Friday, November 30, 2012

UN votes on a flat earth

From the Address by Ambassador Ron Prosor to the UN General Assembly, 29 November 2012:
...Today I stand before you tall and proud because I represent the world's one and only Jewish state. A state built in the Jewish people's ancient homeland, with its eternal capital Jerusalem as its beating heart.
We are a nation with deep roots in the past and bright hopes for the future. We are a nation that values idealism, but acts with pragmatism. Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand for peace. 
Peace is a central value of Israeli society. The bible calls on us:
 בקש שלום ורדפהו

“seek peace and pursue it.”

Peace fills our art and poetry. It is taught in our schools. It has been the goal of the Israeli people and every Israeli leader since Israel was re-established 64 years ago. 
Israel’s Declaration of Independence states, “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help...”
This week was the 35th anniversary of President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem. In a speech just before that visit, President Sadat famously stood in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo and stated that he would go "to the ends of the earth" to make peace with Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Menachem Begin, welcomed President Sadat to Israel, and paved the way for peace. This morning Prime Minister Netanyahu stood at the Menachem Begin Center and said this about the resolution that you are about to vote on:

"Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected.  The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. 

None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. 
The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through U.N. resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests.  And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.
As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel."...
The People of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow in the path of President Sadat. The world waits for President Abbas to speak the truth that peace can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. It waits for him to tell them that peace must also address Israel's security needs and end the conflict once and for all.
For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions, rather than travel to Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach....
Israel has always extended its hand for peace and will always extend its hand for peace. When we faced an Arab leader who wanted peace, we made peace. That was the case with Egypt. That was the case with Jordan.
Time and again, we have sought peace with the Palestinians. Time and again, we have been met by rejection of our offers, denial of our rights, and terrorism targeting our citizens. 
President Abbas described today’s proceedings as “historic”. But the only thing historic about his speech is how much it ignored history.
The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.
Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the "Jews into the sea".
The truth is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan, and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. Instead they sought Israel’s destruction, and were joined by newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The truth is that at Camp David in 2000, and again at Annapolis in 2008, Israeli leaders made far-reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by rejection, evasion, and even terrorism.
The truth is that to advance peace, in 2005 Israel dismantled entire communities and uprooted thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip. And rather than use this opportunity to build a peaceful future, the Palestinians turned Gaza into an Iranian terror base, from which thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli cities. As we were reminded just last week, the area has been turned into a launching pad for rockets into Israeli cities, a haven for global terrorists,  and an ammunition dump for Iranian weapons.
Time after time, the Palestinian leadership refused to accept responsibility.  They refused to make the tough decisions for peace.
Israel remains committed to peace, but we will not establish another Iranian terror base in the heart of our country.
We need a peace that will ensure a secure future for Israel.
Three months ago, Israel's Prime Minister stood in this very hall and extended his hand in peace to President Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution of two-states for two-peoples—where a demilitarized Palestinian state will recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
That's right. Two states for two peoples.
In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase "two states for two peoples" this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase "two states for two peoples". Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65 years ago. Israel is the Jewish state.
In fact, today you asked the world to recognize a Palestinian state, but you still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.
Not only do you not recognize the Jewish state, you are also trying to erase Jewish history. This year, you even tried to erase the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. You said that Jews were trying to alter the historic character of Jerusalem. You said that we are trying to "Judaize Jerusalem".
President Abbas, the truth is that Jerusalem had a Jewish character long before most cities in the world had any character! Three thousand years ago King David ruled from Jerusalem and Jews have lived in Jerusalem ever since.
President Abbas, instead of revising history, it is time that you started making history by making peace with Israel....
This resolution will not advance peace.
This resolution will not change the situation on the ground. It will not change the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza. That is forty percent of the population he claims to represent!
President Abbas, you can't even visit nearly half the territory of the state you claim to represent.
That territory is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that rains missiles on Israel’s civilians. This is the same Hamas that fired more than 1,300 rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities this month.
This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood.
This resolution will not enable the Palestinians Authority to join international treaties, organizations, or conferences as a state.
This resolution cannot serve as an acceptable terms of reference for peace negotiations with Israel. Because this resolution says nothing about Israel's security needs. It does not call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. It does not demand an end of conflict and a termination of all claims.
Let me tell you what this resolution does do.
This resolution violates a fundamental binding commitment. This is a commitment that many of the states here today were themselves witness to. It was a commitment that all outstanding issues in the peace process would only be resolved in direct negotiations.
This resolution sends a message that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to peace agreements. For the people of Israel, it raises a simple question: why continue to make painful sacrifices for peace, in exchange for pieces of paper that the other side will not honor?
It will make a negotiated peace settlement less likely, as Palestinians continue to harden their positions and place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace.
And unfortunately, it will raise expectations that cannot be met, which has always proven to be a recipe for conflict and instability.
There is only one route to Palestinian statehood. And that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 
There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions. As President Obama said in 2010, "Peace cannot be imposed from the outside."
The real message of this resolution for the people of Israel is that the international community will turn a blind eye to violations of these agreements by the Palestinians.
In submitting this resolution, the Palestinian leadership is once again making the wrong choice.
65 years ago the Palestinians could have chosen to live side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel. 65 years ago they could have chosen to accept the solution of two states for two peoples. They rejected it then, and they are rejecting it again today.  
The international community should not encourage this rejection. It should not encourage the Palestinian leadership to drive forward recklessly with both feet pressing down on the gas, no hands on the wheel, and no eyes on the road.
Instead it should encourage the Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve an historic peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.
Winston Churchill said,

“The truth is incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it … ignorance may deride it … malice may distort it … but there it is.”

The truth is that Israel wants peace, and the Palestinians are avoiding peace.
Those who are supporting the resolution today are not advancing peace. They are undermining peace....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Israeli Mother Vanquishes Knife-Wielding Terrorist Scum

From by Naomi Ragen on November 28th, 2012:
When Yael Ram-Matzpon heard the door open at 3:30 AM, she thought it was her husband returning from his job in the IDF. But when the door flung open and the light flicked on, she found herself face to face with a knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist from Gaza. Lying next to her in bed were her four and half year-old daughter and two year-old son. In a room close by, her eight and nine year-old daughters lay sleeping.
“What do you want, I asked him. Money, food?’ I got up. He told me to get down on the floor. I knew I wasn’t doing that.”
And so began a fight to the death between an unarmed 39 year-old mother of four and an armed terrorist in Sde Avraham, a moshav in southern Israel’s Eshkol region near Gaza; a mother who knew that only she stood between him and the slaughter of her innocent children. “He pushed me down and started to slash me,” she told Israel’s evening news. “And I thought: “Now I’m going to feel what it’s like to be slashed, just like you see on television.” As she speaks, we notice the long scar on her cheekbone, the tear in her skin under her eye and on her chin, evidence of the deadly weapon which sought to take away her life and the lives of her children.
Yael, an Olympic-level horse trainer in dressage, who learned kravmagah during her army service, didn’t panic. Instead, she threw everything she had at him, punching him in the face and eyes and nose, scratching and jabbing him — not as if, but because — her life, and the lives of her children depended on it. He began to throw things at her, a mirror, a scale, but missed. She took the moment to lead her small children to safety, sending her daughter to her sisters, and putting her little boy into the bomb shelter and locking the door. She picked up a large heavy metal bell, used to start horse competitions, and used it to pummel him out of the room and into the adjoining shower. She then locked and barricaded the door, flying to the kitchen to call her husband and a neighbor who was a sharpshooter.
Probably realizing he had stumbled on a tigress he couldn’t overcome, the terrorist jumped out of the window and ran. He was soon spotted and shot by the IDF...
If not for the courage, strength, and level-headedness of this Israeli woman, the photos of Jewish children butchered in their beds would be splashed across the Israeli papers instead of the photos of campaigning politicians. Only Maariv put Yael and her heroic battle on its front page. Yediot Aharonot put it on page 25. As for the foreign press, I didn’t read a single word about how an unarmed mother fought off a knife-wielding terrorist to save herself and her children. And what could be more newsworthy than that? Except, of course, if your paper doesn’t really rejoice in such a victory and would rather print the blood. I have two words for the foreign press, and they aren’t happy birthday.
G-d bless Yael Ram-Matzpon and all our Israeli women, mothers and soldiers, who are sometimes forced to be both at the same time in order to protect themselves and their children with bare hands, from marauding, barbaric terrorist murderers who seek out babies in their beds. This time, though, the murderer got more than he bargained for.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morsi’s Dictatorship and the Gaza Ceasefire

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has proven himself to be a dictator in the footsteps of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. He has consolidated his power by sacking the military leadership and by granting himself extensive powers over the judicial system. It is not coincidental that his most recent dictatorial decree (overriding the judiciary) was issued following his successful brokering of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Morsi seeks to further strengthen his control over Egypt while continuing to benefit from Western aid.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has struck again. In August this year he surprised everyone by sacking Egypt’s venerable minister of defense and the heads of the army – the chief-of-staff and the heads of army, navy, and air force – and replacing them with generals of his own liking. He used the massacre of 15 border police by a jihadist group near the Egyptian-Gazan border as his excuse for the purge. The senior military command, which had until that point ruled Egypt with almost an iron hand, caved in without a whimper. To press home their defeat, Morsi did not even bother to invite the former minister of defense and the chief-of-staff to the traditional memorial events surrounding the “victory” of the October 1973 war, even though they were its most prominent living veterans.

The Decree Protecting the Revolution
On November 22, 2012, Morsi struck again in no less surprising fashion. Under the camouflage of an unimportant trip to a conference on economic development in Karachi, Pakistan, he issued a presidential decree (dubbed the “Revolution Protection Law”) that forbade the dissolution of the constitutional drafting committee from which most of the liberal, secular, and church representatives have withdrawn. He also assumed powers that allowed him to dismiss the unpopular general prosecutor and to retry Mubarak and his aides. These decisions, he announced, were not subject to judicial review.
The United States and its European allies, despite their democratic rhetoric, responded with feeble censure. They noted their “concern” over the decree but did not express outward opposition. Significantly, the decree came on the day after Morsi garnered international acclaim for his successful effort to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Connection to the Gaza Ceasefire
The timing raises the following question: What is the relationship between Morsi’s proclamation of powers, which his critics claim makes him a new Pharaoh, and the Gaza ceasefire? It sounds like a riddle but in fact the connection is compellingly logical.
President Morsi, long a senior and radical member of the Muslim Brotherhood before being elected to the presidency, committed himself through the Gaza ceasefire to something that former President Mubarak never sought, let alone achieve. Mubarak, depicted wrongly by the media as an ally of Israel’s, never pressured Hamas to stop the devastating trickle of rockets and mortars it had continuously fired on Israel’s south. Instead, Mubarak used Hamas to bleed Israel.
(Mubarak slightly altered his position after Hamas breached the Egyptian border in January 2008. The breach led to an inundation of hundreds of thousands of Gazans into northern Sinai, including dozens of jihadists and Hamas terrorists. The latter subsequently played important roles in the weakening of Egyptian control in the area).
Unlike Mubarak, Morsi has now obligated himself to stop all Hamas rocket fire towards Israel, essentially putting an end to Hamas’ muqawama (resistance) that distinguished the Hamas government from the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, whom Hamas accused of collaborating with Israel.
Morsi, however, is hardly the person to deliver this without a hefty price tag. The timing of the ceasefire and Morsi’s assumption of dictatorial powers over the judiciary more than suggests a connection with Gaza.
Essentially, Morsi is trying to force the United States and its European allies into a deal that runs something like this: “Render me what is Pharaoh’s in the land of Egypt, and I will deliver you stability on the Israeli front. You and your local allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other Gulf states, can then focus on Syria and Iran.” In short, what Morsi is saying is “Give me my kingdom and I will give you and your allies primacy in the area.”
For Morsi, the test whether the United States, Europe, and the Gulf states accept the deal is as simple as this: Will the IMF loan Egypt $4.8 billion, along with five billion euros of aid, and additional funds from the Gulf money? Will these funds rescue an Egyptian economy beset by domestic turmoil that Morsi’s own moves begat? (After his decree, the value of shares on the Cairo stock market plunged by 10 percent).

United States foreign policy always has been plagued by the tension between Jeffersonian ideals of spreading democracy and a more hard-headed Hamiltonian realism. One can wager that the United States, despite democratic rhetoric, will come up with the aid that Morsi seeks. However painful the deal may be, the Iraqi experiment and many other examples suggest the primacy of America’s interests over high-minded principles. After all, this is exactly how Morsi resolved his own dilemma.

*Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Philadelphi Corridor is the Key

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bankrupting terrorism – one interception at a time

From JPost, 24 Nov 2012, by Akiva Hamilton*:
Iron Dome is a game-changer that not only consigns Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s current terror model to the trash can, it completely undermines the military doctrines of all of Israel’s enemies.Onlookers at Gush Dan Iron Dome battery
Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
...Iron Dome is a game-changer that not only consigns Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s current terror model to the trash can, it completely undermines the military doctrines of all of Israel’s enemies.
Before we discuss this fundamental strategic shift in detail, it is necessary to address a number of important misconceptions that are clouding this reality.
Firstly, Iron Dome is no longer just a short-range missile defense system. The fifth Iron Dome battery, deployed months early just outside Tel Aviv on Saturday, features a significantly improved radar system (by Elta, an unsung hero of the Iron Dome story) and software upgrades that turn this system into a short- and medium-range missile defense system.
While Iron Dome is regularly described as being able to hit rockets with up to a 70 km. range, according to the IDF this new upgrade allows it to intercept Fajr 5 (range 75 km.) and ZelZal (range 200 km.) missiles. Thus, the defense system is already achieving a significant part of what Israel’s forthcoming mediumrange missile defense system, David’s Sling, is intended to achieve.
Secondly, Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptors don’t really cost $40,000 to $50,000 each to manufacture. Like any high technology system, the vast majority of the costs of Iron Dome are systems development and manufacturing setup.
These fixed costs are spread over the number of items estimated to be manufactured and priced accordingly. However, if the number of items produced substantially exceeds the initial estimate, costs drop proportionately.
The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their “cost” will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.
Thirdly, the real cost of the rockets and missiles which Iron Dome intercepts is vastly underestimated by most commentators. Grad rockets may well cost Iran only $1,000 each on the open market, but this is not the delivered cost to Hamas in Gaza.
The supply line from Iran to Gaza is an extremely convoluted and expensive one which involves huge losses from IAF action bombing convoys and factories in Sudan, and interception by western navies. Large bribes have to be paid at every step of the way, particularly to the Beduin in Sinai and the Egyptian soldiers in Rafah who are supposed to be stopping the smuggling.
And the losses continue once the Grad gets to Gaza, with the IDF regularly destroying rocket caches. Thus, 1,000 Grads, which cost Iran $1 million to purchase, may end up as 300 Grads which cost a further $2 million in “delivery charges.” This turns a $1,000 Grad rocket in Iran into a $10,000 Grad rocket in Gaza.
Fourthly, Iron Dome is fundamentally a highly advanced computer system with a very rapid upgrade cycle. So far Iron Dome is matching pace with the iPhone for major software and hardware upgrades, and consequent performance increases.
This will not only continue but will actually accelerate in accordance with Moore’s Law and Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns which state that the performance of computer systems increases exponentially with time.
With each upgrade the interception rate will improve and the range of missiles it can intercept may also improve further. It is therefore that we can expect Iron Dome to reach a 95 percent or higher interception rate in the next year or two, and to continue to improve as the speed and processing power of the computers that make up its brain and eyes (radar) advance.
The practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75% interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using more lethal rockets.
The strategic implications are that the current rocket-based terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah has been rendered both ineffective and economically unsustainable. I estimate it is currently costing Hamas (and thus its patron Iran) around $5m. (500 rockets at $10,000 each) to murder a single Israeli. When Iron Dome reaches 95% interception rate these figures will double and at 97.5% they will double again.
Contrary to some suggestions, the terrorists cannot bankrupt Israel by firing millions of rockets because the real cost of their rockets exceeds the marginal cost of the Tamir interceptor.
Moreover, most rockets miss and Iron Dome ignores them. Indeed, this strategy will bankrupt Iran even more quickly than President Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense strategy bankrupted the Soviet Union.
This is devastating not only to the terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah, but also to the military doctrines of Israel’s nation state enemies, such as Iran and Syria, which have heavily invested in missiles and rockets to compensate for their weak air power.
Iron Dome is already 90% effective against many of Syria’s medium-range missiles, and Israel’s Arrow 2 missile defense system is similarly effective against Iran’s long-range missiles. The remaining components of Israel’s comprehensive multi-layer missile defense umbrella, David’s Sling and Arrow 3, will become operational in 2013/14 and will follow a similar technological upgrade trajectory as Iron Dome. As a result, the enemy’s missile arsenals will continue to decline in effectiveness at exponential rates as interception rates of Israel’s missile defense systems increase.
Iran, Syria and their terror proxies are fighting a losing battle with the exponential rate of technological progress in a field in which Israel leads the world.
Iron Dome is a game-changer that heralds the end of rockets and missiles which are being used by the less technologically advanced. In a sense, just like the organization I work for bankrupts terrorism one lawsuit at a time, the Iron Dome does so one interception at a time.

*The writer is an attorney at Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a civil rights organization and world leader in combating terrorism through lawsuits. Their website:

Spare the Pieties on Gaza

This Op-Ed, first published in Arutz Sheva on Wednesday, January 07, 2009 , is as relevant today as it was then, and to the useful-idiot "activists" in the US and Australia as it is to those in Europe:

Frankly, given a choice, I prefer the skinheads and other brutes who express their anti-Semitism openly. In such places, we know the enemy.
But please spare me the pieties and the righteous indignation of those “good people” protesting throughout Europe against Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza.
True, thousands have taken up banners in support of Israel. At the same time, however, the streets of Europe (and even some in America) are in an uproar. These are the “humanitarians” - the good, the noble, the refined, who chant “peace.”
Now you’re up and about? Now you speak?
Where were you when, throughout the years, thousands of jihadist bombs fell on Israel? The streets of Europe were empty. There were no pictures in the newspapers of grieving Jewish mothers and fathers. You called it “peace” as long as the Arabs were doing the killing and the Jews were doing the dying.
All was well with the world.
Suddenly, as Israel answered back, you found your Cause; and how self-righteous you are in your Cause.
You are the best and the brightest of Europe. You are educated. You attended the finest schools. You care for the birds, the bees, the bears, the trees. You favor free speech and freedom of religion. Strange it is that the one and only place in the Middle East that shares your world-view is Israel, and it is Israel that you slander.
Israel is a Jewish State. Is that your problem? At the first hint of Jewish self-defense, how quickly you show your true colors.
I’ve seen the photos of your candlelight vigils along the streets and boulevards of Europe, all of it; all these tears in the service of those terrorists whom you call your brothers.
Indeed you are related to Hamas (and Fatah) as once before, a mere generation ago, you were related to Hitler’s stormtroopers. Your angelic faces are touching - and disgusting. Your hypocrisy is transparent and nauseating.
You speak of disproportion. You want proportion? Give Israel a population of 300 million residing in 22 countries, similar to the Arab Muslims who surround and ambush Israel - instead of five and a half million Jews in one single country. There’s plenty of “proportion” coming from your BBC, which delights in presenting one side of the story and picks up where Der Sturmer left off. Now, with this type of “news”, we know how Europe was conditioned for a Holocaust.
Already we see Nights of Broken Glass. Thank you, Europe, for reminding us why America was discovered just in time (and why Israel was redeemed many generations too late).
You dare judge Israel? In your deportations, your expulsions, your forced conversions, your inquisitions, your pogroms, you have no moral authority over Israel or even within your own borders. You gave all that up from 1492 to 1942.
To those on the Left who sought peace, well, dear peace-lovers, peace brought this on. “Land for Peace” made this happen, as Land for Peace became Land for Jihad. “Painful Concessions” caused this war.  
“Goodwill Gestures” backfired. Want more “peace”? Give up the Golan Heights. Give up the entire West Bank. Give up Jerusalem. Imagine the “peace.” As for those “innocent civilians” in Gaza, they were given a choice and they chose Hamas. They chose this pestilence.
As for those “refugee camps” - why are they “refugee camps” when Israel handed over all that territory for a nation to be built in peace and security alongside Israel? Why are all Palestinians automatically refugees even after they’ve been given a home? The only true refugees are the thousands of Israelis who were driven from Gaza and still live in trailer parks. No tears for them in this world that still dreams of Auschwitz.
On this day, in response to a column I wrote about Theresienstadt, someone responded that I was incorrect; that Theresienstadt was not a prelude to Auschwitz, but rather “a vacation resort.” I wrote back wishing this person a lifetime in such vacation resorts. I wish the same lifetime vacation resorts to all those parading throughout the streets of Europe with banners crying, “Death to Israel.”
God bless the IDF! Go Israel!

Syrian Rebels Advance

From Washington Post, 25 Nov 2012, by Luz Sly:
BEIRUT — Syrian rebels are making significant advances in their battle against government forces, raising new questions about President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to hold on to power and adding urgency to the quest by the international community for a unified and effective political opposition that could take control should his regime collapse.
In the past week, the rebels have seized five important military facilities in the north, the east and near the capital, Damascus, capturing sizable quantities of weaponry, further isolating remaining government positions and freeing opposition fighters to focus on attacking Assad’s forces.
...the gains underscore the steadily growing effectiveness of the rebel force and the accelerating erosion of what had once been one of the region’s most powerful armies, now severely depleted and on the defensive along almost all of the country’s many battle fronts.
The fighting is piecemeal, intense and likely to persist for many more months as regime troops and rebel fighters battle it out town by town and base by base across the vast swaths of the country that are being contested. But no longer is it possible to describe the war in Syria as a stalemate, said Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the pace of rebel gains in recent weeks raises the prospect that a collapse of government forces could come sooner than has been expected.
“The war is turning against the regime, and it’s turning at a faster rate than we had seen before,” White said. “There’s a reasonable chance there will be some kind of breaking point, and the regime will collapse in a hurry...”...
...The advances are boosting confidence among rebel fighters that they will soon be able to topple Assad without the international assistance they have long sought. The Free Syrian Army is capable of retaking major cities but is refraining from doing so because that would invite the kind of devastating artillery fire and airstrikes that have caused heavy civilian casualties in many of the areas they have seized, said Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Miqdad.
In what appears to have been one such act of retaliation, a warplane on Sunday dropped cluster bombs on a playground near the Marj al-Sultan air base overrun the night before, killing 10 children and injuring many more, activists in Damascus asserted. Videos posted online showed the bloodied bodies of several children and fragments of bomblets in a yard....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Is the northern front next?

From DEBKAfile, 25 Nov 2012:

Middle East in high suspense for Gaza operation sequels

While Israel’s Pillar of Cloud was still in full spate over the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, the United States, Russia, Iran, Israel and Turkey were each respectively putting their next moves in place in a broader radius, debkafile reports.
Saturday, Nov. 17, America acted to shore up its naval and Marine forces in the region. Washington gave its approval for NATO to post Patriot anti-missile batteries in Turkey opposite the Syrian border together with advanced AWACs electronic warning aircraft. Both weapons systems are to be manned by US military crews. Next, the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group took up position opposite the Israeli and Syrian shores, adding another section to the menacing ring forming around Syria.
Moscow, Iran and Damascus, for their part, decided that the same coalition that laid a trail of disaster for its allies in the Gaza Strip, Hamas and Jihad Islami, were now about to pounce on Iran’s best friend, Bashar Assad, by moves to enforce protected asylums and no-fly zones in Syria.
In Tehran and Moscow, the Gaza offensive was not perceived as a lone Israeli operation but rather as the ground-breaker for a broader offensive by the US, Turkey and Qatar and the product of their combined intelligence brains rather than of military war planners.
Iran had been systematically building up the Gaza Strip as its “southern front” to fight enemies who attacked its nuclear facilities. The obliteration of a large portion of the military infrastructure Hamas and Jihad Islam had accumulated left this plan in shambles. Moscow and Tehran fully expect Washington to next turn the attention of the intelligence team which engineered the dashing of Iran’s hopes in Gaza to Syria and Hizballah, exploiting Tehran’s momentary weakness.
Moscow reacted by posting the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s naval task force opposition the Gaza, i.e. Israeli coast Friday, Nov. 11, purportedly to rescue distressed Russian citizens “should the Israeli-Palestinian fighting worsen in Gaza.”
Their arrival was announced Nov. 23, two days after a ceasefire went into effect in Gaza.
The Russian task force includes the missile cruiser Moskva, the destroyer Smetlivy, the large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the tugboat MB-304 and the large oil tanker Ivan Bubnov.
debkafile’s military sources say its real mission concerns forthcoming events in Syria rather than a worsening of hostilities in Gaza. Indeed it has been stationed facing the USS Iwo Jima which is in position opposite the Israeli and Syrian coasts.
As for Tehran, Saturday, Nov. 24, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad phoned the Hamas Prime Minister of the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, and Jihad Islami leaders to assure them that Iran will continue to supply them with munitions as before and refill their depleted arsenals within weeks.
This assurance was widely publicized by Tehran as deterrence for the US-Egyptian-Israeli plan to shut down Iran’s arms smuggling routes through Sinai to the Gaza Strip. The promise by US President Barack Obama to send US troops to Sinai for this mission finally persuaded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to suspend Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip last Thursday, Nov. 21 after eight days and accept a ceasefire.
...A fresh war escalation is on the cards in Syria in response to the deployment of US-manned Patriots and AWACs on Turkey’s border with Syria....

US/Egypt collaborate to choke off Iran-Gaza supply line

From DEBKAfile, 23 Nov 2012:’s-pledge-of-US-troops-to-Sinai-next-week-won-Israel’s-nod-for-ceasefire
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire for halting the eight-day Israeli Gaza operation Wednesday night, Nov. 21, after President Barack Obama personally pledged to start deploying US troops in Egyptian Sinai next week, debkafile reports. ...
Obama’s pledge addressed Israel’s most pressing demand in every negotiating forum on Gaza: Operation Pillar of Cloud’s main goal was a total stoppage of the flow of Iranian arms and missiles to the Gaza Strip. They were smuggled in from Sudan and Libya through southern Egypt and Sinai. Hostilities would continue, said the prime minister, until this object was achieved...
...[Israel was] willing to take Morsi at his word [to start launching effective operations against the smugglers before the end of the month], except that...Egypt has nothing near the security and intelligence capabilities necessary for conducting such operations.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Jerusalem from Bangkok Tuesday, she tried assuring Netanyahu that President Obama had decided to accelerate the construction of an elaborate US system of electronic security fences along the Suez Canal and northern Sinai. It would also cork up the Philadelphi route through which arms are smuggled into the Gaza Strip...
US security and civilian units will need to be deployed in Egyptian Sinai to man the fence system and operate it as an active counter-measure for obstructing the smuggling of Iranian weapons supplies.
The prime minister said he welcomed the president’s proposal to expedite the fence project, but it would take months to obtain Egyptian clearance. Meanwhile, the Palestinians would have plenty of time to replenish their weapons stocks after Israel’s Gaza campaign. It was therefore too soon to stop the campaign at this point or hold back a ground incursion.
Clinton was sympathetic to this argument. Soon after, President Obama was on the phone to Netanyahu with an assurance that US troops would be in place in Sinai next week, after he had obtained President Morsi’s consent for them to go into immediate action against Iranian smuggling networks.
Netanyahu responded by agreeing to a ceasefire being announced in Cairo that night by Clinton and the Egyptian foreign minister, and to holding back the thousands of Israeli reservists on standby on the Gaza border.
debkafile’s military sources report that the first air transports carrying US special forces are due to land at Sharm el Sheikh military airfield in southern Sinai in the next 48 hours and go into action against the arms smugglers without delay.
...President Morsi, by opening the Sinai door to an American troop deployment for Israel’s defense, recognizes that the US force also insures Israel against Cairo revoking or failing to honor the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.
...In the face of this US-Israel-Egyptian understanding, Hamas cannot credibly claim to have won its latest passage of arms with Israel or that it obtained guarantees to force Israel to end the Gaza blockade.
Indeed, Gaza’s Hamas rulers will be forced to watch as US troops in Sinai, just across its border, break up the smuggling rings filling their arsenals and most likely laying hands on the reserve stocks they maintain under the smugglers’ guard in northern Sinai, out of reach of the Israel army. This means that the blockade on Gaza has been extended and the focus of combat has switched from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas’ miscalculated - is now under Egypt's thumb

From NOW Lebanon, 22 Nov 2012, by Tony Badran*:
Hamas’ decision to escalate rocket attacks on Israel leading up to the latest conflagration was deliberate. ...What was Hamas’ calculation behind this escalation? In short, the Palestinian Islamist movement set out to impose new rules of engagement, not only on Israel, but, more importantly, on Egypt. Hamas’ war with Israel was, in fact, a failed attempt to reconfigure the power relationship with Cairo.
The advent of dramatic political changes in Egypt and Tunisia led many to believe that Hamas’ role in the new regional order would also be transformed. As the thinking went, Hamas would be integrated into the Sunni regional fold. In particular, the Islamist movement’s falling out with Syria’s Assad regime last year was seen as the turning point in Hamas’ strategic realignment away from the Iran-led axis toward the camp of Sunni states. The path ahead, it was assumed, would be a political rehabilitation of Hamas by the Sunni powers.
Hamas’ break with the Assad regime was the result of a cost-benefit analysis. The group understood that although the move would anger its Iranian patron, this was still manageable. Furthermore, what was forfeited in Damascus, Hamas figured, would be more than compensated for in relationships with Ankara, Cairo and Doha, whom it wagered would seek patronage over its Gaza fiefdom. The Qatari emir, for instance, recently went on a high-profile visit to Gaza to announce $400 million for construction projects there.
Qatari largesse is fine and well. But the central problem for Hamas is that Gaza’s gateway to the world is Egypt. This is so not only in geographic terms, but also politically and diplomatically, and, most importantly, militarily, as Gaza’s logistical route for Iranian arms supplies runs from Sudan through Egypt. Hamas welcomes cash, but its primary concern is to increase its military capabilities.
Here, Hamas saw the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the ascent to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, as its opportunity to lift the stifling constraints that existed under the Mubarak regime.
Hamas believed the new Egyptian president, whom it saw as an ideological comrade, would pursue a policy in line with Muslim Brotherhood principles and facilitate the group’s procurement of long-range rockets from Iran. From Hamas’ perspective, the dawn of unlimited populist support for the “resistance” by Muslim Brotherhood governments was here, and Hamas was to be the vanguard of this new regional order.
However, none of that materialized. In fact, the new Egyptian government was even stricter than its predecessor in enforcing control over the smuggling tunnels in the Sinai. In September, there were even demonstrations in Gaza, led by Hamas, protesting Egypt’s border policy.
The rulers of Gaza needed to up-end this status quo and set new terms for the relationship with Cairo. Hamas wanted Egypt to be the strategic depth of the resistance—exactly like Syria was to Hezbollah during the 2006 war.
To achieve this, Hamas moved to rewrite the rules and impose them not only on Israel, but also on Egypt. The steady escalation of rocket attacks on southern Israel was the new normal that Hamas sought to establish.
This is why, despite the divergence over the Assad regime, Hamas maintained its military relationship with Iran, which had intensified since 2008—in close cooperation with Sudan. Whereas some saw the group’s opening to the Sunni states as signifying a cooling of relations with Iran—jumping from one strategic camp to another—Hamas’ calculation was different. What was mistaken for a strategic migration was in fact a classic balancing act.
Hamas understood that the Iranians still needed it because of its control over Gaza. As such, Tehran could swallow Hamas’ walking away from the Assad regime as long as their military relationship continued unabated. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah attested to this basic understanding in a recent speech. He emphasized that, “despite differences here and there,” the military alliance between Iran and Gaza remained solid.
Hamas’ ambitious bid failed, however, as it misread both the Israelis and the Egyptians. It regarded Egypt’s warnings last month against Israeli military action in Gaza as a de facto political cover. It believed that Israel would not risk endangering the peace treaty with Cairo by launching a large-scale operation. At the end of the day, Hamas thought, it would have created a new reality on the ground and reestablished itself as the spearhead of resistance against Israel. Moreover, Hamas figured it could drive a wedge between the US and Israel, believing that the Obama administration would restrain the Israelis—particularly if it feared a possible collapse of the peace treaty with Egypt.
In other words, Hamas overreached. The result is looking rather ugly for the Palestinian group. It thought it could gain greater leverage over the Egyptians, and beyond them the international system. What’s more, it calculated that when the dust settled it would have enhanced its position and secured tangible gains.
Yet at the end of the day, Hamas ended up with the status quo ante, with net losses. Its prominent military commander and liaison with Iran has been killed. Its stockpile of Iranian long-range rockets has been severely degraded, with the US and its allies, including Egypt, all watching closely to intercept future transfers. In addition, not only were the rules of engagement with Israel not altered, but also Hamas’ value to Iran as a deterrent against an Israeli strike on its nuclear sites has been diminished.
Most importantly, instead of pulling Egypt to its side, Hamas merely angered the new Egyptian president. Its mistake was in thinking that, since President Morsi was a Muslim Brother, it could shoehorn him into a course of action of its design. In so doing, it overstepped its bounds in the power hierarchy: Gaza does not set the terms for Egypt. Ultimately, Morsi is, and acted like, the president of the state of Egypt, not the leader of an ideological movement.
With that critical mistake, Hamas’ gambit resulted in the realization of its worst nightmare: Instead of leveraging Iranian aid to create a margin for maneuver, it now finds itself further under Egypt’s thumb.
*Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

“A-Dawla ma’ana” – the government is with us.

From JPost, 22 Nov 2012, by Sarah Honig:
Our successive confrontations with Gaza are an explicit acknowledgement that disengagement has failed, that we are not disengaged.
ARABS CONVERGE in April 1920 on Nebi Moussa
Photo: Jerusalem Post archives
When the blood-curdling battle cry exhorting the masses to slaughter the Jews, “Itbach al-Yahud,” was first shouted on April 4, 1920, by Arab marauders rampaging through the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, it was accompanied by another mantra: “A-Dawla ma’ana” – the government is with us.
That was the first brazen reverberation of the trust that Jews can be attacked with impunity, that no deterrence exists. It was since oft-chanted during the perpetration of other atrocities during the British Mandate era masterminded by Haj Amin el- Husseini, most notably the hideous Hebron massacre of 1929.
In a broad sense, that same premise endures and it has spurred Hamas and its assorted Gazan cohorts – all Husseini’s avid torchbearers – to escalate their rocket fire, ambushes and other assorted provocations.
Their confidence was buoyed by a confluence of conditions. Foremost was the seeming Israeli toleration for the random rocketing of an ever-expanding sphere of population centers. Our prolonged inaction had lent the impression of powerlessness and, in our region apparent weakness only invites intensifying aggression.
But there was much more than the Arab misinterpretation of our Western-minded moderation and inclination to delude ourselves that if we overlook sporadic barrages from Gaza, its homicidal ardor will somehow dissipate.
Added to the Gazan perception that Israel has lost its mojo, is the rise of Muslim Brotherhood hegemony in Egypt. For Hamas this means that the biggest Arab state has its back. Hamas is itself a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, boasting the identical ideological DNA as the new Cairo regime.
There is no underestimating the boost afforded Hamas by the conviction that it has whom to rely on, that it can always expect reinforcement via its border with Egypt and that Israel will fear upsetting its rickety peace with the transformed Egypt.
That means a freer hand for Gaza to indulge in mischief.
The upheaval in Cairo, moreover, didn’t spring spontaneously in a vacuum. Not only did US President Barack Obama not maintain so much as an aloof detachment, but he to a great measure enabled the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, no bedfellow of Hamas.
Obama’s reelection is grasped throughout the Arab world as Israel’s misfortune. Freed from the fear of the voter, last-term president Obama will be tougher on Israel, Hamas believes, and concurrently the softest- ever in his attitude to Islamist radicals.
Such readings of the situation crucially raised Gaza’s chutzpah quotient.
The upshot is a latter-day version of ADawla ma’ana. Gaza felt that no restrictive authority stood in its way. The proverbial Dawla – the powers which didn’t hamper Hamas – included the newly fraternal Egypt, the presumably pliant Washington and, up until recently, a hesitant Israel.
Israeli timidity is the most vital element of the above three. Indeed it constituted the fundamental instigation to Hamas’s ascendancy and audacity. Hamas wouldn’t be where it is – in position to threaten central Israel, benefit from Egyptian patronage and expect American lenience – were it not for Israel’s seminal Oslo folly and its derivative disengagement dementia.
Every single warning desperately voiced back in the day against naïve territorial surrenders has been far more than fully vindicated.
Reality has mercilessly exceeded even the direst of predictions. As it turned out, our greatest pessimists failed to anticipate the full horror of the consequences of Israeli concessions. It all went far more dreadfully wrong than anyone could remotely envisage.
Oslo’s first sucker was prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was railroaded by his then-foreign minister Shimon Peres into accepting a deal concocted illicitly behind the scenes. Thoroughly hoodwinked, Rabin delivered a glowing sales pitch on the White House lawn: “In the alleys of Khan Yunis and the streets of Ramat Gan, in Gaza, Hadera, Rafah and Afula, a new reality is born. The hundred-year-old Palestinian- Israeli conflict is ending.”
How Peres’s dupes roared with derision when warned that their subterfuge will result in Katyushas raining down on Ashkelon. Political critics were pronounced unadulterated anathema and denigrated as “Hamas collaborators.”
“Where are those Katyushas?” Rabin sardonically teased.
He surpassed even his own considerable capacity for contempt when marking Oslo’s first anniversary in 1994. Here is a verbatim translation of what he had to say on that occasion: “The Likud’s nightmare tales are familiar. Did they not even promise us Katyushas from Gaza? For already a year the Gaza Strip is under the control of the Palestinian Authority and there wasn’t a single Katyusha and there will not be one single Katyusha. All that talk is just empty talk. The Likud has a deathly fear of peace. They are the cowards of peace!”
As more and more political fortunes were sunk into the Osloite pit and as more and more intoxicating fumes were inhaled by more and more gullible and/or opportunistic junkies, so it became harder to kick the addiction. How unremitting were their efforts to hook others. No ploy was too objectionable.
For the sake of restraint, we won’t even dwell on the fact that forecasts that Ashkelon would come under fire were painted in 1993 as unbelievably insane and outrightly malicious scare-mongering. Yesteryear’s worst worrywarts didn’t dare conjure up scenarios of Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Holon, Bat Yam and other Dan region safe-havens being in Gaza’s rocket range. We have already long accepted that Ashdod, Yavne and Beersheba are.
It shouldn’t take an Einstein to work out that something in the grand Oslo design didn’t quite go to plan – not that this would be remotely admitted by Peres, his agenda-pushing sidekicks and the whole weird gamut of farsighted creative omniscients who gravitate to the left wing of our political arena.
But it didn’t end there. The nature of downward slides is that things go from bad to worse and then to lots worse.
On October 25, 2004, as he urged the Knesset to approve his reckless withdrawal from Gaza, prime minister Ariel Sharon assured the nation that “this disengagement will strengthen Israel’s hold on the territory essential to our existence and will win the blessing and gratitude of those near and far, will lessen enmity, will break besiegement and boycotts and will further us on the path of peace with the Palestinians and with all our other neighbors.”
In the same vein, Sharon’s deputy Ehud Olmert also energetically peddled the same dodgy merchandise: “Disengagement will bring better defense, greater security, significantly more prosperity and much joy to all who live in the Mideast.... Together we will move forward in the direction of forging new relationships, improved mutual understanding and enhanced trust. We will sit with our neighbors, talk to them, help them, cooperate with them, become their partners, so that the Middle East will indeed transform into what it was supposed to be to begin with – the Garden of Eden upon this earth.”
As the shattered shards of these sham inducements tumbled menacingly all around us, not only wasn’t Olmert the least bit contrite, but he vigorously concocted a disengagement sequel for Judea and Samaria, which he dubbed “realignment.”
It was to bring the dubious bounties of Gaza’s disengagement to the elongated eastern flank of our densest population concentrations.
This is what we must be forever wary of.
Flare-ups and ensuing military operations come and go but our collective memories soon fade away, overtaken by the inexorable march of fresh news superimposed on yesterday’s banner headlines. As the current fighting in Gaza recedes into the past, new schemes will be spawned for more giveaways of strategic holdings.
To this day our political arena bristles with know-it-alls who adamantly refuse to connect cause and effect, who deny the direct link between the evacuation of Gush Katif, along with the north Gaza buffer settlements, and the emergence of Hamastan, armed to the teeth with all manner of flying projectiles, capable not only of harassing the Negev but of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
It wasn’t coincidence that propelled an emboldened Hamas to power hot on the heels of our withdrawal and that freed it to fire at will on us from the very Jewish settlements we razed. It was Israel that gave Hamas the capacity of deciding how and when it might arbitrarily disrupt the lives of Israeli civilians. Gaza’s monstrous gunrunning was likewise plainly facilitated by the IDF’s absence.
There’s no getting away from one underlying and incontrovertible fact – any territory Israel relinquishes is soon converted into a full-blown threat.
We had to reenter Lebanon in 2006 subsequent to Ehud Barak’s brilliant unilateral disengagement of 2000. Because we returned so clumsily and because of Tzipi Livni’s diplomatic fiasco, Hezbollah’s menace has magnified threefold.
We had to regain control of the PA’s Samarian cities in 2002 to halt the slaughter on the streets of central Israel. It’s a surefire bet that things will get horribly bloodier if we stupidly surrender more control in Judea and Samaria again.
Four years ago we were forced back into the very Gaza from which we disengaged.
We patently reengaged during Operation Cast Lead four years ago. We are now reengaged yet again in Operation Pillar of Defense, having had to reappear on Gaza’s scene, much as we sacrificed to disengage from it.
Disengagement’s most elementary definition is to free or detach oneself from a given association. It’s a disconnection, a separation.
Yet Gaza tenaciously dogs us and won’t let us disengage.
Our successive confrontations with Gaza are as explicit an acknowledgement as can be that disengagement has failed, that we are not disengaged, that disengagement doesn’t hinge on our wishful thinking, that disengagement is as much a chimera as truce, peace and all gradations in between.
Moreover, any future ill-conceived “disengagement” will necessitate further reengagement.
Our recurrent reluctance to reengage will unquestionably awaken anew the Arab A-Dawla ma’ana arrogance.
The only antidote is not to disengage.

"Land for peace" doesn't work...

From JPost, 22 Nov. 2012, by Caroline Glick:
The cease-fire agreement that Israel accepted Wednesday night to end the current round of Palestinian rocket and missile attacks is not a good deal for Israel ...
At best, Israel and Hamas are placed on the same moral plane. The cease-fire erases the distinction between Israel, a peace-seeking liberal democracy that wants simply to defend its citizens, and Hamas, a genocidal jihadist terrorist outfit that seeks the eradication of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.
Under international law, Israel is not just within its rights to defend itself from Hamas. It is required to. International law requires all states to treat Hamas terrorists as criminals and deny them safe haven and financing. But the cease-fire agreement requires both the Israeli policeman and the Hamas criminal to hold their fire.
At worst, the cease-fire places Israel beneath Hamas. The first two clauses require both sides to end hostilities. The third suggests Israel is expected to make further concessions to Hamas after the firing stops.
Then there is the cease-fire’s elevation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government to the role of responsible adult. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Muhamad Morsi openly supports Hamas. Morsi sent his Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to Gaza to personally express the Egyptian government’s support for Hamas’s criminal assault against Israeli civilians.
Over the weekend, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held what the media claimed was a stormy meeting. Its members were split over what to do about Israel. Half wanted to go to war with Israel immediately. The other half called for waiting until the Egyptian military is prepared for war. In the end, the voices calling for patient preparation for war won the day.
And for their patience, the Muslim Brothers received the plaudits of the US government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss President Barack Obama were effusive in their praise of the Egyptian government, and joined Egypt in placing Israel on the same moral plane as a terrorist group.
Moreover, Obama and Clinton compelled Israel to accept wording in the cease-fire that arguably makes Egypt the arbiter of Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the agreement.
Aside from the administration’s de facto support for the Hamas regime in Gaza, it is hard to think of a greater humiliation than Israel being forced to submit complaints to its sworn enemy about the actions of the sworn enemy’s terrorist client.
... a full-blown ground invasion in the mold of the 2002 Defensive Shield Operation, where Israel seized control of Judea and Samaria from Palestinian terror groups and reasserted its security control over the Palestinian areas, so ending the Palestinian terror onslaught against Jerusalem and central Israel, was not in the cards.
Israel is in a strategic trap. And it is one of its own making. Starting with the Rabin-Peres government’s decision to embrace the PLO terrorist organization as a peace partner in 1993, Israel has been in strategic retreat. Each incremental retreat by Israel has empowered its worst enemies both militarily and diplomatically and weakened the Jewish state militarily and diplomatically.
In May 2000, following years of political agitation by the radical Left, then-premier Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to retreat from Israel’s security zone in south Lebanon. Hezbollah immediately seized control over the border area. Within months it kidnapped and killed three IDF soldiers and held them for ransom – hiding the fact that they had been murdered. The same Barak-led government that withdrew the IDF from south Lebanon was loath to acknowledge the failure of its policy and so did nothing when the three soldiers were kidnapped.
Within six years, Hezbollah was strong enough to launch an all-out missile war against Israel.
Facing them was the government that had just carried out the withdrawal from Gaza. The governing strategy of Ariel Sharon’s heirs, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, was based on surrendering land and demonizing as warmongers those who opposed surrendering land. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in July 2006, Olmert and Livni were in no position to order a serious ground invasion of Lebanon. And since that was the only way to win the war, Israel lost the war, paving the way for Hezbollah’s subsequent takeover of the Lebanese government.
As for that withdrawal from Gaza, just like the phony peace process with the PLO and the strategically demented withdrawal from south Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza was a self-evidently insane policy. It was obvious that it would lead to the strengthening of Palestinian terrorist groups and so put Israel’s population centers in striking range of their missiles.
After both the Oslo process and the withdrawal from Lebanon left Israel strategically and diplomatically weakened, with its politicians, generals and its very existence brought before international tribunals and targeted by diplomatic pogroms, there was no basis for the empty claim that by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel would gain international legitimacy to defend itself.
By leaving Gaza, Israel was saying – as it had in Lebanon – that it had no right to be there. And if it had no right to be there, it had no right to return.
...some 45 percent of Israel’s Jewish population actively participated in anti-withdrawal protests. In the US, virtually no one supported them. The absence of opposition owed to the fact that in America withdrawal opponents were boycotted, demonized and blacklisted by the American Jewish community and the previously supportive conservative media.
During the years of the fake peace process, conservative US Jewish groups and conservative publications led by Commentary, The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal forcefully opposed it. But when Sharon joined the radical Left by adopting its plan to withdraw from Gaza, these formidable outlets and institutions enthusiastically followed him.
Leading voices like former Jerusalem Post editor and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, Commentary editors Norman Podhoretz and Neil Kozodoy, commentator Charles Krauthammer and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol not only lined up to support the dangerous planned withdrawal. They barred all voices of opposition from the pages of their publications.
To greater and lesser degrees, their shunning of voices that warned against the Gaza withdrawal continues to this day.
So, too, with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America, every major American Jewish organization supported the withdrawal.
Like the editors of Commentary, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal, they barred voices of opposition from speaking to their groups.
All commentators who warned of the strategic calamity that would befall Israel in the aftermath of a withdrawal from Gaza were marginalized and demonized as extremists.
In a notable gesture, this week, Stephens along with Commentary’s Max Boot, acknowledged their error in supporting the withdrawal from Gaza. Their recantations are noteworthy because most of their colleagues who joined them in pushing Israel down the garden path and cheered Sharon’s “democracy” as 8,500 Israelis were thrown out of their homes and off their land in order to free it up for a terrorist takeover, continue to deny that they were wrong to do so.
But Stephens’s and Boot’s belated intellectual integrity on Gaza is not enough to make a difference for Israel today.
Israel has only two options for dealing with the ever-escalating threat from Gaza. It can try to coexist with Hamas. This option is doomed to failure since Hamas seeks the annihilation of the Jewish people and the eradication of Israel. Recognizing this state of affairs, in a public opinion survey taken on Wednesday for Channel 2, 88% of Israelis said that a cease-fire with Hamas will either not hold at all or hold for only a short time.
74% of Israelis opposed accepting a cease-fire.
The other choice is to destroy Hamas. To accomplish this Israel will need to invade Gaza and remain in place. It will have to kill or imprison thousands of terrorists, send thousands more packing for Sinai, and then spend years patrolling the streets of Gaza and arresting terrorists just as it does today in Judea and Samaria.
Whereas the first option is impossible, the latter option is not currently viable. It isn’t viable because not enough people making the argument have the opportunity to publish their thoughts in leading publications. Most of those who might have the courage to voice this view fear that if they do, they will be denied an audience, or discredited as warmongers or extremists.
So they remain silent or impotently say that Israel shouldn’t agree to a cease-fire without mentioning what Israel’s other option is.
The millions of Israelis who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza ... did it because they were patriots. They felt it was their duty to warn their countrymen of the danger, hoping to avert the disaster we now face. They should be listened to now. And their voices should be empowered by those who shunned them, because only by listening to them will we develop the arguments and the legitimacy to do what needs to be done and stop fighting to lose, again and again and again.

'Son of Hamas' Says Israel Made a Mistake with Ceasefire

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of the Hamas terrorist organization and author of the book "Son of Hamas," said on Friday that Israel made a mistake by agreeing to a ceasefire with Gaza"s terrorist rulers.
Yousef has spent a number of years abroad following a decade in which he risked his life working undercover as an agent for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). His code name during that time was 'The Green Prince.'
"What is important is that at the moment there is a ceasefire, and I think we need to look at things and digest all of what happened," Yousef told Israel"s Channel 2 News in a special interview.
"I believe the Shin Bet did its best," he added. "Let's not forget that our enemy is a barbaric one which uses women and children as human shields, and in these situations we are very limited, because we care about the lives of innocent citizens."
Asked about the possibility of an Israeli ground operation in Gaza, Yousef responded that "it may be that it was not the best timing for action of this kind - but I'm sure it's a possibility that Israel will consider for the future."
"Israel should not reoccupy Gaza, but I believe that it has the ability to guard the borders through which Hamas transfers weapons,"
said Yousef, adding that he believes there may be another round of violence between the two sides. "Today we know that they have greater capabilities than ever before. I'm sure it will allow us to prepare for the future," he said.
Speaking about the possibility that Israel would have to work towards toppling the Hamas regime in Gaza, the former Shin Bet agent said, "This is necessary, but we have to work very hard for it. This is necessary not only for Israel - but for the benefit of humanity. Hamas was born to destroy. It cannot build."
"I have trouble believing that Hamas will be able to one day build a modern state,"
said Yousef. "I hope their lies will be exposed to the Palestinian public."
He praised the State of Israel, saying that "Israel helps the Palestinian people more than anyone else: every day it provides electricity and even the salaries paid to employees come from banks in Israel. There is also humanitarian aid that enters Gaza."
Finally, he turned to his father, Hassan Yousef, and other Hamas leaders and said, "I want to say to the members of the organization, including my father, who are listening to this interview - brave people do not hide behind children and fire missiles. If they had even a bit of courage - they would be able to leave Gaza instead of hiding like rats."