Sunday, 4 October 2009

Israel Matzav: Fayyad's rush to 'Palestine'

Fayyad's rush to 'Palestine'

In an earlier post, I discussed the 'quartet's abandonment of the principle of reciprocity that was the underlying basis of the 'road map.' One of the reasons the 'quartet' has taken this action is that it's putting all of its eggs into one basket: The basket named Salam Fayyad. In August, Fayyad announced a plan to create a 'Palestinian state' by 2011 with or without Israeli consent. The 'quartet's plan has run into opposition from two quarters before it gets off the ground: Israel and Fatah.

Here are some of the Israeli objections:

Another direct challenge to Israel is that Fayyad's "blueprint" calls for massive Palestinian development in Area "C" of the disputed West Bank, which is under Israeli civil and security control, and which directly challenges the delicate, agreed-upon framework of the 1993 Oslo accords.35 Palestinian plans include building an airport in the Jordan Valley, taking control of Atarot airport near Jerusalem, establishing new rail links to neighboring states, and water installation projects near Tulkarem and Kalkilya close to the pre-1967 "green line."36 Israeli security echelons firmly oppose Palestinian airport development plans near Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley.37 Furthermore, Fayyad's agenda has broader designs on Area "C." Fayyad told the Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat in a September 1, 2009, interview: "Many think that zone "C" areas have become disputed territories rather than occupied territories in the public consciousness. We assert that these are PNA territories where the state will be established."38

The Israeli government is aware of the possibility of unilateral Palestinian moves in the ongoing dispute over the future of the West Bank. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Quartet envoy Tony Blair and EU policy chief Javier Solana soon after the plan's release in August 2009: "Palestinian unilateral initiatives do not contribute to a positive dialogue between the parties and if the unilateral initiative presented by Salam Fayyad is promoted, Israel will respond."39 In a September 17, 2009, interview, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his rejection of the Palestinian demand that the 1967 lines will become Israel's eastern border, which is a central part of Fayyad's plan. Netanyahu told the Israeli daily Israel Today: "There are those who prophesized that the 1967 lines would be (Israel's eastern) border, but these are indefensible, something that is unacceptable to me. Israel needs defensible borders and also the ongoing ability to defend itself."40

Netanyahu's comments were not made in a vacuum. They were based on Israel's international legal rights as preserved in UN Security Council Resolution 242. Netanyahu's insistence on "defensible borders" also stems from understandings Israel has secured with the U.S. in the past. The concept of "defensible borders" was a central element in President George W. Bush's letter to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of April 14, 2004, with a commitment made by the White House as a diplomatic quid pro quo for Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005.41 The Bush letter was approved overwhelmingly by both houses of the U.S. Congress immediately afterward.

...

Former IDF Intelligence Assessment Chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror notes that the Jordan Valley now serves as an important natural barrier to the potential flow of rockets to the West Bank hilltops overlooking Israel's coastline, where they could easily strike Israel's main airport, key utilities, and most of Israel's major cities.44 Former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz made a similar assessment to the Israeli cabinet in 2000 at the time of the Clinton proposals,45 while his successor as chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, underscored the same requirement for defensible borders in the West Bank in 2008.46

And here are some of Fatah's objections.

Despite robust Western support, Fayyad's ambitious plan has enjoyed a mixed reception in Palestinian circles. Fatah has decided to give Fayyad's plan a chance due to the prospect of his implementing Palestinian state projects on an unprecedented scale.20 At the same time, Fayyad's agenda has triggered tensions in Fatah and the PLO and has drawn sharp criticism from the Arab media for co-opting the power and legitimacy of official PLO bodies.21

Fayyad has emphasized that any decision on a declaration of statehood at the end of two years would be made by the PLO organs.22 However, the Fayyad plan is seen to pose a direct challenge to Fatah and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who reiterated, when Fayyad presented the plan, that "negotiations with Israel are the only option for the Palestinian Authority."23 Furthermore, Fayyad's approach collides with Fatah's traditional platform of "armed struggle" to "liberate Palestine" using "all options" available, as confirmed at the recent Fatah Congress.24 Fayyad's program also contradicts the Fatah Congress' reaffirmation of a "one-state" solution in the event that negotiations over a "two-state" solution fail.25

Fayyad, who is not a member of the ruling Fatah movement, enjoys only limited political backing in the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, particularly following the latest central committee elections in August 2009. Fatah's rejection of Fayyad was manifested in the rejection of his candidacy to the PLO executive committee, which, had he been elected, would have empowered him to declare a Palestinian state as part of the PLO political hierarchy. However, Fayyad reached a limited understanding with powerful Fatah warlord Mohammed Dahlan. In fact, Dahlan is currently one of Fayyad's staunchest supporters in the complex constellation of Palestinian politics. However, Fayyad's political rivals, such as Tawfiq Tirawi, Abu Maher Gneim, and Mahmud al-Alul, who support "armed resistance" against Israel and were recently elected to the new Fatah Central Committee, have already blasted Fayyad's plans as being a "governmental intifada" that contradicted the "armed struggle."

Fayyad needs to be elected either 'President' or 'Prime Minister' in the 2010 elections (assuming they happen) in order to be able to push his plan. While Fayyad has very little support within Fatah, he has lots of grassroots support. Ironically, that support is partly Israel's fault: It reflects the 'Palestinians' approval for what Fayyad has done with their economy - which could not have been done without Israel easing security restrictions in Judea and Samaria.

Read the whole thing.


Israel Matzav: Fayyad's rush to 'Palestine'

Israel Matzav: Syria preventing new government from forming in Lebanon

Syria preventing new government from forming in Lebanon

It's been nearly four months since elections were held in Lebanon, and the country still doesn't have a government. The reason is apparently that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is preventing Hezbullah and its allies from joining the government (why Sa'ad Hariri is unwilling to form a government without Hezbullah is a separate issue that no one in the West discusses - I suspect it's because he fears for his life). And why is Assad able to prevent a government from being formed in Lebanon? The Washington Post explains.

The Obama administration's outreach has resulted in "the invigorating of Syria's role in the region, including Lebanon," said Wiam Wahhab, a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician.

Syria has "has influence in Lebanon as do Saudi Arabia, America and Iran. But by virtue of its geographical location, Syria has greater influence in Lebanon than other countries," Wahhab told The Associated Press.

Isn't it amazing how one moron in a position of power can screw up the entire world?


Israel Matzav: Syria preventing new government from forming in Lebanon

Love of the Land: End the Arab Occupation of Israel

End the Arab Occupation of Israel


Ron Breiman
Haaretz
04 October 09

(How this ended up in Haaretz is anyones guess.)

From Gideon Levy to Barack Obama, from Yariv Oppenheimer to Ismail Haniyeh, from Zahava Gal-On to Tzipi Livni - they all recite the same phrase: It's time to put an end to the "occupation." Once the "occupation" ends, peace will be sealed. Once the Jews are expelled from the heart of their country, redemption will come to Zion. From here emerges "the solution" - two states within the tiny piece of prized property that remains, the western Land of Israel, not the Greater Land of Israel.

We would do well to recall that the PLO - the (all of!) Palestine Liberation Organization - was founded in 1964 before there was an "occupation," "the West Bank," "territories," and the other political terms that were designed to disinherit the Jewish people from the heart of their country, those swaths of land that were occupied - without quotation marks - by the Jordanian army in 1948, an occupation that lasted just 19 years. The PLO's goal was not to liberate the territories from Jordan, because those lands were in Arab hands. Rather, it aimed to liberate the "occupied" territories from the State of Israel, which lay within "the Green Line."

We would do well to recall that the PLO never changed its spots. It failed to do so when it signed for "peace" with the naive Yitzhak Rabin, who was lured into the trap sprung for him by the Osloites. And it failed to do so when it allegedly abrogated its charter. Even the recent Fatah conference and the statements by the "moderate" Holocaust denier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, can attest to this. The goal was and remains to this day: the liberation of the "occupied" territories from Israel, namely the State of Israel within the confines of the Green Line.

On the other hand, when the Osloites let Yasser Arafat and his gang of henchmen come into the heart of the country with his army of terrorists, they brought with them their own army of occupation. As things went, thanks to the shock after the Rabin assassination, the Osloites quickly handed the cities of Judea and Samaria over to the occupier, an error that the slain prime minister apparently did not intend to commit. This is how liberated territories became occupied territories, without quotation marks. In Operation Defensive Shield, the Israel Defense Forces was compelled to pay a steep price in blood to liberate the heart of the country from Arab occupation.

Most of the Arabs in the Land of Israel immigrated here after our waves of aliyah. In other words, Zionism and the prosperity it engendered spawned "the Palestinian people." Since the Arab occupation of the Land of Israel in the seventh century, and throughout the centuries of Muslim occupation, not one of the occupiers viewed this land as anything more than a distant imperial outpost.

The demand to grant a state to Arab immigrants to this country and their army, which is stationed here thanks to the blindness of certain Jews and the nations of the world, is without foundation. It is tantamount to legitimizing a reality that was created here after the criminal act that allowed an occupying army to enter this country.

The critics' responses are predictable: What do you propose, that the Arabs just evaporate into thin air? In contrast with the critics who espouse a racist transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria, I reject any forcible transfer of any population group. Perhaps there is no solution to the problem. There is certainly no solution at this point. But this is no reason to commit suicide or sacrifice the Zionist vision on the altar of "peace."

I do not want a binational state. If there is a solution, it cannot be found within the confines of just the western Land of Israel. In the long term, the solution will be a regional one that combines democracy, demography and geography. The Arabs of the Land of Israel will continue to live in their present homes and will hold Jordanian and Egyptian (for Gazans) citizenship, voting for their respective parliaments. In the long term, citizens of Jordan who comprise an overwhelming majority in eastern Transjordan will gain power in Amman. It is there that a solution will be found for their brothers who live west of the Jordan River.

But in the meantime, we must end the occupation. The Arab occupation in the Land of Israel.

The writer was the chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel from 2001 to 2005.

Love of the Land: End the Arab Occupation of Israel

Love of the Land: Netanyahu’s List

Netanyahu’s List


David Satter
The Corner/NRO
04 October 09

The list of Russian nuclear scientists believed to be helping Iran develop a nuclear bomb presented to the Kremlin by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu shows why all Russian assistance to rogue regimes in the development of nuclear energy is dangerous.

The Russians have long insisted that their assistance for civilian nuclear-power projects in Iran is legitimate. Recently, it was announced that Russia would cooperate in developing a nuclear power plant in Venezuela. Russia claims that these projects are peaceful and it has the same right to seek commercial opportunities as anyone else.

This explanation, however, ignores the depth of Russian corruption. Netanyahu’s list will come as no surprise to the Kremlin because a big incentive in dealing with Iran is the opportunity for powerful individuals to enrich themselves with the help of kickbacks and illegal deals. Once contacts are established in “legitimate” nuclear energy and Russian and Iranian specialists begin traveling back and forth and officials establish contacts, myriad opportunities are created for the development and transfer of illegal weapons technology. The same situation will prevail in Russia’s dealings with Venezuela.

Russia treats the consequences of its actions with complete moral indifference. In 1992, members of Aum Shinri Kyo, the Japanese doomsday cult, held a “Russian Salvation Tour.” With the help of Oleg Lobov, the secretary of the Russian security council, the cult members, identified as “Japanese businessmen” trained at military bases near Moscow, shopped for advanced weapons and attended lectures on the circulation of gases. Sect members later carried out a sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo metro in which 12 persons died. At the trial of Shoko Asahara, the leader of the sect, Aum’s chief of intelligence testified that the production designs for the sarin had been delivered to Aum by Lobov in 1993 for $100,000 in cash. (Yeltsin’s response was to give Lobov a promotion.

In 2002, the U.S. tried to convince Russia to “reconsider” cooperation with Iran. It offered military and space cooperation and permission to store foreign nuclear waste in Iran. The visible economic benefits would have been the same or greater than the visible benefits derived by Russia from its trade with Iran. But the deal in question was rejected because no deal with the U.S. evaluated by Congress and scrutinized by the government accounting office can provide the payoffs for influential individuals that are possible in a totally non-transparent deal with Iran.

Israel is trying to embarrass the Russians into cracking down on illegal help for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. But the Russians are beyond embarrassment. The necessary conclusions need to be drawn by the West.

— David Satter is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. His latest book is Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State.


Love of the Land: Netanyahu’s List

Love of the Land: Lessons of the Yom Kippur War

Lessons of the Yom Kippur War


Rob Eshman
JewishJournal.com
29 September 09
HT to J. Golbert

What lessons are still to be learned from a war Israel fought 36 years ago today?

As Haaretz.com reported, Israel marked on Tuesday the 36th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, one of the most costly and traumatic conflicts in the country’s history.

At a state ceremony at Israel’s national cemetery on Mount Herzl, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor) spoke of the bravery of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers who repelled the assault.

“Whoever fought in the tough battles in the [Suez] Canal and the Golan Heights is well aware that it was not the wisdom of leaders but the heroism of warriors in the battlefields that saved the State of Israel,” he said.

A coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched the war in a surprise attack on the Jewish holiday in 1973.

More than 2,600 Israelis were killed in the hostilities, which had far-reaching effects on Israel and the entire Middle East.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also attended the ceremony, during which a cantor recited the Hebrew prayer of mourning El Malei Rachamim.

Vilnai added: “The Yom Kippur War is going further and further away… [but] the impression the war left on the state and on the army’s preparedness is very deep.”

The military and political lessons are by now fairly straightforward, as this article makes clear:

What did Israel get out of the Yom Kippur War?

Despite the initial successes of the Egyptian and Syrian forces, the war proved once again how effective the Israeli military could be. After the initial set-backs, the war served as a huge morale boost to Israelis. Despite a co-ordinated attack on two fronts, Israel had survived and had pushed back the nations that had initially broken through Israel’s defences.

Though the Americans provided the Israeli military with weaponry, they also provided Israel with something far more important – intelligence. Documents relating to the American spy-plane, the ‘SR-71 Blackbird’, show that the Israelis knew where major concentrations of Arab forces were as they were supplied with this information as a result of a SR-71 flying over the war zone. With such knowledge, the Israelis knew where to deploy their forces for maximum effect. What appeared to be intuitive devastating counter-attacks by the Israelis, were based on very detailed information gained from American intelligence. Basically, the Israelis knew where their enemy was and could co-ordinate an attack accordingly.

The war also served as a salutary lesson to the Arab nations that surrounded Israel in that initial victories had to be built on. The failure of the Egyptian and Syrian forces to defeat Israel pushed Sadat towards adopting a diplomatic approach. It also encouraged some Palestinians to more extreme actions. On the diplomatic front, the Camp David talks took place while the actions of the PLO became more violent.

Why didn’t the Arab nations build on their initial successes?

Clearly, the use of intelligence massively benefited the Israelis. However, as in 1948, the Arab nations did not fight as one unit. Their command structure was not unified and each fighting unit (in the Sinai and the Golan Heights) acted as individual units. With up to nine different nationalities involved on the Arab side, mere co-ordination would have been extremely difficult.

Secondly, the Israelis had to work to one simple equation: if they lost, the state of Israel would cease to exist. Therefore, for Israel it was a fight to the finish – literally “death or glory”. If the various Arab nations lost, they could survive for another day.

Those lessons and lasting effects of the Yom Kippur War are well-reviewed in a brilliant column by Yossi Klein Halevi, called, “War and Atonement,” written in 2003 on the 30th anniversary of the war:

For 30 years, Israel has been obsessed with the political and strategic consequences of the Yom Kippur War, when the nation learned the limits of power and the treachery of self-confidence — and learned, too, how the heroism of ordinary soldiers could compensate for the incompetence of their leaders.

Each of those lessons has had profound consequences for the Israeli soul. But Israel has yet to fully understand the spiritual effects of the war that began on the Day of Atonement.

Historian Michael Oren has called the Yom Kippur War the moment when Effi Eitam started, and Yossi Beilin stopped, putting on tefillin. Eitam, a former secular kibbutznik and now head of the National Religious Party, emerged from the war convinced that only a divine miracle had saved the Jewish state and that ultimately there was no one to depend on but God.

Beilin, by contrast, had abandoned his secular upbringing and, as a teenager, become an observant Jew. Like Eitam, he emerged from the war convinced that all of Israel’s political and military leaders had failed. But Beilin went one step further: He determined that God had failed, too.

Oren’s formulation is a reminder that the political decisions taken after 1973 by Eitam and Beilin and so many other Israelis on the Right and the Left were, in fact, responses to the spiritual shattering that took place in that war.

Tellingly, both Gush Emunim and Peace Now were founded not after the Six Day War but only after Yom Kippur 1973. Though both movements presented themselves as optimistic, they were driven more by the apocalyptic dread of 1973 than by the utopian dreams of 1967.


(Full Article)


Love of the Land: Lessons of the Yom Kippur War

Love of the Land: Sukkot Continuity

Sukkot Continuity


Sukkot: a Dry Bones cartoon.

Happy Holiday To Us All!

For previous Sukkot cartoons and commentary click here.



Love of the Land: Sukkot Continuity

Love of the Land: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood: Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood: Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel


Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari
JCPA
02 October 09

  • In August 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a unilateral plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem following a two-year state-building process. Fayyad's plan is the first serious Palestinian outline of a state-building effort since the PLO was founded in 1964 and replaces the traditional PLO position of armed struggle to "liberate Palestine."
  • The Fayyad plan represents a bold anti-Fatah posture and is seen to pose a direct challenge to Fatah and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Fayyad enjoys only limited political backing and his political rivals, such as Tawfiq Tirawi, Abu Maher Gneim, and Mahmud al-Alul, who were recently elected to the new Fatah Central Committee, have already blasted Fayyad's plans.
  • Israel supports "bottom up" Palestinian state-building. However, Israeli leaders have voiced legal and security-based concerns over Fayyad's intention that the PLO would unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood in 2011 based on the June 4, 1967, lines. The one-sided establishment of a Palestinian state would contravene a key provision of the Oslo Interim Agreement, according to which: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status agreement."
  • Another direct challenge to Israel is that Fayyad's "blueprint" calls for massive Palestinian development in Area "C" of the disputed West Bank, which is under Israeli civil and security control, and which directly challenges the delicate, agreed-upon framework of the 1993 Oslo accords.
  • Israel's requirement of "defensible borders" involves its continuing control in Area "C," including the strategically vital Jordan Valley and the high ground surrounding Jerusalem and overlooking Israel's vulnerable cities along the Mediterranean coast. Hizbullah's 4,000 rocket attacks from the north in 2006 and Hamas' 10,000 rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, culminating in the 2009 Gaza war, both underscore the potential rocket threat against Israel's cities that could emerge from a Palestinian state in the West Bank if Israel were to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.

Introduction

In August 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a unilateral plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem following a twenty-four-month state-building process. Fayyad's 54-page plan to build Palestinian infrastructure and establish Western-style public institutions is the first of its kind since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords.

Fayyad's state-building vision has already elicited Western enthusiasm and financial and political support from the Obama administration and European countries. However, Western optimism may have underestimated the ominous political tensions which the plan has exacerbated among the fractured Palestinian leadership. Fayyad, as an unelected prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, has provoked some in the Palestinian leadership by announcing his far-reaching program without first seeking approval from the PA Legislative Council or the PLO governing bodies, without whose support such an initiative cannot be implemented.1

Israel supports "bottom up" Palestinian state-building. However, Israeli leaders have voiced legal and security-based concerns over Fayyad's intention that the PLO governing bodies will unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood in 2011 based on the June 4, 1967, lines. Such a move would be unacceptable to Israel, as it would contravene the internationally recognized principles of a negotiated settlement and secure and recognized boundaries - defensible borders - that were firmly established in UN Security Council Resolution 242 following the 1967 Six-Day War. This resolution, passed in November 1967, has governed all Arab-Israeli peace negotiations since then, including the Oslo process, the Roadmap, and Annapolis.

Israel would welcome the opportunity to share its vast experience in state-building to help Fayyad achieve his "bottom up," state-building vision within a strong Israeli-Palestinian partnership. However, any unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood would preclude Israel's vital security requirements, its internationally-sanctioned legal rights, and could end up derailing the peace process and lead to armed conflict between PA forces and Israel.

The Fayyad Plan

Fayyad's plan is the first serious Palestinian outline of a state-building effort since the PLO was founded in 1964 and replaces the traditional PLO position of advocating a "struggle of every means" including armed struggle to "liberate Palestine," that was reaffirmed at the Sixth Fatah Congress in Bethlehem in August 2009.2 Fayyad's stated intention is to dedicate the next 24 months until 2011 to building physical infrastructure, public institutions, public services, and tax incentives for foreign investors.3 These state-building assets would anchor a viable de facto state throughout the West Bank including areas that, in line with signed agreements between Israel and the PLO at Oslo, fall under Israeli control, such as the hills that overlook Jerusalem and Israel's coastal cities to the west, as well as the strategically important Jordan Valley to the east.

Fayyad's intention is to create facts on the ground that will garner major international support and lead to pressure to transform recognition of a de facto Palestinian state in 2011 into a de jure state in the event that the Palestinian Authority and Israel fail to reach a negotiated solution.4 Fayyad said: "If occupation has not ended by then (2011) and the nations of the world from China to Chile to Africa and to Australia are looking at us, they will say that the Palestinian people have a ready state on the ground. The only problem is the Israeli occupation [the Israeli communities and security presence] that should end."5

(Full Article)




Love of the Land: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood: Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel

Israel Matzav: Learning Persian

Israel Matzav: Learning Persian

Israel Matzav: Israel knows exactly where Shalit is being held, but...

Israel knows exactly where Shalit is being held, but...

A report in the London-based Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat claims that Israel knows exactly where kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit is being held, but cannot rescue him because the site is surrounded by explosives.

[T]he IDF knows "exactly" where kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is being held, and ... the location is under constant Israeli surveillance. Hamas is aware that Israel knows where Shalit is being held, the report said, quoting an Israeli source.

The reason Israel has withheld from rescuing Shalit, the report said, is because of a fear that Hamas will kill the soldier if Israel attempts to rescue him. The site where Shalit is being held is surrounded by explosives, which will be set off remotely if IDF soldiers get too close....

All of which goes to show that the IDF probably could have rescued Shalit in 2006 (or at least had better conditions for an attempt) if we'd had a man (or a woman) as Prime Minister rather than a mouse.
Israel Matzav: Israel knows exactly where Shalit is being held, but...

Israel Matzav: Obama rehabilitates Ahmadinejad

Obama rehabilitates Ahmadinejad

Friday's Wall Street Journal editorial slams the Obama administration for releasing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from his predicament.

By yesterday, all that had changed. At the 18th-century Villa Le Saugy, Iran's representative sat among the world's powers as a respected equal. Responding to an overture from the Obama Administration, the Iranians even talked about the future of the U.N. and other nonnuclear issues. Meanwhile, Washington was "buzzing" (as one newspaper put it) that a one-day visit by Iran's foreign minister might signal more detente to come. Back in Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad floated a tete-a-tete with the U.S. President. In short, this engagement conferred a respectability on his regime that Mr. Ahmadinejad could only have imagined amid his vicious post-election crackdown.

The price of entry is surprisingly modest, too. Though cautious, the P5+1 (the veto-wielding Security Council members, plus Germany) welcomed signs of Iranian concessions: Inspectors at Qom, an openness to send low-enriched uranium outside Iran for enrichment, possibly suspending its own enrichment program. Mr. Ahmadinejad said the Geneva talks were "a unique opportunity" for the West.

Consider the Iranian offers in turn. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency won't find anything incriminating at the Qom facility. Having lied about it for years, the Iranians now have plenty of time to clean the place out. Iran's experience with the IAEA goes back to the first inspections starting in 1992, which somehow prevented the world from learning about Iran's bomb program for a decade and then only from an Iranian dissident group. A freeze on enrichment used to be the U.S. precondition for talks with Iran. Now the U.S. and Europeans say that in exchange merely for this enrichment promise, they'll freeze any additional sanctions.

Iran has timed its olive branch well. The Europeans are more frustrated with past Iranian stalling than is Washington and have started to hanker for tougher measures. Those demands will now be muted. For years, Iran has talked with the Europeans, using the time and diplomatic cover to make nuclear progress. The Obama ascendency offers the mullahs another chance, with an even more eager partner, to repeat the exercise with a far bigger potential payoff. Expect Iran to follow the North Korean model, stringing the West along, lying and wheedling, striking deals only to reneg and start over. In the end, North Korea tested a nuclear device.

On long evidence, the regime has no intention of stopping a nuclear program that would give it new power in the region, and new leverage against America. The Qom news reveals a more extensive, sophisticated and covert nuclear complex than many people, including the CIA, were willing to recognize. The facility is located on a Revolutionary Guard base, partly hidden underground and protected by air-defense missiles. Its capacity of 3,000 centrifuges is too small for civilian use but not for a weapons program. It's a good bet an archipelago of such small covert facilities is scattered around Iran.

The extent to which the Obama administration's naivete is allowing the Iranian regime to race back into the world of nations - in return for nothing - is simply astounding. It's only a question of time before the Obama 'strategy' leaves the entire West with egg on its face and a nuclear Iran... unless someone else bails the West out....

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.


Israel Matzav: Obama rehabilitates Ahmadinejad

Israel Matzav: 'When rockets hit us, you were silent'

'When rockets hit us, you were silent'

Sderot mayor David Buskila has sent a scathing letter to United Nationsl 'Human Rights Council' investigator Richard Goldstone.

"The world, and you in it, was silent. You were silent in the face of the dead bodies of our children, in the face of our children's frightened eyes, you were silent in the face of every one of the 8,000 Qassam rockets that hit our city," Buskila wrote.

"Your silence was frightening, and reminiscent of things forgotten," he added.

The letter began with the mention of three Sderot children who were killed in rocket attacks. "The blood of the children whose lives were cut short is screaming out from the earth, there is no redemption and no forgiveness for the blood of a little child whose short existence had not yet taught him that there is evil and that there are wars," Buskila wrote, attaching pictures of the three children "who will never grow up" to the letter.

The Sderot mayor also expressed his identification with the Palestinian people, writing that "I regret and am sorry for the death of every Palestinian child, I feel the pain of the Palestinian civilians, but let's not ignore the facts - the leaders of Hamas and other fundamental Islamic terror organizations are to blame for the suffering of Sderot residents and their children, as well as the suffering of Gaza's residents. These people, whose sole purpose in life are war crimes, and to whom the norms of the West do not apply, are to blame."

Buskila concluded his letter by expressing hope that "peace will prevail in our region, and I invite you to personally examine the suffering of the residents of Sderot, who represent the other part of the equation, the part you didn't bother understanding."

Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of 'Palestinians' in Gaza who identify with Hamas and its goals. Let's not kid ourselves.

Israel Matzav: 'When rockets hit us, you were silent'

Israel Matzav: End the Arab occupation of Israel

End the Arab occupation of Israel

This is simply excellent (Hat Tip: Sandmonkey via Twitter).

We would do well to recall that the PLO never changed its spots. It failed to do so when it signed for "peace" with the naive Yitzhak Rabin, who was lured into the trap sprung for him by the Osloites. And it failed to do so when it allegedly abrogated its charter. Even the recent Fatah conference and the statements by the "moderate" Holocaust denier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, can attest to this. The goal was and remains to this day: the liberation of the "occupied" territories from Israel, namely the State of Israel within the confines of the Green Line.

...

Most of the Arabs in the Land of Israel immigrated here after our waves of aliyah. In other words, Zionism and the prosperity it engendered spawned "the Palestinian people." Since the Arab occupation of the Land of Israel in the seventh century, and throughout the centuries of Muslim occupation, not one of the occupiers viewed this land as anything more than a distant imperial outpost.

The demand to grant a state to Arab immigrants to this country and their army, which is stationed here thanks to the blindness of certain Jews and the nations of the world, is without foundation. It is tantamount to legitimizing a reality that was created here after the criminal act that allowed an occupying army to enter this country.

The critics' responses are predictable: What do you propose, that the Arabs just evaporate into thin air? In contrast with the critics who espouse a racist transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria, I reject any forcible transfer of any population group. Perhaps there is no solution to the problem. There is certainly no solution at this point. But this is no reason to commit suicide or sacrifice the Zionist vision on the altar of "peace."



Israel Matzav: End the Arab occupation of Israel

Israel Matzav: The 'road map' gutted

The 'road map' gutted

Last Saturday night, I noted a statement by the 'quartet' (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) that effectively gutted the reciprocity requirement contained in the 2003 'road map' to a 'Palestinian state.' In Friday's JPost, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold, who is a close Netanyahu adviser, elaborated on the 'quartet's action, which did much more than gut the reciprocity requirement.

In general, the Quartet wanted to provide its own multilateral stamp of approval on President Barack Obama's UN address from September 22. It is to be remembered that Obama's remarks were unusual in their exceptionally long and detailed treatment of the Arab-Israel conflict: Roughly one-tenth of the speech was devoted to the issue of Israel and the Palestinians - far more than any other conflict in the world. He specifically proposed the establishment of "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."

In doing so, Obama adopted language that was not balanced out by an equal reference to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which appears in the Quartet road map and did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

OBAMA'S PUSH for the 1967 lines is also evident in his language during his UN address that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

...

The Quartet statement also goes out of its way to back the Palestinian Authority's new plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state over the next 24 months - which was drafted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. On the one hand, the Fayad Plan appears to address Israel's call for bottom-up peacemaking by tackling head-on the lack of sufficient self-governing bodies on the Palestinian side. On the other hand, it is a program that leads the Palestinian Authority seven-eighths of the way to an independent Palestinian state, leaving ambiguous how the Palestinians get to the finish line. What it leaves open is the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians or by someone else.

...

ISRAELI DIPLOMACY is heading for unchartered waters, having to balance between negotiations with the Palestinians and the possibility of a new muscular multilateralism at the UN, led by the Quartet. What is clear is that if the Palestinians understand that they will receive a Palestinian state on a silver platter in two years time - that will additionally be based on the 1967 lines - then why should Mahmoud Abbas bother to negotiate or make a single concession?

Under such conditions, the Palestinians are likely to prefer advancing the campaign to delegitimize Israel, by increasingly turning to the International Criminal Court and other UN bodies. At the same time they will insist that the Obama administration put its own peace plan on the table that prejudges the outcome of negotiations by detailing future borders. An alternative that has been raised is an Obama side-letter to the Palestinians on borders that neutralizes Bush's past guarantees.

The only way to block this drift in diplomacy is for Israel to be very firm about its positions. It cannot accept any negotiating process with Abbas that allows the Palestinians to multilateralize Israeli-Palestinian differences while negotiators sit across from one another.

Read the whole thing.

We may as well come right out and say it: Israel has an enemy in the White House.
Israel Matzav: The 'road map' gutted

Israel Matzav: Stupid Jews

Israel Matzav: Stupid Jews

Israel Matzav: The uncut version of Michelle Obama's appearance on Sesame Street

Israel Matzav: The uncut version of Michelle Obama's appearance on Sesame Street

Israel Matzav: Israel names Russians helping Iran?

Israel Matzav: Israel names Russians helping Iran?

Israel Matzav: Temple Mount: 'Palestinians' riot, dumb Jews close it down

Israel Matzav: Temple Mount: 'Palestinians' riot, dumb Jews close it down

Israel Matzav: Where's my Olympic bid?

Israel Matzav: Where's my Olympic bid?

Freudian Slips at Amnesty International

Freudian Slips at Amnesty International

Two weeks ago a press officer at Amnesty International, Niel Durkir, posted to their blog about how the Israelis and the Palestinains aren't taking the Goldstone report seriously. So I sent him a letter:

Sir,

In your blogpost of September 16th you made a number of revealing comments.

Israel rejects the 575 pages of the Goldstone report (presumably without reading any of them) because the UN fact-finding mission was a UN Human Rights Council investigation, a body that Israel considers to be biased against it.


Well, not really. As you note, the report is 574 pages long, and it took a moment for the lawyers of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to read it all carefully. However, as soon as they had, they issued a 24-page detailed rebuttal of the Goldstone report. You ought to read it. I await a correcting post on your blog once you have.

Your sentiment is patronizing, of course. What precisely did you mean when you "presumed" the opposite of the truth, and what does it tell us about you and your organization that you see the world in such terms?

Most revealing of all was your comment that an Israeli official used a "florid, biblical phrase – “born in sin”. You may not be aware that this phrase is a perfectly reasonable term in Hebrew; the fact that it's biblical is, of course, fundamental to the matter. The Israelis are, after all, using the language of the Bible, in the land of the Bible, because this has always been their language and their land. At the end of the day, that's what the conflict is all about, isn't it? Your comment clarifies your position - rejection of the Jewish right to determine their own destiny - better than any long and verbose analysis ever could.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts,

Dr. Yaacov Lozowick
Jerusalem

I don't expect him to respond, but shold he surprise me with anyting interesting, I'll come back and report.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Marek Edelman, RIP

Marek Edelman, RIP

Marek Edelman, one of the top commanders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, has passed away at the age of 90. Edelman was a member of the Bund movement, a far left movement of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Poland and Russia that was founded in the same year as Zionism (1897) and competed with it ferociously, but was effectively destroyed in the Shoah (it limped on for a while in places like Melbourne Australia, but merely as a shadow of its former self). Part of the story of the Underground in Warsaw was how rival movements came together to face the Nazi foe; Edelman's position in the Underground, which was mostly led by Zionists, was part of this. After the war he remained in Poland, and even after the wave of official antisemitism in 1968, when most of the last few thousands of Jews left Poland, he stayed on.

In 1976, when he was a prominent cardiologist in Lodz, he gave a long interview to a local journalist, Hanna Krall. The English translation is titled Shielding the Flame: An Intimate Conversation With Dr. Marek Edelman, the Last Surviving Leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It's a fascinating read. As you might expect from a hard-bitten Bundist, he had no patience for the Zionist mythologizing of the uprising which had been so important in the 1950s and 1960s. He then went on to live long enough to see most Israeli thought on the subject come closer to his perspective, even while never embracing any of the Bundist elements.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

LIfe in Sderot

LIfe in Sderot

The mayor of Sderot, David Buskila, is peeved at Richard Goldstone and has sent him an irate letter.

Acording to a notice in The Marker (that's the financial part of Haaretz) over the weekend, the prices of homes in Sderot has risen by 20% this year. True, the starting point for that rise was rather abysmally low, but it looks like we may have done something right.

If you assume that people kvetching about the Jews are a permanent fixture of life as we know it, you'll appreciate that it's possible for the Jews to thrive irrespective of the kvetching (which may even be a function of the insistence on thriving).
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

When did Baghdad Start?

When did Baghdad Start?

Here's a nice little mystery.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia (which I prefer to Wikepedia for reliability), Baghdad was founded by the Caliph Mansur, in 762. This was a while ago, but by the standards of the region it's actually almost modern; by the 8th century the recorded history of this part of the world already had a couple millennia under its belt.

In our Talmud study group we yesterday noted in passing the appearance in a duscussion of one Rav Hanna of Baghdat. One of our group, who knows a lot, commented that this is the first and only mention of Baghdad he's aware of in the Talmud, most of which took place in older Babylonian cities such as Sura, Pompedita, and Nahardea.

Except that the passage seems to be talking about the early Amoraitic period, say, third or fourth century at the latest, and in any case not the eighth.

Bava Batra 142b.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

The Torah Revolution: Arabs riot on our Temple Mount

Arabs riot on our Temple Mount

B"H

Just because they [the Muslims] habitually build on other people's holy sites, doesn't mean they [the Muslims] become the rightful owners of the sites. The Temple Mount is Judaism holiest site and Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Quran. Therefore it is reasonable to say that the thesis according to which the Jewish Temple Mount is holy to the Muslims too is faulty and they are claiming this only in order to harass the Jews. Xtians have exclusive rights to their Vatican City, Muslims have exclusive rights to their Mecca, only religious Jews have exclusive right to zero, to nothing: not right!

- This is talkback # 14 on "Police close Temple Mount, Arabs riot"


The Torah Revolution: Arabs riot on our Temple Mount

Arab Threats Close Temple Mount - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Arab Threats Close Temple Mount - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News
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US: 'Don't Go to Jerusalem's Old City During Sukkot!' - Politics & Government - Israel News - Israel National News

US: 'Don't Go to Jerusalem's Old City During Sukkot!' - Politics & Government - Israel News - Israel National News
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'Israel Knows Exactly Where Shalit is Held' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

'Israel Knows Exactly Where Shalit is Held' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News
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Israel Responds to Attack, Demolishes Gaza Weapons Plant - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Responds to Attack, Demolishes Gaza Weapons Plant - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News
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Sderot Mayor to Goldstone: You Were Silent for Eight Years - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Sderot Mayor to Goldstone: You Were Silent for Eight Years - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News
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Last of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebels Dies at 90 - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Last of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebels Dies at 90 - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News
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RubinReports: Life in a Ninth Grade American Classroom: Military Victory is Nothing to Celebrate

Life in a Ninth Grade American Classroom: Military Victory is Nothing to Celebrate

By Barry Rubin

As some of you know, I’ve been writing about my ten-year-old son in fourth grade in a Maryland public school. But now it’s time for my fourteen-year-old daughter who is ninth grade to get into the act.

Since she is going to a Jewish day school, I’d expect less of a problem with Political Correctness. For example her school, unlike the public school, had a commemoration for the September 11 victims.

But some weirdness is afoot there also. In her Jewish religion class, the teacher asked why the rabbis had built up the story of the miracle on Chanukah, when a lamp in the Temple burned for eight days despite the fact that there was only oil for one. For those of you who don’t know, Chanukah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees in revolting against the Selucid kingdom which tried to ban Judaism. After a heroic war, they won and reestablished the independent kingdom of Israel.

Compared to most Jewish holidays, the strictly religious part seems pretty much an afterthought and a secondary factor.

My daughter answered with what she learned in Israel—and is clearly the correct answer. Since Chanukah as the victory of the Maccabees did not involve much of a theological nature—it is really more of a national event though the rebellion was to preserve Judaism—the rabbis tacked on or built up the lamp story to inject a religious element.

The teacher said, in what sounds like an insulting tone from my reliable reporter who was there, that this was completely wrong. The correct answer, she explained, was that they didn’t want to have a holiday that commemorated a war.

This is utter nonsense and if anyone said such a thing even a few years ago they would be laughed at. It was certainly, too, a just and defensive war—the Selucids killed Jews who did not bow down to idols—and Jews have always been proud of that victory.

Today, of course, you cannot be proud of any war (perhaps World War Two, which was against right-wingers, and of course was especially important for Jews, is an exception.) Religion--or at least Western religion--must be seen as equivalent to pacifism in order to have any legitimacy. So a teacher can make up something that has nothing to do with history but everything to do with contemporary ideology.

This seems like a small point but it is irksome precisely because it is so dishonest and has absolutely no basis in any historical or religious source. It is wrongful to misinform young people, presenting some newly minted theory derived from current political fashion as the incontrovertibly, traditional, and only right answer.

Actually, this may be a good point at which to mention something interesting. It is admittedly only marginally related to the specific anecdotes above but has a lot to do with how teachers behave in classrooms nowadays.

Many years ago, I became interested in a historical question: Did American professors who were members or supporters of the Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s use their classrooms to preach their politics to students? I did a huge amount of research and wrote a journal article on it.

My conclusion was that this almost never happened. While to some extent one could argue they were scared of possible punishment for doing so, in the pre-McCarthy era this was far less true than people think today. The main reason professors kept their ideology out of the classroom as much as possible was simply that they believed in a professional ethic which said it was wrong to bring their politics into the classroom and use their position as teachers to intimidate or indoctrinate their students. In their Marxist views they may have been cynical about such things yet they couldn't shake their professionalism.

Can you imagine anyone acting that way today? Indeed, I’m confident in asserting that in the social sciences and humanities it is harder for someone who doesn’t toe the hegemonic political line in academia today to get a job or tenure than it was for a Communist in pre-1950 America.


RubinReports: Life in a Ninth Grade American Classroom: Military Victory is Nothing to Celebrate

The Torah Revolution: There is a simple explanation at hand

The Torah Revolution: There is a simple explanation at hand

Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad Jewish?

Ahmadinejad Jewish?

I'm sure you'll all be shocked - just shocked - to hear that London's Daily Telegraph is reporting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was born Jewish and that his family converted to Islam after his birth.

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.

Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.
The Telegraph also notes that a blogger who called for investigating Ahamdinejad's family roots during last summer's election campaign has been arrested.

None of this will come as a surprise to Jews (and in fact, I vaguely recall hearing rumors about this in the past). Isaiah warned hundreds of years ago that those who would destroy us will come from among us.

Read the whole thing.
Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad Jewish?

Israel Matzav: Simchas Beis HaShoeva

Israel Matzav: Simchas Beis HaShoeva

Israel Matzav: Eli Lake: US confirmed 'secret understanding' with Israel on nukes

Eli Lake: US confirmed 'secret understanding' with Israel on nukes

Eli Lake reported in Friday's Washington Times that the Obama administration has confirmed a 'secret understanding' with Israel - first reached by Golda Meir and Richard Nixon in 1969 - that allows Israel to keep an alleged nuclear arsenal outside the framework of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.

Mr. Netanyahu let the news of the continued U.S.-Israeli accord slip last week in a remark that attracted little notice. He was asked by Israel's Channel 2 whether he was worried that Mr. Obama's speech at the U.N. General Assembly, calling for a world without nuclear weapons, would apply to Israel.

"It was utterly clear from the context of the speech that he was speaking about North Korea and Iran," the Israeli leader said. "But I want to remind you that in my first meeting with President Obama in Washington I received from him, and I asked to receive from him, an itemized list of the strategic understandings that have existed for many years between Israel and the United States on that issue. It was not for naught that I requested, and it was not for naught that I received [that document]."

The chief nuclear understanding was reached at a summit between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir that began on Sept. 25, 1969. Avner Cohen, author of "Israel and the Bomb" and the leading authority outside the Israeli government on the history of Israel's nuclear program, said the accord amounts to "the United States passively accepting Israel's nuclear weapons status as long as Israel does not unveil publicly its capability or test a weapon."

There is no formal record of the agreement nor have Israeli nor American governments ever publicly acknowledged it. In 2007, however, the Nixon library declassified a July 19, 1969, memo from national security adviser Henry Kissinger that comes closest to articulating U.S. policy on the issue. That memo says, "While we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact."




Israel Matzav: Eli Lake: US confirmed 'secret understanding' with Israel on nukes

Love of the Land: How Israel Must Talk

How Israel Must Talk


FresnoZionism.org
02 October 09

I recently wrote two posts — part I and part II of “How Israel must fight” — discussing the special situation of Israel fighting asymmetric wars, in a hostile political and media environment, and with the ever-present threat of intervention by outside powers.

My conclusion was this:

The primary goal, therefore, in future wars must be as complete a victory as possible: the enemy’s army must be shattered, its leadership killed or captured, its arms and installations destroyed. Victory must obtained as quickly as possible, before outside powers intervene; and it must be achieved with overwhelming force, to multiply the psychological effect. Humanitarian concerns will necessarily take a back seat.

But this same philosophy should be applied to the less-violent arena of diplomacy. Sometimes it seems as though Israeli policy is driven by so many forces other than the national interest: the desire to prove to the world how civilized Israel is, the need to mollify the US administration, and of course domestic political considerations.

For example, take the outrageous prisoner exchange demanded by Hamas for Gilad Schalit — 1000 or more terrorists including multiple murderers. Israel seems to have chosen to negotiate about which and how many prisoners will be freed in exchange; but the negotiations should be based on which and how many Hamas leaders will be executed if Schalit is not released!

The futility of the current approach was demonstrated today by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal:

Those who were able to capture Schalit and hold him safely for more than three years are capable of capturing “Schalit and Schalit and Schalit until there was not even one prisoner in the enemy’s jails,” Mashaal said.

Another example of self-defeating policy is the suggestion by some that Israel should launch an official investigation of the charges in the Goldstone report. Is it not a forgone conclusion that any exculpatory conclusions that such an investigation might produce will be either ignored by the anti-Israel media or be slammed as biased? So what advantage is to be gained by keeping the false accusations made in the report in the public eye?

Yet another is any tendency to take seriously the absurd demands of the PA. Israel should make crystal clear that negotiations will not progress until the PA unambiguously states — in Arabic and English — that it recognizes Israel as the state of the Jewish People, and that all demands for ‘right of return’ are forever off the table.

I think that the Netanyahu government has acted more or less correctly so far, although it may not be able to resist the demands to bring Schalit home at almost any cost.

I’m hopeful that it will be able to turn around the apologetic and defeatist attitude that has characterized Israel’s diplomacy in recent years, and present to the world a picture of a nation confident of its power and legitimacy.



Love of the Land: How Israel Must Talk

Israel Matzav: Gates to resign and be replaced by ... Chuck Hagel?

Gates to resign and be replaced by ... Chuck Hagel?

This is more bad news for supporters of Israel.

Power Line reports on a rumor that Defense Secretary Robert Gates - the one holdover in the Obama cabinet from the Bush administration - is on his way out. The problem is Gates' rumored replacement: Chuck Hagel. This is from a New York Sun editorial cited by Ed Lasky of The American Thinker last October.

One indicator came on July 24, 2001, when the Senate voted 96 to 2 to renew the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The act helps deny Iran and Libya money that they would spend on supporting terror or acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The two senators who opposed the measure? Messrs. Lugar and Hagel.

Another indicator came on November 11, 2003, when the Senate, by a vote of 89 to 4, passed the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon. Mr. Hagel - along with Mr. Kerry - didn't vote. Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, "Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn't come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun."

Feature, as well, the lineup on April 6, 2001, when 87 members of the Senate sent President Bush a letter saying Yasser Arafat should not be invited to meet with high-level officials in Washington. The letter also faulted the Palestinians for using violence against Israel. Messrs. Lugar and Hagel did not sign the letter. When, on May 22, 1998, the Senate, by a vote of 90 to 4, passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, imposing sanctions on foreigners who help Iran's missile program, Mr. Lugar fetched up among the four senators who voted against the measure.

These columns, in a July 10, 2003, editorial headlined "Ayatollah Lugar," have already reported on how Mr. Lugar watered down the Iran Democracy Act that was introduced by Senators Brownback, Schumer, Kyl, Inouye, and others. On April 18, 2002, when the Senate, by 88 to 10, voted to ban the import to America of Iraqi oil until Iraq stopped compensating the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers, Messrs. Lugar and Hagel were among the handful who voted to bring in the oil.

The bottom line is that Messrs. Hagel and Lugar (Hagar, is how their names can be contracted) want a weaker stance than most other senators against the terrorists in Iran and Syria and the West Bank and Gaza and against those who help the terrorists. They are more concerned than most other senators about upsetting our erstwhile allies in Europe - the French and Germans - who do business with the terrorists.

Chuck Hagel (pictured) is bad news. Lasky suggests googling "Chuck Hagel," Israel. I did. This is the top result.

Here is what the Jewish Democrats said about Hagel in March 2007:

As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel. Consider this:

# In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

# In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

# In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yassir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

# In December 2005, Hagel was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.

# In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.

Here's what the National Review wrote about Hagel's stance on Israel in 2002:

"There's nothing Hagel likes less than talking about right and wrong in the context of foreign policy. Pro-Israeli groups view him almost uniformly as a problem. 'He doesn't always cast bad votes, but he always says the wrong thing,' comments an Israel supporter who watches Congress. An April speech is a case in point. 'We will need a wider lens to grasp the complex nature and consequences of terrorism,' said Hagel. He went on to cite a few examples of terrorism: FARC in Colombia, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, and the Palestinian suicide bombers. Then he continued, 'Arabs and Palestinians view the civilian casualties resulting from Israeli military occupation as terrorism.' He didn't exactly say he shares this view - but he also failed to reject it."

And here's what the anti-Israel group, CAIR, wrote in praise of Hagel:

"Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel ?" [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

What could go wrong?



Israel Matzav: Gates to resign and be replaced by ... Chuck Hagel?

Israel Matzav: Video: Gilad Shalit

Israel Matzav: Video: Gilad Shalit

Israel Matzav: Former Iraq commander blasts Goldstone

Former Iraq commander blasts Goldstone

In Friday's Australian, retired General Jim Molan, who was the chief of operations of the multinational force in Iraq in 2004-05, blasts the Goldstone Commission (Hat Tip: Barry Rubin).

With experience of having to tread through this legal and moral minefield while acting as an agent of the statesman who has an obligation to act, I was looking forward to how Goldstone was going to react to questions such as: How much discrimination is enough? How much of the inevitable killing of innocents is too much? How do we equate our complex war aims with the use of military force against a terrorist organisation that flouts the rule of law? How do you assess in legal terms the proportionality of a war between a terrorist force and one of the world's most advanced militaries? If one side uses backyard rockets is the other side not allowed to use precision-guided missiles? Do three Israelis killed and hundreds wounded by backyard rockets equal 1000 Gazans killed by Israeli actions? Given the legal regime recognises the difficulty of military decision-making amid the fog of war, and thus obligates planners and commanders to base decisions on information reasonably available at the time, how did the report handle this issue?

On these and many other questions, the Goldstone report is strangely silent, a luxury that I did not have in Iraq, and a luxury that the Israeli commanders probably did not have in Gaza.

The Goldstone report is an opinion by one group of people putting forward their judgments, with limited access to the facts, and reflecting their own prejudices. The difference in tone and attitude in the report when discussing Israeli and Hamas actions is surprising.

I probably do not need to state for most readers that as a soldier who has run a war against an opponent not dissimilar to Hamas, facing problems perhaps similar to those faced by Israeli commanders, my sympathies tend to lie with the Israelis. I can hold and openly declare those prejudices even while I acknowledge that within institutions that may be overall just and moral, there can be individuals or small groups who act outside the law. They must be dealt with, and in my war, they were.

But having stated my prejudice, I think I may be more honest than Goldstone, who seems to pass off his prejudices in a report that cannot be based on fact, and uses judicial language and credibility to do so. It comes down to equality of scepticism: if you refuse to believe anything the Israelis say, then you have no right to unquestioningly accept what Hamas says.



Israel Matzav: Former Iraq commander blasts Goldstone
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