Saturday, July 05, 2008

What is our government doing?

Israel faces turmoil but ministers are preoccupied with insignificant quarrels

Roni Sofer Published: 07.05.08, 11:55 / Israel Opinion

This week started and ended with the efforts to secure the release of our captives in the north. During the week, Qassam rockets and mortar shells continued to hit Sderot and Gaza-region communities. In addition, we saw threats being traded in respect to what we shall be doing to Iran, and what Tehran shall be doing to us.
We also had a third round of talks with Syria on Turkish soil, while painfully watching a Palestinian armed with a bulldozer going on a killing spree on Jerusalem's Jaffa Street.

This is the essence of what Israel faces at this time: Abductions and death, civilians being fired at in the south, fears of an archenemy Advertisement

who may acquire nuclear weapons, and a horrifying act of terrorism by an Israeli resident from east Jerusalem.

When you wake up in the morning you don't know what will happen by noon, and at night you pray that you will not wake up to horrifying headlines the next day. Instead of planning their summer vacation with their children, Israel's citizens are preoccupied with the latest political, security, or criminal drama.

A whole state is suffering from hyperactivity, yet there is nobody out there who can provide it with Ritalin.

Livni barely talks to Olmert; PM barely talks to Barak
However, while all this is going on, our ministers are quarreling as if there is no tomorrow. Justice Minister Friedmann is trying to lead a government decision on establishing a commission of inquiry into the police's conduct in the Ramon affair; elsewhere, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter calls on the prime minister to quit while a giant bulldozer is on a rampage five minutes from there, murdering three and wounding dozens.

Meanwhile, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai is still demanding that child allowances be increased, or else he will quit the coalition; Livni is barely talking to Olmert, and Olmert is barely talking to Barak; perhaps they will decide to appoint Knesset Member Eli Aflalo to a ministerial position, because the Olmert camp needs to be boosted.

A senior coalition figure who wants elections to be held as early as possible told us: "We should not be surprised by those who paint a picture meant to show that the government is functioning. For them, the welfare of the government comes before the welfare of the country. I am only surprised by the public, which is accepting this."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Palestinian Tractor-Terrorism: Mainstream Not Renegade

Yoram Ettinger

Hate-Education-Driven-Terrorism. The July 2, 2008 Palestinian Tractor-Terrorism constituted a precise Palestinian human-missile, guided by Palestinian hate-education, instituted in 1994 by Abu-Mazen, then Arafat’s first deputy, and proliferated via Abu Mazen’s current educational-religious-media infrastructures. K-12, and older, Palestinians are exposed systematically to school textbooks, sermons, editorials and news editions – controlled by Abu Mazen – which idolize homicide bombers, calling for the destruction of the “illegitimate, infidel” Jewish State. Hate-education (and not statements made to Western leaders and media) is the most authentic reflection of one’s ideology, vision and strategy. Hate-education constitutes the manufacturing line of terrorists. Hate-education distinguishes between peaceful and violent societies. Hate-education is facilitated by foreign aid provided to Abu Mazen by the US, W. Europe and the UN.2. Mainstream–Not Renegade-Terrorism. The July 2, 2008 Palestinian Tractor-Terrorism is an expected derivative of a cultural-political-intellectual-educational-military environment – in the Arab world generally and in the PA particularly – which breeds lethal hatred toward Salman Rushdie the “apostate”, a European “infidel” cartoonist, the “infidel” Christian regime in Lebanon and the “infidel” Jewish State. Mainstream Palestinian terrorists accord their families with Abu-Mazen’s “Martyr Allowances.” They are commemorated by PA monuments and soccer tournaments, and idolized by poems featured on Abu-Mazen-controlled TV and radio.

3. Hope-Not Despair-Driven-Palestinian Terrorism. The Palestinian Tractor-Terrorism, along with hundreds of foiled terrorist attempts and the barrage of Palestinian missiles, have taken place during the administration of the most Dovish Israeli Prime Minister. Since (Oslo) 1993, Israel provided Palestinians with an unprecedented hope, denied them by the Ottomans, British, Jordanians, Egyptians and Arab League. Israel imported PLO terrorists from oblivion in Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Lebanon and Tunisia to the door steps of their intended Israeli victims, arming terrorists with missiles, ushering them to the White House and according them the Nobel Prize. The Palestinian response was strikingly lucid – instituting hate education! Palestinian terrorism has been adrenalized by the hope of Israeli vacillation, retreat and fatalism. Palestinian terrorism has been energized, since the 1920s, by the existence – and not by the size – of the Jewish State.

4. Terrorism Rewarded. The 1993 Oslo Accord has been perceived, by Palestinian and other terrorists, as a reward to the role model of hijacking, global terrorism and inter-Arab back-stabbing (Egypt – 1950s, Syria – 1966, Jordan – 1970, Lebanon – 1975 until 1982 and Kuwait – 1990). Since 1993, Palestinian hate-education, non-compliance, terrorism and homicide bombing has been answered by further Israeli territorial concessions, bolstered US support for a Palestinian state and more generous US, W. European and international foreign aid. Palestinians have realized that not only can they get away with murder; but, they can be rewarded for murder!

5. Eroded Deterrence Fuels Terrorism. The Palestinian Tractor-Terrorism has been triggered, also, by the slackening of Israel’s posture of deterrence since 1993. Subordinating counter-terrorism to the “Peace Process,” has hand-cuffed the IDF, played into the hands of terrorists, undermining the cause of durable peace. Israel’s policy of retreat, co-existence with terrorism, ceasefires, subcontracting counter-terrorism to the PA (and international forces), striving for agreements with those who systematically and violently violate all agreements, and reliance on retaliation and defense has produced a protracted war of attrition, which constitutes a wet dream for terrorists and a lethal threat to Israel and to peace. The resurrection of Israel’s posture of deterrence – which constitutes a prerequisite for a successful war on terrorism – mandates pre-emptive, preventive, comprehensive offensive at the breeding ground of terrorism, focusing on the destruction of the ideological, financial and political infrastructures, which direct, feed and brainwash homicide-bombers. It requires a realization that every square inch conceded to the Palestinians has become a platform for hate-education and terrorism, serving as fuel – and not water – to the fire of terrorism.

6. Anti-US Terrorism Exacerbated. The unprecedented Palestinian terrorism since Oslo 1993 - culminating with the July 2, 2008 Tractor Terrorism - has corresponded to the unprecedented anti-US Islamic terrorism since the 1993 first attempt on the Twin Towers. The more substantial Palestinian independence, the more intensified is Palestinian and global terrorism. Palestinian terrorism was at low ebb on the eve of Oslo, catapulting to its peak since Oslo. US support of an independent state to the role-model of terrorism and hate-education has been construed, by anti-US Islamic terrorists, as weakness and reward to terrorism. As evidenced by Abu-Mazen’s education, religious and media systems, such a state would doom Jordan – a US ally – to oblivion, it would energize anti-US terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan (which was intensified following Israel’s “Disengagement”), it would provide Iran, Russia, China and North Korea with a strategic foothold in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, it would add another anti-US vote at the UN, it would bolster terrorism against weak Gulf regimes, further destabilizing the Mideast, and it would reward those who oppress Christians in the Bethlehem area.


Obama a victim of "Islamophobia"!

As everyone knows, Obama has been going to some lengths to make sure nobody thinks he's a Muslim. Nor has he been making any particular effort to add, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Today the reliably dhimmi Wall Street Journal gives space to Junaid M. Afeef, director of public and government Affairs at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, to blame this not on Obama's canny political calculation and tacit awareness that people are suspicious of the violent and supremacist elements of Islam, but on "Islamophobia," that rampant plague which, he says, has claimed yet another victim: the sainted candidate himself. It is a particularly grotesque irony that the Wall Street Journal would print this whine about "Islamophobia" the day after a man shouting "Allahu akbar" murdered three people in Jerusalem -- as if the problem (yet again) were not the people who commit such acts in the name of Islam, and the utter failure of peaceful Muslims to take the first step toward cleaning house. Oh no -- that doesn't provoke any "Islamophobia" at all. It's all about racism and bigotry, doncha know. Everyone would love Muslims and Islam, and find them cute and cuddly, were it not for Western non-Muslim "Islamophobes" spreading racism and bigotry by...noting the fact that some guy shouting "Allahu akbar" and running amok with a bulldozer murdered three people in Jerusalem yesterday.

"Obama Should Embrace His Muslim Heritage," by Junaid M. Afeef in the Wall Street Journal, July 3 (thanks to all who sent this in):

Many Muslim voters love Barack Obama. They love him even if he doesn't seem to love them back.

One young professional I know credited Muslims' enthusiasm for Sen. Obama to a perceived promise of a "brand new, informed international perspective." Other Muslims are moved by a broad and empowering message of hope and change in a tumultuous time of trouble and strife. And many see a reflection of themselves in Mr. Obama – a person who looks different, has a funny name, a sense of the world beyond our borders, and at the same time is very patriotic. That is how most Muslims in America view themselves.

In most circumstances such a strong affinity would be embraced by a candidate. But an affinity with Muslims is perceived by his campaign as a liability.

Mr. Obama is another victim of Islamophobia. He is now facing what Muslims have been and still are struggling with: an irrational fear and hatred of Muslims. Polls show that as many as 25% of Americans admit to prejudicial feelings against Muslims.

Mr. Obama knows that Islamophobia has taken root in the U.S. Islamophobia hits very close to home for him because his father, from whom he also derives his black heritage, was a Muslim.

While his heritage may include Muslims, Mr. Obama is a Christian, and when his religion is incorrectly identified he rightly corrects the record. Now there is even a Web site called "Fight the Smears" that challenges the lie that he is a Muslim.

The problem, however, is the manner in which he corrects the record. He vociferously denies being a Muslim as if it were a slur.

That is true; he does. And it is a very sharp political move. Muslims aren't going to vote for McCain no matter what. And by implying that to call him a Muslim is a "smear" (the website rebutting the claim is called Fight the Smears), Obama implies also that he will be tough on Islamic terrorism.

Mr. Obama does not need to take this approach. He knows how to smash through barriers. He brought whites and blacks together in the primary, no small feat in a nation that still struggles with race issues.

As a great leader, Mr. Obama should take a principled stand on the issue of Muslims and Islamophobia. While anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. is substantial, it is not an insurmountable challenge.

The vast majority of Americans are sincere and open-minded; anti-Muslim sentiments are a product of fear and lack of understanding. These sentiments can be overcome.

Mr. Afeef, anti-Muslim sentiments are a product of Muslims Allahu-akbaring while operating bulldozers, AK 47s, and passenger jets in order to kill infidels.

If Mr. Obama simply said, "Yes, there are Muslims in my family, and while I am and always have been a Christian, I embrace my family's religious diversity," then surely the vast majority of Americans would move on to the real issues in his campaign.

He should say that there are Muslims in his family, since it is true, and since some of his statements seem to suggest that he hasn't been completely forthright about this aspect of his background. It would dispel suspicions of dishonesty.

Meanwhile, it's interesting that Junaid Afeef can say that Obama should "embrace [his] Muslim heritage with the same vigor and eloquence with which [he has] embraced [his] white and black heritage" in the dhimmi WSJ and it is an example of diversity and broad-mindedness and multiculturalism, but when I said he should do something very much like that at Jihad Watch it traveled around some lefty blogs as just another shameful example of "Islamophobia." Ain't multiculturalism grand?
Thanks Jihad Watch

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Have American Jews Been Duped?

Stephen M. Asbel

American support weakens Israeli resolve

If you take a step back and look at the past 40 years, one can make the case that the American policy of providing assistance to Israel has had the effect, if not the express intent, of weakening Israel's political resolve, Golda Meir refused to launch a preemptive strike for fear of angering Washington, making Israel more easily bend to the American will, and has also been a means to channel and at the same time control the political energy of the American Jewish community. We saw this process begin in earnest in 1973. In1967, Israel, with no world powers supporting it when it was being
strangled by blockade and massed enemy forces on its borders, acted resolutely on its own and won a decisive victory. In 1973, a few years into the period of active American support, Israel had intelligence that Egypt and Syria were going to attack, but Golda Meir refused to launch a preemptive strike for fear of angering Washington. The result was a near catastrophe for Israel.

In the decades since, Israel has allowed itself to become highly dependent
on the US, rather than rely on its own skills and resources. Israel has
been willing to make huge and dangerous strategic sacrifices because a
belief has been fostered that the United States is going to guarantee
Israel's safety. The hostility of the US toward Israel's limited
efforts to defend itself (affirming its right of self-defense, but then
criticizing every actual attempt to do so) is an indicator of this.

At the same time, American policy has had the effect of duping and
controlling the American Jewish community. American Jews have
essentially been sold the idea that all will be well with Israel if the
US keeps doling out the military aid and casting some votes at the UN.
This has had the effect of causing American Jews to line up behind
policies such as creating a new Arab Palestinian state and giving up
vital territory, because they think they are keeping Israel strong by
keeping the aid spigot open. It appears that American Jews have been
made the indirect useful idiots of a policy driven by the US State
Department at the behest of the Saudis and other Arab oil producers.
Israeli leaders, of course, adopted these policies to curry favor with
Washington, rather than making the case for keeping territory vital to
Israel's safety.

Both the Clinton and Bush Administrations were quite willing to push Israel
into dangerous concessions, but it was sugarcoated with words of
friendship and commitment to Israel's security and healthy doses of
military aid credits. The real underlying agenda is to make the Saudis
happy. In May we saw President George Bush go to Riyadh, where he got
down on his knees in front of his overlord, King Abdullah, to beg for
more oil. Abdullah gave Bush the back of his hand this time, but the
pattern that has emerged is that Israeli concessions are one of the
forms of currency with which American administrations seek to buy Saudi

I fear Israelis and American Jews are going to sit back and do little
because of the combination of having been taken in by this notion that
Mahmoud Abbas is some sort of peacenik and by Congress continuing to
dutifully vote big military aid packages to Israel. While Israel is
pressured to give up vital territory, they are being lulled into a
Israelis need to wake up and see this dangerous aspect to the over-dependence upon the United States.
false sense of security.

Israelis need to wake up and see this dangerous aspect to the over-dependence
upon the United States. Israelis need to demand that their government
take steps to end dependence on American aid and move the basis for
relations with the United States to a more normal mode that exists
between allies. Israel must stop putting all of its eggs in one
American basket. Israel should not be viewed as a charity case.
According to the CIA's statistics, Israel's GDP in 2007 was over $190
billion and it has a per household income that is comparable to states
in Europe. Israel should be able to wean itself of dependence on
American aid credits, which carry too high a price in other aspects of

Israel is not a pathetic, backward state. Israel is a strong, powerful nation
and it should start acting like one. I am afraid Israelis have bought
into their own public relations about being weak and needing help to
the point that they have become afraid to anger America. They are
wrong. Most Americans admire Israel and will respect it for standing up
for itself against its enemies. Friendship and mutual respect should be
the basis for the US-Israel alliance, not dependence and vassalage.

American Jewish organizations should be encouraging Israel and helping it to be
more independent. Israel needs to start acting with the confidence to
make decisions that benefit its interests, rather than putting
Washington¢s interests ahead of its own.

The "two-state solution" of two states west of the Jordan is a bill of
goods. It will never work. It will create a terrorist-infested state
which will put rockets in range of nearly all of Israel's population
and then demand even more territory. Israel's justification for going
along with this is fear of demographic problems. Studies and articles,
such as those by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, have shown the
demography fears to be unfounded especially with Israel having left
Gaza. An Israel that annexes Judea and Samaria will have a stable, 67%
Jewish majority. Jewish birthrates are rising (thanks to very high
birthrates among Israel's most religious Jews), Arab birthrates are
falling and there have been more Arabs leaving the territories than

Annexation of Judea and Samaria, coupled with dismantling of the Palestinian Authority and destruction of the terrorist organizations it aids and abets, will give Israel secure borders on the east that are defensible;
close the door to millions of Arabs who would flood a Palestinian state
(and then demand more of what was left of Israel). It would offer the
possibility of Israeli citizenship to the Arab residents of those
territories, if they are law-abiding and would like citizenship, thus
ending their condition of statelessness. Such new Arab citizens of
Israel would also have freedom of movement throughout this larger
Israel and the ability to live in any part of the country - perhaps
Developers will flock to build in these regions, with benefits for both Jewish and Arab residents.even in regions that they or their parents left in 1948.

Of course, Jews would be free to live anywhere in the core of the ancient
homeland in Judea and Samaria. Freed from the political uncertainty of
these territories, developers will flock to build in these regions,
with benefits for both Jewish and Arab residents including improved
infrastructure and services. Once terrorists are rooted out, there
would be an end to roadblocks and removal of the disliked, but
currently necessary, security barrier.

This is a solution that Israel can implement itself with no treaty. It will
not be easy, but it is the best way to promote an Israel that remains a
Jewish state, a democracy and that has militarily defensible borders.
The so-called "two-state solution" is a plan born out of the politics
of fear and despair. A policy in which Israel once and for all
incorporates the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland and makes a place
in its society for the inhabitants of those territories is a plan born
out of hope and confidence in the strength and future of Israel as a
Jewish-majority, democratic state.29 Sivan 5768 / 02 July 08

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monsieur Obama's Tax Rates

And speaking of tax rates (see here1), celebrity chef Alain Ducasse changed his citizenship this month from high-tax France to no-income-tax Monaco. He says it wasn't a financial decision but an "affair of the heart." Of course. Nonetheless, plenty of other Frenchmen have moved abroad to escape their country's confiscatory taxes.

Americans should be so lucky: Ours is the only industrialized country that taxes its citizens even if they live overseas. That hasn't been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low. But with Barack Obama promising to raise rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world's foremost fiscal prisoners.. And make no mistake, taxes under a President Obama would be à la française. The top marginal tax rate on income – including federal, state and local income and payroll levies – could reach 60% for many self-employed New Yorkers and Californians. Not even France's taxes are that high now that President Nicolas Sarkozy has capped the total that high-earning Frenchmen like Mr. Ducasse can pay in income, social and wealth taxes at 50% of earnings.

Mr. Sarkozy set this "fiscal shield" because he knows that tax rates affect behavior. When he visited London this year, he observed that the British capital is now home to so many French bankers and other professionals seeking tax relief that it's the seventh-largest French city. Those expatriates choose not to use their creativity and investment capital to benefit France and its economy.

Senator Obama's plans to raise income, Social Security and capital-gains taxes amount to a belief that people don't react to punitive tax rates. If so, he needn't worry about people leaving the country and could let them pay taxes in whichever part of the globe they choose to live in. Once Americans are paying French-style tax rates, they ought to have the same freedom to move as Alain Ducasse.

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Who Goes There? Friend or Foe?

Barry Rubin
July 2, 2008

Here's the most important thing I can tell you about the Middle East.

For more than a half-century, the region's politics revolved around Arab nationalism. Individual states sought to have influence, leadership, or just to survive. The Arab-Israeli conflict was an important issue in this framework, though not the sole or even the most significant one.

Now, as Celine Dion sings, "Those days are gone." Today, the centerpiece is a struggle between two blocs, one well-organized, the other weak and facing internal conflict. The former is the Tehran-led alliance of the HISH (Hamas-Iran-Syria-Hizballah); the latter is just about everyone else, call it the coalition of the unwilling.

And as in the words of the song, these regimes say, "Hard to be sure, sometimes I feel so insecure." But they don't follow through on the chorus by proclaiming, "All by myself, don't wanna be, All by myself, Anymore."

After all, while Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates don't want to be dominated by Iran or ruled by radical Islamists, they find it rather hard to work together or with their best potential allies.

The region now faces many overlapping problems: HISH's ambitions, Iranian nuclear drive, Iraq, Lebanon, radical Islamism, terrorism, and the struggle for power in each country. Oh yes, and there's the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, largely reduced from the Arab-Israeli conflict. And while that last one makes the top forty, it really doesn't make the final four, in objective if not always in perceptual terms.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows and you don't have to be friends to have a common need to work together. During World War Two, Stalin's Soviet Union became the vital ally of the democracies.

Yet you also need someone on whom you can depend, at least to follow their own interests. During World War One, German leaders referred to their alliance with Austria-Hungary as being shackled to a corpse. At times, contemporary Arab leaders--especially the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA)--seem to want to imitate French King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette or Czar Nicholas and Alexandra in bringing revolutions on themselves.

Still, their behavior is understandable. They want to use the radical appeal of Arab nationalism, Islamism, anti-Americanism, and xenophobia to divert attention from their own failings while mobilizing support for themselves as the true defenders against all those big and little satans out there. At the same time, they are happy to appease their foes if possible.

A particularly blatant example is Kuwait's foreign minister who denounced those who want to wage a false jihad at home. He explained that instead of murdering innocent Muslims, young people should kill Israelis instead. Much of the regimes' "anti-terrorist" rhetoric is merely really aimed at shifting the targets away from themselves.

On one hand, the Saudis host a global interfaith dialogue conference; float a peace initiative toward Israel, fight domestic terrorism, and battle Syria and Hizballah in Lebanon. On the other hand, they aid terrorists and spread extremist forms of Islam. Egypt is horrified by radical Islamism but refuses to go all-out against Hamas. The official media demonize the West and Israel, while the official Islamic religious apparatus endorses terrorism against Israel and in Iraq.

The question of this era, then, is how does one make the parallelism of interests among those facing the HISH and radical Islamism something that can be implemented in practice?

There are powerful factors pushing Arab regimes and a portion of the populations toward indirect cooperation. Kuwaitis remember what Saddam Hussein did to them; Saudis fear Shia power; Iraqis are angry about foreign support for terrorism against them; Lebanese Christians, Druze, and Shia Muslims don't want to have Hizballah telling them what to do.

Yet on the Arab side there are also huge limitations to cooperation.

* Their adversaries are unrelenting. They will not make peace, moderate, or live up to any compromise deal they sign. These include not only the HISH but other Islamist elements which may be both revolutionary and anti-Iran, notably Muslim Brotherhoods and al-Qaeda.
* Working with the West and Israel could undermine the regimes at home.
* The Arab rulers simultaneously manipulate propaganda and believe their own statements.
* What is worst of all, however, is how the unrelenting are backed up by what we can call the inconvincible, that is a radicalized public opinion. There is no moderate silent majority. The rulers cannot go over the heads of a few extremists to appeal to a public preferring coexistence, peace, human rights, and stability. Even if the rulers helped create this radicalism of the masses, it isn't just a matter of easily reversible false concsioucness based on regime propaganda but is rooted in many other things as well.

In short, while the rulers have the advantage of guns and resources, the radical opposition has the asset of the regimes' incompetence, corruption, and a public opinion open to their arguments. To shake this combination will take many decades, at best.

But what about the West and Israel? They can also sell out the Arab side due to a strong temptation to deal with the radicals and not with the moderate--or perhaps I should say the less radical--forces.

By apologizing, conceding, refusing to defend themselves, or by negotiating, exaggerating the potential for moderation, and dropping sanctions, they can strengthen the extremists and undercut the regimes. When that happens, the regimes know they might better cut their own deal. So while there are arguable reasons to bargain with Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, or Syria, such a strategy splits the anti-HISH alliance and starts a race toward appeasement.

In the Dion song, "Love so distant and obscure, Remains the cure." But this is politics. The best one can hope for is the wisdom to build on coinciding interests and courage to stand up to unrelenting enemies.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Map for the Road Not Taken

Caroline Glick
Gefen; 427 pages; $29.95

Reviewed by Jonathan Schanzer

Jerusalem Post

It is often said that either you are an idealist or a realist. Indeed, these two worldviews almost always clash. But Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, an American-Israeli with strong Zionist convictions, somehow embraces both with vigor. This has helped her produce consistently compelling commentary that wastes little time cutting to the very essence of the issues she explores.

Yet, in nearly every dispatch, Glick conveys either a subtle or even strong sense of frustration with her Israeli and Jewish-American audiences that refuse to wake up to the dangers that loom in the Middle East. Her first book, a well-structured compendium of her columns, may sadly serve as a map for the road not taken in the fight against radical Islam. The seemingly endless Palestinian war against Israel is perhaps the greatest source of frustration for Glick. Several of her most compelling pieces hammer home the fact that the "Palestinian goal today is genocide," and their "central organizing principle is the physical elimination of the Jewish people." This should be obvious to most readers of Middle Eastern affairs. Yet a majority of American Jews and even Israelis continue to hold out hope for peace.

The author soundly rejects the notion that even the sweetest US or Israeli incentives can prod the Palestinians toward peace. She observes that the Palestinian people receive "more aid per capita than any people on earth" but prefer "poverty, violence and war to prosperity." This applies to all Palestinians; while Hamas is typically vilified for its gruesome acts of terror, we cannot forget that Fatah maintains "goals that are incompatible with the continued existence of the State of Israel." In other words, it has become impossible to separate the "general Palestinian population from those involved in terrorism."

She arrives at the sound conclusion that "Palestinian society itself must be transformed before there is to be peaceful coexistence."

Glick sums up Israel's security predicament succinctly: Israel must find the "courage to recognize that security, not peace," is the ultimate goal. Yet, she observes that her country is suffering from a "lack of outrage," and Israelis have "gotten used to being killed." She therefore yearns for Israel to win its security through a show of force on the battlefield.

The poor Israeli performance in the 2006 war against Hizbullah was a source of agitation for the author. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's military blunder not only weakened Israel's deterrence in the Arab world, but it may have also weakened Israel's Western alliances. Moving forward, she believes that only Israeli military victories will end the growing notion that Israel has become a "strategic liability for the West."

Regarding Iran, Glick could not be any clearer. She notes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has started a "countdown to the next Holocaust" and that the "catastrophe that will follow an American collapse into isolationism and appeasement is undeniable." She further warns that the failure to prevent Iran from going nuclear will result in "suffering, destruction and death on an unimaginable scale."

To Glick's chagrin, the international coalition necessary to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions has been moving at glacial speed. She therefore encourages her readers to support the growing movement led by several states in the US that are divesting their pension funds from companies that do business with Tehran.

But divestment for Glick is not enough. Through the pages of this book, she growls at Ahmadinejad, asserting that the maniacal Iranian leader uses Holocaust denial as a ruse among his county's other dangerous foreign policies, so that appeasing nations can claim to stand against Iran "without actually doing anything to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons."

Looking beyond Iran, the author understands that the West is now engaged in a "world war" with Islamists, but yet most of us "do not notice it." Glick is unrelenting in her insistence that "we must do everything to destroy them and nothing to give them hope for victory." One key to this victory, she correctly notes, is strategic communication. Unfortunately, she notes, the enemies of the West continue "to define our world for us." Put another way, the "leftist-Islamist front is eroding the free world's sense of justice." This is a battle the West continues to lose.

Notably, the battle is being lost quite badly on America's university campuses. Indeed, "campuses throughout the Western world are known as hotbeds for radicalism" - including Israeli campuses. Glick notes that "educators," such as Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, attack those who support Israel as bigoted or virulent. She observes that jihadists are now teaching the next generation in ways that "prevent us from seeing the dangers and defending ourselves."

But, in the battle of ideas, the West is taking its worst drubbing over the war in Iraq. Glick, who was embedded with the US military during the Iraq War, immediately understood the importance of the US-led reconstruction efforts, and the need to properly explain the military operations there. Glick's dispatches from her time in the field with American military men revealed her enduring patriotism for the country she left behind. She lambastes critics for "buying into Hizbullah's psychological warfare in repeating the analogy between Iraq and Vietnam." She notes that if the American public falls prey to the wrong messages, prompting the US to leave too early, the US would lose its standing "as the leader of the free world in the midst of a global war."

While a great many of Glick's observations ring true, the reader may not always walk away from Glick's work nodding in agreement. For example, she asserts that during the 2006 war with Lebanon, the Bush administration supported Hizbullah's claims to Mount Dov (also known as Shaba Farms), or that it sought to "appease Iran." At another point, she claims that Bush has followed a string of US presidents who allow Israel to "beat Arab aggression militarily, but [force] it to lose the war politically."

In a column last July, she warned that the US was pursuing an "alliance with Saudi Arabia with vigor while eschewing and downgrading its alliance with Israel." Castigating Israel's loyal ally - particularly an administration that has been incredibly supportive for eight years - hardly seems like a battle worth fighting.

In the end, however, Glick understands that radical Islam is the enemy. She snarls at the "rotten evil that characterizes the ideology of our enemies" and unabashedly states that defeating this enemy is the "mission of our generation." Indeed, the author seeks to "pave the way for a secure, peaceful and moral future for our people and our world."

The writer, a former US Treasury intelligence analyst, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and author of the forthcoming book Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave, November 2008).

New law stipulates: Territorial withdrawal only by referendum

Shahar Ilan and Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondents

The Knesset approved on Monday the referendum law, which mandates a national referendum or a two thirds Knesset majority prior to a withdrawal from any territory under Israeli territory. The law was approved in its first reading by a majority of 65 MKs to 18. The vote came as indirect peace talks were underway between Israel and Syria, revolving around the Syrian demand that Israel return the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, in return for peace. A third round of talks was to begin this week.

Earlier Monday, the "Golan Lobby" convened at the Knesset ahead of the vote. The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), who said that the law is a positive and important measure, though his party generally opposes holding referendums.

"I think that talk about [pulling out of the Golan] Heights cause great damage to the residents," Yishai said. "Anything we can do to help is a blessing and is required and therefore we will support the law."

An existing law already mandates a referendum before ceding any territory under Israeli sovereignty, but it also states that this requirement will not apply until a Basic Law detailing the procedures for holding a referendum is passed. The current law eliminated the need to enact a Basic Law. Instead, it requires that territorial concessions be approved by a national referendum or general elections or a majority of 80 Knesset members.

Golan Lobby Chairman MK Yisrael Katz said that it was extremely important that the law was approved, in order to make it clear that attempts to hand over the Golan will be followed by the tedious procedure of a referendum. "There is an important message here, especially while negotiations are underway," Katz said.

Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said the "in Western countries, giving up land is impossibly difficult, and in tiny little Israel, governments can relinquish land with unbearable ease. This is something that must be rectified, and the law can do that."

MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that negotiations over the Golan Heights were a crime. "Giving up the Golan would be a national disaster that the Zionist endeavor will not recover from," he said.

Deputy Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said "the Knesset needs to learn from its own history? this law sends a clear message that the decision will be approved by the people, without outside considerations, tricks or political bribes."

MK David Tal (Kadima), the chairman of the special committee that prepared the law, said Sunday that "if the referendum law is approved by less than 65 MKs, I will view it as a personal failure."


Monday, June 30, 2008

Fears that Terrorist-Release Deal Will Boomerang on Israel

Hillel Fendel

Responses to the Cabinet's decision to release five terrorists, including Haran family murderer Samir Kuntar, in exchange for the bodies of two abducted Israeli soldiers have been fast in coming. Many of them, while expressing sympathy for the families of the captive soldiers, say the deal endangers Israel and its other soldiers. Indor: The Lebanon War Ended Today in a Fiasco
Col. (res.) Meir Indor, head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, said in response to the Cabinet vote, "Hizbullah and Nasrallah have defeated the government of Israel, cleverly using terrorism and mass media, as well as the families of the captives, against the ministers. This strategy brought about the total downfall of the government's standing power, and a retreat from all its past promises not to cave in to the kidnappers..."

"The government must now explain to the 117 families of the soldiers who were killed in the war in Lebanon, and the dozens of families of civilians who were killed, why we went to war altogether," Indor said, "seeing as we could have just given in to the Hizbullah demands from the very beginning, without losing any lives, if we would have just released Kuntar right away! The bottom line is that the 2nd Lebanon War ended in a total fiasco."

Bachrach: Dangerous for Gilad Shalit
Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, head of the Bereaved Parents' Forum and spokesman for Almagor, said, "This deal, this surrender to Hizbullah, represents a total collapse of the government of Israel's standing power... The idea of giving live terrorists for dead bodies is dangerous for Gilad Shalit as well. After all, it is very difficult logistically for Hamas to keep him alive; why shouldn't they just shoot him in the head, in the knowledge that Israel pays high prices for dead bodies as well?"

Others have countered that the price Israel is expected to pay for Shalit is many times higher than that paid in the Hizbullah deal.

Israel will give four Hizbullah terrorists captured alive during the Second Lebanon War, bodies of eight Hizbullah terrorists, dozens of infiltrator and terrorist corpses and body parts, maps of Israeli mines in Lebanon, information on four Iranian diplomats who went missing in Beirut during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, an unspecified number of Palestinian terrorist prisoners, and maps of Lebanese targets at which Israel fired cluster bombs during the last war.

In return, Israel will receive the bodies of abducted IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, as well as a detailed account of Hizbullah's account of its efforts to secure information on missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.

Orlev: Time to Pull Together
MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), head of the Knesset lobby for the return of the captive soldiers, said, "Even if the government performed poorly in the way it went about this deal, and even if there were correct and significant reasons to oppose the deal, now that the decision has been made, we must all unite behind it, put aside our differences and embrace the captives' families."

Rabbi Sadan: A Totally Illogical Deal
Rabbi Eli Sadan, head of the first pre-military yeshiva academy - Bnei David in Eli - says that the release of murderers and terrorists in exchange for corpses is blatantly illegal. "This is an insane act that encourages and strengthens the enemy," Rabbi Sadan told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine. "I fail to understand why the sanctity of Jewish burial is more important than the sanctity of Jewish life."

"Anything that causes terrorists to return to the circle of murder is very grave," Rabbi Sadan said. "After many of these exchanges, many Israeli citizens paid with their lives. The question is, When exactly will someone in the State of Israel take responsibility to stop this madness?"

Mattot Arim: We Must Not Give Up
The Mattot Arim grassroots movement released this reaction: "We call on the public not to see today's government decision as the end of the story. We must continue to pressure the ministers to backtrack on their politically-correct vote, and begin to act only in accordance with the recommendation of the Mossad and Shabak (GSS) and not to carry out the terrorists-for-corpses deal. We recommend that the citizens of Israel not lose their nerve, but continue writing talkbacks on the internet against the collapse, in the best tradition of the democratic tradition of the resolute right-wing in Israel."

Ramon: Israel Forced Hizbullah to Give In
Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon (Kadima) said, "Until recently, I did not support the deal, because Hizbullah demanded the release of thousands, then 1,000, then 700 Palestinian prisoners. Only when they finally gave up and agreed to the formula that Israel would release Palestinian prisoners of a number and type that Israel itself would determine, did I agree to support the deal."

Steinitz: We Have Violated Two Basic Principles
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud): "All I can say is that with this decision, the entire country has simply derailed. In the 70's, we were strong and said that we would not give into terrorists' demands - and accused the rest of the world of giving in. Now we are in a situation that we return live terrorists for bodies and body parts."

Steinitz also said that Israel cooperated with Hizbullah "for a full year in Hizbullah's deception that the captives might be alive. By doing so, we tricked ourselves and the families... In accepting this deal, we have violated two fundamental principles that will hurt our soldiers in the future. One is not to even enter into talks without having some prior information on the condition of the captives, via the Red Cross or whatever. The second principle is that we must not negotiate over corpses - as this encourages them to collect bodies from the battlefield, and certainly not to try to save or treat wounded Israeli soldiers, in the knowledge that we will pay top price even for corpses."

Insanity Plus

Arlene Kushner

Comprehension of what is going -- or, rather, WHY it is going on -- eludes me, my friends.

Announcement has been made of the Cabinet vote of 22-3 in favor of releasing Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, Palestinian prisoners, and bodies of Hezbollah guerillas for the bodies of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev -- who at this point are clearly thought to be dead. The ministers who voted against were Roni Bar-On (Finance), Ze'ev Boim (Housing) and Daniel Friedmann (Justice).

For the details of the agreement, see: his vote came in spite of the advice of top security officials (the heads of Shin Bet and Mossad) that this was a bad move and would encourage further abductions. It even gives the message that it's OK to kill those Israelis who are abducted, and Israel will still trade.

Olmert's statement on the matter before the vote was that "...I came to the conclusion that as the prime minister of Israel I should recommended approval of the resolution that will bring to an end this painful chapter, even at the painful price that it extracts from us."

In the course of his statement, he indicated that release of Kuntar was probably the reason that Goldwasser and Regev were abducted in the first place. And we give them what they were seeking??

It must be noted that the families of Goldwasser and Regev have received a lot of publicity regarding their right to have their loved ones returned to them, and the pleading they've done to make sure the government would make this possible. Olmert and company undoubtedly hope to capitalize on popular sentiment in this regard.

Amongst leaders and potential leaders here, it was only former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon who raised the question of the price being too high.


And Samir Kuntar? We held this Lebanese Druse -- who was a member of Palestinian Liberation Front -- in prison for years, but the death penalty would have been more appropriate (if we routinely levied a death penalty, which we don't).

In 1979, he entered Nahariya, Israel from Lebanon, by boat, with a group of three fellow terrorists. Entering the apartment of the Haran family, and knowing the police were on the way, they took Danny Haran and his four year old daughter, Einat, hostage and brought them down to the beach. When a shoot-out with police erupted, Samir Kuntar shot Danny in the back at close range in full view of his four year old daughter. Then he drowned Danny in the sea to make certain he was dead, and proceeded to smash Einat's head against the rocks, while she screamed, "Mommy, Daddy help me!" Then he crushed her head with the butt of his rifle.

This subhuman we release from prison? A great deal has been made of the feelings of the Goldwasser and Regev families, but what of the feelings of the Haran family?

It should be noted, by the way, that Kuntar is a declared recidivist. He has already announced that he will return to terrorism. And this we release from prison.

Wrong, shamefully, pathetically wrong.


So the Kuntar family and other despicable beings in Lebanon are celebrating tonight.

The Israeli government should collectively hang its head in shame.


Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch reports that the PA, our alleged partner in peace negotiations, has made the claim that Kuntar represents "heroism." PA TV has broadcast a picture of Kuntar alongside a map of Israel completely covered with the Palestinian flag.

Insanity plus.


A correction: The link to the piece on the Hamas truce from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs was incomplete on Thursday, and I offer here the full link (with thanks to Cheryl Hoffer for calling my attention to this):

see my website

Sunday, June 29, 2008

IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky Convinced Captives are Dead

Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel

Aides close to IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Avi Ronsky stated that he is “convinced” the IDF soldiers captive in Lebanon are dead. He apparently reached the conclusion last Tuesday night after reviewing the available intelligence information, which he believes is sufficient to declare the kidnapped IDF reservists as “killed in action.” However, associates close to Ronsky said he won’t announce his decision until the government votes on a prisoner exchange deal with the Hizbullah being discussed currently in a long Sunday Cabinet meeting. Rabbi Ronsky has met with IDF Intelligence and Medical Corps personnel, as well as the Mossad official responsible for the MIAs, who gave him information on the status of the abducted soldiers that led to his decision. Extensive reports, including the analysis of trauma experts, police forensics units, DNA laboratory evidence, and the IDF’s missile research unit, led Rabbi Ronsky to believe that the tragic fate of one of the soldiers is certain, and that of the second is almost as clear.

Part of the information received led to the IDF raid on a hospital facility in Baalbek during the closing days of the war, which indicated that the wounded soldiers or their bodies had been transferred there. Information from the various sources revealed that one soldier's vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and that he sustained critical upper body injuries. Research also suggested that although he could have been treated at the medical site to which he was abducted after the attack, he was transferred from the site too quickly to have received the "immediate and complex medical treatment" required to have saved his life.

As far as the fate of the other soldier, experts concluded that although he sustained injuries similar in severity to the first, there is a very small chance that he may still be alive.

As part of his briefing, the chief military rabbi also received access to “highly confidential” intelligence information received after the war. As one of the few people exposed to this, Rabbi Ronsky indicated he was very impressed by the depth of information he was given.

However, sources in the Military Rabbinate said that Ronsky was enraged over the fact that the intelligence information, which is not new, was only brought to his attention last week. Based on all of the above information, he concluded that despite lingering hopes that at least one of the soldiers was still alive, the depth and scope of information given to him was enough to declare both Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser dead.

Ronsky's belief echoes reports from last Thursday, when Mossad chief Maj. Gen. Meir Dagan informed the Regev family in a closed-door meeting that it is his belief that both men are dead.

Report: Iran to hit Israel if attacked

Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran - The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned that Tehran would respond to an attack against it by barraging Israel with missiles and controlling a key oil passageway in the Persian Gulf, said a newspaper report published Saturday. The report in the conservative Jam-e-Jam newspaper comes after the disclosure of a recent Israeli military exercise over the Mediterranean Sea that was seen as sending a message to Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said there were strong deterrents against striking Iran, including the country's missile power, the vulnerability of Israeli and U.S. forces in the region and the low probability of a successful attack.

Iran has spread its nuclear facilities across the country and has built key portions underground to protect it from airstrikes.

But Jafari warned that if attacked, Iran would strike back, including choking off the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a narrow outlet for oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf.

"Naturally, any country coming under attack will use all of its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Given the main route for energy to exit the region, one of Iran's steps will definitely be to exercise control on the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz," Jafari told Jam-e-Jam, which is affiliated with Iran's state-run radio and television network.

In 2006, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also threatened to disrupt the world's oil supply if the United States attacked Iran. Iran is the world's fourth largest oil producer. About 60 percent of the world's oil passes through the strait.

"Should a confrontation erupt between us and the enemy, the scope will definitely reach the oil issue. ... Oil prices will dramatically increase. This is one of the factors deterring the enemy from taking military action," Jafari was quoted as saying.

U.S. officials have suggested that the Israeli drill, conducted from May 28 to June 12, was a dress rehearsal for an Israeli strike.

But the Greek government, which took part in the exercise, rejected that assessment. And some observers have said the disclosure of the maneuvers was aimed at getting the international community to step up diplomatic pressure on Iran.

Just before the drill, Europe presented Tehran an offer of economic incentives to halt its enrichment of uranium.

Iran has not formally responded. Less than a week ago, the European Union named Iran's largest commercial bank, the Revolutionary Guards' chief and the head of the country's nuclear program as the targets of new sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear defiance.

The United States and Israel say Iran's nuclear program is intended to produce weapons — a claim Iran denies, saying its program is for peaceful purposes including producing energy.

Israel has a doctrine of "nuclear ambiguity" and has never confirmed nor denied having its own nuclear weapons program.

Jafari also warned that an attack against Iran will also prompt Muslims, including Shiites, to harm U.S. and Israeli interests throughout the Middle East in retaliation to any attack against Iran. He mentioned the Tehran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Iran and Israel are each other's biggest foes, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel's destruction. Though Israel has said it favors a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff, it has not ruled out a military strike.

An Israeli air attack that destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and a strike on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in September have added to the suspicions that Israel is planning action against Iran..