Saturday, November 28, 2009

Diplomacy: Gaining grace?


Yossi Beilin - former MK, minister and one of the architects of the Oslo accords - was downright prophetic nine days ago when he accepted a French honor from visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Within a few days, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will declare a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction that would not include Jerusalem and would make exceptions for "normal life" in the settlements, Beilin said in his remarks, breaking the formula of banal acceptance speeches and getting the reporters in the audience to take up their pens.

The US, Beilin continued, would say that this was not everything they had asked and hoped for, but that it was enough to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And the Palestinians, Beilin prophesized, would reject the deal.

Beilin never revealed his sources, but within a week, his scenario played itself out.

Netanyahu, after a four-hour discussion in the security cabinet Wednesday in which he artfully managed to bring his right wing on board for a moratorium on new settlement starts, stood in front of the cameras and said exactly what Beilin had said he would say.

The US, too, followed Beilin's script, with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell saying soon after Netanyahu's declaration that while the moratorium fell "short of a full freeze, we believe the steps announced by the prime minister are significant and could have substantial impact on the ground. For the first time ever, an Israeli government will stop housing approvals and all construction of housing units and related infrastructure in West Bank settlements. That's a positive development."

He went on to encourage the Palestinians to resume negotiations, as did US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And, as Beilin predicted, the Palestinians rejected Netanyahu's moratorium as "too little." In fact, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called in his rejection to the AFP even before Netanyahu made his statement.

"This is not a complete freeze of settlement construction, because Israel will continue to build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank and won't stop the work in Jerusalem," he said.

And Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA would resume peace talks only after Israel completely stopped all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Beilin, in short, went three for three in his predictions. But then he made a fourth prediction, that the Palestinian refusal to resume negotiations under these terms would create a "dangerous vacuum" that would trigger a chain of events that could very well lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

IT WILL, obviously, take some time to see if this forecast will come true as well. And in the meantime, there will be those who will attack Netanyahu from the left, saying that had he truly wanted to put his shoulder to an international effort that could be called "Saving Private Abbas," he would have suspended all construction under way in the West Bank as well as building in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has made clear that he is interested in supporting Abbas, but this is only one of myriad objectives he has in mind. The prime objective of his settlement-start moratorium was to get the burden of being blamed for stalling the diplomatic process off of Israel's back.

Netanyahu said as much in a private conversation he held immediately after making his statement.

"Now all the Palestinian excuses are over," he said. "The ball is in Abbas's court, and he has to take the courageous decision of a leader."

Well, not exactly - at least the part about the Palestinian excuses being over. The Palestinians, as Erekat already proved, will continue to say that Netanyahu's gesture is empty because the suspension does not include Jerusalem or the 3,000 units already being built.

BUT WHAT is even more important from Netanyahu's point of view is that the Americans - as evidenced by Mitchell's statement - don't see the step as hollow.

When US President Barack Obama took office in January, he called on Israel to freeze all settlement construction, the Palestinians to resume negotiations and end violence and incitement, and the Arab countries to make normalization gestures. On Wednesday night, Israel made the first move, partial as it may be in Obama's eyes.

And by making that move, Netanyahu went further than he had indicated he would go just a few months earlier.

In the beginning of September, just prior to what seemed, at the time, a critical visit here by Mitchell, Netanyahu's office announced the approval of some 500 new housing starts beyond the Green Line that would be followed by a declaration of a building moratorium if "conditions are right" - meaning if the PA put an end to incitement against Israel in the media and education system, and if, more importantly, the Arab states were forthcoming with normalization gestures.

The normalization gestures never materialized, nor did the PA media or schools change their tones, but Netanyahu decided to act unilaterally in order - according to sources in his office - to place the onus of responsibility squarely on the Palestinians. The moratorium was never meant to be a unilateral step, but ended up being one because no one moved on the other side. The expectation is that this will now be appreciated in Washington.

The move was also made, one source said, to begin getting some kind of diplomatic credit for a moratorium that - with the exception of the bundle of houses approved in September - has been in effect since August 2008. Indeed, since that date, neither the Olmert government nor the Netanyahu administration, which took over in March 2009, approved any new housing beyond the Green Line except for the 500 approved in September.

Wednesday's announcement, one official explained, was an effort to begin scoring diplomatic points for something that had de facto been taking place on the ground for months.

Despite efforts to turn up the drama by calling a "press conference" Wednesday to announce the move (no questions were taken), the parameters of the moratorium have been known for months, and the only unknown element was both the length of the moratorium and the timing.

One official said that the original plan - dashed by the unsuccessful summit in New York in September between Netanyahu, Obama and Abbas - had been that the moratorium declaration would be made when a relaunch of the negotiations was announced. When no progress was made on that front, Netanyahu decided to take a unilateral step.

Netanyahu hopes that this step, one that Mitchell applauded as historic, will bury lingering international skepticism as to his intentions. He told German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle this week that he was "uniquely positioned," as a right-wing prime minister, to galvanize the support of the public to a "historic agreement with the Palestinians." This unique positioning became evident when he was able to convince right-wing ministers like Bennie Begin, Moshe Ya'alon and Avigdor Lieberman to vote for the moratorium, something done because - one government source said - they had sat in the discussions over the last few months and seen what was initially demanded, what was agreed upon, and the whole array of pressures coming to bear on Netanyahu and the country.

THE DECISION was also another step in Netanyahu's efforts to convince the international community of his seriousness as a "peace partner."

Soon after being elected, the major question on the agenda was whether Netanyahu would accept the idea of a Palestinian sate. Netanyahu went to Bar-Ilan University and gave a speech that signaled his acceptance of the idea, with caveats. The caveats were heavy - the state must be demilitarized, the Palestinians must accept Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people - but the underlining acceptance of a Palestinian state was there.

The moratorium decision was made of the same cloth. Netanyahu addressed an issue - the settlements - very much on the agenda, gave some concessions, but didn't give the Palestinians everything they wanted. Still, he gave something.

Netanyahu is now gambling that as a result of what he gave, the world will press the Palestinians to take the gestures and run with them. If the Palestinians don't do so, Netanyahu seems to be assuming, it will be clear who will get the blame.

But considering recent history, that seems a somewhat risky assumption. Back in 2000, at Camp David and then at Taba, then-prime minister Ehud Barak justified his generous offer to the Palestinians by saying that if they accepted it, there would be peace, and if not, then the world would see who should be blamed for the failure and what came after.

The Palestinians rejected the offer, the second intifada ensued, and Israel got slammed in the international arena.

Same with disengagement in 2005. Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon said that following the complete withdrawal from Gaza, Israel would have international legitimacy to take very tough military measures inside Gaza if the rockets continued to fall. The rockets continued to fall, Israel took intensive military actions, and its position in the world has rarely been as difficult.

BY MAKING his moratorium declaration, Netanyahu is hoping to remove a major irritant in relations with the US, so that the time and energy devoted to this issue can be placed on other matters.

"The US position on settlements has not changed, but won't be a constant source of tension," a senior source said. "Now we can think about other things. This is the most sweeping step that Israel can take to help launch the negotiations. If they are launched, good; but if not, Israel basically has done everything, and it will be very difficult to come and blame Israel for the stagnation."

Difficult, but not impossible. Especially if, in the process and as Beilin predicted, the PA falls.

Wednesday's move may have bought Netanyahu some temporary grace in Washington and the international community, but that grace - judging by other unilateral steps Israel has taken in the past - may prove fleeting.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1259243014920&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Comment: The devil is in the details so perhaps we might all take a step back and take a deep breath. This is only about politics and learning how to play against the current "old"left directed toward Israel.

Iranian lawmaker: We may bar inspectors, withdraw from NPT

Nov. 28, 2009

Iran's parliament may consider withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a hardline Iranian lawmaker was quoted by the country's official IRNA news agency as saying Saturday. The threat comes a day after a resolution passed by the board of the UN nuclear agency demanded that Teheran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility and freeze uranium enrichment.

Mohammad Karamirad said Saturday parliament may also consider blocking inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which it has been allowing routinely so far.

Karamirad does not speak for the government, but his statements often reflect its thinking.

Also Saturday, a senior Iranian cleric said that Iran would not be threatened or swayed by "bribery" to give up its nuclear rights.

Ahmad Khatami, speaking after prayers on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, said that the IAEA resolution was "completely political and not technical in nature," according to the AFP new agency.

Khatami said that if the IAEA stops fuel from reaching Iran's research reactor, Teheran would produce it by itself.

"It is your obligation, under the law, to provide fuel for the Teheran reactor," Khatami said. "Islamic Iran has shown to the world over the past 30 years that it will not back down even an inch, whether in regard to its absolute rights or in the face of threats or bribery."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1259243024878&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Comment: Not unexpected-Iran will of course follow what has worked so well previously:make threats of withdrawal due to unfair policies being imposed upon a country. This victim approach has been used successfully for yearws by multiple Arab groups so why not for a Persian entity? What is important are the next 3-5 days to observe how the West chooses to respond.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lt-Col (res) Eckstein Offers 9 Rules for Abductions

Gil Ronen
A7 News

In an opinion piece for Arutz Sheva in Hebrew Thursday, Lt-Col (res.) Gershon Eckstein offered nine rules for handling abductions – like that of Sgt. Gilad Shalit and preceding ordeals – and for reducing the effectiveness of subsequent blackmail and psychological warfare by terrorists: 1. As a rule, live terrorists will not be freed in return for soldiers' bodies. Otherwise there is a risk that the lives of abducted soldiers will be deemed expendable.

2. The price tag will be one or two prisoners in exchange for an IDF soldier. It is possible to let the terrorists choose whom they want freed. No more than that.

3. No negotiations will begin before the Red Cross or another authorized body visits the abducted Israeli and provides reliable information of his well being and health.

4. Terrorists with blood on their hands who pose a security risk upon their release will not be freed.

5. The expression “free him at any cost” will be deleted from the national lexicon so as not to sacrifice Israel's strategic and national interests.

6. Despite the fashion regarding “the public's right to know,” a law shall be passed or an ordinance written that will forbid media reports on prisoner swaps, especially during negotiations, and maintain silence on the subject until the deal is finalized. All this is in order to achieve optimal results.

7. Decision makers including the prime minister, ministers and officials dealing directly in the negotiations will be forbidden from meeting the abducted men's families and their representatives until the end of the affair, so as not to place any pressure on the decision makers. Only a person who is not a direct part of the negotiations, who will be appointed by the government, will maintain contact with the families.

8. If a vote is held in the government on approving a swap, the vote should be a secret ballot so that ministers can vote according to their consciences without being influenced by external pressure.

9. The families of abducted individuals should not be a party to the negotiations, and they should not involve the media or engage in lobbying decision makers to persuade them to approve the deal. There should be an agreed code that makes it possible to maintain a distance between the decision makers and the families. With all due empathy for their plight, there should be ground rules regarding contact with them.

An authorized official should be able to look them in the eyes, to hold them close, but to tell them courageously: “We are sorry, dear ones, but this is the situation today, be strong.”

Legislation in this spirit will rein in the public discourse around abductions and reduce the pressure on the government. It may even gradually reduce the enemy's motivation to make use of the weapon of abductions.

Activists Compare Netanyahu to Pharaoh

Avi Yellin Activists Plan to Resist Freeze

In response to Prime Minister Netanyahu ‘s announced ten month construction freeze for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, resistance activists have accused the prime minister of mimicking the decrees of Pharaoh in the Passover story. The parallel, according to activists who are calling themselves the Task Force in the Struggle against Pharaoh's Decrees, is that both leaders work to curtail the Jewish birthrate. “By trying to prevent a new generation of Zionist pioneers in Judea and Samaria Netanyahu is behaving like Pharaoh. Like Pharaoh, Netanyahu preventing the Jewish nation’s development. Like Pharaoh, Netanyahu imposes draconian restrictions on us. Only unlike Pharaoh who targeted only male children, Netanyahu’s decrees apply to everyone regardless of gender.”

The Task Force has committed itself to thwarting the prime minister’s construction freeze and emphasized that its program is only in its early stages. Numerous strategies were suggested in a document released by the group to the public Thursday night. These include the rapid building of closed balconies in established communities, adding homes to hilltop villages often targeted for destruction, establishing a special school for young construction workers, reaching out to Ultra-Orthodox residents of communities also affected by the freeze and organizing protest vigils outside the homes of ministers who betrayed their voters by supporting the freeze.

The L’Herut Tzion (For the Freedom of Zion) organization, which works towards increasing political independence for the State of Israel, responded positively to the plan to struggle against the construction freeze but rejected the comparison of the prime minister with Pharaoh. A spokesperson for the organization argued that it is not Netanyahu but the American president who deserves the title of Pharaoh in this case.

“Our prime minister’s new construction freeze is just one more example of Israeli leaders giving in to the pressure of foreign governments. Netanyahu believes in our right to this land but he is clearly too weak to resist Barack Obama’s demands. We saw this at the prime minister’s Bar-Ilan speech where he broke his refusal to endorse a two-state solution and we are seeing it now with this ten month construction freeze. Even senior Likud ministers openly admit that the American pressure on Netanyahu has been immense. We must do everything in our power to keep building in our homeland but the long term solution must be political independence. Only when our elected officials are free to decide Israeli policy based on what they genuinely believe to be in the Jewish national interest will our communities in Judea and Samaria be secure.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

US: Lukewarm Praise for Building Freeze

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

The United States responded with lukewarm praise Wednesday night to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement of a "painful but necessary" decision to freeze all new construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in a last-ditch attempt to revive final status talks with the Palestinian Authority. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded within moments of Netanyahu's announcement, issuing a statement of approval for the decision. Middle East envoy George Mitchell added minutes later at a news briefing in Washington D.C. that "it falls short of a full settlement freeze," but still is "more than any other Israeli government has done before."

Clinton said in her statement, issued from her office at the State Department, that the decision by Israel's Security Cabinet would help "move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," although she made a point of including the list of conditions Israel has yet to meet in order to satisfy the Obama administration's vision for Middle East peace.

"We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements," said Clinton.

"Let me say to all the people of the region and world: our commitment to achieving a solution with two states living side by side in peace and security is unwavering," Clinton's statement concluded.

Mitchell also said that although the decision did not fully suit the United States, "we believe the steps announced by the prime minister are significant and could have substantial impact on the ground."

The envoy noted that the Netanyahu government was the first to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria. "For the first time ever, an Israeli government will stop housing approvals and all new construction of housing units and related infrastructure in West Bank settlements. That's a positive development."

The envoy said that the freeze was "more than any Israeli government has ever done before, and can help movement toward agreement between the parties." Mitchell later made a point of adding, "Nothing like this occurred during the Bush administration."

He added, however, "This is not an agreement with the United States, nor is it an agreement with the Palestinians. United States policy on settlements remains unaffected and unchanged. As the President has said, America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. We recognize that the Palestinians and other Arabs are concerned because Israel’s moratorium permits the completion of buildings already started and limits the effect of the moratorium to the West Bank – concerns which we share.

"The United States also disagrees with some Israeli actions in Jerusalem affecting Palestinians in areas such as housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes," Mitchell went on, in response to another question by a reporter. "The United States has not accepted and disagrees with any unilateral action by either party which could have the effect of preempting negotiations."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also underscored the point in a statement released earlier in the day by his office: "This enables us to present the world with a simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations and it is very serious about its intentions to advance peace."

Pan-Arab Involvement in the Process

Mitchell noted in his briefing that President Barack Obama's ultimate goal is to involve all of the Arab nations in the negotiation process with Israel, not just the Palestinian Authority. He also stressed that none of them have been expected to fully normalize relations with the Jewish State in return for her participation in the process.

"As I mentioned briefly in response to an earlier question and in my remarks, we have asked all of the Arab governments to join in the effort in support of the Arab Peace Initiative to take steps toward normalization of relations with Israel. We’ve not asked anyone to take the final step of full normalization.

"What we’ve asked is gestures, actions, statements and movement in that direction," he said. "For example, we are seeking, and we believe we’ve gotten a good response, to a multilateral track in which several governments of the region would meet to discuss regional issues that they have in common, such as energy and water, which would follow the resumption of direct negotiations. It won’t occur before then, but if direct negotiations can get underway, we believe this could occur.

"This would operate to the benefit of everyone in the region, whatever country they happen to live in, because it would help to deal with these important issues that they all face in common," Mitchell said. We think that increased contacts between political and nonpolitical leaders, cultural and other exchanges, trade relations and other forms of contact for mutual benefit, all of that can form an ever-strengthening web of support for the concept of normal relations throughout the region."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Civil Rights Leader Jailed for Not Showing ID

Hillel Fendel Jew Jailed for Not Showing ID

Shmuel Medad, head of the Honenu legal rights organization, has been in jail since Monday night for not showing his ID card at an IDF checkpoint.Medad, widely known as Zangy, was on his way home to Hevron from visiting the families of recent Land of Israel-related arrestees in the Shomron (Samaria) when he reached the Tarkumiye checkpoint. The site is located on the main highway leading from pre-1967 Israel to southern Judea, from Kiryat Gat to just south of Gush Etzion. It has been touted as the future border crossing along the Gaza-Judea road when it was talked of giving the two parts of the Palestinian Authority a connecting highway. The Hamas take-over of Gaza from Fatah has put such talk on hold for now.

Zangy was asked at the checkpoint to show his ID - and, as he has done in the past, he refused. This time, however, instead of merely being forced to wait an hour or so, policemen arrested him and claimed he had “interfered with a policeman in the line of duty.”

Residents who pass through the location say that travel there has become a nightmare, as security forces stationed there arbitrarily demand that residents show identification and hold up traffic. Motorists say they sense that orders have been given "from above" to make the Judea residents’ lives difficult - similar to that of those in Gush Katif in the last few months before the Disengagement/expulsion.

Zangy told the policemen that he had not touched any policeman. He also called the Hevron District Police, who said they know him and can “vouch” for him – but the checkpoint police didn’t wait, and incarcerated him for the night.

Wife Has Been There Before

Zangy’s wife Ettie told Israel National News, “It is not acceptable for someone to be arrested for not showing his ID. On other occasions when someone refuses to show his ID at the checkpoint, he is sometimes detained for a minute or much longer. But why should he be arrested? We are willing to show our ID at a shopping mall and the like, where there is a real security need, but here there is no such need; they are just trying to harass us.”

Ettie Medad herself was imprisoned, together with her baby daughter (the youngest of her ten children), for 25 days in 2005, when she refused to stand trial on Land of Israel-related charges of which she had been acquitted two years earlier for lack of evidence.

Tuesday and Wednesday in Court

On Tuesday morning, Zangy was taken before a Magistrates Court judge in Kiryat Gat. Zangy said that this was a “show and a political trial,” that it is not based on Jewish values, and that he refused to “take part in the performance.” He said the policemen well know his identity, and that the incident is merely “one more in a chain of similar events.” He noted the arrests of soldiers who object to evicting Jews, and of Tzviya Sariel of Elon Moreh, who has been in jail for three weeks for her refusal to recognize the right of the authorities to try her on what witnesses claim are trumped-up charges related to her right to walk freely in the Land of Israel.

The judge decided to extend Medad’s custody for another 24 hours, and he is scheduled to be brought before a judge on Wednesday morning. Update: On Wednesday, the presiding judge extended custody for yet another 24 hours, but implied that Medad would be released on Thursday.

Comment: He is an Israeli citizen living in a town that is outside Israel proper but inside the disputed territories that Israel has a legal right to own.

An image of weakness

Shalit deal shows our enemies we're not cut out for Mideast's rough existence

Mordechi Kedar

The question that emerges in earnest at this time, when Gilad Shalit's freedom is on the line, is whether his release through capitulation to Hamas' conditions will in all likelihood prompt more abductions in the future. In the name of which set of morals should we choose Gilad Shalit's life over the lives of people to be abducted in the future because of the surrender that prompted his release? And once all prisoners demanded by Hamas will be released, how many of our citizens will be murdered? Is each one of those calling for securing Shalit's release "at any price" willing to pay that price personally when they are murdered, heaven forbid, by a released detainee? And what will we be paying for abductees in the future? A Jerusalem neighborhood in exchange for a solider and half a neighborhood for a civilian?

A greater problem is the fact that people who abduct Israelis are going on with their lives while feeling nothing bad will happen to them and that they won't have to pay any price for their acts. Only once in history did abductors of Israelis have to pay with their lives for the abduction: The kidnappers of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, apparently because the captives were murdered.

The Hamas leaders who hold Gilad Shalit are sleeping in their beds, sitting in their offices, and traveling worldwide as if there is nothing wrong with their acts and conduct. On Monday, the man who abducted Shalit and is holding him, Ahmad Jabri, traveled to Egypt while realizing that an IDF drone is flying above his car. The State of Israel no longer scares anyone, and many in the Arab world feel that they can do anything against it, without paying any price for their actions, as grave as these may be.

No place for European-style guests
The people of Israel are perceived by their neighbors and enemies as an impatient nation that wants everything now; a nation that has no ability to sustain the pains of living in the poverty-stricken, hungry, thirsty, sick, split, and radical environment that surrounds it. Our enemies know that such nation cannot survive in the oh-so-ancient Mideast, where the Shiites are still fighting for control of Islam 1,400 years after it was wrested away from them, and where terms like democracy, human rights, minority rights, liberty of women, and religious freedom are a distant dream; much more distant than our lack of endurance.

The pathetically submissive image of the people of Israel encourages more abductions and boosts the psychological pressure exerted on us by our neighbors. They are unimpressed with the hollow slogans uttered by our bleeding hearts, such as "our advantage is our morality" or "concern for our soldiers is above all." They perceive it as a sign of skewed and crazy priorities, as the increasingly privatized Israel prefers the life of one soldier over national interests. They view it as emotional weakness. A nation that acts and feels that way will not survive here over time.


Only a nation instilled with ideology and possessing a collective sense of mission and confidence in its righteousness, feeling that it is part of a just historical process and willing to pay and suffer the price of survival in blood, sweat and tears can survive in the Mideast. This region is not a place for European-style guests, who lost the willingness to fight for their freedom and pay for it in the blood.

And what will happen should I be abducted? I hereby order all readers to secure my release in exchange for one person only; a person just like me and no more: A 57-year-old academician and lecturer with no tenure. You can trade me for less, but certainly not for more.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s department of Arabic and a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

The Silence of the International Community is Deafening!

Jordanian forces pitch in to help Saudis expel Yemeni rebels

Comment: Muslim against Muslim, killing ,wounding and fighting-what no comment Islam? EU? Peace Groups? Why no outrage similar to that you bestow upon us in Israel or the USA? Hypocrisy is an ?English word that best describes you. Here's thestory:

In response to an appeal from the Saudi King Abdullah, the Jordanian monarch this week dispatched his army's elite Royal Special Force of 2,000 commandoes to help the Saudis drive out the Yemeni Houthi rebels, who invaded the oil kingdom with Iranian support earlier this month. DEBKAfile's military sources report that the Jordanian troops are now battling the Yemeni invaders holding onto the Jebel Dukhan sector.Day after day, Saudi troops backed by artillery, marines, tanks, engineers and air force F-15 and Tornado warplanes, together with the Yemeni army, have been fighting to dislodge the intruders from the rugged mountains which rise 6,600 ft high over a desolate landscape with no roads. They were repeatedly beaten off. The Yemeni rebels have sowed the narrow mountain passes with thousands of improved explosive devices.

In the early hours of their engagement, the Jordanian troops also took dead and wounded. It was their first experience of combat outside the borders of the Hashemite Kingdom since the 1960s, certainly the first time they had encountered Iranian-backed fighters.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed that Hashemite King Abdullah II sent this crack troops across in response to an urgent phone call Saudi King Abdullah put through on Nov. 16, appealing for Jordanian military back-up to support the Saudi effort to purge its southern border of the Yemeni rebel intrusion. An broader inter-Arab dimension was thus added to the Yemeni civil war.

Principle & pragmatism


Yesterday, according to the Hebrew calendar, marked David Ben-Gurion's 36th yahrzeit. A founding father of Israel and its first prime minister, he died on December 1, 1973 at 87.

In considering the lessons to be drawn from Ben-Gurion's life, one involves his quest for the right balance between ideology and pragmatism. His admirers argue that Ben-Gurion was wise to jettison ideological consistency in the name of creating and consolidating the Zionist enterprise. He was a socialist, though Marxist dialectics took a back seat to his Zionist pragmatism: settling the land and promoting aliya. Doggedly single-minded, he acquiesced to majority rule, but was no pluralist. He ruled his party and saw to it that it ruled the Histadrut, the Jewish Agency and the government. Ben-Gurion expected absolute allegiance to the cause in the way that he defined it.

HIS CRITICS on the Zionist Right, followers of the classically liberal ideologue Ze'ev Jabotinsky, denounced Ben-Gurion's willingness, by 1937, to accept an independent Jewish state in a small part of Palestine, when by Divine right, historical association and international treaty the Jews deserved all of Eretz Yisrael. The Jabotinsky people did not understand how Ben-Gurion could cooperate with the British while their White Paper barred the doors of Palestine to Jewish refugees. Nor could they forgive his June 1948 decision to sink the Irgun arms ship Altalena, carrying desperately needed weapons, to hammer home the point that the future state would have one unified command and he would be the commander-in-chief.

He was uncompromising not in his ideology, but in his pragmatism. He insisted on unity, seeing fragmentation as an obstacle to achieving Jewish independence. In a 1944 speech, he declared, "Anyone who questions the ultimate authority of the nation as a whole… undermines its dynamic potential." He personified that ultimate authority.

Ben-Gurion sought Arab assent for Zionism by holding talks with Mussa al-Alami, a pre-state Palestinian leader. He assured the Cambridge-educated Alami that his people would materially benefit by recognizing Jewish rights to Eretz Yisrael and agreeing to live in peace. But when Alami replied that the Arabs would rather see the country remain a wasteland for another 100 years than share it with the Jews, Ben-Gurion concluded that war was inevitable.

He speculated - somewhat optimistically, it turns out - that once the Arabs were decisively defeated and had witnessed the Jews developing the country, they might "possibly acquiesce in a Jewish Eretz Israel."

In the final analysis, Ben-Gurion believed that statecraft was the art of the possible, that ideology was something to be overcome if it stood in the way of pragmatism, that gradualism could deliver the very same outcomes as an all-or-nothing approach.

Where he also did not waver was in his philosophical commitment to the Zionist goal. He was faithful to a Jewish revolution "against destiny, against the unique destiny of a unique people." The Jews, he argued, were distinguished by their refusal - from Hadrian to Hitler - to surrender to historic destiny. For him, the meaning of Zionism was to teach the Jewish people that "non-surrender" was not enough: "We must master our fate; we must take our destiny into our own hands" by creating a state.

OF COURSE, if Ben-Gurion's legacy makes the case for setting aside the ideal for the practical, there is no shortage of contemporary politicians for whom "pragmatism" is nothing but a fig leaf for careerism, sloppy intellectual thinking, or even nefarious motives.

Take the particularly blatant example of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

He is supposedly a Christian ("I preach the word of Jesus Christ") and a leftist, but he has pretentiously embraced two Muslim religious reactionaries. His dalliance with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well-known, but his defense of Ilich Ramirez - aka Carlos the Jackal, a convert to Islam and a believer in the path of Osama bin Laden - is only now getting attention. Chavez's favorite anti-Semitic newspaper, Vea, is lobbying to have Ramirez transferred from France, where he is serving a life term, to Venezuela.

Historians will argue about the legacy of principled leaders who chose pragmatism over ideological consistency. But we do not have to wait for history's judgment to label as "wicked" the demagogue who cobbles together an incoherent platform of Marxism, Jew-hatred, Israel-bashing and populism.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1258705173909&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What’s It Really About and Why Does it Continue?

Barry Rubin

It is always the same theme: Palestinians are the victims of Israel. They want an end to the “occupation,” which in a real sense has not existed for 15 years, and are desperate for a state of their own. Help us! Help us! Help us! But the funny thing is that it doesn’t turn out that the Palestinian political leaders behave as if they actually believe this stuff. Between 1948 and 1988, the Palestinian leadership explicitly rejected negotiations with Israel, rejected any two-state solution, and openly sought total victory. This was true for two decades after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Indeed, in 1979, for example, when local Palestinian notables indicated an interest in negotiating with Israel for a state (in the framework of the Egypt-Israel Camp David agreement), PLO leader Yasir Arafat told them they’d be traitors and die if they did any such thing.

In 1988, the PLO said it wanted a state of its own but did so with such double-talk language that it was all too clear this was intended only as a springboard for a second round in which Israel would be destroyed.
Then the PLO opened a dialogue with the United States based on its agreement to stop terrorism. Though the United States bent over backwards to ignore terrorist attacks (it’s only a specific member group in the PLO attacking so it doesn’t count, said the State Department), Arafat so blatantly broke his promise that the dialogue was broken off.

Then Arafat supported Saddam Hussein of Iraq in his invasion of Kuwait and the Palestinian leader expressed the hope that Iraq would defeat the United States.

What followed at the PLO’s moment of weakness—Saddam defeated; the angry Kuwaitis and Saudis cut off his money—was an act of what they hoped would be enlightened generosity by Israel and America: now that the PLO was so defeated, they reasoned, it would see that victory was impossible and make peace. The result, the Oslo peace process, proved the Palestinian leadership didn’t want a stable peace with a two-state solution. Arafat repeatedly broke his commitments.

And when the moment of truth came, both at Camp David and in the Clinton plan during 2000, the Palestinian leadership (now the Palestinian Authority, PA) turned down offers of a state. Instead, Arafat launched an armed terrorist assault on Israel that went on for five years until the Palestinians were defeated.

Other than Hamas taking over the Gaza Strip, which cripples the PA’s negotiating capacity, nothing much has happened since then. The Palestinian leadership has not even begun to prepare its people for accepting Israel’s existence and peace. On the contrary, it has become even more extreme, preparing them for endless warfare and a refusal to accept Israel’s existence but rather bring it to an end.

I reluctantly present the above history because it is all too generally forgotten today. Why is reality reversed, with the Palestinians the alleged victim of an Israeli refusal to make peace?

The answer is that if one only looks at a snapshot of the present on the basis of either very little knowledge or a set of stereotypes, that interpretation makes sense. Israel wins; the Palestinians lose. Israel is strong; the Palestinians are weak. Israel is prosperous and the Palestinian economy is a mess.

And so many Westerners reason as follows: No one would voluntarily keep engaging in losing wars, choose poverty and occupation, and not want a state of their own. Therefore, the Palestinians must be forced into this situation by Israel. And the solution is more talks, more Israeli compromises, some clever new proposal about Jerusalem or borders or some other detail.

That makes sense in terms of Western sensibilities and politics but not in terms of Middle Eastern ones. The Palestinian leadership—which is quite well off materially, of course, you should have seen their villas in Tunis and now in the West Bank which are much nicer than your home—doesn’t care about its people. State? They are running things already. Poverty? They aren’t poor. Suffering? Well, they aren't suffering and that others keep suffering is preferable to treason against Islam and giving Arab rights to the whole country, isn’t it?

And besides, material improvement makes people soft (that’s their view of the West). If Palestinians do have a state and higher living standards they will be seduced by materialism and not want to fight on. This kind of thinking is far clearer with Hamas but is also in the saddle with Fatah and the PA.

Even today, with the Palestinians divided into two separate regimes, Israel getting steadily stronger, the main strategy being discussed by Fatah and the PA isn’t compromise but escalation. Thus, Saeb Erakat, one of the most relatively moderate people in the PA leadership (and the only one of the pre-1994, old West Bank notables still in any position of responsibility) said, in effect, that the more Palestinians lose, the more they demand:

“With the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option."

Continuation? There have been no new settlements in 15 years or in general—there might be small exceptions—but the territorial expanse of settlements has not increased. Eraket said this after Israel announced it would finish 3000 apartments being built now and then freeze construction. His words do not correspond with reality, now more than ever.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded with logic: "Getting into final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity." True, but indeed there is an even better answer: Getting a Palestinian state would end the “occupation” and remove all the settlements on Palestinian territory.

Yet that was a decision the Palestinians could have made in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, as well as throughout this almost completed decade.

Note the Western thinking—if you want a concession you must compromise to get it—with the Middle Eastern approach—give us what we want or we’ll hold our breath till we turn blue.

Instead, Erakat proposes that the Palestinians "refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals." No doubt this means “equals” in an Islamic and Arab state, with the Israelis turning over all they’ve created and earned for 60 years to a dictatorship of those who have spent their time in trying to kill them rather than by engaging in productive labor.

This would never happen, of course, unless Israel was either militarily defeated, collapsed from within, was destroyed by international action, or some mixture of the above.

But in fact the Fatah leadership, with a few exceptions, never accepted the two-state solution.

A Western observer would respond that these things are not going to happen and therefore the Palestinian leadership could not possibly believe such nonsense. Well, they do believe it—or at least they partly believe it and know that this is the only permissible public stance in Palestinian society. This view is the basis for their political behavior, a factor viewable on a daily basis and one that they understand completely.

To recall how little progress Palestinians have made in thinking about this issue, remember that what they are talking about now was a program first proposed in 1968 and adapted by the PLO in 1974. After 35 years, they are still in the same place. As for the word “refocus,” Erakat is well aware that this has always been the focus.

A few years ago, Erakat was addressing a visiting Western delegation and told them that the Palestinian program was nonsense and could never succeed. After basically denouncing the real mistakes the Palestinians have made, he looked around nervously and said, “I didn’t say any of that.”

In his more recent interview, Erakat said. "This is the moment of truth for us."

Yes, it is always the moment of truth. The problem is that at the moment of truth you always tell lies.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Shimon Peres

No Israeli public figure has served longer, nor had a more profound influence on the nation's strategic posture, than President Shimon Peres. From his pre-state management of materiel and manpower for the Hagannah - the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) - to his decade (1949-59) in the Defense Ministry at the right hand of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding prime minister, Peres helped craft the doctrine and the technological/industrial base that still support the state. But the civilian warrior who fought to realize Israel's nuclear deterrent, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel's space program and Israeli settlement of the occupied West Bank has become better known, in his later years, as a champion for peace. From his high-profile presidential post, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate represents Israel's kinder, gentler face - a back channel of sorts for Russian, European, Arab and even U.S. leaders who are finding it difficult to deal with the nationalist, right-leaning government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In parallel, the idealistic Peres has not forsaken his vision for a new cooperative Middle East shaped more by nanotechnologies and innovative civilian space developments than the defense industrial base he helped create.

Q. Can the strained no-peace/no-war situation with the Palestinian Authority continue without a political horizon, which appears unlikely under the current government?

A. Why unlikely? I'm convinced the prime minister wants to have peace. In large part, a political horizon already is being provided through economic and security initiatives like that of [U.S. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton]. Dayton offers the horizon, along with improvement of the West Bank economy. He's doing a very good job in supporting the path toward peace.

Q. What about Palestinian Prime Minister [Salam] Fayed's two-year plan toward statehood? Is it reasonable?

A. That's actually only an estimate. It will take them some time to build up institutions of their own.

Q. In Gaza, Hamas is rearming while Israel is condemned for excesses in its fight against the rockets earlier this year. Should Israel investigate allegations of war crimes, as demanded by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights' Goldstone report?

A. There wasn't a single war where the Israeli Army itself didn't investigate all accusations. Even in the past, defense ministers and generals were fired as a result of these investigations, because we want to keep our Army clean. But when it comes to other nations judging us, we expect fair and equal treatment.

If all other fights against terror were scrutinized and investigated - in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in Iraq or elsewhere - people would discover the inherent difficulties when a lawful country fights lawless terrorists who elect to operate among innocent civilians.

Q. Should there be a global effort to codify norms for asymmetrical wars against nongovernmental combatants?

A. When it comes to classical war, there is a code of conduct and clear rules. But when it comes to anti-terror war, there is no such code. I very much support a worldwide effort in this regard, but it must be binding on all other parties as well, not just Israel.

Q. So you oppose a non-IDF investigation, even if it can provide a platform through which Israel can explain the actions it took in Gaza?

A. When it comes to investigation, we shall do it on our own, and not under pressure of a body that is essentially anti-Israel and only chose us to attack and to smear. It's absurd that countries like Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iran will judge Israel's record on human rights. We are deeply disturbed that this illustrious body does nothing when a member, Iran, is publicly calling to destroy a fellow U.N. member. Why don't they investigate this Holocaust-denying leader [Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] who calls for our destruction?

Q. Is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan leading his country away from partnership with Israel and toward radical Islam?

A. Turkey is the only country in the world where a nondemocratic institution, the Army, was in charge of preserving democracy. And they did it. Now the role of the Army has changed, and the question is whether Erdogan will lead his Muslim population toward democracy or whether democratic forces will demand a more Islamist state. For a long time, Erdogan himself wanted a good relationship with Israel. But what happened? I'm trying to see this in a broader perspective.

The Turkish leadership very much wanted to become a part of united Europe, and the Europeans dragged their feet, and there was a sense of disappointment that caused them to look for another domain where Turkey could play a role. Turkey also wanted to play a role between Syria and Israel, which was accepted by our former prime minister. And when you become a mediator, you leave your closeness to one side and go to the middle place between the two countries. So that, too, has had a certain effect. How far does Erdogan want to go in his push in different directions? I don't know.

Q. Should Israel be providing front-line military technology to Turkey when Ankara is seeking closer strategic ties with Syria and Iran?

A. We need to be very careful not to undermine a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship built up over many years. Turkey is a very important nation in our region and a respected member of NATO. We need patience and to read the map correctly and not fall victim to momentary tensions between our two countries.

I think it will be very hard for Turkey to jeopardize its world standing and discredit itself by becoming too actively aligned with the Iranian agenda. Iran is financing Hizbollah and sending arms to Hamas and to Hizbollah by way of Syria, and now they're trying to finance destabilizing forces in Latin America.

Q. Is Moscow the key to halting Iran's nuclear weapons drive?

A. I've had long talks with [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin and also [President Dmitry] Medvedev, and they made it clear they cannot live with an Iranian bomb. But there are still doubts about Iranian intentions with regard to uranium enrichment. I think that they finally are discovering Iran's true intentions and will be ready to support tougher sanctions.

I've told them inspection is one thing and prevention of a nuclear bomb is another. I suggested that another option is to control the missiles. If they don't want to build a bomb, why are they building missiles? If you don't believe in Allah, why do they need a Mohammad?

Q. If the focus turns to missiles, wouldn't that shift the agenda to containment or deterrence, rather than prevention?

A. Not at all. It's just another option to consider in a layered approach to this international problem. Since it is the policy of the United States to prevent a nuclear-capable Iran, why should Israel have a separate policy? On this, we and many other countries in the region and beyond see eye to eye. Now is the time for tests to see if negotiations will bear fruit.

If not, you can't try indefinitely to rely only on the political approach. Our first choice is to see the U.S. president succeed in his efforts. But at some point, you have to say we tried. If diplomacy fails, we'll have to move on to Plan B.

Q. Are you referring to military strikes akin to the 1981 operation in Iraq and the 2007 action in Syria?

A. There's a difference between those two operations and what we're facing in Iran. The reactor in Iraq didn't concern the world as such, nor do I think the attack on the Syrians was a world problem. These were local problems. I think Israel must be very careful not to monopolize a global problem and make it our own. The options that exist globally are wider and more varied than the options that are under proposal in Israel.

Q. How can Israel improve cooperation with Russia given U.S. objections to advanced defense sales to Moscow?

A. Arms are of a passing nature and only a small part of an overall strategy. I think Russia at times unwisely plays the role of an adversary through some of its positions vis-à-vis the United States and its arms trade in this region. There are ways to harmonize our respective national security agendas short of selling arms by focusing on common threats like nuclear proliferation, international crime, world poverty and radicalism.

With its tremendous land mass, natural resources and scientific advantages, Russia could take the lead in alleviating world hunger and thirst. There will be 100 million more people in the world in the coming decade, which means more hunger, more thirst, more problems. So I ask my Russian friends, why don't you become a major provider of water to the rest of the world to make you great?

I tell them just as they can't escape from their greatness, Israel cannot escape from its smallness. We don't have land, nor water, but we have a thriving agricultural industry that is purely scientific and innovative in nature. In Israel, we have 100,000 cows that produce the same amount of milk as the 4 million cows in Ethiopia. I'm urging them to work together to increase yields.

In 1980, the population in the Middle East was 150 million people, some 20 percent of them below the poverty line. In another five years, it will reach 400 million. Sadly, it's easier to produce children than to produce water, but if you produce children without water, it's a strategic catastrophe.

Q. Israel's foreign minister and others have spoken of the need for Israel to balance its relationship with Washington with stronger ties to Russia and China. Your view?

A. Our first priority for many decades has been and should remain the United States. We don't hide it. With other countries, we can develop agriculture, food and other technologies. But we are not going to endanger our rapport with Washington. It must be based on total trust. ■

- By Barbara Opall-Rome and Vago Muradian in Jerusalem.

Career Profile

Born in Belarus in 1923, Peres emigrated to Israel in 1934 and was acting head of the Navy in 1948 during the War of Independence. Career highlights include:

■ 1953-59: Director-general of MoD.

■ 1959: First elected to parliament.

■ 1974-77: Defense minister.

■ 1984-86: Prime minister.

■ 1994: Awarded Nobel Peace prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

■ 1995-96 (following Rabin's assassination): Prime minister, defense minister.

■ 1997: Created Peres Center for Peace.

■ 2007: Elected president of Israel.

Source: Defense News research.

How is it with the “politically correct”, Major Hasan, the Jihadist, is the victim?

Phyllis Chesler

Our President is quoted in the pages of the New York Times advising us not to “jump to conclusions.” This, from the charmer who bowed before the Saudi King and who betrayed Muslim women in his Cairo speech. Ordinarily, I’d agree with such advice. The military does first have to investigate the matter fully. One can’t always believe what one reads in the media, etc. But, so much of the truth is already quite clear that it would be insane, insulting to the intelligence to deny or minimize it.

Quickly, reflexively, without waiting for more of the facts to emerge, the mainstream print media has instantly decided that is a tormented “innocent” who must have snapped under alleged conditions of extreme provocation and humiliation. The mainstream media assures people that there is no such thing as jihad. The Ft. Hood massacre has nothing to do with Islam or with violent jihad; that if there are any victims here, it is not the dead and wounded soldiers (whose young and beautiful faces have begun to haunt me)–but the man accused of their mass murders!

The portrait of Major Hasan, to be found in the pages of the New York Times, is that of a solitary and tormented man. He is the one who was being forced to fight in a war he opposed for religious reasons. He considers it an unjust war and viewed America as the aggressor, and Muslims, especially Muslim suicide killers, as innocent, justified, even heroic. So far, he sounds like a New York Times reader himself.

I am a psychologist, a retired Professor of Psychology and a psycho-analytically oriented psychotherapist. But I have also been following current events, even studying them. Based on the evidence to date, Major Hasan’s bloody rampage seems to have been planned. The day before the murders, he gave away his furniture and copies of his Qu’ran. On that day, Major Hasan also had a mysterious, brief meeting with another man dressed in Islamic clothing. And he used his neighbor’s computer.

Thus, Hasan’s action was a planned execution. It was not the act of a man who suddenly “snapped.” Yes, as I wrote in my earlier piece, we may characterize Hasan’s action as a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome but that does not mean I am making an actual psychiatric diagnosis. The phrase is descriptive, perhaps even sarcastic. Yes, we may call this the act of a lone shooter–if it turns out that he acted alone–but still, this lone shooter was someone who was inspired by a radical Islamist ideology which views such murderous acts as religiously heroic not as “psychiatrically deranged.”

In Gaza or on the West Bank, Major Hasan would be given a hero’s parade. Osama bin Laden’s followers will print posters and banners with his face. Some may choose to view him as dysfunctional, psychiatrically challenged, socially inappropriate, isolated, inflexible, fanatical–but that does not justify or excuse his jihadic crime? Many religious fanatics are also “mentally ill.” It is the religious ideology that empowers criminal–and in Hasan’s case, treasonous activity. Hasan did not commit jihadic mass murder because he is “mentally ill” but because he is a jihadist.

Now we come to a paradox with which we must wrestle. Just as we cannot excuse honor murders in the West because they are excused or acceptable in other cultures, it may be unwise to psychiatrically diagnose culturally “different” behaviors as if such behaviors were part of the West. The lone shooters of Columbine and the lone bomber of Oklahoma City were not being fueled, inspired, strengthened, or supported, by a large, growing, fundamentalist religious movement which had the blessings of a particular religion.

This is not the case with violent jihad in the name of radical Islam. It does not matter if there are early passages in the Qu’ran which counsel peacefulness; later passages cancel or “abrogate” them. It does not matter that many Muslims may be peaceful people or may genuinely want peace. The brand of Islam now loose in the world is the violent and hating kind whose ideas may also be found in the Qu’ran. There were, no doubt, many Germans, Russians, Chinese, Cambodian and North Korean people who disagreed with Nazism, fascism, doctrines of racial superiority and totalitarian rule–but so what? They did not stand up to their own leaders who claimed ideological and doctrinal support for their mass-murdering regimes.

But there is also something else to consider, something that the media has not yet seized upon. One of my readers, Deborah Weisman, has pointed out that Major Hasan is a self-identified Palestinian and that Palestinians are absolutely not wanted in Iraq. Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein and as such were feared and hated. Palestinians are endangered and living in tents in Iraq. America even accepted some Palestinians on these grounds.

Perhaps the very Palestinian Major Hasan also feared going to Iraq for this reason too–if he was even being deployed there. And, according to the New York Times, Hasan’s brother, Anas, a lawyer, recently moved to Ramallah where the family has cousins. (This is interesting since Hizb ut Tahrir, as well as other terrorist groups, is active on the West Bank).

Let me remind us all: The entire world, not just the American media and American military, have identified Palestinians as the most noble of victims, as the perpetually most innocent and most wronged of victims. Even those who are smuggling arms into Gaza, lobbing rockets at civilians in Israel, perpetually fooling the western media, murdering their own people and honor murdering their own women–they, too, are still seen as existentially innocent.

Despite the fact that Palestinian leaders and their Iranian allies have stated their genocidal intentions towards Israel (the symbol for the West and its first line of defense), Palestinians are still viewed as the victims of Israeli “Nazi” aggression when Israel fights back in self-defense. And yes, Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly…but primarily at the hands of their own terrorist, reactionary, and misogynist leadership and at the hands of the Arab League. Long ago, any Arab country could have granted citizenship rights to Palestinians, just as Israel did to the 800,000 Arab Jews who were forced to flee from Arab Muslim countries. Arab countries refused to do so.

So: Major Hasan identifies with Palestine. He feels their pain. It speaks to him. He takes it on as his own. He blames America for it. He follows Islam in its most radical incarnation and justifies Islamist suicide terrorists. Indeed, this was one of his problems at the Walter Reed Hospital: He taught precisely this when he should have been teaching subjects like behavioral science or environmental health.

I suggest that America has just tasted the bitter pill that Israel has been forced to swallow daily for nearly a decade. I further suggest that the American military must end its policy of political correctness and weed out those personnel who consistently mistranslate from the Arabic. In addition, social misfits who hold extremist views, especially and specifically Islamist views, should have no place in the American military.

We owe that much to those slaughtered at Ft. Hood and on 9/11.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Arlene Kushner

I began writing this post, earlier today, by talking about imponderables, and then focusing on Obama policy with regard to Iran -- which policy leaves many of us confused, frustrated, and angry. Following through, I posed a series of questions, all exceedingly valid: Did he ever REALLY believe that Iran would be receptive to dialogue and compromise?

Has he been blinded to ominous Iranian realities because he is so solidly wedded to a philosophy that demands resolution of all conflicts via dialogue? Or because he is so intent on courting the Muslim world? Or because he rejects long-standing notions of America as moral cop and pretends to ignore what he doesn't wish to deal with? Or because he wants to keep Russia -- which is not predisposed to sanctions -- happy? Or for some other as yet unspecified reason?

How does he justify the virtual slap in the face he delivered to the rebels in the streets of Iran, who pleaded for American support, after the election? (These dissidents, it should be noted, have just renewed their call for assistance from the US: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, spokesman for a key Iranian opposition movement has asked Obama to publicly demonstrate support for Iranian democrats and intensify financial pressure on the Revolutionary Guard.)


Acknowledging that I have no satisfactory answers, I moved beyond these questions to the present: We've passed the time limit Obama had originally set for Iran to accept a proposal -- as imperfect and dubious as it was -- for shifting the situation and thereby reducing the threat of Iranian development of nuclear weapons. What is more, the West is now in possession of additional evidence regarding Iranian duplicity and hidden nuclear facilities. (Additional evidence, as if we didn't already know it, that you cannot trust these guys.)

In the face of this, it has been generally acknowledged that it's time to get tough with Iran.

And so last Thursday Obama issued a statement in this regard:

"Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal...and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences."

What? "As a consequence we have begun discussing...the importance of having consequences"? How tepid and wishy-washy (and convoluted) could he get? Sort of like a mother, saying to her misbehaving child, "I'm going to discuss this with your father, and then you'll see, you may be in big trouble."

Obama's explanation was distressing: "Our expectation is that, over the next several weeks, we will be developing a package of potential steps that we could take, that would indicate our seriousness to Iran," he said. Potential steps? Nothing definitive there.

But some weeks ago Israel had urged the US to have sanction plans in place, so that once it was clear that Iran was not cooperating, they could be immediately activated. But Obama -- Oi! -- had not wanted to do this because it would send a negative message to the Iranians when he was reaching out a hand to them. He didn't like a carrot and stick policy: he wanted to be all carrot. So now Iran has more time, while sanctions are "discussed."

Obama's position is that Iran's intransigency will increase the willingness of the international community to resort to punitive measures.

Israel is urging that sanctions be applied that would deny Iran any nuclear fuel capabilities. And Israel is further urging that if the international community won't get serious the US should act alone.


But here's the kicker, which has just come to my attention:

In 1983, 241 US Marines were killed in the bombing of a barracks in Lebanon. It has taken many years to track, and to bring through the courts, but in 2007 a US federal judge ruled that Iran was liable for $2.65 billion in damages in the bombing, to be shared by 150 families seeking restitution. Lawyers for the families have been working to seize Iranian assets so that payments could be made.

However, the Obama government is going to court to try to block this, because (are you ready?) it would "jeopardize sensitive negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and establish a potentially damaging precedent." (emphasis added)

Here's a chance to zap it to Iran, big time, and Obama would rather not do it.

I confess, professional cool went out the window with this and I couldn't draw a breath.

And so, now that I'm breathing again, I must ask my final set of questions:

Is the president of the US daft? And, if not, precisely what is he about?

Lastly, where is America, that all this could be happening?


Let me add information shared by Barry Rubin in his most recent posting:

A correspondent in Iraq has interviewed the commander of US troops there, and sent the dispatch via Reuters. Said this commander, al-Qaeda, which is fighting in Iraq, has joined forces with previous supporters of Saddam Hussein (former Ba'athists, who made off with considerable funds from Iraq). And the site of rendezvous is Syria.

According to US General Ray Odierno, “Investigations into massive suicide bombings in Baghdad on Oct. 25, in which more than 150 people died, indicated that explosives or fighters were coming across from Syria.”

Explains Rubin: "Syria is letting al-Qaeda and Saddamist terrorists come in, get armed and trained, cross the border [to] Iraq, and run back for safe haven."

Taking it one step further, Rubin observed: "As U.S. forces withdraw someone is trying to wreck the situation there so that the US departure looks like defeat."

The general confirms this: "We believe that there will be attempts to conduct more attacks between now and the elections because they want to destabilize those."


Just as I've asked questions, Rubin also does:

"So, the Obama Administration’s military commander says Syria is behind massive attacks and working closely with Osama bin Laden’s guys.

"Has the president of the United States said anything about this? Has he made any criticism of Syria? Is he ready to break off engagement efforts with the dictatorship? Has he [responded to] Iraqi government requests for backing in demanding Syria stop facilitating such attacks and turn over those Iraqis responsible?

"No, no, no, and again no.

"If the Obama Administration is fighting a war against al-Qaeda why is Syria, today that group‘s main organizational and military base in the Middle East, getting away with allying to the people who murdered 3,000 Americans on September 11?

"If the Obama Administration is fighting a war in Iraq why is it doing nothing about the main ally of the insurgents killing American soldiers and so many Iraqi civilians...?

"...There is an old expression about fighting with one hand tied behind your back. The Obama Administration is waging a foreign policy with both hands tied behind its back, plugs in its ears, and a gag over its mouth." (emphasis added)


My friends, get this information to your Senators and Congresspersons without delay.

For your Congresspersons:

For your Senators:

Keep the explanations short, and provide URLs. Act to redeem this situation before it is too late.


"The Good News Corner"

A sophisticated research ship has been launched in Eilat, at the Institute for Marine Sciences. Hebrew University, Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, and a number of other agencies and private donors have cooperatively made this possible. Profession Aaron Kaplan, who heads the Institute explains, that this will greatly advance Israeli marine research -- especially with regard to unique organisms found in the Gulf of Eilat. Such research has increased value in recent years as marine biological models are used for medical research.


Professor Meir Liebergall, chairman of the orthopedics department of Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Kerem campus,and Professor Eithan Galum, have announced a new technique that involves a "breakthrough in concept and overcomes major scientific and logistical problems."

For the very first time ever, platelets and adult stem cells from the blood and bone marrow of patients with fractures have been separated and then injected into the patients, causing bones to heal in a quarter to a third of the time it usually takes, and permitting healing to occur that in some instances wouldn't have otherwise been possible at all.

The technique has been developed over the course of years.


Eye from Zion is an Israeli non-profit that sends volunteers into developing nations to do cataract surgery and restore people's sight. All money donated to the organization is used to cover expenses; none of the dozens of volunteers surgeons involved takes payment. The group brings its own equipment, sets up a clinic, and starts operating. Many hundreds of operations have been done in such places as Vietnam, China and Azerbaijan.

see my website

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Combat Units are Top Choice for IDF Recruits

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

Sunday will see the launch of the new IDF recruits for November 2009, and this month's cycle saw a significant increase in willingness to serve in combat roles, with motivation at the highest level it's been in a decade.The vast majority of recruits -- 73.7 percent of all field units -- sought to serve as fighters, compared with 67.2 percent in November 2008.

In November 2009, about 30 percent of all candidates are expected to join the IDF this calendar year. In this cycle, boys and girls will be designated for combat field units, support systems and administrative positions. About two-thirds of the girls who join in the near future are expected to be designated for volunteer units.

All those placed in field units, without exception, were sent to one of their top three preferences -- an increase of five percent over November 2008.

There was more than a 10 percent increase in the number of Armored Corps recruits over last year -- 89 percent this November, up from 73 percent in the same period 2008, and an even greater jump in Artillery -- 75 percent this month, up from 45 percent a year ago, among others.

Among those who joined the ranks were 270 new olim (immigrants), most of whom joined various infantry brigades.

In recent years, there has been a decline in the number recruits, for various demographic reasons. To cope with this phenomenon, the IDF initiated several new projects this year to encourage high school students to look ahead with greater anticipation and encourage significant future army service.

Obama retreat on war

Jeffrey T. Kuhner
Washington Times

The war on terror is over. The decision to prosecute the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, along with his al Qaeda cohorts, in federal court marks a political watershed. President Obama seeks to return America to a pre-Sept. 11, 2001, mind-set. Terrorism is to be treated - as in the 1990s - as a criminal law enforcement matter. The administration's decision to hold Mohammed's trial in a New York City civilian court, just a few blocks away from ground zero, is irresponsible and grotesque. Foreign terrorists who commit atrocities against American civilians will be given full constitutional and legal protections. They are to be treated like any common murderer or rapist. This will embolden jihadists to wage more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Ironically, the administration has provided an incentive for Islamists to strike us here rather than abroad. Captured insurgents who have killed American troops in Afghanistan or Iraq are tried under military commissions. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced that the perpetrators of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors, will be tried in a military tribunal. Yet the Sept. 11 terrorists are held to different standards.

Hence, terrorists who murder Americans overseas are tried under more severe, limited legal conditions. But Mohammed and his henchmen are rewarded with a civilian trial and all its extra privileges and rights. The message to jihadists is clear: Leave the mountains of Afghanistan and come to kill in America; Uncle Sam will pick up the tab for the trial and provide you with an attorney, too.

Under our criminal justice system, Mohammed will be allowed to review all the information the prosecution has amassed against him. The U.S. government will be compelled to disclose its intelligence-gathering methods and sources (including those working undercover who have infiltrated al Qaeda groups). Our intelligence network will be badly compromised in the name of preserving Mohammed's civil rights.

This is an act of unilateral disarmament in the face of Islamist fanatics. We have been down this road before. Following the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the so-called "blind sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, was tried in a U.S. civilian court.

Upon learning that the U.S. government was aware of about 200 other co-conspirators, Rahman's associates faxed their names within hours to Osama bin Laden, who was then in Sudan. Bin Laden warned his al Qaeda followers that their cover had been blown and ordered them to go into hiding. Many of them would play key roles in subsequent terror acts - including the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa. A civilian trial transmitted our intelligence secrets to al Qaeda and crippled our anti-terrorist capabilities.

Since Sept. 11, the great divide between conservatives and liberals has been over the nature and meaning of that fateful day. For most parochial leftists, the event was a blip on the geopolitical radar screen. The Irish Republican Army, Basque separatists, the Colombian FARC - many countries, they argue, have to deal with potent terrorist movements. Why should America be any different? If traditional law enforcement tools have worked for Britain or Spain, they also should work for America. Yet those terrorist groups are fighting for limited, narrow national goals - a unified Irish Catholic republic, an independent Basque homeland or a Marxist Colombian state.

According to conservatives, however, the Sept. 11 attacks rightly signified something more profound and historic: the clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West. Mohammed is part of a transnational political-religious movement that seeks to spread Shariah law through revolutionary violence in every country, from Europe to America, Asia to the Middle East. In other words, Sept. 11 was not a crime but an act of war.

Islamic radicals are using our moral relativism and desire for appeasement against us. When Mohammed was captured, he smugly told his American interrogators: "I'll see you in New York with my lawyer." He understood it was only a matter of time before the American giant became paralyzed with guilt and national self-abnegation.

Mohammed's trial will degenerate into a circus. His lawyer will claim that the case should be dismissed because Mohammed was not read his Miranda rights.

The next argument will be that a New York jury cannot be impartial and that a fair trial will be impossible. Then Mohammed will claim he was tortured, for he was waterboarded 183 times. Human rights groups will rally around him.

He will play to the Islamic world, portraying himself as a victim of an imperialist, racist America bent on oppressing Muslims. He will have a forum to gloat and showboat before the Sept. 11 victims' families as the trial grinds on for years.

Mohammed will be a glorified Islamist martyr, an international celebrity whose sensational trial is broadcast on American cable television- al Qaeda meets O.J. Simpson.

It is only fitting that America's celebrity-in-chief should transform the war on terror into an extension of our narcissistic, self-absorbed celebrity culture. Mr. Obama's decision may play well with his adoring leftist fans in Hollywood and Europe. But in the real world - the dark caves of Afghanistan, the harsh tribal areas of Pakistan, the smoldering deserts of Somalia - it signifies that the American superpower is no longer serious about waging the war on terror. Mr. Obama has waved the white flag of surrender.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington-based think tank. He is the daily radio host of "The Kuhner Show" on WTNT 570-AM ( from noon to 3 p.m.