Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Post-Zionist" antisemites and Jews

From National Post · Mar. 17, 2012, by :
Over the past 100 years, the world has seen the creation of some 100 new states - perhaps more states in a shorter period than ever before in the history of the world. Most of those new states have not proved very successful. But there is one among the states that has succeeded magnificently: the state of Israel. So guess which is the one state that people worldwide seek to overthrow? Terrorist-sponsoring Pakistan? Oil-corrupted Nigeria? Oppressive Uzbekistan?
Nope, nope, and nope again.
OK, OK, you say, tell us something we don't know.
Fine. Over the past few years, there's been an interesting shift among opponents of the state of Israel. They've begun to call themselves "post-Zionist" - a bland, bloodless phrase. The idea embedded in the phrase is that Israel can somehow be transitioned away from its current status as a Jewish homeland via some technical process not involving massacres and exile - that Israel can be abolished

It's not a very realistic project, to put it mildly. But it's an attractive slogan to those who dislike Israel and don't want to face the implications of that dislike.
Last weekend, militant groups inside Gaza launched a rocket barrage against southern Israel. Up to a million Israelis have had to take refuge in bomb shelters. 200,000 children missed school. This is what anti-Zionism looks like.
Over that same week, as so often in the past, Canadian university campuses have been disgraced by renewed vilification of Israel under the slogan of "Israel Apartheid Week." The good news for Canada is that these acts of vilification have been met with resounding criticism from political leaders.

Federal Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney said forcefully:

"The organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel. In reality, this week is nothing more than an unbalanced attempt to paint Israel and her supporters as racist; this week runs contrary to Canadian values of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding."
Liberal leader Bob Rae agreed:
"It is - difficult to understand why this year the focus continues to be on Israel, rather than on the appalling massacres and human-rights violations that have reached intolerable heights in countries such as Syria and Iran."
For many Israelis and many Jews, the continuing intensity of that ancient hatred understandably feels a crushing, intolerable and ultimately baffling burden.It's a tragic fact of human psychology that some people targeted by hatred will seek to find in themselves some reason that they are hated. By blaming themselves, they can impose some sense on a universe that otherwise seems terrifyingly senseless. By blaming themselves, they can perhaps hope to find some escape from hatred - short, that is, of the murder or suicide which is what the haters say they want for them.
"If we abolish this part of ourselves - or that - will you then stop despising us? Will you then grant us permission to continue to exist in some subordinated form or other?"
It's a pattern of thought we see in abused children, in battered women, in bullied gays - and in post-Zionist Jews.
The short answer to Rae's haunting question is that anti-Israelism has never been about human rights. Anti-Israelism has always been about the destruction of one nation and one people.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saudi Grand Mufti Calls for "Destruction of All Churches in Region"

From Jihad Watch, March 14, 2012, by Raymond Ibrahim: According to several Arabic news sources, last Monday, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches of the region."
The Grand Mufti made his assertion in response to a question posed by a delegation from Kuwait ... the Grand Mufti "stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it."
...the Sheikh based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam declared on his deathbed that "There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula," which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region.
...Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah...is the Grand Mufti of the nation that brought Islam to the world. Moreover, he is the President of the Supreme Council of Ulema [Islamic scholars] and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas. ... his words are immensely authoritative.
...at the time of this writing, I have not seen this story, already some three days old, translated on any English news source....
... this is nothing short of a scandal—a reminder of just how deep the mainstream media, academia, and most politicians have their collective heads thrust in the sand.
Meanwhile, here is the latest piece of evidence of just how bad churches have it in the Muslim world, for those who care to know.

Egyptian Parliament is "Israel’s bitter enemy".

From JCPA, 15 March 2012, by Jonathan D. Halevi*:

The new Egyptian Parliament recently issued a statement undermining the 1979 peace agreement by proclaiming it was Israel’s bitter enemy.
On March 12, 2012, Dr. Mohamed Al-Saed Idris, Chairman of the Arab Affairs Committee in the new Egyptian Parliament, presented the committee's official outline of Egypt's regional policy. 
The committee's operative recommendations called for an official definition of Israel as an enemy, severing  diplomatic relations, full support for the armed struggle against Israel, re-adoption of the total boycott of Israel, raising the issue of Jerusalem in the international arena, and a review of Egyptian nuclear policy. 
In its eyes, Israel is the foremost enemy of Egypt and the Arab and Islamic world, and the peace agreement with it (the Camp David agreement) is considered a dead letter. 
Egypt is setting itself on a collision course with Israel, using the Palestinian issue in all its aspects - including Israeli military operations against Palestinian terrorism as well as Israeli policy in Jerusalem or the West Bank - as an excuse for direct Egyptian intervention. 
Defining Israel as a "major enemy"  means building a military capability to deal with the "Israeli threat," including an attempt to deny Israel any advantage in the nuclear field and/or the development of Egyptian nuclear weapons. 
At present, the new Egyptian political leadership cannot translate these policies into actions. But this situation is likely to change after the presidential elections on May 23-24 and the establishment of a new civilian government.

*Lt.-Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi,  a senior researcher  at the Jerusalem Center,  is a former adviser to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It is time to annex Judea and Samaria

From a comment on Mordechai Kedar's article on Gaza, dated 15 March 2012, by "Salubrious":
...It is the Soviet dezinformatsia that invented the Palestinian Arab People and the notion that they had a passion for self government. If you look closely at the preamble of the 1964 charter of the PLO drafted in Moscow, you will see its reference to the Palestinian Arab People for the very first time that that collective noun has been employed to describe Arabs local to Palestine. It also asserts they have a passion for self government.
So it was that the Arab-Israeli conflict commencing as a product of religious jihad, was reframed into a conflict caused by secular nationalism that Arabs in Palestine had formerly found to be too abstract to be of interest in the 20s according to Professor Porath. To get new membership in the Arab Executive that was anti-Ziionistic but not nationalistic, Haj Amin al Husseini spread the false rumor that the Jews were taking over Al Aqsa mosque and got a massacre instead of new members. Jihad is not a foreign ideology nor is Islam.

It is time to annex Judea and Samaria... This would result in a lawful one state solution that surprisingly would not result in an Arab majority and therefore not risk the loss of Israel's Western values.
...[This] solution based on the San Remo Agreement of 1920 and the quick annexation of Judea and Samaria would not lose Israel its majority. It would still have a majority as the Arab population in the West Bank is much smaller than that reported in PA statistics. Some say this is because they want to get more welfare from the UNRWA. Requiring Muslims, Christians and Jews to take a oath of fealty before being awarded citizenship would likely result in retaining a comfortable margin. The rest might remain as permanent residents unless they violated the law. Annexation would be lawful because of the grant at San Remo of political rights to the Jews, intended to vest when the Jews were in the majority according to Arnold Toynebee and Winston Churchill if the Arabs position at UNSCOP is to be believed.
Then there is Jordan. It was part of what was granted in 1920 but taken away in 1922. But England was then a fiduciary, having those political rights in trust according to Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant.
Read those first two paragraphs of Article 22 and you will be convicned it unmistakeable that the designed of what was called a "mandate" was based on the British legal concepts of trust and guardianship. And England violated its fiduciary relationship when it gave Transjordan to Abdullah for its own political reasons*. But Israel gave up the Jews rights to TransJordan in 1994 in exchange for a quitclaim to CisJordan [the entire region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean]**....

*see The San Remo Convention 1920, which was confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, and came into operation in September 1923:
_____________________________________________


** see Annex 1 of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994:


It is agreed that, in accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty, the international boundary between the two states consists of the following sectors:

  • The Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers
  • The Dead Sea
  • The Emek Ha'arva/Wadi Araba
  • The Gulf of Aqaba...

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;

and
...Article 5.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, the Government of any foreign Power....

Hamas has turned into a standard Arab state

From Middle East and terrorism Blog, Wednesday, March 14, 2012, by Mordechai Kedar
...The Gaza Strip is no different from the rest of the Arab world, so tribal culture is alive and kicking in the Gaza Strip too. Ever since the Hamas movement took control of Gaza trip in 2007, it has transformed itself from a gang of jihadists into a ruling organization which has a state, government, advisory council, legal system, police, military and economic bodies.
Thus, Hamas has turned into a standard Arab state, which is attempting to impose its agenda upon the tribes and the clans that live in the Strip. The State of Hamas serves the interests of the group that leads it, and therefore it is in constant conflict with the tribes and the clans and must reach agreements with them.

The minor movements - Islamic Jihad, the PRC (Popular Resistance Committees), the Salah-a-Din Division, the Army of the Nation, the Army of Islam and others - function like tribes, challenging the authority of the state, which is in the hands of Hamas. Today, these groups are doing to Hamas what Hamas did to the PLO twenty years ago when the PLO was in power. The widespread corruption among the top echelons of Hamas strengthen the influence of the small organizations that oppose Hamas.
...Hamas ...has not changed its covenant or its sole goal: to eliminate Israel and bring an end to the "occupation" of Jaffa and Acre, not only Hebron and Nablus. However, in the present historic phase it is suspending its battle against Israel in order to establish a state which, when the time comes, will be the basis from which the war of the destruction of Israel will be waged.
The small organizations do not accept this suspension of jihad and call Hamas derogatory names such as "The Israeli Border Guard" and the "South Lebanese Army".
From a practical point of view, Hamas is capable of eliminating the organizations, just as it dealt with the Army of Islam, of the Dughmush clan in August of 2008, and as it eliminated Sheikh Abd Al-Latif Moussa's Islamic Emirate of Jerusalem in cold blood in August of 2009 in a mosque in Rafah, murdering him, his wives and children and 24 followers. As of today, in the year 2012, Hamas refrains from imposing itself on the small organizations by force of arms so that it will not become the "Israeli Border Guard"in the eyes of Gazans, and prefers to come to an agreement with them; to compromise with them and to calm them down.
This is the reason that Hamas functioned during the last round of rockets as a moderating and calming force...because they have become a state, and the state must, in one way or another, impose its agenda on the bodies that consider it an illegitimate organization because it has suspended active jihad against Israel...

Contemporary Re-Emergence of A Hoax of Hate

From ADL:
Anti-Semites around the globe still actively circulate the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion".
It has appeared in Japan-where bestsellers by anti-Semite Masami Uno cite them as evidence of a "Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world’-and in Latin America (including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay). The document is also favored by such U.S. right-wing extremists as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations. The most common U.S. edition was published by hatemonger Gerald L. K. Smith’s Christian Nationalist Crusade.
The Protocols have become a major source of Arab and Islamic propaganda. Between 1965 and 1967 alone, approximately 50 books on political subjects published in Arabic were either based on the Protocols or quoted from them. In 1980, Hazern Nuseibeh, the Jordanian delegate to the United Nations, spoke about the Protocols as a genuine document. In October of 1987 the Iranian Embassy in Brazil circulated copies of the Protocols, which it said "belongs to the history of the world."
During the 1980s Muslim groups peddled the forgery worldwide. The Muslim Student Associations at Wayne State University in Michigan and at the University of California at Berkeley disseminated the document. American Black Muslim groups have sold it. The Protocols were for sale at an Islamic exhibition in Stockholm and in London’s Park Mosque, and during a 1986 conference sponsored by the Islamic Center of Southern California the Protocols were prominently displayed. Based on a perverse "interpretation" of the Protocols, the Saudi Arabian government blamed Israel for an attack on a synagogue in Istanbul in 1986.
With Glasnost there has also been a reappearance of the Protocols in the Soviet Union. A Soviet book released in 1987 called "On the Class Essence of Zionism" revived insidious canards contained in the Protocols, and made repeated references to Jews engaging in "constant efforts to gain control of the world." And sections of the Protocols have reportedly been read during meetings of the anti-Semitic Russian nationalist movement Pamyat (Memory).

Iran's War in Gaza

From FP, MARCH 13, 2012, BY JONATHAN SCHANZER:
This time, it's not Hamas firing rockets into Israel -- it's Iranian proxies seeking to create havoc.

Israeli jets pounded the Gaza Strip on March 12 in the latest volley of fire since violence broke out late last week. But they were not fighting Hamas, Israel's traditional bĂȘte noire in Gaza. Though radical factions have now fired more than 200 rockets into Israel, the self-described Islamic Resistance Movement has yet to claim responsibility for a single attack. It may be the first time the organization has refused to lead the charge to battle against Israel.

Hamas has a different fight on its hands. Iran, through the use of its proxies, is fomenting instability in Gaza that it is ill-equipped to handle. Indeed, Tehran is punishing Gaza's de facto rulers for leaving their long-standing alliance.
...Maan News Agency, an independent Palestinian news source, reported that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh engaged in intense talks brokered by Egypt to bring a halt to the violence. Those negotiations resulted in a cease-fire that went into effect Monday night, although several rockets have already reportedly been fired since.
In fact, the last thing Hamas needs is a war. The militant faction faces its greatest challenge since its creation in 1987: While it has the hardware necessary to fight Israel, it lacks the foreign backing to mount a sustained campaign.
...Numerous reports now indicate that Hamas is drifting from the Iran-Syria axis. While Hamas has not ruptured its relations with Tehran in the same manner that it abandoned Damascus, Iranian leaders are clearly irked that the Palestinian faction has refused to stand by Assad, a key strategic figure for Tehran in the region.
Whereas Iran once respected Hamas's wishes and helped maintain a modicum of calm inside Gaza, the gloves are now off. Iran is using its smaller and less-expensive proxies, the PRC and PIJ, to create unrest on Hamas's turf.
As the Iranians see it, Hamas has outlived its usefulness. In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009, during which Israel delivered punishing blows to Hamas in retaliation for rocket fire into southern Israel, the group has become more cautious. Ideologically, it has not changed. But practically, it seeks less to destroy Israel than to preserve its own existence...

NOW is the time to decisively eliminate the terrorists in Gaza (for a while)

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 167, March 15, 2012, by Prof. Efraim Inbar and Dr. Max Singer*:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel has to respond to the attacks from Gaza with a large-scale military operation. If no such action is taken, the attacks against Israel will surely increase. Gaza is small enough so that Israel can destroy most of the terrorist infrastructure and the leadership of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organizations. The goal would be to restore deterrence and to signal Israeli determination to battle the rising Islamist forces in the region. By acting now in Gaza, Israel will also greatly reduce the missile retaliation it would face if and when it strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities. Political conditions seem appropriate as Hamas is divided, most of the Arab world is busy with pressing domestic issues, and the US is in the middle of an election campaign.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz stated several times that a large-scale operation in Gaza is inevitable. If he is right, this is the time. Postponing the inevitable is likely to increase its cost.
The obvious reason for silencing the forces that have been attacking Israel from Gaza is that no nation should tolerate massive military attacks against its civilians by a neighbor. We cannot allow the forces in Gaza to fire hundreds of missiles against Israeli cities as they have in recent days. If no action is taken, the attacks against us will surely increase. Moreover, their ability to strike at strategic installations such as ports, power stations, airbases, and even Dimona must be eliminated.
The thing that most terrorist organizations fear the most is that their organization – especially its leadership – will be destroyed. Gaza is small enough so that Israel can find and destroy most of the Hamas military leadership and the leadership of Islamic Jihad and other groups that have been firing missiles at Israel. It is likely that doing so would reduce the amount of missile fire on Israel from Gaza for much longer than Operation Cast Lead did. The goal of Cast Lead was to deter missile fire by giving a blow to Hamas. It provided relief for more than a year. The goal this time should be to destroy the Hamas military organization and the forces that have been firing at Israel. This stronger action will provide more relief at almost the same diplomatic and political cost. Clearly the deterrence created by Cast Lead, which was effective for a while, is wearing thin. Recent attacks from Gaza show that Cast Lead, only three years ago, was too limited an action rather than an excessive one. Military action now could restore deterrence.
In addition, a serious blow to Hamas and other Islamist organizations in Gaza is a signal of Israeli determination to battle the rising Islamist forces in the region, which will buttress Israel’s standing among those powers in the region – as well as elsewhere – that fear the Islamist wave.
Another important reason for acting in Gaza now is that Israel is presumably considering an attack on the nuclear sites of Iran’s revolutionary government. By taking the current opportunity to act in Gaza, Israel will greatly reduce the missile retaliation it would face if it attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities. Not only would most or all of the Gaza missiles and the organizations preparing to use them be destroyed, but deterrence against missiles from Lebanon and elsewhere would increase. Such an action in Gaza would also bolster credibility in the international community that Israel really might attack Iran's nuclear sites.
Nowadays, political conditions seem appropriate for Israeli action. The Israeli government is stable and would draw large popular support for putting an end, even for a while, to the terror against its citizens. In contrast, Hamas is currently weak and divided, as its political leadership had to leave Syria and there are tensions with Iran.
Furthermore, one of the effects of the fluidity and uncertainty in at least Egypt and Syria is that neither country can focus on dealing with Israel now. They are too busy contesting for internal power. It would also be better for Israel if whoever ends up in control of those countries has a fresh reminder of Israel’s power and readiness to protect itself by acting against those who attack it.
Finally, because of the election campaign in the US, it will likely be safer for Israel to act against missile attacks from Gaza now rather than eight months from now. Until November, the US is likely to restrain rather than promote international action against Israel in response to an action in Gaza. These political circumstances indicate that the diplomatic costs in the international arena might be minimized, although it is not impossible that a Gaza operation could instigate an unexpectedly harmful train of political or diplomatic consequences.
If the IDF capitalizes on this opportunity, the operation must end with unequivocal victory. This time, the Philadelphi Corridor (at the Egyptian border) must be taken in order to encircle Gaza. The Gaza Strip is small enough that Israel can prevent most Hamas forces and leadership from running away. If, this time, Israel completes the job by pursuing and destroying the Hamas military and its leadership, it will be more effective than Cast Lead. This will also make it clear that Israel's objective is not civilian destruction but the defeat of the forces that have been attacking and threatening its citizens. The IDF should be able to capture or kill the majority of the leadership and “officer corps” of Hamas and the other fighting forces in Gaza as well as destroy their existing stockpiles of missiles and advanced weapons, plus many of their files and computers – every physical component of the organizations that have been attacking Israel. This would be the kind of unequivocal victory Israel needs – although it cannot be a final victory.
Although an Israeli action in Gaza can achieve a significant increase in the protection of Israel from enemy fire for some time, and other security advantages, Israel cannot attain an everlasting victory. There is a good chance that Hamas would be able to restore itself in a year or so. In any event, Gazans and their outside supporters will create new organizations to fight Israel. Even though Israel can destroy a large share of the military equipment that has been smuggled into Gaza in the last several years – which will be an important benefit for the next year or two – we must assume that sooner or later other weapons will be smuggled in to replace those captured and destroyed by Israel. Israel will probably have to “mow the grass” again.
Israel can never win a war in the way it can lose a war. That is, the State of Israel could be destroyed, but the Palestinians and the Arab states cannot be. To protect itself from the Arab determination to eliminate Israel, Israel has to define specific victories that provide large improvements in its security – military and diplomatic – and the IDF must do what it takes, including suffering necessary casualties, to make sure that it achieves those victories. In international relations, despite fine words, weakness provokes criticism and contempt, while strength and success – even limited success – create respect and sometimes support.
*Efraim Inbar is Professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. Max Singer is a Hudson Institute founder and Senior Researcher at BESA. This article is a revised version of an op-ed published in the Jerusalem Post on March 14, 2012.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Put Hamas on notice NOW


From Word from Jerusalem, March 13, 2012, by Isi Leibler:
Last Friday, the IDF struck out against the Iranian controlled Popular Resistance Committees which our intelligence discovered were orchestrating another attack on the Egyptian border. Zuhair al Qaisi, the Secretary-General of the PRC (who had orchestrated the previous terror attack a few months on the Egyptian border near Eilat) and his collaborator Mahmoud Hanani, recently released in the course of the Schalit exchange, were both killed.
Gaza terror groups immediately responded and in the space of a few days over 200 rockets were launched against the South, one grad missile reaching as far as Gedera, only 40 kilometers from Tel-Aviv. Scores of Israelis throughout the South were injured. One rocket In Beer Sheva landed in an empty school courtyard, narrowly missing an apartment building. Subsequent Israeli responses destroyed numerous rocket launching cells and killed scores of terrorists.
We can take pride in the fact that our Iron Dome interceptor missiles have been extraordinarily successful and intercepted 90% of missiles directed towards the major cities. But even setting aside the immense cost of $50,000 for each intercept, at this stage Iron Dome is still far from foolproof and it only takes one missile to penetrate and cause tragic civilian casualties.
...it is outrageous to enable the terrorists from Gaza, at their discretion, to have the ability to force over a million inhabitants in the South in major cities like Beer Sheva, Ashkelon , Ashdod, and other regional councils from constantly to become hostages to their whim and obliged to disrupt their lives, effectively living for days on end underground and closing schools involving over 250,000 children.
...our government ...must be willing to take drastic action to deter even a single rocket being deliberately launched. Otherwise we doom ourselves to a new war of attrition and destroy the quality of life of increasing numbers of our citizens.
... the reality is that our government is being derelict in its duty if it continues to restrain itself and responds "proportionately" to rocket launches on its citizens, awaiting a catastrophe before employing genuine deterrence (which by definition cannot be “proportionate”).
...What is currently required are not threats and bluster but a clear warning from the government that if Hamas fails to control terrorist initiatives against us stemming from the region under its jurisdiction, we will protect our civilians by responding far more harshly than killing a few terrorists. We will state that that rocket attacks which oblige large numbers of Israelis to live in shelters are totally unacceptable and emphasize that we are no longer going to play the game of tit-for-tat and will exercise maximum deterrence.
And if deterrence does not work it will be in our interests to confront the problem now rather than in the future and eliminate the rockets and weapons in Gaza that were obviously assembled for use against us at a time best suited for the genocidal Hamas bent on our destruction.
Our embassies should be clearly outlining our position in advance, especially in the United States and Europe.
By any logic or comparison such a position is unassailable. There is no other country in the world which would be displaying "restraint" or applying principles of proportionality when their neighbors provide a safe haven and enable terrorists to launch hundreds of potentially lethal rockets against our citizens. They would find it difficult to deny the reality that a state which enables missiles to be launched against its neighbor would under any circumstances be deemed to have effectively declared war.
I have no doubt that if we acted resolutely in this manner the US Congress and all open-minded people would overwhelmingly endorse our position.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Round of Escalation in Southern Israel

From The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center March 11, 2012:

Zuhir al-Qaisi's car after it was hit by the Israeli Air Force
(Hamas' Palestine-info website, March 9, 2012).
Overview
1. On March 9, 2012, a new round of escalation began in southern Israel following the targeted killing of Zuhir al-Qaisi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). More than 120 rockets were fired at population centers in southern Israel (as of the early morning hours of March 11) and several more were fired during the day. About half of the rockets fell in Israeli territory. So far, thirty have been intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. Several dozen of the rockets fell inside the Gaza Strip. The IDF carried out several attacks against terrorist targets and squads launching rockets and mortar shells.
2. It is the fourth round of escalation in rocket and mortar shell fire during the past year. In April 2011, 69 rockets fell in Israeli territory, in August 2011, 155 rockets, and in October 2011, 45 rockets (see the graph). The current and previous rounds resulted from attempts made by the Palestinian terrorist organizations (especially the PRC and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]) to attack Israel from the Gaza Strip (such as the attack north of Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, which led to the escalation in August 2011) and create a routine pattern of sporadic but continual rocket fire into southern Israel. However, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who visited the Ashdod region on March 10, said that the current round of escalation would not have been initiated if the PRC had not planned to attack Israel's south though the Sinai Peninsula (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2012).
4. In the northern Gaza Strip on the afternoon of March 9 Israeli aircraft struck the car of Zuhir Musa Ahmed al-Qaisi, secretary general of the PRC, killing him and his aide, Mahmoud Ahmed Mahmoud Hanani. Zuhir al-Qaisi was in the process of planning a combined terrorist attack through the Israeli-Egyptian border (IDF Spokesman, March 9, 2012).
5. Zuhir al-Qaisi, born 1963 and a resident of Gaza City, was appointed secretary general of the PRC seven months ago. According to the IDF Spokesman he was the intermediary in transferring funds from Hezbollah to the Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. During the past few days he had been planning a combined terrorist attack against a number of Israeli targets through the Israeli-Egyptian border and the final stages had been reached. Zuhir al-Qaisi had previously been involved in planning terrorist attacks, among them the infiltration of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in April 20082 and the attack at the Israeli-Egyptian border north of Eilat on August 18, 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed.3 He was also involved in firing rockets and mortar shells into the western Negev (IDF Spokesman, March 9, 2012).
6. Mahmoud Hanani, also killed in the attack, was born in 1968 in Beit Furiq, near Nablus. He was formerly a Fatah operative and planned PRC terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria. He was detained in 1988 at the beginning of the first intifada and released in 1993 following the Oslo Accords. He was involved in terrorist activities. After the outbreak of the second intifada recruited suicide bombers and dispatched them to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Israel. After one of the suicide bombers who was apprehended informed on him, he fled to the Gaza Strip through Jordan and Egypt. He recently became a member of the PRC and was Zuhir al-Qaisi's deputy (PRC website, March 11, 2012).
7. Following Israel's targeted killing of Zuhir al-Qaisi and Mahmoud Hanani the Palestinian terrorist organizations launched massive numbers of rockets and mortar shells at population centers in the south of Israel. By the early morning hours of March 11 more than 120 rockets had been fired. Of them, 53 rocket hits and about 20 mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory. Throughout March 11 the rocket and mortar shell fire continued and by the afternoon several dozen rocket hits had been identified (exact statistics not yet available).
8. The rocket fire wounded a number of civilians, two of them critically. Several people were treated for shock and damage was done to property (Ynet, March 11, 2012). The rocket fire also severely disrupted the daily lives of more than one million Israeli civilians: the Home Front Command ordered that schools in communities between 7 and 40 kilometers (4.4 and 24.8 miles) from the Gaza Strip close on March 11. In addition, gatherings of large numbers of people (more than 500) would be forbidden in both open and closed locations (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2012).
9. The IDF Spokesman reported that the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted attacking rockets 90% of the time, 28 of 33 rockets (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2012).
10. A number of Palestinian terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, among them the PRC, the PIJ and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (terrorist organization websites). Hamas apparently did not participate in the rocket attacks but did nothing to prevent the other terrorist organizations from attacking. In a press briefing the IDF Spokesman said that the long-range and intermediate-range rocket fire was carried out by the PIJ and the short-range fire by the PRC (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2012).
11. Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the PRC, said that the Hamas administration had not prevented his organization from firing rockets and that the Palestinian organizations had coordinated their fire (Al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2012). Abu Ahmed, PIJ spokesman, said that the organization's military wing had "powerful cards" it had not yet used (possibly a reference to rockets with longer ranges). He said that rockets had been fired from the backs of pickup trucks (Jerusalem Brigades website, March 10, 2012).
12. In response to the massive rocket and mortar shell attacks, Israeli aircraft struck a number of terrorist targets, operatives and squads launching or about to launch rockets and mortar shells. About 16 terrorist operatives were killed in the strikes, among them senior PIJ operatives, including Ahmed Hajaj, senior operative of the PIJ's rocket launching unit; Farouq Fahed, an operative from Sujaya; and Hazem Qara'qi, an operative involved in the past in launching rockets. The Palestinian media also reported that dozens were wounded.
13. Some of the Israeli Air Force attacks were the following, as reported by the IDF Spokesman:
1) March 11: A squad about to launch rockets from the northern Gaza Strip into Israeli territory was hit.
2) March 11: Two pits for launching rockets with ranges of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) in the northern Gaza Strip were hit.
3) March 10: At 22:20 hours a site in the northern Gaza Strip where weapons were stored was hit.
Strike on a location for the manufacture of weapons (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2012).
4) March 10: A senior PRC terrorist operative was hit in the southern Gaza Strip.
5) March 10: Two centers of terrorist activity were hit, one in the northern Gaza Strip and one in the southern Gaza Strip.
6) March 10: A squad about to launch rockets from the southern Gaza Strip into Israeli territory was hit.
7) The night of March 9: Six terrorist targets were hit, among them two sites for manufacturing weapons and two pits for launching rockets in the northern Gaza Strip. A site for the manufacture of weapons in the central Gaza Strip was hit, as was a center for terrorist activity in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Transport of Goods Continues
14. Despite the escalation in rocket fire, crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip have remained open to avoid harming the civilian population. They are the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, where goods are transferred, and the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, where Gazans leave and enter.
Palestinian Responses to the Latest Round of Escalation
Hamas
15. The de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip denounced the Israeli activity and appealed to the international community to intervene urgently to stop what it called "Israeli aggression." Individual responses were the following:
1) Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, said that Israel would bear responsibility for its crimes and that the "resistance" [i.e., the terrorist organizations] would respond to Israeli aggression day after day. He added that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades supported the "resistance" factions and would choose the appropriate way to respond to the Israeli aggression.
2) Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said that Israel's objective in attacking the Gaza Strip was "to shuffle the cards in the Palestinian arena, especially in the Gaza Strip." He said that Israel was responsible for the escalation, adding that the Palestinian people had the right to defend themselves. Hamas has also appealed to the Egyptian People's Assembly to do what it had to for the sake of the suffering Gazan population (Al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2012).
The Popular Resistance Committees
16. The PRC website posted an announcement of the death of Zuhir al-Qaisi calling for a response. A spokesman for the PRC's military-terrorist wing promised that Israel would suffer a painful response, and said that the killing of one of the leaders of the "resistance" could not be ignored.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad
17. Ahmed al-Mudallal, senior PIJ figure, promised that his organization would not sit by idly in the face of aggression and that the PIJ's jihad would reach deep into Israeli territory. He said the "resistance" [i.e., terrorist organizations] were "fully within their rights" to respond to the "Zionist enemy's" crimes and that the elimination of the "Zionist enemy" would end the conflict (the PIJ's Paltoday website, March 10, 2012).
The Palestinian Authority
18. Mahmoud Abbas, PA chairman, denounced the escalation in the Gaza Strip and said the government of Israel was responsible for the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip. He appealed to the Palestinian people to preserve the "lull" to make it impossible for Israel "to avoid the international efforts to revive the peace process" (Wafa News Agency, March 10, 2012). Mahmoud Abbas made no mention of the routine, continuing terrorist attacks carried out from the Gaza Strip which were the cause of the Israeli attack.
19. Mahmoud Abbas spoke with representatives of Egypt, the European Union and the International Quartet, and asked them to contact Israel in an attempt to halt the escalation. He also spoke with Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, and Ramadan Shalah, secretary general of the PIJ (Wafa News Agency, March 10, 2012).

Appendix - about The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)
1. The PRC, whose plan to carry out a terrorist attack was the basis for the current round of escalation, is a relatively small organization but with well-developed operational capabilities. It was founded in the Gaza Strip in 2000 by a group of operatives who left Fatah when the Palestinian terrorist campaign (called the Al-Aqsa intifada) broke out. Their objective was to launch terrorist attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip. The organization has a radical Islamist ideology similar to that of Hamas. Its open letters always begin with a verse from the Qur'an and contain Islamic themes, especially the duty to carry out jihad. The organization is aggressive and belligerent with regard to Israel. It considers the "resistance" [i.e., the path of terrorism and violence] as the Palestinians' only strategic option in its campaign against Israel and therefore repeatedly carries out terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip to violate the relative quiet.
2. Several years ago the organization split into three factions, two of which collaborate with Hamas and in fact operate under its aegis. The third faction, the Army of Islam, is affiliated with the global jihad and carries out its own terrorist attacks, sometimes challenging Hamas and its attack policy. Kamal al-Nairab (Abu Awad) and other senior figures killed in an Israeli Air Force strike following the attack north of Eilat on August 18, 2011, belonged to one of the two factions collaborating with Hamas.
3. An examination of the organization's methods reveals the importance it places on carrying out terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israel through the Sinai Peninsula. Before Operation Cast Lead the attacks were carried out by PRC factions and Hamas, and more so after the operation. They exploited the Egyptian administration's difficulties in enforcing law and order in the Sinai Peninsula (difficulties which increased after the fall of Mubarak's regime) and were supported by a large network of collaborators among the Bedouins of the Sinai Peninsula.
4. One of the PRC's attacks from the Sinai Peninsula occurred on August 18, 2011, a combined attack against a number of targets, including several civilian Israeli vehicles. It was carried out north of the Ein Netafim crossing (north of Eilat) and its perpetrators apparently came from the Gaza Strip. Eight Israelis were killed and 30 were wounded.
5. In response to the terrorist attack in Eilat the IDF attacked a house in Rafah which served as a PRC command post and where senior organization operatives were located. Killed were Kamal al-Nairab, the commander of the organization's main faction, and two other senior operatives. Two other operatives of the organization's military-terrorist wing were also killed. Following the Israeli response, terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip attacked southern Israel population centers with close to 150 rocket hits and dozens of mortar shells. The IDF responded by attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. PRC factions also participated in the rocket attacks and claimed responsibility for rocket fire at Beersheba and other southern Israeli cities.5
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 During the day on March 11 several dozen additional rockets fell, including those which hit Beersheba and caused property damage. One hit a school.
2 On the afternoon of April 9, 2008, a four-man squad of armed PRC operatives broke through the security fence of the northern Gaza Strip. They went to the Nahal Oz fuel terminal (which serves the residents of the Gaza Strip) and shot at Israeli civilians working there, killing two.
3 On the afternoon of August 18, 2011, the PRC carried out a combined terrorist attack against a number of targets, including several civilian vehicles. The attack occurred north of the Ein Netafim crossing (north of Eilat) and in our assessment the perpetrators came from the Gaza Strip. Eight Israelis were killed and 30 wounded.
4 The number of rockets which actually fell in Israeli territory, excluding excluding those intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system and those which fell in the Gaza Strip. Several dozen other rockets which were fired on March 11 are not included.
5 For further information see the August 23, 2011 bulletin "The PRC: Portrait of the Terrorist Organization Responsible for the Series of Combined Terrorist Attacks North of Eilat, Israel's Southernmost City" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e218.pdf.

Israel 's Defense Requires Action Not Reaction

From "Israel Hayom” March 12, 2012, by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger:


The war on terrorism cannot be won by defensive - but only by offensive – means, notwithstanding the impressive performance of the Iron Dome missile defense system.


The BackgroundMore than10,000 Gaza-based missiles have been launched, systematically and deliberately, at Israeli cities, kibbutzim and villages since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in September 2005 (1,700 annually), compared with 700 missiles launched from 2001 to September 2005 (140 annually).  In addition, over 5,000 mortar shells have been launched at Israeli civilians since the disengagement.


250 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists between 1978 and the 1993 Oslo Accords, compared with 2,000 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the conclusion of the Oslo Accords.


Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel has transformed its policy of no-Palestinian state-solution to a two-state solution, highlighted by the importation of some 60,000 Palestinian terrorists into Gaza, Judea and Samaria from Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria. The two-state solution has been replete with systematic groundbreaking Israeli gestures, concessions and ideological and territorial retreats. It has yielded unprecedented Palestinian hate-education and terrorism; Palestinian smuggling and manufacturing of tens of thousands of missiles; multi-billion dollar cost of Israeli homeland security measures; severe erosion of Israeli confidence in Israel's own cause and capability to confront its enemies; and significantly undermined the Israeli posture of deterrence, which is a prerequisite for security and peace.
The two-state state of mind has ushered in the assumption that the solution to terrorism is not military but diplomacy. 
In 1993, the architects of the two-state solution dismissed the warning that such a solution would doom Israeli cities to a barrage of Palestinian missiles.  In 2012, one million Israelis, in Beer Sheba, Ashdod, Ashqelon, Kiryat-Gat and scores of kibbutzim and villages in southern Israel, have been held hostage by Gaza-based Palestinian terrorism as a result of the 2005 Disengagement. Irregularity and missile alert sirens have dominated their daily lives at work, in kindergartens, schools and at leisure.

The PLO (Palestinian Authority) was the ally of the USSR and the Communist Bloc, of Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.  The PLO and Hamas are the allies of Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, the trans-national Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, the emerging Islamic leaders in Libya and Tunisia and the ruling Islamic party of Turkey.


The SolutionThe Israeli government is tested – by its citizens, enemies and allies - by its ability to ensure personal and national security, rather than submitting its citizens to periodic terrorism.

Personal and national security will not be advanced by the conclusion of another ceasefire with Palestinian terrorists, but by the destruction of the ideological, educational, political, financial, logistical and operational infrastructures of Palestinian fire.

Israel's security will not be enhanced by deterring Palestinians from launching missiles at Israel, but by denying them the capability to launch missiles.

Israel's security will not be bolstered by the power to retaliate against Palestinian missiles, but by the power to preempt and to prevent the launching of - and to eliminate - Palestinian missiles. 

An effective offensive against Palestinian terrorist capabilities should not be surgical and limited in scope and time, but comprehensive, decisive, sustained and disproportionate, aiming to devastate all terrorist infrastructures and capabilities, bringing the enemy to submission

A limited response to terrorism, and the pursuit of ceasefires, constitutes a prescription for a war of attrition – the dream of terrorists and the nightmare of democracies. 

An effective offensive should not strive for engagement and coexistence with – or the suspension of - terrorism, but for uprooting terrorism.

Since Oslo 1993, Israel's battle against terrorism has been subordinated to the two-state solution state of mind, entrenching moral and operational ambiguity rather than clarity.  Therefore, it has been addicted to defense, the belief that "restraint is strength," the assumption that there is no military solution to terrorism and the subordination of war on terrorism to the pursuit of peace, international pressure and international public opinion.

However, the nineteen post-Oslo years of unprecedented Palestinian hate-education, terrorism and non- compliance have documented that there is no political or diplomatic solution to Palestinian terrorism.  Ignoring the lessons of the post-Oslo years, by refraining from a resolute, preemptive, preventive decisive and disproportionate offensive on Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorist infrastructures, will subject Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa to a terrorist assault that will dwarf the current predicament in southern Israel. 

Israel battle against terrorism should reclaim its pre-two-state solution posture, highlighting roots and vision, determination, defiance of odds, the can-do and risk-taking mentality and gumption. It as that spirit which transformed the Jewish State from the remnants of the Holocaust into the most stable, predictable, reliable, capable, democratic and unconditional ally of the USA.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Israel can and will defend itself

From Word From Jerusalem, March 12, 2012, by Isi Leibler:


Few would envy Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s role during the forthcoming months.


Whatever spin is applied, the Obama Administration is refusing to draw red lines in relation to military action to forestall Iran’s nuclear threat. In fact there is no clear indication of what their response would be to such an eventuality. Besides, much of the public debate on the issue is conjecture as most commentators are simply not equipped to evaluate the obstacles to resolving the threat by military means.


But recent events in Washington do provide grounds for optimism.


Not since the creation of the Jewish state has there been a more genuinely supportive attitude towards Israel’s security and wellbeing by the American people and a bipartisan Congress than what currently prevails.


This was also manifested in the positive statements related to Israel contained in President Obama’s speech to AIPAC.


Yes, during elections, many promises are made which are invariably subsequently repudiated. And yes, Obama also made warm statements concerning Israel at AIPAC four years ago when he stood for election and subsequently reversed his position.


But even allowing for election fever, Obama’s almost desperate efforts to persuade Jews and the American people that he supports Israel went beyond anything this administration had previously expressed. And he would not have felt compelled to do so were it not for the genuinely supportive attitude of the American people.


We would have preferred the President to be more specific about his readiness to revert to a military option and he was clearly pleading for Israel to hold back and allow more time for sanctions to bite. But he articulated a clear-cut recognition of the “unacceptable” existential threat that Iran poses not only to Israel but to the entire free world. Whether he meant it or not, he clearly disavowed reliance on containment and was more forthcoming than previously with reference to the employment of force if sanctions fail. His tacit approval for Israel to take whatever steps it considers necessary to defend itself was a major policy tilt from the harsh threats and warnings directed against us from various elements in the administration over recent months.


Yet by failing to specify a time frame by which diplomacy and sanctions could be deemed to have failed or to provide Iran with an ultimatum for a specific deadline, Obama is asking Israel to trust him and await the outcome of sanctions. In his time frame, this would mean that military action would be unlikely prior to the elections and once re-elected, he would no longer be subject to the current political pressures.


Obama’s reticence is not surprising. This administration, which burned itself in successive wars in the Middle East and is currently seeking to extricate itself from the region, has little enthusiasm for military conflict with the Iranians. Obama also fears the economic repercussions which could impact on the elections if he becomes involved in a conflict with Iran in this sensitive oil-producing region.


On the assumption that secret discussions behind closed doors were inconclusive and in the absence of a definite time schedule with the US, Israel cannot blindly rely on the United States. Otherwise, it may face a "containment" policy by default. In such a scenario, it would be of little comfort to us if the Obama administration subsequently disowns responsibility by citing failures of its intelligence agencies to adequately monitor Iran's nuclear progress.


Netanyahu certainly understands this and realizes that he must therefore independently prepare the nation to do what is considered necessary for our survival and national interests


We would like to believe that the US would support us if we became engaged in a military conflict with the Iranians. However, notwithstanding the improved atmosphere in Washington, when one observes the indifference of the civilized world, including the Obama Administration, towards the current slaughter in Syria and recollects how, despite firm undertakings, the US and others failed to support Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War, we require little persuasion to be convinced that ultimately we must rely on ourselves.


Netanyahu must therefore intensify efforts to obtain clarification of Obama’s future intentions and continue pressing the administration, at the very least, to strengthen sanctions,building on the goodwill which currently prevails amongst the American people. Even if reelected, Obama must take into account public opinion and if Congress retains its strong bi-partisan support for Israel, it may at least inhibit a return to the bad old days.


Obama did not exaggerate when he boasted to AIPAC that his last speech at the United Nations was the most pro-Israel address ever made by a US President at a global forum. Nor can one fault our defense relationship with the United States which remains at an all-time high.


But expressions of love and abundant use of clichĂ©s such as "our unbreakable bonds" are insufficient. Despite years of bullying us diplomatically, Obama has yet to condemn the Palestinians for their incitement, intransigency and refusal to indulge in negotiations. We need clarification of US support for the major settlement blocs and defensible borders as it is abundantly clear that the Obama prescription of Israel retaining 1967 armistice lines plus ‘mutual’ swaps will never be achieved with the current Palestinian leadership. Above all, he should decisively reject the "Arab refugee right of return" which if implemented would lead to our demise. If he moves in this direction, we could say that despite his former displays of animosity towards Netanyahu and his obsession to appease the Muslim world, his words of support are meaningful and not merely electoral rhetoric.


Under the circumstances Netanyahu’s visit to Washington achieved the best possible outcome and he can take credit for having raised awareness of the Iranian threat to its highest global level. He has played the good cop - bad cop approach and clearly made a major contribution towards ensuring that President Obama adopts a far more positive attitude with regard to our existential concerns about Iran.


Regrettably, much of our future course of action remains in limbo. But we should constantly remind ourselves that notwithstanding our weaknesses and the intensified feral hostility from our regional neighbors, we have never been in a stronger military position. And despite warnings that a premature strike would “have consequences for the US as well as Israel”, President Obama has effectively provided Israel with a green light to act as it considers necessary to defend its vital interests.


We should also feel satisfied that when Netanyahu told AIPAC:
“As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation”,
he meant it and that the Jewish State guarantees that the Jewish people have the capacity and capability to defend itself and overcome its adversaries.

Does Obama really "have Israel's back"?

From JPost, 8 Mar 2012, by Martin Sherman:

...After the first three years of his presidency, political exigencies, domestic and foreign, have forced Barack Obama to try to reinvent himself with regard to his attitude toward Israel.

The initial hallmark of his administration’s foreign policy was his outreach to the Muslim world and blatant – some might say brutal – belligerence toward Israel. It is important to remember this in assessing just how much store Israel – and pro-Israeli Americans – should place on the president’s charm offensive at the recent AIPAC conference.
For while it is true that much water has flown in the Potomac (and the Nile) since Obama’s initial outreach address to the Muslim world in Cairo (June 2009) shortly after he took office, the significance of the sentiments conveyed in that speech should not be underestimated.
Because it was delivered when he was still unencumbered by domestic constraints and foreign frustrations, it reflected most accurately the political instincts he brought to the Oval Office.
Although Obama did chide the Muslim world for the lack of political freedom, gender equality and religious tolerance, the overall tenor of the address was one of glowing accolades for Islamic achievement and imaginative apologetics for its failures – based on questionable, at times fanciful, interpretations of history...

... despite his AIPAC-compliant commitment, would Obama really see a nuclear Iran as an unacceptable violation of US interests? And if so, at what stage? Or would he – especially in a post-election context – prefer the counsel of those such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt who “do not believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.”
To be fair, Obama’s record has not been one of unadulterated anti-Israel enmity. Thus, although admitting that “mistakes” were made in Obama’s Israel policy, which at times was “wrongheaded,” Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman has pointed out that the administration has acted frequently and forcefully to preserve Israeli interests on a number of critical issues.
Such measures have included enhancing military aid for Israel, exercising a US veto to block a one-sided Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, and strongly supporting Israel at the UN to block the Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood.
These and other decisions beneficial to Israel undertaken by the Obama administration are far from trivial. They should not be denied or disregarded.
The more circumspect – or cynical – might suggest that this pro-Israel largesse (and the assurances conveyed at the AIPAC conference) should not be ascribed to any favorable change in sentiment toward Israel. Rather, it should be seen as a result of growing concern over the consequences of a Jewish voter backlash, fueled by what many considered a grossly biased approach toward Israel.
For example, it is in no way implausible to attribute – at least partially – Obama’s robust rebuttal of the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid to the shock defeat of the Democrats by a Republican – for the first time in almost a century – in the 2010 elections in New York’s 9th Congressional District. With its large Jewish population, the administration’s treatment of Israel had been a central issue in the elections, and the results were widely interpreted was a wake-up call on this matter.
Likewise, as numerous pundits have pointed out, the generous military aid is merely the continuation of levels agreed upon by the previous administration – and which in some cases has been reduced.
Thus, despite being able to point to significant pro-Israel components in its overall policy, much doubt still remains as to how the Obama regime would behave “once the chips were down” – or even if it would concede that they were in fact “down.”
The trust deficit?
This is matter of crucial import. For in Jerusalem and in Washington, the Iranian drum beats to a different rhythm. As Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin recently pointed out, the “windows of opportunity” available to the two allies have very different time frames. If Israel defers to the US request for restraint, it may lose its ability to inflict significant damage on Tehran’s nuclear installations.
Israel would thus be entirely dependent on a US decision to neutralize an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Obamaphiles have done little to enhance confidence that the president would act in a timely and resolute manner in this regard.
If not for the potential for disaster, some recent assessments by advocates of Obama’s policy of restraint would be almost comical. In an article titled “Mr. Obama must take a stand against Israel over Iran,” our trusty Mearsheimer and Walt inform us that “US intelligence is... confident Tehran has not yet decided to build nuclear weapons.”
Really? One might be excused for wondering whether the Obama administration would accept anything short of a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv as proof of Iranian intentions. In the face of such dramatic demonstrations of partisan denial, who can blame Binyamin Netanyahu for his evident exasperation in Washington when he declared with bitter sarcasm: “Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes. Yeah, that’s right, a country that builds underground nuclear facilities, that develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, that manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions, is doing all that in order to advance medical science. So... when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about – it’s only carrying medical isotopes.”
When one sees France adopting positions that are more robust and more skeptical than America regarding Iranian intentions, something must be seriously out of kilter.
Gauging responses
How then are we to gauge the probability of American resolve under an Obama-led administration to protect Israel in a timely and effective manner – in post-election conditions?
Perhaps a good way to do so would be to separate administration actions/decisions that could be ascribed to the dictates of political survival/reelection calculations from those that were clearly the result of its unhindered volition.
Under the first category, we could clearly include nearly all the pro-Israel measures undertaken in the past year or so, including the thwarting of Palestinian endeavors at the UN.
Under the latter category, we could perhaps include the behavior patterns that characterized the beginning of the president’s term, and which were undertaken before any reelection considerations kicked in. It is highly plausible that these reflect most accurately his true political sentiments and inclinations – and hence may well be expected to reassert themselves in second term, when the constraints of elections are no longer relevant.
In this regard: Obama did not have to bow to the king of Saudi Arabia and to belittle the prime minister of Israel. He chose to do so.
He did not have to humiliate Netanyahu at the White House in early 2010. He chose to.
He did not have demand an unprecedented building freeze in Judea and Samaria – he chose to do so. He did not have to orchestrate a contrived crisis over a routine bureaucratic approval relating to construction of a Jerusalem suburb not included in the building-freeze agreement. He chose to do so.
The accumulated effect of these and other actions prompted the usually impeccably reserved Michael Oren, Israel ambassador to Washington, to characterize bilateral relations thusly: “Israel’s ties with the US are in the most serious crisis since 1975.... The crisis [is] very serious and we are facing a very difficult period in relations.”
So while political constraints might have induced Obama to undertake some important pro-Israel measures, he has also freely adopted an array of anti- Israel postures unprecedented in any administration in recent decades.
The real question
But it is not only the brusqueness that Obama has manifested toward Israel that is a cause for concern. It is also the lack of vigor he has manifested toward the Iranian regime.
Obama has had three years to implement the kind of “crippling” sanctions he is now asking Israel to give a chance – but has insisted on dragging his heels in instituting them. The question is why? One hardly knows which is more disturbing.
Is it because – despite all his knowledge of the Muslim world – he misjudged the nature of the regime in Tehran? Or is it because he did not? Does he really believe – despite the fact that years of severe sanctions did not bring Saddam Hussein to his knees – that similar sanctions against Iran can work before Israel’s window of opportunity closes? Or is he confident that they will not? These are the troubling issues facing American Jewry in the upcoming elections. It is not a question of Democrats vs Republicans as some such as Tom Friedman have tried to portray it.
It is solely a question of Barack Obama and how he is likely to behave as a second- term president. The prospect of a White House incumbent with an inherent affinity for Israel’s adversaries and unshackled by considerations of reelection is one that must be considered with the utmost seriousness....

The Plight of Mideast Christians



From WSJ, 9 March 2012, by MICHAEL OREN:
Just as Jews were once expelled from Arab lands, Christians are now being forced from countries they have long inhabited.


...[The Christians'] share of the [Middle East] population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling.

In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.


As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries.


The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.


Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.


...in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to "ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion." It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.


Israel abounds with such sites (Capernaum, the Hill of the Beatitudes, the birth place of St. John the Baptist) but the state constitutes only part of the Holy Land. The rest, according to Jewish and Christian tradition, is in Gaza and the West Bank. Christians in those areas suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.


Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.


Little wonder, then, that the West Bank is also hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%. Some have attributed the flight to Israeli policies that allegedly deny Christians economic opportunities, stunt demographic growth, and impede access to the holy sites of Jerusalem. In fact, most West Bank Christians live in cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, which are under Palestinian Authority control. All those cities have experienced marked economic growth and sharp population increase—among Muslims.


Israel, in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem's churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza. In Jerusalem, the number of Arabs—among them Christians—has tripled since the city's reunification by Israel in 1967.


There must be another reason, then, for the West Bank's Christian exodus. The answer lies in Bethlehem. Under Israeli auspices, the city's Christian population grew by 57%. But under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city's population.


The extinction of the Middle East's Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude. Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive.