Tuesday 30 September 2008

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says pullback's only path to peace

Tuesday, September 30th 2008

BY Matthew Kalman

JERUSALEM - Israel must withdraw from most of the West Bank and give up East Jerusalem if it ever hopes to have peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared Monday, stunning fellow Israelis.

He also said the Golan Heights must one day be returned to neighboring Syria.

"One more hill, another 100 meters, it's not something that will affect Israel's security," Olmert told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

"What I am telling you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me. The time has come to say these things. The time has come to put them on the table," he declared.

Just what his words will mean for the peace process is uncertain. Olmert has been forced to step down over a corruption scandal and now heads a caretaker government while newly-elected Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni tries to form a new governing coalition the next five weeks.

If she fails , new national elections will be held in six weeks.

Olmert said Israel had a limited window of opportunity to take "a historic step" in relations with the Palestinians and the Syrians.

His comments provoked outrage from the Right and amazement from the Left.

The Yedioth Ahronoth wrote that Olmert's comments would complicate Livni's job even before she takes over.

"He places on the doorstep of his successor a foreign policy doctrine, the likes of which has never been spoken by an incumbent prime minister," commented his interviewers.

The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem - areas captured by in the 1967 Mideast war - for a future independent state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but retains overall control over the West Bank and all of Jerusalem.

Essentially, Olmert wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders - before the Arabs attacked.

"At the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel," Olmert said.

"We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories," Olmert said.

"I think we are very close to an agreement," he added.

Most observers believe Olmert has no chance of achieving a breakthrough before he steps down and say he will more likely to be remembered for his ill-fated attack on Lebanon in 2006 than any peacemaking. He

Turning to Syria, Olmert said he had initiated secret talks in February 2007.

"It is true that an agreement with Syria comes with danger," he said. "Those who want to act with zero danger should move to Switzerland."

"I'd like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights," he said, referring to the strategic plateau which is the only occupied area outside Jerusalem formally annexed by Israel.

He admitted that his views had changed since he entered politics 35 years ago.

"For many of those years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth," said Olmert, who once was mayor of Jerusalem.

His comments, signalling the most far-reaching concessions ever made in public by an Israeli leader, provoked fury among his critics. The Right accused him of betraying his nationalist roots and tying the hands of future Israeli peace negotiators. The Left demanded to know how his policies in office for nearly three years squared with his new-found generosity.

"The prime minister's concession of the essential borders for defense is a gamble on our very existence, and the future of the State of Israel," said Yuval Steinitz, a right-wing member of parliament and former chairman of the Knesset Defence Committee.

Steinitz said Olmert did not understand "the fundamentals of security."

Yossi Beilin, a leading dove-ish MP, said Olmert's change of heart had come too late.

"Olmert has committed the unforgivable sin of revealing his true stance on Israel's national interest just when he has nothing left to lose," said Beilin.

"You believe it is in Israel's national interest to make peace, but for two-and-a-half years, almost three years, all you have done is wage an unnecessary war in Lebanon and… stifle any peace process," Beilin said.

Sunday 28 September 2008

First permanent post for American G.I.s in Israel


Sunday, September 28th 2008

JERUSALEM - The United States has stationed 120 American troops and an early-warning radar system in Israel - marking the first permanent U.S. military presence there.

Soldiers and technicians from the U.S. European Command flew to the Nevatim military base in the Negev Desert last Sunday, bringing with them advanced radar systems designed to help protect Israel against a potential ballistic missile attack from Iran, according to the weekly Defense News.

Once operational, the system is expected to double or even triple the range at which Israel could detect, track and ultimately intercept Iranian missiles, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, told Defense News.

The Forward Based X-Band Transportable Radar will be linked to U.S. satellite tracking stations and Israel's Arrow-2 defensive rocket system, enabling the Israelis to detect and destroy any incoming Iranian missile before it enters Israeli air space.

Japan deployed the same system two years ago to detect potential missiles launched from North Korea.

The U.S. European Command has deployed troops and Patriot air defenses for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime planning, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil, according to Defense News.

"This is a major upgrade in bilateral preparations for the threats facing Israel," an Israeli defense official said.

A British newspaper reported Friday that President Bush refused to okay a preemptive strike by Israel against Iran's fledgling nuclear facilities.

In Israel, the X-Band is seen as a consolation prize.

Iranian state TV has reported testing of its Shehab-3 long-range ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 1,242 miles - more than far enough to hit Tel Aviv.

At a recent military parade in Tehran, banners adorning six Shehab-3 missiles declared: "Israel must be wiped off the map," and "We will crush America under our feet."

The United Nations recently renewed economic sanctions against Iran designed to halt its nuclear program and stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Israeli leaders fear that a nuclear Iran, driven by its violently anti-Jewish leaders, will try to destroy Israel.

Friday 26 September 2008

Paul McCartney Rocks Israel

PEOPLE.COM : Friday September 26, 2008
By Matthew Kalman

Forty-three years after an over-protective Israeli government banned The Beatles from their country, Paul McCartney performed in front of an audience of 45,000 in Tel Aviv, just days before the start of the Jewish new year.

The Israeli audience roared its approval as Sir Paul greeted the crowd on Thursday night and wished them a happy new year in Liverpudlian-accented Hebrew: "Shalom Tel Aviv. Shana Tova."

Though his current girlfriend, Nancy Shevell, 48, was in attendance, McCartney, 66, dedicated the song "My Love" to his late wife, Linda. He also paid tribute to his late bandmates George Harrison and John Lennon during the concert, which was filled with Beatles music.

McCartney wore a pink shirt and an early-Beatles-style black suit made by his fashion designer daughter Stella, 37.

"She is the best designer in the world but she doesn't do much menswear, it's mainly women's wear," he told Non-Stop Radio in Tel Aviv. "I don't look too good in her frocks."

After arriving in Israel a day earlier, McCartney and Shevell (who were together in London last week) took a trip to Bethlehem in Palestine, where they lit a candle for peace at the Church of the Nativity. McCartney announced, "This candle is for peace for people all round the world – especially Israel and Palestine."


By MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem
DAILY EXPRESS, Friday September 26, 2008

SIR Paul McCartney defied death threats and demonstrators as he took to the stage in Tel Aviv last night in front of more than 50,000 adoring fans.

He announced himself by declaring: "I am bringing a message of peace."

It seemed a long and winding road from the time, 43 years ago, when an over-protective Israeli government banned The Beatles for fear they would corrupt the nation's youth.

In a concert entitled Friendship First, Sir Paul, aged 66, played a selection of his hits spanning nearly 50 years, taking in Fab Four standards from the early 60s, through his days with Wings to the present.

He was paid about £1million for the performance.
The former Beatle's visit took place amid one of the largest security operations mounted in Israel for someone who is not a head of state.

His concert has been given the status of a state visit. Radio stations have been playing wall-to-wall Beatles music all week, weddings have been re-scheduled, theatre performances cancelled and most Tel Aviv clubs closed to avoid competing with the big event.

More than 5,000 security guards and police were stationed around the Yarkon Park stadium. The gates were opened three hours before the performance as hundreds of police battled to prevent the Israeli capital from becoming gridlocked by concert-goers.

Paul and his new love Nancy Shevell, 47, arrived in the small hours of Wednesday and checked into the Royal Suite at the Dan Hotel  – one of the 21 suites and 70 rooms booked for the 100-strong team of musicians, technicians and hangers-on. 

The couple spent the morning sunbathing on the hotel balcony overlooking the Mediterranean before making a quiet visit to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Their original plan had been to visit the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, but word leaked out and anti-Israel protesters staged a demonstration outside the school. 
To the alarm of his security advisers, Sir Paul decided instead to go to the conservatory's branch in Bethlehem, also in the West Bank.

To the delight of the 160 students, he sat in on a class, then produced a harmonica and played them a tune.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

A Therapeutic Film

JERUSALEM REPORT : October 13, 2008
By Leora Eren Frucht

The film "Circumcise Me" was a sort of therapy for filmmakers Matthew Kalman and David Blumenfeld, both veteran news reporters who live in Jerusalem.
British-born Kalman, a reporter, and Canadian-born Blumenfeld, a photographer, have worked for leading media outlets, including Time, Newsweek and the Boston Globe.
"At the height of the intifada, David and I were doing a lot of work together, reporting mainly about guns, bombs, exploded buses and people dying," recalls Kalman. "We were also asked to produce other people's documentaries - and those were also about suicide bombings.
"After you've seen enough dead bodies lying on the pavement after a suicide bombing of a bus, you realize you're becoming inured to the shock. When you see people still fused to their seats inside this blackened shell, and all you're looking at is the camera angle, you realize that you're losing a bit of what makes you human.
"It got a bit grueling and depressing. So David suggested we do something of our own, something fun. Doing this film has enabled us as reporters to retrieve a little bit of our own humanity. Basically this has been just one big act of therapy."
On an evening in 2004, he recalls, "I went to the opening night of Off the Wall Comedy Club [an English-language comedy club in Jerusalem], and there was this haredi [ultra-Orthodox] guy standing in the corner. I felt like saying to him: 'You're in the wrong place - this is a comedy club. Can I direct you to Me'a She'arim [an ultra Orthodox neighborhood]?' And it turns out that he was the headliner."
Kalman, who founded a comedy club at his alma mater, Cambridge, was delighted. "I thought he was funny, talented, charismatic and found his story so compelling. It seemed like the obvious choice for a documentary. That night I called David and told him: 'We've got our subject.'"
Campbell readily agreed. "He had nothing better to do," quips Kalman as Campbell, seated nearby, nods in agreement.
The film is an abbreviated version of Campbell's standup comedy show which is itself a tapestry of his colorful life and observations about subjects close to his heart. The filmmakers shot six of his shows and conducted interviews with the comedian in different locations in Jerusalem. There is also footage of Campbell's father, a lapsed Catholic who remains perplexed but not bitter about his son's conversion. The movie is being screened at over a dozen film festivals in cities across the United States over the next few months (http://circumcise-me.blogspot.com).
"In a lot of documentaries, the filmmakers research the story, but in this case the story was right there," Kalman notes. He also says that he had grown tired of interviewing "cynical politicians" and terrorists, while ignoring what he regards as the real heroes of the story - ordinary people coping in an extraordinary situation. He wanted to show that side of Israeli reality, too.
"The fact is that even at the height of the intifada, people continued to laugh. There was still a life going on in Jerusalem against the background of this craziness. And as news reporters we never got to report that."
One segment of the film - and show - deals with Campbell's own intifada experiences, including the loss of two close friends killed in a terror attack at the Hebrew University cafeteria in July, 2002. He handles the subject with sensitivity, but doesn't refrain from telling jokes about terrorists.
"In this film, we wanted to tackle the intifada, but from a different angle," says Kalman. "We think it's the first intifada comedy."

Extract from an article in Issue 13, October 13, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Outrage as Jewish newspapers ban pictures of Israel's new PM because she's a woman

DAILY MAIL ONLINE : 22nd September 2008

By Matthew Kalman

Tzipi Livni is poised to become Israel's next prime minister - but ultra-orthodox newspapers in the Jewish state are refusing to publish her picture for reasons of religious modesty.

Israeli feminists have described the ban as 'laughably ludicrous.'

The 50-year-old foreign minister and mother of two has been hailed by some of the world's press as a 'Mossad beauty' but she has image problems closer to home.

Only about 600,000 of Israel's 7 million population are haredi, or ultra-orthodox, but they pack a strong political punch and include key officials including cabinet ministers and the mayor of Jerusalem.

Their lifestyle is governed by a strict code with regulations for food, clothes, reading material and education which many critics say goes beyond the rules of orthodox Judaism.

Signs hanging at the entrance to the ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods in Jerusalem warn women to dress modestly in the area.

'Mossad beauty': Tzipi Livni

'No haredi paper will publish Livni's picture,' said Avraham Kroizer, a public relations adviser to the incoming premier.

'Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use.

'They will also blur pictures of television sets or other items deemed improper to be seen by the wider haredi public.'

Naomi Ragen, author of The Sacrifice of Tamar and other popular novels set in the ultra-orthodox world, said the ban on Livni's photograph was 'over the top.'

'But I'm not surprised,' said Ms Ragen, who campaigns for equal rights for religious women.

'The haredi newspapers never publish pictures of women. Women don't exist. These papers are the equivalent of a boys' club.

'Even when they are advertising for the female market, they won't print a picture of a woman holding a baby.'

One ultra-orthodox paper also said it would not be using Livni's name Tzipi - short for 'Tziporah' which means 'bird.'

'We might write "Mrs. T. Livni" or just "Mrs. Livni," but the name. Tzipi is too familiar. It is not acceptable to address a woman using her first name, especially when she goes by a nickname,' said a senior editor at Hamodia, the oldest ultra-orthodox daily.

'For us the newspaper is an educational device that not only informs but also teaches people how to behave,' he said.

Livni would be Israel's first woman prime minister since Golda Meir resigned in 1974. The Hamodia editor admitted their policy back then was different.

'Golda was an institution. She was a respected figure with decades of political experience before she became prime minister. But in recent years there has been depreciation in the level of politicians,' he explained.

Ms Ragen said it was 'laughably ludicrous' not to print Livni's full name.

'Why this would be a problem is beyond the grasp of an orthodox woman like myself,' she said.

'There is nothing in Jewish law that would remotely be able to excuse this behaviour.'

'God has no problem putting the names of many women in the Bible. Why the ultra-orthodox world feel they have to improve upon God escapes me. They are getting more and more fanatical every day,' she said.

Professor Galia Golan of the Inter-Disciplinary Centre University and a founder of the Israel Women's network, said the ban was 'like something from the middle ages.'

'It's ridiculous and it's terrible,' said Prof Golan.

'They are more conservative than Islamic fundamentalists who have no problems seeing women in public life.'

'To make a difference between Livni and Golda Meir is even more insulting. It suggests they had no problem with Golda because she was so manly, whereas Livni has honesty, intelligence, integrity – a different kind of politician who represents the feminine side of politics.'

Thursday 18 September 2008

The woman heading for a place in Israeli history

Daily Mail
18 September 2008


A FORMER Mossad agent was last night poised to become Israel's first woman prime minister since Golda Meir.

Exit polls showed Tzipi Livni, 50, a lawyer and mother of two, had scored a clear victory in the election to replace Premier Ehud Olmert as head of the ruling Kadima party.

Olmert's career crashed after it was revealed he received envelopes stuffed full of cash from wealthy U.S. supporters.

Livni and Olmert founded Kadima with former Premier Ariel Sharon when they all quit the right-wing Likud Party in November 2005.

Livni is a comparative newcomer to politics who entered parliament in 1999. Her father Eitan Livni was operations chief of the Irgun, the preindependence Jewish terrorist movement headed by Menachem Begin. He was directly implicated in the murders of British troops.

Livni has broken with her father's nationalist past, however, and embraced the peace process with the Palestinians. For the past year she has headed the Israeli negotiating team and has declared that Israel should abandon its settlement project in the West Bank if it will lead to peace.

She is married to Naftali Shpitzer, a top advertising executive and her chief strategist in the leadership contest. They met when she was 26 and he was 32 and became engaged after just three weeks.

Livni had just started studying law and was a junior intelligence cadet based in Paris, where she had the responsibility of overseeing a safe house used by Israeli agents for missions in Europe. She wanted to continue with Mossad but Shpitzer persuaded her to stay in Israel and go into law full-time.

TIME magazine named her as the 24th most influential world leader in its last Top 100 and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called her 'a woman of conviction, intelligence and peace'.

If official results confirm she has won the Kadima election, Livni will have a month to confirm the existing coalition with the Labour Party or form a new government.

Monday 15 September 2008

Strikes by Professors and Students Paralyze Palestinian Universities

NEWS BLOG : September 15, 2008

Jerusalem — Dual strikes by Palestinian faculty members and students have effectively paralyzed the Palestinian higher-education system in the West Bank and Gaza.

Faculty members at the nine Palestinian universities walked out two weeks ago, demanding a pay raise of 80 percent. The dispute has brought together often-warring factions in the rival Fatah and Hamas camps in a united front.

“The strike is a legal procedure, and it has nothing to do with political rivalries,” Mousa Ajwah, a spokesman for the General Union of University Workers, told the Ma’an News Agency. He appealed to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to intervene immediately and end the crisis.

The professors’ union rejected an offer of a 50-percent rise in pay.

Students, meanwhile, have been on strike to protest tuition increases, which vary from campus to campus. Students at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, walked out after the administration raised tuition for new students by 25 percent without advance warning. The students also protested the administration’s refusal to register returning students who could not afford to pay the full fee of 500 Jordanian dinars, or about $700.

Things turned ugly on the campuses this week as students started burning tires as part of protests against the university administration.

Rami Khalaf, a spokesman for the Birzeit Student Council, said the students would suspend the strike on Tuesday after Nabil Qassis, the university’s president, agreed to negotiations and to extend the deadline for registering cash-strapped students.

“We are pleased that the university has agreed to talks, and we have stopped our action for now, but we will not accept the increase in fees, and we will go on strike again if the university management do not change their minds on this issue,” Mr. Khalaf told The Chronicle.

He said the students supported the professors’ demand for higher salaries but called on the Palestinian government to provide the money. —Matthew Kalman

Macca brushes off Israel threat

Daily Mail 15 Sep 2008

SIR PAUL McCartney will be killed by suicide bombers if he performs in Israel, a Muslim cleric has warned.

He will play to 80,000 in Tel Aviv this month in his first show since the Beatles were banned there as a corrupting influence in 1965.

Omar Bakri criticised him for playing in the year of Israel’s 60th anniversary, adding: ‘ Paul McCartney is the enemy of every Muslim. We have sacrifice operatives who will not stand by while he joins a celebration of their oppression. If he values his life, Mr McCartney must not come to Israel.’

Sir Paul said his show would go ahead.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Mamaherb a new wiki alternative medicine site

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service

Jerusalem -- Do natural remedies really work?

A new Web site devised by Israeli high-tech executives hopes to answer that question by providing information on thousands of health problems and possible natural remedies.

Although there are several databases of natural remedies available online, the creators of Mamaherb say their Web site (www.mamaherb.com) is the only existing resource for information provided by and updated by users. The Web site, which was launched in January, already has 8,450 treatments listed for 512 existing conditions.

Mamaherb.com is the brainchild of Tamir Goren, 46, Elad Daniel, 33 and Orni Daniel, 31. None are health care professionals. Goren came up with the idea of tapping into the experience of millions of Internet users after his 74-year-old mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and experienced severe side effects from chemotherapy.

Easy access

"After excessive research (online and medical books) I learned about wheat grass - and it seemed to work," by easing my mother's nausea and fatigue said Goren. "She passed through chemotherapy with ease. But was it the wheat grass? And if it was, how come it was so hard to find out about it?"

Goren set out collecting information on natural remedies, and found that existing literature and online databases were not easily accessible for laypeople.

"We came up with the idea to have a resource or tool where ordinary people would be able to publish natural treatments that they knew or had heard about," said Daniel, an industrial management engineer for SQLink, a data security company owned by Goren. "By making it interactive, that would allow other people to say what had helped them also."

The site allows users to upload treatments and then rate them. They can also comment on cures suggested by others, and classify them as helpful or not helpful.

Last month, various berries were highlighted as a treatment for conditions ranging from arthritis and Alzheimer's to colic and high cholesterol. Other featured remedies have included tea - green, chamomile or parsley - honey and garlic for scores of ailments.

Guarding accuracy

"The accuracy of what works and doesn't comes from the people," said Daniel. "If someone sees a certain treatment that should be reported, or something that is not a treatment, we have tools that alert us that something is wrong with a post from another user."

Recently, Daniel says, a contributor from rural India spent days talking to village elders before sending traditional remedies handed down through generations.

"They've known them for centuries. The wisdom has gone from person to person and never been written anywhere," said Daniel. "Now, for the first time, it's possible for people in San Francisco, to know what works in a small village in India for treating flu."

But Daniel readily concedes that much of this information can't be checked, no tests exist for many natural remedies and there is a lack of scientific research on all but a handful of treatments. "You can't issue a patent for a lemon, so there is no financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to carry out in-depth research for every known natural health treatment," he said.

And some critics warn that like many Web sites there can be both useful and questionable information posted.

"I think the concept has merit and could potentially grow to become the largest resource on natural health, given its structure," said Mike Adams, editor of naturalnews.com, a nonprofit group of educational Web sites about health and environmental issues. "But you got to remember these two rules about user-generated content, which every such site learns the hard way: Users generate a lot of content and 99 percent of it is junk.

Knowledge base

"There is an enormous amount of knowledge about natural remedies out there in the world, and if mamaherb.com can do a good job on the quality review side, they could be a hugely important knowledge base for remedies that really work," said Adams.

Botanist Jim Duke, director of the Green Pharmacy Garden in Fulton MD., who is widely considered one of the world's leading authority on medicinal plants, agrees.

"I will consult it as a reference," said Duke. "There are lots of things I had not seen, and I would check all those out. For fibromyalgia (a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons), for example, there are things I had never thought of."

Duke suggests the Web site use clearer explanations and include notes on methodology, although he likes the fact that most of the citations are based on folklore.

"I'm a great believer in folklore," he said. "It's very consistent in the dosages recommended. I didn't see anything alarming. I usually can spot a poisonous plant in a hurry. A lot of homeopathic medicines are deadly poisonous. They need to ensure they are not recommending anything that could be dangerous," he warned.

Indeed, U.S. health officials say traditional medicines used by some immigrants from Latin America, India and other parts of Asia are the second most common source of lead poisoning in the United States - surpassed only by lead paint - and may account for tens of thousands of such cases among children each year. Dozens of adults and children have become gravely ill or died after taking lead-laden medicine over the past eight years, according to federal and local health officials.

Publishing hopes

In the future, Daniel says he and his two partners hope to publish results, find natural treatments and learn from accumulated knowledge from people who have tried these treatments. For now, there are no plans to charge users or solicit ads.

"We want it to work well and for people to be comfortable using it," said Daniel. "We'll worry about making money later."

Meanwhile, Adams of naturalnews.com says that if the Israelis can install an effective in-house filter of editors vetting each contribution, their Web site could "revolutionize the sharing of information about what works in a way that's light years ahead of conventional medicine."

Online resource

Users can explore Mamaherb (www.mama herb.com) according to treatment, remedy and ingredients, or simply browse its subjects from A to Z.

Users are encouraged to indicate what treatments they find helpful, add information or provide critical comments about what didn't work.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Dancer hops to it in Tel Aviv to prove he's with troupe, not terrorists

Tuesday, September 9th 2008


Dancer Abdur-Rahim Jackson, of New York, was detained by Israeli airport security officers because of his Muslim first name, and was forced to dance to prove he was no terrorist.

He had to do a jig to prove he was not planning jihad.

A member of the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was forced to display his fleet-footed skills to convince Israeli airport security he was no Islamic terrorist.

New Yorker Abdur-Rahim Jackson said he was detained Sunday at the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv because security officials were suspicious of his Muslim first name.

Jackson, 31, who is African-American, said he was grilled about his name and asked twice to dance before he was allowed to enter the country.

"It was really an embarrassing and unpleasant position to be in," Jackson said Tuesday. "To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit."

The Manhattan-based Alvin Ailey dance troupe is in Tel Aviv to kick off a six-nation tour to celebrate its 50th anniversary season.

Jackson, a graduate of Juilliard and an eight-year veteran of the elite 30-member multicultural dance ensemble, said airport security guards separated him from the group as soon as they touched down in Tel Aviv.

"We passed the security check, and then I was approached and asked to step aside," Jackson recalled.

He said he was escorted to a separate waiting area where security guards questioned him for an hour about his first name.

"I explained to them that my father converted to Islam and gave me this name," Jackson told Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "They repeatedly asked me what my father's name is, what my mother's name is and why they gave me this name."

Attempting to prove he is a professional dancer, Jackson handed them an Alvin Ailey brochure featuring photos of him performing.

"They saw the pictures and then one of them asked me to dance for him," Jackson said. "I was embarrassed, but I was afraid to do something wrong that may cause me to look suspicious."

Minutes after dancing for one security guard, Jackson was requested to repeat the impromptu performance for a female security guard.

"I demonstrated a few dance moves and after another clarification of the details, they released me and allowed me to join the rest of the troupe," Jackson said.

Jackson - engaged to fellow Alvin Ailey dancer Olivia Bowman, who is part Jewish - said he was not raised a Muslim.

He said he did not file a complaint, explaining, "We're only here to bring positive light to our lives and the people here."

Jackson and the Alvin Ailey group performed last night at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Tel Aviv Mayor Ronald Huldai were to attend the show.

"The incident happened two days ago. Since that time we've received a warm welcome from the people of Israel," Alvin Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison said last night.

"Tonight we had an incredible opening night to launch Ailey's 50th Anniversary International Tour. As it's Israel's 60th Anniversary - we are happy to be celebrating these landmark events together."

Security officials at Ben-Gurion airport refused to issue an apology.

The Israel Airports Authority said, "The details of the incident are unknown to us, and no corroboration was found in the investigation we conducted."

With Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem

Sunday 7 September 2008

Israel cops try common scents crowd control

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS : Sunday, September 7th 2008

BY Matthew Kalman

JERUSALEM - The activists protesting the Israeli security fence in the West Bank were prepared for rubber bullets and tear gas - but not The Skunk.

The mist, fired from a water cannon, was yellow as it washed over the group and left an unshakable stench of sewage in mouths, hair and clothes. It gave the protesters a literal taste of a new riot-control weapon developed by the Israeli police.

"A terrible stench - the smell of a rotting, dead animal," said Dr David Nir, an Israeli peace campaigner. "Like jumping headfirst into a sewer."

Palestinian protester Ahad Huja said the smell even got into the food his wife cooked; people avoided him for a week.

The foul-smelling fluid can be sprayed from truck mounted cannons or from backpacks carried by cops.

David Ben Harosh, head of technological development for the Israeli police - which plans to market The Skunk to other forces worldwide - says the recipe is based entirely on natural organic ingredients.

"It's the start of a change in tactics in dealing with crowd control and dispersing violent demonstrations," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.