Friday, October 02, 2015

Russian Chess

Russian Airstrikes Defend Assad Stronghold - Sam Dagher

Russia's first airstrikes in Syria showed a meticulously planned effort to eliminate any rebel threat to the coastal Alawite stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad, analysts said. The Russian raids hew closely to an arc running on the fringes of this strategic core.

The airstrikes highlighted a tightening military and strategic alliance among Russia and other pro-regime parties, such as Iran and Hizbullah
(Wall Street Journal)

Iran Troops to Join Syria War - Laila Bassam & Andrew Osborn

Hundreds of Iranian troops had reached Syria in the past 10 days with weapons to mount a major ground offensive, two Lebanese sources told Reuters on Thursday. "The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria - soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisers...we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more," one source said.

Master the strategy - Caroline Glick

[T]he Obama administration was caught off guard by Russia's rapid rise in Syria.

As the Russians began bombing a US-supported militia along the Damascus-Homs highway, Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with his Russia counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at the UN. Just hours before their meeting Kerry was insisting that Russia's presence in Syria would likely be a positive development.

Reacting to the administration's humiliation, Republican Sen. John McCain said, "This administration has confused our friends, encouraged our enemies, mistaken an excess of caution for prudence and replaced the risks of action with the perils of inaction."

McCain added that Russian President Vladimir Putin had stepped "into the wreckage of this administration's Middle East policy." While directed at the administration, McCain's general point is universally applicable. Today is no time for an overabundance of caution.

The system of centralized regimes that held sway in the Arab world since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago has unraveled. The shape of the new order has yet to be determined.

The war in Syria and the chaos and instability engulfing the region are part and parcel of the birth pangs of a new regional governing architecture now taking form. Actions taken by regional and global actors today will likely well influence power relations for generations. Putin understands the opportunity of the moment. He views the decomposition of Syria as an opportunity to rebuild Russia's power and influence in the Middle East — at America's expense.

Russia isn't the only strategic player seeking to exploit the war in Syria and the regional chaos. Turkey and Iran are also working assiduously to take advantage of the current absence of order to advance their long term interests.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is exploiting the rise of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to fight the Kurds in both countries. Erdogan's goal is twofold: to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdistan and to disenfranchise the Kurds in Turkey.

As for Iran, Syria is Iran's bulwark against Sunni power in the Arab world and the logistical base for Tehran's Shi'ite foreign legion Hezbollah. Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei is willing to fight to the bitter end to hold as much of Syrian territory as possible. Broadly speaking, Iran views the breakup of the Arab state system as both a threat and an opportunity. The chaos threatens Iran, because it has radicalized the Sunni world. If Sunni forces unite, their numeric advantage against Shi'ite Iran will imperil it.

The power of Sunni numbers is the reason Bashar Assad now controls a mere sixth of Syrian territory. To prevent his fate from befalling them, the Iranians seek to destabilize neighboring regimes and where possible install proxy governments in their stead.

Iran's cultivation of alliances and proxy relationships with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida, and its phony war against Islamic State all point to an overarching goal of keeping Sunni forces separated and dependent on Tehran.
[Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

Obama's Syria Debacle - Charles Krauthammer, MD

If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin.

Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.

The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?

Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State.

Indeed, some of these bombed fighters were U.S. trained and equipped. Asked if we didn't have an obligation to support our own allies on the ground, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter bumbled that Russia's actions exposed its policy as self-contradictory. Carter made it sound as if the Russian offense was to have perpetrated an oxymoron, rather than a provocation — and a direct challenge to what's left of the U.S. policy of supporting a moderate opposition.

The whole point of Russian intervention is to maintain Assad in power. Putin has no interest in fighting the Islamic State. Indeed, the second round of Russian air attacks was on rival insurgents opposed to the Islamic State.

The Islamic State is nothing but a pretense for Russian intervention. And Obama fell for it.

Just three weeks ago, Obama chided Russia for its military buildup, wagging his finger that it was "doomed to failure." Yet by Monday he was publicly welcoming Russia to join the fight against the Islamic State. He not only acquiesced to the Russian buildup, he held an ostentatious meeting with Putin on the subject, thereby marking the ignominious collapse of Obama's vaunted campaign to isolate Putin diplomatically over Crimea.

Putin then showed his utter contempt for Obama by launching his air campaign against our erstwhile anti-Assad allies not 48 hours after meeting Obama. Which the U.S. found out about when a Russian general knocked on the door of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and delivered a brusque demarche announcing that the attack would begin within an hour and warning the U.S. to get out of the way.

In his subsequent news conference, Carter averred that he found such Russian behavior "unprofessional."

Good grief. Russia, with its inferior military and hemorrhaging economy, had just eaten Carter's lunch, seizing the initiative and exposing American powerlessness — and the secretary of defense deplores what? Russia's lack of professional etiquette.

Makes you want to weep.
[Washington Post via Jewish World Review]

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Abbas' "Empty Bombshell"

BBC photo

Abbas: No Longer Bound by Oslo Accords - Zeina Karam

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
told the UN General Assembly that he is no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel, though he stopped short of dissolving the Palestinian Authority. Abbas also called upon the UN "to provide international protection for the Palestinian people." 

Abbas' tough talk could be an attempt to mask his political weakness as hopes of setting up a Palestinian state have been derailed

Palestinians Raise Flag at UN - Hugh Bronstein

Palestinian officials cheered as their national flag flew for the first time at UN headquarters in New York. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas officiated at the ceremony, saying: "The day for raising this flag will come soon in Jerusalem, the capital of our Palestinian state." The General Assembly approved a Palestinian resolution this month saying flags of non-member states "shall be raised at (UN) Headquarters." The U.S. and Israel voted against the resolution, saying that symbolic moves like raising flags do nothing to move the peace process forward.


Abbas' Empty Bombshell - Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not announce his resignation or the dismantlement of the PA. Instead, he repeated his old threat to abandon signed accords with Israel. This is another conditional threat by Abbas and not a straightforward announcement abrogating the Oslo Accords and other agreements with Israel.

In his speech, Abbas did not abandon the peace process with Israel. He did not even suspend security coordination with Israel - without which the PA would not be able to survive. Abbas' speech is not going to change anything on the ground.
(Jerusalem Post)

Will Abbas' Speech Have Much Impact? - Ken Bredemeier & Cecily Hilleary

Analysts questioned whether Abbas' UN speech will have much impact at a time when the Middle East peace process is far down the international community's agenda. "Mahmoud Abbas has a major strategic dilemma on his hands," said Josef Olmert, adjunct professor of political science at the University of South Carolina, "and that is how to make the Palestinian question in general, and the Palestinian Authority in particular, relevant again, at a time when the burning issues in the Middle East are Syria, Iraq, refugees and ISIS." 

(VOA News)

Will There Be a Third Intifada? - Shlomi Eldar

Will a third intifada erupt on the Temple Mount and spread like wildfire across the West Bank? A senior Palestinian official explained that without a prominent body like Fatah coaxing the street, there will be no intifada on the scale of the two previous ones, which began in 1987 and 2000. But Fatah's senior members are preoccupied with who will succeed Abbas. 

By all indications, an all-out conflict with Israel is not really seething below the surface. Yunes Aida of Hebron said, "I was 14 when the second intifada broke out. There were many fatalities and casualties. It was a big mess. It didn't bring us a solution. People know that another intifada and more fatalities will only make their lives harder. They don't have the energy for that. It's not just my own personal opinion. I'm telling you what all the people here are saying."

The Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority leaders are not interested in a return to total chaos and the destruction of PA institutions, which were painstakingly built and are now considered by West Bank residents to be their legitimate political and civilian establishment.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Return of The Persian Empire

Israel Fears Return of Persian Empire - Ben Caspit

A high-ranking IDF officer warned this week of the dangers faced by Israel from the developing radical Shiite axis:
  • "When I compare the Sunni radical axis with the Shiite one, it's clear to me who's most dangerous. With all due respect to Islamic State achievements, the Sunni threat is along the lines of 'more of the same.' It's something we are familiar with. But the Shiite axis, on the other hand, is based on Iran. We are talking about a regional power that dominates 25% of the world's natural gas reserves and 11% of its petroleum reserves. It has tremendous human capital, high capabilities in science, technology, infrastructure, operational abilities, cyber developments."
  • "Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hizbullah and now also Russia are closing ranks against the Sunni axis - including, to our stupefaction, even an international coalition headed by the United States - and this should worry us. Do we want Iran sitting on our doorstep? Do we want Iran, a country that de facto rules Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and enjoys Russian backup, to win in this confrontation? A country that maintains its standing as a nuclear-threshold state?"
  • With regard to Russian involvement, the officer noted, "This development is very bad for Israel; it significantly strengthens the radical Shiite axis. The Russians aren't really interested in the Shiites. What they want is to rein in the Sunni awakening that is gushing through the Caucusus. They are embroiled in Dagestan; in Chechnya, they want to halt the Sunni wave that threatens them, thus they are taking action in Syria."
  • Asked whether he was equally concerned about the Sunni axis, mainly the Islamic State, the officer answered, "No. Although it's true that the Sunni axis has scored startling achievements, they are totally isolated and not supported by any significant external power. They are facing off alone against the radical Shiite deployment that is supported by a regional power like Iran, a world power like Russia and an international aerial coalition headed by the United States."
  • "History proves that large empires coming from the East never bring good tidings to the Jewish people. What we are witnessing now is the return of the Persian Empire. The nuclear agreement between Iran and the West...allows Iran to become an empire and increase its activities and influence throughout the Middle East. From our perspective, this is bad news indeed."
  • "The Iranian adversary does not resemble any foe we have yet faced, on any scale of magnitude. The Persian civilization is much more impressive, developed and powerful than what we have today among the Arab countries. All this should worry us a lot."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jerusalem's Status Among Competing Muslim Sects

The Muslim Schism over Jerusalem - Pinhas Inbari

Amid the systematic destruction of mosques and holy places in the Arab world, it is precisely Israel's responsibility for security at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount that protects it from a similar fate.

Islam is divided into the Shia and the Sunna, but the Sunna is also divided into two main groups: the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The controversy between the Salafis - from whom al-Qaeda emerged and who are also known as Wahabis - and the Muslim Brotherhood is about, among other things, what constitutes the center of Islam.

Whereas the Salafis view the Arabian sites of Hijaz and Mecca as the center of the faith, the Muslim Brotherhood locates it at the Cairo Al-Azhar University, founded in the year 970 as a center for Islamic studies from which rulings and edicts on Islam and Islamic culture emerge. But because Cairo has no special religious holiness, the Brotherhood regards Jerusalem as their religious center. From the Salafis' standpoint, the Muslim Brotherhood's enhancement of the special status of Jerusalem poses a danger to the status of Mecca.

In Syria, for example, the Salafi Islamic State is engaged in an outright war with the Nusra Front of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Salafis frown upon the cult of holy places other than Mecca and Medina and destroy such sites systematically.
"Liberating Al-Aqsa" or "Al-Aqsa is in danger" are main motifs of the Muslim Brotherhood's preaching, while Salafis downplay Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood focuses on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, the Salafis focus on a more immediate goal: "conquering Rome" - that is, the Christian world. 
The writer, an analyst for the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper. 
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Escalation in Jerusalem - Kobi Michael & Oded Eran

More than any other single issue, the Temple Mount embodies the dispute at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel faces a dilemma between its desire to maintain order on the site and prevent violent Palestinian groups from gaining control over it, and concern over the recourse to increased force and the subsequent effect on international relations. The escalation also damages the formal Palestinian leadership, i.e., Fatah and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and plays into the hands of Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic movement in Israel. Any effort by the PA to lower tensions on the Temple Mount is severely criticized by Hamas.

Israel should try to refashion the existing situation on the Temple Mount, with a focus on excluding inciters, headed by Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic Movement, while reinforcing the presence and influence of the Jordanian Waqf on the site.

In his upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Netanyahu should underscore the importance of the Temple Mount in the Jewish ethos. At the same time, he should express willingness to conduct a dialogue with key responsible players in the Muslim world, headed by Jordan's King Abdullah, who have no interest in the escalation that Islamic groups are trying to effect.
Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, was deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Oded Eran, Israel's former ambassador to Jordan and the EU, is a senior researcher at INSS.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)


Who Are the Temple Mount's Mourabitoun? - Shlomi Eldar 

As the struggle over the Temple Mount escalates, the number of Muslim male and female recruits to the Mourabitoun, responsible for inflaming and fanning violence at the site, has grown.

The police and Israel Security Agency put their numbers at more than 1,000 women and hundreds of men, who are paid up to 4,000 Israeli shekels ($1,040) a month for their activism.

The funding is provided by Islamic charities, mainly the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Raid Salah.

Israeli security services claim that Hamas also funnels money to the groups.

When Jews arrive on the Mount, the Muslim women, dressed in black, their faces veiled, repeatedly call out in unison, "Allahu Akbar," to scare off the Jews in a type of psychological warfare.                                                                                                                      

Abbas: "We Welcome Every Drop of Blood Spilled in Jerusalem"
Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, told Palestinian television on Sept. 16: "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward."

He said only the Palestinians have rights to Jerusalem: "Al-Aqsa is ours and the (Church of the) Holy Sepulcher is ours. Everything is ours, all ours."

Abbas also praised two recently outlawed radical Islamist organizations whose activists are paid to harass Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. 
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Should The West Clean Up Refugee Crisis?

The Europeans apparently don't quite understand the world they are living in. The tens of thousands of migrants banging on their door are merely the tip of the iceberg, which will fully emerge the moment millions of people in the Middle East realize that Europe is giving up and opening its gates.

The real problem is rooted in the uninhibited natural growth that has occurred in the Middle East, which has not coincided with sufficient economic growth to balance it.

While Europe's population over the past 50 years has grown by about a quarter, from 400 million people in 1960 to around 500 million at the start of this decade, the Middle East's population has grown fourfold - from 100 million in 1960 to 400 million in 2010.

The problem at Europe's doorstep, therefore, is not a few million Syrians seeking refuge from war. It is the tens of millions who want to leave the Arab world - a world that offers no hope and no future - and move to Europe.
Prof. Eyal Zisser is former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. 
(Israel Hayom)


A Prayer - Caroline Glick

Westerners are increasingly at a loss in the face of the break-up of societies throughout the Arab world. Consider for instance Europe’s disoriented, confused response to the massive wave of refugees from Syria now washing onto its shores. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the unfolding drama is that it appears the Europeans only just realized that Syria has fallen apart.

The war in Syria broke out nearly five years ago. Hundreds of thousands have already been killed in the conflict. Ten million people – nearly half of Syria’s pre-war population – have been displaced. For the past four years, millions of Syrians have been living in refugee camps in neighboring states – first and foremost in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Most of the refugees now arriving in Europe are coming from these camps, rather than directly from Syria. Rather than help them either resettle in the lands to which they fled, or take action on the ground in Syria to enable them to return to their homes, the Europeans largely ignored them

Israel’s greatest strategic asset is our willingness to see things for what they are. It is my prayer for the coming year that our vision becomes ever sharper and that through our moral and strategic clarity we rally the Americans and other like-minded nations to our side in our fight for ourselves and for the noblest attributes of humanity.
[Jerusalem Post]

Time to Open Our Eyes to the Arab Disaster - Ari Shavit

The Arab humanitarian disaster is now migrating from the Middle East to central Europe. Millions are voting with their feet against the failure of the national Arab project to produce a single state combining prosperity and freedom.

One reason for the Arab humanitarian disaster is political correctness. Professor Edward Said and his students caused indescribable damage to the ability to think or speak the truth when it comes to the Arab world. Their wacky intellectual legacy did not permit talking about the region's residents as anything but victims. The grand Arab nation was treated like a juvenile who isn't responsible for his actions. So all the ills of Arab politics were attributed to others - imperialists, colonialists, Zionists. No real criticism of the Arab world was permitted and no one demanded it mend itself. 

"2 in 100" Syrian Refugees May Be IS Members - John Stevens

Two in every 100 Syrian migrants smuggled into Europe are Islamic State-trained fanatics, David Cameron was warned by Lebanese education minister Elias Bousaab, who met the prime minister during his lightning visit to the region. He said the extremist group is sending trained jihadists "under cover" to attack targets in the West. 

Bousaab said, "It's a very dangerous situation and the world should wake up and do something about that. ISIS will not stop at the border with Lebanon. Before you know it, ISIS will be in Europe." 
(Daily Mail-UK)

Migrants Pose as Syrians to Open Doors in Europe
- Manuela Mesco, Matt Bradley and Giovanni Legorano

As Europe moves to take in large numbers of refugees, particularly from Syria, some other migrants - often Iraqis, Libyans, Palestinians and Egyptians - are passing themselves off as Syrian, said aid workers, government officials and fellow migrants.

At Budapest's Keleti Train Station last week, Mahmoud, a Syrian from Aleppo, looked around at the new arrivals. Judging from their accents and dialects, he reckoned that little more than 10% were Syrian. But he saw many more passing themselves off as Syrians. The masquerade risks undermining political support for the EU's open-door policy. 
(Wall Street Journal)

Germany Arrests ISIS Recruiter Posing as Asylum Seeker
- Elliot Friedland

A 21-year old from Morocco has been arrested by German authorities at a refugee center near Stuttgart on suspicion of being an Islamic State recruiter. The man was sought under a European arrest warrant issued by Spanish authorities. He used a false identity to pose as an asylum seeker.

At the same time it was reported the German government seized 10,000 fake Syrian passports, which are being sold to those seeking to gain entry to the EU for around $1,500 each. Possession of a Syrian passport makes claiming asylum a lot easier.
[Clarion Project]


Disguising Themselves as Syrians to Enter Europe
- Souad Mekhennet and William Booth

Moving among the tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees in Europe are many who are neither Syrian nor refugees, but hoping to blend into the mass migration and find a back door to the West. There are well-dressed Iranians speaking Farsi who insist they are members of the persecuted Yazidis of Iraq. There are Indians who don't speak Arabic but say they are from Damascus. There are Pakistanis, Albanians, Egyptians, Kosovars, Somalis and Tunisians. "What we see here has nothing to do with seeking refuge and safety," Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said. "It is nothing but opportunism."

A native Arabic-speaking reporter who wandered through train stations in Vienna found plenty of newcomers whose accents did not match their stories and whose stories did not make sense.

Swimming in the river of humanity are shady characters, too, admitted criminals and Islamic State sympathizers. At Vienna Westbahnhof railway station, when a reporter asked a group of men where they were from, the men answered, "We are from Syria." When the reporter switched to the North African dialect, the men admitted, "We are Algerians." One said he met Tunisians, Moroccans and Libyans playing the same game.
(Washington Post)

Emigrants Say: No Future in Syria - Roy Gutman

Some 1,000 to 1,500 Syrians daily travel by ferry from northern Lebanon to southern Turkey, according to Turkish port authorities. None of the 50 or so people interviewed were war zone refugees. They were legal emigrants from government-held areas, all carrying passports. They had purchased their tickets at local travel agencies in Syria. Most were educated and from the middle and lower-middle class. Though almost everyone was Sunni, few had adverse words for the Assad government, but all said they have no future in Syria.

"A lot of people are not running away from war. But they are chasing a dream to be citizens in Europe in the 21st century," said Obaeda Farran, 38, from northern Syria, whose family has set up a restaurant in southern Turkey.

Refugee Riot - Anthony Faiola & Souad Mekhennet

Calden, Germany, threw open its doors to arriving waves of refugees. Donations from clothing drives filled four garages. The volunteer fire department built a tent city that now teems with 1,400 migrants. But residents here are having second thoughts after the riot.

On Sunday an Albanian cut in the food line at the tent city, prompting a reprimand from a Pakistani. Pushes degenerated into punches. Soon, 300 migrants wielding pepper spray and metal pipes were attacking each other in rival mobs. More than 50 police officers struggled for hours to restore order, with three hospitalized with injuries.

Germany is undergoing a national reality check. On Wednesday, violence broke out at two refugee centers in Hamburg, including one incident involving 100 migrants wielding wooden planks as weapons, according to police. In Calden, another incident in August involved a clash between Syrian and Albanian asylum seekers.
(Washington Post)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Top Jewish Dem Breaks with Obama

Alan Dershowitz [left]
Photo: Jerusalem Post

Hold Iran to the Language in the Deal - Alan M. Dershowitz

The following commitment is made in the nuclear deal: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons." It sets no time limit on the prohibition against Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Was this language merely hortatory or was it an integral and enforceable component of the agreement?

The American public has the right to know whether this deal is intended to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear arsenal, or merely postponing such a catastrophic eventuality.

Congress has the power to resolve that ambiguity by enacting legislation declaring that Iran's reaffirmation that it will never obtain nuclear weapons is an integral part of the agreement and represents enduring U.S. policy. It may be too late to change the words of the deal, but it is certainly not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with its provisions.

Congress should now enact a law authorizing the president (and his successors) to employ military force to prevent Iran from ever developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. In this way, Iran will be on notice that the president or a successor already has the legislative authorization to act
The writer is a professor of law emeritus at Harvard Law School.
(Wall Street Journal)

Dershowitz: ‘I’m Furious With President Obama’

Long-time Democrat, Israel defender and famed law professor Alan Dershowitz told a synagogue audience on Saturday night that he was “furious” with President Obama over the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking at Manhattan’s illustrious Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side to a crowd gathered for the pre-high-holiday prayer service, Dershowitz implied he had been betrayed by the president he had formerly championed.

He recounted being invited to the Oval Office before Obama’s reelection in 2012, where the president had committed to being vigilant on the Iranian nuclear issue. Obama has now crossed many of his own red lines, said Dershowitz, who backed Obama in two elections.

The current battle in Congress over the upcoming vote on the nuclear deal will by no means end the issue, Dershowitz added, saying, “The small battle has been lost; the big battle is just beginning.”

Obama Is an Abject Failure—by His Own Standards -Paul Miller

In his book, Dershowitz writes, “President Obama himself seemed to agree—before his election to a second termthat were Iran to ever develop nuclear weapons, it would be a ‘game changer,’ and he promised he would ‘do whatever it takes’ and ‘everything that’s required’ to ‘eliminate’ this ‘grave’ and ‘real’ security threat not only to the region but to the U.S.”

I asked the liberal icon, in regard to President Obama’s perspective, “What changed?”

The cynical theory, which seems to be supported by the data, is that once he was out of politics, that is, once he couldn’t run again and once the House and the Senate were firmly in the hands of Republicans, he was going to do what he always wanted to do and he was less than completely candid with those of us whom he told that the military option was on the table and that Iran would never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”

He took the military option off the table, and that was an extraordinarily naïve and wrong thing to do because that allowed the Iranians to negotiate with us as equals,” said Dershowitz.

An ardent supporter of Israel, Dershowitz believes that this deal makes war between the Jewish State and Iran “more likely.” He also warns that Iran’s battle with ISIS is an “excuse” to build a large conventional military force closer to Israel.

“If you judge president Obama by his own standards, he is an abject failure when it comes to international relations. Forget about my standard or yours. By his own standard he is an abject failure when it comes to dealing with Iran.”

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Punishing Iran Deal Proponents

The Democrats Now Own Iran. They’ll Soon Wish They Didn’t 
-Jonathan Tobin

This morning, President Obama got its 34th vote in the Senate, thus assuring that the president will have enough support to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval of the pact.

The only suspense now is whether Obama will get to 41 and thus have enough for a filibuster and prevent a vote on the deal from even taking place. Leaving aside the terrible damage the deal does to U.S. security and the stability of the Middle East, the most far-reaching effect of the deal is that from now on Democrats own Iran. From this moment forward, every act of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, every instance of Iranian aggression and adventurism as well as the Islamist regime’s inevitable march to a nuclear weapon can be laid at the feet of a Democratic Party.

With a few exceptions, the Democrats fell meekly behind a president determined to prioritize détente with Iran over the alliance with Israel and the need to defend U.S. interests. By smashing the bipartisan consensus that had existed on Iran up until this year, the Democrats have, in effect, become the hostages of the ayatollahs. This is a decision that will haunt them in the years to come.

Though AIPAC can generally count on bipartisan support on any issue it cares about, it never had a prayer of beating an administration that was prepared to do and say anything to get its way. Once the president made clear that he considered the nuclear deal to be the centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy, the chances that even the pull of the pro-Israel community could persuade enough Democrats to sustain a veto override were slim and none.

In order to achieve that victory, Obama had to sink to the level of gutter politics by smearing his critics as warmongers and slam AIPAC with the same sort of language that earned President George H.W. Bush opprobrium. But the president’s ability to twist the arms of most of the members of his own party to back him was never really in doubt. It was a defeat for AIPAC but not one that should impact its ability to continue to be effective on Capitol Hill.

Let’s remember that, up until this past winter, it could be argued that Congressional Democrats were as ardent about stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the Republicans. But once the president got close to achieving his goal of an entente with Iran, he set about the business of peeling away Democrats from that consensus position. To date only two in the Senate — Menendez and New York’s Chuck Schumer — resisted the pressure...

The statements of support from each Democrat betrayed their lack of enthusiasm for a deal that all admitted wasn’t the triumph that Obama was crowing about.

Obama and the Democrats now say they will get behind Israel and strengthen its defenses even though the deal makes Iran a threshold nuclear power almost immediately. That renders talk of preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge over potential foes meaningless.

If Iran cheats its way to a bomb before the deal expires or uses the wealth that Obama is lavishing on it to get them to agree to this deal to undermine regional stability it won’t be possible in the future for Democrats to say that this was simply Obama’s folly. No, by docilely following his lead for a deal that few of them were eager to embrace, the entire Democratic Party must now pray that the president is right and that Iran will seek to “get right with the world” rather than pursuing a religious and ideological agenda of conflict with the West and Israel.

Obama got his deal despite the opposition of the majority of Congress and the American people. But the Democratic Party now gets to pay the bill for it. By making Iran a partisan issue in this manner, Obama saddled his party with the blame for everything that will happen in the coming years. Munich analogies are often inappropriate but when Rep. Patrick Murphy (the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Marco Rubio is vacating next year) said the deal gives us “peace in our time,” his channeling of Neville Chamberlain was no ordinary gaffe. In the years to come when Obama is retired and Iran uses the deal to make new mischief and atrocities, Democrats may regret giving in to the president’s pressure. But, like the appeasers of the 1930s, the legacy of the pro-Iran deal Democrats is now set in stone.

The Iran Nuclear Deal Weakened AIPAC - Jonathan Broder

With the 2016 congressional campaigns getting underway, some analysts say it’s critical for AIPAC to punish supporters of the Iran deal.

Political observers will be watching the Wisconsin Senate race between Republican Ron Johnson, an outspoken opponent of the agreement, and former Senator Russ Feingold, a Jewish Democrat who supports the accord. Another telling contest will be the Illinois Senate race between Republican Mark Kirk, a former AIPAC employee, and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Army helicopter pilot who lost both her legs during the Iraq War and is undecided on the deal. Even Jerrold Nadler, an 11-term Democrat from New York, who is Jewish, could face a primary challenge since he has publicly backed the nuclear agreement.

And those who think the Iran issue will fade away once the deal gets through Congress had better think again. An Obama victory there is likely to galvanize Republicans—particularly as the 2016 election looms. Both Kirk and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a long-shot presidential contender, are crafting a new set of non-nuclear sanctions that would deprive Iran of nearly all the economic benefits it’s getting from the deal. Some of Obama’s supporters predict Republicans will make the Iran deal the Obamacare of foreign policy and never stop trying to kill it.

“The fight is not over just because the Iran deal gets past Congress,” says Dylan Williams, J Street’s vice president of government affairs. “It’s something we’re all going to have to keep our eye on for years.” That’s something on which all sides seem to agree.
[Newsweek via Jewish World Review]

Keep Lobbying on Iran

Despite President Obama having secured a veto-proof Iran deal, it is still vital to weaken the deal's political support as much as possible.  Keep lobbying!
Next Steps for Iran Deal Opponents - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

AIPAC President Robert A. Cohen said, "The battle to prevent a nuclear-capable Iran is far from over....[e]nsuring the largest possible bipartisan rejection of this agreement will establish the strongest possible foundation for the Iran policy debate still to come, and will ensure a robust congressional role in that process."

AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann emphasized that "a bipartisan majority of the American people join the bipartisan congressional majority that will soon vote to reject this deal. We believe that this strong opposition conveys an important message to the world...about the severe doubts in America concerning Iran's willingness to meet its commitments and the long-term viability of this agreement."

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said that for the Iran deal's opponents, "the next steps are to convert the 60% bipartisan rejection of this deal by Congress and the deep anguish that many congressional supporters of the deal are experiencing into bipartisan legislation to target the Revolutionary Guards for its support for terrorism and regional violence." 
(Times of Israel)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

VIdeoBite: Israel's Minority Communities Praise Israel

Powerful video documenting Israel's minority communities and their support for their country

It's The Jihad Stupid

Losing the war of ideas - Caroline Glick

We have arrived at the point where the consequences of the West’s intellectual disarmament at the hands of political correctness begins to have disastrous consequences in the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Speaking last month at the memorial service for the five US marines massacred at a recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “The meaning of their killing is yet unclear, and what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism, and hateful ideology was at work, we don’t know.”

US Vice President Joe Biden claimed, the “perverse ideologues...may be able to inspire a single lone wolf, but they can never, never threaten who we are.”

Both men were wrong, and dangerously so.

The meaning of the killings was no mystery.
Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot his victims down in cold blood because he was a jihadist.
Ideas are the most powerful human force. And the idea of jihad that the Obama administration will not discuss is perhaps the most powerful idea in the world’s marketplace of ideas today.

The notion of jihad is fairly simple. It asserts that Islam is the only true religion. All other faiths are wrong and evil. It is the destiny of the one true faith to reign supreme. The duty of all Muslims is to facilitate Islam’s global rise and dominion.

How this duty is borne varies. Some take up arms. Some engage in indoctrination. Some engage in subversion. And some cheer from the sidelines, providing a fan base to encourage those more directly engaged. What is most important is the shared idea, the creed of jihad.

The jihadist creed is a creed of war. Consequently, its adherents cannot live peacefully with non-jihadists. By definition, those who subscribe to a jihadist world view constitute a threat to those who do not share their belief system.

Rather than contend with the idea of jihad, the West, led by the US, insists on limiting its focus to the outward manifestations of jihadist beliefs.

Physical bases of jihadists in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are targeted to kill specific people – like Awlaki. But the ideas that inspire them to action are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant and interchangeable with other ideologies, like Zionism and fiscal conservatism.

Unlike the Americans, the jihadists understand the power of their idea. And they invest hundreds of millions of dollars to propagate it. MEMRI recently reported that Islamic State (IS) runs at least three production companies. They disseminate professional- quality videos daily. The videographers, composers and singers who produce these films are IS members, no different from its beheaders, sex traders and chemical weapons purveyors.

From Nigeria to Egypt to the Palestinian Authority to Pakistan, in Europe, the US and South America, jihadist armies and individual Muslims are embracing the idea of the caliphate – the ultimate aim of jihad – and pledging or weighing the option of pledging loyalty to IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Last week the Pentagon’s Inspector General announced it is investigating reports that the Obama administration has required US intelligence agencies to minimize their reporting on the threat IS poses. Intelligence officers have allegedly been ordered to exaggerate the success of the US’s anemic campaign against its bases in Iraq and Syria while understating the threat IS constitutes.

Over the past year, jihadists published the home addresses of American soldiers and officers. On numerous occasions, what an FBI alert referred to as “Middle Eastern men” accosted the wives of US soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of their homes.

Speaking to concerned soldiers last week, Carter again pretended away the problem. While insisting that protecting soldiers is “job one for all of us,” Carter insisted that the threat was limited to “a few troubled losers who are on the Internet too much.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop warned in June that IS may already have sufficient nuclear material to produce a dirty bomb. As we have seen with IS’s wide-scale use of chemical weapons in Iraq, we must assume that its fighters will use all weapons at their disposal.

Had the West – led by the US – been willing to abandon the intellectual straitjacket of political correctness with which it has willingly shackled itself, IS may very well have been a marginal movement able to attract no more than “a few troubled losers who are on the Internet too much.”

Biden’s pledge that while “perverse ideologues may be able to inspire a single lone wolf they can never, never threaten who we are” might have been credible.

But because of our voluntary intellectual enslavement, we now face a real danger that IS and its demonic notions will take over Egypt. Because we seek to ignore the creed of jihad, Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal could very well become the property of the caliphate.

Ideas are the force that drives history. If we aren’t willing to fight for what we believe, then we will lose to those who are. And make no mistake, we are not winning this war
[Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Giving The Finger to Matisyahu

Matisyahu: Facing PLO Flags

Reggae artist and former hassidic Jew Matisyahu has opened up in an interview about his experience at the Rototom Sunsplash Festival Spain last week - and he says was not a pleasant one.

The singer-songwriter has been hailed as a Jewish hero since the festival, in which he faced down a hostile, PLO-flag-waving audience and even sang his song "Jerusalem."

He told The Daily Beast in a phone interview that when he stood back stage, he noticed a PLO flag in the audience, but when he stepped on stage "about 20 flags came out."

"People were standing on each other's shoulders with flags giving me the middle finger. It was intense. It was not peaceful. It was like 'F*** you, Matisyahu.' I've never had the experience of anything like that, as a Jew or anything in my life."

He said that the performance was one of the only times he's ever felt unsafe onstage. "I just assumed everyone in the festival was going to be regular reggae festival-goers, so I got really nervous. I felt totally open and that anyone could do whatever they want," he said.

His performance followed pressure from anti-Israel forces that led to the cancellation of his invitation, international controversy, and then to a last-minute apology and re-invitation.
[Virtual Jerusalem]

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

French Expert: 'Obama put more pressure on its friends, than on Iran'

French Critics of the Iran Deal - John Vinocur

 After initially nodding "yes" to the nuclear deal with Iran, the French have partially reverted to form reflecting their traditional hard-nosed antinuclear proliferation position. Citing the profound weaknesses of an agreement that allows controls over Iran to end after 15 years and the mullahs to keep an absurdly high number of centrifuges, a French official expressed concern about America's willingness over time to continue paying the enormous expense of its vast Iranian surveillance operations. He also said that the deal's concessions to Tehran made a pressing reality of Saudi Arabia's quest for an atomic weapon.

French security expert Bruno Tertrais wrote last month in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir that "with pressure from the Obama administration," European negotiators' original intent deteriorated from a rollback of Iran's nuclear ambitions to their containment.

Camille Grand, director of the French think tank Foundation for Strategic Research, explained: "From 2013 on, the Americans gave the impression they wanted the deal more than Iran did. The administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians."  
(Wall Street Journal)

The Saudis Reply to Iran's Rising Danger - Sohrab Ahmari

  • Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has spearheaded Riyadh's outreach to Jerusalem. He made history in June when he appeared on a panel in Washington with Dore Gold, the director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. I sat down for an interview with Gen. Eshki on Wednesday in Prague.
  • Gen. Eshki said he was surprised by Secretary of State Kerry during the talks: "He supported the Iranians!" Kerry and his boss were willing to see things Iran's way, Gen. Eshki says, because they believe that moderates can outmaneuver hard-liners like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards.
  • "I believe Iran will not change its mind as long as that regime is in power in Tehran," he says. "They want to revive the Persian Empire. And also they want to dominate the Middle East."
  • It was the common Iranian threat that brought the general and Dr. Gold into a year-long strategic dialogue that culminated in the Washington meeting. "The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel....My government knows about the project. My government isn't against it, because we need peace. For that reason, I found Dore Gold. He likes his country. I like my country. We need to profit from each other."
  • The U.S. doesn't figure much in the moral and strategic map Gen. Eshki paints of the region. "The United States doesn't like anymore to be involved in the Middle East." That may be preferable to many American voters, but it comes at the price of a diminished capacity to shape events and outcomes.
  • (Wall Street Journal)

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Matisyahu vs. Palestinian flags


    With Palestinian flags in background, Matisyahu vows: 'Jerusalem, if I forget you'‏

    An American Jewish musician who was controversially barred from a reggae festival in Spain before being invited back to play performed to catcalls from some pro-Palestinian protesters on Sunday, though the concert passed off peacefully after a tense build-up.

    Amid a packed audience at the event in Benicassim, near Valencia in eastern Spain, dozens of people whistled in disapproval as Matisyahu took to the stage in the early hours of Sunday, with some waving Palestinian flags and chanting "out, out".

    But many others in the audience of hundreds applauded the musician as the concert got under way.

    "Whoever you are and wherever you come from raise a flag and wave it in the air," Matisyahu called to the crowd before his closing song. "Let music be your flag," he added, after dancing his way through his 45-minute set.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Faced With Sea of Palestinian Flags, Matisyahu Belts Out ‘Jerusalem’

    BDS bigots had yet another trick to unveil as the star ascended to the stage on Saturday night.

    Not to be cowed however, it was the spirited Matisyahu who had the last laugh.

    Far from boycotting the reggae artist’s gig, the “hate Israel” crowd showed up en masse. And they came bearing flags, immense Palestinian flags, which they waved with gusto from every corner of the 20,000-strong crowd.

    As Matisyahu took the mike and looked out to the audience, he was presented with an unmistakably hostile message. It was clear that those who sought to have him banished stood before him in protest. Then the catcalls started, with some chanting, “out, out.” It might easily have been unnerving, disorienting.

    But then he began to sing about Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

    And then, as he bounced and twirled around the stage, the most defiant lyrics of all: “3, 000 years with no place to be, and they want me to give up my milk and honey.”

    “Tonight was difficult but special,” he later posted on Facebook, along with a clip of the performance.

    The power of Jewish indignation - Caroline Glick

    Matisyahu’s disinvitation prompted a worldwide Jewish outcry. The Foreign Ministry registered a complaint with the Spanish government.

    Every major American Jewish organization and several European Jewish organizations condemned the blatant discrimination against Matisyahu. On Tuesday, Spain’s main newspaper, El Pais, condemned the festival’s anti-Semitism. The Spanish government followed hours later.

    On Wednesday, the festival organizers issued a groveling apology to Matisyahu and officially reinstated his invitation to perform.

    The lesson of the Matisyahu affair is that it is possible to defeat these haters. The festival organizers discriminated against Matisyahu because they feared the Jew-hating mob more than they valued his artistry. They are now groveling at his feet because the pushback they received from world Jewry for their behavior knocked them to their knees. When Jews stand up to anti-Semites, the anti-Semites back down.
    [Jerusalem Post]