Saturday, December 14, 2013

Will Israel Attack Iran?

PJ Editors 

The recent deal struck between the West and Iran that is supposed to limit Iran’s nuclear program has put Israel in a difficult position. Its major ally — the U.S. — has chosen a diplomatic route to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. But the deal will only last six months and there is no guarantee diplomacy will work.
As Norman Podhoretz wrote in the Wall Street Journal [1] recently, a “new consensus” on Iran has emerged that posits the notion that the only thing worse than Iran getting the bomb is taking military action to prevent it.
Adherents of the new consensus would have us believe that only two choices remain: a war to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or containment of a nuclear Iran—with containment the only responsible option. Yet as an unregenerate upholder of the old consensus, I remain convinced that containment is impossible, from which it follows that the two choices before us are not war vs. containment but a conventional war now or a nuclear war later.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Jerusalem, winter wonderland and capital under siege

Snow blankets Jerusalem and the surrounding area, causing road closures and traffic jams throughout the city and on roads entering and exiting the capital • IEC declares state of emergency • The worst of the chilly weather system expected Friday.

A Jerusalem light rail train pushes through the snow on Thursday
Photo credit: Lior Mizrahi
Fifty centimeters (19.7 inches) of snow fell in Jerusalem on Thursday and Friday (as of press time), leading to a state of emergency in the city, to which entrance and exit roads have been closed.
"I've heard of making guests welcome and feeling at home. This is as far as I've seen anyone go, giving a nice New England snow storm," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday in Jerusalem, where he had arrived to continue peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Why Israel is boycotted

1. What lies at the root of the European boycott of Israel? What lies at the root of the anti-Israel statements that various cultural icons are constantly making -- statements that camouflage anti-Semitic sentiment? What lies behind the false and malicious comparison of Israel to South Africa's apartheid regime?
The attempts to boycott Israel or mark its products, interfere in its ancient geography or mark it as racist, fascist or Nazi are the current political expression of Israel's ancient characterization as "a nation that dwells alone." The return to Zion is the Jewish nation's return to history, to life as a sovereign people in its ancient homeland. Calls for boycott were made even before the establishment of the state. While these calls came from the extremist factions at the time, they moved toward the center as the years went by, particularly after 1967. That was when we came back to the cradle of our nationhood, to the historical places most closely connected with our identity. Most important, we came back to Jerusalem, which is also linked with the identity of the world's nations. The fight against Israel -- which is a fight against history's law of the return to Zion -- is evidence of how hard it is for Israel's opponents to deal with the Jews' return to life after having been in a state of living death for so long. That is why we and our products are marked, why the badge of shame is being placed upon us once again, why we are being isolated and boycotted. This is our adversaries' way of saying: "You are not one of us."

The Palestinian refugees -- a reality check

Yoram Ettinger

Western policymakers and media have misconstrued/misrepresented the Palestinian refugee issue, ignoring its global context and core data. Moreover, the Palestinian claim of dispossession -- which impacts the U.S. financial aid to UNRWA, and is defined as a key issue in the peace process -- fails the reality test.
The global context
At the end of 2012, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees documented 15.4 million refugees worldwide -- excluding Palestinian refugees who are administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency -- and 28.8 million internally displaced persons. Four million of the refugees are from Afghanistan. One of the results of the civil war in Sudan was 5.5 million refugees. Fifteen million refugees (Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) were created by the 1947 partition of India, which created Pakistan. The Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 involved a forced population exchange of two million people.

"The Islamic Winter"

The big news here in Israel has to do with winter, all right. But most definitely not the Islamic sort (which I'll get to below). 
We've been hit with severe weather.  In Jerusalem, it started with torrential rain and high winds yesterday, and turned to snow overnight.  Bitter temperatures and more snow, probably mixed with sleet, are due in the next two days.  Traffic is snarled, and routines are disrupted - main roads are closed.  In the north, in Gush Etzion, Beit El, Hevron, the Shomron, and other places that are higher, the snow fall has been heavier.
Credit: Jerusalemscenes
From my window right now, it's very lovely, as every branch of every shrub is covered.
And there is yet another benefit to the weather: Kerry was scheduled to meet with Netanyahu today to advance that "peace process" with ever more vigorous plans. But the snow caused a postponement.
What timing!  Yesterday I wrote about the law, know as the Prawer Plan, that had been advanced by former minister Bennie Begin.  Today he pulled the bill for lack of support.
You might assume that the lack of support was a signal that most MKs think it was not fair to the Bedouin, but the contrary is the case.  And Begin said explicitly that this action was not as a result of the riots.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

U.N. Declares 2014 Year of Palestinian Solidarity

Jewish officials worry about exclusion, uptick in anti-Israel activity
The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to declare 2014 the “International   Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” during an unprecedented vote that human rights observers say was marred by anti-Israel fervor.
The U.N.’s General Assembly (UNGA) voted 110 to 7 to approve the resolution on Nov. 26, just a day after the measure was put forth during a controversial series of meetings to mark 2013’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

While the U.N. holds a Palestinian solidarity day each year, this is the first time that it has voted to dedicate an entire year to what it describes as the plight of the Palestinian people.
The General Assembly adopted at least three other resolutions that targeted Israel on the same day.
Jewish groups worry that the U.N. will now see a massive uptick in anti-Israel activity in 2014, as the Palestinian rights committee assumes unilateral control over meetings and events that can take place under the auspices of the solidarity year.

Why Isn't Kerry Listening to What the Radicals Are Saying?

Kerry needs to listen to what Hamas and other groups are saying in Arabic.
Hamas is not the only Palestinian party that would reject any U.S.-sponsored agreement. Most of the Palestinian groups...have already expressed their opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pursues his efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority [PA] leadership and Israel, Hamas reaffirmed that it would not honor any deal that does not meet its goals.
The Hamas announcement serves as a reminder that any US-brokered deal between Israel and the PA will not mean the end of the conflict.
In fact, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not in a position to sign any document that calls for an end to the conflict with Israel.
Abbas has no control over the Gaza Strip, which has been under the rule of Hamas since the summer of 2007. Any agreement he signs with Israel would only apply to those areas under the control of the PA, in the West Bank or territories handed over to him by Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on June 28, 2013. (Image source: U.S. State Department)
Hamas is not the only Palestinian party that would reject any U.S.-sponsored agreement. Most of the PLO groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have already expressed their opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Al Qaeda tightens grip on western Iraq in bid for Islamic state


Not to worry. The Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims is going to rise up, cast al-Qaeda from power, and explain to its leaders how they're misunderstanding Islam -- should be happening any minute now...
"Al Qaeda tightens grip on western Iraq in bid for Islamic state," by Suadad al-Salhy forReuters, December 11:
(Reuters) - In Iraq's western desert near the Syrian border, in a landscape of sand and rock, a signpost announces that you are entering al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A short video of the sign was broadcast on jihadi websites last month and reflects a long-held goal of al Qaeda fighters to establish an Islamic emirate.


[The Hebrew Makor Rishon's Editor-in-Chief, Amnon Lord penned a
scathing editorial about Obama. But it is also being talked about
because of accusations leveled at certain retired IDF personnel.]
By Amnon Lord
Now that the best and brightest have finished their comparisons with
Munich and Chamberlain, I wish to provide another, somewhat more
shocking, comparison, one that in the past, resulted in people calling
for smelling salts.
In March 2010, I attempted to explain the American president’s
seemingly incomprehensible behavior in simple terms, making use of the
name Charles Lindbergh. The legendary pro-Nazi pilot surfaced again in
Philip Roth’s novel “The Plot Against America”, published in
2004. Roth penned a novel based on speculative history (“what would
have happened if…”)- in this case, what would have happened had
Charles Lindbergh won the 1940 elections rather than FDR, the
incumbent against whom he ran for president.

"Obama on His Face"

Before we get to Obama, who makes me (as most of you) terribly tired, I would like to address other topics.
I have been wanting for some time to write about the issue of Bedouin settlement in the Negev, which has sparked enormous controversy and been used as a weapon against Israel. (So what else is new?)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Egypt's Women: Covered-up or Locked-up

Michael Armanious

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street...and the cats come and eat it, whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? If she was in her room, in her home in her hijab, no problem would have occurred." — Sheikh Taj Din Al-Hilali, Grand Mufti, Australia, 2006
Although she survived the attack, what is really instructive is how she was demonized and blamed on Egypt's talk shows for the violence she endured. Commentators accused her of deliberately wearing a blue bra to invite the attack -- as if it even could have been seen beneath the black Islamic veil she wore before she was attacked.
The ancient Egyptians created a sophisticated civilization, particularly regarding the status of women. On women's rights, ancient Egyptian society was considerably more liberal and progressive than Athens and Rome. Ancient Egypt's eight female pharaohs and a number of influential queens led the country as it achieved astonishing feats in a wide range of fields that include engineering, fashion and astronomy. From the archaeological evidence of the art on the ancient temples, at least in the realm of law, it appears Egyptian women had achieved equality with men. Women could own land, divorce their husbands and represent themselves in court. Women also played a central role in the how their society was governed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Two-State Delusion

Mordechai Nisan
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

Two decades after the signing of the declaration of principles (DOP) by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on the White House lawn, there is something unreasonable in the world's continued adherence to the Oslo paradigm, tattered and battered as it is by years of a bloody fiasco. The Palestinian Arab leadership has consistently and adamantly rejected the two-state solution since its first articulation in 1937 by the British Peel commission[1] and has, as consistently, advocated the destruction of the Jewish state. Still, it undertook a successful public relations campaign in the 1980s promoting the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—"the occupied territories."
Twenty years of Oslo, filled with optimism and enthusiasm and adorned with Nobel prizes, like the ones held here by Arafat, Peres and Rabin (l-r) have delivered no peace for either side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Firmly entrenched in its place, however, is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance written on a grand political scale, as the failed Oslo paradigm is revived again and again.
Over the years and especially in the wake of the DOP, the Palestinian demand for statehood has gained rapid political momentum and international acceptance. A succession of Israeli prime ministers—from Shimon Peres, to Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Binyamin Netanyahu—embraced the idea, as did U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The paradigm for a final peace includes among its primary components Israeli territorial withdrawal and Palestinian sovereignty, political separation with reconciliation, compromise, and coexistence.

Yet twenty years on, the two parties find themselves further apart despite years of diplomatic wrangling. It is thus past time to examine and invalidate the paradigm that has taken hold in the hope that a new and less sanguinary one will take root.

Nelson Mandela and the Left’s Self-Congratulatory Preening

Jihad Watch


Why the invocations of human rights in the wake of an icon's death ring hollow. My piece over at PJ Lifestyle today:
The death of Nelson Mandela has been the occasion for a great deal of self-righteous preening. Barack Obama cribbed from Edwin M. Stanton in his statement, declaring that Mandela “belongs to the ages,” but CNN helpfully recalled more original words from Obama about Mandela from 2010, in which he laid claim to the great man’s mantle:
“Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is — that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be….In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who tried to answer his call.”
The tributes to Mandela all sounded similar themes: he fought oppression and injustice and prevailed, transforming South Africa and the world. But Obama’s was by no means the only accolade to contain a self-congratulatory note. Numerous leftists and Islamic supremacists hurried to remind the world that Mandela was once branded a “terrorist,” implying that modern-day terrorists would one day be hailed as new additions to the pantheon of secular saints. Al Jazeera’s Wajahat Ali tweeted:

Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal dead if US passes new sanctions

Zarif.jpgZarif: Don't you dare, kuffar

Jihad Watch
Please pass new sanctions. "Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal dead if US passes new sanctions," by Arshad Mohammed for Reuters, December 9 (thanks to Kenneth):
WASHINGTON — Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the Iranian nuclear deal would be dead if the U.S. Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not take effect for six months, Time Magazine said on Monday. In a transcript of the interview, which was conducted on Saturday and posted online on Monday, Time said it asked Zarif what happens if Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not go into effect for six months.

Why Is the Obama Administration Courting Hezbollah?

Evidence has recently emerged suggesting that the U.S. has opened a line of direct communication with the Lebanese Shia Islamist organization Hezbollah. Details of the contacts have emerged from a variety of sources. Most notably, an article by respected Washington based journalist Hussein Abdul Hussein in the Arabic language newspaper al-Rai contended that the direct contacts are handled by British diplomats, who transfer messages back and forth between Hezbollah and the Americans.

It is worth recalling that the Clinton administration designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995. The apparent revival of direct communication with an organization responsible for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983 is not taking place in a vacuum. Rather, it is one element of what looks like an attempt at an extremely ambitious, even historic shift currently under way in U.S. regional policy. This is the effort to transform the Islamic Republic of Iran from the West’s main enemy in the Mideast region to a valued ally and partner.

American Jewish Demography and the challenge of supporting Israel

Alexander H. Joffe
The Times of Israel

The much discussed Pew Research Center study on the American Jews has revealed a community in rapid flux. The Pew results showed that the non-Orthodox sectors of American Jewish society are shrinking fast thanks to intermarriage, loss of interest and above all, low fertility. In contrast the Orthodox sectors, especially the Haredi and Chassidic ones, are growing rapidly.
While many have commented on the social, religious and communal implications, there are political issues of equal or greater importance. In 25 years, and certainly in 40 or 50 years, the American Jewish community will be smaller, more religious, less wealthy and less worldly than the present. How will they support Israel?
Since the founding of the State of Israel, three specific areas of American Jewish support have been critical; financial support, political support, and cultural leveraging based on the American Protestant mainstream and Jewish integration. Each of these is about to change.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Syria: residents of Raqqa, under Islamist control, unenthused about the "revolution" of the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are hung to replace crosses on The Martyrs Church in Raqqa

The eastern city of Raqqa was swept by celebrations after residents woke up one morning in March to see the last batch of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad leaving.

Believing a new era of freedom had arrived, they promised to make Raqqa, the first and only city to have fallen completely under rebel control, an example of a post-Assad era.

"At the time we were all happy with the liberation, it was not important who was there. Raqqa was for all Syrians and all those who helped liberate it," said one of several residents and activists contacted by Reuters via Skype.

The euphoria did not last.

Monday, December 9, 2013
Car Bomb Hits Central Iraq a Day After Deadly Attacks Across Baghdad
A car bomb exploded near a café in the central Iraqi town of Buhriz Monday killing 11 people and wounding an estimated 23 others. The café is known for being popular with members of the government-supported Sunni Sahwa militia. The bombing came a day after a series of attacks across Baghdad killed at least 45 people, and injured dozens more. The attacks hit shopping areas, markets, and auto repair shops targeting mainly Shiite neighborhoods. No one has claimed responsibility for the violence on Sunday and Monday however al Qaeda linked groups have repeatedly attacked civilians in an attempt to undermine the Shiite-led government. Over 6,300 people have been killed in violence in Iraq since the beginning of the year.  

The Bedouin Problem Is Not Land But Polygamy

To date, all the Bedouins’ legal land ownership claims that reached the courts have failed.

 By: Dr. Mordechai Kedar 

The 5,829 Bedouin women listed as eligible for single mother benefits in the Negev, raising 23,855 children, are actually silent polygamous wives. The 5,829 Bedouin women listed as eligible for single mother benefits in the Negev, raising 23,855 children, are actually silent polygamous wives.

 At the end of November, 2013, Israel experienced a series of demonstrations throughout the Arab areas, some of which were violent, as part of the “Day of Rage” over the government’s decision to implement the “Prawer Plan” to solve the problems relating to land in the Negev. Arab spokesmen – all of whom are Israeli citizens – threw around slogans such as “third intifada”, “Land Day II” and “Bedouin revolt”, slogans that were meant to incite the Arab public, which represents a fifth of the citizens of the state.

PA Rejects Release Delay, Warns 'Total Failure'

Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva Staff

In response to reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry will delay the third batch of terrorist releases by a month, a spokesperson of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared Monday that the PA will not agree to the delay, reports Kol Yisrael government radio.

Issa Karaka, PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs, said that while an official confirmation of the postponement has yet to be made, there are definite American pressures in that direction. Karaka added that Abbas told Kerry in their meeting last week that he refuses the proposed postponement, saying the matter could negatively impact peace talks with Israel.

Kerry's delay is seen as meant to pressure the PA into accepting Kerry's proposed Jordan Valley security arrangements made last week, which PA officials say Abbas rejected as they would not have prevented Israelis from living in the area.

"Hocus Pocus as Diplomacy"

The question, for starters, is how gullible do Obama and his representatives think that Israel is?  Or Mahmoud Abbas, for that matter.  What the Americans are attempting to do is stitch together a "peace" deal using that hocus pocus.
Kerry came to town last Wednesday for a series of meetings with Israeli and PA officials in order to advance the "peace process."  
On Friday, Kerry announced that he had presented both the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs with "new security ideas":
He had brought with him US Gen. (ret.) John Allen, described by Kerry as "one of the best military minds" in the US.
Credit: khaama
Gen. Allen, according to the JPost,  had been designated by Obama to "assess the potential threats to Israel and the region from a future Palestinian state, and come up with possible security arrangements."

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Israel Sends Aid to Syria Day After Shots Fired

Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday announced that Israel has sent humanitarian aid to Syria during a visit to the Golan, reports AFP.

"We've sent food, water, baby food and other humanitarian products," said Ya'alon, adding "we cannot remain idle when civilians are being confronted by a humanitarian crisis."

The Defense Minister's visit came after IDF soldiers were fired on from a Syrian army outpost on Monday. The IDF returned fire and identified a direct hit on a Syrian soldier. Earlier on Monday a Syrian mortar shell fell just outside Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the Golan Heights.

Regarding the exchange of fire, Ya'alon commented "Monday's incident was started by a Syrian soldier who fired at an Israeli military position...

Whoever questions our sovereignty will pay the price."