Thursday, February 26, 2009

Netanyahu's approach


Economic Recovery in West Bank
-Meron Benvenisti

The West Bank is undergoing a period of economic recovery.

During the past year, there was an increase of more than a third in commercial activity, and the rise in the standard of living is continuing. True, the prosperity is based on the flow of donations from abroad, but the aim of the donors is to provide political support for the PA and to fight Hamas by economic means. They are apparently succeeding.

The West Bank remained calm during the fighting in Gaza. Security officials are aware of this improvement and they are doing away with roadblocks, making the movement of traffic easier.

In view of this improvement, it is possible that Benjamin Netanyahu is correct in claiming that we should concentrate on "economic peace" and that, in view of the lack of a chance for a permanent solution, attempts must be made to continue the economic development in the territories.
The writer is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
(Ha'aretz)
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The Flood Gate that Obama opened


Call for Scrapping Conditions for Talking with Hamas

A group of former international peace negotiators on Thursday urged the world and Israel to abandon the policy of isolating Hamas and engage with the Islamist militant group.
(Times-UK)


UK: Egypt Best Placed to Talk to Hamas -Jonathan Wright

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that talking to Hamas was "the right thing to do," but Egypt and other parties were best placed to do it. Miliband said Egypt was acting on behalf of the whole world in its dealings with Hamas.
(Reuters)


Netanyahu Opposes Talks with a PA Government that Includes Hamas -Herb Keinon

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to lobby Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next week against U.S. recognition of a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval [pictured at right] said, "We shall try to convince our American friends that this is not something that would help the peace process, and that it would only make it easier for all sorts of other players - the Europeans and the Russians - to deal with Hamas."

Shoval said history had shown that when there was an amalgamation between a moderate and an extremist party, it was only a matter of time before the extremists called the shots, and that the end result of a Hamas-Fatah merger would not be a more moderate Palestinian political entity but a more radical one.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Obama taps Israel basher


Potential intel pick accused of bias -Ron Kampeas

The Obama administration’s reported pick for a top intelligence post helped peddle a Saudi-funded school study guide decried by Jewish groups and educators for having anti-Jewish biases.

Charles "Chas" Freeman [pictured above], the U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, is slated to chair the National Intelligence Council. Spokesmen for Freeman and for the White House declined to comment.

Freeman is president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Saudi-funded think tank.

The problem [with] Freeman, should his appointment eventuate, is that his writings have tended less toward analysis and more toward advocacy -- and not simply of a line of thought that defends Arab interests but that demonizes Israel and its advocates.
[JTA]
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UPDATES:

Controversial Figure Appointed as Council Chairman

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair announced [the selection of] Chas Freeman to head his council of advisers, deflecting the concerns of Israel supporters who question whether Freeman will undermine U.S. policy in the Mideast.

Statements that Freeman made over the last three decades on U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East and Iran's threat to the international community have prompted some to question his objectivity in a role that requires it.

For example, in October 2007, Freeman said the U.S. has "abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel's efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations."
(FOX News)



U.S. Intelligence Pick Pulls Out after Objections -Randall Mikkelsen

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles Freeman, named to head the National Intelligence Council which produces formal U.S. intelligence assessments of security issues, withdrew on Tuesday amid congressional objections over his past criticism of Israel and ties to China and Saudi Arabia. Freeman was president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank that received funding from Saudi Arabia.
(Reuters)
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't fight back

Downplaying Hamas: Rationalizing Terrorism -James Kirchick

When Israel erected a security fence and imposed a blockade on Gaza following its withdrawal from the territory in 2005, Palestinian terrorists had to find other means of killing Jews. Hamas chose crude rockets, which, while occasionally injuring and even killing Israeli civilians, were not nearly as lethal as men detonating themselves in crowded shopping malls.

Lamenting the greater number of Palestinian civilian casualties (due almost entirely to the Hamas practice of using women and children as human shields) is a perennial tactic of Israel's critics. The logic of their position dictates that Israel should wait until some critical mass of its own civilians is killed before eventually fighting back.

Over the past several weeks, the critics have developed a new piece of rhetoric: The Hamas actions that provoked Israel were merely a nuisance. A Guardian news report referred to the rocket attacks as a "manageable irritant."

Israel's detractors have minimized, to an almost comical extent, what its citizens have had to endure over the past three years. They portray a bona fide war crime - the deliberate firing of rockets into civilian areas - as a minor irritant. They criticize, from the comfort of their keyboards thousands of miles away, the actions of a beleaguered democracy under siege from terrorists.
(City Journal-Manhattan Institute)
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VideoBite: Military Families United


Military Families United released this national advertisement in response to the news that Binyam Mohamed, an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ was released from Guantanamo Bay and freed in England.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama's "Palestinian unity" is a dead end


In a Palestinian Unity Government, Hamas Wins -Khaled Abu Toameh

Reconciliation talks are slated to be launched in Cairo this week between Hamas and Fatah on the formation of a new Palestinian unity government.

Both Hamas and Fatah realize that the only way to persuade the international community to contribute to the reconstruction work in Gaza is to form a unity government. A new Palestinian unity government would mean victory for Hamas, which would not be required to make any major political concessions, while its participation in a unity government would turn it into a legitimate and internationally recognized player in the Palestinian arena.
(Jerusalem Post)
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MidEast Repetition Compulsion: the elusive search for a "formula"


Repetition of Failed Experiments Is Not a Formula for Peace
-Elliott Abrams

As an official of the Bush administration I made three dozen visits to the Middle East in the last eight years, and after lengthy discussions with Israelis and Palestinians, it seems to me obvious that it is time to face certain facts:

We are not on the verge of Israeli-Palestinian peace; a Palestinian state cannot come into being in the near future; and the focus should be on building the institutions that will allow for real Palestinian progress in the medium or longer term.

Fatah as a party is moribund. Its reputation for incompetence and corruption remains what it was when Arafat was alive, for there has been no party reform despite endless promises. [T]he collapse of Fatah suggests that a future independent Palestine would either be run by Hamas and other extremists and terrorists or become a one-party "republic" on the model of Tunisia or Egypt.

The lesson of Gaza to Israelis is identical to the lesson of south Lebanon, and a cautionary tale regarding withdrawal from the West Bank: "Land for peace" concessions have failed and become "land for terrorism."

Israeli withdrawals now risk opening the door not only to Palestinian terrorists but to Iranian proxies. While Iran is able to sustain the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza, negotiations over a full final status agreement are little more than staking territorial claims to a mirage.

The U.S. and the Quartet should take some time away from endless meetings and speeches and resolutions calling for immediate negotiations over final status issues, and turn instead to making real life in the West Bank better and more secure.
The writer was a deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration.
(Weekly Standard)
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Israeli singer & peace activist Noa, supports Gaza War



Internationally renowned Israeli singer Noa [known in Israel as Achinoam Nini] has written an open letter to Palestinians.

Dear Palestinian brothers,

I have seen the peace process rise and fall and rise like the breast of a woman breathing in the night. [T]oday, today I say this; we have one joint enemy, one awful joint enemy and we must all work together to eradicate it! That enemy is fanaticism my friends. That enemy is extremism in all its ugly reincarnations and manifestations.

I see the ugly head of fanaticism, I see it large and horrid, I see its black eyes and spine-chilling smile, I see blood on its hands and I know one of its many names: Hamas. You know this too, my brothers. You know this ugly monster. You know it is raping the minds of your children. You know it is educating to hatred and death.

I am privileged to live in a democracy where women are not objects but presidents, where a singer can say and do as she pleases! I know you do not have this privilege (yet…but you will, inshallah, you will…) I know you are SICK of being held hostage by this demon, this ugly beast!!! You are a people destined to flourish in peace! Your majestic history is overflowing with creativity, literature science and music, endless contributions to humanity, not crippling, torturing fanaticism, yelling Jihad and Shahid!

I see you sometimes, out in the streets, demonstrating with the monsters, yelling ‘death to the Jews, death to Israel!! But I don’t believe you! I know where your heart is! It is just where mine is, with my children, with the earth, with the heavens, with music, with HOPE!! You want nothing of this but you have no choice! I see through your veil of fear my brothers, through your burka! I embrace your hopes for they are mine!

But, now, today, I know that deep in your hearts YOU WISH for the demise of this beast called Hamas who has terrorized and murdered you, who has turned Gaza into a trash heap of poverty, disease and misery. Who in the name of "allah” has sacrificed you on the bloody alter of pride and greed.

I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today called Hamas. And that these killers will find what little compassion may still exist in their hearts and STOP using you and your children as human shields for their cowardice and crimes.

Enough. Enough my brother … you want some coffee? Here, sit for a while…let's talk….we know the words, we know the songs, we know the road….
Shalom...Salam...

With a broken heart,
Noa
[YNet News]
[Sample Noa's music at: http://www.noasmusic.com]
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Yemenite Jews escape to Israel

Yemenite family to Israel in secret operation -Abe Selig

[T]he Ben-Yisrael family [are] the latest immigrants from the Yemenite community of Raida - a town fraught with tension between its Jewish and Muslim residents. [T]he Ben-Yisraels arrived in a special operation, shrouded in secrecy, organized by the Jewish Agency and Yemenite Jewish Federation of America.

As they stepped into the [airport's] arrivals hall, the Ben-Yisraels looked as if they had walked through a time warp. "Thank God, I'm happy to be here," said family patriarch Sa'id Ben-Yisrael [pictured above with his sons], clad in a felt yarmulke and long black side curls as he stood in front of his wife and seven children [some below/right].

Greeted by a Yemenite rabbi who lives in Israel, Ben-Yisrael recited the "Sheheheyanu" prayer, which is said upon arriving at a particularly festive or joyous occasion. The crowd of reporters and cameramen who swarmed around the family as they entered the arrival terminal answered "Amen!"

Several weeks ago, Islamic extremists threw a hand grenade into the Ben-Yisraels' courtyard.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

NewsFlash...Obama's first big MidEast mistake: the resurrection of Hamas


-Hilary Leila Krieger

US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell [pictured with President Obama] expressed support for Egyptian efforts to forge a Palestinian national unity government, indicating that America could take a new tack on Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, during a conference call with Jewish leaders.

Mitchell said that until now divisions among the Palestinians have been a major obstacle to bringing peace to the region, according to representatives of Jewish organizations who participated in the call. The 45-minute call was on the record but not open to the media.

It is seen as a sign that this US administration might be willing to talk to Hamas.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Is Obama flirting with Hamas?



US Sen. John Kerry [pictured above] traveled to the Gaza Strip, in the highest-level visit by a US official since Hamas seized power nearly two years ago.

Kerry did not meet with anyone from Hamas, [b]ut the mere presence of the well-known Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential nominee was a possible harbinger of a new US approach in the region.

Since taking office last month, President Barack Obama has said he wants to improve US ties with the Muslim world. Kerry is considered close to Obama, and a separate visit to Gaza Thursday by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, was another possible sign of [a] new American approach.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Arab rejectionism meets tennis


Sponsors Dump Dubai Open Over Treatment of Israeli Player

The Wall Street Journal Europe has revoked its sponsorship of the WTA Dubai Open Women's Tennis Tournament. This follows a decision by the Tennis Channel not to televise the Dubai tournament because the United Arab Emirates has denied a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer [pictured above].
(AFP/Fox Sports)


Dubai Double Fault -Editorial

Dubai may wish to reconsider not only Ms. Peer's visa, but its attitude generally toward Israel.

A city-state that fancies itself a global mecca for commerce, sport and recreation ought to be able to handle a few Jews in its cosmopolitan midst.
(Wall Street Journal)
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The New Anti-Semitism


"Criticism" of Israel as Anti-Semitism -Howard Jacobson

What do we think we are doing when we call the Israelis Nazis and liken Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto? [T]here is not the remotest similarity, either in intention or in deed, between Gaza and Warsaw.

Berating Jews with their own history is the latest species of Holocaust denial. Anyone with scant knowledge of the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations would assume that Jews descended on the country as from a clear blue sky; that they had no prior association with the land other than in religious fantasy and through some scarce remembered genealogical affiliation. They make little or nothing of the Jews' unbroken connection with the country going back thousand[s of] years, the piety felt for the land, or the waves of idealistic immigration which long predated the post-Holocaust influx.
(Independent-UK)
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

VideoBite: Laughing at Jihad

Obama stands by Bush anti-terror policies



Even as it pulls back from interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor’s approach to fighting Al Qaeda.

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.IA.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

And earlier this month, after a British court cited pressure by the United States in declining to release information about the alleged torture of a detainee in American custody, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”

These and other signs suggest that the administration’s changes may turn out to be less sweeping than many had hoped or feared — prompting...a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies.
[New York Times]
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World's leading pacifist: Nonviolence doesn't work with terrorists


Dalai Lama: Non-Violence Cannot Tackle Terrorism

The Dalai Lama [pictured above at Jerusalem's Western Wall], a lifelong champion of non-violence, stated that terrorism cannot be tackled by applying the principle of ahimsa (the avoidance of violence) because the minds of terrorists are closed.

"It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence," the Tibetan spiritual leader said in Delhi. He termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried out by a few mad people, but [rather] by those who are educated.

The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile left the audience stunned when he said "I love President George W. Bush."
(Press Trust of India)
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Message of Israeli election: Turn to the right; the left wing falls off


Lieberman's rise useful -Nathan Diament

[T]here is fundamental message that [Avigdor] Lieberman's prominence [in] the election, coming shortly after the military action in Gaza, can be said to send to policymakers in Washington and other capitals. To borrow from a classic movie: Israelis are mad as hell and they're not going to take it any more.

More soberly said, the surge of votes for the Center-Right parties and the collapse of Labor and the Left can and should be portrayed as the electoral embodiment of a message to policymakers, in Israel and abroad, that the old formulae for addressing the Israeli-Arab conflict cannot be mindlessly pressed yet again.
[Jerusalem Post]
{Note: In Israel "right" and "left" do not connote ones commitment to government social intervention. In fact, some of the most "right wing" folks in Israel support strong welfare-state interventions. Instead, those labels reflect the extent to which an Israeli is willing to cede land for peace, an increasingly irrelevant notion.}

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Cutting edge terror: Electromagnetic Pulse Attack



An electromagnetic pulse or EMP attack is an indirect nuclear attack.

It has the capacity to destroy a target country's electricity grids and so revert a post-industrial, technology-based country such as Israel or the US to a pre-industrial condition. If an aggressor launches a nuclear device and detonates it above its target country, the x-rays and gamma rays emitted by the blast will cause an electromagnetic pulse, or wave a million times stronger than the strongest radio wave. That wave, which comes in three successive stages, will destroy a country's electrical grids and through them, its ability to function.

In 2000, the US caused Congress mandate[d] the formation of a commission comprised of the leading US experts on the issue to study it. The EMP Threat Commission's 2004 report warned that the effect an EMP attack would have on the US's national infrastructures "could be sufficient to qualify as catastrophic to the nation."

As Frank Gaffney, President of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, explained in his 2006 book War Footing, by destroying a country's electrical power systems, an EMP will destroy its economy since it will wipe out its banking system. All vehicles that operate with electronic systems - that is all vehicles made since the mid-1970s - would be rendered inoperable. Telecommunications would end. A country's ability to store food through refrigeration would end. Its ability to transport water and pump gasoline would also end.

Since almost no one would be killed in the immediate aftermath of an EMP attack, a threat of retaliation against the aggressor country would lack credibility because such an option would be politically unpalatable. But while an EMP attack would not kill many people directly, it would kill millions of people indirectly. As Gaffney notes, by wiping out a country's ability to support itself, an EMP attack would cause mass starvation and disease.

[T]he mullahs have signaled clearly through both word and deed that they find the option of attacking their enemies with an EMP attack attractive. An article published in Iran's security journal Nashriyeh-e Siasi Nezami in 1999 identified an EMP attack as a way to defeat the US.

Iran's successful satellite launch earlier this month makes clear that the mullahs now have the technological capacity to effectively wipe out Western civilization. Three to five nuclear bombs of any size, launched into space on satellites and detonated above the US, Europe and Asia would send Western civilization back to the 19th century. Last week Iran announced it is building seven more satellites. Yet rather than recognize that once its nuclear arsenal is online Iran will represents a threat to all nations, the West ignored the significance of the satellite launch.

[W]ere Iran to attack Israel with an EMP attack, Israel would be rendered defenseless and at the mercy of Iran and the Arab world [who] would undoubtedly be tempted to invade the Jewish state to finish what the Iranians started.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Investigation: UN School "massacre" in Gaza never happened


Only 3, Not 40 Noncombatants Killed Near UN School -David Horovitz

The most emblematic distortion of the death toll in the Gaza war relates to the deaths near the UN school in Jabalya on Jan. 6. Palestinian medical officials claimed that some 40 Palestinians, many of them women and children, were killed at the school by IDF shells.

These claims sparked condemnation from the UN, widespread allegations against Israel and escalated international demands for an urgent end to the fighting.

The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration [now reports] that the Palestinian death toll in that incident - which involved Israel returning fire against Hamas gunmen outside the school facility - caused 12 fatalities, nine gunmen and three noncombatants.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The overall picture: Obama's team reasonable


Assessing the Obama Mideast Team -Steven J. Rosen

We now have most of the nominees for the key Mideast positions in the Obama White House and the State and Defense departments. None of the people announced up to now is known to bring a pronounced "Arabist" perspective, nor to be a consistent critic of Israel, nor to be an apologist for Iran, Syria, Hizbullah or Hamas.

Obama is assembling a team of intelligent centrists with a realistic, pragmatic approach. None is starry-eyed and romantic about the Arabs. Many have extensive experience with Israel and some understanding of its strategic position.

On the other hand, nowhere is there a true hawk either.
(Jerusalem Post)


U.S. Now Sees Iran as Pursuing Nuclear Bomb -Greg Miller

Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb. Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, testified on Capitol Hill last week, "From all the information I've seen, I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."
(Los Angeles Times)
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Significant turn to the right; Israel's left wing evaporates

Who in the world is Avigdor Lieberman? -Tori Cheifetz

To some, he is the Jörg Haider of Israel, to others, "the king-maker" - what's certain is that his success in the 2009 elections has made him the talk of the town.

After recognizing the fact that Israel does not yet have a prime minister, foreign news agencies worldwide in their analysis of Tuesday's elections could talk about only one thing: Israel's shift to the political right, spearheaded by Moldovan-born former nightclub-owner and chairman of Israel Beitenu, Avigdor Lieberman [pictured].

With a slogan of "No loyalty, no citizenship," Lieberman's party has, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "ridden on a wave of frustration" to become the third largest party in Israel. German daily Der Spiegel described the election results as indicative of "a lurch to the right" by the Israel public…
[Jerusalem Post]
{Note: In Israel "right" and "left" do not connote ones commitment to government social intervention. In fact, some of the most "right wing" folks in Israel support strong welfare-state interventions. Instead, those labels
reflect the extent to which an Israeli is willing to cede land for peace, an increasingly irrelevant notion.}
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Is Avigdor Lieberman a racist? -Abe Selig

"At least some Israeli Arabs, and surely many of their cousins in neighboring countries, do want to see Israel eliminated. So he's putting Israeli Arabs on the spot and saying, do you want to be loyal to the state and receive its benefits? And if not, he's saying that they will lose their citizenship. He's playing on the reality that is the Middle East. That's not racism," said Efraim Zuroff, famed Nazi hunter [with] the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Lieberman's loyalty oath would apply to haredi [ultra-Orthodox] Jews as well [some of whom are not Zionists].
[Jerusalem Post]
{Note: Considered somewhat of an enigma, Mr. Lieberman strongly supports ceding land to Arabs, a position usually associated with the "left." Thus, he has sat comfortably in the recent center-left government. Additionally, it should be noted that American school children recite a pledge of allegiance every day.}
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UN enables radical Islam

UNRWA Is a Principal Cause of the Conflict -David Warren

The UN Relief and Works Agency has acted as the great enabler.

Set up in 1949 as a temporary agency to house, feed and resettle fewer than one million Arab refugees (Israel received an approximately equal number of Jewish refugees from the Arab world), UNRWA has grown into a vast, permanent welfare organization for the 4.6-million descendants of its original "client base" - and for their descendants, into the indefinite future. It provides for them with a staff and budget several times larger than the combined UN effort on behalf of all the other refugees on the planet.

The agency's camps, which have grown into permanent settlements, are distributed not only through Gaza and the West Bank, but around Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Arab governments in each of these jurisdictions absolutely refuse to naturalize these permanent residents, almost all of whom were born on their soil, on the claim that they must rightfully be "returned" to the territory Israel now "occupies." Thus UNRWA facilitates the use of these so-called "refugees" as a dagger pointed at Israel's throat.

The continued existence of UNRWA is creating the conditions for Islamist terrorism to flourish.
(Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
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UPDATE:

Israel: UNRWA Providing Political Cover for Hamas -Herb Keinon & Tovah Lazaroff

The UN Relief and Works Agency is systematically providing political cover to Hamas, a senior Israeli government official said, lashing out at UNRWA head Karen AbuZayd for passing a Hamas letter to U.S. Sen. John Kerry when he visited Gaza.

The senior Israeli official said, "That no one finds it strange that UNRWA, whose mandate is humanitarian, is the vehicle through which Hamas passes messages on to the U.S. just shows where UNRWA is at."

Furthermore, the official said, UNRWA was lobbying around the world for governments to drop the international community's three preconditions to talking with Hamas - that it recognize Israel, disavow terrorism, and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements. It is not clear how this, or calls by UNRWA for an "independent international investigation" into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, fell within the organization's mandate, the official added.
(Jerusalem Post)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Inconclusive Israeli elections



Livni, Netanyahu Both Claim Victory -Griff Witte

Israeli voters delivered a split decision in national elections Tuesday, sparking competing claims by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu over who will be the next prime minister.
(Washington Post)


Israel's Electoral System: Proportional Representation -David Blair

Israel uses a pure form of proportional representation, ensuring that any party which gets, for example, 10% of the vote will win exactly 10% of the seats in the Knesset. So no party can truly "win" an election. The best they can hope for is to capture enough seats to be invited by Israel's president to form a coalition.
(Telegraph-UK)


Kadima, Likud Both Claim Victory

Netanyahu has a better chance of forging a coalition because of gains by parties [on the right] that are his natural allies.

By law, President Shimon Peres must consult with all the parties as to who they prefer as prime minister, and whoever is recommended by more Knesset members is given the nod to try and form a government.

The final election results may not be known until Thursday when election officials finish counting the soldiers' votes.
(Ha'aretz)


Palestinians Have Reduced Israeli's Hope for Peace -Herb Keinon

On innumerable occasions over the last 15 years, since the signing of the Oslo accords, Israel has been warned by both the well-meaning and the patronizing, that it had better watch its steps, lest it radicalize the Palestinians. What we didn't hear much of during this period were entreaties to the Palestinians not to take actions that would radicalize Israeli society, that would rob it of hope, that would push it to despair of ever reaching a peace agreement in the region.

Palestinian suicide bombing attacks, rockets, and kidnapping of soldiers over the last 15 years have transformed Israeli society. The country has gone from believing in the 1990s that it had reached safe shores to believing in 2009 that no matter what it does it will not be accepted in the region.

Everyone has been so concerned over the years about what reaction Israel's actions would generate among the Palestinians, that they overlooked the degree to which Arab actions have caused a reaction among Israeli[s].
(Jerusalem Post)
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Palestinian Authority moving the sick out of Israeli hospitals


Dr. Michael Weintraub, spokesman for Hadassah Hospital

Palestinians Pull Patients from Israeli Hospitals -Ethan Bronner

The PA has stopped paying for scores of Palestinian patients being treated in Israeli hospitals.

Palestinians, whose children were being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, say they have been instructed by Palestinian health officials to [move] the[ir children to] facilities in the West Bank, Jordan or Egypt.

"This is a political decision taken on the backs of patients," said Dr. Michael Weintraub [pictured above], director of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah.

Dr. Weintraub said that "[t]here are no politics in our wards. Twenty percent of our patients are Palestinians, and we have one common enemy: cancer. The rest is immaterial."
(New York Times)
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Pakistan resuming role of nuke proliferator

Obama's new world order and Israel -Caroline Glick

In the late stages of the presidential race, now Vice President Joseph Biden warned us that "[i]t will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama...[we're] gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy..."

America's adversaries began testing Obama's mettle within weeks.

[D]ue to Obama's stridently anti-Pakistani rhetoric throughout the campaign - rhetoric untethered to any coherent strategy for dealing with Pakistan - the Pakistanis felt the need to test his mettle as quickly as possible.

Last Friday, the Pakistani Supreme Court freed Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove - A.Q. Khan [pictured above & right] - from the house arrest he had been under since his nuclear proliferation racket was exposed in 2004. Khan is not only the father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - but of North Korea's and Iran's as well.

Khan's release casts a dark shadow, because with him free, the prospect that Pakistan is back in the proliferation business becomes quite real. Khan [quickly] announced his plan to travel abroad immediately [and] the Islamabad court stated that Khan is free to resume his "scientific research."

Obama [had previously] let it be known that he intended for his envoy Richard Holbrook to pressur[e] India to reach a peace agreement with Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir province, [this] in spite of clear proof that Pakistani intelligence mastermind[ed] the December terror attacks in Mumbai.

[T]he next [Israeli] government should draw lessons from India['s reaction]. Once it became clear to the Indians that the Obama administration intended to treat them as the moral equivalent of Pakistan, they struck back hard. New Delhi essentially told Washington to get lost.

India's National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said that Obama would be "barking up the wrong tree" if he were to subscribe to such views. He added that India would be unwilling to discuss the issue of Kashmir with Holbrook and so compelled Obama to remove the issue from Holbrook's portfolio.

Moreover, in response to Khan's release from house arrest, India called for the international community to list Pakistan as a terror state.

In acting as it has, India has made two things clear to the Obama administration. First, it will not allow Washington to appease Pakistan at its expense. Second, it will do whatever it believes is necessary to secure its own interests both diplomatically and militarily. A sound example for the next [Israeli] government to follow.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Monday, February 09, 2009

The ascent of Islamism

No Choice But to Fight -Yossi Klein Halevi

The Middle East conflict has been transformed from a nationalist struggle over the creation of a Palestinian state into an Islamist struggle against the existence of a Jewish state. Terror enclaves aligned with Iran - Hizbullah in the north, Hamas in the south - have formed on our borders.
(International Herald Tribune)


A War Against Hamas, Not Against the Palestinians -Mark Sofer

If anybody can believe for a minute that we had anything but the best of will and the best of intentions towards the Palestinians in Gaza, they need only look at the facts. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza without getting anything back. We did it solely to try and reignite the peace process. It cost us $2.5 billion; we were forced to take out 8,000 families who had been living there all their lives. Then the rockets restarted...
(Indian Express-India)

The next attack on America


CIA: British Islamist Extremists Are Greatest Threat to U.S.
-Tim Shipman

The CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain. U.S. officials believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the U.S. under the visa waiver program, is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.

The CIA stepped up its efforts after the Mumbai massacre laid bare the threat from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has an extensive web of supporters in the UK.
(Telegraph-UK)
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Gaza dilemmas


Tough Love for Gaza: Reconstruction Makes No Sense -Efraim Inbar

Western leaders seem to have decided that Gaza should speedily be rebuilt. This, of course, sends the wrong signal. It tells Palestinians that their leadership can make grave, deadly mistakes, and nevertheless Westerners will bail them out. It also signals to Hamas that it can continue shooting. There is no way to reconstruct Gaza without strengthening Hamas, and the reconstruction of Hamastan - an Iranian base that threatens Israel and many moderate Arab regimes - makes no strategic sense.

Furthermore, all polls show staggering support among Gazans for violence against Israelis. Why should the international community and Israel help people that support Hamas - an organization intent on destroying the Jewish state?
(Jerusalem Post)
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After U.S. Request, Israel Agrees to Let $43 Million into Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to allow the transfer of $43 million to Gaza to pay salaries there.

Sources in Israel said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Olmert to press him to release the money, describing this as the first instance of U.S. pressure on Israel since President Obama took office.
(Reuters)
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There May Be the Will But Not Necessarily the Way -Greg Sheridan

There is no evidence of any Israeli war crimes or atrocities in Gaza. [O]n countless previous occasions Palestinian eye-witness accounts have been fabricated. Remember the reports of the so-called massacre in the West Bank town of Jenin in 2002, reports buttressed by eye-witness accounts? [I]t never took place, as later international investigations acknowledged.

Even in this recent Gaza operation, remember the outrage at the Israeli rocket fire on the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp? Now it turns out no Israeli munition ever hit the school.

Hamas has engaged in countless atrocities against Palestinians it doesn't like. It has murdered many Fatah men, but the media subjects this behavior to very little scrutiny. Hamas is somehow accepted as just a force of nature, not held morally responsible for its actions.
(The Australian)
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Israeli Tactics in the Gaza War -Tim McGirk & Aaron J. Klein

"There was never a single incident in which a unit of Hamas confronted our soldiers," one Israel Defense Forces official says.

"Hamas and Hizbullah are worried that Israel has broken the DNA code of urban fighting," says reserve Brig. Gen. Shalom Harari. Officers say that Hamas had prepared a defensive wall using "hundreds of explosives, mines and booby-traps." But Israeli forces, avoiding the main roads, were able to go around it, then methodically dismantled Hamas' defenses.
(TIME)
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Roadmaps to Middle East Peace? -Victor Davis Hanson

Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton and the two Bushes tried to do the same so-called "land for peace" deal: Israel is supposed to go back to something approaching the pre-1967 borders, and the Palestinians, with their brand-new state, must promise that this time they will really let Israel be. Good luck.
(San Jose Mercury News)
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

George Orwell's vision: Iran 2009


Eradicating the "Little Satan" -Ze'ev Maghen

Chanting "Death to America! Death to Israel!" has been the way Iranians applaud for over a quarter-century. When the soccer team from Isfahan scores a goal against the soccer team from Shiraz, its fans cheer wildly: "Death to America! Death to Israel!" Like the daily "Two-Minutes Hate" in George Orwell's 1984, this venom-spewing is the mantra upon which an entire generation of Iranians has been raised.

By casting an entire people as a parasitic infestation, by demonizing, delegitimizing, and dehumanizing them at home, in school, in the mosque, and in the media, the quarter-century-old routine of Israel-hatred, added to 1,400 years of traditional Islamic anti-Semitism, has prepared in the minds of Iranians and their neighboring coreligionists the moral ground for the eradication of the State of Israel.

More and more Iranian Islamists today - together with their zealous coreligionists in other Muslim countries - believe that the erasure of the Jewish state from the map is a dream that can be realized in the here and now, whether in one fell swoop or through a relentless process of attrition and erosion.
(Commentary)
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Stephens asks: Has Israel has chosen to tame Hamas?


Writer says Israel is repeating mistakes it made with Arafat
-Debra Rubin

By choosing to live with a weakened Hamas rather than finishing the terrorist organization off militarily, Israel may have lost its only opportunity to rid itself of an enemy bent on its destruction.

In fact, Israel is repeating a “strategic” error it made in 1993 when it signed the Oslo Accords, falsely believing it could “tame” Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, according to a Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist.

“Israel is making the same mistake again,” said Bret Stephens [pictured], at the East Brunswick Jewish Center. “They think they can live with Hamas. I think it’s an error, a very serious error.”
[New Jersey Jewish News]
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Is Obama stepping into Carter's shoes? Persian rug for sale

They've sold us this rug before -Michael Rubin

During the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama promised to meet the leaders of Iran "without preconditions." He appears a man of his word.

Within days of his election, the State Department began drafting a letter to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intended to pave the way for face-to-face talks. Then, Obama told al-Arabiya's satellite network, "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us." The president dispatched former Defense Secretary William Perry to engage a high-level Iranian delegation.

The pundits and journalists may applaud, but their adulation for Obama's new approach is based more on myth than reality. Washington and Tehran have never stopped talking; indeed, many of Obama's supposedly bold initiatives have been tried before, often with disastrous results

Allowing Ahmadinejad to slap [P]resident [Obama's] outstretched hand is an Iranian populists' dream come true. Alas, this too was a lesson Obama might have learned from Carter. Three decades ago, desperate to engage, Carter grasped at any straw, believing, according to his secretary of state, that even a tenuous partner beat no partner at all. Each partner added demands to bolster his own revolutionary credentials, pushing diplomacy backward rather than forward.

Thirty years later, the same pattern is back. Ahmadinejad's aides respond to every feeler Obama and his proxies send with new and more intrusive demands.

[A]fter 30 years, Iran remains as intractable a problem as ever. Every new U.S. president has sought a new beginning with Iran, but whenever a president assumes the fault for our poor relationship lies with his predecessor more than with authorities in Tehran, the United States gets burned.
[Weekly Standard]
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another failed peace effort?


How Not to Make Peace -Hussein Agha & Robert Malley

Basic issues should first be addressed. Among them are the effectiveness of U.S. mediation, the wisdom and realism of seeking a comprehensive, across-the-board settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or even the centrality of that conflict to U.S. interests and the benefits that would accrue to America from its resolution.

Raising such questions is preferable to a headfirst rush to follow costly familiar patterns and to seek the comforting embrace of ideas that have been tried but never worked or that were never tried but can no longer work.
(New York Review of Books)
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Can you tell me how to get to Jihad Street?


Hamas TV Promotes Culture of Death for Children -Editorial

There is no mistaking the Al Aqsa TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" for "Sesame Street." Its death rate is stomach-turning.

Farfur, the mouse, was beaten to death by an Israeli policeman. Nahul, the bee, died when an Israeli blockade prevented him from getting to the hospital. And now Assud, the bunny, who once vowed to "finish off the Jews and eat them," has died in the Israeli bombing of Gaza. [All three characters pictured above]

After Assud dies, his friend Saraa wails: "Don't die, Assud. Victory is near. The soldiers of the Pioneers of Tomorrow will grow up. O, Palestine, we will liberate your soil, Allah willing. We will liberate it from the filth of the Zionists. We will purify it with the soldiers of the Pioneers of Tomorrow."

What hope can there be as long as Hamas steeps the most innocent of the Palestinians in a culture of death?
(New York Daily News)
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Gaza blues



How Not to Fund Hamas -Matt Levitt

[T]he U.S. government announced that President Obama has authorized the use of $20.3 million to address critical post-conflict humanitarian needs in Gaza.

[But] the U.S. Agency for International Development's record has been tainted by a series of awards to entities with established ties to terrorist groups, including Hamas-controlled charity committees and the Islamic University of Gaza.

The necessary first step to fix all this is simple and long-overdue: a partner verification system. It would begin by requiring all applicants for funding to submit identifying information on their principal officers and other employees.

The critical need to provide humanitarian aid in conflict zones must be balanced with the risk that terrorist groups will try to benefit from that aid.
(New York Daily News)


The Gaza War: A Strategic Analysis -Anthony H. Cordesman

This analysis reveals impressive improvements in the readiness and capability of the Israel Defense Forces since the fighting against Hizbullah in 2006.

Yet the post-conflict situation looks strikingly like the situation before the fighting began.
(Center for Strategic and International Studies)
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Daniel Pearl's dad takes stock


Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil -Judea Pearl [pictured]

This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Seven years later this ideology of barbarism is celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hizbullah and other heroes of "the resistance."

Another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, has spent his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

[B]arbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.
(Wall Street Journal)
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Sinking to new lows: Islamists employ rapists


Iraqi woman had 80 women raped to recruit as suicide bombers

Samira Ahmed Jassim [pictured above], suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.
[Agence France-Presse]


'Mother' of Iraqi women bomber network arrested
-Qassim Abdul-Zahra & Brian Murphy

Samira Ahmed Jassim, accused of helping recruit dozens of female suicide bombers, looked into the camera and described the process: trolling society for likely candidates and then patiently converting the women from troubled souls into deadly attackers.

The accounts, in a video released by Iraq police, offer a rare glimpse into the networks used to find and train the women bombers who have become one of the insurgents’ most effective weapons.

[T]he woman said she was part of a plot in which young women were raped and then sent to her for matronly advice. She said she would try to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame and to reclaim their honor.
(AP)
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Iran's satellite launch finally scares Europe


Europe Could Be within Iranian Missile Range

Iran's announcement, if true, would confirm that it has missiles capable of striking southeast Europe, a NATO officer said.
(AFP/SpaceWar)

France "Worried" about Iran Satellite Launch

France is concerned that the technology used to launch satellites can be used to deliver warheads.
(AP/International Herald Tribune)


Talking to the Mullahs -Michael Ledeen

Ken Pollack, former director of Persian Gulf affairs at the National Security Council, wrote:

"In the Clinton Administration in 1999 and 2000, we tried very hard to put the grand bargain on the table....We made 12 separate gestures to Iran to try to demonstrate to them that...we were really willing to...put all of these big carrots on the table if the Iranians were willing to give us what we needed. And the Iranians couldn't."

They couldn't, because hatred of America is the very essence of the Islamic Republic. If all we want to do is talk, they'll certainly talk. As the Iranians see it, if we're talking, they can continue to pursue their atomic bomb.
(Pajamas Media)


Obama to Keep Bush Official Involved with Iran Sanctions -Paul Richter

Stuart Levey, Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will remain in his post, Obama administration officials have said. The move signals that Obama will continue to aggressively pressure Tehran, even as he offers engagement.
(Los Angeles Times)
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bolton: Iraq elections "a triumph"


Iraq’s Victory, Iran’s Loss -John Bolton

Iraq's peaceful elections and strong voter turnout last weekend were a major success for both that country and the United States...

The elections could also redefine Iran’s role in the region. Critics of the Iraq war claimed that overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003 strengthened Iran’s position. Had we left Mr. Hussein in power, the theory goes, Iran would be less of a global threat. This argument is fundamentally wrong.

Iraq’s provincial elections weaken Tehran’s hand. Sunnis participated on Saturday in large numbers.

Uncomfortable though it may be for some on the American left to admit, the “surge” continues to work, politically and militarily. The moment has come for the Obama administration to acknowledge what those fingers dipped in purple ink truly represent — a triumph for democracy.
[New York Times]
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Don't hold your breath: no peace anytime soon


Can Hamas Be Trusted? -Nadim Koteich

In February 2007 Saudi King Abdullah oversaw the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. The deal announced from Mecca put Mahmoud Abbas and Meshaal on the same level and $1 billion was promised in aid.

Less than four months later Hamas militiamen were throwing Fatah supporters from high rise buildings in Gaza, dragging the bodies of "collaborators" through the streets and stretching the borders of Iran to meet those of Israel while consolidating its stranglehold on the Strip.
(Middle East Times)


The Mother of All Quagmires -Michael J. Totten

Hamas does not speak for all Palestinians, but let's not kid ourselves here. Hamas speaks for a genuinely enormous number of Palestinians, and peace is impossible as long as that's true.

The "occupation" in the Palestinian narrative doesn't refer to the West Bank and Gaza, and it never has. The "occupation" refers to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A kibbutz in the center of Israel is "occupied Palestine."
(Commentary)
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PointCounterPoint: the No State Solution


Jordanian King Abdullah and family

Mitchell Should Try: The Jordan-Egypt Option -Khaled Abu Toameh

Today, it seems almost certain that the Palestinians will have to live with these two separate and rival entities for quite some time. So the time has come to consider other options, such as involving the Jordanians and the Egyptians in running the affairs of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

President Mubarak and King Abdullah II [say they] do not like the idea, preferring that the Palestinians remain Israel's problem alone. But the Palestinians really need the help of these two countries.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
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The Israeli solution –Caroline Glick

Despite the billions of dollars it received from Israel and the West, and the bottomless reserve of international political support it enjoys, the PLO-Fatah regime did not build a state, but a kleptocratic thugocracy where the rule of law was replaced by the rule of the jackboot.

[N]ow that it is clear that the two-state solution has failed, what is the best option for managing the conflict?

[I]f the areas were to revert to Jordanian and Egyptian control, Israel could trust that its security situation would rapidly deteriorate as the prospect of regional war increased. With a retrocession of Gaza, Judea and Samaria to Egyptian and Jordanian rule, Israel would find itself situated within indefensible borders, and facing the likely prospect that the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes would be destabilized.

Today Israel has the ability to enter Gaza without concern that doing so would provoke war with Egypt. IDF forces can [currently] operate freely within the [West Bank] without risking war with Jordan. The IDF controls the long border with Jordan and can prevent terrorist infiltration from the east.

What new policy paradigm should replace the failed two-state solution? The best way to move forward is to reject the calls for a solution and concentrate instead on stabilization.
[Jerusalem Post]
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The war ain't over


Obama's Outreach to Muslims -Jim Hoagland

President Obama repeatedly extended his hand to the world's Muslims in his first ten days in power. His respectful tone and gestures toward Arab states in particular were as welcome as they were deft. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the gears of history have shifted and what Americans have come to call the "war on terror" is over.

Americans did not initiate the conflict with al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists, and Americans will not be the ones to declare an end to the struggle against violent extremism practiced in the name of jihad.

The war on terrorism over? As Hemingway has Jake say ruefully to Brett at the end of "The Sun Also Rises": "Isn't it pretty to think so?" Pretty, but self-deceiving, for sure.
(Washington Post)
Note: Mr. Hoagland's article is, in part, a response to an article that appeared in the New York Times by Roger Cohen titled "After the War on Terror." In that piece Mr. Cohen declares that "[t]he war on terror is over."

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