Friday, November 09, 2007

Go for Victory

From Daniel Pipes Blog, by Dan Pine, posted from the [new] Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, November 2, 2007:

.... Israel [says Daniel Pipes] is at war with Arab enemies and "when a war takes place, you should try to win. Wars are resolved not through negotiations, but with one side giving up."

... He intends to make his case when he addresses the Northern California chapter of the Zionist Organization of America on Nov. 11. The title of his lecture is "The Threat to Israel's Existence: Why It's Back, What It Means."

In Pipes' view, that existential threat is definitely back after a post-Oslo lull. And he doesn't even have to include in the equation an Iranian nuke with Israel's name on it.

"There are many threats that are long-term and insidious," he points out, "including the anti-Zionist population within Israel –– including Muslims and anti-Zionist Jews. The [threat] I focus in on is almost solely determined by attitudes toward Israel."

He cites not only the anti-Israel sentiment across Europe and throughout the Muslim world, but especially that voiced in Palestinian media, textbooks and mosques. Pipes says that message is one of "victory" over Israel and Zionism, not of peace and reconciliation. Therefore, he says, the time has come to return to Israel's former policy of deterrence.

"In 1993, with [the Oslo accords], Israel's policy was, ‘We'll give you some of what you want, just leave us alone,'" Pipes says. "Appeasement has been the dominant thread of Israeli policy. It doesn't work, not with mortal enemies. I advocate we return to deterrence."

What would a new deterrence look like? For one thing, no more parleys with Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers shaking hands across a table. Not until the Palestinians give up any notion of vanquishing Israel. "I refuse to discuss final status until our side wins," Pipes says. "I see no reason to give carrots to Palestinians."

He also advocates razing Palestinian villages proven to be sources of attacks against Israel.

Pipes says he does have Arab and Palestinian friends, and he believes up to 20 percent of the Palestinian population is willing to "give up" and make peace on Israel's terms. "They're a potential base to turn it into 60 to 70 percent," he says, "but they are a minority at this point." That 20 percent gives Pipes hope that peace may eventually come.

He stresses that radical Islam is the problem, while modern Islam is the solution. "I'm not anti-German; I'm anti-Nazi," he adds. "I'm not anti-Russian; I'm anti-Soviet. I have no position on Islam, but I have a very explicit position on radical Islam and totalitarian ideology. There are plenty of Muslims who agree with me.".....

Musharraf's failure

From The Australian, by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor November 05, 2007 [my emphasis added - SL]:

....Long-term, the only path to stability in Pakistan is civilian rule, democracy, economic development and the growth of civil society. Short-term, the ally in the war on terror is Musharraf and the military, and they are needed to confront the many jihadi terrorists who call Pakistan home.

But Musharraf's latest coup calls into question his effectiveness as an ally in the war on terror, and the long-term damage he is doing to Pakistan.

...Musharraf himself has a history of supporting terrorism, especially across India's borders. The Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence created the Taliban. As with so many dictators who have tried to mobilise extremists for their own political ends, Musharraf is in danger of being eaten alive by his own creations.

....It was highly significant that in Musharraf's rambling address to the nation declaring martial law, he singled out two forces as destabilising his country. The first was Islamist extremists, the second was the Supreme Court.....The tragedy of this is that it shows Musharraf's dictatorship destroying the very institutions - the courts and the rule of law - central to any return to normality by Pakistan.

Musharraf risks creating the same kind of alignment of forces against him as the shah did in Iran before 1979 - a most unnatural alliance of political liberals and Islamist extremists. Iran's liberals did not think they were campaigning for the rule of the ayatollahs, yet the shah had alienated everybody and the liberals were in a de facto alliance with the Islamists. Once the shah was gone, the liberals, of course, were no match for the Islamists.

This is the hard part of Musharraf's threat to the West. Bad as Musharraf is, he remains preferable to an extremist Islamist government of a nation with 160million people and dozens of nuclear weapons.

It is difficult to see where US policy can go from here. Washington has given Musharraf support because of his help in toppling the Taliban he helped install in Afghanistan, and for broader support in the war on terror. It has urged Musharraf to go down a path of reform leading to free elections in January, which were expected to result in Benazir Bhutto becoming prime minister.
Musharraf and Bhutto hate each other - the military executed her father - but stranger alliances have worked in history.

Now there is no future path for Pakistan.

Within Pakistan, there is something like chaos. Extremist madrassas remain completely unreformed. Terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba operate under the thin disguise of name changes. Suicide bombers have killed 150 people in Karachi in recent weeks. The Pakistani army is fighting fierce battles with tribal groups in the lawless Northwest Frontier Province, and is simultaneously fighting and co-operating with elements of the Taliban, and, perhaps, al-Qa'ida itself.

This is intolerable to Western nations whose troops are being killed in Afghanistan. The reason the security situation has gone backwards in Afghanistan is because the coalition's enemies can find safe haven in Pakistan.

John Howard has had a special relationship with Musharraf. Australia must contribute to a new Western policy that moves beyond Musharraf, that recognises the need for stability in the short term, but that opens up a political path towards democracy for Pakistani society.

Howard's grand failure

From The Australian, by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor October 25, 2007 [my emphasis added - SL]:

...What would be the consequences for our political culture of a Howard loss, and what are the consequences of the nearly 12 years of Howard Government?

The first consequence will be an utterly shattered Liberal Party. It will probably regroup and eventually come back into government. But that could be many years away. In the short term, Australia is set to become a one-party state. ...A cautious, centrist Rudd government probably means Labor would be in office for a decade or more.....

.... All this flows from a larger failure by, and a complete popular misjudgment of, the Howard Government. It has been a predominantly weak government that has governed with occasional tactical brilliance from a politically weak position.

It has governed against the relentless opposition of the big institutions in our society: the media, particularly the ABC, the public service and the universities. It has at times out-manoeuvred these institutions; it has not reformed them. The Howard Government has comprehensively lost the culture wars. It has on occasion been clever at arousing a popular backlash against elite opinion on this or that subject. But it has not changed elite opinion. And in the end it appears that it is impossible to govern permanently against elite opinion. Elite opinion shapes popular opinion. Far from ferociously waging the culture wars, the Howard Government has been mostly missing in action.

Only three cabinet members - Howard, Downer and Abbott - have made any consistent, serious effort to contest the Left's broad interpretation of Australian history and society. Other ministers will argue the toss on a given policy initiative within their portfolio, but they lack the competence, commitment or courage to make a sustained effort to argue a conservative world view.

.... Howard's essential political weakness has been disguised by his brilliant tactical victories. But he is mostly a tactical rather than strategic politician. This is partly because for most of his time in office he has been in a weak position. In 1998 Howard decisively lost the popular vote and hung on by sheer good luck. In 2001 he won by 2per cent after the immeasurable electoral gifts of Tampa and 9/11. And in 2004 he had to come from behind to demolish the appalling Mark Latham.

....Everywhere taxpayers' money is subsidising a left-of-centre world view. Griffith University's journal, the Griffith Review, is a good example. This is a useful journal with some good writing in it, yet it is evidently of the Left and there is no new equivalent on the Right. Most egregious, the ABC remains utterly unreformed. The ABC is marginally more diverse than it once was, but no one seriously even argues that the ABC is balanced or unbiased, merely that it balances the Howard Government, or the commercial media, or some such. Yet every year the Government has given it generous budget increases, so the ABC world view is stronger than ever.

....Even as an economic reformer, Howard was often weak. Here we are 12 years into a conservative government and the top tax rate is still nearly 50 per cent, vastly more than in the US or Britain, and a huge disincentive to attracting brilliant and successful people to live here.

This could turn out to have been a very hollow period of conservative government indeed, and our culture may move quite sharply in ways we cannot now imagine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gaza Disengagement a big mistake

From »Nov 8, 2007, by JPOST.COM STAFF:

[National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin] Ben Eliezer: 'The disengagement from Gaza was a big mistake'

...."I admit and confess," Ben Eliezer said, "I was with those who strongly supported [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon, and today I say with my head held high: We erred, we made a very big mistake."

According to Ben Eliezer, a move such as the Gaza pullout can only be successful when the territory one leaves is "handed over to responsible hands and anchored in agreements and international guarantees. Here we have a precedent - a territory we left turns into a base for terror - period."

Regarding the ongoing Kassam rocket fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip, Ben Eliezer said there is no escaping the need to act and to respond to the barrages.

When asked about potential harm to the Palestinian population in Gaza that would likely result from an Israeli military response, the Infrastructure Minister said attempts to prevent harm to civilians are futile in light of the current situation. "Israel must respond, what else?" ..

....Ben Eliezer's comments came Thursday morning as three Kassam rockets landed in Israeli territory. Two of the rockets landed in open fields near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon - one near a strategic installation. No one was wounded and there was no damage to property.

Sarkozy Reaches Out to America, and to Its Jews

From The New York Sun, November 8, 2007, BY NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT:

WASHINGTON — Reversing the anti-American stance of his many predecessors as president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy heralded a new and optimistic era of American-French relations yesterday on his first state visit here.

... Mr. Sarkozy said France is ready to defend the existence of Israel, but the existence of a Palestinian Arab "nation state" is essential to end the Jewish state's differences with the Palestinians. And while he said Iran should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons, he said he thought both Iran and Syria should be granted a nuclear energy capacity.

Mr. Sarkozy shrugged off France's reputation for anti-Semitism, declaring his full support for the security and integrity of the state of Israel, which, he said, should be guaranteed by international agreement....

...Mr. Sarkozy told of his efforts, while interior minister, to confront the poison of racial hatred, only to discover that anti-Semitic attacks were not even recorded by his department, which was responsible for law and order. "If we want to fight anti-Semitism, the first thing is to refuse to play it down," he said. "Racism, anti-Semitism, these are such hateful beasts that the first reaction of a democratic society is to deny it, to say it doesn't exist. But unless you agree on the diagnosis, then you cannot find the remedies to fight the source of the problem....

...Mr. Sarkozy denied that the French were intrinsically anti-Semitic. "France isn't an anti-Semitic country, but there is such a thing as anti-Semitism there. I want to acknowledge the fact," he said. "Once you have recognized and acknowledged the condition, you can take it on."
He pledged that France would guarantee the existence of the state of Israel, which he described as "a miracle." "Look at the history of the world," he said. The state of Israel "took millennia to arrive."

"It isn't because I am Jewish," he said. "By defending the Jews, you are defending everyone in a minority." He described the Holocaust as "this period marred by barbarism, when the 20th century returned to the Middle Ages.".....

Advanced Iranian nuclear bomb timeline

From DEBKAfile November 7, 2007:

Israel’s inner cabinet in urgent session Wednesday to discuss advanced Iranian nuclear bomb timeline to 2009

The inner cabinet met Wed. Nov. 7, to discuss the shortened timeline estimate for Iran to attain a nuclear weapons capacity, based on new intelligence information. IDF intelligence chief Brig. Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday that Iran would have this capacity by late 2009, whereas the previous estimate was 2010 or 2011.

Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi told a radio interviewer that the new timeline made 2008 the critical year for grappling once and for all with the Iranian program.

The new data was put before the ministers ahead of their meeting Wednesday. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that American nuclear and intelligence experts agree on the timetable after poring over the new intelligence input. This includes materials gathered in the Israel attack of Syria’s nuclear installation on Sept. 6. They have reached three key conclusions:

  1. That Iran is engaged in the secret production of plutonium for nuclear weapons as well as radioactive materials for a dirty bomb, in parallel to its uranium enrichment projects. Israeli intelligence has believed this for three years, but until the operation in Syria there was no concrete evidence. This discovery is at the center of the current US-Israeli controversy with the International Atomic Energy Agency- IAEA, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei.

    If he accepts the evidence, it will be an admission that his vast inspection apparatus in Vienna, whose job it is to watch out for nuclear misdemeanors across the world, missed out twice – in Iran and then in Syria. Dr. ElBaradei might then face the suspicion that his work is governed by political rather than professional motivations.

    Up until now, the nuclear watchdog’s chief has not sent inspectors to examine Israel’s findings at the two Syrian sites targeted. He evidently fears they will come back with evidence of plutonium-related nuclear activity.
  2. The working premise followed by American and Israeli intelligence is that if Syria was on the road to manufacturing plutonium, Iran must be far more advanced on this course and must be presumed to have begun manufacturing enough waste for dirty bombs and very likely also the materials for a nuclear bomb.

    This premise demands a radical reassessment by the United States and Iran’s Gulf and Middle East neighbors of their options for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat and essential restructuring of the Israel military’s functions to meet a possible radioactive attack by Iran or its terrorist proxies close closer at hand.
  3. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that these developments throw new light on the role of the Iranian heavy water plant at Arak, whose capacity to produce plutonium places it at the center of Iran’s nuclear program.

Shame on 'Haaretz'

From JPost, by Isi Leibler, November 7, 2007:

...Haaretz ...presents as a serious liberal newspaper and aspires to assume the mantle of a Hebrew-language counterpart to The New York Times. Despite a limited circulation, it is extraordinarily influential and read by most opinion makers.

... However... its frequent endorsement of radical policies does tend to increasingly link Haaretz with fringe rather than mainstream opinion. Indeed, many would even argue that a considerable proportion of Haaretz editorials and op-ed columns are politically off the wall. Its op-ed and magazine articles demonizing Israel and inclined toward post-Zionism are increasingly being quoted by Arabs and anti-Israeli propagandists. In fact, a man from Mars observing the level of the newspaper's frequent vitriolic condemnations of Israeli governments could understandably be misled into believing that some Haaretz writers are consciously acting as propagandists for the Palestinian cause.

Current editor David Landau is an observant Jew wearing a black kippa. ....Since he assumed the role of editor at Haaretz, the newspaper's traditional bias relating to the Israel-Palestinian conflict has intensified. Landau concentrates much of his wrath on religious Zionists, regarding those who settled across the Green Line as messianic lunatics and the greatest threat to Israel. This obviously makes him a darling of the ultra-Left.

Today Landau allegedly even refuses to correct articles containing blatantly false information if they conflict with his political agenda. According to the Web site of the highly respected American Jewish media watchdog organization CAMERA, not only did Landau decline to consider its complaints regarding alleged falsehoods published in Haaretz, he even went on record informing the JTA that "as a matter of principle" he had instructed his staff not to respond to criticism from CAMERA because they were a "McCarthyite" organization.

Needless to say, this casts an ugly shadow on a daily newspaper purporting to represent the highest levels of journalistic integrity. It is now widely accepted that many policies promoted by Haaretz are effectively supportive of Israel's adversaries.

In fact, Nahum Barnea, the distinguished Yediot Aharonot columnist, went so far as to describe senior Haaretz journalists Gideon Levy, Amira Haas and Akiva Eldar as failing to pass the "lynch test" - i.e., even failing to condemn Palestinians when they murdered two Israelis in a lynch mob in Ramallah at the onset of the second intifada.

More recently, consistent with frequent Haaretz depictions of Israel as a racist entity, the paper's chief Arab affairs expert, Danny Rubinstein, told a UN body that Israel was indeed an apartheid state.

Of course, behind this torrid situation stands the publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, who is personally convinced that Israel does indeed practice apartheid.

But it was only recently that Landau threw away all semblance of journalistic integrity and publicly confessed to crossing the ultimate red line that distinguishes reputable journalism from propaganda.

According to The Jerusalem Post, at the recent Russian Limmud Conference in Moscow, Landau, one of the few non-Russian-speaking participants, dropped a bombshell. He stunned those present by boasting that his newspaper had "wittingly soft-pedalled" alleged corruption by Israeli political leaders including prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, when, in the opinion of Haaretz, the policies of those leaders were advancing the peace process. When participants challenged him concerning the morality of such an approach, Landau responded with the extraordinary assertion that "more immorality happens every day at a single roadblock [in Judea and Samaria] than in all the scandals put together."

He then unashamedly assured those present that Haaretz was ready to repeat the process in order "to ensure that Olmert goes to Annapolis."

Even former Bolsheviks in the audience must have gasped at such views, openly stated, which incorporated all the hallmarks of the Stalinist era.

It is surely scandalous for the top editor of what purports to be a reputable and prestigious daily newspaper to publicly proclaim - and take pride in - having deliberately "soft-pedalled" and possibly even covered up acts of corruption by senior political leaders in order to promote his own political agenda, and, moreover, boast that his paper would continue to do so in the future....

....The Israeli Press Council code of ethics contains clauses explicitly condemning such practices. Article 40 (and 16a): "A newspaper or a journalist shall not refrain from publishing information where there is a public interest in its publication, including for reasons of political, economic or other pressures."
Article 7: "Mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies which are in the publication of facts must be corrected speedily…."

If in the face of such violations of their charter by the editor of one of their most prestigious newspapers the Press Council fails to publicly condemn such behavior, it should be dissolved and the public must demand an accounting.

Exploiting a newspaper as a propaganda vehicle for a clique of leftist ideologues willing to do anything, including suppressing or "soft-pedalling" information about potentially criminal actions in order to pursue a private agenda must not be tolerated in a country which purports to adhere to ethical and democratic norms of conduct.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Appropriate decision to curb power supply to Gaza

From Haaretz 2/11/07, by Yuval Yoaz:

In a letter to the High Court of Justice, State Prosecution on Friday defended the government's decision to curb the supply of fuel and electricity to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, claiming it is not a form of collective punishment.

State prosecution argued the measure was appropriate considering that the area is controlled by an organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and is used as a base for militants who launch regular rocket attacks against its civilian population. "

Any measure taken by one state that has negative consequences on the economy of another will also hurt the citizens of that state," State Prosecution wrote. "In such instances, one can claim that any measure made within the context of an armed conflict is a form of collective punishment of the civilians of that state; a mistaken and absurd argument that counters international law and common practice."

"According to such an incorrect argument, imposing a financial boycott or pressure on countries such as South Africa during the Apartheid, or Iran today, would not be possible because any such measure would hurt the populace of the said country," it added.....

IAEA chief playing into Iranian hands

From JPost, Nov 5, 2007, by MARK WEISS AND AP :

The International Atomic Energy Agency is not only neglecting its duties of preventing nuclear proliferation, but acting as an obstacle to those trying to preserve the status quo, the Foreign Ministry's Director-General Aharon Abramovitch said on Monday.

Addressing the Saban Forum in Jerusalem Abramovitch said the UN nuclear watchdog provides an excuse to states that prefer not to join the international community's efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Israeli officials believe the head of IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei is not forceful enough in the periodic reports he presents to the UN on the Iranian nuclear program. By stressing Iranian cooperation with the inspectors and the need for more time, Jerusalem believes that Elbaredi is playing into Iranian hands.

The IAEA chief has also come under sharp US criticism over moves that Washington sees as appeasing Iran - particularly a deal he negotiated for Teheran to explain outstanding questions over its nuclear program.....

Bill seeks Palestinian compensation for rocket damages

From Ynet News, 4/11/07, by Roni Sofer:

Ministerial Committee on Legislation approves bill that would have PA pay for damages to life and property caused by rocket attacks on Israel; money to be collected through tax payments

A bill approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation Sunday would allow Israel to claim compensation from the Palestinian Authority for damages caused by Qassam rockets fired at Israel. The money would be deducted from the tax payments collected by Israel on the PA's behalf.

The bill states the PA bears the responsibility for the Qassam attacks from Gaza, and that the attacks are sponsored either by the Authority or its representatives.

"Contrary to the agreements between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Authority fails to meet its obligations," the bill states. "Not only does it no[t] fight terror, it even encourages it, supports it and sometimes executes it through its employees. It is inconceivable that the State of Israel should shoulder the costs of the Qassam fire, which the Palestinian Authority is responsible for."

According to the bill, the Administrative Court in Jerusalem would be entrusted with handling petitions on the issue and the Justice Ministry would be in charge of implementing the law.

Justice Ministry personnel would conduct the damage assessment, including damage to property, and the costs pertaining to the physical and psychological effects of the violence and the loss of human lives.

MK Yisrael Hasson, who initiated the bill, slammed Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday for postponing sanctions on Gaza's residents, including cutting off the electrify supply to the Strip. "This bill is an answer to Mazuz. Since the attorney general did not make it possible to cut off the power of those who've been firing Qassams at us, we were forced to move forth with a different legislation."

Hasson added that Israel cannot put up with the fact that over $500 million are transferred to the Palestinian Authority each year. "I know of no precedent where a man condemned to death supplies the rope to his executioner."

Spotlight on Jewish Refugees

From The new York Time, by WARREN HOGE, November 5, 2007:

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2 — With assertions of the rights of Palestinians to reclaim land in Israel expected to arise at an planned Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md., a Jewish advocacy group has scheduled a meeting in New York on Monday to call attention to people it terms “forgotten refugees.”

The organizing group, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, says it is referring to the more than 850,000 Jews who left their homes in Arab lands after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948.

“This did not occur by happenstance....” said Stanley A. Urman, executive director of the group, a five-year-old New-York-based organization. “In fact, we have found evidence that there was collusion among the Arab nations to persecute and exploit their Jewish populations.”

To back the claim, the group has reproduced copies of a draft law composed by the Arab League in 1947 that called for measures to be taken against Jews living in Arab countries. The proposals range from imprisonment, confiscation of assets and forced induction into Arab armies to beatings, officially incited acts of violence and pogroms. Subsequent legislation and discriminatory decrees enacted by Arab governments against Jews were “strikingly similar” to the actions laid out in the draft law, Mr. Urman said.

In January 1948, the World Jewish Congress submitted a memo with the text of the draft to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It accompanied the submission with a warning that “all Jews residing in the Near and Middle East face extreme and imminent danger.” At a meeting two months later, however, Charles Malik, the Lebanese ambassador and president of the council, succeeded in a parliamentary maneuver that ended consideration of the memo. Though the event drew news coverage at the time, it has apparently gone unnoticed since.

....The group cites United Nations figures showing that 856,000 Jewish residents left Arab countries in 1948. “This was not just a forced exodus, it was a forgotten exodus,” said Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian minister of justice who is scheduled to be the main speaker at Monday’s program to open the campaign on behalf of the Jewish refugees.

....He said that a particular focus of the campaign would be the United Nations, where Palestinian concerns got regular attention and Israel was frequently the object of condemning resolutions. “The U.N. has participated in expunging this experience from the Mideast narrative and from the U.N. narrative,” Mr. Cotler said.

The campaign is aimed at assuring that mention of Jewish refugees is included in future General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions and commemorations. The next opportunity would be Nov. 29, the 60th anniversary of the partition vote, which is officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People.

....“There is mention, as there should be, of Palestinian refugees, but no mention of Jewish refugees,” Mr. Cotler said of the annual commemoration.

Another objective is to push for early passage of resolutions introduced in the United States Senate and House that say that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees in any official document must be matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees.
The American-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis is planned to take place before the end of the year to address core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict like borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.

“We want to have this meeting now, in advance of the Annapolis conference, to ensure that this issue is front and center in the international awareness as it should be,” Mr. Urman said. ...

Mr. Cotler said a change in perception would help bring the region’s antagonists together.
“I know this may sound Pollyannaish, but I believe that if we allow people to understand the truth of what occurred, then they will be able to recognize the other,” he said. “Right now the other is being demonized.”