Sunday, 21 March 2010

Israel Matzav: Critical questions

Critical questions

David Horovitz discusses some of the things that need to be resolved between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama this week.

The third and final area of dispute, however, is by far the most significant and problematic. It concerns the way in which the personal Obama-Netanyahu animus and the row over Jerusalem have been conflated with Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus’s testimony last week to the effect that American troops are being placed in greater danger on the front lines because of “Arab anger over the Palestinian question” and the sense of “US favoritism for Israel.”

The bottom line here is that, yes, Israel’s Arab enemies don’t like America for supporting Israel. They also don’t like America for intervening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whisper it softly, but Islamic extremists don’t like Israeli Jews for being Jewish. And they don’t like American Christians for being Christian.

Is the US going to be deterred from supporting Israel because that support irritates our mutual enemies? Is the Obama administration prepared to weaken Israel, and by how much, as it seeks relentlessly to engage with some of these enemies – as it seeks, through a thus-far spurned effort at reconciliation, to defuse the threat they pose to the very democracy and freedom for which Israel stands?

Those are the most critical questions at the heart of the current American-Israeli tensions. And while all sides will doubtless make their best efforts at cosmetic surgery to cover up the strains at the AIPAC event this week, and may prefer to try to slide past the controversy, Netanyahu, for his part, and Clinton, who addresses the conference Monday, and other administration officials, for theirs, could do a lot to truly revitalize the relationship by addressing it head-on, and positively.

Because for all of Washington’s assurances that the relationship is “unshakable” and “unbreakable,” it is most certainly trembling right now. And forces that are hostile to both the US and Israel are salivating at the prospect of a real breach.


Read it all.

Israel Matzav: Critical questions

RubinReports: An Academic Joke

RubinReports: An Academic Joke

Elder of Ziyon: The latest kosher product

Elder of Ziyon: The latest kosher product

DoubleTapper: IDF Mini-Spike Anti-Personnel Guided Weapon

IDF Mini-Spike Anti-Personnel Guided Weapon

Battle tested in Israel, the IDF Mini-Spike Anti-Personnel Guided Weapon missile system is the smallest member of Rafael's electro-optically guided missiles.

Mini-Spike is an anti-personnel precision attack missile, designed for operation at the company and platoon level. The Mini-Spike weighs only about 25lbs.

It comes in the following configuration:
Command and launch unit facilitating target acquisition and wireless control for the missile weight 8.8lbs
Missiles stored in a canister-launcher, weighing 8.8lbs each.

Typically a soldier will carry the CLU and two missiles with other members of the unit carrying spare missiles.

The missile can be fired at targets at ranges of 1,200 meters and can be set to approach the target in a low, medium or high angle of attack, enabling effective engagement of concealed targets.

The CLU can be used stand-alone for observation and target acquisition with various operation modes, including video recording and playback.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd of Israel

Hat tip Jameel

DoubleTapper: IDF Mini-Spike Anti-Personnel Guided Weapon

Israel Matzav: Chicago takes over AIPAC#links#links

Chicago takes over AIPAC

A Chicagoan who accompanied then-candidate Barack Hussein Obama on his trip to Israel in 2008 is becoming the President of AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

Lee "Rosy" Rosenberg, 53, is a jazz recording industry veteran and venture capitalist who lives on the Near North Side. But his business investments in Chicago have ebbed as he has gained more influence among Washington's pro-Israel lobby.

At a conference Sunday, he will become one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes players in U.S. foreign policy: president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC, one of the country's most secretive lobbying groups, declined to make Rosenberg available for an interview.

AIPAC's power comes not from its lobbyists but from its more than 100,000 members who raise money, advocate and pool resources for politicians. And Rosenberg, according to more than a dozen friends, is a master at building relationships with powerful people. Those relationships are being tested in the wake of a public spat over proposed housing in a contested area of East Jerusalem.

"This is as difficult a time to assume the role (of AIPAC president) as one could imagine," said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, who counts Rosenberg as a constituent and adviser. "The fact that he and the president have had a relationship helps now. I don't know of a time when that relationship has been so sorely tested."


Rosenberg later traveled to Israel with Obama, served on his national finance committee and introduced him at AIPAC's 2008 policy conference. In two rare interviews, with Politico and the Jerusalem Post during the campaign, Rosenberg assured Jews that Obama would champion their causes.

Well, I sure hope he's wised up a bit since then. And I also hope he's not going to try to merge AIPAC with J Street (a thought that crossed my mind that is not mentioned in the article).

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Chicago takes over AIPAC

Israel Matzav: Oom Shmoom

Oom Shmoom

Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, is known to have dismissed the United Nations with a pejorative Oom Shmoom. Oom is the Hebrew abbreviation for United Nations (they love making abbreviations into words here, which drives those of us who are not native Hebrew speakers crazy), and shmoom is a slang way of saying it's worthless or nothing.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was in Israel and Gaza today, and he did nothing to dispel Ben Gurion's notion that the United Nations is worthless. Moon managed to blame Israel for all of Gaza's troubles by ignoring why Israel has implemented its policies in the first place.

United Nations Secetary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited Gaza Sunday and blamed Israel for its economic woes while ignoring terrorists’ smuggling of weapons for use against Israel and the documented abundance of food and opportunities for Arab exporters.

He also did not mention the resumption of Kassam attacks on southern Israel. The Israel Air Force two days ago bombed several tunnels that Hamas had built for smuggling weapons and for use by terrorists to kidnap IDF soldiers.

The day before, IDF Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, briefed Ban on smuggling routes used by Iran via air, land and sea, and the Iranian aid for weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah.

However, Ban focused on Israel’s partial blockade of Gaza and called on Jerusalem to open all crossings for free passage of goods and merchandise. Israel has allowed daily humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, even during the Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas terrorists last year. It has prohibited routine travel in and out of Gaza because of constant attempts by Hamas and allied terrorists to exploit the transfer of goods to smuggle in terrorists and weapons.

But here's what you really need to know as a talking point for those who blame Israel for Gaza's supposed dire economic straits.

The Gaza economy was growing and prospering in the 1980s and 90s but suffered with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, also known as the Oslo War, prior to which Jewish communities in the region had employed thousands of Arabs in building and agriculture. Constant terrorist attacks forced Jews to rely on foreign labor, leaving the Gaza economy with higher unemployment.

The employment situation worsened after the 2005 unilateral withdrawal by Israel and the expulsion by the Sharon government of 9,000 Jews in Gush Katif and northern Gaza who had employed Gazan Arabs in agriculture and construction.

That's right folks: If the Gazans hadn't insisted on turning themselves into splodeydopes, they would have plenty to eat and would be living quite comfortably. But then, that's not what their leadership wants, is it? And of course, you couldn't expect Ban Ki-Moon to notice any of that even after being briefed about weapons smuggling into Gaza.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Oom Shmoom

Love of the Land: Thank You, Andrew Sullivan

Thank You, Andrew Sullivan

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this frickin’ map on websites, blogs…even protest signs:

18 March '10

Recently, Andrew Sullivan stirred-up a controversy in the blogosphere when he posted the map on his site. Sullivan’s “reliable source” for the map was blogger/pseudo-academic Juan Cole—a guy who once claimed that Israel only wages war in the summertime, because that’s when American and European universities, the “primary nodes of popular opposition,” are closed down. (I mean, let’s face it, nothing strikes fear into the heart of the IDF like the prospect of thousands of anthropology undergrads waving “We are Hezbollah!” signs.)

Anyway, I feel that Sullivan inadvertently performed a public service: By creating a controversy over the map, he encouraged long-overdue public scrutiny. Enter the Economist, which gives the map a royal fisking:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Thank You, Andrew Sullivan

Israel Matzav: Confirmed: Netanyahu and Obama to meet Tuesday

Confirmed: Netanyahu and Obama to meet Tuesday

It is now confirmed that Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with President Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The invitation to meet was extended by US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell during a meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday. Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told Israel National News that Netanyahu will meet with Obama on Tuesday, following his address Monday to the AIPAC annual policy convention in Washington D.C.

“The Prime Minister will be meeting with the top Congressional leaders from both parties in both houses,” Regev had told Israel National News earlier Sunday. “He will also be meeting with senior administration officials,” he said, but refused to divulge further details. Obama administration officials had told reporters that no meeting between the two leaders has been scheduled.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is leaving for the United States Sunday night.

Haaretz adds:

Also on Sunday, Netanyahu announced that he had informed the Obama administration that his government's policy on building in Jerusalem remains unchanged, but that he would make several goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians.

"Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for the 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv," Netanyahu said.

"I believed it would be of great importance for these things not to remain in the context of commentary or speculation. I subsequently wrote a letter, at my own initiative, to the secretary of state so that things would be crystal clear."

Netanyahu added that he informed the Obama administration that the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians must address concerns from both sides but that "in order for agreements to be reached, there must be serious and direct talks."

However, Netanyahu has bowed to U.S. demands and promised the Obama administration that Israel will make several goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians ahead of his trip to Washington on Sunday night.

For the first time since Operation Cast Lead, Israel has agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has also agreed to discuss all core issues during the proximity talks, with the condition of reaching final conclusions only in direct talks with the PA.

At what point does Israel insist on direct talks? I can envision a scenario where everything is done through Mitchell and the parties just get together to sign, thus reaching a 'final conclusion.' What could go wrong? Unfortunately, plenty.

Israel Matzav: Confirmed: Netanyahu and Obama to meet Tuesday

Israel Matzav: El Al to stop flying to South Africa over racial profiling?

El Al to stop flying to South Africa over racial profiling?

In what unfortunately appears to be his last blog post, South African blogger It's Almost Supernatural reported in January that El Al was threatening to end its Tel Aviv - Johannesburg route unless its security personnel were granted diplomatic passports. As I have mentioned many times, El Al runs its own security in every country in which it operates and its security personnel receive diplomatic passports. But in South Africa, the government is refusing to grant those passports because a whistle blowing employee complained that El Al security uses racial profiling.

South Africa has refused to reissue the diplomatic passports following a Carte Blanche story featuring a bellyaching former employee who accused El-Al security of racial profiling at OR Tambo international. Following the airing of the episode South Africa in November last year expelled an Israeli security officer.

Carte Blanche, I am told, is an investigative reporting television program.

Two months later, the South African Jewish Report says that the impasse continues (pdf link) (Hat Tip: Russel H).

Last Sunday, Carte Blanche, the TV investigative programme, flighted the story again. They rolled out the original former El Al employee, the whistle blower, Jonathan Garb who had maintained that the Israeli Secret Service was operating above the law in South
Africa (at the airport).

Garb now told Carte Blanche: “People have phoned my family and made threats to them
to sleep with one eye open at night.” On Facebook, Garb was accused of being “a
traitor” to the State of Israel and the Jewish religion. He denied this. The Facebook site was closed down at Garb’s request after many messages unfavourable to him, were posted. “I expected some sort of backlash from the Jewish community,” he admitted.

Carte Blanche commented that they simply wanted to know why a foreign intelligence
agency could operate “with impunity” on sovereign soil.

Well, it's more than just that. Carte Blanche has tried to tie El Al in Johannesburg to the al-Mabhouh affair, claiming that two of the assassins flew from Dubai to Johannesburg and immediately boarded a flight to Tel Aviv. The records of that flight have allegedly disappeared.

For South African Jewry, if El Al stops flying to Johannesburg, there are serious consequences. El Al is the only airline that flies non-stop between Tel Aviv and Johannesburg, which is about an eight hour flight. Any other means of travel requires connecting through Europe, which means a much longer flight. Additionally, El Al does not fly over countries that are hostile to Israel and Jews. Other airlines have no such concerns. In the event that a flight is forced to make an emergency landing, an Israeli might find it most uncomfortable to be in Tripoli (Libya) or Entebbe (Uganda) or Zimbabwe. Three years ago, an Israeli on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Mumbai found himself in Tehran airport when his flight made an emergency landing. Fortunately, no one at the airport gave him a hard time. But there are no guarantees when something like that happens.

Israel Matzav: El Al to stop flying to South Africa over racial profiling?

Israel Matzav: Petraeus anti-Israel? His PhD adviser was Stephen Walt

Petraeus anti-Israel? His PhD adviser was Stephen Walt

On Friday, I blogged an article by Max Boot in which he argued that US CENTCOM commander David Petraeus is not anti-Israel and could not have attempted to persuade the US Joint Chiefs of Staff that the United States' stature in the Arab world is being undermined by its inability to boss Israel around.

In a lengthy rebuttal, Diana West argues that Boot is doing some wishful thinking, that Petraeus is anti-Israel, and among other things, notes that Petraeus did a PhD at Princeton in 1987 in which one of his advisers was the notorious Stephen Walt, who has become famous as the co-author of The Israel Lobby, a book that claims that US policy in the Middle East is controlled by supporters of Israel.

I'm not going to quote from the article at length - I urge you to read the whole thing (I've come late to this debate, as I'm sure many of you have). But the concluding paragraphs merit quoting for those who might not otherwise see them.

It is up to Petraeus to refute the Arabist, anti-Israel attitudes now far and widely attributed to him by media now taking his words, written and spoken and reported on, at face value if they are truly incorrect. Personally, I'm not holding my breath. The fact is, assuaging "Arab anger" is, when you think of it, is the very heart of "hearts and minds" current counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) -- and Petraeus wrote the book.

He also wrote a Ph. D. thesis at Princeton in 1987 called “The American military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era” (available here).

One of his two faculty advisors, it is interesting to note in light of this recent debate was ... Stephen Walt -- of Walt and Mearshimer infamy (hat tip Andrew Bostom). In acknowledgements, Petraeus writes:

Professor Stephen Walt also deserves my gratitude. As my second faculty adviser – replacing Professor Barry Posen during the writing of my dissertation – Professor Walt offered numerous sound suggestions and comments. Like Professor Ullman, he displayed tremendous competence not only as an academic, but as a teacher as well.

Petraeus is delivering the 2010 Irving Kristol Lecture at the American Enterprise Association this spring. Maybe he'll take the opportunity of his lecture to explain what he learned.

Israel Matzav: Petraeus anti-Israel? His PhD adviser was Stephen Walt

Love of the Land: Can we hope for sobriety in the White House

Can we hope for sobriety in the White House

Ira Sharkansky
Shark Blog
18 March '10

It is not possible to find a more left-wing, large circulation media outlet in Israel than Ha'aretz. It is as close as anything Israeli comes to the New York Times: not in the quality or extent of its coverage, but in having as its readers the intellectual, political, and economic elites of the country, and being severe in its criticism of what they are doing. Amira Hass has lived in Gaza and Ramallah, and can be counted upon to fill a page or more with one or another kind of Palestinian misery. Gideon Levy and Ze'ev Sternhill do not pass up an opportunity to scald their country for a lack of humanity and wisdom. The banner headline in the midst of the Biden scandal--that Israel is planning for the construction of 50,000 homes throughout East Jerusalem--reflects the paper's passion. The article made no mention of construction for Arabs, or how many of the claimed 50,000 apartments are at an advanced stage of planning or suitable for market projections extending over several years.

There is an occasional op-ed piece by Moshe Arens to gain the paper a fig leaf of balance, but the thrust is far to the left of him.

Given the critical nature of Ha'aretz, today's cartoon is instructive. It shows the president and secretary of state watching television coverage of Palestinian rampage, with the president saying, "It doesn't look like they are approaching face to face discussions."

A late report is that Obama is reiterating the close rapport between the United States and Israel, and describing the Biden incident as a quarrel between friends. That is a lot better than what we heard earlier, including reports that General Petraeus has said that Israel's stubborn resistance to the United States peace initiative threatens his country's national interests, and his soldiers' lives throughout the Muslim world. That was too close to the anti-Israel line used by Arab autocrats to distract their own masses from serious problems, and suggests the classic practice of scapegoating the Jews.

Israel has friends in the United States, but it would be another cheap shot to ascribe the moderation of White House rhetoric to Jewish political clout. Facts as well as pressure matter.

If any party has shown itself unready to negotiate, it is the Palestinians. The rejection of what Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered in 2000, and what Ehud Olmert offered in 2008 is indication enough that Ramat Shlomo or other construction in Jerusalem is not the core of the problem, and maybe not even a significant element.

The disproportion between public pressure on Israel and insistence on engagement with Iran and Syria is so bizarre as to be potent politically. Some Members of Congress might be wondering if an administration so unbalanced in its foreign policy could be counted upon for the contents of a health bill too large and complex to be understood before having to vote on it.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Can we hope for sobriety in the White House

Love of the Land: Hey Barack, Joe, Tony, BBC! Want Middle East peace? Just. Stay. Home.

Hey Barack, Joe, Tony, BBC! Want Middle East peace? Just. Stay. Home.

Stephanie Gutmann
19 March '10

Are you sick of seeing reports of clashes between rock-throwing Palestinians and tear gas canister tossing-IDF soldiers in Jerusalem and the West Bank plastered across the front page of your newspaper? What about the monotonous daily headlines detailing talks that are on (Oh rapture!) or postponed (All is lost!) between this Palestinian leader of the day and that flavour-of-the month Israeli poobah?

Are you wondering what relevance this has to your life?

I hope you are wondering, because the cause of peace in the area would be helped a lot if you ignored these articles. It would be particularly helpful if busybody leaders — the Barack Obamas, Joe Bidens, Javier Solanas, and Tony Blairs — of the world did the same. And the most helpful thing of all would be if the platoons and brigades of news media camped out in Jerusalem went back to London and Amsterdam and Mexico City and Beijing and New York.

Because, no, don’t believe the hype. Israel/Palestine is not a regional conflict that has huge relevance for the fate of the planet — any more than border disputes over Kashmir or Tibet or Hong Kong. Iranian nuclearisation actually does have relevance for the planet – but people who believe, as a British columnist recently put it, that “a peace deal in the territories would remove a significant casus belli for Tehran” are bonkers.

No, all those restive Sunnis, Shias and Persians are not sitting around chewing their nails over the terms of a “final status agreement” between Israelis and Palestinians. People who have bought into the linkage concept (as Middle East writers abbreviate it) are allowing themselves to become stenographers for regional dictators who use the plight of the Palestinians to deflect blame from sins against their own populations.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Hey Barack, Joe, Tony, BBC! Want Middle East peace? Just. Stay. Home.

RubinReports: Other Than Apartments in Jerusalem, What Else is Going on in the Middle East?

Other Than Apartments in Jerusalem, What Else is Going on in the Middle East?

By Barry Rubin

While the Obama Administration is fiddling over the construction of apartments in Jerusalem, the Middle East is burning. Yet these other issues don’t attract the attention—and certainly not the action—required.

1. Iran is now allied with al-Qaida: General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, revealed a bombshell story that has been ignored: Iran is helping al-Qaida attack Americans.

Iran, he said in military-speak, provides "a key facilitation hub, where facilitators connect al Qaida's senior leadership to regional affiliates." Translation: Tehran is letting al-Qaida leaders travel freely back and forth to Pakistan and Afghanistan, using its territory as a safe haven, while permitting them to hold meetings to plan terrorist attacks for attacking U.S. targets and killing Americans. While nominally Iran sometimes takes these people into custody, that seems, Petraeus says, a fiction to fool foreigners.

Oh, and Petraeus added that Iran also helps the Taliban fight America in Afghanistan. Regarding Iraq, the general explains, "The Qods Force [an elite Iranian military group within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] also maintains its lethal support to Shia Iraqi militia groups, providing them with weapons, funding and training,"

So, Petraeus pointed out that Iran is helping al-Qaida against the United States and also, at times, Shia groups intended to be Iran’s proxies for spreading its influence in Iraq. In effect, the Tehran regime is at war with the United States. Yet this point is not being highlighted, nor does it stir rage in the hearts of White House officials or strenuous attempts to counter this threat.

Meanwhile, Iran isn’t just building apartments but nuclear weapons’ facilities.

2. Lebanon being further integrated into Iran-Syria alliance

In an interview with al-Jazira television, Walid Jumblatt, formerly the roaring lion of the opposition, turns into a mouse and apologizes to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad:

"I said, at a moment of anger, what is improper and illogical against President Bashar Assad.” And now he is begging for an invitation to Damascus where he can kiss the ring of the man whose father (Hafiz al-Asad) murdered his father (Kemal Jumblatt).

One cannot blame Walid Jumblatt nor Sa’d al-Hariri, leader of the March 14 coalition, whose father was murdered by Bashar himself and has already gone to Damascus to beg forgiveness.

But Jumblatt, leader of the main Druze community in Lebanon, was a man who not long ago denied comparing Bashar al-Asad to a dog by saying that to do so would be an insult to canines. Jumblatt was also the man who bragged about being a friend of the United States during his rebellious phase. No more.

Meanwhile, Hizballah, which enjoys veto power in Lebanon’s government, isn’t just building apartments, its building fortifications and importing record amounts of weapons.

3. It is now clear that Russia and China won’t support sanctions on Iran. The administration’s plan is in major trouble and there’s no way out, except to do the most minimal possible sanctions and claim victory.

Russia openly defies the Obama Administration by insisting it will finish a nuclear plant for Iran, just when Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is visiting! This was a real slap in the face, much bigger strategically than the apartments’ issue. But there will be no strong reaction from Washington.

According to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: “We believe that [engagement with Iran is] not over yet, that we can still reach an agreement."

So Russia still isn’t ready to support sanctions and isn’t building apartments in Iran but rather a nuclear reactor.

Same thing with China, whose Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang put it this way: "We believe there is still room for diplomatic efforts and the parties concerned should intensify those efforts."

China isn’t building apartments in Iran but developing oilfields and building a huge oil refinery, plus reportedly supplying weapons.

4. Despite U.S. concessions aimed to reduce Syria’s alliance with Iran, their bond is getting stronger, as witnessed by Asad’s invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Damascus and their signing of new cooperation agreements. During the press conference, Asad literally laughed at U.S. policy.

5. Increasing signs of Turkey’s close cooperation with the Iran-Syria axis. Both Ahmadinejad and the official Syrian government newspaper now call Turkey an ally of Syria and Iran.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounds the same way, insisting that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, that Ahmadinejad is a “friend,” and that the United States has no right to try to stop Iran from getting such weapons any way.

The Turkish government isn’t building just apartments but an alliance with Tehran and an increasingly Islamist regime at home.

So let's leave it to Ahmadinejad to summarize how things seem to Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and lots of Arabs both pro- and anti-American:

The Americans, Ahmadinejad said, “not only have failed to gain any power, but also are forced to leave the region. They are leaving their reputation, image, and power behind in order to escape.…The [American] government has no influence [to stop].…the expansion of Iran-Syria ties, Syria-Turkey ties, and Iran-Turkey ties--God willing, Iraq too will join the circle...."

Iran is also building not just apartments and not even just nuclear facilities and not even just revolutions abrod. It's also building an empire or, to put things more modestly, a very large sphere of influence.

In short, the regional situation is terrible. None of this really has much to do with Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian issues; none of this is going to change because U.S. policy is seen as being tough on Israel. What the Arabs want to see is whether U.S. policy is going to be tough on Iran and its allies.

The Obama Administration policy isn't making the radicals more moderate but rather--by feeding their arrogance and belief in American weakness--making them more aggressive. Every day the regional situation is becoming more dangerous, but the highest-level and highest-priority U.S. efforts seem to be largely over getting indirect Israel-Palestinian talks which everyone involved knows will produce nothing.

Something is seriously wrong here. Of course this isn't the first time such things have happened in battling aggressive dictatorships, both in the case of Germany and of the USSR. Still, one can only echo the words of George Orwell, written in his diary in early 1941:

"The most depressing thing in this war is not the disasters we are bound to suffer at this stage, but the knowledge that we are being led by weaklings....It is as though your life depended on a game of chess, and you had to sit watching it, seeing the most idiotic moves being made and being powerless to prevent them."

RubinReports: Other Than Apartments in Jerusalem, What Else is Going on in the Middle East?

Israel Matzav: Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's new alliance system

Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's new alliance system

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting theory that draws a connection between President Obama's attempts to socialize America and his abandonment of the United States' traditional alliances.

Thus, the flip side to nationalizing health care, banks, and student loans at home is to look sympathetically at those who long ago did the same abroad. Seen in that light, the growing rejection of Britain or Israel is the logical symbolic bookend to the Obama administration's multicultural, statist agenda here at home. Another answer is that, like academics who rarely venture out from the university lounge, the members of this administration think our enemies and rivals listen to reason and logic and were deemed difficult only because of a sort of anti-Enlightenment denseness in past administrations, and especially the Bush administration.

Whatever the cause, the effect is now clear: there is no such thing any more as allies and rivals, much less friends and enemies. That Manicheanism is part of our Neanderthal past. We won’t judge anyone abroad on what he does or says — unless he represents forces of traditional privilege and is sympathetic with traditions within the United States that we are desperately trying to shed.

The problem is obvious. The thuggish regimes that we court, given the value systems that have made them what they are, will interpret all this as either disingenuousness or the decadence of those who don’t even believe in themselves. And so the pressures on us to engage in ever more appeasement will only magnify. Because America now apologizes for everything, and China and Russia for nothing, soon the impression will be fixed abroad that America has a lot to atone for and its authoritarian rivals nothing to answer for. Pressures for constant concessions and reparations will mount on democratic us, and lessen on autocratic others.

I think that explanation works for every ally except for Israel. First, because there is an unmistakable element of anti-Semitism in the Obama administration and among his advisers that cannot be attributed to socialism. And second, because Britain also has nationalized health care, Israel has many nationalized companies such as the Electric Company and the Ports Authority (and yes, our health care) that operate on what can only be described as a quasi-socialist basis to this day.

There's more to it than just socialized medicine in America and the free market among its putative allies.

Israel Matzav: Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's new alliance system

Israel Matzav: Oren: 'No one can force peace on us'

Oren: 'No one can force peace on us'

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, told PBS on Saturday that no one can force Israel and the 'Palestinians' to make peace. He compared it with trying to force someone to fall in love - it cannot be done.

"No. I think peace has to be made between two people sitting opposite a table. America can help facilitate that interaction. But at the end of the day, no one can force parties in any conflict in the world to make peace. It's like forcing somebody to fall in love. We have to sit down and thresh it out between us."

Oren added: "If we arrive at points where we can't agree, we can't close the gap between us, then we - both the Israelis and the Palestinians as well - are willing to look at various bridging formulas."

"But America is not in a position where it's going to come in and impose a plan. I don't think that's to anybody's benefit. And I'm sure parties on all sides of this conflict understand that."

Well, the parties on all sides may understand it, but that might not stop the US from trying to impose a 'solution' anyway. The two sides will never love or trust each other, but that's okay in Obama's book if he's willing to station US troops permanently along the green line. North and South Korea don't love each other, but they'll been on their respective sides of the line for nearly 60 years. If Obama wants to try to impose that sort of arrangement on Israel and the 'Palestinians' there is very little that can stop him.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Oren: 'No one can force peace on us'

Israel Matzav: Iran slaps Obama again

Iran slaps Obama again

Like last year, President Obumbler sent a Nowruz (New Year's) message to Iran. And like last year, the Ahmadinejad regime responded by slapping Obama in the face. London's Daily Telegraph reports that a wide variety of Iranian weapons have been seized in Afghanistan (Hat Tip: Power Line).

Border officials have reported that a wide range of material made in Iran – including mortars, plastic explosives, propaganda materials and mobile phones – is ending up in insurgents' hands.

Rahmutallah Safi, the head of Border Police in Herat, an Afghan city on its western border with Iran, said seized material was marked with Persian writing, Channel 4 News reported last night.

"In this place you can see, we have discovered five mines," he said. "All the international monitors have seen it. You yourselves can check to see which country has made it. You can see the [Persian] marks on the weapons and the type and show it to the world."

A Taliban commander admitted that the insurgents had grown more dependent on Iran as Pakistan stepped up operations against the group on its territory.

"Day by day the Iranian border becomes more important for us," he said. "Especially now in Pakistan there are many problems for the Taliban and many of the Taliban have been imprisoned and also they arrest any Taliban who comes out of the[religious schools].

"The mujahideen themselves bring the weapons and money in although we do also use professional smugglers to bring in our shipments."

And on Sunday, the Times of London reports that the Iranians are training the Taliban in the use of roadside bombs.

TALIBAN commanders have revealed that hundreds of insurgents have been trained in Iran to kill Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The commanders said they had learnt to mount complex ambushes and lay improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have been responsible for most of the deaths of British troops in Helmand province.

The accounts of two commanders, in interviews with The Sunday Times, are the first descriptions of training of the Taliban in Iran.

According to the commanders, Iranian officials paid them to attend three-month courses during the winter.

They were smuggled across the border to the city of Zahidan, in southeast Iran, an hour’s drive from training camps in the desert.


During their second month they were shown how to plant IEDs in sequence so that the rescuers of soldiers wounded in one blast would be caught in further explosions.

The Obama administration will undoubtedly decide that Iran is supporting the Taliban so that the Afghan government will stop building 'settlements' in Israel.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Iran slaps Obama again

Israel Matzav: Putin lectures Clinton on camera, Obami have no comment

Putin lectures Clinton on camera, Obami have no comment

Hillary Clinton got her comeuppance in Moscow on Friday.

ABC's Alexander Marquardt reports: When reporters traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow were informed that a last-minute meeting with Russia's Prime Minister Valdimir Putin had been added to the schedule, they were told they would only get to see a few seconds of handshakes before being ushered out.

Instead, with cameras rolling, they watched Putin spend six minutes rattling off a number of complaints he has with the United States.

Trade with the US has slowed during the financial crisis, he complained, Russian companies have been slapped with US sanctions and Russia is having trouble joining the World Trade Organization.

He also singled out the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, as he has in the past, as evidence that the US is not fully encouraging business with Russia. (The amendment restricts trade with countries that limit emigration, as the USSR did with Jews.)


Reporters were surprised at the length of Putin’s list of issues and the fact that he did it in front of the Russian and American press corps, a pool reporter noted.

The meeting was held at Putin’s government-owned country estate just a few hours after Russia’s foreign minister declared that Russia and the US have “managed to perform a true reset of relations.”

The other most contentious moment of Clinton’s trip was also thanks to Putin after he announced yesterday that a nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran will be completed in the next few months.

Why did Putin humiliate Clinton (you mean he didn't make her sit on a lower stool for the gathered media)? Jennifer Rubin explains.

In short, the Russians have now shown us what resetting the U.S.-Russian relationship means. Putin has figured out that there is no risk — so long as you aren’t a small democratic ally of the U.S. — of incurring the wrath of the Obami. No condemnations or even frowns will be forthcoming. This is, you see, what comes from throwing ourselves at our adversaries’ feet and scorning our allies. Adversaries learn to take advantage of us while friends learn not to trust us.

And where does that leave our Iran policy? No prospect of international sanctions. The U.S. sanctions bill is languishing in Congress. The mullahs feel neither isolated nor besieged. It is not they whom the Obami are pressuring this week. We eagerly await Hillary’s Monday speech to AIPAC when she can explain the wizardry at work here. We’ll be all ears.

Netanyahu can't allow this bunch of Bozo's to bully him. Israel is likely to have to act on Iran with or without US support and before Bushehr goes on line and Iran gets the S-300.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Putin lectures Clinton on camera, Obami have no comment

Israel Matzav: Tom Campbell on Obama's handling of Israel

Tom Campbell on Obama's handling of Israel

On Saturday night, I brought you Carly Fiorina's and Chuck Devore's reactions to President Obama's excoriation of Israel last week. I was missing the third Republican candidate for the Senate nomination from California, Tom Campbell. Here's Campbell's reaction (Hat Tip: Jennifer Rubin). The whole tape is worth watching, but note what he says about the last week's events from about 5:20 to 6:10 of this video.

Let's go to the videotape.

Note that Campbell seems far less conversant in the details of what happened while Biden was here than either of his opponents. Note also that he apparently backs Obama's approach. Not good news.

By the way, Campbell's campaign has been on this blog a lot more than the other two. If you put something in the comments, you can be pretty sure they'll see it (and I will let through anything they write in response).

Israel Matzav: Tom Campbell on Obama's handling of Israel

Israel Matzav: Good news: TSA to fight 'discrimination' against Muslims

Good news: TSA to fight 'discrimination' against Muslims

The Obama administration has appointed Nawar Shora, legal director of the Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee (ADC), to serve as a senior adviser for the TSA's office of civil rights and civil liberties. TSA - for those of you who aren't frequent travelers - are the people who are supposed to protect airline passengers within and departing from the United States. Paul Mirengoff reports that the ADC has a number of positions on protecting the US from attack that might be advocated by Nawar Shora.

For example, it has been a fierce critic of the Patriot Act since day one. And ADC failed Scott's "Al Arian test" when it claimed that the indictment of Professor Sami Al Arian was "a political witch-hunt, a vendetta, and a kind of very, very ugly post-9/11 McCarthyism." Al Arian eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a specially designated terrorist organization.

The Washington Post, in what I would describe as a celebratory article, is very clear about what Shora's role will be at TSA. It states (under his picture in an article appearing today) that Shora "is used to fighting for the civil rights of Muslims and Arabs, but now he will do so as a federal government official." Shora is equally clear, saying "it is about time I cross over to the government and start working within the system."

But TSA is not a civil rights organization; it is (or should be) an organization dedicated to promoting safety and thwarting terrorism. Shora's appointment is more evidence that TSA is not sufficiently dedicated to that purpose. Shora's mission in life is not promoting safety and thwarting terrorism; it is promoting the interests of Arab-Americans by, for example, making sure they are treated the same way other Americans are.

I have advocated many times on this blog that other countries adopt Israel's security system in which personal interviews are used to ferret out potential terrorists. Instead, American travelers will continue to be subjected to useless, demeaning searches that ignore the elephant in the room: The fact that all airline terrorism in the last thirty years has been committed by Muslims.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, El Al Israel Airlines (which does its own security abroad as well) has been voted best in airline security by World Traveler Magazine readers for the third year running (since the award category was created) (Hat Tip: Israellycool via Twitter). But don't expect that kind of security to be implemented in the US anytime soon. It's far more important to pretend that we don't know the terrorists' origins.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Good news: TSA to fight 'discrimination' against Muslims

Israel Matzav: What should Netanyahu do?

What should Netanyahu do?

Caroline Glick lists several bad things that President Obama is trying to accomplish by bullying Israel. Here's what she says the Prime Minister should do about it.

One front in the war Obama has started is at home. Netanyahu must ensure that he maintains popular domestic support for his government to scuttle Obama's plan to overthrow his government. So far, in large part due to Obama's unprecedented nastiness, Netanyahu's domestic support has held steady. A poll conducted for IMRA news service this week by Maagar Mohot shows that fully 75 percent of Israeli Jews believe Obama's behavior towards Israel is unjustified. As for Netanyahu, 71 percent of Israeli Jews believe his refusal to accept Obama's demand to ban Jewish building in Jerusalem proves he is a strong leader. Similarly, a Shvakim Panorama poll for Israel Radio shows public support for Kadima has dropped by more than 30 percent since last year's elections.

The other front in Obama's war is the American public. By blaming Israel for the state of the Middle East and launching personal barbs against Netanyahu, Obama seeks to drive down popular American support for Israel. In building a strategy to counter Obama's moves, Netanyahu has to keep two issues in mind.

First, no foreign leader can win a popularity contest against a sitting US president. Therefore, Netanyahu must continue to avoid any personal attacks on Obama. He must limit his counter-offensive to a defense of Israel's interests and his government's policies.

Second, Netanyahu must remember that Obama's hostility towards Israel is not shared by the majority of Americans. Netanyahu's goal must be to strengthen and increase the majority of Americans who support Israel. To this end, Netanyahu must go to Washington next week and speak at the annual AIPAC conference as planned despite the administration's threat to boycott him.

While in Washington, Netanyahu should meet with every Congressman and Senator who wishes to meet with him as well as every administration member who seeks him out. Moreover, he should give interviews to as many television networks, newspapers and major radio programs as possible in order to bring his message directly to the American people.

Obama has made clear that he is not Israel's ally. And for the remainder of his term, he will do everything he can to downgrade US relations with Israel while maintaining his constant genuflection to the likes of Iran, Syria, the Palestinians and Turkey.

But like Israel, the US is a free country. And as long as popular support for Israel holds steady, Obama's options will be limited. Netanyahu's task is to maintain that support in the face of administration hostility, as he implements policies towards Iran and the Arabs alike that are necessary to ensure Israel's long-term survival and prosperity.

Israel Matzav: What should Netanyahu do?

Israel Matzav: Caspian Makan visits Israel

Caspian Makan visits Israel

If the name in the title to this post isn't familiar to all of you, I'm sure the picture is. Caspian Makan was the fiance of Neda Soltan, who was murdered by Iranian security forces last June. After being tortured by the Ahmadinejad regime, Makan escaped Iran and was granted asylum in Canada. He's visiting Israel now.

“I have come here out of the brotherhood of nations,” Makan told Channel 2.

“Neda was just a voice that yearned for freedom. In the name of this cause she joined the protesters and this is why she was murdered by agents of the regime,” Makan said.

“I was arrested six days after Neda’s murder, because I exposed crimes committed by the regime,” a weary-looking Makan said.

In trembling voice, Makan said there was hope for change in Iran. “The Iranian people is aware of the rights its being denied. Today the Iranian people is steadfast to achieve victory and to overthrow the current regime.”

Makan said he hoped for an Iran “where no man comes against his fellow man, with no more executions, no more war, no more murder.”

Asked what he would tell Neda if he knew she could hear him, Makan said “I will continue along her path. Her path was the path of freedom, not just for Iranians but for the whole world.

“Love for mankind was part of [Neda’s] being,” Makan said.

Makan was brought here by Channel 2. He will meet with President Shimon Peres while he is here. I hope that the Iranian 'greens' support his trip here.

Israel Matzav: Caspian Makan visits Israel

Israel Matzav: What did Bibi give?

What did Bibi give?

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heads for Washington on Sunday night, where he will speak at the AIPAC conference and meet with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, with President Obama, and possibly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The unanswerd question is what those meetings will cost Israel.

On Friday, long after the Sabbath started here in Israel, Politico's Laura Rozen reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu had sent a 'written document' to Clinton, which was meant as a summary of a 40-minute phone call (yes, another one) that they had on Thursday.

The written statement was a follow-up to the call and reflected Netanyahu's understanding of what the U.S. wanted to see from him, the diplomat said. It had some language on confidence-building measures Netanyahu was proposing, although details on its contents were not explained.

The administration didn't immediately respond to queries about the alleged Netanyahu document and exactly what steps Netanyahu has agreed to.

Also on Friday, the JPost reported that Netanyahu would agree to make 'gestures' to the good terrorists from Fatah, but 'not in Jerusalem.' The gestures reportedly include the release of 'Fatah prisoners.' (Please don't tell me we're giving up Marwan Barghouti for this nonsense).

On Sunday morning, Haaretz claims that Netanyahu has bowed to US demands ahead of his trip to Washington.

For the first time since Operation Cast Lead, Israel has agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has also agreed to discuss all core issues during the proximity talks, with the condition of reaching final conclusions only in direct talks with the PA.

Netanyahu responded to Washington's demands during his telephone call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday night. Clinton said on Friday that Netanyahu's response "was useful and productive, and we're continuing our discussions with him and his government".

The prime minister refused to revoke a decision to build 1,600 Jewish homes in Ramat Shlomo in east Jerusalem - the cause of a diplomatic row errupted during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden two weeks ago - or freeze construction beyond the Green Line in the city. He did, promise a better oversight system to prevent such embarrassing incidents ion the future, however.

Senior officials in Jerusalem said that the prime minister's gestures enabling the UN to transport construction materials to Gaza to rebuild sewerage systems, a flour mill and 150 apartments in Khan Yunis.

Netanyahu also agreed to release hundreds of Fatah-affiliated prisoners as a gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, a move which the defense establishment believes could prompt the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

I'm suspicious of reports based on 'senior officials' and the like, but this sounds plausible. I'm sorry to see Bibi caving at all. The opening of the Gaza blockade is limited, but these things tend to be a slippery slope. The release of 'hundreds' of 'Fatah prisoners' is bad news especially since we now hold very few of them who do not have blood on their hands. And given that Hamas holds Gilad Shalit, I fail to see why the 'defense establishment' (not the IDF - more likely refers to Ehud Barak) believes that the release of 'Fatah prisoners' will bring about Shalit's release.

But at least the anti-Semites in Washington are agreeing to receive Netanyahu.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: What did Bibi give?

Israel Matzav: Obama's Middle East double standard

Obama's Middle East double standard

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor rips the Obama administration for its double standards in the Middle East.

Two telling incidents took place during Vice President Biden’s visit to the Middle East last week — one triggered by the Israeli government, the other by the Palestinian Authority.

The first – the announcement of an Israeli housing project in Jerusalem – has sparked widespread and bitter condemnation in Washington. The second – a Palestinian Authority-sponsored ceremony glorifying a notorious terrorist – has inexplicably escaped with nary a word from the White House.

The conflicting Obama administration responses are no accident. They reveal the perverse way in which the White House intends to serve as the “honest broker” in the Mideast conflict.

Read the whole thing.

I would love to get an Israel-supporting Congressional delegation to Ramat Shlomo. If you see the location, you'd be even more astounded that President Obama made such a big deal out of it.

Israel Matzav: Obama's Middle East double standard

Israel Matzav: Senators to Obama: Resolve crisis amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies

Senators to Obama: Resolve crisis amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies

Senators Barabara Boxer (D-Cal.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have drafted a letter to Secretary of State Clinton urging her to resolve differences with Israel “amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies.” Thousands of participants in this week's AIPAC convention (all of whom have someone else to clean for Pesach) will urge other Senators to sign the letter this week.

The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.

The conference, which begins Sunday and is expected to attract an unprecedented 7,500 attendees, comes as the US and Israel have been embroiled in their most serious crisis in years.


AIPAC activists will take to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with individual legislators at the tail end of the conference and are also expected to press for swift passage of Iran sanctions and to back continued aid to Israel.

But the recent tensions have heightened the profile of the letters to be circulated among members backing the US-Israel relationship and looking to move forward on the peace process. The Senate letter also calls on Clinton to “reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel.”

You can find the Senate letter here. A similar letter is also being advanced by the House.

Ben Smith has been through AIPAC's lobbying packet (which is online this year - last year I had to ask someone to send it to me) and reports that AIPAC is also going to be lobbying for 'crippling sanctions' against Iran.

The Iran "action" items:

• Urge members of the House and Senate to call on their leadership to conclude as soon as possible a conference agreement on the House’s Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and the Senate’s Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act.
• Urge members of the House and Senate to sign letters to President Obama urging him to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran by imposing immediate and crippling sanctions.

And one of the letter sponsors on Iran in the House is - get this - Jesse Jackson Jr.

Israel Matzav: Senators to Obama: Resolve crisis amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies

Israel Matzav: How do you say "Inspector Tamim" in Hungarian?

How do you say "Inspector Tamim" in Hungarian?

Remember the little blurb I ran on Friday about two Israeli Air Force planes being seen in the skies over Budapest? Well, a funny thing happened that very same day - Wednesday - in Budapest.

Israeli spy planes flew uninvited and unannounced over Budapest the same day a Syrian man was shot to death in his car, Hungarian media reported yesterday.

Read it all (yes, there's more to it than him being a Syrian).

Israel Matzav: How do you say "Inspector Tamim" in Hungarian?

Love of the Land: How Obama Is Turning America against Israel

How Obama Is Turning America against Israel

Ed Lasky
American Thinker
19 March '10

At best, Barack Obama committed the latest big mistake in his conduct of foreign policy last week. At worst, the president carried out a deliberate operation intended to weaken the U.S.-Israel relationship and turn the public against the Jewish State.

An announcement was made by a ministry of the Israeli government during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel that building permits were to be issued for a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The area concerned was expressly excluded from the moratorium on building that Prime Minster Netanyahu had offered to encourage the Palestinians to come to peace talks. The area is already filled with Israelis, and it was always considered an area that Israel would keep in any peace deal with the Palestinians. Indeed, the Palestinians never pushed to include this area in any previous dealings. The area is strategically important for the Israelis, being located on a higher elevation ideal for snipers to kill Israelis traveling on key highways.

Nevertheless, the announcement during Biden's visit was a diplomatic faux pas. Joe Biden made his displeasure clear while there, standing up Netanyahu for dinner (he was late by ninety minutes) and verbally lashing out.

Netanyahu and the Israeli government apologized profusely. That was not enough. When Biden returned home, the president (Mr. Cool) was "livid" and met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to work out word by word what the American response would be.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: How Obama Is Turning America against Israel

Love of the Land: A revolutionary proposal

A revolutionary proposal

Melanie Phillips
The Spectator
19 March '10

Commenting on the Obama/Israel crisis, Ed Lasky concludes that the US President is deliberately trying to turn America against Israel – and he is succeeding.

I have written in today’s Jewish Chronicle that it is time for Israel to stop going along with the diplomatic lies told for so long by Britain, America and the west about the Arab war against Israel. Lies that have twisted so many people’s minds into the belief that Israel is the historic usurper and aggressor in the Middle East, whereas in fact the Jews and the Jews alone are the rightful heirs to the land, in historical, legal and moral terms, and a monstrous injustice has been and is still being done to them.

It is these lies, and the consequent appeasement of the Arabs who promulgate them and the rewarding of Arab aggression, which has caused the Middle East impasse to remain an unending conflict. And it is these lies and the new distortions supplied by Obama which now pose the greatest single danger to Israel’s security and existence by eroding public support – not just in Britain, which is already lost, as is to a lesser extent ‘old’ Europe, but among the people who are the staunchest supporters of Israel: the great mass of middle America.

Disastrously, Israel has gone along with these lies -- for a variety of reasons. First, Israel observes the rules of diplomacy which almost invariably involve compromise. Now compromise is in general a good thing; but in a war of extermination, if the victim compromises with its attackers it strengthens them and makes its defeat more likely. In no other conflict in the history of the planet has a country which is the victim of an eight-decade belligerency aimed at wiping it off the map been expected to make concessions to its attackers. In no other conflict has such a victimised people been bullied by onlookers into doing so. Yet the first pressure is what Britain, America and Europe have been applying for decades, and the second is what Obama is now applying, with the EU falling in behind him: bullying the prospective victim of extermination into submitting to measures which increase the risk of such an eventuality, and in the process almost forcing the Palestinians from their habitual pose of sullen obstructionism and sporadic terrorism into another spate of outright war.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: A revolutionary proposal

Love of the Land: I'm Protecting Israel

I'm Protecting Israel

Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
20 March '10

I called Shmulik to find out when he was coming home. It's silly to call a soldier during the first three months of training - they can't answer (aren't even supposed to have the phone in their pockets). This is when they teach them, shape them, guide them, create them into the soldier they will be.

Of course, he didn't answer - I'm not even sure I can say I was disappointed. The nice thing was that he called me back later and I asked him what he was doing and he answered, "I'm protecting Israel." It was the laugh in his voice that warned me he wasn't serious.

"Against what?" I asked - images of them walking around base filled my mind, but it's too early.

"Against plants," he said and we both laughed. Apparently, this is one of the details Elie didn't tell me about but when new recruits enter the base, the first thing they clean up the base.

(Read full story)

Love of the Land: I'm Protecting Israel

Love of the Land: Double-Standards Watch

Double-Standards Watch

Noah Pollak
19 March '10

For a few months, a “human rights activist” named Mohammad Othman was held by Israel in something called administrative detention, which allows suspects to be held for a short period of time without a trial, but with judicial oversight. Othman’s detention earned this rebuke from Human Rights Watch, titled with a stern demand: “End Arbitrary Detention.” Of course, many nations, both democratic and undemocratic, practice administrative detention. And why the presumption that it was “arbitrary”? Never mind. The statement reads:

Israeli authorities have detained Othman without charge for more than two months on what appear to be politically motivated grounds. … Othman has no criminal record and, to the knowledge of Human Rights Watch, has never advocated or participated in violence. …

“The only reasonable conclusion is that Othman is being punished for his peaceful advocacy,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. [Emphasis added to weasel-phrasing]

Is that really the only reasonable conclusion? I would actually characterize this as a fantasy conclusion, or at least one of many possible conclusions. If the Shin Bet or IDF were interested in punishing people for “peaceful advocacy” in Israel and the West Bank, there would be tens of thousands of activists in detention. But there aren’t.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Double-Standards Watch

Love of the Land: Obama’s War Against Israel

Obama’s War Against Israel

Joel B. Pollak
19 March '10

There’s a joke making the rounds in my suburban Chicago neighborhood about the clash between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government: Why did Vice-President Joe Biden get angry when Israel embarrassed him by announcing new construction in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood? Because it’s usually Biden’s job to embarrass himself.

The joke has carried on far too long. The tension between the two governments is being stoked by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a deliberate attempt to weaken the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If Israel had committed a real foul, the Obama administration could have used a quiet threat of public condemnation to force Israeli concessions, and the Netanyahu government would have little choice but to comply.

Instead, the Obama administration has turned a public relations snafu into a public test of Israeli sovereignty, leaving the Netanyahu government little choice but to resist. The neighborhood where 1600 homes were to be built is not a remote outpost. It is mere meters from the Green Line, in a part of East Jerusalem that is actually west of the Old City. It is likely to remain part of Israel in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The timing of the administration’s attack is unfortunate, for two reasons. One is that Iran continues to move towards becoming a nuclear power. Each day the U.S. and Israel spend on the Ramat Shlomo question is a day wasted, a day that ought to have been spent dealing with our common enemy.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Obama’s War Against Israel
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