Saturday, June 16, 2012

Russia sends troops to Syria

From NBC News, 15 June 2012, by Jim Miklaszewski*:

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports that a Russian military ship carrying troops is on its way to Syria to protect a Russian deep water port.
Russia is sending armed troops to Syria amid escalating violence there, United States military officials told NBC News Friday, in a move certain to frustrate Western efforts to put pressure on the regime of President Bashir Assad.
Moscow has sent a ship carrying a small contingent of combat forces to guard Russia’s deep-water port and military base at the Syrian city of Tartus, the US officials said.

Days before President Barack Obama's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, there has been a war of words between the U.S. and Syria's longtime military supplier. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.
It comes after the conflict was declared by France on Wednesday to be a full-blown civil war.
The head of the U.N. observers in Syria said Friday a recent spike in bloodshed is derailing the mission to monitor and defuse more than a year of violence and could prompt the unarmed force to pull out.
"Violence over the past 10 days has been intensifying willingly by the both parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks to our observers," Maj. Gen. Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus. "The escalating violence is now limiting our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects."
Tartus is one of Russia’s most strategically-important assets, giving it military access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Russia and China, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power, frustrated attempts by key Western figures, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to enforce a United Nations peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan....

...Russia, ...has come under increasing criticism from the West for arms deliveries to Syria ...Russia says it is fulfilling existing contracts for air defense systems against external attacks. least nine Mi-25 helicopters were sent to Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad to be repaired by Oboronservis, owned by the Defense Ministry.
Russia delivered three different missile systems including Bastion anti-ship missile units and another anti-aircraft system to Syria last year.
At least two ships carrying Russian weapons have reportedly travelled to Syria since the beginning of the year...
*Reuters contributed to this report. Jim Miklaszewski is the chief Pentagon correspondent for NBC News.

Friday, June 15, 2012

J Street: anti-Israel, anti-peace and cannot tell the truth

From The Gatestone Institute, June 14, 2012, by Alan M. Dershowitz:
President Obama recently ...reiterated to me in private what he had previously said in public: namely,
  • that he would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons;
  • that containment of a nuclear Iran was not an option;
  • that sanctions and diplomatic pressures would be applied and increased first; but
  • that, as a last recourse, the military option would not be taken off the table.
What the President said is now the official American policy with regard to the threat of a nuclear Iran. It is clear that sanctions and diplomacy alone will not convince the Iranian mullahs to halt their progress toward their goal of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The only realistic possibility of persuading the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions is for them to believe that there is a credible threat of an American military attack on their nuclear facilities. Unless this threat is credible, the Iranians will persist. And if the Iranians persist, and the Israelis do not believe that the American threat is credible, the Israelis will undertake a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. It is crucial, therefore, for America's military threat to be credible and to be perceived as credible by both the Israelis and the Iranians.
Enter J Street. J Street is a lobby in Washington that advertises itself as "pro-Israel and pro-peace." But its policy with regard to Iran is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace. It is categorically opposed to any "military strike against Iran." It is also opposed to maintaining any credible military threat against Iran, through "legislation, authorizing, encouraging or in other ways laying the ground work for the use of military force against Iran." This is according to their official policy statement that can be read at They favor sanctions and they recognize that "Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would pose a very serious threat to America and Israeli interests." But they believe that diplomacy and sanctions alone can deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. By advocating this path, they are totally undercutting the policy of the Obama Administration. They are sending a message both to Iran and to Israel that there is no credible military threat, and that if Iran is prepared to withstand sanctions and diplomacy, they will have nothing further to worry about if they move forward with their nuclear weapons program.
The Obama Administration has tried very hard to persuade Israel that there is no space between the American position and the Israeli position on Iran. Whether or not this is true, there is a hole the size of a nuclear crater between Israel's position, reflecting a widespread consensus within that country, and J Street's position. Virtually every Israeli wants the United States to keep the military option on the table. This includes "doves" such as Israeli President Shimon Peres. Former United States President Bill Clinton also believes that the military option must be maintained. Virtually everyone, Israelis and Americans alike, hope that the military option will never have to be exercised. But the best way to make sure that it will not have to be exercised is to keep it credible. As George Washington put in his second inaugural speech: "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace."
J Street, in addition to undercutting both mainstream Israeli and American policy toward Iran, has also mischaracterized the views of those it cites in support of its benighted position. It cites Former Mossad Chiefs, Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy as opposing any "military strike against Iran." It cites these two security Israeli security experts in the context of opposing an American strike and an American threat to strike. Yet Dagan has explicitly stated that he would favor keeping the American military option on the table. This is what he has said: "The military option must always be on the table, with regards to Iran, but it must always be a last option." This is quite different from the misleading manner in which J Street has characterized his views. The same is true of Efraim Halevy. When I read the J Street reference to Halevy, I immediately called him and told him how J Street had characterized his views and asked him if that was a correct characterization. His response: "That's absolutely false." He told me that he had repeatedly stated that the United States must keep the military option on the table as a last resort, though he hoped that it would never have to be used.
J Street can no longer pretend to be pro-Israel, since it is actively seeking to undercut a joint Israeli and American policy designed to protect Israel and the world from a nuclear armed Iran. Nor can J Street claim to be pro-peace, since its policy will likely encourage Iran to take actions that will inevitably result in an attack either by Israel, the United States or both. Finally, it cannot be trusted to tell the truth, as evidenced by its deliberate misattribution of its views to security experts that don't share them.
Some people have accused J Street of carrying President Obama's water with regard to Israel and of having been "invented" to give the Obama Administration cover for taking tough policies with regard to Israeli settlement activity. But in this instance, J Street is completely undercutting the Obama policy. That would not be so bad except for the fact that the Obama White House sometimes seems to be embracing J Street and its followers. This public embrace sends a message to Iran that the Obama Administration may not mean it when it says that it will use military force if necessary to prevent a nuclear armed Iran. This may be a false message, but it is a dangerous one nevertheless. Absolutely no good has come from J Street's soft policy on Iran.
Either J Street must change its policy, or truth in advertising requires that it no longer proclaim itself a friend of Israel, a friend of peace, a friend of truth, or a friend of the Obama Administration.

Stay out of the Syrian Morass

From The Washington Times, June 13, 2012, by Daniel Pipes*:

As the Syrian government makes increasingly desperate and vicious efforts to keep power, pleas for military intervention, more or less on the Libyan model, have become more insistent. This course is morally attractive, to be sure. But should Western states follow this counsel? I believe not.
Those calls to action fall into three main categories: a Sunni Muslim concern for co-religionists, a universal humanitarian concern to stop torture and murder, and a geopolitical worry about the impact of the ongoing conflict. The first two motives can be fairly easily dispatched. If Sunni governments – notably those of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar - choose to intervene on behalf of fellow Sunnis against Alawis, that is their prerogative but Western states have no dog in this fight.
Generalized humanitarian concerns face problems of veracity, feasibility, and consequence. Anti-regime insurgents, who are gaining on the battlefield, appear responsible for at least some atrocities. Western electorates may not accept the blood and treasure required for humanitarian intervention. It must succeed quickly, say within a year. The successor government may (as in the Libyan case) turn out even worse than the existing totalitarianism. Together, these factors argue compellingly against humanitarian intervention.
Foreign policy interests should take precedence because Westerners are not so strong and safe that they can look at Syria only out of concern for Syrians; rather, they must view the country strategically, putting a priority on their own security.

Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy has helpfully summarized in The New Republic reasons why a Syrian civil war poses dangers to U.S. interests: the Assad regime could
  • lose control of its chemical and biological arsenal;
  • ... renew the PKK insurgency against Ankara;
  • regionalize the conflict by pushing its Palestinian population across the Jordanian, Lebanese, and Israeli borders; and
  • fight the Sunnis of Lebanon, reigniting the Lebanese civil war.
Sunnis jihadi warriors, in response, could turn Syria into the global nexus of violent Islamist terrorism – one bordering NATO and Israel.
Finally, he worries that a protracted conflict gives Islamists greater opportunities than does one that ends quickly.

Jordanian Salafi leader Abou Mohamad Tahawi sees Alawis and Shi'is – not Israelis - as the greatest threat to Sunnis.
To which I reply:
  • Yes, the WMDs could go rogue but I worry more about their ending up in the hands of an Islamist successor government.
  • A renewed PKK insurgency against the hostile government ruling Turkey, or increased Sunni-Alevi tensions in that country, hardly rank as major Western concerns.
  • Expelling Palestinians would barely destabilize Jordan or Israel.
  • Lebanon is already a balkanized mess; and, as opposed to the 1976-91 period, internal fighting underway there only marginally affects Western interests.
The global jihad effort has limited resources; the location may be less than ideal, but what better than for it to fight the Pasdaran (Iran's Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) to the death in Syria?
As for time working against Western interests: even if the Syrian conflict ended immediately, I foresee almost no prospect of a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional government emerging. Whether sooner or later, after Assad and his lovely wife decamp, Islamists will likely seize power, Sunnis will take vengeance, and regional tensions will play out within Syria.
Also, overthrowing the Assad regime does not mean the sudden end of Syria's civil war. More likely, Assad's fall will lead to Alawi and other Iranian-backed elements resisting the new government. Moreover, as Gary Gambill points out, Western military involvement could embolden opposition to the new government and prolong the fighting.

Finally (as earlier was the case in Iraq), protracted conflict in Syria offers some geopolitical advantages:
  • It lessens the chances of Damascus from starting a war with Israel or re-occupying Lebanon.
  • It increases the chances that Iranians, living under the thumb of the mullahs who are Assad's key ally, will draw inspiration from the Syrian uprising and likewise rebel against their rulers.
  • It inspires greater Sunni Arab anger at Tehran, especially as the Islamic Republic of Iran has been providing arms, finance, and technology to help repress Syrians.
  • It relieves the pressure on non-Muslims: indicative of the new thinking, Jordanian Salafi leader Abou Mohamad Tahawi recently stated that "The Alawi and Shi'i coalition is currently the biggest threat to Sunnis, even more than the Israelis."
  • It foments Middle Eastern rage at Moscow and Beijing for supporting the Assad regime.
Western interests suggest staying out of the Syrian morass.

*Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sanctions and other alternatives may be given more time to stop Iran

From the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 14 June 2012:

Over the last six months, the prospects of an Israeli preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear weapons program have been much discussed. Back in early February, media reports suggested that the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, was increasingly concerned about a possible ‘window’ for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities during the months of April, May and June. The Israelis said they feared the Iranian nuclear program would soon enter a ‘zone of immunity’ when it would become harder to stop by military means...
...In the meantime, sanctions will be given a chance to work—but not much of a chance. The growing ferocity of the sanctions is actually a silent testimony to the fact that the sanctions must show quick results.
Media reports suggest Netanyahu has bought into this position, albeit without enthusiasm. In April he told a news conference that Iranian economic difficulties had not succeeded in pushing the Iranian nuclear program backwards, ‘even a millimetre’, an interesting formula since a large part of the public debate over the merits of a preemptive strike concerns just how much the Iranian program could be set back by such an event. Even Netanyahu would probably concede, though, that an on-going campaign of disruption against the Iranian nuclear program—the Stuxnet virus and the assassinations of key Iranian scientists—has borne fruit. Israel might still have further cards to play in that regard. For all those reasons, news reports in Israel suggesting that the initial April–June window has been pushed back have a ring of credibility to them. A recent report in The Jerusalem Post, for example, titled ‘Confrontation with Iran may be delayed to 2013’ tells just such a story. In the meantime, it’s likely the Americans are doing a full court press around the region, in an effort to build regional support for both the sanctions, and for the idea that more serious alternatives will follow if the Iranians move further towards weaponisation.

Follow the link to download a pdf copy of the full paper.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teaching hatred in kindergarten

From Ynet News, 12 June 2012, by Elior Levy:

Kids at Islamic Jihad kindergarten celebrate end of year ... Teacher: "We educate them to love resistance, Palestine..."
Children attending a kindergarten in Gaza that is run by Islamic Jihad celebrated their graduation by dressing up in army attire, waving toy rifles and chanting anti-Israel slogans.
"It is our obligation to educate the children to love the resistance, Palestine and Jerusalem, so they will recognize the importance of Palestine and who its enemy is," the kindergarten's director said. 

מדמים חייל שמטביע עצור פלסטיני

'Palestinian prisoner tortured.'

The children were dressed up in uniforms of Jihad's armed-wing, the al-Quds Brigades, and each of them received a toy rifle. Some of them held up photos of Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shaqaqi.
סוף שנה בעזה
'Palestinian prisoner and Israeli guard'

The event was attended by the children's relatives, some of whom belong to Islamic Jihad and other armed Palestinian factions.
חגיגת סיום של הילדים הקטנים בעזה

'Until I die as a shahid.' Gaza kids during party

During the ceremony the children were asked to stand next to mock coffins draped with flags of the various armed factions. The flags bore the images of "shahids (martyrs)."

הילדים על רקע מסגד בהר הבית
Kindergartners defend 'al-Aqsa mosque'

One child, Hamza, said "When I grow up I'll join Islamic Jihad and the al-Quds Brigades. I'll fight the Zionist enemy and fire missiles at it until I die as a shahid and join my father in heaven.
"I love the resistance and the martyrs and Palestine, and I want to blow myself up on Zionists and kill them on a bus in a suicide bombing," he said.
..."At every kindergarten graduation ceremony we focus on the children to represent the role of struggling and resistance in the way of Allah so they will grow up to love the resistance and serve the cause of Palestine and Holy Jihad, as well as to make them leaders and fighters to defend the holy soil of Palestine," one of the teachers said.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Face facts: Iran wants nucear weapons

From The Australian, June 12, 2012, by Emanuele Ottolenghi*:

AS negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are about to resume in Moscow next Monday, Western leaders insist that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has yet to make a decision about whether to build nuclear weapons, despite evidence that Iran has been seeking nuclear weapons ever since the beginning of its nuclear program, almost 30 years ago.
...On February 25, for example, the Director of US National Intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr, testified before the US congress that "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so." He added, "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
Three days later, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta repeated this view to congress: "They're developing a nuclear capability (but) our intelligence makes clear that they haven't made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon."
.... against their repeated reassurances that Iran has not made a decision yet, there's Iran's constant pulling of the curtain seconds before its cheating act is caught on camera.
Consider the following:
Iran pursued major elements of its nuclear program in secret for at least 18 years, in violation of its solemn Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.
Iran procured much of its nuclear technology, including plans to build uranium metal hemispheres that can only be used for a nuclear device, from A. Q. Khan. The Khan network supplied Iran and other countries, such as Libya, with sensitive nuclear technology, including blueprints for a nuclear device. Iran never denied having received any of the above. On the contrary, it confirmed that it possessed the Khan documents.
Iran insists that it intends to enrich uranium to feed several nuclear power plants. Apart from Bushehr, however, work has not started on any other plants. And the uranium needed to fuel the Bushehr plant will come from Russia. But the 60,000 sq m centrifuge field at Natanz, constructed deep underground and protected by layers of reinforced concrete, is capable of producing highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
All research centres involved in Iran's nuclear program have links to, or are an integral part of, the Iranian armed forces. This would be both inappropriate and unnecessary if the centres were designed for purely civilian purposes. The Revolutionary Guards play key roles in all matters relating to the nuclear program, while Iran's military industry manufactures the uranium-enriching centrifuges.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, "Iran had used undeclared nuclear material for testing and experimentation in several uranium conversion, enrichment, fabrication and irradiation activities, including the separation of plutonium, at undeclared locations and facilities".
Iran's scientists have conducted experiments with high explosives and special triggers that could work in a nuclear device; they have studied the geometry of implosion of the Trinity Test - America's first plutonium nuclear weapons test - and they have refitted long-range missiles to accommodate a non-conventional payload.
The program includes a heavy-water research reactor, whose structure and dimension suggest a military purpose - the enrichment of plutonium - given that Iran's power stations would ostensibly be fuelled by uranium.
Faced with pressure to open Parchin, a military site, to inspections due to mounting evidence of nuclear weapons-related military tests, Iran is trying to sanitise it, much like Syria did with the rubble of its undeclared nuclear reactor after it was destroyed in an Israeli air raid in 2007. As if all of this was not enough, there is the underground enrichment plant at Fordow, whose "size and configuration", as Barack Obama said in 2009, "is inconsistent with a peaceful program".
These are commendably blunt words. ...But the argument according to which Iran has not made a decision yet, weighed against the evidence of almost 30 years of dogged, relentless and stubborn pursuit of nuclear weapons, sounds like a betrayed husband choosing not to believe what everyone else already knows.
*Emanuele Ottolenghi is a fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies and the author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Corps.

Waves of Freedom

“Aliya Bet,” facilitated the “illegal” immigration of the wretched survivors of the Holocaust into pre-state Israel. For four decades, the role that about 200 North American volunteers played in Aliya Bet has remained one of history’s forgotten chapters. Not until Murray Greenfield’s book The Jews’ Secret Fleet was first published in 1987 did the heroic story of the young American volunteers come to light.

Last year, an hour-long documentary film by Alan Rosenthal called Waves of Freedom, based on Greenfield’s book, retold the dramatic story, this time with actual footage of the events in addition to interviews with several of the participants – not just survivors and volunteers, but also with the British naval officers who worked to stop the immigrant ships.
Follow the link to read about the book, the movie, and to order copies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

UN-supported puppet show:"don't smoke - carry a machine gun"

From PMW, 4 June 2012:

Puppet 1: "I wanted to stand before the audience and sing to Jerusalem, which is being kept from us. Jerusalem, whose youth are being killed by the Jews. To sing and to say: Jerusalem, we are coming, Jerusalem, the time of death has arrived. Jerusalem, we will not surrender to the enemies or be humiliated."

Puppet 2: "What am I doing to myself [by smoking]? I, and many other youth like me, think that through cigarettes we will be adults and men. Jerusalem doesn't need youth who hold cigarettes. It needs men who hold machine guns, not cigarettes."

Note: According to the Burj Luq Luq Center's website where the puppet show was held, they are funded and have ties to
  • the French Consulate,
  • the Swiss Development Agency,
  • the Italian Institutions' Union,
  • the UNFPA,
  • the [PA] Ministry of Youth and Sports,
  • UNICEF and

Sunday, June 10, 2012

North Korea still poses a threat to Israel

From the North Korea Herald, 3 June 2012, by John Power:
North Korea still poses “a constant threat to Israel,” 40 years after a Pyongyang-sponsored terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, the Israeli ambassador has said.
...The roots of the Lod Airport massacre, which took the lives of 26 people and injured 72 others in Tel Aviv on May 30, 1972, trace back to the North Korean regime.
“This attack was the first of its kind, but unfortunately the fight against terrorism has become a daily routine in many parts of the world,” Ambassador Tuvia Israeli said Wednesday, the 40th anniversary of the attack.
“Israel has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and in many ways it is a constant threat to Israel,” he added. “Beyond support for terrorist organizations, North Korea violates the internationally accepted rules of proliferation. North Korea is an active partner in the establishment of nuclear capability for military purposes in Iran and Syria.”

Terrorist Kozo Okamoto is pictured during his 1972 trial for the Lod Airport attack.
(Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center)

Many of the victims of the three Japanese Red Army members who carried out the attack on Lod Airport, now called Ben Gurion Airport, were Puerto Rican pilgrims. Using machine guns and grenades they’d stowed in their hold luggage, the three terrorists carried out the attack on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
North Korea’s backing of the attack was substantiated in a legal judgment against Pyongyang in 2010. A U.S. federal court in Puerto Rico found that the North Korean regime had trained, funded and armed the terrorists, and ordered Pyongyang to pay $378 million in damages to two of the victims’ families.
North Korea does not recognize the state of Israel, regarding it an “imperialist satellite,” and has previously funded various Palestinian paramilitary groups. North Korea did so to get at the U.S., Israel’s principal ally, according to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who represented the families in the 2010 case.

Attorneys Naomi Weinberg and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (second left) with family members of terror victim Carmelo Calderon-Molina in the United States District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the 2010 trial to prove North Korea’s involvement in the 1972 Lod Airport attack.
(Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center)

She is the director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, an NGO which sues terrorist groups and their sponsors in a bid to strip them of their assets and end their activities. The organization has won judgments totaling $1 billion, frozen assets worth $600 million and collected about $120 million in damages.
“What happens usually in these cases is that we go after assets that belong to the other country,” Darshan-Leitner said. “We collect by enforcing the judgment against bank accounts that belong to the country, in this case North Korea.”
The NGO is also currently suing Pyongyang on behalf of the family of Kim Dong-shik, a pastor kidnapped by the regime in 2000 who is believed to have starved to death in a North Korean prison camp.
Although no money has yet been collected from the 2010 judgment, Darshan-Leitner is confident that her organization will ultimately be able to locate and seize North Korean assets in other countries.
“This was how we were able to collect money against Iran,” she said. Iran never came and paid their judgment but we were able to find houses that belonged to Iran, back accounts that belonged Iran, bank accounts that belonged to their national companies, and this is how we were able to retrieve.”
She said that U.S. law, unlike that in most other countries, allows for cases against third countries involved in criminality. U.S. Congress legislated in 1996 for an exception to the sovereign immunity law on the grounds that countries that sponsor terrorism are not acting like sovereign states, and therefore should not enjoy sovereign immunity.
Zeev Sarig was deputy director of Lod Airport at the time of the attack. He remembers the destruction of what he calls Israeli airport security’s “September 11.”
Blood, chaos and broken glass
“It was complete chaos of course,” he said. “Bodies all over, blood, broken glass, open suitcases, chaos like an utter massacre.”
For Sarig, Shurat HaDin’s work is an important part of the fight for justice for survivors and victims’ families.
“For me, it was really a mission that those who murdered, or sent murderers who killed innocent people, should pay for the rest of their lives. That should be a sign to all of those who send criminals, murderers, terrorists, whatever you call them, to kill innocent people, at the end of the day they will pay.”
Israeli composer Shimrit Or, whose father died in the attack, also witnessed the scene firsthand with her brother.
“There was a huge roar, a sound that I had never heard before and in my mind I tired to realize what this sound could be and I thought maybe a ceiling was falling in, something very enormous. Then there was a minute of silence and they started shooting.
“My brother me pulled me and dropped me on the floor and covered me with himself. And the shooting and the shouting were endless. In real time it was almost five minutes, but it was unbelievable how long it seemed at the moment.”
While she thought that justice should be sought for the crime, Or said she has never been contacted by Shurat HaDin, and only heard of the 2010 judgment through the media. She feels more needs to be done to locate and connect the many survivors of the attack.
The Israeli ambassador said that Seoul and Tel Aviv should connect on security to defend against such threats.
“Despite the great distance between Israel and the Republic of Korea, a strategic security dimension has many interests in common, and all focused on bringing change in North Korea, first of all for the sake of citizens there, but also to increase the stability and security on the Korean Peninsula and in fact throughout the world,” Israeli said.

Recipe for War: Unilateral Withdrawal from West Bank

From Gatestone Institute, 08 June '12, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak believes that Israel should consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinian Authority fail to bear fruit.

Under the current circumstances, such a move would lead to the creation of another radical Palestinian Islamic entity, this time in those parts of the West Bank that would be handed over to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. Any land that is handed over to the Palestinian Authority would end up in the hands of Hamas.
In the summer of 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, passing it to Abbas and his 40,000-strong Fatah-dominated security forces. A few months later, thanks to a free and fair parliamentary election that was held at the request of the US and some EU countries, Hamas came to power.
One of the main reasons Hamas scored a victory in that election was because it took credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip through rockets and suicide bombings.
A year later, in the summer of 2007, it took fewer than 10,000 Hamas militiamen to defeat Abbas's security forces and bring down the entire Palestinian Authority regime in the Gaza Strip. Hamas's rule over the Gaza Strip has since brought more suffering and bloodshed for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Once Israel carries out a unilateral withdrawal, the same scenario is likely to be repeated in the West Bank.

Even though Hamas does not have a strong military presence in the West Bank, the movement seems to enjoy much popularity among Palestinians. The so-called Arab Spring, which has seen the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries, has emboldened Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad.
These groups have managed to attract many followers by offering themselves as the best alternative to Western-backed corrupt secular dictatorships in the Arab world. As before, Hamas's chances of taking over the West Bank are high after the failure of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction to implement significant reforms or combat rampant corruption.
Fatah lost the 2006 parliamentary election mainly because of its leaders' involvement in the embezzlement of public funds. Since then, Fatah has failed to draw the conclusions from its defeat and has not even been able to come up with a new list of capable candidates that could attract Palestinian voters. The same Fatah men who lost the vote are, in fact, continuing to run the show in Ramallah -- as if they had never lost.
Even if the Islamists do not take over the West Bank in the aftermath of a unilateral Israeli pullout, it is almost certain that the Palestinian Authority would not be able to prevent local gangs and clans from seizing power.
The case of Jenin, a city in the West Bank, is a good example of the weakness of the Palestinian Authority security forces, especially with regard to imposing law and order: Palestinian Authority officials have admitted that Jenin has been controlled over the past two years by Fatah militiamen and thugs who worked closely with many top Palestinian security officers, imposing a reign of terror and intimidation on the city's residents.
A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank could mean that Palestinian cities like Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron would fall either into the hands of Hamas or armed Fatah gangs.
Abbas and Fayyad would not be able to do much to prevent a return to scenes of anarchy and lawlessness that were once prevalent on the Palestinian street. The chaos and violence inside the Palestinian cities would also spill over into Israel, forcing it to launch another "Defensive Shield" type of operation, like the one in 2002, to clear the area of armed gangs.
Before withdrawing from any area, Israel needs to make sure that those who would be in charge would not run away, handing the territories to Hamas or any other local gangs. Under the current circumstances, a unilateral and unconditional withdrawal would only be a recipe for more violence and bloodshed and repression.

Comparative Demographics 101

From Israel Hayom, 1 June 2012, by Yoram Ettinger:
(Also see this recent JIW posting on the subject)

...the fertility rate among young Arabs in Judea and Samaria — at an average of three births per woman — has converged with the respective fertility rates of young Israeli Arabs and Jews, while (mostly secular) Jewish fertility rates are currently trending upwards and Arab fertility rates are trending downwards.
The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria is declining at an accelerated pace as a result of modernity: urbanization (70 percent rural in 1967 vs. 75% urban in 2012), increased education, especially among women (most of whom complete high school and increasingly attend community colleges), enhanced career mentality and growing integration into the workforce among women (reproduction starts later and ends earlier), all-time high median wedding age and divorce rate, minimal teen pregnancy (common in 1967 but rare in 2012), family planning and secularization.
David Goldman (“Spengler”) writes in his book "How Civilizations Die" that “as Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe’s low fertility. … Iranian women in their 20s, who grew up with five or six siblings, will bear only one or two children during their lifetimes. ... By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe."
“Demographers have identified several different factors associated with population decline: urbanization, education and literacy. ... Children in traditional societies had an economic value, as agricultural labor and as providers for elderly parents; urbanization and pension systems turned children into a cost rather than a source of income…. Dozens of new studies document the link between religious belief and fertility. ... [An] Iranian 25-year-old’s mother married in her teens and had several children by her mid-twenties. Her daughter has postponed family formation, or foregone it altogether, and spent her most fertile years on education and work. ... World fertility has fallen by about two children per woman in the past half century — from about 4.5 children per woman to about 2.5. Fertility in the Muslim world has fallen two or three times faster than the world average... Across the entire Muslim world, university-educated Muslim women bear children at the same rate as their infecund European counterparts. ... The only Muslim countries where women still give birth to seven or eight children are the poorest and least literate: Mali, Niger, Somalia and Afghanistan. ... Iran’s secular government under the late Shah put enormous efforts into education during the 1970s and 1980s. ... Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution slowed but could not stop the literacy movement.”
Director of the UN Population Division Hania Zlotnik argued that “In most of the Islamic world it’s amazing, the decline in fertility that has happened.” Eight of the 15 countries that experienced the biggest drop in population growth since 1980 are in the Middle East.
David Goldman (“Spengler”) states that “the only advanced country [other than the U.S.] to sustain high fertility rates is Israel...”
He criticizes Israeli leaders who based their policy on erroneous demographic assumptions: “Israeli concessions in the first decade of the 21st century [Rabin’s Oslo, Sharon’s uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza and Olmert’s unprecedented proposed concessions] were motivated by fear that Arab fecundity would swamp Israel’s Jewish population. In actuality, quite the opposite was occurring..."
In fact, the Jewish fertility rate in Israel in 2012 — three births per woman — is higher than all Arab countries, other than Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, which are trending downward.
The average Israeli-born Jewish mother exceeds three births. Moreover, Israel’s robust demography yields uniquely promising economic, social, technological and national security ramifications.
According to Goldman, “Israel will have more young people than Italy or Spain, and as many as Germany, by the end of the century, if fertility remains unchanged. A century and a half after the Holocaust, the Jewish State will have more military-age men, and will be able to field a larger land army, than Germany.”
Israel’s rising (especially secular) Jewish fertility rate is in direct correlation to its relatively high-level optimism, collective responsibility, generational continuity (roots and future), patriotism, tradition, faith and value-driven education. Israel’s demographic tailwind is even more powerful, when considering the potential of 500,000 Olim during the next ten years.
The demographic, economic, military and diplomatic resources at the disposal of Israel in 2012 are dramatically superior to those available to Herzl in 1900, Ben-Gurion in 1948 and Shamir in 1992.
Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River, that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish state and that the Jewish state must concede Jewish geography in order to secure Jewish demography, is either grossly mistaken or outrageously misleading!

"RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria"

From YouTube, Apr 18, 2012:

"RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria"
A Documentary Film by Jeff L. Lieberman

Several years ago, the Internet was introduced into the more rural parts of southeast Nigeria. As it has done for so many people around the world, it opened the eyes of a few young Igbo people and began answering some difficult questions of identity. For Shmuel (who was then called Sam), the nagging question he wanted answered was whether there was any truth to the long-told lore that the Igbo people were once Jews. He began by comparing Hebrew traditions to Igbo traditions, and what he found astounded him. The similarities were so convincing that it sent him off on a journey in the quest to find other Igbo who might be practicing Judaism.

"RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria" is a journey into the heart of Igboland and into the lives and culture of the Igbo people. The film introduces the world to the many synagogues that dot the land, and a handful of passionate, committed, and diverse characters -- each striving to fulfill their historical legacy with few resources and unbeknownst to most of the world. Individual stories are woven together with key facets of history, tracing the Igbo from Biblical times up to the brutal 1960s Biafran War, which killed over 1 million Igbo. A wide range of American academics help detail this history, including shedding new light on the Igbo origins of thousands of slaves captured during the Atlantic Slave Trade and brought to American shores. The film delves into this history and travels to the southeast coast of Georgia, where locals still speak of the Igbo spirit alive and well at a riverbed called Ibo Landing.

The individuals featured in the film also demonstrate that incredible Igbo spirit. Shmuel is a young man whose story exemplifies the journey toward finding Judaism. Today, he is a leader in his community who teaches and chants Torah, and has big dreams of one day becoming a rabbi. But like almost every Igbo, he grew up surrounded by Christian colonialism, and the road to discovery has been fraught with misunderstanding, wrong turns into Messianic worship, family exile, violent prejudice from both Muslim and Christian neighbors, scorn from Jews he has contacted in the Western world, and frustration of a lack of funds to further educate himself through Internet access. Yet, it's also been an amazing discovery of community, and furthered with the love of an American rabbi who has been working with both him and the larger community to see their dreams become a reality.

To find out more, visit