Saturday, December 21, 2013

Obama’s Munich Reverberates but Israel is no Czechoslovakia

From Isi Leibler, 11 December 2013:

Obama’s Munich Reverberates but Israel is no Czechoslovakia

Now that we have absorbed the shock of Obama’s capitulation to the Iranians, it is time to face hard realities and plan for the future.
It is sobering to realize that despite the fact that American public support for Israel is at an all-time high, the Obama administration was deceitful, lied, and effectively betrayed Israel. 
It behaved likewise to its long-standing Arab allies and dashed the aspirations of those Iranians seeking release from the brutal dictatorship of the fanatical Ayatollah regime. ...Obama’s legacy will be that of an American president who appeased the most barbaric Islamic fundamentalist regime in the world.
Make no mistake. The genocidal Islamic fundamentalists ruling Iran are contemporary Nazis reinforced with messianic beliefs. Like the Nazis, they aim to impose their demonic ideology on the entire world and proudly proclaim their goal to defeat the “Great Satan” (America) and wipe the “rabid dog of the region” (Israel), off the map.
Analogies to the 1938 Munich agreement when the major powers appeased Hitler are painfully apt. But as Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens has correctly noted, Chamberlain appeased Hitler when the UK was weak and unprepared. Obama capitulated to the Iranians from a position of strength when sanctions were threatening to undermine their regime.
Obama also failed to absorb the lesson of trusting the duplicitous North Koreans and ironically even delegated the initial twelve months of clandestine advance negotiations with Iran to Wendy Sherman, the same State Department official who had negotiated the North Korean fiasco.
Obama’s approach was certainly not impulsive. It reflected the Third World philosophy he articulated immediately following his re-election. His stated goals then were to diminish US involvement around the globe, end the war against Islamic fundamentalism, and to “engage” with rogue states – specifically Iran. He has since implemented this strategy with actions which included initially humiliating Israel, failing to stand by long-term Arab allies, and supporting the Moslem Brotherhood conquest of Egypt.
In the Geneva forum both parties achieved their goals. Obama and his partners, willing to concede on virtually everything in their desperation to obtain an “agreement”, succeeded in doing so. 
  • The Iranians gained legitimization as a threshold nuclear state without conceding anything of substance and received a windfall of billions of dollars. As Iranian president Hasan Rouhani triumphantly proclaimed, “The right of Iran to enrich uranium was accepted by the world powers…the architecture of sanctions will begin to break down”. 
  • The repeated Obama threat about employing military action as a last resort has lost all credibility and the Iranians feel complacent that Israel is unable to act whilst they “negotiate” with the US.

Israel is now being accused of warmongering despite the fact that it has the most to lose in a conflict and had hoped that the Iranians could be pressured by sanctions to back down without resort to military action. The reality is that Obama’s appeasement of this draconian regime will only embolden the radical fanatics one of whose stated objectives is to impose global sharia law, almost guaranteeing a future war.
Israel was fortunate to have Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the helm during this crisis despite the circumstantial limitations. His effective global campaign undoubtedly triggered the imposition of global sanctions and prevented the Iranians from quietly achieving their objectives.
Obama’s visit to Israel in March and his repeated undertakings that Israel could rely on him to prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear bomb encouraged Netanyahu to make major concessions to the Americans, including the highly unpopular wretched release of mass murderers in order to “induce” the Palestinians to engage in peace talks.
Obama’s betrayal obviously shocked Netanyahu. In response, he outlined Israel’s position and exposed the dangers of the agreement, knowing that this would anger the Americans and their allies who were in a state of euphoria with their one-sided agreement and embarrassed by exposure of their impotence.
To counter the challenges, even from within his own congressional party, Obama invited Israel to become engaged in an advisory capacity in relation to future negotiations. In response Netanyahu has somewhat softened his tone and concentrated on drawing attention to minimum requirements for a final deal with the Iranians – even though he is aware that Israel’s input will have a negligible impact on the outcome.
Despite criticism from his political adversaries and the hostile media, all polls show that the Israeli public overwhelmingly endorses Netanyahu’s critique of the American administration.
Where does this leave the “unshakable bond” between the US and Israel? The relationship has unquestionably become strained as President Obama increasingly considered Israel as an obstacle to his quest to “engage” Iran.
Yet, despite the probability of further turbulent confrontations in the near future, the unique shared values between Israelis and Americans will prevent a real breakdown. The dominant feelings towards Israel have never been more positive than today and there is every hope that despite the current tensions, vox populi will ensure that Israel and America retain their relationship and that the traditional trust which prevailed in the past will be resumed in the future.
This is reinforced by the fact that, despite the tensions, the Obama Administration has never wavered from assuring Americans that it will always stand by Israel’s security and has in fact strengthened military support for Israel.
The US remains crucial to Israel’s survival. Of course, Israel should become more self-reliant and seek additional partners. But any suggestion that Russia, China or a European country could substitute for the United States is absurd.
To retain American public and Congressional support will require delicate diplomacy by Israel and the active support of assertive American Jewish leaders and pro-Israel Christian groups. In the past supporters of Israel were basically in sync with the administration but today this is not the case.
Already, the Obama Administration has been exerting pressure on Jewish organizational leaders not to “rock the boat”. Some critics are already making analogies to Roosevelt intimidation and silencing of Jewish leaders during the Holocaust and the Administration’s efforts to muzzle the Jewish leadership.
In this climate, ugly anti-Semitic accusations are emerging. Jews are being accused of dual loyalties and warmongering, seeking to “drag America into another war”.
Until recently, AIPAC and the major Jewish agencies such as the Presidents Conference, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the World Jewish Congress and prominent Jewish activists, resolutely resisted pressures to endorse the Administration’s position and were outspokenly critical of the Iranian sellout. Even Alan Dershowitz, one of Obama’s most loyal Jewish followers, warned that this “could be a cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions” and “could become a Chamberlain moment” for the President.
But now Jewish criticism has become more muted. AIPAC CEO, Howard Kohr, has called on AIPAC supporters to stop criticizing President Obama and his administration and concentrate exclusively on lobbying for intensified sanctions. He defended this approach on the grounds that the Geneva agreement only amounted to a “difference of strategy” with Israel on how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. His supporters argue that although Obama may have betrayed Israel’s trust, he also deceived all his allies in the region.
Privately, some Jewish establishment leaders warn that direct confrontation with Obama will have negative consequences on the American Israeli relationship. They also allege – mistakenly – that Israel is deeply divided over the issue.
They justify their approach by relating to the war weariness of the American people and concern that isolationism is growing at the congressional level. They argue that only American Jews vehemently opposed to Obama encourage open criticism of the president and claim that most are willing to wait and see.
Jewish leaders undoubtedly also face pressures from their liberal constituents and donors and fear that it they are perceived by the administration as being too outspoken, they will be denied access and marginalized.
Thus, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) headed by Mort Klein emerged as the principal organization continuing to lambast the administration for having abandoned Israel. It  also publicly reprimanded AIPAC for “its imprudent, deeply troubling words that are at odds with Israel’s position…The Iran deal is a repudiation of the need to stop Iran…We must be unalterably opposed to it and say why, loudly and clearly, not prattle about mere disagreements”.
After the ZOA condemnation of AIPAC, ADL head, Abe Foxman, who had endorsed the muted AIPAC approach, stated emphatically that he was “embarrassed by our government’s acceptance of Iran’s blackmail” and described secret U.S. talks with Teheran as a “violation of the special relationship with Israel”.
The overview of recent events should nevertheless be viewed in perspective. While it is reasonable to suggest that the US and its allies are repeating the scenario of appeasement policies undertaken by Chamberlain, Israel today is not Czechoslovakia of 1938. It is not a vassal state and will not allow itself to be sacrificed in order to placate the successors of Nazism.
The IDF today is the most powerful military force in the region, capable of deterring an onslaught by all its adversaries combined. Its neighbors  Egypt and Syria are beset by internal problems and the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations are mired in their own crises. In relation to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Gulf states will quietly be supportive of Israel.
Besides, America is one of the few countries whose people expect its leaders to be guided by moral values rather than realpolitik. The remarks by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry at the Saban Conference effusively praising Israel and reiterating the US commitment to stand by us, reflects the shared values and support which Israel enjoys amongst the American public.
Despite the current tensions, continued delicate but determined diplomacy and our common interest in resisting Islamic fundamentalism will sustain the relationship with the US. Hopefully, a more friendly future administration will also restore the trust between both countries.
But today, as in the past, we must never subordinate our security to third parties and recognize that in the last resort, we can only rely on our strength and ability to defend ourselves.

Kerry forces Israel’s moment of decision: pay a huge price now, or accept our destruction within five to 15 years.

From Caroline Glick, 17 Dec 2013:


There was a ghoulish creepiness to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Israel last week. Here we were, beset by the greatest winter storm in a hundred years. All roads to Jerusalem were sealed off. Tens of thousands of Jerusalemites and residents of surrounding areas were locked down in their houses, without power, heat, telephone service or water.

And all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Kerry appeared. As Hamas-ruled Gazans begged the supposedly hated IDF to come and save them from the floods, and as Israel took over rescue operations for stranded Palestinians living under the rule of the PLO ’s gangster kleptocracy in Judea and Samaria, here was Kerry, telling us that we’d better accept the deal he plans to present us next month, or face the wrath of the US and Europe, and suffer another Palestinian terror war.

What is going on? Why can’t Kerry leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the rest of the country alone, even for a week, in the middle of a blizzard of biblical proportions?

According to leaks from the now five month old negotiations, after 20 rounds of talks, the Palestinians have not budged from the positions they have held to for the past 50 years. 

  • They do not accept Israel’s right to exist. 
  • They do not recognize the existence of the Jewish people. 
  • They do not believe that the Jews have the right to freedom or self-determination. 
  • They insist on taking control of our 3,000 year old capital. 
  • They demand that we surrender our ability to defend ourselves from foreign aggression and Palestinian attacks and infiltration from the east.

There is nothing new here, of course, This was the case 13 years ago at the Camp David summit. This was the case during the Annapolis summit in 2007 and 2008. This was the case when PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas rejected then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of peace in 2008.

Facing the Palestinians’ continued defiance of the very notion of peaceful coexistence with Israel, Kerry is planning to present his own peace deal next month and try to force Israel to accept it. Although the text of Kerry’s deal has not yet been revealed, we know exactly what it will involve just by listening to what he has already told us.

In his speech at the Saban Forum on December 7, Kerry said, “For many years the broad contours of an eventual solution have been absolutely clear, and they were crystallized for the world in December of 2000 when president Clinton laid down the parameters for a final-status agreement. They were reaffirmed through the Annapolis process during the Bush administration.”

The Clinton parameters involved a near complete American embrace of the PLO ’s maximalist demands. The Annapolis guidelines went even further in the PLO ’s direction.

And now, Kerry intends to put forth his own parameters that will be even more forthcoming to the PLO than either the Clinton or Bush administrations were.

Like the Clinton and Bush plans, the Kerry parameters will involve Israeli surrender of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to the PLO , which rejects the historical fact that two Jewish temples were built at the site that was and remains the cradle of Jewish civilization and history and holiest site to Judaism.

They will involve the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to make room for an anti-Semitic, Jew-free state that maintains its devotion to the destruction of the rump Jewish state.

Kerry’s framework deal will involve the mass immigration of hundreds of thousands of foreign-born Arabs, who have been living in al-Qaida-, Hamas- and PLO -controlled UN-run “refugee camps,” for the past four generations to the new state of “Palestine.”

Kerry’s plan will require Israeli society to destroy its cohesion through the dismemberment and destruction of hundreds of Jewish communities. As occurred before the Gaza withdrawal, it will require the government to oversee the demonization and criminalization of well over three million law abiding, patriotic Israeli citizens who oppose the mass expulsions.

Kerry’s parameters will require Israel to surrender its ability to defend itself against foreign aggression and Palestinian attacks. As for the Palestinians, implementation of the Kerry parameters will guarantee that all moderate elements in their society, including among Israeli Arabs, will be overwhelmed and destroyed. 

The PLO state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, like the Hamas state in Gaza, will be breeding grounds for global jihadists. They will actively incite, organize and oversee an armed insurrection of the Arabs of the Galilee and the Negev, meting out punishment for all dissenters.

As for the US forces that Kerry proposes deploying to the Jew-free PLO state, they will be targeted by the Palestinians, just as the Palestinians and the Syrians attacked US Marines in Beirut 30 years ago. And like the Marines in Beirut, they will be withdrawn in humiliation and defeat, but the lesson – that the Arabs perceive the Americans and Jews as enemies of equal weight – will not be learned. And, at any rate, unable to defend itself after agreeing to Kerry’s parameters, Israel will cease to be a strategic ally and be transformed into a strategic basket case. Its destruction will interest Kerry and his supporters just as much as the destruction of South Vietnam interested them in 1975.

Aside from being a more anti-Israel version of the Clinton parameters and Bush’s framework, Kerry’s parameters, and framework deal, have one other unique and particularly dangerous feature. Until now, US peace plans followed former prime minister Ehud Barak’s dictum that “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

That is, no hypothetical Israeli concession on Jerusalem, for instance, will be binding unless a final deal is concluded.

Kerry indicated at the Saban Forum that his goal is to coerce Israel into making irrevocable concessions up front, before the Palestinians agree to peaceful coexistence.

As he put it,
“A basic framework will have to address all the core issues – borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition, and an end of claims. And it will have to establish agreed guidelines for subsequent negotiations that will fill out the details in a full-on peace treaty.” 
For the past five and a half years, Netanyahu’s strategy for dealing with US President Barack Obama has been to try to survive him. He’s withstood Obama’s constant demand for Israeli national suicide for “peace” by giving the bare minimum of revocable concession possible to keep Obama at bay.

But with Kerry poised to shove his lethal parameters down our throats, parameters that will require Israel to irrevocably accept terms of peace that will destroy the country, it is obvious that Netanyahu needs to adopt a longer-term strategy. 
Our goal cannot be limited to waiting out Obama. Our goal must be to extricate Israel from the two-state trap.

Yes, Israel will pay a huge price for jumping ship. For 20 years, non-leftist Israeli leaders have been trying to go along to get along with the Left, and the Americans and their ever-escalating demands. But Kerry’s obsessive harping, and his insistence on pushing forward with his disastrous framework deal forces our hand.

Either we pay a huge price now, or accept our destruction within five to 15 years.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Keep the Settlements

From Spengler, 17 Dec 2013:

Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the misnamed occupied territories, are not the obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. They are the acid test of peace. To argue that peace is conceivable unless the bulk of the settlements remain in place constitutes stupidity or hypocrisy. Leave aside the issue of whether Jews have the right to live in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Ignore the fact that the settlers live overwhelmingly on what was waste land and turned into gardens, vineyards, and industries which have uplifted the lives of Palestinian Arabs more than all the aid that has passed through (or rather stuck to) the fingers of the kleptocrats of the PA. Leave aside also Israel’s requirement for defensible borders: that is a critical issue but not identical to the continued presence of settlements.
Accepting the settlements is the sine qua non of any viable peace agreement. It does Israel no good to defend Israel’s right to exist but to condemn the settlers, as does Alan Dershowitz, not to mention the leaders of liberal Jewish denominations.
I believe in land for peace. That is a tautology: In territorial disputes the two main variables always are land and peace. But that implies more land for more peace and less land for less peace. The Palestinian Arabs had an opportunity to accept an Israeli state on just 5,500 square miles of land in 1947, and refused to do so. The armistice lines of 1948 left Israel with 8,550 square miles, and the Arab side refused to accept that. In 1967 Israel took an additional 5,628 square miles of land in dispute under international law; Jordan does not claim it, and no legal Arab authority exists to claim it. It is not “illegally occupied.” It has never been adjudicated by a competent authority.
To demand the 1948 armistice lines (the so-called 1967 borders) is to refuse any penalty for refusing to make peace in the past. That is the same as refusing any peace at all. Wars end when one side accepts defeat, and abandons the hope of restoring the status quo ante by force of arms. 1947 was a catastrophe (“Nakba”) for the Palestinian Arabs, to be sure, but it was a catastrophe of their own making; until they accept at least some degree of responsibility for the catastrophe, they will not be reconciled to any peace agreement. That is precisely what Palestine’s negotiator Saeb Erekat meant when he eschewed any recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state because “I cannot change my narrative.” The “narrative” is that the Jews are an alien intrusion into the Muslim Middle East and eventually must be eliminated by one means or another.
The Palestinian Arabs are a people in decline, and the vehemence of their leaders reflects the dimness of their future. It is noteworthy that Secretary of State John Kerry continues to talk of a “demographic time bomb” threatening Israel, even though the data show that the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is increasing faster than the Arab population, as former Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger observes. That’s based on undisputed data; in fact, Palestinian population data are inflated by an enormous margin, as a 2006 study by the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University demonstrated:
[The Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics] projected that the number of births in the Territories would total almost 908,000 for the seven-year period from 1997 to 2003. Yet, the actual number of births documented by the PA Ministry of Health for the same period was significantly lower at 699,000, or 238,000 fewer births than had been forecast by the PCBS. … The size of the discrepancy accelerated over time. Whereas the PCBS predicted there would be over 143,000 births in 2003, the PA Ministry of Health reported only 102,000 births, which pointed to a PCBS forecast 40% beyond actual results.
The hold of traditional Muslim society on young Palestinian Arabs, especially young women, is deteriorating: as they gain access to secondary and tertiary education, young Arabs have fewer children and more careers. And the most effective agency for the emancipation of young Arab women is the settler movement. Ariel University across the so-called Green Line is full of young Muslim women in headscarves studying computer science, and the leaders of the Ariel community–Haredi Jews–work with local Arab leaders to recruit talented students.
There is a parallel to what I called the “peace of the aging” in Ireland. The Irish got older. The drunken IRA killers I met in Belfast in 1970 as a student journalist had no intention of making peace. They were having too much fun at war. By 1996, when former Sen. George Mitchell presided over the Good Friday Agreement that formally ended the low-intensity civil war in Northern Ireland, those who were left had families and mortgages.
Distribution of Irish Population by Age (UN)

By 2040 the Palestinian Arab population will have far fewer young people and far more middle-aged people.
Distribution of West Bank Arab Population by Age (UN)

The Irish no longer care. They are neither Catholic nor nationalistic. The IRA thugs of 1970 came from four-child families. Today the Irish have fewer than two children on average. Let the matter simmer for another twenty years, and the Palestinian Arabs will look more like the Irish of 1996 than the Irish of 1970. At that point, the “narrative” will change, because no one will care about the old “narrative.”
In the meantime the Israeli settlers have built a garden and a workshop where before there were bare rocks, and thriving communities that are integral parts of Israeli society. It takes longer to get crosstown in Manhattan in traffic than it does to drive from the center of Tel Aviv to Ariel, the largest town in Samaria. This is yet another accomplishment of Jewish ingenuity and industriousness, and it is (or should be) an inspiring example to all who hope for a better life for the peoples of the Middle East. We will know that the Palestinians want peace when they admire rather than abhor this effort.
The utopian delusions of the Obama administration, the hypocrisy of the world, and the betrayal–yes, I think that is the right word–of Israeli interests by the liberal American Jewish denominations have put Israel in a painful situation. The threat of economic sanctions from Europe or reduced American military support if Israel refuses to swallow the poisoned bait are not a trivial threat. As Caroline Glick writes today:
With Kerry poised to shove his lethal parameters down our throats, parameters that will require Israel to irrevocably accept terms of peace that will destroy the country, it is obvious that Netanyahu needs to adopt a longer-term strategy. Our goal cannot be limited to waiting out Obama. Our goal must be to extricate Israel from the two-state trap.
Yes, Israel will pay a huge price for jumping ship. For 20 years, non-leftist Israeli leaders have been trying to go along to get along with the Left, and the Americans and their ever-escalating demands. But Kerry’s obsessive harping, and his insistence on pushing forward with his disastrous framework deal forces our hand.
Either we pay a huge price now, or accept our destruction within five to 15 years.
Ms. Glick is Israeli, and has a right to urge a particular course of action for her country. I am American, and direct my comments instead to my liberal Jewish co-religionists: Your support for the Obama administration and your betrayal of Jews on our front line in Judea and Samaria is a wicked and disgraceful thing. We must summon all of our strength to prevent this administration from punishing Israel for refusing to commit suicide.
As a religious Jew, I believe that Jews are obligated to settle our historic homeland, but I also believe that the preservation of Jewish life takes precedence.
If it were possible to achieve a durable and robust peace by abandoning the settlements I would support it. But that is a delusion: we will make ourselves immeasurably less secure by abandoning the settlements than by holding fast to them.

Israel vs. the Iran-Hizballah Axis

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper* No. 221, November 14, 2013by :

(Photo Credit: iStock Photo/Alex Kuehni)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The IDF and the Iran-Hizballah axis are each in the midst of a long-term military build-up, preparing for the possibility of a full-scale eruption of the ongoing covert struggle between them. With Iranian assistance, Hizballah has amassed an unprecedented rocket and missile arsenal that threatens all of Israel. The IDF has prepared for a combined air and large-scale ground operation, driven by new intelligence and precision-firepower capabilities, to deliver a knock-out blow and eliminate Hizballah as a fighting force for years to come.

A major regional military build-up is underway in both Israel and Lebanon, as the IDF and the Iran-Hizballah axis seek to be as prepared as possible for the next time that open hostilities break out between them.

Military Build-up

In southern Lebanon and the Beka’a Valley in eastern Lebanon, Hizballah is pointing over 80,000 rockets and missiles at Israel. This represents a new level of threat to the Israeli home front, and the scale of Hizballah’s offensive projectile arsenal has been made possible by Iranian funding, arms shipments, and use of Syria as a transit route, among other weapons smuggling routes.
Although Hizballah is heavily involved in the Syrian civil war, its offensive projectile capabilities continue to grow, and the Shiite terrorist entity is now focused on importing accurate, long and medium-range guided missiles with which it hopes to paralyze critical Israeli civilian infrastructure (ports, Ben-Gurion International Airport, power plants) and military nerve centers in a future conflict. Hizballah would also like to have advanced surface-to-air batteries to challenge the Israel Air Force (IAF), and surface-to-sea systems to target the Israel Navy and Israel’s gas drilling sites in the Mediterranean Sea.
Iran’s extra-territorial Quds Force is responsible for getting arms to Hizballah in Lebanon, where they are mostly stashed inside civilian homes built with retractable roofs, allowing for launching rockets at Israel. With one out of every ten homes in Lebanon used as a rocket launcher or weapons storage depot, Hizballah and Iran have hidden the core of their firepower in the midst of the Lebanese civilian population, endangering its safety in a future war.
In Israel, a military response to this challenge is being prepared, designed to quickly deliver a devastating knock-out blow to Hizballah. The IDF plans to implement a combination of unprecedented air power capabilities, and a swift ground maneuver to eliminate Hizballah as a fighting force for years to come. This approach is predicated on new intelligence resources, and an air force strike power – which has not yet been used to full capacity – that enables fighter jets to destroy hundreds of targets a day with precision-guided bombs, representing a colossal level of firepower.
The IDF’s new capabilities also lean on a network-centered technological revolution that allows the three branches of the IDF – air force, ground forces, and navy – to coordinate their strikes, and stay linked in to Military Intelligence in real time. The new technology also allows both the General Staff and the commanding levels in the field – at the division, brigade, and battalion command levels – to enjoy enhanced command and control abilities.
A debate within senior echelons of the IDF has occurred in recent years on how best to extinguish Hizballah rocket fire, specifically over whether there is a need to send in ground forces if the IAF has developed such blinding firepower. It seems that military decision-makers have sided with those who believe that both elements are essential in a full-scale conflict, to ensure as speedy a victory as possible. As part of its continued emphasis on the ground forces, the IDF manufactures state-of-the-art Merkava 4 tanks and, until recently also produced Namer Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) for infantry brigades. The production lines for the Namer APC have recently come to a standstill due to the substantial cut to the national defense budget.
Additionally, war drills and training for ground units have, in recent years, centered on getting various components to cooperate as closely as possible when moving into enemy territory. The ground forces, stung badly by its poor performance during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, has been preparing for new conflict with Hizballah by drilling a blitz invasion of southern Lebanon and the destruction of Hizballah infrastructure, using a massive combination of tanks, infantry, artillery, and engineering corps.

The Covert Struggle

Hizballah is highly deterred by Israel’s firepower, but is nevertheless exploiting its presence in Syria – and contribution to the Alawite-Iranian war effort to keep Bashar al-Assad in power – to try and import strategic arms to Lebanon for later use against Israel. According to international media reports, Iranian arms supplies arrive regularly in Syria, creating the basis for a smuggling route to Hizballah. The Assad regime owes its survival to Iran and Hizballah, and appears to be fully compliant with Iranian requests to facilitate the transfer of weapons to Hizballah.
Israel has publicly drawn clear red lines forbidding the transit of advanced arms into Lebanon, and, according to foreign media claims, occasionally enforces these lines through low-profile air strikes on missile shipments. The most recent reported example is the alleged Israeli air strike on a Syrian missile base near Latakia, where the alleged target was Russian-made SA-125 surface-to-air missiles. Hizballah seeks such systems in order to disrupt the IAF’s ability to operate over its centers of activity in Lebanon.
The Iranian-Hizballah armament program – which enjoys Syrian assistance – often places the IDF in a difficult situation, in which it must decide between intercepting the arms shipments and risking a conflict and allowing Hizballah to continue building up its arsenal. Meanwhile, Hizballah also continues to try and attack Israeli targets overseas, though the large majority of its efforts are thwarted. Though this struggle spans international borders, it currently remains largely covert and out of the public domain. In the turbulent Middle East, however, that could change at any time.

*BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Click here for a PDF version of this article

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Un-American Studies Association

From the Council on Foreign relations, December 16, 2013, by Elliott Abrams:

The American Studies Association has voted 2-to-1 for an academic boycott of Israel.

The best comment on this move came from former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who criticized the idea that of all the countries in the world that might be thought to have human rights abuses, that might be thought to have inappropriate foreign policies, that might be thought to be doing things wrong, the idea that there’s only one that is worthy of boycott, and that is Israel.

There are 200,000 dead in Syria and millions of refugees, zero academic freedom in China….well, why go on; none of these matters seems worthy of notice by the ASA. It is illuminating that one of the endorsers of this move (actually, it is the second name that appears) on the ASA web site is Angela Davis, former Communist Party candidate for national office and now professor of Feminist Studies Emerita at UC Santa Cruz. She, like the ASA, has long been blind to human rights abuses–except in Israel.

This move by the ASA will not harm Israel, but it is enlightening for anyone with children attending or soon to be attending college that this group of academics harbors such an extraordinary bias.

The much larger American Association of University Professors has opposed this and all academic boycotts, but that is only partial comfort. The AAUP opposition means that ASA members had a principled and academically defensible basis for voting against the boycott of Israel, yet they voted for it. Those votes express not only bias against Israel, for the reasons Summers notes, but a bias as well against the spirit of free inquiry that is supposed to infuse American academia.

The AAUP (American Association of University Professors) position is worth quoting:

the AAUP has been committed to preserving and advancing the free exchange of ideas among academics irrespective of governmental policies and however unpalatable those policies may be viewed. We reject proposals that curtail the freedom of teachers and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues, and we reaffirm the paramount importance of the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Islamic fundamentalism is widely spread

A Wissenschaftszentrum Bering fur Sozialforschung (WZB)* study shows significantly high numbers [of Fundamentalists] amongst Europe’s Muslims
Religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe. This conclusion is drawn in a study published by Ruud Koopmans from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. The author analyzed data from a representative survey among immigrants and natives in six European countries. Two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. Three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran.
Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations.

These numbers are significantly higher than those from local Christians. Only 13 percent of this group put religious rules above national law; just under 20 percent refuse to accept differing interpretations of the Bible.

For Ruud Koopmans, this powerful tendency toward Muslim religious fundamentalism is alarming:
“Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity”, the sociologist says. “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.”

Almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam. The Christians’ answers for comparison: As many as 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic; 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends; a/nd 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture.

He conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden and interviewed both Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as well as a comparison group of Christians.

He then looks at hostility toward out-groups. Fifty-eight percent do not want homosexual friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Among Christians, 23 percent believe that Muslims are out to destroy Western culture. Koopmans says these results hold when you control for the varying socio-economic characteristics of these groups (although the analyses are not presented).
Religious fundamentalism is the strongest correlate of out-group hostility both among Muslims and Christians. Fundamentalism here is taken to mean beliefs that believers should return to unchangeable rules from the past, that the Bible/Koran should be taken literally, and that religious rules are more important than secular laws. Although Muslims are more likely to be fundamentalist and hostile toward out-groups than Christians, there are many more Christians in these countries. So, the overall numbers of Christians who feel hostile toward Muslims still vastly outnumber the Muslims who believe the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. This accounts for the success of extremist parties in many of the countries in which the survey was conducted. It may be that Muslim perceptions are partially a response to this but we can’t tell. (The study, as far as I can tell, has little to say about the sources of these attitudes).
...the finding that 54 percent of Muslims in these six Western European countries believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture can hardly be ignored. A Dutch newspaper, Trouw, cites Arabist Jan Jaap de Ruiter who argues that Muslims have a tendency to give “socially desirable” answers to survey questions. Even if this is true, I’d still be very concerned that the apparent socially desirable answer is that Jews should not be trusted and that the West is out to get Muslims. An added concern is the absence of generational differences in the survey responses; suggesting that this is not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon.

The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey collected data in more than 9,000 telephone interviews in Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden. The respondents were Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as control groups of natives. This study is the first that allows analysis on an empirical base of the extent and impact of religious fundamentalism.
Ruud Koopmans’ article “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility. Comparing Muslims and Christians in Europe” has just been published in the December issue of the quarterly WZB-Mitteilungen. The issue presents various contributions on migration and integration topics, mainly in German. Read the full article (PDF).

*The WZB was founded in 1969 by members of the German parliament from all parties. The WZB is funded by the Federal government and the state of Berlin.

Jerusalem Of White

From ISRAEL21c, 11 Jan 2013:          
It was the biggest snowstorm to hit Jerusalem in more than two decades. Much of the city was closed down in the morning but public transport returned to the roads shortly after noon.
Snow days may be common elsewhere in the world, but for Jerusalemites a day off in the snow is a rare bit of fun.
Jerusalemites young and old headed to city parks to make snow people and throw snow balls.
...Elahn Zetlin went out on the streets of Jerusalem to catch the fun.
Music: Hicham Chahidi -

Barack Obama's imploding foreign policy

From The Washington Times,  December 3, 2013, by Daniel Pipes:

The "Joint Plan of Action" signed with Iran by the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) on Nov. 24 in Geneva caused Shiite Arabs to celebrate, Sunni Arabs to worry, and Saudis to panic.
The Saudi response will have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.

Jubilant crowds welcomed the Iranian negotiator home from Geneva.

As Iran's chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US$23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his "full support for this step." President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as "the best path for securing peace and stability." Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri of Lebanon called it the "deal of the century." And Hezbollah considered the agreement a "great victory for Iran."

Syria's Assad, here scratched out, praised the Geneva deal.

Among Sunni Arabic-speakers, in contrast, responses ranged from politely supportive to displeased to alarmed. Perhaps most enthusiastic was the Egyptian governmental newspaper Al-Ahram, which called the deal "historic." Most states stayed mum. Saudis expressed the most worry. Yes, the government cabinet officially stated that "If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear program," but note the skepticism conveyed in the first four words.
If that was the mildest response, perhaps the most unbuttoned comment came from Alwaleed bin Talal, a Saudi prince who occasionally sends up trial balloons for the royal family: He called Iran "a huge threat" and noted that, historically speaking,
"The Persian empire was always against the Muslim Arab empire, especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel,"
a ground-breaking and memorable public statement.

Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal on his airplane throne, sitting under the logo of his company.

Alwaleed then detailed how
the Iranians are "in Bahrain, they are in Iraq, they are in Syria, they are with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which is Sunni, in Gaza."
As this listing suggests, Saudis are fixated on the danger of being surrounded by Iran's agents and are more scared by the non-nuclear implications of the joint plan than the nuclear ones. Gregory Gause of the University of Vermont sees Saudis worrying that the accord opens the way "without any obstacles" for Iran to achieve regional dominance. (This contrasts with the Israeli and Western position, which focuses on the nuclear danger.)
Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman of the kingdom's appointed Shura Council, elaborates:
he worries "about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region. The government of Iran, month after month, has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region, and in this regard no one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly. … The people of the region … know that Iran will interfere in the politics of many countries."
Saudi media reiterated this line of analysis. Al-Watan, a government newspaper, warned that the Iran regime, "which sends its tentacles into other regional countries, or tries to do so by all means necessary," will not be fettered by the accord. Another daily, Al-Sharq, editorialized about the fear that "Iran made concessions in the nuclear dossier in return for more freedom of action in the region."
What does this unwonted rhetoric amount to?
Iranian bellicosity and the Obama administration's pro-Iran policies have combined to end many decades of Saudi strategic reliance on Washington and to begin thinking how to protect themselves.
This matters, because as Alwaleed rightly boasts, his country is leader of the Arabs, enjoying the most international, regional, cultural, and religious clout.
The results of this new-found assertiveness – fighting against fellow Islamists, allying tacitly with Israel, perhaps acquiring Pakistani-made nuclear weapons, and even reaching out to Tehranmarks yet another consequence of Barack Obama's imploding foreign policy.