Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shh: Israel Hits Hizbullah Convoy...quietly

Israel Hits Weapons Convoy on Syria-Lebanon Border
-Babak Dehghanpisheh & Joel Greenberg

Israeli aircraft fired at a truck convoy along the Lebanon-Syria border on Wednesday, a Western official said. A former Lebanese official said a missile from an unmanned aircraft struck a truck carrying weapons on the Syrian side of the border heading toward Lebanon. AP said Israel had been making plans in recent days to hit a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon that included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 missiles.

Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel's national security council, said the transfer to Hizbullah of weapons considered to be game-changers, such as the Russian anti-aircraft missiles or long-range Scud missiles, would be viewed with equal gravity. "These are no less troubling than chemical weapons," Eiland said. "They are more widespread and not as tightly controlled by the regime, so they can fall into the hands of Hizbullah."

"We do not comment on reports of this kind," a spokeswoman for the Israeli army said. Keeping silent about a military strike against such weapons had the advantage of not goading the other side to respond, Eiland said. 
(Washington Post)

Israel's Strike on Syrian Target Sends a Warning -Patrick Martin

Israel's reported air strike on a convoy in Syria believed to be carrying Russian-made surface-to-air missiles to Hizbullah was aimed to take out sophisticated weaponry and to warn the Damascus regime that it mustn't try such a thing again, said Mark Heller, principal research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The message to Syria was clear, Heller said, "We're watching. Don't try sending anything to Hizbullah."

While some suggest Syria might be shipping these weapons to Hizbullah for safekeeping, more likely the order to move them would have come from either Russia or Iran, said Heller. In fact, the message of the attack "may have been intended for Tehran," he said
(Globe and Mail-Canada)


Report: Israeli Airstrike in Syria Hit Iranian Guards
-Ariel Ben Solomon & Yaakov Lappin

The Iraqi daily Azzaman quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying that the alleged Israeli attack on Syria caused heavy casualties among Iranian Guards stationed at the Syrian facility.

The source, interviewed in London, said the base was heavily fortified and contained experts from Russia and at least 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who have been guarding the site for years.  
(Jerusalem Post)

Report: Israel Flattened Syrian Biological Weapons Research Center
-Aaron J. Klein & Karl Vick

Israeli planes struck several targets inside Syria, including a biological weapons research center that was reportedly flattened, Western intelligence officials said. Syria complained of the destruction of the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamarya northwest of Damascus, while news organizations reported that Israeli jets hit a convoy carrying advanced anti-aircraft defense systems toward Lebanon. A Western intelligence official indicated that at least one to two additional targets were hit.

Officials also said that Israel had a "green light" from Washington to launch yet more such strikes.

Israel "Considering Further Air Strikes on Syria"
-Phoebe Greenwood  & Richard Spencer

Ephraim Kam, deputy director Israel's Institute for National Security Studies and a retired intelligence colonel, said that the risks posed by Iran-allied militants like Hizbullah and Hamas getting their hands on parts of Syria's arsenal of chemical and advanced weaponry were considered far greater than the threat of retaliation.

"If tomorrow the IDF sees the movement of this weaponry, it will and should strike again," he said. "Last week's attack was a kind of warning - 'we are ready and prepared to do this.'"

Report: Iran Refused Assad's Request to Hit Back at Israel   

Syria's President Bashar Assad asked Iran to hit back at Israel on its behalf for a reported air strike, Israel's Channel 10 said, but the Iranians told him, "You need to take care of your business."

At the same time, many Syrians are calling on Damascus to attack Israeli interests on the Golan Heights, Channel 2 Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari reported Monday, showing clips of a succession of Syrian civilians repeating the mantra that they "want to open up the Golan front."

(Times of Israel)

Syrian Defense Minister: "No Need to Retaliate for Israeli Airstrike" 

Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij said that his country had no need to respond militarily to last week's reported Israeli airstrike on his country since the Israeli attack was itself a retaliation.

Israel, he claimed, was hitting back against the regime for its successes against what he said were Israel-backed Syrian rebels.
(Times of Israel)

What the Palestinians Are Up To

Quiet Intifada: Abbas' Statehood Plan -Ron Ben-Yishai

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has begun implementing a plan to win international recognition for a state within the 1967 borders without obligating the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, give up the right of return, or agree to an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.

In the first stage of Abbas' plan, the UN Security Council would recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. He then plans to return to the negotiation table with the sweeping support of the international community. If Israel insists on its demands, the international community would impose economic sanctions such as those imposed on the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The PA has begun to initiate dozens of provocations that involve a minimal level of violence such as building "outposts" in Area C, holding demonstrations, and throwing rocks and firebombs. Foreign news teams are invited to the scene in advance, so these incidents become victories in the Palestinian "awareness" campaign
(Ynet News)

PA Pays Monthly Salary to Ex-Prisoners for Life -Nasouh Nazzal  

Three released Palestinian prisoners who had been imprisoned in Israeli jails for less than five years are protesting at the entrance of the Tulkarem branch of the Ministry of Detainees' Affairs. The men are demanding monthly salaries along with medical insurance.

According to the Palestinian prisoners' law, only those who serve more than five years imprisonment receive monthly salaries for their lifetimes.

Once a Palestinian is arrested by Israeli military forces, the PA starts paying him 1,400 shekels a month; the prisoner's salary increases to 2,000 shekels after two years, 4,000 shekels after five years, and jumps to 6,000 shekels after ten years.

According to a new proposed law, released prisoners who served less than five years will be eligible for monthly salaries for half the time served in jail.   
(Gulf News-Dubai)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monkey Business is No Laughing Matter

Iran's "Space Monkey" Means Trans-Atlantic Launch Capability
-Ben Hartman 

After Iran's announcement that it had successfully launched a monkey into space, IDF General Asaf Agmon told the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya:

"[Iran's] space program is connected to their missile program and the science you need to launch a monkey into space is the same that you need to send a warhead over the Atlantic Ocean."
(Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good News in Terror War

Intelligence Cooperation in Counterterrorism -Lior Akerman

The events of 9/11 led to a fundamental change in how intelligence organizations perceived their role in the common war against terrorism. This was especially true in the U.S. and Europe. Since then, intelligence ties among the various organizations have gradually improved, as has the transfer of information among them.

As a direct result, terrorist suspects have been located and identified in their home countries, and terrorist organizations in the early stages of formation have been exposed and thwarted. Rapid transfer of suspected terrorists' details made possible their detention and interrogation, while terrorist attacks which had already been planned have been avoided and thwarted, saving thousands of lives in Israel and other countries.

The success of the war against fundamentalist terror organizations hinges on the extent of cooperation and openness among the world's intelligence organizations. 
The writer is a former brigadier-general in the Israel Security Agency who served as a bureau head.
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, January 28, 2013

VideoBite: Settlement Policy Doesn't Prevent Peace

An excellent 13 minute video deliniating why Israel's settlements do not deter peace with her Arab neighbors. This segment features Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, during a debate which took place at the Royal Geographical Society [UK] on January 15, 2013.

Note: If you cannot view video above, click HERE


Britain's National Sickness -Melanie Phillips

The insane belief that Israel is trying to wipe out the Palestinians is now common currency in British progressive circles. The belief that, in Israel, the victims of one of the greatest crimes against humanity are themselves now guilty of crimes against humanity is the collective libel that has become the default position amongst the British intelligentsia.

British Jews who support Israel and try to counter these Big Lies are treated as pariahs by baying mobs whose obsession with Israel has brought about nothing less than a mass derangement in British public debate. Self-defense against extermination is now considered a crime against humanity.
(Daily Mail-UK)

The Demise of the "Peace Addiction"

Dr. Daniel Gordis talks about the "demise of the peace addiction"

We gave peace a chance -Daniel Gordis

[T]he prescription for resolution of the conflict was clear – we would give land, and we would get peace. The only question was when.

We were not the only ones who believed that, of course. A significant portion of Israeli society believed the same thing – until the Palestinian Terror War (mistakenly called the second intifada) – that is. Those four years destroyed the Israeli political Left because they washed away any illusions Israelis might have had that the Palestinian leadership was interested in a deal.

And, to be fair, why should the Palestinians be interested in a deal? Their position gets stronger with each passing year. No longer pariahs, they are now the darlings of the international community. They have seen the world shift from denying the existence of a Palestinian people to giving them observer status at the UN. If you were the leader of the Palestinian Authority, would you make a deal now? Of course not. With the terms bound to get sweeter in years to come, only a fool would sign now.

On the one hand, our region is becoming ever more dangerous and our foes ever more honest about their desire to destroy the Jewish state. And on the other hand, much of the world insists that “land for peace” simply must work; some American Jewish leaders actually urged Israel, even in the midst of the Gaza conflict, to return to the negotiating table. It would be funny were it not so sad and so dangerous.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party’s website makes no mention of going back to the negotiating table.

Neither does the Labor Party platform.

Even Meretz recently acknowledged that Oslo is dead.

To give up hope for peace is not to choose war. Egypt’s present and Jordan’s future indicate how little is guaranteed by a treaty; the Palestinian present shows that we can have quiet even in the face of stalemate. What Israelis now want is quiet, and a future. Nothing more, nothing less. And most importantly, no more illusions.

The demise of the peace addiction is no cause for celebration; it is merely cause for relief. There is something exhausting about living a life of pretense.
[Jerusalem Post]

The Decline of American Military Power?

Hagel in Context -Jared Silverman

[C]oncerns over the Hagel pick would be critical were we evaluating the administration’s foreign policy and the work of the State Department. Instead, Hagel’s charge will be the Defense Department. The more vital question is what his appointment means to national defense and the security of the United States.

None other than the Washington Post editorial board said that Hagel, while offering the “veneer of bipartisanship,” is not the right choice for Defense. “Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term,” the editorial said.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fought sequestration cuts of the defense budget because they would have dire consequences for United States security. Hagel thinks to the contrary. “The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated,” he has said. “So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.”

New York Times columnist David Brooks, probably one of the administration’s favorite conservative pundits, nailed it in his column last week explaining why Hagel was nominated.

Americans are facing a classic “guns or butter” decision, he suggested, between traditional levels of support for defense and growing pressures to subsidize health-care spending, especially Medicare. In the 2012 election, the majority chose subsidized health care. Since tax increases will not raise sufficient funds to finance a “health care state,” the only immediately available funds are in the defense budget.

“Europeans, who are ahead of us in confronting that decision, have chosen welfare over global power. European nations can no longer perform many elemental tasks of moving troops and fighting,” wrote Brooks. “The United States will undergo a similar process.”

Defense spending cuts, Brooks concluded, “will transform America’s stature in the world, making us look a lot more like Europe today.”

Hagel has been nominated to supervise the beginning of this generation-long process of defense cutbacks. All the charges about Hagel’s views on Israel or Iran are secondary.

American faces a number of defense challenges in the next decade. Putin’s Russia is looking for a military renaissance and seems intent on confronting the United States as the USSR did during the Cold War. China is building its military and is asserting itself on the world stage. Iran wants to create a Shi’ite version of the Persian Empire. Islamists, who have taken power in Arab Spring countries, are looking to extend Islamist influence by political and insurgent means.

Obama’s response is to nominate a man he feels can preside over the decline of American military power. That is how the nomination should be judged.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Israel Is Not Isolated

Israel is often described as diplomatically isolated.  But there are other facts to consider.

Israel Isn't Isolated -Gabriel Scheinmann

Israel is far from the isolated state it is made out to be. On the contrary, Israel is actually at the height of its global integration, increasingly enmeshed across diplomatic, economic and cultural fronts.

Since 1989, Israel has established full diplomatic relations with nearly 70 countries. In the past year alone, Israel has conducted military exercises with Greece, Poland, and Italy in addition to the largest joint military exercise in Israel's history with the U.S.

In 2010, Israel was admitted into the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development).

Trade with China and India grow annually at double-digit rates, and 2012 was a record year for tourists flocking to Israel.

[T]he last several years have been a high-point of Israeli integration into the international community.     
(National Interest)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yemen's Last Jews Leave

A Jewish girl stands outside her home in Sanaa, Yemen on Feb. 7, 2012

Report: Israel Brings Yemeni Jews -Eli Leon 

The Iranian news agency Fars reported that a group of Yemeni Jews had flown to Tel Aviv via Doha on a Qatari flight.

The report indicated that Israel is working to bring more Yemeni Jews to Israel in the near future.

The Jewish community in Yemen last year numbered 130. Some 100 Yemenite Jews arrived in Israel between 2009 and 2012.

(JTA)(Israel Hayom)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mali & Algeria Emerge On Jihad Map

A London protest againt French involvement in Mali
Jihadists are attempting to give the West a message that direct intervention (as France did) will be punished

Hostages Still Held in Algeria after Assault -Lamine Chikhi

At least 22 foreign hostages remained unaccounted for after Algerian forces stormed a desert gas complex to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist gunmen. 30 hostages, including several Westerners, were killed during the storming on Thursday, along with at least 11 of their captors, who said they had taken the site as retaliation for French intervention against Islamists in neighboring Mali. 

The Jihadist Eruption in Africa -Shiraz Maher

The story of the hostage crisis in Algeria actually begins in Libya, where unintended consequences of the Arab Spring are now roiling North and West Africa. Gaddafi had long drawn mercenaries from among the Tuareg, a nomadic group spread across five countries. When the Arab Spring spread to Libya two years ago, and as his own regular forces began to defect, Gaddafi enlisted support from thousands of Tuareg fighters to suppress the rebellion.

When Gaddafi was killed in October 2011, his armed and trained Tuareg forces retreated to redoubts in Mali, bringing with them caches of sophisticated arms, including heavy weaponry and antiaircraft missiles. The influx of disaffected fighters culminated in the creation of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which last spring overran several towns in northern Mali and declared independence, tacitly joining forces with jihadists who operate in the region.

The jihadists then unraveled their alliance with the MNLA and established a semiautonomous Islamic state. Jihadist forces last week were readying themselves to seize Mali's capital, Bamako, when the interim administration of President Dioncounda Traore called on the French to intervene.
(Wall Street Journal)


Al-Qaeda, Again -Editorial

The terrorists don't seem to agree that they've been defeated.

With the hostage mess at a remote gas plant in Algeria, it is impossible to blink from the reality that the post-bin Laden al-Qaeda is still with us and an active threat to U.S. interests. It's still a dangerous world, and the U.S., whether we like it or not, remains that world's lead power.
(Wall Street Journal)

As single-minded as the fanatics -Melanie Phillips

The immediate response to the Sahara atrocity must be revulsion, and deep sorrow for the families of those British and other hostages who were murdered in cold blood or killed in the rescue attempt.

[But c]ondemnation of the Algerian authorities for the loss of those hostages’ lives, in what has been termed a ‘bungled’ operation against the Islamist terrorists who stormed the Algerian gas complex, is nevertheless inappropriate.

For it is not just that the Algerians’ response in that hideously complex situation cannot be judged without understanding precisely what they thought the hostage-takers were about to do. It is also that the ruthless Algerian approach acknowledges a reality on the ground that the West seems incapable of grasping.

The Algerians refuse to negotiate because they know that the Islamists’ position is simply non-negotiable. Unlike other hostage-takers, they usually have no interest in getting out alive; they intend to die as ‘martyrs’, and of course have no compunction about killing their captives. Moreover, the purpose of taking hostages is either to kill ‘infidels’, or to extract ransom money for them — which will merely finance more kidnappings and terrorist atrocities. 

The most devastating consequence has been the West’s refusal to acknowledge that it is not fighting a series of brush fires based on local political grievances, but a war of religion being conducted against the free world in order to destroy it.
This fundamental misjudgment has meant not merely that Western governments failed to grasp the threat that would be posed by the dispersed Al-Qaeda franchise in the Sahel region of west and north-central Africa. It has also caused them to make a series of dreadful errors which have led Islamic extremists to conclude that victory is within their grasp.

Failing to deal firmly with terrorist regimes such as Syria, Iran or North Korea, which pose a mortal threat to peace and freedom, Western governments instead helped remove admitted tyrants in the Muslim world who were nevertheless allies (however fragile) of the West.

Blundering about with their asinine belief that elections are the antidote to holy war, they have merely produced chaos in which Islamic fanatics and terrorists have been the main beneficiaries.

In a bitter irony, advanced Libyan weaponry that fell into terrorist hands after Colonel Gaddafi was ousted — courtesy of the UK, France and the U.S. — has been used against the French in Mali.Worse still, those governments have themselves shown a lack of stomach for a fight. This has been demonstrated by the ignominious way they scuttled from Iraq, and fought a war in Afghanistan which — despite the unquestioned courage of the soldiers fighting it — often appeared so half-hearted it all but guaranteed what historians will surely regard as defeat.

By contrast, Islamist fanatics play the longest game in town. With their heads still stuck fast in the seventh century, they think nothing of fighting at least until the end of the 21st.
What inspires them to further violence is their perception that the West is wide open for the taking — because it simply doesn’t have the will to fight for what it believes in.

America may be committing a few drones to the fight in Mali or the badlands on the border of Pakistan. But with its strategic shift and planned defence reductions, the Obama administration is signalling that the U.S. is no longer willing to lead the defence of the West against its most deadly enemy. And that should terrify us, because without America we are lost.
[Daily Mail]


Obama's Wishful Thinking Abroad -Editorial

In his second inaugural address, President Obama suggested a barrelful of wishful thinking when he pronounced: "A decade of war is now ending."

That would come as news to the Afghan soldiers still dying at Taliban hands; to the families of more than 60,000 people killed in Syria in the past two years; to French soldiers who have taken on, in Mali, al-Qaeda affiliates who are as much enemies of the U.S. as of France; to the families of American hostages just slain in a terrorist attack in Algeria. America's adversaries are not in retreat; they will be watching Mr. Obama in his second term to see if the same can be said of the United States.
(Washington Post)

If Mali Is on France's Doorstep, Gaza Is in Our Living Room -Raphael Ahren

Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council: "France's foreign minister said this month that his country was fighting to prevent the creation of an Islamist terrorist enclave 'at the doorstep of France and Europe.' If Mali is on France's doorstep, Gaza is in Israel's living room."

"France's principled stand should be commended. We only ask that France and all the countries who are supporting its principled stand today, support Israel tomorrow when we fight Islamic terrorism on our borders."
(Times of Israel)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama's Immature Comments on Netanyahu

White House Won't Confirm or Deny Quotes Attributed to President
-Donovan Slack

The White House is not denying a report that President Obama repeatedly said that "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are."

The comment [was] reported by columnist Jeffrey Goldberg.

"Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, told several people that he he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart," Goldberg wrote.

"In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, 'Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are'..."

Obama, Israelis, and Palestinians: More Words, Less Action -David Makovsky & David Pollock

Objecting to new Israeli construction in the West Bank is at best only half a strategy. To promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. needs to pay at least as much attention to hate speech as to housing starts.


Does Obama Know Better than Israel What Its Interests Are? -Jonathan S. Tobin

The accusations that the White House used Jeffrey Goldberg's column to get even with Netanyahu are probably untrue. The president and his foreign policy team are probably aware that an American attempt to influence the vote in Israel would backfire. Obama is deeply unpopular in Israel and every time he has picked a fight with Netanyahu it has only strengthened the prime minister's standing at home.

The assumption underlying Goldberg's article was that Netanyahu is isolating his country via policies that are not aimed at encouraging "Palestinian moderates." The decision to allow building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and its suburbs that would be kept by Israel even if there were a two-state solution is seen by Obama and the Europeans as intolerable provocations that should be punished. But most Israelis see these issues very differently.

Obama's evaluation of the situation shows that he is still focusing only on what Israel does and ignoring the reality of a Palestinian political culture that is incapable of accepting peace. If real peace were an option, no Israeli political leader would be able to resist accepting it. Pretending that such a choice is available to Israel is mere posturing, not a policy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Muslim Doc Pens Pro-Israel Article

Qanta Ahmed, MD

Israel's Jihad Is Mine -Qanta Ahmed
  • While most Muslims laud Hamas and scorn Israel, for me, an observing Muslim, Israel's war against Hamas remains my struggle - my jihad.
  • While Muslims define Israel as the enemy, we ignore Assad, and diabolically laud Hamas. Hamas is never sated - each year it devours ever more Palestinians, regardless of age or gender. If Israelis lose fewer citizens than the Palestinians in these conflicts it is for the same reason Israel exchanges more prisoners for each captive soldier: quite simply Israel values human life more than does Hamas, which relishes ground operations taking place among densely populated civilian areas.
  • Coloring their fascism with Islam, Hamas claims religious legitimacy to openly seek destruction of the Jewish state and eradication of the Jewish people. Hamas does not represent me, or other believing Muslims. Yet instead of condemning Hamas, and recognizing them as imposters among us, the Muslim world celebrates them, even as Hamas violates the most profound Islamic principle: the sanctity of life.
  • As a Muslim, my loyalty is with Islam, and therefore explicitly with justice for all humanity, a humanity that must include Jews. To be loyal to Hamas is to abandon Islam. It is Muslims who must take the first steps to expose Hamas as the ruthless nihilists they explicitly announce themselves to be.

    Dr. Qanta Ahmed is Associate Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (Stony Brook).
(Times of Israel)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Abbas Parrots Arafat

A younger Abbas was Arafat's protege. 
His current positions parrot Arafat's own.

Abbas' Radical Political Doctrine -Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi
  • Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the PLO and the Fatah movement, presented a radical political doctrine in his speech on January 4, 2013, honoring the anniversary of Fatah's establishment.
  • In his speech Abbas avoids all mention of a historic compromise with Israel that would bring the conflict to an end. Nor does he mention the land-for-peace formula or the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Instead, Abbas chose to reemphasize that the Palestinian people remain on the path of struggle to realize "the dream of return" of the Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.
  • Abbas pledged to continue the path of struggle of previous Palestinian leaders, mentioning the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who forged a strategic alliance with Nazi Germany, and heads of Palestinian terror organizations who were directly responsible for the murder of thousands of Israeli civilians. All are equal and suitable partners in the Palestinian struggle, and their ideological platform, even if it is terrorist and/or radical-Islamist, is a source of inspiration for the Palestinian people.
  • Anyone who expected that Abbas would follow a more moderate course after the UN General Assembly resolution upgrading the status of the PLO, was undoubtedly disappointed with Abbas' remarks. He was not preparing the Palestinian people for making peace, but rather escalating the conflict.

    The writer is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

What's Behind Abbas' New Tone -Dore Gold

What happened to Mahmoud Abbas? Wasn't he always regarded by Israeli leaders for the last twenty years as a moderate who was interested in reaching a peace agreement? What is important is not the vapid debate over whether Abbas can still be regarded as a partner for peacemaking, but rather to internalize that the political environment in 2013 no longer resembles what the Middle East looked like when Israel began talking to the Palestinians in 1993.

The next Israeli government must accept the fact that given what is going on in the Middle East, it is completely unrealistic to propose a negotiation to reach a full-blown final status agreement with the Palestinians.

Given the regional dangers on the horizon, any political arrangement in the future must have a much stronger security component than what was proposed in the past. More than ever, Israel needs to preserve the ability to defend itself, by itself, no matter how the declared intentions of its neighbors change.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
(Israel Hayom)


Portrait of Palestinian Democracy - 2013 -Rick Richman

This week Mahmoud Abbas began the ninth year of his four-year term of office, having originally taken office on January 15, 2005, after a quickie election held a few weeks after Yasser Arafat died in the ninth year of his own four-year term.

Being elected Palestinian president means you never have to run again.

Palestinian democracy has been a bit of a disappointment: each of the peace-partner presidents [Arafat & Abbas] were offered a state on virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem, and each of them walked away. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kerry & Palestinian Disunity

A Historic Shift toward Palestinian Unity? - Aaron David Miller
  • Tens of thousands of Palestinians rally in Hamas-controlled Gaza to celebrate the anniversary of Fatah's founding. Thousands more in the Fatah-controlled West Bank cheer on Hamas. Could we be witnessing a historic shift toward Palestinian unity? Not likely.
  • Beginning with the 2000 intifada, Fatah began to split and smaller offshoots like the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamists began to run their own operations. Arafat's death in 2004, the corruption in Fatah, and the rising power of Hamas made a mockery of the idea of a unified Palestinian national movement.
  • Since Hamas' 2007 takeover of Gaza, there have been at least four unsuccessful efforts to restore Palestinian unity, but neither Hamas nor Fatah is really serious about doing so - even while all Palestinians say they desperately want them to succeed. Neither side has any real desire to pay the price for what a real merger would entail.
  • Hamas isn't going to give up the gun and recognize Israel - and Abbas knows that his international support will evaporate if he signs on to a hard-line program. There is no real consensus, and given Hamas' own timeline, no urgency to produce one. And now with friendly Islamists rising in the Arab world, there's less of a rush.
  • Bringing Hamas into the PLO or a unity government with its current positions intact will compel the U.S. to cut aid to the PA, make it impossible to get negotiations with Israel launched.
  • John Kerry, who really does believe in diplomacy, will want to do something serious on the Israeli-Palestinian issue because he believes it's important, because others will urge him to, and because that's what secretaries of state are supposed to do. He won't open up a dialogue with Hamas, but he'll likely start talking to the Turks, Egyptians, and Qataris (all led by Islamists with influence in Gaza) about ways to influence Hamas.
    The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
(Foreign Policy)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Israeli Elections

Patience, Not Panic, on Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Michael Singh
  •  [A]nalysts who fret that the Israeli election will diminish prospects for peace have confused cause and effect.
  • Heightened security worries sparked by Iran and the upheaval in the Arab world, compounded by fading hopes for peace with the Palestinians after four years of backsliding in the peace process, have fueled the electoral shifts that will be manifest in the Jan. 22 results.
  • A Dahaf poll from December 2012 indicates that Israelis increasingly believe that concessions will not bring real peace. 83% did not believe that even a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines would bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • This pessimism about peace has undoubtedly fueled a view that "defensible borders," not a peace agreement, is the surest route to actually achieving peace. 61% of Israelis express that view, compared to 49% who did so in 2005.
  • Right now, only 39% of Israelis believe that they can rely upon the U.S. to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(Foreign Policy)


Israel's Labor head poised to be Netanyahu gadfly -Aron Heller

Shelly Yachimovich, 52, took over Labor, the once-storied movement that led Israel to independence, in late 2011 at one of its lowest points. Buoyed by a social protest movement, she revitalized the party by veering away from its traditional dovish platform of promoting peace with the Arabs and focusing almost entirely on the economy, jobs and the country's various social ills.
Her political ascent, along with the strength of the Israeli right wing, underscores that pursuing peace with the Palestinians is not a winning campaign issue among Israelis, who appear to have lost faith that West Bank lands can be traded for peace.
Skeptical Israelis point to the rising strength of Hamas militants in Gaza Strip, the uncertainty roiling the region as the Arab Spring unfolds, and the wide gaps with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that have kept negotiations deadlocked the past four years. Even when Israeli leaders proposed what they considered far-reaching offers, during the 2000-2001 negotiations and again in 2008, no deal was reached.
[Associated Press]
[Hat tip: LindaF]

A vote for internal change -Herb Keinon

A vote for a dramatic change in the country’s diplomatic/security direction would have meant a torrent of voters for Livni, or Meretz, or even Kadima, all of which championed a different diplomatic position than the one Netanyahu has been promoting.

Livni’s campaign, for example, was all about returning to the way things were when she was negotiating with the PLO’s Ahmed Qurei. Tuesday’s results, and Livni’s devastatingly poor showing, did not indicate nostalgia for those days.

No, the votes did not pour in for Livni, but rather for Lapid, Shelly Yacimovich and Bennett.

And none of those candidates – not even Bennett, so often labeled extreme Right – ran a campaign on diplomatic/ security external issues.
[Jerusalem Post]

Why I Voted for Yair Lapid -Yossi Klein Halevi

Centrists want a two-state solution and are prepared to make almost any territorial compromise for peace. But they also believe that no concessions, at least for now, will win Israel legitimacy and real peace. Centrists want to be doves but are forced by reality to be hawks.

The Israeli media is speaking relentlessly of an even divide between the left-wing and right-wing blocs. That’s nonsense. Yesh Atid isn’t a left-wing party; half of its voters define themselves as right of center.
[Tablet Magazine]

VideoBite: A Muslim View of Jewish Jerusalem

An unusual video from a Muslim point of view, lauding the Jewish nature of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

Monday, January 07, 2013

The "Al" Pals: Al Gore Ushers in Al Jazeera

Al-Jazeera Buys U.S. Cable Channel

While the pan-Arab news network Al-Jazeera doesn't have a significant presence in the U.S., that is about to change as Al-Jazeera is spending $500 million to acquire Current TV, the cable news network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. The deal gives Al-Jazeera access to about 50 million U.S. homes. Al-Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, gave voice to Osama Bin Laden in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The network will be rebranded Al-Jazeera America in 90 days. Time Warner Cable Inc., the nation's second-largest TV operator, said it will drop Current TV.
(AP-Washington Post)

Al Gore Sells Out to Al-Jazeera -Barry Rubin, PhD

What would you call it if a former vice-president of the United States had sold his television network to a fascist or Communist front group at a time when such forces threatened America? Nothing very nice. But now Al Gore has sold out his admittedly obscure channel to al-Jazeera and taken a position on its board.

Qatar [who runs Al-Jezeera] is the most pro-Iran Arab government.

It brokered the Fatah-Hamas deal which soon led to the Hamas coup. Far from objecting to the bloody Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Qatar supported Hamas to this day. It is also the leading supplier of arms to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. On every issue, Qatar has taken a more radical, anti-American positions than all other Arab countries except Syria. It also was a key financier of the overthrow of the Libyan regime. This was in line with U.S. policy but there are deep suspicions that it has its own candidates for Libyan leadership in future more radical than the current regime.

So Gore had every reason to know what he was doing.

Who is going to watch al-Jazeera most? Presumably the kind of individual who will find its ideology and indoctrination to be congenial. It will make them hate America, the West, real democracy, and Israel even more. As they watch al-Jazeera's exaggerations and fabrications of anti-Muslim violence as well as its glorification of terrorism, might they be more inclined to engage in violence? 

In former, sane, times, doing something like this would have finished Gore's credibility forever. Needless to say, sanity has long since jumped out the window. 

[R]emember that al-Jazeera is controlled by an oil-producing state whose goals include maintaining the highest possible use of petroleum, a goal that is contrary to Gore's obsession with what he says is the threat of man-made global warming to destroy the planet in the near future.
[PJ Media]

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Iranian Sleeper Cells in the US?

On "24" the Araz family was part of an Iranian sleeper cell planning attacks on the US

A book that features an Iranian sleeper cell planning attacks on the US
Iran has infiltrated a team of Quds Force terrorist leaders into the United States to attack from within in 2013, according to a source. The source within the office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the team is to create instability in America through terrorism should the U.S. fail to accept the regime’s illicit nuclear program, increase sanctions, confront Iran militarily or intervene in the Syrian civil war.

Members of the team each lead cells totaling about 50 terrorists already in the U.S.

Details of the terror plot, meant to disrupt the West, have been passed on to U.S. officials, who are taking countermeasures. The source said the team members, unlike the alleged Iranian operative Manssor Arbabsiar, who was arrested in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. in 2011, are highly trained and sophisticated.

The team leaders are all senior Revolutionary Guard officers who were recruited for this specific mission nine years ago on the recommendation of the Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, and with the approval of security advisers to Khamenei.

Most of the team members have been in America for a year; a few were successfully placed here about five years ago.

Information and pictures of potential targets have been submitted for Khamenei’s approval, the source added. They include high-voltage towers to create blackouts, cell towers, water supplies, public transportation and various other buildings belonging to the Defense Department and military.
[Hat tip: Joe Smiga]

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Islamic Supersessionism

Islamic Supremacy Alive and Well -Diana Muir Appelbaum

Supersessionism refers to the belief that Christians have superseded Jews in a new covenant with God. [Note: not all Christian subscribe to this belief...some Christians maintain that both covenants are active]

Islam, too, sees itself as superseding all previous divine revelation but, unlike Christianity, which canonized the Old Testament embedding long centuries of pre-Christian history into the Christian narrative, Islam freely erases history itself.

Islamic supersession can be understood in two senses, as replacement and as erasure. Going forward, Islam will supplant all other faiths. But Islam also controls the time before the birth of Muhammad; it claims to have preexisted all other faiths with the Qur'an preexisting all other scripture. Because Islam has always existed, all children are born Muslim although their parents may rear them in another faith. The proof text is in the reported words of Muhammad: "Every child is born according to God's plan; then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian [Zoroastrian]."

The claim that Islam has always existed effectively erases all that went before Muhammad. The notion that Islam is the final, true faith, divinely ordained to rule everywhere, has driven Islamic imperialism for 1,400 years.

Supersessionist erasure can also be enacted on the landscape. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was superseded by the erection of the Dome of the Rock, bolstered by the myth of Muhammad's "Night Journey" to Jerusalem, erasing the pre-Islamic history of the temple and, with it, all Christian and Jewish claims. In later cases, however, sites are incorporated into Islam as symbols of Islamic imperial triumph. So it was when the great cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople, originally built in 360, was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.

The fact that Christians and Jews continued to live under Muslim rule reinforced Islamic triumphalist beliefs because as "protected people" (dhimmis), they publicly acknowledged their legal and institutional inferiority to Muslims. But with the rise of European nationalism during the nineteenth century, Islam encountered Christians and eventually Jews who claimed political and religious equality with Muslims and even rights to sovereignty in lands that had hitherto been part of the domain of Islam. Christian or Jewish sovereignty and equality challenge Islamic supersessionism.
[Middle East Quarterly]