Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Israel Matzav: Rahm Emanuel's dream job

Rahm Emanuel's dream job

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was asked on the Charlie Rose show on Monday night what his dream job would be. Can you guess what he said?

Let's go to the videotape.


I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm happy he doesn't want to be Secretary of State.

Israel Matzav: Rahm Emanuel's dream job

Israel Matzav: Good news: Mass defections from Hamas ... to al-Qaeda

Good news: Mass defections from Hamas ... to al-Qaeda

'Thousands' of terrorists have been defecting from Hamas to four Salafist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda according to a report on the 'Palestinian Authority' Maan news website.

Thousands of former Hamas members have switched their loyalties, and now belong to a Salafi terrorist group inspired by Al-Qaeda, a Gaza terrorist told the Palestinian Authority-based Maan news agency.

The terrorist, Abu Al-Hareth, is the founder of Jund Ansar Allah, a Salafi group that has clashed with Hamas and challenges its control of Gaza. There are more than 11,000 Salafists in Gaza today, Hareth claimed, 70 percent of them former members of Hamas.

The once-Hamas, now Salafi terrorists are termed Jaljalat, he said. Jund Ansar Allah is one of the four groups comprising the Jaljalat; the others are Jund Allah, A-Taweed wa-Jihad, and the Army of Islam (Jamat Jaish al-Islam).

The Army of Islam was behind the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was later turned over to Hamas. It also kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, who was released unharmed after several weeks in captivity.

The Jaljalat is not officially linked to Al-Qaeda but is influenced by its worldview and models itself after Al-Qaeda cells in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Hareth said. Its followers obey religious figures such as Shiekh Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, a senior figure in Al-Qaeda's Iraq branch.

Let's see how many of these morons who suggest that we should negotiate with Hamas will now suggest that we negotiate with al-Qaeda. After all, you 'can't make peace' without them.

Israel Matzav: Good news: Mass defections from Hamas ... to al-Qaeda

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Naomi Shemer: the First Prophetic Song

Naomi Shemer: the First Prophetic Song

Noami Shemer (1930-2004) was the single most important writer of shirim ivri'im ever (lyrics and music). Her earliest ones were recorded in the late 1950s, and she kept on writing until shortly before her death. Many are at the center of the canon. Yet the uncanny thing about her was her ability to write shirim that defined pivotal historical events, and always in advance. There was something truly prophetic about her.

Her first prophetic moment was this very night, the night after Independence Day, in 1967.

In those days the final act of the holiday was a nationally live broadcast song festival, in which 12 new songs competed. They didn't have computers, iPhones, text messaging and all the other things we can't imagine life without, so the 12 songs would be preformed, then the audience in Binyanaei Haumah, Jerusalem's largest theater, would vote with old-fashioned slips of paper in envelopes, and it would take an hour to count the results. During that hour there'd be time filler of some sort. As the festival of 1967 was being prepared, the new mayor of Jerusalem, the extremely well connected Teddy Kollek, convinced the organizers that the time filler should relate to Jerusalem. So after the audience listened to the 12 contestants, voted, and went to the bathroom, they settled down to bide the time. Soon a young woman no-one had ever heard of climbed onto the stage with her guitar and sang. It was the first new song about Jerusalem written in the 19 years since independence and the partition of the city; it was a cry of pain that the city was divided.

The audience went wild. Never had a song caused so much excitement. By the next morning the entire county was singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Jerusalem of Gold. It had struck some deep and unsuspected chord of regret: yes, we've got a state, but no, we're not back in Jerusalem. Not all is right.

What made the moment prophetic was that at the exact, precise moment that Shuly Natan was performing the song for the first time, Gamal Nasser, Egypt's president, was smashing the international agreements of 1956 by sending his divisions into the Sinai, in a move that within three weeks had precipitated the Six Day War. The song, which had mourned the fact that access to most of the holy sites of Jerusalem was banned by the Jordanians, was seen as the harbinger of the reunification of the city, and the ability of Jews to revisit their city. When the paratroopers reached the Kotel, the Western Wall, three weeks later, they sang Yerushalayim Shel Zahav with the full force of a prayer literally come true. Shemer quickly added a stanza about how we're back, and the song became the anthem of reunification.

Till this day Yerushalayim Shel Zahav stands above the canon of shirim ivri'im; it's the closest thing secular Israel has ever produced to a holy text.

Hebrew words
English translation

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.

And in the slumber of tree and stone
Captured in her dream
The city that sits solitary
And in its midst is a wall.

Jerusalem of gold
And of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.


But as I come to sing to you today,
And to adorn crowns to you (i.e. to tell your praise)
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children (i.e. the least worthy of doing so)
And of the last poet (i.e. of all the poets born).

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a seraph
If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Which is all gold...


We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and to the market-place
A ram's horn calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousands of suns shine -
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho!


Here's the original recording from May 1967, followed by a 2002 one of the full song. Both are sung by Shuly Natan. In the latter recording she is introduced by Ehud manor, whom I've already introduced.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Naomi Shemer: the First Prophetic Song

Elder of Ziyon: Did we find an authentic Palestinian Arab dish?

Did we find an authentic Palestinian Arab dish?

From Ma'an:

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad seen testing a massive dish of musakhan, a traditional Palestinian food, in the West Bank village of Arura, near Ramallah on 19 April 2010. The dish has a diameter of 4 meters.

Chefs are hoping to win an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest dish of musakhan ever made. It contained 500 chickens, 500 kg of onions, 250 kg of flour, 170 liters of olive oil, 70 kg of almonds and 50 kg of spices and sumac.

Is musakhan a Palestinian food?

It seems that this depends on your definition of "Palestinian." Mentions of the food in the media in the past decade or so generally call it Palestinian, but that was not always the case. In this fluff piece for the Saudi Aramco World magazine from 1975, it is identified as Jordanian:

Jordan’s Legendary Musakahan

To people with a desert heritage, the idea of cooking on or in earth, by the heat of the sun, a twig fire, or hot stones, is the natural way to a meal. From Aqaba to Baghdad, the bread baking in the ashes, tea bubbling on hot rocks, the bird roasting in a jacket of mud, this has been cookery through the millennia.

Not that that Dior-dressed lady over there is going home to fashionable Jabal Amman to poke up a fire among hot rocks. She may not even turn on her electric stove if she's having people in to dinner. She'll probably send out for that legendary Jordan Valley specialty, musakhan —literally "heated"—a succulent concoction of chicken, bread, onions and sumac baked in a tabboun.

The tabboun is the mud igloo once found in the back yard of old Jordanian homes. Its dome, over a mud-and-stone baking surface, over a fire trench, builds up and holds an intense, even heat which demonstrably adds a different flavor to baked bread, roasted meat. This venerable institution is sometimes found today even in cities, where neighborhoods have hung onto their ancient communal tabboun, the local bakery. After the baker has finished his day's allotment of loaves, the oven stays hot for hours, and in it will be found the dinners of his neighbors—a whole lamb at the back, a stuffed chicken, a casserole of eggplant.

So it appears that Musakhan originated in the Jordan Valley, which includes parts of British Mandate Palestine and parts of today's Jordan.

Palestinian Arabs are now claiming the food as pretty much exclusively their own (see Wikipedia's stub entry.)

Elder of Ziyon: Did we find an authentic Palestinian Arab dish?

Israel Matzav: Smart Jews: Israel denies Turkish weapons purchase request

Smart Jews: Israel denies Turkish weapons purchase request

Someone here in Israel finally understands that we could one day find ourselves facing Turkish soldiers on a battlefield. An arms purchase request from Turkey has been denied.

Israel has declined a request by Turkey to purchase several different military systems, including an anti-tank guided weapon and a missile system for its navy.

The request by the Turkish government was rejected by Israel's SIBAT, the defense assistance and export organization, which is currently reviewing each order on a case-by-case basis.

Turkey said it wanted to buy the Spike non-line-of-site (NLOS) anti-tank guided weapon, the Namer heavy infantry fighting vehicle, and the Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Barak 8 theater-defense missile system for its navy, according to UK-based Jane's Defence Weekly.

You will recall that two weeks ago, Israel delivered the last of 170 upgraded M601a tanks to the Turkish army. It sounds like that will be the last weapons deal with Turkey for a while. Let them go buy from Iran or Syria.

Israel Matzav: Smart Jews: Israel denies Turkish weapons purchase request

Israel Matzav: Maybe I don't get out enough

Maybe I don't get out enough

Ethan Bronner sends in a 'Memo from Jerusalem' in which he describes the country's mood on this, its 62nd Independence Day as 'dark.'

But there is something about the mood this year that feels darker than usual. It has a bipartisan quality to it. Both left and right are troubled, and both largely about the same things, especially the Iranian nuclear program combined with growing tensions with the Obama administration.

“There is a confluence of two very worrying events,” said Michael Freund, a rightist columnist for The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. “One is the Iranian threat, an existential threat. Add to that the fact that for the first time in recent memory there is a president in the White House who is not overly sensitive to the Jewish state and its interests. You put the two together and it will affect anyone’s mood, even an optimist like me.”

Haaretz, the newspaper that serves as the voice of the shrinking political left in this country, is in a truly depressed mood. Its editorial on Monday contended that Israel “is isolated globally and embroiled in a conflict with the superpower whose friendship and support are vital to its very existence.”

“It is devoid of any diplomatic plan aside from holding on to the territories and afraid of any movement,” the editorial said. “It wallows in a sense of existential threat that has only grown with time. It seizes on every instance of anti-Semitism, whether real or imagined, as a pretext for continued apathy and passivity.”


Israelis are profoundly worried — and profoundly divided — about their isolation. The left blames the government for a failure to withdraw from the West Bank, remove Jewish settlements and agree to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians. The right blames Palestinian and Arab intransigence and Western gutlessness, and says Jews have always been resented, so concessions will change nothing.

One thing both left and right have come to believe is that the government’s difficulties with the Obama administration are likely to prove central to the country’s fate in the coming year, especially if Iran gets closer to making a nuclear weapon.

The Jerusalem Post, the voice of the right-leaning English-speaking immigrants here, titled its Monday editorial “62, Under a U.S. Cloud” and fretted that the Obama administration “has diverged from the tone of previous administrations on the status of Jerusalem, and it has damagingly publicly questioned fundamental aspects of our alliance.” It added that Washington needed to understand that “Israel is still resented and rejected by most of the Arab world, not because of this or that policy, or this or that territorial presence, but because of the very fact of our existence here.”

Here are the last few minutes of Monday night's celebration on Mount Herzl (admittedly not great quality because the person taped it off the television). Do you think people are depressed?

Let's go to the videotape.

Maybe I don't get out enough but I don't feel the 'darkness' in our mood here. Maybe it's because I have a basic underlying belief that somehow God will get us through this and something will happen to overcome Iran, which is the existential threat. Yes, I'm upset at the thought that America (or at least its leadership) is abandoning us, but I'm also convinced that's temporary and that things will improve once there's a new occupant in the White House (which I believe will happen in 2013). No, I don't think we will have easy days ahead, but I don't feel 'dark.'

Maybe I need to get out more?

Israel Matzav: Maybe I don't get out enough

Israel Matzav: 'Obama on the cusp of an enormous diplomatic blunder' says...

'Obama on the cusp of an enormous diplomatic blunder' says...

... believe it or not, my old sparring partner Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. And although he got some things wrong (most notably his claim that 'most Israelis' still like Obama and his approach - that's an out and out lie), he gets some things very right that are worth pointing out.

But it takes two to tango, and in this case, Obama does not dance like a star. He gives every appearance of not "getting" Israel; not appreciating its fears or its history. Israel is not half of the equation, as if both sides are right. It is a democracy with American values that has tried, over and over again, to make peace with a recalcitrant and unforgiving enemy. It is this, the music and not the words, that explains Koch and Wiesel and Lauder, not to mention the e-mailers, anonymous and otherwise, who seem to believe anything bad about Obama.


But the political middle, particularly the Israeli middle, is scared. It would give up East Jerusalem and the West Bank for peace [It certainly would not give up 'east' Jerusalem nor would it give up all of the 'West Bank.' CiJ] -- only it is skeptical that even those concessions would work. None of this is theoretical. It is about life and death. It is about rockets coming in from Gaza yet again. It is about Hezbollah's Scud missiles and the reasonable apprehension that Hamas would oust the moderate (and hapless) Palestinian Authority from the West Bank and turn the area into the functional equivalent of Gaza, an Islamic republic whose charter is a stew of crackpot anti-Semitism laced with death threats.

What then? Would Obama stick by Israel? Many Israelis wonder. Obama "needs to address Israelis' fears," the Israeli philosopher Carlo Strenger wrote recently in Haaretz. So far, Obama has done just the opposite, even going to Cairo to assure the Palestinians and the greater Arab world that he appreciates their plight without assuring Israelis that he appreciates theirs. His coolness toward Netanyahu, earned or not, has chilled the Israeli public and encouraged Palestinian defiance. He is on the cusp of an enormous diplomatic blunder.

Cohen concludes with a call for Obama to come to Jerusalem. It's too late for that. The best thing Obama could do right now is to stand down on the 'Palestinians' and deal with Iran. After that, maybe there will be something to talk about. But Obama's not going to deal with Iran. He's going to leave that to Israel.

Israel Matzav: 'Obama on the cusp of an enormous diplomatic blunder' says...

Israel Matzav: US rebukes Syria over scud transfer

US rebukes Syria over scud transfer

On Monday, the US called in Syria's ranking diplomat in Washington, Deputy Chief of Mission Zouheir Jabbour, to "review Syria’s provocative behavior concerning the potential transfer of arms to Hizballah."

"This was the fourth occasion on which these concerns have been raised to the Syrian Embassy in recent months, intended to further amplify our messages communicated to the Syrian government. Our dialogue with Syria on this issue has been frank and sustained. We expect the same in return."

The diplomatic rebuke came after reports said the U.S. believed Syria intended to transfer Scud missiles to Hezbollah, but isn't clear if the missiles were actually shipped to Lebanon.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the SCUD, from Syria to Hizballah," Duguid said. "The transfer of these arms can only have a destabilizing effect on the region, and would pose an immediate threat to both the security of Israel and the sovereignty of Lebanon."

"The risk of miscalculation that could result from this type of escalation should make Syria reverse the ill-conceived policy it has pursued in providing arms to Hizballah," he continued.

"We call for an immediate cessation of any arms transfers to Hizballah and other terrorist organizations in the region," Duguid said. "Syria’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is directly related to its support for terrorist groups, such as Hizbollah."

I'm sure Baby Assad is quaking in his boots. Arutz Sheva notes:

The statement stopped short of confirming the reports, which Syria has denied, but a senior U.S. official told Reuters that it was a sign that the allegations were being taken seriously, explaining, "We wouldn't have called them in if we didn't think something was going on."

But of course, by refusing to confirm the transfers, the State Department avoids having to use that magic word 'condemn' that they used with respect to the administrative approval for the apartments in Ramat Shlomo last month. Kind of amazing, isn't it? The State Department condemns Israel for announcing an administrative approval in Jerusalem, condemns 'any' transfer of ballistic missiles (as if they're equivalent), but refuses to confirm any arms transfer by the Syrians so that the State Department doesn't have to 'condemn' them. Barry Rubin calls it "better late than never." I think it's too weak to rate even that label.
Israel Matzav: US rebukes Syria over scud transfer

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Things People Talk About

Things People Talk About

Over Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, I spent time talking to people in a number of social events. Here are some of the things I heard:

A friend who runs a company that produces high-class tools for the creation of other tools ("our equipment is the Rolls-Royce of the field: expensive but the best") told me they've been selling to unfriendly countries such as Indonesia, and in recent weeks they've been approached by a potential client in Pakistan. A second friend who was standing with us told of other Israeli companies who sell to the Arab world, mostly via Jordan and often in Jordanian packaging to hide the Israeli provenance. Someone ought to tell the boycott folks.

A North-American journalist who has been reporting on the MidEast for a generation tells me the lack of a peace process enables all sides to live in practical peace; once negotiations start again they'll have to re-start the violence.

A Canadian who lives in Israel these past 30 years remarks, apropos Obama's plans to regulate American banks: Canada has strict bank regulations and sailed through the recent turmoil mostly unharmed. Israel has strict bank regulations, and sailed through likewise unscathed. America has light bank regulations, and look where they are.

The cutting edge in military technology is robots: drones, jeeps, and science fiction spy tools all operated from afar by highly trained soldiers who can't be harmed by the battlefield conditions. Israel is in the forefront of this technology, alongside the US.

Three if not four people separately remarked on the 20th of April as Hitler's birthday. Two of them are children of Holocaust survivors, so that's where that complex comes from; one came from Russia, and one was a thirty-something from North Africa. Jews are a screwed up bunch.

Volcanoes make humans look very small. Everyone agreed on that one.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Things People Talk About

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Mother of all Shirim

Mother of all Shirim

Naftali Herz Imber, a Romanian Jew, wrote Hatikva, The Hope, following a visit to Eretz Israel in 1878. It was popular among the early settlers of what eventually was called the first aliya, 1882-1904. Seen in historical perspective, it was an expression of the sea-change in Jewish history that was beginning at the time: the sentiments of Jewish aspirations to rebuild a national center in the historical homeland was not new - on the contrary, it was banal. Yet articulating it in a secular poem, putting it to music and singing it by people who took the concept as a practical guideline to be enacted by secular Jews, that was novel, and soon proved to be profoundly revolutionary.

Interestingly, Hatikva first took on the status of a quasi-anthem at the sixth Zionist Conference in 1903. Herzl had tabled a suggestion that the movement consider a British proposal to move European Jews to eastern Africa (the Uganda Plan), and the majority of delegates, who unlike him understood what Judaism was about, were horrified; they resoundingly sang Hatikva to make clear their point that their aspirations were about the national homeland, not some African backwater. Thereafter the song became the de-facto anthem of the Zionist movement, being officially adopted in 1933.

The melody derives from the same Romanian folksong which inspired Smetana when he composed Moldau.

Interestingly, while the song was always the national anthem of Israel, this was explicitly enacted only in 2004. The song in its present form is a slightly modified and shortened version of the original.

A German colleague who once happened to be visiting Israel during the week of Yom Hashoah-Yom Hazikaron-Independence Day pointed told me the Israeli national anthem is the only national anthem he's aware of which is a sad song: mostly they tend to be triumphant or martial or both.

כָּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה -

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם

As long as deep within the heart
A Jewish soul stirs,
And forward, to the ends of the East
An eye looks out, towards Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem

Here's a recording without words, and a recording sung by Rivka Zohar.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Mother of all Shirim

Elder of Ziyon: Proud to be a Zionist - 5770 edition

Proud to be a Zionist - 5770 edition

I wrote the original essay around 2002 and I have been modifying it since then. Here is this year's edition:

Every year, the State of Israel seems to be up against yet another unsolvable crisis. Whether it is war against terrible odds, a wave of terror attacks, a new feeling of isolation as friends seem to turn hostile, or the threat of nuclear-armed enemies, there are always new challenges that she faces - sometimes simultaneously.

Yet, here she is, 62 years old and more beautiful than she was at birth.

In prayers every morning Jews say a phrase praising G-d, describing Him as המחדש בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית - He who continually renews the act of Creation. In other words, the Jewish concept of G-d has him in an active role keeping the universe running, and as such it is appropriate to praise Him.

It is a little hard to conceptualize this idea, that the very laws of physics, of the world turning and revolving around the sun is not automatic, but only occurs due to the constant will of G-d. But perhaps it is easier to understand this phrase if we apply it to the modern state of Israel.

Every single day that the Jewish state continues to exist cannot be explained adequately with historical or social or military reasons. Which means that we are witnessing a miracle every day.

The most recent years have been very hard for Zionists, as well as for religious Zionists. Yet when we step back and look at the big picture, Israel remains something to be very proud of.

Yes, I am a Zionist and I am proud of it.

I know that Israel has the absolute right to exist in peace and security, just like - and possibly more than - any other country.

I am proud of how the IDF conducts itself during the war on Palestinian terror. There is no other country on the planet, save the US, that would try to minimize civilian casualties in such a situation where innocent Israelis are being threatened, shot at, mortared, rocketed, and murdered in cold blood. At times there are discussions whether the IDF's moral standards end up being counterproductive - and what other army could one even have that conversation about?

I am also proud that Israel investigates any mistakes that happen on the battlefield and keep trying to improve its methods to maximize damage to the terrorists while minimizing damage to the Palestinian people. This is not done because of "human rights" organizations - it is done because it is the right thing to do. Even when everyone knows that the world will accuse it of "war crimes," the IDF retains an incredibly high moral standards.

I am proud that Israel remains a true democracy, with a free press and vigorous opposition parties, while in a constant war situation. Any other nation, again besides the US, would have imposed martial law to maintain peace.

I am proud of how the IDF responded to the terror attacks of the early days of the intifada, managing to bring deadly suicide attacks from 60 in 2002 down to a single attack in 2007 and one in 2008. The enemy has not stopped trying, and if Israel hadn't acted decisively things would look like Iraq or Afghanistan today. For every "successful" attack (if you can use such a term) there have been many failed attempts, and these are truly miraculous.

I am awed and humbled at how ordinary Israelis responded to the dark days of 2002-2004. Rather than demanding revenge, the victims of terror worked hard to help others - building institutions, creating scholarships, volunteering their time, all to help other victims of the same horror. To Israelis, it is not a zero-sum game, and every new setback is an opportunity to improve the world.

Of course, I am proud of Israel's many accomplishments in building up a desert wasteland into a thriving and vibrant modern country, with its many scientific achievements, world class universities and culture. A tiny nation, under constant siege, with almost no natural resources besides breathtaking beauty, has used its brains - and strength - to build a modern success story. In a short period of time Israel made itself into a strong yet open nation that its neighbors can only dream of becoming. At a time that people are trying to hurt Israel economically, it has thrived.

I am proud that the vast majority of Americans support Israel as I do, and that the rabid terror-lovers we see on the Internet are the aberration.

There is a right and a wrong in this conflict, and I am proud that Israel is in the right.

Immediately after the prayer mentioned above we see the phrase 'מה רבו מעשיך ה , "How great are Your works, O G-d." It is easy to find faults but in the big picture, the accomplishments are remarkable and need to be highlighted.

The word "Zionist" is not an epithet - it is a compliment.

Elder of Ziyon: Proud to be a Zionist - 5770 edition

Elder of Ziyon: Followup on Saudi preacher and Jerusalem

Followup on Saudi preacher and Jerusalem

Asharq Al Awsat has an op-ed by Hamad Al-Majid from which we can piece together what happened after the Saudi TV preacher, Mohammed al-Arifi, apparently changed his mind about visiting Jerusalem under pressure from Saudi clerics.

After all the criticism, Al-Arifi claimed that he was misunderstood - he never intended to broadcast his show from Jerusalem to show solidarity with Palestinian Arabs. Oh, no. He was just going to go to the Jordanian border and look at Jerusalem from afar.

In fact, al-Arifi said, it was all merely a misunderstanding and he could never visit Jerusalem as long as it remains under Zionist occupation and that he would never appeal to or beg the Israeli consulates to grant him an entry visa. He added that he would never enter Jerusalem except by the sword "just as the Zionists seized it by the sword."

The columnist, a seemingly moderate Saudi who is active in human rights and has received degrees from universities in the US and the UK, says that he was surprised at the number of young people who supported the idea of al-Arifi visiting the city. He finds a silver lining in the episode:

Dozens of Arab satellite television channels dedicated hours of live broadcast to cover the issue of the Jerusalem visit and to explain its broad impact, danger and [potential] repercussions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. A number of Muslim sheikhs and scholars appeared on television and warned against this. It was one rare occasion where the entire intellectual and political spectrum including Islamists and liberals shared the same view and criticized the idea of a Muslim scholar visiting Jerusalem.

Though the statement made by Sheikh al Arifi about visiting Jerusalem caused unease, discontent, confusion and strong reactions, it must be stated that it was not all bad. The question ‘what’s wrong with visiting Jerusalem’ was finally answered in a detailed and comprehensive manner through debate, discussions, articles and fatwa shows in response to Sheikh al Arifi’s proposed visit to Jerusalem. It was a good opportunity to shed light once again on the issue of anti-normalization with our Zionist enemy and to revive the idea among the younger generations that are sadly unaware of the significance of the anti-normalization campaign and the necessity of keeping it alive.

Sadly, I was not privy to the many hours of debates he mentions, so I do not know the Islamic legal issues involved in banning Muslims from visiting Islam's supposedly third-holiest site.

But the question must be asked: If there is such a consensus that Muslims may not visit Jerusalem - even to help boost the morale of their poor, oppressed Palestinian Arab brethren - then why are Palestinian Muslims allowed to visit the city? If the only way to visit is "by the sword," then shouldn't they also withdraw as soon as possible until that glorious day arrives?

In fact, wouldn't the same logic apply to the entire West Bank and Gaza? After all, the PalArabs must suffer humiliation daily from the Zionist occupiers, and they must show their dependence on the Jewish state for travel and other daily activities. Wouldn't it be better if they joined the "anti-normalization" movement and refused to even live in an area that is under occupation until the Muslim world awakens from its slumber and pushes the Jews into the sea?

Obviously, maintaining hatred for Israel is much more important than showing love for Jerusalem and love for Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs themselves do not seem to be showing the correct levels of hatred by continuing to live under the oppressive Zionists, as opposed to the lucky ones who live under the benevolent Lebanese or remain stateless after being in Syria for three generations. Isn't it time for them to do something about it and eliminate their ties to Jewish-occupied territory altogether until they could enter it "by the sword?"

I must be missing something.

Elder of Ziyon: Followup on Saudi preacher and Jerusalem

RubinReports: Yawn! Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the US by 2015

Yawn! Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the US by 2015

Please be subscriber 10,080. Just put your email address in the box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

We depend on your tax-deductible contributions. To make one, please send a check to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003. The check should be made out to “American Friends of IDC,” with “for GLORIA Center” in the memo line.

By Barry Rubin

Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the United States by 2015, according to a new U.S. Department of Defense report.

I was wondering how to follow up that sentence in an article, but by accident in cutting and pasting the text of the Reuters story the "Related News" items accidentally came with it. These are other recent Reuters stories on this issue. So what is more telling than just to list them:

U.S. open to Iran nuclear fuel deal despite doubts
Mon, Apr 19 2010
Turkish minister in Iran to discuss nuclear row
Mon, Apr 19 2010
U.S. considers options to curb Iran's nuclear program
Sun, Apr 18 2010
Pentagon's Mullen: diplomacy first in options on Iran
Sun, Apr 18 2010

In other words, the four most recent articles are all about how the Obama Administration policy is still trying to engage Iran and make a deal or how America's former ally, Turkey's government, has gone over to the other side.

How about this one:

"The United States said on Monday it was still willing to discuss a nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran, but only if Tehran takes clear steps to address international concerns about its nuclear program....[Turkey's Foreign Minister] Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters he had discerned a change in the Iranian stance over the past several months during which he said he visited Tehran about a half-dozen times."

Oh, right! Let's spend a few months going back to the nuclear fuel swap deal which Iran raised last September in order to sabotage the sanctions' train so successfully.

Or this story:

"China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday there was still room for a negotiated solution to Iran's disputed nuclear program, despite talks among major powers of fresh sanctions against Tehran."
No problem. What could possibly by a reason to hurry in putting pressure on Iran?

The Pentagon's report put its finger on the central issue, but what this means must be explained clearly. "Iran's nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy," the report said.

Please note what Iran's deterrent strategy means in practice. Iran's radical Islamist regime will be able to foment terrorism and revolution against Arab governments, try to take over Lebanon, promote Hamas in fighting Israel and seeking to overturn the Palestinian Authority, and target American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things.

But if the United States or others try to do something about it, Iran will use its possession of nuclear weapons to deter them. At the same time, it will use possession of nuclear weapons to foment appeasement among regional and Western states while simultaneously persuading millions of Muslims that revolutionary Islamism is invincible and they should join a movement headed for inevitable victory.

In addition, the report spoke of how Iran backs revolutionary Islamists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon (Hizballah, which Iran gives $200 million a year), and among the Palestinians (Hamas). What does the Pentagon report mean when it says that Iran views Hizballah “as an essential partner for advancing its regional policy objectives.” Tehran is conducting a campaign to seize hegemony in the Middle East and destroy U.S. influence there. How are you going to engage and negotiate away that problem?

While Iran may never give nuclear weapons to terrorist groups, it is not an encouraging precedent to note that it gives them all manner of non-nuclear weapons. In the report's words,

"Iran, through its long-standing relationship with Lebanese [Hezballah], maintains a capability to strike Israel directly and threatens Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide," it said.

Instead of a decisive U.S. response, here's how a veteran Defense Department official described what's been happening in an interview with the Times of London, April 20:

"Fifteen months into his administration, Iran has faced no significant consequences for continuing with its uranium-enrichment programme, despite two deadlines set by Obama, which came and went without anything happening. Now it may be too late to stop Iran from becoming nuclear-capable.

“First, there was talk of crippling sanctions, then they [spoke of biting sanctions], and now we don’t know how tough they’re going to be. It depends on the level of support given by Russia and China—but neither is expected to back measures against Iran’s energy sector.”

Once again, the Washington Post comprehends the dangers:

"A year-long attempt at engagement failed; now the push for sanctions is proceeding at a snail's pace. Though administration officials say they have made progress in overcoming resistance from Russia and China, it appears a new UN sanctions resolution might require months more of dickering. Even then it might only be a shell intended to pave the way for ad hoc actions by the United States and European Union, which would require further diplomacy.

"And what would sanctions accomplish? Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Financial Times last week that `Maybe...[they] would lead to the kind of good-faith negotiations that President Obama called for 15 months ago.' Yet the notion that the hard-line Iranian clique now in power would ever negotiate in good faith is far-fetched."

It's almost May 2010, the Obama administration is almost 40 percent through its term in office, and Clinton is still talking about "good-faith negotiations"!

If the United States wants to prevent a future war with Iran, the best way to do so is through tough sanctions now--not only to discourage Iran's nuclear program but to weaken its overall military might and confidence--and a comprehensive strategic campaign of its own to counter the "regional policy objectives" of Iran and Syria.

RubinReports: Yawn! Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the US by 2015

RubinReports: The Only Thing More Horrible Than the Middle East Are the Books Written About the Middle East

The Only Thing More Horrible Than the Middle East Are the Books Written About the Middle East

By Barry Rubin

You might want to take a look at my review of a terrible book by Stephen Cohen. For many years, he's been getting contracts to advise the U.S. government on the area. Read this book and you can imagine the kind of counsel they've been getting and why so much has gone wrong.

What is amazing is that in 2010 commercial publishers can be putting out books so riddled with conceptual and just plain factual errors. No wonder people don't understand the Middle East.

However, this experience gave me the idea for a great parlor game. You can open this book (and all too many others) to a page at random and the player whose turn it is has to point out all the mistakes.

In a humorous sequel, Cohen obviously called up two buddies to write letters supporting him. Obviously, neither had read the book as they made no specific reference to its contents. Indeed, if they thought it was so great why didn't they give a cover blurb?

It's really sad what nonsense is presented to the public about this all-important part of the world where so many lives are at stake.

RubinReports: The Only Thing More Horrible Than the Middle East Are the Books Written About the Middle East

Are the Israelis Really Responsible for Palestinian Wife Beating? :: The Phyllis Chesler Organization

Are the Israelis Really Responsible for Palestinian Wife Beating? :: The Phyllis Chesler Organization

Love of the Land: The Palestinians: Why Salam Fayyad Cannot Deliver

The Palestinians: Why Salam Fayyad Cannot Deliver

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
20 April '10

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad may be a good man with good intentions, but those who think that he will be able to persuade the Palestinians to make peace with Israel are deluding themselves.

In Palestinian culture, it is more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from the University of Texas at Austin. Fayyad never spent a day in an Israeli jail. Nor did he or any of his sons take an active role in the “struggle” against Israel.

The first question that people would ask Fayyad -- when and if he runs in a new election -- is, “What sacrifices did you make in the struggle against Israel?”

Palestinians will want to know if Fayyad has ever been detained or targeted in any other way by Israel. They would want to know if any of Fayyad’s sons had participated in demonstrations or attacks against Israel. This is why Palestinians who have sat in Israeli prisons for security offenses now hold senior positions in the Palestinian Authority.

Many Palestinians see Fayyad as someone who was “imposed” on them by Americans and Europeans and are willing to accept him as long as he is dealing only with the economy and infrastructure. But Fayyad, who appears to be more popular in Washington and London than in the Gaza Strip’s Jabalya refugee camp or Hebron in the West Bank, will never be able to sell a peace agreement with Israel to his people.

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: The Palestinians: Why Salam Fayyad Cannot Deliver

Love of the Land: Stop Worshipping the False “Peace Process” Religion

Stop Worshipping the False “Peace Process” Religion

Jennifer Rubin
19 April '10

There have been few more dogged proponents of and participants in the “peace process” than Aaron David Miller. So when he now hops off the bandwagon and declares the “peace process” to be the equivalent of a false religion, it’s worth taking note. He explains:

Like all religions, the peace process has developed a dogmatic creed, with immutable first principles. Over the last two decades, I wrote them hundreds of times to my bosses in the upper echelons of the State Department and the White House; they were a catechism we all could recite by heart. First, pursuit of a comprehensive peace was a core, if not the core, U.S. interest in the region, and achieving it offered the only sure way to protect U.S. interests; second, peace could be achieved, but only through a serious negotiating process based on trading land for peace; and third, only America could help the Arabs and Israelis bring that peace to fruition.

He notes that he wrote his share of memos reciting the same catechism, but he couldn’t do it again today:

(Read full post)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Stop Worshipping the False “Peace Process” Religion

Love of the Land: Lebanon's Double Game is Coming to an End

Lebanon's Double Game is Coming to an End

JINSA Report #: 981
19 April '10

General Petraeus's widely remarked-upon but little-read testimony before Congress made note of:

Ungoverned, poorly governed and alternatively governed spaces. Weak civil and security institutions and the inability of certain governments in the region to exert full control over their territories and conditions that insurgent groups can exploit to create physical safe havens in which they can plan, train for, and launch operations, or pursue narco-criminal activities. We have seen these groups develop, or attempt to develop, what might be termed sub-states.

He cited Lebanon.

For years, the Government of Lebanon has cried to the world that it is abused by Israel because it is too weak to control its territory (as if no fault accrues to that). And the world reliably denounces Israel's efforts to protect its own population from the depredations, first of the PLO and then of Hezbollah, emanating from Lebanese territory. And even when it was understood that Israel had been provoked beyond reason (2006), the Government of Lebanon was treated as if it was twice a victim-first of Hezbollah and then of Israel.

That's not quite the case. Lebanon, like the Palestinian Authority, is both terrorist and state sponsor of terrorists. There are those who consider Hezbollah to be the army of Lebanon, allowing Lebanon to be a confrontation state without taking the responsibility for being one. Lebanon claims victim status when it is convenient, but provides money, territory, and diplomatic and political support to terrorist groups the rest of the time. Hezbollah's politicians are in the Lebanese parliament and hold a "blocking third" in the cabinet (enough to veto policies of the elected government). Hezbollah's army operates with the express permission of the Lebanese government and a good case can be made-and Israelis have made it-that Hezbollah is actually the armed force of Lebanon.

(Read full report)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Lebanon's Double Game is Coming to an End

Love of the Land: SCUDs and Syria

SCUDs and Syria

Elliot Abrams
National Review Online
19 April '10

According to recent news stories, Israel believes that Syria is supplying SCUD missiles to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Should Israel bomb Syria to stop them? As the charges and threats from both sides multiply, the story of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 is worth recalling.

On Aug. 11, 2006, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 as part of an effort to end the war then raging in Lebanon between Israeli and Hezbollah forces. The resolution was the product of long negotiations involving primarily the United States, France, and the governments of Israel and Lebanon. The final text made crystal clear — over and over — that supply of weaponry by Syria to Hezbollah was prohibited. Relevant provisions of the text read as follows:

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: SCUDs and Syria

Love of the Land: Ya’alon Unloads on Obami

Ya’alon Unloads on Obami

Jennifer Rubin
19 April '10

The entire interview with Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon should be read in full here. But a few of the Q&As are certainly of particular note. On the American administration’s amnesia:

Does the US not see in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept Ehud Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 as a lack of willingness on the Palestinian side to come to an agreement?

Apparently not. From the dawn of Zionism there has not been a Palestinian leadership willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. This is the source of the problem, and not what is called the occupied territories since ’67. The opposition to Zionism began before we liberated Judea, Samaria and Gaza; before we established a state.

On the issue of settlements:

Israel’s critics say enlarging settlements helps Palestinian extremists and ruins any efforts to get the Palestinians to recognize our right to be here.

The prime minister said before the elections he was willing to accept the commitments of the previous government, among them the understanding between [George] Bush and [Ariel] Sharon, that no new settlements would be built in Judea and Samaria, and that construction in the settlements would be allowed [to enable] normal life, not exactly natural growth. That was the understanding, and construction continued through the Olmert and Sharon governments.

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Ya’alon Unloads on Obami

Love of the Land: The View From Jerusalem

The View From Jerusalem

Why Israel is anxious about the Obama Administration.

Wall Street Journal
19 April '10

Imagine that you're an Israeli perusing the past week's headlines. Senior U.S. military officials have told Congress that Iran may be a year away from producing a bomb's worth of fissile material. Efforts to sanction Iran are again bogged down at the U.N., even as the sanctions are watered down to insignificance. And senior Israeli officials now say that Syria has supplied Hezbollah with Scud-D missiles that can hit every city in Israel with a one-ton warhead to an accuracy of 50 meters.

Oh, and now the Obama Administration seems increasingly of the view that Israel is the primary cause of instability in the Middle East. In a press conference last week, President Obama said the U.S. had a "vital national security interest" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the theory that "when conflict breaks out . . . that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure."

The remark, which echoes previous comments by senior Administration and Pentagon officials, is being widely interpreted as presaging a concerted Administration effort to press even harder for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement over territory. After the recent flap over Jewish settlements north of Jerusalem, concern is growing that the U.S. wants Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. At their narrowest, those borders give Israel a nine-mile margin between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel could conceivably withdraw to something close to that border if it had credible assurances that a future Palestinian state would be peaceful, stable and well-governed. But the Palestinian reality today is that it is riven politically and geographically between two camps, one of which (Hamas) is armed by Iran and sworn to Israel's destruction.

As for Israel's other neighbors, Syria has further entrenched its alliance with Iran, despite repeated entreaties by the Administration and its allies in Congress; Egypt is entering a period of political transition; and Turkey has gone from being an Israeli ally to an adversary under its Islamist government. None of this can inspire much confidence among Israelis that the time is ripe to withdraw from the West Bank.

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: The View From Jerusalem

Love of the Land: The Real Demographic Threat

The Real Demographic Threat

Evelyn Gordon
19 April '10

As Israel celebrates its 62nd Independence Day this evening, is the country actually independent? Judging by the remarks of some of its leading politicians, one would have to conclude that the answer is no.

Speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony yesterday, for instance, Defense Minister and Labor-party chairman Ehud Barak declared that only by signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians could Israel preserve its Jewish majority. Ehud Olmert made this claim even more bluntly in 2007, when he was prime minister, declaring that if “the two-state solution collapses … the State of Israel is finished.” Olmert’s successor as head of the Kadima party, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, has made similar remarks.

In other words, Israel has no control over its own fate; its continued existence depends entirely on the goodwill of a nation that would like nothing better than to see it disappear. Moreover, all the Palestinians have to do to secure this outcome is to continue doing exactly what they have done for the past 17 years: say “no” to every peace offer Israel makes. If that is true, Israel really is finished.

In reality, of course, the Barak-Olmert-Livni conclusion is ridiculous even if one believes the demographic doomsayers (there are grounds for skepticism, but that’s another story). Should Israel someday decide the status quo is untenable, it doesn’t need a peace agreement to leave; it can always quit the West Bank unilaterally, just as it did Gaza. After decades of condemning Israel’s “illegal occupation” and demanding its end, the world could hardly object if Israel complied.

(Read full post)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: The Real Demographic Threat

Love of the Land: Is Obama Using Israel as a Scapegoat for His Foreign Policy Failures?

Is Obama Using Israel as a Scapegoat for His Foreign Policy Failures?

Moshe Dann
19 April '10

Though needing to handle dozens of difficult issues around the world, President Obama seems obsessed with one: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Obama’s administration has been on the warpath with Israel from the beginning, picking fights over issues that have been around for a long time. These include where Jews can live and build in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria (the West Bank); removing checkpoints that stop terrorists; and easing restrictions on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. Yet Obama has been silent regarding anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement, and the upsurge in rioting, violence, and terrorist attacks sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.

An innocuous announcement of approval for building permits in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit gave Obama the opportunity he, perhaps, was waiting for — he bombarded Israel with unprecedented wrath and scorn. Out of proportion and unusually harsh, Obama’s disappointment seemed irrational.

A few weeks later, David Sanger of the New York Times quoted one of Obama’s foreign policy advisors:

If Obama can’t set some parameters for our allies, how is he going to set some for the mullahs?

Sanger also wrote:

Obama’s team seems to understand that if they lose that contest of wills [with Israel], the rest of their foreign policy agenda is also threatened.

Assuming this is true, Obama is tying Israeli concessions to U.S. moves to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons, and to other issues as well. This policy makes Israel a scapegoat for Obama’s failures.

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Is Obama Using Israel as a Scapegoat for His Foreign Policy Failures?

Love of the Land: Israeli report contradicting Goldstone ignored

Israeli report contradicting Goldstone ignored

Just Journalism
15 April '10

On Wednesday 14 April, The Guardian’s lead opinion piece by George Monbiot focused on the issue of the application of international jurisdiction to visiting foreign dignitaries to the UK. In ‘The pope on trial would show what equality before the law means’, the journalist argued that any foreign citizen, regardless of their rank or position, should be arrested if they are alleged to have breached international law. Alongside Pope Benedict XVI, Monbiot argued that leader of Israel’s Kadima party Tzipi Livni, should be tried for war crimes if she ever visits the UK. Criticising Gordon Brown for seeking to change the law to prevent such a speculative arrest, Monbiot stated that Livni should be brought to court because ‘the evidence for the crimes against humanity to which Livni has been linked – laid out in the Goldstone report and elsewhere – is massive, detailed and hard to dispute.’

The Goldstone report is commonly cited in this manner by British journalists in both news and comment articles alleging Israeli war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. However, Israeli rebuttals of such claims are not regularly referenced in such a way – and often receive minimal coverage.

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Israeli report contradicting Goldstone ignored

Love of the Land: The Jews of Silence

The Jews of Silence

Richard Baehr
American Thinker
18 April '10

The New York Times, in a front page article, described how President Obama appears to be reconsidering, if not turning away from, the historic strategic alliance between the U.S. and Israel. In remarks made at the end of the multinational nuclear security talks, Obama reinforced this message, saying the following:

It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower[.] ... And when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the significance of these two lines as to the president's thinking. It is also impossible to read these and not realize that this president is the greatest threat to the strategic alliance of the U.S. and Israel since the founding of the modern Jewish state in 1948. The first sentence is in some ways the more incredible. No prior American president has been resentful or unhappy about leading the world's greatest superpower. This can mean only one of two things:

(Read full article)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: The Jews of Silence

Love of the Land: Berkeley BDS and Democracy

Berkeley BDS and Democracy

Divest This!
18 April '10

Most of the “by losing, we really won” arguments from the BDSers defeated in last week’s Berkeley divestment battle are like this piece by Jewish Voice for Peace/Muzzlewatch Queen Cecilie Surasky, who substitutes the excitement of getting hundreds of people in a room to bash Israel for ten hours for actual political success. If such arguments rang a hollow ten years ago when groups like JVP begun providing a Jewish face to every BDS initiative on the planet, claiming unstoppable momentum seem positively bizarre after a decade of watching divestment fall flat on its face time and time again.

Now there is one argument the boycotters are making that’s worth dissecting: their claim that they actually won a majority of votes in the Senate (16/20 in the original vote, and 12/20 in the veto override) and should thus be considered the winner of the democratic process (implying that their win was undone by undemocratic political maneuvering by their foes). Not that this argument holds any more water than the other ones they trot out, but it does open up some interesting discussions vis-à-vis BDS and democracy.

For Berkeley’s student government (like the US government) is not an Athenian democracy (where all citizens/students vote on every issue), but is rather, like the US, is a constitutional representative system. Because the word “democracy” is used to describe these very two different kinds of systems, it can get confusing why simple majorities do not always get their way.

(Read full post)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Berkeley BDS and Democracy

Love of the Land: Remembering with a smile

Remembering with a smile

Marc Prowisor
Yesha Views
19 April '10

I entered the Central Bus station in Jerusalem to get on the bus to take me home to Shilo. It was the evening before Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), a few hours before the sirens went off to signify the start of this most difficult of days.

I admit that I find this day very difficult, as the feelings start to set in before the sirens, before the torches, and before the start of the ceremonies. I suppose it is very hard for Jews outside to feel as we do here. This pain, this hurt, this contemplation takes everybody back in time. We go back to the stories we heard as children, then we reflect on our days of youth in the face of terrorism and wars, we remember our days in the Army, then reserves, we remember the not to distant past, the last decade, years, months and finally days. We reflect our own experiences, our own battles, and wonder.

We swell inside, sometimes smiling at the memories of our friends and families, and then fight to hold back tears because we miss them, and we know that this is not the end of the fighting.

It is a day of intense emotions, to say the least.

I looked around me in the crowded station, and as the thoughts started to cloud my feelings, I realized that I was living the dreams and prayers of so many before me.

I was looking at Israel, at who we are, and how we get there. No ceremony, no Ultra Zionist speech, no Flag waving. I was surrounded mostly in a sea of olive drab uniforms, with a rainbow of berets on their shoulders. The pins and unit ID’s on their uniforms shined proudly. They smiled, they laughed, they grabbed each other like they haven’t seen one another in years, but in reality it was only a few weeks. They are all so young.

(Read full story)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Remembering with a smile

Israel Matzav: IAEA offer to Iran STILL on the table, refined petroleum sanctions OFF the table?

IAEA offer to Iran STILL on the table, refined petroleum sanctions OFF the table?

US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley said on Monday night that the IAEA offer to Iran to have its uranium enriched outside the country - which Iran rejected in October - is still on the table. But the possibility of implementing sanctions affecting the delivery of refined petroleum products (i.e. gasoline, or petrol as you Brits call it) to Iran is apparently OFF the table, because it would unduly impact the Iranian people.

You don't believe me?

Let's go to the videotape. The part that's relevant to Iran starts around 7:35 and ends around 19:00. The fireworks start around the 13:30 mark. Comments after the transcript.

Here's a transcript:

QUESTION: On Iran, Iran seems to be going out of its way to say that this nuclear swap deal might still be alive and how they’re becoming more flexible. And is it possible this deal is still alive? Is it possible that they’re offering something that anybody would accept?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we looked at the deal offered last September as being a confidence-building step. Iran has now taken seven months and has really not been willing to respond meaningfully to that offer. I think we are still interested in taking that step, but at the heart of it, there was the proposal that Iran would ship out a significant amount of its stock of enriched fuel and there would be an exchange for a corresponding amount of fuel suitable to the Tehran research reactor.

Fundamentally, Iran has never agreed to that core element in the offer, which would be a step in restoring confidence by the international community in Iran’s nuclear intentions. I think we are still interested in pursuing that offer if Iran is interested. It would need to be updated, because over the course of the last seven months, Iran has had its centrifuges operating and one would presume has increased the amount of fuel that it has at its disposal. We are certainly not interested in having an arrangement that actually can be used to facilitate Iran’s noncompliance with its international obligations. So if Iran wants to pursue this, what it needs to do is actually indicate that formally to the IAEA. That is something that Iran has never done. We’ve heard press statements and other things, but what Iran has yet to do is come to the IAEA, sit down, and provide a meaningful response to what was put on the table last fall.

QUESTION: But just to follow up, I mean, the foreign minister of Turkey was here and he was telling reporters that the sticking point was the timing and that Iran wanted this to be simultaneous rather than have the stuff ship out, then it gets enriched and then returned, and that he was claiming that if, in fact, there was enough of this material to trade, then it would happen. And so I’m just – this is something I’ve never heard from Western diplomats. So I’m curious whether –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I want to say – I mean the details matter. This was at one point a fairly simple proposition. Provide enriched fuel and it will be reprocessed, which will then allow you to continue operations at the TRR and not interrupt what is a important humanitarian operation for the benefit of the Iranian people. And Iran, over the course of months, has offered a number of variations, none of which address the core international concern about the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program. So if Iran is willing to have an exchange that not only meets legitimate Iranian needs, but also addresses core international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, we can have that discussion. But unfortunately, Iran has not come forward and with any kind of meaningful follow-up to what was discussed in Geneva.

QUESTION: Also on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called for sanctions on gasoline exports to Iran. Will the U.S. support that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to go into a play-by-play. We have ongoing discussions in New York on particulars of a sanctions resolution. Our goal is to have it be strong, meaningful, credible. But as to particular ingredients at this point, not willing to talk about them.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports that a senior Iranian official has said that the country is taking steps to try to decrease its imports of gasoline so as to protect itself or to mitigate the effects of any sanctions on its gas imports?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of that. I mean it is – it indicates Iran’s disregard for the welfare of its people. If it reduces gas imports, that will only increase the hardship on the Iranian people. Iran has a clear course in front of it. It can answer the questions that we have on its nuclear program, and in doing so in a constructive way, potentially end its isolation and allow for the kind of relationship and benefits of that relationship that come with the countries that are integrated into the global trading system. But the fact that they are now even pulling back even further tells us they’re not really interested in the welfare of their people. But I’m not aware of the --

QUESTION: Well, wait a minute. I mean, as you’re well aware, legislation has passed in the Congress looking to crack down on refined petroleum product imports into Iran. Does that indicate a view on the part of – in your view, that means that Chairman Berman is indifferent to the welfare of the Iranian people?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are in discussions about particular legislation with the Hill. I think let’s wait and see what emerges. We want to make sure, as the Secretary has said, and others, that what ultimately emerges on the sanctions front is directed at those entities within the Iranian Government that are directly related to and support their nuclear program while trying to spare hardship on the Iranian people. And in terms of whatever prospective legislation that might move forward that provides the foundation for national actions that could be taken, we want to make sure that there is enough flexibility in that legislation so that it can – we think it can be most effective in sending a strong, credible message to the Iranian people. But I’m not going to get ahead of either front. We’re working on a sanctions resolution in New York and we’re working constructively with Congress in terms of domestic legislation.

QUESTION: But P.J., what – I think what I just heard you say was that you’re taking that off the table.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not taking – I’m not putting anything on the table or off the table.

QUESTION: Well, but if you say that if Iran reduces its imports of refined petroleum, that’s going to hurt the Iranian people, and at the same time you also say that you don’t want to hurt the Iranian people. I mean, it’s --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and --

QUESTION: -- it’s a syllogism here.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me take it a step further.

QUESTION: That would mean – that would then mean that you don’t – you, the U.S., don’t want to go after refined petroleum products.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to specify at this point precisely what step is going to be in a sanctions resolution and I don’t want to predict what particular actions may be incorporated in domestic legislation. Neither of those have advanced that far at this point.

QUESTION: This is not the question. The question is, what about the – does the Administration think that putting – that --

QUESTION: Taking action --

QUESTION: -- taking action against – on – in the refined petroleum sector is a good thing or is a bad thing?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s neither. What we want to see happen here is whatever does emerge, one, should be credible; two, should be aimed specifically at what we think the heart of the problem is; and three, can actually be enforceable. And there’s a great deal of debate and there are lots of potential targets, but the things that we ultimately choose and move forward, we have to make sure that we actually can have the desired impact on the Iranian Government. I’m just not going to predict precisely what steps we’re going to take at this point. We’re interested in strong, credible sanctions.

QUESTION: Right. But I’m not really asking what steps you’re going to take. I’m trying to figure out if it’s still – if the Administration believes that going after refined petroleum products would hurt the Iranian people and thus go against what --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again --

QUESTION: -- what the Secretary and the President have been saying, that sanctions should target the elite.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, clearly the energy sector writ large is one of the areas that we’re studying. As to what particular action that would have, if we could find a way to have an impact on the IRGC, the government, the ruling elite, and – we don’t want to see sanctions that have a disproportionate impact on the Iranian people. That involves a balancing act, and that’s the kind of analysis and discussions that we’re having within the Security Council and the P-5+1 right now.

Go ahead. All right. Sure.

QUESTION: Could I have just one more follow up question, please? My impression was that the Administration thought it was useful that the Congress was proceeding with this kind of legislation, which I realize has not yet been conferenced, and therefore, you don’t actually have, you know, a passed bill from both houses, and that it was useful to have that somewhere as a potential tool to be used against Iran. And I’d like to follow up on Matt’s question on whether you are effectively suggesting that it’s not on the table anymore.

MR. CROWLEY: What’s not on the table anymore?

QUESTION: The possibility of reducing Iran’s refined petroleum off the table --

MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t taken anything off the table. I haven’t put anything on the table. We are in the midst of this discussion. To your earlier point, clearly, whatever sanctions resolution emerges from the UN can be supplemented by national actions. And we are working with the Congress on what the particulars of that legislation might be. We want to have the ability to incorporate sufficient flexibility into what legislation emerges so that we can have the impact that we want, not only on Iran but also to make sure that we have concerted international action as we apply pressure on Iran.

QUESTION: Same issue.


QUESTION: Mr. Erdogan said that he’s not going to support the sanctions at the Security Council. Any comment on this?

MR. CROWLEY: He – pardon me?

QUESTION: He’s not going to support sanctions against Iran at the Security Council. What is your comment?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we will continue the same kind of close consultation that we had with Turkey and other key countries as we did last week. And we expect that at the end of the day, we’ll get the support that we need to pass an important resolution.

Note: Strong, meaningful, credible - but not necessarily effective - sanctions. What does 'credible' mean? Enough that we make it look like we tried to use sanctions to stop Iran, even though we know from the beginning that they won't work?

PJ looked a little uncomfortable around the 15:00 mark, didn't he? But it seems pretty clear that this administration does not want to go after refined petroleum products, which may be the only possibility for effective sanctions against Iran.

Note also that this administration has NO idea how to use stronger action as a threat to get Iran to comply. Not sanctions and not military force (which doesn't even come up in this briefing).

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: IAEA offer to Iran STILL on the table, refined petroleum sanctions OFF the table?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...