Monday, 10 May 2010

Israel Matzav: Defense expert: Iron Dome is a scam

Defense expert: Iron Dome is a scam

A defense expert has slammed the IDF for exaggerating claims about the effectiveness of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Former IAF fighter pilot, military analyst and proffessor at Tel Aviv University, Reuven Pedatzur, recently slammed the IDF for misleading the public about the effectiveness of the new Iron Dome anti-missile system, as swell as the older Arrow system.

“The Iron Dome is a scam. The flight-time of a Kassam rocket to Sderot is 14 seconds, while the time the Iron Dome needs to identify a target and fire some 15 seconds. This means it can’t defend against anything fired from fewer than five kilometers; but it probably couldn’t defend against anything fired from 15 km either. Since each Iron Dome missile costs about $100,000 and each Kassam $5, all the Palestinians need to do is build and launch a ton of rockets and hit our pocketbook.”

“There are also enough simple countermeasures that can be deployed to make the effectiveness of the Arrow basically zero,” he added.

That's funny. I said the same thing two years ago and argued that they should buy an American system that was already deployable back then.

Israel Matzav: Defense expert: Iron Dome is a scam

Elder of Ziyon: Al Azhar leader rejects PalArab sheikh call to visit J'lem

Al Azhar leader rejects PalArab sheikh call to visit J'lem

Al Masry al-Youm reports that the habitually lying, inciting and Jew-hating Sheikh Tayser Tamimi of Jerusalem has called on Arab Muslim and Christian leaders to visit Jerusalem to combat nefarious Zionist plans to Judaize the Jewish capital city.

Tamimi even added a new accusation: the Jews are now using chemicals to eat away at the walls of the Al Aqsa mosque, causing it to disintegrate from the inside!

(I wonder who the collaborators are that painted the walls of the mosque with this caustic chemical.)

Anyway, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, new head of the prestigious Al Azhar university, rejected Tamimi's call out of hand:

I refuse to visit Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque at the moment and I call on Muslims not to visit and obtain an Israelivisa, because that means supporting Israeli occupation and the recognition of its legitimacy.

The irony that an Egyptian sheikh is saying he knows what is better for Palestinian Arabs than the PalArabs themselves is seemingly lost.

Elder of Ziyon: Al Azhar leader rejects PalArab sheikh call to visit J'lem

Love of the Land: Is Manhigut Yehudit leaving the Likud?

Is Manhigut Yehudit leaving the Likud?

Moshe Feiglin
Manhigut Yehudit
26 Iyar, 5770
10 May '10

Translated from the article on Ma'ariv's NRG website

The media buzz surrounding Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud caught me by surprise. We had planned to keep the brainstorming process after last Thursday's Likud vote an internal affair - with only Manhigut Yehudit activists engaging in the debate. True, we knew that deliberations taking place among tens or hundreds of people would not be secret for long, but we did not estimate the great surge of public interest that the question of our future in the Likud would awaken. It seems that the stake that Manhigut Yehudit has planted in Israel's politics and collective consciousness is deeper than what we had assessed. When we move that stake just a bit, we create waves both inside and outside Israeli politics - surprising those in the eye of the storm.

Some people erroneously believe that our deliberations over Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud are the result of political failure, or because we failed in our attempt to prevent the Likud Central Committee from adopting Netanyahu's proposal, or because the Prime Minister has waged an all-out war against me. That is simply not true. If all that I was looking for was a place in the Knesset, I could have achieved my goal directly and with relative ease. It is not pleasant to be engaged in an ongoing political battle against forces larger and stronger than me; it is not pleasant when the chairman of my political home schemes with the High Court "judges" to remove me from the Knesset slot to which I was elected last year or to prevent elections altogether, as he has done now. I am way outside my comfort zone - but that is apparently the proof that we are on the right track.

As a result of last Thursday's vote, the Likud has redefined itself. It can no longer be considered the ruling party of the National Camp. Instead, it has become the ruling party of one man - in the service of the Left. The political alliance that has been formed between the chairman of the Likud (who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Israel) and the justice system allowed him to retroactively change the rules of the game to his advantage and to effectively sever the Likud from its members. From that point and on, nothing stands in the way of the Prime Minister as he charges ahead with his plans to partition Jerusalem.

Not one member of the small, rightist Knesset parties was anywhere near the arena on which the battle for Jerusalem took place last Thursday. Manhigut Yehudit, the movement that "always fails" made the prime minister sweat and deny the claims that the real story behind the Likud vote was Netanyahu's plans to divide Jerusalem.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Is Manhigut Yehudit leaving the Likud?

Generalizations about Culture and Antisemitism

Generalizations about Culture and Antisemitism

Rob isn't happy with the reviews of the Anthony Julius book I linked to yesterday. (Goldblog has even read the book, and speaks highly of it today). He makes three comments, one aimed at me:

3. Yaacov, please try not to make big sweeping comments about the UK. There is something childish about looking at the world through a prism of we-win-you-lose, we're-up-you're-down.

He could be right about me, of course, but I think not. Here are some thoughts abut the matter of culture, personal actions and responsibility, and generalizations.

1. The decisions of the individual are always that: decisions of an individual. Living in a society infused with hatred, or love, or indifference or whatever can never be a justification or condemnation of what a person does. If everyone thinks a certain way, the individual still has the obligation to think for themselves and to do what's right. This is a moral position, but also a description of history. No matter what the situation, there are always some people who can think for themselves, even if they're a small minority, and their existence proves that others could have thought similarly. Even in deeply antisemitic societies there are always some who don't succumb.

2. Culture matters. It's no coincidence that antisemitism insists on re-appearing (or never disappearing) in some cultures, while other have always been immune or grow so over time. (Europe, China and the USA respectively). The culture we live in informs us in myriad ways, and it's not easy to see through those influences. We don't need the new Julius book to know that detestation of the Jews is deeply embedded in much of European culture, including of course in England (though the book apparently describes this exceptionally well).

3. Cultures are not monolithic. At the precise moment in the late 19th century when antisemitism was taking off in Germany, there was a group of Germans who set themselves the goal of combating it with all rational tools. (They failed). Societies are complicated things. This doesn't negate the previous point about how culture informs and forms us, it merely adds that sometime this can go in more than one direction simultaneously.

4. Antisemitism is an emotion, not a rational thought system. Cultures are good at inculcating emotions.
Originally posted byYaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Video: Ambassador Oren addresses Evangelical Christians

Israel Matzav: Video: Ambassador Oren addresses Evangelical Christians

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Israeli settlements in an Eventual Soveriegn Palestine

Israeli settlements in an Eventual Soveriegn Palestine

Victor has been having a discussion withHussein Ibish about Israeli settlers remaining in Palestine once there is such a state. (If there is, might be more accurate, though I'm certainly in favor if it can be done). Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Ibish and Victor both seem to agree that leaving settlers to be citizens of the Palestinians state would be a fine thing.

I'm theoretically agnostic, but practically against. Were there ever to be a free and democratic Palestine that operated along, say, Belgian lines, or Danish ones: fine, let there be some Jews there, too. But there's no chance of there being such a state anytime this century, as far as I can see, so it's not relevant. Bar that possibility, what's much more likely is just another Arab state. Can anyone imagine Jews living freely in an Arab state, as they can in the UK, or even post-junta Argentina? No? I didn't think so.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Israeli settlements in an Eventual Soveriegn Palestine

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Ameer Makhoul, What Little we Know

Ameer Makhoul, What Little we Know

The gag order was lifted (it wasn't in place very long anyway, this time), and we now know that the police say they're investigating suspicions that Ameer Makhoul and Dr. Omar Said, two Israeli citizens, have been spying for Hezbollah.

Since the gag order gave our enemies a few days in which to spew bile, let's see what to make of this story.

1. There is nothing to say about the specific case. The investigation is underway, and the only people who see the entire picture are the investigators - and they' aren't telling. So of everything you'll be hearing in the next few days about the mens' innocence or guilt or the motives of the authorities in investigating, roughly 100% (give or take) will be hot air, speculation, malice, disinformation and similar unseemly phenomenon. The politicians, the journalists, even the bloggers: none of them know what they're talking about. Which of course won't stop them from talking. They already are (linked above)

Makhoul's brother Assam, a former MK for Hadash, said the family had no details of the investigation but they suspected authorities had singled out the activist because of his campaigns against the government's "racist and discriminatory polices" against Israeli Arabs.

2. There is one flimsy indicator about the allegations, and it comes from a lawyer
Hussein Abu Hasin, a lawyer who has handled several cases of spying charges, told Haaretz that espionage laws in Israel were so wide-ranging that an internet chat or telephone conversation with anyone in an 'enemy state' could lead to prosecution.
I don't know if this fellow has any information or not, but his line of defense is interesting: not that the suspects didn't do anything, but rather that they did but the law is pernicious. Well, yes: but it's still the law, and most people manage to live their lives without breaking it.

3. Since we don't know about this case, are there any precedents to inform us? Yes. Israel is a country at war, and its enemies try to collect information about it, and over the years there have been quite a number of Israeli citizens who helped them do so. These have included career officers (Jews and Arabs), scientists spying for the USSR, a Jewish officer who spied for the Syrians, a fellow who spied for Iran, and various others who spied for Hamas and Hezbollah. This is no indicator of the present case, but it does disprove the knee-jerk responses about how if an Arab has been arrested it must be ethnic persecution and a threat to democracy.

4. The Shabak, the police and anyone else involved in these investigations have a proven record of mostly doing their job well. Countless Israelis owe their lives to their proven ability to thwart conspiracies to harm people. That doesn't prove they've got it right in this case, but it does tell us something about anyone using the "If it's the Shin Bet they must be evil" line. Coming from people who live far away this line is ridiculous. Coming from people who live here, it's also ungrateful.

5. This morning we were repeatedly told that this evening there would be a mass demonstration against the gag order and the anti-Arab machinations of the Israelis. (See the Haaretz article above). Well, no. When the time came, there were all of 300 demonstrators (the demonstration was on Zionism Boulevard in Haifa). I'm not certain what this means, such a small demonstration, but it could be an indication that: a. Once the story was out, many Palestinian Israelis decided the story might have enough truth to it to limit their anger and need to demonstrate; b. Perhaps the "Israeli Arab street" isn't as radical as its representatives and the media wish us to believe; C. Haaretz got it wrong (again), and the demonstration was never going to be large.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Ameer Makhoul, What Little we Know

Love of the Land: What 'really excites them' is Israel

What 'really excites them' is Israel

Petra Marquardt-Bigman
The Warped Mirror/JPost
09 May '10

In late April, The New Republic (TNR) published a widely-quoted report that investigated accusations of blatant anti-Israel bias in the work of Human Rights Watch (HRW). A month earlier, The Sunday Times featured a similar article, to which HRW apparently responded by demanding a number of clarifications and corrections that in turn were challenged in the comment section by a researcher from NGO Monitor.

In terms of their substance, both reports contain too many interesting findings to summarize adequately here. However, one point that can perhaps serve to illustrate the overall picture that emerges from them is the fact that both reports include statements that openly acknowledge HRW's bias against Israel. The TNR article quotes a board member of HRW admitting: "I think we tend to go where there's action and where we're going to get reaction [...] We seek the limelight - that's part of what we do. And so, Israel's sort of like low-hanging fruit."

The Sunday Times article quotes an anonymous human rights expert working for an organization in Washington, who argues that one consideration in deciding what issues to focus on is "how it's going to be used politically in Washington"; according to this person, there is also the question of whom HRW considers as "a bad guy that they are interested in highlighting", and finally, he offers the observation: "Let's face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel."

Both quotes point to the enormous role publicity plays for HRW - in other words, HRW relies on the media to amplify its message, and the organization knows all too well what sells in the media. In this context, it is fascinating to read a recently published paper entitled "A media eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the world's forgotten conflicts".

The author, Noah Bernstein, can certainly not be accused of showing any bias in favor of Israel; instead, it is clear that he is motivated by a passionate and idealistic concern for human rights. His well-researched article starts out by starkly contrasting the media coverage of two simultaneous conflicts:

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: What 'really excites them' is Israel

Love of the Land: The Decline And Fall of Walt & Mearsheimer

The Decline And Fall of Walt & Mearsheimer

08 May '10

Stick a fork in Walt and Mearsheimer: They’re done.

And no, I’m not saying their respective careers are over. I’m saying that the “Walt & Mearsheimer Israel Lobby Road Show” is sputtering on fumes. Hey, they had a good run: four years, plus they pocketed a few hundred thousand dollars along the way. But they are now, in a word, irrelevant.

Why do I say this? Several reasons, starting with Mearsheimer’s most recent speech. This was not the victory speech of an academic who believed he had influenced policy or won hearts and minds. This was a tacit admission of defeat; an expressed belief that if everyone sits back and does nothing, events will right themselves.

To briefly summarize Mearsheimer’s “solution” for the Middle East problem: Israel—enabled by the “Afrikaner” Jews in the United States who control the Israel Lobby—will inevitably become a full-fledged Apartheid state. Of course, the full-scope of this brutality will be covered-up by the Lobby-controlled mainstream media (such as, he says, the Washington Post and the New York Times). However, thanks to that wondrous panacea, “the Internet,” everyone will see Israel for what it actually is. At that point, the scales will fall from the eyes of the majority of Jews—who currently fall into the category of the “undecided”—and they will join the ranks of the “Righteous Jews.” And, lo, the Righteous Jews shall defeat the power of the Afrikaner Jews, the Lobby’s power will be broken, and peace shall reign in the Holy Land.

There’s a certain Evangelical quality about it: a mass conversion of Jews ushering in a new era. (All that’s missing is a formal baptism.) But that’s the gist of Mearsheimer’s “plan of action”—do nothing, and wait long enough for the Jews to discover their inner righteousness.

Like I said, hardly a victory speech.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The Decline And Fall of Walt & Mearsheimer

Love of the Land: Farcical Proximity Talks#links#links#links

Farcical Proximity Talks

Jennifer Rubin
10 May '10

The “peace process” is underway, George Mitchell boasts. But the first “achievement” reveals how inane the entire exercise is. This report explains that the State Department crows that “Israel had pledged not to build in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of East Jerusalem for two years.” But wait:

Sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the American announcement later Sunday, confirming that the housing project intended for the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood would not be built in the coming two years. The sources added that even when the Ramat Shlomo crisis first erupted, when the housing project was announced just as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, Israel told the U.S. administration that the project was only in very initial stages and construction would not begin for at least two years.

So what was the cause of an international incident is now touted as a success. That’s the Orwellian world of peace talks. And the PA’s contribution? They promise not to incite violence. Hmm. Will they rename Dalal Mughrabi square after someone who did not slaughter 38 Israeli civilians? Will we hear a call to end the days of rage? For now, each party pretends something is happening. Meanwhile, the “achievements” remain ephemeral, their only purpose being to secure further employment for George Mitchell.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Farcical Proximity Talks

Love of the Land: Lebanese president won't ask Hizballah to disarm

Lebanese president won't ask Hizballah to disarm

Thank you very much!

Jihad Watch
09 May '10

He won't ask them, let alone order them, as he should. His explanation is that it would not be appropriate at a time of heightened tension between Lebanon and Israel, but why the elevated level of tension in the first place? That stems from Hizballah's ongoing existence as an Iranian- and Syrian- supported state-within-a-state that, at this point, is probably all but better armed than the Lebanese government. Hizballebanon Update. "Sleiman says he won't ask Hizbullah to disarm," from the Daily Star, May 10:

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said the government cannot ask Hizbullah to give up its arms at a time of heightened Israeli tension and before agreement on a national defense strategy was reached.

Israeli allegations last month that Syria had transferred long-range Scud missiles to Hizbullah fuelled security concerns, although Lebanon and Syria both denied the charge, while Hizbullah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has refused to comment.

Hizbullah is on the United States' terrorism blacklist, but it is also part of the Lebanese government. Syria says it only gives Hizbullah political backing and that Israel may be using the accusation as a pretext for a military strike.

Israel launched a 34-day war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006 during which the powerful group fired thousands of mostly short-range rockets against Israel."To demand now, in this regional atmosphere full of dangers and the drumbeats of war that Israel is banging everyday, and before we reach an agreement on a national defense strategy to protect Lebanon, we cannot and must not tell the resistance ... 'Give us your weapons and put it under the state's command,'" Sleiman was quoted as saying in the Ad-Diyar newspaper on Saturday.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Lebanese president won't ask Hizballah to disarm

Love of the Land: Where Does Goldstone Fit in Mearsheimer’s List?

Where Does Goldstone Fit in Mearsheimer’s List?

Emanuele Ottolenghi
09 May '10

So here’s a question for John Mearsheimer. As Noah Pollak pointed out not so long ago, John Mearsheimer classified Jews into three categories — new Afrikaner Jews, righteous Jews, and the “great ambivalent in the middle.” In his useful lists, he included one Judge Richard Goldstone among the noble ones. And so, in light of the revelations about Judge Goldstone to which Jennifer Rubin referred earlier on today, one is left to wonder. Where would Mearsheimer now put Goldstone — among the “New Afrikaner” or the “Righteous”? Maybe we should create a separate category — Old Afrikaner but Righteous? Good Ol’ Afrikaner?

Is he a Righteous Afrikaner because he bashes Israel after having hung a few Africans — the bashing makes him righteous, the hanging makes him Afrikaner?

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Where Does Goldstone Fit in Mearsheimer’s List?

Love of the Land: Observation: Defining “Trust Undermining” Palestinian Action

Observation: Defining “Trust Undermining” Palestinian Action

Dr. Aaron Lerner
09 May '10

“As both parties know, if either takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue.”

Statement on Special Envoy George Mitchell's Trip
The State Department
Washington, DC
May 9, 2010

What constitutes Palestinian serious "trust undermining?

Just the amorphous "incitement"?

Well, what confidence can Israel have of Palestinian intentions when they continue taking a leading role in:

1. Efforts to keep Israel out of various international bodies such as the OECD.

2. Initiatives to condemn Israel in various international forums.

3. Promoting various economic sanctions against Israel.

4. Supporting and encouraging the harassment of Israeli official on campuses around the world.

And here’s one that the United States itself is guilty in aiding, abetting and encouraging: the absolutely stunning and appalling official Palestinian demand that every Palestinian held by Israel for terror activities – regardless of what they did (e.g. no matter how heinous the crime) or when they did it (including a minute ago) should be set free. That’s “set free”. Not handed over to the PA justice system. Set free. Period.

And the list goes on.

Question: Will the United States consider any of the above “trust undermining” or will President Obama’s and Secretary of State Clinton’s determination to give the Palestinians a passing grade come what may cause them to ignore all of this?

Better question: Will Prime Minister Netanyahu’s team limit its complaints regarding Palestinian behavior to Palestinian incitement and essentially give the Palestinians a free pass for everything else that they do that undermines trust?

Love of the Land: Observation: Defining “Trust Undermining” Palestinian Action

Love of the Land: Forget your right hand

Forget your right hand

Soccer Dad
09 May '10

The Washington Post reports, "Israeli construction in East Jerusalem adds to difficulties facing negotiators":

When the Obama administration launches indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as early as this weekend, it faces a much more complicated landscape than the Clinton or Bush administrations did, especially in Jerusalem.
In the decade since Israelis and Palestinians came close to a peace deal in 2000, the complexion of Jerusalem, perhaps the most sensitive of all the sticking points, has been altered. Israeli construction is blurring lines between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, making any bid to share or divide the city even more difficult than in the past.

A battle for sovereignty and international legitimacy is playing out on every hilltop and valley here. And with tens of thousands of new apartments planned for Jews in East Jerusalem -- well beyond the 1,600 announced in March during Vice President Biden's visit here -- the potential for construction derailing the new peace negotiations is high.

I'm sorry but Israel and the Palestinian were not "close" to a peace deal in 2000. Yasser Arafat rejected the deal. But why should the Palestinians be rewarded for rejecting the deal? It the Palestinians can reject any deal as insufficient, why should Israel be obligatred to cede the same territories for "peace?"

For Israel, the issue of Jerusalem is about not just Jews' historical claims to the city but also demographic realities. Israelis fret about the Jewish majority of the city declining as the Arab birthrate outpaces that of Jews; by some estimates, the Arab population -- which today is about 300,000, or 35 percent of the city's total -- could equal the Jewish population by 2030.

The qualfication of "some estimates" indicate that this is as much as wild guess as anything.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Forget your right hand

Love of the Land: Human Rights Watch versus human rights

Human Rights Watch versus human rights

Based on recent revelations, there were systematic violations in the organization, especially regarding Israel.

Gerald Steinberg
09 May '10

New York-based Human Rights Watch – once the “gold standard” of moral watchdogs – is playing a leading role in demonizing Israel through false allegations of war crimes. HRW supported the UN report condemning Israel on Jenin (2002) and the attack on the separation barrier as a violation of international law (2004), charged Israel with “deliberate” and “indiscriminate” attacks on civilians in Lebanon (2006) and issued a flood of such allegations about Gaza (2009).

HRW also claimed credit for Judge Richard Goldstone’s one-sided UN “inquiry” on the Gaza fighting. Goldstone is a close confidant of HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth, and was a member of HRW’s board.

But HRW has been shattered following revelations of systematic factual, moral and ethical violations, particularly with respect to Israel. Marc Garlasco, HRW’s “senior military analyst,” who wrote many of the accusations about Gaza, including the white phosphorous libel, was fired. This followed discovery of his obsessive collection of Nazi war memorabilia, but the deeper issues relate to the credibility of his military analyses. (The investigation HRW promised six months ago never happened, and instead, it imposed a gag order on Garlasco.) Garlasco is a symptom, and after NGO Monitor’s systematic revelations of HRW hypocrisy, founder Robert Bernstein denounced his own organization for helping undermine the principles of human rights. Articles by Jonathan Foreman in the Sunday Times and Benjamin Birnbaum in The New Republic have further exposed the mythology.

BASED ON interviews with HRW board members, employees and others, Birnbaum documented systematic bias and factual distortions. Sarah Leah Whitson (who led a bizarre fund-raising trip to Saudi Arabia, invoking the specter of the “pro-Israel” lobby) was brought in by Roth to head the Middle East and North Africa division. Whitson is an admirer of Norman Finkelstein, who, as Birnbaum notes, is a “Hizbullah supporter who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany” and accuses Jews of exploiting the Holocaust. In an e-mail, Whitson wrote of her “tremendous respect and admiration for him, because... making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task...”

(Read full story)

Love of the Land: Human Rights Watch versus human rights

Israel Matzav: Arab MK calls for Islamic Caliphate

Arab MK calls for Islamic Caliphate

But let's keep pretending they're not a fifth column and not trying to overthrow the government of Israel - right up to the time that they throw us into the sea... (God forbid).

In an interview with the Kol El-Arab newspaper, Arab MK Masoud Ranaim, a member of Re’em-Ta'al party and of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, called to establish an Islamic caliphate that would include Israel. He also said that all means are warranted to “protect” Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Ranaim further expressed support for the Iran, Syria, Hizbullah axis and called to recognize Hamas rule in Gaza.

And this from a guy who took a loyalty oath to get into the Knesset. I know, I know, that was taqiyya.

Israel Matzav: Arab MK calls for Islamic Caliphate

Israel Matzav: Silence is not a policy

Silence is not a policy

This is a commentary from DEBKA about Prime Minister Netanyahu agreeing (and let's face it - that's what he did as I said two and a half weeks ago) to a freeze in Ramat Shlomo for two years. It's spot-on (Hat Tip: Leah P).

As a result, Palestinians are celebrating their success in manipulating the Obama administration into squeezing concessions out of Israel even before the talks begin - and on Jerusalem, no less.

Given Netanyahu's dogged insistence that there would be no Israel concessions on Jerusalem, its undivided capital, even after Vice President Joe Biden's unfortunate visit to Jerusalem in March, three hard questions demand answers:

1. If the Israeli prime minister can't stand by his solemn pledges to Israel and the Jewish people on Jerusalem, how much credibility can be attributed his other statements?

2. Is he made of tough enough material to withstand pressures, or does he have a built-in tendency to surrender when the going is rough?

3. This answer is critical when applied to matters of national security, such as the threats from Hizballah and a nuclear-armed Iran.

The pretext offered by his aides that giving ground on Ramat Shlomo cost nothing because the pre-planning process requires another two years at least does not hold water. From his own and his predecessors' experience, Netanyahu must know that every concession on a question of principle opens the door to bullying for more. It will now be clear to all that if he cannot stand the heat on Jerusalem, he will fold again in September when the West Bank settlement freeze is up and find good reason to let it run on and on.

Netanyahu manifested weakness by never once hitting back at the unbridled and offensive assaults thrown at Israel and him personally by members of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat and Abd Rabbo in the last two days. He ignored the insults and welcomed the PLO decision to endorse the resumption of peace talks over which Abbas stalled for 15 months, mildly hoping there would be no more preconditions.

He even abstained even from calling for Palestinian officials to watch their language, least of all threaten to stay away from the table until they stopped their incitement.

Netanyahu likewise has nothing to say to the abuse heaped on Israel by Iranian leaders and pro-Palestinian elements in the West, some of it rabidly anti-Semitic.
Silence is not a policy. At best, it is a tactic of survival and at worst, presents the appearance of timidity. In either case, he has left Israel wide open to more arm-twisting on its most fundamental interests.

And yes, of course, the 'freeze' in Judea and Samaria is going to be extended. I've been saying that since Netanyahu agreed to it in the first place.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Silence is not a policy

Israel Matzav: Most Israelis: World critical no matter what

Most Israelis: World critical no matter what

An overwhelming majority of Israelis believe that the World is going to be critical of us no matter what we do.

The War and Peace Index of Tel Aviv University has found that the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public sees no connection between Israel’s conduct and the criticism of Israel in the world. Some 73% say that no matter what Israel does or how far it goes toward resolving the conflict with the PA, the world will remain very critical of it.

Telephone interviews for the survey were conducted on May 3-4, and included 518 interviewees who represent the adult population of Israel. The sampling error is 4.5%

I agree. So why bother trying?

Israel Matzav: Most Israelis: World critical no matter what

Israel Matzav: Barkat: There's no freeze

Barkat: There's no freeze

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says there's no building freeze in Jerusalem.

In spite of widespread reports from multiple sources that Jewish building in Jerusalem has come to a standstill, Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has denied that there is any freeze. "The real test is the test of action. The municipality continues to promote construction throughout the city according to plans that provide for Jews and Arabs alike . We expect that the Interior Ministry and the Housing Ministry to approve these plans.”

"We trust the Prime Minister not to allow a freeze in Jerusalem, not in words but in deeds," added Barkat.

I'm afraid Barkat is doing some wishful thinking. This is from the State Department.

Both parties are taking some steps to help create an atmosphere that is conducive to successful talks, including President Abbas’ statement that he will work against incitement of any sort and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that there will be no construction at the Ramat Shlomo project for two years. They are both trying to move forward in difficult circumstances and we commend them for that.

We have received commitments from both sides, and we have made assurances to both sides, that are enabling us to move forward. The full scope of these discussions will remain private.

As both parties know, if either takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue.

My guess is that nothing happens until November, when we see how much Obama is weakened - if at all - by the midterm elections. Until then, neither side is likely to defy him.

And yes, that means the 'freeze' in Judea and Samaria will be extended.

Israel Matzav: Barkat: There's no freeze

Israel Matzav: Nowhere men among us

Nowhere men among us

How many of you are old enough to remember this?

Let's go to the videotape.

Those of us who live in the West, with the possible exception of Israel, where they cannot be hidden, face Muslim nowhere men. This is Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Journal:

'A Muslim has no nationality except his belief," the intellectual godfather of the Islamists, Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, wrote decades ago. Qutb's "children" are everywhere now; they carry the nationalities of foreign lands and plot against them. The Pakistani born Faisal Shahzad is a devotee of Sayyid Qutb's doctrine, and Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, was another.

Qutb was executed by the secular dictatorship of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966. But his thoughts and legacy endure. Globalization, the shaking up of continents, the ease of travel, and the doors for immigration flung wide open by Western liberal societies have given Qutb's worldview greater power and relevance. What can we make of a young man like Shahzad working for Elizabeth Arden, receiving that all-American degree, the MBA, jogging in the evening in Bridgeport, then plotting mass mayhem in Times Square?

The Islamists are now within the gates. They fled the fires and the failures of the Islamic world but brought the ruin with them. They mock national borders and identities. A parliamentary report issued by Britain's House of Commons on the London Underground bombings of July 7, 2005 lays bare this menace and the challenge it poses to a system of open borders and modern citizenship.

The four men who pulled off those brutal attacks, the report noted, "were apparently well integrated into British society." Three of them were second generation Britons born in West Yorkshire. The oldest, a 30-year-old father of a 14-month-old infant, "appeared to others as a role model to young people." One of the four, 22 years of age, was a boy of some privilege; he owned a red Mercedes given to him by his father and was given to fashionable hairstyles and designer clothing. This young man played cricket on the eve of the bombings. The next day, the day of the terror, a surveillance camera filmed him in a store. "He buys snacks, quibbles with the cashier over his change, looks directly at the CCTV camera, and leaves." Two of the four, rather like Faisal Shahzad, had spent time in Pakistan before they pulled off their deed.


This is a long twilight war, the struggle against radical Islamism. We can't wish it away. No strategy of winning "hearts and minds," no great outreach, will bring this struggle to an end. America can't conciliate these furies. These men of nowhere—Faisal Shahzad, Nidal Malik Hasan, the American-born renegade cleric Anwar Awlaki now holed up in Yemen and their likes—are a deadly breed of combatants in this new kind of war. Modernity both attracts and unsettles them. America is at once the object of their dreams and the scapegoat onto which they project their deepest malignancies.

And the scariest part is that the West is being led by people like Barack Obama who believe that they can win Muslims' 'hearts and minds' rather than fighting them.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Nowhere men among us

Israel Matzav: Israel accepted into OECD but....

Israel accepted into OECD but....

Israel was unanimously accepted (the only way you can be) as the 32nd member of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) on Monday, after a motion by Norway to limit Israel's membership to the 'green line' (1949 armistice line) failed last week.

The 31-member OECD issued a statement at its Paris headquarters saying it had invited Israel, as well as Estonia and Slovenia, to become members.

The three "will contribute to a more plural and open OECD that is playing an increasingly important role in the global economic architecture," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said. He said all three countries had been "receptive to OECD recommendations" and the membership talks were "constructive and open."

The official announcement of accession will be announced at the OECD’s annual ministerial council meeting in Paris on May 26-May 28.


As part of the process of OECD accession, Israel has had to comply with the norms and standards upheld by the 31 OECD member countries in the fields of financial markets, anti-corruption legislation, technology and innovation, and investment.

In the final stage over the past few months, the organization has come to agreements with Israel on ways to tackle three critical issues: anti-corruption policy measures, in particular in the defense industry; compliance with intellectual property legislation common in OECD member countries; and the exclusion of statistics relating to territories that are not considered part of the country.

Membership in the OECD, which includes the major players in the global economy, enhances Israel’s ability to conduct an ongoing dialogue with representatives of these economies; forces an upgrade in Israel’s public administration; improve Israel’s corporate management, and reduces Israel’s risk premium and help attract investment.

'Palestinian Prime Minister' Salam Fayyad has attempted to block Israel's membership in the OECD, and according to an email I received on Monday afternoon, that effort is continuing.

Hi all,

You will have already seen that Haaretz has reported a unanimous vote for
Israeli accession to the OECD this morning.\ccepted-into-oecd-1.289422

FYI, the Palestinians hope to achieve a small technical delay based on a *legal argument* (below) by getting the legal advisors of one of the MFAs of a member country to request a legal opinion on this issue from the OECD legal department, and asking that the accession process (due to be finalised May 27) be suspended until this legal question is answered.

The bottom line of this argument is that the OECD would itself be breaching the 4th Geneva convention if it admits Israel under current conditions (i.e with settlement data, but without data on Palestinians in the OPT). By including settlement data it has actually forced itself to apply the rules of occupation (Geneva 4) to Israel, which include responsibility of the Occupying Power for the welfare of the occupied population. The only way that accession would be legal is a) if settlement/OPT data is totally excluded [total disaggregation] or b) if data from both settlements and OPT Palestinians is included.

A brief based on this argument has been sent to all Ministries of foreign affairs of member countries.

The legal argument will now be important for press purposes. Please feel free to send it around as another point of messaging to your lists.

Here is the full text of the argument:

*Israel has submitted economic statistics to the OECD which include data pertaining to its settlements in the OPT and has been unwilling/unable to disaggregate them. Due to this fact, the OECD cannot handle Israel's application for OECD accession as if it were an application by the State of Israel in its pre-1967 borders; Israel's application must be examined in light of its role as Occupying Power under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and the law on state responsibility. *

Under the terms of the GCIV, the Occupying Power is under a legal obligation to ensure the economic wellbeing of the protected Palestinian population; the transfer of the Occupying Power's own civilian population into Occupied Territory constitutes a grave breach (war crime). High Contracting Parties (HCP) are under a legal obligation to ensure respect for the GCIV by the Occupying Power. The law on state responsibility, moreover, requires that no state render aid or assistance to unlawful acts committed by another state. Accordingly, if member states and the OECD itself accept accession of Israel with any of the data including Israeli civilians living in the Occupied Territory (even provisionally, with the proviso that the data is disaggregated at a later stage, after accession), they are absolutely required to ensure that the protected Palestinian population is also included in this data.

The OECD and member states would be violating their legal obligations under both bodies of international law should Israel be accepted - even provisionally - into the OECD with the current statistical data, including Israeli civilians living in Occupied Territory, but arbitrarily excluding four million GCIV-protected Palestinian civilians living in the Occupied Territory from the data. OECD member states as HCP would be thereby endorsing and becoming complicit with Israel's grave breach of population transfer. This creates another legal, technical and political issue of substantive and immediate concern for the OECD and its member states. If the statistics of four million Palestinian civilians who currently live under the martial law of the Occupying Power are included, consideration will need to be given to the separate legal, political, military and economic systems and policies Israel has been applying to its settler-citizens and the GC-IV-protected Palestinian population in the Occupied Territory since 1967.

Our request is for OECD and member states to delay Israel’s membership until these serious legal issues are addressed and clarified.


For the record, the people trying to contest Israel's accession to the OECD are incorrect. Israel had no borders before 1967. Further, the areas that the email defines as "occupied" were all part of the Jewish National Home set up by the San Remo accord [1920], the League of Nations [1922] and subsequent international instruments. And that's just the tip of the iceberg (there are many, many arguments why Judea and Samaria are not 'occupied territories').

Israel Matzav: Israel accepted into OECD but....

Israel Matzav: Barack's New Clothes

Barack's New Clothes

The Emperor has no clothes.


Israel Matzav: Barack's New Clothes

Israel Matzav: Goldstone: Good ol' righteous Afrikaner

Goldstone: Good ol' righteous Afrikaner

How would (does) John Mearsheimer classify Richard Goldstone now that the truth is coming out?

Where would Mearsheimer now put Goldstone — among the “New Afrikaner” or the “Righteous”? Maybe we should create a separate category — Old Afrikaner but Righteous? Good Ol’ Afrikaner?

Is he a Righteous Afrikaner because he bashes Israel after having hung a few Africans — the bashing makes him righteous, the hanging makes him Afrikaner?

If so, is his righteousness diminished by his little flirt with the white supremacist apartheid? Or is his very practical complicity with it something that his later anti-Zionist righteousness washes away?

Will Mearsheimer continue to be his fan now that he knows what skeletons Mr. Goldstone had in the closet? Won’t he mind? Will anyone mind?

After all, what’s sending a few Africans to the gallows, between us, after you’ve authored a UN-sponsored indictment of Israel and peppered it with a healthy dose of self-righteousness about your Jewish conscience?


Israel Matzav: Goldstone: Good ol' righteous Afrikaner

Israel Matzav: Gag order (partially) lifted! Two 'Israeli Arabs' charged with spying for Hezbullah

Gag order (partially) lifted! Two 'Israeli Arabs' charged with spying for Hezbullah

In an earlier post, I noted another spy scandal with respect to which there was a gag order here in Israel. That gag order has now been partially lifted. Two 'Israeli Arabs' have been arrested and charged with spying for Hezbullah. One of them is the brother of a former Knesset member (Issam Mahoul of Chadash). One was arrested last Thursday and the other on April 24.

A leading Arab Israeli political activist and a second man were arrested in recent weeks by the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] on suspicion of spying for Hizbullah and conspiring with enemy agents, the Israel Police revealed on Monday.

The two suspects have been named as Ameer Makhoul, 42, head of Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations) - an umbrella group for Arab NGOs in Israel - of Haifa, and Omar Abdo, 40, of Kfar Kana, an activist for the Balad Arab political party.

Makhoul was arrested on May 6 and Abdo was taken into custody on April 24, security services said.

"They were arrested on suspicion of severe security offenses," police added. "The investigation, which is ongoing, is being coordinated with the attorney general [Yehuda Weinstein] and the Israel Police's Head of Investigations Branch, Cmdr. Yoav Seglovitch, as well as the state prosecution," police said.

The details were revealed following the partial lifting of a media gag order which was in place on all details of the investigation. The media-ban and details of the arrests had spread through the Israeli Arab community in recent days, and reignited a furious debate on secrecy and national security.

The picture is Azmi Bihshara, an MK of the Balad party who resigned and defected as he was about to be charged with spying for Hebzullah during the Second Lebanon War. The circus Knesset recently concluded that it has to pay 'retirement benefits' to Bishara.

The two 'Israeli Arabs' who have been charged are known figures in the 'Israeli Arab' community. The organizations with which they work are supported by the New Israel Fund.

Israel Matzav: Gag order (partially) lifted! Two 'Israeli Arabs' charged with spying for Hezbullah

Israel Matzav: Good news: China, Iran and North Korea form nuclear missile development alliance

Good news: China, Iran and North Korea form nuclear missile development alliance

And to think that President Obumbler still thinks he's going to get China to go along with real sanctions (Hat Tip: Weasel Zippers via Atlas Shrugs). The report said that Beijing, Pyongyang and Teheran were helping each other in missile and nuclear programs.

The report, titled "China, Iran and North Korea: A Triangular Strategic Alliance," by Israel's GLORIA Center said China and North Korea were the key suppliers of Scud-based ballistic missiles to Iran's military, the target of Western sanctions.

"This flurry of activities underscored the growing proliferation threats posed by DPRK [North Korea] assistance to Iran's missile capabilities, which has also led to collaboration in the nuclear realm," the report, published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, said.

The report said North Korea helped develop Iran's Shihab ballistic missiles series. Author Christina Lin said North Korea's Taepo Dong intermediate-range missiles have served as the basis of Iran's program, including the design of a nuclear interncontinental ballistic missile with a range of up to 6,000 kilometers, dubbed Shihab-6.

China has sought to make Iran a key waystation in Beijing's silk road policy of expanding influence throughout Asia. The report said Beijing, believed to be channeling aid through neighboring North Korea, regarded Iran as an ally to balance the strategic relationship between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

"Iran may also be a new pearl in China's maritime pearl necklace," the report said. "China is increasing its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, with a call in December 2009 by Chinese Rear Adm. Yin Zhou to set up a permanent naval base in the Gulf of Aden."

The report did not discount the prospect that China would establish a permanent naval base in Iran. Ms. Yin, today a researcher with Jane's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Intelligence Center, said China could be offered a naval base at one of Iran's islands in the Gulf.


The report said China was expected to block United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran. Ms. Lin compared China's role to that of Russia's alliance with Serbia when it came under attack by a Western-led coalition in 1999.

Regardless of UN sanctions, North Korea would continue to funnel weapons and technology to Iran, the report said. Ms. Lin said Iran has financed North Korean research and development of ballistic missiles and other strategic systems.

Read the whole thing.

It looks China will be a superpower by the time Obama's term ends. The US will not be one.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Good news: China, Iran and North Korea form nuclear missile development alliance

Israel Matzav: Obama breaches another US commitment

Obama breaches another US commitment

By going along with the effort to force Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, President Obama is breaching yet another commitment made to Israel by President Bush in 2004.

In that letter, which dealt primarily with the Palestinian issue, and which Israel interpreted as a US acceptance of settlement blocs and a rejection of the Palestinian claim to a right of refugee return, Bush also wrote, “The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.”

In private conversations, Sharon on numerous occasions said this represented a US obligation to prevent the international community, once it had de-fanged Iran’s nuclear ambitions, from then turning on Israelis’ reported nuclear capabilities.

Oh well. Obama doesn't believe that letter exists anyway. And I think that's the last time this country will trust any commitment given to it by an American President, now that Obama has proven that the United States is no different than any other banana republic where the newly elected President dissolves all the previous President's commitments.

What Israel needs to do - somehow - is to change the conversation from a discussion of a 'nuclear free' Middle East to a discussion of a 'WMD free' Middle East.

Landau said that if Israel altered its long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity it would place itself on a slippery slope that would lead to intense pressure for it to disarm itself of its reported nuclear capabilities.

Landau said Israel should be less “gun-shy” in explaining its nuclear policy, and that it should clarify that what it supported in the Middle East was a weapons of mass destruction-free zone, not a nuclear weapons-free zone as advocated by Egypt.

One diplomatic official said the reason the Egyptians loudly push for a nuclear weapons-free zone, and not a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, was simply because many Arab states have not signed onto treaties preventing chemical and biological weapons, even though they have signed the NPT.

But Obama seems unlikely to back that anyway. After all, in the 1980's, all anyone worried about was nukes.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Obama breaches another US commitment

Israel Matzav: Kuwait bans reporting on alleged Iranian spy ring

Kuwait bans reporting on alleged Iranian spy ring

Last week, I reported on the discovery of an Iranian spy ring in Kuwait that was seeking information on American and Kuwaiti targets. In a later post, I reported that Hezbullah was connected to the spy ring. Now, Kuwait has imposed a gag order on all reporting regarding the spy ring. That has caused quite a firestorm in Kuwait.

Authorities however remained silent on the nature of the investigation and if the network is actually linked to the Revolutionary Guards as more MPs blasted the government's position. Members of the Islamic Reform and Development Bloc called on the government to explicitly reveal the nature of charges that have been made to the spy network and to announce names of the suspects.

Addressing a press conference, the four members of the group warned against attempts to cover up internal or external sides in this case. MP Faisal Al-Mislem said that people are concerned after the reports that a spy network of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have been busted, adding the government's handling of the case has been wrong and lacked transparency. Mislem said that what adds to people's concerns is the fact that the spy cell is allegedly linked to Iran, which had repeatedly threatened to attack Kuwait and other Gulf countries if attacked by the United States.

National Assembly Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi commended delaying the submission of a request to hold a special debate on the spy network, saying he believes that the best way to deal with the issue is to summon the interior minister to the interior and defense committee and discuss the situation. Khorafi also called on MPs to stop issuing statements on the issue and let the authorities perform their duty.

MP Hassan Jowhar blamed the government for causing confusion in the country by failing to issue clear statements to clarify the situation and stop unnecessary interpretations. He said that government's hesitation has opened the door for speculation and "mixing of cards", encouraged the spread of rumours and stoking of sectarian tensions in the country. Jowhar appealed to the Kuwaiti people to beware from those with political agendas and those who attempt to undermine national unity.

MP Mubarak Al-Waalan yesterday warned the government and the interior minister against allowing any interference that may impact the ongoing investigations on the Iranian spy network, saying that any interference necessarily means an attempt to protect those who violate Kuwait's security and sovereignty.


Israel Matzav: Kuwait bans reporting on alleged Iranian spy ring

Israel Matzav: Obama's 'stern warning'

Obama's 'stern warning'

Shortly after Sunday's conclusion of the first round of 'proximity talks,' President Obumbler issued a stern warning.

Just after the completion of Sunday's negotiations, US President Barack Obama issued a firm warning to both Israel and the Palestinians.

Obama said that if either Israel or the Palestinian Authority takes any steps which jeopardize the negotiations, the US will hold that side, and that side alone, responsible for the failure of the talks, Channel 2 reported.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama's 'stern warning'

Israel Matzav: US supplies bunker busters to Israel

US supplies bunker busters to Israel

The US is supplying Israel with bunker busters like the GBU-28 shown at the top of this post (Hat Tip: Danny A). A similar report appeared in Globes - Israel's business daily - last week. The original report appeared in Defense News. This is from Globes:

According to "Defense News", Israel will shortly bring the GBU-39 bomb into operational use with the F-15I "Thunder" squadron. This 250-pound precision-guided bomb can accurately hit a target in all weather conditions and penetrate more than two meters of concrete, according to the specifications of its manufacturer, Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) and the US Air Force. The sale of 1,000 bombs was reported to Congress, as required by law, in 2008.

Israeli Ministry of Defense and defense establishment officials told "Defense News" that, in 2010 and 2011, the IAF F-15I and F-16I "Storm" squadrons will have GBU-39 bombs, which will give the IAF the ability to hit multiple targets more accurately with a single sortie, while minimizing collateral damage.

The IAF is also equipping its F-15I squadron with the GBU-28 2.2-ton hard target penetrator bomb, which can penetrate 30 meters into the ground, or crack a seven-meter concrete roof.

The Pentagon approved the delivery of 100 GBU-28s in 2005, after years of hesitation. It notified Congress of the delivery of 50 more bombs in 2007. US and Israeli sources told "Defense News" that the IAF has not yet procured all the bombs approved of both types, nor has it used them in reprisal air strikes, in order to keep them ready for possible use against Iranian nuclear sites.

DEBKA adds:

Debkafile's Washington sources report that the Obama administration decided to release this data to dispel rumors of a US arms embargo against Israel, especially of items that would enable Israel to attack Iran's nuclear installations. The GBU-28 "Deep Throat" has that capability and is one of those items.

US defense sources declined to comment on the debkafile report of March 28, according to which President Barak Obama halted the delivery of advanced, high-precision bunker-buster Joint Direct Attack Munition-JDAM bombs to Israel on March 28, after Vice President Joe Biden ended his visit to Jerusalem. These bombs were already en route to Israel when they were diverted instead to the US base of Diego Garcia, thereby initiating an arms embargo designed to prevent an Israeli strike against Iran.


Israel Matzav: US supplies bunker busters to Israel

Israel Matzav: Video: Israel: Defying all odds

Video: Israel: Defying all odds

Here's a pretty neat video about some of the remarkable things about Israel.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Video: Israel: Defying all odds

RubinReports: Be Smarter than the Tiger or You’ll End Up In Its Stomach

Be Smarter than the Tiger or You’ll End Up In Its Stomach

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By Barry Rubin

“I always disagree…when people end by saying that we can only combat Communism, Fascism or what not if we develop an equal fanaticism. It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence. In the same way, a man can kill a tiger because he is not like a tiger & uses his brain to invent the rifle, which no tiger could ever do.” --George Orwell, March 3, 1949.

Orwell wasn’t just throwing out that last image from his imagination. One of his most famous short stories was about shooting an elephant. He didn’t do it for fun but for two other reasons. First, the elephant was menacing the townspeople.

Second, as a policeman in Burma, he knew that all the people standing and watching in the crowd expected him to take leadership and solve the problem. There was no one else who was going to do it and if he failed his credibility—and that of the British government he represented—would be shot to pieces. And if he and they had no credibility they could achieve nothing.

Orwell’s point, reminds us that what’s most scary about the current scene is that Western leaders are not being smarter than the revolutionaries, the terrorists, the dictatorial regimes, the huddled propagandists yearning to keep others from breathing free.

In fact, the basis of their strategy was to seize hegemony over “intelligence,” so that all the wrong attitudes and policies are defined as intelligent, attracting all people who wanted to be considered smart and intellectual. Or, as Woody Allen put it in “Annie Hall”:

“One thing about intellectuals, they prove that you can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what's going on.”

Thus, what Orwell foresaw is the opposite of what’s happening now. Today, the West's “best and brightest” are sure good about avoiding fanaticism in fighting the contemporary battle. But for them that becomes an end in itself.

Here’s an example.

Tolerance is good; hatred is bad. Precisely because so many Muslims have been involved in terrorism based on the Islamist interpretation of Muslim religious-political doctrine, Americans might hate Muslims, mistakenly confusing ordinary law-abiding Muslims with revolutionary Islamists who use Islam as the main source of their ideology. Therefore, editors and journalists decide that they must censor the news in order to protect Americans from becoming right-wing bigots forming mobs to burn down the local mosques, and to protect Muslims in America from being massacred in the streets of Connecticut by crazed Islamophobes wearing tee-shirts with American flags on them! They decide that their function is to lie to the audience for its own good.
Avoiding fanaticism on one’s own side is, of course, a good idea. But it should not be accomplished by, in effect, making one’s own side extremely stupid in refusing to recognize the danger or even the identity of the adversary.

It is also not intelligent to fall into the other side’s traps and echo its arguments, or to be so ruthless in criticism of one's own far superior societies' real or imagined shortcomings while subverting many of the foundations of Western democracy and civilization, such as community, self-confidence, and patriotism.

Of course, this is overstated. There are many exceptions as well as signs of change. Yet the truth is bad enough. The revolutionaries and terrorists are both smarter and more fanatical, that's a chilling combination.

Since we are talking about tigers, it’s worthwhile recalling the other two relevant tiger analogies regarding politics, the paper tiger and riding the tiger.

Paper tiger: The view of a seemingly powerful state as in reality quite weak, originally applied by Communist China to the United States. This idea was revived and deepened by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran’s Islamist revolution, who claimed that if Muslims united, had the proper ideology, and were willing to sacrifice themselves the United States could be defeated. The September 11 attacks, among many other events, were intended to demonstrate that fact.

Actually, such American attempts to win over the extremists made things worse. In private life, kind words or a turned cheek may avert conflict, but this was not a valid principle for U.S. Middle East policy. The United States have had only two choices in the Middle East: either the Iranians and Arabs would see America as a real tiger whose interests they would have to respect or they would view it as a paper tiger which might be easily and profitably defied. This was a case, if there ever was one, to prove the maxim that nice guys finish last.

In a sense, many Western intellectuals have embraced the “paper tiger” idea. Not that, of course, they would explicitly or consciously advocate such a thing but it is the consequence of their world view. According to the revised definition, America should go from being world bully to Ferdinand the Bull.

Or to put it a different way, the United States has too often been a ravening wolf oppressing, looting, and taking advantage of others so a bit more of a laid-back eagerness to apologize, willingness to listen to others along with sympathizing with their grievances, and not taking the lead is good therapy.

Actually, while a long list of mistakes can be assembled, the history of U.S. efforts to defeat Fascism and Communism has been overwhelmingly commendable. And some of the “faults” were either understandable on balance—given limited information and tough choices—or even absolutely necessary actions. At any rate, what is needed is to improve, not to transform fundamentally the American role and view of the world.

If, as is daily happening as a result of U.S. policies and statements, the worst elements in the world do conclude that the United States is a paper tiger then war and violence, oppression and repression, the triumph of real bullies is all the more likely.

Riding the tiger: This image fits what the radical side is doing and also is particularly apt for Arab nationalist regimes. Manipulating dangerous demagogic concepts like nationalism and Islamism, antisemitism and hatred of the West, discounting of the institutions needed for real social-economic development (freedom of speech, a reasonably regulated free enterprise system, the use of logic and the scientific method, etc.) unleashes forces that might devour even the dictators. This pattern of behavior will certainly guarantee the failure of the polities and societies that toy with such forces of irrationality and violence.

Here’s a tiny example. Recently, two medical conferences were held in Egypt regarding which the Egyptian government tried to block Israeli experts from attending. In the case of one, a major meeting on breast cancer designed to help Egypt deal with this disease more effectively, much of the financing and organization came from an American Jewish foundation. As for the other case, a meeting of hematologists, the Israeli doctor barred had been one of the supporters of holding the meeting in Cairo, as a step toward promoting peace and helping Egyptian medicine.

This situation led one Israeli blogger to remark that those responsible for these obstacles, “Hate Jews even more than they hate cancer.” Precisely. And if you don’t understand that, forget about comprehending Middle East politics.

It reminds me of an Egyptian government official’s response many years ago to a U.S. offer to pay for a project to clean up the upper Red Sea based on Egypt-Israel cooperation. The man explained: “If it helps Israel we can’t do it even if it helps Egypt.”

By the way, this has been a persistent theme in Palestinian politics that has worked well in recent years. Better suffering than cooperation and compromise. Indeed, it has been a terrific strategy because the resulting suffering then gets blamed on Israel. Recently, a supposedly scientific study blamed spousal abuse in the West Bank on Israel. Perhaps if breast cancer and hematological diseases go up in Egypt this can be used to spur on condemnations of Israel in Europe. (That was said sarcastically but on past occasions when I’ve written something like that, a reader has soon provided a clipping showing that the bitter joke had in fact become reality.)

If I want to end this article on an optimistic note, perhaps it’s possible to suggest that the “intelligence” involved in achieving victory in the long-term comes not so much from individuals but from the innate nature of a superior structure of thought, better and more open social organization, a rationally based science and technology, a freer economic and political system, a framework which more fully uses the talents of women, and general human rights and liberty.

Thus, those who are smart in strategy aren't going to move their societies forward to confront the challenges tht will really determine who will win this conflict: providing a better life and higher living standards. Of course, in history things do, though not always, work out that way.

Given the intelligence deficit at present, one better hope so.

RubinReports: Be Smarter than the Tiger or You’ll End Up In Its Stomach
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