Saturday, May 09, 2015

NIF Denies 'Formal' Involvement in Ethiopian Jews' Rioting

From Arutz Sheva, 5 May 2015, by Gil Ronen, Ari Yashar:

The New Israel Fund, which is associated with the radical left wing and has been deeply involved in stirring up conflict between different sections of Israel's population over the years, denied on Monday any formal involvement in Sunday's rioting by Ethiopian-Jewish Israelis...

'External organizations' fingered
One of the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who took part in the protest on Sunday night told Channel 2 of external organizations who were causing the violence and misrepresenting the Ethiopian community...

"From the beginning of the protest it was quiet, the police showed restraint, we showed restraint. Ayalon (Highway) was blocked for three hours and nothing (i.e. no violence) happened there...
"We came here, all sorts of organizations joined us," he said, at which point the interviewer asked him which organizations he meant. The man responded, "I don't want to list their names...I really expect them tomorrow morning to present their pangs of conscience over what they're doing, over what they did to an entire community."
"Everything that you see around here wasn't supposed to be ...We said from the start, enough of the violence. Because that (non-violent protest - ed.) was really the goal. It started with unrest, and those who stirred it up - you won't see anyone from the (Ethiopian) community (among them)."
"it was those organizations that came and took as their goal to stir things up so that we would look like this," indicating a goal of creating a false impression that the Ethiopian community is violent.

New Israel Fund's fingerprints?
In another key piece of testimony, Deputy Tel Aviv District Commander Brig. Gen. Yoram Ohayon on Sunday night told Yedioth Aharonoth that external organizations are stirring up the violence, and even listed some of them by name.
"It's important to note there are other sources here who are not members of the (Ethiopian) community...'Lo Nechmadim,' 'Hamaabara,' who are taking part in the protest. They aren't just taking part in the protest, they're breaching the agreements with us."
The two groups he mentioned, Hamaabara and Lo Nechmadim are listed among the groups that comprise the Forum for Public Housing, which is coordinated by the organization Shatil, an arm of the NIF that advises, directs and coordinates NGO activities.

"rivers of blood" may soon flow in Lebanon

From Arutz Sheva, 8 May 2015, by Mordechai Kedar:


The Kalamon mountains range from Mount Hermon northwards for tens of kilometers, overlooking the Lebanon Valley to the west. The official boundary between Lebanon and Syria runs along the crest of the mountain range, with the western slopes of the mountains part of Lebanon and the eastern slopes part of Syria. The Beirut-Damascus highway serves as the northern edge.

The location of the range  has strategic importance, because whoever controls it controls what lies to the east ... as well as the roads that connect Damascus with central and northern Syria, enabling him to cut off Damascus from the rest of the country. Westwards, he who controls the mountains controls the southern Beqaa vally and its populace, most of them Shiites.

The Kalamon mountains, like Mount Hermon at their southern end, are covered with snow in the winter. That prevents most wide-ranging or significant military activity involving the transportion of soldiers and either heavy or medium sized weapons. Infantry, however, carrying light arms, can move around the area fairly easily.

...a double massing of forces has occurred there in the past few weeks: from the east, from inside Syria, fighters sent by various Sunni organizations,  Jabhat el Nusra being the first, have appeared on the scene in order to built fortifications, take positions and prepare for a westward offensive push into Lebanon. From the west, Hezbollah has been streaming forces to the area in order to block the rebels and force them out of Lebanon.

Before the start of hostilities, the rebels succeeded in achieving an important psychological point: they announced the unification of five organizations under one name "The Attacking Army". The two most important are one connected to al Qaeda, and the one called the "Free Army". The only missing organization is ISIS, which may, however, join later. The unification is expected to make it easier to coordinate operations while also striking fear of the joint array of forces into the hearts of Hezbollah fighters.

The announcement the organizations made public after the unification says (my additions are in the brackets, M.K.) "intended to fight against the Nazarites [the Alawite's previous name, considered an insult], the Persian dogs [a pejorative referring here to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards] and the pigs of the Party of Satan [an insulting term for Hezbollah, whose name means the Party of the Lord].

It is interesting to note that last week the rebels conquered a town in northwest Syria, Jisr al-Shughour, and that this accomplishment was achieved after several organizations that united under one name. The conquest of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour is a very important achievement for the rebels as they attempt to overrun the area of Lattakia on the Mediterranean coast, situated in the northern part of the Alawite region.

The battle for the Kalamon mountains of southern Syria is a direct result of the failure of Assad and Hezbollah to keep  Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour, in the northern part of the range, in their hands.

Anyone who observed the stream of forces reaching the Kalamon mountains realized that once the snows melted, the battle would begin, and that is just what happened with a vengeance last Monday, as the Sunnis decided to commence hostilities before the Hezbollah  had completed their preparations.

The battle began in a hilly, rocky, scrub-covered area, where the distances between the two sides are sometimes just a few meters. Both sides have suffered casualties but in the first two days, Hezbollah lost four of its commanders, and there are rumors that the rebels lost three of theirs. Nevertheless, when one side publicizes the casualties of the other, it is quite possible that there is psychological warfare involved on both sides, with each trying to demoralize the other's soldiers.

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, there are various estimates of its losses since it became involved in the Syrian crisis three years ago: there are those who claim that about 900 fighters have been killed and others who claim it is double that number. Thousands have been wounded. Hezbollah does not announce its casualty figures, but there are many Lebanese, even among the Shiite population, who accuse Nasrallah of sinking Hezbollah into  a fight that was not theirs to begin with. On the other hand, it is clear to all – and Nasrallah said so in his speech on May 5th - that if Assad's regime falls, Hezbollah will go down with it.

...if Hezbollah is defeated in Syria, the Sunni Jihadists will overrun Lebanon looking for Shiites to behead.

There are also reports that prior to the Kalamon battle, Hezbollah transferred soldiers, heavy weaponry and rockets to the site taken from other areas, including the Golan, considered a less central arena. The significance of this move is that those areas may fall into the hands of the rebels, who will go after the Druze "heretic" villagers living there and on the southeastern slopes of Mount Hermon.  A few months ago, about 30 Druze were killed in one day of clashes with Islamists.

Other reports say that Hezbollah originally planned to name the Kalamon clashes the "Crucial Battle" and call up all its reserve forces to take part in what would be a decisive confrontation.  Nasrallah, however, after rethinking the situation, decided to settle for a less bombastic effort whose goal is simply to stop the rebels from advancing. The reason for this decision is the fear of too many casualties, which could arouse the Shiite public's anger against him.  Another possible reason is the fact that the plans were leaked by an opposition inside Hezbollah, and once revealed, lost the counted-on element of surprise.

Except that the truth concerning Hezbollah actions against Syrian rebels and especially Jabhat al Nusra is to be found somewhere else, namely with the tens of Hezbollah militants taken prisoner by ISIS and other Sunni groups during the last two years. The fear hovering in the Hezbollah air is that a video showing the beheading of Hezbollah prisoners will go internationally viral, showing what happens to Hezbollah Shiite fighters whose commanders and leader have no way to save them from being butchered. A video of this nature will show up the true weakness of Hezbollah and Nasrallah, and threaten the Hezbollah leader's ability to persuade his fighers to battle in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

According to the Alarabiya channel, some of the prisoners' relatives announced this week that they are vehemently against what Hezbollah is undertaking in Syria and Yemen and stressed that "they and their kidnapped sons refuse to be responsible for what Hezbollah does in Syria, Yemen and other places". One woman relative of a prisoner, said "We have no connection with Hezbollah [referring to it as the Party of the goddess "Allath"] and the party of Satan [a pejorative for Hezbollah] and we are shaking ourselves off from the organization and its activities." Other family members demanded that the Hezbollah refrain from causing damage to the town of Arsal [on the Lebanon-Syrian border, overrun by Syrian rebels] and its residents, because "it is not just that we pay the price instead of Syrians, Yemenis and others, especially in light of the fact that our [prisoner] sons are still alive and may be harmed if Hezbollah takes action there in any way."

An opinion of this nature broadcast in public is witness to the internal difficulties which Hezbollah is forced to take into account in its fight for its own survival and for the continued survival of the Shiites, all of whom are now under the real and imminent existential threat posed by the Jihadist Sunnis.

The war in Syria is intertwined with the future of Lebanon and it is a war to the death. And the rivers of blood that may soon flow in the waters of Lebanon will overshadow the blood-and-tear-filled swamps of Syria.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Shoah survivor testimonies: time is running out

Time is running out to collect and preserve the first-hand testimonies of survivors of the Shoah.



Dr Haim Gertner, Director of Archives, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, explains:
"Yad Vashem has been obtaining testimonies from Holocaust survivors since 1946 until today.Initially we obtained the testimonies in written format, subsquently audio, and from the 1980s onwards in video.

The project to obtain testimonies that the Spielberg project initiated, was carried out in the 1980s and early 1990s, and then stopped. Within that framework, some 52,000 testimonies were obtained, mostly from survivors living outside Israel.

Within Israel the Spielberg project collected around 7,000 survivor testimonies. Yad Vashem assisted the Spielberg project and reached an agreement with Spielberg whereby a complete copy of all the testimonies were provided for Yad Vashem's use. These testimonies are available to the general public at Yad Vashem as part of ourcollections.

Since the 1990s until today, Yad Vashem is the only place in the world that systematically collects testimonies from Holocaust survivors.

Initially we collected 400-500 testimonies per year, and since 2007 we strive for 1000-1200 testimonies annually, thanks to support from foundations and donors, an endeavour whereby we are working against the clock.

In general, Yad Vashem contains the world's largest collection of testimonies from survivors,which today is some 125,000 testimonies. About 40% of these testimonies were undertaken under the auspices of Yad Vashem, and 60% were undertaken by organizations and individuals around the world".
If you know a survivor who has not yet recorded his testimony, or are interested in supporting this vital work, contact Searle Brajtman, Director of the English Language Desk, Yad Vashem at searle.brajtman@yadvashem.org.il

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

"Breaking the Silence" is funded by EU and the New Israel Fund to vilify Israel ("lawfare")

From NGO Monitor, May 04, 2015:

On May 4, 2015, the political advocacy NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS)  published a booklet of testimonies concerning the Summer 2014 Gaza conflict. (As of the morning of May 4, it is only available in Hebrew.)

NGO "lawfare"

... this publication is meant to support the UN’s “Schabas” investigation and bolster attempts to bring charges against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

As with many other BtS publications, this report lacks all credibility and objectivity. 

Likewise, the extensive foreign funding that Breaking the Silence receives, as well as its international political activities, highlight the problems with this publication.

Despite the NGO’s claim that its mission is to address Israeli society, BtS lobbying, media campaigns, and frequent appearances in Europe and the United States target international audiences. Next month (June 4-14), BtS activists will appear in Switzerland to present their political agenda at an event organized by supporters of pro-BDS groups.

...Contrary to BtS’ claim that “the contents and opinions in this booklet do not express the position of the funders,” NGO Monitor research reveals that a number of funders made their grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.” This contradicts BtS’ declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations.

BtS makes sweeping accusations based on anecdotal, anonymous and unverifiable testimonies of low level soldiers. These “testimonies” lack context, ignoring the fact that during the 2014 Gaza War heavy fighting took place between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, and that soldiers faced grave danger throughout the conflict from rockets, mortar shells, and terrorists emerging from tunnels dug beneath private homes. These distortions and erasures dovetail BtS’ ideological agenda and fuel delegitmization campaigns against Israel.

A careful reading of the testimonies reveals that IDF soldiers conducted themselves according to the norms expected of soldiers (Israeli or from other democratic countries) when faced with the challenges of high-intensity fighting. The testimonies (if indeed reliable) that portray questionable incidents should be fully investigated. In such instances, the testimony and relevant individuals should be referred to the Military Advocate General Corps, which can order an investigation to be opened. That BtS did not approach the MAG Corps raises serious questions regarding the NGO’s motives.
BtS’ allegations that the IDF operated according to a principle of “minimum risk to our forces, even at the cost of harming innocent civilians” together with “an attempt to terrorize the Palestinians” and that “serious questions arise as to the moral norms that guide IDF operations” do not tally with the testimonies, and are nothing more than an attempt by the NGO to portray the events in line with its political agenda.

In its introduction, BtS fails to mention that terrorist groups in Gaza launched rockets, dug tunnels, and placed almost all of their fighting positions in civilian areas in Gaza, including mosques, schools, and hospitals. Thus, the organization provides a partial portrayal of the rationale that guided the IDF. Additionally, BtS does not explain that the IDF used multiple methods of warning civilians to leave areas of fighting in a way that is above and beyond the norm among Western countries. Methods included leaflets, phone calls, and “roof knocking.”

In many cases, the testimonies and the headlines create an impression that soldiers wanted to commit crimes. For instance, a testimony titled “I really really wanted to shoot her in the knees” actually describes how terrorist groups used civilians and animals to attack IDF troops. Another testimony mentions that the IDF attacked Wafa Hospital, but neglects to mention the terrorists operating from within the hospital.


...and from NGO Monitor, "BREAKING THE SILENCE (SHOVRIM SHTIKA)", March 15, 2015:

Breaking the Silence (BtS) “collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifada,” claiming that the “testimonies portray a…grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regarding Palestinian civilians [which] demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military…Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that which happens in its name.”

Funding of BtS (in NIS)*

Donor20132014
European Union422,566134,959
Misereor (Germany)333,139105,546
Broederlijk Delen (Belgium)270,024150,667
Norwegian Embassy248,823165,150
AECID (Spain)177,660117,416
ICCO (Netherlands)147,325 
Dan Church Aid (Denmark)125,59487,941
Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands) 137,040
Medico International (Germany)50,673 
CCFD (France) 47,258
SIVMO (Netherlands) 46,924
Sigmund Rausing Trust (UK)157,150 
Foundation for Middle East Peace36,185 
Open Society Institute135,740 
Rockefeller Brothers Fund155,980 
New Israel Fund**72, 025 

*2014 funding based on information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits; 2013 funding based on annual report.

** The New Israel Fund uses donations from Jewish donors to support BtS vilification of Israel.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Assad Not Finished Yet

From Middle East Forum, May 2, 2015, by Jonathan Spyer:


Syrian President Bashar Assad isn't going anywhere.

A number of reports have been published in recent days suggesting the tide of the war in Syria may finally have turned decisively against the Assad regime.

...A close examination of the evidence suggests that President Bashar Assad's eulogizers have once again spoken too soon.

...The Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) rebel coalition has conquered significant ground in northern Syria from regime forces in recent weeks. Idlib City, the second provincial capital to be prised from Assad's grasp, fell on March 29. The alliance has since scored additional victories, taking the pivotal town of Jisr al-Shughour close to the Syrian-Turkish border, and in its latest advance, capturing a regime base at Qarmid.

Jaish al-Fatah, whose two main component groups are Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahral al-Sham, now appears ready to begin attacks on the regime stronghold of Latakia Province and on the Hama area.

Further south, it has been a similarly poor few weeks for the regime. The much-trumpeted February offensive of the Syrian army, together with Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, intended to drive the rebels from the area south of Damascus, rapidly ran aground in the winter snow. The Southern Front rebel coalition and Jabhat al-Nusra went on to score a series of achievements in subsequent weeks. The town of Bosra al-Sham, a historic site close to the border with Jordan, fell on March 25; then the last regime-controlled border crossing between Syria and Jordan, at Naseeb, also fell to the rebels and Sunni jihadists.

The rebels have achieved greater cohesion as larger units devour smaller ones.
This is the list of rebel successes to date; it is certainly considerable.

...The regime's woes have been compounded by the appearance of fissure in its ranks. The firing of two security chiefs – Rafiq Shehadeh of Military Intelligence, and Rustom Ghazaleh of Political Security (who has since died) – adds to its travails.

...The rebels have gone through a kind of process of natural selection in which larger units have devoured smaller ones, leading to greater cohesion. The rapprochement of Saudi Arabia with Turkey appears to have enabled more coherent organization, support and supply to the rebels in the north.

In the south, meanwhile, a similar process is occurring with regard to Western and Sunni support for the Southern Front. The latter, unlike Jaish al-Fatah, is not dominated by Salafi Islamists.

Nevertheless, it would be premature to pronounce the regime's imminent demise.

The regime's main and oft-noted problem throughout the war has been lack of manpower. The Assad regime has throughout been able to depend on the more or less firm support of only a very small section of the Syrian population – namely the Alawite minority, at 12 percent of the populace. In recent months, there have been signs that even the support of Assad's own sectarian community is growing frayed.
Unlike the rebels, the Assad regime possesses strong and committed allies.

This core defect in Assad's position has been apparent throughout, but the regime has been able to deal with it in a number of ways.

Firstly, unlike the rebellion, the regime possesses strong and committed allies. Most importantly, Iran has been willing to mobilize its regional proxies and its own assets in order to offset Assad's shortage of manpower. Hence, the prominent place of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters on the Syrian battlefield – along with Iraqi Shi'ite militiamen, local Alawite irregulars and Shi'ite volunteers from as far afield as Afghanistan.

There is no reason to believe that the well of potential volunteers from outside Syria has dried up. As fewer Syrians enlist, it is likely that as in the past, their places will be filled by foreigners. To be sure, this means that the Assad side is today a mixed bag of mainly Shi'ite volunteers assembled by Tehran, rather than the army of a coherent state regime. But this does not make its defeat more likely.

Indeed, given the greater determination and cohesion the Iranians have shown throughout the region, when compared with the confused and flailing Sunnis and the largely absent West, the opposite might well be the case.

Secondly, since mid-2012, the Assad regime has sought to offset its shortage in numbers by reducing the area of territory it seeks to hold. This was the logic behind its abandonment of much of northern Syria in July 2012. Assad understands that he must continue to hold Damascus and its environs, the western coastal area and the area linking the two in order to survive. In addition, it is a cardinal interest for him to hold Homs and Hama provinces; none of these are as yet under threat.

Pro-regime forces have not yet been tested in areas of Syria where they must prevail to survive.
Until this point, the despot has suffered setbacks in areas whose loss poses no threat to his control of the area of Syria over which he rules. Iran, which is as much the protagonist of the regime's war as is Bashar himself, does not require the totality of Syria to preserve its vital interests in the country...

If and when [a contiguous area of land linking pro-Iranian Iraq with pro-Iranian (Hezbollah-dominated) Lebanon] comes under threat, we will discover just how much fight the regime has left in it.

Lastly, if the nuclear negotiations currently under way produce a deal to Iran's liking on June 30, this is likely to improve the fortunes of the Assads. That is because the Islamic Republic will demand immediate sanctions relief. This will free up vast sums to flow into Iranian coffers – as much as $50 billion, according to one estimate.

It may be assumed that these funds will be made available for a friend in need. Given the fecklessness of the Western approach to the negotiations and the desire to avoid conflict with Iran, it is quite possible that such a deal will emerge.

In closing, the Assad/Iran/Hezbollah side in the Syrian civil war has not yet begun to be tested in the areas where it must prevail to survive. Thus far, it has suffered only a number of limited setbacks; it has certainly morphed from a centralized regime war effort into the kind of proxy militia arrangement in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps specializes.
But this is not an argument for its vulnerability. Reports of its (imminent) demise have been much exaggerated.

Obama's security guarantees are worthless

From Caroline Glick, Friday, May 1st, 2015:

The Marshall Islands’ cautionary tale

maersk tigris

On Tuesday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forcibly commandeered the Maersk Tigris as navigated its way through the Straits of Hormuz. Iran controls the strategic waterway through which 40 percent of seaborne oil and a quarter of seaborne gas transits to global markets.

The Maersk Tigris is flagged to the Marshall Islands. The South Pacific archipelago gained its independence from the US in 1986 after signing a treaty conceding its right to self-defense in exchange for US protection. According to the treaty, the US has “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands.”

Given the US’s formal, binding obligation to the Marshall Islands, the Iranian seizure of the ship was in effect an act of war against America.

In comments to Bloomberg hours after the ship was seized, Junior Aini, chargĂ© d’affairs at the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, indicated that his government’s only recourse is to rely on the US to free its ship.

Immediately after the incident began, the US Navy deployed a destroyer to the area. But that didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the Iranians. More significant than the naval movement was the fact that the Obama administration failed to condemn their unlawful action.

If the administration continues to stand by in the face of Iran’s aggression, the strategic implications will radiate far beyond the US’s bilateral ties with the Marshall Islands. If the US allows Iran to get away with unlawfully seizing a Marshall Islands flagged ship it is treaty bound to protect, it will reinforce the growing assessment of its Middle Eastern allies that its security guarantees are worthless.

... President Barack Obama apparently won’t allow a bit of Iranian naval piracy to rain on his parade. This week Obama indicated that he feels very good about where his policy on Iran now stands...

On the one hand, the Iranians are signaling that they are willing to sign a deal with the Great Satan. And this makes sense. For them the deal has no downside.

First there’s the money. Last week the State Department indicated that it won’t rule out paying Iran a $50 billion “signing bonus.” The $50b. would be an advance on Iranian funds that have been frozen in Western banks under the terms of the sanctions regime that would be lifted in the event a deal is concluded.

Iran can do a lot with $50b.

Iran is spending $3b. a month to finance its war in Syria. With $50b. in their pockets the ayatollahs can fight for another year and a half without selling a barrel of oil.

According to a report earlier this week on Channel 10, during Syrian Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij’s visit to Tehran this week, he was instructed to enable Hezbollah to open a front against Israel on the Golan Heights. Iran’s “signing bonus” would pay for Iran’s new war against Israel.

As for their nuclear weapons program, even Obama admitted that when his deal expires in 10 years, Iran will have the capacity to build nuclear weapons at will.
 
...OBAMA’S CONFIDENCE that his deal will go through has freed him up to mark the next target of his foreign policy in what he recently referred to as the “fourth quarter” of his presidency: Israel.

According to a report in Foreign Policy, the administration is now seeking to delay anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council – including a French draft resolution that would require Israel to surrender all of Judea and Samaria and northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinians – until after the deal with Iran is concluded at the end of June. According to the report, the administration doesn’t want to upset pro-Israel Democrats while it still needs them to approve the deal with Iran.

But Obama has no problem with marking the target.

And so, on Monday, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman did just that.

In an address before Reform Jews, Sherman issued a direct threat against Israel. In her words, 
“If the new Israeli government is seen to be stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution, that will make our job in the international arena much tougher… it will be harder for us to prevent internationalizing the conflict.”
In an apparent attempt to soften the harsh impression Sherman’s statement made on the Israeli public, on Wednesday US Ambassador Dan Shapiro gave an interview to Army Radio.

Although his American-accented Hebrew is always a crowd pleaser, Shapiro’s statements were simply a more diplomatic restatement of Sherman’s threat.

As he put it, 
“We are entering a period without negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] and this leads us to two important challenges.
“One – how do we make progress toward the two-states for two-peoples solution, and two – negotiations have always been critical to preventing the delegitimization of Israel.”
In other words, Shapiro signaled that the Obama administration expects Israel to make significant concessions to the Palestinians in return of nothing, in the absence of negotiations. And if we fail to make such unreciprocated concessions, we will have no legitimacy and the US will have no choice but to act against Israel at the UN.

That is, by Shapiro’s and Sherman’s telling, Israel’s unwillingness to bow to Palestinian and US demands for concessions to the Palestinians is what has caused and what feeds the international campaign to delegitimize its right to exist.

For anyone who entertains the thought that Shapiro and Sherman are correct to blame Israel for the movement to delegitimize it, this week we received new proof of its falsity.

This week, the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement condemned Israel not for failing to make concessions to the Palestinians. This week they condemned the Jewish state for helping Nepal earthquake victims.

Ever since the Israeli humanitarian aid mission set off for Nepal earlier this week, leading figures in the BDS movement have been working overtime to attribute ill and even demonic intentions to their mission.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted on his Twitter account, “Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza. End the blockade!”

Max Blumenthal, a Jewish anti-Semite who has risen to prominence in the BDS campaign, tweeted, 
“For a country responsible for so many man-made catastrophes, natural disasters can’t come often enough.”
Ali Abumiah, the editor of Electronic Intifada, intoned that Israel was racist to evacuate newborn infants born to surrogate mothers in Nepal and leave the surrogates behind. He also tweeted, 
“Propaganda operation goes into high gear to exploit Nepal earthquake to improve Israel’s blood-soaked image.”
These assaults, which attribute malign, exploitative designs to Israel’s humanitarian relief efforts, make clear that there is no connection between Israel’s actions and hostility toward Israel.
 
The purpose of the BDS movement is not to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. Its purpose is to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and delegitimize support for Israel’s right to exist.

If Israel is evil for sending hundreds of soldiers and relief workers to Nepal to rescue earthquake victims, clearly Israel will be attacked as evil for making concessions to the Palestinians that the Palestinians and the Obama administration will insist are insufficient.

Shapiro’s claim that negotiations between Israel and the PLO, or Israeli unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, protect Israel from its Western detractors is totally unfounded.

There is a thread that runs between Obama’s policy toward Iran and his policy toward Israel.

That common threat is mendacity. Obama’s actual goals in both have little to do with his stated ones.

Obama claims that he wishes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But as we see from his willingness to allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state while running wild in the Straits of Hormuz, committing mass slaughter in Syria, building an empire that includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and threatening its Arab neighbors and Israel, the purpose of the administration’s negotiations with Iran is not to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
 
The purpose of the negotiations is to build an American-Iranian alliance on Iran’s terms.

So, too, Obama says his goal is to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

But his pressure and hostility toward Israel does nothing to achieve this goal. 

The goal of a policy of acting with hostility toward Israel is not to promote peace. It is to distance the US from Israel and align America’s Israel policy with Europe’s preternaturally hostile treatment of the Jewish state.

Three days after a ship sailing under their flag was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, citizens of the Marshall Islands discovered that their decision to place their security in America’s hands is no longer the safe bet they thought it was 29 years ago.
 
Anyone who entertains the belief that Israel will gain diplomatic acceptance or even a respite from American pressure if it makes concessions to the Palestinians is similarly making a high risk gamble.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Iran’s revolting foreign minister

From the Washington Free Beacon, May 1, 2015, by :


Javad Zarif
The appalling diplomatic troll: Javad Zarif 
Not since Baryshnikov has a foreigner so captivated a New York audience.  “A Conversation with H.E. DR. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran” played the other day at NYU. The show ran for just 90 minutes, but reviews were spectacular. Give this man a Tony: Zarif slayed ’em.
“Demonstrating suave fluency in English and a familiarity with American history and law,” wrote the New York Times, “Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the United States would risk global ostracism if it were to scrap a signed international pact that resolves the Iranian nuclear dispute.” Zarif, the Times went on, “was easygoing and smiling, living up to his image as a diplomatic charmer to an audience that was polite and respectful.” Not to mention sycophantic.
Zarif, adds Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, “comes off as practically American.” Why? Well, “He went to college in the United States, at San Francisco State University, and to graduate school at the University of Denver. As Ambassador to the United Nations, he lived in New York for five years. His English is perfect.”
Perfect English? Is that all it takes to have reporters and diplomats praise your suavity and charisma, chuckle at your jokes, cavil to your every demand? Bibi Netanyahu’s English is perfect too—but Hell will freeze before he sees Zarif’s press.
I don’t find the Iranian foreign minister a “diplomatic charmer” at all. His demeanor at NYU was arrogant, insulting, bullying, unrepentant. David Ignatius of the Washington Post sat there like a semi-conscious mummy as Zarif 
  • ordered Congress around, 
  • declared that all sanctions will be lifted immediately upon the conclusion of any deal, 
  • warned that “people” should be “worrying about the U.S. violating its obligations and us snapping back,” 
  • refused to accept culpability for spreading disorder in the Middle East, 
  • wouldn’t say if U.N. inspectors will have access to Iranian military sites, 
  • said Iran has no intention of speaking to the Jewish State, 
  • accused the Washington Post (Ignatius’ paper) of running a “publicity campaign” on behalf of one of its reporters held prisoner in Iran, and 
  • took every opportunity to fling sarcasm and insult and enmity toward Netanyahu, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and America in general. 
No wonder John Kerry’s a fan.
What made Zarif’s appearance all the more nauseating was his pretense of moral standing. He has none. His lecture to the United States took place as his regime held a container ship it had seized in international waters, and as evidence emerged of Iranian violations of U.N. sanctions. It is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies such as Hezbollah and the Houthis and other Shiite militias that are fomenting and exploiting sectarian conflict in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Iran’s human rights record is abysmal. Since Zarif returned to government in the administration of Hassan Rouhani, there has been a “surge” in executions in Iran. “The authorities restricted freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting in unfair trials minority and women’s rights activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and others who voiced dissent” say the right-wing extremists at Amnesty International, whose most recent report catalogues the torture and cruel and unusual punishments of the Iranian regime.
In addition to David Ignatius’ colleague Jason Rezaian, the Iranian authorities hold captive American citizens Saeed Abedini, a pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a Marine. General David Petraeus says Iranian-backed militias are “the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability.” Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska explains how Iran supplies Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) to these militias, which have mutilated and killed U.S. soldiers. Last year Zarif’s true boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, posted on Twitter his 9-point plan to eliminate Israel.
Khamenei and Zarif are diplomatic trolls, online troublemakers using social media to antagonize their enemies. The ayatollah has been tweeting so often about race relations in the United States, about Ferguson and Staten Island and Baltimore, that it’s become hard to distinguish his feed from Salon’s. Within hours of the State Department releasing a fact sheet on the preliminary nuclear agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month, Zarif tweeted that it was a bunch of lies. When Cotton challenged Zarif to debate the nuclear deal, Zarif replied with congratulations on the birth this week of Cotton’s son—Zarif no doubt aware that when the spokesman for a rogue regime and sponsor of terror mentions your first born, it’s not a salutation but a threat.
At NYU Zarif said America will have to lift sanctions on Iran “whether Senator Cotton likes it or not.” The “polite” and “respectful” audience broke into laughter—at Cotton. “I couldn’t resist,” Zarif said. No troll could.
“I am tempted to say you will pay for that,” Ignatius said. “But you already know that.” Actually, Zarif doesn’t know that he will “pay for that” because he and his Islamic fundamentalist superiors haven’t paid for a goddam thing for years. On the contrary: We’re paying them. They crushed a student movement and nothing happened. They’ve killed our soldiers and assisted in crimes against humanity in Syria and no one’s lifted a finger. They lie about their nuclear program and President Obama doesn’t retaliate. They scream at Kerry and he takes it. They say lift the sanctions and we say sure. We might even give them a signing bonus.
No reason to expect Zarif or his government to change their behavior when it’s been such a success.  You can’t really blame the Iranians—they have goals such as nuclear power and weapons, economic relief, greater influence, perpetuation of the regime—and conceding nothing while demanding everything is helping them achieve those goals. What bothers me is the wooly-headedness of liberals in government and the media who, in their search for peace and harmony, ignore or repress the knowledge of Iranian malfeasance and ill will. Zarif’s remarks on implementation of and compliance with the nuclear deal are almost exactly the opposite of what President Obama has been telling Congress and the American people, yet this contradiction won’t slow the president’s quest for dĂ©tente with Iran one bit.
I wonder what it is about liberals, why it is they’re so willing to filter out evidence of bad intentions and awful behavior. Maybe a sense of historical guilt, a condescending assumption that the victims of past wrongs can’t be expected to live up to present standards; maybe a deeply held belief in the universal humanity and goodness of man, that badness is a function of environment so if you want to change a person change his surroundings; maybe pacifism; maybe gullibility; maybe on some level they agree with the criticisms America’s adversaries level against us, feel that America’s standing has been severely compromised, ask why we lecture others when we’re not so good ourselves.
Apparatchiks like Zarif exploit such ideas and sentiments in pursuit of a more dangerous and less liberal world. Our ability to make moral distinctions, to identify friend and foe, has become so attenuated that not only do liberals fail to recognize Zarif for what he is—a theocratic tool—they laugh at his jokes, identify with him, want to be his friend, applaud him. Like spectators on Broadway, they’ve willfully fallen for a con; an act; a put-up job. Difference is, the cast of An American In Paris doesn’t want to nuke Tel Aviv. 
The world won’t be safe until the tomatoes and catcalls fly—until Javad Zarif is afraid to take the stage.