Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spreading European Anti-Semitism

From the Jewish Daily Forward, 25 November, 2013, by Liam Hoare:

85% of French Jews See Hatred as Major Problem

getty images
Conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, known as the FRA, “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in E.U. Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism” surveyed 5,847 individuals 16 years old and over who considered themselves Jewish, residing in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

.... Across Europe, 66% of Jewish people see anti-Semitism as a problem in their respective countries today — as high as 90% in Hungary and 85% in France. The perception, moreover, is that over the past five years, the level of anti-Semitism has increased, with 76% of respondents saying it had gone up...

..Thirty-eight percent of Jews now avoid, all the time or frequently, wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews in public; 60% of Swedish Jews and 51% of French Jews act this way. Forty-eight percent of Jews in Hungary and 46% in France have considered emigrating because they do not feel safe living in those countries as Jews, with 90% of French Jews stating that the Arab-Israeli conflict affects their feelings of safety.

Immediately discernible from the statistics, though, is that the number of people who fear becoming a victim of anti-Semitism is greater than those who have experienced it as verbal insults, harassment or a physical attack. While 21% have been the actual victim of an anti-Semitic incident in the past 12 months, 46% worry about the possibility of such an assault.

There is also tremendous regional variation between fear and experience. In France, for example, an astonishing 70% fear becoming the victim of a hate crime. In the United Kingdom, however, the fear is not as heightened, with 28% of respondents worrying about becoming a victim of verbal assault, and 17% the victim of a physical assault — still high numbers, to be sure.

The reason for this disparity between perception and experience, however, is not groundless panic or hysteria; it comes because of new manifestations of anti-Semitism, principally dissemination via the Internet and new media.

When asked where anti-Semitism against Jewish communities occurs, 75% of European Jews pointed toward anti-Semitism on the Internet above all else, followed by 59% for anti-Semitism in the media. Internet anti-Semitism today is considered a greater problem than the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the vandalism of Jewish buildings or institutions, and expressions of hostility toward Jews on the street and in other public places.

The perception is that the level of anti-Semitism on the Internet over the past five years has increased, as discussion forums and social networking sites are now the main places where European Jews are most likely to have seen or heard anti-Semitic comments. While 75% reported seeing or hearing anti-Semitic comments on the Internet in the past 12 months, 51% saw or heard them in a social situation, 47% among the general public and 42% at a political event.

And what exactly are they hearing? 

  • 48% of respondents have seen or heard someone make the statement that Israelis behave “like Nazis” toward the Palestinians; 
  • 38% that Jews have too much power in the economy, politics and the media; 
  • 37% that Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes, 
  • and on and on. 
Small wonder, then, that European Jews fear that they, their friends or their families might become victims of an anti-Semitic attack, if all this is a regular part of European discourse...

Monday, November 25, 2013

A safer world? ...Hardly.

From JPost, 24 Nov 2013, by Herb Keinon:

There is deep concern that the Geneva agreement will bolster Iran in the region...

Iran nuclear talks  in Geneva November 24, 2013.
Self congratulations and mutual admiration at the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva November 24, 2013. 
Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Judging from their reactions to the deal that world powers signed with Iran in Geneva early Sunday morning, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama live in different worlds.

Diplomacy, Obama declared in a message to the nation announcing the accord, “opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure.”

Netanyahu begged to differ, telling the cabinet Sunday that “today the world has become a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.”

Same world, yet diametrically opposed risk assessments by two very close allies.

Beyond the nuclear element, one of Jerusalem’s main concerns is that Iran... is suddenly cleansed, receiving a stamp of approval as a legitimate member of the international community in good standing. Iran ... has ... undergone a revolutionary rebranding...from pariah state to “constructive” actor.

Or, as Obama enthused, if Iran “seizes this opportunity” to prove to the world that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes, then “the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.”

Really? How about Iran’s part in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s massacre of tens of thousands of people? How about its continued development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that were not even mentioned in the Geneva agreement? How about its role in exporting terrorism around the globe? How about its stoning of women accused of adultery, hanging of homosexuals and gruesome rate of executions? How about the anti- Semitic ranting of its leaders? Does all of the above really render the world a safer place, as Obama said? This agreement shows that Iran can indeed do all of the above, yet still get to be a member of the international community.

Israel’s concern about a nuclear Iran has never only – or even primarily – been that the Iranians will use a nuclear bomb on Israel, but rather that even having the weapon or the weapons capability will magnify its power in the region and embolden it and its proxies.

There is a deep concern that the Geneva agreement will indeed bolster Iran in the region.

Iran is already a nuclear threshold state, as is any state that can enrich uranium to 5%, has 18,000 centrifuges (nuclear-armed Pakistan has only 6,000) at its disposal and can “break out” with a bomb in five weeks.
But if before Saturday night Iran was a nuclear threshold state with leper status in the world, now it is a nuclear threshold state with international legitimacy.

UN Security Council resolutions on Iran called for it explicitly to suspend its enrichment; this agreement says go ahead and enrich, just not beyond 5%.

The agreement gives Iran considerable regional leverage.

Will the US or other Western countries push Iran on the Syrian issue, knowing that if they push too hard, Iran may walk away from the nuclear agreement? After investing so much time and energy into forging an agreement, none of those involved will want to do anything that could lead to its falling apart.

Two weeks ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry, following an inconclusive round of talks in Geneva, was asked in a BBC interview whether Hezbollah or the conflict in Syria came up in his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “I think we spent 30 seconds on Syria,” Kerry said tellingly.

And the regional ramifications do not only touch on Syria (notice that Damascus praised the agreement to the moon), but will also have ramifications on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

Firstly Iran – suddenly let off the ropes – will once again be free to do what it can to torpedo any possible Israeli-Palestinian accommodation, as any pressure on Iran to demonstrate “good behavior” in order not to scuttle a potential deal with the West is now off. Expect, therefore, a sudden upsurge again in Iranian support for Hamas, a group looking for a new patron following their split with Damascus and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.

The agreement will also have ramifications on the Israel-Palestinian front for a couple of other reasons. First of all, Israel will feel no compulsion now to repay a tough US or international stance on Iran with concessions to the Palestinians, since from Netanyahu’s point of view there was no strong stance on Iran.

The linkage discussed so often in the past, “Bushehr for Yitzhar” – the US stops a nuclear Iran symbolized by the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, and in return Israel gives up settlements symbolized by Yitzhar – has lost currency, for from Israel’s perspective the world is letting Iran keep Bushehr.

Also, any agreement with the Palestinians will necessitate Israel taking calculated risks. But Israel now will be much more risk averse, with Iran suddenly emboldened and enjoying new-found international legitimacy.
In addition, any possible future agreement with the Palestinians would undoubtedly necessitate ironclad security guarantees from the US. Considering the way Washington handled the Iranian file since Rouhani’s election in June, does anyone really think Netanyahu is going to place Israel’s security in the hands of US guarantees?

A safer world? Maybe seen from Washington, a long way from Iran and the Middle East.

But from Jerusalem, close to Iran, and in the eye of the storm? Hardly.

The Agreement with Iran is only a starting point

From Times of Israel, 24 Nov 2013, by Avi Issacharoff:

The interim agreement announced in Geneva early Sunday morning between Iran and the world powers does not resolve the issue of Iran’s rogue nuclear power program

It is only the starting point on the way to a decisive junction that the sides will reach in another six months. 

Only then will it become clear how good or bad the interim agreement is for the State of Israel, the United States, Iran and its Arab neighbors. Only then will it be possible to gauge its success (or lack thereof) in reducing Tehran’s ability to attain a nuclear bomb.

Still, even at this early stage, it is possible to declare some interim winners and losers.

Tehran and its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (represented by the charming President Hassan Rouhani) are big winners, at least for the next six months. Under the deal, the international community has essentially recognized the right of Iran to enrich uranium, which has long been demanded by the regime. Moreover, the world has basically agreed that for the next half a year, Iran can continue as a nuclear threshold state — though not a nuclear state, a critical difference.

Iran will retain its stores of low-enriched uranium, quantities which today could be further enriched to produce between six and eight nuclear bombs. The financial situation in Iran is likely to improve, given the immediate release of $8 billion in assets and, in the near future, increased state revenue from the easing of sanctions. The likelihood of an “Iranian Spring,” a la July 2009, has been decreased and the public support for Khamenei and his messenger Rouhani will only increase. The Iranian president’s speech on Sunday morning and Khamenei’s statements illustrate how enthusiastically they view the achievement.

A second big winner is US President Barack Obama. Although bitterly critical voices were heard against the agreement in Israel, in the Arab countries close to the United States and even in Congress (including Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader), the White House stayed the course. The American public, entering the holiday season, is likely to welcome the deal — a “historic” alternative to what could have become a new outbreak of American warfare in the Middle East. Obama will tout the Geneva agreement as his latest foreign policy achievement, following the summer deal for the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities. And the deal does, indeed, provide for the rolling back, to some extent, of Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb: uranium enrichment above 5% will stop, and Western supervision at the Fordo and Natanz facilities will be increased with inspectors allowed in at any time.

Nonetheless, Iran’s ongoing “right” to even low-level enrichment raises serious and justified concerns in Jerusalem, Riyadh, Amman, Bahrain, and beyond. The conviction here is that Tehran has managed to fool Obama, and will use the next six months to move closer still to nuclear weapons capability. It is not clear what has been decided regarding surprise inspections at other facilities, such as Parchin. And Iran has a track record of building secret facilities which inspectors know nothing about.

The concern, anger and dismay among moderate Sunni states and in Jerusalem has only increased in light of what is perceived as an exercise in deception by Washington. According to a Sunday Associated Press report, the American government managed to keep secret for months a series of meetings it held with Iranian emissaries, which began even before Rouhani was elected five months ago.

Obama and Iran should not be contemptuous of the “losers.” Today there is an unprecedented crisis of faith between the moderate Arab states and Washington. What was perhaps regarded as a beginner’s mistake concerning the US attitude toward former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and continued in a surreal fashion with Washington’s incoherent stance on the current Cairo strongman, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, had already developed, following the deal on Syria, into a terrible sense of betrayal among Arab countries.

Relations can only further deteriorate now. This twisted atmosphere could lead some in the moderate Arab world, mistrustful of US readiness to stand up for its allies, to move closer to Moscow, and perhaps even to enter into secretive agreements with Israel, headed by the current “biggest loser,” Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister of Israel has emerged battered and bruised from his struggle with the White House. His efforts, overt and covert, to dissuade Obama from signing the agreement have failed. Some US newspapers have opined that he tried to pull the United States into a war. At home, along with a fair amount of support, he has also drawn some criticism for his belligerent statements on the issue.

It is hard to know how Netanyahu and the Arab states will act with their backs to the wall. Obviously they’ll try to use every ounce of leverage to secure a permanent accord that would neutralize Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons in the long term. This will mean pressure on Obama, via the US Congress, to stand by his commitment to thwart the Iranian bomb. There is no shortage of members of Congress, Democrats among them, prepared to go head-to-head with Obama on this issue. That pressure is only expected to increase as the six months mark nears.

Finally, Iran has a history of attempting to hide elements of its nuclear program. If it becomes clear in the coming weeks that Iran is doing so again, and taking further significant steps toward the bomb, then Israel’s moment of truth will come in much less than six months.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Senior General: US in Greatest Danger Since 1930s

From A7, 22 Nov 2013, by Ari Yashar& Orli Harari:

Senior analyst Gen. McInerney warns that US is in comparable danger to pre-WWII period, specifically from Russian and Iranian hegemonies.

Senior military analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney spoke to Arutz Sheva on Tuesday, warning that rising Russian and Iranian influence, coupled with America's waning Middle East presence, has put the US in the most dangerous situation it has been in since the 1930s just prior to World War II....
The General urged the world to wake up to the Iranian nuclear threat which he fears may be allowed a free hand following deals in the ongoing Geneva conference.
Aside from the Iranian danger, McInerney noted that spreading Russian influence poses a serious threat.
In particular McInerney highlighted the danger of US President Barack Obama's handling of longtime US ally Egypt, which has recently turned to Russia. Just on Wednesday reports revealed that Egypt signed a $4 billion arms deal with Russia designed to let Egypt attain parity with the IDF.

McInerney's warning call, followed by the transcribed statement, appears below:

When you support America you support Israel. That's fundamental to our society.

We are facing the most dangerous threat that the United States has seen since the 1938-39 timeframe, and we do not realize it, the public does not realize it.

We have an administration that has an entirely different view about the world.

We're giving a key ally away to the Russians--Egypt. And Egypt is crucial to our success in the Middle East because of its relationship to the (Israeli) peace treaty, number two--the Suez canal, our access, number three--overflight.

And four, for the first time an Arab nation is openly attacking the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Islamists. And we should be supporting General (Abdel) Al-Sisi, we are not. He's extremely important.
You've seen what's happened in Syria. We have now legitimized (President Bashar) Assad, we've legitimized the Soviet hegemony in the region, as well as the Iranian hegemony.

So we have a very dangerous situation in the world, and fundamentally in two days I believe this administration will acquiesce and pull off the sanctions against the Iranians.

We should double the sanctions, that's the only thing that's working. So that's why I believe it is the most dangerous position the United States has seen since the 30s.

Finally, we are unilaterally disarming the US military, it is very dangerous what's going on. And all of this is coming together at a very critical time in our history.

Once again intransigent Israel refuses to cooperate in its own destruction.

Iran clarifies its hate-filled aims

From the DAILY ALERT Friday, November 22, 2013:

Khamenei: "We Fight Against the Arrogance. The U.S. Is on the Top of the Arrogance in the World"
BBC translation of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's speech to Basij commanders on Nov. 20 [2013]:
"We are against the arrogance. We fight against the arrogance. Arrogance is a word in the Koran. It is used in the Koran for people like Pharaoh, malevolent groups which are hostile to truth and righteousness....
The government of the United States of America is on the top of the arrogance in the world." [The audience repeatedly chants: "Death to America."]
"The Zionist regime is doomed to oblivion. ....Unfortunately, some European countries cringe before this creature which is not worthy of the name of a human being, before these leaders of the Zionist regime, who look like beasts and who cannot be called human."  (BBC)

See also Decoding Khamenei's "Heroic Flexibility" - Michael Rubin
Much of the optimism that Iran is sincere in its desire to reach a nuclear accord is based on the assumption that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei backs President Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic initiative. But the notion that Khamenei's call for "heroic flexibility" equates with endorsement of a diplomatic solution misreads Khamenei.
    Khamenei clarified the meaning of "heroic flexibility," telling Basij commanders on Nov. 20: 
"Some interpreted 'heroic flexibility' as letting go of the system's principles and ideals....These claims are contrary to reality and are an incorrect understanding."
"Heroic flexibility means an artful maneuver and utilizing various methods to achieve the various goals and ideals of the Islamic system."  (Commentary)
    Netanyahu: The Real Iran Is Chanting "Death to America, Death to Israel"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian Jewish community leaders in Moscow on Thursday: 
    The Iranians deny our past and repeat their commitment to wipe the State of Israel off the map. This reminds us of the dark regimes of the past that plotted against us first and then against all of humanity.
    They have now created a propaganda film in which a piano is being played and the Foreign Minister is seen talking about the need for peace. This is not the real Iran. The real Iran is what the leader of Iran, Khamenei, said yesterday. He called Jews "rabid dogs" and said that they were not human. The public responded to him with calls of "Death to America! Death to Israel!"
    Doesn't this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran! We are not confused. They must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons. (Prime Minister's Office)

    Ya'alon: A Stronger Iran Means a Stronger Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in Ottawa on Thursday that 
    the Iranian regime "is involved in every conflict in the Middle East and has also set up terror bases in Africa, Asia and South America. They want to defeat Western culture, and are prepared to sacrifice to achieve this."
        "The Iranians want, under the cover of the nuclear umbrella that they will have, to advance their terror activities, such as using a 'dirty bomb' at various targets in the Western world. Therefore, we must not tolerate the possibility of a nuclear Iran. One way or another, Iran's military nuclear project must be stopped."
        "We stand before the signing of a bad deal with Iran, which will allow the regime in Tehran to preserve its [uranium] enrichment capabilities and operate without pressure," he warned. "If Iran gets stronger, Hizbullah and the Islamic Jihad will get stronger. These are forces that will challenge both the West and us."  (Jerusalem Post)