Sunday, 7 March 2010

Love of the Land: Shabbaton in Ariel

Shabbaton in Ariel

Pesky Settler
In the Middle.On the Right
03 March '10

Looking for that perfect place? Trying to find the best fit for you and your family?

Young, central, and affordable, these have made Ariel a very attractive city for those in search of a place they can call home.

Ariel is a city with stunning views and a great climate located in the center of Israel- half an hour from Tel Aviv and 20 minutes from a large Hi Tech area. With a population of 20,000 and a large university with over 11,000 students, Ariel is a microcosm of Israel with religious and secular, young and old, Israelis and immigrants. It is a model of Israeli society all embedded in a warm and welcoming English speaking and Israeli community.

If you are looking for the right place for your family- Ariel is the city to consider!

In a good location and with a wonderful community it can become your home in Israel.

To fully experience Ariel come join us for Shabbat on April 23 and 24th.


For more information and to RSVP:

(Please help spread the word and let folks know about this in your own blog... thanks!)

Love of the Land: Shabbaton in Ariel

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian' terrorist vows to continue to fight Israel if released from prison

'Palestinian' terrorist vows to continue to fight Israel if released from prison

'Palestinian' bombmaker Abdullah Barghouti, whose name comes up consistently on the short list of terrorists Israel will not release in exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, accused Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday of holding up the 'terrorists for Gilad' exchange. Barghouti also vowed that he would continue to fight against Israel if released.

Israel brought Barghouti to court to ask to extend the conditions of his solitary confinement.

Upon arrival, he confidently told reporters, “If there is a deal, I would be set free along with Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat.” Marwan Barghouti and Sa’adat are other ‘high-value’ prisoners convicted of multiple counts of murder.

Barghouti also said, “After my release, I will continue to fight for Palestine, so long as the occupation continues.”

Asked whether Schalit was properly treated by his captors in the Gaza Strip, he said, “As far as I know he is fine. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps. We don't harm our prisoners.”

Responding to a question about Schalit's right to stand trial, Barghouti said, “When we have a state we will also be able to conduct proper trials.”

“The will to fight has nothing to do with Jews themselves, it is only because the Jews conquered our land,” Barghouti continued.

The Shalit family, which is finally starting to understand that the government has done everything it can short of handing over 1000 Israelis to be murdered on the spot (God forbid) in return for Gilad's release, lashed out at Barghouti.

"Hamas and its leaders continue to behave cynically towards their people and they have still not given an answer to the Israeli proposal passed on to the German negotiator three months ago," the family said.


In response to Barghouti's remarks, the Shalit family said: "We are sorry that a Hamas prisoner gets the right to speak to the media when Gilad can't even see the light of day and has no connection to the outside world."

The family also said that Israel's blockade of Gaza, which it said was created by Hamas, hurt only the residents of the coastal territory who had nothing to do with their son or the prisoner swap.

"We are sorry that a Hamas prisoner gets the right to speak to the media when Gilad can't even see the light of day and has no connection to the outside world," the family added.

Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences after being convicted in 2003 of planning terror attacks in which 66 Israelis were murdered and hundreds hurt, including the attack on a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.

Barghouti deserves a slow, painful death. Nothing else.

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian' terrorist vows to continue to fight Israel if released from prison

Love of the Land: Revelation at Harvard: Who Wrote Obama's Cairo Speech?

Revelation at Harvard: Who Wrote Obama's Cairo Speech?

"I Cannot Tell a Lie - I Wrote it."

05 March '10

For nearly ten months questions have swirled around the country about the identity of the speechwriter responsible for Obama's controversial address to the Muslim and Arab world delivered at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. In attendance was the Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi of that other great seat of learning and tolerance, Al Azhar (co-sponsor of the speech); the Sheikh has stated that there are "good Jews and bad Jews": "The good ones convert to Islam...the bad ones do not." Dr. Andrew Bostom excerpts some of Sheikh Tantawi's interfaith gems in his groundbreaking work, "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism."

The much ballyhooed speech, originally scheduled for Morocco, was changed to Cairo to have the greatest impact in "correcting" the perceived Muslim hostility to the U.S.engendered by George.W. Bush. The Wall St. Journal and Politico guessed it was the product of Ben Rhodes, Obama's only foreign policy speechwriter (and erstwhile novelist: "The Oasis of Love") who traveled with him for his first major European speech, often dubbed the "Blame America First" speech.

Well, speculate no more. The writer wasn't Ben Rhodes or Chris Brose, former foreign policy speechwriter for Condoleeza Rice. If we can believe him - and there is no reason to doubt his word - it was Stephen P. Cohen. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called Cohen a week before the trip and asked him to prepare a first draft for the speech, "A New Beginning."

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Revelation at Harvard: Who Wrote Obama's Cairo Speech?

Israel Matzav: 'Al-Aqsa Mosque, Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb were not and will never be Jewish sites but Islamic sites' says....

'Al-Aqsa Mosque, Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb were not and will never be Jewish sites but Islamic sites' says....

Now, how many of you read that quote and - without looking at the picture - thought it would be Mahmoud Abbas or Ismail Haniyeh or some other 'Palestinian' nobody. Nope. That quote came from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday continued his assault on Israel, according to Saudi paper Al Wattan, which quoted him as saying that that al Aksa Mosque, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”

Speaking to Palestinian journalists, Erdogan reportedly said "Palestine [was] always at the top of Turkey’s priorities." He expressed his support for the renewal of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Donning a cloak of pan-Islamic identity, Erdogan told Al Wattan that he “loves my brothers in Fatah and my brothers in Hamas to the same degree, because they are my Muslim brothers and I cannot distinguish between them.”

Erdogan’s sticking of his nose in the recent Palestinian rancor over Israel’s declaration that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb will be part of a list of sites slated for preservation is the latest in a seemingly calculated series of moves based on Turkey’s reassessment of a power-shift occurring in the Middle East. It was not clear why he mentioned the mosque, as Israel never declared it part of the list.

The significance of Israel’s decision in itself is more symbolic than real, as it would mean little change on the ground.

Can we please announce that Turkey has no role to play between Israel and any of its Arab interlocutors? This guy is competing with Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad to see who can be the most inflammatory.

Israel Matzav: 'Al-Aqsa Mosque, Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb were not and will never be Jewish sites but Islamic sites' says....

The Language of the Jews

The Language of the Jews

If you've ever studied the stories of the Jews you'll know a source of Jewish cohesiveness was their cross-border language: a Jew from Baghdad and a Jew from Marakesh both prayed in Hebrew and spoke Aramaic, and this facilitated commerce. Later, the Jew from Trier and the Jew from Krakow and the Jew from Tiberius, they all prayed in Hebrew, knew enough Aramaic to navigate the Talmud, and spoke Yiddish, and this, too, facilitated commerce. Still later, much later, Soviet officers liberating Nazi camps identified themselves to emaciated survivors with code words in Yiddish, though the Aramiac and Hebrew had mostly been lost in the turmoil of emancipation then Bolshevism. (The main problem the early Zionists had with the non-European Jews was that they didn't speak Yiddish).

One morning in the summer of 1981 I saw the end of this world. I was studying in Vienna at the time, and three young students from Belgium suddenly appeared at our shul for the morning service. The rabbi, an elderly man from Israel, greeted the new comers in the time-honored tradition, asking them in Yiddish where they were from and if they needed anything. They looked discomfited, and responded in Hebrew.

That was thirty years ago. The elderly rabbi has long-since passed on, as has his generation and the remnants of his world; the students of that morning are middle-aged men. Earlier today I called the Chabad (Lubavitch) house in an Italian town where I'll be spending next weekend, to ask about some arrangements. The fellow who picked up the phone spoke perfect Hebrew, the obvious language for Jews of different lands to communicate in.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Target rich environment

Target rich environment

Anyone want to take a shot? There are certainly enough American troops there.

Israel Matzav: Target rich environment

Israel Matzav: Report: US cozying up to 'Palestinians,' but not taking 'proximity talks' seriously

Report: US cozying up to 'Palestinians,' but not taking 'proximity talks' seriously

A confidential foreign ministry report that 'somehow' was leaked to Haaretz (I'd bet on a Livni holdover in the foreign ministry) suggests that while the United States is not going to devote a lot of effort to the 'proximity talks,' which are scheduled to last for four months, the Obama administration is espousing views that are closer to the 'Palestinian' position on the issues.

The U.S. administration will not put a lot of effort into the upcoming indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, opting instead to focus on the November Congressional elections, according to an internal Foreign Ministry report that was distributed to Israeli diplomatic missions abroad.

The classified report claims that in the preparatory discussions for the Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks the Obama administration adopted positions that are closer to Palestinian demands.

"The recent American statements point to the adoption of wording in line, even if partially and cautiously, with Palestinian demands in regard to the framework and structure of negotiations," the report stated. "Still, the [U.S.] administration is making sure to avoid commenting on its position on core issues."


The report released recently by the Foreign Ministry's center for political research, which focuses on strategic foreign policy, is less optimistic about the chances for progress in the next round of peace talks. The document was delivered to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and to Israeli diplomatic missions abroad several days ago.

According to the report Washington is aware of the domestic political problems faced separately by both Netanyahu and Abbas and has decided to concentrate on achieving the limited goal of restarting the negotiations. The peace talks will not be at the top of the Obama administration's agenda, the report claims.


According to the report, Washington can be expected to portray the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian talks as a domestic and international achievement, in the hope of creating an atmosphere that is conducive to direct negotiations between the parties on the core issues.

The authors of the report also predict that the administration will avoid taking any position that suggests disagreement with Israel, because of the support that Israel enjoys among both parties in Congress.

Here's the problem: If Obama and the Democrats are resoundingly defeated in the midterm elections - which I expect to happen - there are two possibilities. Either Obama retrenches as Clinton did in 1994 and turns himself into a centrist, or Obama decides that if he can only be a one-term President, he may as well go for broke and forget about worrying about offending Israel's congressional supporters. I'd bet on the second scenario being a lot more likely than the first.

While Obama will be subject to a lot of restraints from Congress on domestic policy in the second scenario, there is very little Congress can do to prevent Obama from doing things like convening an Annapolis-type conference and trying to shove a 'settlement' down Israel's throat. A 'Palestinian state' would be a wonderful legacy for Obama, especially if (as is likely) creating one results in a second Nobel Peace Prize that could be used to fund his Presidential library and post-Presidential activities.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Report: US cozying up to 'Palestinians,' but not taking 'proximity talks' seriously

Love of the Land: Irish eyes not smiling on Israel

Irish eyes not smiling on Israel

Soccer Dad
07 March '10

Micheal Martin the Irish foreign minister writes of his recent visit to Gaza in Gaza a year later:

What I witnessed in Gaza, amidst all the rubble and devastation still so evident from last year's conflict, was a population traumatized and reduced to poverty by an unjust and completely counterproductive blockade. All that is being achieved through the imposition of the blockade is to enrich Hamas and marginalize even further the voices of moderation.
I view the current conditions prevailing for the ordinary population as inhumane and utterly unacceptable, in terms of accepted international standards of human rights.

Of course, as a guest of Hamas and someone who clearly wanted to see the worst he only saw what his hosts wanted him to see.

A couple of weeks ago Omri showed the effects of the blockade on Gaza. Like Judge Goldstone, Mr. Martin had no interest in seeing the bigger picture and was only interested in convicting Israel.

There is a blockade of Gaza, in order to prevent Hamas from rebuilding its offensive capabilities. It may not have worked, but it was a legitimate effort to prevent a terrorist organization from regaining its capacity to cause terror.

And here's the summary of the latest week's summary of humanitarian aid Israel allowed into Gaza (apart from what's smuggled in via the tunnels).

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Irish eyes not smiling on Israel

Love of the Land: Purim Recollections: The Real Heroes of Sderot

Purim Recollections: The Real Heroes of Sderot

Anav Silverman
Sderot Media Center
04 March '10

“The next Megillah reading will be at 6:30 pm sharp,” said a voice on the intercom.

I was at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. It was the eve of Purim and I had just arrived to the station from Ashkelon. The rain was pouring outside and I knew there was no way I would make it in time to the Megilah reading at the synagogue I usually attend near my home.

So I decided I would stay for the reading at the station, thinking to myself-not my ideal location but still--what other bus station in the world would offer unique opportunity on Purim?

I found the synagogue on the third floor which was quickly becoming full of people. Chabadniks, Breslavim, Haredim, Israeli soldiers, women in pants and men in payot. Religious, secular and traditional Jews were all gathering together to hear the story of our Jewish heroes from two thousand years ago.

Five minutes left before Megillah reading and not enough Megillahs to go around.

I looked around me. We were all strangers but there was that familiar feeling of family in the air. We were all here, all united in one purpose-- to recall our story of national survival and strength over two thousand years ago.

It’s an ongoing story for our people and in Israel today the situation is no different.

I had come back to Jerusalem after spending the day in Sderot where I work for Sderot Media Center, a social media organization dedicated to bringing the voices of Sderot residents to the attention of the global community. As a media center, we have made many acquaintances and friends in the Sderot community, all of whom share survival stories from rocket attacks.

(Read full story)

Love of the Land: Purim Recollections: The Real Heroes of Sderot

Israel Matzav: Co-Director of Israeli Oscar nominee: I don't represent Israel

Co-Director of Israeli Oscar nominee: I don't represent Israel

There's an Israeli movie that's up for an Oscar on Sunday night as Best International Film. The movie is called Ajami and it's about life in Jaffa, the mixed Arab - Jewish (but mostly Arab) part of Tel Aviv. It was co-directed by an 'Israeli Arab' and an Israeli Jew. To listen to the media here, we're all 'holding our fingers' (which is how they say 'keeping our fingers crossed' in Hebrew) hoping Ajami will win. Yes, those were the exact words they used on the 5:00 am news magazine Sunday morning.

But if the movie wins the Oscar, the victory is likely to be Pyrrhic for Israelis. On Saturday night, Scandar Copti, the 'Israeli Arab' co-director, was interviewed on Israel's Channel 2, and gave his Leftist benefactors (who unfortunately managed to force the Israeli taxpayer to pay for this film) a resounding slap across the face.

While many Israelis have pointed with pride to the nomination of Ajami, a movie about life in Jaffa, for an Academy Award as one of the year's best international films, the movie's co-director, Scandar Copti, says that he does not represent Israel. In an interview with Channel Two Saturday night Copti said that technically, the movie was Israeli, “because the money to pay for it came from Israel, but it is not an Israeli movie and does not represent Israel. I do not represent a country that does not represent me,” he said.

JPost adds:

Speaking to Channel 2, Copti said, “I am not the Israeli national team and I do not represent Israel,” adding that the representation issue is a “technical thing, that’s how it works in the Oscars. It says ‘Israel’ because the funding comes from Israel. There’s a Palestinian director, an Israeli director, Palestinian actors and Israeli actors. The film technically represents Israel, but I don’t represent Israel.”

Copti’s co-director, Shani, did not agree.

“It’s an Israeli film, it represents Israel, it speaks ‘Israeli’ and deals with Israel-related problems. The question of representation deals with matters of perspective and political issues we need to resolve,” Shani, who was interviewed alongside Copti, said.

Copti and Shani were interviewed only a day after a demonstration took place in Jaffa, Ajami’s setting. Demonstrators took to the streets in protest of what they call police violence against the town’s residents.

Tony and Jiras Copti, brothers of the director, were arrested in Jaffa in February. After the arrest, they claimed police used excessive force against them.

As you might imagine, Copti's comments evoked a lot of righteous indignation.

Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz on Sunday called on Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat to conduct an investigation into how the state ended up funding the movie Ajami, in the wake of comments made Saturday by Ajami co-producer Scandar Copti, who said that he does is not representing Israel at Sunday night's Academy Awards presentations, because “Israel does not represent me.” Ajami is up for the award as best foreign film.

Copti, he said, “produced a movie using Israeli money, but is likely to wrap himself in a Hamas flag if he wins. Ajami's winning of an Oscar is likely to be Pyrrhic victory for Israel,” Hershkowitz said.

JPost adds:

Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat said, “It is because of Israeli funding, which Copti now tries to renounce, that the film Ajami was produced and is now nominated for an Oscar.”

“Without state support, Copti would not be walking the red carpet tonight. In the name of artistic license and pluralism, the movie was given a budget of more than NIS 2 million. It is sad that a director supported by the state ignores those who helped him create and express himself. Happily, the rest of the movie’s team see themselves as part of the State of Israel and are proud to represent it in the Oscars as ambassadors of liberated cultural expression,” Livnat added.


A furious National Union MK Michael Ben Ari suggested that Israel change the Cinema Law, which serves as the guidebook to fund Israeli films.

“Support for a film should not be granted unless the editors, producers, directors and actors sign a declaration of loyalty to the State of Israel, its symbols and its Jewish-democratic values,” he said.

I would suggest that Ben Ari check the films' content before he checks the people making it; I'm more concerned that we not fund films with a message like Jenin, Jenin's (which falsely accused IDF soldiers of perpetrating a massacre) than I am about a director who will get his five minutes in the spotlight to wrap himself in a Hamas flag on international television. But perhaps that's beside the point.

This film was probably funded before Livnat and the current government ever took office. There's a history in this country that whenever the Left is in power, we support cultural endeavors that are anti-Israel. For example, in 2000, Israel disowned its Eurovision entry because the singers waved Syrian flags as part of their performance. It's that history that needs to be confronted.

The problem in Israel is that we fail to distinguish between allowing free expression and funding it. Perhaps this movie should never have been funded. Not having seen it, I cannot say that with certainty. But the government was certainly under no obligation to fund artistic works by people who are disloyal to the State. The problem is that lesson will be quickly forgotten when and if the Left gains power again. Ben Ari should worry what happens the next time the Left is in power - not about what Livnat might fund.

Israel Matzav: Co-Director of Israeli Oscar nominee: I don't represent Israel

RubinReports: How to Make Defeatism Look Good: Let’s Give Up and Cheer the Islamists

How to Make Defeatism Look Good: Let’s Give Up and Cheer the Islamists

By Barry Rubin

I’m not going to bash or rant about a Newsweek article about Turkey by Owen Matthews—shocking and dangerous as it is--but rather talk about what is wrong and inaccurate about it. That article is part of a new wave of defeatism sweeping the West, though it still remains subordinate to the more ostensibly attractive idea that there is no real conflict or at least one easy to fix by Western concessions.

Here’s the title: “The Army Is Beaten: Why the U.S. should hail the Islamists.” Yes, we should thank the Islamists for taking over Turkey. But wait a minute! The ruling AK party says it isn’t Islamist. Indeed, I have been viciously attacked by them in the Turkish media for saying so. Up until now the line--including that from the regime itself--has been that we shouldn’t be afraid of them because they are really just democrats. But now some are willing to face the truth and still sugarcoat it.

Matthews writes:

“The political logic should be simple. The arrest of a shadowy group of generals for allegedly plotting a bloody coup should be a victory for justice. The end of military meddling in politics should be a victory for democracy. And greater democracy should make a country more liberal and more pro-European.”

Each of these sentences makes a false assumption and must be examined a bit.

Sentence one: Arresting military officers is only a victory for justice if they are guilty. Why does the author assume they are guilty? In fact, the claims are ludicrous. That a group of officers created a 5000 page plan for a coup that involved attacking mosques and massive attacks on civilians. It is one of a series of such accusations for which no real evidence has been presented, in which a widely disparate group of people have been arrested as alleged conspirators when their sole connection is that they are critics of the government.

This is ridiculously gullible. It’s like the famous sentence by a newsweekly magazine that even if the Hitler diaries were forgeries (they were) that would tell us a great deal about the history of the time. If in fact the arrests were trumped-up to tame the army so that the current regime can impose a dictatorship in practice it was not a victory for justice but for injustice. Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamists in general lie a lot (and a lot more than democratic government) so why should they be taken at their word, especially when any serious examination of evidence shows the truth.

Sentence two: Of course, in general, keeping the army out of politics is a victory for democracy, but that ignores the specific history of Turkey. The army has viewed itself and been accepted there as the guardian of democracy. This history is certainly imperfect but when the country has been sliding into anarchy in the past or fallen into the hand of those who threatened to destroy the republic, the army has stepped in briefly, gotten civilians to reorganize things on a stable basis, and quickly gone back into the barracks.

The Turkish army is not like those of the Third World which hunger for power, destroy democracy, and unleash corrupt and repressive regimes.

Sentence three: If indeed—as is the case—the regime is systematically cracking down on the free media and imposing its control over all the institutions. This is not leading to greater but to less democracy. There should be a lot more reporting on what's happening within the country instead of just repeating the regime's claims.

Indeed, the author states:

“And with the last major obstacle to the ruling AK Party's power gone, Turkey's conservative prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be free to implement his vision of a more Islamic Turkey. More democracy, then, doesn't necessarily lead to more liberalism, either.”

The assumption here is that this is what the Turkish people want. Yet it should be noted there are some big problems for that claim. Turkey’s electoral system is so weighted that the AK has received near-monopoly control on the basis of a vote that in most parliamentary democracies would have produced a coalition government.

Moreover, many or most Turks who voted for the AK weren’t doing so because they wanted Islamism—as public opinion surveys clearly show--but because they thought (mistakenly, even according to this author) that it was a mildly conservative party.

And finally, the AK is seizing control over institutions so as to be sure that it will never lose another election. It is destroying Turkish democracy, a point made rather obvious by a long list of such actions over non-military institutions like the civil service, courts, and media. The author—and many others—are simply taking the regime’s word for it and ignoring what the government is actually doing.

The author concludes by saying: “It's also clear that Turkey under the AK Party will remain a Western ally, and NATO will remain Ankara's most important strategic partner.”

Then, this unusually candid if wrong author explains:

“How do we know? The AK Party says so, and it has no real options. There's no rival alliance, not with Iran, the Arab world, or Russia, which could possibly rival the clout Turkey has, with the second-largest Army in NATO.”

Of course, Turkey has options. And here is the option the regime has chosen: To keep as much as possible the Western alliances while the content of its policy favors radical Islamist forces.

Incidentally, this "no option" argument is the root of a huge amount of confusion in the Middle East. Supposedly, Iran has "no option" but to become moderate; Syria has "no option" but to dump Iran; the Palestinian Authority has "no option" but to make peace. Yet over and over again the local forces find an option that they are quite happy to pursue other than the one laid out for them by Western observers. They have their own view of the world, ideology, and goals (often the goal of the regime being to amass wealth and stay in power).

And one of the key factors in this process is that--rightly or wrongly--they think they are winning so why should they change course or make compromises? And certain other ideas are calculated into their list of options: soon Iran has nuclear weapons. And the divine being is on their side. And the West is weak, stupid, cowardly, and easily fooled.

Turkey is one of the main places they think they are winning.

Now of course, the Turkish government doesn’t have to say: America stinks and we’re pulling out of NATO. It can keep the benefits of these relationships, having their cake and eating it, too. But in practice Turkey is moving closer to Iran and Syria, with the leaders of both of these two countries openly pointing out that fact. The question is what does it mean for Turkey to be a Western ally in a practical sense? If it supports Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas, just how does Ankara function as a Western ally? It’s meaningless.

So, the article concludes, “The world would be wise to side with the AK Party, not seek a return of the discredited generals.” I’m not sure why the generals are supposed to be discredited by ludicrous accusations orchestrated by an anti-American (in practice) government which needs to destroy them. Rather, it is the current regime in Turkey that should be discredited.

Still, it’s a pretty neat trick when a regime repressing Turkish democracy and increasingly siding with the enemies of the West can convince people in the West that this is a good thing.

As the theme song to the television show “MASH” put it:

“The game of life is hard to play,
I'm going to lose it anyway,
The losin' card I'll someday lay;
So this is all I have to say...

“That suicide is painless…
And I can take or leave it if I please.”

The Western world should reject playing that particular card as its strategy.

RubinReports: How to Make Defeatism Look Good: Let’s Give Up and Cheer the Islamists

Elder of Ziyon: Disco Dubai open thread

Elder of Ziyon: Disco Dubai open thread

Israel Matzav: An Arab-American tells the US to forget the 'Palestinians'

An Arab-American tells the US to forget the 'Palestinians'

This link is actually two articles, with the top one being a response to the bottom one. The top one is written by Youssef Ibrahim, an Arab American. The bottom one is written by Israeli Leftist Uri Avnery. For the most part, Ibrahim is spot-on.

Speaking as an Arab-American and more important, as a taxpayer in these USA, I do not want any more of my money wasted playing peace maker in the Mideast. The USA accomplished peace between two Arab countries and Israel. To help keep that peace, the USA agreed to pay a ''bribe'' -- or financial aid to Israel, Egypt and Jordan which so far added up to more than $ 150 billion since 1979 : $ 3 billion (with a B) to Israel per year; $ 2 billion (with a B) to Egypt per year since 1979 ; and more than $ 200 million (with an m) per year to Jordan.

And what did the USA get in return? Read and watch the Arab media.

Everyday, Al Jazeera, Al Ahram, the Jordanian papers and the UAE Television daily, Moroccon news, Algerian news agencies , all , call the USA the ''enemy of Islam'' , the '' imperialist neo-colonial superpower'' , a ''nation of infidels’’.

Americans Christians and Jews are regularly referred to -- in every Muslim mosque every Friday-- as as ‘’sons of pigs and monkeys’’ .

Save for Israel the rest of the Middle East is of no strategic value today to the USA. This id 2010 not the 1950s. In fact, we can strategically state that if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved for another 100 years, nothing at all will happen. Nothing at all expect a few more wars that do not affect US interests at all.

As for those Arabs -- and Europeans -- who so hate Jews and want Israeli wiped off the map, why don't they do it, if they can?

We will be glad to watch who wins the nexty wars as we watched in 1956 , in 1967 and in 1973 in which Arabs lost more and more lands. If some folks think Israel was beaten by Hizbollah in 2006 , why do they not fact check that the Lebanese who did not think they won anything and watch their country being destroyed.

And if the Palestinians of Gaza think they humiliated Israel in the last invasion, why does Hamas not attack Israel again with rockets? They have been rather quiet ever since. Arab people should stop fooling themselves.

Israel is here to stay. The West , even the Europeans, will not allow any combination of Arabs or Iranians to cross a red line.

The Palestinians will continue to try and drag more Arabs into loosing war after war as they did with Egypt and Jordan, but in the meanwhile the only piece of land they will have left to negotiate an independent state is shrinking by the week. In the end, when Palestinians are ready to say yes, maybe in a hundred years, they may only be negotiating on a small national park outside the mayor's home in Ramallah , the place where their current leader Abu Mazen lives. Uri, my friend, If the dispute has waited all that time -- 2000 year plus-- I do not see why we are in hurry. Your grandson can still write about it in 100 years. Relax.

Israel Matzav: An Arab-American tells the US to forget the 'Palestinians'

Israel Matzav: US fails to enforce its existing Iran sanctions

US fails to enforce its existing Iran sanctions

Here's more evidence that even if 'crippling sanctions' against Iran are adopted (which appears unlikely), they won't be enforced by the United States, let alone by anyone else. The New York Times reports in Sunday's editions that over the past decade, the United States federal government has awarded over $107 billion in contracts to companies that do business in Iran. Two thirds of that amount went to companies in Iran's sensitive energy sector, and some $15 billion went to companies that were clearly in violation of existing US sanctions. Among other things, existing US sanctions are supposed to punish foreign companies that invest $20 million or more per year in developing Iran's oil and gas fields. It didn't happen under President Bush and it isn't happening under President Obama.

More than two-thirds of the government money went to companies doing business in Iran’s energy industry — a huge source of revenue for the Iranian government and a stronghold of the increasingly powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a primary focus of the Obama administration’s proposed sanctions because it oversees Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Other companies are involved in auto manufacturing and distribution, another important sector of the Iranian economy with links to the Revolutionary Guards. One supplied container ship motors to IRISL, a government-owned shipping line that was subsequently blacklisted by the United States for concealing military cargo.

Beyond $102 billion in United States government contract payments since 2000 — to do everything from building military housing to providing platinum to the United States Mint — the companies and their subsidiaries have reaped a variety of benefits. They include nearly $4.5 billion in loans and loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that underwrites the export of American goods and services, and more than $500 million in grants for work that includes cancer research and the turning of agricultural byproducts into fuel.

In addition, oil and gas companies that have done business in Iran have over the years won lucrative drilling leases for close to 14 million acres of offshore and onshore federal land.


The government can, and does, bar American companies from most types of trade with Iran, under a broad embargo that has been in place since the 1990s. But as The Times’s analysis illustrates, multiple administrations have struggled diplomatically, politically and practically to exert American authority over companies outside the embargo’s reach — foreign companies and the foreign subsidiaries of American ones.

Indeed, of the 74 companies The Times identified as doing business with both the United States government and Iran, 49 continue to do business there with no announced plans to leave.

One of the government’s most powerful tools, at least on paper, to influence the behavior of companies beyond the jurisdiction of the embargo is the Iran Sanctions Act, devised to punish foreign companies that invest more than $20 million in a given year to develop Iran’s oil and gas fields. But in the 14 years since the law was passed, the government has never enforced it, in part for fear of angering America’s allies.

That has given rise to situations like the one involving the South Korean engineering giant Daelim Industrial, which in 2007 won a $700 million contract to upgrade an Iranian oil refinery.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the deal appeared to violate the Iran Sanctions Act, meaning Daelim could have faced a range of punishments, including denial of federal contracts. That is because the law covers not only direct investments, such as the purchase of shares and deals that yield royalties, but also contracts similar to Daelim’s to manage oil and gas development projects.

But in 2009 the United States Army awarded the company a $111 million contract to build housing in a military base in South Korea. Just months later, Daelim, which disputes that its contracts violated the letter of the law, announced a new $600 million deal to help develop the South Pars gas field in Iran.

Read the whole thing. Sanctions are a farce. They won't be crippling, they won't be enforced, and they're being undertaken far too late in the game to have a chance of convincing Iran to put a stop to its nuclear weapons development even if they were both crippling and properly enforced. There is only one way to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. And it will be left to Israel and to Israel alone to use that method.

Israel Matzav: US fails to enforce its existing Iran sanctions

Israel Matzav: Where does Biden stand?

Where does Biden stand?

When President Obama was in the Senate, he frequently voted 'present' to avoid establishing a record on controversial issues. His Vice President, Smilin' Joe Biden, was much more clever. In an earlier post, I noted that the supposedly pro-Israel Biden was actually one of the most pro-Iran members of the Senate. Two years ago, Shmuel Rosner gave a hint of how Biden manages to maintain his pro-Israel bona fides while being pro-Iran.

Is he a dove? seems to think so: "Biden's Middle East policy aligns closest to that of Jimmy Carter." Is he a hawk? The New Yorker called him the leader of "the most hawkish members in the Democratic Party." But the Los Angeles Times dubbed him "a liberal internationalist who generally hews close to his party's center." Is he a realist? Not on Darfur. Is he a liberal? Not on Iraq. Is he a neocon? Of course not, although at times he comes surprisingly close. As, for example, when he said, "I for one applaud President Bush's vision" of the need to democratize the Middle East.

Biden, you see, is a man of many tastes and positions. So, pinning down his approach to foreign affairs, presumably his future portfolio in an Obama administration - the Cheney comparison is inescapable - can be tricky. Especially for Middle East leaders.


Israel Matzav: Where does Biden stand?

Israel Matzav: Interview: Mosab Hassan Yousef

Interview: Mosab Hassan Yousef

The Wall Street Journal interviews Christian convert Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Here's a highlight.

As a spy, Mr. Yousef wasn't fully activated until the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000. A few months before at Camp David, the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat had turned down the Israeli offer of statehood on 90% of the West Bank with East Jerusalem as the capital. According to Mr. Yousef, Arafat decided he needed another uprising to win back international attention. So he sought out Hamas's support through Sheikh Yousef, writes his son, who accompanied him to Arafat's compound. Those meetings took place before the Palestinian authorities found a pretext for the second Intifada. It came when future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Mr. Yousef's account helps to set straight the historical record that the uprising was premeditated by Arafat.

Mr. Yousef tells me that he was horrified by the pointless violence unleashed by politicians willing to climb "on the shoulders of poor, religious people." He says Palestinians who heeded the call "were going like a cow to the slaughterhouse, and they thought they were going to heaven." So, as he writes in the book, "At the age of twenty-two, I became the Shin Bet's only Hamas insider who could infiltrate Hamas's military and political wings, as well as other Palestinian factions."

Mr. Yousef claims some significant intelligence coups for himself, and he says he isn't telling the world everything. Early on, he was first to discover that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group born during the second Intifada, was made up of Arafat's guards, who were directly funded by international donors. He says he found the most lethal Palestinian bomb maker and foiled assassination plots against President Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, as well as a prominent rabbi. He says he broke up cells of suicide bombers about to attack Israel. And he helped convince his father to be the first prominent Hamas leader to offer a truce with Israel.

His handler—a "Captain Loai," now retired from the Shin Bet—corroborated many of these stories to Haaretz. The paper said the Shin Bet considered Mr. Yousef "the most reliable and most senior agent."

Mr. Yousef strains to justify himself, but ultimately "the question is whether I was a traitor or a hero in my own eyes."

So we're back to why?

The motivation, he says, was to save lives.

And here's a key conclusion:

As the son of a Muslim cleric, he says he had reached the conclusion that terrorism can't be defeated without a new understanding of Islam. Here he echoes other defectors from Islam such as the former Dutch parliamentarian and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Do you consider your father a fanatic? "He's not a fanatic," says Mr. Yousef. "He's a very moderate, logical person. What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he's doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn't matter if he's a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don't want to admit this is an ideological war.

"The problem is not in Muslims," he continues. "The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to."

Read the whole thing. I'd love to get a copy of the book.

Israel Matzav: Interview: Mosab Hassan Yousef

Israel Matzav: Islam is inherently anti-Semitic

Islam is inherently anti-Semitic

Translating Jihad translates an essay from the Jordanian online newspaper as-Sabeel, which makes clear that it's not just the 'Zionists' who are hated by Islam, but the Jews (Hat Tip: Jihad Watch).

Dr. 'Ali al-'Atoum, writing for the online Jordanian newspaper on 2 March, excoriates the Jews for naming the Bilal ibn Rabah and al-Ibrahimi Mosques as part of their Jewish cultural heritage, and devotes several paragraphs of his essay to explaining how wicked and filthy the Jews have been and continue to be. Quite often we will hear Muslims claim to be anti-Zionist but not anti-Jewish. However, in this essay the author shows that Islam is intrinsically anti-semitic, regardless of what 'the Zionists' do.

The author also makes clear that these holy sites are "purely an Islamic inheritance, set apart by the an exclusive gift." This same claim has been made regarding Jerusalem, which was named an Islamic waqf, or endowment, by the caliph 'Umar ibn al-Khattab. Really, Muslims consider all of Palestine to be exclusively Muslim property, which is why regardless of what the Jews do or don't do, the Muslims will continue to fight them until they gain control of the whole of it. Link to the original Arabic.

Israel Matzav: Islam is inherently anti-Semitic

Israel Matzav: A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin just completed a visit to Gaza and wrote an op-ed in the New York Times' International Herald Tribune. You can bet that Hamas did not take Martin to any of the places pictured below. For the record, with the exception of the coffee shop picture, all of the other pictures were taken on November 25, 2009, well after Operation Cast Lead. So are they starving? It sure doesn't look like it.

From my arrival in Gaza, the deprivations and hardships resulting from the blockade were all too evident. Visiting an UNRWA food distribution center, I could see for myself the despair and suffering etched in the faces of those who queued for the most basic rations of rice, milk powder and sunflower oil. Eighty percent of the population of Gaza now lives below the poverty line and UNRWA is encountering increasing levels of abject poverty where people basically do not have enough food, even with their meager food allocations, to live.
I was similarly struck by what I heard from a business group at the Karni industrial park. This group of predominantly young businessmen and women graphically described the devastation that has been wrought on the private sector in Gaza, an economy that is now only operating at some 10-15 percent of capacity. Over a thousand companies have gone out of business since the Israeli Army’s Operation Cast Lead in early 2009. Unemployment now runs at over 50 percent.
For the record, the Karni Industrial Park stopped operating because of continuing attacks by Hamas against the Karni crossing point into Israel upon which it depended.

What I witnessed in Gaza, amidst all the rubble and devastation still so evident from last year’s conflict, was a population traumatized and reduced to poverty by an unjust and completely counterproductive blockade. All that is being achieved through the imposition of the blockade is to enrich Hamas and marginalize even further the voices of moderation.
I'd be very careful about saying that the 'blockade' is counterproductive. It looks like it's starting to bear some fruit.

These are the clear messages that I will be bringing when I travel to Córdoba next weekend to meet with E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton and my fellow E.U. foreign ministers. The European Union and the international community simply must do more to increase the pressure for the ending of the blockade and the opening of the border crossings to normal commercial and humanitarian traffic.
There's plenty of commercial and humanitarian traffic going through the crossings. What's not going through the crossings is terrorists and materials that can be used to build rockets. I don't look for that to change regardless of what the EU says in Cordoba.

I genuinely believe that the medieval siege conditions being imposed on the people of Gaza are unacceptable. I am also all too conscious that somewhere within Gaza, now enduring his fourth year of captivity, is the young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and I equally repeat my call for his speedy release and return to his family.
Equally? How many paragraphs did you devote to Shalit and how many to the 'Palestinians'? Where in your op-ed is Shalit? (Answers - One paragraph for Shalit, the 11th out of 13). Talk about lip service.

For those who have forgotten, just last week, the UN itself pronounced that there is no 'humanitarian crisis' in Gaza.
United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry, who met with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Wednesday, said, “There is no humanitarian problem in Gaza.”

Serry acknowledged, however, that there is a need for certain goods in Gaza, such as materials for the rehabilitation of several buildings. This puts the lie to claims by international groups of a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza caused by Israel’s partial blockade. In fact, Israel has allowed tens of thousands of tons of humanitarian and basic goods to be brought into Gaza via its crossings.

All of this is important to Israel because another Euroweenie wants to visit Gaza: Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Ashton, in her zeal to rip Israel in her very first foreign policy address, could not even get the EU's foreign policy straight. The Israeli government should not allow Ashton to cross into Gaza from any of the Israeli crossing points and should not cooperate at all in facilitating a visit for her. If the Egyptians want to let her in, that's their problem.

Israel Matzav: A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

Israel Matzav: When 'engagement' becomes appeasement

When 'engagement' becomes appeasement

Former State Department Middle East specialist Elliott Abrams rips the Obama administration's 'engagement' policy with Syria for long since having gone over into appeasement.

“Engagement” constitutes “appeasement” if it fails to change Syrian conduct, and the failure to change is overlooked while the “engagement” continues and accelerates. This would not just be fooling ourselves but condoning, rewarding, and thereby inducing even more bad conduct by the Assad regime.

Which is precisely what has happened during this year of American engagement.


In fact, however the Obama administration views its overtures to Syria, the best evidence that these steps now constitute appeasement is found in Syria’s response. On February 25, Assad hosted an Axis of Evil party, meeting with Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Washington Post reported that “the presidents of Iran and Syria on Thursday ridiculed U.S. policy in the region and pledged to create a Middle East ‘without Zionists,’ combining a slap at recent U.S. overtures and a threat to Israel with an endorsement of one of the region’s defining alliances.” More striking was the headline the Post put on the story: “Iran, Syria Mock U.S. Policy.”

Assad’s conduct is surprising only if you view him as a seeker after peace, waiting merely for the hand of friendship from Washington to reorient his regime toward the West. That appears to have been the Obama approach. But Assad’s reaction is entirely predictable if you view him as a vicious dictator dependent on Iran’s regime for political, financial, and military support. Similarly, the notion that American “engagement” is the road to a Syrian-Israeli peace deal over the Golan Heights is sensible if you believe he needs only a bit of American encouragement to ditch his alliance with Iran and turn West. But the terrorist trilateral just held in Damascus should be all the proof anyone needs that George Mitchell may as well stay home: A Golan deal is not in the cards. No Israeli prime minister is foolish enough to hand the Golan to a Syria whose main allies are Israel’s two most dangerous enemies: Hezbollah and Iran.

Abrams has a policy prescription for the Obama administration going forward that is radically different than what the Obami have done until now. Read the whole thing.

Jennifer Rubin laments:

We were supposed to get smart diplomacy with the Obami, and instead we got diplomacy that is both amoral and counterproductive. As with so much else that has gone wrong in this administration, the collision of hubris and extreme ideology has been painful to watch.

Yes, but I don't see it changing. This President has shown himself to be as dogmatic as they come, and that is unlikely to change even if - as many of us hope - not changing guarantees that he will be a one-term President. Unfortunately, there are some real potential disasters on the horizon that this President could bring upon the World. He refuses to be tough on any country that is not an American ally, while taking America's allies for granted.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: When 'engagement' becomes appeasement

Israel Matzav: Kara: Muslim states will back strike against Iran

Kara: Muslim states will back strike against Iran

Likud MK Ayoub Kara, who is a Druze, told a gathering in Be'er Sheva on Saturday that Muslim nations, including some radical ones, would back a US or an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be quietly supported by a wide coalition of Islamic nations, including a number of extremist states, Deputy Minister of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara said Saturday.

Kara, speaking at a Beersheba event, said that though none of them would admit to it publicly, Islamic nations had conveyed messages to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they would back military action against Iran by Israel and the US.

Kara said that Israel would strike "if there is no option."

Hmmm. Well, that ought to encourage Netanyahu to stand firm against the Gaffemeister later this week.

Israel Matzav: Kara: Muslim states will back strike against Iran

Israel Matzav: 'Hamas losing control of Gaza'

'Hamas losing control of Gaza'

According to a letter sent by the head of Hamas' 'military wing' Ahmed Jabri to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, which has now been reported both by a Fatah web site and by the London-based pan-Arabic daily Asharq al-Awswat, Hamas is losing control of the Gaza Strip.

The letter was reportedly written in light of a series of assassinations and explosions near the offices of senior Izaddin a-Kassam commanders and of Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to the report, Ja’abri wrote Mahsa’al that “several worrisome explosions recently occurred in Gaza, security anarchy is extensive, and al-Kassam men are being killed.”

Ja’abri also reportedly admits that Hamas has made a number of serious mistakes in ruling the strip.

The paper quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Hamas operatives who oppose Haniyeh were behind the attacks. Others suggested that the explosions were carried out by fundamentalist Islamic jihad groups.

You can bet on this much: If Israel were letting building materials into the Strip, this would not be happening. But because Hamas has been unable to fulfill any promises to help its people rebuild since Operation Cast Lead, Hamas' position has been weakened, and it is now finding it more difficult to control the Strip.

This is not going to make Gaza pro-Israel. If anything, the result of Hamas losing control is likely to be mass chaos with tribal groups fighting for control. But that also means that the next time Israel has to undertake an Operation Cast Lead, the opposition will be much less organized and coordinated.

Would Israel restore Fatah to control Gaza? I'm not sure it matters. Fatah isn't capable of the job.

Israel Matzav: 'Hamas losing control of Gaza'

Israel Matzav: Maimonides synagogue in Cairo being re-dedicated

Maimonides synagogue in Cairo being re-dedicated

When I was in Cairo in 1980, I went with my grandmother, may she rest in peace, to the Maimonides Synagogue, and we could not even enter the building. It was piled with garbage outside, the windows were broken and we were told that it was dangerous to enter the building. A restored Maimonides Synagogue in Cairo will be re-dedicated on Sunday.

After a year-and-a-half of careful restoration work by the Egyptian authorities, the Maimonides Synagogue in Cairo is set to be rededicated on Sunday.

The 19th-century synagogue and adjacent yeshiva, which stand on the site where Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, the Rambam, worked and worshiped more than 800 years ago, was restored by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

According to the Egyptian press, the restoration of the synagogue is part of a plan by the SCA to restore all the major religious sites in Egypt, including 10 synagogues.

The rededication ceremony will be attended by members of the Cairo Jewish community, the Egyptian diplomatic corps, former Israeli ambassadors and representatives of the state. A group of Chabad Hassidim will also attend the ceremony and help in rededicating the synagogue.

I hope that the synagogue will function as a synagogue. After we couldn't get into the Maimonides synagogue, the tour guides took my grandmother and me to the 'new' synagogue in downtown Cairo. But we were told by the guards standing outside that synagogue with machine guns equipped with machetes that the synagogue only operated on Jewish holidays.

Are there any Jews left in Cairo?

Israel Matzav: Maimonides synagogue in Cairo being re-dedicated

Israel Matzav: This ought to do wonders for our relations with the Turks

This ought to do wonders for our relations with the Turks

A Turkish film company that once released a film showing a Jewish doctor stealing organs from Muslims in Iraq is going to release a film set in 'Palestine' in November.

"Valley of the Wolves: Palestine" is projected to cost over e10 million, making it one of the most expensive Turkish films.

Scheduled for a November release, the new project follows the 2006 feature "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq."

That film, which showed American soldiers running amok in northern Iraq, racked up 4.2 million ticket sales in Turkey and accusations of rampant anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

"After Iraq, we decided that in the next Polat movie we are going to tell again an international story," said scriptwriter Bahadir Ozdener, sitting in an office lined with antique cameras in Nisantasi, an upscale Istanbul neighborhood.


In the new film Ozdener says his intention is "to shed light on the history, on what's really going on in Palestine."

He described the conflict as "a very good example of the imperialists' targets".
Turkey is a long-time NATO member, a traditional ally of the United States, and a friend of Israel's since the mid-1990s.

The country has a secular constitution, but Turks are Muslim and Valley of the Wolves reflects some sentiments that may not always be sympathetic towards Israel.

"The narrative of the serial is an alternative narrative to what is going on," added Orhan Tekelioglu, an academic who has written about the show in his column in the Radikal newspaper.

"It simply says, Turkey is under the attack of foreign powers, firstly the U.S., secondly Israel."

I don't know about the rest of you Israelis, but I am tiring of the Turks. When they were a secular country with a large Muslim population, they were a good bridge to the Muslim world, but since they've essentially become Islamic, I don't see the difference between them and Egypt, Jordan or Lebanon. We don't need another hostile country among our 'friends.' I don't trust the Turks.

Israel Matzav: This ought to do wonders for our relations with the Turks

Israel Matzav: Two more Obama foreign policy foul-ups

Two more Obama foreign policy foul-ups

It's no great secret that with the possible exception of creating a 'Palestinian state,' President Obama has no real interest in foreign policy. His interests lie mostly in turning the United States into a socialist country. But in the age of the 'global village,' a President cannot really afford to ignore foreign policy either. This past week saw two major foul-ups by the Obama administration.

The first foul-up actually resulted in the United States not pandering to a Muslim country for a change, and in my view that's a good thing. I'm talking about the narrow vote of the House Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday to recognize the murder by Muslim Turks of approximately 1.5 million Armenians a decade ago as a genocide. Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States for 'consultations' as a result of the 23-22 vote - and that's just a vote by one House committee! For those who aren't familiar with the Armenian genocide, Pamela has good summary of it here. Here's how the Obama administration ended up with a resolution that they didn't want:

Hill staffers and Democratic foreign policy hands say neither the White House nor State tried to stop Rep. Howard Berman (D-Cal.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, from proceeding with the committee mark-up of the nonbinding resolution until the night before it was scheduled. This though Berman had publicly announced the intention to schedule the mark-up over a month before. Committee aides "said there had been no pressure against the resolution from the White House," the AP reported last month.

Berman “announced way in advance he was” scheduling this, one Washington Democratic foreign policy hand said. “They are basically asking ‘Please stop me.’ And they did not hear a word from the administration, I am being told,” until the night before.

Clinton called Berman Wednesday night from Latin America, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday.

“And in that conversation, she indicated that further congressional action could impede progress on normalization of relations” between Armenia and Turkey, Crowley said. “I think the President also spoke yesterday with [Turkish] President Gul and expressed appreciation for his and Prime Minister Erdogan’s efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia."

“We are concerned that possible action that Congress would take would impede the positive momentum that we see in the Turkey-Armenia normalization process,” Crowley said.

But the Democratic foreign policy hand said the Wednesday night efforts were too late. Berman is “a politician. If he folds then, he looks like a poodle.”

“My impression is that State weighed in [Wednesday] but that with the Armenia resolution, as with all other things, White House/NSC legislative affairs was completely asleep at the wheel,” one Hill staffer said. “Consequently the White House ‘discovered’ the problem yesterday when call slips started finding their way to higher-ups.”

“As best I can tell, with regard to foreign policy, both White House/NSC legislative affairs shops could shut down entirely and no one would even notice,” the staffer added.

I guess when they're so busy trying to ram Obamacare down people's throats, they don't have time for little things like the murder of 1.5 million people. Here in Israel, the headlines noted with some surprise that Turkey had not asked for Israel's help with lobbying Congress, and in a story in Sunday's JPost it's reported that American Jewish organizations did not play an active role in opposing the measure this year either. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm tired of the Turks' seething, and would rather see a spade called a spade. I hope that the resolution (which is non-binding anyway) gets passed by both Houses of Congress.

The second Obama foul-up of the week had to do with the adoption by the UN Security Council on Friday of a resolution regarding the violence that took place here in Jerusalem on a Friday morning (show me anyplace else in the World where that sort of thing would make it to the Security Council the same day it happened):

Gabon's U.N. Ambassador Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, president of the Security Council for March, read the nonbinding remarks on behalf the 15 council members after a closed-door discussion of the violent clashes.

"The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the current tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem," Issoze-Ngondet said.

"They urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts," he said after a closed-door meeting. "They stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations."

The U.S. envoy at the meeting, Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, did not speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout after the meeting.

A U.S. official, however, told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the American delegation had not agreed with the statement and said it was adopted due to what the official described as "procedural confusion."

It was not immediately clear what the "confusion" was.

Several council diplomats familiar with the negotiations on the statement, however, told Reuters that the U.S. delegation made no attempt to raise any objections to the final version of the text, which they said was adopted by consensus.

So was the US in favor or opposed? Or was Obama just trying to vote 'present' again? Jennifer Rubin sees the possibility of a more sinister motive:

Well, what we do know is that this sort of thing virtually never happens with Israel-bashing UN resolutions. (”Historically, the U.S. delegation has a tendency to block Security Council statements condemning Israel.”) Not just a tendency: a former foreign-policy official knowledgeable in this sort of thing tells me, “If it is a mistake, it is one that NEVER happened in 8 years of Clinton and 8 years of Bush.”

So was this a shot at Israel, an attempt to make clear just who is in charge before the arrival in Israel of Joe Biden? (Biden’s appearance is more insulting than it might otherwise be, given that the president has chosen to send his hapless minion in contrast to his earlier personal appearance in the “Muslim World” at Cairo. But then again, perhaps Biden might hew to actual history rather than his boss’s fractured version.) Maybe someone on the NSC team then lost nerve, realizing how it would be perceived in Jerusalem, and thought it better to put out an after-the-fact sniveling explanation seeking to slink away from the UN statement – one that should never have seen the light of day. Still, perhaps this is just the Keystone Kops at work, and no harm was meant.

Biden arrives in Israel on Monday and he's already the top item in the news reports here. His appearance here will undoubtedly be one of the topics for my Chai FM radio appearance in South Africa on Monday. But the idea that there was a procedural mix-up would be totally not credible but for the fact that mix-ups seem to be the order of the day for the Obama administration on foreign policy.

America is in good hands. What could go wrong?

By the way, the picture at the top is Obama's geography lesson. He's trying to find that little country that causes him so much trouble. Heh.

Israel Matzav: Two more Obama foreign policy foul-ups

Israel Matzav: Iran sanctions: No bans on Central Bank, no bans on weapons

Iran sanctions: No bans on Central Bank, no bans on weapons

Western countries began drafting 'crippling sanctions' in the UN on Friday night, and it appears that the only thing the sanctions might cripple is the West's ability to claim that it did all that could be done to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Diplomats at the United Nations were quoted as saying that the United States, Britain, France and Germany accepted Russia’s proposal that the West only ban trading with newly-established Iranian banks, and not increase existing trade limitations with the CBI.

China holds a position similar to Russia’s.

The new UN draft for sanctions against Iran would not put the Islamic republic in a black list of countries obligating all member states to avoid trade with the country, but does allow smaller entities, like the US or the entire bloc of European Union member countries, to implement their own sanctions.

Russia proposed that oversight on trade with Iran be made according to a similar model as current global trade with North Korea.

Additionally, Russia opposes a full weapons embargo against Iran.

A Moscow official was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the deal to supply Iran with the S-300 anti-missile defense system would go ahead. During a recent visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the country, Moscow promised not to implement a deal to sell the system after Netanyahu convinced the Russians that such a move would destabilize the region.

Anyone want to start taking bets on how long until Israel attacks? Maybe we should do it while Biden's here and let him squirm and say he didn't know.

Israel Matzav: Iran sanctions: No bans on Central Bank, no bans on weapons
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