Saturday, 10 April 2010

Israel Matzav: The Tehran - Caracas axis

The Tehran - Caracas axis

Roger Noriega, U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States from 2001 to 2003 and assistant secretary of state from 2003 to 2005, raises serious concerns about dealings between Iran and Venezuela. Although Noriega raises these issues as possible problems in enforcing sanctions against Iran, they also merit independent consideration.

Although Mr. Chávez has denounced reports of uranium mining as “lies” and part of an “imperialist plan,” the Canadian uranium exploration company U308 Corp has recorded a substantial source of uranium in the Roraima Basin, which straddles the border between Guyana and the Venezuelan province of Bolívar.

Iranian or other Middle Eastern individuals operate a tractor factory, cement plant and gold mine in this region. Two of these facilities have private ports on the Orinoco River, affording unimpeded access to the Atlantic. One of these operations—the VenIran tractor factory—was the intended recipient of 22 containers intercepted by Turkish customs authorities at the port of Mersin in December 2008. They were carrying an “explosives lab” and nitrate and sulfite chemicals that are used to manufacture explosives.

These industrial operations are only the tip of the iceberg. Joint ventures and other projects totaling at least $30 billion between Iranian and Venezuelan front companies can be used to conceal multimillion dollar transactions. In addition, Iran has created several major financial institutions in Venezuela that work through local banks to gain access to the global banking system.

Because Venezuela can barely meet its domestic demand for refined petroleum products, some have doubted that Mr. Chávez can make good on his September 2009 pledge to supply Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime with 20,000 barrels of gasoline a day to soften the blow of expected sanctions. If the U.S. intelligence community is paying attention, however, it will know what Mr. Chávez told his Iranian counterpart in Caracas last November: Venezuela is already purchasing fuel on the international market for planned shipment to Iran, according to a secret account of the meeting provided to me by Venezuelan sources.

The Iranian relationship has also helped boost Venezuelan support of Middle Eastern radicals. Last November, Israeli navy commandos seized the German cargo vessel Francop, which was carrying 36 shipping containers holding 500 tons of Katyusha rockets, mortars, grenades and a half-million rounds of small-arms ammunition en route to Syria, but ultimately bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The lethal shipment had left the Venezuelan port of Guanta around the time that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro was visiting Damascus to deliver a message from Mr. Chávez to Bashar al-Assad.

The uranium mining story is not new, but much of the rest of it is (I was traveling the day the Francop story broke, but I recall it being headlined as an 'Iranian ship' and that there was no mention of it having originated from Venezuela).

Noriega notes that thus far the Obama administration has ignored everything done by Venezuela as 'petty provocations' and suggests that maybe the relationship between Caracas and Tehran will get the Obama administration to act. I see no signs of that. Given how much Obama ignores about Iran, and given that he's even had a warm meeting with Chavez, why should anything change? What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: The Tehran - Caracas axis

Love of the Land: The Outrage: Acceptance of Palestinian Authority Incitement

The Outrage: Acceptance of Palestinian Authority Incitement

Arlene Kushner
American Thinker
09 April '10

Dalal Mughrabi was a 19 year old female terrorist who led the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history - the Coastal Road Massacre of 1978. Mughrabi and her squad of terrorists came down from Lebanon via the Mediterranean by raft; they landed on the beach south of Haifa. First they killed American nature photographer Gail Rubin, and then they hijacked a bus. Ultimately, 38 innocent Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were murdered before Mughrabi herself was shot.

March 11, 2010 marked the 32nd anniversary of this horrendous event, and the Palestinian Authority was not about to let it pass. Thus was the decision made to name a square after Mughrabi in the township of El-Bireh, which is immediately adjacent to Ramallah in Samaria (the West Bank).

All of this made news in Israel, if not in the United States; it was certainly the topic of discussion on various websites -- most notably that of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

While the honoring of a terrorist is inherently abhorrent to the Western mind, a closer look at precisely how this particular terrorist was honored by the presumably "moderate" Palestinian Authority provides insight into precisely how obscene the current situation truly is.

A host of individuals associated with the PA, and in positions of leadership, went on record -- in Arabic, of course -- praising Mughrabi and defending their right to honor her. We can understand nothing until we see what has been said in Arabic, to the people: The talk, consistently, is of Dalal Mughrabi as shahida: martyr.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: The Outrage: Acceptance of Palestinian Authority Incitement

Israel Matzav: What 'everyone knows'

What 'everyone knows'

The map below is allegedly the map that the Obama administration plans to present as a 'peace plan' between Israel and the 'Palestinians' (Hat Tip: Will). It's what 'everyone knows' is the solution since Bill Clinton first proposed substantially the same thing in 2000.

Helene Cooper described it in the New York Times this week as follows:

Such a move is “absolutely not on the table right now,” a senior administration official said, adding that the United States wanted to first see the start of the indirect, American-brokered peace negotiations, which diplomats refer to as “proximity talks.” But the official said those talks would “undoubtedly get mired down, and then you can expect that we would go in with something.”

What that would be remains up in the air, but most Middle East experts draw the same outline for a peace deal. First, Palestinian officials would have to accept that there would be no right of return for refugees of the 1948 war that established the Israeli state, and for their millions of descendants. Rather, the Palestinians would have to accept some kind of compensation. Second, the two sides would have to share Jerusalem — Palestinians locating their capital in the east and Israelis in the west, and both signing on to some sort of international agreement on how to share the holy sites in the Old City.

Third, Israel would return to its 1967 borders — before it captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the Six-Day War — give or take a few negotiated settlements and territorial swaps. Fourth, the United States or NATO would have to give Israel security guarantees, probably including stationing troops along the Jordan River, to ease Israeli fears that hostile countries could use the Palestinian state as a springboard for attacks. And finally, Arab neighbors like Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel.

If that's the plan, the only thing that seems different from the Clinton parameters is the US or NATO troops (and even that has come up since). I can't imagine Israel accepting NATO troops (which would include Turkey) and I can't imagine Congress agreeing to send US troops - which are in short supply - here. Also, please recall that it was the 'Palestinians' who refused to accept the Clinton parameters.

But it's far from certain that this deal will ever be proposed. The Cable reports that Obama's advisers are 'all over the map' about Israel.

But one U.S. official close to the issue told The Cable there's a more diverse spectrum of opinion inside the administration, with different officials exhibiting a range of views on what the tactics and tone of the U.S. approach should be going forward. There is no prospect of an Obama peace plan surfacing anytime soon, however.

"That's obviously an option we have. At some point we may exercise it," the administration official told The Cable. "There's been no decision to do it and there's no plan to do it."

There are also two signs of concern for Israel: Jim Jones and Valerie Jarrett.

National Security Advisor Jim Jones is the one most clearly advocating for a more definite American plan for how to proceed. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and New York Times reporter Helene Cooper both described Jones as the prime mover behind a recent White House meeting in which a group of former national security advisors urged Obama to consider proposing his own peace initiative.

But Jones denied Friday that Obama has decided to take their advice.

"These are ongoing discussions, and I think that while we've not taken any decision to jumpstart any dramatic shift in our strategy, I think we should say, to make clear, that we don't intend to surprise anybody at any time," Jones told reporters.


Valerie Jarrett is another team member to watch. Two officials confirmed she is in almost all the meetings, although one official cautioned that doesn't mean she has a foreign-policymaking decision role, per se.

"Certainly how we handle Israel has implications for the public, nongovernmental organizations, and Congress, so understanding how the public and the interest groups will react is important and you have to loop her in," the official said.

To the extent that Jones and Jarrett seem to have increasing clout with Obama, that worries outsiders who fear they are pushing him toward a tougher stance vis-à-vis Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who abruptly cancelled his plans to come to Washington next week for the nuclear summit.

Jones and Jarrett are both known not to sympathize with Israel.

But here's the bottom line. If 'everyone knows' this is the deal, why can't they get it done? Obviously, because someone doesn't want it done. That isn't Israel - we offered that deal three times in the last ten years. The pressure on Israel is out of place.

That's not to say that I expect Netanyahu to offer the same deal that was offered by Barak and Olmert. I don't. A lot of things have changed since Barak made his offer (the 'second intifada' and the results of the Gaza expulsion being high up on the list) and Olmert's offer was that of a suicidal maniac trying to maintain his position in office.

Israel Matzav: What 'everyone knows'

Love of the Land: Israel the strong horse

Israel the strong horse

Caroline Glick
10 April '10

What does Jordan's King Abdullah want from Israel? This week Abdullah gave a long and much cited interview to the Wall Street Journal. There he appeared to be begging US President Barack Obama to turn up the heat still further on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. As he has on a number of occasions, Abdullah argued that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the cause or the justification of all the violence and emerging threats in the region. By his telling, all of these threats, including Iran's nuclear threat, will all but disappear if Israel accepts all of the Palestinian, (and Syrian), demands for land.

Abdullah's criticism of Netanyahu dominated the news in Israel for much of the week. Commentators and reporters piled on, attacking Netanyahu for destroying whatever remains of Israel's good name. In their rush to attack the premier, none of them stopped to consider that perhaps they were missing something fundamental about Abdullah's interview.

But they were missing something. For there is another way to interpret Abdullah's complaints. To understand it however, it is necessary to consider the strategic constraints under which Abdullah operates. And the Israeli media, like the Western media as a whole, are incapable of recognizing that Abdullah has constraints that make it impossible for him to say what he means directly.

Abdullah is a Hashemite who leads a predominantly Palestinian country. His country was carved out by the British as a consolation prize for his great-grandfather after the Hashemites lost Syria to the French. As a demographic minority and ethnic transplant, the Hashemites have never been in a position to defend themselves or their kingdom against either their domestic or foreign foes. Consequently they have always been dependent out outside powers - first Britain, and then Israel, and to a lesser degree the US - for their survival.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Israel the strong horse

Israel Matzav: Hmmm....


Jordan has barred the leaders of the radical Islamic Movement from entering its country from Israel.

Among those Islamic Movement leaders deemed too radical for Jordan are the head of the movement's northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, and his deputy, Khamel Hatib. Several other senior members of the group have been barred from the country as well.

Most recently barred from Jordan was Sheikh Ahmed abu-Ajweh, head of the Islamic Movement's branch in Yafo. “I arrived at the border... I passed over to the Jordanian side, and when I presented my passport, I was told to wait,” Ajweh told the Palestinian Authority's Wafa news on Thursday.

"I was held at the border for more than five hours, and then a captain informed me that I am not authorized to enter Jordan,” he continued. Awjeh said he was taken to an office with sophisticated equipment. There, workers photographed his eyes and took his fingerprints. After that, he was ordered to return to Israel.

"I don't understand the Jordanian policy, apparently they have decided to prevent Islamic Movement activists from entering Jordan, for no logical reason,” he complained.

I can think of a lot of reasons why Jordan wouldn't want to allow them to enter. The real question is why Israel allows them to wander around freely.

The picture at the top is Sheikh Raed Sallah.

Israel Matzav: Hmmm....

Israel Matzav: Israel is not Switzerland

Israel is not Switzerland

There were some comments on the gag order in the Anat Kam case. I made some comments about it here. The JPost's Yaakov Katz adds:

One of the Shin Bet’s main mistakes was its insistence that the gag order remain in effect until it heard back this week from Blau’s attorney that he had rejected another offer to reach an agreement. This came almost two weeks after the story broke and made its way quickly around the world.

While the use of the gag order is questionable, ultimately Diskin is correct in his pursuit of the additional documents suspected of being in Blau’s hands.

Israel is not Switzerland and the documents Kamm allegedly stole reveal emergency IDF deployment plans, classified weaponry, secret drills and sensitive intelligence, and constitute a treasure chest that any Middle Eastern country would love to get its hands on. This is not something that can be taken lightly.

He also speaks to another point I discussed in that post: The IDF's screening procedures for security clearance.

Kamm, the main culprit, is accused of stealing some 2,000 secret military documents from the office of the commander of the IDF’s Central Command, burning them onto a CD and then handing them over to Blau on a disk-on-key data storage device.

Her motivation, according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), was her radical ideology. Her presence in a top general’s office and her exposure to classified material raises serious questions about the IDF’s ability to run background checks on its soldiers and prevent the infiltration of spies into its ranks.

Charged with espionage, Kamm faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted.

I would love to hear from anyone who knows more about this, but I suspect that the IDF's attitude is "she was born in Israel and therefore we can trust her." That attitude hasn't been true since at least the Yom Kippur War. Maybe it's time to start doing something about it.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Israel is not Switzerland

RubinReports: Life in an American Fourth Grade: The Months of the Year Are Politicized

Life in an American Fourth Grade: The Months of the Year Are Politicized

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By Barry Rubin

Having had Asian, African, African-American, and South American months, it's now Arab-American month. Not there's anything wrong with that.

The theme could be, should be, that America is a great country. Yes, there were periods of discrimination against various groups which were newly arrived--a problem that goes back to the coming of Irish Catholics and just about every immigrating group faced--and a very long one against those who arrived as slaves. But the democratic and open system overcame all of those shortcomings pretty quickly, though in the latter case it took a very long time. And once overcome, equal opportunity quickly became available and people were integrated into the society with amazing success. Isn't that a remarkable story?

Instead, though, the contents have been used not just to glorify the contribution of each such group and include the problems faced but to make the almost total theme criticizing the United States as innately bigoted and mean-spirited. Again, though, different places have different approaches. A colleague tells me that his fifth-grader in Pennsylvania was assigned to memorize the Gettysberg Address. In this fourth-grade classroom, however, the name Abraham Lincoln has barely, if at all, been uttered.

On Friday, the class was read a book whose title is Saladin: The Noble Prince of Islam. [You can read the first page by clicking on the link.] It describes his upbringing, education in Islam, and his life generally. My informant tells me that the book explains that Saladin taught the Muslims how to like the Christians until the Christians invaded in a "religious frenzy." I cannot verify it says that but this is what he heard.

Presumably, there will be no reading of Richard the Lion-Hearted: Noble King of Christian England [I made that title up] or any balancing material. The Crusaders did some bad things; the Muslims did some bad things. But these students will only hear about the former. They will not be told that it was pressure by Islamic states on Byzantium, their seizure of Jerusalem, and their cutting off of direct trade from Europe which were among the factors starting the wars.

There are three basic options to teaching about this to young people:

A: The Christians were right and the Muslims were wrong.
B. The Muslims were right and the Christians were wrong.
C. An accurate accont of what happened and in the course of events both sides did things right and wrong or--without putting a right or wrong on it--just say what they did.

In the West, Option A was often taught historically. Today, at least in this classroom, Option B is taught. If anything, Option C should be taught.

Of course, teaching fourth-graders this piece of history--when nothing about what Lincoln did ten miles away from the schoolroom--is no mere matter of chance. It is intended to have an effect on these children's view of today and recent history. It plays right into the evil imperialist West versus the good and innocent Muslims (and Third World peoples generally) narrative that is being presented more widely.

In the minds of ten-year-olds what else possibly is going to be formed by such indoctrination? The Crusaders become the Americans. Remember that the term "Crusader" is often applied to the United States by radical Islamists, notably Usama bin Ladin and his colleagues. Such analogies are justifications for anti-American--and anti-Western and anti-Israel--terrorism.

There is still another problem with the approach being taken: turning history into a morality play. What's perhaps even more important is that students should be taught to understand the clash of nations and peoples results from a search for their own security, conflicting claims, and ambitious visions. In itself these are not necessarily moral issues. The content of the society--and possibly more important the nature of the political systems--are what brings in moral questions.

People tend naturally to believe that their own side is right. This tendency must be curbed by teaching how to be more open-minded, inculcating an ability to stand back and be more objective. Yet if this becomes teaching people that their side is always wrong, that not only goes against what I might call the gravity of human nature but is also wrong in terms of honesty and intellectual values. It is very wrong when a basically good society is being subverted.

There is nothing at all liberal about this approach. The liberal approach is Option C above. Why is the situation today in intellectual life so bad? It isn't because just conservative values are being so often trashed. It's because both conservative and liberal values are being simultaneously trashed. It's because the values and methods that are the very basis of democracy--a passion for accuracy, an honest striving for objectivity, a courage in preserving open debate, an eagerness for fair balance, a willingness to teach people to ask questions rather than to ram down their throats prefabricated "correct" answers--are so often violated.

For reasons I won't discuss here, there isn't going to be a Christian month, or a Jewish month, or a Caucasian month, or a male month, or an America-is-great month,, or a democracy-is-good-and-dictatorship-is-bad month, or a free-enterprise-has-given-us-high-living-standards-and-a-lot-of-real-social-justice month, or a Western civilization month, or a Constitution month, or a federalism month, or a terrorism-is-bad month in public schools. All the more reason, then, that there must be a reasonable balance in what is taught about these things.

If a huge percentage of the curriculum focusing on "other" communities is implicitly portraying this above-mentioned list of groups and ideas as bad, there isn't going to be any redress elsewhere during the school year. Thus, if they learn that Japanese-Americans were interned during World War Two but not that the Japanese side in the war tortured and murdered Americans or if they learn that Christian Crusaders were aggressive but not that Muslim Saracens were, this is a one-sided story that is going to produce some terrible results.

Once again, one bad deed does not justify another, nor are all bad deeds necessarily equal. Japanese-Americans were not responsible for what the Japanese government and army did. But providing more than a one-sided view does teach us that all people are capable of good and bad, that none is innately superior. Isn't that what tolerance and anti-racism is all about?

But to teach systematically that non-Americans, non-Christians, non-whites are pretty much always good and that the other side is pretty much always bad is a form of--guess what!--racism, national chauvinism, and religious bigotry, isn't it?

There is nothing wrong with giving praise to various previously neglected groups. By the way, though, it should be remembered that children today are growing up in the twenty-first century and are not being socialized during the era of slavery or segregation or the British Empire and the concept of the white man's burden. There doesn't have to be some desperate attempt to persuade them that--to quote a neglected document--"all men [in the sense of all people] are created equal." They know that already.

A democratic society that teaches a large proportion of its students that its own society, values, and history are always good is making a mistake that will have some real costs. A democratic society that teaches a large proportion of its students that its own society, values, and history is evil is committing suicide.

RubinReports: Life in an American Fourth Grade: The Months of the Year Are Politicized

Israel Matzav: Even the Iranians applauded

Even the Iranians applauded

Guess which country's team won the competition for being the biggest experts in the Laws of War.

Israel Matzav: Even the Iranians applauded

Love of the Land: Why Didn’t Obama Call Off the Ambush?

Why Didn’t Obama Call Off the Ambush?

Noah Pollak
09 April '10

There is an obvious reason why the Israeli prime minister canceled his attendance at President Obama’s nuclear security summit: he sought to avoid a combined Egyptian and Turkish attack on Israel’s nuclear program.

But there is an important follow-up question that is of far greater consequence: why do Egypt and Turkey, both American allies, feel at liberty to show up in Washington D.C. at a conference organized by the U.S. president and dump on one of America’s closest allies?

This latest incident is not really about Israel’s relations with Egypt and Turkey; both countries can be counted on to take cheap shots at Israel whenever they can, especially the increasingly Islamist Turkey. The critical issue is why they believed they had a green light to engage in such theatrics. Upon hearing of the ambush they were planning, Obama or Clinton could have sent a very clear message to the Turkish prime minister and the Egyptian dictator: “You either come to Washington and behave yourselves, or stay home. This is a respectable conference, not a platform for anti-Israel grandstanding.”

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Why Didn’t Obama Call Off the Ambush?

Love of the Land: Obama Administration Denies Visas to Israeli Nuclear Scientist

Obama Administration Denies Visas to Israeli Nuclear Scientists

Roger L. Simon
08 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

The Obama administration is now denying U.S. visas to Israeli scientists who work at that nation’s Dimona nuclear reactor. This startling reversal of traditional policy was reported April 7, 2010, in the Israeli website/newspaper NRG/Maariv (link to the original Hebrew here and to an exclusive Pajamas Media translation here).

This could be yet another flashpoint in the increasingly sensitive relations between the administration, the American Jewish community, and Israel. The revelation in Maariv came only a day before the arrival in New York of Tariq Ramadan — controversial grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna — whose visa was reportedly championed by Secretary of State Clinton. Yesterday as well, new rules disavowing the term “Islamic radicalism” were announced by Secretary of Defense Gates.

According to Maariv: “…. workers at the Dimona reactor who submitted VISA requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in Physics, Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering — have all been rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor. This is a new policy decision of the Obama administration, since there never used to be an issue with the reactor’s workers from study in the USA, and till recently, they received VISAs and studied in the USA.”

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Obama Administration Denies Visas to Israeli Nuclear Scientists

Love of the Land: The Most Dangerous Woman in Israel*

The Most Dangerous Woman in Israel*
08 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

A female soldier takes documents allegedly showing that the IDF violates supreme court decisions on procedures for targeted assassinations, gives them to a reporter who writes a shocking story; the Shabak [General Security Service] places her under house arrest and slaps a gag order on the press.

A shocker: Interference in the public’s right to know, the army using its power to hide despicable violations of the law, the persecution of a honest whistle-blower. A perfect subject for a true-to-life Hollywood treatment: courageous, attractive young girl risks her freedom and perhaps her life to follow her conscience, the dashing reporter, too, is in danger — but they do the right thing anyway, and fall in love (this didn’t happen in real life as far as I know but is a must for a successful movie), tragically, ultimately to be crushed by the massive power of the military and secret police.

The world media and the left-wing Israeli media concentrated on her ’secret arrest’ and the ’suppression of free press’ angle.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The Most Dangerous Woman in Israel*

Love of the Land: Hillary's Disproportionate Response

Hillary's Disproportionate Response

Jack Schwartzwald
American Thinker
08 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

When Israel imposed a ten-month ban on West Bank settlement construction last November, Hillary Clinton knew full well that the ban did not apply to Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern half of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, she described the step as a helpful "move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Now, despite the fact that Israel has apologized for its putative misstep in announcing new housing construction in these neighborhoods during Joe Biden's recent visit, Hillary has demanded total cessation of such activity, saying in an address to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that, "New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank...exposes daylight between Israel and the United States."

On March 11th, the very day of Mr. Biden's departure from Israel, Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization proceeded (albeit "unofficially") with the dedication of a public square in el Bireh to Dalal Mughrabi, the female leader of the deadliest-ever terrorist attack against Israel. This was followed by a four-day seminar, under Palestinian Authority auspices, entitled, "Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Camp."

Ironically, these actions do not seem to have exposed much daylight between the Palestinian Authority and the United States. The explanation for the incongruity may be found in the fact that, during her AIPAC address, Hillary misattributed the Mughrabi celebrations to Hamas, thereby granting undeserved absolution to Israel's theoretical peace partners, Abbas and the PA. (Pity America's ally, Israel, wasn't the beneficiary of such largesse.)

Hillary then went on to explain that the dedication of the square "insults the families on both sides who have lost loved this conflict."

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Hillary's Disproportionate Response

Love of the Land: A Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations: Have We Been Here Before?

A Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations: Have We Been Here Before?

Dore Gold
Vol. 9, No. 23
8 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

As a result of the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel entered the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. It is very important to recall that Israel entered these areas after it was attacked, and after it requested that the Jordanians not join the Egyptian war effort. There were Jordanian artillery attacks throughout Jerusalem and all of Israel, as well as movement of Jordanian ground forces into areas that were previously no-man's land.

There is presently a marked shift underway in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. True, no U.S. administration accepted Israel's annexation of Jerusalem in July 1967. Nonetheless, in the past we saw the U.S. and Israel coming to a modus vivendi with respect to Israeli policy in Jerusalem, when Israel built various neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the city, from Ramat Eshkol to Gilo to Ramot.

A neighborhood called Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem was established in 1997 during the Clinton administration to ease the considerable shortage of housing in the Jewish sector. On two occasions, the Arab bloc initiated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for constructing Har Homa. On both occasions, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, vetoed those resolutions under instructions from the Clinton administration.

The Oslo Agreements in 1993 do not require a freeze on construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Furthermore, under the Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem was treated as having a completely different status than the West Bank and the city was kept under Israeli control, while seen as an issue for permanent status negotiations in the future.

It is possible to discern a growing view, which has been reported in the Washington Post, that the Obama administration intends to put on the table its own plan for Middle East peace, based on a nearly full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, that most Israeli planners view as militarily indefensible. As the Palestinians see this scenario unfold, their incentive to re-enter negotiations will decline as they look forward to the prospect that an American peace plan will be imposed. If indeed there is such a plan being prepared, then the recent U.S.-Israel tensions over construction in east Jerusalem may only be Act I in a much longer drama that the two countries are about to face.

We are in a period in which the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be in flux, but it is hard for many observers to establish whether the policies of the Obama administration represent a sharp break in U.S. policy toward Israel or a continuation of past U.S. policies. Will military ties between the two countries be affected? According to a charge that has been associated with officers in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Israel's disagreements with the Palestinians, or Israel's construction efforts, have a negative effect on the U.S. military posture in the Middle East, with some reports even going so far as to suggest that they risk the lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, on the basis of past experience, is it likely that the U.S. and Israel will ultimately resolve their differences, or are the present gaps between the two countries so wide that their long-term relationship will change?

(Read full report)

Love of the Land: A Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations: Have We Been Here Before?

Love of the Land: A Case Study in Propaganda: A day in the life of the BBC campaign against Israel

A Case Study in Propaganda: A day in the life of the BBC campaign against Israel

Robin Shepherd
09 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

Here is a list of all of the headlines about Israel which are up on the BBC website’s MidEast section right now:

“Netanyahu cancels US nuclear trip” [A developing story about the ongoing spat between Israel and the Obama administration]
“Israel lifts espionage gag order” [A story about failed Israeli attempts to silence a former soldier who leaked documents to the press about "assassinations"]
“Israel is a ‘threat’ says Turkey” [A story about how Israel ruined its relationship with a former "ally" after Cast Lead]
“Jail for Israeli Arab ‘gym spy’” [A story about an Israeli Arab sentenced to six years for spying on an Israeli general at the gym where they both worked]
“Israel blames troops for deaths” [A story about the Israeli military admitting its soldiers unnecessarily killed four Palestinian demonstrators]

There are also two features about Israel on the same page. Here are the headlines:

“Thais labouring on Israel’s farms” [A story about how Israel now uses Thais as cheap labour since the Palestinians are stuck behind the "wall".]
“Jerusalem Diary: Cairo views” [A diary piece ostensibly about life in Cairo which quickly descends into the publication of Holocaust denial and a reader comment saying that denying the Holocaust should not be regarded as anti-Semitic".]

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: A Case Study in Propaganda: A day in the life of the BBC campaign against Israel

Elder of Ziyon: Death threats silence Israeli-Arab singer

Death threats silence Israeli-Arab singer

From TheJC:

The woman who sang for Israel at the last Eurovision Song Contest, has pulled out of the ZF Israel Independence Day Concert in London following death threats.

Mira Awad, is an Arab-Israeli and one half of a duo with Achinoam Nini, otherwise known as NOA, with whom she performs to sell-out internationally audiences, promoting a message of peace and co-existence.

The ZF who have organised annual Israel Independence Day events in Britain for years invited them to headline the show on April 19.

Ms Awad now has round-the-clock security at her home in Tel Aviv. Her family, who live in Kfar Rameh, a small Arab Village in the north of Israel, is also under close watch.

Her Manager, Ofer Pesenzon, said: “Mira and NOA’s message is about finding a peaceful way forward. It is tragic that when both sides try to come together by any means possible to build a better future for Israel and its citizens, there are those prepared to use violence and intimidation to destroy it.”

Yes, extremists on both sides always mess up prospects for peace.

Oh, wait....

Elder of Ziyon: Death threats silence Israeli-Arab singer

Eretz Avot: Obama's Czechoslovakia

Obama's Czechoslovakia

Obama subscribes to the liberal worldview that believes that the Muslim world is simply reactive and not active in its own right. The hostility between the Islamic and Western world is one wholly provoked by Western, and specifically American, actions. Obama's predecessor, Bush, brought relations with the Islamic world to a new low with his rhetoric, aggressive policies and unilateralism. Obama intends to rectify this situation and inaugurate a new era of peace and co-operation between America, the West and Islam. As Obama said in his June 2009 speech to the Islamic world in Cairo: "I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition."

The price to pay for this new beginning? The sacrifice of Israel on the altar of appeasement of Islamic hatred. In all of Obama's policies regarding Israel since assuming office, his actions have favoured the Palestinians and the Arab world at the expense of the Jewish state. While the Obama administration chose to manufacture a crisis and reprimand Israel over the construction of homes for Jews in its capital, the "moderate" Fatah party was holding a ceremony to rename a public square in honour of the perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history. Apparently, to Obama, Jews building in Jerusalem necessitates public rebuke and shaming of the United State's greatest ally, while Israel's "peace partner" honouring the murderer of 37 innocent Jewish men, women and children, deserves nary a protest.

It was recently reported by security officials that Obama would remove the words 'jihad' and 'Islamic extremism' from US counter-terrorism documents. Of course, it goes without saying that Obama will not remove the words 'jihad' and 'Islamic extremism' from Islamic extremists. This willing blindness to Islamic fundamentalism and jihadist intention fits perfectly with Obama's belief that the root of the problem in the Middle-East is Israel- that the "occupation" and "settlements" fuel the jihadists which attack American and Western targets. The Obama administration deliberately chose to misinterpret the words of US General Petraeus to claim that Israeli policies endanger US troops.

Obama's open hostility to Israel is no secret and was only most recently expressed in his humiliation of Israel's Prime Minister when he came to Washington to deliver a speech before AIPAC. Obama is pressuring Israel to make dangerous concessions: to retreat to the indefensible "Auschwitz lines" of pre-1967, to expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and to partition Jerusalem, Israel's capital. At the same time, he continues to whet Palestinian maximalist aspirations and encourage violence and terror. According to Palestinian officials, Obama encouraged Palestinian 'resistance', meaning terror and violence against Israel.

Obama continues to wave the Iranian threat over Israel's head in order to promote his peace process to nowhere. His year of attempted engagement and diplomacy has failed as Iran is racing ever closer to a nuclear bomb. Even as Obama gathers more world leaders for useless summits over sanctions, Iran unveils third-generation advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment. US support for an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities seems as remote as ever.

Israel is finding itself increasingly isolated, being pushed into a corner by a hostile American president prepared to appease the tyrants and demagogues of the Islamic world at its expense. As Obama pursues more futile policies and actions, Iran continues its genocidal threats and comes closer to building a nuclear bomb with which to attack Israel. For Israel, the clock is ticking for a strike on Iran. It will receive no support from the United States as Obama plans to make Israel his Czechoslovakia. Israel cannot rely on the United States to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. America will not come to the Jews' rescue- just as it didn't bomb the railway tracks to Auschwitz. Israel can only rely on its own strength, and its Father in Heaven.

Eretz Avot: Obama's Czechoslovakia

RubinReports: Listen to the Two Best Arab Journalists Warning What A Nuclear-Armed Iran Means

Listen to the Two Best Arab Journalists Warning What A Nuclear-Armed Iran Means

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By Barry Rubin

The two Arab journalists I most respect have written of the fear in Arabic-speaking countries about Iran’s having nuclear weapons. They explain persuasively why a U.S. containment policy of reassuring Arab states and Israel against direct nuclear attack is totally inadequate.

Listen to what they’re saying as it is much more accurate in warning about the coming strategic shift in the region than what’s being written in the West.

Both Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid and Ahmad al-Jarallah are close to elements in the Saudi regime yet also maintain personal independence and support liberal reform. Rashid (often transliterated, Rashed) is a Saudi who is former editor of al-Sharq al-Awsat, probably the best Arabic newspaper, and is now director-general of the al-Arabiya network, possibly the best satellite television network. Writing in al-Sharq al-Awsat on February 21 (translated by MEMRI) he explained:

"An Iranian bomb…will not be put to military use; it will be used as a way to change the rules of the game. What we are afraid of is Iran's policy, that uses all means to force its existence [as a regional power], and nuclear weapons is only [one of these] means.” For example, if pro-Iranian militias “take over southern Iraq, no superpower will dare to use military means to stop it.”

"We fear the logic of the current regime in Tehran, which spent the country's funds on Hizbullah, Hamas, the extremist movements in Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and supported every extremist in the region. The Ahmadinejad regime aspires to expansion, hegemony, and a clear takeover on the ground, and to do this he needs a nuclear umbrella to protect him from deterrence by [any] superpower.

"The Gulf states, that built giant cities and factories all along the coast, will, when Iran possesses nuclear weapons, become hostage to the caprices of Ahmadinejad and his extremist government.…”

Precisely right. Iran’s bomb will change the strategic balance, inspire revolutionary Islamist movements, lead Arab and Western states toward appeasement, and thus shift power in the region decisively toward Tehran.

Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, has survived several assassination attempts which he attributes to Syria. He wrote on February 7:

“The entire region has become hostage to fears of [possible] rash actions by Iran that could cause nuclear catastrophes that neither Iran nor the world will be able to bear. After all, examples of such catastrophes, some of which were the result of unexpected events, are still etched in memory, and the world continues to pay for them."

He adds, "The current Iranian position is reminiscent of the stands taken by Saddam [Hussein], the Iraqi dictator who was the last regional leader who sought hegemony in the area. Clearly, the political path taken by the Tehran regime is controlled by imperialist aspirations; this inspires much fear...not only due to [Iran's] support for several extremist groups of various kinds, but also due to the nuclear issue and the real intentions that the Iranian leadership is concealing….

"Now more than ever, the entire international community must stop Iran's rashness and bring it back to the right path – particularly in light of the obvious signs of the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the region. Beyond the economic cost, this race will affect all areas of life, and will drown the region in a quagmire of chaos and [evoke] reactions that none can predict."

As an extra bonus, take a look at Fouad Ajami's piece on Afghanistan in the Wall Street Journal. It is a brilliant analysis--ok, it sounds like what I've been saying but it's still brilliant--about how as Obama shows his weakness and unreliability U.S. allies are running for cover. Isn't it funny how people who really know or live in the region understand this perfectly.

Yes, bland assurances that all will be ok because the United States will stop Iran from firing off nuclear missiles at its neighbors are very much beside the point.

RubinReports: Listen to the Two Best Arab Journalists Warning What A Nuclear-Armed Iran Means

Israel Matzav: Israel to use nukes against Iran?

Israel to use nukes against Iran?

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

Now, it's getting really crazy. UPI is claiming that Israel is going to use nuclear weapons to take out Iran's nuclear weapons.

The 208-page report, by veteran Middle East analysts Anthony Cordesman and Abdullah Toukan, argued that Israel's air force does not have the firepower to knock out the Iranian facilities and that low-yield tactical nuclear warheads would be the only way to destroy them.

Israel, of course, has made no comment on this at all, in line with its policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear arsenal, believed to total some 600 warheads, bombs and artillery shells.

Nor does it discuss its inventory of Jericho II -- and probably some Jericho III -- ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. These are placed in heavily fortified silos in the Judean Hills and near two or three Israeli air bases.

But if Israel elected to launch a nuclear strike, it is likely that the Jerichos would be the chosen means of delivery.

They would eliminate Israeli casualties, of which there would be an appreciable number if the air force was thrown at Iran's heavily protected nuclear infrastructure, and the loss of valuable strike aircraft.

One assessment estimated Israel would need 90-100 long-range F-15I and F-16I aircraft for such strikes, of which around 20 percent would be lost.

In an assessment in March 2009, Toukan estimated that 42 Jericho IIIs, with 1,650-pound conventional warheads, would be needed to "severely damage or demolish" Iran's core nuclear facilities at Natanz, Isfahan and Arak.

That, according to most estimates, would be enough to set back Iran's nuclear arms project by two or three years.

But it would also run the risk of retaliatory attacks on Israel, either with Iran's Shehab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles -- Tehran has threatened to unleash 600, although there's no evidence it has that many -- or using local proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.

Israel could also use its three German-built Dolphin-class submarines, reportedly adapted to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, firing from the Arabian Sea to add to the mayhem.

Little is known about the Jericho III, but it is believed be a three-stage, solid-fuel missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead for a minimum range of 2,980 miles.

Israel has never even hinted at using nuclear weapons against Iran.

Why should we when other people do it for us? Isn't that what deterrence is about?


Israel Matzav: Israel to use nukes against Iran?
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