Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Torah Revolution: Your Facebook friends request

The Torah Revolution: Your Facebook friends request

Israel Matzav: Arabs believe Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel

Arabs believe Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel

A survey in 18 Arab countries shows that most of their populations believe that Iran poses a greater danger to them than Israel.

A survey by YouGov, commissioned by Qatar’s Doha Debates and published last week, found that on the Arab side 80 per cent of those surveyed do not believe Iran’s assurances that it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in 18 Arab countries last month, found that most see Iran as a bigger threat to security than Israel, with a third believing Iran is just as likely as Israel to target Arab countries.

Michael Totten explains the significance of the findings.

The leadership in most of these countries has thought so for years. That average citizens now do so should be encouraging news for everyone in the region — aside from the Iranian government, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Some may find it hard to believe that so many Arabs think Iran is more threatening than Israel, but I don’t. Leave aside the fact that Iran really is more threatening. Arabs and Persians have detested each other for more than a thousand years, ever since Arabs conquered premodern Iran and converted its people to Islam. The lasting ethnic enmity between the two is compounded by religious sectarianism. Most Arabs are Sunnis, most Persians are Shias, and Sunnis and Shias have been slugging it out with each other since the 8th century.


The Arab-Israeli conflict is a minor historical hiccup compared with the ancient feuds between Arabs and Persians, and Sunnis and Shias. It has barely lasted a fraction as long and has hardly killed anyone by comparison. Arabs and Persians killed hundreds of thousands of each other in the Iran-Iraq war alone in the 1980s. The civil war between Sunni and Shia militias in Baghdad a few years ago was much nastier than any of the Israeli-Palestinian wars.

It took time for all this to sink in with everyday Arab citizens. For a while there was a disconnect between the region’s Sunni Arab rulers and people. It looked like Iran, by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel, might actually pull off the most unlikely of coups in rallying the mass of Sunni Arabs in support of Persian Shia hegemony. That disconnect now seems to be over.

Thanks to the Iranian government’s stubborn insistence on developing nuclear weapons, the age-old strife between Persians and Arabs, and Shias and Sunnis, may finally be eclipsing the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The biggest implication for Middle East policy is that the West should be worrying more about an Iranian nuclear bomb than it is worrying about Israelis adding porches to their homes in Judea and Samaria. But don't expect President Obumbler and Herman Muenster to figure that out anytime soon.

Israel Matzav: Arabs believe Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel

Elder of Ziyon: Nighttime Kotel Photo Lesson

Nighttime Kotel Photo Lesson

I visited the Old City tonight, with both a video camera (Canon Vixia HG20) and a point-and-shoot camera (Nikon Coolpix S210.) The Nikon has a much higher resolution, and I have taken many good pictures with it, but I had a feeling that for night shots the still mode on the video camera would give me higher quality shots, because it has a much larger lens and can gather more light.

So I took a picture of the Kotel from the same angle, using the default settings on both cameras.

Nikon Coolpix:

Canon Vixia:
Besides learning that I need to clean the lenses, the differences in quality are huge, and apparent even without enlarging the images to their full sizes. The small point-and-shoot just cannot handle low-light situations well. (Click on them to see that the Canon does well even at full resolution, while the Nikon is badly fuzzy at its higher resolution.)

For night-time photography, check out your camcorder - you might be pleasantly surprised.

Here's the Kotel from another angle on the Canon:

Elder of Ziyon: Nighttime Kotel Photo Lesson

Israel Matzav: Israel's Chanuka miracle of 1949

Israel's Chanuka miracle of 1949

This is a good story.

The Israelis had $1 million to spend. The Levinsons recommended Levy to help them spend it wisely. Levy told them, "I want 10-gallon [a day] cows so in Israel, they could be milked three times a day. Purchase them six to eight weeks before they would calve so they would give milk as soon as possible." Throughout the Midwest and Northeast, the Israelis bought heavy milkers. Local vets tested the Holsteins for tuberculosis and brucellosis and shipped them by rail to Newport News, where they were tested again.

Meanwhile, workmen had fitted the freighter SS Columbia Heights with box stalls and maternity stalls. Passing the word along, the Levinsons recruited 42 Mennonite dairymen from Virginia and Pennsylvania to handle and milk the cattle. "They were overjoyed to be going to the land of Jesus," Levy said. "We promised to take them to the Sea of Galilee, have some 'St. Peter's fish' [tilapia] and have a baptizing in the River Jordan.

"We then filled the ship's hold with water. We knew water would be a problem." Tons of fertilizer to mask the odor and thousands of 60-pound bales of hay filled the hold. The Tidewater Jewish community contributed thousands of cans of condensed milk for Israel's children.

"How about you going?" Levy asked his wife, Diana. They had been married three years and had two children. "That was quite a decision; she was an ardent Zionist. Winter was coming on. Then we heard that in Israel the only milk available for children under 5 was adulterated [mixed with water]." Finally she said, "You do the mitzvah [good deed]."

A few days out, the Norwegian captain, whom Levy remembers for "two things he did: smoked a long pipe and drank whiskey -- and he knew how to drink," told Levy he was detouring into the South Atlantic to escape rough weather. The new course would mean two more days at sea. Levy reminded the captain that water and hay were in short supply, but the captain, as strong-willed as Levy, wouldn't change his decision.

Levy decided to intercede through the first mate. "Tell him," Levy said to the mate, "Israel wants live animals," and that the Holsteins were insured for $1 million by Lloyds of London. It wouldn't help the captain's record if they died on board. The captain gave in, and the ship steamed into rough water. "It was hitting over the deck in the middle of the Atlantic," Levy said.

After 18 days at sea, the Columbia Heights docked at Haifa. It was Friday evening -- Shabbat.

Read the whole thing.

I heard that once they got to Israel, they changed the cows' names from Holstein to Goldstein.


Israel Matzav: Israel's Chanuka miracle of 1949

Love of the Land: I choose the rabbis

I choose the rabbis

Yael Mishali
17 December 09

Yael Mishali says there is no way she would choose democracy over Jewish law

(This is the 2nd time in recent weeks that Ms. Mishali has come up with something not necessarily expected.Good piece.)

It was a truly modern-day miracle to see the debate regarding democracy vis-à-vis Torah law picking up steam and reaching the verge of explosion precisely in Hanukkah. So what is really more important for us? Which of these two values will prevail at the last moment? At the end of the day, I don’t think that the Greek invention will be chosen.

I am not a devout follower of Jewish law, and I never followed a rabbi formally; however, in my view any group of Zionist rabbis is preferable to any group of politicians that includes Ehud Barak. Who do I appreciate more? Who do I believe in and believe to? Who do I trust? Which side asks itself less often what can it personally gain from its decisions?

Rabbis also ask themselves this question, of course. I have no doubt that Rabbi Melamed also asked himself, and provided an answer. However, they ask it less often, and their answers are much much better than any answer Barak came up with in the past, and apparently this time as well.

When it comes to all the parameters for selecting proper leadership, I prefer the Zionist rabbis, with all their diverse views and opinions, over the deceptive leaderships of modern-day politicians.

(Full article)

Related: We still have hope

Love of the Land: I choose the rabbis

Love of the Land: The Eclipsing of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Eclipsing of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Michael J. Totten
18 December 09

According to a new study of public opinion by the folks who host the Doha Debates in Qatar, a clear majority in 18 Arab countries now thinks Iran poses a greater threat to security in the Middle East than Israel. The leadership in most of these countries has thought so for years. That average citizens now do so should be encouraging news for everyone in the region — aside from the Iranian government, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Some may find it hard to believe that so many Arabs think Iran is more threatening than Israel, but I don’t. Leave aside the fact that Iran really is more threatening. Arabs and Persians have detested each other for more than a thousand years, ever since Arabs conquered premodern Iran and converted its people to Islam. The lasting ethnic enmity between the two is compounded by religious sectarianism. Most Arabs are Sunnis, most Persians are Shias, and Sunnis and Shias have been slugging it out with each other since the 8th century.

After the Iranian revolution against the Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic exploded into the Arab Middle East with a campaign of imperialism and terrorism. Khomeini never concealed his ambition to lead the whole Muslim world, and the government he founded has been hammering the established Sunni Arab order with a battering ram ever since.

Iran had excellent relations with Israel before Khomeini scrapped the alliance and switched to the Arab side. Like his successor Ali Khamenei, he used violent anti-Zionism to win the hearts and minds of the Arabs. It worked to an extent for a while. Most Arab governments didn’t buy it, but the people often did.

As recently as 2006, Iran, despite the fact that it has a Persian and Shia majority, picked up considerable cache among Sunni Arabs for attacking Israel from Lebanon with its Hezbollah proxy. (Lebanese Sunnis weren’t very happy about it, but Sunnis in Egypt and Syria certainly were.) The Egyptian and Saudi governments were alarmed, and they condemned Hezbollah for sparking the conflict.

This was unprecedented. While it barely registered in the West, it was huge in the Middle East, so huge that some of the more paranoid Lebanese Shias started thinking that the Sunnis and the Israelis were conspiring against them.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: The Eclipsing of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Love of the Land: Israel’s deadly mistakes

Israel’s deadly mistakes

Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
20 December 09

IN 1983, ISRAELI authorities arrested Ahmed Yassin, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza. He was convicted of unlawfully stockpiling weapons and establishing paramilitary jihadist organizations, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Just two years later, however, he was set free in the now-infamous “Jibril deal’’ - the release of 1,150 security prisoners held by Israel in exchange for three Israeli soldiers held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist group headed by Ahmed Jibril. Yassin soon launched Hamas, a murderous organization committed to Israel’s liquidation. Over the years, Hamas terrorists have killed hundreds of Israelis, and maimed or wounded thousands more.

Few Israeli policies have been as counterproductive or morally questionable as the lopsided prisoner exchanges it has entered into with terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Time and again, Israel has paid for the freedom of a few POWs - sometimes just the remains of a few POWs - by releasing hundreds of violent detainees, many of them complicit in the deaths of civilians. And time and again, the newly freed terrorists have picked up where they left off.

(Continue article)
Related: A nation held hostage

Love of the Land: Israel’s deadly mistakes

Israel Matzav: Waiting for war in Lebanon

Waiting for war in Lebanon

Emile Hokayem explains why buying off Hezbullah may bring Lebanon a few months of quiet, but is really a bad idea in the long run.

The dismantlement of the international regime that guaranteed Lebanese sovereignty is now almost complete. UN resolution 1559, which demanded the disarmament of all armed groups, is now contradicted by the ministerial statement recognising Hizbollah’s right to resist. Resolution 1701, which imposed a security regime at the border with Israel, is breached daily by Israeli overflights and by massive Hizbollah resupply and positioning of weaponry in nominally UN-controlled territory. Syria, emboldened by its improving fortunes, has turned the tables on its Lebanese adversaries by sanctioning a ludicrous court case in Damascus; the former security chief Jamil al Sayyed has filed a lawsuit in connection with his detention for four years over the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Normalisation of relations between Syria and Lebanon has not progressed, but the road to Damascus is again crowded with Lebanese supplicants. The sins of some will be forgotten, others will go through purgatory, and the few who stand fast will again fear for their freedom and lives. Plainly put, this is a return to the 1990s politics of intimidation.

The rush to reconcile with Hizbollah should not be misread: it is a consequence of the Shia militia’s proven ability to intimidate and coerce. Its recent manifesto was heralded by western analysts as proof that it was embracing its Lebanese identity and discarding its revolutionary slogans; but while it is true that Hizbollah no longer calls for an Islamist state in Lebanon, it has replaced that delusion with an even grander one in which state and society serve its muqawama, or resistance.

Lebanon has bought itself a few months of respite, but the clashing agendas of Israel and Hizbollah and its patrons will soon expose the cost of Lebanese lack of perseverance and international complacency. It is a safe bet that it will be a devastating one.

In a world with no leader, what can be expected? 'Engaging' Syria has accomplished a lot, hasn't it?

Israel Matzav: Waiting for war in Lebanon

Israel Matzav: The Brookings Institution argues for war on Iran

The Brookings Institution argues for war on Iran

The Left-leaning Brookings Institution may not have intended to do so, but it has made the argument for going to war to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Brookings argues - correctly - that sanctions won't succeed.

Unfortunately, the prospect of crippling the Iranian economy is a fallacy, and a dangerous one at that. A survey of the manifold measures already in place and their track record in moderating Iranian behavior speaks to the limitations of economic pressures as a means of altering Iran's security priorities and policies. Moreover, as even the most ardent advocates will privately acknowledge, the key prerequisites for a successful sanctions-centric approach—protracted duration and broad adherence—are almost certainly unattainable in this case. As a result, despite Iran's economic liabilities and its deeply divided polity, the recent embrace of sanctions by many in Washington represents a dangerous illusion. Economic pressure may have a role to play in persuading Tehran of the utility of dialogue, but as the primary tool of U.S. policy, punitive measures will not succeed in solving U.S. concerns about the Iranian regime and its behavior. If the Obama administration is going to blunt Iran's nuclear ambitions without the use of force, negotiations remain the tool of choice.

So why do I favor sanctions? Because I look at favoring sanctions as a litmus test of being willing to stop Iran at all. Most of those who oppose sanctions also oppose military action for the most part. Those who favor 'negotiations' are really saying, "we can't stop Iran, so let's learn to live with them having the bomb." That's the most dangerous possibility of all. See the post just below this one.

Besides, if Iran is hit by sanctions before they're hit (militarily) by Israel, they may be reeling and weakened.

Israel Matzav: The Brookings Institution argues for war on Iran

Israel Matzav: Living with a nuclear Iran

Living with a nuclear Iran

With the Obama administration preparing to at least live with a nuclear Iran, former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen writes about some of the consequences of doing so:

A nuclear Iran would be emboldened in its efforts to destabilize the Middle East and export its revolutionary ideology. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iranian leaders would enjoy a sense of invincibility. This could lead to bolder interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, greater mischief in Lebanon and more aggressive support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Tehran also could incite Shia populations in the Gulf States, thus threatening the survival of moderate Arab governments.

Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would likely start a nuclear cascade across the Middle East, as nations threatened by Iran question U.S. security guarantees and seek their own deterrent capability. Within a decade, we could see the number of nuclear states grow dramatically, as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others seek nuclear weapons to protect against Iranian aggression. This would spell the end of nonproliferation. As more nations develop their own nuclear deterrent, our ability to control nuclear stockpiles and prevent the spread of nuclear materials to dangerous actors could collapse.

A nuclear Iran would itself pose an unprecedented proliferation risk. Tehran already supplies dangerous weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, and might share nuclear materials with radical extremists. The result would be a growing risk that nuclear or radiological weapons will get in the hands of terrorists, who would not hesitate to use them against the U.S., Israel and other allies.

Some insist we could deter Iran much as we deterred the Soviet Union. This is far from clear. The leaders of the USSR dreamed of establishing a global communist empire, but they were also rational pragmatists whose first priority was survival in this world. The hard-line elements in Iran include religious fanatics who speak of ushering in the end of this world by hastening the arrival of the 12th Imam. While few Iranian officials are millenarian radicals, the existence of even one is too many. For such actors, the doctrine of "mutual assured destruction" might be taken as a promise, not a threat. We could wind up in a nuclear showdown with Iran, similar to the Cuban missile crisis, without the benign outcome.

Note that he doesn't even mention an Iranian attack on Israel. He's right about that. Israel is not Iran's ultimate target.

Israel Matzav: Living with a nuclear Iran

Israel Matzav: Obama and Kerry trying to block sanctions against Iran

Obama and Kerry trying to block sanctions against Iran

Obama ally John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is joining forces with President Obama to prevent unilateral sanctions against Iran from reaching the Senate floor.

Unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran are on track, Senate officials say, but taking the slow train.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, needs time to consider the bill, his spokesman, Frederick Jones, told JTA. Jones strongly refuted rumors that Kerry would keep the legislation from reaching the floor, although that is in his power as a committee chairman.

"We're working with the administration to reach a solution that achieves the minimum all parties" want, Jones said. "There's no hold, it's not dead, it's just they're anticipating the legislative process."

That means it's extremely unlikely the Senate will rush the legislation before year's end, as had been reported earlier, especially considering other pressing matters.

The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which is opposed by the Obama administration, was passed by the House on Wednesday by a 412-12 vote.

Guess who's lining up with the Obama administration.

Still, what exists now is a situation in which many major Jewish groups -- including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Reform movement -- are pushing hard for bills that Obama and Kerry would prefer to work slowly and carefully. Only Americans for Peace Now is publicly aligned with the administration in counseling changes to the proposed sanctions.

As you may recall, J Street was opposed to sanctions altogether.

Will 78% of American Jews vote for Obama in 2012?

Israel Matzav: Obama and Kerry trying to block sanctions against Iran

Israel Matzav: Demographobia


Yoram Ettinger reports that claims of Israel's demographic demise are greatly exaggerated.

Israel's demographers have traditionally underestimated Jewish fertility, idolized Arab fertility, ignored Arab emigration and minimized the potential of Aliya (Jewish immigration). Hence, they dismissed the prospect of a massive Aliya in the aftermath of the 1948/9 War. However, one million Jews arrived. They projected no substantial Aliya, during the 1970s, from the Communist Bloc. But, almost 300,000 Jews arrived. During the 1980s they ridiculed the expectation for an Aliya wave from the USSR, even if gates might be opened. Nevertheless, one million Jews returned to the Homeland from the USSR.

In 2009, in defiance of fatalistic projections, there is a robust 67% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River, excluding Gaza. The Arab-Jewish fertility gap has shrunk from 6 births per woman in 1969 to 0.5 births in 2008 (3.4:2.9). According to the UN Population Division, the average global Muslim fertility rate has declined as a result of modernization, urbanization and family planning. For instance, Iranian fertility rate decreased to 1.7 births per woman, Egypt – 2.5 births, Jordan – 3 births, Algeria – 1.8 births. In addition, annual Arab net-emigration from Judea and Samaria has escalated since 2000 (the 2nd Intifadah) and shifted to a higher gear in 2006 (PLO-Hamas war). At the same time, the number of annual Jewish births has increased by 45% from 1995 (80,400) to 2008 (117,000), while the number of annual Arab births during the same period – in pre 1967 Israel – has stabilized at 39,000.

An 80% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel is attainable in light of the current demographic trend. It would be advanced by the implementation of a long overdue demographic policy: highlighting Aliya, returning of expatriates, establishing a Jewish National Fund to support global Jewish demography, migration from the Greater Tel Aviv area to the periphery, converging school and working hours, etc.

The upward trending Jewish demography has critical national security implications. It proves that anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River, and that the Jewish State should concede Jewish geography, in order to secure Jewish demography, is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.

Indeed. So why do so many 'demographers' insist that Israel has to amputate half the country in order to survive as a Jewish state? Go here to find out.

Israel Matzav: Demographobia

Israel Matzav: Ilan Halimi's photo used on Muslim dating site

Ilan Halimi's photo used on Muslim dating site

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

Pamela Geller reports that a picture of Ilan Halimi, a French Jew who was brutally tortured and murdered outside of Paris in 2006, was being used recently on a Muslim dating site in France.

From French: The site used a picture of Ilan Halimi - a French Jew tortured and killed by Muslims in 2006 - in its Google AdSense advertising. A British surfer discovered the picture on news sites, most notably France Soir. acknowledges the error and said the ad was immediately removed. The site sends it most sincere apologies to Ilan Halimi's family. According to, the photo was used by one of the members, and the company uses member photos in it advertisements. (hat tip KGS)
It was taken down. But what were they thinking? Why was Ilan's image used in the first place? The details of his torture and murder are beyond comprehension. Islamic jew hating barbarism. Kidnapped, tortured, murdered because he was a Jew. Is his image the icon for their Islamic anti-semitism - one of Islam's contributions to humanity?
Read the whole thing.

And if you live in France, please think about leaving.
Israel Matzav: Ilan Halimi's photo used on Muslim dating site

Love of the Land: Arab honour and the peace process

Arab honour and the peace process

Ted Belman
19 December 09

Arab honour is at the root of Arab rejectionism and intransigence. It prevents Arabs from accepting blame or compromising. It also prevents Arabs from losing land to Israel or ending the conflict.

Arab honour is closely linked to Islamic concepts of jihad and dhimmitude. Arab honour impells them to seek domination. Failure to dominate, dishonours them. Accepting responsibility is an anathema to their honour..

Muslim violence against the publication in Denmark of cartoons featuring Mohammed is a prime example of their refusal to accept the rule of law or western norms that are at odds with what their honour demands. The same goes for their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.

Prof Richard Landes covers this phenomenon in Part III of “Paradigms and the Middle East Conflict.” titled HJP: Honour Jihad paradigm

    “The HJP understands the Arab-Israeli conflict through the prism of honor-shame culture and Islamic jihad. These elements of Arab culture are the main factors that have made it impossible to reach a solution to the conflict. Arab leaders view any compromise with Israel as “losing face,” since such an agreement would mean recognizing as a “worthy foe” an inferior group that should be subject. Such a blow to Arab honor cannot be tolerated for cultural and political reasons: losing face means to feel utter humiliation, to lose public credibility, and to lose power.[..]

    “According to HSJP, the Arab-Israeli conflict is fueled by wounded Arab honor and frustrated religious imperialism.”

Denis Schulz on Honor and Islam writes

    “The less honor reposing in a person or a group, the more angry and violent the response to any challenge, real or imagined, by said person or group.”and “[..]

    ..those who have the least of it spend the most time defending it”.

The peace process, if not the existence of Israel itself, is closely tied to the necessitudes of Arab honour. The Arabs simply refuse to accept responsibility for the problem and therein lies the problem.
Using Shulz’s insight, the bigger the defeat, the greater the need to be fully vindicated.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Arab honour and the peace process

Love of the Land: Reconsidering the Suez Campaign

Reconsidering the Suez Campaign

Caroline Glick
18 December 09

It is hard to seize the initiative. The consequences of acting are frightening. It is always better to let others go first. But sometimes that is impossible. Today it is becoming clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no choice but to lead.

The stakes have never been higher. Every day we are beset by an avalanche of evidence that Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear armed state. From the secret uranium enrichment facility in Qom, to Iran's solid fuel missile test this week to the disclosure that Iran is developing a trigger device to detonate nuclear bombs, it is clear that Teheran is building a nuclear arsenal and that - at a minimum - it is determined to use it to force the nations of the Middle East to bend to its fanatical will.

Until now, as Israel faced this growing threat, it has tried to avoid leading by seeking to convince the US to act against Iran. Since US President Barack Obama took office 11 months ago, Israel's desire to convince the US to act against Iran has driven Netanyahu to take drastic steps to appease the White House.

Netanyahu has bowed to American pressure and announced his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel's heartland, even as the Palestinians themselves made clear that they reject Israel's right to exist.

He bowed to US pressure and is implementing a draconian freeze on all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, despite the fact that the Palestinians refuse to even discuss peace with Israel.

Netanyahu has allowed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to unravel national unity still further by picking fights with yeshiva heads who oppose the wholly theoretical possibility that IDF soldiers will be ordered to expel Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria in the framework of a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

As for Iran itself, the government and the IDF are loudly expressing Israel's support for US-backed sanctions, despite their sure knowledge that those proposed measures will have no significant impact on Teheran's will or capacity to build nuclear bombs.

Unfortunately, Netanyahu's appeasement efforts have not brought a US payoff. The Obama administration continues to downplay the urgency of the Iranian nuclear threat and its calls for sanctions are half-hearted and will not prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Reconsidering the Suez Campaign

Love of the Land: A nation held hostage

A nation held hostage

R. Stewart Weiss
Guest Columnist/JPost
17 December 09

Israel Television aired a documentary last week on the saga of Gilad Schalit entitled A Family Held Hostage. Yet a sequel to this tense and tortuous no-win situation in which we all find ourselves might aptly be called A Nation Held Hostage. For if our soldier is freed at the cost of unleashing hundreds of unrepentant, bloodthirsty terrorists upon our civilian population, it is the entire country which will become the victim, having capitulated to an extortion scheme unparalleled in the history of democratic nations.

Freeing the worst of the terrorists - in particular, mass-murderer Marwan Barghouti - will not only result in the invariable murder of many, many more innocents and encourage a new wave of kidnappings; it will undermine the very foundations of our society. How can we maintain faith in a system of justice that pardons the worst crimes imaginable due to blackmail by hoodlums, aided by intense pressure from the media? What message do we send our children when we take our most cherished ideals - right and wrong, the sanctity of life, reward and punishment - and turn them upside-down, dashing them upon the rock of expediency?

Is there any other civilized nation in this world which would free its worst criminals to pay a ransom? Would America let Charles Manson out of jail in response to one of his crazed followers kidnapping someone else? Would Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin be set free? What about Carlos the Jackal, or Yigal Amir, for that matter? I'm only thankful that this government was not around when Adolf Eichmann was put on trial; they might have freed him, too, if some neo-Nazis had succeeded in abducting a soldier. Perverting the course of justice returns us to the law of the jungle, where victims' next-of-kin will have to exact the punishment which society should have carried out.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: A nation held hostage

Love of the Land: What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
18 December 09

There’s a new trend worth noting in the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority (PA): a sense of satisfaction. While the Western media generally reflect the rather false-front public relations’ campaign waged by the PA—bitter, frustrated, victimized, and eager for peace—that’s not what’s really going on right now.

Mahmoud Abbas’s government has to weather some difficult politicking along the following lines:

--He has extended his own term in office indefinitely and cancelled January 2010 elections without receiving much criticism from within the PA. After all, Hamas won’t let any balloting happen in the Gaza Strip and who knows which side might win a fair vote?

--The PA has been rounding up Hamas activists and keeping security on the West Bank while—with a lot of help and some pressure from Israel—preventing cross-border attacks.

--The economy is doing well with relative prosperity on the West Bank, though this could collapse in hours if the PA let’s violence reappear.

--Abbas has contained intensive criticism from his colleagues about his being too “soft” in his dealings with President Barack Obama.

--He has worked out a way to refuse negotiations while blaming it on Israel.

--No matter what the PA does international media coverage, support from Europe, and a lack of criticism from the U.S. government seems assured.

There are plenty of things to be pleased about even though the peace process is dead, there’s no realistic prospect of a state, and Hamas looks set to govern the Gaza Strip forever.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

Chester Chronicles - Al Qaeda Tells Women to Be Suicide Bombers

Chester Chronicles - Al Qaeda Tells Women to Be Suicide Bombers

RubinReports: The Madness and Lessons of the Copenhagen Summit

The Madness and Lessons of the Copenhagen Summit

By Barry Rubin

Does man-made global warming exist? There’s still room for debate, but that’s not what’s most important.

Is man-made global warming a leading problem facing humanity? Maybe, but a still higher level of proof is needed. That’s more important but not what's most important.

Is man-made global warming so obviously proven, so quickly increasing, so realistically solvable, and such an imminent threat that hundreds of billions of dollars should be spent to deal with it; the economies of all industrial countries should be reorganized completely; Western living standards pushed down; and Third World countries turned into welfare cases rather than helped and urged to develop, postponing even further their people’s hopes for a better life? Now that’s what is most important of all.

There is a disturbing hysteria over this issue in which people are intimidated and the most basic principles of science—that questions should remain subject to debate—are violated by both sides. Again, though, here’s the missing link that goes beyond the highly partisan, somewhat hysterical debate:

The truly critical issue is not just whether man-made global warming exists but whether this is such an imminent threat to human existence that absolutely nothing –no amount of money, no change of life style, no other threat--should stand in the way of making this the globe’s main priority and going to any lengths to combat it. Assuming it can be stopped.

It seems that a lot of scientists who believe that climate change is real also view this as a longer-term development, not something about to end the world as we know it. It is one thing to ridicule people who deny the existence of climate change but quite another to demonize those who ask if every other problem should be shoved aside, vast amounts of resources should be spent on this rather than to battle other scourges plaguing humanity, and still more obstacles should be added to the efforts of the world’s worst off people to have better lives.

There is tremendous irony here. If all the world’s states want to come together and do something drastic, tighten their belts and open their wallets, wouldn’t it be better to focus on poverty, hunger, disease, and improved education? The hidden factor, of course, is that the developed world’s leaders and elites have become convinced that their own survival is at stake. Thus, self-interest is disguised as noble altruism.

Yet isn’t this a new form of imperialism in which smug rich people congratulate themselves as wonderfully virtuous by telling poorer countries they cannot develop because it’s bad for the planet? Or perhaps, to salve their consciendes, they will also pass out billions of dollars which dictators will put in their Swiss bank accounts.

To put it bluntly, after decades of failing to be moved by ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-schooled children, the West has been galvanized into action by concern over polar bears.

Once again—because there are many who will deliberately misunderstand and distort the argument being presented here--people can certainly argue that man-made global warming is real based on specific evidence. But how rational is it to say that unless the world is drastically changed as fast as possible and no matter what the cost that horrible disaster is going to ensue? This should be the real debate which brings together people whose views on the scientific issue may be the exact opposite to react in horror at these policy decisions.

Meanwhile, the Copenhagen summit is another landmark in the failure of the Obama conception of international affairs. We are now told that a great victory has been achieved: key countries say they will try to keep emissions below a certain level. Wow! And in a number of years we'll be able to say they failed unless, of course, a massive recession cripples their industry, wipes out jobs, and lowers living standards, in which case we can cheer because people may be starving but at least carbon dioxide emissions are lower than they might be.

This is pure speculation but worth considering: might not the outcome be that the U.S. government adheres to its promise at incredible cost while the other countries don't try very hard to keep to their quota? Might this mean that American costs of production go up even higher making U.S. products even less competitive in terms of price with those of other countries, meaning fewer jobs, less income, more inflation, and more foreign debt?

But didn't Obama in his speech stick to his plan? Yes, that's precisely the point.

By stoking up a situation that got so far out of hand--the hysterical plugging of the issue, raising expectations, signalling weakness, worshipping consensus, apologies, and all that--to the point that he had to pull back or go over a cliff, Obama intensified the level of conflict unnecessarily and looked very foolish. Indeed, he may have destroyed his much-vaunted popularity without making any gain in return.

In the most telling Freudian slip or example of Bushian fumblemouth of his presidency, Obama said that he was "on the precipice" of achieving health care reform. A "precipice" is defined by the dictionary as "a very steep or overhanging place::" or "a hazardous situation." The same applies to government spending, Iran's nuclear weapons' drive, and climate change. First, you are on the edge of the precipice; then you "achieve" falling a long way to be smashed by the rocks below.

Here's a short list of the fallen pillars of the Obama world view:

--The importance of popularity: Both Obama himself and his supporters regularly list his international popularity as the administration’s greatest achievement. But aside from the fact that this factor has little or no material benefit, it is also something that evaporates overnight. In a sense, popularity is a bad thing in international affairs because it indicates one is giving a great deal and getting relatively little in return. The moment the United States asks others to do something that love is all gone. Plus the fact that such things wear off with familiarity.

It is like the effervescent popularity of a child who gives away all his toys and expects to gain the permanent gratitude of the other kids. More likely, of course, they won’t come back and express their love but rather will demand more and be quite angry if they don’t get it.

--Rejecting leadership for consensus: In the 1960s, utopian concepts led people to say that meetings should have no organization, groups no discipline. Of course, it quickly became apparent that anarchy was the most common result. By shedding leadership, the Obama Administration won some quick popularity but there is a high price to be paid as bickering erupts and nothing actually gets done. The Copenhagen summit mess seems to offer a case study in this phenomenon. Other examples abound during the first year of the Obama presidency.

And so other countries can say to Obama: You want to know what we think? We think it's all your fault. Listen to us and do what we say or we'll hate you, criticize you, and perhaps attack you.
--Weakness and apology: The Copenhagen meeting has brought a barrage of insults leveled at Obama and the United States. Now, after showing so much humility, the United States gets to be insulted by Eritrea and Zimbabwe, Iran and Syria, Colombia, and lots of other countries.

If you act in a weak manner, announce you will not take tough measures, and apologize for having done so in the past, you are setting yourself up for being pushed around. Iran is acting like a schoolyard bully, kicking dirt in the face of a passive America government that accepts all insults with no reaction except repetitive statements which amount to frowns. Iran has violated promises, changed the terms of agreements, announced it secretly built a major nuclear facility, proclaimed it is going to build more (sources with access to non-public information tell me this has already happened), launch long-range missiles, thrown out a steady barrage of insults, stolen an election, repressed all opposition, and more. Never before in its history has an American government so proudly embraced being a pitiful, helpless giant. If the U.S. government doesn’t respect America how can it expect others to do so?

America has sinned by being rich and its intellectuals say the money has been stolen rather than gained through the ingenuity of capitalists, the innovations of scientists, the hard labor of workers, the risk-taking of small businesses, and the benefits of its economic and political system? Ok, so pay it all back and lots more. No matter how much you hand over you aren't doing them a favor since you've told them that they are entitled to receive it.

--The discounting of conflict: Rather than being due to misunderstandings, past American sins, or the personality of George W. Bush, conflict is structural and endemic. People and other countries do resent the United States because it is rich and powerful, rather than merely because Bush is president. Not everyone thinks alike; not everyone wants the same thing. Yes, millions of people throughout the Muslim-majority world want to live under radical Islamist dictatorships (at least until, as in Iran, they’ve actually experienced such regimes for a while). Nationalism is a powerful phenomenon in most of the world even though it has ceased to be so in much of the West. Ideologies, dreams of power, and revenge seethe in many places. Dictators and demagogues promote hatred; pocket the money; bring economies to stagnation; and blame the West.

Regarding climate change, a lot of countries want free money and no matter how much they get they'll want more. Obama has unleashed the self-proclaimed victims to pick America's pockets and they won't stop doing so just because he hands over a big roll of bills as a start.

--Who is at fault?: The main reason why poverty and oppression exists in so many parts of the world is not due to Western evil imperialism but to local political culture, lack of democracy, anti-pragmatic ideas, and dictatorships. Until this is thoroughly understood and beneficial change takes place within other societies, their situations won’t improve. What happened with all the massive financial aid provided over past decades?

Naturally, many would deny all of the above. But guess what? As long as they do so their actions will continue to fail visibly.

Not only all Americans should want their government and president to succeed, there are scores of countries full of people desperately hoping this will happen. Indeed. their survival depends on it. But Obama won’t succeed unless he changes his policies. He won’t change his policies unless he changes his thinking. And he won’t change his thinking unless he perceives the failure of his current actions and hears massive criticism. The last item on that list is our responsibility.

RubinReports: The Madness and Lessons of the Copenhagen Summit
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