Saturday, January 05, 2008

Announcing ...

Zvi Mazel

The JPCA opened a new site in Arabic ... The site presents to Arab speaking visitors short translations from world and Israeli media on the Middle East, Islam and terrorism. Amb Zvi Mazel is the editor-please go to

It’s only the beginning

Alex Fishman

A Katyusha rocket lands in the southern town of Ashkelon, the Air Force bombs targets in the Gaza Strip, and we stopped counting the Qassams a long time ago. Every week, another “red line” is crossed and without feeling it we are already deep inside an intensive military confrontation in the Strip.
By the time the “big” ground operation rolls around it will no longer be perceived as a dramatic move, but rather, a natural phase in the escalation. Both sides are getting used to the escalation and treat it as if it was predestined. The space between one phase of escalation and another becomes shorter. Last month, the IDF killed about 60 Palestinians, most of them armed, yet this week alone almost 30 Palestinians have already been killed.

IDF operations in Gaza are becoming more complex, longer, and deeper. Who can remember that only two months ago, Israeli officials were debating whether to target Hamas posts along the border for fear Hamas will be drawn into the cycle of Qassam rocket launchers. Today, the IDF fires at Hamas without any limitation, also within Gaza Strip towns.

Israeli officials interpret the firing of the Katyusha on Ashkelon as a “sign of distress”: Hamas is doing everything in its power to produce success stories, even symbolic ones. Hitting Ashkelon, as opposed to hitting Sderot, is considered a success story with a national message, because the town was established on the ruins of a Palestinian village. Refugees from that village, who reside in Gaza Strip refugee camps, understand this message as follows: We are going back to your village – if not physically, then through the rocket. Next, we will go back to villages even deeper inside Israel.

At this time, Hamas is unable to fire a heavy and sustained rocket barrage at Ashkelon. Yet it enlisted the help of Islamic Jihad in order to undertake a one-time ostentatious effort. Currently there are dozens of Grad rockets in the Strip. It’s an old rocket smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai desert about two years ago. The rockets were smuggled in without their original launchers or their balancing wings, yet they were upgraded somewhat in the Strip.

Gaza siege taking its toll

Hamas and Jihad already attempted to fire these rockets into Israel five times, but without much success. The third one landed near a small southern community, while the fourth one apparently landed near Ariel Sharon’s Sycamore Ranch. The fifth rocket was fired Thursday from an improvised launcher in a Gaza neighborhood, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from where it landed.

The prevailing assessment is that by springtime, April or May, Hamas will feel well prepared for coping with an Israeli offensive. By that time it will complete its fortifications and receive new arms. Those weapons apparently include large quantities of self-made Qassam rockets with a range of 15 kilometers and even more (roughly 10 miles) that would enable Hamas to fire sustained barrages at Ashkelon and dozens of other communities within Israel.

Yet until we reach this point, the many losses, which are growing, along with the economic, psychological, and moral pressure created by the siege require Hamas to produce success stories. In addition, the internal fighting with other factions in the Strip does not contribute to Hamas’ popularity and its hold on Gaza. Therefore, the organization will be looking for success, even at the cost of painful Israeli retaliation.

This is why the IDF Southern Command’s alert in the face of a potential terror attack must be at its peak. It could be an attack undertaken via a tunnel, or any other way that would enable the terrorists to cross the border fence and infiltrate an Israeli community or military base in order to murder or abduct civilians and soldiers. Any attack that can demonstrate a sense of symbolic victory is on the agenda at this time. The rocket fired at Ashkelon is only the beginning.


Captive's father: Israel manipulated by Nasrallah

Yonat Atlas

Shlomo Goldwasser, father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, said at a Beersheba cultural event Saturday that the Israeli government is “not creative enough” in its approach to negotiations with Hizbullah, and is merely following the game plan set by Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah Reacting to a recent speech made by Nasrallah, Goldwasser called it “sheer manipulation.” “Nasralla has trafficked in our sons’ basic human rights in the past, and now he is trafficking their bodies. If he had any intention to hold real negotiations he would have called in the Red Cross and held real talks by now,” he said

Goldwasser also accused the Israeli government of being lax in its efforts to bring the kidnapped soldiers home, and of not putting forth enough effort into negotiations for their release.

“I am constantly told that bringing our kidnapped boys home is at the top of the government’s agenda, but I don’t feel that way,” said Goldwasser. “The government is not very creative in its dealings with Nasrallah, and is merely following his lead. Neither the prime minister nor defense minister have even attempted to directly contact Nasrallah.”

'Life goes on'
Calling Hizbullah's chief a “trapped rat ever since the Second Lebanon War”, Goldwasser also stated that he was “confident that Nasrallah would respond to any communiqué sent to him by the Israeli prime minister, if one would only be sent forth.”

In spite of the pain, hardships, and disappointments, however, both Mr. and Mrs. Goldwasser stated that their family is struggling to maintain some semblance of normalcy in their lives in spite of Ehud’s marked absence.

Ehud’s wife, Karnit, is set to complete the Master’s thesis that she had put aside for two years this week, and his father Shlomo is now returning to work, and even traveling to South Africa on business next week.

“We are not about to give up”, said Shlomo Goldwasser. “I want to pass along a personal message to Nasrallah and let him know that we will not surrender, because I have recently come to realize that he relishes in the suffering of innocent civilians and families who have no word of their loved ones.”


Friday, January 04, 2008

The asymmetry confronting Bush

David Horovitz

Ehud Olmert bridled a little when asked, in the course of the interview that appears in today's Jerusalem Post, whether President George W. Bush is coming here next week "to be the godfather of the state of Palestine."
"I don't think he would define a visit like this in those terms," the prime minister responded. He went on to stress that the visit is, first and foremost, an expression of friendship.

But as Olmert also explained in the interview, Bush is now personally committed to the diplomatic process formally relaunched in November at Annapolis and thus certainly hopes to be, if not exactly the godfather, then the presidential facilitator of Palestine. So he would like to see the Annapolis timetable met - that is, for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a full, permanent peace accord by the end of his presidential term, ready for implementation when the security conditions on the ground allow.

Of course, as Olmert also made crystal clear, Bush has no need to press Israel into trying to make a success of the negotiating effort, since the prime minister thoroughly shares the White House's peace-deal-in-2008 ambition.

Time is not on Israel's side, in Olmert's firm conception, since demographic trends will likely create a non-Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea within 20 or 30 years, and "the moment that happens, the threat [to Israel's essential Jewish democratic character] is likely to be realized."

Furthermore, Olmert said, an almost divine constellation of circumstances has provided Israel with the most helpful cast of key international statespeople imaginable. Bush is plainly the lead member of that cast, a president who knows and endorses Israel's negotiating red lines, a president of whom the prime minister said effusively: "He's not doing a single thing that I don't agree to."

But alongside this most friendly American president for 30 years, Olmert listed Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair as supportive players whose presence amounted almost to a case of "the hand of God" from the point of view of Israel's interests.

AS BUSH FLIES IN, then, the question - as it has been through so many bloodily failed previous efforts at peacemaking - is not whether Israel is anxious for a viable accord, or whether America and much of the international community want one, but whether the Palestinian leadership does, and if so whether it speaks for or can win over the Palestinian public.

If the erection of the security barrier in recent years gradually made it harder for Palestinian terrorists to maintain the post-Camp David 2000 strategic suicide bombing campaign, last Friday's murders of two off-duty soldiers out hiking near Hebron, by members of the very Palestinian Authority that is supposed to be partnering Israel toward peace, underline that the will to kill is most emphatically extant.

The most senior members of Israel's security establishment are adamant that the PA and its security forces are anything but capable of providing a viable security partnership; the PA's own Prime Minister Salaam Fayad has said the same. The IDF's firm belief, indeed, is that only its presence is preventing the West Bank from turning into a second Hamas-dominated Gaza. And the concrete, fresh security reform plan that Quartet envoy Blair so hoped to see readied by the PA for the international donors' conference in Paris last month, intended to remake the current grim reality on the ground and to ensure the overhaul of that deficient security apparatus, remains conspicuous by its absence.

In his meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, when conversation focuses not on day-to-day issues but on those core final-status subjects that are meant to be resolved over the next 12 months, Olmert insists he sees real room for optimism.

"If you would have asked me 30 years ago what I thought about Abu Mazen," Olmert said in our interview, "I almost certainly would have said that he was a terrorist... You sit with Abu Mazen today and he unequivocally speaks about recognizing Israel, and about peace with Israel... There has been a change, and it is not only with him. You hear [the same from] Salaam Fayad... They want peace with me."

Moreover, Olmert believes, Abbas is reconciled to the need to take the kind of conciliatory positions, including on the issue of the "right of return," that can enable a permanent accord. "My impression is that he wants peace with Israel, and accepts Israel as Israel defines itself," the prime minister said carefully. "If you ask him to say that he sees Israel as a Jewish state, he will not say that. But if you ask me whether in his soul he accepts Israel, as Israel defines itself, I think he does."

Officials close to the prime minister, however, draw a distinction between the encouraging and good-natured interaction in the Olmert-Abbas meetings and the stances adhered to where it really matters, in the nitty-gritty talks between the two teams of negotiators. There, the word is either that Abbas is choosing not to impress upon his negotiators an imperative to adopt conciliatory positions, or that they are defying him. Either way, almost six weeks after Annapolis, breakthroughs there have not been.

Olmert rightly remarked to us, when asked whether anything had moved since Annapolis, that it was somewhat absurd to be expecting dramatic progress in a matter of weeks when "we are talking about a conflict of 100 years." Indeed, it is. Except that it was he and Bush and Abbas who set themselves this improbable one-year deadline.

UNFORTUNATELY, IF Israel regards time as working against it, many Palestinians may be understandably redoubled in their conviction that time is working for them. Yasser Arafat often bragged about how the greater fertility of the Palestinian womb would see his people prevail over the Jews, a strategic stance he chose not to reverse when the previous American president pushed hard for a peace accord in the final months of his second term.

Olmert counters this line of thinking by stating first that it is not his job to make calculations for the Palestinians about their interests, but to act in accordance with Israel's, and second by noting that the purportedly peerless pro-Israel international context may not prove to be peerless after all, and therefore that the Palestinians, if they play for time in these talks, may find cause for regret later.

Neither of these arguments is especially convincing, and many Israeli and US diplomats privately acknowledge the bitter irony of a situation in which Israel increasingly seems to be seeking the establishment of Palestine with far more urgency than the Palestinians do.

The Foreign Ministry cites the quest for a two-state solution as Israel's prime goal for 2008, ahead even of thwarting the imminent existential threat posed by a potentially nuclear Iran. Since our state has been here for going on 60 years, that means the key foreign policy objective for the Jewish state is now establishing Palestine.

By contrast, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, evidently internalizing the asymmetrical irony, is said to have asked Israeli experts on her recent visits whether they know any Palestinians under the age of 40 who similarly seek a two-state solution of peace and reconciliation, rather than preferring to wait for the womb and a binational state, and to have been met by embarrassed silences.

Indeed, again as Olmert's candid interview underlines, why would the Palestinian leadership, even if its senior figures are truly moderate, feel the urgent imperative to confront its own hostile populace and impose compromise when, in Olmert's words, Israel's true supporters on the global stage envisage a smaller Israel than even this conciliatory Israeli leadership can countenance. Olmert declared that Ma'aleh Adumim, for instance, is "an indivisible part of Jerusalem and the state of Israel." Yet just a few minutes later he acknowledged that "the world that really supports Israel" sees our future "in terms of the '67 borders... [and] the division of Jerusalem." Bush is unique and "amazing," Olmert made plain, in thinking of Israel in terms of "'67 plus."

In the final months of a uniquely pro-Israel presidency, with the pro-Israel international community already won over to many of their positions, with the Olmert coalition far from guaranteed to hold together if an accord were reached and too weak in the interim to impose the road map-required settlement freeze it has promised, it might be argued, indeed, that the Palestinians would be mad to mount an energetic push for a compromise accord just now.

OLMERT USED his personal background to stress the unexpected urgency of the demographic dangers. When his parents immigrated from China in 1933, he said, they came "to live in a Jewish democratic state. It was inconceivable to them that in their son's generation there would be a threat to the very Jewishness of the State of Israel."

His concern over the demographics is appropriate. While scholars may argue about precise population figures and estimates, sooner or later a compromise will have to be made between the river and the sea over either territory, democratic rights or the Jewishness of Israel. And the overwhelming majority of Israelis are not prepared to compromise on a Jewish state and a democratic one, which leaves only land.

His predecessor, Ariel Sharon, had all but given up on the prospect of negotiating territorial compromise with the Palestinians, and was thus about to resort to unilateralism as a means of separation in the West Bank, having done the same in Gaza. With that program, moreover, he would have won a third successive election had his health not failed him exactly two years ago.

With unilateralism discredited, Olmert is now urgently seeking to revive the negotiating option. But its success requires that the Abbas-led Palestinian leadership be persuaded to make compromises in its maximalist positions that are both beneficial to Israel and opposed by many of its own people. Surely that could only happen were it persuaded that such concessions were in its urgent, essential interest as well - if, for instance, it was motivated to seek accelerated common cause with Israel in desperate horror of being swept aside by the Islamists.

It might be noted in this light that on Monday, having previously spoken of the need to smash Hamas's control of Gaza, Abbas issued an impassioned plea for "dialogue" and the turning of a "new page" in relations with the Islamists. This despite the warnings of Olmert government officials that the new diplomatic effort would be over were Abbas to so much as "flirt" with Hamas.


Symposium: The Day After

Recent reports indicate that Israel is preparing for the day that the Mullahs in Iran get their hands on nuclear weapons. Israeli ministers are drafting proposals on what Israel will have to do in this nightmare scenario.
What exactly should Israel do? What can it do? What must it do? Are pre-emptive measures part of the possibilities?

To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel.
Dore Gold, Israel’s U.N. ambassador from 1997 to 1999. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Hatred’s Kingdom and of Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos. His latest book is The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City.

Caroline Glick, the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

David Hornik, a freelance writer, a columnist at and a translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at


Steven Schippert, co-founder of the Center for Threat Awareness and managing editor for

FP: Dore Gold, Caroline Glick, David Hornik and Steven Schippert, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Caroline Glick, let’s begin with you.

What are your thoughts on Israel preparing for The Day After? That is assuming, of course, that we are not already in era of The Day After, which might very well be.

Glick: While I think that it is essential for Israel to prepare for all possible futures regarding the Iranian nuclear project, just as it is essential for Israel to prepare for all possible contingencies regarding all issues relating to its vital security interests, I find it deeply disturbing that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicized the fact that Israel is preparing contingencies for the day after Iran enters the nuclear club.

There are two specific reasons that his decision is troubling. First, it sends a defeatist, and by all accounts incorrect message that Israel is incapable of preventing the Iranians from accomplishing their aim of acquiring nuclear weapons.

For over ten years, one of the main goals of Israel’s military procurement operations has been to ensure that Israel has the wherewithal to strike Iran’s nuclear installations, both above the surface and underground. Several years ago, Israel Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedi was assigned command over Israel’s operations against Iran while Mossad Director Meir Dagan was given overall command over Israel’s operations against Iran’s nuclear program. These moves were aimed at ensuring that Israel is capable of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. There is no reason to assume that Israel’s efforts in this regard have come to naught. And so it is strange that Olmert should be signaling that it has.

The defeatism signaled by Olmert’s reported instructions to his cabinet members is deleterious to Israel’s international position. It lends the impression of Israeli impotence and helplessness.

Second, it lends credence to the view that there is something basically acceptable about the Iranian nuclear project. When Israel, which Iran has announced its intention to destroy, says that it is considering how it will contend with a nuclear-armed Iran, it tells the world that it is acceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

Many claim that Olmert’s statement should be seen as a smoke-screen behind which Israel and perhaps the United States is operating in order to dispel Iranian fears of an impending strike against its nuclear installations. This is a comforting notion. But prior experience with the Olmert government, and indeed with the Bush administration in contending with Iranian aggression tends to minimize the possibility that this is the case. In the summer of 2006, when Israel fought a proxy war against Iran’s Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon, both Israel and the US behaved with supreme incompetence. Both the Olmert government and the Bush administration’s willingness to surrender to Arab and European pressure to enable Hizbullah to emerge from that war more or less unscathed showed that neither government is competent to either understand the danger of an emergent Iran or of contending with it.

Moreover, it must be borne in mind that that Olmert made his reported statement about Iran’s nuclear program on the eve of the Annapolis summit. There, Israel will be pressured to make massive concessions on its security and national wellbeing to Fatah in the interests of Palestinian statehood. It is widely accepted that which given the weakness of the Fatah government and its refusal to take action against either Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists or terrorists affiliated with Fatah, the Annapolis summit has no chance of advancing the cause of peace. And so, some argue that the entire rationale of holding the conference now is to buck up a Sunni Arab coalition against Iran. This line of argumentation makes little sense on its face. After all, if the Annapolis conference is geared towards isolating Israel by pressuring it to make concessions that will threaten its security and long-term viability vis-à-vis the Palestinians, how can it be said to show a strong face against Iran. When Olmert’s statement regarding Iran’s nuclear program is added to the mix, it makes the view that Annapolis is somehow supposed to advance an anti-Iranian coalition all the more difficult to accept. By signaling that it is in need of international assistance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities at the same time that it faces an international onslaught of pressure aimed at forcing it to make massive territorial and political concessions to the Palestinians, Israel is merely strengthening the view that Iran has nothing to fear from Israel. By so signaling Israel is also telling the Arab world that it has no reason to take action against Iran because there is no chance that such action will be successful.

Gold: Publicizing the idea that Israel might be already accepting a future reality in which Iran will have nuclear weapons is diplomatically careless and grounded is baseless assumptions about the Iranian regime. It is careless because the US and its allies are presently trying to build a coalition to pressure Iran to adhere to US Security Council resolutions that seek to halt its uranium enrichment and other unmonitored nuclear progams. In the midst of the debate in the West, if it were to get out that some Israelis think that they can live with a nuclear Iran then that news would pull the rug out from those states that are seeking to ratchet up international pressures on Tehran.

But the idea that somehow Israel could live with a nuclear Iran is equally problematic as a possible line of policy. It presupposes that a nuclear Iran can be deterred just like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Professor Bernard Lewis warned in the Wall Street Journal last year that such deterrence models do not apply in the Iranian case. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is known to be a follower of the Mahdaviat, radical Shiite associations in Iran the believe in the imminent return of an Islamic savior, known as the Twelfth Imam--or Mahdi (literally, the "Rightly Guided"). Adherents to these associations moreover believe that the Mahdi's arrival can be acclerated by man through apocalyptic chaos and violence.

These movements were illegal under Ayatollah Khomeini, but under Ahmadnejad, they have spread. Indeed, Ahmadinejad has stated that "our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the re-appearence of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi (emphasis added)." It is not surprising that many Iran experts assert that Ahamdinejad sees Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons as means of paving the way for the Mahdi's arrival. Indeed, many of the adherents to these associations believe that the destruction of Israel is a prequisite for the Mahdi's appearence. Among members of the Iranian exile community is the West, there is a belief that key figures in the Iranian nuclear program, like the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, or Saeed Jalili, Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator, have connections with Mahdaviat.

Anyone taking comfort in the assumption that Iran's nuclear program is anyway in the hands of the Surpreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may be building on false hopes. According to the Washington Institute's Mehdi Khalaji, who studied in the Iranian Shiite seminaries in Qom, Khamenei was not trained in the same rationalist traditions that he learned but rather at the Shiite seminaries of Mashad, known for its clerics who believe they are in touch with the Twelfth Imam already. And Ahmadinejad has been packing his government with allies from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, where he once served. Many of them have come under these same influences.

In short, given the spread of these "end of days" doctrines among the current Iranian leaders, the promise of "massive retaliation" by the West may not deter them from using weapons of mass destruction in a first strike, if they are striving to generate an Armageddon-like scenario, in accordance with their belief structure. Thus anyone who says with confidence that the West can get used to a nuclear Iran and rely on classic deterrence models has absolutely no idea what he is up against. Such an individual is relying on assumptions about rational behavior on the part of the Iranian elites that he cannot prove.

Hornik: Olmert's reported directive to his ministers could be seen as a culmination of three decades of Western passivity and worse toward the Islamist regime in Tehran. It was President Carter who initially helped that regime gain power and supported it. Since then, that regime not only defeated the West in the Second Lebanon War as Caroline Glick mentions, but also in the First Lebanon War, when its bombing (by proxy) of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 led the Western forces to leave Lebanon and (as again in 2006) squander the potential gains from an Israeli counterterror operation. In the 1990s Teheran also blew up the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community-center building in Buenos Aires and got away with it scot-free. More recently it is creating major obstructions to the achievement of U.S. and Western goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, threatening with its ally Syria to destroy Lebanon as a fragile semidemocracy and drag it into Shiite theocracy instead, managing a terror-war of attrition against Israel--all this (and of course much else) basically as a backdrop to its ongoing march toward nuclearization, about which the West has essentially done nothing for years but chatter, send European "soft-power" types into useless negotiations, and try weakly and sporadically to concoct a soup of sanctions that are nowhere near adequate to stop Iran's progress.

As for Israel, the reasons the feckless and incompetent Olmert government is in office in the first place include Olmert's predecessor Ariel Sharon's having temporarily sold Israelis on the seductive fiction that an Iranian-backed terror problem like Gaza could best be dealt with passively by running away from it. At the time Olmert's Kadima Party was elected by a plurality in March 2006, the disengagement from Gaza was still relatively recent, the ominous developments there were mostly covered up by Israel's delusory mainstream media, and the price of the withdrawal didn't seem unbearable. By the time Israelis found out this wasn't true as ever-larger numbers of rockets and mortars rained down on the Gaza-belt communities and ever-vaster quantities of weapons and explosives poured into Gaza from Sinai, it was too late and bumbling Olmert was already well ensconced in office--propped up by two cynical "right-wing" parties, Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas, more concerned with their own perks than with the country's security and survival..

The idea that problems could be dealt with by fleeing them had also been instilled in the Israeli population over time by an almost monolithic message from U.S. governments, both Democratic and Republican, and other Western governments and organizations that Israel would have to retreat from strategic land in any case, inducing a defeatist fatalism for which Israel now pays the price of being surrounded by Iranian proxy terror organizations on all sides.

The only solace or hope is that there are people in both the U.S. and Israeli defense establishments and governments who are realistic about the Iranian nuclear threat and its gravity; whether they will prevail--and whether or not, indeed, it is already too late--are the questions of the hour, and Olmert's directive to his ministers is at least one sign that the answer is negative. That directive reportedly included consideration of "how to offset the attrition on Israeli society that would be generated by fear of Iranian nukes"--as if this would be the problem and not the nukes themselves, as if it would be tolerable for Israel to live at all times under a direct physical threat of a second Holocaust for the Jewish people. If Olmert already has his eyes set on the Day After as a fait accompli, we are living in dark times indeed. Nothing adds salt to the wound like the Bush administration's ongoing, demented quest to create another terror-state on the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a quest that in itself plays straight into the hands of the jihad and facilitates it tactically and strategically.

Schippert: First, permit me to repeat the important words of Dore Gold when he said "the promise of "massive retaliation" by the West may not deter them from using weapons of mass destruction in a first strike, if they are striving to generate an Armageddon-like scenario, in accordance with their belief structure." This is - or should be - the West's greatest fear.

Few care to tackle the other-worldly nature of the fanatic religious beliefs of many in leadership positions in the mullah regime. The otherworldly mysticism within the messianic Hojjetiah sect, headed by Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, Ayatollah Mezbah Yazdi, would simply shock most sensible Westerners. So fantastical are some of the details that most would believe that those who would write of it were sensationalizing. I have heard, in fact, that several universally respected Middle Eastern writers who are knowledgeable of it will not touch it for that very reason. The West would be inclined to flat disbelieve that such lunatics could rise to power in any nation in today's world, even Iran.

And this goes to demonstrate my personal belief that Iran, contrary to the assumptions of most, would not announce their nuclear weapons capabilities once achieved. Most still cling to the notion that Iran wants nuclear weapons for a deterrent. I fear that much of the mullah regime leadership wants nuclear weapons to use them in order to destroy Israel and generate the cataclysmic conditions that their faith believes are the preconditions for the return of the Mahdi.

It is within this context that I view the latest NIE on Iran as a dangerous and damaging piece of political warfare by some powerful hands in the US Intelligence Community on the Bush Administration. Released after the other participants here provided their first responses above, it manages an interesting feat - In 'assuring' us that Iran's nuclear program has been a closed book since 2003, those who have doubted (or wanted to doubt) Iran's nuclear ambitions have afforded themselves the ability to race right past the acknowledgment that they were completely wrong for years and that in fact there actually was one.

The primary purpose of the NIE has been and is to politically incapacitate any efforts by the administration to confront Iran. In so doing, Iran has declared "victory" in the nuclear crisis and both China and Russia have called for the termination of any talks of additional sanctions.

Meanwhile, we gloss over the fact that Iran is responsible for 10% of all US casualties in Iraq since 2003 just through the Iranian made and supplied EFP's (armor penetrating Explosively Formed Projectiles) alone. Ten Percent. And their camps in Iran train and arm Iraqis to act as yet another proxy in the form of the growing Iraqi Hizballah.

In Lebanon, Iran's Hizballah is more militarily capable and powerful than the Lebanese Army and holds that country's government hostage, seemingly hoping the anti-Syrians will take the first punch and afford Hizballah to unleash a wave of violence no one in Lebanon is capable of stopping.

The Iranian terror track record is as long as the regime itself. Not only is Iran the world's Terror Masters, they are also masters at the art of employing proxies and avoiding consequence.

And there are those prepared to tolerate "The Day After," and believe they can live with and manage a nuclear Iran? Olmert notwithstanding, it is not strange coincidence that most of those who hold this view do not live within range of Iran's missile reach.

Glick: Much has occurred on the Iranian-Israeli-US front since I wrote my initial response to this symposium. All of the events which have transpired have simply escalated the danger that Olmert’s instructions to his cabinet members to prepare for the day after Iran gets nuclear weapons constitutes for Israel ’s national security and survival and for global security in general.

At Annapolis, President Bush and Condoleezza Rice did more than simply assert positions which if realized will render Israel essentially indefensible by forcing the country to contract into borders which cannot protect the country from either terrorist onslaught or conventional military offensives by its neighbors. At Annapolis, Israel’s most basic security concerns regarding the Palestinians and the Arab world’s rejection of Israel ’s right to exist were treated with contempt by the administration. From its acceptance of the Arab delegations’ refusal to have any physical contact with the Israeli delegation, to its perverted assertion that Israel and the Palestinians must both take action to prevent terrorism and acts of incitement carried out by both Israelis and Palestinians, to Rice’s decision to take the anti-Israel Annapolis declaration and turn it into a UN Security Council resolution, the administration took an overtly hostile tone towards Israel at every turn.

Rice’s move to transform the Israeli-Palestinian joint statement into a UN Security Council resolution was quashed by Bush at the last moment. Had it gone through, Israel would have been placed into a position where not only is it forced to accept US judgments on whether or not the Palestinians are fighting terrorism – judgments that experience shows have always been wrong and geared toward empowering Palestinian terrorists in the hope that doing so will advance the cause of negotiations – Israel would also have been forced to subordinate its sovereign power to defend its territory and citizenry to the vagaries of the UN Security Council.

Annapolis did not merely fail to set the conditions for the establishment of an Arab-Israeli-American coalition to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. By inviting Syria – Iran ’s Arab proxy -- to participate in the conference, the Bush administration signaled clearly that it has absolutely no plans to take any action to curb Iran ’s power – in Iran itself, in Iraq , in the Palestinian Authority or in Lebanon . The US acceptance of Michel Suleiman, Syria ’s candidate for the Lebanese presidency as a “consensus candidate” made clear that the US has abandoned Lebanon to Syria . The Gulf Cooperation Council’s decision to invite Ahmadinejad to its proceedings the week after Annapolis made clear that the Arabs will do nothing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Then there is the NIE report. The publication of the NIE put an end to any prospect for US action on Iran’s nuclear program at least until the next US administration is inaugurated.

All of this means that Israel is alone against Iran . The US has abandoned the strategic wisdom of its alliance with Israel and its war against Islamic fascism, and has instead cast its lot with the Arabs in the hopes of appeasing the Persians. It bears noting that in acting as it is, the administrations is implementing the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton -- which President Bush rejected last year -- nearly word for word.

Like James Baker and Lee Hamilton, President Bush and Secretary Rice have decided to ignore the underlying interests of the Iranians and the Arabs in fomenting the destruction of the Jewish state as a necessary step towards global domination and what the Iranians (and the Saudis) fondly refer to as a world without America. As the other correspondents in this symposium have all noted, the policy imperative of the various jihadist views of the Iranians, the Palestinians and the Arab world is to continue to attack Israel and the US-led West regardless of our actions. The preemptive US surrender to these forces as manifested by Annapolis and the NIE, and the administration’s subsequent moves to conduct a dialogue with Iran through Saudi mediators and to loosen limitations on dual-use technological exports to Syria simply show that the US, in the last year of the Bush administration has decided to give up the fight against the forces of global jihad and its state sponsors and to implement instead a foreign policy predicated on pressuring Israel to stop defending itself regardless of the costs to its national security. This it does, of course while ignoring the devastating strategic implications of a weakened or destroyed Israel to US national security interests.

Against the backdrop of what is clearly a grave crisis in Israel’s relations with the US, Olmert’s instructions to his cabinet members have a catastrophic ring to them. What are required today from Israel’s leaders is forthright assertions of Israel’s national interests and strong actions in defense of those interests. Some cabinet ministers – most recently Police Minister Avi Dichter -- seem to understand this imperative and so are making forceful statements against the NIE and against the delusional view of regional trends that now masquerades as strategic thinking in policy circles in Washington. Unfortunately, indeed tragically for Israel’s citizens, Dichter’s statements are not reflective of the positions of Olmert or of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Unless the Israeli people are able to convince Yisrael Beteinu and Shas to bolt Olmert’s government and move to new elections, I fear the consequences of Olmert’s stupidity on Israel’s long-term survivability. Quite frankly, after the NIE and Annapolis, it is hard to recall a time when Israel has been so vulnerable.

Here again, it is important to note that Israel's neck isn't the only one on the line -- although it is first in line. A defeat of Israel -- which can also take the form of simply rendering Israel vulnerable to annihilation -- will be the greatest victory the forces of global jihad have ever experienced. If this is added to an unspoken US acceptance of Iranian hegemony in Iraq, then the position of Western nations will be imperiled. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Europe. Indeed, the Iranians tested a new ballistic missile that can reach Europe the day of the Annapolis conference. With their terror proxies already set up in the US, Canada and Latin America, and with their strategic partnership with North Korea which already possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching California, an Islamic world empowered by an Israeli defeat will manifest a danger to the free world which could actually surpass the dangers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. When the jihadist rejection of the sanctity of human life in favor of martyrdom is taken into consideration, the level of threat the jihadists manifest is arguably even more lethal than that manifested by the Soviet Union. As the frontline state in this war, the role of Israel's leaders is to point out these truths to the world and to their citizens. Olmert, Livni and their associates have obviously failed in this most crucial task.

Gold: The debate over the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has focused on whether Iran is about to acquire a nuclear weapons capability because the US intelligence community established that Iran halted the "weaponization" portion of its nuclear program in 2003. To strengthen this conclusion, the NIE stated that it had "high confidence" in this finding. Of course anyone who actually read the declassified summary of the the NIE past its first sentence realizes that the US was far less certain about whether the 2003 halt continued. It had only "medium confidence" that the weaponization portion of the program was not resumed (as Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has claimed). It adds, toward the end of the text, the alarming statement that "We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely..."

The critical question about Iran must go beyond this debate about the extent of Iranian capabilities today and focus on whether the West can trust any nuclear capabilities to this Iranian regime, given its declared hostile intentions. For regardless of the confusion it has created about the current state of Iranian weaponization, the NIE does not dispute at all the fact that Iran is still continuing with its uranium enrichment program at Natanz or its plutonium program at its Arak heavy water reactor. Can the West trust Iran with these nuclear fuel programs, which can be turned into a nuclear weapons capability in a relatively short period of time?

The heart of the Iranian problem is the Iranian regime's intentions, which makes any nuclear program a very serious source of concern. Iran has far-reaching hegemonial ambitions that go well beyond Israel, as attested to by the fact that Iran is developing missiles with strategic reach into Western Europe, as Caroline Glick noted above. And Iranian subversion campaigns in the past have focused on Arab Gulf states with sizable Shiite populations, like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as much as they have focused on Israel. People forget that the Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia, during 1996 was launched by Saudi Hizbullah with the backing of Iranian officials. Indeed in 2007, high level spokesmen in Tehran started to claim again Bahrain as Iranian territory. The "day after" Iran announces that it has an operational nuclear weapons capability, radical Shiite terrorism of this sort will be conducted under a nuclear umbrella. What will happen to the price of oil and the fate of Western economies, in such a situation, is anyone's guess, but it is likely that $100 per barrel oil will look like a good bargain at that time.

Nonetheless, it will be a mistake for Israel to simply conclude that Israel is a low priority for Iran that has other, more pressing (and lucrative) regional goals. It would also be an error for Israeli policymakers to decide that the magnitude of the global crisis that will result from Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons will be so grave that others will take care of it. For Israel does have a unique role for in the Iranian plan for regional domination. When I wrote a book in 2007 called The Fight for Jerusalem, I found how the war against Israel was critical for those who are seeking to advance the arrival of the Mahdi and the overall struggle with the West. Thus one senior Hizbullah official, reflecting the Iranian line in this regard, wrote "The liberation of Jerusalem is the preface for liberating the world and establishing the state of justice and values on earth."

In short, the war against Israel is ideologically seen by the present Iranian regime as a prerequisite for the advent of Iranian hegemony. To hope that a regime which spreads this kind of ideology to its local surrogates, like Hizbullah, can be trusted with any kind of nuclear program is a serious mistake. Again to think Israel can just assume that a stable security system will emerge in the Middle East when one party has unbridled regional ambitions and a nuclear strike capability is a cardinal error.

Hornik: One scenario of an Iranian attempt to destroy Israel is the firing of ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Another scenario is setting off a nuclear device (or devices) by terrorist infiltration, which could be more attractive to Iran since it could cover up its involvement and possibly ward off Israeli retaliation. This second scenario is, of course, much facilitated by a situation in which Iran, via proxies, controls territory bordering Israel. The degree of Israel's continuing success in containing terror from the West Bank reflects the fact that Israel has reestablished considerable intelligence and military capabilities there after partially and disastrously removing these capabilities during the Oslo era. Still, the fact that Israel only contains the terror while allowing the terrorist presence to continue in the West Bank--to an extent radically beyond anything that existed in the pre-Oslo era--entails accepting a degree of danger of possibly catastrophic terrorist infiltration from West Bank territory. Just recently Israeli security forces intercepted six and a half tons of potassium nitrate (used to make explosives) at a West Bank crossing, camouflaged as a shipment of sugar from the EU and intended for Gaza terrorists.

In Gaza the situation is, of course, yet worse since Israel has removed its military presence completely except for sporadic forays along with--though recent successful strikes against Gaza terror masters indicate that Israel still retains some intelligence assets there--losing much of its intelligence capability. In addition to the current well-known presence of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah in Gaza, other recent entrants reportedly including Fatah al-Islam, Hizb al-Tahrir, Army of Islam, Suyuf al-Haq (Swords of Justice), and others along with various reports of Al Qaeda penetration. These are among the most apocalyptic, "crazy" organizations on the planet and to get an analogous sense of the danger one would have to imagine a swath of land bordering the United States where such groups--from ruling Hamas down to the smaller outfits--recruit, propagandize, and provide training while constantly bringing in huge supplies of weapons and explosives.

The infiltration danger involves not only Gaza itself--which is surrounded by a fence that so far has generally, but not totally, been successful at preventing infiltrations--but also the ease with which individuals or cells of the tens of thousands of Gaza terrorists can now leave Gaza via the Sinai border (formerly controlled by Israel) and then infiltrate Israel via the long Israel-Sinai border to the south.

Gaza, in other words, is now a major front of the jihad against the West, an Iranian-Syrian beachhead that poses dangers well beyond the present ongoing rain of Kassams and mortars on Israeli communities. Gaza's constantly growing missile armory could eventually include missiles with WMD payloads and far greater reach than the current Qassams and Katyushas, and this too could in itself pose strategic threats or have devastating impacts in a scenario of Israeli-Iranian hostilities. Yet Israel continues to dither, refraining from a reconquest at least of the most strategic parts of Gaza for fear of Israeli casualties; Palestinian casualties and the resulting bad publicity and diplomatic costs; and derailing the entirely bogus "Annapolis peace process" and thereby angering Washington, which has put its stock in that charade instead of realistically confronting the growing threat of Iran and its proxies.

Given the rise both of radical Islam and of nuclear and other WMD proliferation, Israel picked the worst possible time to experiment with handing vital territorial assets to terrorist forces in the hope that this would moderate them. The NIE report on Iran and the Olmert directive that was the starting point of this symposium both (among other things) indicate that, respectively, the current U.S. and Israeli governments have lost the will to deal with the threats realistically and--barring any surprises--the main hope lies in their replacement while there is still time.

Schippert: First, before concluding, I'd like to thank you Dr. Glazov, for assembling this symposium panel with the intelligent minds of Caroline Glick, David Hornik and Dore Gold and also for including me among a panel whose other participants require no introduction.

With regard to any envisioned "Day After" Iran acquires a nuclear arsenal, Dore Gold's observation that Iranian backed and fortified Shi'a terrorism will then operate under a protective 'nuclear umbrella' should be both undeniable and sobering. This is clearly not only a threat to Israel, but to the region and the rest of the world as well. As for Israel, let's not forget that Hamas-run Gaza has become yet another de-facto Iranian client state in successful mold of Hizballah in Lebanon.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza, it thus afforded Hamas the space and time to commence a massive arms build-up that was later employed to eject Fatah from Gaza leadership and seize control of the whole of the territory. Now, two years after Hamas' electoral victory and months after its seizure of Gaza, Hamas is dangling yet another Hudna hoodwink. That any would entertain this seriously without due considerations of why Hamas is seeking a ceasefire is little short of frightening. They seek the time and space again to re-arm, re-stock and strengthen, this time with full possession of Gaza. It doesn't take a historian to understand the next envisioned conquest.

Couple this with Iran's constant quest for time and space to develop its nuclear program and the recent Israeli study that concluded that there is no large scale conflict with Israel expected to be initiated by Hizballah or Syria in 2008. Either there is a massive Peace Putsch afoot by Iran and its satellites or there is collective time and space being sought by all in a coordinated manner. Using the historical examples of Hamas and Hizballah, time and space are not preludes to peace.

Iran has long sought time and space for its nuclear weapons program. That is, after all, what their purpose with the long and (for the West) fruitless "EU-3" negotiations. The NIE has served far more time and space for Iran than their own efforts could have ever afforded them.

The primary authors may have sought to drive a wedge between any military action they may have envisioned the Bush Administration contemplating against the Iranian nuclear program. It has, among other things, made military action by Israel all the more likely. As expressed here by Caroline Glick, David Hornik and Dore Gold, much of Israel's public - not to mention its military and intelligence communities - feels increasingly isolated and on its own to deal with the Iranian threat.

The mullahs of Iran were shaken on September 6th, when Israel announced to them that their nuclear facilities are open targets poorly defended. For, as the Iranian investment in advanced Russian TOR-M1 anti-aircraft defenses was so highly touted, the same systems purchased and employed by Syria were rendered mute and ineffective as Israel blinded them and laid waste to the suspected nuclear facility deep within Syrian airspace.

The threat posed by an Iranian nuclear arsenal is not one of mere blood and danger, but one of annihilation.

And Iran is quite aware of Israel's Samson Option - the Middle Eastern version of Mutually Assured Destruction. The only possibility of negating this is to strike Israel's nuclear arsenal - an officially unacknowledged but intentionally poorly kept Israeli 'secret.' This is why Iran's announcement of any nuclear weapons will not be in merely achieving weapons capability or a single weapon - but rather when it has the arsenal it needs if announced at all.

If permitted to achieve this, The Day After may not simply be the day after Iran announces its ability, but The Day After it does so by demonstrating it.

Feeling increasingly isolated and cornered, Israel will thus feel ever more compelled to act, entrusting its very survival to no ally, not even the United States. Perhaps there will then be a new "The Day After" symposium conducted in Persian rather than English.

FP: Dore Gold, Caroline Glick, David Hornik and Steven Schippert, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.


New English TV Show From Jerusalem Released for Internet Viewing

Gil Ronen and Baruch Gordon

It's not every day that a TV show creates a whole new concept, a dimension of its own. But Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem does just that. It captures the heart and soul of a new generation of vibrant Jews, proud of their identity. It is a refreshing celebration of Jewish renewal at a time that the modern Jewish State is struggling to define its own Jewish character.
. Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, radio show hosts on, kicked off the new English TV show in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Their objective is to highlight the beauty of being Jewish and being connected to the Jewish State through humor, moving anecdotes, Jewish rock music, and fast-moving upbeat insights into the Torah. They are a dynamic duo, best friends, IDF soldier-and-commander and partners in inspiration.

The show's motto is "Inspire the World, Ingather the exiles, Empower the Jewish People." Jeremy and Ari – as they are known to their audiences – succeeded in bringing the spirit of Jerusalem to the hearts of viewers worldwide.

The atmosphere in the standing-room-only Heichal Shlomo auditorium was electric when the show first aired. "The world only hears an Israeli voice. We want it to hear a Jewish voice," Gimpel declared, and the audience cheered wildly.

Ari Abramovitz told the crowd that the basis of his friendship with Jeremy is "our love for Torah. For learning it, for teaching it. Although we don't know that much, the little bit that we do know we really try to share with the world," he said. Together, they "demonstrated a charisma that both the camera and the audience seemed to love," according to a review written by Laura Ben-David, who called the event "one huge party."


Thursday, January 03, 2008

MK Eldad Calls for Civil Disobedience

Yoni Kempinski

The "Save the Land and Nation" rabbis' organization held an emergency session Tuesday night in Tel Aviv to discuss the upcoming visit of U.S. President George W. Bush in Israel.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called for civil disobedience, following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's declaration that no construction be carried out in eastern Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria without his approval. He said citizens should build freely throughout the Land of Israel “Two days ago," Eldad told the audience, "Olmert sent a letter to the Ministers of Defense, Housing and Agriculture determining that no one can build a house, expand a community or apartment, or even plan expansions [in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria] without his permission! Prime Minister Olmert is doing something that wasn’t even done in the time of the British Mandate! Olmert wants a family with eight kids living in an apartment to ask him permission to expand a balcony – and he will say no!"

"My precious Jews," Eldad said, "thanks to Olmert we now have an opportunity to practice civil disobedience – we WILL build – we will build everywhere – rooms, apartments, houses, synagogues, Yeshivas, and schools! We will build everywhere… He thinks he’ll apprehend several criminals? 250,000 Jews will declare: We are criminals – our crime is the building of the land of Israel! We’ll see what he’ll do with 250,000 c
"250 thousand Jews will declare – WE are criminals – our crime is the building of the land of Israel!"

“These days we hear that a ministerial committee is gathering to redefine the term 'blood on their hands'," Eldad continued, "And I say – there is blood on the hands of Olmert and members of his government, the blood of these precious soldiers are on the hands of those who released terrorists, gave them weapons and armored vehicles as goodwill gestures!”

Government that Cooperates with the Enemy
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, Head of “Save the Land and the Nation,” said: “This gathering is intended to make it clear to the public that we are facing a serious danger due to the government’s actions. We have a government that cooperates with the enemy, the Palestinian enemy that wants to destroy Israel. The government of Israel is supplying them with money and weapons, releasing murderers… We came to warn and discuss how we can prevent this, G-d forbid, holocaust that the government is bringing on us.”

Rabbi Wolpe added: “Bush is a non-Jew who is pressuring Israel to do what he would never do in America… In America he is fighting against terrorists!," Wolpe added. “Today we are recruiting volunteers who will distribute a personal commitment form for soldiers in which the commit to serve the nation on our land but never, G-d forbid, to take part in any action against their brothers – any action of expulsion from the land of Israel.”

“Today," he said, "we are recruiting volunteers who will distribute a personal commitment form for soldiers in which the commit to serve the nation on our land but never, G-d forbid, to take part in any action against their brothers – any action of expulsion from the land of Israel.”

Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, said: “I want to tell this holy crowd that we have returned to our land and we must strengthen our love of the land, act against the uprooting of any community, against the uprooting of any hilltop community… The nation of Israel is returning to its land according to G-d’s commandment, and based on its historical national right – there is no room for any other national entity in this land!”

Analysis: The unholy return of the Palestinian pilgrims


After three days of a tense standoff, Egypt's determination not to allow the thousands of pilgrims returning from Mecca into the Gaza Strip without being thoroughly checked by Israel to prevent smuggling of explosives and cash to bolster Hamas rule finally crumbled and a jubilant crowd surged into the strip.

One can wonder why they were allowed to cross unsupervised into Egypt in the first place - in spite of Israel's protests, which went unheeded. Under the joint agreement signed by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the European Union following Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, the checkpoint at Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was to have been closely monitored by EU inspectors and double-checked by Israel through video surveillance.

However, things did not go according to plan. The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip led to the precipitated flight of the EU inspectors, who feared for their lives, and ultimately to the closing of the checkpoint.

This new breach of the border agreement comes against the backdrop of the unending flow of smuggled weapons, explosives and terrorists through the tunnels under what is known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor, the narrow stretch of land along the border. Israel has repeatedly protested to the Egyptian authorities - with no discernible effects - and this has led to a heightening of tension between the two countries.

The visit of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Egypt last week was intended to defuse the situation. Barak did come back with a firm Egyptian commitment to have the pilgrims cross through the Kerem Shalom checkpoint so that Israel could make sure that no explosives or cash for Hamas would go through.

It may have been naïve to believe that this is what would happen. The pilgrims were very vocal in their determination to go back the way they had come, and their makeshift camps with wailing women and resolute men made front page news throughout the Arab world. Mubarak did try to denounce Arab media, but the outcry did not abate and he gave in. Egypt was not prepared to be portrayed any longer as a country persecuting innocent pilgrims in order to do Israel's bidding.

Two years ago, the decision to withdraw from Philadelphi was not taken lightly. Many voices had been raised to warn that it would be folly to entrust the Egyptians with guarding the border. However, a legal argument won the day: Israel, it was argued, would still be considered as the occupying power if if the IDF remained along the border.

It turned out to have been a major mistake. In spite of the fact that not a single Israeli soldier remains there, in world public opinion Israel is still the occupying power. Worse, entrusting the Egyptian with guarding the border showed a staggering lack of strategic understanding.

Though Egypt has made peace with Israel, it is first and foremost an Arab country aspiring to regional leadership, and wholeheartedly on the side of the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel.

The idea that Egyptian soldiers would be instructed to stop smuggling at all costs - which means they would have to resort to violence and to live fire - is ludicrous in that context.

Egypt cannot afford the opprobrium that would be attached to killing Palestinians on an almost daily basis for the sake of keeping the border safe for Israel. Huge public demonstration and rioting could occur in Egypt. We just saw the way President Hosni Mubarak had to bow to pressure and let the pilgrims go, in spite of his undertaking to Ehud Barak.

It is now up to Israel to think long and hard about what it wants to do. What we need is a solution, not someone to blame.

There is a warning for America, too, in that story: Don't push Egypt too far.

Zvi Mazel is Israel's former ambassador to Egypt.

A Glimmer of Light?

Arlene Kushner

I begin with the link to my report on Fatah:

Please, read it, share it, and use it broadly in writing letters to editors, writing to your Congresspersons, etc. One would have to have his head screwed on backwards or upside-down to believe we can "negotiate" with Abbas after reading this documentation.

This material is scheduled for broad dissemination, both here in Israel and in Washington DC. It's not over until this government is disbanded and we have elections with a stable, responsible government in place.

But the horror of Olmert is diminished by news I'm able to report today. A new group has founded, whose goal is to bring an end to the government.

It is called Habaytah, which means, Go Home. Its campaign will be directed at Ehud Olmert, and also (and this is key) Ehud Barak.

Headed by Maj-Gen (res) Uzi Dayan, former head of the National Security Council, the group is centrist but with participation from the right. It will focus not on the insanity of Olmert's current policies, but on his failures in the Lebanon War, his corruption, and other broad-based issues. The war is key and, relevant to this, the final Winograd report will be out within weeks. Reservists who fought in that war and bereaved families are among those participating in this action.

Just a week ago, Olmert stated he would not resign no matter what the Winograd report said.


Barak is in for his share of criticism with regard to this whole issue as well, for when he took the position of
defense minister in Olmert's government, he stated unequivocally that it would be only until the Winograd report came out. Now it will be demanded -- via a grassroots campaign -- that he keep his word, and his credibility will be questioned. If Barak's Labor party pulls out (which would likely bring Lieberman and Shas along), the government collapses.

In addition to this issue, there is a question of Barak culpability for the failures of the Lebanon war being raised, even though he wasn't defense minister when it was fought. For Barak, as prime minister in 2000, pulled out of Lebanon precipitously, setting the stage for strengthening of Hezbollah and the diminishing of IDF deterrence. Surprisingly, former defense minister Peretz, of Labor, has issued a scathing criticism of Barak.


On Monday the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chaired by Tzachi Hanegbi, released its own report on the war. Focusing only on the military and avoiding the failures of the political echelon, it caused an angry response that has set the stage for what will follow with Winograd.


Opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) has joined the chorus of voices calling for Barak's resignation as soon as Winograd is released. Netanyahu was also very critical of the report that ignored political culpability.


Returning for a moment to Olmert and his statements of yesterday: One of the things he said was that he anticipated one deviation from return to pre-'67 lines, and that would be with regard to Ma'aleh Adumim, which he considered to be part of Jerusalem and not really a settlement.

Established in 1975, Ma'aleh Adumim is today a city of over 30,000 directly to the east of Jerusalem by all of about 4.5 miles. Plans to extend the city so that it ultimately merged with Jerusalem (via a region referred to as E1) were tabled for political reasons, but in 2003, a new highway -- with tunnels running under Hebrew University in Mt. Scopus -- was completed, which allows the residents of Ma'aleh Adumim to reach Jerusalem in seven minutes.


I was infuriated by this statement of Olmert's because it meant he was prepared to abandon all of Gush Etzion -- with its 18 communities numbering close to 50,000 peoples and a history going back to the 1920s -- and Hevron, the second holiest city to Jews, and Shilo, and Beit El, etc. etc.

Announcing plans to hold on to nothing in Judea and Samaria but Ma'aleh Adumim seemed to me to be a minimalist position to the point of the ridiculous.


But leave it to the PA to say this position was not minimalist enough.

A PA official in Ramallah said: "Olmert must be living on another planet. Peace and settlements don't go together. If this is his policy, he can forget about finding a partner on the Palestinian side."

Personally, I think that would be great: let's forget about finding a partner.

But this statement indicates several different things worth examining.

The bottom line is that no matter how much Olmert stretches himself to "make concessions for peace," it's never going to be enough. There would seem to me to be one of two reasons why this would be the case. Either the political climate -- with Hamas breathing down Abbas's neck -- doesn't allow the PA to compromise for fear of being accused of being a traitor to the cause.


Or, the PA officials know full well that they're demanding more than Olmert can give and thus are making certain that there will be no deal, because they don't want a deal, don't want a two-state solution with end of conflict, at all -- and they're playing a game but making sure that the deal never really happens. This way they can tell the world they were willing, but Israel was not forthcoming. Thus they avoid the unacceptable situation of having to sign on to Israeli permanency while appearing in the eyes of the world to be cooperative.

The influence of Hamas may be a factor. But my take is that they don't want a deal in any terms. I ask you, if you wanted a state in all of Judea and Samaria, and were offered all of it minus one community adjacent to Jerusalem (and thus not impinging on the contiguity of your proposed state), would you not take it?


The PA official says they don't distinguish between Ma'aleh Adumim and an illegal outpost: "These are all illegal settlements that were built on occupied lands belonging to the Palestinian people."

Well, I never let these erroneous statements pass. We're talking about unclaimed, and thus disputed, Mandate land that was originally promised to the Jewish people. In no way whatsoever does this land "belong" to the Palestinians, nor is it "occupied."


While Olmert stood his ground with regard to our right to build in Har Homa, which is within Jerusalem, he has caved in other respects. He recently declared that he would be overseeing all issues pertaining to building in settlements beyond Jerusalem. Decisions will be made not according to our legal rights, but rather "not to jeopardize" the peace process. He should recognize now -- whatever he does, it won't be enough.


There is a Knesset committee that is considering some horrendous changes in the criteria for determining who has "blood on his hands" with regard to who might be released in a prisoner exchange. This has come about because of Hamas demands if Shalit is to be released, but it would set a precedent that would be very bad news indeed.

At present no decisions have been made, but among those who might not any longer be included within the category of those having blood on their hands would be:

1. Those who wounded Israelis but didn't manage to kill them.

2. Those who sent others to kill Israelis.

3. Those who actively participated in an operation killing Israelis but did not actually pull the trigger that shot a bullet that killed an Israeli.

4. Those who killed Israelis a long time ago - e.g. before Oslo.

If these definitions were adopted, those who planned suicide bombings could be released. The scuttlebutt -- for the hundredth time -- is that this is setting the scene for the release of Marwan Barghouti, who planned and set into motion a great many terrorist acts but didn't pull the trigger himself. Barghouti is being touted as a replacement for Abbas, but if the best the PA can do for leadership is a terrorist of this caliber, it tells us a great deal.

Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet, is opposed to these changes.


Two days ago I carried reports from a very reliable journalist -- Khaled Abu Toameh -- that the perpetrators of the terrorist killing of two off-duty soldiers outside of Hevron on Friday were associated with Fatah. Well, now it's official:

Two terrorists involved (one had been shot dead -- as the victims fought back) turned themselves in to PA security forces for fear they might be caught by the IDF. Now, what does that tell us?

PA security didn't tell Israeli authorities right away that they had the terrorists. One of them is a member of Fatah with ties to the Palestinian general intelligence, and the other is a Fatah member who belongs to the Palestinian national security forces.

Yup, that again! Terrorists who belong to the security forces. Sure they depend upon those security forces to go lightly on them.


Meanwhile, Defense Minister Barak has said we are going to watch closely to see if the PA fulfills its promise to prosecute these killers.

"These people need to rot in jail until their last days," Barak told Israel Radio.

"We will see if the Palestinian Authority is opening a revolving door for them and if so, the IDF...will know how to put our hands on them."

He's absolutely right to be wary. The revolving door is the Palestinian way of life. But, silly me, I must ask this: If we distrust them so completely, how can we consider turning anything over to them?


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The Myths of Peace, and the Reality of our Dead Boys

Naomi Ragen

I want to tell you the story of two boys, twenty year olds, both them in the elite of elite army units, both of them from Rabbinical families, both of them living in Kiryat Arba, the Jewish neighborhood of Hebron. Achikam Amichai and David Rubin were out on leave from their IDF units, enjoying a well-earned holiday. They decided this past Friday afternoon to take take a little hike in their backyards. Their friend Naama Ohayon went with them. It was a beautiful day, beautiful scenery, wild and open, as it is in that part of the land of Israel. They passed an Arab, who asked them for water. The boys gave it to him, then waved goodbye and went on their way. A short while later, alerted by the Palestinian they had shared water with, three armed terrorists who had been lying in wait for an opportunity to kill Israelis and steal their weapons, drove by and opened fire on the three young people. Our boys, ambushed and badly wounded, nevertheless, began firing, killing the terrorist driver of the car. The other two terrorists then hopped out of the car, put their guns at point blank range to the fatally injured boys and fired. These "big heroes" then threw their dead comrade out of car like so much garbage, and took off, back to Hebron where they live. Hiding In the forest, Naama Ohayon, who had miraculously escaped, used her cell phone to contact Israeli security forces, who praised her unbelievable cool in the face of the horror she had witnessed. Security forces rescued her, but it was too late for the boys.

Meanwhile, Shimon Peres found time for a photo opportunity to shake hands with a member of Abu Maazen's government who expressed his "condolences." This, of course, before it became known that the killers were Abu Maazen's paid employees.

According to Efrat Weiss, writing in YNET, sometime on Friday evening, the Palestinian Authority started the rumor that it wasn't a terrorist attack at all, but a "drug deal" gone bad. This went all over the Israeli news, and you can just imagine how the parents must have felt. Others said the boys had no right to go hiking. (Right, let's all stay in our homes and quake.)

Meanwhile, the two murderers, fearing the IDF was closing in on them, turned themselves over to Palestinian security forces, who didn't say a word about this to the Israelis. However, when Israeli security asked them pointedly to turn over the weapons of the murderers and the victims, they did. But they didn't turn over the killers, who they are still "interrogating."

Surprise surprise, these weren't Hamas operatives. They were salary- earning members of the Palestinian Authority, paid for by U.S. and European Union donations to Abu Maazen, the "good Palestinian" as oppossed to the Hamas, who are terrorists and "bad Palestinians," the ones we need to weaken by supporting Abu Mazen and his gang of thugs.

The names of the murderers are: Omar Badar Ali-Halim Teha, a resident of Hebron, 26, a "soldier" in the Palestinian National
Security Forces, and an active member of Fatah; Ali al Hamid Regev Dindis, 24 a Hebron resident who is a clerk in the Sharia court of the Palestinian authority, and also connected to the Palestinian Secret service. The dead driver is 23 year olf Radil Abdul Naim Natshe.

There are many conclusions to be drawn from this story. I will leave you to draw them concerning the myths of making peace with the Palestinian Authority.

Comment by Israeli colleague: Naomi's piece that follows is what Israel lives with daily; we who are here can testify to its accuracy. We sorrow with the families; each life is precious no matter where we are. The ratio of Israelis to Americans is about 1 to 55. In other words, the killing of one Israeli is like that of 55 Americans. It is a ghastly price to pay and no matter what steps Israel has taken - described as 'painful concessions for peace' - we are further than ever from that goal. The enemy wants us out - dead - annihilated - extinct!

The present Israeli government - and the previous ones - have traveled the same path: "Maybe we just have not given enough! Let's give more! Maybe the enemy really do want peace with us!" And, as the King of Siam said, "Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!" No thanks!

By now we should have learned that it hasn't worked. The enemy spews hatred of Israel --------and let's not leave out the victim. Those Americans who have not heard it have been reading the newspapers that do not publish all of the news; just look into some of the internet hate sites that are so plentiful. Not pretty reading . Even the following story has been distorted by the enemy and the left media that is sympathetic to them may be reporting the wrong version; read Naomi's and know the truth.

Israel's struggle is not limited solely to her own survival. Let no one believe that the fight is just over Middle East territory! Today's ideological enemies will not hesitate to pursue their goals overseas; they have a foothold in Europe and are already ensconced in the U.S. Acquiescing to the demands of Israel's enemies only emboldens them more and more; it is clearly not in the interest of Israel to continue on this route. Let is also be clear that it is not in the interest of the United States to create a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel or to divide Jerusalem. The capital of Israel is one city; from a purely strategic standpoint, dividing it would create a Baghdad-like condition with terrorist activities carried out in every neighborhood throughout. There are other compelling reasons why Jerusalem must remain united which will not be discussed now.

Israel will be under tremendous pressure this coming week to participate in her own suicide - to take steps that will legitimize her rapacious enemies. The headline of the Jerusalem Post of Jan.1 screamed boldly:

Olmert: "Even Israel's good friends see our future based on the ' 67 borders, with Jerusalem divided"

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rabbis ask Bush to cancel his visit to Israel

"Even if it is not your intention, the slanted media in Israel is interpreting your visit as applying pressure to accelerate the implementation of "Disengagement II" a move that will place in mortal danger all residents of Israel," the Rabbis wrote. The Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) comprised over over 350 leading rabbis in Israel have sent an urgent letter to U.S.President George Bush requesting that he cancel his upcoming trip to Israel next week.

"Even if it is not your intention, the slanted media in Israel is interpreting your visit as applying pressure to accelerate the implementation of "Disengagement II" a move that will place in mortal danger all residents of Israel," the Rabbis wrote.

The RCP move came came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent an official letter on Sunday to the ministers of defense, housing and agriculture with an order to refrain from authorizing any construction in the West Bank without his and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's prior approval.

Officials in the PM's Office said that the order was a follow-up to the announcement he made in the cabinet meeting before the Annapolis peace conference, that Israel would not build additional settlements and would evacuate illegal outposts as it is obligated under the U.S.-backed road map of 2003.

Olmert wrote that "construction, new building, expansion, preparation of plans, publication of residency tenders and confiscation of land stemming from other settlement activities in Judea and Samaria will not go forward and will not be implemented without requesting and receiving in advance approval by the defense minister and the prime minister."

In a statement issued to the press Tuesday, the rabbis accused the media in Israel of deceiving the public by describing the disengagement and choking the settlers as a "peace process" when in reality it is "terror process" that will only lead to bloodshed.

"Regrettably, the U.S. understands the Israel's security better than the Israeli leadership but it is precisely the Israeli leadership who is "begging" President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice to force Israel to commit suicide," the RCP claims.

The rabbis laid the blame for the terrorist attack last week that killed two innocent Israelis near Hebron on the Israeli government. "The government's actions and negotiations over another disengagement in Judea, Samaria and in Jerusalem encourages the murder of Jews. The murder of these boys are a direct result of Israel's recent statements on further withdrawals and is only a tatse of what can be expected after the Bush visit to the region," the Rabbis stated.

The Rabbis reiterated the clear Ruling in the Jewish Code of Law that is absolutely forbidden for any Jew to give up even one inch of land under Jewish control to foreigners because it only leads to instability and bloodshed in the region.

Note: The RCP has announced that it has embarked on a $250,000 relentless campaign to use all legal means and public relations to stop Olmert before it is too late. In the coming weeks the RCP plans to print up millions of brochures, place full page ads in major newspapers in Israel and abroad, convene conferences and meetings with every member of Knesset and ministers to awaken them from their slumber.

"But for this we need the public's support," say the rabbis and are asking everyone to whom the security of Israel is dear, to please send in your contribution via your bank to R.C.P – Pikuach Nefesh – Bank Leumi – Bialik Branch-803 Account # 701199/63 or send your check by mail to: R.C.P. - Pikuach Nefesh The Rabbinical Congress for Peace POBOX 56131 Tel Aviv Israel. TeleFax (972)-3-5251887+

'Saving a Life is No Longer Important?'

Hillel Fendel

Long-time IAF veteran Sgt. (ret.) Shmuel Rafael, who was awarded a medal for saving a fellow soldier in mid-air in 1950, feels not enough is being done to save Jonathan Pollard. Rafael has written a letter to MK Zevulun Orlev, who, as chairman of the Knesset Audit Committee, asked Israel's State Comptroller to investigate why the government has not brought Pollard home from US prison. Rafael's letter congratulated Orlev for his work, while criticizing other branches of the Israeli government for having done nothing for Pollard.

"The recognition and appreciation that I received back in 1950 for saving just one person," Rafael wrote, "was the impetus for my dozens of years of work for Israel's security in the paratroopers, on the battle field, in reprisal operations, and in other vital operations. Israel used to know how to show appreciation for its fighters - but now has changed its face, and not for the good."
"One gesture,one prisoner, Jonathan Pollard,home, now."

Bravery in the Sky
Rafael was awarded an IDF medal of valor for saving a fellow soldier whose parachute became entangled in the plane's back wheel just seconds after he jumped out. Rafael ordered the pilot to dim the motors and head for sea, and then pulled out a weighted rope and managed to direct it out the plane's door towards the dangling soldier. Utilizing the thrust of wind from the engine, he directed the rope between the chute's cords. Thus, the dangling paratrooper was raised towards the plane's door - though not before seven of his chute's cords were torn. Fighting against the wind thrust of the engine, Rafael - hanging mostly out of the plane - managed to connect the weight back to the parachute. After another ten minutes of pulling up, the parachutist was hauled, safe and sound, into the plane.

In his letter to MK Orlev, Rafael wrote, "With your actions, the many of us who have watched unbelievingly the silence and lack of action regarding an Israeli hero, Jonathan Pollard, can now stand tall. Not a thing has been done for his release - at least not to the best knowledge of the Israeli public. I wish to honor you for bringing about an investigation of what has been done to ensure that this precious man return home to us and receive the honor he so richly deserves for his actions on behalf of his beloved, but ungrateful, nation."

Instead of Investigating, Make Sure He Comes Home!
The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization, on the other hand, says there will be plenty of time to investigate the government's malfunctioning after he returns - but that now is the time to do nothing but demand his immediate release.

In response to the news of the State Comptroller's upcoming investigation, Pollard's wife Esther told Army Radio, "There is a time to investigate, and there is a time to act expeditiously to save a life. After 23 years in prison in harsh conditions, Jonathan's life is literally hanging in the balance."

Mrs. Pollard says that with US President Bush arriving in Israel next week, "Now is the time for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ask President Bush to make a gesture to Israel. One gesture, one prisoner, Jonathan Pollard, home, now."

New TV Channel to Bring Judaism to the Masses

Hillel Fendel

The Hidabroot organization, headed by dynamic lecturer and researcher Rabbi Zamir Cohen, is about to open its own 24-hour cable Hebrew-language TV network. An agreement to this effect has been signed with Yes Satellite Television. Rabbi Cohen, a native of Beit Yisrael, a hareidi neighborhood adjacent to Meah She'arim in Jerusalem, says the goal is not to "turn people religious." Rather,"we want to increase values and ethics among Jews in Israel and all over the world, and to topple the barriers that exist between the secular and religious worlds... If we do that, that's good; if some people improve their values, that's even better; and if others come to actually observing the Torah commandments, that's an even further advancement."
Rabbi Zamir's best-selling book Mahapach (The Revolution), an attractive, colorful, large-size volume, proves how nature, science and Torah interact.

Rabbi Cohen wants to make Judaism accessible: "We would like to serve up the truth with pleasantness and at eye-level, without going overboard and without dictating to others. We place it on the table, and whoever wants, will take."

Many have done just that - including practically all of the staff at Hidabroot. Many of them, who are now religiously observant, happened to hear lectures by Rabbi Cohen over the internet, at pubs, or at various other places - others read pamphlets he wrote - and decided they wanted to learn more. Some were attracted, as well, by his best-selling book Mahapach (The Revolution), an attractive, colorful, large-size volume that proves how nature, science and Torah interact - a common theme of his lectures.

The Hidabroot channel, which is scheduled to take to the air within approximately two months, is not the first attempt at full-time religious-Jewish TV programming. A religious television station named Techelet began broadcasting via Yes in 2003, but was unsuccessful in attracting sufficient viewers to make it viable. Techelet had a Modern Orthodox bent, as opposed to the hareidi orientation of Hidabroot.

Hidabroot plans to screen only shows that broadcast pure Judaism, though not all of it frontally educational. Comic episodes promoting Torah values - especially that of becoming familiar with Torah - will be interspersed throughout the programming schedule.

Difficult Questions, Pleasant Answers
Rabbi Cohen's pleasant manner is evident in his answers to difficult questions. Asked about the bad name that religious politicians sometimes give to Torah Judaism, he told Ofrah Lax of the B'Sheva weekly, "The religious public has needs that can only be met by religious-party politicians. But we must transmit the message that they are not the Torah's representatives. I have no criticism of them; they do their job - but we must not leave the field only to them."

Asked about other religious preachers who instill fear in their listeners by warning them about the Hellish dangers that await those who do not repent, Rabbi Cohen said, "There are those who need that style... It's true that some of those phrases can sometimes sound sharp... I believe that the style that suits most of Israel today is the one described in the verse, 'The Torah's ways are pleasant and its ways are peace.'"

Interviewed for the very secular Rating television magazine, Rabbi Cohen said, "I was very hesitant about whether to be interviewed here. But I decided to do it, because it is important to me that Judaism should be accessible for every Jew, no matter what he reads, hears or watches."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The “peace process” has it ass-backwards

Ted Belman

Saul Singer advises How to pressure for peace.

I go further suggesting that the peace process has it ass-backwards.

Rather than arm and train the terrorists (Fatah) it should force their disarmament. Rather than finance them to the tune of $7.4 billion thereby enabling them to continue the “resistance”, they should be left to fend for themselves.

Rather than force Israel to freeze settlement activity thereby removing time as an issue it should allow Israel to build to its heart’s content thereby forcing the Palestinians to compromise quickly rather than to allow an erosion of their position in a final settlement.

Rather than force Israel to make goodwill gestures which merely encourages intransigence, it should force the Palestinians to make goodwill gestures. Whatever the resistance Israelis have to the “peace process”, it will be reduced with such real gestures.

This is so obvious that one must conclude that the peace process is designed to continue the conflict rather than end it.

I should point out that no one is demanding peace at the end of the process. You will recall that one of the things Arafat balked at at Camp David, was signing an “end of conflict agreement”. Today no one is even mentioning such a thing and the Arab League is only offering “normalization” whatever that means..

Israel knows this. That is why it is demanding, so far, recognition as a Jewish state. If there was going to be a real peace agreement and a real peace, there would be no need to demand this recognition. Israel, as a sovereign state, could be what it wanted to be. Unfortunately, such recognition if it is given, will be a poor substitute for real peace.

The Arabs are refusing such recognition because their ultimate goal is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. This they cannot accept. They also would not accept Israel with a Jewish majority even if it were a state like any other. They want Palestine to include Israel and the Jews there to become dhimmis. The peace process is just one step along the way.

The peace process, from Israel’s point of view, is simply a negotiated withdrawal from the Westbank as opposed to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

To my mind, whether Israel just withdraws or negotiates terms of withdrawal or signs a peace agreement, as with Egypt, it makes little difference as the Arabs don’t and won’t abide by the agreements.

Thus, in my opinion, Israel’s goal is to end the “occupation”. She values the international legitimacy she will receive, perhaps with internationally recognized borders maybe, more than security. She is currently working on defense systems that will ostensibly protect her from the rockets which are sure to follow.

This trade off is what Israelis should be debating. Instead the Government of Israel and the US pretend it is otherwise.

On dialogue between Jews and Muslims

Isi Leibler
January 1, 2008

Dialogue with Muslims has become the flavor of the month, and many Jewish organizations now compete with one another to create Muslim-Jewish talk-fests. Whereas such initiatives are helpful and certainly preferable to exchanging diatribes, if the objective is primarily to ingratiate ourselves with Muslims and gain publicity, the exercise becomes counterproductive.The Jewish track record of dialogue with the Church illustrates that until Pope John XXIII's dramatic condemnation of anti-Semitism at the Second Vatican Council, our efforts had little impact beyond reinforcing relationships with marginal Christian philo-Semites.

Meaningful dialogue requires that both parties agree in advance to accord mutual respect and genuinely commit to exploring means of forging deeper understandings. It also presupposes a willingness to indulge in honest and open discussion rather than mouthing platitudes or employing glib rhetoric to cover up differences. Above all, it demands the involvement of responsible and sensitive Jewish representatives, knowledgeable about Judaism and its place in the world at large.

There are circumstances in which dialogue must be avoided. For example, if the Muslim group concerned refuses to condemn the anti-Semitic tirades emanating from Islamic quarters, or even indirectly condones global terrorism and suicide bombings, or promotes conspiracies such as implying that 9/11 was an Israeli plot. To share stages or collaborate with groups holding such views merely provides a platform for radicals to exploit dialogue as a vehicle to obtain respectability and cover up their extremism.

The problem we face with Islamic religious leaders is that while a number of their spokesmen, under pressure, do ritualistically condemn Islamic extremism, many continue to express sympathy with the radicals, or at best remain silent. The dominant Islamic voices being heard are apologists for violence, terrorism and intolerance. If there are moderate Muslims, they remain mainly in the closet or are sufficiently intimidated to avoid condemning the excesses of their jihadist kinsmen.

In this environment, it is contrary to our interests to continuously repeat the politically correct but utterly false mantra that Islam is a religion of peace. Whereas all three major monotheistic religions incorporate elements of militant piety and violence, Islam, with its unique jihadism, today represents the most violent doctrine.

This is not to deny that given more enlightened religious leaders it could become moderate. But the export of Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia has led to the creation of new Islamic schools and the domination of existing institutions by a religious ideology which sanctifies violence. It is in these sources that martyrs (shahids) and suicide bombers were incubated and became such a dominant element in contemporary Islam.

Likewise, we do ourselves a disservice if we support the false allegation that Islamophobia is rampant. While as Jews we abhor and oppose all forms of prejudice, we must recognize that under the present circumstances, it is a tribute to tolerance in Western countries that despite the violence and intimidation emanating from Muslims, overt aggression or discrimination against them has been extremely limited.

In fact, despite our abhorrence of bloodshed, we Jews encounter far more violence than do Muslims - reflected in the simple fact that, unlike synagogues, mosques rarely require armed guards and that in Europe, much of the violence directed against Jews emanates from Muslims.

We should therefore also strongly endorse the approach of those who refuse to be intimidated by Islamic bullying, as exemplified in the vicious campaign against Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, or the obscene threats and violent attacks against any who question Islamic beliefs or behavior.

Some Jewish representatives also display an unfortunate penchant for demonstrating their liberal credentials by endorsing Muslim demands to outlaw security profiling. We would be well advised to remember that Jews represent the principal target for terrorists, and it would therefore surely be bizarre for Jews to undermine security procedures which may largely ultimately directly impact against them.

It is simply a denial of reality to dismiss the ethnic profiles of Arab Muslims when 95% of acts of global terrorism emanate from this group.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Reform movement, exemplifies well-meaning Jewish leaders falling into this trap. He recently publicly condemned profiling in an address to a questionable Islamic organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), with whom he had recently launched a major interfaith dialogue. According to some American Jewish critics, ISNA had allegedly previously backed terrorist groups and was named as an unindicated co-conspirator in a major trial against a Wahhabi oriented group (The Holy Land Foundation) illegally raising funds for Hamas. In addition, the US Justice Department referred to the ISNA as an offshoot of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.

In similar vein, Rabbi Marc Schneier, sponsor of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, co-hosted a meeting of 12 imams and 12 rabbis at the Islamic Center in New York in conjunction with Imam Omar Abu Namous. In a previous joint meeting with Schneier's group, Namous called for the substitution of Israel with a binational state and demanded that the Israelis apologize for their "crimes" to the Palestinians. To avoid a repetition, Schneier and Namous agreed among themselves that Israel would be removed from the agenda.

This is a prime example of the damage incurred through interfaith dialogue with Muslims. If we bask in expressions of mutual love but fail to proclaim to our partners in dialogue that Israel is central to our Jewish identity, we make a mockery of dialogue and effectively capitulate to the extremists.

Of course, Muslims are entitled to criticize Israeli policies. But there must be understandings in advance that, as distinct from genuine criticism, efforts to delegitimize or demonize Israel make it impossible for us to share platforms with them. We must also insist that the condemnation of Muslim anti-Semitism be an agenda item in all such encounters.

None of this detracts from our obligation to raise our voices against those who would condemn an entire religion because of the criminal behavior of its individuals. Alas, it is galling that in the Muslim arena there are virtually no such condemnations when it comes to incitement against Israel, the Jews, or even America.

There are nevertheless genuine opportunities to conduct constructive dialogue with judiciously selected Muslim groups. For example, the recent visits of Indian Muslims and Indonesian imams to Israel under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee represent the kind of positive dialogue that should be commended and encouraged.

Bottom line: Dialogue with Muslims becomes counterproductive when we grovel and demean ourselves in order to curry favor. All that is achieved is a façade of goodwill which ultimately only strengthens extremists at the expense of the few genuine moderates within the Islamic community whom we are obliged to continue to seek out, for their sake and ours.

The writer is a former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader.

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