Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon Google+ Hangout at Fox LA

May 3, 2012

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon - Fox LA Google+ Hangout - pix 08

It was my great pleasure to G+ Hangout with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister+Danny Ayalon (Wikipedia) hosted by +Maria Quiban +Tshaka Armstrong at+myFOXla / FOX Los Angeles. The following is my question to Mr. Ayalon (I added a few words to give the readers some context).

Question: I understand you just attended the Jerusalem Post conference [in New York on Sunday Apr 29th]. And I’ve watched a video of sparks flying between Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan, and Meir Dagan, former chief of Mossad [national intelligence agency of Israel].

My question is about your view on the idea of an Israeli pre-emptive strike of Iran. Do you agree with Meir Dagan that [I paraphrase] “War is the the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end” and Israel should exhaust all other means first before considering war?

Here is the full hangout video and you can watch my question and Mr. Ayalon’s answer (at 14:33 mark)

Background & Research material

The following are part of the research materials I gathered in order to ask an informed question. I tried to be as fair and as diplomatic as I could when asking my question without losing anything important in my question.

* May 1st, 2012 Jerusalem Post report of The Jerusalem Post Conference “Dagan and Erdan’s caustic exchange at the ‘Post’ Conference“. I’ve excerpted part of the exchange from a transcript of the acrimonious argument in a panel discussion on Israel’s security situation. To better understand the tone and context, I also found and watched a video clip of part of the exchange on YouTube. I think you get a sense of the heat from reading the words. (note: emphasis added, pix of Mr. Dagan via CBS 60 Minutes)

The Spymaster - Meir Dagan on Iran's threat - CBS 60 Minutes

An excerpt from “Dagan and Erdan’s caustic exchange at the ‘Post’ Conference“,

Keinon [Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic reporter]: But do you think it’s appropriate for him to make those kind of comments? He could have made them when he was the head of the Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency)?

Dagan: First of all, I think he presented his position loudly and clearly about his refusal to the prime minister and defense minister. He didn’t announce it. It was in a closed room. To speak openly? (Turning to Gilad Erdan) I heard that a member of your party is now formulating a law… on behalf of my name, Dagan, preventing ex-people of the military and security establishment from speaking. Let me remind you of something, sir, what was started in Germany in the beginning.

You know how you are starting it; you don’t know how it is ending.

About Diskin, I believe that he is a very serious man and he is presenting a very serious point of view. And I know that serious point of view was presented to the prime minister and defense minister on many occasions.

[…] Erdan: Thank you very much, but I know that the Shin Bet is under the Prime Minister’s Office. (laughter) I also used to work there 15 or 16 years ago.

But the minister of defense still works together [with the prime minister], and if Yuval Diskin thought the prime minister was doing things so dangerous for the future of Israel, so in order to save Israel, he should resign, and not wait five years as head of the Shin Bet and then even agree to serve one more year.

And then, when resigning and when the prime minister does not accept his guy to be appointed as head of the Shin Bet…

Dagan:It’s not true. (boos) You are lying, sir. I am maybe not polite, but I prefer ministers of the State of Israel who speak the truth.

Erdan: I prefer that former heads of Mossad and Shin Bet won’t make damage to Israel…. That’s what I expect from you. Mr. Netanyahu goes around the world, and he never says that we are going to attack Iran, or when or where, but he is doing a lot of efforts in order to raise the awareness, and it is working.”

* Jerusalem Post Apr 29, 2012, “Dagan, Erdan trade barbs over Diskin comments

* Jerusalem Post Apr 29, 2012, “Former Shin Bet chief slams ‘messianic’ PM, Barak

* The Atlantic has an interesting and insightful piece “Netanyahu’s Bad Weekend

* National Post, “Netanyahu under fire from within over Iran strike

* CBS 60 Minutes “The Spymaster: Meir Dagan on Iran’s threat

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Google’s new approach to China

March 22, 2010

Google Mainland China service availability - Mar 21, 2010

After weeks of waiting since,
Google.cn decision (part 1)
Google.cn decision (part 2) and China’s Foreign Ministry & White House responses
More Google China photos
US diplomatic note re Google China
Sergey Brin on Google’s China decision @ TED
Today, we finally have Google’s new approach to China.

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong.

[…] Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced—it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.


Google attacked and likely to exit China

January 12, 2010

Here is an excerpt from an entry posted by David Drummond, Google Chief Legal Officer on Google’s official blog (emphasis added),

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.

[…] We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. [*****] We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China. [*****]

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

An excerpt from WSJ “Google Warns of China Exit” (emphasis added),

For Google to withdraw from China would be an extremely rare repudiation by a Western company of what is almost universally seen in business circles as one of the world’s most important markets. The country has 338 million Internet users as of June, more than any other country. Even the public suggestion that it is considering such a move is likely to infuriate Chinese authorities. Google’s statement could complicate matters for other tech companies sensitive to being seen as [****] accomplices of the Chinese government. [****]

More reports in Wired, CNet, ZDnet.

Congrats to Google for regaining its backbone in China! And I also agree with ZDnet in saying “Bravo! Google takes a stand for human rights in China”.