Sunday, 2 October 2011

Israel Matzav: IDF photo of the day

IDF photo of the day

Here's the IDF photo of the day:

Israeli Apache helicopter overlooks the Greek hills

It's an IDF Apache helicopter in the Greek hills. Maybe we should send it to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More here.

Israel Matzav: IDF photo of the day

Israel Matzav: Why not an anti-Turkey alliance?

Why not an anti-Turkey alliance?

Writing at Huffington Post, Sigurd Neubauer discusses Israel's booming alliances with Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and other Balkan countries. Neubauer attributes those ties to Israel's poor relations with Turkey that have forced it to seek alternatives. At the end, he comes up with this (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
While improved relations with Athens and Nicosia should be considered a significant foreign policy victory for Netanyahu, it remains unclear whether an alliance with Cyprus and the Balkan states can fully substitute for Israel's former strategic military partnership with Turkey. Given Greece's significant financial problems and Israel's own budgetary restraints, it remains also doubtful whether any of the two countries can "afford" prolonged military tensions presented by an (potentially) adversarial inclined Turkey. Additionally, unless a political solution is found to the 2010 Gaza-Flotilla, the Greek-Israeli military partnership could easily escalate into regional instability as maritime tensions in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkey could become inevitable. For those reasons, coupled with the current regional turmoil presented by the "Arab Spring," Netanyahu's diplomatic outreach to the Balkans and Cyprus should aim to maximize economic and military relations well short of establishing an "anti-Turkish" alliance.
Let's get this straight: Israel's relations with Turkey are over unless and until there is a significant change in the Turkish government away from Islamism and back towards secularism. At the moment, that is most unlikely for the foreseeable future. Israel must assume that its rift with Turkey is permanent, not temporary, and it must act accordingly. If forming an anti-Turkish alliance will keep Turkey in check, then by all means, let's do it. Maybe if Greece were not under constant threat from Turkey, it would not be such an economic basket case (admittedly, cleaning up Greece's taxation system would also help).

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain from entering into alliances with others who are the subjects of Turkish threats.

Israel Matzav: Why not an anti-Turkey alliance?

Israel Matzav: The Vatican submits to political Islam

The Vatican submits to political Islam

YNet publishes a deeply disturbing article by Italian journalist Giulio Meotti on the Catholic Church's submission to political Islam.
“The default positions vis-à-vis militant Islam are now unhappily reminiscent of Vatican diplomacy’s default positions vis-à-vis communism during the last 25 years of the Cold War,” writes George Weigel, a leading US writer about the Vatican. The Vatican’s new agenda seeks “to reach political accommodations with Islamic states and foreswear forceful public condemnation of Islamist and jihadist ideology.”


After Regensburg, the Vatican adopted an appeasement agenda. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is known for having a pro-Islam position, was appointed by the Pope as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Indeed, Dialogue with Iran’s mullahs is pivotal in the new Vatican agenda. Recently, a delegation of clergy members of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly visited the Vatican, meeting with top Catholic officials.

In June, the Vatican sent Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who is the official representative of Vatican politics, to Tehran to attend an “international conference on the global campaign against terrorism.” Last autumn, Vatican representatives met with Muslim leaders from around the world in Tehran for “a three-day interreligious dialogue.” In Tehran Cardinal Tauran praised Iran’s “spirit of cordiality” and “the friendly Ahmadinejad.”

Last month, the Vatican published a letter written by Tauran, addressing his “Dear Muslim friends.” In the letter, Tauran asked for Islamic help to form an alliance against atheism.

In 2008, the Vatican promoted “Love of God, Love of Neighbor,” the first three-day forum with Islamic leaders. The Pope agreed to meet one the most dangerous Islamist in the Western world, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan - the Swiss scholar who denies Israel’s right to life and who has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists.

Last May, Bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, announced that the Vatican is in favor of building new mosques in Europe. A month later the European Bishops met with European Muslims in Turin (Cardinal Tauran was also present) to proclaim the need for the “progressive enculturation of Islam in Europe.”

In Rimini, a seaside resort on the Adriatic coast, the Comunione e Liberazione movement, one of the most powerful in the Catholic Church, holds its massive annual “meeting” that usually draws some 700,000 people. The Catholic movement last month hosted the president of Al Azhar, the most important Islamic university in Cairo, and a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the fact that for the first time the US Commission on Religious Freedom recommended that Egypt be placed on a list of the “worst of the worst” countries for persecution of Christians.
Between 2006 and 2011, the Church has decided to avoid battles with political Islam. And guess who is paying the price....
The State of Israel is easily expendable in the new pro-Islam policy. In January 2009, thousands of Muslims marched in front of Milan’s Duomo to protest against Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. They burned Israeli flags and chanted anti-Jewish slogans. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s spokesman for 22 years, defended the “freedom of expression” of the Muslims who burned the Star of David.

Months later, Pope Benedict visited Bethlehem, where the Christian population has dropped from a majority to less than 20%. Benedict delivered a message of solidarity to the 1.4 million Palestinians isolated in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. He said nothing of the suffering of Gaza’s 3,000 Christians since Hamas took over that territory in 2007.

Benedict could have decried the bombings, shootings and other Islamist attacks against Gaza Christian establishments, the brutal murder of the only Bible-store owner of Gaza, or the regular intimidation and persecution of Christians there. Instead, the Pope stood beside Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian leader deceptively pointed to a concrete separation barrier in Bethlehem and blamed that barrier, as well as Israeli “occupation,” for the plight of Christians.

A few weeks later, the United Nations ran “Durban II” and on the first day of the conference, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to attend, made a speech condemning Israel as “totally racist” and referred to the Holocaust as an "ambiguous and dubious question.” When Ahmadinejad began to speak against the Jews, all European Union delegates left the conference room. The Vatican delegation didn’t say a word.
But Israel is not the only victim. The Church has remained silent in the face of Islamic persecution of Christians - and not just persecution of the Copts in Egypt.
Over the past several years, Christians have endured bombings, murders, assassinations, torture, imprisonment and expulsions. The very roots of the Christian heritage in the Middle East are being extirpated. When last winter Christians were killed in Egypt, Cardinal Tauran and the Vatican foreign office requested to “avoid anger” and downplayed the Islamist role in the butchering.

In the summer of 2010, Bishop Luigi Padovese, Vatican vicar for Anatolia and president of the Catholic Episcopal conference of Turkey, was slaughtered by Islamic fanatics in Iskenderun on the eve of the Pope’s trip to Cyprus. Vatican diplomacy did its part to convince the Pope to immediately and preemptively rule out the idea that this was a “political or religious” murder.

Elsewhere, the number of Christians in Turkey declined from two million to 85,000; in Syria, from half the population they have been reduced to 4%; in Jordan, from 18% to 2%; nearly two-thirds of the 500,000 Christians in Baghdad have fled or been killed; in Lebanon, Christians have dwindled to a sectarian rump, menaced by surging Shiite and Sunni populations, and in Saudi Arabia Christians have been beaten or tortured by religious police.

It’s an ethnic cleansing of monumental proportions that makes it clear why the Vatican’s submission to political Islam, along with its religious anti-Israel stance, will be remembered as one of the greatest moral failings of the 21st Century.
Will the Church be silent if Europe goes Muslim too? Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: The Vatican submits to political Islam



by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The word "shana" in Hebrew means many things. It is most commonly translated as year, but it also has many deeper related meanings. Shana also means "teach,"and the word "mishna," the oral teachings, comes from the same root. Shana also means "change" or "transformation." In Hebrew, "leshanot" is the infinitive form of the word meaning "to change." So when we teach we are exchanging ideas, both student and teacher changing in the process.

The word for teeth, "sheenayim," also derives from the same root. Our teeth begin the transformation process, begin the changing of inanimate food into the very energy which animates us. That which was once matter of a certain provenance from outside of ourselves, some "other," now becomes a part of our very essence.

The word for tongue, "lashon,"also hints at this idea. Not only does the tongue aid the teeth in the digestive process, whose taste buds help avoid the fetid, the putrid and the rancid, but so too does the tongue form words, helping to change ethereal thoughts into the realm of action- into words, which are the genesis of action. And in Hebrew, the word "shoneh" means "different," apart from the norm by dint of change. Rosh Hashana, then, is often given short shrift by being viewed solely as meaning the "head of the year."

Passover, falling in the month of Nisan, is explicitly enumerated in the Torah as being more properly known as the head of the year, calling her "the first month." Tishrei, the month of Rosh Hashana, is literally called "the seventh month." So what should it then be called? How do we tie all these meanings of shana together to form a coherent, organic whole?

Rosh Hashana should be called "the beginning of changing." Just as nature begins to change with the changing of the leaves and the change in the seasons, and school begins and new TV shows begin, so too should we learn to let go and to embrace a new beginning. Tishrei is the seventh month. Shabbat is the seventh day.

Shabbat, the seventh day, where we change into our heavenly spiritual garments, is mirrored in the seventh month, the month of spiritual transformation. All year long we are learning life's lessons. Each year we try to grow, becoming different and better people than we were the year before. We strive to accept change in life, in others and in ourselves. Only through forgiving ourselves and others can we take the first step in making these changes. Only through a renewed sense of responsibility to the covenantal idea, to the idea of mitzvah, can this change occur.

This responsibility to facilitate this process of change is the essence of the Torah's eternal challenge. But true change is very frightening. As they say, everyone wants progress, but no one wants to change. So the Creator Above understands this and helps us to change, giving us a forty day period from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur to help us to psychologically navigate the transformation. We cannot do it in one day.

The shofar we blow each morning during the month of Elul in this season of changing, itself epitomizes change. From originally being the instrument of animal warfare, of strife and contention, it will one day become the instrument through which we announce the Messianic Age, heralding the dawn of a new age of peace, love and brotherhood.

Shana Tova, the New Year greeting, does not only mean Happy New Year. On the deepest level it means, "Change for the Good." May we all change for the good, and choose life. Amen.

Shanah Tovah!
A Goot Yor!

© 2000 - 2011 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


RubinReports: Why Most of The Mass Media Can't Report Honestly on Israel—Or Other Middle East Issues

Why Most of The Mass Media Can't Report Honestly on Israel—Or Other Middle East Issues

By Barry Rubin

Underlying any other factor regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Media-University-Government (MUG) complex is the programmatic and ideological problem faced in honestly understanding and explaining Israel's behavior.

To report truthfully would require comprehending and communicating the following two paragraphs:

--Most Israelis believe, on the basis of their experience during the 1990s’ Oslo era and with the "peace process" generally, that Palestinian leaders cannot and will not make peace, and that most Arabs and Muslims still want to destroy Israel. As a result, they explain, past Israeli concessions have made Israel's situation worse, risks to show that Israel wants peace have not persuaded onlookers, withdrawals from territory have only led to that territory being used to launch attacks on Israel.

--In justifying their stance, Israelis cite the extremism of Iran; the advances of Hamas and Hizballah; the growing radicalism and Islamist influence in the Egyptian revolution, and other such factors. In addition, they worry that the Obama Administration policy is undermining Israel and enabling a growing extremism in the region. This is a prevailing viewpoint across the political spectrum.

I could have chosen to make additional points but this shows the main factors. Since the Israeli argument is so cogent and backed by facts and observable realities, it would be dangerously persuasive to those who actually get to hear it.

Instead, the muggers of MUG must insist:

Read it all:

RubinReports: Why Most of The Mass Media Can't Report Honestly on Israel—Or Other Middle East Issues

RubinReports: Western Policy on Israel-Palestinian Peacemaking is Ludicrously, Totally Wrong and Will Produce Only Humiliating Failure

Western Policy on Israel-Palestinian Peacemaking is Ludicrously, Totally Wrong and Will Produce Only Humiliating Failure

By Barry Rubin
It’s truly remarkable about how international diplomacy on the Middle East, especially Israel-Palestinian issues, is so out of touch with reality. Consider the Quartet’s response to the mess at the UN.

The proposal is for Israel-PA talks to start within a month, both sides to present proposals on borders and security within three months, and to reach a final agreement by the end of 2012.

This is insane. The premise here is that the PA is really eager to negotiate a compromise agreement with Israel. Everything that’s happened in the past three years—indeed the last 18 years since the Oslo agreement was signed—shows the exact opposite. The PA spent a year building its campaign for unilateral independence at the UN precisely to avoid negotiating with Israel at all.

Read it all:

RubinReports: Western Policy on Israel-Palestinian Peacemaking is Ludicrously, Totally Wrong and Will Produce Only Humiliating Failure

RubinReports: Give the Status Quo Some Respect: All We Are Saying Is Don’t Make Things Worse

Give the Status Quo Some Respect: All We Are Saying Is Don’t Make Things Worse

This article was published in the Jerusalem Post. I own the rights and I've added more material here so read and link to this version!

By Barry Rubin

Many people are obviously and understandably frustrated that Israel is so badly treated by the Mug-gers (media, university, and government) complex in much of the Western world. One can fume endlessly against their behavior (double standards, falsified history) but that accomplishes nothing.

So the immediate alternative is to say what is needed is creative new ideas, with the assumption that these ideas will solve the problem or at least make things better. This is logical and fits many other situations but it usually doesn’t apply to Israel’s case. Why not?

The assumption is that if good actions are taken then they will be recognized and rewarded. If good things are said, they will be reported and praised in a meaningful way. But while Israel should always do and say the best things this mechanism doesn’t work. The good actions are ignored or reinterpreted; the good statements are just ignored.

And so the eternal last bastion of those who unintentionally make Israel’s situation harder and the Middle East worse is to say: Why don’t you propose something positive? What’s the alternative? The status quo is unsustainable!

Of course, all status quos are unsustainable in a sense since change is inevitable. But sometimes the status quo deserves to be kept around for a while until something better comes along or can be made to happen. The best alternative of all is not to make things worse than they already are. As for the cliché that the status quo is unsustainable, .that is usually followed by a plan that would make for a status quo even more unsustainable and negative.

There is a one-word description for the idea of the unsustainable status quo: defeatism. Mind you, I don’t mean that nothing should change and that one’s policy should be that of mindless reactionary intransigence. But one can also make one’s own strategy better rather than switching to another one.

The implication of an unsustainable status quo is that things are so bad that you better jump off the sinking ship into shark-infested waters before it is too late. It might be better to mobilize the crew, start pumping out the water, and steer a good course.

Consider past examples of the “status quo is unsustainable” nonsense:

The status quo is unsustainable so we must withdraw immediately from south Lebanon.
The status quo is unsustainable so we must have the Oslo accords.
The status quo is unsustainable so we must withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

And what has this done but produce what we are now called an “unsustainable” status quo” as opposed to all of those previous unsustainable situations of the past six decades.

Another thing left out by the unsustainable status quo school is to assume that any change must focus on making more concessions. One could alter the status quo, for example, by showing more strength and by inflicting higher costs on adversaries and sabotaging hostile acts. One can also be creative about defending oneself.

On top of all this, however, Israel has special problems. Here are three examples:

Turkey: In trying to deal with the current friction with Turkey, Israel’s government proposed that it express regrets about defending itself during the Gaza flotilla, not the defense but the resulting loss of life among Turkish jihadists come to create a confrontation. It offered to make donations to a humanitarian fund for the relatives of those killed.

The Turkish government responded that only a full apology, the payment of compensation (an admission of wrong and based on demands rather than the donors' judgment), and an immediate end of the Gaza blockade. The Turkish demand was ironic coming immediately after a UN commission declaring the blockade is legal.

So despite trying creative ways to end the conflict, Israeli officials could do nothing. Why? Because for its own reasons the Turkish regime doesn’t want to resolve the conflict. All Israel can do is to show its respect for the Turkish people and nation along with willingness to be flexible if the other side is reasonable.

Egypt: What is going to be determining the Egypt-Israel relationship in future is not Israeli actions or words since radical nationalists and Islamists in Turkey—even relative moderates—are so hostile. Israel’s creative alternative is to try to get along with the military junta and to avoid offending reasonable Egyptian pride and legitimate Egyptian rights. Once an elected government takes over, it isn’t going to be easy.

No verbal formula, no Israeli action will make the country popular among revolutionary Islamists and radical nationalists. This is different from normal international relations, where countries can make alterations in their words or policies to get credit for them and sooth disputes. That’s a point many in the West simply don’t understand.

Palestinians: What’s Israel to do on this issue? How about withdrawing from the Gaza Strip to show its good intentions? No, did that. Letting a couple of hundred thousand Palestinians return and establish their own government? Been there, done that. Letting them have guns and lots of money? Check. Offering, on almost a daily basis, to negotiate without conditions; to accept an independent Palestinian state; to return basically to the 1967 borders with some alterations and swaps? Ooops, done that, too.

And if after all that Western leaders and writers can still say that Israel hasn’t proven that it wants peace will the next change in the status quo change that? Of course, if Israel elected a left-of-center prime minister, the world would say nice things for a while even if they had the same basic policy and said the same words as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does. Yet how long will that last? Don’t believe me? Three words: Rabin, Peres, Barak.

An outside observer who doesn’t understand any of this or who hasn’t been following events would think that obviously Israel can and should do more for peace. Let me put it this way: Why should we risk our lives just because you haven’t been paying attention?

Precisely at this moment I read an op-ed by a well-intentioned law professor who points out a “positive” aspect of Palestinian statehood. If Palestine becomes an internationally recognized state, it will be responsible—he explains—for actions taken by any group on its soil, say for example if a Palestinian group crossed the border and attacked Israel, killing Israeli civilians.

Professor, please note that by that standard Israel has no problem with Lebanon, for example, a country from which terrorists have often attacked Israel. Oh, by the way, the terrorists are now governing that country. Also, once Palestine becomes a country it is more likely that terrorists will attack Israel from its territory, Israel will retaliate, and the state of Palestine will go to the UN, where the General Assembly will then agree that Israel is the aggressor.

And as a sovereign state it is free to go to Egypt or other Arab or Muslim-majority states, import weapons and even ask for military advisors. So when Israel retaliates, it is better-armed and more likely to inflict casualties on Israeli forces. If foreign advisors are killed, that country may declare the death of its citizens to be an act of war by Israel (as Turkey’s prime minister has done regarding the Gaza flotilla clash). Or the government of Palestine can ask other countries to rush in forces and weapons to fight the Israeli “aggression.”

Please, all you professors and “experts” and politicians and journalists out there: Consider the consequences of your schemes on the real world. Before you criticize Israeli leaders as fools who don’t know what’s good for their people or Israelis in general as evil and short-sighted people who don’t know what’s good for themselves, it’s a good idea to understand the situation they face and the experience they have lived through.

So let me say something nice about the status quo. Given the alternatives, Israel is relatively secure and prosperous. When you are the stronger party who is benefiting more, you can afford to wait until the other side makes you an offer so that changing the status quo would benefit you even more. Israel is not the—supposedly—desperate party that—supposedly—suffers from “occupation,” and that groans under the yoke of settlements—though if it makes a peace deal these will be dismantled.

The new idea needed at a time when the regional situation is deteriorating badly because of external factors is how better to defend yourself. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes contacts with the Palestinian Authority and others to ease the situation as much as possible, including the promotion of Palestinian prosperity.

Winston Churchill knew something about real-world politics and “unsustainable” status quo situations. He was, after all, prime minister at a time when the Nazis ruled virtually all of Europe and German planes nightly bombed British cities.

Asked once what it was like to be ninety. Terrible, he said, but consider the alternative! What about democracy? The worst of all political systems, Churchill replied, except for all of the others.

So I’m all for creativity and new ideas, as well as flexibility, but anyone who doesn’t understand Israel’s special situation and history in that regard understands nothing. There’s a reason why every concession, risk, and new idea Israel tries out doesn’t create a “sustainable status quo” and that reason is: the fault does not lie with Israel.

Finally, if the status quo is so horrible, say, for the Palestinians then let them make a deal for a stable, two-state solution peace with Israel to change the situation rather than public relations' campaigns at the UN and patiently waiting another few generations in the hope that violence, martyrs, intransigence, and an Arab or Islamist war against Israel to bring them total victory. .

RubinReports: Give the Status Quo Some Respect: All We Are Saying Is Don’t Make Things Worse

Israel Alone...With G-d - Op-Eds - Israel National News

Op-Ed: Israel Alone...With G-d

The Jews have been counting time for nearly 6,000 years. I believe that we shall continue to do so.

And now it seems as if I am standing still while the years quickly swirl round me like autumn leaves, like diamond snowflakes. As one ages, time seems to gather speed.

Paradoxically, this particular moment in history seems to be taking place in slow motion. It seems we have been here before—but really, it is always new, always happening as if for the first time.

There is every reason to be pessimistic. Truth has been banished from the historical stage, jihad is fully underway, the Four Horsemen ride again, the poisoned words, like poison darts, have already struck their mark, the rockets have been raining down on Israel, many more, based in Iran, are almost poised to strike the Middle East, Europe, and America. The Ottoman Empire is back, demanding tribute; it competes with Iran for the Caliphate.

The United Nations crowd has just roared it’s approval for the destruction of Israel. They were joined by Islamists everywhere and cheered on by educated Westerners, including Jews.

Those who view themselves as the best among us are hopeless dreamers, stuck in amber, stuck in time, they are idealists who are more committed to fighting for the rights of fundamentalists than they are committed to fighting for the survival of the West and its values.

Nevertheless, it is also the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We are ushering in the year 5,772. The Jews have been counting time for nearly 6,000 years. I believe that we shall continue to do so.

I believe that Israel and the democracies will, once again, at great cost—always at cost--win against the forces of barbarism and evil that are seeking to wipe us out, to render the entire Muslim world “judenrein.” And also free of Christians, Hindus, Bah’ai, Buddhists, Zoroastrians—all the infidels whom are despised and endangered in Muslim lands.

As Jews and as Israelis, we must set the standard for taking the offense. Israel knows more about terrorism, more about the difficulties of asymmetrical and urban warfare, more about diabolical “Big Lie” propaganda than any other country on earth.

Israel can no longer afford to remain on defense. Now is the time for truly bold acts of sanity and truth-telling.

Israel is surrounded and Israel is alone. Therefore, appeasement is no longer an option. Illusions are far too dangerous to hold. We must, yet again, become heroes.

It only seems that Israel is alone. Yes, we are alone—but G-d is with us. We must act, we must do all that we can in order that G-d may join us.

This time: As below, so above.

Let us praise all our heroes who have been fighting for Israel’s survival and good name especially for the last eleven years. May this new year bless us with the return of both Gilad Shalit and Jonathan Pollard. May our wounded soldiers and civilians be healed, may the families of those who have fallen in battle be consoled, may all our agunot (chained wives) be freed, may our allies continue to grow.

Shana Tova u’metukah, a happy, and very sweet New Year to you.

Israel Alone...With G-d - Op-Eds - Israel National News
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