Tuesday, 6 October 2009

RubinReports: Obama’s Dali Lama Dilemma: A Good Case Study of His Foreign Policy Errors

Obama’s Dali Lama Dilemma: A Good Case Study of His Foreign Policy Errors

By Barry Rubin

The postponement by President Barack Obama of his meeting with Tibetan exiled leader the Dalai Lama is a fascinating case study of contemporary foreign policy, the constraints posed by realistic strategy, and the upside-down world in which we live at present.

But it can only be useful if approached fairly rather than being used as one more stick with which to bash Obama (who needs more, anyway?). So I am going to go through this in the most balanced way I can.

First, the facts. The Dalai Lama is the exiled leader of the Tibetan people. Tibet, an area over which China had some claim but hardly an irrefutable one, was annexed by Beijing and invaded. The Tibetan people--a very distinct group in appearance, culture, and religion--were repressed by force and China sent in huge numbers of ethnic Chinese (Han) settlers who have altered the demographic balance.

Virtually no other country has helped the Tibetans. Their cause is not the subject of large demonstrations. They have never used violence, being a peaceful people if there ever was one. The UN has not devoted hundreds of sessions and resolutions to their benefit. The current president of the United States has not called their situation intolerable. The media is not obsessed with their plight.

Since 1991 the Dalai Lama has visited Washington ten times and been met by the president each one of them. In 2007, the last time, President George W. Bush met him publicly, the first chief executive to do that, and presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal.

It is important to note for what is to come that U.S.-China relations continued to do quite well afterward.

Now, Obama has not canceled meeting him forever but has postponed the meeting to please the Chinese government. This is not the first such step in that direction. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly downplayed China's human rights’ violations and the U.S. Treasury has gone soft on some of China’s questionable financial practices.

No doubt, postponing the meeting will make Obama more popular in China—at least in official circles which are the only ones heard--which can be said to make one billion people love America more, a goal that sometimes seems the main priority of U.S. foreign policy.

Obama is not completely wrong in the postponement decision, though, given other considerations. He is trying to get China to sign on to higher sanctions on Iran and he will meet the Chinese leader next month. China is also of increasing importance to the United States in dealing with the international financial crisis.

So for Obama to act as he did is arguably the best decision. Yet there are a number of points that should also be raised as to why it is a bad choice:

--Other presidents met with the Dalai Lama without problems in bilateral relations with China. Obama has a tendency to give in to much which then leads to other countries becoming excessively emboldened to ignore or make growing demands on America. The late J.B. Kelly, a brilliant Middle East expert who died last month, created a memorable phrase for this kind of behavior: the preemptive cringe.

--You sometimes do things to make adversaries or interlocutors unhappy precisely to gain bargaining chips with them. The purpose of the lesson is to show that they need you more than you need them. If they want some benefit then they must give something also. Obama and his colleagues seem genuinely incapable of understanding the role played in international affairs by such techniues as making threats and acting tough, gaining leverage, developing deterrence, having credibility, being seen as ready to use military force if necessary, and so on.

--Obama does not seem to understand how to combine American concessions with successful negotiations that get concessions from the other side. He gives something and then hopes the other side will reciprocate, a tactic that doesn't work, especially with dictatorships. China should already have been tested on whether it will support higher sanctions before the United States gives away anything to it. But instead the Chinese have been making it clear they won’t help on Iran. On the contrary, they're building a huge refinery in Iran that will help Tehran circumvent refined petroleum products’ sanctions if they ever are imposed. What possible reason is there to believe that Obama will get anything in exchange for the things he gives to Beijing?

--If the Chinese have done bad things to Tibet and the Tibetans, why should they escape censure completely? Under Obama’s strategy, only the United States and its allies get lambasted by the world. If only one side is criticized doesn’t that make it appear that this is the only side at fault?

--Besides, since Obama seems to believe in apologizing so much, shouldn’t he call for the Chinese to apologize over Tibet? After all, the Japanese have apologized repeatedly for their past treatment of China. Why should Obama apologize to China or other countries when they have no intention of apologizing to the United States and others? Part of the answer is that they are not like Obama and won't admit having done wrong. Still, though, if you put pressure on them they may well agree to a mutual de-escalation of criticism; if you don’t, they will just step up their barrages against you.

--If the president is going to talk about bad things America has done, why not trumpet just as loudly—in fact, a president should do so more loudly—all the good things the United States has done at home and abroad? Support for human rights around the world should be at the top of the foreign policy category there. Yet by his behavior, both on Tibet and other issues, isn’t Obama simply adding to the list of things for which a future president must apologize, even if its for betraying allies, selling out whole peoples, and jeopardizing U.S. national interests by giving away too much?

--Doesn’t this pattern of behavior, as regards the Dali Lama, make Obama into an apologist for dictatorship, a friend of the oppressive and repressive, and someone who betrays people for expediency? We liberals used to call this kind of behavior that of a right-wing reactionary who's only interested in money and strategic considerations while the people are trampled.

The problem, then, is not Obama’s isolated decision to postpone a meeting—which has some justification though still debatable--but the context in which this becomes just one more item showing the U.S. president to be too weak, conceding too much, and promoting American values and interests too little.

Here's the best piece I've seen on the Dalai Lama meeting issue.

RubinReports: Obama’s Dali Lama Dilemma: A Good Case Study of His Foreign Policy Errors

Love of the Land: Well, Then There is Reality

Well, Then There is Reality

Jennifer Rubin
06 October 09

In case you were feeling all warm and fuzzy about the “peace process” and thought the photo of Obama, Netanyahu, and Abbas shaking hands looked promising, you might want to reconsider. Belatedly, even the mainstream media have woken up to the reality: it’s all pretty meaningless so long as Hamas digs in and the Palestinian “negotiators” don’t really have the authority to reach binding deals with the Jewish state on behalf of the Palestinians.

And Hamas is digging in. The Washington Post reviews Hamas’s record of eradicating competing clans, solidifying control of Gaza, and weathering a war with Israel, concluding:

That combination of durability and unwillingness to compromise has created a deep-seated stalemate that has left top Israeli intelligence and political officials perplexed about what to do, and posed a steep obstacle for U.S. peace envoy George J. Mitchell. While Mitchell’s work in Northern Ireland in the 1990s included intense negotiations to bring the most militant parties into the process, his eight months of talks about Israeli-Palestinian peace have so far avoided any obvious effort to do the same with Hamas, and have been conducted, in effect, with only half of the Palestinian political leadership.

Translation: The “peace process” is a charade, conducted in a vacuum without regard to the parties or circumstances on the ground. There is no “peace” so long as the Palestinians negotiate without full authority to reach a “deal” — and without the will or ability to enforce any such deal. Mitchell would rather carp about settlements, a red herring unrelated to the central barrier to peace (i.e., Arab refusal to recognize a Jewish state) and the ongoing threat of terrorism. But if he admitted that there was nothing more to do so long as Hamas remains firmly entrenched, he’d have nothing to do, right?

Love of the Land: Well, Then There is Reality

Love of the Land: Is Obama's Outreach Saving The Teetering Syrian Regime?

Is Obama's Outreach Saving The Teetering Syrian Regime?

Mere Rhetoric 06 October 09


It turns out that decades of treating totalitarian cretins like totalitarian cretins is having its effect on Syria. This is coming Farid Ghadry - one of the anti-Syrian activists in Lebanon that Assad hasn't gotten around to killing yet - so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand it can't be any less credible than the wild fantasies that professional Syria watchersroutinely make up about peeling Syria away from the Iranian orbit.

Plus - again in contrast to the prognostications of our liberal foreign policy establishment - it has the benefit of kind of making sense:

Between US sanctions, a severe drought in an agrarian-based economy, sustained terror that has caused the migration of over 1 million Iraqis to Syria, political risks promoting "resistance" instead of cooperation, dwindling oil revenues, an alarming increase in Syrian population and a determined new Israeli government, Assad is being squeezed like a Syrian olive for its oil. Very few people grasp the reality Assad faces now that he has systematically destroyed whatever he inherited from his father through ill-advised policies. Some Middle East analysts are aware of the economic pressure Assad is under, but the extent of the harm his policies have caused the Syrian treasury is largely unknown.

Ghadry emphasizes that delegitimatizing Iran will bring enormous pressure to bear on Assad, which would be great news except for how the Geneva talks have allowed Tehran to rehabilitate itself. I wouldn't focus too much on the Iranian angle though, since Obama is doing his best to relegitimize the Syrian regime directly:

A senior Syrian official has been invited to Washington for talks, a U.S. Embassy official said Monday, in the latest signal of the Obama administration's efforts to improve relations with a country deemed a state sponsor of terrorism. The upcoming visit by Syria's deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, is the first in about five years and is part of U.S. efforts to improve strained relations with Damascus. Mekdad, who is currently in New York as part of the Syrian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly meetings, will fly to Washington on Monday for talks with U.S. government officials on a range of issues, the embassy official said.

I wonder if we brought up the thing about how Syria refuse to budge on their ongoing incitement of violence in Iraq. Probably not. Wouldn't want to spoil the mood.

References and previously after the jump...

* Syria Responds To Obama's Outreach By Strengthening Ties With Iran [MR]
* Syria And Iran Pretty Psyched About Renewed Alliance, "Resistance Front" Against US And Israel [MR]
* Kerry: "Syria Leaning Towards The West." Syria: "No We're Not." [MR]
* The end of the Assad regime? [JPost]
* Springtime for Mullahs [WSJ]
* Syria's Deputy FM invited for talks in Washington [Ha'aretz]
* Iraqi official: Talks with Syria over attacks fail [AP]


Love of the Land: Is Obama's Outreach Saving The Teetering Syrian Regime?

Love of the Land: Why this man is laughing fit to explode

Why this man is laughing fit to explode

Melanie Phillips
The Spectator
05 October 09

There are clearly no lengths to which the world will not go to facilitate Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Consider. A couple of weeks ago, the world was stunned to discover that Iran had a second uranium processing plant at Qom, thus proving beyond doubt that its pursuit of nuclear technology was to make not nuclear energy but a bomb.

Actually it wasn’t stunned at all, since this information was known to Barack Obama before he was even elected President. But anyway. This coup de théâtre was revealed, it seemed, to strengthen the world’s hand in dealing with Iran. After all, this autumn is the deadline set by the Obama administration for Iran to halt its nuclear weapons programme, after which the US said it was finally going to get really tough with Iran and do ... oooh, really tough things like sanctions.

So what happened when the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany met Iran (its chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jali, pictured above)? A deal was reached which has been described as a ‘breakthrough’ and caused the IAEA head Mohammed al Baradei to pronounce himself ‘delighted with progress’. Unfortunately, it was Iran that made yet more progress in its path to the bomb.

Its agreement to allow the nuclear inspectors into Qom is worthless. As theWall Street Journal mordantly observed:

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.

The real excitement was over Iran’s ‘agreement in principle’ to send approximately one nuclear-weapons worth of Iran's low enriched uranium to Russia for enrichment and then on to France for fabrication into fuel rods for Tehran’s research reactor. The point of this is that the uranium would be returned to Iran in the form of fuel pellets inside the rods, which could not be further enriched to weapons grade purity.

But in another WSJ article John Bolton points out what a farce this all is:

Iran’s Ambassador to Britain exclaimed after the talks in Geneva, ‘No, no!’ when asked if his country had agreed to ship LEU to Russia; it had ‘not been discussed yet.’ An unnamed Iranian official said that the Geneva deal ‘is just based on principles. We have not agreed on any amount or any numbers.’

... By endorsing Iran’s use of its illegitimately enriched uranium, Mr. Obama weakens his argument that Iran must comply with its ‘international obligations.’ Indeed, the Geneva deal undercuts Mr. Obama’s proposal to withhold more sanctions if Iran does not enhance its nuclear program by allowing Iran to argue that continued enrichment for all peaceful purposes should be permissible. Now Iran will oppose new sanctions and argue for repealing existing restrictions.

The president also said last week that international access to the Qom nuclear site must occur within two weeks, but an administration spokesman retreated the next day, saying there was no ‘hard and fast deadline,’ and ‘we don't have like a drop-dead date.’

Meanwhile, the Institute for Science and International Security has posted up on its website excerpts from the internal IAEA Document on Alleged Iranian Nuclear Weaponization, parts of which have already found their way into the media. This material was allegedly based on documents obtained by German intelligence, smuggled out of Iran by the wife of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Apparently there have been arguments inside the IAEA about how to interpret this document, but it states:

The Agency has information, known as the Alleged Studies, that the Ministry of Defence of Iran has conducted and may still be conducting a comprehensive programme aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system. The information, which originates from several Member States and the Agencys own investigations, points to a comprehensive project structure and hierarchy with clear responsibilities, timeline and deliverables. The information, which has been obtained from multiple sources, is detailed in content and appears to be generally consistent. The information refers to known Iranian persons and institutions under both the military and civil apparatuses, as well as to some degree to their confirmed procurement activities.”

Alleged Studies

“The Alleged Studies conducted by Iran refer, inter alia, to the development work performed to redesign the inner cone of the Shahab 3 missile re-entry vehicle to accommodate a nuclear warhead. The Studies further describe the development and testing of high voltage detonator firing equipment and multiple exploding bridge wire (EBW) detonators as well as an underground testing infrastructure and the probable testing of one full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system that could be applicable to an implosion-type nuclear device.

As Sky News’s Tim Marshall observed:

This new information, added to what was already known, suggests the Iranians now know how to make a nuclear bomb, have enough enriched uranium to make one, and have the capacity to deliver it. What is lacking is the finishing touches, and the testing.

The response of the world body to this terrifying and grim development has been to turn itself, in the eyes of the terror regime in Tehran, into a total laughing stock. It reached a transparently meaningless deal with the Iranian regime which it can flick aside with contempt – and in return for which the US, Britain and the rest have now accepted Iran back into the civilised world again, and all talk even of sanctions is now off the table. Thus America, Britain and the rest reward terror and ensure that it has the time to realise its terrible aim.

This is presumably what Obama meant when he said recently of Iran:

I'm not interested in victory. I’m interested in resolving the problem.

Well, if he doesn’t achieve victory over Iran, then Iran will achieve victory over America.

Business as usual in the genocide business!

Love of the Land: Why this man is laughing fit to explode

Love of the Land: Thirty-Six Years Ago Today, Richard Nixon Saved Israel—but Got No Credit

Thirty-Six Years Ago Today, Richard Nixon Saved Israel—but Got No Credit

Jason Maoz
06 October 09

Precise details of what transpired in Washington during the first week of the Yom Kippur War, launched by Egypt and Syria on October 6, 1973, are hard to come by, in no small measure owing to conflicting accounts given by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger regarding their respective roles.

What is clear, from the preponderance of information provided by those directly involved in the unfolding events, is that President Richard Nixon — overriding inter-administration objections and bureaucratic inertia — implemented a breathtaking transfer of arms, code-named Operation Nickel Grass, that over a four-week period involved hundreds of jumbo U.S. military aircraft delivering more than 22,000 tons of armaments.

This was accomplished, noted Walter J. Boyne in an article in the December 1998 issue of Air Force Magazine, while “Washington was in the throes of not only post-Vietnam moralizing on Capitol Hill but also the agony of Watergate. . . . Four days into the war, Washington was blindsided again by another political disaster -- the forced resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew.”

“Both Kissinger and Nixon wanted to do [the airlift],” said former CIA deputy director Vernon Walters, "but Nixon gave it the greater sense of urgency. He said, ‘You get the stuff to Israel. Now. Now.’”

Boyne, in his book The Two O’Clock War, described a high-level White House meeting on October 9:

As preoccupied as he was with Watergate, Nixon came straight to the point, announcing that Israel must not lose the war. He ordered that the deliveries of supplies, including aircraft, be sped up and that Israel be told that it could freely expend all of its consumables -- ammunition, spare parts, fuel, and so forth -- in the certain knowledge that these would be completely replenished by the United States without any delay.

White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig concurred:

As soon as the scope and pattern of Israeli battle losses emerged, Nixon ordered that all destroyed equipment be made up out of U.S. stockpiles, using the very best weapons America possessed. . . . Whatever it takes, he told Kissinger . . . save Israel.

“It was Nixon who did it,” recalled Nixon’s acting special counsel, Leonard Garment. “I was there. As [bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments] was going back and forth, Nixon said, this is insane. . . . He just ordered Kissinger, “Get your ass out of here and tell those people to move.”

When Schlesinger initially wanted to send just three transports to Israel because he feared anything more would alarm the Arabs and the Soviets, Nixon snapped: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300. . . . Get them in the air, now.”

Haig, in his memoir Inner Circles, wrote that Nixon, frustrated with the initial delays in implementing the airlift and aware that the Soviets had begun airlifting supplies to Egypt and Syria, summoned Kissinger and Schlesinger to the Oval Office on October 12 and “banished all excuses.”

The president asked Kissinger for a precise accounting of Israel’s military needs, and Kissinger proceeded to read aloud from an itemized list.

“Double it,” Nixon ordered. “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.”

Later, informed of yet another delay — this one because of disagreements in the Pentagon over the type of planes to be used for the airlift — an incensed Nixon shouted at Kissinger, “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

Nixon acted despite threats of reprisal by Arab oil producers — indeed, the day after Nixon asked Congress for an emergency appropriation of $2.2 billion for Israel, Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal announced an embargo of oil to the U.S. — not to mention Europe's overwhelming opposition to aiding Israel.

Some revisionists have taken to claiming Nixon's actions on behalf of Israel were prompted by Golda Meir, who supposedly threatened to go public with all manner of juicy political and personal information she had on the president. Another commonly cited blackmail scenario, popularized by the play Golda's Balcony, has Meir putting the squeeze on Nixon by threatening to use nuclear weapons.

But Mordechai Gazit, who at the time of the Yom Kippur War was director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, told authors Gerald Strober and Deborah Hart Strober in Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency: “The airlift was decided not because we asked for it. Our relations with the United States were not at a point where we could have asked for an airlift; this was beyond our imagination.”

As for Meir herself, to the end of her life she referred to Nixon as "my president" and told a group of Jewish leaders in Washington shortly after the war: “For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the materiel that meant life to our people.”

Wrote Nixon biographer Stephen E. Ambrose:

Those were momentous events in world history. Had Nixon not acted so decisively, who can say what would have happened? The Arabs probably would have recovered at least some of the territory they had lost in 1967, perhaps all of it. They might have even destroyed Israel. But whatever the might-have-beens, there is no doubt that Nixon . . . made it possible for Israel to win, at some risk to his own reputation and at great risk to the American economy.

He knew that his enemies . . . would never give him credit for saving Israel. He did it anyway.

Love of the Land: Thirty-Six Years Ago Today, Richard Nixon Saved Israel—but Got No Credit

Love of the Land: A License to Kill

A License to Kill

Moshe Arens
06 October 09

While the Goldstone report is being eagerly read in Israel and in capitals around the world, it is also being intensively studied by terrorists bent on destroying the State of Israel - and they must be breathing a sigh of relief.

This is not only because the Hamas terrorists in Gaza are in effect getting off scot-free in the report - they, in any case, did not have to be concerned about being brought before the International Court of Justice.

They can also interpret the report as international approbation for carrying out military operations from civilian population centers - schools, hospitals, refugee camps, etc. - as they did in the years when they were launching rockets into Israeli towns and villages in the south of Israel, and as they continued to do during the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

From the report it is clear to them that establishing military units and rocket launchers in civilian population centers will from now on be an effective military tactic that they can hope to apply with impunity, enjoying at least partial immunity from an Israeli response. That response is likely to be withheld out of concern that it will lead to Israel being charged with committing a war crime.

The report is in effect a license to kill - for Hamas, for Hezbollah, and for terrorists all over the world. No less.

"The bastards have changed the rules," Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's vice president, supposedly said when his wrong-doings caught up with him. He resigned on October 10, 1973. That was 36 years ago, during the Yom Kippur War, a conventional battlefield war, tanks against tanks and soldiers against soldiers, with no civilians in the vicinity. And also no war crime inquiries.

But since that Israeli victory, things have changed. Faced by the overpowering force of the Israel Defense Forces, terror attacks against civilians have become the weapon of choice for Israel's enemies. And here the Goldstone report is changing the rules of warfare so as to favor the terrorists. As long as they operate in civilian surroundings, they should have nothing to worry about.

Hezbollah pioneered this tactic in Southern Lebanon, and put it into practice very effectively during the Second Lebanon War. Hamas in Gaza, tutored by Hezbollah, followed suit. And the Goldstone report has now enshrined it with international legalese, which may very well serve as a precedent in future encounters with terrorists.

This will have far-reaching effects on the war against terror, wherever it is being waged, and it will empower the terrorists, whether Justice Richard Goldstone realizes it or not. It will be especially damaging for Israel, whose civilians are under almost constant threat from terrorists.

During Operation Defensive Shield the IDF showed that the commonly held wisdom that terrorism could not be defeated by military means was dead wrong.

Whereas Palestinian terrorism could not be deterred, it could be physically eliminated by military means. The terrorists could be pursued into their lairs and destroyed, or brought to justice. Since then, terrorism from Judea and Samaria against Israeli civilians has essentially ceased. Now, after the Goldstone report, that kind of operation is going to be difficult to repeat.

The report is a blow to the war on terror everywhere and for all nations engaged in fighting terrorism. Hopefully, the nations of the world will have the strength and political will to reject the report, and make it clear to all that terror operations carried out from civilian areas are the war crime, and not the attempt to eliminate these attacks. That using civilians as a shield is a war crime.

If that does not happen, we can expect that areas densely populated by civilians will become the base for terrorist activities in many parts of the world - with the expectation that "international law" will provide them with immunity from counterattacks.

Israel, knowing that its existence is at stake, will find a way to defend itself even under these changed circumstances. But the peace process is bound to be set back. This will not be the time to take big risks.

Thank you Justice Goldstone. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Love of the Land: A License to Kill

Love of the Land: Hamas Set to Win Election in Palestinian Authority

Hamas Set to Win Election in Palestinian Authority

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
06 October 09

If the U.S. and its allies want to avoid another Hamas victory, they should reconsider their demand that the Palestinians hold another free election. Otherwise they will be repeating the same mistake they made in 2006.

Backed by the U.S., the Egyptians are now pushing the Palestinians toward holding new elections for president and parliament. By doing so, Cairo and Washington are taking a big risk: There is no guarantee that a majority of Palestinians would not vote for Hamas again.

Palestinians went to the polls three times in the past fives years to vote - - Twice they voted for Hamas.

Hamas candidates scored major victories in the municipal and parliamentary elections.

Hamas boycotted the presidential election that was held in January 2005, and which brought Mahmoud Abbas to power. Had Hamas participated in the presidential election, some Palestinians argue that its chances of winning that vote too would have been good.

Prior to the January 2006 parliamentary election, the US, Israel and many Western countries ignored warnings that Hamas was headed toward victory. Hamas won that vote largely because of the Palestinian public’s disenchantment with Fatah's corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power.

Such was the degree of contempt for Fatah and its representatives that even Christians and secular Palestinians cast their ballots for the radical Islamic movement.

Fatah itself was even so aware of its poor performance and blunders that it dispatched some of its representatives to the US in a bid to persuade the Bush Administration to abandon its plan to hold free elections in the Palestinian territories.

Today Fatah is not in a better situation and its chances of winning in the planned elections next year do not appear to be high.

Fatah's dwindling popularity is mainly attributed to the faction's failure to draw conclusions from its defeat to Hamas in the 2006 election - Fatah’s failure to reform itself and get rid of icons of financial corruption and thugs who continue to call the shots in the faction.

The feeling among many Palestinians is that Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO, is continuing to march backward ever since it lost one of its founders and symbols, Yasser Arafat.

In the past few weeks, Fatah's credibility suffered one blow after another.

First, Fatah's Sixth General Assembly, which was held in Bethlehem for the first time in 20 years, failed to inject new and fresh blood into the faction. Instead, Fatah saw the return of most of Arafat's former cronies who were responsible for abuse of human rights, mismanagement and financial corruption.

Second, Fatah's open affiliation and cooperation with Israel and the US is causing tremendous damage to its credibility among Palestinians. This, of course, plays into the hands of Hamas. The next election will be presented as a contest between “collaborators with Israel and America” (Fatah), and Muslim candidates who reject any form of affiliation with the West.

Third, the recent summit in New York, where the US literally forced Abbas to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has made Fatah appear as if it is incapable of taking independent decisions. For months, Abbas had vowed not to meet with Netanyahu or resume peace talks with Israel unless construction in the settlements was completely halted.

Fourth, Abbas's decision to withdraw a proposal to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the report of Justice Richard Goldstone on the Gaza war has also undermined his credibility among many Palestinians. Abbas and Fatah are now being accused of “helping Israel bury its war crimes.”

Meanwhile, Hamas appears to be increasing its power. A prisoner-exchange agreement with Israel, which would see the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jail in return for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, will undoubtedly boost Hamas's popularity.

Despite its failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and its responsibility for the ongoing suffering there, Hamas is still admired by many because of its continued defiance and refusal to bow to US, Israeli and Arab pressure.

Barring last-minute obstacles, Hamas and Fatah are expected to sign a “reconciliation” accord on October 22 in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

The Egyptian-brokered agreement calls, among other things, for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories sometime during the first half of 2010.

Under such circumstances, it is easy to see why Hamas could win the next election.

Love of the Land: Hamas Set to Win Election in Palestinian Authority

Love of the Land: How Israel Was Disarmed

How Israel Was Disarmed

Bret Stephens
Wall St. Journal
06 October 09

Jan. 20, 2010

NEW YORK—When American diplomats sat down for the first in a series of face-to-face talks with their Iranian counterparts last October in Geneva, few would have predicted that what began as a negotiation over Tehran's nuclear programs would wind up in a stunning demand by the Security Council that Israel give up its atomic weapons.

Yet that's just what the U.N. body did this morning, in a resolution that was as striking for the way member states voted as it was for its substance. All 10 nonpermanent members voted for the resolution, along with permanent members Russia, China and the United Kingdom. France and the United States abstained. By U.N. rules, that means the resolution passes.

The U.S. abstention is sending shock waves through the international community, which has long been accustomed to the U.S. acting as Israel's de facto protector on the Council. It also appears to reverse a decades-old understanding between Washington and Tel Aviv that the U.S. would acquiesce in Israel's nuclear arsenal as long as that arsenal remained undeclared. The Jewish state is believed to possess as many as 200 weapons.

Tehran reacted positively to the U.S. abstention. "For a long time we have said about Mr. Obama that we see change but no improvement," said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. "Now we can say there has been an improvement."

The resolution calls for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. It also demands that Israel sign the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and submit its nuclear facilities to international inspection. Two similar, albeit nonbinding, resolutions were approved last September by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

At the time, the U.S. opposed a resolution focused on Israel but abstained from a more general motion calling for regional disarmament. "We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today," said then-U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Glyn Davies.

Since then, however, relations between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, never warm to begin with, have cooled dramatically. The administration accused Tel Aviv of using "disproportionate force" following a Nov. 13 Israeli aerial attack on an apparent munitions depot in Gaza City, in which more than a dozen young children were killed.

Mr. Netanyahu also provoked the administration's ire after he was inadvertently caught on an open microphone calling Mr. Obama "worse than Chamberlain." The comment followed the president's historic Dec. 21 summit meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Geneva, the first time leaders of the two countries have met since the Carter administration.

But the factors that chiefly seemed to drive the administration's decision to abstain from this morning's vote were more strategic than personal. Western negotiators have been pressing Iran to make good on its previous agreement in principle to ship its nuclear fuel to third countries so it could be rendered usable in Iran's civilian nuclear facilities. The Iranians, in turn, have been adamant that they would not do so unless progress were made on international disarmament.

"The Iranians have a point," said one senior administration official. "The U.S. can't forever be the enforcer of a double standard where Israel gets a nuclear free ride but Iran has to abide by every letter in the NPT. President Obama has put the issue of nuclear disarmament at the center of his foreign policy agenda. His credibility is at stake and so is U.S. credibility in the Muslim world. How can we tell Tehran that they're better off without nukes if we won't make the same point to our Israeli friends?"

Also factoring into the administration's thinking are reports that the Israelis are in the final stages of planning an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Paris last week, has been outspoken in his opposition to such a strike. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mr. Gates warned Mr. Barak that the U.S. would "actively stand in the way" of any Israeli strike.

"The Israelis need to look at this U.N. vote as a shot across their bow," said a senior Pentagon official. "If they want to start a shooting war with Iran, we won't have their backs on the Security Council."

An Israeli diplomat observed bitterly that Jan. 20 was the 68th anniversary of the Wannsee conference, which historians believe is where Nazi Germany planned the extermination of European Jewry. An administration spokesman said the timing of the vote was "purely coincidental."

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

Love of the Land: How Israel Was Disarmed




The Mitzpe Yericho Temple Institute
Tuesday, 18 Tishrei 5770
October 06, 2009

An event of historical proportions will take place, G-d willing, this coming Wednesday, 19 Tishrei, the 4th day of Chol Hamoed at 2:00 PM in Mitzpe Yericho.

For the first time in the history of the Jewish people, a model Temple school for Kohanim and Levites will break ground here in Mitzpe Yericho. The model, which will be built to scale, will serve to teach the Kohanim and Levites the service which they will need to perform in Jerusalem when the Holy Temple is rebuilt. After 2000 years of exile, how can the Kohanim work and serve in the Temple without knowing how? This unique school will give the Kohanim and Levites first-hand experience re where to bring the sacrifices, where to throw the blood, wine, etc.

The school will start with groundbreaking for the outer altar, a 16 by 16 meter structure with a height of 5 meters and a ramp of an additional 16 meters!

A not-to-be-missed opportunity to see history in the making!

For more information, call Levi Chazen at 052 300 3293; levi5675@gmail.com


Love of the Land: Who is really to blame for the tensions on the Temple Mount?

Who is really to blame for the tensions on the Temple Mount?

Avi Isaacharoff
05 October 09

"Sunday, however, it seemed as if the appropriate conclusions had been drawn: After learning that dozens of Muslims planned to await the arrival of "extremist Jews" at the Temple Mount, the police decided that the entire area would remain closed to non-Muslim visitors."

Palestinian clashes with Israeli police on Sunday and on the day before Yom Kippur near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City have made foreign diplomats wonder whether Israel is enacting a new policy on the Temple Mount, which is serving to exacerbate tensions.

Media outlets and senior Palestinian Authority officials have contributed significantly to this perception after repeatedly claiming that Israel is planning to allow a group of "extremist settlers" to pray at the mosque. Even the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has blamed Israel for implementing a dangerous policy on the Temple Mount that is liable to lead to a conflagration.

Yet, reality, as always, is a bit more complicated. The status quo in the plaza surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque has in fact not changed since 2003. The entry of Jews and tourists is permitted on the Temple Mount from 7:30 to 10 A.M., and from 12:30 to 1:30 P.M. These visits do not have to be coordinated with officials of the Waqf (Muslim trust) and take place without any interference. Indeed, last Thursday, for example, the area was totally calm. At 1 P.M., dozens of tourists could be seen wandering around the plaza.

The advent of the holiday season in Israel, combined with the desire of Palestinian politicians to win a few minutes of fame, has recently led, however, to various violent incidents.

At present, the PA is not doing enough to ease tensions, while the Islamic Movement's northern faction is apparently working in concert with a number of Palestinian figures in an effort to spark an escalation of hostilities on the mount.

In the past, revenues generated by the tourist visits there; which reached some $200,000 per month; were transferred to the Waqf, which is run by Jordanian authorities. Since the outbreak of the second intifada, however, there has been no coordination of visits with the Waqf, and in 2003, Israel unilaterally opened the Temple Mount to tourists.

Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, the head of the Waqf, said that just before Yom Kippur, a number of Jewish groups distributed notices announcing that they planned to visit the Temple Mount on the eve of the holiday. In response, the former mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, called on Muslim worshipers to gather at Al-Aqsa Mosque last Sunday, to defend it against the Jews. His call was also taken up by Hatem Abdel Khader, the Fatah official who holds the Jerusalem portfolio, and other factions belonging to the Islamic Movement.

After morning prayers that day, some 200 people gathered at the square waiting for the Jews to enter.

"The police knew about this," Al-Khatib said. "One of the officers who is responsible for police coordination with the Waqf, called me and I warned him not to open the Temple Mount to Jewish worshipers."

At 7:30 A.M., the Mughrabim Gate was opened and a group of tourists entered the compound. Muslims began hurling stones at them and at the police officers who tried to hurry the tourists away from the scene.

Sunday, however, it seemed as if the appropriate conclusions had been drawn: After learning that dozens of Muslims planned to await the arrival of "extremist Jews" at the Temple Mount, the police decided that the entire area would remain closed to non-Muslim visitors.

Related: Another Day In Israel
Temple Mount: 'Palestinians' Riot

Love of the Land: Who is really to blame for the tensions on the Temple Mount?

Love of the Land: Sukkot (1980)

Sukkot (1980)

Small World?

Small World?

My friend Vic Alhadeff has published an op-ed in his local paper, The Australian, about the hypocrisy of the UN. Sometime you've got to pinch yourself to realize how small the world has become: I can sit at my desk in Jerusalem and read the morning newspaper from Sydney, or Ann Arbor (that's Juan Cole), or anywhere else. It didn't use to be that way, long ago when I turning 40 in a previous eon.

It can be misleading, of course. The ability to follow local news doesn't mean more people can find the Congo on the map today than in the 19th centruy, when King Leopold's men were busy murdering unimaginable numbers of locals. No one was interested then, and no-one is effectively interested today. Or Jaffna, say, or Khwost. (No, there hasn't been a genocide in Khwost yet. Though it's definitely an important place for what is happening there, not that you'd know it from reading that new-fangled Internet thing you've got there. Even though it may yet impact on your life, wherever you are).
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Riots in Jerusalem

Riots in Jerusalem

At the moment, the third day into the troubles here in Jerusalem, it doesn't look like the outbreak of a third Intifada. The Palestinians know about our holidays as we know about theirs, and they're stirring up some drama; next week the numbers of Jews visiting the Western Wall will drop back to normal, and the Palestinian inciters will calm down, I expect. (Though I've been wrong before).

It's interesting and important to note that one of the most important Palestinian men doing the incitement, is Ra'ed Salah.

Salah told Haaretz on Monday that the clashes would last as long as
Israel's "occupation" of the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque continued. He said the
Israeli government must understand that using force does not grant it rights to
Al-Aqsa Mosque or anywhere else in East Jerusalem, and that the key to achieving
calm in the area is an Israeli "withdrawal." "No one has rights to the Al-Aqsa
Mosque other than the Muslims. The mosque compound is Muslim, Palestinian and
Arab, and Israel has no rights to the mosque or East Jerusalem,"
he said. Salah
has been prohibited from entering the Temple Mount area for several months, and
has been staying at a nearby residence while following developments. The Islamic
Movement leader reiterated his call for Arabs within Israel's Green Line and in
Jerusalem to protest beside the mount to "protect Al-Aqsa from the infiltration
of extremist Jewish elements." (My italics)

Salah, in case you don't recognize his name, is an Israeli Arab. He holds Israeli citizenship, most of his followers are Israelis, and he doesn't live under occupation. Not unless you think that any Jewish sovereignty is occupation, or that the Jews have absolutely no claim to this land whatsoever. Which of course is precisely what Ra'ed Salah thinks, and publicly says.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Hamas Applauds Goldstone

Hamas Applauds Goldstone

The Goldstone Report did contain some criticism of Hamas, even if limited and muted. You can see why the Fatah-controlled PA wished the UN to discuss it and act on it, since it bashed both Israel and Hamas - a win-win situation for the PA. Alas, realpolitk intervened, and the PA realised there's a downside, too, so last week they pulled their support for continued UN deliberations on the report.

Lots of Palestinains didn't like the decision, and Abbas is apparently being harshly criticised for it. Among the most vocal critics are... Hamas:

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip, on Monday accused
Abbas of betraying the Palestinian people and of being an accomplice in the
Israeli plot to neutralize the Goldstone report. At a specially convened press
conference in Gaza, Haniyeh went on to call Abbas' actions "unprecedented."

When a group that was purportedly even-handedly criticised by a report, castigises the fellow who managed to have further discussion quashed, it says something about how they understand the criticism. It seems to me that Haniyeh is saying, loud and clear, that the report was never even-handed, it was anti-Israel, even if there was a small fig-leaf of criticism against his side, too.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Anger at Abu Mazen over Goldstone delay

Israel Matzav: Anger at Abu Mazen over Goldstone delay

Ofra Haza-Chai

RUA DA JUDIARIA - Hag Sukkot Sameach...

Rua da Judiaria - Hag Sukkot Sameach... -

Posted using ShareThis

Israel Matzav: President Obama addresses the nation

President Obama addresses the nation

You know the Obumbler is in trouble when Saturday Night Live goes after him.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

Israel Matzav: President Obama addresses the nation

The Torah Revolution: Irrelevant

The Torah Revolution: Irrelevant

The Torah Revolution: What the "J" stands for in JTA ex Re: The Acid Test

The Torah Revolution: What the "J" stands for in JTA ex Re: The Acid Test

Israel Matzav: Bolton: Iran's big win in Geneva

Bolton: Iran's big win in Geneva

In the Wall Street Journal, former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton explains why Iran was the big winner in Geneva last week.

The "agreement" undercuts Security Council resolutions forbidding Iranian uranium enrichment. No U.S. president has been more enamored of international law and the Security Council than Mr. Obama. Yet here he is undermining the foundation of the multilateral campaign against Tehran's nuclear weapons program. In Resolution 1696, adopted July 31, 2006, the Security Council required Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." Uranium enriched thereafter—the overwhelming bulk of Iran's admitted LEU—thus violates 1696 and later sanctions resolutions. Moreover, considering Iran's utter lack of credibility, we have no idea whether its declared LEU constitutes anything near its entire stockpile.

By endorsing Iran's use of its illegitimately enriched uranium, Mr. Obama weakens his argument that Iran must comply with its "international obligations." Indeed, the Geneva deal undercuts Mr. Obama's proposal to withhold more sanctions if Iran does not enhance its nuclear program by allowing Iran to argue that continued enrichment for all peaceful purposes should be permissible. Now Iran will oppose new sanctions and argue for repealing existing restrictions. Every other aspiring proliferator is watching how violating Security Council resolutions not only carries no penalty but provides a shortcut to international redemption.

Raising Iran's LEU to higher enrichment levels is a step backwards. Two-thirds of the work to get 90% enriched uranium, the most efficient weapons grade, is accomplished when U235 isotope levels in natural uranium are enriched to Iran's current level of approximately 3%-5%. Further enrichment of Iran's LEU to 19.75% is a significant step in the wrong direction. This is barely under the 20% definition of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU). Ironically, Resolution 1887, adopted while Mr. Obama presided over the Security Council last week, calls for converting HEU-based reactors like Iran's to LEU fuel precisely to lower such proliferation risks. We should be converting the Tehran reactor, not refueling it at 19.75% enrichment.

After Geneva, the administration misleadingly stated that once fashioned into fuel rods, the uranium involved could not be enriched further. This is flatly untrue. The 19.75% enriched uranium could be reconverted into uranium hexafluoride gas and quickly enriched to 90%. Iran could also "burn" its uranium fuel (including the Russian LEU available for the Bushehr reactor) and then chemically extract plutonium from the spent fuel to produce nuclear weapons.

The more sophisticated Iran's nuclear skills become, the more paths it has to manufacture nuclear weapons. The research-reactor bait-and-switch demonstrates convincingly why it cannot be trusted with fissile material under any peaceful guise. Proceeding otherwise would be winking at two decades of Iranian deception, which, unfortunately, Mr. Obama seems perfectly prepared to do.

There's much more. Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Bolton: Iran's big win in Geneva

Love of the Land: Another Day In Israel

Another Day In Israel

Jennifer Rubin
05 October 09

The Palestinian Authority is condemning Israel for restricting access to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In fact, there is a call to arms of sorts: “We call on the Palestinian public to confront Israel and its plans, that are intended to prevent the Palestinian people from fulfilling their aspirations of establishing a Palestinian state in the occupied territories,” the PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad announced. What’s more, the PA condemned “Israel’s attempts to conduct Jewish prayer services in the Aqsa compound” and calls on the entire world “to force Israel to halt is efforts to Jewify the city.” “Jewify”? That’s a subtle touch. What behind this?

Well, it seems that Israeli police decided to restrict access — to those under 50 years old (terrorist-profiling has its benefits, no little old ladies to be bothered there) — because“wheelbarrows filled with rocks had been discovered throughout the Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday.” According to the JPost report:

Palestinians had filled the wheelbarrows with stones and bricks in preparation for riots in the Old City, police assessed. The discovery of the wheelbarrows, in addition to intelligence information and the call on Palestinians to “come and defend” Al-Aqsa, led the police to restrict entrance to the Temple Mount.

The Orthodox Union put out a statement condemning the PA’s actions, noting that this all occurs during the joyous festival of Sukkot. Peace Now chimes in with a sniveling call to stop the violence, unwilling to identify who the rock gatherers were. Israel must be condemned, you see, for being unhelpful in the peace process. (Is the rock-throwing part of that process?) No word from the Obama administration yet. I’m sure there is an East Jerusalem apartment building somewhere occupying their focus.

Love of the Land: Another Day In Israel
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...