Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Kosovo Model for Syria


The bloodshed and the brutality of the dictatorship in Syria are at long last beginning to challenge the passivity of the Obama administration. The word is out that the Pentagon has launched a “scoping exercise” to determine what could be done should the president want to respond to the Syrian catastrophe.For months, the administration pursued the mirage of a United Nations Security Council condemnation of Damascus, when there was no chance that Russia and China would go for it. The administration persisted even though a similar effort last October ended in failure. There was no need to court the Russians. We granted them the pride of being treated as a great power, and they played it for all it was worth, at home and abroad. The time wasted on the courtship of Russia should have been put to use “scoping” ways the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad could be brought down. We have been here before: waiting in the face of rampant terror, exaggerating the power of regimes engaged in mass murder when deterrent power would have put an end to their barbarism. In the Obama world, the tendency to wait has become official policy: It is either boots on the ground or head in the sand. Where drones and Navy SEALs can’t do the trick, we leave the world untended.

President Obama isn’t about to adopt the exercise of American power and burdens during the era of George W. Bush as his own. But in the face of this Syrian dilemma, he would be wise to consider the way Bill Clinton dealt with the crisis of Kosovo in 1999. Not unlike our current president, President Clinton wanted nothing to do with Kosovo when that last of the wars of Yugoslavia erupted with fury in early 1999.

American power, it should be recalled, had rallied to the defense of the Bosnians four years earlier. The horror of Bosnia had gone on for 30 cruel months, under George H.W. Bush and President Clinton alike. Legends were told about the might of the Serbs, but they were broken with relative ease and the Bosnians were rescued when President Clinton decided that American honor was sullied by the genocide in that corner of Europe—and he unleashed the power of NATO’s bombers.

But the Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic was not done. He was determined to deny the Kosovars their autonomy. There had been a terrible summer in 1998, more than 300,000 Kosovar Albanians had been forced to leave their homes. “Ethnic cleansing,” that awful euphemism, was again everywhere in the news.

For President Clinton, it was yet another plunge into the Balkan inferno. He authorized a NATO air campaign against Serbia that began on March 23, 1999, the very same day a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress voted to support it. Two days later, President Clinton spoke to the American people and laid out the stakes in that conflict—the future of Europe, the line to be drawn for brigands and killers challenging the order of nations.

The air campaign lasted 11 weeks, included more than 30,000 sorties, and crippled Milosevic’s ability to wage war on the Kosovars. The economic and military infrastructure of Serbia was damaged, even the home of Milosevic was targeted. Though a “war president” is the last thought that comes to mind when thinking of Bill Clinton, he stayed the course.

Prompted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Clinton was even willing to countenance the use of ground troops. It didn’t come to that—an independent Kosovo was midwifed by a moderate and limited exercise of American power. We lost no American soldiers in that campaign. Two planes were lost, but their crews were recovered safely.

All this was done outside the suffocating confines of the U.N. Security Council. There was no court paid Russia, even when its president, Boris Yeltsin, was on the best of terms with Washington. Two days after the end of hostilities, there came a farcical exercise of Russian power. Fifty vehicles with 200 Russian troops rushed into Kosovo from Bosnia and occupied the Pristina airport. Graciously, they were eventually folded into the U.N.-sanctioned NATO forces.

Editorial board member Matt Kaminski provides an update on the violence in Syria and the Egyptian hostage situation.

Two weeks after the end of the fighting, more than 700,000 Kosovars returned to their homes and villages. President Clinton—who would, in time, note the shame of leaving Rwanda to its terrors—would speak of Kosovo with pride in his 2004 autobiography: “The burning of villages and killing of innocents was history. I knew it was a matter of time before Milosevic was history, too.”

In this Syrian ordeal, President Obama has a similar opportunity to stop “the killing of innocents” in Homs, Hama and Deraa. The Damascus regime is living on bluster, running out of money, and relying on an army that has no faith in the mission given it or in the man at the helm. It could be brought down without a massive American commitment.

We could, with some moral clarity, recognize the Syrian National Council as the country’s legitimate government, impose a no-fly zone in the many besieged areas, help train and equip the Free Syrian Army, prompt Turkey to give greater support to defectors from Syrian units, and rally the wealthy Arab states to finance the effort.

There are risks to be run, no doubt. But at present we have only the shame of averting our eyes from Syrian massacres. If we act now, President Obama, when he pens his memoirs, could still claim vindication, or at least that he gave Homs and Hama and Deraa his best.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and co-chair of Hoover’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Barak Approves New Construction in Gush Etzion

Elad Benari

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday approved the construction of a community in Gush Etzion.

The new village will be built at Gvaot, a neighborhood of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. The approval comes after months of talks between Barak and Acting Chairman of the Gush Etzion Council, Yair Wolf, over providing building permits for the establishment of the village.

The talks formally ended on Thursday when Wolf, who is a candidate in the coming elections for Chairman after the previous head, Shaul Goldstein, moved to a government position, received Barak’s official approval for the construction.

Today there are approximately 60 caravans in Gvaot, which are home to several families. With the new permit, the Gush Etzion Council intends to build a proper village for the graduates of the special education school in Gush Etzion. The Council plans to build permanent structures which will include dormitories and classrooms for the students. While Gvaot is officially defined by the State of Israel as a neighborhood of Alon Shvut, which is actually located kup a winding road and several kilometers away, it in fact functions as an independent religious community which belongs to the Gush Etzion Regional Council.

“This is the most important development that occurred in Gush Etzion in recent years, and is an evidence of the irrelevance of the green line,” Wolf, who has advanced many projects in Gush Etzion, said after receiving the approval. “This is also the answer to anyone who thought about a building freeze in Gush Etzion. We’re only expanding.”

Christie: ‘I Admire Israel for the Enemies It Has Made’

In an address recently delivered to an AIPAC audience in New York, New Jersey governor Chris Christie articulated a responsible view of America’s role in the world, stressing the importance of us standing by our friends and taking action against our adversaries.
Chris Christie

“America should stand by its friends and its democratic allies, even, and sometimes especially, when it’s unpopular to do so,” Christie said, outlining his foreign policy vision. “And you know I know, that it may not be fashionable in some of the chancelleries, the foreign ministries, and salons around the world to talk about why America stands with Israel – but that’s no excuse not to be saying, and saying it loudly.”

Christie continued: “I read a quote from President Franklin Roosevelt which I thought made this point much better than I ever could. He says, ‘Please judge me by the enemies I have made.’ In that same spirit, I would like to say to all of you tonight: I admire Israel for the enemies it has made.” The New Jersey governor went on to explain that Israel’s enemies are America’s, and that the two countries share important values. “We both believe in self-government, we both believe in democracy, and unalienable rights,” Christie said. “From what I understand, the Knesset and Israel’s free, vibrant news media make Trenton seems like a cordial and sleepy atmosphere. You’ll find that hard to believe, if I say so myself.”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Hamas-Fatah Reunion

P. David Hornik
Feb 9th, 2012

The cruel farce known as the peace process took another downturn this week as Fatah and Hamas signed a unity agreement in Doha, Qatar.

It’s not the first such agreement they’ve signed, and none of the previous instances was a smashing success. Most notably, the two sides’ Mecca Agreement of February 2007 collapsed four months later in Hamas’s bloody ouster of Fatah from Gaza; and the agreement reached in Cairo last May never got off the ground.

This time, though, there may be a crucial difference. It has to do with the mounting momentum of what’s called the Arab Spring. Hamas was long the Sunni odd-man-out in Iran’s Shiite-dominated alliance. This year, though, top Hamas officials have had to leave Syria for refusing to support Bashar Assad’s brutality against the largely-Sunni populace. Meanwhile Hamas’s star has been rising again in the Sunni world—as evidenced by Gazan Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s recent well-received tour of Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain.

Israeli analyst Jonathan D. Halevi suggests Hamas is “trying to implement the strategy of the Arab Spring in the Palestinian arena.” On the background of the Islamist ascendancy in the region, Hamas sees its position among the Palestinians as strong and believes it will easily defeat Fatah in the elections envisaged by the Doha agreement.

If so, what’s in it for Fatah? In Halevi’s view, its leaders have the same perception as Hamas and believe their brand of relatively secular nationalism is on the downswing in the West Bank and Gaza as in most of the Sunni Arab world. Hence, in signing the Doha agreement, “the Fatah leaders prefer swimming with the current”—trying to hitch themselves to Hamas instead of fighting it—“to sinking beneath it.”

The terms of the agreement seem to bear out that analysis. A new unity government of technocrats is supposed to be set up, with Abbas as prime minister—but only for an interim stage. This government’s main task would be preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza. Since Abbas is currently president, his own rule would be on the line.

Most significantly, the Doha agreement says the sides are supposed to discuss incorporating Hamas into the PLO—the larger organization that encompasses Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. That, in other words, would mean the end of the Fatah-Hamas bifurcation that has enabled the purported “process,” with the U.S., Europe, the Israeli left and, more recently, the Netanyahu government, upholding the idea that Fatah represents a moderate wing that can be dealt with.
At least, the dominant Israeli perception is that the PLO’s morphing into Hamas would mean the end of what’s left of that “process.” As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to Doha:

the Palestinian Authority must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel. Hamas and peace do not go together…. I say to Abu Mazen [Abbas]: You cannot hold the stick by both ends. It is either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel; you cannot have it both ways.

The problem is that the international community, which Netanyahu has striven to keep on his side, is already reacting much less unequivocally.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in response to the Doha deal: “questions of Palestinian reconciliation are an internal matter for Palestinians.” A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU “looks forward to continuing its support.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Abbas to tell him to stay on the path of “peace”—with Hamas at his side.

Netanyahu, no doubt, has criticized Abbas and Fatah’s gross travesties of “peace” as well—as in recent egregious instances of Abbas’s photo-op in Turkey with a Palestinian child-murderer, the Palestinian Authority mufti’s calling for the genocide of Jews, and PA TV’s glorification of the Fogel family murderers. At the same time, though, Netanyahu has toed the international community’s line of casting Abbas and Fatah as his peace partner and the potential rulers of a state living in “peace” beside Israel.

If the Doha deal progresses, the same international community that has learned to excuse all Fatah outrages is likely to start showing leniency to Hamas as well—especially if it assumes the PLO trappings. It looks like it’s time, then, for Netanyahu to come cleaner not only about Hamas but the Palestinian “partner” in general.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Shape of the War to Come–The View from Beyond

Dr. Michael Ledeen

“It’s rather like getting a death threat on the telephone, you know. The nutjob that makes the call isn’t going to do anything, because if he were, he wouldn’t have told you about it.”
I had gotten my freshly-rehabbed Ouija board working again, and had reached the spirit of my old friend James Jesus Angleton, formerly head of CIA’s counterintelligence team (and longtime liaison with Israeli intelligence via his buddy Teddy Kollek, Ben Gurion’s private secretary and then mayor of Jerusalem). I couldn’t think of anyone better to ask about all the war talk involving Israel, the United States, and Iran. He was inclined to downplay the seriousness of the talk.
ML: “Does that apply to everyone? To all three? Or mainly — maybe exclusively — to the Iranians?”
JJA: “In a rational world, it would apply to everyone. But you have to wonder how many rational actors there are…”
ML: “So maybe it’s all a form of geopolitical theater, and nobody really intends to attack anyone else?” JJA: “No. But I think that there’s a lot of theater, and much of it is disinformation. Let’s start with the Iranians. A while back there were disturbances in Bahrain, and the Saudis were threatening to send troops to help their neighbor put down the uprising. The Iranians — top officers in the Revolutionary Guards — pounded their chests and proclaimed they would not sit still for it. If the Saudis dared to intervene, the RG guys said, there would be blood in the streets of Bahrain, and the Guards would slaughter the Saudis.”
ML: “Right. And the Saudis actually did it. And the Iranians…”
JJA: “The Iranians ran away. Didn’t fire a shot. Went home.”
ML: “And so?”
JJA: “So they phoned in their death threat and did nothing.”
ML: “And you think this applies to Israel’s threat — a threat that has been given great resonance by a whole series of American officials, from SecDef Panetta to Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey and spokespersons from the White House and the State Department — that they will attack the Iranian nuclear project if and when they think they know that the project is dangerously close to fruition?”
JJA: “No. I think it applies to Iranian public threats, things like threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. There again, the Iranians said they were now in full control of the waterway, and if the Americans dared set sail without explicit Iranian permission, they’d sink our ships. So we sent a carrier group in. And the Iranians didn’t do anything.”
ML: “And of course there’s the promise to stop sending oil [1] to some European countries, heh…”
JJA: “Right. Followed immediately by ‘but not in the winter because we’re such great humanitarians.’”
ML: “So it seems that when the Iranians issue threats, they don’t really mean it.”
JJA: “Exactly. Which is not to say that they aren’t doing nasty things. But they don’t talk about THOSE things.”
ML: “As in Syria, where they’re going all-out (or is it ‘all-in’?) to try to save Assad.”
JJA: “That’s a very good example, where they’re in cahoots with the Russians and of course Hezbollah, which is so often the key to their foreign operations.”
ML: “Or their Latin American gambit. Did you happen to notice that report [2] about 42,000 Iranian agents in South America?”
JJA: “That seems too big a number, somehow.”
ML: “I agree. But they’ve certainly made a big investment in their Latino network, whatever the real number may be. The main thrust of the article — which quotes a recent defector — is that they’re operating under commercial cover, while carrying out wicked operations, preparing to attack the United States with terrorists and perhaps even missiles.”
JJA: “You have to be careful of defectors, as I learned… sometimes the enemy will send phony defectors to make sure you do NOT know what they are really up to. And also to find out if you are buying their disinformation.”
ML: “Right. Pity you never wrote the book on that one.”
JJA: “Not my style at all…”
ML: “You’re telling me! I went into the World War II archives once to read some of your material from Italy, but all the key folders were empty.”
JJA: “Sorry. If I’d known you cared so much, I’d have left you some juicy fragments.”
ML: “Haha. Anyway, we can say that the Iranian public statements are not real warnings, right?”
JJA: “Yeah, I think so. Very often, anyway.”
ML: “And what about the Israeli warnings?”
JJA: “That’s very different. The Israelis have long believed that Iran was too big a strategic challenge for them to deal with by themselves. They never thought they could go it alone. They needed allies, above all, the United States. So they concentrated on convincing the Americans to do what was necessary.”
ML: “So are the Israeli warnings like the Iranian ones? A deception of sorts?”
JJA: “Not entirely. I think that the Israelis are still hoping to convince the Americans to take serious action against the Iranian nuclear project. On the other hand, it’s clear that Israel has been acting—they are almost certainly involved in Stuxnet and other acts of sabotage (no doubt there are things we don’t know about)—and it’s easy to imagine circumstances in which they would have to do more, regardless of American policy. But they’d much rather we did it, or did it in tandem with them. I don’t think they’ll give up on that until D Day. But if they have no alternative, they’ll move. They have to.”
ML: “So if the Israelis became convinced the Iranians were on the verge of acquiring a nuclear warhead that they could put on a missile, they’d have to act?”
JJA: “Maybe even before that point. They’re saying that they might have to strike before key elements of the Iranian project get moved deep underground or inside a mountain, or some such.”
ML: “Yes, I’ve read that stuff, but I don’t believe it.”
JJA: “Why not?”
ML: “Because I don’t believe that they are planning to conduct that big Hollywood spectacular bombing run [3]. I wouldn’t do it that way, if I were in their sandals.”
JJA: “Good thinking. Why put all those pilots at risk?”
ML: “Exactly. If they can organize assassinations in daylight in downtown Tehran, and speed off on their motorcycles, they can certainly take their motorcycles to the sites of the centrifuges or missile assemblies.”
JJA: “Or work with various opposition groups to do that. I agree.”
ML: “And there are lots of opposition groups, and plenty of people within the regime who would cooperate. Just look at what’s been going on inside the Pretorian, I mean Revolutionary Guards Corps [4]…”
A whiff of smoke came out of the Ouija board. I couldn’t tell if that was cigarette smoke or burning insulation.
JJA: “Yeah. Four top officers died in 4 days! Shades of Stalin…”
I thought, if I were in Angleton’s condition I’d be careful about using words like ‘shades,’ but now there was static so I had to speed up before I lost him.
ML: “And what about the Americans? What if the president figures it would be good for him to deliver a blow to the Iranians…just him, no Israelis involved.”
JJA: “Can you imagine that?”
ML: “He’d need a direct provocation, but there are people in Washington — serious people, I might add, not the usual conspiratorial crowd — who think he’s doing that right now. They think he’s sending warships into the Gulf, hoping for an Iranian attack, so he can blast them.”
JJA: “Seems far fetched. He’s invested so much in trying to make a deal with them.”
It was getting difficult to understand him, with all the crackling. And now there was more smoke, unmistakably insulation…
ML: “Do you know if that’s still going on? It’s hard to keep track of it all. There have been secret contacts all along.”
JJA: “Someone from the State Department met…(static) early November…(loud crackling) told him to go to hell…”
And he was gone. I should have asked earlier about secret talks. Oh, well, next time. I should get the thing rewired in a couple of weeks. Contributor Dr. Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is also a contributing editor at PJ Media and at National Review Online.

"The Trees..."

Arlene Kushner

It pleases me to begin with mention of Tu B'Shvat, which starts tonight. A holiday with religious significance in the Mishnah (as the "New Year of the Trees" with regard to how years are calculated for harvest of fruit), Tu B'Shvat has become very much an Arbor Day here in modern Israel: a day for the honoring and the planting of trees, as well as a day for eating the fruit of the tree -- especially the Biblical fruits, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

We have been blessed this year with more rain than we've had for several years -- rain which still continues. Because of this the landscape is so very green. And, as is expected, the earliest of the blossoming trees, the almond, has begun to flower -- the harbinger of spring.

Source: Yael Ruder How much more lovely to speak of almond blossoms than Fatah and Hamas, but that's our focus now:

Khaled Abu Toameh has reported in the JPost that Fatah and Hamas have reached a unity agreement. This reconciliation accord, signed by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, is being referred to as the "Doha Declaration" -- it was mediated by the government of Qatar in Doha.

Under its terms, Abbas -- currently functioning as president of the PA, although his term has expired -- will be the interim prime minister of a government consisting of "independent figures." There is no mention of whether Salam Fayyad, whom Hamas has consistently opposed and Abbas has just as consistently promoted, will play a role.

The primary function of this government is to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections and rebuild Gaza. No date has been set for elections, which might be held as soon as in 90 days, or not until later in the year.

Other issues addressed include the release of "activists" on both sides, opening of closed institutions, lifting of travel bans, and permitting members of Fatah to return to their homes in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which they had fled.

Abbas and Mashaal have agreed to hold a meeting of the (recently selected temporary) leadership of various Palestinian groups on the 18th of this month in Cairo. At that time, implementation of the agreement is to be discussed, as well as incorporation of Hamas into the PLO. After that meeting, the full interim government will be announced.


That's as it is planned now. But the 18th is still 11 days away. And since not everyone in Fatah and Hamas is on board with this accord, it remains to be seen what the ultimate result will be. Both Abbas and Hamas must still convince their respective party members that the agreement is a desirable one. Abu Toameh, in a separate JPost piece, cites Palestinians who think this accord may yet lead to splits in both Fatah and Hamas.


My own initial response, on reading about this agreement, was astonishment at the willingness of Hamas to allow Abbas to hold the position of interim prime minister in the newly agreed-upon government. I am convinced that there was a time when this could not have happened. As I followed prior Fatah-Hamas accords and attempts to reach agreements, it was consistently my observation that Hamas called the shots and Fatah acceded.

Its current willingness to provide the head of Fatah with a key position signals the weakening status of Hamas: This group has lost its funding and walked away from its headquarters in Damascus. No other nation has yet agreed to take them in -- not Egypt nor Jordan nor Turkey; they are said to feel that relocation in Gaza would render them too vulnerable to Israeli attack. Politburo leaders seem to be wandering the area.

My guess would be that Mashaal, at least, sees an accord with Fatah as strengthening Hamas's hand and its base. I will note that one immediate advantage is the release of Hamas people being held in PA prisons -- Abbas has announced the release of 64 such persons. There have already been reports from the IDF regarding increased Hamas activity in Judea and Samaria; it has long been the Hamas goal to take over this area, just as it took Gaza. Additionally, I suspect that Hamas officials hope for an enhanced image and increased legitimacy in the international community as a result of this deal. The Hamas aspiration to be in control of the PLO is likely a motivating factor, as well -- a way to boost its power and influence.

But there are Hamas activists and officials -- though Ismail Haniyeh is not among them -- who are furious at the idea of placing Abbas in the position of prime minister.


Abbas had long played a game of fluctuating between forging a unity government and negotiating a "peace" with Israel -- one day heading in one direction and another day in the opposite. He has come to a dead end on the Jordanian supervised indirect or preliminary talks and declared that he could move no further without specific Israeli concessions. But he is under pressure to continue. Could be that he decided that this was the time to switch gears and shift the dynamic.

At the same time, there are members of Fatah who are not keen to see elections -- a key provision of the accord -- as there is a good likelihood that Hamas will win at the polls. Just as there are members of Fatah not pleased at the prospect of Hamas entry into the PLO.


Prime Minister Netanyahu has already made it very clear that for the PA it's either negotiations with Israel or an accord with Hamas, but not both. Not that Abbas cares, but it's important to put Israel's cards on the table up front with regard to the international community. Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a Hamas-affiliated PA or to accord it "confidence-inspiring measures."

In his statement Netanyahu pointed out that Hamas has not accepted the three minimal requirements of the international community: recognizing Israel's right to exist, abandoning terrorism, and accepting previous agreements, but instead "continues to arm itself for even deadlier terrorism."

When I read, as I did today, that an Israel official said that "...this agreement would lead to the end of the peace process," I wanted to ask if he was joking -- if he thought there was a peace process before this agreement. But this is simply part of the way it has to be played (or they imagine it has to be played): See world, we were ready to continue, but Abbas blew it.

At any rate, it has been announced that Israeli work on putting together a package of economic "incentives" to keep the PA talking at a low level has been put on hold. That's quite fine. These "incentives" were, of course, being developed at the behest of the US and the EU.


The US has no official position yet on this development, as it is still "speculative."

The EU does not have an official position yet either. However, as Abu Toameh points out, at the end of November the EU called for PA reconciliation with Hamas, referring to it as "an opportunity rather than a threat -- an important element for a viable Palestinian state, and essential for securing a lasting peace with Israel." Yes, the EU gives lip service to the three requirements of Hamas, as stated above, but you can see where the Europeans are headed. They would turn themselves into pretzels finding ways to legitimize a unity government.


Wow! A veritable genius! Dennis Ross, formerly a US Mideast envoy, speaking at the Aspen Institute, said he believes this is not the right time for a final peace agreement between Israel and the PA: "Right now I don't think the contest lends itself very well to producing a permanent status deal."

Consider the state of affairs, if such a common sense observation has to be noted as something special. What he said additionally was that he believed the situation should be regarded from a position of "humility." By which I understand that he thinks those officials making pronouncements about what they can accomplish would be wise to close their mouths.


Even though the situation is on hold for the moment, I want to call your attention to a cogent analysis by Shoshana Bryen (formerly with JINSA and now with the Jewish Policy Center): "No More 'Peace Talks,' Please."

Bryen points out that the three major assumptions from Oslo have all been proven wrong:

That Palestinian nationalism could be understood as the mirror image of Jewish nationalism (Zionism);
That Palestinian nationalism could find its full expression in a West Bank and Gaza Strip state; and
That there is a price Israel, the United States, and Europe could pay to the Palestinians that would overcome any remaining Palestinian objection to Jewish sovereignty in the region.


And then, a delightful, although ultimately very serious, piece by Barry Rubin, "When the Moderates are Radicals You're in Trouble."

"I’d like to share with you a secret. Every day I read and hear things by people who claim to be experts on the Middle East. I have read them on the land; I have read them on the sea; I have read them in the air.

"And they will never surrender to reality. Here are the two main causes of error:

"-– They think the Middle East is just like the West so they can extrapolate from their own experience... You are not Arafat or Khomeini or Saddam Hussein or whatever and unless you have some understanding of how they actually think-–and not your own Western pragmatic interpretation of what they should think–-there’s no sense in discussing it.

"-– They think the Middle East is just what they’d like it to be. Peace? Easy. They have a plan. My response: I’d love to hear your plan but I’m all booked up to hear Middle East peace plans for the next three years. I’ll put you on the waiting list and get back to you...

"The Middle East is so strange in Western terms, so different -- having its own unique history and institutions -- that unless you are really aware of those differences please pick something else to be an expert on..."


Rubin's piece is about Egypt and you can learn by reading it in its entirety. But I love this introduction because it applies to so much I deal with, so much that I have trouble explaining to people. Judging the world, and in particular the Arab world, by Western standards and principles is a huge mistake.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Israeli teachers oppose school trips to Hebron

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Hundreds of Israeli teachers have sent a letter to Israel's education minister opposing school trips to Hebron.

The trips are part of an Education Ministry program to take students on "heritage tours" in the West Bank city.

The 260 teachers who signed the letter Sunday called the program, launched in Jerusalem schools last year and opened last month to schools throughout the country, "a manipulative use of pupils and teachers, who will be forced to become political pawns," according to Haaretz

The program is not compulsory. Some 2,000 secular and 1,000 religious high school students have visited the Cave of the Patriarchs, according to Haaretz. The Cave of the Patriarchs, the burial place of the Jewish forefathers and foremothers, is located in Hebron; the site is also holy to Muslims. Hebron is home to more than 160,000 Palestinians and 500 Jews.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told Israel Radio Monday that the letter had only been sent to Haaretz and not to him, and that "it's to the discredit of the education system that this [school trips to Hebron] hasn't happened in the last 40 years."

Last week, a Hebron school trip was canceled after students from a Jerusalem high school were prohibited by security forces from touring Hebron with a group of former Israeli soldiers from the Breaking the Silence organization, which offers a pro-Palestinian view of Hebron.

"By using the national education system, you wish to strengthen and perpetuate the Jewish settlements in these areas," the teachers' letter said. "To this end, the reality in Hebron is presented in a partial and tendentious manner. Concealing the political reality is a political action."

Hungary condemns party's anti-Semitic comments


Jobbik spokesman questioned Holocaust figures, said Israel was created by ‘terrorists.’
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi [file] By REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
BERLIN – Hungary’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday criticized anti-Semitic and pro-Iranian regime statements of Jobbik party lawmaker Marton Gyongyosi.

Hungary rejects the statements of “Gyongyosi, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, [who] questioned the number of Hungarian Holocaust victims and compared Israel to a Nazi system,” a ministry spokesman said, according to the Hungarian news agency MTI. The spokesman added that Hungary’s Foreign Ministry opposed Jobbik’s pro-Iran position and “Jobbik supported Iran.”

Hungary’s diplomatic spokesman stressed that the government is committed to maintaining the memory of the Shoah and to foster Holocaust education and research, as well as compensation for the victims and their families.

Hungary “rejects all forms of Holocaust denial,” he said.

The London-based Jewish Chronicle first reported on Gyongyosi’s expression of Holocaust denial, his comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, and his party’s embrace of the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. After reports appeared in the Chronicle and The Jerusalem Post, Hungary’s Foreign Ministry issued statements condemning Jobbik.

The ultra-nationalist Jobbik party is Hungary’s third largest, with 47 parliamentary seats. It is widely considered to be anti-Roma and anti-Sinti, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

In a wide ranging interview with the Chronicle conducted in Hungary, Gyongyosi questioned whether 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered or deported during the Holocaust.

He compared Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, calling him “a pure Nazi.” Gyongyosi also said the Jewish state was created by “terrorists.”

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post on Monday, “There are two separate issues here with a very tenuous connection. There is no question that the current Hungarian government does not in any way subscribe to Jobbik’s support for Iran and outright Holocaust denial.”

Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union – the governing party in Hungary, flatly opposed Gyongyosi’s remarks.

Zuroff added that with respect to the second issue, “there is legitimate concern regarding the tendency of Fidesz to equate Communist and Nazi crimes (denial of both are illegal in Hungary), and support among elements of the party for a rewriting of the accepted Holocaust narrative which would minimize the responsibility of Hungarians for the crimes committed in Hungary. One of the best tests on this issue will be whether the government tries to rewrite the texts in the excellent Holocaust Museum in Budapest, unique in Eastern Europe, regarding this issue. There have been statements by Hungarian officials about an intention to do so and it remains to be seen, whether this will, God forbid, actually be done.”

Gyongyosi further told the Chronicle, “I always support the position of a threatened country.

Iran is in the center of a Middle East axis that Israel and the US want to subjugate and keep under their control. Iran is an extremely peaceful country and never started a war, unlike Israel, which has declared wars on anything and everybody around it.”

The Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday that the government shares the concerns of the EU regarding the Iranian crisis.

In e-mail to the Post on Monday from Vilnius, Prof. Dovid Katz, editor of DefendingHistory.

com, wrote, “Sure, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry is to be commended for its repudiation of the Jobbik party’s latest anti- Semitic outbursts, after these were exposed internationally by the Jerusalem Post and the Jewish Chronicle. But press release ‘quick-fixes’ for PR disasters are not enough.”

Katz, who has written about anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, said, “The Fidesz government has itself, like a number of East European states, been fomenting a rather sophisticated brand of East European exclusivism rooted in ultra-nationalism, Holocaust obfuscation and something that invariably accompanies state-tolerated prejudice against segments of a nation’s population – the diminution or dismantling of robust democracy.

It can be dubbed high class bigotry, which tacitly tolerates low class bigotry (skins, slogans, swastikas and worse).”

In response to criticism leveled against the nationalist government of Fidez Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Hungary “categorically rejects all malicious attempts to stoke anti-Hungarian hysteria” by conflating the policies of the government with those of “irresponsible far-Right politics.”

Wandering columnist

David Suissa

Being a weekly columnist while visiting Israel can be really stressful. Every hour or so, you get hit with a potential subject for a column. After a few days now in the Holy Land, I have no clue how to pick from this embarrassment of riches. So let’s go on a mini-tour of some of those difficult choices.

My first night with my friend Yossi Klein Halevi was definitely a good candidate for a column. Yossi took me to the Mahane Yehuda Market (the shuk) in Jerusalem, which is as far in appearance from Century City Mall as Jerusalem is from Bakersfield. We walked through several alleyways overflowing with mostly food and spice vendors and ended up at this little restaurant called Mizrahi, which has a long history in the shuk. The really interesting story of Mizrahi, though, is that several years ago, the daughter of the owner decided to study cooking in France. Apparently, she came back one day and said something like, “Hey, Dad, want a new menu?” I’m no foodie, but if I were, I would describe in detail how we feasted on Middle Eastern flavors married with the elegance and creativity of French cuisine. Here we were in this ancient market eating in an eclectic restaurant that would feel right at home in West Hollywood.

And conversing, of course, about how to save the Middle East.

I could also have written a few columns on some of the stuff I heard from cab drivers. My favorite ride was from a driver who considered himself an expert on the quality of Israeli food exports. For a solid half hour, I heard about how Israel was now “the best at everything.” According to my driver, Chaim, Israel has figured out how to make cheese so good they’re exporting it to France and Switzerland, and chocolate so good they are exporting it to Belgium, and wine so good they are winning international awards, and baked goods and pastries so good that Israeli chefs won a recent contest against top chefs in France.

If I’m not mistaken, I think he also mentioned something about the “best olive oil.”

Let’s put it this way. He may have been exaggerating a little, but I’m a sucker for great stories about Israeli ingenuity, so I’m not the best person to do the checking.

Speaking of Israeli ingenuity, another cab driver, who took me from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, went on at length about … human waste. Apparently, several years ago, someone had the brilliant idea of turning a massive waste dump off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway into an ecology recycling center where students and tourists can learn the latest about recycling technology. From a waste dump to an eco-tourist attraction — how do you beat that? I checked this one out myself, and he was pretty accurate: What was once the notorious Hiriya garbage dump is now Ariel Sharon Park.

Another great subject for a column would be the restaurant Liliyot in Tel Aviv, which integrates a social project into its activities. The restaurant is owned by a group of entrepreneurs with a social vision. All the employees are former at-risk youths who are given an opportunity to integrate into society in a positive way. The service was so good that several waiters fell all over themselves to find me a Wi-Fi connection so I could file this column.

I could also have written a story on the utter absence of conversational discipline during business meetings. One of the reasons I’m here is to visit clients and potential clients for The Jewish Journal. Well, at a meeting with the largest hotel chain in Israel, I got a 20-minute history lesson on the story of Bulgarian Jews and how they were protected during World War II.

At another meeting with a major new developer in Tel Aviv, the client, a hard-core Zionist originally from Holland, showed me on his computer how he spends his nights fighting the PR war on online forums in Holland.

At yet another meeting with a representative of a Tel Aviv hotel, just as I was presenting a creative idea, the client interrupted me with a philosophic musing on how Israelis’ passion for life is an integral part of the “brand of Israel.” I nodded vigorously, hoping that that would create an opening for my pitch. It didn’t — it just made her get even more philosophical. Eventually, I thought of a way to convey my idea in a quick 10-second burst. She liked it, but it’s possible that what she really liked was that it only took me 10 seconds to explain it.

Over the next few days, I will cover the annual Herzliya Conference, a summit on global policy and Middle East affairs, which means another 30 or so possible columns. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading news sites and getting updates on things like the Likud elections, the Iran nuclear crisis, the nonexistent peace process, the committee report on the Carmel fire and the leadership struggle in Kadima.

This might be a country obsessed with political stories, but if you’re a wandering columnist visiting from Los Angeles, the best stories are definitely on the street.

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at

Monday, February 06, 2012

"Another Tightrope Act"

US President Obama is eager to avoid a military confrontation with Iran. It is clear that his re-election is on his mind with regard to this. And so, in a very recent CBS interview he said:

"Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices..."

Ah, oil prices. Increased prices would adversely affect the US economy, would they not? And economic recovery is a linchpin of his campaign.


But in the same interview, he said that Israel was "rightly" concerned about what will happen with Iran.

Here is his nod to Israel supporters. And he followed this line of thinking with more:

"My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically."

Lockstep, my foot. Word is that if we do hit Iran, we won't give the US more than a few hours notice, for reasons that are obvious. No question that the president of the US must be concerned with US interests first, but he should not pretend to be concerned with Israeli security when in fact this is not the case: There is a wide divergence between what Israeli leaders know clearly to be in Israel's security interest and what Obama perceives to be in America's best interest.

"Perceives" is the operative word here. What Obama perceives is that the US is best served if he is re-elected, and so, to that end, he'll sacrifice a great deal. Including Israeli security interests.


But that's just for starters. Because the fact of the matter is that Obama is also prepared to sacrifice what's best for US security for that "greater good" of a win in the election.

He pretends to address this, saying that he doesn't believe that Tehran has the "intentions or capabilities" to attack the United States. Meaning, of course, that it is just Israel's problem.

A fairly incredible statement.

Just days ago, at a world conference on the "Arab Spring," Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, told a cheering audience that, "In light of the realization of the divine promise by almighty God, the Zionists and the Great Satan [America] will soon be defeated." The Islamic awakening in the region, he explained has delivered several blows to the enemies of Islam. All Muslims remain united in standing against the "evil hegemony of the Zionists and the Americans."

This is hardly a unique statement from an Iranian leader. The Iranian theme of the US as the "Great Satan" is fairly ubiquitous. So much for Tehran not having intentions of attacking the US.

Obama is a fool to pretend these things are not being said. But he seems to exhibit a particular propensity for blithely ignoring the obvious.


As to capabilities: Surely Obama knows, just as Israeli military intelligence knows, and the readers of my posts know, that Iran is working on a solid-fuel powered missile that would have sufficient range to reach the US. Not a reality today, but there's always tomorrow. It ill becomes the Americans to be complacent in this regard -- imagining themselves so far away as to be safe from attack.

Besides which, there are other ways for Iran to hit the US: with terrorist attacks inside the country, attacks on US personnel outside the country, and cyber-attacks of some considerable import.

In particular, it behooves the US to take more seriously the growing influence of the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Latin America.

See "Latin American: Iran's New Front Against the US":

"[On] January 30, 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) stated that, 'When President Ahmadinejad recently toured the capitals of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, it was not a form of cultural diplomacy; it was primarily to increase the tempo of preparations for the war against America'.. (Emphasis added)

"In 2007, a[n]...announcement was made by Ahmadinejad about the opening of Iran Air’s new Tehran to Caracas link, except that those flights do not accept open bookings, as transport for entrepreneurs or sightseers surely would. No, these planes are most likely carrying bad actors from the likes of Hezbollah, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Guard’s Quds Force...

"Also considered is the possibility that the Tehran-Caracas flights are being used to transport weapons and Pasdaran – Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) officers – to Venezuela in order to strengthen Chavez’s grip on Venezuela and transform it into a potential threat to the U.S. by installing long range missiles in Venezuela that can reach the U.S..." (Emphasis added)
And so Obama is a fool twice over.


It has been announced that Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has chosen Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel to become Commander of the Air Force when Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan steps down in April.

Eshel Source: IDF Spokesperson

This announcement has attracted a great deal more attention than would normally be the case because of the role that the commander of the Air Force will play in any attack on Iran.

He would not be charged with making the final decision. However that final decision, to be made at the highest political levels, would depend upon his perception that such an operation is feasible. If the head of the Air Force were to deliver the message that he believes it cannot be done, this would effectively end further discussion. And if the decision is made to go ahead, his role would be pivotal.


In light of this, I was particularly delighted by the following report on Eshel from the JPost:

"On September 4, 2003, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel served as the lead pilot in one of the Israel Air Force’s most memorable missions – a flight over the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

"Under the agreement with the Polish government, the IAF F-15s were supposed to fly high above Auschwitz, and way out of sight.

"The day of the flight though, Eshel convened the other pilots and announced that they were going to fly below the clouds so they could be seen by the IDF officers who would be holding a ceremony along the train tracks below.

"'We listened to the Polish for 800 years,' Eshel was quoted as telling the other pilots at the time. 'Today, we don’t have to listen anymore.'"

Right on! This is the sort of attitude Israel desperately needs today and I find this story reassuring.

See here the video footage of that magnificent flyover at Auschwitz, which includes the broadcast voice of General Eshel pledging from the skies over the death camp that the Air Force of Israel will be the shield of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Amen v'amen!


A shift now to another issue.

Recently, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced a program of tours to acquaint students with sites of Jewish heritage. This curriculum had been available to schools in the Jerusalem school district, but was now being provided across the country. In particular, there was a focus on a on-compulsory program called 'Ascending to Hevron," that would bring students to visit the Machpela (the Tomb of the Patriarchs). To date, some 2,000 secular and 1,000 religious high school students have participated.

Now 260 teachers have drafted a letter saying they would refuse to participate in the program for visiting Hevron -- which is in Judea, south of Jerusalem, as "it is a manipulative use of pupils and teachers, who will be forced to become political pawns."


I find this fascinating. Visiting Hevron is conceptualized as a political act, but refusing to bring students to this ancient site is not?

In point of fact, Hevron transcends politics: It is the most ancient of sites connected to Jewish heritage: mentioned in the Torah, the Machpela belongs to the Jewish people by virtue of its purchase by our father Avraham. But these teachers advocate denying Jewish students exposure to it. I can only assume that they fear that such students, once exposed to this sacred place, might think twice about the propriety of relinquishing "the West Bank" to the Palestinian Arabs.


Minister Sa'ar is handling this well. Today he told Israel Radio that the only real critique of this program is that it wasn't instituted 40 years ago.

Sa'ar Source:

What he was referring to is the fact that under the eye of a series of left-wing education ministers over the years, the Jewish connection to the land was shamefully denied or downplayed in secular state schools.

There was a time when secular Israelis knew the Tanach (Bible) and understood the connection of our texts and history to the land. Ben Gurion was a quintessential example of this. But thanks in good part to these left-wing ministers, such is no longer the case. It is nothing short of a tragedy that many Israeli young people just don't know.

"I didn't receive any protest letter, their letter was sent to Haaretz to serve their campaign against us," Sa'ar said, "One teacher charged me of Zionist indoctrination. You see? Being Zionist is now an accusation." (Emphasis added)

And so, bravo to Gideon Sa'ar.

I ask you please to send him a very brief note, congratulating him for instituting the program "Ascending to Hevron." Tell him that you support his efforts to teach the Jewish students of the State about Jewish heritage that transcends political issues.

If you are an Israeli citizen, mention this, and forward this to other Israelis who also might contact him. If you are a member of Likud, share that information as well, please.


If you live in or near Jerusalem or plan to be visiting here on February 16, I recommend that you sign up to see the film "Unmasked -- Judeophobia" to be shown at the Cinematheque at 7 PM. The free showing will be complemented by a discussion by an outstanding panel. For more details or to do required registration:


There is news regarding the "reconciliation" of Fatah and Hamas. I continue to view this process with a dubious eye. But now there are some new wrinkles. Hopefully tomorrow we'll look at this.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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CAIR attack: Cultural Jihad in Action

Wayne Kopping

In May 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg posited that the individual who packed a Nissan Pathfinder full of explosives and parked it in Times Square, was likely a homegrown American “with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something.”

Fortunately, the car bomb did not detonate.

The terrorist turned out to be Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen. And, not surprisingly, Shahzad wasn't upset about the health care bill. After pleading guilty in court he said, “I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim-soldier.” He was upset, as he put it, over “American occupation of Muslim Lands.”

Shortly after the attack, Bloomberg prematurely asserted that there was no evidence suggesting the bomber was part of any recognized terror network. Shahzad later told the court he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to learn bomb-making and other related skills.

Could it be that Bloomberg has underestimated the threat of Islamist terror, or is there another agenda? The issue has again become relevant in recent days. The New York Times ran a series of articles and editorials blaming the NYPD for using the film The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America as part of their counter-terrorism training.

The articles calling the film, "a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims" and a “Hateful Film,” are riddled with inaccuracies and omissions.

Following publication of the articles, Mayor Bloomberg stated that NYPD used “terrible judgment” in showing the film, despite admitting that he had never seen it.

We were not aware that the NYPD was using the film, but when we learned of it some months ago, we were pleased that the officers would have an opportunity to learn about the indoctrination taking place in certain segments of Muslim society in America. The film reveals what viewers are unlikely to see on the evening news: What terrorists, radical preachers and Islamists are saying in their own words, in their own mosques and media, to their followers.

The film exposes how radicals employ the dual strategies of “violent Jihad,” along with a “cultural Jihad,” through which Islamist groups use coercion and non-violent means to gradually expand their influence over Western society.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg, The New York Times and others want to bar law enforcement officers from seeing the film. The question is, why?

We reject, outright, the charge that our film is anti-Muslim or that it casts a shadow over the entire Muslim community. In fact, we go to great lengths throughout the film to differentiate the radical Islamists from peaceful Muslims. The film is narrated by, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim-American, who has dedicated his life to exposing the threat of radical Islam.

Our critics have failed to mention these points and have chosen not to challenge the film on the merits of its thesis or content.

Perhaps the reason Mayor Bloomberg wants The Third Jihad banned is the same reason he insinuated the Times Square bomber was a health care terrorist — namely, CAIR.

CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) is one of many Muslim interest groups that purport to represent the Islamic community in America, but in reality have well established ties to Hamas and other terror groups.

CAIR was designated by the U.S. Justice Department for its role in terror financing during the nation’s largest-ever trial on the subject. As a result, the FBI has officially severed all ties with the “advocacy organization.”

Outside of its support for terror organizations, CAIR works to quickly and effectively to silence any discussions about radical Islam by playing the racism card and accusing critics of Islamophobia. CAIR’s devices are effective.

As soon as the current story broke, CAIR immediately branded the film "anti-Muslim propaganda" in a press release. This was followed by a CAIR-led protest on the steps of City Hall calling for the resignation of the NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

The entire episode could have been a chapter in The Third Jihad. We are now seeing “cultural Jihad” in action. In order to avoid agitating Muslim constituents, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly are backing away from the film, regardless of its merits.

The net result is that CAIR, a designated Muslim interest group with ties to terror financing, is now telling the NYPD how it should go about fighting terror. If that's not the ultimate act of subversion, I don't know what is.

Wayne Kopping is the director and editor of The Third Jihad

[Twitter] @WayneKopping

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Samaria in a sewage stalemate

SHARON UDASIN The Jerusalem Post

All but one of 22 Palestinian villages refuse connection to sewage line,
Environmental Protection Ministry says.

Swirling in the strikingly green valley below the southern Samaria community
of Nofim is a rambling stream amid grass and trees – filled with dangerous
quantities of sewage.

A subterranean sewage pipe connects to the underbellies of four of the five
surrounding settlements – Nofim, Yakir, Etz Ephraim and Sha’arei Tikva – and
will within a few months also connect to that of Ma’aleh Shomron, bringing
all of the effluent to a treatment facility in Eliyahu. Despite Israeli offers to connect the 22 surrounding Palestinian villages to
the same pipe, all but one of them refused the proposal, Environmental
Protection Ministry and Shomron Regional Council officials explained during
an exclusive tour of the area on Thursday.

Instead, their sewage flows into the aquifer below and ends up directly in
the stream, according to the officials.

“That’s a testament to the fact that we are doing everything we can to
prevent pollution in Judea and Samaria, but nevertheless, the Palestinians
refuse to cooperate,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan told The
Jerusalem Post during the tour.

Although planned about 15 years ago, the pipeline was only constructed about
eight years ago, and a decade ago sewage from the settlements as well flowed
directly into the stream, according to Shomron Environmental Association
director Itzik Meir.

Erdan expressed hope that donor countries would agree to only continue
giving the villages financial support if they agree to connect to the sewage
pipeline. Meanwhile, he also said he hoped that the relationship between the
local Palestinian and Israeli communities would improve, though he certainly
has doubts about this matter.

“Hopefully I will be surprised,” he said.

“It’s important for me to reveal whether they’re making political use of
water,” Erdan said. “Or maybe it’s a problem of misunderstanding – but that
is hard for me to believe.”

Another Environment Ministry official was slightly more optimistic,
explaining that one of the 22 villages had, in fact, recently agreed to hook
up to the sewage pipe, a deal that would be finalized in a few weeks time.
The official said he could not reveal the name of the village at this point.

Yet a third official told the Post he suspected that the local Palestinian
governments were unwilling to connect their villages due to “political
reasons” – simply “because they don’t want to recognize Israel as a presence
in the area.”

The Palestinian Water Authority could not be reached by press time.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis