Sunday, 22 November 2009

Love of the Land: Our base is broader

Our base is broader


Yisrael Medad (My Right Word)
Green-Lined/JPost Blog
22 November 09

A recent op-ed penned by Michael Freund promotes the idea of an immediate annexation of all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to Israel. His reason, and seemingly his sole reason, is that "these areas are ours by Divine right ... the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel because the G-d of Israel said so."


He further writes:


...annexation is justified for the simple reason that this land belongs to us, and to nobody else. The act of asserting Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria would mark the closing of an historical circle, reviving our formal dominion over these areas after an interlude of nearly 2,000 years ... Who knows - maybe if we finally stand on principle and start affirming our faith, then perhaps we will at last begin to earn the respect and support that we so rightly deserve."


I also consider a religious right a justification for claiming territorial rights (after all, the Temple Mount, once it becomes the Haram E-Sharif, is then Muslim property, right?) and I would never ignore the primary formative element of Jewish nationalism which, as Professor Harold Fisch discussed in chapter two of his The Zionist Revolution: A New Perspective, is the Covenant.


There is a contractual configuration between the Jewish people and the ideals which define them as a people, a community, a religio-ethnic group. "Israel's strange existence," writes Fisch, "is defined by the Covenant ... [it] is the central experience of Israel ... it became, for Israel, the key to the understanding of all reality: political, social, historical ... it endowed the whole people with a common task, a sense of unity and purpose ... [and it] has a bearing on the moral history of the world as a whole...."


A Jew's relationship to his homeland is different than any other community-nation-people and, in fact, Menachem Begin never employed the term "annexation" for, as he said, "how can one annex one's own country?." True, that relationship is intrinsically religious with commensurate ritual obligations, commandments and practices, some which are kept solely as a searing reminder even though their source no longer exists, as in the case with many of the Temple rites. Most of all, there is the most unique of all realities in the definition of the physicality of the land as a sacred and holy element.

(Read full article)



Love of the Land: Our base is broader

Love of the Land: J Street Fails Its Fans

J Street Fails Its Fans


The hoopla surrounding the upstart lobby doesn't translate into instant political clout.

Lenny Ben-David
pajamasmedia.com
22 November 09

On November 3, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to support Resolution 838 calling on the president and the secretary of state “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ [a.k.a. the Goldstone Report] in multilateral fora.”

The vote was 344 to 36, with 22 representatives copping out with a “present” vote and 30 not voting. I assumed, probably like other Washington observers, that the 36 members, who by their vote supported Goldstone’s anti-Israel report, were members who had accepted political contributions from J Street’s political action committee. After all, the upstart organization had just completed their much ballyhooed conference in Washington, sent their delegates to lobby on Capitol Hill, and had expressed strong reservations about the congressional resolution.

To be fair, J Street didn’t come out with a blatant declaration of opposition to the resolution. It just called for the passage of “a balanced, thoughtful Congressional resolution” or “amendment of the resolution before passage to bring it in line with the principles we articulate.” As one of J Street’s blogger allies wrote:

Members of Congress close to AIPAC introduced a resolution condemning the Goldstone report that is so one-sided it might have been drafted by the Likud Central Committee. J Street did not waste a moment. It issued a statement that it would not support the resolution.

J Street’s opposition couldn’t have been clearer.

J Street takes great pride in their upstart political action committee. “The PAC distributed over $578,000 to its candidates,” J Street’s website crows. “[That’s] more than any other pro-Israel PAC in the two-year cycle, despite only launching publicly in April 2008.”

[NB: That $578,000 distributed was out of more than $840,000 raised, according to Federal Election Commission records.]

Since that election cycle, J Street’s PAC boasted contributions in 2009 of more than $30,000 to Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland and $35,000 to Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

Those PAC contributions translate to political clout, right?

Absolutely wrong.

In the case of the Goldstone vote, not one of the top 10 J Street PAC recipients in the 2008 cycle voted against the pro-Israel resolution, and some of those candidates (Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, Gary Peters of Michigan, Debbie Halvorson of Illinois, and Steve Cohen) had received as much as $30,000 to $47,000. Only Donna Edwards, the J Street darling for whom the organization ran a special appeal in 2009, voted against the resolution. Others who voted with Edwards included Arab-American representatives, congressional gadflies such as Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, and a handful of representatives who are long-time critics of Israel.

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Love of the Land: J Street Fails Its Fans

Israel Matzav: Saturday Night Live parodies Obama in China

Israel Matzav: Saturday Night Live parodies Obama in China

Israel Matzav: What does "pro-Palestinian" really mean?

What does "pro-Palestinian" really mean?

JPost reporter Khaled Abu Toameh has a message for those American and Canadian college students about what being "pro-Palestinian" really means.

Instead of investing money and efforts in organizing Israel Apartheid Week, for example, the self-described “pro-Palestinians” could dispatch a delegation of teachers to Palestinian villages and refugee camps to teach young Palestinians English. Or they could send another delegation to the Gaza Strip to monitor human rights violations by the Hamas authorities and help Palestinian women confront Muslim fundamentalists who are trying to limit their role to cooking, raising children and looking after the needs of their husbands.

Here is an idea: Let’s substitute Israel Apartheid Week with Palestine Democracy Week, where Palestinians would be urged and encouraged to demand an end to financial corruption and bad government.

The “pro-Palestinian” activists in the West clearly do not care about reforms and good government in the Palestinian territories. As far as these activists are concerned, delegitimizing Israel and inciting against “Zionists” are much more important that pushing for an end to financial corruption and violence in Palestinian society.

Telling the world how bad and evil Israel and the Jews are does not help the Palestinians as much as demanding good government and encouraging the emergence of young and “clean” leadership in the Palestinian territories.

If the “pro-Palestinian” camp in the West were investing a similar amount of its anti-Israel efforts in promoting moderation and civil society among Palestinians, it would be doing them a great service.

Shouting anti-Israel slogans or organizing Israel Apartheid Week in the US and Canada does not necessarily make a person “pro-Palestinian.”

Read the whole thing.

Unfortunately, Abu Toameh's words are likely to have little impact. You see, like most of his fellow 'Palestinians,' the 'pro-Palestinians' on North American college campuses aren't really interested in a democratic 'Palestinian state.' They are interested in destroying the Jewish state.

Israel Matzav: What does "pro-Palestinian" really mean?

RubinReports: Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip

Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip

[Please subscribe and make my day!]

By Barry Rubin

Israel’s operation into the Gaza Strip last January and the embargo on aid has had an effect. Hamas is now announcing that it will stop attacks on Israel. This, in effect, ends Hamas’s renewal of the fighting a year ago. Here’s the problem: Is Hamas just stopping long enough to get the aid money?

An important press conference by Hamas’ Interior Minister Fathi Hamad has said the group made an agreement with all the Palestinian factions that they will stop firing rockets into Israel except in retaliation to Israeli operations. And since Israel usually attacks in response to rocket firings, that means a new ceasefire may occur. The press conference came immediately after a rocket was fired into Israel on November 21 that didn’t hit anything.

That announcement seems like good news but here are the problems:

--Hamas will continue smuggling in arms, including parts for more advanced missiles which can strike further into Israel. If Israel were to attack the tunnels to try to interdict this smuggling, this would be made to appear as Israel initiating hostilities.

--The main issue will be a Hamas bid, which will find some support in the West—but how much?—to start large-scale aid to Gaza, as has been promised by the Obama Administration among others. Western statements insist that the money won’t go to Hamas or its front groups and no doubt a sincere effort will be made to implement that plan. But of course it will be difficult to succeed as Hamas will steal resources and, of course, benefit from the increased money and supplies, both directly and through increased popularity.

Hamad himself signaled this effort in his statement. "We don't want to curb the resistance and are not preventing the acts of the resistance" but want to let Gaza residents have some “breathing room and enable the Strip’s reconstruction.”

--No doubt there will be more voices in the West that Hamas is now becoming “moderate” and engagement should begin. This will probably be ineffectual, though.

The press conference set off a great deal of talk about the possibility of an imminent deal to release Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of captured Hamas gunman. I rather doubt that—though it could be true—but it is not the most significant aspect of this new development.

Of course, it is possible, given the way the Middle East, terrorism, and Hamas work, that a rocket could be fired into Israel and the whole thing fall apart. But otherwise the aid flow and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip may now commence. It will be argued that Hamas would not encourage this rebuilding only to go to war and wreck everything again. Those who say such things don’t know much about Hamas.



RubinReports: Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip

RubinReports: Obama's General Says: Syria Allied with Al-Qaida, Attacking U.S.; White House Says: Is that a Problem?

Obama's General Says: Syria Allied with Al-Qaida, Attacking U.S.; White House Says: Is that a Problem?

[Please subscribe for writing on the Middle East, U.S. foreign policy, satire, history, what's happening in American schools and more]

By Barry Rubin

Does anyone read the newspapers in the U.S. government? How about checking out the dispatches coming from its generals in the field? Here’s a news story which tells all.

A Reuters’ dispatch from Iraq interviews the commander of U.S. forces there. What’s he say?

Al-Qaida is joining forces with Saddam Hussein’s supporters.

And where are both al-Qaida’s forces fighting in Iraq and Saddam’s backers headquartered with lots of money stolen from Iraq? Syria.

Syria? So Damascus is now allied with al-Qaida, the perpetrators of the September 11 attack to kill Americans and defeat the United States in Iraq? Is that right, general?:

“Investigations into massive suicide bombings in Baghdad on Oct. 25, in which more than 150 people died, indicated that explosives or fighters were coming across from Syria, U.S. General Ray Odierno also said.”

So, again, Syria is letting al-Qaida and Saddamist terrorists come in, get armed and trained, cross the border in Iraq, and run back for safe haven. Right, general?:

“The U.S. commander's comments reinforced accusations by the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that al Qaeda and former Baathists were working together to undermine improved security and elections expected to be held in January. Maliki's government has also accused neighboring Syria of giving a safe haven to Baathists plotting attacks in Iraq.”

Yes, that’s what I said, right? And do remember that the Obama Administration has refused to support Iraq’s complaints against Syria. Are the Syrians helping kill a lot of people?:

“Overall violence in Iraq has fallen sharply in the past 18 months and November so far has experienced one of the lowest civilian casualty levels since the 2003 U.S. invasion. But attacks by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents like al Qaeda remain common. The twin suicide bombings in Baghdad on Oct. 25 devastated the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad governorate headquarters, while two similar suicide bombings on Aug. 19 killed almost 100 people at the foreign and finance ministries.”

So violence is continuing. As U.S. forces withdraw someone is trying to wreck the situation there so that the U.S. departure looks like defeat. Wonder who?

"`We believe that there will be attempts to conduct more attacks between now and the elections because they want to destabilize those,’ Odierno said.”

And who might be making those attacks, general?

"`My experience is there probably was some movement of fighters or explosives coming from Syria,’" he said when asked if the investigations had indicated any links to Syria.”

Thank you. So, the Obama Administration’s military commander says Syria is behind massive attacks and working closely with Usama bin Ladin’s guys.

Has the president of the United States said anything about this? Has he made any criticism of Syria? Is he ready to break off engagement efforts with the dictatorship? Has he backed up Iraqi government requests for backing in demanding Syria stop facilitating such attacks and turn over those Iraqis responsible?

No, no, no, and again no.

If the Obama Administration is fighting a war against al-Qaida why is Syria, today that group‘s main organizational and military base in the Middle East getting away with allying to the people who murdered 3,000 Americans on September 11?

If the Obama Administration is fighting a war in Iraq why is it doing nothing about the main ally of the insurgents killing American soldiers and so many Iraqi civilians, trying to wreck your policy?

Not to mention Syria trying to take over Lebanon, allying with Iran, sponsoring Hamas and Hizballah, being a major sponsor of international terrorism, and trying to build nuclear weapons’ facilities secretly?

There is an old expression about fighting with one hand tied behind your back. The Obama Administration is waging a foreign policy with both hands tied behind its back, plugs in its ears, and a gag over its mouth.


RubinReports: Obama's General Says: Syria Allied with Al-Qaida, Attacking U.S.; White House Says: Is that a Problem?

Love of the Land: Unilateral Moves and Countermoves

Unilateral Moves and Countermoves


Evelyn Gordon
Contentions/Commentary
22 November 09

Interviewed by BBC Arabic this weekend, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denied reports that he would seek UN Security Council approval for unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state. Rather, he said, “We will turn to the United Nations and the Security Council to strengthen what has been agreed on in the road map and approved by the Security Council, a two-state solution based on the June 4, 1967 borders.”

That may sound innocuous. But in fact, Security Council acquiescence to this proposal would both radically alter the current international position and demolish the already faltering principle that the talks’ outcome should not be prejudiced by unilateral action.

While most of the world already believes the 1967 lines should be the final border, the formal basis for the talks remains Security Council Resolution 242, which says no such thing. This resolution purposefully required an Israeli withdrawal only from “territories” captured in 1967, not “the territories” or “all the territories.” As Lord Caradon, the British UN ambassador who drafted 242, explained, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.” America’s then UN ambassador, Arthur Goldberg, similarly said the two omitted words “were not accidental …. the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.” This was equally clear to the Soviet Union and Arab states, which is why they unsuccessfully pushed to include those extra words.

(Full article)


Love of the Land: Unilateral Moves and Countermoves

Love of the Land: A Third Intifada, of What Nature?

A Third Intifada, of What Nature?


Tamar Sternthal
Snapshots/CAMERA
22 November 09

Reading Jack Khoury in Ha'aretz today, one would think that Mahmoud Abbas and senior Fatah officials have launched a campaign to advocate for a third, nonviolent intifada. Indeed, the headline and sub-headline, on page 2, read:

Abbas promotes 'popular resistance' to occupation, such as Bil'in protests

Palestinian president agrees to new intifada as long as it is not violent

The article notes that in a BBC interview [BBC Arabic, on Thursday, Nov. 19], Abbas said:

There is the armed struggle and I am against that because it will only bring destruction and devastation to the Palestinian people, which the last war in Gaza proved

Likewise, further along the article states:

Abbas' statements are in the context of recent statements by senior Fatah officials in the West Bank on the possibility of a third intifada as a response to the failure of the peace process and what they call Israel's rejectionism. In an interview with the Nazareth-based newspaper Hadith al-Nas, senior Fatah officials said Fatah wants to implement resolutions made at the Fatah convention in Bethlehem last summer. One senior official said "We want thousands of Palestinians to demonstrate daily near the settlements of the occupation, carrying out a human siege and calling for the end of the occupation," one senior official said.

However unlike the previous intifada, the movement will not endorse an armed struggle or the use of firearms, the official added.

And what is one supposed to make of the context of eight recent Arabic statements in favor of armed conflict uttered by various Fatah officials, including Abbas himself, and distributed in English in Friday by MEMRI ("Palestinian Officials Threaten to Renew Armed Struggle, Launch Third Intifada")?

From MEMRI we learn that a week before his BBC interview, Abbas stated at a rally marking the five-year anniversary of Arafat's death:

"We will continue [Arafat's] long and exhausting struggle [that was] fraught with blood, sweat, and tears. The road [we are traveling] today is anchored in a noble heritage of struggle that we built with brave hands, an enlightened mind, and a national thinking [rooted in] long experience. We combined armed struggle with political activity. Our guns were not the guns of highway robbers. They were political guns [promoting] a noble goal." [Al Ayyam, Nov. 12, 2009]

Other statements in support of armed violence are voiced by Nabil Sha'ath, Amin Maqboul, Marwan Al-Barghouti, Hafez Al-Barghouti, among others.

Beyond cherry-picking quotes and ignoring contrary statements, Ha'aretz is also at fault for promoting the falsehood that Bil'in protests are nonviolent and for not clarifying that resolutions passed at the Fatah convention last summer do call for violence.



Love of the Land: A Third Intifada, of What Nature?

Love of the Land: Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip

Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip


Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
22 November 09

Israel’s operation into the Gaza Strip last January and the embargo on aid has had an effect. Hamas is now announcing that it will stop attacks on Israel. This, in effect, ends Hamas’s renewal of the fighting a year ago. Here’s the problem: Is Hamas just stopping long enough to get the aid money?

An important press conference by Hamas’ Interior Minister Fathi Hamad has said the group made an agreement with all the Palestinian factions that they will stop firing rockets into Israel except in retaliation to Israeli operations. And since Israel usually attacks in response to rocket firings, that means a new ceasefire may occur. The press conference came immediately after a rocket was fired into Israel on November 21 that didn’t hit anything.

That announcement seems like good news but here are the problems:

--Hamas will continue smuggling in arms, including parts for more advanced missiles which can strike further into Israel. If Israel were to attack the tunnels to try to interdict this smuggling, this would be made to appear as Israel initiating hostilities.

--The main issue will be a Hamas bid, which will find some support in the West—but how much?—to start large-scale aid to Gaza, as has been promised by the Obama Administration among others. Western statements insist that the money won’t go to Hamas or its front groups and no doubt a sincere effort will be made to implement that plan. But of course it will be difficult to succeed as Hamas will steal resources and, of course, benefit from the increased money and supplies, both directly and through increased popularity.

Hamad himself signaled this effort in his
statement. "We don't want to curb the resistance and are not preventing the acts of the resistance" but want to let Gaza residents have some “breathing room and enable the Strip’s reconstruction.”

--No doubt there will be more voices in the West that Hamas is now becoming “moderate” and engagement should begin. This will probably be ineffectual, though.

The press conference set off a great deal of talk about the possibility of an imminent deal to release Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of captured Hamas gunman. I rather doubt that—though it could be true—but it is not the most significant aspect of this new development.

Of course, it is possible, given the way the Middle East, terrorism, and Hamas work, that a rocket could be fired into Israel and the whole thing fall apart. But otherwise the aid flow and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip may now commence. It will be argued that Hamas would not encourage this rebuilding only to go to war and wreck everything again. Those who say such things don’t know much about Hamas.


Love of the Land: Important Step? Hamas Declares New Ceasefire; Launching Bid for Massive Aid for Gaza Strip

Love of the Land: Politicizing the IDF

Love of the Land: Politicizing the IDF

Israel Matzav: IDF: Humanitarian aid to Gaza up 900% in 2009

IDF: Humanitarian aid to Gaza up 900% in 2009

Quick, someone call Richard Goldstone. The IDF reports (and documents) a 900% increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza in 2009 as compared with 2008.

The aid is supplied by various international organizations - the International Red Cross, UNRWA, WFP - and is imported into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom Crossing near the Egyptian border.

"We are investing major resources to enable the flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," Levi said during a tour of the Erez Crossing.

Last week, the Palestinians opened a corridor connecting the outskirts of Gaza City with the Erez Crossing. This way, Palestinians on their way to Israel will be sheltered from rain when walking to the crossing. To facilitate the construction of the corridor, the IDF permitted the transfer of building materials to the Gaza Strip.

In the first half of 2008, international organizations transferred 606 trucks into the Gaza Strip. In the first half of 2009, the number of international aid trucks jumped to just over 5,300. In total in 2008, Israel facilitated the transfer of 15,275 trucks into Gaza. By the end of last month, the number had already reached over 17,750.

In addition, since the beginning of the year, the IDF has issued over 18,500 permits for Palestinians to leave Gaza and enter Israel or travel overseas. The IDF has also allowed this year over 4,000 Palestinians into Gaza for medical treatment together with 3,600 escorts.

I wonder why anyone would want to go into Gaza for medical treatment.

I also wonder why Israel is bothering to allow the 'Palestinians' all this assistance. The world continues to lambaste us anyway.

By the way, the Kerem Shalom crossing point is the one Gilad Shalit was guarding when he was kidnapped in June 2006.

Israel Matzav: IDF: Humanitarian aid to Gaza up 900% in 2009

Israel Matzav: Iran bribing friendly countries to abandon Israel

Iran bribing friendly countries to abandon Israel

A disturbing report in the Yedioth Aharonoth Hebrew newspaper claims that Iran is buying votes in the United Nations from countries that were previously considered friends of Israel.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the report said the Iranian foreign minister met with the foreign minister of the Oceania nation Solomon Islands last year and promised him a check in the amount of $200,000, along with technological aid.

These incentives were meant to come in exchange for an end to the nation's support of Israel.

Shortly after the offer was made the Solomon Islands' foreign minister visited Tehran.

Michael Ronen, Israel's ambassador to the Solomon Islands, said in response to the Yedioth report that "Israelis very active in nurturing its relations with countries in the region".

"We don't believe in conditions and we don't offer money in exchange for support" Ronen added. "We offer mainly humanitarian support, in order to stress that we are a positive power in the region."

He added that small states will always be tempted by cash donations. "Iran won the support of the Solomon Islands for $200,000. I won't offer $250,000 to overturn the decision. Israel does not buy support for money," Ronen said.

The Solomon Islands, a poor nation of 600,000 with as much pull in the UN General Assembly as the United States (there's that 'one nation, one vote' thing again) voted in favor of sending the Goldstone Report to the Security Council.

The problem is that we Jews are a bunch of masochists. You would think that after that vote Israel would stop giving gifts to the Solomon Islands. Nope.

Despite its boosting ties with Iran, Israel continues to send humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands, and is currently sending them equipment to help treat diabetics.

Foreign Ministry sources said, "We still have many friends in the Solomon Islands, and we have no intention of competing with the Iranians over who will pay more. We will continue to transfer humanitarian and medical aid."

As long as we keep giving aid whether or not countries support us, everyone will be happy to pocket our aid and vote against us. The United States has had a similar experience. There has to be a better way.



Israel Matzav: Iran bribing friendly countries to abandon Israel

Israel Matzav: When money doesn't equal power

When money doesn't equal power

Here's some good news from Lenny Ben David: J Street is having a little trouble getting its PAC recipients to vote in accordance with its positions. Take, for example, the House vote on opposing action on the Goldstone Report. J Street opposed the House measure.
J Street takes great pride in their upstart political action committee. “The PAC distributed over $578,000 to its candidates,” J Street’s website crows. “[That’s] more than any other pro-Israel PAC in the two-year cycle, despite only launching publicly in April 2008.”

[NB: That $578,000 distributed was out of more than $840,000 raised, according to Federal Election Commission records.]

Since that election cycle, J Street’s PAC boasted contributions in 2009 of more than $30,000 to Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland and $35,000 to Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

Those PAC contributions translate to political clout, right?

Absolutely wrong.

In the case of the Goldstone vote, not one of the top 10 J Street PAC recipients in the 2008 cycle voted against the pro-Israel resolution, and some of those candidates (Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, Gary Peters of Michigan, Debbie Halvorson of Illinois, and Steve Cohen) had received as much as $30,000 to $47,000. Only Donna Edwards, the J Street darling for whom the organization ran a special appeal in 2009, voted against the resolution. Others who voted with Edwards included Arab-American representatives, congressional gadflies such as Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, and a handful of representatives who are long-time critics of Israel.

Heh.



Israel Matzav: When money doesn't equal power

Israel Matzav: Iran: Is containment an option?

Iran: Is containment an option?

Former Clinton military analyst Kenneth Pollack believes that it's inevitable that the West is going to have to adopt a long-term 'containment' strategy against a nuclear Iran.

Iran is a very different country and it has a very different leadership, he said.

Iraq's former president "was a reckless decision maker" who did things that were suicidal.

"That is not the kind of person who understands deterrence logic," said Pollack.

Iran is also much larger than Iraq, and a much larger military endeavor would be needed to invade it, he said.

"It might even mean reinstituting the draft," Pollack added.

America, he said, has the military power to crush Iran, but is unlikely to use it. Israel, in contrast, could decide to attack Iran, but it does not have the capability to destroy it's nuclear program.

That depends on how one defines 'reckless.' If anything, the apocryphal Ahmadinejad and Khameni may be even less likely to understand 'deterrence logic' than was Saddam Hussein. And that makes the United States refusal to crush Iran even more frustrating.

At best, what Israel could hope for is to set the program back by a number of years, Pollack assessed. But in so doing, Israel would have to assume that Iran would retaliate through its allies Hamas and Hizbullah, which are armed and stationed on Israel's borders.

At best, Israel could hope to set Iran back by a number of years and get the United States involved in fighting Iran. Will the US actually sit and turn the other cheek if its troops in Iraq are attacked? Maybe and maybe not. Under Obama, one cannot be sure.

The Hamas - Hezbullah threat to Israel is overplayed. Hamas is in no position to attack Israel. It has very limited capability to attack Israel, and if Israel attacks it without the limitations of Operation Cast Lead (and if Hamas attacks effectively, there is no reason to believe Israel won't do that - Goldstone has taught us that there's no point in restraint), Hamas will not last long. The same goes for Hezbullah, which constitutes at least as great a danger to Lebanon as it does to Israel.

But if anything makes Pollack's argument suspect, it's this:

A strike intended to strengthen the opposition could actually undermine the best chance for long-term regime change, said Pollack. After all, an attack could "cause people to rally around the government" led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Similarly, he said, when it comes to sanctions, one must be careful about unduly harming civilians, such as by blocking Iran's ability to important refined petroleum.

I'll be that the Iranian opposition doesn't believe that.

Where Pollack is right is when he argues that sanctions won't be effective. That's not because they could not be effective, but because the West doesn't have the will to impose them.

"We need to think about sanctions in a different way," he said.

The severe trade and financial restrictions, which the UN imposed against Iraq from 1990 and until 2003, were 10 times as harsh as anything that is now being thought of for Iran, said Pollack.

And they did not work.

Pollack said that under former president Bill Clinton he was in charge of the public diplomacy campaign to show people that the Iraqi sanctions were not harming civilians.

"We came up with so many smart ways to get the message out that no one would die, and that it was all because Saddam was taking the money and using it to build palaces," said Pollack.

None of that held water when Iraqis complained that children were dying as a result of the sanctions, said Pollack. Crippling sanctions very quickly become unsustainable, he added.

"Most of the time the people blame the country sanctioning them," he said, and the "international community tires of those kind of sanctions very quickly."

The argument over whether the West has the will to impose sanctions is already irrelevant: It's too late to impose them.

All of which makes it inevitable that Israel will try to take out Iran's nuclear capability when the time is right. Will Israel succeed in at least delaying Iran's deployment of a nuclear weapon? Yes, God willing.... And maybe it will even force the US to get involved enough to put an end to the threat.


Israel Matzav: Iran: Is containment an option?

Israel Matzav: Israeli Jews oppose US interference on 'settlements' 2-1

Israeli Jews oppose US interference on 'settlements' 2-1

More Israeli Jews than ever support negotiations with the 'Palestinians,' but by a margin of 2-1 they oppose American interference with the 'settlements.' Unfortunately, with the Obama administration in power, they are far more likely to get the latter than the former (image via Jawa Report).

About three-fourths of the Israeli Jewish public currently supports holding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians-the highest level of support registered in recent years on the War and Peace Index. At the same time, the public is divided on the question of whether freezing construction in the settlements is important or unimportant for a breakthrough in the talks with the Palestinians: 47% think the freeze is important and 50% that it is unimportant. A majority of two-thirds, compared to one-third, also oppose the United States pressuring Israel on this issue. As expected, among those favoring negotiations, the majority (57%) thinks the freeze is important and 37% that it is unimportant. However, among those who oppose negotiations this majority contracts; 93% of them say the freeze is unimportant. Yet, on the question of American pressure, even among the supporters of negotiations a clear majority of 57.5% opposes such pressure (38% support it and the rest take no position). Not surprisingly, almost everyone (91%) among the opponents of negotiations opposes such pressure.

The survey also asked whether respondents believed President Obumbler is pro-'Palestinian,' pro-Israel or neutral. Amazingly, 8% now believe that he is pro-Israel.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Israeli Jews oppose US interference on 'settlements' 2-1

Israel Matzav: Obamacare to cost Americans residing abroad $1900 per family

Obamacare to cost Americans residing abroad $1900 per family

Mrs. Carl actually sent this to me while I was in the US and I never got around to posting it, but someone else sent it today, and it definitely merits action by those of us living in Israel. In fact, my letter is already written and awaiting signature.

US President Obama's Universal Health Care program has already passed in the House of Representatives in Congress -- it only requires a majority in the Senate before this serious, nation-changing legislation becomes law.

Partisan politics aside, why would an American living outside the United States care?

The organization, American Citizens Abroad (ACA) has the reason; as an American citizen living outside the United States, you will be required to pay up to $1900 annually, even if you receive zero health benefits whatsoever.

Under Title 1, Subtitle D, “Shared Responsibility”, the Personal Responsibility Requirement currently states on page 28 that “Beginning in 2013, all U.S. citizens and legal residents” would be required to purchase coverage of one of the specified types of insurance coverage. This broad reference clearly includes U.S. citizens residing overseas. Yet citizens who are bona fide residents in foreign countries have health coverage plans valid in the country where they reside. If they subscribe to the U.S.-specific insurance outlined in the program – which they do not need and cannot use – they will be paying twice for health insurance. If they do not participate in the U.S. program, they will be subject to an excise tax to be levied on their IRS returns as defined in the bill on page 29.

The purpose of the excise tax is to encourage all Americans who benefit from the U.S. health program to participate in its financing. Americans residing overseas cannot benefit from the U.S. health system, so for them the excise tax is just that – a tax with no counter-part service. As per the September 22nd press release concerning the chairman’s markup, the maximum excise tax per family for non-participation, is $1,900, not a negligible amount.

This means: Even as an American living in Israel, paying monthly health care taxes in Israel, (under Israeli government mandated health care laws), you will also need to pay American Health care, even though you can get zero benefit from US Health care!

What can you do to help prevent this unfair tax? Immediately, (that means NOW) write to your congressperson in the Senate. The ACA makes our life easier as follows:

Attached is a sample letter that you can use to write to your Senator. We strongly suggest that you fax your letter as this has the most immediate effect however, you may also email or hard copy mail. Visit the following website for address information on your Senator. www.congressmerge.com

---------------sample letter---------------

The Honorable………
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

November , 2009

RE: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009

Dear Senator………,

As one of your constituents who resides outside of the United States, I write you as my Senator to request that you alert Senator Baucus and the drafters of “America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009” concerning the urgent need for greater precision in the definition of those covered by the proposed legislation. In the version as released on September 16, 2009, there is wording which would inadvertently cause great hardship to American citizens living outside the United States. We hasten to bring this to your attention, so that it can be corrected early in the legislative process.

Overseas Americas should be exempted from the requirement to participate in the U.S. health plan and as a consequence, they should also be excluded to any right to claim a tax credit available for low income families in the United States under this health legislation.

Under Title 1, Subtitle D, “Shared Responsibility”, the Personal Responsibility Requirement currently states on page 28 that “Beginning in 2013, all U.S. citizens and legal residents” would be required to purchase coverage of one of the specified types of insurance coverage. This broad reference clearly includes U.S. citizens residing overseas. Yet citizens who are bona fide residents in foreign countries have health coverage plans valid in the country where they reside. If they subscribe to the U.S.-specific insurance outlined in the program – which they do not need and cannot use – they will be paying twice for health insurance. If they do not participate in the U.S. program, they will be subject to an excise tax to be levied on their IRS returns as defined in the bill on page 29.

The purpose of the excise tax is to encourage all Americans who benefit from the U.S. health program to participate in its financing. Americans residing overseas cannot benefit from the U.S. health system, so for them the excise tax is just that – a tax with no counter-part service. As per the September 22nd press release concerning the chairman’s markup, the maximum excise tax per family for non-participation, is $1,900, not a negligible amount.

Proposed solution:

A modest alteration in the present formulation would correct the legislation. Following is a suggested addition.:
“All U.S. citizens who meet the requirements of Sec. 911(d) (1)(A) or (B) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, without regard to the tax home requirement in Sec. 911(d)(1), are exempt from any mandate to purchase insurance in the United States and are not subject to the excise tax for non-participation in a U.S. health insurance plan.”

This modification would align the Senate bill to the "America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" (H.R. 3200) presented in the House of Representatives, which specifically exempts overseas Americans from a tax on not subscribing to a U.S. domestic health plan under Section 401 of the Act (which adds Section 59B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986). America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 states under Part VIII – HEALTH RELATED TAXES
Subpart A -Tax on Individuals Without Acceptable Health Care Coverage
Section 59.B “Tax on Individuals Without Acceptable Health Coverage
(c) Exceptions:
(3) INDIVIDUALS RESIDING OUTSIDE UNITED STATES
Any qualified individual (as defined in section 911(d)) (and any qualifying child residing with such individual) shall be treated for purposes of this section as covered by acceptable coverage during the period described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 911(d)(1), whichever is applicable."

I thank you most sincerely for your attention to this important issue and trust that you will do all necessary to bring about the change in the text of the proposed legislation.

Sincerely yours,
(Your name)


Israel Matzav: Obamacare to cost Americans residing abroad $1900 per family

Israel Matzav: Thuggo's friends

Thuggo's friends

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez defended some of his friends from international opprobrium in a Friday night speech in Venezuela. They are quite a motley crew.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has defended the alleged terrorist mastermind Carlos the Jackal, saying the Venezuelan imprisoned in France was an important revolutionary fighter who supported the cause of the Palestinians.

Chavez praised Carlos - whose real name is Ilich Sanchez Ramirez - during a speech Friday night saying: "I defend him. It doesn't matter to me what they say tomorrow in Europe."

Ramirez gained international notoriety during the 1970s and 80s as the alleged mastermind of a series of bombings, killings and hostage dramas. He is serving a life sentence in France for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informant.

"They accuse him of being a terrorist, but Carlos really was a revolutionary fighter," Chavez said during a televised speech to socialist politicians from various countries, who applauded.

In his speech, Chavez also sought to defend other leaders he said are wrongly labeled bad guys internationally, including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chavez called both of them brothers and said he now wonders whether Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was truly as brutal as he was reputed to be.

"We thought he was a cannibal," Chavez said, referring to Amin, whose regime was notorious for torturing and killing suspected opponents in the 1970s. "I have doubts. ... I don't know, maybe he was a great nationalist, a patriot."

Chavez could be dismissed as a kook but for two other small facts: He is helping Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to evade the weak international sanctions currently in effect, and he is a target for 'engagement' a bosom buddy of American President Barack Hussein Obama.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Thuggo's friends

Israel Matzav: Obama's Justice Dept. argues against executing judgment against Iran

Obama's Justice Dept. argues against executing judgment against Iran

Remember the 1983 bombing of the Beirut marine barracks in which 241 US troops were murdered by Iranian-backed Hezbullah? Well, two years ago, a Federal court found Iran liable and imposed a $2.65 billion judgment against it. Now, the Obama Justice Department is arguing against the implementation of that judgment (Hat Tip: Barry Rubin).

But now, the Obama administration is going to court to try to block payments from Iranian assets that the families’ lawyers want seized, contending that it would jeopardize sensitive negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and establish a potentially damaging precedent.

In a little-noticed filing in federal court, the Justice Department is arguing that giving the money to the victims “can have significant, detrimental impact on our foreign relations, as well as the reciprocal treatment of the United States and its extensive overseas property holdings.’’

What negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program? What 'potentially damaging precedent'? Is the Obama administration worried that terrorist governments like Iran's will stop investing in the United States? Iran has already proven that it will just say "no" to any efforts to limit its nuclear program. Too bad the Obama administration cannot hear them.e 1983 bombing of the Beirut marine barracks in which 241 US troops were murdered by Iranian-backed Hezbullah? Well, two years ago, a Federal court found Iran liable and imposed a $2.65 billion judgment against it. Now, the Obama Justice Department is arguing against the implementation of that judgment (Hat Tip: Barry Rubin).

But now, the Obama administration is going to court to try to block payments from Iranian assets that the families’ lawyers want seized, contending that it would jeopardize sensitive negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and establish a potentially damaging precedent.

In a little-noticed filing in federal court, the Justice Department is arguing that giving the money to the victims “can have significant, detrimental impact on our foreign relations, as well as the reciprocal treatment of the United States and its extensive overseas property holdings.’’

What negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program? What 'potentially damaging precedent'? Is the Obama administration worried that terrorist governments like Iran's will stop investing in the United States? Iran has already proven that it will just say "no" to any efforts to limit its nuclear program. Too bad the Obama administration cannot hear them.


Israel Matzav: Obama's Justice Dept. argues against executing judgment against Iran

Israel Matzav: Which part of "no" does the West not understand?

Which part of "no" does the West not understand?

Barry Rubin takes the Obama administration to task for refusing to hear "no" as an answer from Iran on its nuclear program.

Now what is the president of the United States's response to all this? Hold onto your syntax:

"Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal...and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences."

Can you imagine what would have been said if President George W. Bush, that fumblemouthed clown so unlike the brilliant articulate Obama had said "the importance of having consequences"? What does that phrase mean? Translation: I refuse to threaten Iran. I am reluctant to put on sanctions. I don't want to admit that engagement has failed. Where's the teleprompter?"

Now a new voice has been added asking for Obama to take tough action. that of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, international spokesman for Iran's main opposition movement. He urged Obama to increase public support for Iranian dissidents and stop the regime from getting nuclear weapons.

Recall that Obama's claim that a tougher stance would hurt the opposition was a major reason for him refusing to condemn the election theft, speak out forcibly against the repression, and hit the regime harder. Well, obviously that's untrue.

But even Makhmalbaf, former campaign spokesman for presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, thinks the regime won't make a deal because, in his words, "If they agree not to pursue a nuclear bomb and start negotiations, they will lose their supporters. Definitely dialogue is better than war. ... But can you continue your dialogue without any results?"

Answer: Apparently yes.

But it's not just the Obama administration that hasn't got the... well, you know what... to take Iran to task. If you thought that French President Sarkozy or British Prime Minister Gordon Brown found their tongues back in September, they've apparently lost them again.

The West is "disappointed" over Iran's failure to respond positively to a UN-brokered nuclear deal, diplomats said in a statement Friday following a meeting of the UN Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany. However, no new sanctions were discussed during the meeting, according to an EU source.

"We urge Iran to reconsider the opportunity offered by this agreement ... and to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations," the statement said, noting that Teheran had not responded positively to the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An EU official said there was no mention of imposing further sanctions against Iran at the meeting. "These things are a matter of timing, and this was not the right time for it," said the official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Western officials said they would hold a follow-up meeting around Christmas.

'Around Christmas.' Figure that might happen the first week in January, because it sure isn't going to happen before Christmas or between Christmas and New Year's. So we're talking nearly two months from now. And in the meantime, the centrifuges continue to produce more enriched uranium.

Jonathan Tobin sums up:

Right now, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be laughing themselves silly at this toothless response from the West. While President Obama circles the globe in a fruitless effort to find support for the sort of sanctions that might force the Iranians to reconsider their position, the Islamist regime continues to delay even the hope of negotiations to buy more time for their program. Obama’s feckless campaign of “engagement” has rightly earned their scorn. After this performance, who could blame the Iranians for believing that the West isn’t serious about stopping them?

The West is not serious about stopping Iran. After all, it's only Israel that's in immediate jeopardy. There is always time to try to reach an accommodation with Iran after Israel is destroyed (God forbid). Israel is going to have to go it alone to take out whatever it can take out of Iran's nuclear capability. Iran knows it. Over the weekend, they threatened to hit the center of Tel Aviv if they are hit by Israel or the United States. But Iran will be hit. There is no choice left for Israel. It's just a question of timing.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Which part of "no" does the West not understand?

Israel Matzav: Why Abu Mazen isn't running again

Why Abu Mazen isn't running again

Remember how Abu Bluff said that he wasn't going to run again to be 'Palestinian President'? Well, he didn't tell a lie. Yet. You see, there aren't going to be 'Palestinian elections' anytime soon. This is from a Google translation of an al-Arabiya article in Arabic, hence the poor English:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the presidential and legislative elections Palestinian was scheduled to take place in January (January) will be postponed, adding that it had agreed on the advice suggested by the absence of elections, according to a news report Friday 20/11/2009.

Abbas said in an interview with BBC television broadcast on Thursday that the Palestinian leadership arrangements will be made to avoid a constitutional vacuum "when the term of the Legislative Council and the current term of office as President of the Palestinian Authority in January 25 (January) next year. Palestinian President did not disclose those measures.

He said the Palestinian leader "the best that Hamas accepts the holding of elections, but if what happened to the Palestinian leadership must take action."

Abbas, to avoid responding to a question whether he will remain in office until new elections are held, and said the election "may be delayed a year or less than a year I do not know, now I will not say I am standing in the elections."

Asked whether he had made a final decision not to run for a second term, said Abbas "not to run a final decision."

It was announced earlier that he did not wish to run in the elections that were scheduled to take place on January 24 (January) next year.

Does this reflect the will of the 'Palestinian people'? Who knows? Who cares? What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Why Abu Mazen isn't running again

Love of the Land: Time for a fresh start

Time for a fresh start


Morris Pollard/David Kirshenbaum
JPost
22 November 09

(Excellent presentation of the facts surrounding this case. Even for those who automatically reject his position out of hand, this article should raise many questions.)

Yesterday, Jonathan Pollard began the twenty-fifth year of his life sentence for passing to Israel during the 1980s classified US data concerning various Arab states, including evidence of Saddam Hussein's development of chemical weapons. This distressing anniversary is an appropriate moment to take stock of the bona fides of Jonathan's unprecedented punishment and the continued obsession of many in the US government with insuring, in the words of Jonathan's lead prosecutor, that Jonathan "never see the light of day."

One of the cornerstones of Barack Obama's presidency has been an expressed intent to make a clear break with a purported American policy of acting like a bully to the world. We would do well then to consider just who the United States was bullying and which countries it was coddling when the Pollard affair broke and whether US behavior is any different today under President Obama.

PRIOR TO the Khomeini revolution in 1979, US Middle East policy was anchored in the "Twin Pillars" of Iran and Saudi Arabia. With the overthrow of the Shah, the US sought a replacement for one of its now fallen pillars. It turned to Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator of a country that was on America's list of state sponsors of terror.

This US policy shift was the genesis to the Pollard. Throughout the 1980s, continuing until one week before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in the summer of 1990, the US government pursued a policy of craven appeasement of Iraq. America turned a blind eye to Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons, it allowed the transfer of billions of dollars of US taxpayer backed credits to Iraq via the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank to secretly finance Hussein's purchase of both agricultural goods and weaponry, and cooperated in the sale to Iraq by third parties of a wide variety of military equipment, including US military rocket cluster bombs, chemical weapons technology and missile technology.

Every sane government in the world today looks with grave concern at the nuclear weapons capability that Iran is on the threshold of acquiring. And they shudder at the thought of what might have been if Iraq had a nuclear weapon when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. That power was denied Saddam Hussein when Israel destroyed Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor in June 1981. But at the time, Israel was not thanked, but rather was subjected to near-universal condemnation, including from the United States.

In the Reagan White House, there was a consensus among vice president George Bush, defense secretary Caspar Weinberger and chief of staff James Baker that Israel needed to be punished. Weinberger persuaded Reagan to delay delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Israel and the similarly incensed Deputy CIA Director Bobby Ray Inman ordered withholding from Israel all satellite photography and other similar materials involving areas more than 250 miles from Israel's borders. This ban was then formally approved by Weinberger and converted what was until then a routine intelligence transfer into a criminal violation.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Time for a fresh start

Love of the Land: Obama to Israelis: Jerusalem Is a “Settlement”

Obama to Israelis: Jerusalem Is a “Settlement”


P.David Hornik
FrontPageMag.com
20 November 09

Asked by Fox News in China what he thought of Israel’s plans to build 900 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem, President Obama responded:

“The situation in the Middle East is very difficult, and I’ve said repeatedly and I’ll say again, Israel’s security is a vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure. I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel’s security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous.”

To most Israeli ears the statement is discordant. The avowal of commitment to Israel’s security doesn’t jibe with describing building in Gilo as “dangerously embittering” the Palestinians. Gilo, now a neighborhood of 40,000, was annexed by Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war as part of the reunification of Jerusalem. Gilo is a fact; ordinary Israelis live in it, and calling them settlers would be laughable.

Not that Obama was breaking new ground in calling a Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood a settlement. Less than two years ago then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said of another such neighborhood, Har Homa, that “Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning” and that the United States “doesn’t make a distinction” between settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Har Homa, however, only goes back to the 1990s and is a good deal smaller than Gilo. “Gilo” and “settlement” sounds even more jarring.

Nor was Obama, of course, alone in his statement; he was leading the international charge. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokeswoman said “such actions [as building in Gilo] undermine efforts for peace and cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution.” The British Foreign Office said that “Expanding settlements on occupied land in east Jerusalem makes [a] deal much harder. So this decision on Gilo is wrong and we oppose it.” French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, in Israel for talks, also condemned the building plans.

And back in Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration was “dismayed” and that both parties should avoid actions that could “preempt, or appear to preempt, negotiations.”

Just as the official international reaction was unanimous in opposing the building, the internal Israeli reaction was unanimous in supporting it—and included leading figures from both the government and the opposition.

(Continue reading...)



Love of the Land: Obama to Israelis: Jerusalem Is a “Settlement”

Love of the Land: Analysis: Virtual diplomacy, real damage

Analysis: Virtual diplomacy, real damage


Jonathan Spyer
Mideast/JPost
22 November 09

The statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Riyadh last week expressing French willingness to mediate talks between Syria and Israel is the latest indication of Syria's emergence from diplomatic isolation.

Damascus has largely rebuilt its links with Europe and the Arab world. There is now a real possibility of a revival of indirect talks between Israel and Syria. Such talks, if they take place, are almost certain to get nowhere.

Still, the near guarantee of failure of any talks does not render Sarkozy's offer insignificant. It is to be hoped that the Netanyahu government resists the temptation to reopen the Syrian track.

Why might the government be tempted to enter indirect negotiations with Syria at this point? It is an article of faith among European countries and in the current US administration that a peace process between Israel and one or other of its enemies is essential. Israel's international diplomatic position currently leaves a lot to be desired. The perceived US distancing from Israel has emboldened those very considerable elements in Europe who would like to see increased pressure on the Jewish state.

There appears to be little hope of substantive movement in stalled talks between Israel and the troubled, perhaps moribund Palestinian Authority. Talks with Syria could provide the illusion of diplomatic motion which could help alleviate claims that Israel represents an intransigent barrier to progress toward regional stability.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Analysis: Virtual diplomacy, real damage
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