Friday, April 29, 2011

Better to Fight Than Quit?

Did the fallen leaders of Egypt & Tunesia give up too quickly?

The tag line in this old ad "fight than switch" is echoed in the title of the NY Times article below

-Michael Slackman & Mona El-Naggar

Arab leaders facing public revolt have increasingly concluded that it is better to shoot to kill, or at least to arrest and imprison, than to abdicate and flee.

Those who have left, namely Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, face the humiliation of a criminal investigation, a trial and possible imprisonment. Those who have opted to stick with the use of force, as in Libya, Yemen and now Syria, have retained power, regional analysts said.

"I don't think we're going to see rulers run away, like Mubarak," said Mustafa Alani, an analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "We passed this stage. They will not run or abdicate. They will take their chances."
(New York Times)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Abbas kicks sand at Obama; kiss-and-make-up with Hamas

Fatah and Hamas Announce Deal -Isabel Kershner

The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, announced that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East.

Taher Al-Nounou, a spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, said the two sides had reached a preliminary agreement to form a transitional unity government for the Palestinian territories to be followed by new elections after a year.

Israel warned that a formal agreement would spell the end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. 

The agreement appeared to catch the Obama administration, like many others, by surprise. In a sharply worded statement, Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said that the administration considered Hamas a terrorist organization that would not be a reliable partner in peace talks with Israel.
[New York Times]

The Wrath of Abbas -Dan Ephron

"It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze," Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told me. "I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."

Palestinian Security Forces Fire near Israeli Patrol

Palestinian security forces fired toward Israeli military vehicles in the West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian security sources said.

There were no reports of injury in the incident, which came as military jeeps pulled up near the Palestinian security building at the northern entrance of Tulkarem.

On Sunday, an Israeli was shot dead and four others were injured by Palestinian security forces.
(Maan News-PA)


Hamas Has Taken Over the Palestinian Movement  -Aluf Benn

The Palestinian reconciliation deal, if realized, heralds the takeover of the Palestinian national movement by Hamas. A "unity government" is a nice but empty headline. In real life, there are no egalitarian governments. There is always a ruling side with partners being dragged behind it. The stronger, more organized, better armed side, i.e., Hamas, will rule the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian reconciliation deal justifies Netanyahu's warnings that any territory vacated by Israel will fall into Hamas hands and become an Iranian terror base. It strikes any proposals for interim agreements and unilateral withdrawals, intended to appease the world, off the agenda.

Palestinians Launch Their Revolution -Jackson Diehl

It's not yet certain that a political deal announced by the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions will stick - similar pacts have been proclaimed and then discarded several times in the last four years.

But one thing is sure: If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas moves forward with the reconciliation with the Hamas movement, it will mean he has written off the Obama administration once and for all.

The reconciliation could [also] mean the end of the West Bank administration headed by Salam Fayyad, a technocrat highly respected by both Americans and Israelis. If so, Congress will almost certainly suspend $400 million in annual U.S. aid.

It could also mean the reorganization of Fatah's U.S.-trained security forces and their eventual integration with the cadres of the Iranian-backed Hamas.
(Washington Post)


Why Palestinian Unity Won't Lead to Peace -Dore Gold

Israel is concerned that, in the aftermath of their new agreement, Hamas will try to exploit Abbas' weakness and take over the West Bank as well.

If, under the agreement, the Palestinian Authority releases Hamas operatives from its prisons in the West Bank and at the same time calls off security sweeps against Hamas, the terrorist group's power in the field will undoubtedly rise.

And what will happen to the Palestinian security forces that were trained by the United States and Jordan and have been acclaimed in the West in recent years?
(Foreign Policy)

Pro-Israel Blogger Jailed for 3 years in Egypt

Branded a traitor and Zionist, Maikel Nabil Sanad, a pro-Israel blogger, was sentenced to three years in jail by Egypt’s ruling military council.

Hopes that post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt would be a beacon of free speech suffered a blow last week when the country’s ruling military council sentenced a well-known blogger to three years in prison. Maikel Nabil Sanad is many things that set him apart in his native country: an atheist of Coptic origin, a pacifist, and – in a country where “normalization” is often a dirty word – unabashedly pro- Israel.

Detained March 30, Sanad was given a quick show trial without his lawyers present and convicted of “insulting the military establishment” and “spreading false information.”
[Jerusalem Post]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Palestinian Deception

Palestinians Dupe the West  -Benny Morris

The Palestinians' current diplomatic campaign is aimed at achieving international recognition of statehood by September when, it is expected, the matter will be brought to a vote at the UN General Assembly. Yasser Arafat's strategy from the late 1980s, after he realized that he wasn't going to orchestrate the destruction of Israel, was to establish a Palestinian Arab state encompassing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, but without recognizing Israel or making peace with it. According to Palestinian strategy, the Israelis will eventually unilaterally withdraw, so why give the Israelis recognition and peace in exchange?

Rather, once this mini-state is achieved, unfettered by any international obligations like a peace treaty - and having promised nothing in exchange for their statehood - the Palestinians will be free to continue their struggle against Israel, its complete demise being their ultimate target. On the military and political levels, no one will be able to fault the Palestinians. They will have broken no treaty and violated no solemn agreement. They will have received their mini-state, a launching pad for further assault on Israel, without giving anything in return.
(National Interest)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Return of Mighty Mouse: Airport Security Enhanced by Mice

Israeli Scientists Training Mice for Airport Security

Israeli scientists have created a detector, similar looking to a full-body scanner but with three concealed cartridges each containing eight specially trained mice.

According to the New Scientist, the mice are more accurate than using dogs and x-ray machines.

When the mice sense traces of drugs, they run to a side chamber where they trigger an alarm, the magazine said. Eran Lumbroso, the inventor, said: "It is as if they are smelling a cat and escaping. We detect the escape."

The device was tested last year on 1,000 shoppers in a Tel Aviv shopping mall when the mice successfully picked out 22 people carrying mock explosives.

Obama's Failure in Libya, Strengthens Iran

America's Failure to Knock Out Gaddafi Emboldens Iran -Leslie H. Gelb

America's worst enemies like Iran and North Korea are saying: If the vaunted and mighty NATO and the U.S. can't humble Gaddafi and his pint-size army, "what do we have to worry about?"

While the West's enemies know well NATO's self-imposed restrictions on air attacks, they assume that NATO and the U.S. would put such limitations on themselves no matter where they fought. Thus, to Tehran and Pyongyang, the lesson of Libya is that the West can't do decisive harm to them.

Over the past four weeks, NATO airstrikes have destroyed about one-third of Gaddafi's ground armor, as well as most of his fixed air-defense sites and aircraft. Nonetheless, given strictures on killing civilians, NATO pilots patrolling above Tripoli last week could only watch as Gaddafi toured its streets in an open-top car. Also, NATO hasn't been able to protect rebels in Misrata because Gaddafi's troops now use civilian vehicles.

As time passes inconclusively in Libya, it becomes harder still to convince Iran and North Korea that NATO is not a paper tiger.
The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.
(Daily Beast)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Israel Captures Palestinian Teens for Fogel Family Massacre

VideoBite: The murderers of the Fogel Family are Palestinian teens Hakim Awad, 18-years old, and Amjad Awad, 19, both from the West Bank village of Awarta, located 2 kilometers south of Itamar.

2 Palestinians arrested in Fogel family massacre -Yaakov Lappin

The suspects have confessed to the stabbings and re-enacted the murders, security forces said. According to Army Radio, they did not express remorse for their crimes. Amjad said that he was unaware that there were two other children in the house, and that if he had known, he would have stabbed them as well.

Both men are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group and received significant assistance from family members and friends after the attack, security forces added.
[Jerusalem Post]


Itamar Murderers from a Terrorist Family -Yaakov Lappin

Hakim Awad's father, Maazan, is a PFLP member who served 5 years in a PA prison in the late 1990s for the murder of a female cousin and the burning of her body.

Hakim's uncle, Jibril Awad, is a PFLP member who transported a terrorist to Itamar in 2002. In that attack, the wife and three children of Itamar security officer Boaz Shevo were shot dead in their home.

Another uncle, Salah Awad, 31, a PFLP member, is suspected of aiding and abetting the suspects in covering their tracks after the murders, telling them to burn their blood-soaked clothes, and sending the firearms they stole from Itamar to a friend in Ramallah, Jad Avid, 31.
(Jerusalem Post)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Iron Dome" Tech Umbrella Brings Sigh to Israel

Israeli Pride in the Skies -Sima Kadmon

The sight of Iron Dome intercepting a missile fired at one of our cities is among the most pleasant and inspiring spectacles we've seen in recent years.

Israelis feel national pride over the technological prowess of our defense industry and the ability to build a sophisticated, life-saving system that functions without killing innocents.

We initiated this project and assumed responsibility for our own fate.
(Ynet News)

VideoBite: Palestinians celebrating Passover?

Palestinians and friends celebrate Passover and their good fortune in this sarcastic video from Latma TV

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What will a UN General Assembly vote mean for Israel? Point - Counterpoint

Importance of General Assembly Vote Greatly Exaggerated -E. Kontorovich

The UN General Assembly only has the power to admit states, not the power to create or determine members' borders.

The Security Council has already determined in Resolution 242, adopted in the wake of the Six-Day War, that Israel need not return all of the land it took in that conflict. Thus it is meaningless to speak of the General Assembly recognizing Palestine with any particular set of borders.

If General Assembly resolutions controlled Israel's legitimacy, Israel would long have ceased to exist within any borders. The GA in 1975 famously adopted its "Zionism equals racism" resolution, condemning the very project of a Jewish state in the Middle East within any borders. Yet the endorsement of the idea by an overwhelming vote did not make it real or true.

When friends of Israel fret about delegitimization by the General Assembly, they unwittingly give the body more power than it has.
(Jerusalem Post)

Israel's Deceptive Calm -Yisrael Ne'eman

[T]he moment a Palestinian State is declared and/or recognized, the legality of Israel's presence in the West Bank becomes more precarious and the "settlement" issue more explosive. Any armed force acting in the name of "liberation" such as the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas or a state entity such as Iran, Syria or anyone else will see itself as automatically receiving international support in its confrontation with Israel. What better cover for a war against Israel could possibly exist, especially when these regimes are facing overwhelming opposition, fractionalization and unremitting cross religious/ethnic violence threatening to topple their regimes at home?

By then whatever democracy revolution emerged on the Arab world scene in the winter of 2011 may be long forgotten.
[Mideast: On Target]


Mideast Peace Plans Imminent? Please - Massimo Calabresi

There has been much talk of how the likely UN General Assembly recognition of a Palestinian state in September is forcing the Israelis and the Americans, who oppose the recognition, to come up with preemptive peace plans. It is easy to get the impression that serious plans that would move both sides toward peace might be in the offing. They're not. These plans are not designed to get real movement toward a peace deal and there's no real expectation that they would. They're designed to blunt the effects of September's Palestinian statehood vote.

At a time when the Arab world is being completely reoriented and support for Palestinian concessions to Israel is politically dangerous for Arab leaders, the peace plan talk "reflects a realization on the side of most that now is not the time to do something dramatic," says Rob Malley, a former NSC Middle East staffer now with the International Crisis Group.

Black Students in US get Israel!

Black Student Leaders Slam "Apartheid" Characterization -Jordana Horn

African-American student leaders from a variety of historically black colleges and universities took out full page ads in numerous American college newspapers last week, displaying an "Open Letter to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)," to convey that they were offended by SJP's use of the term "apartheid" at recent Israel Apartheid Week events.
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, April 11, 2011

VideoBite: Harvard Professor lays out poignant views of MidEast unrest

Professor Niall Ferguson teaches at Harvard University and, as evidenced from this video clip, is exceedingly wise on the subject of the MidEast. 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Hamas Targets Yellow School Bus

The outside of the Yellow School Bus

The inside of the Yellow School Bus

Teen critically hurt in Negev attack

An anti-tank missile shot from the Gaza Strip directly hit a school bus outside Kibbutz Sa'ad in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, injuring two people. Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to respond speedily and to attack using all means necessary.

In the Negev attack, [a] 13-year-old was in critical condition after paramedics managed to resuscitate him. He was airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba where he was undergoing surgery. Soroka officials said that he was suffering from head injuries.

The bus driver was listed in light condition after being hit in the leg.
[Jerusalem Post]

Gaza Shell Hits Israeli School Bus

Terrorists in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus, injuring two people, one of them very seriously. The missile scored a direct hit and a major tragedy was only averted because most students had disembarked minutes before the attack.

One of the wounded, a 16-year-old, was reported to be in critical condition. The wounded were evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Beersheba.

[T]he target was a yellow bus, internationally known as a symbol of a vehicle used specifically to carry children. And the terrorists must have seen their target because the range of an anti-tank weapon is relatively short.

Minutes later, terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza fired at least 45 more mortars at Israeli villages near Gaza. Israeli defense forces launched attacks against terrorist positions. Three people were killed and at least eight were injured.
[The Israel Project]


Palestinian Rocket Assault on Israel  -Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel

Had the bus been full, it surely would have set off another war.

As far as Israel is concerned, the targeting of the bus means a red line has been crossed; this triggered a wide air assault on militant targets in Gaza.

Hamas Paying Heavy Price for Miscalculations -Yigal Walt

Hamas' miscalculation was the failure to estimate Israel's response to the missile attack on an Israeli school bus. Gaza terrorists were counting on the "Goldstone effect" to tamper any punishing Israeli strikes on Gaza. Worse for Hamas, the current round of fighting coincided with the West's campaign against Gaddafi. NATO forces have been bombing a foreign country, Libya, in order to prevent murderous attacks on civilians - the same logic behind Israel's strikes against Gaza terrorists. Indeed, Israel's incessant strikes on Gaza targets were met with a rather deafening global silence.

If all that wasn't enough, Israel deployed the Iron Dome anti-rocket system earlier than expected, shooting down virtually every Gaza missile threatening Israeli population centers. Hamas' missiles have largely hit nothing, landing in empty fields or being blown to pieces in midair. During the same time, some 20 terrorists were killed in Gaza, dozens of others were wounded, and assorted targets across the Strip were destroyed.
(Ynet News)

Boy Hurt in Gaza Rocket Attack on Israeli School Bus Dies

Daniel Viflic, 16, who was critically wounded when Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket at an Israeli school bus earlier this month, died at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Interrogation of Abducted Hamas Rocket Engineer, Leads to Successful Hit on Top Hamas Smuggler

The debris of a car that was targeted by an air strike, killing two people in the coastal city of Port Sudan

Sudan Blames Israel for Air Strike on Arms Supplier -Amos Harel & Avi Issacharoff

Sudan accused Israel of launching a missile strike near Khartoum airport that demolished a car and killed its two passengers. Al-Arabiya reported that an Islamist responsible for supplying weapons to Hamas was one of those killed.

The conduct of the Sudanese authorities and their decision to keep the media away from the attack site may indicate that Khartoum has much to hide in the affair. Israeli defense officials have accused Sudan of enabling Iran to smuggle arms through its territory and then via Egypt to Gaza.

"Hamas Weapons Man" Target of Sudan Attack

Palestinian security officials said the target in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Sudan was Abdul-Latif Ashkar, who took over the role of weapons gathering formerly carried out by Hamas official Mahmoud Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai last year. Ashkar was a founder of Hamas' "aid and logistics department," which coordinated weapons smuggling to Gaza.
(Maan News-PA)

Sudan Attack Carried Out on Lead from Captured Rocket Engineer

Captured Palestinian rocket engineer Dirar Abu Sisi gave Israeli intelligence "valuable information" that led to the attack on arms smugglers in Sudan, the Kuwait newspaper Al Jarida reported Thursday.
(Jerusalem Post)

Abduction of Rocket Engineer Sends Signal to Hamas -Ron Ben-Yishai

The indictment against Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi makes it clear that the accused cooperated with his interrogators, enabling Israel to learn much about Hamas' methods of operation and strategic aims. Abu Sisi was at the top of Hamas' terror wing, initiating and leading the group's military academy and involved in developing new, improved strategic capabilities vis-a-vis Israel.

The indictment confirmed that targeted interceptions are a highly effective means for thwarting terror attack plans, revealing that the assassination of top Hamas figure Adnan al-Ghoul in 2004 delayed the development of long-range Kassam rockets by a year and a half. Israel made sure to allow Abu Sisi to call his wife after he was safely in Israeli territory, thereby signaling to Hamas and its leaders that what happened to him may one day happen to them.
(Ynet News)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Koran Burning Sparks Outrage; Bible Burning Leads to Yawn

The Islamic Reformation -Benny Morris

Afghan riots, triggered by the burning of a Koran in Florida, resulted in some two dozen deaths.

Yet the burning of Bibles around the Islamic world - in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq - is an almost daily occurrence and goes unremarked, and is often accompanied by the arson of churches and the murder of parishioners.

And these acts never trigger murderous responses by Christians thousands of miles away.

The world Islam conquered in the seventh and eighth centuries, largely inhabited by Christians, is today almost bereft of Christians, they having over the centuries been massacred, expelled or forcibly converted to Islam.

Since the seventh century, non-Muslims have not been allowed to enter the holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, whereas Muslims have freely accessed and lived in, and still live in, the holy sites of Christendom (and Judaism).
(National Interest)


Should We Blame a Florida Pastor for Deaths in Afghanistan? -Daniel Pipes, PhD

On March 20, in a six-hour ceremony called "International Judge the Koran Day," Pastor Terry Jones convened a mock-judicial process in Florida that deemed the book "guilty of crimes against humanity," then set a copy on fire.

The event was intentionally ignored in the United States, in the hopes of limiting its impact, but little stays secret in the Internet age. Within two days, news of the conflagration had reached Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the country's presidents roundly denounced Jones, bringing his action to wide notice. On April 1, infuriated Afghans lashed out, killing twelve in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif; the next day, suicide bombers dressed in women's clothing attacked a coalition base in Kabul and street mobs in Kandahar again killed twelve.
However distasteful, Jones' act is both legal and non-violent. He is not responsible for the 43 deaths; the repugnant, barbaric ideology of Islamism is to blame. When will U.S. politicians realize this basic fact and stand up robustly for the civil liberties of American citizens? Critiquing Islam, tastefully or distastefully done, is a Constitutional right. Indeed, done intelligently it is a civilizational imperative.
[Fox News]

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Is Obama whispering support for UN declaration of Palestine?

UN Vote on Palestinian State Could Force Israel's Hand -Ethan Bronner

Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a UN vote welcoming the State of Palestine. Israel, seeing the prospect of even more hostile governments as its neighbors, is insisting on caution.
(New York Times)

How Israel Should Handle Pressure for a Palestinian State -Elliott Abrams

The Israeli nightmare has the leading nations of the world demanding terms about borders, security, and Jerusalem with which Israel cannot live. The EU is leading this Quartet effort, but every Israeli official with whom I spoke said the U.S. is waving the Europeans on and hiding behind them. Entirely missing is a relationship of confidence between the U.S. and Israel that might foster boldness or risk-taking. 

In his April 14, 2004, letter to Prime Minister Sharon, President Bush stated that Palestinian refugees had no "right of return" to Israel and argued that a return to the 1949 armistice lines - a term he used in preference to "1967 borders" - was unrealistic given the existence of the major settlement blocs.

Those statements have been treated by the Obama administration as if they were some kind of private gesture by Bush in a personal note to Sharon. This devaluation of solemn pledges among allies has been a huge Obama mistake, for it undermines the value not only of past American pledges but of his own future words as well and makes Israel far less likely to take risks for peace.
(Weekly Standard)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Obama abandons another ally...but refrains from supporting Iranian opposition

U.S. Shifts to Seek Removal of Yemen's Leader, an Ally 
-Laura Kasinof & David E. Sanger

The U.S., which long supported Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has now concluded that he is unlikely to bring about the required reforms and must be eased out of office, according to American and Yemeni officials.
(New York Times)

Why the Left should Support Israel

Women In Black typifies the left's anti-Israel posture. 
Their California demonstration [above] is creatively disrupted by a brave Zionist with a yellow sign. 

Progressives Should Support Israel -Steve Sheffey

The progressive movement has been tarred by a vocal minority that seeks to criticize Israel at every opportunity. It's time for the progressive community to stand up and show its support for Israel.

Israel is a progressive's dream:
universal education, universal health care, equal rights, minority rights protections, strong activist courts, and gays and lesbians openly serving in the military.

As progressives, we should be outraged by the way the Arabs, including the Palestinians, treat women, gays and other minorities. We should be outraged that the Palestinians demand that no Jews should be allowed to live in the West Bank, even as over one million Palestinians live within pre-1967 Israel.
(Huffington Post)

The New MidEast Map

Redrawing Borders in the Middle East -Mordechai Kedar

The fundamental problem characterizing Middle Eastern states is that they have no legitimacy in the eyes of their citizenry because their borders were marked by European colonial interests. Included within these borders were ethnic, religious, denominational and tribal groups who, throughout history, were often unable to live together in peace. Every one of the Arab states, except the Gulf Emirates, is a conglomeration of these traditional groups.

If the world wishes to bring stability to the Middle East, there is no choice but to let the modern Arab countries - whose boundaries were set by colonialism - collapse and break up into small states, each based on one homogeneous group. It is time to re-think colonialism and the problematic legacy it bequeathed the Arab world. The Kurds in Iraq are already implementing this idea, having formed their own state in the north.
(Bar-Ilan University-IMRA)