the journalists spend some time at an Anglo-Jewish paper. Durani spent two weeks at The Jewish Journal. She visited a synagogue for the first time, and discovered a broad range of opinion in what many of her countrymen view as a rather monolithic community. And, as part of her reporting, she also explored the nuances of Muslim life in Los Angeles.

That said, it’s safe to say we learned as much or more from her as she learned from being with us. My suggestion to Hughes: emulate the Pearl Fellows program, many times over.

At the panel discussion, Judea Pearl stood and asked the most challenging question, cutting to the heart of one problematic issue in the Muslim’s worldview.

“Pick 12 of your closest friends,” he said, “How many of them wish Israel would go away?”

“Twelve of them,” al-Saqaf answered.

And these were the educated, Westernized, modern Yemenis.

Durani nodded, but each journalist saw signs of hope.

“They hope, they wish, they dream for Israel to go away,” al-Saqaf said. “But they have come to accept they can’t change history.”

He said journalists can pressure Arab and Muslim rulers to “level with their people” and confront the region’s real problems: the lack of development and the dearth of democracy and accountability.

Durani said that Pakistan’s experience suggests reason for optimism.

“We have spent our lives thinking that the enemy was Hindu India,” she said, referring to the anti-India message once taught in schools and embedded in Pakistani culture. “Then, suddenly, we are cooperating, and we find what we have in common.”

The perception of a mortal enemy changed suddenly, once the leaders made the decision to change. The drama, importance and potential of that sudden shift in Muslim perceptions is a lesson for us all — provided the story gets told.

For more information on the Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellows, visit www.danielpearlfoundation.org.

Israel Growing as Arms Dealer

To every black cloud, they say, there is a silver lining. Under constant threat from terrorists and hostile neighbors, Israel has become an expert in security — and that expertise is generating huge profits.

Israel has been one of the world’s big arms sellers for more than a decade, yet it really joined the major leagues this week when the government approved the $1.1 billion sale of the Phalcon command-and-control radar system to India.

Israel’s annual sales of weaponry worldwide total about $30 billion. Figures released by the Defense Ministry during the Phalcon presentation to the Cabinet on Sunday show that with about 10 percent to 14 percent of the world market, Israel is the fifth-largest exporter of weapons systems after the United States, the European Union, Russia and Japan.

Aside from the moral issues raised by arms sales, there are some practical problems of realpolitik.

For one, the sales sometimes bring Israel into direct conflict with its closest ally, the United States, which has its own geopolitical interests — as well as a domestic arms industry that it wants to protect from competition.

For another, selling Israeli know-how to other countries means some of it could wind up in enemy hands, neutralizing key advantages Israel might need in a future battlefield.

On Sunday, the government gave the go-ahead for what will be Israel’s single biggest export deal to date: the sale of three Phalcon airborne early-warning systems to India for $1.1 billion.

Though the Phalcon does not have any American components and was developed entirely by Israel, the Israelis sought and received American permission for the sale last August.

That followed Israel’s embarrassing cancellation of a similar deal with China in July 2000 after strenuous American objections. Washington argued then that giving the Chinese such sophisticated systems could make things far more difficult for the United States in any future air battle with mainland China over Taiwan.

Israeli officials claimed that the American objection had more to do with a desire to keep Israel out of the competition for lucrative early-warning system contracts.

The Americans only approved the India deal after they were convinced that it would not destabilize relations between India and Pakistan.

In 2003, Israel signed contracts for weapons sales amounting to $3 billion. The target this year is more than $4 billion.

Israel leads the world in a number of systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, small spotter planes that fly over territory and send back data on troop and other movements; a sophisticated system for analyzing air battles, and electronic systems for fighter planes.

A partial list of current sales gives an idea of the scope of the Israeli operation. Israel sells UAVs to South Korea; the Phalcon, electronics, a sophisticated radar system, UAVs and missiles to India; anti-tank missiles to Poland; UAVs to Finland, Belgium, France and Switzerland; the system for analyzing air battles to Finland and Holland; a system for pinpointing fighter plane targets to Spain and Greece; and night-vision systems to Denmark.

Israel has upgraded tanks and fighter planes for Turkey; has sold naval systems to Australia; and has sold armor for personnel carriers, UAVs, fighter-pilot sights and the system for pinpointing fighter plane targets to the United States.

Paradoxically, Israel’s big advantage over other countries is its dire security situation, which turns the country into a laboratory for arms development. Israel has to keep developing new weapons to survive. Often, because of the conflict with the Palestinians, the systems are tested and proven in battle conditions.

Some critics question the morality of such sales, saying they hardly fulfill the vision that Theodor Herzl, the father of the Zionist movement, would have hoped for — though he probably also wouldn’t have expected to find Israel still under existential threat 55 years after its founding.

Spokesmen for Israel’s military industry often justify the sales by arguing that if Israel didn’t provide weapons to various countries, someone else would.

Moreover, they say, arms sales are not necessarily immoral; they sometimes can prevent wars by deterring would-be aggressors.

The Israeli sales, however, sometimes lead to strained relations with the United States. In addition to the tension over the Chinese Phalcon sale, there have been other cases of the United States stifling Israeli initiatives: Washington put pressure on Britain not to buy Israeli "Spike" anti-tank missiles and to purchase American "Javelin" missiles instead.

The United States also forced Israel to accept American-made radar in the state-of-the-art, F-16I fighter bombers Israel recently received from the United States — rather than the Israeli Elta system that Israeli officials consider to be better.

Israeli officials recognize that the more weapons they sell, the greater the risk that Israeli systems could fall into Arab hands. If that happened, the systems could be dismantled and analyzed, and crucial battlefield advantages could be nullified.

Officials already fear that some military technology they shared with the United States has reached the Egyptian army, which is supplied by the United States — and such snafus could happen on a wider scale if Israel sells weapons to less trustworthy clients.

Israel could increase its already large share of the world weapons market if projected sales of the Arrow anti-missile system are allowed to go ahead.

India is one of several countries that has expressed interest. The United States, which funded much of the Arrow’s development, so far has blocked any sale, arguing that the Arrow could destabilize India-Pakistan relations by tilting the balance of power too strongly in India’s favor.

Some U.S. Congressmen have suggested that the United States deploy the Arrow until its own anti-missile defense system is operational, but so far Washington has not shown any interest in buying Arrows from Israel.

Israeli officials say Israel gladly would forego the billions of dollars it earns in arms sales if peace with the Arabs could be achieved and military development could be de-emphasized.

Until that happens, however, the byproduct of Israel’s own defense needs is likely to be a thriving defense industry, conducting an ever-growing export trade.

Writer Accused of Mossad Ties

Israeli officials are angrily dismissing claims that the Wall Street Journal reporter abducted in Pakistan works for the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service.

The presumed Pakistani kidnappers of Daniel Pearl said Wednesday they would kill him within 24 hours because they believe he is affiliated with the Mossad.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, called the claims “ridiculous,” “rubbish” and “totally unfounded.”

“There are some people who will say that Israel and the Jews are behind every calamity,” he said.

E-mails sent from men claiming to be holding Pearl since last week previously accused the journalist of working for the CIA.

“We have interrogated Mr. D. Pearl and have come to the conclusion that contrary to what we thought earlier, he is not working for the CIA,” the kidnappers wrote in an e-mail sent Wednesday to Western and Pakistani news organizations. “In fact, he is working for Mossad, therefore we will execute him within 24 hours unless America fulfills our demands.”

Included in the message was a warning for other American journalists to leave Pakistan within three days or become a target.

They are threatening to kill Pearl unless their demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani detainees held by the United States in connection with the war against terrorism, are met.

The e-mails have been sent along with pictures of Pearl, and the threats are being taken seriously. The group calls itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.

State Department officials said they have been working with Pakistani authorities to try to obtain Pearl’s release.

On Wednesday, Pakistan officials said they had arrested Sheik Mubarik Ali Gilani, the leader of a small Muslim fundamentalist group whom Pearl was apparently attempting to interview.

The White House on Wednesday said it had no new information on Pearl.

American Jewish officials are reluctant to comment on Pearl, worried that any statements might further endanger him.

“It’s easy to scapegoat and rally people behind that charge,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “Once you accuse him of being a CIA agent, the American government knows he is or he isn’t,” said Hoenlein, who knows Pearl.

“Once you accuse him of being a Mossad agent, it’s their word against Israel’s denial.”

Jewish officials originally believed that Pearl’s capture was unrelated to the fact that he is Jewish, until his captors tried to link him to Mossad.

“It’s part of the same sick conspiratorial lunacy that blames Mossad and Israel for the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“We hope and pray that rational minds will prevail and see the wrong of their assumptions, and that he will walk out of there in safety.”

Gilani reportedly had ties to Richard Reid, the man accused of attempting to ignite an explosive device in his shoe aboard an American airplane last month.

Pearl, 38, is the paper’s South Asian correspondent and lives in Karachi with his wife, Mariane, a French freelance journalist who is six months pregnant.

In a prepared statement released this week, the Wall Street Journal said Pearl was a U.S. citizen born in the United States, has been a working journalist all of his adult life and is not an agent of any government or agency.

“His writing has always been respectful of Islam and the people of Pakistan,” the paper’s statement said.

The Wall Street Journal’s managing editor has sent an e-mail to the same address the kidnappers are using, pleading for his safe return.

Pearl, who was born in Princeton, N.J., has been working for the Wall Street Journal since November 1990, where he started covering transportation and telecommunications in the Atlanta and Washington bureaus.

He moved to the Wall Street Journal’s London bureau in 1996 to write about the Middle East. Three years later he moved to Paris, where he continued to write about the Middle East, and then moved to the paper’s Bombay bureau in December 2000.

Two days before he was abducted, Pearl co-wrote a piece with another Wall Street Journal reporter about Pakistan removing Islamic groups from the disputed region of Kashmir, the area claimed by both India and Pakistan.

In a Jan. 28 article, the Wall Street Journal said Pearl is “experienced working in dangerous places and is known among his colleagues for his cautious approach to reporting and concern for safety.”

Pearl drew up safety guidelines for the paper’s overseas staff and encouraged other reporters to check in repeatedly with editors.

JTA correspondent Sharon Samber in Washington and JTA staff writer Rachel Pomerance in New York contributed to this report.