Friday, January 15, 2010

Prospects for the Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

David Makovsky
January 15, 2010

U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will return to the region next week in a bid to restart talks that have been stalled since the beginning of the Obama administration. In a television interview earlier this month, Mitchell declared that he would like to complete peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians within two years, if not sooner. Senior U.S. officials, including President Obama, have called for an unconditional return to the negotiating table. The official position of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is that talks cannot resume until Israel extends its settlement moratorium to east Jerusalem. He also wants the pre-1967 boundaries to serve as the baseline for negotiations. At the same time, he has made a statement indicating that he regrets how he reached his current position, hinting that the current impasse does not serve the Palestinian people's interests. Is there more convergence between the two sides than is readily apparent? Context of the Current Impasse
Peace talks have remained elusive since the first day of the Obama administration due in large part to the handling of the settlements issue. For much of 2009, the U.S. position was that Israel should not only avoid expanding settlement activity, but also freeze construction within existing settlements. Although the Obama administration insists that it never wanted a freeze to be a formal precondition for peace talks, its preferences became a de facto requirement from the Palestinian perspective. In short, Abbas felt boxed in when the administration stated its maximalist position but then sought to negotiate a ten-month, limited moratorium with Israel. He explained the problem in a little-noticed December 22, 2009, interview with the London-based pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, where he blamed Washington for putting forward the freeze idea and then asking him to compromise. He recalled telling U.S. officials during a September meeting at the UN, "You put me on top of a tree, and now you ask me for a solution, and to climb down." Abbas continued, "Obama laid down the condition of halting the settlements completely. What could I say to him? Should I say this is too much?"

Meanwhile, Israel has also backed off from several positions unfavorable to the resumption of talks. For example, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu originally held that there should be no further talks until the United States found a way to halt the Iranian nuclear program. He also opposed the creation of a Palestinian state. Over the past few months, however, he has adjusted his stance, endorsing statehood, abandoning the Iranian requirement, and insisting to Washington that no Israeli leader has supported a settlement moratorium to the extent he has.

Getting Back to the Table
Currently, Mitchell is exploring whether it is possible to return to the peace table after what might be called a lost year. So far, the two sides have quietly agreed to a text that could serve as a foundation for renewed talks. The subject of months of negotiations, the text was made public on November 25, immediately after Netanyahu's announcement of a settlement moratorium. Despite the text's release under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's name and her subsequent reiteration, it avoids staking out a new American policy position. Instead, it encapsulates Israeli and Palestinian aspirations, stating: "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." In effect, the text allowed Washington to say that the goals of the two sides are reconcilable, without committing itself or Israel to the 1967 lines or to land swaps that would counterbalance settlement blocs.

Discussions with officials of both sides suggest that there are more convergences than divergences between Israelis and Palestinians. To enable the successful resumption of talks, all parties will need to recognize and pursue these convergences, many of which center on avoiding past pitfalls such as those described below.

No Letter of U.S. Assurances
Some European and Arab states would like the United States to go further than the Clinton declaration and issue a letter of assurance restating U.S. support for the 1967 borders with minor modifications. This idea has several problems, however, and was publicly rejected this week by Abbas as superfluous. First, with the exception of Egypt (which has sought to restart talks), the Arab states have done virtually nothing to realize Mitchell's hope that they would reciprocate an Israeli settlement moratorium even if it were less than the full freeze envisioned a year ago. Second, the process of drafting any letter of assurance would require its own arduous negotiations. Third, prominent Palestinians have said privately that a U.S. letter to Abbas would inevitably be matched by a similar letter to the Israelis. This letter would in turn be made public and could therefore be exploited by hardline Palestinian critics of the Abbas government.

No Annapolis II
Both Israeli and Palestinian publics tend to be jaded, having heard many speeches with meager results. Therefore, neither wants a repeat of the 2007 Annapolis peace conference, where peace talks were launched in the glare of klieg lights. Moreover, Annapolis represents an effort to resolve all the core issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians. There is too much risk of high expectations going unfulfilled, with potentially disastrous consequences. Such public peace talks could raise domestic issues for both parties, leading them to stake out positions that might lead to a breakdown.

A Discreet Channel
The past practice of holding regular executive-level meetings, such as those between Abbas and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, does not seem to be a useful model at this stage. Currently, Abbas seems to enjoy earning political capital without making decisions. To this end, he is assisted by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who echoes Abbas's indecision. In Washington, however, many are concerned that Erekat has misrepresented U.S. positions. For example, in a recent report to the Fatah Central Committee, he stated that Washington endorses the idea of picking up where the Abbas-Olmert talks left off, which is not the case. He has also long enjoyed being defiant toward Israel, apparently believing that it bolsters his domestic standing. Therefore, he does not fear that he will have to pay a political price for failing to establish any semblance of trust or working relations with Israel. In fact, he seems to believe that he is completely indispensable to Abbas due to his institutional memory of negotiations.

Erekat notwithstanding, there is more convergence than divergence among U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian officials, most of whom agree that peace talks need to be restarted because the current impasse serves no one except Hamas. To be sure, Israelis and Palestinians have different points of emphasis, but their respective formats for negotiations actually seem to go well together. Key Palestinians favor Mitchell engaging in proximity talks, believing that U.S. mediation in the substance of the discussions is crucial. Israelis, however, favor direct (though discreet) working-level negotiations. These approaches seem compatible: under the umbrella of Mitchell's occasional visits, Israelis and Palestinians can meet discreetly at the working level to discuss the issues. In fact, this discreet-and-direct channel has been the key to all agreements between the two sides since 1993.

Focus on Territory First
On the same day the Clinton statement was released, Mitchell publicly declared his wish to focus on a borders agreement. The Palestinians have indicated that they concur. Although the Israelis say they reject the idea of a standalone borders agreement per se, they increasingly acknowledge the logic in making the issue of territory first on a wider agenda.

These convergences may bring the parties to the table, but they cannot guarantee the success of any talks. Procedural success will be matched by divergences on the substance of the talks relating to territory, not to mention highly charged issues like Jerusalem and refugees. Mitchell will likely find that all these differences sorely test the notion that all outstanding issues will be wrapped up in two years.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process.

Act now to stop Mitchell - Israel is not the 51st State!

David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron

Stop Mitchell's latest mission to Israel...the US is actively forcing Israel to acquiesce to declared terror-supporters, namely the PA and their leader, Abu Mazen, thereby infringing upon Israeli sovereignty, endangering Israeli lives and jeopardizing the existence of the State of Israel.

The United States, personified by James Jones and George Mitchell, revolving under the magic wand of Clinton and Obama, is continuing to exert humongous pressure on Israel, in an effort to obtain continued "good-will gestures," aka concessions to Abu Mazen and the Arabs.The pressure cooker's been on the fire ever since the White House changed hands, just a year ago. The results have been far from tasty. American demands, as well as international pressure following Operation Lead Shield and the Goldstone report cooked up covert incitement against the State of Israel, leading to continued rocket attacks against Israeli cities in the south. Of course, Israeli responses are greatly limited due to international Israel-bashing. Any Israeli response is viewed as an unnecessary escalation of violence.

Israel has been pushed into opening roads and checkpoints to 'ease' the life of Arabs in Yesha and throughout Israel. Such an 'easing' cost the life of Rabbi Meir Chai a month ago. When Israel reacted by eliminating Rabbi Chai's murderers, the United States demanded an 'accounting' of the IDF action.

Rock-throwing throughout Judea and Samaria is reaching epidemic proportions, yet an IDF response is virtually nonexistent. Yesterday a baby was hit in the head by a rock in the southern Hebron Hills. It should be remembered: rocks thrown at cars can kill. For those with short memories, Yehuda Shoham z"l, was a five month old murdered by rock-throwing terrorists in June, 2001.

The opening of Highway 443 and just this morning, the road leading to the Neguhot community in the southern Hebron Hills, to Arab traffic, are overt threats to Israeli lives. It should be noted that the Neguhot road was ordered opened against the recommendations of the IDF. It cannot be a coincidence that this is occurring only a few days before Mitchell is due back in Israel.

And of course, the world renowned chefs stewed up a forced Israeli building freeze throughout Judea and Samaria.

Many people don't yet understand the significance of an 'only' ten month building freeze. The problem is that 10 months is only the beginning. Getting around to month 8.5 – 9, we can only guess what goodies the US will bake to try and keep the freeze from thawing.

But, at present:

First: Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Period. Would any country in the world allow international pressure to force them to agree to a 'building freeze?!' If it's my land, I can do whatever I want with it. If it's not my land, what am I doing there? Israel's acceptance of a coerced building freeze is tacit acceptance of the claim that Yehuda and Shomron really are not a part of Israel!

2. An internationally imposed stopping of construction is adding to the already vast split in Israeli society, between the 'right' and the 'left.' This widening gap is causing irreparable harm to Israeli societal norms, and must be dealt with as an internal Israeli issue. However, such compulsory measures, clamped down on Israel from the outside, allow external forces to govern the shape and opinion of Israeli society.

3. America, as reflected in one of the most revered US historical documents, the Constitutional Bill of Rights, is supposed to be a protective pillar of human rights. International insistence of a building freeze, being implemented against private citizens, is a direct contradiction to the basic human right of a person to be allowed to live freely in his home, on his land. Prevented a family from adding a room on to their house, as a result of foreign insistence, is a blatant infringement of basic human rights.

4. And finally, of course, the American demands are hitting both individuals and the state where it really hurts, in the pocket. The costs incurred by the freeze are in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

All of this, of course, according to the United States, is not enough. Keeping all of the above in mind, we reach George Mitchell's threat to Israel: Loan guarantees to Israel can be stopped should Israel not toe the line. The pressure cooker has exploded!

Israel immediately rejected such threats. The treasury minister proclaimed that Israel can live without the guarantees. Leading American Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain denounced Mitchell's warning. Speaking in Jerusalem Lieberman said that such pressure would not be accepted in Congress. McCain said that the Senate would not allow the White House to use such measures against Israel.
Headlines, such as "Major rift between George Mitchell and Israel over loan guarantees" began to appear. ABC news: U.S. Envoy's Comments Spark Israel Uproar

Almost immediately the US tried to play down Mitchell's disdain for Israel. The Jerusalem Post: 'No intention to recall loan guarantees to Israel' The Christian Science Monitor: US says no plan to cut Israel loan guarantees, but it's been tried before

As this drama was (is) being played out, one little tidbit of information was forgotten or perhaps just ignored, due to lack of seeming significance.

As reported by Palestinian Media Watch:

This week Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas once again honored the memory of the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi - this time by sponsoring a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of her birth. Mughrabi led the worst terror attack in Israel's history in 1978, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 37 civilians. Present at the ceremony were Palestinian dignitaries and a children's marching band. Earlier this year, Abbas sponsored a computer center named after Mughrabi.

The PA further glorified Mughrabi on the date of her birth when the Governor of Ramallah announced the naming of the "Dalal Mughrabi Square".

An article by Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazal in the official PA daily defined the terrorist Mughrabi as "the heroine of Palestine's heroines."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 30, 2009]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's opening remarks at last week's cabinet meeting:

It is not only missiles and rockets that endanger security and push peace further off. Words can also be dangerous. Sadly, there has been a retreat in this area in recent months, both within the Palestinian Authority and by its leaders. Whoever sponsors and supports naming a square in Ramallah after a terrorist who murdered dozens of Israelis on the coastal road – encourages terrorism. Whoever declares those responsible for the murder of the late Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai, father to seven children, as holy martyrs – pushes peace further away.

At the same time, incitement continues in the Palestinian media and education system; in its official media outlets and in the schools under its supervision. These serious actions represent a harsh violation of the Palestinians' international obligation to prevent incitement.

In other words, while the US is sending more troops to Afghanistan to fight international Taliban terror, it is actively forcing Israel to acquiesce to declared terror-supporters, namely the PA and their leader, Abu Mazen, thereby infringing upon Israeli sovereignty, endangering Israeli lives and jeopardizing the existence of the State of Israel.

The time has come for the entire American Jewish community, and all lovers of Israel, of freedom and of human rights, of all those who oppose terror and terrorist supporters, to make their voices heard.

Stop Mitchell's latest mission to Israel. Write now, fax and or email Senators and Congressmen (numbers and addresses found here, demanding that George Mitchell, together with his threats and unconcealed contempt for Israel, must not be allowed to return to Israel.

Fax and email US consulate in Jerusalem at: +972.2.625.9270
Email: and The US State Department: Fax: 202-663-3636 Email:

Remind them that Israel is NOT the 51st State!

A culture of violence

Israel’s security policies must take into account 1,400 years of Arab violence

Yoram Ettinger

Galal Nasser, a prominent columnist in Egypt's al-Ahram Weekly recently wrote: "Violence has become the norm in Arab life, both on official and non-official levels...There are many types of violence besetting the domestic scenes of Arab countries, making relations among them unpredictable and unstable.” Nasser also notes that “Some analysts speculate about a culture of violence and argue that its roots are embedded in religious texts that call for Jihad, that urge the faithful to wage a perpetual fight for virtue and against sinfulness…” he adds that "Neighborliness doesn't seem to count for much either. There are many instances of strained relations among Arab countries. Currently, tensions exist between Morocco and Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, Jordan and Palestine, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq.”

Hence, an Israeli withdrawal from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the most effective tank obstacle in the region, overtowering Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean) would ignore the intense, volatile and unpredictable 1,400 year old inter-Arab violence and its implications for the security requirements of the "infidel" Jewish State.

"The state is involved in the production, export and triggering of violence…nourishing some and instigating others, making deals and manipulating players just to keep its ruling elite in place… Ruling elites are fighting tooth and nail to stay in office. Any challenge to their authority is viewed as an act of war. Meanwhile, the opposition can find itself in dire straits: either it faces a slow and painful death or opts for suicide in a hopeless war…"

Meanwhile, Dr. Marwan Kabalan last month wrote in the Persian Gulf News:

"Six decades ago, immediately after the departure of the colonial powers, the Arab world had big and ambitious dreams: unity, development, equality, prosperity and a reasonable degree of economic independence. Sixty years on, one is tempted to ask if the Arab world has really realized any of these objectives and whether they were realistic and achievable in the first place…

"Arab rulers have clung to power with complete disregard for public interest…The result was total failure in every aspect of state activities…and to a consequent increase in the use of force to maintain order and control…One consequence of these policies was the weakening of national identity and the revival of communal tension. Hence, people in Iraq and Lebanon and many other Arab countries came to identify themselves as Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians; rather than Iraqis, Lebanese or whatever else.”

"No wonder that the Arab world looks today much more fragmented, poorer and hopeless than it was at the dawn of independence… For most of these ills, Arab regimes have only themselves to blame. They have indeed left us with very little to celebrate.”

In conclusion, due-diligence of the 1,400 year track record of inter-Arab violence behooves the Jewish State to maintain a Middle East-driven (and not wishful-thinking-driven) threshold of security.

Israel's defensible borders and Israel's agreements concluded with Arab leaders must withstand the implications of potential highly probable and violent abrogation and inter-Arab regime-change. Israel's security requirements must be the derivative of the 1,400 year old inter-Arab reality: No inter-Arab comprehensive peace, no inter-Arab compliance with most inter-Arab agreements, no inter-Arab ratification of all inter-Arab borders and no Arab democracy!

Hence, the security indispensability of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria - the Cradle of Jewish history - for the survival of the Jewish State.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PA Arabs Try to Knock Israeli Car off Highway 443

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The decision to allow PA Arabs onto Route 443 to Jerusalem has not yet been implemented, and Arabs tried this morning to murder Jews there. They tried to run an Israeli car off the highway, but were unsuccessful - and soon arrested. The incident occurred on Thursday morning on Route 443 between Jerusalem and Modiin. An Arab-driven car drove aside an Israeli car, which unbeknownst to the Arabs was being driven by a Border Guard policeman. The Arab car attempted to push the other car off the road, but he managed to evade them and then took the offensive, ordering them to stop.

The Arabs stopped shortly afterwards about 15 meters away from the Jewish car – and began attacking him with rocks. The policeman, realizing that his life was in danger, pulled out his gun and fired twice in the air. The Arab attackers then jumped back into their car and quickly drove off – but were stopped at a nearby junction outside both Ramallah and the Ofer Prison, where they were arrested.

The well-traveled highway was closed to Palestinian Authority cars in 2000 during a wave of terrorist attacks. Though a parallel road was built alongside a large part of it for Arab travel, local Arabs petitioned the Supreme Court in 2007 to be able to use the highway. The Court ruled last month that they were in the right, and ordered the army to find ways to ensure both Jewish security and Arab travel rights within five months.

Some PA Arabs are equipped with various permits allowing them to use the highway even now.

A request by MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) for a re-hearing on the issue by the Supreme Court has been turned down by the Attorney General’s office. However, the Israel Law Center is planning to file a class action suit against the decision, and MKs have said they will introduce special legislation to enable the road to be closed to PA traffic.

Secular tolerance for Arab and Muslim intolerence.

Matthew M. Hausman*

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef recently took a public flogging for allegedly describing Islam as “ugly,” specifically with respect to its laws concerning marriage and divorce. The liberal blogosphere had a field day, calling the Rabbi a bigot and labeling his comments hate speech. But the bloggers provided no contextual counterbalance, such as a critical discussion of the defamation of Jews and Judaism that occurs routinely in the Arab press or the historical discrimination of Jews in Muslim society. Nor do they ever.
Although these folks cry themselves hoarse concerning their right to free speech whenever challenged for their demonstrably biased reporting on Israel – or for lambasting comments such as those by Rabbi Yosef – they are silent whenever the subject is Arab or Muslim incitement or intolerance.

The story about Rabbi Yosef was reported on an Egyptian news website, which not surprisingly found his comments to be inflammatory. However, such expressions of moral outrage are curiously inconsistent with the Egyptian media’s routine publication of antisemitic content worthy of Der Stuermer. Egyptian media outlets commonly depict Jews as racially-distinctive, hook-nosed caricatures, report as fact a multitude of mythical Jewish conspiracies, exploit the antisemitic imagery of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and provide a forum for devotees of the blood libel. The government-sponsored newspapers Al-Ahram and al-Goumhuriyya regularly run articles and cartoons in the classic antisemitic tradition, as do other sources throughout the Arab world. The media rogues’ gallery includes most major press outlets, including:

• Al Jazeera, which broadcasts the rants of clerics who quote Quran and Hadith in calling for the destruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews.
• Al-Arab al-Yaum, a Jordanian daily that has published such offensive articles as “Killing Children According to Jewish Faith,” (March 8, 2008), which reported that Jews kill Gentile children and use their blood for religious rituals. The Damascus Blood Libel is clearly considered historical fact.

• SANA, the Syrian Arab News Agency, which has run stories calling the Holocaust a Zionist myth and describing Jewish or Zionist plots to colonize the Mideast.

• Al-Riyadh, the Saudi daily, which has printed articles reporting the blood libel as historical fact. As reported by MEMRI, for example, the newspaper in 2002 published an article in which the commentator expounded on the holiday of Purim, stating among other things that:

During this holiday , the Jew must prepare very special pastries, the filling of which is not only costly and rare –– it cannot be found at all on the local and international markets . . .

For this holiday, the victim must be a mature adolescent who is, of course, a non-Jew – that is, a Christian or a Muslim. His blood is taken and dried into granules. The cleric blends these granules into the pastry dough; they can also be saved for the next holiday. In contrast, for the Passover slaughtering, about which I intend to write one of these days, the blood of Christian and Muslim children under the age of 10 must be used, and the cleric can mix the blood before or after dehydration. MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 354, citing Al Riyadh, March 10, 2002.

Arab and other foreign media outlets have often disseminated stories about supposed Jewish plots for world domination, schemes to control financial institutions, and conspiracies to manipulate the media. Other popular themes have included “scholarly” claims of intrinsic religious corruption within Judaism, or pseudo-scientific reports suggesting that the Temple never stood in Jerusalem or that the Jews did not originate in ancient Israel, but rather were descended from non-indigenous peoples who usurped a country – Palestine – that never existed.

The mainstream media in the United States is quick to denounce any perceived affronts to Arab or Islamic culture, and just as quick to condemn any alleged expressions of Jewish or Israeli chauvinism. But the media is reluctant to criticize antisemitic expressions from Arab or Muslim sources, draw any connection between Islamism and terrorism, acknowledge the history of Arab expansion and colonialism, or discuss the supremacist implications of jihad – even as it openly plays out in Europe. Rather, liberal pundits often wax dreamily poetic when discussing the so-called “golden age of Islam” or the myth of Islamic tolerance. Moreover, they tend to rationalize any antisemitic or anti-Western expressions in the Arab world as reactions to Israeli intransigence or American colonialism.

In reality, there was no real sense of tolerance for “infidels” in the Arab-Muslim world. Historically, Jews in Arab lands were relegated to the status of dhimmi who often lived in ghettos, were endowed with few if any substantive rights, and were subject to the whim and whimsy of their hostile neighbors. Although many in the West believe that Jewish life was more tolerable through the ages in the Islamic lands, the general treatment of Jews there was in fact not much different than in Christian Europe, and sometimes was even worse.

During the early Islamic period, for example, Jews were required to wear distinctive badges or metal seals around their necks, and starting in the 9th Century the Caliphate in Baghdad required Jews to wear the yellow badge – a practice that was later adopted in Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. Starting in the year 1005, the Jews of Egypt were required to wear bells on their garments, and in Medieval Baghdad they were often physically branded. In many Arab countries Jews were required to live in ghettos and were not permitted to use the same public bath houses as Muslims. At various times throughout Islamic history, Jews of the Mideast and North Africa were subjected to pogroms, massacres and forced conversions just as they were in Europe.
Despite the fantasy of the “Golden Age of Spain” when Jews were supposedly free, equal and prosperous, Iberian Jewry often fared little better in Muslim Spain than in Christian Europe. The reality was famously evidenced by the experience of Maimonides. Despicable though the anti-Jewish policies of the Catholic Church may have been, the Rambam and his family were exiled from their native Cordoba not because of Christian persecution, but because the conquering Almohads gave the Jewish community the choice of conversion to Islam or death.

This is not to downplay the severity of historical European antisemitism, which found expression in, among other things, the anti-Jewish legislation of the Fourth Lateran Council, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Spanish Expulsion, the Chelmnitzky massacres, the Pogroms and the Holocaust. However, for those who might use the Holocaust as a measuring stick to say that hatred of Jews was worse in Europe than in the Muslim world, one could argue that it was only the expression that was more severe, not the doctrinal hatred itself. And in this regard, one must consider Arab-Muslim complicity with the Nazis, particularly where, as in Bosnia, Muslim Waffen-SS Hanjar units recruited by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem assisted in exterminating Bosnian Jews. Moreover, in his testimony at Nuremberg, Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann’s deputy and Hauptsturmfuhrer of Slovakia and Hungary, reportedly described the Mufti was an advisor to Eichmann and “one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry.”

In light of this history, any censure of Rabbi Yosef, who was born into dhimmitude in Iraq, can have no frame of reference absent a critical analysis of the traditionally precarious existence of Jews in the Islamic world. Those who wish to criticize Rabbi Yosef, or any other Sephardim or Mizrachim who lived in Muslim society, must first understand how the historical treatment of Jews under Islam molded their collective psyche. And when critical neophytes analyze the history, they must look beyond the revisionist myth of religious tolerance and instead focus on the harsh realities of jihad, dhimmitude, and the pervasive cultural denigration of the Jews and Judaism.

Interestingly, Western Jews who buy into the myth of benevolent tolerance are generally secular liberals and typically not of Sephardic, Mizrachi or Yemeni ancestry. If they were, they would be more likely to know – either from their own experiences or those of their parents and grandparents – what Jewish life was really like in Arab lands. And the stark realities of that life preceded the current geopolitical tumult of the Mideast by centuries. Indeed, Maimonides in his Epistle to Yemen in the 12th Century addressed the issue of Arab intolerance and persecution at a time when the Jews of Yemen were subjected to gross abuse and unspeakable violations. This dark chapter in Arab-Jewish relations clearly predated the Arab-Israeli conflict, and certainly attenuates the assumptions of those who claim that Arab-Muslim hostility today stems solely from Israeli aggression and is not endemic to that society.

Moreover, those familiar with the Quran know that the blueprint for dealing with Jews and Judaism is anything but benevolent, involving as it does the seminal account of the slaughter of the Jews of Yathrib (al-Medina). And the eschatology reflected in the Hadith speaks of the extermination of the Jews at the end of days. Against this backdrop, the experience of the Jews in Islamic society and Arab lands was typically perilous and often marked by social and economic repression, institutional indignities, and general discrimination.

This reality is ignored by secular liberals, and also by cultural naifs who believe that interfaith dialogue will bring about greater understanding. However, the doctrinal differences between Judaism and Islam are vast. Theologically, Judaism incorporates the belief system of the Jewish People, and the concept of “peoplehood” implicates an identity combining ethnic and nationalistic components as well as religious ones. The Jewish religion is particular to the Jewish People and, consequently, it has no conversionary mission or imperative to impose its beliefs on other peoples. In contrast, Islam is a conversionary ideology that is in a perpetual state of conflict with those whom it considers infidels. And in the absence of something akin to the Reformation in Europe, it is questionable whether any amount of dialogue will bring about the philosophical change necessary to foster compatibility with western ideals or Jewish values.

The western media’s refusal to acknowledge the theological divide is puzzling given its seeming preoccupation with denigrating traditional religious beliefs in its own cultural backyard. Mainstream journalists routinely lampoon conservative Christians as ignorant and bigoted, and often depict observant Jews as fanatical, right-wing zealots. Yet, they are reluctant to apply the term “jihadist” to Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter with ties to al-Qaeda, to identify as an Islamist terrorist Umar Abdulmutallab, the attempted Detroit plane bomber, or to examine the doctrinal underpinnings of the acts of either.

The press instead takes its cue from President Obama, who refers to such terrorists as “extremists” so as to distance them from both the religious inspiration for their actions and their status as heroes amongst many within their faith community. Not surprisingly, the typical news analysis tends to ignore the religious motivations for their acts of terror, and instead focuses on “personal disaffection” or “loneliness” as mitigating factors. The media’s consistent refusal to acknowledge and condemn what is clearly religious-based terrorism leaves one to wonder whether its worldview is shaped by any affinity for western democratic values at all, or by a dogmatic political correctness that has become a dysfunctional secular religion.
While one may certainly disagree with Rabbi Yosef’s remarks, one cannot deny the history that may well inform his viewpoint.

Traditional Arab society never treated Jews with respect or tolerance as those concepts are understood in the West. Although Jews may be considered “People of the Book,” they are still considered infidels who occupy a dubious position within Islamic society. An objective review of the history shows that Arab-Muslim antipathy for Jews did not spontaneously arise in 1948 with the modern rebirth of Israel – any more than German antisemitism was created by the Nazis. And unless the Arab-Muslim world can change the way it regards Jews, and acknowledge their historic connection to and presence in the Land of Israel, there can never be true peace or acceptance, only a cold, Balkanized status quo.

Thank you to Ted Belman-posted on his blog-Jan 14, 2009

Al-Qaeda in the West Bank and Gaza

Featuring Matthew Levitt and Bruce Riedel
January 13, 2010

On January 11, 2010, Matthew Levitt and Bruce Riedel addressed a special Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to discuss the emergence and potential of al-Qaeda-inspired groups in the Palestinian arena. Dr. Levitt is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Institute. Mr. Riedel, a former CIA officer, is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
Matthew Levitt
Palestinian terrorist groups have long operated out of the West Bank and Gaza. What is new is that some radicalized Palestinians are choosing to engage in violence not through established domestic groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, but rather through groups that aspire to be part of al-Qaeda's global jihad. While most Palestinian terrorist organizations are nationalist -- or, in the case of Hamas, Islamist-nationalist -- and limit their operations to the Israeli-Palestinian front, the Salafi-ihadi ideology professed by these new groups offers a broader agenda, one based not on a particular nationality but instead on the Muslim umma (nation).

To be clear, al-Qaeda itself is not operating in the West Bank or Gaza. Rather, a number of al-Qaeda-inspired individuals and cells have sprung up, all of limited capabilities and organization, and all hampered by extreme pressure from Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), or Hamas.

In the West Bank, these cells have focused mainly on attacking Israel, though some have expressed interest in striking U.S. targets as well. For example, in June-July 2008, Israeli security forces arrested six individuals -- two Arab Israeli citizens and four Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem -- for alleged links to al-Qaeda. Evidence of these links included commentary on al-Qaeda-affiliated websites, where one of the members had discussed potentially attacking President George W. Bush's helicopter as it landed at the Knesset landing pad, while another had expressed interest in targeting Air Force One.

Such groups have attracted even more attention in Gaza. For example, the al-Qaeda-inspired Jaish al-Islam was behind the March 2007 kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. And in mid-August 2009, the group Jund Ansar Allah came to the foreground when cleric Abd al-Latif Musa announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Palestine and condemned the Hamas government as un-Islamic. Hamas responded with a violent crackdown, dispatching government security forces and members of its Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist wing to raid a mosque affiliated with the group, resulting in protracted gun battles.

Despite these incidents, the influence of such groups remains very limited. Membership in Gaza's global jihadist cells is estimated to be in the low hundreds, and the groups themselves enjoy almost no grassroots support. In addition, they have failed to connect more formally with the broader al-Qaeda movement, which is surprising given the latter's antipathy to Hamas and its history of incorporating local conflicts into its global campaign. Al-Qaeda likely doubts the ideological commitment of groups such as Jaish al-Islam, whose leader, Mumtaz Dughmush, is better known for his criminal past than his religious zealotry. The groups' durability may be a concern as well -- al-Qaeda may be waiting for them to establish themselves before accepting them into the fold.

According to some observers, the rise of such groups suggests that Hamas is no longer the worst option in Gaza, and that Israel should engage the organization without preconditions in order to avoid an al-Qaeda takeover. This would be wrongheaded, though -- Gaza's global jihadist groups are in no position to challenge Hamas's authority, let alone usurp the territory. Nevertheless, their emergence highlights the growing jihadist vacuum in the Palestinian territories, a result of Hamas's willingness to engage in secular politics, its failure to institute sharia, and its crackdown on fellow Palestinians who attack Israel or threaten its rule. These groups are populated in part by disgruntled Hamas members who, having been subjected to the organization's radicalization efforts in the past, desire even more extreme radicalization. Although their capabilities remain limited, they no doubt have grand ambitions for terrorist activity.

Bruce Riedel
Al-Qaeda's relationship with Hamas remains complex and mutable. At first blush, the organizations have much in common, both being extremist Sunni jihadist movements that glorify martyrdom and call for the ultimate destruction of Israel. Likewise, both look to the same ideological sources for inspiration, especially Abdullah Azzam, the so-called "father of the modern jihad," as one former Mossad director described him. Azzam's message -- that jihad is the only answer -- resonates very strongly with both organizations.

Despite these similarities, however, Hamas has always held al-Qaeda at arm's length, opposing any alignment with outside partners. In the mid-1990s, Hamas spiritual founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin stated repeatedly that the group was not part of al-Qaeda's movement, though it admired Usama bin Laden and his followers for carrying out jihad.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda's attitude toward Hamas is mixed. On the one hand, the Palestinian group undeniably engages in jihadist activity and has killed Israelis in large numbers. On the other hand, it participates in a number of activities that al-Qaeda considers reprehensible, such as taking part in elections, compromising with other elements of the Palestinian nationalist movement, engaging with the Saudi government, and, increasingly, accepting aid and support from Iran. The notion of a Sunni jihadist movement slipping into Iran's orbit is something that al-Qaeda finds extremely distasteful. The organization's posture toward Hamas has therefore become one of silence.

Paradoxically, al-Qaeda has also remained silent on its adherent groups in the West Bank and Gaza. Just as it avoided endorsing Fatah al-Islam when the jihadist group laid siege to Lebanon's Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in 2007, so today the al-Qaeda core has withheld support for similar groups in the Palestinian territories. The central reason for this hesitance is that none of these groups has been able to carry out a spectacular act of terrorism -- the essential requirement for an al-Qaeda franchise. Thus, one may find implicit support for these groups in al-Qaeda's messages, but nothing more.

In effect, al-Qaeda is hedging its bets in the territories, waiting to see how things develop. If one of Gaza's al-Qaeda-inspired groups emerges as a serious alternative to Hamas and carries out large-scale operations, then al-Qaeda may endorse it. Such an outcome would be very difficult to achieve in an area like Gaza, however, since it is not an ungoverned territory where operatives can run away and hide as in Yemen. The al-Qaeda leadership may also be wary of trusting cell members from the Palestinian arena, viewing them as potential bait dangled by any number of intelligence organizations.

Alternatively, if Hamas moves toward a more radical posture, then al-Qaeda may openly endorse the group. This would be a more desirable outcome from al-Qaeda's standpoint, since Hamas would represent the ultimate franchise. For the time being, however, the movement's leaders continue to view Hamas as a poor fit for the al-Qaeda cycle of jihad, which takes aim first at the United States, the so-called head of the snake, and only later at Israel and the region's pro-American regimes.

This rapporteur's summary was prepared by Cole Bunzel.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obama Anti-Semitism 'Czar' Slammed for Criticizing Israel's Oren
by Gil Ronen

( The American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) today heavily criticized President Barack Obama’s anti-Semitism “czar”, Hannah Rosenthal, for her public criticism of Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, and called for her immediate dismissal from her post.
Rosenthal, whom Obama appointed to head the Office To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, criticized Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, for pointing out to an assembly of Jewish leaders that J Street was “fooling around with the lives of 7 million people.”

According to AIAC, Rosenthal was a member of J Street’s advisory panel before her appointment to her current position. J Street, it adds, "is a radical, far left, anti-Israel, American organization funded by Arab and radical sources" which "has been almost universally condemned by mainstream Jewish organizations."

Harvey Schwartz, AIAC’s chairman, stated “as a high ranking member of the Obama administration, Rosenthal’s criticism of the Israeli Ambassador to the US is beyond bizarre, and highly offensive in the extreme. It is a virulent anti-Israel attack which AIAC interprets to be anti-Semitic. That the State Department took the highly unusual step of announcing its “complete support” for Rosenthal confirms that she was expressing the views of the Obama administration. Contrary to her duty to fight anti-Semitism, Rosenthal used her bully pulpit to advance it. This is deplorable.”

'She must go promptly'

“Even more deplorable is the Obama administration’s public slap at Israel, utilizing Rosenthal as its mouthpiece,” Schwartz continued. “When coupled with the Obama administration’s numerous other slaps at Israel, including its almost hysterical non-recognition of Israel’s inalienable right to build civilian homes in its Jerusalem capital and Senator Mitchell’s recent public threat to withdraw U.S. loan guarantees from Israel, while at the same time saying and doing nothing to the Palestinians to ‘encourage’ them to return to the peace talks, the Obama administration has laid bare its anti-Israel focus and has proven itself to no longer be ‘an honest broker for peace.’ The more than 250,000 Americans living in Israel condemn this development.”

Aaron Tirschwell, AIAC’s Executive Director, declared that “Rosenthal has committed an unpardonable sin. She must go promptly. AIAC calls upon all American Jewish organizations, as well as all Americans of good will, to demand that the Obama administration dismiss Rosenthal forthwith.”

In December, Rosenthal criticized Oren for what she said were his "most unfortunate" remarks regarding J Street, prompting the Israel Embassy to ask for clarifications from the US Administration.

AIAC presents itself as a non-partisan, non-political, issue-oriented NGO which whose purpose is to represent the united voice of the more than 250,000 American citizens living in Israel on issues that affect Israel, Israel-US relations, and the Jewish people worldwide.

"As It Is"

Arlene Kushner

Barry Rubin recent column, entitled "A gold mine for understanding US Middle East policy," touches on a variety of subjects by drawing upon statements made recently by Secretary of State Clinton at a press conference. But I want to focus on one particular critical observation Rubin made: BUT ANOTHER thing Clinton said is more disturbing and has become an Obama administration talking point. She said the Palestinians 'deserve' a state. In this approach, having a state isn't something earned by ending terrorism and incitement, truly accepting Israel's existence, providing strong security guarantees and resettling refugees in your own country. According to the US government, Palestinian statehood is an entitlement, a prize they get no matter how they behave. (emphasis added)

"So why shouldn't the Palestinians demand they get everything and give nothing? The world owes them a state. By such policies the Obama administration undermines its own leverage on the issue. One more nail in the already studded coffin of the peace process."


This is hardly surprising. And it's not just the Obama administration. It's the EU and others. It's sort of a "given" that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians are entitled to their own state. Never mind entitled, but entitled to all the land beyond the Green Line.

Whatever I say about the Palestinian Arabs, I have to give them this: Their PR is masterful, that they have achieved this.


The Kurds are a real people, with a real and legitimate right to their own state, Kurdistan. They live in the highland plateau region at the intersection of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Numbering well over 20 million, they are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own nation; they have their own language, their own cultural traditions and their own history, which reaches back for many centuries. While they have obtained some autonomy (in Iraq), and have successfully developed governmental structure and commercial ventures, they are denied independence because none of the nations in which they reside will support this.

But do you hear about a UN day in solidarity with the Kurds? Of course not. Because there is no such day -- only the Palestinian Arabs "merit" such support.

Incredible, when you think of it, is it not?


Beyond the success of Palestinian Arab PR, I think there are probably other reasons why the distorted notion has arisen that they are entitled to a state.

A Christian Zionist here, whom I respect enormously, shared with me his observations based on his organization's interaction with the European community. What he told me was that Europeans feel guilty about the Holocaust, but not particularly guilty about what was done to the Jews. Rather, they believe that Jews would not have fled Europe for Palestinian if not for the persecution of the Holocaust. In other words, they buy into the also fallacious notion -- which ignores Jewish history and heritage -- that there is an Israel today only because of the Holocaust, and that fleeing Jewish refugees pushed out indigenous Arab population in the area. Thus, believing they have responsibility for creating the situation that made them suffer, they feel beholden to the Palestinian Arabs. An interesting perspective.


It behooves us to speak out forcefully in every possible venue with arguments that refute the belief -- whatever its source -- that there is a Palestinian Arab entitlement. Who are these "Palestinians," it must be asked, and what constitutes their uniqueness as a people. WHY do they deserve a state? How will the world benefit from such a state? What is the genuine Jewish historical and legal entitlement to the land the Arabs claim?


More news with hopeful potential:

Borzou Daragahi, an American born journalist of Iranian descent, wrote in yesterday's LA Times that the movement of anti-regime activists in Iran is spreading out of the main cities -- where anonymity is more possible -- into the Iranian heartland.

"More than 60% of Iranians are younger than 30, and 70% of college students reportedly opposed Ahmadinejad.

"What has happened over the last seven months in Birjand [a potential opposition stronghold], and consistent with reports from other small cities around the country, illustrates how the opposition movement has gained a foothold nationwide. Students began organizing small gatherings at their universities. In the classrooms, professors lifted students' spirits by discussing the Islamic Republic's missteps, and what sorts of protest action were effective and which were counterproductive. The students followed the news on opposition websites and via BBC Persian and Voice of America. They have mastered the use of proxy servers to get access to banned websites as well as shield their surfing habits from surveillance technology."


At her press conference yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton said that decisions were still being made, but the thought is that focused sanctions against those making the decisions in Iran would be most effective. It is assumed that she is referring to the Revolutionary Guard.

Regrettably, she said, once again, that the US is still interested in dialogue with Iran, even as sanctions are under review.


see my website

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Arab World: Battleground Yemen

Jonathan Spyer *
January 12, 2010

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently described the current situation in Yemen as "a threat to regional stability and even to global stability." She was referring to the fact that Yemen is the latest failed state to become a haven for elements of the Sunni global jihad. Like Afghanistan and Sudan before it, Yemen is becoming a key regional base for al-Qaida.
Unlike in the other two countries, in Yemen this has come about not because of an agreement reached between the jihadis and the authorities; rather, the inability of the Yemeni authorities to impose their rule throughout their country, coupled with the close proximity of Yemen to Saudi Arabia - a key target for al-Qaida - has made the country a tempting prospect for the terrorists.

Al-Qaida is not the only major problem facing Yemen. In fact, it could be argued that the country manages to encapsulate in acute form the three main causes of political turmoil in the Middle East: a dictatorial government, vulnerability to Iranian subversion through local jihadis and the presence and activity of the Sunni global jihad.

Last January, the hitherto little-heard-of Yemeni franchise of al-Qaida merged with the Saudi franchise to form the so-called "al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula" (AQAP). The Saudi jihadis were facing an increasingly effective counterterror campaign by the Saudi authorities, and therefore decided to shift focus to lightly-governed Yemen, where proper security fails to extend much beyond the capital city of San'a.

Through its organizing of the failed attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, AQAP has now entered the major leagues of the global jihad. Fears of an imminent second strike led to temporary closure of the US, British and French embassies in San'a over the last week.

YEMEN IS currently host to no less than three separate insurgencies. Each resembles one another in that they are being conducted by forces committed to some form of political Islam. There, however, the similarities end.

Probably the most politically and militarily significant of the three Islamist insurgencies is that of the Houthi rebels in the Saada district in the north. The Zaidi Shi'ite rebels of the al-Houthi clan have been engaged in an insurgency against the Yemeni authorities since 2004. Quelling the uprising has proved quite beyond the capabilities of the government of Ali Abdalla Saleh.

In the past few months, the Shi'ite Houthis have extended their activities across the border to Saudi Arabia. Their close proximity to the Saudi border makes them a useful tool for Iran to pressure Riyadh. Responding to rebel attacks in November, the Saudis struck back with aircraft and helicopter gunships, killing around 40 Houthis. Regardless, Iran is sending regular arms shipments to the Houthis, continuing to stoke the flames of the rebellion. The real possibility of further deterioration remains.

The second insurgency faced by the hapless Yemeni regime is a separatist campaign in the south. Yemen was only reunified in 1990, and has since suffered a brief civil war in 1994. The separatist insurgency, led by Islamist tribal leader Tareq al-Fadhli, again grew in intensity during 2009, with a number of stormy demonstrations and armed confrontations leading to deaths on both sides.

As if fighting insurgencies on two separate fronts was not enough, Yemen is also being hit hard by economic woes. The country's steadily depleting oil reserves are unable to generate sufficient income for the government to maintain the tribal patronage system on which it depends. Gas exports are failing to make up the shortfall. And Yemen's water supplies are also dwindling.

Like a parasite that spots, enters and exploits a weakening body, AQAP has now added its own particular brand of Islamist insurgency to this volatile situation.

The close proximity of Yemen to Saudi Arabia and to international shipping lanes makes the country's instability a factor which the US and the West cannot afford to ignore.

This, however, raises a dilemma. The regime of President Ali Saleh is autocratic, inefficient and largely ineffectual. Its economic policies have failed to develop the country, leaving the regime sitting precariously on top of a boiling cauldron of poverty, illiteracy, extremism and discontent. To remain on its perch, the regime is now asking for ever larger contributions of US funding and assistance to counter the terror.

Since Yemen's government rules in name only in large parts of the country, increasing the US commitment to combating al-Qaida in the country raises the possibility of US ground forces in Yemen. President Barack Obama can ill afford yet another Middle East war, with its inevitable cost in American lives. Yet he also cannot afford to stand back and allow Yemen to play the role for al-Qaida that Afghanistan played in the late 1990s.

There are no simple answers. Washington may prefer to adopt the counterterror tactic of helping the Yemenis strike al-Qaida sites from the air, to avoid the sight of US soldiers deployed in a country so close to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

But whichever option the US chooses, the real "root cause" of the proliferating insurgencies in Yemen, and the inability of the regime to adequately deal with them, is the ongoing dysfunctionality of the region's political culture. All across the Middle East, failing, autocratic regimes face off against popular Islamist movements committed to a murderous and ultimately sterile political program.

Yemen offers an example of this situation in a particularly virulent form.

*Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Herzliya, Israel


Petition to Court to Open Up Highways for Jews

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

Parliamentary aide Itamar Ben-Gvir and activist Baruch Marzel have petitioned High Court justices to allow Jews to drive on highways restricted for Arabs, based on the court's reasoning behind last week's order that a major highway be opened for Arabs. The court told the IDF that it cannot continue to enforce its blanket restriction on Arabs from driving on a 14-mile stretch of Highway 443, which passes though part of Samaria on the way to the city of Modi'in and Ben Gurion International Airport. The road has been closed to Palestinian Authority Arabs since 2002 after Jews were repeatedly wounded and killed on the highway in dozens of terrorist attacks.

Ben-Gvir and Marzel filed a petition Monday arguing that justice’s statement -- “there is no justification for placing sanctions on an entire population” -- also should apply to other highways in Judea and Samaria, including Hevron, which are reserved solely for PA Arab motorists.

Jewish drivers are forced to take roads that significantly lengthen their trips, particularly to Jerusalem. The appeal argues that keeping Jews off the highways “seriously damages the fabric of life” for Jews in Judea and Samaria. “If the reasoning applies to Arabs, there is no reason to differentiate between Jews and Arabs because the law should apply equally to everybody,” the petition argued.

The order to open Highway 443 is to take effect in five months in order to give the IDF time to come up with alternative security procedures, but Transportation Ministry officials have warned that an additional result of the decision will come in the form of traffic jams on the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Ministry transportation inspector Yishai Taylor said that Jewish motorists will be afraid to use 443 because of the possibility that it will return to being a death trap at the hands of terrorists. The result he said, will be a “complete collapse” of the heavily-traveled Highway 1 from Jerusalem.

President Obama Must Choose Sides

Rabbi Aryeh Spero

There appears to be a battle raging within Barack Obama. How this war is resolved will decide how we fight the war on terror and determine if we win it at all. In his speech last spring in Cairo, Mr. Obama said, "I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." Defending the honor of Islam and protecting Muslims is one of the goals that Barack Obama has set for himself. It constitutes a personal definition of his presidency. But is he doing so to the point of misleading the public in general, and at the risk of jeopardizing the American people in particular?
The near-deaths of three hundred people on Christmas due to an Islamic terrorist plot -- an act of war against America -- did not rouse Obama from golf and relaxation until three days later. When he finally spoke, he disrespected us, as before, by claiming that this was a "lone event" disconnected from anything larger. But most Americans knew what it was, and the subsequent reports and al-Qaeda announcement told us that this was an act of jihad, a part of the larger scheme of radical Islam in its war against America.

After the Fort Hood massacre, the president's first reaction was to intone the silly assertion that we "do not know what prompted this outrage." In fact, everyone immediately intuited what was verified more each day after the carnage: that devotion to the Islamic cause generated Nidal Hasan's decision to kill American infidels. The president was strangely unwilling to tie these murders to Islam or jihad or imams, even knowing that the jihadist yelled "Allah aqbar" as he mowed down innocent Americans.

In all these matters, Mr. Obama's first concern seems to protect things Islamic rather than name and fight the Islamism intent on destroying us. This attitude predates his presidency, and it is one of the animating and personal goals of his worldview. Even before becoming senator of Illinois, he tells us in The Audacity of Hope (pp.261) of his earlier decision: "I will stand with them [Muslims] should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." For Barack Obama, the recognition that this is not simply generic "extremism," as he likes to call it, but specific to Islam and carried out by devout young Muslim men borders on the "ugly direction" against which he promised to stand. But by so doing, Mr.Obama is misleading the country and standing in the way of the measures needed to protect the American people and win the war on terror.

What we get from the president after each incident is not a tough, impassioned call to wipe out jihadists, but the warning that we "should not rush to judgment" or draw any conclusions regarding Islam or Muslims. The more Islamic terrorism, the more warnings we receive from him not to mischaracterize Islam. But how can the American public be accused of "rushing" to judgment when this has been happening before our eyes for thirty years already? After decades of these incidents -- and they are coming quicker now -- Obama expects us to participate in his cover-up for Islam by immediately agreeing that these attackers are either "alone," or "misfits," or "crazy." They are not crazy, but devoted to a cause; not misfits, but fit into a very large Islamist groupthink; not alone, but part of an ideology, most often coordinated by Islamists and clerics higher up. These are agents of Islamism on the same level as the German agents of Nazism who tried to do damage within our borders during WWII. At least back then, the safety of the home-front was more important to our leaders than protecting "feelings."

Until President Obama acknowledges the Islamic context behind these acts of worldwide jihad, we Americans remain at great risk. One cannot vanquish what he does not believe is a culprit. And thus, the most likely candidates setting out to kill us -- Islamic young and mostly single men under 40 -- are not routinely checked, nor are the mosques where many of these plans are hatched and coordinated. Obama and his people are elevating and sanctifying the doctrine of "no profiling" as if it were a fundamental principle of humankind more important than life itself. A society that suspends analytical and rational judgment in favor of a politically correct fantasy is on the road to unscientific darkness and eventual suicide. One hopes that Mr. Obama is guided by foolishness only and nothing more.

Barack Obama's failure to tell the truth about Islamism goes beyond the routine excuse-making of the politically correct ideology that has negatively infected our country. Mr. Obama's preoccupation here is personal. Though not a practicing Muslim, nor a visibly practicing Christian, in office, he has a cultural and ethnic fidelity to Islam that skews common sense and is resulting in harm to our nation. After all, Islam is a culture in which Obama was raised. It represents to him what Americanism and the Judeo-Christian ethos represent to us who were raised in them. Obama grew up in Islamic Indonesia from age 6 to 12 -- formative years, the years in which the subconscious is molded --and he seems to have liked it very much.

"One of the prettiest sounds on Earth," as Obama told The New York Times in March of 2007, "is the Moslem call to prayer." Such warmth of identification is to be expected concerning those things that supply a childhood. As a youngster, Obama was identified as a Muslim, and he spent two hours a day in elementary school studying Islam. He seems unwilling to move beyond his youthful, rose-colored view of a more-secular Islam to today's facts. He remains fixed in his adoration, as demonstrated during his Cairo tour, when he referred to the Quran as the "Holy Quran." He never waxes that way about our Constitution, for that was not his mother's milk. The dozens of citations in the Quran allowing murder and mayhem are to Obama not organic, whereas the allowance in our Constitution for the now-defunct system of slavery sours him on its entirety. Yet for Obama, the Quran is not stigmatized, even with its numerous references and validations of slavery and its continuance of slavery even today by those who cite its authority.

In another address, Obama spoke not of Islam as a religion, but The Islam, The Path, as would someone who sees in it something transcendent. Never has he waxed reverent about America's accomplishments as he has about Islam's contributions to the world or his concoction of Islam's enormous contribution to the development of the United States.

The utter lack of pain and passion in Obama's non-emotional responses to both the Fort Hood massacre and the Christmas scare was striking. He spoke of it as he would a highway bill. I'm sure he is not happy, yet it doesn't seem to be personal. Contrast this with how he reacted and condemned the Cambridge police at Harvard regarding Professor Gates. He appeared to be affected -- because he was. And yet, Professor Gates was not terrorized as were the passengers aboard the Delta flight, who thought they would soon die.

All this rhetoric about not "profiling" (which is simply the use of rational judgment) and about not blaming Islam may sound "enlightened," but for Obama, it constitutes verbal weapons in defense of Islam. His war is not for victory over jihadism, but to defend the honor of Islam under today's difficult circumstances. For him, it is a balancing act between the Islam he loves and the duties imposed on him by the presidency.

It is hard to shed the teachings, culture, and religious life of one's youth. And the Islamic world is Obama's world. Much of his ethnicity and the people that are natural to him derive from it. Obama cannot conceive of a clash of civilizations where the one intent on destroying the civilization he's supposed to protect is Islam, his Islam. Obama will not allow sensible military rules of engagement that give maximum and routine protection for our soldiers if by so doing, some Afghan Muslims will lose their lives. He seems to identify with those people as much as he does our young Americans. He does not allow the necessary profiling of young, single Islamic men because he thinks of how that would make some of his own family members feel, as well as how the young Barack Obama would have felt. Those feelings are understandable for Barack Obama, private citizen, but not for a president of the United States.

Today's global mayhem and chaos is not from Basque terrorism. We Americans tolerate intrusive measures at airport check-ins not out of fear of another Timothy McVeigh or white neo-Nazis, as the ACLU wants us to believe. That's a deliberate obfuscation -- one that the president is endorsing -- and such obfuscation and denial invite danger. The jihadist relishes striking on Christmas specifically, since it is the goal of jihad to profane and degrade Christian and Jewish sacred time and sacred objects. Islam sees this as a contest between religions. Had we been allowed to acknowledge the Islamic content behind current terrorism, we would have been on especially high alert on Christmas Day.

Last November, we elected our first president with Islamic affinities and familial ties. The problem is that today's clash is with Islam. We need a president whose first loyalty and cultural empathy is to and with Americans. We don't have that in President Obama. He cannot forever dally and hide behind new "commissions" that have nothing new to tell us regarding what must be done. Obama must soon choose between his emotional need to protect Islam and his presidential requirement to protect the American people. Unfortunately for him, the two are not compatible.

Rabbi Spero is president of Caucus for America.
Page Printed from: at January 11, 2010 - 11:30:05 AM EST
Obama breaks another campaign promise--not to stop aid to Israel. Now the US continues to make demands, and now threats, on Israel. What demands have been made on the Palestinians, other than to return to the negotiating table? To the contrary, the PA does not want to negotiate until all construction is frozen in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem and the borders are conceded. It wants Israel to concede major elements and come to the table wounded and disabled.


Flashback: Candidate Obama Promises Not To Cut Aid To Israel If Elected
Back in October 2008, on his way to securing American Jews as his single most sustained bloc of supporters, candidate Obama seemed quite explicit about the status of US loan guarantees to Israel. Quite explicit:
US presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama has promised not to cut foreign aid to Israel if he is elected in November, a spokeswoman for Obama has said. In a statement to the Israeli business daily Globes, a spokeswoman for Obama said he would honor existing agreements pertaining to foreign aid and as such was committed to 'increasing aid to Israel to $30 billion over 10 years.'
So a few months ago the Israelis went ahead and locked in 2010/11 loans without any peace process-related conditions. Unfortunately they forgot the part where all Obama promises come with an expiration date:

On the eve of his visit to the Middle East, US special envoy George Mitchell threatened that his country would freeze its aid to Israel if the Jewish state failed to advance peace talks with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Mitchell clarified in an interview to the PBS network that the United States would use incentives or sanctions against both sides. According to American law, Mitchell said, the US can freeze its support for loan guarantees to Israel. He added that all options must remain open and that the sides must be convinced about what their important interests are.
Forget the part about how this White House seems committed to detonating the US/Israeli alliance, if only because that's not really newsworthy. More broadly - and here I'm shamelessly cribbing from Instapundit - if Obama was trying to wreck America as a superpower, what would he be doing differently? If he was deliberately working to erode US influence in the Middle East, would there be a better way than putting the US on a collision course with both of the region's most powerful countries? He's taking a softline approach with Iranian antagonists, which only emboldens them, and a hardline approach with Israeli allies, which only alienates them. Smart power!

Both Israel and Iran will respond by doing what countries do: pursuing their own interests. Like so many other world leaders are beginning to do, Israeli and Iranian pols will simply start ignoring Obama. It'll be bad for the United States to lose its influence in one of the most dangerous and energy-rich regions in the world. It would be disastrous for Israel to lose its most consistent and powerful international ally. But it's not like Israel doesn't have other options, some of which they've been neglecting precisely because of US pressure. Cf. Caroline Glick from this morning.

References and related after the jump...

* Poll: US Jews Obama's biggest supporters [YNet]
* Obama campaign promises not to cut aid to Israel [Monsters and Critics]
* Finance Minister: We don't need U.S. loan guarantees [Ha'aretz]
* Mitchell: Mideast stagnation endangers US aid [YNet]
* The WH's Eight-Step Plan For Detonating The US-Israel Relationship [MR]
* Column One: Israel's opening to China [JPost]



Monday, January 11, 2010

PM Netanyahu to close Israel's southern border to infiltrators and terrorists

A barrier will be built along the border with Egypt over a period of several years.

(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening (Sunday), 10 January 2010, decided to close Israel's southern border to infiltrators and terrorists by building a barrier along the border with Egypt. Construction of the barrier will cost approximately NIS 1 billion and will be spread over a period of several years.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I decided to close Israel's southern border to infiltrators and terrorists after prolonged discussions with Government ministries and professional elements. This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel. Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Finance minister Yuval Steinitz, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz and the Deputy Attorney General attended this evening's discussion. They were presented with the fundamental preparatory work that was carried out by the security establishment on the issue of the ground barrier along the border with Egypt. The integrated solution that was presented is based on both a fence and technological measures.

According to the security establishment's proposed solution, in the first stage, fences will be built along the sections of the border south of the Gaza Strip and north of Eilat. At the same time, technological measures will be deployed along the entire border that will allow for the location of infiltrators and hazards in a timely fashion.

Prime Minister Netanyahu adopted the security establishment recommendation and directed that budgetary sources for its construction be agreed upon within two weeks. He also instructed the Justice Ministry to formulate in the coming weeks assertive draft legislation against employers of illegal workers.

Report: Hizbullah Earning Millions Off European Drug Trade

David Lev

A report in the German magazine Der Spiegel over the weekend says that one way Hizbullah has been earning money for its terror activities is by selling drugs in Europe. The report says that German police have arrested members of a Lebanese family that illegally transferred millions of euros from Germany to known Hizbullah terrorists, including Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah, in Lebanon. According to the report, German customs officials arrested four Lebanese nationals – all members of the same family - at Frankfurt Airport who were found to be carrying nine million euros in their carry-on bags in May 2008. The money was seized, and an analysis showed traces of cocaine on the bills. A search of the homes of one of the suspects in the German town of Speyer yielded another 500,000 euros.

Later on, two other members of the same family known to be engaged in the drug trade throughout Europe were arrested – and under questioning, they admitted that they had sent money to family members in Beirut, and that they were closely connected to the Hizbullah leadership. The report went on to say that German police suspect that the two had been trained in Hizbullah training camps in Lebanon.

Although this is the first time a report links Hizbullah with the European drug trade, Israeli authorities have long said that the terror group was involved in growing and selling drugs – both for profit, and as a way to attempt to corrupt Israeli society. Farmers in the Bekaa Valley, once the center of the Middle East's largest hashish industry, have once again begun growing hashish, as well as other drugs. A 2009 UN report by the international organization's Office on Drugs and Crime says "farmers appear to be resuming cannabis cultivation."

In an interview with the Associated Press in December, Shamai Golan, a spokesman for Israel's Anti-Drug Authority, said that "there are dozens of documented cases" implicating Hizbullah and its patron Syria, in growing and selling drugs, and in smuggling them into Israel. Last week, Arutz 7 reported that Israeli security officials had arrested four residents of the border village of Ghajar on suspicion of trying to smuggle drugs into Israel. The four were caught hiding 5.5 kilograms (about 12 pounds) of a substance believed to be heroin.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Security Upgrades at Ben Gurion International Airport

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

Israel has upgraded its international travel security with a new biometric screening system that was launched last week in the wake of the recent failed Northwest Airlines terror attack in Detroit. The hi-tech system is expected to significantly speed up security processing and check-ins at the airport, Israel Airports Authority officials said. The Unipass Airport Management System scans passports through a machine at the registration desk, where fingerprints and facial imaging samples are also recorded in order to create a biometric signature. A personal “smart card” created from the one-time process is then issued to the passenger.

The information stored on the Unipass computers will be “fully secure” and will not be accessible to outsiders, according to an IAA official.

Each time a passenger travels through the airport, they will be asked to swipe their card and passport through a machine, which will then confirm the biometric match. A companion touch screen panel will present a series of questions that will confirm the passenger’s identity and security status, a process that until now was carried out by human security personnel.

Human staff members will be standing by to assist in case passengers run into difficulties with the machines – or in case they fail the test. An IAA spokesperson said that in such cases, “passengers will be taken aside by a guard for an in-depth check before being allowed to proceed.”

Passengers who pass the initial security check will proceed as usual to luggage security, where they will once again swipe their Unipass card, and send their bags through the X-ray machine.

The third layer of security to be faced by the passenger will come at the check-in counter, where once again the Unipass will be swiped in a machine. At this point, the passenger will have passed all initial security checks, hand luggage will be accepted for scanning, and travelers will swipe the Unipass for their fourth and final screening before heading for the duty-free shopping area, border control and the terminal gates.

Eventually, Unipass machines are expected to replace human passport inspectors at the border control area altogether; at present, biometric fingerprint scanners are available only for frequent flyers. IAA officials added that Unipass holders will soon be able to bypass the luggage X-ray security step and take their luggage directly to check-in. “From there, the suitcases will be passed through comprehensive security before being loaded on to the plane,” said an IAA official.

The system has been in the planning stages for some time. The fact that its launch date has come on the heels of an attempted attack by the Al-Qaeda terrorist group was purely coincidental, officials said.

The Unipass will initially be limited to El Al Matmid frequent flyer club members, and only gradually be expanded to include other travelers within the next two years, according to the IAA.